Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Republican Party's Unspeakable Pig-Sty Of Terrible Ideas


John Calhoun came from a southern colonial family that opposed the federal constitution. He was elected to Congress from South Carolina in 1810 and immediately joined the ranks of the most hawkish, pro-war elements and he was instrumental in dragging the U.S. into the War of 1812. He was named Secretary of War-- the 5th choice-- by James Monroe in 1817. In 1824 he ran for president but found no support but was chosen vice president to John Quincy Adams by the Electoral College. in 1828 he betrayed Adams and ran as vice president on Andrew Jackson' ticket, which won.

What Calhoun is most famous for is his nullification doctrine, which he created as a way of countering what he considered central government tyranny. He saw himself a great defender of minority rights-- minorities being the wealthy white slave-owners. His doctrine, of course, was the philosophical undermining of secession. When he talked about using even the most extreme measures to protect "liberty and sovereignty," he was only talking about the liberty and sovereignty of the very wealthy. in 1832 Jackson sent naval warships to Charleston over nullification and threatened to hang Calhoun, who resigned as vice president as was selected by the South Carolina legislature to be a senator. He quit the Senate in 1843 to run for president in 1844 but found no support and quit the race before started. He was selected by the state legislature as senator again and served in that position until he died in 1850, basically Congress' most outspoken advocate of slavery and of secession over slavery.

This week, in his fascinating Guardian review of Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, George Monbiot brings Calhoun's villainy to the fore again. He writes about how MacLean accidentally stumbled upon the literary legacy of obscure right-wing nut, James McGill Buchanan-- largely a creation of the Koch brothers-- soon after he died. She discovered that Buchanan and the Kochs had been working on a secret plan for suppressing democracy on behalf of the very rich. That plan now dominates the Republican Party and is reshaping politics.
Buchanan was strongly influenced by both the neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, and the property supremacism of John C Calhoun, who argued in the first half of the 19th century that freedom consists of the absolute right to use your property (including your slaves) however you may wish; any institution that impinges on this right is an agent of oppression, exploiting men of property on behalf of the undeserving masses.

James Buchanan brought these influences together to create what he called public choice theory. He argued that a society could not be considered free unless every citizen has the right to veto its decisions. What he meant by this was that no one should be taxed against their will. But the rich were being exploited by people who use their votes to demand money that others have earned, through involuntary taxes to support public spending and welfare. Allowing workers to form trade unions and imposing graduated income taxes were forms of “differential or discriminatory legislation” against the owners of capital.

Any clash between “freedom” (allowing the rich to do as they wish) and democracy should be resolved in favour of freedom. In his book The Limits of Liberty, he noted that “despotism may be the only organisational alternative to the political structure that we observe.” Despotism in defence of freedom.

His prescription was a “constitutional revolution”: creating irrevocable restraints to limit democratic choice. Sponsored throughout his working life by wealthy foundations, billionaires and corporations, he developed a theoretical account of what this constitutional revolution would look like, and a strategy for implementing it.

He explained how attempts to desegregate schooling in the American south could be frustrated by setting up a network of state-sponsored private schools. It was he who first proposed privatising universities, and imposing full tuition fees on students: his original purpose was to crush student activism. He urged privatisation of social security and many other functions of the state. He sought to break the links between people and government, and demolish trust in public institutions. He aimed, in short, to save capitalism from democracy.

In 1980, he was able to put the programme into action. He was invited to Chile, where he helped the Pinochet dictatorship write a new constitution, which, partly through the clever devices Buchanan proposed, has proved impossible to reverse entirely. Amid the torture and killings, he advised the government to extend programmes of privatisation, austerity, monetary restraint, deregulation and the destruction of trade unions: a package that helped trigger economic collapse in 1982.

None of this troubled the Swedish Academy, which through his devotee at Stockholm University Assar Lindbeck in 1986 awarded James Buchanan the Nobel memorial prize for economics. It is one of several decisions that have turned this prize toxic.

But his power really began to be felt when Koch, currently the seventh richest man in the US, decided that Buchanan held the key to the transformation he sought. Koch saw even such ideologues as Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan as “sellouts,” as they sought to improve the efficiency of government rather than destroy it altogether. But Buchanan took it all the way.

MacLean says that Charles Koch poured millions into Buchanan’s work at George Mason University, whose law and economics departments look as much like corporate-funded thinktanks as they do academic faculties. He employed the economist to select the revolutionary “cadre” that would implement his programme (Murray Rothbard, at the Cato Institute that Koch founded, had urged the billionaire to study Lenin’s techniques and apply them to the libertarian cause). Between them, they began to develop a programme for changing the rules.

The papers Nancy MacLean discovered show that Buchanan saw stealth as crucial. He told his collaborators that “conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential.” Instead of revealing their ultimate destination, they would proceed by incremental steps. For example, in seeking to destroy the social security system, they would claim to be saving it, arguing that it would fail without a series of radical “reforms.” (The same argument is used by those attacking the NHS). Gradually they would build a “counter-intelligentsia,” allied to a “vast network of political power” that would become the new establishment.

Through the network of thinktanks that Koch and other billionaires have sponsored, through their transformation of the Republican party, and the hundreds of millions they have poured into state congressional and judicial races, through the mass colonisation of Trump’s administration by members of this network and lethally effective campaigns against everything from public health to action on climate change, it would be fair to say that Buchanan’s vision is maturing in the US.

...In one respect, Buchanan was right: there is an inherent conflict between what he called “economic freedom” and political liberty. Complete freedom for billionaires means poverty, insecurity, pollution and collapsing public services for everyone else. Because we will not vote for this, it can be delivered only through deception and authoritarian control. The choice we face is between unfettered capitalism and democracy. You cannot have both.

Buchanan’s programme is a prescription for totalitarian capitalism. And his disciples have only begun to implement it. But at least, thanks to MacLean’s discoveries, we can now apprehend the agenda. One of the first rules of politics is, know your enemy. We’re getting there.

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Sean Spicer Quits. Bring On The Next Goon!


-by Noah

The world’s most famous, amazing, and, tremendous insane asylum, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC, announced Friday that Sean Spicer would be leaving his podium to spend more time with his imaginary playmates, … or something. Bye, Bye, Spicey. Even you just couldn’t take it anymore.

So, he’s gone. So what. Seems he left his job as Press Secretary because he just wasn’t gonna report to Senor Trumpanzee’s new, slick, “communications” director, Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci, no how, no way.

