Sunday, June 26, 2016

Salon Finds The Worst Democratic Candidate Ever-- Spoiler: Florida

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If you read DWT with any regularity at all, you already know what a disaster Schumer and Reid have led the Democrats into in Florida. But now the word is finally getting out beyond DWT: "the Democratic Party decided to recruit one of the worst possible candidates available in any state: Patrick Murphy. Digby speculates at Salon that Murphy is so bad that he could cause the GOP to keep control of the Senate.
There are a number of seats where Republican incumbents are vulnerable and a few open seats that could turn over to a Democrat. One of the most promising was Marco Rubio’s  in Florida which he pretended to vacate when he decided to run for president. He waiting until the last minute but finally jumped back into the race earlier this week. Apparently, he figured he still had plenty of time to make his fortune and he is clearly eyeing another run at the presidency.

His strategy seems to be to run against both Clinton and Trump which is an odd choice since that’s what he did during the primaries and it didn’t work out too well for him. The polling isn’t showing much enthusiasm among Floridians for more Marco in the Senate. Perhaps they weren’t impressed by his constant demeaning of the job, saying it wasn’t even worth showing up for-- which he rarely did. But he’s a familiar face now so perhaps he’ll just win by default.

The Democrats meanwhile went out of their way to recruit one of the worst possible candidates available in any state, Congressman Patrick Murphy a two-term congressman with a very wealthy and generous Republican father. The Democrats had persuaded Murphy to switch his R to a D in 2012 and he unsurprisingly went on to compile one of the most conservative records in the House Democratic caucus. He was even one of the chief Benghazi witch hunters enthusiastically helping Republicans smear Hillary Clinton.

In fact, it was rumored that Murphy was missing his old buddies in the GOP:
According to a source very close to the Republican Congressional leadership, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner granted Patrick Murphy’s request to a private meeting to discuss Murphy’s possible defecting to the Republican Party.
For reasons unknown that didn’t happen and Murphy then became the Democratic establishment’s choice for Rubio’s seat. And what a terrible choice he was. Even before Rubio stepped back into the race it was very doubtful that Murphy could pull out of the nosedive his campaign has been in for the last month.

First, there were the stories of his dubious campaign contributions. It’s obviously the case that he became such a favorite of the likes of Senator Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid because he is a veritable money machine. And it’s a dirty one:
The Democrat has seen an avalanche of news headlines and political attacks in the last week surrounding: money his family-owned company and father gave to a super PAC that supports him; donations he received from an admitted felon; and a House bill he co-sponsored that would have benefitted political donors and his family business…
Murphy is the best-funded candidate in the race and his family wealth-- or the contributions he took from big donors and Wall Street-- didn’t hinder him in past elections. He won his first election in 2012 despite media coverage of his father’s pouring $550,000 into pro-Murphy super PACs, one of which ran attack ads against GOP opponent and then-U.S. Rep. Allen West. The ads generated controversy in District 18 as it depicted West, who’s black, as a boxer punching white women.

(Yes, Alan West is a political extremist and a war criminal, but that’s still disgusting.)

This week the local Miami CBS station released a two-part investigation into Murphy’s financial conflicts and his ongoing lies about his education and his job experience in the private sector. It’s devastating. His claim to fiscal expertise lies with his alleged background as a CPA. Upon investigation, it turned out that Murphy repeatedly failed the Florida CPA exam and never worked a day in that capacity. His heroic tale of creating an innovative new type of “oil-skimming” boat, thoroughly tested by the government and found to be 100 percent effective, to help with the BP spill turns out to be false. Certainly, the government has no record of ever seeing one. The “small business” he brags about starting from scratch was actually affiliated with his father’s very successful construction firm. In other words, he’s an empty suit who doesn’t appear to have ever left his father’s nest.



It’s too bad Reid and Schumer put all their eggs in that basket and have been so dismissive of his primary opponent the firebrand progressive Alan Grayson, who polls just as well against the Republicans and isn’t as dumb as a bag of rocks. GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff was recently quoted as saying, “right now, I can envision a scenario where the balance of the Senate tips to the Democrats with the election of Alan Grayson. And I’m not the least bit kidding about that… Grayson could beat that entire field of Republicans.”

These investigations of Murphy’s shady finances and lies about his experience had eroded his chances anyway and now that Rubio’s back in the race, he’s in even worse shape. This was an unforced error by some powerful members of the party leadership who are still seduced by the idea of recruiting Republicans to switch parties under the mistaken impression that that will gain “independent” votes and keep the big money flowing. It could be a very consequential mistake. One Senate seat could make all the difference in January 2017.

There’s one group that’s very happy about all this: Republicans:


Interesting case here-- Murphy is surely the worst of all possible words (at least for the Democrats)-- he's not only corrupt, basically Republican and incapable, he's also someone unlikely to muster what it takes to beat Rubio if Schumer and Reid can drag him over the August 30 primary finish line. Grayson on the other hand, is brilliant, incorruptible, and the most successful legislator in Congress. Schumer would rather see Rubio keep the seat than see another Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders type in his caucus. Please help ruin Chuck Schumer's August by contributing what you can to Alan Grayson's campaign:
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Does A System Forcing A Choice Between A Trump And A Clinton Deserve Your Participation?

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This is a real thing

There was a little brouhaha on Friday over Bernie supposedly telling CNN's Chris Cuomo that he wants a position in Hillary's administration. He doesn't. He's pushing for his policy positions-- not a position for himself. I don't want to see Donald Trump as president. And I don't want to see Hillary Clinton as president either. Unlike Bernie, I have no intention of voting for either one of them. Having known her personally and having watched her career unfold over the decades, I have no doubt that she's the wrong person for the presidency-- despite how unfit and utterly contemptible Trump is. Yes, he's worse than her. But, as I've said endlessly, the lesser of two evils, is still evil.

