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Published: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:48:39 +0000

Last Build Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:48:39 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Health Care Rally in Richmond: Hearts of Gold vs. Hearts of Stone

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:33:41 +0000

This past Sunday, January 15th, hundreds of energized Democrats rallied together at the Bell Tower in Richmond to defend the Affordable Care Act. With votes already circulating through Congress, and less than a week left before Inauguration Day, the rally was one of many throughout the country designed to both raise awareness and signal a volley of public political pressure. Several speakers addressed the continuously-building crowd, including candidates for Lt. Governor, candidates running for Governor, Congressman Bobby Scott, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Senator Tim Kaine. Other speakers included community and health care leaders, as well as a young mother who shared her story about how she owes her life to the Affordable Care Act. It was a fitting event to have on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and Senator Kaine presented a simply question for the crowd when it came to the idea of repealing the ACA: “Do we have hearts of stone now?” Senator Kaine and Governor McAuliffe (you can find more pictures from the event here.) My Commentary The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. During the arduous process of getting the bill passed during the early periods of President Obama’s first term, much of the bolder provisions of the bill – such as the public option – was stripped and others watered down. Many businesses found loopholes to get out of providing coverage which in turn actually created negative outcomes for many, and there are folks all across the country that had to change their plans or change doctors. Despite all of those shortcomings, the ACA has saved lives, and continues to do so. There are millions of Americans who are able to actually afford life-saving procedures and medication because they can’t be denied insurance based on pre-existing conditions, are not subject to lifetime coverage caps, and actually have network providers they can visit. Millennials with debilitating college debt can also stay on their parents’ plans until their late twenties, and thousands of Americans across the country are no longer stuck between qualifying for benefits because their states took advantage of Medicaid expansion. As mentioned at the rally, passing the Act has also dramatically changed the national narrative of how we talk about health insurance. Even those who are completely opposed to government-provided health care are now forced to talk about the kind of insurance that is being provided rather than whether or not insurance is provided at all. In short, the ACA should never have been demonized the way it has been by Republicans, and it is a first and important step toward a system which ensures no one should choose between bankruptcy or death. It’s also something I spent three months of my life fighting for. Right after I graduated from Georgetown back in 2009, I signed on as a Summer Organizer for Organizing for America (the successor organization to Obama for America,) and moved to New Mexico to build grassroots awareness and support for the ACA. My organizing territory was a large swath of northern Albuquerque, and I eventually was given reign over eastern parts of it as well. Apparently being able to convince people to go canvassing in 100+ degree weather is marketable. By the end of the summer, we had dozens of volunteers knocking doors, making phone calls, and ensuring representatives in Congress knew where their constituents stood. It wasn’t the exact same bill we started with, but we could all be proud of what we had accomplished in such a short time the year after a presidential election; we had overcome electoral burnout and got folks to stay engaged, even for a short time. Myself and Maria Castro, another organizer Even though many of the volunteers and advocates I met during that Summer didn’t, and likely never will, fully benefit from the Affordable Care Act, all of them still acknowledged that fighting for it was the right thing to do. Many of them also believed that a single-payer system is actually where we need to go, but they were willing to fight f[...]



CA-Gov: Oh God, Peter Thiel (R) Isn't Ruling Out A Bid For Governor

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:29:53 +0000

I just threw up in my mouth :

Mainly because California is an unfriendly territory for a Republican who is outspoken about his support for Trump.

The 49-year-old is also a very private figure, sources told Politico.

However, the entrepreneur has not ruled running for governor out of his long-term plans.

Earlier this week, in an interview with the New York Times Thiel talked about why he supported Trump.

'Everyone says Trump is going to change everything way too much,' Thiel told the Times. 

'Well, maybe Trump is going to change everything way too little. That seems like the much more plausible risk to me.' 

Of course, California is heavily Democratic territory but I don’t believe in taking anything for granted. I’m fully behind Lt. Governor Gavin Newson’s (D. CA) campaign. Click here if you want to get involved with his campaign.




Power of the Third Party

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 18:37:22 +0000

Third-party Candidates always lose or so we think. In the 1836  presidential election. Martin Van Buren is elected president. However due to financial panic he loses the next presidential election.  The interesting thing is that Anti-Slavery/Liberty Party candidate James Birney came in with  0.3% of the vote.  Going with his anti-slavery theme he tries again four years later and slightly jumps to around 2% of the vote.  So the question I have is between 1844 and 1848 was emancipation considered impossible to implement.   1848 was the rise of the Free Soil Party, which was another anti-slavery movement. in that presidential election, the liberty party nominated anti-slavery Congressman Gerrit Smith and the anti-slavery Free Soil party nominated former President Martin Van Buren. Buren got 10% and Smith got 0.1%. The presidency went to a rich man outsider from a dying whig party. How about in 1852 when Free Soil nominated Senator John P. Hale for president and got 4.9% of the vote. Hale was the first United States Senator to come out against slavery. Factions of the whigs were starting to break off.  Congressman Jacob Broom was a pro-slavery whig that became the American Party. The Free Soil Party and activists from the liberty movement merged with anti-slavery whigs and formed the Republican Party.  Their first candidate was abolitionist John Freemont. Well, the nativist knows nothing movement nominated former President Millard Filmore. Fillmore got 21% of the vote.  Before the civil war, the American Party and a bunch of southerners formed the Constitutional Union Party and fielded a presidential candidate in the 1860 election and got 12% of the vote. However, with the Democrats splitting into two groups the election went to Abraham Lincoln who signed the emancipation proclamation to abolish slavery in 1863. The issue of abolishing slavery started with a third party candidate who got 0.1% of the vote. It took almost 20 years to abolish slavery. but change doesn't happen in one presidency. Change doesn't come from one single president. President Lincoln freed the slaves but look how many abolitionists came before him.  Even if they only get 0.1% of the vote they don't stop fighting.  ***************************************************************************** Things were bad in 1873. America was going to the gold standard. There was a huge currency debate and rural farmers were hurting due to inflation. In 1874  the populist uprising of the Greenback Party fielded a candidate and received 0.99% of the vote. Greenbacks wanted to expand currency beyond the implementation of the gold standard. The Greenback party gained 13 seats in the U.S. House. They worked to pass an act that coined the silver dollar as a legal tender.  The Greenback Party fielded Greenback Congressman James Weaver in the 1880 Presidential Election and received around 3% of the vote.  The Greenback Party faded away but their ideas did not. Their rebirth came in the form of the Anti- Monopoly Party. The party advocated populist measures such as direct election of senators by popular vote, a graduated income tax, arbitration of industrial labor conflicts, establishment of labor bureaus to enhance the legal rights of organized labor, and antitrust legislation to break the power of the giant monopoly corporations The Anti-Monopoly Party fielded Massachusetts Governor Ben Butler about 1.5% of the vote.  The Anti-Monopoly Party did score a victory when The Sherman Antitrust Act was signed into law. It regulated the power of monopolies.  The Anti-Monopoly party soon transformed into the Peoples Party (Populist) and fielded a Congressman James Weaver. Weaver carried 4 states and got 22 electoral votes.  The populist movement fused itself into the  Democratic Party and field Congressman William Jennings Bryan. However, he came up short with 46% of the vote.  He tried again in 1900 but lost with 45% of the Vote.  They fielded Thomas Watson in 1904 but the presidency went to Teddy[...]



Rep.John Lewis-"Trump Won't Be A Legitimate President" Let's Make #illegitimatePresident Trend!

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:53:42 +0000

This week on “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd he conducted an interview with Rep. John Lewis, an American Civil Rights Icon. When Chuck Todd asked him if he would have a working relationship with Trump he said that he believes in forgiveness, but added, "it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."  I am in total agreement with Rep. Lewis. That is why I have written this blog asking everyone to use the hashtag #illegitimatePresident especially when using @realDonaldTrump in a tweet and make it the top trending hashtag. If you can add #illegitimatePresident to your profile so it automatically tweets. Thanks x YouTube Video President Obama presenting Rep. John Lewis with the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” in 2010 As Democrats we saw Donald Trump ask Russia to hack Hillary Clinton and release her 30,000 e-mails and miraculously they were released immediately. Coincidence??? I don’t think so.  Trump, with all his extensive vocabulary, bellowed “I Love Wikileaks” at every chance he got. When the DNC e-mails  and then John Podesta’s e-mails were hacked Trump continued to implore Wikileaks to release more and drooled all over himself every time another batch of e-mails was released. Sadly so much of  the media just lapped them up.  When Rep. Lewis stated "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,"  we all know that he was correct in his statement. Trump appeared to acknowledge this week that Russia did engage in hacking during the campaign, but he has vigorously argued that any foreign interference had no impact on the election's outcome. Even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million more votes than Trump.  With John Lewis getting ready to turn 77 (his birthday is 6 days before mine) on February 21st he has become one of our national treasures and a Civil Rights Icon who marched right along with Martin Luther King who we celebrate tomorrow January 16th! Lewis was presented with the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” in 2010 for all the important work he has done throughout his life. Here is a brief history of John Lewis, who as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was one of the "Big Six" leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington, played many key roles in the Civil Rights Movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States. A member of the Democratic Party, Lewis is a member of the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and has served as a Chief Deputy Whip since 1991 and Senior Chief Deputy Whip since 2003. Everyone should read the entire history of John Lewis and his lifelong struggle and fight for the rights of not only African Americans, Voting Rights but also LGBTQ Rights. He is truly a man of and for All People. This week Michael Moore agreed and defended Lewis publicly with 6 reasons he believes Trump is not a legitimate President. Moore questioned Trump’s mental stability, pointing out his behavior on Twitter. “He is not well and needs help. He has a number of serious mental disorders that make him unfit to hold office — and they are on display every day in one cringe-worthy tweet after another. He is a full-blown malignant narcissist. He displays sociopathic tendencies. He will say one thing and 30 seconds later say the opposite. He is disconnected from the truth. And he has a stunning lack of human empathy. These behaviors make him a truly dangerous occupant of the Oval Office.” Thirdly, in total agreement with Lewis, Moore said that the Russian government had interfered in the 2016 presidential race to change the outcome of the election. “The Russians interfered with the election in order to get him elected. Even Trump now admits as much. That alone makes the election tainted and should be voided. We spend trill[...]



This week in Wisconsin Politics 1/ 09-13-2017

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:25:08 +0000

Keeping track of state politics is very important. Nowadays that is where all the legislation is happening.  To accomplish this I will use JR Ross's from Wispolitics.com model. That includes Rising, Mixed, and Falling. Now like anything in politics it may change week to week, but this is to give people an idea of what's going on in Wisconsin politics. Joint Finance Co-Chair and state Rep. John Nygren was on the Joy Cardin Show this week on WPR to discuss his agenda. Using his daughter as inspiration. John Nygren Co- Chairs the opioid task force. They have a series of proposals to combat opioid addiction including immunity for people who overdose. I do commend Representative Nygren for his work in this case but the proposals do fall short on dealing with the issue.  Wisconsin State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein was " Upfront with Mike Gousha and WPR's Joy Cardin Show this week.  Wisconsin State Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D) was elected as assistant minority leader at the beginning of the session. Since then she has been trying to raise her profile with progressives. She has been on UP Front with Mike Gousha and The Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio. Striking populist tones of the system is rigged against the middle class. Sounding like Wisconsin version of Elizabeth Warren. She was also part of the Democratic Response to Governor Walker’s State of the State Address.  DNC Secretary Candidate and Milwaukee Democrat Jason Rae was on WPR this week to talk about is run for DNC Secretary. Jason Rae was 17 years old when became the youngest member of the DNC. He wants to build the democratic base and engage in new voters as well as trying to figure out why were losing in rural Wisconsin. He lost a bid for State Chair to Martha Laning last summer. Congressman Sean Duffy (R)  was in Tilden, Wisconsin for a town hall.  Duffy acknowledged that millions of people still have insurance through the ACA, but insisted that congress should repeal and replace Obamacare. He also warned that a replacement may not be enacted until 2019. He said that this system would be in place by the time the Affordable Care Act has ended. Obamacare will not go away that easily.  Duffy also introduced a bill that would eliminate the gray wolf from the endangered species list.  Senator Tammy Baldwin (D)  U. Senator Tammy Baldwin said she would vote to confirm Elaine Chao for Transportation Secretary. However, she will oppose Jeff Sessions for AG In other Baldwin news, she introduced legislation that would require non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae to no longer be mislabeled with dairy terms such as milk, yogurt or cheese. Gov. Walker appoints a former  lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite Mining Company as Deputy Secretary of Transportation After Sec. Gottlieb said that he basically had enough. Former Superior Mayor Dave Ross was appointed to the position.  Before Walker delivered the state of the state address he appointed Bob Seitz to be Deputy DOT Secretary Martha Laning gets a challenger  Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy will challenge Martha Laning for the chair of the Wisconsin democratic Party. I recently had Martha Falling in recent stock reports because of the fact that she has zero endorsements. Kennedy has the endorsement of  Former State Representative Mandella Barnes  Wisconsin Politics Stock Report  Rising: Governor Scott Walker (R) Walker paid off his debt from his presidential campaign. Clearing the way for his re-election campaign which he used the State of the State to jump start that notion. Making the case by asking the question are you better off than you were six years ago. He is still comparing himself to Governor Doyle with regards to transportation funding and unemployment rate.  Mixed: State Supreme Court Justices The head of Wisconsin Supreme Court is asking for a 16% pay hike for judges.  Roggensack has some pretty powerful lobbying groups back[...]