Scaramucci is a Wall Street hedge fund guy through and through; another former Goldman-Sachs bozo. Those of you who like to watch the bizarre comedy stylings of FOX “News” may have caught him there, spewing the twisted gospel of Trump; so much for draining the swamp. As exemplified by his introductory presser on Friday afternoon, Mooch is impressively slimy. He’s the son the Trumpanzee wishes he had. He looks like the sons, dresses like the sons. He’s just smarter, slicker, and even slimier. If Trump were ever to be reduced to selling used cars, Mooch would be the guy in the late night TV ads.

New member of Politburo/Crime Family
Mooch also seems to do the Trumpanzee hero worship thing even better than Kellyanne Conway. Remember that cabinet meeting where Senor Trumpanzee had his crew praising him over and over? Mooch says all those things Senor Trumpanzee’s massive ego wants to hear and more. Mooch was reading from the script although, in the recent past, he called Trump “a hack politician” and a “big-mouth bully”. But, now that he’s getting a nice check, he went out and backed all of the warped Trumpian world view greatest hits: the news is fake, the hoax stuff, the 3 million (or was it 5, maybe 10!) illegal voters that went for Hillary Clinton. Listening to Scaramucci, you expected him to say Trump shoots a hole in one every damn time he hits the golf course and can bend spoons with his mind while curing your cancer just by gazing at your picture. If Kim Jong-un offers him more money, Moochie will be gone in a second and on his way to a new office in North Korea.

Obviously, once the appointment of Mooch was made, it became even too much for the self-flagellating Spicer to stand for. Even Spicer had his limits. Who knew? Having seen this new boss in his gasp-inducing introductory press conference, I can certainly relate, just as I could relate to Spicey’s feelings about previously being replaced by the Ozark inbred (look at those strange, dull, un-matching eyes) Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or being cruelly shut out of meeting the Pope when Senor Trumpanzee knew that that was the most important thing to him, a professed extremely devout Catholic, in the world. It was the final straw, even for a man who had never shown a sign of self-respect.

Hell, Senor Trumpanzee, who wears his Chinese-made ties down to his knees like a circus clown, even insulted Sean’s clothes while having nothing to say about Kellyanne Conway’s dried mop hair and cartoonish fashion decisions. Things like that had to be bending Spicey’s psyche sideways.

How much could you take? To top it off, I bet Speicy also didn’t want to spend the next few months trying to dodge the onslaught of questions about revolving Attorney Generals and Senor Trumpanzee wanting to pardon himself, his aides, his family, and every mob family in America.

Spicer took a lot because he foolishly believed. He believed the con from day 1. That’s why he took the job. So, he took the insults from his boss, while spinning his boss’s lies. He took the insults from the boss’s family and associates. He took the insults from the world at large. The man might be thick but he had to know he’d made himself a joke to all around him, not just the public. I half-expected him to someday just pull out a knife and start stabbing himself at the podium. Maybe that’s the real reason why the White House stopped broadcasting his press briefings. No one, and by no one, I mean except myself and about 100 million Americans, wanted to see that one.

So, for you Sean Spicer, and you the public, I offer this list of Spicey’s Ten Greatest Hits. It’s just a list of my personal favorites. You may have yours. I’ve been keeping a list since January. There are many others, including his disastrous attempts to talk about the Muslim Ban/Travel Ban not being a ban at all, and, his wearing of his American flag pin upside down. Was that known sign of distress an unconscious call for help? Here you are:
1. His legendary 1st press briefing, the day after Trumpanzee’s inaguration; the one where he repeatedly yelled at, and harangued the press while telling the world that his boss’s inauguration had more attendees than President Obama’s and that of any previous president, especially President Obama’s. Did I mention Obama’s? Kellyanne Conway defended him to Chuck Todd the next day, coining The term “Alternative Facts,” aka the essence of a delusional administration.

2. His February blocking of several news outlets, including the New York Times, and CNN, from having a seat at a press briefing.

3. Back in March, he yelled at respected, veteran reporter April Ryan for the perceived crime of shaking her head at his nonsensical treatment of her question about the administration's dubious image.

4. By the end of March, Spicer was drawing comparisons to Saddam Hussein’s spokesman, Baghdad Bob (Mohammad Saeed al-Sahaf), who was known for his predictions and accounts of the American invasion failing miserably. Baghdad Bob, at times, even denied that the invasion had even happened. It was a comparison that was perfect in every way, delusion included. Spicey was perfect for Trump just as Baghdad Bob was perfect for Saddam. I’ll leave the comparison of Saddam and Trump to the future.

5. In April, Spicey claimed that Adolf Hitler never used chemical weapons. This was same great day where he referred to Nazi concentration camps where millions of Jews were gassed as “Holocaust Centers.” He then made his statements worse with each “revised statement.”

6. He dutifully repeated Senor Trumpanzee’s baseless and debunked claims that President Obama had wiretapped him.

7. He also dutifully repeated Senor Trumpanzee’s lies about widespread “voter fraud.” His conscience was gone. His soul was owned by someone else.

8. Spicey will forever be immortalized by Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live.

9. Before Senor Trumpanzee chose him as spokesman to the press, Spicey was most famous for playing the Easter Bunny for George Bush.

10. When Senor Trumpanzee fired FBI Director James Comey, Spicey had trouble coming to terms with how he would address such an unpopular and awkward situation. His solution was to hide in the bushes outside the White House. Was this the first sign of a complete nervous breakdown?
Well, we won’t have Spicey to kick around anymore but just think about how Melissa McCarthy feels. Besides, there just might be a gig at the FOX Fantasy News channel, or maybe with the similar Info Wars. I’d rather Spicey have a good, old time religious epiphany, go totally honest, and write a tell-all book. I won’t hold my breath. Do it Spicey. If you don’t you will burn in your Catholic Hell for all eternity. Not only that, Sean, but, you’ll have to listen to Kellyanne and Sarah getting in on in the next burning room with a half goat half man that looks a lot like Donnie Jr.

