Friday, May 26, 2017

Political Purity Test? I Don't Think So

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Thursday, May 25, 2017

People For the American Way Launches The Next Up Victory Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Western North Carolina is one of these areas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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All-Electric Air Travel Is Not an Impossible Dream

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

by Gaius Publius

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

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

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

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

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

All-Electric Planes Are Here Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GP
 

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Election Day-- Today... In Montana

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Today's the day. A quarter million people have already voted in Montana but whatever analysis of that available shows that neither side has any advantage so far in the early voting. [For comparison's sake-- even if it's an apples-to-oranges comparison-- the June 6 special election in CA-34 has had 14,820 early votes and the expected total for the entire race is between 40 and 45,000.] This is going to be close and it's totally about getting out the vote. So, if you're in Montana, or you know anyone in Montana... your country needs you today.

Rob Quist has raised over $5 million from over 200,000 donors. Gianforte raised around the same amount but from only a tenth as many people-- and includes $1.5 million from himself. In the last week, spending has gone through the roof as internal GOP polls have shown Quist having caught up with Gianforte. Helena's Independent Record reported that "Republicans are significantly outspending Democrats," meaning outside groups... GOP outside groups have ensured that Republicans have a spending advantage, though, airing more than $7 million worth of TV ads, versus about $3 million from Democrats. House Majority PAC, Democrats’ main House outside group, on Tuesday added a last-minute $125,000 TV ad buy to the race, on top of $25,000 announced last week." That's Pelosi, who's decided to spend big in GA-06 and just pretend to be helping in Montana to pacify Berniecrats, many of whom are too new to politics to understand the difference between Pelosi spending $150,000 and Ryan spending $3 million.
In the past 20 days, outside groups have spent $228,061 in support of Quist. Groups supporting Gianforte have spent $356,476. Much of that money is being spent on getting out the vote. The Progressive Turnout Project, for example, has spent $14,825 on employees to get out the vote for Quist. The Republican National Committee spent $16,939 on Gianforte phone calls May 20-21.

Turnout in rural Montana counties, where Republicans do well, has been strong with more than 70 percent of absentee ballots returned by rural voters, according to Montana’s secretary of state. Turnout through Monday had absentee ballots from rural counties comprising 30 percent of the state’s absentee vote. That’s better than the normal absentee turnout, which is 25 percent, said Craig Wilson, Montana State University Billings political science professor emeritus.

Combined, the rural county absentee vote is higher than the turnout in Missoula and Gallatin counties, Montana’s second and third largest counties for absentee ballots. Anchored by the state’s two largest universities, those are counties where Democrats need higher turnout, Wilson said.

Money spent against the candidates is more lopsided. Republican groups have spent almost four times as much targeting their opponent as Democrats have. That's $1.93 million against Quist and $442,450 against Gianforte in the past 20 days.

...The campaign committees of Quist and Gianforte have raised at least $10 million combined, while outside groups have spent more than $7.1 million thus far.

The Quist campaign announced Tuesday that it had topped $6 million in contributions, noting that it had generated about $1 million in small donations over the past five days.

That amount could not be immediately verified because it had not yet been reported to the Federal Elections Commission.

Gianforte's campaign said it has raised about $4.6 million, including a last-minute loan of $500,000 from Gianforte. He had previously lent his campaign $1 million. The combined total in direct contributions is a record haul for a Montana congressional race.

...The money flowing into the campaign from independent outside groups, which can spend unlimited amounts of money, has mostly benefited Gianforte. Groups supporting the Bozeman entrepreneur have spent more than $6.3 million, according to FEC records, including $2.4 million from the Congressional Leadership Fund.

The fund has also spent heavily to influence another special congressional election in Georgia, as have the Republican Party committees.

The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have combined for more than $3.1 million.