One Easy Suggestion: Republican Congress Must Continue To Stay on Obamacare Until It Is Replaced.

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 14:37:24 +0000

As Republicans continue to equivocate about when they will have a “replacement” to the ACA, or stick to their notion of a delayed (by years) “repeal and delay” strategy, I believe that a crucial fact and a sane public challenge are being ignored:  by law, the Republican Congress must get their insurance through the ACA and, at minimum, Republicans should not be allowed to repeal this “Congressional Mandate” until they complete their work by passing a replacement plan.   Republicans count on people forgetting that it was Republicans who insisted that Obamacare apply to all Congress members and their staff and it was precisely so that Congress could feel first-hand the effects of their legislating.  The background: Members of Congress are treated differently under Obamacare, but they're not exempt. In fact, by forcing them to purchase health insurance through publicly run exchanges, they're impacted more by that key provision than similar employees in private sector — or even in government. . . . . Here's the history: During the 2010 debate over the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, proposed an amendment requiring members of Congress and their staffs to purchase health insurance though state exchanges. Democrats, viewing the amendment as a political stunt, co-opted the idea as their own and inserted it into the bill. “My goal, regardless of how the amendment was worded … was that we need to go into the exchange so that we would have to go through the same red tape as every other citizen," Grassley told Roll Call at the time.  And, thus, continuing today, Congress and their staff have to get their insurance through the ACA because of this Congressional Mandate.*/  That’s right: even Paul Ryan and his staff are on the ACA.  The Republican logic that Congress and their staff should bear the risks and effects of their own legislating on healthcare applies with even greater force going forward.  Republicans are proposing to repeal parts of Obamacare, and leave other parts in place.  By their own admission, a full “replacement” could take years to complete.  In the meantime, even Republicans admit that their partial repeal plan could severely damage or fatally harm the ACA exchanges.  Indeed, experts worry that the Republicans’ actions could destroy the individual insurance market entirely. Why would we allow Republicans silently to escape their ACA obligations right at the moment that their own legislative chicanery is threatening millions of other Americans on the exchanges?  According to the Republicans’ own logic and existing law, Republicans should remain subject to the Congressional Mandate unless and until they pass a “replacement.” What good faith argument could they have to the contrary? In addition, Republicans argue that their “delay and replace” approach would force Congress to act at some point to avoid calamity. There would be much more of this desired pressure if Congress itself remained directly on the hook during this whole time, no?  After all, if Republicans are telling us that “they got this,” if Speaker Ryan and Ms. Conway are telling us that “no one [will be] left out in the cold” and “no one [will be] worse off,” then what the heck is Congress doing by sneaking out the ACA back door while no replacement plan is even on the table?  Key:  Democrats need to propose a bill keeping the Congressional Mandate in place, and begin publicly challenging Republicans to “put their money where their mouth is” on this easy issue.  Then, we won't watch Paul Ryan on CNN promising to save your insurance, but promising to save his own goddamn health insurance. See what a difference this makes?  And the public would understand it in a heart beat.  __________________ */   Specifically, Congress and their staff must get their health insurance through a D.C. bas[...]



Our Tyrant-in-Waiting (On the Peaceful Transfer of Power)

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 21:11:02 +0000

Under Assault: The True Foundation of Our Democracy I've had a sudden realization this morning about what is truly bothering me.  I thought it may be the seemingly sudden silence of so many of our leaders in the face of what is an unprecedented travesty of an election.  Perhaps it was Secretary Clinton's concession speech; her graciousness in the face of "defeat" which is rendered somehow hollow in the face of the monstrosity the nation must now contend with.  Perhaps it was President Obama's gracious meeting with a man who spoke nothing but ill of our President and built his political ambitions on a racist lie. The media now faces the quandary of covering a "president-elect" whose relationship with the Truth is murky at best, whose relationship with the media itself is a foreshadow of dictators and autocrats around the world.  As the "normalization" of Trump-ism proliferates, I realized that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton (and every other elected official that's called for "unity" and for giving a chance to a man who is wholly undeserving of that chance) are not only egregiously misguided, but as dangerous as this man we now call "president-elect". My reasoning is this - I understand that the "peaceful transfer of power" is a cornerstone of our democracy.  But it is not the foundation.  THE FOUNDATION OF OUR DEMOCRACY IS OUR CONSTITUTION.  When the "president-elect" is sworn into power, he must swear an oath to the following: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." With that, our “president-elect” will be peacefully handed the reign of power.  At the very foundation of our democracy lies our Constitution, which is now under assault in a way perhaps unprecedented in our history.  The office of the Presidency was not meant for hostile actors, those who are openly contemptuous of our Constitution; indeed, the heart of the Presidency is to uphold our Constitution and its founding principles. The following questions need to be asked: Does the “peaceful transfer of power” reign supreme over every other democratic ideal this nation has stood by for centuries?  Does the “peaceful transfer of power” eclipse in importance all of our freedoms that so many of our ancestors died for?  What does the “peaceful transfer of power” mean when that transfer ends in the hands of a regime that does not have the best interests of the country at heart?  Who rails against our civil liberties? Who rails against the very pillars of our democracy and consistently attempts to delegitimize our democratic institutions? Who rails against the very document he is sworn to “protect, preserve and defend”?  With every peaceful transfer of power, there is an underlying assumption that the transfer is going from one benevolent actor to the next.  However, after Trump refused to say whether he would accept the results of the election, refuses to divest his business interests, refuses to release his tax returns, and shows every precursor in the book of a true Tyrant-in-Waiting, the peaceful transfer of power has become a farce.  It is the illusion of a peaceful transfer, while the nation reaches a boiling point, with the fervorous backdrop of questions regarding the very legitimacy of this past election, and of the man himself.  This past election has disenfranchised millions of voters, and instead of reaching across the aisle, we’ve elected a man who chooses to call us his “enemies”. Further, I daresay, Donald J. Trump is INCAPABLE of “faithfully execut(ing) the office of the President of the United States” due to his unprecedented conflicts of interest, and his unwillingness to properly address them.  This coincides with the ever-evolving news that a fore[...]



In Which I Infuriate EVERYBODY!

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:00:25 +0000

  I have spent much of  my time since the election, like many of you, considering why we lost. I have also been subjected, like many of you, to the incessant, petty finger pointing and blame game that’s going on in this circular firing squad that used to be Daily Kos. Fine. Want to point fingers? I’ll oblige you. I fully expect some of you won’t read past this paragraph and I suspect that many will abandon this post along the way as each encounters how I feel about the particular group they identify with. Some will have the courage, (or maybe just the outrage) to make it all the way to the final paragraphs, some will probably just roll their eyes at my username and move on but I think this has to be said. One by one, I’m going to point out how I feel about the various groups that have coalesced in this stupid, endless fucking flame war. Hillary Partisans: Hillary Clinton has a lot of government and private service under her belt and she truly cares, especially about children but denying that she is a card carrying, dyed in the wool, DNC approved representative of “more of the same” is fucking absurd. Bernie Sanders didn’t cost her the election, she had bad advice and was far too complacent about traditionally blue voters, whom she often ignored in favor of high profile, expensive fund raisers for the wealthy elite. While fund raising is a necessity in order to run for political office in this country, she should have held more some rallies at manufacturing plants and blue collar neighborhoods. Just pointing out that Trump, (henceforth known as the orange faced shitgibbon) is a colossally bad man clearly wasn’t enough, nor was it ever going to be. The optics of schmoozing with the banksters and brokers while across town people can’t afford both their car payment and new shoes for the kids were really bad. Sanders didn’t do that to her, her idiotic consultants inside the party and out did that. All that did was confirm to the people who didn’t like her that she was only interested in how much money could be collected from large donors. She took the enormous post convention boost and squandered it by immediately returning to her bubble. People LIKED her when she spoke to them, much less so when she put her base back on “ignore”.   That's just a single example of a campaign seemingly based on tone deafness. It’s not anti-Hillary or anti-Democratic Party to admit that mistakes were made and that she was perceived as much too close to the one percent of Wall Street and beyond. Yes, she was on the receiving end of some really ugly partisan smears but in the end, she let the election get too close to be able to recover from them. She should have spent more time reaching out to the beer and peanuts people and less reaching out to the wine and caviar circuit. To this day, she continues to be seemingly utterly oblivious to how infuriating some of her actions or in-actions have been. By attending the shitgibbon’s inauguration, like it’s some kind of normal handing over of power and not a coup d’etat, she looks just as beltway insider, just as Main Street out of touch as so many of her detractors accuse her of being. One more thing: the fact is that the DNC allowed Sanders to run as a Democrat so maybe instead of whining about it to Sanders fans, you should take it up with the people who allowed it.  Bernie Partisans:  Bernie lost the primary. Get over it. He did, why can’t you? Bernie Sanders is a great guy and he almost single handedly made the Democratic platform the most liberal one ever. But there is nothing to indicate that Sanders would have won, as I’ve seen claimed over and over, much less that he would have won “by a landslide” which has also been claimed. Bernie was not a perfect candidate either. He has some financial dealings he clearly doesn’t want publicly disclosed, (othe[...]



Food for Thought

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 12:50:04 +0000

Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and finance the Jihadi warriors, mujahideen, in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, prior to and during the military intervention by the USSR in support of its client, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. meanwhile Putin studied law at the Saint Petersburg State University in 1970 and graduated in 1975.[6] His thesis was on "The Most Favored Nation Trading Principle in International Law". In 1975, Putin joined the KGB, … after 15 years with the KGB working on international economic affairs … Meanwhile Not long after the CIA and Saudi Intelligence-financed Mujahideen had devastated Afghanistan at the end of the 1980’s, forcing the exit of the Soviet Army in 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself some months later, the CIA began to look at possible places in the collapsing Soviet Union where their trained “Afghan Arabs” could be redeployed to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet Eurasian space. They were called Afghan Arabs because they had been recruited from ultraconservative Wahhabite Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Arab world where the ultra-strict Wahhabite Islam was practiced. They were brought to Afghanistan in the early 1980’s by a Saudi CIA recruit who had been sent to Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden. (While circumnavigating the Arabian peninsula for CONTEL and ARAMCO in 1993 I happened to meet one such Mujahadin in Khamis Mushat and learned that not only were all the roads I had been driving on built by the the Saudi Bin Laden Group founded by Osama’s dad and based in Wahhabite Jeddah, like Exxon Mobile, those are all international businesses whose profits exceed the GNP of most countries.) Meanwhile Mecca is being torn down and rebuilt as hotels and convention centers for tourists looking to have all the crude esthetic beauty of the Syncrude wasteland. Mecca is being torn down and rebuilt Trump style with the clock tower a cluster of high rise hotels Meanwhile In May 1990, Putin was appointed as an advisor on international affairs to Mayor Sobchak. On 28 June 1991, he became head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Petersburg Mayor's Office, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments[49] and registering business ventures. After the collapse of the Communist East German government, Putin returned to Saint Petersburg, where in June 1991, he worked with the International Affairs section of Saint Petersburg State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov.[41] There, he looked for new KGB recruits, watched the student body, and renewed his friendship with his former professor, Anatoly Sobchak, the Mayor of Saint Petersburg.[45] Putin resigned with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 20 August 1991,[45] on the second day of 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.[46] Putin said: "As soon as the coup began, I immediately decided which side I was on", although he also noted that the choice was hard because he had spent the best part of his life with "the organs".[47] December 1991.[38] Putin met Anatoly Sobchak, an Assistant Professor who taught business law (khozyaystvennoye pravo), and was influential in Putin's career.[39] On 27 June 1997, at the Saint Petersburg Mining Institute, guided by rector Vladimir Litvinenko, Putin defended his Candidate of Science dissertation in economics, titled "The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations" On 9 August 1999, Putin was appointed one of three First Deputy Prime Ministers, and later on that day was appointed acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by President Yelts[...]