I'm pretty sure she's going to be president and, like everyone, I'll be glad that she shatters the ultimate glass ceiling for women. That means something; it means a lot. But, after that, every decision she makes will be a nightmare, starting with her personnel decisions. Friday the Platform Committee sessions ended in acrimony when the Clinton and Wasserman Schultz appointees blocked attempts to stop the TPP and to strengthen the party's position on a $15 minimum wage (watch the video below). AFSCME's Paul Booth, a penultimate party hack and Clinton appointee, helped kill the strong $15 minimum wage proposal. Yeah, AFSCME is a kind of union. I wonder if their members know Hank Paulson, Bush's Mr. TARP, has hopped into bed with them to make Clinton president.



At this point one can only imagine what kind of human garbage she has in mind for cabinet positions. Remember Victoria Nuland, the longtime neocon aide to Dick Cheney who seamlessly moved into Hillary's state department and who engineered the coup in Ukraine, putting in place a rouge's gallery of fascists and neo-nazis? She's rumored to be a top contender for secretary of state. Another victory for... feminism?

And if Nuland makes it into the cabinet, she's not going to be the only monstrosity-as-bad-as-anything-Trump-would-pick in there. Wall Street has already paid in advance for the Treasury Secretary position. Larry Fink (of BlackRock) has been rumored to be in position for the job. And nightmare rumors of her cabinet picks include Michele Flournoy as Secretary of Defense. It would be hard to find anyone worse. Glenn Greenwald:
Flournoy, the former Defense Department official whom Defense One calls “the woman expected to run the Pentagon under Hillary Clinton,” this week advocated for “sending more American troops into combat against ISIS and the Assad regime than the Obama administration has been willing to commit.” In an interview with that outlet, Flournoy “said she would direct U.S. troops to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more American boots to fight the Islamic State in the region.” She had previously “condemned the Obama administration’s ISIS policy as ineffectual,” denouncing it as “under-resourced.”

This week, Flournoy specifically advocated what she called “limited military coercion” to oust Assad. In August 2014, Obama announced what he called “limited airstrikes in Iraq”-- and they’re still continuing almost two years later. Also note the clinical euphemism Flournoy created-- “military coercion”-- for creating a “no-bomb zone” that would entail “a declaratory policy backed up by the threat of force. ‘If you bomb the folks we support, we will retaliate using standoff means to destroy [Russian] proxy forces, or, in this case, Syrian assets,’” she said. Despite D.C. conventional wisdom that Obama is guilty of “inaction” in Syria, he has sent substantial aid, weapons, and training to Syrian rebels while repeatedly bombing ISIS targets in Syria.

Even U.S. military officials have said that these sorts of no-fly or no-bomb guarantees Flournoy is promising-- which Hillary Clinton herself has previously advocated-- would risk a military confrontation with Russia. Obama’s defense secretary, Ash Carter, told a Senate hearing last December that the policy Clinton advocates “would require ‘substantial’ ground forces and would put the U.S. military at risk of a direct confrontation with the Syrian regime and Russian forces.” Nonetheless, the Pentagon official highly likely to be Clinton’s defense secretary is clearly signaling their intention to proceed with escalated military action. The carnage in Syria is horrifying, but no rational person should think that U.S. military action will be designed to “help Syrians.”

It’s long been beyond doubt that Clinton intends to embark upon a far more militaristic path than even Obama forged-- which is saying a lot given that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner has bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries in seven years. Repeatedly, Clinton has implicitly criticized Obama for excessive hostility toward Israel, and she has vowed more uncritical support for Israel and to move closer to Netanyahu. Just yesterday, Clinton surrogates battled Sanders’s appointees in the Democratic Platform Committee meeting over Israel and Palestine, with Clinton’s supporters taking an even more hard-line position than many right-wing Israeli politicians. Clinton was the leading voice that successfully convinced a reluctant Obama to involve the U.S. in the disastrous intervention in Libya.

Her past criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy were based overwhelmingly in her complaints that he did not use enough military force, including in Syria. As the New York Times put it in 2014: “That Mrs. Clinton is more hawkish than Mr. Obama is no surprise to anyone who watched a Democratic primary debate in 2008... She favored supplying arms to moderate Syrian rebels, leaving behind a somewhat larger residual military force in Iraq and waiting longer before withdrawing American support for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt during the historic protests in Cairo.”

...But the fact that Hillary Clinton has a history of advocating more war and killing and support for heinous regimes and occupations is the one thing Democratic pundits have, with remarkable message discipline, completely ignored. From Bernie Bros to Sanders’ Secret Service costs to Hillary’s kick-ass, mic-dropping, slay-queen tweets, they’ve invented the most embarrassingly childish and trivial distractions to ensure they don’t have to talk about it. But now Clinton’s almost-certain defense secretary is already-- months before she’s in power-- expressly advocating more war and bombing and dangerous interventions. That makes the costs of a Clinton foreign policy-- at least for those who assign any value to lives outside of American soil-- much harder, and more shameful, to ignore.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Music Industry Unites Around A Common Sense Approach To U.S. Gun Nuttery

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Ted Nugent, who was once part of the music industry, opposes gun control. He has advocated private individuals being able to own heavy military equipment, from bazookas to tanks. When I became president of Reprise one of the first things I did was begin laying the groundwork for dropping his truly dreadful band, Damn Yankees. But not everyone in the music business is as big an asshole as Nugent. Thursday more than 150 entertainers and music biz executives signed an open letter to Congress urging them to tighten gun laws. Published by Billboard on its cover, the letter was signed by such internationally respected luminaries as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Michael Stipe, Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, Iggy Pop, Alanis Morissette, Billy Joel, Stevie Nicks, Tori Amos, Wayne Coy, Beck, Barbra Streisand, Carole King, k.d. lang, Jackson Browne, Alicia Keys, John Mellencamp, Cher, Sting, Elvis Costello, Joan Jett, Britney Spears, Jeff Tweedy, Tony Bennett, Bob Weir, Trent Reznor, Eddie Vedder, and Lady Gaga.


AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS:
STOP GUN VIOLENCE NOW


As leading artists and executives in the music industry, we are adding our voices to the chorus of Americans demanding change.

Music always has been celebrated communally, on dancefloors and at concert halls. But this life-affirming ritual, like so many other daily experiences-- going to school or church or work-- now is threatened, because of gun violence in this country.