While Quist has gotten most of his money from individual donors, he has also benefited from independent campaign committees, such as Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which was responsible for about half of the roughly $800,000 in spending on Quist's behalf.
Today, the question is whether or not the surge in grassroots Quist contributions will equate to a surge in grassroots Quist voters. Does the national enthusiasm translate to Montana voter enthusiasm? Are Trump and Ryan as toxic for Republicans in Montana as they are in other places? After the two big wins for Democrats in very Republican legislative districts in New Hampshire and Long Island Tuesday, Republicans are freaking out today about Montana. Gianforte complained to his supporters that "This race is closer than it should be." Elena Schneider, writing for Politico yesterday reported "recurring nightmare of a pattern for Republicans around the country, as traditional GOP strongholds prove more difficult and expensive for the party to hold than it ever anticipated when President Donald Trump plucked House members like Ryan Zinke, the former Montana Republican now running the Interior Department, for his Cabinet. Gianforte is still favored to keep the seat red, but a state Trump carried by 20 percentage points last year became a battleground in the past few months."
Republicans have called on Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. to calm their nerves about turnout and prevent Democrats from having the only energized voting bloc in the special election. Both have rallied voters with Gianforte, and Pence recorded a get-out-the-vote robocall. Gianforte, who said little about Donald Trump when Gianforte ran for governor and lost in 2016, has cast himself as a willing and eager partner of the president this time around.

On Tuesday, surrounded by Trump stickers-- and some Trump hat-wearing supporters-- Gianforte said he was eager "to work with Donald Trump to drain the swamp and make America great again," invoking two of the president's campaign slogans. Pence's robocall may give another boost to Republican turnout efforts.

But the environment has changed since Trump’s presidential win last fall. One senior Republican strategist warned that, based on the party’s performance in special elections so far, if Republicans “cannot come up with better candidates and better campaigns, this cycle is going to be even worse than anybody ever thought it could be.”

“The fact that we're talking about Montana-- a super red seat-- is amazing,” said John Lapp, who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 cycle. “It's also amazing how much money Republicans have to pour into these seats to defend them. It's still a steep climb in Montana, but we know that the reaction there means that there's a tremendous amount of Democratic energy across the country, a tremendous amount of fundraising that will then feed into races that are much fairer fights."

Democrats hope the passage of House Republicans’ health care bill just three weeks before the election will put the wind at Quist’s back. It has been the subject of Quist’s closing TV ads, and he has called the plan “devastating” to Montana.
It's been called devastating for Montana because it is-- more so than almost any state that voted for Trump. Because the state expanded Medicaid, 9.3% of Montanans stand to lose their health insurance if TrumpCare becomes law-- 96,317 people, a very significantly higher percentage than Texas' 3.0%, Georgia's 3.4%, Kansas' 2.3%, Alabama's 2.6%, Idaho's 4.4%, Tennessee's 2.4%, Oklahoma's 2.5% or Mississippi's 2.2%. That should help boost turnout today. As will the fact that even "Republicans acknowledge that Gianforte has flaws Democrats exploited mercilessly in last year’s gubernatorial race, likely cementing negative feelings about him from some voters. Gianforte is dogged by reports that he sued Montana to block access to a stream in front of his ranch, kicking up a public lands dispute that hits home with Montana voters and has “probably followed him into this House race,” said Jeff Essman, the state’s GOP party chairman."



Last night, over-entitled, right-wing crackpot Greg Gianforte went completely insane and beat up a reporter. No wonder both Montana and national Republicans think Gianforte is the worst possible candidate they could have been saddled with today. Listen below. Despite the witnesses and the audio, Gianforte made up a whole lie about how the reporter attacked him because... "liberal journalist." The Fox News reporters in the room had something to say about that.
The race to fill Montana's sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives took a violent turn Wednesday, and a crew from the Fox News Channel, including myself, witnessed it firsthand.

...Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of "I'm sick and tired of this!"

...To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies.

As for myself and my crew, we are cooperating with local authorities. It is not clear if charges will be filed against Gianforte at this time.


Overnight, Montana's three most influential newspapers-- the Billings Gazette, the Missoulian and the Helena Independent Record-- withdrew their endorsements of Gianforte... and he was charged with misdemeanor assault. Voters are waking up to that today! And this:



UPDATE: Oy!

Montana has same day voter registration. People waking up are seeing some incredible news about the Republican dirt-bag-- who has strong ties to neo-Nazi organizations-- who they are being asked to vote for today. From last night's Missoulian:
Greg Gianforte should not represent Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republican candidate for Congress not only lost the endorsement of this newspaper Wednesday night when, according to witnesses, he put his hands around the throat of a reporter asking him about his health care stance, threw him to the ground and punched him-- he should lose the confidence of all Montanans.