Cory Booker's excuse is too thin and very disingenuous

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:54:01 +0000

I want to give people information they can share so everyone can see that Cory Booker and others are being very disingenuous.   AARP recently reported:  • In 2015, retail prices for 268 widely used brand name prescription drugs increased by             15.5 percent. In contrast, the general inflation rate was 0.1 percent over the same period.  • The average annual cost for one brand name medication used on a chronic basis was more than $5,800 in 2015, almost $1,000 higher than the average annual cost of therapy in 2014. For the average consumer who takes 4–5 brand name prescription drugs on a chronic basis, the annual cost of therapy would have been more than $26,000 during 2015—more than the median annual income for Medicare beneficiaries.  • Prescription drug price increases also affect employers, private insurers, and taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Spending increases driven by high and growing drug prices will eventually affect all Americans in some way. — Those with private health insurance will pay higher premiums and cost sharing for their health care coverage. Over time, it could also lead to higher taxes and/or cuts to public programs to accommodate increased government spending.  The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: November 2016 finds that at least 19 million Americans have purchased and imported lower cost medication, primarily from Canada but other countries as well. “A new breed of pharmaceutical companies have become very good at targeting drugs whose prices can be manipulated without generic competition,” said Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the senior Democrat on the Aging Committee. In some cases, she said, they have used “patients as hostages.” In its investigation, the Senate panel scrutinized price increases by Turing Pharmaceuticals, which sells Daraprim, for treatment of toxoplasmosis, a life-threatening parasitic infection; Retrophin, which sells Thiola tablets, to prevent kidney stones in patients with a rare genetic disorder; Rodelis Therapeutics, which briefly held the rights to Seromycin, a tuberculosis drug; and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, which markets lifesaving heart drugs and medicines to treat Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder that can cause severe liver and nerve damage. The Senate’s Special Committee on Aging report even made recommendation that the FDA should be given the authority by Congress to allow imports of “medicines in narrowly defined circumstances, when consumers face sharp, sudden increases in the price of off-patent drugs that have no competition. The imports would be allowed only from countries with drug safety standards similar to those in the United States and would end “as soon as the monopoly was broken up,” it said. Presumably this is to continue the protection of American drug companies’ monopolies on drugs here.  In an opinion piece in the New York Times, the scare tactics and their result are discussed: For almost 15 years big drug companies have vigorously lobbied Congress and the federal government to stop Americans from buying foreign medicines. As part of that lobbying, they have made it seem as if all medications purchased from Canada and other international sources are the same as those that come from websites that sell counterfeit drugs. Even the F.D.A. has made that suggestion. In testimony in February before a House subcommittee hearing to explore the public health threat of counterfeit drugs, Howard R. Sklamberg, a deputy commissioner at the F.D.A., said that foreign unapproved drugs posed the same health risks as counterfeit drugs. That assertion is just not true and will scare lawmakers and consumers into believing that all imported drugs bought online are dangerous. The “unapproved” drugs are often [...]



So the LEFT is outraged over votes against Klobuchar Amendment. What about Wyden's?

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:03:51 +0000

For two days I’ve seen a whole lot of angst and anger at the  13 Democrats who voted for Big Pharma All tied into the failure of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Amendment (in a flurry of amendments voted upon already and more to come) to the farce which is the Continuing Resolution on the Budget, because our Congress hasn’t been able to pass an actual Budget bill in a couple of years now. This is the text of the (D) Ron Wyden amendment #187 (which my U.S. Senator Patty Murray voted YES on), which covers the same ground as the Klobuchar Amendment:   SA 187. Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Mr. Sanders) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the concurrent resolution S. Con. Res. 3, setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2017 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2018 through 2026; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows: At the end of title IV, add the following: SEC. 4__. POINT OF ORDER AGAINST LEGISLATION THAT DOES NOT LOWER DRUG PRICES. (a) Findings.--The Senate finds the following: (1) Total annual drug spending in the United States is projected to reach more than $500,000,000,000 by 2018. (2) One out of five Americans age 19 to 64 cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. (3) Spending on prescription drugs in the United States grew by 12 percent in 2014, faster than in any year since 2002. (4) Medicare part D drug spending was $90,000,000,000 in 2015, and is expected to increase to $216,000,000,000 by 2025. (5) Medicare part B drug spending also more than doubled between 2005 and 2015, increasing from $9,000,000,000 in 2005 to $22,000,000,000 in 2015. (6) In 2014, prescription drug spending in Medicaid increased by 24 percent. (7) During the Presidential campaign, the President-elect said, ``When it comes time to negotiate the cost of drugs, we're going to negotiate like crazy, folks'' and his campaign website said that, ``allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.''. (8) After being elected, the President-elect said, ``I'm going to bring down drug prices. I don't like what's happened with drug prices.''. (9) On January 11, 2017, the President-elect said, ``We have to create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they are getting away with murder.''. (b) Point of Order.--It shall not be in order in the Senate to consider a bill or joint resolution reported pursuant to section 2001 or 2002, or an amendment to, motion on, conference report on, or amendment between the Houses in relation to such a bill or joint resolution that does not, as promised by the President-elect, lower drug prices as certified by the Congressional Budget Office. (c) Waiver and Appeal.--Subsection (b) may be waived or suspended in the Senate only by an affirmative vote of three- fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn. An affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members of the Senate, duly chosen and sworn, shall be required to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the Chair on a point of order raised under subsection (b). It does not specifically provide for importation or re-importation of drugs from Canada to the United States. But, seriously folks, why are we even talking about IMPORTING drugs made right here in America back into our country from Canada? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous to anyone besides me? Shouldn’t the goal be to get our Congress to reign in the Wild Times[...]



Political Wishes For The New Year (Revised)

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:32:37 +0000

My hopes for the new year are quite simple. After witnessing a nasty and controversial election for President, including accusations of foreign interference, many residents of the U.S. are still feeling a bit uncertain about what 2017 may bring in terms of changes in politics, media, economics, civil rights and ecology. Following these emotional and unpredictable roller coaster rides, it’s not surprising that folks might be experiencing some well-founded public apprehension. As a result, new coalitions are being formed to address these issues involving activists, educators and organizers who are worried that their efforts to encourage progressive policies may have been in vain in light of the current right-wing corporatist trends coming from the new administration. Popular points of view reflect an all-time low in regards to the “trust factor.” Many members of both major political parties are unhappy with their own leadership. Locally this opinion is being expressed in numerous ways, including an ongoing series of community meetings that have been taking place all around the city. These well-attended gatherings began with a mass convergence on Capitol Hill after the election of Donald Trump. So, with this context in mind, here are my simple wishes for the new year: I hope that our political system is able to reform itself enough to begin directly addressing the vital issues that we all face locally and across the rest of the country. These issues include threats to democracy and fair elections, use of fossil fuel and the resulting environmental damage, extreme economic inequality, normalization of racial prejudice and bigotry, etc.   So far there hasn’t been much evidence that our traditional institutions are adequate to deal with these major challenges. x YouTube Video  (I hope folks will find my political satire music in this video amusing. However, it is comedy and is not meant as an editorial comment. We all need some humor and I think it’s therapeutic to make fun of ourselves once in a while...)  I hope that highly compensated corporate CEOs, managers and stockholders will learn to display responsibility and compassion when it comes to controlling economic and natural resources, treating workers with respect, monopolizing markets, displacing populations and adversely affecting culturally vibrant communities. I hope for an improvement in our international relations and in our reputation as a democratic and globally conscious nation. I wish for a recommitment to the First Amendment guarantee to freedom of the press. I hope for a move toward higher professional standards in journalism and honesty in reporting. There is an impression among media democracy activists that the mega-giant corporate networks have replaced journalistic integrity with a crass desire for profits and sensationalism. Walter Cronkite would be disgusted by the often vapid and illiterate super-hype machine that has now become the U.S. news media. Media pundits certainly did a lousy job of predicting the results of the most recent election! New forms of responsible, authentic and independent media sources will have to be created online to inform us of what’s really going on. Without access to available platforms to speak the truth, accurate information will not be heard by a mass audience. Current restrictive control of U.S. media by multinational corporations is one of the major obstacles to press freedom, and one of the main reasons that Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. as 41st in the world in terms of freedom of the press. We can and must do much better than this! It’s up to all publishers, editors, producers and journalists to speak out on this subject and to reform our own profession. If any of these h[...]



How Putin Played the Far Left --- Daily Beast

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:06:02 +0000

This is so messed up. Been coincidentally binge watching The Americans. Feel like I’m watching another spymaster drama unfold IRL. The way the intelligence agencies have factored into this election is unbelievable. I’m sure someone else wrote diaries about this but it was all news to me. How do we even counter this type of stuff?! How Putin Played the Far Left   Part of its campaign to vilify Hillary Clinton involved catering to her rivals on the far-left and pushing any number of crankish conspiracy theories that appeal as much to “anti-imperialists” as to neo-Nazis. In December 2015, the Kremlin feted Stein by inviting her to the gala celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Kremlin-funded propaganda network RT. Over a year later, it remains unclear who paid for Stein’s trip to Moscow and her accommodations there. Her campaign ignored multiple questions on this score. We do know, however, that Stein sat at the same table as both Putin and Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s soon-to-be national security adviser. She further spoke at an RT-sponsored panel, using her presence to criticize the U.S.’s “disastrous militarism.” Afterward, straddling Moscow’s Red Square, Stein described the panel as “inspiring,” going on to claim that Putin, whom she painted as a political novice, told her he “agree[d]” with her “on many issues.” ...Green Party officials across Europe slammed a “delusional” Stein for her views, with leading Russian environmental activists saying they were “deeply shocked” by her comments during her Moscow trip. In years of researching Kremlin influence-peddling, I’ve discovered first-hand just how eerily similar far-left and far-right Putinists are to each other. ​The Nation’s coverage of Russian affairs is a national embarrassment. RT is a website that hosts neo-Nazis as “expert” commentators. Yet that does not stop The Nation from publishing whataboutist articles in defense of the propaganda channel; articles pushing the same argument, with the exact same headlines, as those found in white-nationalist publications. When I pointed out that one of The Nation’s contributing writers, former J.P. Morgan banker James Carden, now executive editor of the American Committee for East-West Accord—an organization partly funded by vanden Heuvel’s family—continues to contribute to Kremlin-funded Russia Direct, what I received was nothing short of a deranged ad hominem. What remains of the internationalist wing of the Republican Party is understandably unnerved by how much of the American right has happily aligned with Putin’s spymasters and arms-length purveyors of “active measures” and provided cover for a foreign government’s interference in a U.S. election. But the American left has just as much reason to take stock. Ideologically promiscuous and unbound by the orthodoxies of a single party or historical narrative, Putin has cultivated dupes, fellow travelers, and purblind fools among plenty of American progressives who, whether by accident or design, have facilitated the rise of the most extremist and reactionary president this country has ever elected. Where I live in WI, Stein was a factor in HRC’s loss. I’m not blaming her voters — I didn’t know about this so how can I blame them for not being aware. But it hurts bad. I know this author isn’t the final say on Russia...and other opinions are out there but I’m just floored by the layers and layers of influence Putin had in our election. Makes the Frontline I watched about him — Putin’s Way if you haven’t seen it — so much scarier.  [...]



When Did Hillary Lose the Election? In 1964.

