Thursday, September 18, 2014

A New Jersey Democrat Explains Why He's Stopped Contributing To DCCC Candidates

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Fressers from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party

Jack Hannold is one of the DWT regular sources on political news in New Jersey. Rachel Maddow has Steve Kornacki. Ken and I have Jack. Today the South Jersey Times published an OpEd by Jack that may be difficult and confusing for Democrats who don't pay close attention to electoral politics.
In the waning days of August, my email account was flooded with 30 messages from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, all of them urging me to donate to their campaign fund before some Aug. 31 deadline.

I didn't contribute, and here's why.

The DCCC is controlled by self-styled "centrist" Democrats-- actually conservative, Wall Street Democrats-- who routinely use the funds they raise to support only candidates who share their views, which are often not those of grassroots Democrats.  Some of their favored candidates are former Republicans who were persuaded to switch parties and run as Democrats.

In a race where a grassroots progressive wins a primary against a more conservative DCCC-backed candidate, the DCCC usually withholds its support in the general election. But the progressive usually gets trounced by a well-financed, DCCC-directed campaign. The case of Christine Cegelis is a good example.

Cegelis had built a strong local organization in the Illinois Sixth District, and in 2004 she gave Henry Hyde his closest race since he won his first term in 1974.  When Hyde announced his retirement in 2005, the DCCC began looking for a more conservative candidate to run for the open seat in 2006.

  Their candidate, Tammy Duckworth, spent nearly $1 million, most of it DCCC money, on a three-way primary she won with 44 percent of the vote, but then went on to lose the 2006 general election to Republican Pete Roskam, a far right state senator.

And the DCCC is no better today. In the Thirteenth District of Illinois this year, progressive George Gollin, who was endorsed by three important newspapers, lost to DCCC-backed candidate Ann Callis. And in Ohio's Sixth District (in what I believe is probably the worst single example of a DCCC candidate at odds with Democratic Party values), progressive Greg Howard lost to anti-choice, pro-gun, pro-fracking, pro-Keystone XL pipeline candidate Jennifer Garrison, who has been called "Ohio's Sarah Palin."

With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans? No progressive should donate one red cent to a bloated beltway organization that is trying to turn the Democratic Party into some kind of "G.O.P. Lite."

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TV Watch (sick-day edition): Binge-watching Season 3 of TNT's "Dallas"

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The 2012-14 (and beyond) Ewings: Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), Bobby (Patrick Duffy), John Ross (Josh Henderson), and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe)

"You selfish bastard! Lying and cheating were the only two things you were good at, and now you've failed at them too!"
-- Pamela Barnes Ewing, after slapping terminally
estranged husband John Ross, in "Victims of Love,"
Episode 12 of Season 3 of Dallas (2012)

by Ken

I love that line, even if I'm not sure Julie Gonzalo has read it quite right. Surely Pamela means to stress the "them too," but she kind of half-stresses "failed" and "too." But it's still a great line, following that nicely executed slap.

Today was a sick day for me, and while there's probably more productive stuff I could have been attempting to do, I needed to wallow. Fortunately, my timing was perfect -- I happened to be midway through a binge-watch of Season 3-to-date of the TNT resurrection of Dallas, developed and executive-produced by Cynthia Cidre. I had watched a few episodes of the earlier seasons and never dveloped any interest, but I also never got around to canceling the series recording I programmed way back when.

I often do this with a new show, since if I'm going to program the DVR to record the first episode, it's just as easy to program the series, and this way if I like the thing, the recording is already scheduled. It also means I'm under no pressure to watch that premiere episode right away, knowing that -- barring machine failure -- I'll have the ensuing episodes stacked up if I wind up having any interest. And if not, I can just undo it all. Except that in the case of Dallas I apparently never got around to undoing the series programming.