...The Gallatin County sheriff’s office found probable cause to cite Gianforte for misdemeanor assault Wednesday night. We will leave it to the legal system to determine his guilt or innocence.

But there is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He showed Wednesday night that he lacks the experience, brains and abilities to effectively represent Montana in any elected office.

And in case critics say this is just fake news from the liberal media, let us repeat one fact again: The eyewitness account of Gianforte’s actions came from a Fox News reporter.

We hope our fellow Montanans who haven’t already cast their ballots will say loud and clear at the polls Thursday that Greg Gianforte is not the man we want representing us in Washington. He does not represent Montana values and he should not represent us in Congress.

We’re putting our trust in your good sense.

The whole country is.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump Ready To Get His Revenge Against Iowans

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On February 1, 2016, the day of the Iowa caucuses, Trump was still just a joke. He was sputtering that Iowa Republicans had brain damage from too much fertilizer after polls started showing him losing to Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. On the day of the caucuses Cruz won-- with 51,666 (27.6%). Trump came in second with 45,429 votes (24.3%), much closer to Rubio's 43,228 (23.1%) than to Cruz. Trump, who did beat Carson-- currently his Secretary of Housing-- was still basically a stand-up comic back then:



Though Obama won Iowa both times he ran-- 54-44% against McCain and 52-46% against Romney-- Hillary couldn't have been a worse fit for the state. She lost the state's 6 e;sectoral votes by almost 10 points-- 800,983 (51.1%) for Trumpanzee to 653,669 (41.9). Trump has still never apologized to the state's rural voters for repeatedly accusing them of being stupid and brain-damaged. And his new budget is particularly devastating for Iowans.

Forget for a moment how TrumpCare will be catastrophic for a state that has already utterly sabotaged the Affordable Care Act. And lets not think about what the draconian cuts in food stamps will do to Iowa's farmers. The Trump budget, if ever enacted, will completely eliminate 66 federal programs, several of which are vital for Iowa's economy and well-being. For starters Mulvaney has slashed the Agriculture Department mercilessly and completely eliminated nearly a billion dollars by ending 4 programs that benefit Iowans: the Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, the Single Family Housing Direct Loans, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education. Other programs being eliminated include the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, the Labor Department's Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Training and their Senior Community Service Employment Program, Health and Human Service's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program-- for those cold Iowa winters-- even Homeland Security's Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program. Also the over $4 billion cut from the State Department's aid programs will be disatrous for farmers, since much of that aid is in the form of surplus agricultural products that will otherwise flood domestic markets driving down prices. Trump manages to save $43 million by shutting down the Treasury Department's Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.

And, as you've probably read, some of ind independent agency's Trump and Mulvaney are targeting for elimination especially serve rural communities, like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Even as much a knee-jerk Trump supporter as Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is, even he admits he's concerned about some of the Trump cuts that target farmers and rural communities. Iowa Public Radio reported that Grassely is bitching that, although he doesn't especially care about Trump and Mulvaney further squeezing the food stamps program, "reducing crop insurance subsidies would leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for farm damages from natural disasters... Isn’t it better to have the farmers pay part of it and the taxpayers pay part of it instead of the taxpayers paying 100 percent, like they do for other natural disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes?"

Dave Loebsack, the only Democrat left in Iowa's delegation to Washington said "this budget is a direct attack on Iowa’s hardworking families, rural communities and small businesses, all while giving more and more to those who are wealthy and well." Although all of Iowa's Trump puppets in DC have taken an uncomfortably supportive posture towards the budget, other Republicans around the country are denouncing it. Nevada Republican Dean Heller is already using it as a piñata in his reelection campaign. "From slashing funding for important public lands programs to its renewed effort to revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, the President’s budget request contains several anti-Nevada provisions." That's strong stuff. John Cornyn, the Senate's #2 Republican pronounced it "DOA-- dead on arrival." By the end of the week, expect frightened Republicans in Iowa-- Rod Blum and David Young-- to start cautiously backing away, especially once local polling shows how unpopular Trump's proposals are.

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Which GOP Garbage Will Be Swept Away In The Great Wave?