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:26:33 +0000

The half-century story of Democrats' abdication and decline By Steve Roth. Publisher, Evonomics On January 1, 1964, John F. Kennedy posthumously initiated the half-century decline of the Democratic Party, beginning its descent into this moment’s dark and backward abysm of slime. His massive tax cuts for the rich, implemented in ’64 and ’65, were the turning point and beginning of Democrats’ five-decade abandonment of its longtime winning formula: full-throated, unabashed, progressive economic populism. It was the signal moment when Democrats began to abandon the working and middle class. The working and middle class, betrayed and feeling betrayed, have now returned the favor. Unapologetic progressive economic populism — starting really with Teddy Roosevelt's slash-and-burn trustbusting, and turned up full-throttle in his namesake’s New Deal — had given Democrats three decades of electoral success. FDR lost two states and eight electoral votes in 1936. He got 523 out of 531. Over four campaigns, he never got less that 432. Eisenhower got a couple of terms as a very moderate Republican, really a progressive, but Democrats' dominance of Congress and state governments seemed eternal. Because: that economic populism also delivered success for America. The New Deal, combined with the government deficit spending of World War II, resulted in the greatest burst of widespread growth, progress, prosperity, and individual economic freedom in American history — before or since. James Carville was certainly right: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Democrats' remaining progressivism under Johnson — civil-rights legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, and the wholesale movement of liberated women into the workforce — eventually pushed a hot middle-out economy into the demand-driven inflation of the 70s. That torrid growth brought government debt down from 120% of GDP in 1947, to 35% in 1980. (You know what happened after that.) But even amidst that burst of growth and sustainable government finance, Democrats were abandoning the very source of their economic and electoral success. Kennedy's top-tier tax cuts were a preemptive, voluntary abdication to trickle-down theory, before "trickle-down" even existed. When Reagan turned that dial to eleven, he was only occupying ideological ground that Democrats had ceded and abandoned to the enemy, long before. It was an epochal own-goal of historic proportions. Democrats have been kicking the economic ball into their own net ever since. The obvious solution to the 70s inflation was to raise taxes, reducing government deficit spending, to drain off excess demand from a too-hot economy. Instead they acceded to the banker-industrial complex and the diktats of childish monetarism, again conceding the win to an economic belief system that is egregiously self-serving for the rich, and anathema to Democratic progressive economic populism. That's when the enthusiastic, progressive Democratic base stopped turning out in force. (Exception: Obama. For other reasons.) Progressive baby boomers have spent their whole lives voting against Republicans and their swingeing, destructive economic policies, not for inspiring Democrats. Think about the Democratic presidential candidates since 1964. McGovern was a true social progressive, but really a one-issue anti-war candidate. Bill Clinton did okay, within the confines of the post-Reagan economic belief system, which he never seriously challenged as FDR did. Obama didn't either, in rhetoric or practice. His administration's failure to prosecute a single prominent bankster is arguably the best single explanation for Hillary's electoral meltdown. Can you name one full-throated economic progres[...]



What The Debate Over “Identity Politics” Does, And Does Not Mean For The Democratic Party

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:22:16 +0000

Original post here I may be a little late to this topic, since the whole controversy came out a month and a half ago, but the issue is still simmering, and the direction of the Democratic Party is still in flux. How the Democratic party deals with the issue has serious implications for the future of the country. It’s an issue that still warrants talking about to say the least. So of course, in the aftermath of the election there’s been a debate raging about the role of “identity politics”, the tendency to focus on narrow issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., in the modern Democratic politics. Conservative and Centrist commentators have taken the opportunity to crow about how over-reliance on this sort of politics caused them to turn into an exclusivist party, over reliant on demographics and unwilling to appeal to the “mainstream”. Much of this was just the same old tired diatribes about “PC Culture” that we hear every time Democrats do poorly in an election. But then Sanders and, and many other progressives, began criticizing the party from the left, faulting it for failing to push common, primarily economic, vision for the party, and instead cynically adopting a veneer of social progressivism to deflect criticism and delegitimize their opponents. This generated a lot of controversy. Many were quick to dismiss Sanders and his allies. Many have equated their argument to trivializing issues that are important to women, minorities, immigrants, and the LGBT community. Others have claimed that politics is little more than “identity politics”, and trying to do what Sanders and others are suggesting is either untenable, or amounts to ignoring their constituents. On the whole, I think these attempts to dismiss the issue are wrong headed. First off, as many have pointed out, they mischaracterize the argument being made, trying to portray it as complaining that a lot of voters vote on issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation. In fact, what he’s criticizing is lousy messaging and cynical attempts to coopt issues of identity politics, which is basically a cogent point. Second, they’re quick to dismiss that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. On the contrary, there are tons of examples of the Democratic leadership, and others, doing exactly what Sanders was accusing them of and getting away with it. This does have serious consequences for the effectiveness of Progressive politics. First, Some Basic Points There isn’t actually a contradiction It’s worth noting that, strictly speaking, there isn’t actually any cause for conflict over “identity politics”. If the Democratic Party is based on one principal, it’s that true social progress can be measured in how society empowers and engages all its members. The goals of economic and racial justice and gender/sexual empowerment are all basically compatible with this goal. Indeed, in a lot of ways, they’re self-reinforcing, and meaningless without one another. Equality before the law is a vapid right if people don’t have the economic means to realize it. Conversely, meaningful working class solidarity can’t be achieved in a context of racial animosity and sexism. Today, there is a basic understanding of this among the various branches of the Democratic coalition. To be sure, this wasn’t always the case, and there are numerous instances when the reforms of economic progressives failed to enfranchise racial minorities, women, immigrants and so forth as they should have. But, whatever their failings a century ago (and it’s easy to exaggerate them), they’re far outstripped by instances of successful cooperation. The labor move[...]



I Have One Question for the Democratic Party Senators Who Voted Against the Canadian Drug Measure

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:49:19 +0000

To the 13 Senators, purportedly of the Democratic Party, who just voted against the measure to allow Americans to import cheaper Canadian prescription medications: I would like to ask you, just one question. But first, I should describe the motivations for my question. Where should I even begin? First, I do not want to criticize you all on your reasoning that you are looking out for the safety of Americans when it comes to the safety regulations that these medicines should adhere to. Setting aside the fact that this is basically parroting the pharmaceutical lobby’s reasoning for protecting their profits opposing this measure. Setting aside the fact many Americans have already normalized this practice and support making it legal. Setting aside the fact that many of these drugs actually are originally manufactured in the United States. Setting aside the fact that a lot of Americans already purchase these drugs illegally, so you are basically kinda using the same reasoning forced-birthers use to shut down abortion clinics and force people to do them illegally. I want to be clear that I understand that the safety of any prescription medication is an important detail to keep an eye on, and so I you are not wrong for wanting that type of precaution. But in prioritizing that one detail, on showing your principles on this one aspect, you show that you are willing to sacrifice almost every other battle being waged against the destructive policies of the Republican Party. At best, you are showing a complete obliviousness to what is currently going on within this country, within this party, and within your own chamber. First of all, there is something fundamental that you show you do not fully appreciate, even though you have a managed to reach such a privileged status in our democratic system: You are now the minority party in the Senate (not to mention in the House, and we now don’t even have the Presidency and are about to be lose the Supreme Court again). You are the minority party! The only leverage you hope to have in anything at all you intend to accomplish in that legislative body is through solidarity with the rest of the Democrats. The idea that you might be doing what is best for Americans, by calling for tougher regulations on Canadian drugs: Guess what? That does a fat lot of nothing when you are the minority party. Anything that does or does not happen to help protect Americans is purely through the will of the Republicans who hold the majority in the Senate. It is their fault if the standards are not up to what they should be. And it is entirely to the credit if anything gets passed, more stringent or not. Or do you expect to get Democratically-written measures — no matter how minor, or clear-cut, or slam-dunk —  through McConnell, Ryan, and Trump? If you think anything Democratically-principled is going to get through that gauntlet, then I’ve got a Obamacare Replacement plan to sell you. When you are the minority party, you stick together, and oppose everything Republicans put forward that does not meet the standards of the Democratic platform. That is a basic rule in two-party politics. Republicans certainly understood that well when they were in the minority. If it really is that important to you to look like the adults in the room and profess some bipartisanship — save that shit for when you’re back in the majority, and such high-minded attitudes might actually change anything. But for now, the point is to block the worst of their policies. So, how do we measure the effects of these policies? Ok, let’s get back to the idea of allowing Americans to import cheaper Canadian medi[...]



Democrats want answers on Trump finances, Republicans ... don't

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:35:01 +0000

If the Republican defense of anything and everything Donald Trump does is a brick wall, Democrats are going to keep beating against that brick wall:

In the House, the [Democratic] party’s 21 committee ranking members sent Ryan a letter Thursday pleading with him to demand reams of Trump’s financial documents, including his corporate charters, balance sheets, income statements, and personal and corporate tax returns from the past five years.

“We must do our duty and be our check on the executive branch,” Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told reporters.

That’s a duty Republicans aren’t so much interested in. House Speaker Paul Ryan is continuing his policy of ignorance when it comes to Trump. He never knows anything about anything, it seems like:

“I’m confident that he’s solely focused on his presidency, that he’s turning the business over to his remaining family members who are going to run the business,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters in the Capitol.

The Wisconsin Republican said he hadn’t studied the details on the president-elect’s new financial arrangement and punted additional questions to the GOP-led committee responsible for Trump administration oversight.

And Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, is taking Trump on faith, too. Funny how much less interested he is in Trump’s many documented—but not officially investigated—conflicts of interest than in Hillary Clinton’s much-investigated email.

This isn’t just Democrats vs. Republicans. It’s ethics watchdogs, including the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, vs. Trump’s plan to dodge ethics. Sure, Democrats have a partisan interest here, but they’re not creating an issue out of nothing. There’s a real problem here—a president-elect who’s already using his office to get business and has a history of shenanigans with his charitable foundation—and it’s one Republicans want to ignore so they can get on with taking health insurance from tens of millions of people and implementing the rest of their agenda. It’s pretty clear whose side history is on.




Over 80,000 Virginians Will Lose Representation Today

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:42:47 +0000

Over 80,000 Virginians will lose representation today - and it was entirely avoidable. As a result of the January 10th special election, Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-71) will be sworn into the state Senate as the representative of the 9th District. The people of McClellan’s House District 71, however, will be stuck without any representation in the House of Delegates. For how long, you may wonder? Ask a Republican. In particular, ask Republican Speaker Howell. § 24.2-216 of the Virginia Code states that if a vacancy occurs while the General Assembly is in session, "the Speaker of the House of Delegates or President pro tempore of the Senate as the case may be, shall issue the writ [of election] unless the respective house by rule or resolution shall provide otherwise." In an interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch, Speaker Howell claims the election will be held “before the session’s end,” yet he reminds us of the reality of elections: “I don’t want it to wait too long but by the same token you can’t do it in a couple of days.” For those of you inclined to trust Speaker Howell to move expediently on behalf of the citizens (mostly Democrats) of the 71st, consider another detail. After McClellan is sworn into the state Senate, the House will be a body of 99. And Republicans have precisely 66 votes - a veto overriding supermajority. It’s true that by the time the House convenes for the April “veto session,” the 71st will likely have an elected Democratic delegate. We all know the Senate won’t be overriding any vetoes, as Democrats hold 19 of those 40 seats. Richmond School Board member Jeff Bourne has already announced his candidacy for the seat - but a candidate, no matter how qualified, is not a sitting delegate with voting rights. What could possibly explain this fundamentally undemocratic reality: over 80,000 citizens lack House representation for an unknown portion of an approximately 45 day session. We don’t know how to explain the situation. McClellan was running against an idiosyncratic Libertarian rapper in a safe Democratic Senate district. The district covers parts of Henrico, Richmond, Hanover, and Charles City. McEachin routinely won in SD9 with over 80% of the vote, Senator Mark Warner won the district in 2014 with 71.6%, and Governor Terry McAuliffe won in 2013 with 68.8%. McClellan announced her run on November 14th - and had she resigned her House seat anytime between then and January 10th, Governor McAuliffe would have had the authority to issue the writ of election to fill her seat. Neither of those events occurred. So we have to ask: what happened and, more importantly, what is happening? To some this may be Virginia politics as usual, a potential job opportunity, or a political inconvenience. When it comes to tens of thousands of citizens losing representation, the explanation must be exceptional. The only hint we’ve found in the press is McClellan’s statement to the Richmond Times Dispatch that she “wanted to take nothing for granted.” We humbly suggest that the people of the 71st took House representation for granted, and they might have believed that - as another safe Democratic district - the Democratic Party would look out for their interests. But the burden has been passed on to the Republican Speaker: he decides whether or not they’ll be represented in the House this year, and for how long.   Contact Speaker Howell and ask him to issue the writ of election: Website Capitol Phone: (804) 698-1028 District Phone: (540) 371-1612 Email: DelWHowell@house.virginia.gov Facebook Twitter [...]