I've noticed that my DVR is getting cluttered now with series that I once had some interest in but have already given up on. I recall that there's a season or more of Psych and most of this past season of Blue Bloods, which I couldn't bring myself to watch -- or to delete. The count on Dallas episodes, I noticed, reached 13 after Monday night's airing. It was time to do something. Somehow, though, I couldn't bring myself to just delete the crop willy-nilly, so I decided to watch at least one episode and see whether that gave me the go-ahead to dump the rest.

Well, Episode 1 of Season 3 didn't thrill me. (It it seems like there have been many more seasons than three, it's because like so many cable series, Dallas has been shown in split-season format. season has been shown in split-season format, so what I was watching was the episode first broadcast on January 28, followed by seven more episodes comprising the first half of Season 3. The rest of what I had stored was the first five episodes of the seven-episode second half of the 15-episode season.)

Of course a lot of my attention had to be devoted to remembering or figuring out who the heck the characters were. Sure Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing (the upright one among Jock Ewing's three sons) and Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing (the long-suffering wife of J.R.) didn't require any introduction to original-series Dallas watchers. Ditto for cutaways to Nuevo Laredo Prison for scenes with encootified Ken Kerchival in his now-recurring role as Cliff Barnes (age-old nemesis of the Ewing brothers), except I had to watch out for tidings of why Cliff was in prison in Mexico.

Among the new cast of characters for what Wikipedia refers to as Dallas (2012), it was easy enough to keep track of the Ewing cousins, Christopher (Bobby's adopted son) and John Ross (J.R. and Sue Ellen's son), but the others in the crowd were kind of murky, and even as I began to sort them out and sort of remember which is which, it was often made harder by the need to remember who both parents of each character were. I remember getting caught short when Christopher referred to Cliff Barnes as his uncle, until I reminded myself that back then Bobby Ewing was indeed married to Cliff's sister Pamela -- and what a to-do that had occasioned, a Ewing marrying a Barnes!

Still and all, I must have seen enough in Episode 1 of Season 3 to press on to Episode 2, and then Episode 3, by which time I began to suspect that I was in it for the duration of the stored-up episodes.

Which was strange, because I really didn't find the characters much more interesting than I had in the earlier episodes of Dallas (2012) I'd watched. There are clutches of extremely pretty boys and girls -- obviously designed to give the new show appeal to viewers other than original-Dallas ancients -- but as pretty as they all are, what's eerie is how not-really-attractive they are, and kind of short on personality.

But as the series began to exert some pull on me, albeit pull of the guilty-pleasure kind, I began to speculate that what was drawing me in was the machinations. It's not so much the oil-industry wheeling-and-dealing of the old Dallas as it is scheming-and-reaming among Dallas's current crop of energy machinators, with the currently-in-play Ewings varously teaming up and splitting apart again. I'm not saying that the plots would hold up to intensive scrutiny, but they're functional, and the machinations have been striking as genuinely expert, even as regards the diabolical Mexican drug cartel that's fixin' to take over the Mexican government.

And that's the thing: Everyone is involved in the machinations, like as not involving blackmail of one sort or another if not as machinators then as machinatees. And the creative team seems pretty good at both involving their characters in rich enough machinations and respecting the established outlines of those characters. What has kept at least Season 3 going is that nearly all of the machinations seem credible enough to pass casual viewer muster, and yet nearly all of the machinations wind up de-machinating, though not until after they've caused much additional mayhem.

It's not that the characters lack intricateness, if not quite complexity. Poor John Ross (Josh Henderson), as J.R.'s son, has been cast not just by the producers but by his family and community as the machinator-in-chief, but comes to wonder himself whether his father's persona is something he has to live up to or something he ought to be living down.

The one thing I've noticed that was a little disconcerting at first but after a while comes to seem quite welcome is that the scene layout often jumps freely over in-between establishing-and-developing scenes that most shows would find obligatory to get us from Fix A to Fix B. I found that once I got used to knowing that no, I hadn't necessarily missed scenes that I could easily enough figure out what had taken place, and appreciated not having had to waste time on the dispensable scenes.