The one thing that connects the recent tragedies in Orlando is that it is far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns.

We call on Congress to do more to prevent the gun violence that kills more than 90 Americans every day and injures hundreds more, including:


Require a background check for every gun sale
Block suspected terrorists from buying guns
Billboard and the undersigned implore you-- the people who are elected to represent us-- to close the deadly loopholes that put the lives of so many music fans, and all of us, at risk.
The editors of Billboard added that, "Like the rest of the country and the world, Billboard editors were horrified by the mass killing at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on June 12, and by the murder of singer Christina Grimmie the night before. Both tragedies occurred where musicians and music fans gathered. And so faced with another gun-related tragedy, the staff organized this special “Open Letter to Congress” cover of Billboard. With the help of leading gun-violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety, editors reached out to those we cover in the music industry, and asked for their support and their signatures to help seek a sane and safe end to gun violence. Within minutes, Joan Jett was the first to sign on. Lady Gaga shortly followed. Within hours, and then in a matter of just a few days, nearly 200 top artists and executives-- pop stars (including Grimmie's friend Selena Gomez), rappers, rock gods, legends, Broadway heroes, even two Beatles and Yoko Ono-- lent their voices to the chorus of Americans looking to our political leaders for change. Billboard, artists and music-industry executives join so many members of the House and Senate this week proudly advocating for common-sense gun safety."

Nanette Barragán is running for Congress in an L.A. district (the 44th) that is far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the music industry. But her district has been painfully aware of the scourge of gun violence-- and the people there want it ended and ended now. "When everyone," she told us this morning, "from Billy Joel and Tony Bennett join forces with Iggy Pop and Trent Reznor, you know that there is an incredible depth of support for an issue like common sense gun safety legislation. What’s equally clear is that Congress can’t seem to get its act together long enough to do something productive on this issue. That’s why this year it’s more important than ever that we break from politicians and politics as usual and elect leaders who are willing to take a stand on important issues." Please consider helping Nanette's campaign-- she won a slot in the November general against an establishment stooge generally considered the most corrupt legislator in Sacramento-- by tapping on the thermometer below:
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New Frank Zappa Documentary Affirms Lifelong Advocacy For Freedom of Speech

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Pennsylvania state trooper Chuck Ash and Frank Zappa, circa early '80s

-by Denise Sullivan

"A country that doesn't sustain its culture… maybe it shouldn't exist," Frank Zappa once said of his beloved USA. "They don't make it easy for you to be a musician…"Esthetic enrichment-- this is not a major consideration in the United States," he said. Zappa was asserting these inalienable truths over 30 years ago, at a time when he was already well into his under-appreciated and misunderstood career, and before he'd turned his attention to advocating for other artists at risk of erasure and censorship. Contrary to his media image as a drug-crazed hippie, Zappa was a serious composer, performer, and freedom of expression advocate who was also drug-free and generally politically and personally conservative. As he worked tirelessly through art and activism to shine a light on our culture's inconsistencies and shortcomings, his music became more exalted outside the U.S., culminating in awards and an appointment by Czech president, Václav Havel. Bolstered by an accumulated and vast worldwide media archive underscoring the artist's international stature, director Thorsten Schütte has compiled a trove of largely unseen footage and cut it into Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words, a new documentary highlighting the complexities of the artist's public persona and its relationship to the media.

"Zappa is a very eloquent person in comparison to a great many pop stars. It's rewarding to listen to him," explained Schütte during an interview in San Francisco last week. His film's unusual format-- no exposition, no captioning-- is a fresh approach to music documentary. The wealth of unseen performance and interview footage delivered by his riveting subject makes for exciting viewing, though at the outset of the filmmaking process the director had his doubts if the approach would add up to anything in the end. "My goodness, will you be able to really listen to him for 90 minutes, would it be fatiguing? He's a difficult character; he has an attitude, very spiky," he said. Luckily, early cuts of the film revealed Zappa's ability to cut through the screen and deliver a deep message on freedom of thought and expression, his lifelong passions, and concerns no less relevant now than they were in the artist's own life and times. With his brand of commentary and social satire still raging, Eat That Question is a testament to Zappa's prescience of vision with valuable tools for the here and now.



Born and raised in Baltimore in 1940 by parents who were of Italian immigrant stock mixed with French, Greek and Middle Eastern origins, the Zappa family relocated to California and moved around a bit, eventually settling in the Inland Empire. In the film, an early television appearance on The Steve Allen Show depicts Zappa as a young composer who "plays" the bicycle, and that takes care of the youth portion of Zappa's life. The film begins in earnest with the 1966 release of the Mothers of Invention debut album Freak Out. As  Zappa is thrust into the spotlight, he largely disavows hippie culture and asserts his embrace of more experimental, classical composers like Varèse, Stravinsky, and Anton Webern. Though facts were Zappa had a rock 'n' roll background, he preferred to be perceived as a composer, and it's an identity he stuck with for the remainder of his musical life as a meticulous bandleader and auteur, as inventive as he was dedicated to entertaining and enlightening.

One of the more obscure and interesting clips Schütte unearthed was an interview with Pennsylvania state trooper Chuck Ash, conceived as a children's educational television piece on the dangers of drugs. The wild juxtaposition is right in line with Zappa's more-than-meets-the eye positions on art and life. "We avoided captioning," says Schütte. "We wanted the footage to speak for itself. We figured the audience was informed enough that when we are talking about the Ho Chi Minh Riots in Berlin that we're talking about 1968." I didn't have the heart to tell Schütte that he likely overestimated the intelligence of the American viewing public, but there is no doubt the artful approach leaves questions open and opportunities for further exploration.

Schütte worked closely with Zappa's widow, Gail Zappa who screened a cut of the film before she passed away in October of 2015. "She approved and liked the project, I think, because I'd promised her I would set forth around the world and continue to access things she hasn't seen and didn't have. For the sake of curating their own archive accurately, we had a mutual interest and she said, go ahead." Schütte finished the film with the cooperation of Ahmet Zappa, the second to youngest of the four Zappa children and executor of the Zappa Family Trust.