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Who Wants More Republican-Lite Candidates? The DCCC Has One For Minnesota


There are six counties that make up MN-02 but the vast majority of voters are in the suburbs and small towns just south of Minneapolis and St Paul in Dakota County. Obama took Dakota County both times he ran and won MN-02 both times as well. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken won those suburbs as well-- and the congressional district. But in 2003 a right-wing crackpot and ideologue, Kohn Kline, won the district and represented the area in Congress until last year, when he finally retired. The Democrats picked a wealthy self-funder Angie Craig as their candidate. She has a somewhat compelling biography and, working with a cadre of loser consultants from DCCC/EMILY's List world, ran an issues-light campaign, depending on Hillary's coattails to sweep her into office-- and a weak campaign about herself but not about the constituents. She had nothing to offer them and their families other than stories about herself and her family. Just what the DCCC and EMILY's List wants from their candidates. She put nearly a million dollars of her own money into it and outspent Republican Jason Lewis $4,012,823 to $1,020,649. But everything went wrong. First of all, Hillary had no coattails in the Twin Cities suburbs. Unlike Obama she lost. She lost to Trump! By over a point-- 46.5% to 45.3%. And Angie did even worse. She lost 173,970 (47%) to 167,315 (45.2%), despite having out-spent him 4 to 1. The DCCC spent $2,174,366 trying to help and Pelosi's PAC threw in another $759,429... all wasted.

So... guess who the DCCC wants to run again next year. Yep, Angie Craig. She sent out another anodyne letter announcing her intention to start campaigning in a few months. The letter, once again, is all about her, not about issues, not about the Minnesotans she wants to represent:
With the strong support of my wife and our four sons, I’m excited to announce that I will seek the Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District in 2018.

We deserve a representative who is committed to listening to everyone-- even those we might disagree with-- and then work to create a level playing field for every family. That’s why I’ll spend the upcoming weeks on a listening tour of the district. Following this, I will formally kick off my campaign in the Fall.

As Democrats, we must understand better why we have lost these past elections. As I talk with voters, already it has become clearer that we must talk more about how we are going to bring back jobs to the United States and create economic opportunity for more hard-working Americans. We have to be clearer about how we will fix healthcare and acknowledge the problems with out of control costs for many families. I grew up without healthcare. There is no one who knows better if you can’t afford insurance, healthcare doesn’t exist.

I would not be making this announcement today if not for the strong support from my wife, Cheryl Greene, a former Minnesota teacher who now works with elementary schools around the country on bully prevention efforts. Our four sons, Josh, Jonas, Jacob and Isaac also have been incredibly encouraging. Our oldest three return to college in August and Isaac will be a freshman at Rosemount High School this year. I also have heard from many of you – encouraging me to make a second run. Thank you for your confidence in me. I will need your help to win.

I have been incredibly blessed in this life. I never imagined as a young girl that I would leave the trailer park I grew up in to become first a journalist, and then a healthcare leader-- much less run for the U.S. Congress. I am ready to use my experience to fight to lower health care costs and ensure families have more economic opportunities.

I humbly ask for your support to be the MN-2 DFL candidate for Congress in 2018 to ensure that Jason Lewis and Washington no longer ignore our neighbors. We must be heard. I will fight Washington to make sure this district gets what it deserves.

I would be honored to have your support. Please, follow me on Facebook to stay up to date on the listening tour and the latest news as I prepare to challenge Jason Lewis.

She was a lobbyist for a medical devise corporation and her inspiring story didn't inspire Democrats or independents in 2016. But she's trying again. But this time she may have a problem. High school American Government Teacher and head football coach Jeff Erdmann is running for the DFL endorsement to challenge Jason Lewis. Erdmann grew up in Lewiston, in southeast Minnesota and has lived in this congressional district for the past 17 years. In radio interviews he often says he "believes in people." On his website it says, he was named the Minnesota Vikings High School Football Coach of the year in 2010, and the Marines Semper Fi Coach of the Year in 2015. Though he attributes his success to the culture of respect and valuing of each person that participates, his campaign-- as demonstrated on that website-- is as policy oriented as you'd expect from a former Berniecrat. It's probably worth mentioning that Bernie didn't just win MN-02 in the primaries-- beating Hillary 10,722 (66.3%) to 5,451 (33.7%), but that Bernie got over 3 times more votes that Señor Trumpanzee in the primaries. (Trump came in third with 3,333 votes, behind weak showings by Rubio and Cruz.)

Angie Craig likes to tell people she grew up in Arkansas, in a trailer park. Last cycle, in every chance she got, she claimed that she is an American Dream story. Climbing the corporate ladder was what she did, very successfully. I’m pretty sure the American Dream is owning a house and getting your kids though college. Lobbying for the medical device industry and reaping huge profits, maybe not as much. Craig moved to Minnesota in 2005, then moved into the district just before her run in 2013.

Jeff’s platform is transparent and extremely progressive. A "working voice for working people" is Erdmann’s tag line, as he strives for Medicare for All, Wall Street reform, political reform to get money out of politics, strengthening social security, and lifting wages for hard working Americans. Jeff is working full time during the campaign because he, "needs to put food on the table." The Erdmann campaign tweets that to change the political landscape, real working people need to run for office. Millionaires haven't been and still aren’t the answer to our problems.

Craig… well, she ran last cycle and took down her website with her stances. Now there is a Crowd Pac page where it says, "Remember, more than 53 percent of the district voted for me or the third-party candidate in 2016." Her announcement press release says she is going on a "listening tour." Which seems odd, as she was just campaigning around the district 9 months ago, yet still seems to have no idea what people are going through or need to make their lives better. A listening tour means that the candidate doesn’t have any ideas of their own, and are so removed from what people are going through, they don’t know what issues effect people on a daily basis. Which makes sense, since she admitted to lobbying to get the medical device tax removed from the Affordable Care Act, a tax that is hated by certain corporations and by Wall Street but is critical to offsetting the cost of insurance plans on the individual market.

In a 2016 debate with Jason Lewis, Angie said she supported the repeal of the Medical Device Tax, because she "saw firsthand in Minnesota that it cost Minnesota jobs." That statement about losing jobs-- a Republican Party talking point-- got a 2 Pinocchios rating in the Washington Post, and was proven inaccurate by 3 other studies. But, the DCCC, as always, is most comforttable with a Republican-lite candidate. They should stay out of the primary and let Democrats in MN-02 decide who their nominee should be.

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A Contract With America It's Not


Last month a witty Democratic operative was heartless: "We no longer have a party caucus capable of riding this wave. We have 80-year-old leaders and 90-year-old ranking members. This isn't a party. It's a giant assisted living center. Complete with field trips, gym, dining room and attendants." Heartless but... determined to rip off one of the scabs that has turned the Democratic Party into something-- at best-- just less horrible than the Republican Party.

The energy and ideas and activism that are propelling the progressive movement forward-- and could help defeat Republicans in 2018-- is unrelated to Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, Joe Crowley and their incompetent and corrupt House leadership team. None of them are among the members of Congress who have worked with and been inspired by the resistance.