Harris R -- the un-Skinner
I should add that there are some genuinely engaging characters. There's shambly-looking old Bum (Kevin Page), J.R.'s old fanatically loyal retainer, a man who can get seemingly anything done. And good old Brenda Strong was brought in as a new wife for Bobby, packing lots of baggage but with a shining-through goody-ness. And among the corps of villians, that fine actor Mitch Pileggi as super-shady business Harris Ryland adds oily shades to the character type (if we hadn't seen him all those years as The X Files' eternally upright, straight-arrow FBI Assistant Director Skinner, we might chalk up all that nonstop slithery motion under his shiny shaved head to mannerism, but it's as creepily un-Skinnerish as one might imagine), under the thumb of his recurringly appearing mother Judith, played with drawlingly sneering evil by TV super-veteran Judith Light. Evil Judith has one of the stronger machinating records among the heavy-duty machinators, and yet even she can be toppled. It was great to see her collapse, physically as well as spiritually, in Episode 12, when the nasty cartel guy Luis (Antonio Jaramillo) showed her evidence that his people new how to make her crumble.

When the show needs a big acting gun, they know where to find one. Until Episode 12, the identity of the supreme head of the cartel was so secret that even the CIA didn't know. (Oh, didn't I mention that the CIA is involved too?) I had noticed among the top-of-the-show guest-star credits the name of that great character actor Miguel Sandovál, but I didn't make the connection until a late scene where right-hand man Luis delivers a good-news report -- so far the cartel people are by far our most successful machinators -- in his boss's enormous, lush garden. The Big Guy delivers some remarkable lines while fastidiously pruning tomato plants (at least some of them were tomato plants, I know; I wasn't really watching th plants). Like this, which he speaks in a philosophically-professorially disapproving but even tone:

"Drugs destroy families and social infrastructures. The more broken a society becomes, the easier it is for us to seize power."

When Luis assures him that this is "precisely why I have a plan in place which will double the volume of product going through the pipeline," "El Pozolero" (as I see he's called) says, again delivered in that calm, dispassionate professorial tone:

"Good. Not since the Europeans raped our ancestors have we truly been in power. Now, it is our time once again. [Extended pause for pruing.] Now will be the real Mexican Revolution."

This isn't the sort of plotting and writing -- and acting -- we see on the tube every night of the week.
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The DCCC Won't Acknowledge Him, Let Alone Help Him, But There Is A Democrat Running Against John Boehner This Year

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As I've mentioned before, Steve Israel protects his own vulnerable seat by never allowing the DCCC to challenge any Republican leaders or committee chairs, not even the ones in blue-leaning districts like Fred Upton (R-MI), John Kline (R-MN) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). When Blue America worked hard to help Justin Coussoule run against Boehner, the DCCC went beyond being not helpful to being downright insulting to an Afghan War vet and decorated West Point grad. They didn't help him; they disparaged him and did everything they could to humiliate and discourage him. After that, no one even wanted to run again. However, this year there is a candidate-- Tom Poetter, who we asked to introduce himself.


My name is Tom Poetter and I am the Democratic nominee for Congress in Ohio's 8th Congressional District against Speaker John A Boehner. I am a professor in the College of Education, Health, and Society at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. My research interests are curriculum studies and the politics of education.

I am running in this race because no one was on the ballot in 2012, and progressives deserve a vote here, too, even in the most conservative district in Ohio. This is about building an infrastructure for a congressional campaign, about starting somewhere, and about making sure that viable candidates can run here in the future. Boehner doesn't run-- he takes his election for granted. As a result, people here don't even know what federal congress DOES, what candidates DO. No one has ever personally asked them for their vote. No one has held town halls on critical issues and no one has ever asked them for anything, including for money and volunteer time. We have to build a capacity to do these things, or we won't ever be able to challenge the status quo.

We know the odds against Boehner. We also know that power needs to be questioned, and power needs to be CHALLENGED. Atticus Finch, in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird says, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Let me remind you: We are running for Congress against the most powerful Republican in the nation.