Cherrypicked Bill of Rights

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 02:28:03 +0000

    The Republican Party is its current form treats our founding fathers like they are gods on Mt. Olympus. Senators like Ted Cruz treat the constitution like it is the most sacred document since the bible. During the campaign, a gold star family questioned if Donald Trump read the constitution or not.          However, I don't think most Republicans believe the constitution goes beyond the second amendment. They talk about-about freedom like its sacred thing. I started questioning what freedom are they referring too. This is a subject that we don't hear much about.       After reasonable consideration, I conclude that the only right they seem to be concerned about is the second amendment. This is the amendment that sends loads of dark money from the NRA to super PACs against Democratic candidates. Republican primary candidates fight over who will get the NRA endorsement. Do they even acknowledge any other parts of The Constitution?       The first amendment gives you the right to free speech, religion, press etc. However, if you attempt to fact check Donald Trump he throws a tantrum similar to a five-year-old who doesn't get their favorite candy bar at your local grocery store. Some members of the Republican Party want to abolish the freedom of religion such as Sarah Palin.  If they truly worship our founding fathers as much as they claim too. They would know that one of the reasons they fled to America was because of religious persecution.        Jump to the fourth amendment which protects us from unlawful searches and seizures. Don't hear much from the republican party to protect this one, do you? The fifth amendment protects us against double jeopardy. Republican's have been ignoring this for political purposes.  The sixth amendment grants us the right to a speedy trial and impartial judges. Do you honestly think all judges are impartial? The Wisconsin State Supreme Court is totally politicized.The seventh amendment grants us the right to a jury trial in civil cases. The eighth amendment protects us from cruel and unusual punishment. It's funny that none of these are ever mentioned as much as the second amendment.       The only freedom they care about is for you to own a gun. The scary thing is they believe everyone should own a gun without any conditions. In Wisconsin, they passed a law that eliminates the 48hr waiting period on handgun purchases. Scary proposals like campus carry to prove that their ties to the gun lobby have no boundaries.          The main attack against democrats is that " They're gonna take your guns away". If I was to receive a dollar every time I hear that line I could fund my own super PAC. We are not going to come after your guns. We are not the draconian regulators that they paint us as. The Republicans regulate just about as much as Democrats do.         Democrats want to make sure terrorists and the mentally ill are not getting their hands on automatic weapons. Democrats want to make sure Wells Fargo is not going to open up another fake account in your name and retire with a golden parachute.  Democrats want to make sure Wall Street doesn't crash the economy with risky loans.           Republicans want to dictate what bathroom you use. Republicans want to regulate what can and cannot be taught in the classroom.  They want to prohibit you from marrying who you fall in love with.  Think about that. The Government dictating who you can and can't marry. Thinking about this makes me wonder why they accuse us of being the intrusive big government bullies. The [...]



No Longer Invisible, No Longer Alone, No Longer Hopeless

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 02:12:42 +0000

As these are called diaries, I feel like it’s important from time-to-time to simply write about some of my recent reflections. After watching President Obama’s farewell address last night, I found myself thinking back on his presidency, and where I was in my life when he ran the first time in 2008.

Before President Obama was elected eight years ago, I largely felt invisible, limited, and alone. I was reaching the end of my college career at Georgetown, and had met many amazing people along the way, but I didn't think anyone who looked like me could actually make a difference in the lives of others.

Being bi-racial in a world where most Caucasian folks see you as only black, and most African-Americans see you as white doesn't help; I'm sure quite a few out there remember the whole "is Obama 'black enough?'” stuff that went on. He's faced that long before his run and it's something that's way more pervasive than it should be. I know that because I’ve experienced it for most of my life, and there were times when I felt like less of a person because I never fully fit in to either racial identity that society told me I should have.

Having a hybrid racial identity is messy to a lot of folks’ world views, and while I understand why, it doesn’t make explaining it, or living it, any easier.

But when he was elected, Barack Obama not only broke a ceiling that many thought wouldn't be broken for several more decades; he also made me feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I no longer felt like I had to look different, or be someone different, in order to make a difference.

He's accomplished many things, and I feel blessed to say that he was our president during the stage in my life where I became a full adult. More than anything else, though, he made it okay for me to be me, and I'll always be grateful for that.

It’s also why I’m running for the Virginia House of Delegates this year. I now know that someone who looks like me and has my background can earn the trust and support of folks from all walks of life; I now know that if I work hard enough, fight hard enough, and organize hard enough to get my message of progress to those I wish to serve, that I can make a positive impact on their lives.

There were times — several of them, in fact — where I disagreed with his policies, but President Obama’s background, accomplishments, and legacy are part of who I am, and I owe it to him and everyone else to take hold of that, and run with it as far as my mind, body and heart can take me.

Thanks for reading.




Why Donald Trump is a Fake President

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 02:02:39 +0000

In an alternate universe closely resembling our own, Unnamed Democrat is a member of Congress from a purple state. This is the speech he hypothetically gave to the Springfield Democratic Club on January 12. Thank you for coming, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for – I hope – staying until the end of my remarks. I'm here primarily to address the question, “what is the right attitude for us Democrats to strike towards President Donald Trump?” And my answer is inspired, if that's the right word, by a phrase Trump used in his press conference yesterday to characterize a news organization which dared to commit journalism against him. I think we should say of Donald Trump: “You are a Fake President.” We all know there is, or used to be, a long tradition of a “honeymoon period” in which the opposition tries its best to be deferential to the new president, to compromise, to show the nation that it accepts the new president as the legitimate representative of the people, the legitimate occupant of our most important office. This of course is a tradition which the Republican Party has not so much ignored as set on fire, in ways I think we're all familiar enough with not to need our memories refreshed now. Still, it might be worth resurrecting this tradition under the right circumstances. If, for example, the new president elect, no matter how much we disagreed with his principles, actually had principles; if he was a man who had demonstrated his sincerity in seeking the best course for the nation, and his good faith in recognizing the part that a loyal opposition had to play in finding that course; then I would be willing to enter, maybe not a honeymoon, but at least a trial cohabitation period. But such is not the case. We are dealing instead with a president-elect who is entirely unprincipled, whose obvious motivation has always been and continues to be not the good of the country but the filling of his own bank account and the satisfaction of his own massive ego, and whose political practice has always been to tell ugly lies and issue witless insults against anybody whom Trump imagines to pose some threat either to that bank account or to that ego. Now I know it wasn't politically correct to say all that, but... [LAUGHTER]. More seriously, I know that these are not the sorts of things public officials are supposed to say about Presidents, even if they are true. We are not supposed to say them both because we are supposed to have respect for the office, if not the man, and because saying them is thought to threaten . . . something or other. Bipartisan comity, or something like that. To take these points in reverse order, first it should be obvious to anybody who has been paying any attention at all for the last quarter of a century or so that “bipartisan comity” is by now nothing but a sucker's game, that when Republicans imply or state that the Democratic president is a foreign usurper, and that Democratic foreign policy seeks the downfall of America and the death of our soldiers, they are just Raising Legitimate Issues; but that when a Democrat says that Donald Trump is a greedy charlatan, that is a shocking violation of the fabric of civil society. Let us be clear that we are not going to feel bound in the slightest by the “rules” of that silly game. Now, as for the more significant objection, that of “respect for the office”: it makes sense to respect the office of the Presidency, if that means acknowledging that the office makes tremendous demands[...]



Political Limerick - Medicare, to make you work till 67

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 01:41:34 +0000

For Medicare Congress is revvin'

To make you work till sixty-seven

They may save a buck

But you're out of luck

By then they hope you'll be in heaven.




Why exactly did Cory Booker and a dozen other Democrats vote against lowering drug prices?

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 23:36:50 +0000

Campaign Action

It was a Democratic amendment sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders. It was pro-working class and anti-Big Pharma. It even enticed "Yes" votes from 12 GOP senators. And yet 13 Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker, helped kill a measure aimed at making prescription drugs more affordable. It failed 46-52. Ellie Shechet writes

Last night, Senate Republicans took their first leap towards repealing Obamacare by approving a budget procedure that would allow them to avoid a Democratic filibuster. The 13 Democrats who subsequently voted against making drugs cheaper for people deeply undercut the ability of that party to speak with credibility on behalf of the working class.

The measure, which would have allowed drugs to be imported from Canada, was expected to fail. But Democrats helped drive the nail into the coffin. 

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Democrats send letter demanding Congress review Trump's ongoing business entanglements

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 21:32:30 +0000

After Donald Trump announced yesterday that he would not be divesting from his businesses—instead only turning over their management to his own sons—his refusal to abide by long-established precedent was blasted by the head of the Office of Government Ethics.

Now Rep. Elijah Cummings and 20 other Democrats have sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to demand Trump release documentation on those businesses for congressional review.

As a result, it is now up to Congress to exercise our Constitutional duty to act as an independent check on the Executive Branch by demanding all documents necessary to evaluate all of President-Elect Trump's global financial entanglements for conflicts of interest and constitutional violations—including in particular those involving Russian investors, business interests, and development partners. [...]

As Members of the House of Representatives, we have sworn a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, which means exercising robust oversight of the Executive Branch regardless of the President's political party. To date, however, the House has done nothing to obtain specific documents about President-Elect Trump's vast global entanglements.

The letter goes on to note Trump's known financial ties to Russian figures, including connections to Russian organized crime figures, and notes also that past Democratic requests for this very review have been rebuffed.

This would be what actually caring about government corruption looks like. That Ryan and the other Republican members of Congress have been, to date, uninterested in providing such oversight will be, the moment any untoward information about Trump's conflation of business and government duties comes out, on their own scalps as well.

Right now House Republicans—and Paul Ryan in specific—are abetting Trump's plan to run afoul of both the Constitution and government ethical standards. They are abetting whatever happens next, and Democrats are going to make damn sure that's spelled out here and now.




Here's what Republicans voted for Wednesday night— $7 million for each of the 400 richest tax-payers

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:54:17 +0000

Sure, repealing Obamacare is about bringing "choice" back to Americans when it comes to their health insurance. That's what Republicans say, right? That it'll cost consumers less and be better and that's all they want for the nation. How do you know that's bullshit? Because of what repeal will really mean: massive tax cuts for the wealthiest tax-payers.

Urged on by Trump, the Senate overnight adopted a budget resolution that clears a path for eliminating the tax-and-spending provisions of the Affordable Care Act by simple majority vote — no Democratic cooperation required. That means repeal of two provisions targeted at high-income households: a 0.9 percent hospital insurance tax on earnings above $250,000 for couples and a 3.8 percent tax on capital gains, dividends and other nonlabor income above that same threshold.

That would provide a tax cut averaging $7 million for each of the 400 highest-earning taxpayers, according to new calculations by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities using Internal Revenue Service data. That cut, the center estimated, would amount to $2.8 billion annually overall — or approximately the value of Obamacare subsidies for those with modest incomes in the 20 smallest states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, eliminating those two levies would represent a tax cut of roughly $346 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Households with million-dollar-plus incomes — a much larger group than the top 400 — would receive an average tax cut of $49,000 a year, the center says.

The only people Republicans are looking out for are the ones in Trump's swamp.




PA-Gov: PA Democrats Waste No Time Introducing The Voters To Trash Man Scott Wagner (R) In New Ad

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:17:23 +0000

Received this e-mail yesterday from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party: It is clear that Republican Senator Scott Wagner, who formally announced his campaign for governor earlier today, represents the very worst of Harrisburg -- he serves the powerful special interests instead of the people of Pennsylvania. During his announcement, Wagner said "If you don't know much about me, learn as much as you can about me. Check me out." We decided to help Wagner out, so we produced a video using his words and actions in Harrisburg to let Pennsylvanians learn more about him: x YouTube Video From the moment Wagner became a State Senator, it's been his stated priority to do anything and everything he can to block progress and score cheap political points. Pennsylvanians should learn as much as they can about Wagner. They should know how he wants go back to the days of Governor Corbett and cut hundreds of millions of dollars from public education. How he wants to make medical decisions for women and outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. And how he voted to deny treatment to fend off the heroin and opioid crisis that plagues our communities. With your help, Pennsylvanians will learn all they need to know about Scott Wagner -- and when they do, they'll want to take the trash out of Harrisburg. Watch and share the video: http://act.PADems.com/Check-out-Scott-Wagner Thank you, Sinceré Sinceré Harris Executive Director Pennsylvania Democratic Party   Click here to share the video and help PA Dems get ready to fight back. Share it on Facebook. Share it on Twitter. [...]