So, of course the new DCCC logo/slogan/whatever is nothing but laughable. Do you wonder why polls show that progressives are less motivated than Trumpists to show up and vote in 2018? I wonder how much consultants were paid to come up with this and how many hours of debate went into the decision. Is the slogan as powerful as "Make America Great Again?" The guy who broke the news that the DCCC had come up with this-- instead of a substantive platform to run on-- Jeff Stein, reported that a member of Congress told him that the DCCC is releasing the new slogan on Monday-- "A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages." Stein added that the congressmember "noted that this is the result of months of polling and internal deliberations among the House Democratic caucus." Maybe instead of all those internal deliberations and that expensive polling, they should have spent some time paying attention to Bernie and coming to grips with why exactly he's the most popular politician in America while their leader, Nancy Pelosi is tied with Paul Ryan as the least popular-- in the eyes of the voting public-- member of the House.

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Imagine Someone Like Trumpy The Clown Destroying What Took Over 200 Years To Build


Trump's like the guy, pulled over by a traffic cop for speeding, who says to the cop who comes over to write him a ticket, "you better not look in the trunk or else!" The analogy falls apart a little when you realize Mueller had already been looking in the trunk-- even if he isn't putting out press releases or leaking about it. Trump's flipping out that Mueller can examine his tax returns-- i.e., that there's a real sheriff in town who's going after the bad guys. And Trump knows exactly who the bad guys are-- and how bad they are.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that "some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort... Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves." That would be... unique. Seems like a big story-- Michael Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and Matt Apuzzo were tasked with covering it for the NY Times, "it" being the pretext Trumpanzee is looking for to fire Mueller and end his investigation into presidential criminal-- and probably treasonous-- behavior.

The search for potential conflicts is wide-ranging. It includes scrutinizing donations to Democratic candidates, investigators’ past clients and Mr. Mueller’s relationship with James B. Comey, whose firing as F.B.I. director is part of the special counsel’s investigation.

The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

Some of the investigators have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance, and the prospect that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry could evolve into an expansive examination of Mr. Trump’s financial history has stoked fears among the president’s aides. Both Mr. Trump and his aides have said publicly they are watching closely to ensure Mr. Mueller’s investigation remains narrowly focused on last year’s election.

During an interview with the NY Times on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he was aware that members of Mr. Mueller’s team had potential conflicts of interest and would make the information available “at some point.”

Mr. Trump also said Mr. Mueller would be going outside his mandate if he begins investigating matters unrelated to Russia, like the president’s personal finances. Mr. Trump repeatedly declined to say what he might do if Mr. Mueller appeared to exceed that mandate. But his comments to The Times represented a clear message to Mr. Mueller.

“The president’s making clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said during a news briefing on Thursday.

Trump's not normal and nothing about his Regime is. As Jonathan Chait asserted in his New York column yesterday, "Trump has shown himself immune to widespread warnings that certain steps are simply not done. His hiding of tax returns, firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (who was investigating Russian financial crimes when he was let go), and ousting of FBI director James Comey were all steps that would seem to immolate his career. Ordering the Department of Justice to fire Mueller, or pardoning the targets of his investigations, would be an open announcement that Trump considers his financial ties to the Russian underworld and state to be beyond any legal accountability. The ominous threats emanating from the White House are that of an administration mobilizing for war against the rule of law." That's really not normal. So not normal that we certainly seem to be hurtingly towards some kind of an unprecedented constitutional crisis. It can't happen here? It is happening here... right now.

Mueller... by Ohanian

And the problem with all this is the Republican Party. As Brian Beutler pointed out for the New Republic, "Republicans have given every indication over the course of the past several months that no malfeasance, no matter how naked and severe, will impel them to rein in Trump or impeach him. Beutler concludes that
Should Trump fire Mueller, with the tacit assent of Republicans in Congress and the DOJ leadership, there will be little recourse. It is feasible (though difficult) to imagine a GOP House and Senate passing an independent counsel statute to restore Mueller to his job; it is nearly impossible to imagine them doing so by veto-proof margins. And should Trump pardon himself and his inner circle, it is dispiritingly easy to imagine Republicans reprising their familiar refrain: The president’s power to pardon is beyond question.

If this crisis unfolds as depicted here, the country’s final hope for avoiding a terminal slide into authoritarianism would be the midterm election, contesting control of a historically gerrymandered House of Representatives. That election is 16 months away. Between now and then, Trump’s DOJ and his sham election-integrity commission will seek to disenfranchise as many Democratic voters as possible, while the president himself beseeches further foreign interference aimed at Democratic candidates. Absent the necessary sweep, everything Trump will have done to degrade our system for his own enrichment and protection will have been ratified, and a point of no return will have been crossed.
And, by the way, yesterday every single Senate Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voted to advance Trump’s nominee for Comey's replacement as FBI director. That doesn't seem normal either-- at least not to me.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

2 New Hampshire Special Elections This Week Have Lessons For Democrats-- Voters Want Progressives


Does this sound like a positive statement from a Democratic candidate in a special election primary?
"I have no 11th-hour plans and will continue to run a positive campaign. I have not met Josh and only saw his campaign info. As union member, I have been a Democrat-- a Kennedy Democrat-- since 1972. District 9 Democratic Primary choices are: a Kennedy Democrat of 40 years who understands decorum and the balance of social programs with the fiscal reality of New Hampshire workers/taxpayers; and a Bernie Socialist. Josh is an ambitious young man who believes he is doing what’s best, and I wish him well."
The hater is Tom Ploszaj of Grafton and the "Bernie Socialist" is Josh Adjutant of Bristol, who ran a write-in campaign and eviscerated Ploszaj 204 (86.4%) to 32 (13.6%). I'm guessing New Hampshire voters saw through his positive campaign bullshit too. It was a state House primary triggered because Republican State Rep. Jack Shackett, suddenly resigned his House right after being reelected. District 9 includes the towns of Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol and Grafton.

Josh will face off against right-wing Republican Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater and and Libertarian John Babiarz on September 5. Grafton County-- in the west-central part of the state and a much bigger area than just District 9-- is Bernie territory. In the primary Bernie beat Hillary 14,258 (66.6%) to 6,918 (32.3%) and both beat Trump who came in first in the GOP primary but only scored 4,898 votes. County-wide, Hillary beat Trump in the general election handily-- 28,510 (56.9%) to 19,010 (37.9%).