In our campaign we keep in mind the following: IF YOU CANNOT WIN, YOU CANNOT LOSE. Some people think we shouldn’t talk like that, but I want to tell you that this is the experience of a lifetime and you’ve got to be willing to get in it, to do things that people say you’ve no right to do, if you’re going to make any progress. And we’ve already won, because we are DOING IT. Running in this race as a progressive voice IS winning.

I spend 60 seconds each day imagining what it would be like to unseat the SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE. I spend a minute a day feeling those feelings of absolute elation and sheer terror. From the beginning I had an inkling, a glimmer of belief, that if certain things happened, we could win and I still allow myself that rousing feeling, dreaming of winning, for one minute per day. Why just a minute? Because you have to keep your head down, focus on the purposes you are trying to fulfill with whatever talents and time that you have at hand. And there is so much work to do!

And running a congressional race the right way and focusing on the most important things in this election are the most critical, highest purposes to attend to, and some of the most important work we can do.

Our clear and defined purpose: We have to connect with unaffiliated voters, independents, and soft Republican voters in this district, and there are over 300,000 of them. Turning out votes is done with the aid of the two most important, major tools of the day: money, and direct voter contact strategies. No one has ever attempted a campaign with this focus against Boehner in his 24 years in office. And we are doing it and doing it well.

I want this campaign to be a testament to people who step up in impossible circumstances. I want this campaign to honor the ideas that we all share, and to honor a belief in democracy. I want this campaign to be a testament to my staff, to the people who do this for the love of it and for the hope embedded in running and winning and in serving.

I'll never forget walking into that voting booth in 2012 and there was no one on the ballot contesting Speaker Boehner. This isn't that year, and I am so proud, and so happy to be running.

Please support our campaign here.

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House Republicans Have Another Problem-- Rampant Cocaine Abuse

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Northeast Ohio's very own 2 Live Crew

Yesterday, according to Fox DC Bureau Chief Chad Pergram, Boehner was whining about how the House Republican conference is filled with "knuckleheads." He didn't name any and everyone-- including everyone here at DWT just assumed he was talking about the Members that don't get bought off by corruption, guys like Justin Amash and Walter Jones, who Boehner hates for their refusal to allow him to bioss them around. No one suspected he might be talking about the House Republicans' massive drug problem. The GOP conference is riddled with coke addicts, meth freaks and pill poppers. Now, I don't know if David Joyce is a still an alcoholic and a coke hound and it's unclear if he was one of Trey Radel's customers before Radel (R-FL) was busted as a coke distributor and forced to resign from Congress. But the FBI does know-- and won't spill the beans. They just sit on it-- in case they ever need any special leverage over Congressman Joyce (R-OH).


OK, here's the background. Most people think Joyce got turned down for a cush job as Northern Ohio's Federal Prosecutor because he's a sexist pig who was always being "inappropriate" with female employees, especially when he was drunk, which was frequently. But the sexism and his own little war against women isn't what caused Bush to kill the nomination. In 2001 two heavy-weight Ohio senators, Mike DeWine ® and George Voinovich ® recommended Joyce for the job and Bush nominated him. By mid-May Joyce was ready to move into his new gig-- “As a career prosecutor, I see it as a challenge that I look forward to. My job now is to make sure that people are treated fairly and that justice is done, and that’s what I hope to bring to the federal system.” But by the end of the year Bush withdrew the nomination. In fact, Bush tried saying that technically he had never even made the nomination. That was after 6 months of FBI vetting and scrutiny and a eye-popping report they gave Attorney General John Ashcroft who was appalled at what he saw. By December the Plain Dealer was reporting that "the Bush administration decided not to nominate Joyce as the U.S. attorney for Northern Ohio due to questions that came up about his past during an FBI background check." But the Plain Dealer didn't seem especially curious to find out what exactly was in that FBI background check, assuming, like everyone else, it had something to do with Joyce's inability to act like a gentleman when he was around women, especially women he could lord it over on some level. But they were wrong.