Like Lenny Bruce, Don Rickles and other social satirists, Zappa was an equal opportunity offender, taking no mercy on women, homosexuals, the disabled, people of color, and white males. Though the work could be polarizing, he was ultimately less concerned about protecting his own right to free speech than he was that of others when he elected to get involved in rock's most famous fight against censorship: In the mid-'80s, Zappa stood up against the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), the Washington wives committee spearheaded by Tipper Gore that aimed to warn parents of the evils lurking within the lyrics of their children's record collections by affixing labels to them.

"You have to understand he wasn't under attack; it was about Sheena Easton, Prince, Ozzy Osbourne… but he stood his ground under fire from the beginning of his time with those issues," explained Schütte. Indeed the PMRC hearings provided hours of potential material for the film, though in the end, much of it was left out with Schütte noting most of the hearings are available online as are the transcripts. "You could have a whole film about it with John Denver and Dee Snider," he says, though his compressed narration by Zappa provides "a link between the first two thirds of the film and the last third," in which Zappa largely shuns the spotlight and returns to creative work.

It's hard to know just how close his international media encounters got to the "real" Zappa but while viewing Eat That Question, one gets the sense that what he gave to the camera was pretty close to his authentic self.

"I hate to see anybody with a closed mind, on any topic," he once said. A lifelong learner, "always a freak, but never a hippie," Zappa kept busy and evolving until he died in 1993 at the age of 52 of prostate cancer. Rock music has not yet seen his likes in the 21st Century, though it could certainly use a friend and advocate as publicly committed as he was to artistic rights and freedoms.

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words opened June 24, last night, in New York and Los Angeles and goes into wider theatrical release July 1.



Denise Sullivan is the author of Keep on Pushing: Black Power Music From Blues to Hip Hop. She writes from San Francisco on gentrification and the arts.

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You'd Think California Is A Blue Enough State That They Could Elect Someone Of The Calibre Of Elizabeth Warren Or Bernie Sanders-- But You'd Be Wrong

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The Sanchez sisters-- Loretta, the brainless one running for Senate, is wearing red

6,883,458 people voted in the California presidential primary-- 4,763,930 in the Democratic primary and 2,119,528 in the Republican. The big vote-getters:
Hillary- 2,582,591
Bernie- 2,138,284
Trumpy the Clown- 1,583,319
John Kasich- 242,208
Ted Cruz- 201,574
Over a million people abstained when it came to the state's U.S. Senate vote. Only 5,082,928 people voted in the jungle primary that yielded up two Democrats for the November election. The top vote-getters (candidates with over 2% of the vote and over 100,000 votes) in the open primary were:
Kamala Harris (D)- 2,051,048
Loretta Sanchez (Blue Dog)- 943,002
Duf Sundheim (R)- 406,964
Phil Wyman (R)- 246,623
Thomas Del Beccaro (R)- 213,946
Greg Conlon (R)- 160,164
Steve Stokes (D)- 105,568
I voted for Stokes, the largely unheralded Berniecrat in the race. There were 27 other candidates, Democrats, Republicans, a Green, a couple of Libertarians and lots and lots of independents. Unfortunately there was not a column for "None of the Above." Most of the spending was from just a few candidates. This is what the top candidates spent through May 18:
Kamala Harris- $6,344,212
Loretta Sanchez- $2,169,364
Duf Sundheim- $599,400
Tom Del Beccaro- $297,670
Stokes raised $9,379.

In November, with no Republican in the race, the two candidates with be establishment corporate liberal Kamala Harris and one of Congress' stupidest members, reactionary Blue Dog Loretta Sanchez, trying to play several cards, primarily that she's Hispanic but also that she's the natural place for Republicans to go, which she is, having voted with them enough to have earned a big fat "D" from ProgressivePunch. A few days ago, Alex Roarty, writing for Roll Call, reported that she's already angling for conservative support.
Business leaders who generally favor the Republican Party in California say they are considering backing Sanchez over Harris, convinced that the “Blue Dog” Democrat Sanchez would be a better ally in the Senate than the more liberal Harris, the state's attorney general.

Their support would be a major help to Sanchez, whose campaign has spent months searching for a base of support. The Democratic Party, including many progressive activists and groups like EMILY’s List, have almost uniformly lined up behind Harris.

“There’s an understanding that Loretta has a stronger understanding of how to grow jobs in California,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable.

...“She’s a social progressive, but she’s a Blue Dog Democrat that looks at fiscal programs to see if they are paid for,” said Luis Vizcaino, spokesman for Sanchez’s campaign. “And I think that appeals to many Californians, who want somebody aligned with their social views but at the same time is fiscally moderate.”

...A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released this week found Harris leading Sanchez 47 percent to 22 percent. The survey also found that 64 percent of Republicans said they would not cast a ballot for either candidate in November.

...Money and support from Republicans and business donors might also come with an electoral price, Democratic strategists say. If Sanchez were trying to court Democrats and Hispanic voters at the same time as she accepts big money from the GOP, those groups might rebel.

“You’re handing Kamala an easy thing to say, ‘Look the same people who fund Loretta Sanchez are funding Donald Trump,'" Trujillo said. “Once you do that, you hand Kamala Harris an even bigger instrument to use with Latino voters.”
Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican, has already announced his endorsement of Sanchez, calling her "an independent thinker and a proven leader," although she is neither. Members of Congress who work with her all say that all the brains in that family went to her sister Linda Sanchez and that Loretta has trouble grasping simple concepts and has no place in public service. "She's as thick as a brick," one of her colleagues told me, requesting anonymity. "She could switch parties tomorrow and she wouldn't have to change much in her approach."

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The Week Wraps Up With More Adventures Of Trumpy The Clown

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Yesterday Trumpy the clown left the campaign trail to fly to his failing golf course in Scotland, driven soley by his business interests and unrelated for his crashing-and-burning presidential campaign. Wednesday the Washington Post reported that "[t]o many people in Scotland, his course here has been a failure. Over the past decade, Trump has battled with homeowners, elbowed his way through the planning process, shattered relationships with elected leaders and sued the Scottish government. On top of that, he has yet to fulfill the lofty promises he made. Trump has also reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project-- even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.