Senate Democrats stand in unity against Obamacare repeal

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:33:12 +0000

After a long night of marathon votes in which Democrats forced Republicans to reject the most important, most popular provisions of Obamacare, the Senate voted along party lines (only Rand Paul [R-KY] broke ranks) to begin the process of repeal.

The vote was 51 to 48. During the roll call, Democrats staged a highly unusual protest on the Senate floor to express their dismay and anger at the prospect that millions of Americans could lose health insurance coverage.

One by one, Democrats rose to voice their objections. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington said that Republicans were “stealing health care from Americans.” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he was voting no “because health care should not just be for the healthy and wealthy.”

The presiding officer, Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, repeatedly banged his gavel and said the Democrats were out of order because “debate is not allowed during a vote.”

You can watch that strong display of unity below the fold. One by one, senators from the whole spectrum of the Democratic party stood with their constituents to reject repeal. That includes the red and purple state senators up for re-election in 2018, the group that Republicans think they can peel away from Democrats. Jon Tester (D-MT), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joe Manchin (D-WV)—all stood in defiance of Republicans and their rush to repeal, with no replacement bill in sight.

Democrats are not going to bail out Republicans when they come calling for help with repeal. That's the message sent loud and clear last night.




House Democrats threaten to oppose Mattis waiver after Trump team won't let him testify

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:09:03 +0000

Gen. James Mattis, Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary, was slated to appear before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday to talk about civilian control of the military. It’s an important issue since before he can be confirmed, Mattis would need Congress to vote to exempt him from a law requiring retired military officers to wait seven years before becoming defense secretary—but the Trump transition team canceled Mattis’s House appearance. That’s not going over well with Democrats:

"I'm going to urge all House Democrats to vote no on the waiver,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. “The Republicans just spent eight years complaining about the executive branch ... usurping legislative branch power, and here's the first move of the new administration is to ignore us on something.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that Democrats would be “very wary” of voting for the waiver without Mattis’ testimony.

Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) said he had been inclined to support the waiver, but he was no longer sure now that Mattis wasn't testifying.

Trump nominates someone who is, under current law, disqualified from being defense secretary. Congress would need to exempt him from the law. And the Trump transition team won’t let him go to the House to make the case for himself. They’re expecting unquestioning obedience from Republicans on this vote—and they’ll probably get it. But Democrats don’t have to go along with it, and they shouldn’t.

Thursday, Jan 12, 2017 · 8:12:19 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Meanwhile:

x



OF WIZARDS AND WASHINGTON AND THE DREARY, UNRELENTING REALITY OF AMERICAN POLITICS

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:22:18 +0000

OF WIZARDS AND WASHINGTON AND THE DREARY, UNRELENTING REALITY OF AMERICAN POLITICS A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain John Chuckman The books about The Wizard of Oz were written as satire on American politics, but Hollywood, in its inimitable way, turned them into a song-and-dance picture for children. Still, one scene in the film has a sense of the author’s intent. That scene is when Dorothy, in Emerald City, approaches a closet-like structure, which, as it happens, is the Wizard’s control booth for sounds and smoke and lights, his special effects for intimidating visitors and impressing them with non-existent power. The entrance curtain happens to be open, so Dorothy sees a modest man busily pulling levers and pushing buttons and speaking into a microphone which alters his voice into a great booming one, echoing like a great organ in a cathedral. When the man realizes that he is being watched, he makes a last effort and booms out words along the lines of “Pay no attention to the man in the booth.” Of course, the jig is up, and we all understand there is no wizard. What better allegory for events in Washington today could there be? We have booming noises and smoke and glaring lights, and it all comes from a rather sad little – little in the sense of failed - man with about two weeks left to sit at his big desk and pretend that he is great and powerful wizard. Except, when you are President, as this man is, you can never be observed in your control booth and you have your stunts and booming claims seconded by a chorus of flacks, hangers-on, and political appointees, presumably lending a semblance of authenticity and substance. What the controversy engendered by “the Russians did it” has achieved is almost the opposite to what was intended. Dubious claims and pretend evidence have caused lights to shine brightly over what is a blanketing fabric of dishonesty in America's establishment. The fabric covers everything from foreign affairs and the military to the details of domestic affairs. It is immense, complex, and carefully constructed covering, and those who created it have very little tolerance for any of it being scrutinized under spotlights. Achieving this scrutiny may be regarded as Obama’s final act of failure. Whether it is “the Russians hacked the DNC” or “America has been bombing ISIS in Syria” or “the Russians threaten Eastern Europe” or “the Russians committed atrocities in Aleppo” or “Russia shot down Flight MH-17,” the same tiresome actors making the same unsupported claims have for eight years expected that just their inflated job titles should intimidate us into believing them. Proof? Who needs that? Would I lie to you about such matters? Once you start something foolish as Obama has done, and it is widely understood as being foolish, you only weaken your authority over all the other less-obviously dubious claims you have been making. The fabric of lies becomes weakened, and that is one of Obama’s small, but unintended, achievements now. Even as I write these words, the first big wave of the Obama-Clinton unsupported claims, unsupported, that is, except by hack appointees like James Clapper, is receding. The world quickly reached a verdict of “non[...]



Democratic Talking Points

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 07:25:38 +0000

     DEMOCRATIC TALKING POINTS (From Now And For The Next Two Years)

I have come up with three main talking points that I think Democrats can use to explain and discredit the power monopoly the Republican party now enjoys in Washington and most of the states.

Above the fold they are briefly outlined. Below it they are elaborated on with possible remedies offered on point on point I.) sub claims, as the Republican Party is sure to call for them if challenged on these sub claims.

In the third talking point I use the terms ‘typical American’ and ‘typical voter’. These are used instead of the terms ‘average American’ and ‘average voter’. This is because the word ’average’ is a trap the Republicans love to use (and love it even more when unsuspecting Democrats use it), as it is directly tied to the statistical term ’mean’.

The ’average voter’ is far wealthier than the ’typical voter’ for this reason. The ’average voter’ probably makes between eighty and ninety thousand a year and probably has real estate, stock, and bond holdings worth several hundred thousand dollars.

The ‘typical voter’, on the other hand, probably has more debt than assets, and probably lives in a multi-generational house hold, or rents an apartment, house trailer, or as in my case just a room, or may own a house that is worth less than it was last purchased for.

The ‘average voter’ is almost certainly middle class. The ‘typical voter’ is most likely not.

With these caveats, here are my talking points:

I.) Though the Republicans have the majority in the House and Senate, their control lacks legitimacy because much of it was gained through:

    A.) Gerrymandering,     B.) Voter Suppression,
    C.) Making early voting difficult or impossible, and     D.) Making elections far more expensive than they ever were.

II.) The true Republican Party Agenda has nothing to offer to most Americans. It is really just about cutting taxes for the wealthy by cutting government services for everyone else. This is done under the guise of:     
    A.) Allowing ’Market Forces’, not government, to determine the allocation of limited resources, claiming that ’Market Forces’ efficiently allocate resources to all that need (or ’deserve them’).     B.) Assuming and advocating the idea that for profit organizations are far better at delivering services than government ones, even though they have a lengthy hierarchy of pay grades in them, and have share holders and creditors to pay.

III.) Because they have so little to offer the typical American, they can only get typical Americans to vote for them by appeals to: racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and fear and hatred of other outside groups, such as homosexuals and transgender people.

    A.) This is just about the only way they can get enough typical Americans to vote for them, against their true self interests.  




Senate's vote-a-rama on Obamcare repeal commences, slowly

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 00:38:30 +0000

An hour into the Senate's vote-a-rama on amendments to the bill that sets up the budget resolution that will maybe repeal Obamacare, Republicans have rejected on a party-line basis an effort by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to keep the provision of Obamacare that has closed the Medicare "donut-hole," saving seniors billions on prescription drugs. They also rejected Sen. Angus King's (I-ME) amendment that would prohibit insurance companies from denying benefits to people in certain supposedly high-risk occupations. So they're off to a typical and slow start. Democrats will stay with it all night if necessary, to prove their point

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) appealed to Republicans earlier Wednesday urging them to step back from their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 
 
"If Republicans go forward with this plan, they may mollify their base, but they will ostracize and hurt the American people, and ultimately lose in the court of public opinion," he said. 
 
Schumer added that the current divisions among Republicans on how to repeal and replace ObamaCare to the "Abbot and Costello show", with both the Trump administration and congressional Republicans urging each other to bring up a repeal plan.

He's wrong. Abbot and Costello were funny. There's nothing funny about what Republicans are trying to do here.




Bricks and Sticks

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:52:02 +0000

The President of the United States was let down by his party… President Barack H. Obama wanted to build strong bridges, but the Democratic voter would only give him bricks and sticks. Where is that steel, constituency undergirding that Joe Biden famously pinned to the President’s spine www.politico.com/....  President Obama won two terms on the trope,” yes we can.” We let him down, the minute a hint of adversarial trouble came, we hid our collective heads. West Virginia Dem. Senator Joe Manchin sided demonstrably with the NRA and the anti ACA obstructionist, giving the Republicans the shield of bi-partisan opposition.  When the President followed the long held tradition of the Israeli, Two-State solution, New York Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer went on a public rant, threatening to, “blast” the administration www.politico.com/.... The “we” the President had always hoped for was bastardized into the rise of the Tea Party, maybe a liberal Chi Party [Comprehensive, Honorable and Intelligent]is in order...   As a party, it has often been said Republicans fall in line and Democrats fall in love www.barrypopik.com/....  Not falling into the trap of monolithic thinking is a virtue for Democrats  but too often we allow the newest sexy political figure deter us from winning; You do not keep warm, standing outside the cabin.  I believe, in 2008, liberals fell in love with an intelligent man of character and constraint.  On the other side of the aisle, Republicans, in 2016, found a smooth talking con man, who daily displays his naivety to governance, but he convinced conservatives to fall in line, to win.   Donald Trump, this morning, gave the greatest example of the circus we must be prepared to deal with for a few months, or eight years.  In his first press conference in 167 days, Mr. Trump drew a parallel with the US Intelligence agencies and the Nazis.  Then he attacked a trusted worldwide news agency[CNN] as fake news for challenging his voracity.  CNN can and has gotten it wrong before but Mr. Trump wants to throw out the baby with the bathwater.    I am no sycophant for the current state of the  press but logic would make me pause, as the President-elect, and make a judgement as to whether Vladimir Putin is in the process of undermining the 4th Estate, a free press www.merriam-webster.com/.... Donald Trump is playing right into the hands of the enemy. He is actively and knowingly destroying the internal view of the American spy network and belittling the press, to suit his goal of political power through secrecy. The function and responsibility of the press is to move freely through society, seeking information to shine a reflective light on the populace and government.    In the ongoing effort to discredit the press, Senator Marco Rubio asked, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson today, if he objected to the murders, reportedly ordered by President Duterte, of drug dealers in the Philippines and sourced a LA Times article www.latimes.com/... . The instinctive and decent answer is to say, of course the US does not sanction murder in anyway… His answer was to doubt the accuracy of the press reports and dodge giving an answer.  The destruction of the four[...]



Senate prepares for long night of futile Obamacare vote-a-rama

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:01:16 +0000

Never mind that their Obamacare repeal plans are crumbling around them: Senate Republicans are moving forward with the repeal vehicle, the budget reconciliation plan that is supposed to kick the process off. Just to make today crazier, it's vote-a-rama day on the repeal plan that has nowhere to go because there is no "replace" plan, and everyone from Paul Ryan to Donald Trump says a replacement has to come before repeal. Even though they don't have a clue what that might be or how, if they had one they'd actually get all Republicans on board with it. But they're going to go all night with votes. Ed Kilgore:

As I explained in a separate piece a week ago, the “vote-a-rama” is a quirky byproduct of the limits the Congressional Budget Act places on debating budget resolutions (or the reconciliation bills that implement them). While time for debate is strictly limited, ruling out filibusters, there are no limits on the number of amendments that can be offered. Thus senators (usually from the minority party) use this opportunity to offer a vast number of amendments on which votes are guaranteed — typically those that put senators on the spot and on the record on sensitive issues.

In the context of this year’s budget, the amendments will mostly be about Obamacare. Several Republican senators have already indicated they want to amend the resolution to stretch out the time available for putting together a reconciliation bill — i.e., to actually repeal Obamacare. It’s anyone’s guess how Donald Trump’s signals this week that he wants action quickly will affect that possibility.