Joyce said he would "fight for" the job but by May, 2002, he suddenly ended the fight, telling the Plain Dealer "You just get sick of it. It’s been a year, and enough’s enough. I’m honored that I was considered for this job, but it’s time for me to let somebody else have this opportunity." A few years later, when rumors about his cocaine abuse started circulating in Ohio, he was still bitter but started presenting the story in a new light. He said he didn't get the job because he was "out-politicked." He said that Gregory White, who eventually got the job, had the backing of then Governor Bob Taft. "I can’t change what happened. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Joyce told the media. "I got beat at a game I didn’t understand all that well." He got "out-politicked?" WIth Mike DeWine and George Voinovich on his team? No one really believed that.

In 2005, Cleveland Scene Magazine reported that Joyce’s nomination for U.S. Attorney failed because defense attorneys accused him of withholding evidence during a murder case.

Joyce was cleared of accusations but the article reported that the White House did not want to risk nominating Joyce. More nonsense about something the Bush Administration didn't care a whit about. The cocaine rumors never went away entirely and "everybody" knows he gets high-- everybody, that is, except the voters in OH-14.

When Joyce was Geauga County Prosecutor, Steve LaTourette was Prosecutor in neighboring Lake County and the two of them became fast friends and political allies. The 2 of them worked on banning the multiplatinum 2 Live Crew album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be from local record stores. (They failed.) LaTourette went on to serve 9 terms in Congress from the area and when he decided to make a fortune as a lobbyist, he managed to secure his old seat for Joyce and voters weren't allowed to see the FBI report on Joyce's outrageous behavior. They still haven't been.

Funny that Joyce had such antipathy towards 2 Live Crew for their lifestyle instead of inviting them to his legendary Friday night poker games where white people did their version of exactly what he tried persecuting the 2 Live Crew guys for:



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Arming Syrian Moderates? They Are No Syrian Moderates Except In McCain's Twisted Mind

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The House leaders-- afraid of midterm voters-- avoided voting for war in the Middle East yesterday and instead voted to fund what McCain insists are "moderate" Syrian rebels… you know, the ones who have been selling arms and captives to ISIS (the "non-moderates") for months. Do we never learn? Anything? Buck McKeon's slippery slope amendment passed 273 to 156 with 85 Democrats and 71 Republicans voting against it. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) has learned history's lessons. Like most progressives, he voted NO-- and made the case why all Democrats should have:
If we’ve learned one thing in the thirteen years since we rushed into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is that wars cannot be rushed. Conflicts cannot be won through cut corners and half-measures. We must be deliberate, and have a clear depiction of our allies and enemies alike. We must have assurances and participation from other nations in the region. We must have a clearly defined-- and achievable-- mission. Most importantly, it must be clear in our minds how we will bring hostilities to an end.

On every one of these thresholds, the arming of Syrian rebels to confront ISIL fails to reach the mark. While I am deeply troubled by the violence spreading in the region, I will not cast a vote that only further complicates and intensifies the fight.

Syrian rebels are not loyal to our flag, and they will not do our bidding. They will pursue their own interests, and while allied today, they may be a sworn enemy tomorrow. We have seen time after tragic time that the weapons we provide will be aimed at our own troops if that comes to pass.

A successful response to this crisis can only come with the significant involvement of other nations in the region. They have the most to lose if ISIL remains unchecked, and they have a vested interest in the social, political and economic implications of this conflict. If we proceed despite the tepid response from nations like Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, we will be taking sides in a civil war and welcoming the perception that we’ve adopted the conflict as our own.

This is not a strategy for victory or a roadmap to peace. It is a prescription for more war, and I cannot in good conscience support it.
Republican Justin Amash also voted NO, not because he's a deranged, obstructionist Obama-hater (like, say, Michele Bachmann) but for very similar reasons to the ones Grijalva gave. He explained why he voted against it to his constituents very thoroughly. Did yours reach out to you this way?
What have we learned from the last decade of war?