At least Trump will have some time on the plane across the Atlantic to contemplate how he's going to fight--other than just bribing-- the growing Dump Trump movement breaking out among right-wing convention delegates. Ironically, the Republican Establishment is actually resigned to Trump's nomination and they're against the grassroots plots against him. Or at least that's the party line.

Or Trump could skip that and contemplate something else-- like the wipeout awaiting him. The latest predictions from Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia's Center For Politics. They forsee a crushing electoral college defeat for Trump-- 347-191. And they have no toss-up states! They show Hillary winning in all the traditional swing states: New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia. If Sabato is correct and Hillary wants to play rough, the battleground states for 2016 will be Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Utah and Arizona, traditional GOP bastions.

Almost all the momentum-- Pennsylvania is the exception and Hillary is ahead there too-- is against Trump.


Currently, we show every Obama 2012 state at least leaning to Clinton, along with North Carolina, the one state won by Mitt Romney where we currently see a Democratic edge. Obama carried North Carolina in 2008 along with Indiana, a traditionally conservative state that has long been the most Republican state in the Midwest. If Clinton’s national lead does grow further, it’s far from impossible that she might be able to carry Indiana, as well as Missouri, which Obama did not carry in either of his elections. But as of now, we think that is unlikely, and Trump remains the favorite in both.

Two Republican-leaning states where Democratic chances might be better are Arizona and Georgia. Both states typically vote several points more Republican than the nation, but they are both becoming more diverse: Arizona has a growing Hispanic population that will in all likelihood be quite hostile to Trump, an anti-immigration hardliner, while Georgia has a significant and deeply Democratic bloc of African-American voters as well as a growing, educated, white-collar professional class that might be turned off by Trump. While Trump is still a favorite in both places, we see Clinton having the potential to grab one or both if she ends up winning a big national victory, so we’re moving Arizona and Georgia from Likely Republican to Leans Republican.

Our ratings are premised to a large degree on a belief that we are not going to see dramatic changes in the electoral performance of the states this year. In other words, we think the states that have been the most Democratic in recent elections will continue to be among the most Democratic, the most Republican states will continue to be the most Republican, and the states that have voted closest to the national average in recent elections-- the swing states-- will continue to reflect the national average.

...We’re moving [Utah] from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.

Several 2016 polls have shown the state to be competitive. While Utah is very Republican, it also stands apart from other states because of its heavy Mormon population (58% of the state, according to the American Values Atlas), a religious group whose members were notably cool to Trump during the primary season. (Trump only got 14% in the state’s caucus, held on March 22.) Ultimately, Utah seems most unlikely to vote Democratic for president, but Trump could wildly underperform there and bleed votes to Johnson’s Libertarian ticket or perhaps someone else-- the independent filing deadline is Aug. 15. The reasons for Trump’s troubles with Mormons are legion, according to BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins, including his apparent hostility to religious freedom (his proposal to at least temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States) and hardline anti-immigration message. Additionally, Coppins argues, “pitchfork populism doesn’t hold the same visceral appeal for a religious community with above-average education levels, relatively stable families, and comfortable middle-class incomes.” Perhaps more important, if Trump does indeed perform poorly with Mormons, it could also hurt him in more competitive states such as Utah’s neighbors (Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada). These are places with above-average Mormon populations where Trump’s potential underperformance with Hispanics may do him further harm.

If most of the Sanders vote is gradually re-absorbed into the Democratic column-- a reasonable expectation-- Clinton will get a boost of a couple percentage points nationally and in swing-state polling. Should the Democratic convention be a harmonious show-- not a certainty-- and Clinton’s choice for VP be well-received across the party and nation, Clinton’s poll gains should harden.



The same thing could happen for Trump, of course, but party unity within the Republican family is a non-starter. Two former presidents (both Bushes), the previous party nominee (Romney), and a host of other top GOP officials, donors, and commentators will never get on the Trump bandwagon. News media coverage is bound to stress who does not come to Cleveland, not just who does. It’s also doubtful that senior officials who have been publicly lukewarm about Trump are suddenly going to start singing his praises in or after Cleveland. They know that on any given day, some new or renewed Trump controversy could force them to stand down and backtrack.

The watchword for much of the party establishment is extreme wariness, although we’re skeptical of a possible coup attempt in Cleveland. As much as many Republicans dislike Trump and fear he will lead to catastrophic losses in the fall, he won the nomination fair and square, and previous attempts to derail the Trump train have failed. If Trump isn’t the nominee, who would it be? The anti-Trump forces have no candidate to rally around, and they almost certainly couldn’t agree on one. Bluntly put, the GOP is stuck with Trump. And a substitute nominee, should one be installed somehow, would be asked to lead a viciously divided party with no real chance of victory.

Nothing here or anywhere is carved into stone in a most unorthodox presidential year. We recognize that Clinton has loads of weaknesses, too. Personally, she isn’t much liked or trusted. She’s also heavily dependent upon President Obama’s job approval, and thus must fear a reversal of his majority standing. Obama’s ratings could take a nosedive on account of a surprise recession or more domestic terrorism. And as we all know, Clinton might face the email music, courtesy of the FBI at an inopportune time. Scandals and controversies are part of the Clinton tapestry over a quarter-century in national politics. Why would 2016 be any different?
Let's ignore this as much as possible and think about something just as important-- fighting for a more progressive Congress, one dedicated to the interests of ordinary working families, rather than to wealthy special interests and to its own members' career trajectories.
Goal Thermometer

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How Many Republican Congressional Careers Can Trumpy The Clown Kill By November?

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I don't expect we'll see many ads as blatantly anti-Trump from Republican incumbents as the one above from Mark Kirk's campaign. I suppose he's gambling that any Trump die-hards who are so outraged by it that they won't vote for him, will be more than made up for by Illinois' independents. I don't think Trump has responded yet. Maybe no one has mentioned it to him or even told him Mark Kirk is a Republican senator.