There was other good special election news out of New Hampshire Tuesday night. Kris Schultz won a New Hampshire state House special election in Concord (Ward 9), completely stomping Republican Michael Feeley, 284 (78%) to 82 (22%). Schultz's margin of victory was significantly greater than the Democratic registration advantage in the district, which is 38% Democratic, 26% Republican and 35% independent, third-party and undeclared. The margin of victory, obviously, is pointing at an anti-Trimp/anti-Republican wave that is continuing to build in New Hampshire and across the country. The last election for the seat was won by a Democrat but the margin was only 56% to 44%.

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Reddit: A Good Way For Candidates To Get Out Their Message


Hillary didn't win any districts in Oklahoma, so the dependably backward-looking DCCC announced they are ignoring the state again this cycle. That's fine; they're a detriment anyway. OK-05 (Oklahoma City and environs) is the most likely district to flip red to blue and the candidate, Tom Guild, is building a grassroots operation meant to do just that. He's usually busy canvassing. In fact, he plans to knock on every door in the district and talk too as many voters-- one on one-- as he can. This week he also talked to the over 200,000 fellow Berniecrats on the Sanders For President reddit page. They invited him to do his first ever AMA, something I hope all the Blue America candidates will do. I asked Tom to do a guest post about his experience. I suggest you might want to read the archived AMA itself first.

Guest Post
-by Tom Guild

Howie Klein asked if I would like to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. He introduced me to David Fredrick and David walked me through the process.  David set up the post on Reddit for me and gave me patient advice on how to proceed. Since I was a newbie on Reddit, I was apprehensive and nervous about what I needed to do and how. Jacqueline Propps offered her help, too. Austin Miller from Tulsa, who was active in setting up the subreddit hosting my post, contacted me and patiently explained things to me, and was very helpful, too. It was time to jump off of the high tower at Sunset Lake, or the adult equivalent thereof.

That's about the easiest question/answer you'll find

My nerves pushed me to get on the Reddit site about 30 minutes early. There was already a backlog of questions waiting for me to answer.  I posted that I was in favor of a $15 minimum wage, phased in over a period of years, as mandated by the legislation recently filed by Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray. One person insisted that Oklahoma workers didn’t need or deserve a $15 minimum wage, and I held my ground. People asked about the youth employment bill now before the U.S. Senate, and I agreed legislation in this area is needed. A likely troll misled people reading his question and mistakenly suggested I favored right to work. I patiently explained that I not only opposed RTW (for less) when it was up for a statewide vote in Oklahoma, but was the principal speaker at two of the seven press conferences held by the committee opposing RTW in Oklahoma in 2001. He posted again and once again intentionally misrepresented my position and I gently reminded him of my response and position on the issue.

I was asked about protecting the environment, infrastructure spending, LGBT rights, the second amendment, and women’s reproductive freedom. On healthcare, I offered that for the time being we need to mend and not end the Affordable Care Act, and need to mend it by offering Americans a public option. That would cure one of the more serious urgencies needed to shore up the health care law. I continued that I support a gradual move to a Medicare for All single payer system, as promoted by Senator Bernie Sanders. That legislation has been introduced in Congress and has a fairly sizable number of co-sponsors in the U.S. House.

A number of people thanked me for fully and patiently answering their questions, and indicated that they intended to support me and vote for me. The quality of questions asked and answered was high. The vast majority of people weighing in (except two likely trolls) were well read, reasonable, passionate, and at least reasonably progressive. I answered questions for an extra fifteen minutes beyond the two hours scheduled, and went back later that evening and early the next morning to answer questions posted late. All in all it was a learning experience and gently prodded me to use a new medium and forum that initially was outside of my comfort zone.

Goal ThermometerWithout the help of team Howie, David, Jacqueline, and Austin, I would have been a lost lamb. With their expertise, knowledge, encouragement, and help it was a relative piece of cake. As the old saying goes, if you want to go fast…go alone…if you want to go far…go together. Together it was and together it is.

Thanks to all who posted questions, respected me and others, and made it a positive experience. For the trolls who tried to poison the well, all I can say is **&^%$_)((*##@!!

That’s all the news fit to print!  Bernie Peace!!

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Señor Trumpanzee Just Can't Get No Respect-- Well-Oiled Machine Is Still Sputtering Badly


Crack in the base? Remember, Hillary beat Trump 65,853,516 (48.2%) to 62,984,825 (46.1%)-- so when the new poll from Reuters/Ipsos reported that one in 8 Trump voters are suffering to at least some degree of buyer's remorse, that's a very big deal. His razor thin margins in the midwest-- in the states that somehow gave him the electoral college win-- would immediately disappear. Reuters summed up the poll like this: about one in eight people who voted for Señor Trumpanzee last November "said they are not sure they would do so again after witnessing Trump's tumultuous first six months in office." Worse yet, "[T]he erosion of support within his winning coalition of older, disaffected, mostly white voters poses a potential challenge for the president. Trump, who won the White House with the slimmest of margins, needs every last supporter behind him to push his agenda through a divided Congress and potentially win a second term in 2020."
In the July survey, 12 percent of respondents said they would not vote for Trump "if the 2016 presidential election were held today"-- 7 percent said they “don’t know” what they would do, and the remaining 5 percent would either support one of the other 2016 presidential candidates or not vote.
This kind of sentiment-- widespread across the country-- is starting, finally, to embolden horrified Republican congressmembers to speak out about Trump and his abnormal regime. Many people woke up Friday and were astonished by the frankness in the Politico interview with conservative Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson. "[S]ome lawmakers," wrote Rachel Bade and Burgess Everett, "are even starting to blame Trump for his handling of the Russia probe, Twitter feuds and attacks on the media... [T]he crux of the problem is pretty clear six months into Trump’s presidency: Unified Republican control of government is a picture of complete disunity."
"I don't even pay any attention to what is going on with the administration because I don't care. They're a distraction. The family is a distraction, the president is a distraction," complained Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). "At first, it was 'Well yeah, this is the guy we elected. He'll learn, he'll learn.' And you just don't see that happening."
Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, reporting for the NY Times yesterday, asserted that Republicans are ceasing to fear Trump and his bombastic bullying tactics. One top GOP staffer told me that many of the members have come to see Trump as "a bullshitter" who "says anything that pops into his infantile mind" and then forgets it a few hours later. Haberman and Thrush began their report by bringing up right-wing senatorial sociopath Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the lunatic that sophomore Congressman Randy Bryce will probably take out in 2022. Johnson, they wrote, "could not be charmed" by Trump's buffoonish antics. "He could not be outbargained. And he could not be scared into supporting the measure for the sake of a president whose inability to bend fellow Republicans toward his political will has become a liability for his young presidency. As the brash Mr. Johnson reminded one associate recently, while Mr. Trump may have stunned the political world in 2016 by winning Wisconsin in the election, Mr. Johnson got 76,000 more votes in the state."