Those years should have taught us that when going to war, our government must:

(1) be careful when defining a military mission,
(2) speak forthrightly with the American people about the sacrifices they will be called to make,
(3) plan more than one satisfactory end to the conflict, and
(4) be humble about what we think we know.

These lessons should be at the front of our minds when Congress votes today on whether to arm groups in Syria.

Today’s amendment ostensibly is aimed at destroying ISIS-- yet you’d hardly know it from reading the amendment’s text. The world has witnessed with horror the evil of ISIS: the public beheading of innocents, the killing of Christians, Muslims, and others.

The amendment’s focus-- arming groups fighting the Assad government in Syria-- has little to do with defeating ISIS. The mission that the amendment advances plainly isn’t the defeat of ISIS; it’s the defeat of Assad.

Americans stood overwhelmingly against entangling our Armed Forces in the Syrian civil war a year ago. If Congress chooses to arm groups in Syria, it must explain to the American people not only why that mission is necessary but also the sacrifices that that mission entails.

The Obama administration has tried to rally support for U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war by implying that our help would be at arm’s length. The amendment Congress will vote on broadly authorizes “assistance” to groups in Syria. It does not specify what types of weapons our government will give the groups. It does not prohibit boots on the ground. (The amendment is silent on the president’s power to order our troops to fight in the civil war; it states only that Congress doesn’t provide “specific statutory authorization” for such escalation.) It does not state the financial cost of the war.

As we should have learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must plan for multiple satisfactory ends to military conflicts before we commence them.

If the Syrian groups that are “appropriately vetted” (the amendment’s language) succeed and oust Assad, what would result? Would the groups assemble a coalition government of anti-Assad fighters, and would that coalition include ISIS? What would happen to the Alawites and Christians who stood with Assad? To what extent would the U.S. government be obligated to occupy Syria to rebuild the government? If each of the groups went its own way, would Syria’s territory be broken apart, and if so, would ISIS control one of the resulting countries?

If the Syrian groups that we support begin to lose, would we let them be defeated? If not, is there any limit to American involvement in the war?

Perhaps some in the administration or Congress have answers to these questions. But the amendment we’ll vote on today contains none of them.

Above all, when Congress considers serious actions-- especially war-- we must be humble about what we think we know. We don’t know very much about the groups we propose to support or even how we intend to vet those groups. Reports in the last week suggest that some of the “appropriately vetted” groups have struck deals with ISIS, although the groups dispute the claim. The amendment requires the administration to report on its efforts to prevent our arms and resources from ending up in the wrong hands, but we know little about those precautions or their effectiveness.

Today, I will vote against the amendment to arm groups in Syria. There is a wide misalignment between the rhetoric of defeating ISIS and the amendment’s actual mission of arming certain groups in the Syrian civil war. The amendment provides few limits on the type of assistance that our government may commit, and the exit out of the civil war is undefined. And given what’s happened in our country’s most recent wars, our leaders seem to have unjustified confidence in their own ability to execute a plan with so many unknowns.

Some of my colleagues no doubt will come to different judgments on these questions. But it’s essential that they consider the questions carefully. That the president wants the authority to intervene in the Syrian civil war is not a sufficient reason to give him that power. Under the Constitution, it is Congress’s independent responsibility to commence war.

We are the representatives of the American people. The government is proposing to take their resources and to put their children’s lives at risk. I encourage all my colleagues to give the decision the weight it is due.
My own congressman, Adam Schiff, is a warmonger in a peace-loving progressive district he was recently shoe-horned into. He voted for Bush's attack on Iraq and is always, first and foremost a lackey for AIPAC and far right-extremists in Israel. Needless to say, he voted YES. He always votes for war and gore. If I still lived in Brooklyn on East 17th Street between Avenue P and O, my Rep. would be Yvette Clarke, who voted NO. Here's what she told the folks in my old neighborhood after the vote yesterday:
As our recent history demonstrates, armed conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan have often resulted in increased-- and unanticipated-- involvement by the armed forces of the United States. Before the War in Iraq, for example, the administration of President George W. Bush assured Congress and the American people that the conflict would end quickly, without substantial loss of life. Yet, American troops remain in Iraq, even after 4,487 were killed and 32,226 wounded. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were armed through the Congressional appropriations process, also known as ‘Charlie Wilson's War,’ in their battle against the Russians, only to become our fiercest adversaries and a breeding ground for terrorists. We cannot risk a similar outcome in Syria. If and when our nation becomes more substantially involved, we must have a comprehensive plan-- from start to finish.