Trump knows Rubio, though. And it must infuriate him that Rubio is being negative about him again-- even if he's finally stopped making fun of Trump's deformed penis. Hillary is favored to win in Florida-- and win big [Quinnpiac found Hillary ahead 47-39%]-- and, instead of helping, Rubio says he won't campaign with Trump in his home state. He told CNN that he's not "looking to undermine him, but I think the differences between us on key issues are so significant that I just don't plan to campaign-- I've got to run my own race." Earlier he was encouraging Floridians to vote for him so he could stand up against either of the two unpalatable presidential candidates.



Dan Friedman speculated for Fortune readers that a big Trump loss in Florida could undo Rubio’s senate reelection bid. Rubio, he wrote, "may have briefly looked like the Republican frontrunner last winter, but today he is just one of several endangered Republican incumbents whose reelection chances will fall further as Trump’s numbers drop." Jennifer Duffy, a Senate specialist for the Cook Political Report that "if Trump gets blown out in Florida, it will be a whole lot harder for Rubio to win. And like his colleagues, he will be answering for everything Trump says and does."


Trump’s big win in Rubio’s home state of Florida in March forced the Republican senator out of the presidential contest. Now that Rubio has reversed his oft-repeated claim that he would not seek a second Senate term, a big Trump loss may undo Rubio’s second 2016 campaign.
The incumbent Republicans trying hardest to work out strategies that offend the least number of Trump backers while shielding themselves from Trump's toxicity are Ron Johnson in strongly anti-Trump Wisconsin, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Rob Portman in Ohio, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, John McCain in Arizona, Richard Burr in North Carolina, Chuck Grassley in Iowa, even Arkansas' John Boozman and Missouri's Roy Blunt.

Democratic House candidates see the opportunity Trump presidents as well. Duwayne Gregory, the Long Island progressive head of the Suffolk County legislature is running for the South Shore seat held by Trump endorser Peter King and Gregory is making that support a key part of the election debate. Yesterday he sent out an e-mail asking Long Islanders to "Say “NO” to Donald Trump and any candidate who supports him!"
Peter King and Donald Trump sounded exactly the same last week in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando. They both made outrageous accusations, jumped to false conclusions, and continued spreading offensive rhetoric against minorities, especially Muslim-Americans. It’s clear why Peter King won’t stand up to Trump-- because he agrees with him!

We deserve a representative who shares our values and won’t shy away from denouncing Trump’s bigotry. Join me in taking the pledge: I will vote against Donald Trump and any candidate who supports him!

Donald Trump is the most outrageous and bigoted presidential candidate in decades, and it’s vital that Democrats hold strong against him and any Republicans that support him this year.

Last week, Trump repeated his calls for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and even suggested Secretary Clinton and President Obama were involved with and responsible for the attack in Orlando. Republicans, including Peter King, fell in line and started echoing his baseless and offensive pronouncements.

Republicans who refuse to denounce Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, and insulting behavior do not deserve to serve their community in elected office. And that includes Peter King.
State Senator Ruben Kihuen won a hard-fought primary and is now the official Democratic Party challenger to right-wing Republican Cresent Hardy in a huge Nevada district that leans Democratic. Policy-wise, he sees Hardy and Trump as two peas in a pod. Last night he told us that "Hardy can't run from Donald Trump because they agree on so many issues-- and perhaps the most shameful is their shared contempt for people with disabilities. Trump has viciously mocked a reporter for his disability, while Congressman Hardy thinks the disabled are "a drain on society." This is wildly out of step with the values of Nevadans." Help the good guys, like Duwayne and Ruben replace the bad guys... by clicking on the good guys thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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Friday, June 24, 2016

#TrumpSoPoor

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Nick Confessore and Rachel Shorey must have mortified notorious braggart and cheapskate Donald J. Trump Monday night with their piece about his broken, broke and tattered presidential campaign-- "the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and his party in political peril." I wonder if Paul Ryan has picked out the outfits he plans to wear at the convention in Cleveland.
Trump began June with just $1.3 million in cash on hand, a figure more typical for a campaign for the House of Representatives than the White House. He trailed Hillary Clinton, who raised more than $28 million in May, by more than $41 million, according to reports filed late Monday night with the Federal Election Commission.

He has a staff of around 70 people-- compared with nearly 700 for Mrs. Clinton-- suggesting only the barest effort toward preparing to contest swing states this fall. And he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday, after concerns among allies and donors about his ability to run a competitive race.

The Trump campaign has not aired a television advertisement since he effectively secured the nomination in May and has not booked any advertising for the summer or fall. Mrs. Clinton and her allies spent nearly $26 million on advertising in June alone, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, pummeling Mr. Trump over his temperament, his statements and his mocking of a disabled reporter. The only sustained reply, aside from Mr. Trump’s gibes at rallies and on Twitter, has come from a pair of groups that spent less than $2 million combined.

Mr. Trump’s fund-raising for May reflects his lag in assembling the core of a national finance team. In the same month that he clinched the Republican nomination, Mr. Trump raised just $3.1 million and was forced to lend himself $2 million to meet costs. Some invitations to Trump fund-raising events have featured the same short list of national Republican finance volunteers regardless of what city the event is held in, suggesting Mr. Trump has had some trouble lining up local co-hosts.

...[T]he shortfall is leaving Mr. Trump extraordinarily dependent on the Republican National Committee, which has seen record fund-raising this campaign cycle and, long before Mr. Trump even declared his upstart candidacy, had begun investing heavily in a long-range plan to bolster the party’s technical and organizational capacity.

In a first for a major party nominee, Mr. Trump has suggested he will leave the crucial task of field organizing in swing states to the Republican National Committee, which typically relies on the party’s nominee to help fund, direct and staff national Republican political efforts. His decision threatens to leave the party with significant shortfalls of money and manpower: On Monday, the party reported raising $13 million during May, about a third of the money it raised in May 2012, when Mitt Romney led the ticket.

...Allies of Mr. Trump say they believe the tide is already turning. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump will appear at a high-dollar fund-raiser in New York City hosted by some of the most prominent names on Wall Street.