In fact, across the country, nearly every Republican senator who ran in 2016 ran ahead of Trump. If anything, Trump was a drag on Republican statewide tickets. Here are 10 typical examples:
AZ- McCain- 1,359,267; Trump- 1,252,401
FL- Rubio- 4,835,191; Trump- 4,617,886
GA- Johnny Isakson- 2,135,806; Trump- 2,089,104
ID- Mike Crapo- 449,017; Trump- 409,055
IA- Chuck Grassley- 926,007; Trump- ‎800,983
KS- Jerry Moran- 732,376; Trump- 671,018
NC- Richard Burr- 2,395,376; Trump- 2,362,631
OH- Rob Portman- 3,118,567; Trump- 2,841,005
UT- Mike Lee- 760,241; Trump- 515,231
WI- Ron Johnson- 1,479,471; Trump- 1,405,284
And that doesn't even speak to Trump dragging down incumbents Mark Kirk (IL) and Kelly Ayotte (NH) to such an extent that each lost an absolutely crucial Senate seat.
IL- Mark Kirk- 2,184,692; Trump- 2,146,015
NH- Kelly Ayotte- 353,632; Trump- 345,790
Trump-love may help a lot with a certain crackpot fringe inside the GOP and among usual non-voters but Trump's name was poison in 2016 and is even more poisonous now.

Fear is perhaps the most powerful motivating force in politics, and fear of a powerful president is the surest lever to move a lawmaker from a “no” to a “yes” on a presidential priority. But over the past month, Mr. Trump scared no one into supporting the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He has proved simply too unpopular nationally-- polling at 36 to 40 percent approval this week-- too weak in many senators’ home states, too erratic and too disengaged from the details of governing to harness his party, as other new presidents have.

...The starkest demonstration of Mr. Trump’s weakness came on Monday when Mr. McConnell and his stunned team learned that Jerry Moran, a typically reliable and evenhanded conservative from Kansas, felt safe stiff-arming Mr. Trump on his top legislative priority, announcing that he opposed the bill.

“Right now, nobody’s afraid of Trump, and that’s a real problem,” said Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and once a top aide to Senator John Cornyn of Texas.

“But the truth is that he hasn’t really tried,” Mr. Jesmer added. “Where is he on local talk radio? Where is the trip to Kansas to say, ‘Hey, Jerry, we’re really close on this and could use your help’? It’s what he does well, getting out there and making the case. I don’t get why he hasn’t been more engaged.”

A Republican senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wanted to preserve his relationship with Mr. Trump, put it more bluntly. The president, he said, scares no one in the Senate, not even the pages.

“He has limited experience in government and politics, he lacks a deep and experienced team, and his poll numbers are disastrous,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, as senators from both parties grappled with the sudden collapse of Republican-only health care talks.

“It’s more or less impossible to sell a program when you have those conditions,” he added.

...[F]or all his public bluster, he despises private confrontation. He might actually be a little too nice, one top Republican Senate aide said with a laugh this week.

After Speaker Paul D. Ryan canceled the first scheduled vote for a repeal-and-replace bill, two top advisers urged Mr. Trump to show wayward House members that they would pay a price for challenging the president. But Mr. Trump ultimately stood by the leadership and declined to target anyone.

Mr. Trump expressed his pique to aides when Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, announced his opposition to the bill on the grounds that it preserved too many elements of the existing law. But when it came time to make the case personally, Mr. Trump opted for a putter over a cudgel.

[Note to DWT readers: Kentucky was one of the few states were Trump actually significantly outpolled a sitting Republican senator Rand Paul.]

Mr. Trump asked Mr. Paul to play golf-- to clear his head-- offering to play with him personally, if it meant getting him off TV bashing the Senate bill, according to three Republicans with knowledge of the exchange.

The president’s attempts to use force have backfired.

His team has talked with a possible Republican challenger to Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who has raised questions about the bill. So far, Mr. Flake has not changed his behavior.

When Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican who opposed the Senate’s first repeal-and-replace effort and who faces a tough re-election battle next year, a Trump-allied political action committee ran ads against him. But under pressure from Senate leadership, Mr. Trump himself expressed his desire to have the ads pulled from the airwaves, and they came down soon after.

And Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who is far more popular in his state than Mr. Trump, never backed off his opposition to the health measure, even after a phone call from the president and a series of one-on-one meetings with senior administration officials at the National Governors Association meeting last weekend in Rhode Island.

Mr. Trump, to exert pressure, sat Mr. Heller next to him during an awkward opening at a White House meeting on Wednesday with Republican senators convened to rekindle interest in voting on a clean repeal of the health care law before the August recess.

The president began with a barbed joke, urging the senator to back his third push for a Senate repeal.

“You weren’t there. But you’re gonna be,” the president said. “You’re gonna be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re gonna appreciate what you hopefully will do. Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare.”

Other senators were visibly stunned by the lightly veiled threat.

Mr. Heller blushed, laughed and remained politely noncommital.


Ryan Unilaterally Kills Barbara Lee's Amendment To Repeal To AUMF, Which Has Already Passed Overwhelmingly


Over the last month, Randy Bryce's now famous @IronStache twitter account has gone from 7,000 followers to 121,000 followers. And he's already using it to promote other progressive candidates as well as policies and actions he believes in. Wednesday I saw him reacting to Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee's anger at Paul Ryan's decision to secretly-- in fact, in the dead of night-- remove her amendment to the 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill, which had passed overwhelmingly in committee, to repeal and replace an outdated Bush-era Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

In explaining her disagreement with the Speaker to her constituents, her office released this statement:
In a desperate and undemocratic attempt to kill Barbara's AUMF repeal amendment, Speaker Paul Ryan stripped it from the Appropriations bill in the middle of the night without even bringing it up for a vote.

This shows the extreme tactics Ryan will use to uphold the status quo and avoid debating endless wars. It shows an underhanded move to make Barbara's amendment vanish into thin air. And it shows a new low for the Speaker that requires us to come together and take action.

...Congress has been missing in action on matters of war and peace for nearly 16 years. What is Paul Ryan afraid of? Why won't he let members of Congress honor their constitutional responsibility to debate and vote on U.S. military intervention abroad?