The idea that we can simply train and equip Syrian rebel fighters to combat ISIS/ISAL to eliminate the terrorist threat to our nation flies in the face of the practical realities of the nature of the threat and the realities of the threat to the rebels themselves, that being the Assad Regime. I am deeply concerned that our interests are not necessarily aligned with the Syrian rebels.

Whether these rebels are truly our allies remains to be seen. Those who we train today could ultimately become our enemies, and could deploy the weapons which we have provided them against us and our allies. At a time when Republican leaders in Congress want to eliminate resources for job training programs and social services for families, I cannot in good conscience, given the current conditions in Syria of an ongoing civil war and a failed state, support the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from much needed domestic priorities into this precarious situation.
Most of the good Democrats-- like Alan Grayson, Mark Pocan, Donna Edwards, Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee… voted NO. Pelosi joined the worst Democrats-- Steve Israel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Barrow, Scott Peters, Kyrsten Sinema, Steny Hoyer, Joe Crowley, Patrick Murphy, Henry Cuellar… voting YES. And, once again, we saw the contrast in New Hampshire, where the progressive, Carol Shea-Porter, voted against this foolish and dangerous policy and the clueless conservative New Dem, Ann Kuster, betrayed her constituents and voted for it.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The End Of Debbie Wasserman Schultz

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If you've been following DWT long, you've already read about what a waste of a congressional seat corrupt New Dem Debbie Wasserman Schultz is. We first came across her when, in 2006, as head of the DCCC's toxic Red-to-Blue program, she urged Florida voters to back Republican incumbents, cronies of hers-- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart-- over 3 Democratic candidates, including Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia. She didn't just make that decision, she broadcast it publicly, very loud and very clear and even persuaded some nit-wit congressional follower of hers, Kendrick Meek, to parrot her stupid remarks.

Though fired as the Red-to-Blue chair, the grasping and craven Wasserman Schultz landed on her feet and has been working steadily to climb the leadership ladder. She's very disliked personally but also very feared. Like her idol, Rahm Emanuel, she envisions herself being the first Jewish Speaker and tries buying her colleagues' affections with contributions from the sleazy industries-- Sugar and Private Prisons-- that are financing her climb to the top. Pelosi detests her and passed over her as DCCC Chair and gave it to the incompetent and similarly corrupt Steve Israel instead. But someone talked Obama into making her DCCC Chair. It's been all downhill ever since. You may recall when Florida Democratic powerbroker John Morgan spilled the beans in June about what people in DC think of her:
John Morgan, was so furious at Wasserman Schultz's idiotic remarks about medical marijuana that he was quoted in the Miami Herald that among "most-powerful players in Washington, D.C.… Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t just disliked, she’s despised. She’s an irritant."
Today the shit hit the fan in a big way, first at Politico and then at Buzzfeed, where anonymous sources from Team Obama let lose in the nastiest possible way on someone who has earned every bit of bad karma coming back to bite her now. The Politico piece was especially eviscerating and a delight to read. Here are the meanest parts:
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.

…The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.

She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.

“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster,” said John Morgan, a major donor in Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida.

The stakes are high. Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming.

One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe.

In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser-- and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop. (Jarrett said she does not recall that conversation.) One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner?

Wasserman Schultz denies that she ever tried to get the DNC to pick up her clothing tab. “I think that would be a totally inappropriate use of DNC funds,” she said in a statement. “I never asked someone to do that for me, I would hope that no one would seek that on my behalf, and I’m not aware that anyone did.”