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The wave that's forming up now could well be an anti-Trump/anti-Ryan tsunami by 2018. When Republicans say there are 18 months and a lot can change they are sweating under their suit jackets because they know the intensity of voters' reaction against the Republican agenda is intensifying, not dissipating. It won't just be Republicans in the blue districts that the DCCC has botched who get decimated but Republicans in districts who represent districts with R+4 and R+5 PVIs, seats that are normally considered "safe." I was struck by a conversation between Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Chris Hayes Tuesday night. Merkley, who makes a point of visiting every county in his state, including the blood red ones where he's lost massively-- like Wallowa (34.4%), Lake (30.9%), Grant (32.8%), Malheur (27.6%), Linn (42.5%) and Klamath (36.3%). Merkley recalled that in the past he has been booed and heckled in some of these rural counties where people get their information from Hate Talk Radio and Fox. This year, he said, he's walking into town halls and getting standing ovations. "They are looking for champions to stop this craziness, this destructive set of strategies that trump is putting forward." Watch the last couple of minutes of the video above.

While Hayes and Merkley were chatting on MSNBC results were starting to come in from special election to fill red legislative seats in New Hampshire and on Long Island-- results that help explain why it isn't just Republicans like Carlos Curbelo (FL), John Katko (NY) and Erik Paulsen (MN) in districts Hillary won, but also Republicans like Steve Chabot (OH), Mark Amodei (NV), Steve King (IA), Tom Reed (NY) and Paul Ryan (WI), who the DCCC traditionally declares too red to contest, who are in trouble.

Both the legislative districts last night were won by Romney and Trump. The Long Island district-- right in the heart of Peter King's congressional district (Massapequa, West Babylon, Babylon Village, West Islip and West Bay Shore)-- had gone to Trump with a massive 23 point margin over Hillary! Last night, progressive activist, Berniecrat Christine Pellegrino defeated Conservative sociopath Tom Gargiulo 5,590 (57.89%) to 4,049 (41.93%). In a victory statement Pellegrino made it clear she isn't just another garden variety Democratic hack politician. "This is a thunderbolt of resistance," she said. "This is for all the supporters and voters who understand a strong progressive agenda is the way forward in New York." She had been a Bernie delegate to the Democratic National Convention last year.



In New Hampshire, GOP state Rep. Harold Parker had resigned to join the Sununu administration, triggering the special election in Wolfeboro (Carroll County). Democrat Edith DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache 811 (52%) to 755 (48%), the first time a Democrat had ever won the seat.

Every time Ryan and Trump do something to further undermine working families, the enthusiasm to defeat Republicans ticks up, even in "safe" Republican districts like these two. Once again, the DCCC has adamantly refused to target Steve Israel-crony Peter King. But there is no doubt there will be a grassroots candidate running against him in 2018, with or without assistance from Pelosi and her clueless DC Democrats.

The most important lesson to remember from last night is that these candidates do NOT fit the DCCC candidate profile which results in the recruitment of loser candidates who are wealthy self-funders and Republican-lite conservatives. This morning DNC chair Tom Perez may have been happy but he wasn't particularly inspiring in his remarks: "To rebuild the Democratic party, we need to win from the school board to the Senate. No seat is too small, and to be competitive we have to get back to the basics of grassroots organizing as a party. Last night, two Democratic women won upset victories in down-ballot races where Trump won by a large margin, and held on to a key Democratic seat in New York. They did it by talking to every voter. As President Trump and Republicans across the nation push budgets and policies that help the rich get richer at the expense of the rest of America, Democrats are focused on lifting people up and on the issues that matter to working families. As we saw last night, the Democratic Party continues to turn this moment into a movement and this movement into votes." He should have let Keith make the statement.

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Why Are The Imbeciles At The DCCC Boycotting Wisconsin This Cycle?

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There are 16 House Democrats with perfect scores from ProgressivePunch for the current session-- a score of 100. One, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is a freshman, which means her lifetime crucial vote score is also 100. The other freshmen with eye-popping great scores are Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Ro Khanna (D-CA). ProgressivePunch is a very imperfect tool but where it fails in precision, it excels in relative direction, especially over long periods of time. My gut tells me that Pramila at 5 months in will still be a super-progressive champion at 5 years in. Meanwhile, though, the non-freshman-- so people with a longer and more complicated voting record-- with the best voting record in the House is Mark Pocan from Madison, Wisconsin. Pocan has a 98.99 crucial vote score, almost unbelievable for someone elected to Congress in 2012.