Paul Ryan should be ashamed of himself. This isn't leadership, this is autocracy.

If we are going to continue to send our brave servicemembers into battle zones to fight endless wars, Congress must have the courage to take up this debate. With your help, we'll make it clear to Paul Ryan that the American people want Congress to act to stop endless war.
Nor is Bryce the only candidate for Congress pissed off at what Ryan has done. Another progressive veteran running for Congress, Kansan Jim Thompson, sees eye to eye with Barbara Lee on this. "Our founding fathers, in their wisdom," he told us today, "vested Congress with the power to declare war as a check on the President being the Commander-in-Chief. For far too long, Congress has abdicated their responsibility, allowing the President power far in excess of anything our founders envisioned. Whenever we send our sons and daughters to war, Congress should engage in vigorous debate before sending them into harm's way. Congress has not declared war since World War II, but rather passed Authorizations to Use of Military Force. The last Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed 16 years ago on September 14, 2001 in the wake of 9/11. The new law authorized force against anyone responsible, or any country that harbored those responsible, for the 9/11 attacks. Congress drafted the law with such broad language that Presidents Bush, Obama, and now Trump used this law for attacks on many different countries in multiple situations. The House Appropriations Committee recently approved a bi-partisan Amendment canceling the authority for the 2001 AUMF. Rather than allow a debate, Speaker Ryan pulled the Amendment in the middle of the night and never allowed the Amendment to reach the floor for debate despite its bipartisan support. Congress owes it to our men and women in unform to debate and authorize any military use of force. Since Speaker Ryan never served a day of his life in uniform, he may not realize the weight of his responsibility to our armed forces. Maybe he does not understand that his decisions have very real life and death consequences for our troops. The men and women of our armed forces perform their duties every day, you would think Speaker Ryan could at least fulfill his."

Vote Vets is backing Lee up in a big way and contacted their own members, telling them that "Last Tuesday night, in the middle of the night, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took unilateral action to pull Congresswoman Barbara Lee's bipartisan bill to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force from the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.

"Here's the truth: We have troops in Iraq and Syria who were in diapers when the original AUMF was passed in 2001. Congress must do its Constitutional duty and have a new debate about the use of our troops in operations that could never have been foreseen in 2001.

"It is unconscionable that Speaker Ryan has decided to block this bipartisan effort. Our men and women who put their lives in the line for America deserve so much more. They deserve the Speaker of the House of Representatives to do his job.

"Sign VoteVets petition calling on Speaker Ryan to allow debate and vote on Congresswoman Barbara Lee's bipartisan bill to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

"Frankly, this is the kind of debate that the founders intended-- because war powers to rest with the Congress, not the President, and not the Department of Defense. It's time to allow a debate and vote on where and when the President is authorized to put troops in harm's way."

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Randy Bryce-- On The Environmental Challenges That Face Us All


Let me put the bullshit smear about Randy Bryce favoring tar sands to bed right here and now. A political operative being paid to smear Bryce in progressive circles-- something that helps no one but Ryan-- has been running around making up stories about how he was pro-tar sands pipeline and basing it on "his union was for it and he's for his union, so therefor..." The assertions didn't jibe with Randy's very vocal backing for Bernie in Wisconsin, even after his union endorsed and started working for Hillary, nor did it fit in with discussions I've had with Randy before he declared his candidacy for Paul Ryan's congressional seat. His dedication to clean energy and to an environmental agenda to fight global warming, precluded backing tar sands pipelines. Endorsements by Blue America, the Working Families Party and DFA don't go to pro-tar sands candidates.

According to a statement to DWT from Working Families Party's Wisconsin Director, Marina Dimitrijevic:
We take our candidate vetting process seriously, and especially for high office. When Randy was considering getting into the race, climate was one of many topics we covered. He's firm in his opposition to the construction of dirty energy pipelines. He also wrote in his endorsement questionnaire in support of transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Who could be a better messenger to make the case for clean energy jobs instead of dirty pipeline jobs than someone like Randy?

Randy is the real deal. We don't endorse in every race, but we do when we see someone who shares our values so whole-heartedly and can win. Randy is not just any candidate. He has been involved in the Wisconsin WFP since we launched. I don't know many federal candidates who have been actively involved in building the institutions of the progressive movement than Randy.

Beating Paul Ryan is going to be an uphill battle. He'll have all the money in the world from every polluter, banker, union buster, and every other corporate interest. Our early endorsement helps make sure we have the time to build the kind of massive organization that will it will take to rival all that money.
The first time I talked to Randy about it he told me, simply that he'd "turned down 100K working in Canada on the tar sands while I was collecting unemployment because I didn’t want to make money by contributing to the project." Last night he gave me a more formal statement:
Combatting Climate change is one of my top priorities and it will be a major focus for me as a member of Congress from southeast Wisconsin. Along with that, we must immediately reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by investing in clean, renewable energy. We can create millions good-paying jobs by transitioning to a clean energy economy in which windmill and solar panel construction, installation, and maintenance employ my brothers and sisters in the labor movement.

Transporting fossil fuel presents a critical, and immediate environmental danger, whether by pipeline, ship, rail, or road. We need to have strong federal standards and protections to ensure that our natural resources and public health are protected. I do not trust that the CEO’s and corporate boards care about these matters, and as a member of Congress I will be on the side of our communities when a potential hazard is identified.

I have specific concerns about alternative dirty energy projects which are becoming all too popular. For example, tar sands are an especially dirty form of oil that are all too often categorized as clean by the entities looking to profit at the expense of our health and safety. As an ironworker, I was once offered the opportunity to work on one of these tar sands projects and immediately turned it down. My first concern is always the ability to take care of my family, and I need work to do so. However, I was taught to have courage in my convictions and in order to do so-- and to set a good example for my son-- I turned down this opportunity.

I am extremely concerned about the environmental impact of fracking, which reports suggest are now causing earthquakes and contaminating ground water. I’m deeply concerned that this dirty process-- and similar dirty processes-- disrespect and deny protections to indigenous nations. We must protect treaty rights and the rights of indigenous nations as we work together to build a bigger table, at which we can all succeed.