Senators had filed 105 amendments as of Wednesday morning, most from Democrats, and they'll go all night with them—or as long as it takes, which will probably be all night. There won't be much debate on them, but it's a chance for Democrats to get Republicans on the record doing things like voting against some of the most popular provisions of Obamacare. They will be recorded votes, which makes it trickier.




MI-Gov: Gretchen Whitmer (D) Goes After Scam Artist Education Secretary Nominee, Betsy DeVos

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:36:21 +0000

I’m getting back into my election blogging late so I am catching up with my diaries. Received this e-mail yesterday from Gretchen Whitmer’s (D. MI) gubernatorial campaign:

(image)
Gretchen Whitmer (D. MI)
 

In exactly one week the U.S. Senate will hold the first confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, and after what she did to our schools here in Michigan, we couldn’t be more opposed to her nomination.

As you may know, DeVos was behind the out-of-control growth of charter schools in Michigan. Their expansion here lacked the necessary oversight and quality control, and as a result, many charters lag behind their public school counterparts in critical areas like reading and math. And because of Devos’s reckless lobbying, we don’t have a good way to fix failing charter schools.

Add your name today if you agree we need to strengthen our education system, not deregulate it. With a strong governor like Gretchen leading us in Lansing, we can enact the reforms and policies necessary to help our schools succeed and educate all of our children.

Education is one of our top priorities. Every child deserves access to a quality education. Moreover, a strong system of public education lifts up middle class families and boosts our local economy.

We need to strengthen public schools in Michigan, not cripple them as Betsy DeVos has done. We hope you’ll add your name today.

Thanks,

Team Whitmer

Click here to add your name.




IN-Sen: Donnelly (D) Pushes Call To Create A Committee To Investigate Russia's Election Interference

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:25:47 +0000

Received this e-mail today from U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D. IN):

Like many Americans, I was gravely alarmed when I heard that our country’s intelligence agencies suspected Russia of interfering with November’s presidential election. Congress owes it to the American people to take these findings seriously and work to get to the bottom of it, immediately.

Add your name to demand that the Senate set up a select committee to investigate claims of Russian election interference.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I feel it is my responsibility to call for further investigation.

Every person charged with leading our country and protecting Americans from foreign adversaries should be eager to find out exactly what happened, how it happened, and how we can prevent foreign interference in our democratic process going forward.

Will you add your name to demand that the Senate set up a select committee to investigate claims of Russian election interference?

I can’t overstate the seriousness of this situation. Foreign interference in U.S. elections goes against our country’s basic sovereignty. It is simply unacceptable -- and I am determined to do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of it and better protect our country going forward.

Thank you,

Joe

Click here to add your name.




Cracks growing to repeal Obamacare. GOP Sen. says, 'We'll seek to repair it so public can use it.'

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:52:00 +0000

I don't agree with just about everything Senator Ron Johnson has to say, but this is very encouraging news for the survival of Obamacare.

It appears some GOP Senators are realizing that repealing Obamacare, throwing millions off their healthcare and exploding the debt by $9 trillion won't go over well with millions of Americans.

The reality of repealing the healthcare of up to 30 million people is starting to kick some GOP arse. It also appears Democrats holding strong and saying they will not bail out the GOP if they repeal is working.

Senator Johnson specifically mentions Senator Schumer’s refusal to work on any replacement, if Obamacare is repealed. If they repeal it, they own the cluster f**k.

Keep up the pressure folks!

talkingpointsmemo.com/...

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said that Republicans should aim to "repair" Obamacare and return power back to the states so that Americans have a better chance at accessing insurance coverage at an affordable price.

"We'll seek to repair it so the public can use it. Nobody wants to pull out the rug from anybody else," Johnson told reporters.

"It's gonna take some time. We are probably going to need help from Democratic colleagues so let's start seeking that help right off the bat. Let's start voting on some of these elements."

"We need to understand what the whole package is," Johnson said. "How do we get votes for replace? I take Sen. Schumer at his word that if we vote repeal , they're not going to help us at all. That means we are going to have a hard time getting replacement."




PETITION: Tell Donald Trump: Sell Off Your Businesses or Risk a Constitutional Crisis

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:01:41 +0000

SIGN THE PETITION: Tell Donald Trump: Sell Off Your Businesses or Risk a Constitutional Crisis

Donald Trump is set to transform the U.S. government into a subsidiary of the Trump Organization. No president in American history has had more power and shown more of a willingness to enrich himself and his family at the expense of the American people. By refusing to sell his stake in his private businesses, Trump's personal financial interests will directly conflict with his constitutional role and responsibilities in the Oval Office — from foreign policy to financial regulation and workers’ rights — enabling the Trump family to make millions while endangering the country.
Last year, Trump made nearly $557 million from at least 111 businesses operating in 18 countries. With nearly half of that income coming from 96 shadowy shell companies, there are countless ways for Trump and his family to secretly profit from foreign and domestic interests seeking his favor.

WHAT TRUMP MUST DO NOW

1. SELL HIS STAKE: The only way Trump can eliminate the urge to use the presidency to enrich himself and his family is by completely selling off his family’s stake in his businesses. The Trump family — including his children — must cut any and all ties with their companies. Anything less than a complete sell-off will allow President Trump to know which government decisions will benefit his bottom line and rake in his companies’ profits.

2. SHOW US THE MONEY: We need to have a full and complete picture of Donald Trump and his family’s income and investments to know all the ways they could make money off the presidency. Just a few weeks ago, for example, the bank holding much of Trump’s debt announced it might sell leverage over Trump to the highest bidder. That’s why Trump must immediately release his tax returns and give the American people a clear understanding of his and his family’s financial standing, debts, and all potential conflicts of interest. Donald Trump and his family are on course to do something unprecedented in American history: Abuse the power of the Oval Office to personally benefit themselves. This isn’t just unethical behavior — it’s unconstitutional. Until Trump sells his stake in every business he owns or profits from, he will lead an administration that is endangering American sovereignty, neglecting its responsibilities to the American people, and clearly violating the Constitution.




Throwing away votes. Or, more shame on Kansas.

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 12:54:36 +0000

I read the Rolling Stone article when it came out. This needs to be taken seriously. I live in Kansas and I wouldn’t put anything past Kobach and Brownback. And I want to know that my vote was counted.

www.salon.com/...




My Son Was One Month Old When Pres. Obama Was Elected

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:43:32 +0000

He was jaundiced and kinda orange like Trump. But so, so cute. I remember tucking him into the Ergo and walking down to the Senior Center to vote for Pres. Obama. All the poll workers loved seeing him and cooed over him. I had voted for Hillary in the primary knowing I would be confident in my vote for him as well. And I was. I was an English and History major so I love the man. He is always referencing history and using it to make his arguments, to engage his audiences and to motivate us to keep working for a better future.

Tonight it hit me — while my 2nd grader was staying up a bit late to watch the first part of the speech in Chicago. His whole life has been the Obama Years. What a lucky kid. What a great way to learn about the world and how it functions. He’s been gaining a loose understanding or sense of governments, laws, leadership these last 8 years...forming his perceptions of our country...with Barack and Michelle Obama in power. When he’s looked up the TV or heard his voice on the radio or internet, he’s heard an orator, a talented messenger. But he’s also heard someone who can relate to a shift worker like his mom, joke and dance on Ellen and, when we need it, cry with us or for us.

It has only been in the last year that I’ve realized how much I look to Michelle and Barack as role models. That feels so silly, as an adult...who really needs a role model? But they have been that for me. They are fun, responsible, loving parents who are vocal feminists. They are inspiring to everyone in their own ways. Like all parents know, it is hard to balance work and life and raising kids still keep smiling amidst the daily shit show of life. Even harder to push past all that and serve your community. They show us over and over again why it is worth it.  

I know my little boy admires President Obama greatly. His little world is undoubtedly better because of his policies. I am now ready to teach my little boy some more lessons about being a citizen, like Pres. Obama spoke about tonight. He has spent a bit of time putting together yard signs and stealing cookies from Dem events in his 8 years on this planet. Now he’ll be learning about protest, about how to act when you disagree with those in power and how we can make a difference in our community. I am forever grateful to the Obamas and I think my little man will be when he grows up too. 




Senators Press Trump AG Nom on Civil Rights Record at Confirmation Hearings: 'BradCast' 1/10/2017

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 01:57:20 +0000

Senator Jeff Sessions responds to colleague queries on voting rights, climate science and lying about his own record... On today's BradCast, U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Donald Trump's top Administration nominees are officially underway. They began today with Day 1 of hearings for controversial U.S. Attorney General nominee Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama. [Audio link to show posted below.] In the days leading up to today's Sessions session, Democrats have blasted Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for reversing course on demands he had made for Obama nominees back in 2009, requiring that all background checks and vetting by the Office of Government Ethics be completed before hearings begin. Also, before today's hearing commenced, members of the Congressional Black Caucus requested time to give testimony on Sessions' extremely controversial civil rights record. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), however, while agreeing to allow the member testimony, broke with Senate tradition by only allowing it only after all of the other witness testimony has completed. We cover all of that today and more details on the former Alabama state AG and U.S. Attorney's troubling record on civil rights along with his failure to tell the truth about it. We offer extended excerpts of Sessions' testimony today, including exchanges with Senators Franken (D-MN), Klobuchar (D-MN) and Whitehouse (D-RI), who pressed the A.G. nominee on voting rights, civil rights, and climate science, among other issues, in what was, in my opinion -- and, in particular, given the moment -- an all-too friendly hearing among Senate colleagues. Nonetheless, hooks were baited and traps were set for what could lead to trouble for Sessions on several of these key issues in the days (and years) ahead, if his nomination is confirmed as expected... CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW!... * * * While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed! [Cross-posted from The BRAD BLOG...] [...]



Democrats - it's on you now! Beat Trump over the head with this Russia report. You know they would.

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 01:42:42 +0000

In light of the developing bombshell about the Russia/Trump links (that we all knew was coming), this is where we see exactly how hard the Democrats are going to fight.

Think of it this way — based on absolutely NO EVIDENCE, the Republicans, including most mainstream ones, doubted Obama's birthplace for 8 years and undermined his Presidency in every way possible because of it. There was no evidence, yet they ran with it — in Congress, in the media, in town halls, with their constituents, and beyond. So much so that, again, based on NOTHING, 41% of Republicans still believe he was born in Kenya. That’s how the Republicans fight — dirty and hard.

Now, here comes a report from the U.S. intelligence community with allegations linking Trump to Russia. The details are unverified (yet), but the intelligence community has given strong evidence indicating there’s reason to believe the source. And the information is brutal — high-level meetings between Trump and Russia, gathering of information to blackmail Trump, investment bribes, sex parties, and more.

What will the Democrats do with this? Will they take this information, even if not yet verified, and use it to fight like hell and bash Trump (and the Republicans who defend him) at every step? Will they undermine his Presidency from day zero and bring the American people along with them? That’s what the Republicans would do . . . and worse.

Or, will the Democrats shy away from this? Claim that they can’t say anything because it’s too sensitive? Or too early? Or we need to get more information? Or we have to unify?

If that’s the path they choose, they are done as a political party.




The Right built a machine. What will the Left build?

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 19:16:27 +0000

Harvard Professor of Government Theda Skocpol has a new essay in Vox on why rebuilding the Democratic Party -- starting with fierce opposition to Trump and the GOP Congress -- should be priority number one for progressives. Only a strong Democratic party, she argues, can do the job of stopping the spread of Trump's creeping authoritarianism and far-right policy agenda.

For the past several years, Skocpol has researched how the Koch brothers and their network have spent money and built a political infrastructure on the far right. With her research team, Skocpol has looked at how the Koch strategy has succeeded in moving the whole GOP right. The Koch’s flagship grassroots organization, Americans for Prosperity has pushed issues and mobilized voters. They have helped the GOP clean Democrats' clocks in the states and in Congress.  They’ve weakened unions, Democrats’ traditional allies, and fought the expansion of Medicaid. And they helped deliver critical states for Trump in November.  

She's compared that to the way progressive donor groups invest their money, scattering funds across dozens of organizations with no overarching strategy to win power.

Based on her research, Skocpol has argues that it would take too long to build a sufficiently large organization outside the Democratic Party. So for the center and the left, fixing and revitalizing the party of FDR is the only game in town.