Fund-raisers for Mr. Trump, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal discussions, said they were now hoping to raise up to $500 million in joint efforts with the Republican National Committee, or an average of $100 million a month from June through October. He is now reliably raising between $5 million and $7 million in each city where he raises money, those donors said.


A joint fund-raising effort with Mr. Trump and 11 state Republican parties yielded the Republican National Committee $3 million in just five days at the end of May. Some of the largest checks came from a handful of wealthy Trump supporters who are not party mainstays, suggesting Mr. Trump could tap new sources of campaign money.

But Mr. Romney was also backed by expansive network of deep-pocketed “super PACs” and other outside groups that collectively spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to elect him. This year, the Democrats are leading in outside money. Priorities USA Action, a group focused on advertising in support of Mrs. Clinton, announced on Monday that it had raised $12 million in May and had $52 million on hand-- a huge reserve.

The outside spending effort to help Mr. Trump, by contrast, has been chaotic and underfunded, hampered by a profusion of competing groups, one of which has spent only $1 million so far on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

The most prominent group, Great America, is advised by Ed Rollins, who managed Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign, and other more seasoned Republican operatives. But it, too, has had difficulty persuading big donors: On Monday, it reported raising just $1.4 million during the month of May.

Fund-raising efforts for Mr. Trump have been hampered by the candidate’s own erratic public comments. He has repeatedly said he will pay for his own campaign even as his volunteers fan out around the country to solicit six-figure checks, confusing allies and potential donors alike.

“Two days ago, he said, ‘I may fund it myself,’” Mr. Rollins said. “Donors are all being cautious about what’s going to happen here.”
And they should be cautious. Trump is a crook, has already funneled GOP money into the pockets of his own companies and to his children and, as Jonathan Mahler pointed out in the NYTimes Monday, Trump learned an awful lot from one of the most notorious political scoundrels of the 20h Century, his deceitful mentor Roy Cohn. When Cohn was Trump's lawyer his "reputation was well established. He had been Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Red-baiting consigliere. He had helped send the Rosenbergs to the electric chair for spying and elect Richard M. Nixon president. Then New York’s most feared lawyer, Mr. Cohn had a client list that ran the gamut from the disreputable to the quasi-reputable: Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, Claus von Bulow, George Steinbrenner." He and Trump were a match made in hell.
For Mr. Cohn, who died of AIDS in 1986, weeks after being disbarred for flagrant ethical violations, Mr. Trump was something of a final project. If Fred Trump got his son’s career started, bringing him into the family business of middle-class rentals in Brooklyn and Queens, Mr. Cohn ushered him across the river and into Manhattan, introducing him to the social and political elite while ferociously defending him against a growing list of enemies.

Decades later, Mr. Cohn’s influence on Mr. Trump is unmistakable. Mr. Trump’s wrecking ball of a presidential bid-- the gleeful smearing of his opponents, the embracing of bluster as brand-- has been a Roy Cohn number on a grand scale. Mr. Trump’s response to the Orlando massacre, with his ominous warnings of a terrorist attack that could wipe out the country and his conspiratorial suggestions of a Muslim fifth column in the United States, seemed to have been ripped straight out of the Cohn playbook.

“I hear Roy in the things he says quite clearly,” said Peter Fraser, who as Mr. Cohn’s lover for the last two years of his life spent a great deal of time with Mr. Trump. “That bravado, and if you say it aggressively and loudly enough, it’s the truth-- that’s the way Roy used to operate to a degree, and Donald was certainly his apprentice.”

For 13 years, the lawyer who had infamously whispered in McCarthy’s ear whispered in Mr. Trump’s. In the process, Mr. Cohn helped deliver some of Mr. Trump’s signature construction deals, sued the National Football League for conspiring against his client and countersued the federal government-- for $100 million-- for damaging the Trump name. One of Mr. Trump’s executives recalled that he kept an 8-by-10-inch photograph of Mr. Cohn in his office desk, pulling it out to intimidate recalcitrant contractors.

The two men spoke as often as five times a day, toasted each other at birthday parties and spent evenings together at Studio 54.

And Mr. Cohn turned repeatedly to Mr. Trump-- one of a small clutch of people who knew he was gay-- in his hours of need. When a former companion was dying of AIDS, he asked Mr. Trump to find him a place to stay. When he faced disbarment, he summoned Mr. Trump to testify to his character.

Mr. Trump says the two became so close that Mr. Cohn, who had no immediate family, sometimes refused to bill him, insisting he could not charge a friend.

...The two had met not long before at a private disco called Le Club, and instantly hit it off while discussing a nettlesome obstacle for Mr. Trump. The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was suing him and his father, accusing them of refusing to rent to black tenants. Mr. Trump told Mr. Cohn that their lawyers were urging them to settle.

“Tell them to go to hell and fight the thing in court,’” Mr. Trump later recalled Mr. Cohn advising him.

Mr. Trump did just that, with Mr. Cohn as his lawyer. Not only did Mr. Cohn countersue the government for $100 million, he filed a blistering affidavit on Mr. Trump’s behalf, mocking the case. “The Civil Rights Division did not file a lawsuit,” Mr. Cohn wrote. “It slapped together a piece of paper for use as a press release.” The Trumps ultimately settled the case by agreeing to make apartments available to minority renters, while admitting no wrongdoing.

...Among the many things Mr. Trump learned from Mr. Cohn during these years was the importance of keeping one’s name in the newspapers. Long before Mr. Trump posed as his own spokesman, passing self-serving tidbits to gossip columnists, Mr. Cohn was known to call in stories about himself to reporters.

...He used his connections to help Mr. Trump secure zoning variances and tax abatements critical to the construction of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Trump Plaza.

After one Cohn coup, Mr. Trump rewarded him with a pair of diamond-encrusted cuff links and buttons in a Bulgari box.

And if Mr. Cohn did not always feel comfortable charging a friend for his services, Mr. Trump was hardly one to put up a fight.

“Roy said, ‘I’ll leave it to Donald to give me what he thinks is fair,’” Mr. Fraser recalled of one lengthy Trump tax case in particular. “But, of course, Donald didn’t give him anything.”