And the voters back home in Wisconsin know it. In November, Mark out-performed Hillary in his blue collar Midwest district, scoring 69% of the vote against his Republican opponent. Yesterday Mark was elected co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, taking over for Keith Ellison who is now Deputy Chairman of the DNC. Pocan is one of the Democrats in Congress insistent on the Democrats presenting a positive agenda ago voters, not just a list of complaints about Trump and Putin. He bridges the gap nicely-- something his colleagues should try to incorporate into their own presentations: "With the Trump Administration attacking both the values we hold dear and the programs which provide vital services to people across the country, it is my goal to help make the Congressional Progressive Caucus the voice of the resistance. All we need to do is take a look at the devastating cuts proposed in the budget President Trump released today to see the clear distinction between progressives and this Administration and Congress. I am proud to help lead the charge in Congress for progressive ideas that lay the foundation for our resistance in this era of Trump. The CPC will fight the fights against bad policies and offer positive alternatives which demonstrate progressives have a pulse on the will of the people and a plan forward.

"As a lifelong progressive, I will continue to fight for the kitchen table issues we all care about and put forward pragmatic, progressive policies to combat Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s radical agenda," he emphasized. "House Republicans think they can get away with passing a health care bill that will cause 24 million Americans to lose coverage, but the CPC will work with outside groups to ensure people understand what Congress is doing. We know progressives have a winning message across the country and in America’s heartland. I hope to help the Congressional Progressive Congress make sure the voices of the American people are heard in the halls of Congress."

As we mentioned yesterday, the DCCC announced their expanded list of target districts for the 2018 midterms. Not a single one was in the great progressive bastion Wisconsin has been and will be again, despite the fact that several of the congressional districts are true swing districts and that one, in particular, WI-01, is occupied by the most obvious target in the whole Congress: Paul Ryan. These are all Wisconsin districts Obama won and have been abandoned by a DCCC incapable of thinking beyond the newest shiniest object (red suburban districts Trump managed to lose in Texas and Orange County, CA). The percentage was Obama's winning number against McCain.
WI-01 (Ryan)- 51%
WI-06 (Glenn Grothman)- 49%
WI-07 (Sean Duff)- 53%
WI-08 (Mike Gallagher)- 54%
Maybe worth the effort? Especially in a year when Tammy Baldwin will be at the top of the ticket asking voters to send her back to the Senate.


Virtually all of the Democratic campaign managers operating independently of the DCCC web of corruption have uniformly negative opinions of the DCCC and their capacity to win races. Rahm was seen as pure evil but Chris Van Hollen, Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan are sad-sad laughing stocks who have eviscerate the Democratic Party and crapped on its brand. We asked one of the most respected and coveted of those managers what he thinks of the DCCC boycott of Wisconsin. I swear I could sense steam coming out of his ears as he exploded into a stream of vituperatives. When he calmed down he said that "Given the blue collar nature and partisan make up of Wisconsin 1, there is not a more winnable seat for a Democrat in Wisconsin currently held by a Republican (not to mention the fact that having Paul Ryan as the incumbent most likely means more grassroots money than is necessary to win). Not only is Wisconsin 1 winnable, it is a seat that is necessary to win in order to gain real momentum heading into 2020's battle for the presidency. The Democratic Party can go all over the country looking for GOP-held seats in suburban America, but the fact is that if we don't start winning the blue collar worker back, any presidential math will be difficult. Sweeping Orange County congressional seats would be nice, but let's face it, California is a Democratic stronghold on the electoral map. But if we can show that hard working men and women in good union jobs can articulate strong Democratic values in areas like southeast Wisconsin, Donald Trump (or incoming president Pence) should probably give up and head back to their local Klan meeting or Billy Graham circus spectacular." He gets a little carried away.

We asked one of the smartest Wisconsin politicians we know, state Senator Chris Larson, what he thinks of how the DCCC has left his state out of their plans this cycle. He told us that "Wisconsin was a leading state in the progressive movement and we will be a part of the resurgence. Folks thinking of writing off Wisconsin should spend some time on the ground here first. They'd discover what we all know: there are amazing people getting ready to run on a progressive vision and there's a grassroots army ready to to get behind them."

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