The whole thing is worth a read. 

Disclosure: I work with Skocpol at the Scholars Strategy Network. 

To read more, check out: Theda Skocpol and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, "The Koch Network and Republican Party Extremism," Perspectives on Politics 14, no. 3 (2016): 681-699. 

Jason Sclar, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Theda Skocpol, and Vanessa Williamson, "Donor Consortia on the Left and Right — Comparing the Membership, Activities, and Impact of the Democracy Alliance and the Koch Seminars," prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association.




Republicans realize that Obamacare is really complicated and they're incapable of replacing it

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 18:45:23 +0000

Newsflash for Republican "lawmakers:" Yes, making a law that affects one-sixth of the nation's economy is extremely complex, as is the idea of unwinding that law. So now that the dog that is the Republican Congress has caught the semi-truck that is Obamacare repeal, they're discovering it's hard. "House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) told TPM that some members in the GOP's ranks had been surprised by the complications of repealing and replacing Obamacare." And yes, they are elected members of Congress sent there to make laws. As this realization dawns, it's hitting particularly hard in the Senate, where a veritable chorus of members is saying "whoa." The Senate is poised to vote on a budget resolution later this week, the first in a two-step process of rolling back major parts of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, GOP lawmakers are speaking out with force, concerned about the political backlash if the GOP is perceived as being reckless given that 20 million Americans have health coverage through Obamacare and there's no clear vision or firm timeline for an alternative. […] Sen. Bob Corker warned fellow Republicans that it would be "problematic," "not very appealing" and "doesn't seem very intelligent" to repeal the law without a replacement. […] Sen. Rand Paul is emerging as one of the most vocal GOP opponents of voting on a repeal bill before coming up with a replacement package, as he argues that the two votes must happen simultaneously. For what it's worth (and it's Rand Paul so that might not be saying much), he says popular vote loser Donald Trump agrees with him. But even without Trump's lack of blessing, there are likely not enough votes in the Senate to pass repeal. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has at least seven, maybe as many as 10, members—including a key one, the guy in charge of the committee that would handle replacement legislation—saying that they must have a replacement plan in hand before they repeal. Sure, if pressed not all the naysayers will resist caving to McConnell's pressure, but it will only take a couple to derail it. This is the result of a united Democratic front being perfectly willing to let Republicans flounder. Republicans are convinced they're on their own here, and will own the resulting disaster if they rush to repeal. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan has acknowledged that reality, a tacit admission that he's been lying every time he bleats about all the plans the Republicans have come up with. [...]



Democrats: embrace Climate Mobilization NOW to rebuild the party against existential threats!

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 18:49:40 +0000

Dear Allies,  After 8 years of a Democratic Administration theoretically committed to climate progress, the biosphere, our common home, has never been in worse shape. There are complicated reasons for this state of affairs, including Republican intransigence and the enormous opposition of entrenched interests, but the truth is that the Democratic Party and the mainstream environmental movement have never advocated or implemented a policy framework that would successfully roll back the ecological crisis and heal our world.  With Donald Trump coming to power, there has never been a better time for the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream environmental movement to adopt a new approach. This approach must be oriented toward solving existential threats such as global warming, the 6th extinction, ecological overshoot, and poverty — not just aiming for marginal progress around the edges. At this late hour, with extremism rising everywhere and the the international system breaking down, saving civilization requires a package of comprehensive solutions delivered at emergency speed — a WWII-scale mobilization that tackles all of the existential threats we face simultaneously. This is our only choice if we want a future worth living through. The statement below calls on the Democratic Party Leadership to introduce a package of maximum-strength climate mobilization legislation and to hold the climate emergency summit promised in their 2016 platform as a first step toward becoming an effective vehicle for humanity's self-rescue. If you agree, please sign and share this statement with Democratic Party and climate movement leaders (and ask them to sign it). We look forward to organizing across the country on behalf of this Victory Plan legislative package — once it has been introduced.  Sincerely, Ezra &  The Climate Mobilization team Democrats: Embrace Climate Mobilization NOW! Dear Democratic Party Leadership, The Democratic Party stands at a crossroads. Will it continue to embrace policies that do not win elections and fail to solve our country's social and ecological catastrophes, or will it champion the WWII-scale mobilization we need to save civilization and the natural world? At the Party’s 2016 convention in Philadelphia, many speakers asserted that America is already great. But for millions of Americans living a reality of economic decline and social breakdown, such optimism proved hollow. The truth is that every day we are barreling faster toward civilizational collapse. This was true before Election Day, and will become even more so once Donald Trump assumes the presidency. Our deeply immoral throwaway economy has generated a cris[...]



Republicans and Democrats and Battered Spouse Syndrome

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 17:55:25 +0000

(My friend, Jay, posted this on his Facebook page and agreed to let me post it here. Jay says...)


I made an off-the-cuff remark to a Facebook post earlier today regarding how the behavior of the GOP (more specifically, holding the Democrats to standards they completely fail to apply to themselves) was one of the hallmarks of an abusive relationship. And the more I think about it, the more I am of the opinion that this is the perfect way to describe the dynamic between the Republican and Democratic Parties: the GOP are the abusers, and the Democrats have Battered Spouse Syndrome.

Think about it... in an abusive relationship, the goal for the abuser is to create an uneven power sharing dynamic where the abuser has all of the power. The GOP has controlled the narrative of political discourse since before Obama came to office. Almost everything the Democrats have wanted to do, even in the early days of Obama's administration when they held a solid majority in both the House and Senate, needed to get through Republican obstruction... and now... they are admonishing the Democrats to "grow up" and behave themselves properly in the face of the GOP agenda... which is the single most selfish and destructive agenda in modern history... but it will benefit THEM, which is all that matters.




Trump Resistance-The ACA Edition

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:58:55 +0000

As the GOP sets out to take healthcare away from the poor, middle class and seniors, we need to show that we are the majority and will not consent to the rule of extremists and oligarchs.  As they push forward with the attempted repeal of Obamacare under the “bait and switch” hypocrisy of “we’ll replace it later,” the Trump resistance needs to be peaceful, but visible.  It needs to make a point that is conducive to the optics of protest that the media craves.  Find the office of a repeal proponent.  If nearby, call the media and show up asking for medical treatment.  Tell GOP staffers, “because you took away my healthcare and said you would replace it-I want you to get me into a doctor.  Make them force you out in front of the cameras.  Call the papers and tell them how you were treated.  If you can’t find a congressional office to visit, place a call.  Tie up their lines with requests for healthcare.  We must resist this abomination with more than blogs, tweets and Golden Globe speeches.




Senate Democrats head into five hours of Obamacare talkathon

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 04:58:02 +0000

Here's a few of the Democratic Senators who stood up for Obamacare—and the people it's saved—on Facebook and on the Senate floor Monday night.

x

The message these Democrats are sending is that Democrats are united in fighting, while, as leader Chuck Schumer says, Republicans are "flummoxed […]  We are seeing Republicans get cold feet." Democrats will continue to press this advantage, and Republicans will continue to flail.

For the list of speakers and videos of some of their statements, head below the fold.




Gov. Walker Gives His State of the State Tomorrow. Yay.

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:20:12 +0000

Gov Walker will be giving one of his awkward, poorly worded speeches tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll get some less than subtle hints about what his next ‘reforms’ will be. Gov Walker has really put us in the national media spotlight these last six years. Recall and Act 10, 20 week ban and mandatory ultrasound legislation, Right to Work, the purchasing of our Supreme Court, our gerrymandering, the attacks on our public school system, the breaking up of our Dept of Natural Resources, racist voter ID laws and many other of our issues have been reported on widely. I’m always grateful to read Charles Pierce slay Scott Walker or to click over to the NYT and read an op-ed by a Prof at UW...it feels like someone else out there is paying attention. Like a postcard from a Normal Place where people understand how terrible things are here. Today was one of those days: At least three times in the past six months, state legislators have threatened to cut the budget of the University of Wisconsin at Madison for teaching about homosexuality, gender and race. As a faculty member who focuses on how public organizations are managed, I hear a great deal about the dangers of political correctness in higher education. Several of Wisconsin’s elected officials have joined the growing chorus of demands for better protections for free speech on campus, even as they fail to recognize how their own politicized approach to managing campuses poses a much more fundamental risk to free speech. This one-sided representation of campus speech doesn’t reflect my 14 years teaching in large public institutions in Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin. In that time, no student has ever demanded that my classes include a trigger warning or asked for a safe space. But my colleagues and I have been given much more reason to worry about the ideological agendas of elected officials and politically appointed governing boards.  Gov. Walker obviously won’t mention it but racism underpins a lot of the “Midwest Nice” in WI. Recently this manifested itself in the Lincoln Hills investigation. We were #1 on a list at Huff Post for Worst States for Black Americans a few months ago. We spend 1.5 billion — way more than other states our size — on our Dept. of Corrections. This is where it goes: As of the 2010 census, Wisconsin had the highest incarceration rate of black males nationwide, locking up 12.8 percent of black male residents compared to the country’s 6.7 percent average at that time. By contrast, only 1.2 percent of white men in the state were incarcerated that same year. Diving in deeper, 4,042 of every 100,000 black Wisconsin residents in 2010 were incarcerated, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. That rate is more than one and a half times higher th[...]



Sen. Tom Udall: 'Repeal and replace is not a sound public policy, only a sound bite'

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 03:14:14 +0000

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), like many of his colleagues, spent his time on the Senate floor Monday night defending Obamacare in the most essential of terms: how it has saved the lives of many of his constituents. "Save my daughter." That was the heartbreaking plea that came to me from one of my constituents. Kevin from Albuquerque. Kevin's 33-year-old daughter amber has multiple sclerosis, a tough disease. To treat her M.S., Amber must follow an exact an rigorous drug regimen combined with visits to our neurologist and annual MRIs. The retail cost of her drugs is $60,000 her year. Her doctor visits and MRIs would run into the thousands of dollars. Amber works—in fact she has a good-paying job. But her employer does not provide health insurance. Amber purchases health insurance through the individual open market, without Affordable Care Act subsidies. Amber is able to work because she gets the medical care she needs through insurance. But Kevin fears his daughter will lose the right to health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. […] I'm the father of a daughter, and I'm angry that this father has to worry about whether his daughter will get the medical care she needs to live a healthy and productive life. Mr. President, let me tell you about Pam and Mike. They are a husband and wife from Placitas. They own a small business. They signed up for an insurance plan under the affordable care act as soon as they could because premiums before the ACA were too expensive and Pam had a preexisting condition. Using their new preventive care, they found out that Mike had an aggressive form of cancer. But, thankfully, doctors caught the cancer at an early stage, Mike was treated at the university of New Mexico cancer center and is now cured. And Pam says there is no question that the ACA saved her husband's life. […] But what would president-elect trump and Republicans do to make sure Pam and Mike and millions of others can keep getting cancer screenings? Nothing. They have no plan. They talk but no plan. […] Mr. President, there are tens of thousands of stories in New Mexico like those of Kevin, Pam, Mike […] . Over 36,000 new Mexicans gained health care since the A.C.A. Was passed and over 21 million Americans have health insurance because of Obamacare. I have heard from new Mexicans who are terrified because there is no plan to replace the ACA's protections, benefits and rights. Republicans have recalled—have called to repeal and replace the ACA. For years. They have had years to figure out how to replace it, and they have not. They have no plan. Repeal and replace is not a sound public policy, only a sound bite. You can watch his full statement below the fold. These stories are making a profound difference. It's the reaso[...]



Elizabeth Warren on Republicans and Obamacare: 'Repeal and run is for cowards'

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 02:14:41 +0000

Senate Democrats are still on the Senate floor, detailing the great good that Obamacare has achieved, and calling out Republicans for their abject failure in coming up with a replacement. No on is better at that then Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

"Democrats and nonpartisan government officials have worked for years here in Washington to make the health system work. We have made progress.  And now, Republicans in Congress are ready to throw away these years and years of progress.  They are ready to threaten the collapse of our insurance markets.  They are ready to threaten the health and safety of millions of Americans, simply to make a political point.  They are ready to repeal and run," Senator Warren said. She continued, "if Republicans want to destroy health care in America, I will fight them every step of the way. The stakes are too high for the millions of Americans whose futures are about to be sacrificed so that one party can make a political point. Let's stay here and do the work that needs to be done to make sure every American gets access to high quality, affordable health care. Repeal and run is for cowards."

Watch a clip of her statement below.