Some work would have been difficult to bill. For instance, Mr. Cohn lobbied his friends in the Reagan White House to nominate Mr. Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry to the federal bench. (Questioned last year about this, Mr. Trump said his sister “got the appointment totally on her own merit.”)

...In June 1986, Mr. Cohn was disbarred for “unethical,” “unprofessional” and “particularly reprehensible” conduct.

...Fraser inherited all of Mr. Cohn’s possessions: the townhouse, his weekend place in Greenwich, Conn., his Rolls-Royce, his private plane and much more. But the Internal Revenue Service, collecting on Mr. Cohn’s tax debts, confiscated nearly everything.

He did get to keep the cuff links Mr. Trump had given Mr. Cohn. Years later, Mr. Fraser had them appraised; they were knockoffs, he said.

Mr. Fraser soon returned to his native New Zealand, where he now works as a conservationist at the Auckland Zoo. He has not spoken with Mr. Trump since Mr. Cohn’s death, but he has no doubt that if his former lover were still alive, he would be an enthusiastic supporter of the Trump campaign.

“Having trained or mentored someone who became president,” he said, “that would have been quite exciting for Roy.”
For America... not so much, primarily because the country would suffer grievous economic losses if Trump and the GOP ever got to implement the crap they're running on-- at least according to a report Monday from Moody's. "[T]he nation did not fare particularly well in any scenario of full-on Trumpism, Trump Lite or a more-compromising version of the candidate." After studying Trump's tax and economic proposals, Moody's concluded that "after-inflation income, stock prices and home values would likely decline" and that there "would be the loss of 3.4 million jobs rather than the 6 million increase in employment currently expected." They assert that Trump's proposals would leave the economy in a "lengthy recession and is smaller at the end of his four-year term than when he took office." Its report also criticizes his "tax reform that will make America great again," saying that most of the proposed cuts would go to the wealthy and lower- and middle-class homes would be hit hard by job losses."

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It's Hardly News That Trump's A Congenital Liar-- Can He Actually United The Country Behind Hillary?

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Trumpy the clown, a make-believe billionaire who has been routinely wow-ing imbeciles with make-believe diamond cufflinks for years, has been routinely lying his way through life and is now turning the Republican Party into his own personal Mendacity Machine. (Trumpy told Charlie Sheen the wedding gift cuff links were diamonds and platinum made by Harry Winston. They turned out to be worthless junk-- cheap pewter and bad zirconias stamped "Trump," like all the cuff-links he's given his closest friends and associates. Republicans with any sense of integrity whatsoever, are refusing to embrace him. Wednesday, Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser under both Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, endorsed Hillary Clinton, a step beyond where most Republicans repulsed by Trump have been willing to go.

Trump, who's primary foreign policy experience is promoting a golf course in Scotland that is losing millions of dollars-- and in a country that is debating banning him from entering. Snowcroft is a dyed-in-the-wool imperialist stooge, like Clinton, so the endorsement must have come relatively easily. He said she shares his "belief that America must remain the world’s indispensable leader [and] understands that our leadership and engagement beyond our borders makes the world, and therefore the United States, more secure and prosperous. She appreciates that it is essential to maintain our strong military advantage, but that force must only be used as a last resort." He lauded her "deep expertise in international affairs, and a sophisticated understanding of the world," qualities he described as "essential for the Commander-in-Chief."



Meanwhile, Trump read a carefully prepared speech-- without once referring to body parts or toilet habits-- calling Hillary Clinton everything that he embodies: "a world class liar... [who] gets rich making you poor," pretty much the story of Trump's life. His speech was fact-checked by every fact-checking service in the country and-- no surprises here-- they all found countless lies. Politifact, for example, rates 76% of statements made by Donald Trump to be false, compared to 27% by Hillary Clinton. So who's the world-class liar? The L.A. Times pointed out that "among Trump’s falsehoods: the U.S. is the highest-taxed country in the world; he opposed the war in Iraq before it started; the trade deficit with China increased 40% under Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State; and America has no system for vetting refugees. Among the unsubstantiated allegations: the private server Clinton used for email could have been hacked by agents of other countries who could have found dirty laundry and subjected her to blackmail; Clinton made money as a direct result of running the State Department; Clinton is lying about her opposition to a Pacific Rim trade agreement."




He said she "may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency," be she couldn't possibly be, since he clearly is.

Early in the speech he caught my attention by claiming, falsely, that "hundreds of recent immigrants and their children have been convicted of terrorist activity inside the U.S." That was one of the many that Politifact debunked, reminding readers looking for reality that "most domestic terrorists were either born in the United States (like the Fort Hood, San Bernardino and Orlando shooters), or came here at a very young age (like the Boston Marathon bombers and Chattanooga shooter).

And, since it was about foreign policy, Trump took the opportunity to lie again about how he was the first person in the known universe to oppose the war in Iraq, a war he actually supported until 2004. He claimed Hillary was fast asleep a 3a m when a call came in about Benghazi. "Among the victims is our late Ambassador, Chris Stevens. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed-- that’s right, when the phone rang at 3 o’clock in the morning, she was sleeping. Ambassador Stevens and his staff in Libya made hundreds of requests for security. Hillary Clinton’s State Department refused them all." None of Trump's Hate Talk Radio fairy-tale is true but where does one even start with this one? It was 4 in the afternoon and she was very much awake and working. The man is a compulsive liar. The likelihood of him saying anything truthful ever that impacts his ambitions is virtually nonexistent. He's like an Arab rug-merchant or a Times Square 3 card monte hustler.



He had hardly finished puking out his latest batch of lies before Amanda Marcotte had started fact-checking them for Salon. She pointed out that the long-awaited speech which was to display all he had on Hillary "turned out to be exactly what critics expected: A diatribe of right-wing paranoia seemingly cribbed off all-caps email forwards sent to you by your grandfather. Much of it assumed an audience that already has spent years poring over anti-Clinton urban legends and that gets almost all its news from the Drudge Report... a garbage truck of lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories. It’s as if Trump is trying to overwhelm the fact-checkers with so many lies they simply give up."



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