Let’s be honest, folks running for political office all too often say the right thing and then go to the capitol and carry out the wishes of the fat cats. As I’ve told folks every day on this campaign, I pledge to not take campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry-- their executives or their political action committees. I will hold true to this as candidate for Congress, and as a Congressman, after we repeal and replace Paul Ryan, who benefits from the greed and profits of big oil and the fossil fuel industry.
Jan Schakowsky's Illinois district is very close to WI-01. In fact it was Jan who proposed the Congressional Progressive Caucus endorse Randy (which it did-- unanimously). She's known to usually favor female candidates but at a meet and greet for Randy in DC this week, she was practically in tears introducing him. "The residents of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District deserve a representative that will show up and fight for them. As a veteran, ironworker, and cancer survivor, Randy Bryce understands the challenges Wisconsinites face daily. His sleeves are rolled up and ready to work.”

Yesterday Ruben Gallego, a progressive Democrat from Phoenix also spoke up for him: "I am excited to endorse Randy Bryce for Wisconsin's first Congressional District against Speaker Paul Ryan. Randy comes from a working class background and has served his country. As a fellow veteran, I know Randy has the training, toughness, and hard work mentality to fight for the people in Wisconsin. His leadership and values are needed in Congress more, now than ever."

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trump's Crazy Republicans Have An Arya Stark List Now


Shouldn't Nancy Ohanian be commissioned to do the official Trumpanzee family painting?

Drawing on an historical perspective, author and activist Danny Goldberg bemoaned the left's circular firing squad for Nation readers yesterday. He wrote that "With excruciating predictability, mainstreamers blame young people for low turnout and for being seduced by the Libertarian or Green parties, as if finger-wagging at youth has ever been effective. Such lectures are like a rock band blaming the audience for not giving them an encore instead of improving the show. A certain number of low-information young voters struggling with college debt, stressed out by diminished job opportunities, and terrified of global warming were not motivated by charts showing statistical economic growth during the Obama years or by Tim Kaine’s harmonica playing. It is equally absurd when some on the left refuse to admit that the United States and the world would be in a lot better shape today if imperfect Hillary Clinton had won."
Democratic Party mainstreamers should stop claiming that they and they alone are pragmatic. (Or as a smug New York Times headline put it, “The Base Wants It All. The Party Wants to Win.”) That argument has long been highly debatable, but after 2016 it is delusional. They have controlled most of the candidate selection and most of the campaigns that have resulted in the weakest presence of Democrats in elective office since the age of silent movies.
But you know who's having even worse circular firing squad problems? The political right. Trump is encouraging television ad campaigns and primaries against Republican incumbents he doesn't like for one reason or another. One of his PACs already started running ads in Las Vegas and Reno against Dean Heller (R-NV) and he and his staffers have been meeting with perspective extremists who want to run against Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN). And the groups that feed the right-wing base its opinions are turning their big guns on Ryan, McConnell and Republicans in Congress.
“It’s shocking the amount of pushback he’s getting from his own party,” said Carl Higbie, a former spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC. “It’s time to primary some of these longstanding congressional leaders that can’t get the job done.”

Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt trained his ire on Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), arguably the most endangered GOP Senate incumbent in 2018, for opposing the repeal and replace bill.

Hewitt questioned Heller’s intelligence, saying on his Tuesday show that he’s not the “sharpest knife in the drawer” and accusing him of not grasping the damage he was doing to the Republican Party.

Hewitt even compared the list of Republican defectors from the bill to a fictional list kept by Arya Stark, a character on HBO’s Game of Thrones, of people who have been marked for revenge after wronging her family.

“We know the list to blame. It's like #AryaStark list. And it just keeps getting longer,” Hewitt tweeted.

Hewitt said that, along with Heller, Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.), Susan Collins (Maine), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) belong on that list for opposing the bill.

Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler fumed, ticking through the names of senators who he said abandoned conservative voters by opposing a subsequent measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put off replacement.

“[Alaska Sen. Lisa] Murkowski, [West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore] Capito and Collins. People are furious. And not one ounce of it is directed at Trump,” Meckler said.

The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), which funded ads in the past against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans, vowed to back primary challenges against Republicans who did not back the repeal efforts.

“Republicans have promised to repeal ObamaCare for years, and now with President Trump in the White House there is no excuse for them to break their promise,” said SCF chairman Ken Cuccinelli.

The outrage illustrated the intraparty divisions that have opened up in the Republican Party over healthcare and could imperil other parts of Trump’s agenda.

...The Drudge Report placed the blame right on Ryan and McConnell, with the heavily trafficked site's banner all day Tuesday showing a photo of Ryan and McConnell over the headline "MOST UNPRODUCTIVE CONGRESS IN 164 YEARS."
Meanwhile, back to the Democrats for a moment. Last yesterday, the GOP passed, 248-179, a heinous fracking-related bill, H.R. 2910, that will allow natural gas companies to seize private property and conduct surveys of private land without consent of the landowner. Only one Republican voted against it, but 11 from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- almost all of them Blue Dogs-- voted for it. The culprits were mostly the usual suspects who always vote with the Republicans and with the corporate special interests that pay for votes-- like Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX), Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) and Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX). Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), who voted against this bill, told her constituents that "Billion-dollar natural gas companies have no right to infringe on Americans’ private property-- end of story. This attack on the pipeline approval process would not only allow expanded use of eminent domain, but also deny communities the opportunity to participate in the public input process. Instead, it gives corporations free rein to cause irreparable harm to the environment."

One of the worst of the oil industry whores among Democrats is Gene Green, who represents a Houston shipping channel area district with severe environmental and pollution problems. Hector Morales is a young activist and school teacher challenging Green for the seat he has used for too long to serve the interests of Big Oil against the interests of his own constituents. He's one of the few progressives challenging an entrenched incumbent conservaDem anywhere in the country-- the toughest job in politics (please contribute to his campaign here). This morning, when we asked him about Green's vote with the Republicans, he told us that "This should not come as a surprise as Gene Green is one of the founding members of the Congressional Oil & Gas Caucus along with Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, to name a few. Green was also one of the scarce Democrats that voted in favor of the Keystone Pipeline with the abhorrent excuse the pipeline. Perhaps the Congressman should look no further than the Manchester neighborhood deep in the heart of the 29th Congressional District where all the refineries are located. After all, the low-income, heavily Latino community has high rates of childhood leukemia, asthma, and bronchitis-- an observation that has been backed up by data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Texas which found “unacceptable” levels of cancer-causing pollutants in Manchester’s air. Gene Green is nothing more than a corporate shill who has gotten away with representing the oil and gas companies while claiming to look after the well being of the community he has sworn to protect. But with $260,000 worth of campaign contributions in this quarter alone from special interests, what more could you expect?"

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