Tracie Pough, Wasserman Schultz’s chief of staff at the DNC and her congressional office, was also involved in making inquiries about buying the clothing, according to sources. Pough denies making, directing or being aware of any inquiries.

But sources with knowledge of the discussions say Wasserman Schultz’s efforts couldn’t have been clearer. “She felt firmly that it should happen,” said a then-DNC staffer of the clothing request. “Even after it was explained that it couldn’t, she remained indignant.”

This story is based on interviews with three dozen current and former DNC staffers, committee officers, elected officials, state party leaders and top Democratic operatives in Washington and across the country.

Many expect a nascent Clinton campaign will engineer her ouster. Hurt feelings go back to spring 2008, when while serving as a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Wasserman Schultz secretly reached out to the Obama campaign to pledge her support once the primary was over, sources say.

Meanwhile, the Obama team was so serious about replacing her after 2012 that they found a replacement candidate to back before deciding against it, according to people familiar with those discussions.

Obama and Wasserman Schultz have rarely even talked since 2011. They don’t meet about strategy or messaging. They don’t talk much on the phone.

…The White House is staring at two years of life under a GOP-controlled House and Senate. The DNC chair, however, isn’t involved in the strategy talks with the president.

They don’t want her there.

For even the occasional Obama briefing by the heads of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, she is not invited. That includes a key session on July 31, the last day the House was in town before the August recess, when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), DCCC Chair Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and DCCC executive director Kelly Ward sat on the couches in the Oval Office running through the political landscape for the president.

Wasserman Schultz described her relationship with the president as speaking to him on an “as-needed basis, whenever I have a need to talk to them or give them a sense of what’s going on, but also, as it happens, as we connect on the trail.” She declined to provide details of how often, where or when.

When Kaine was DNC chair during the president’s first year in office, he had a monthly lunch with Obama on the calendar (although not all of the lunches actually occurred as planned). Wasserman Schultz demurred when asked if it would be fair to characterize her as speaking “regularly” with the president.

“The best way to describe it is: as often as we need,” she said.

According to multiple people familiar with the president, Obama’s opinion of Wasserman Schultz was sealed back in 2011. Shortly after becoming chair, she pushed hard for a meeting with the president that she kicked off by complaining that she had been blocked from hiring the daughter of a donor-- who’d been on staff in her congressional office-- as a junior staffer to be the DNC’s Jewish community liaison.

Obama summed up his reaction to staff afterward: “Really?”

Last summer, Wasserman Schultz and the White House clashed again.

Wasserman Schultz resisted Obama circle favorites Marlon Marshall and Buffy Wicks replacing Patrick Gaspard as executive director. When Jarrett found out that Wasserman Schultz had had her daughter sit in on the interview with Wicks at the end of July 2013, she called to register her dismay, describing Wasserman Schultz’s behavior, according to people familiar with the conversation, as “completely unprofessional and rude.”

Shortly thereafter, the DNC chairwoman spoke at length to Politico about how she planned to leverage the donors she’d met as DNC chairwoman into fundraising to build chits for her own political future. Jarrett was infuriated and called Wasserman Schultz.

Jarrett had always been a defender, she reminded Wasserman Schultz, according to people familiar with the call, but now she delivered a clear message: She was disappointed by the narrative in the story the chairwoman herself had fed, and cautioned her to remember that Obama is head of the party.

Obama’s team came very close to replacing Wasserman Schultz after the 2012 race.

At the Charlotte convention, Wasserman Schultz’s DNC staffers assembled a collection of perks-- entry to her skybox, access to the chairwoman’s lounge-- for House members and candidates she was hoping to attract for her leadership run and DNC voting members she would need to retain her DNC post should Obama replace her. She also had her DNC staff explore and plot how she could remain chairwoman if Obama lost the race.

…According to multiple people who have been in the room for DNC donor meetings, Wasserman Schultz regularly finishes a pitch to donors by asking them to give money to the DNC and her leadership PAC, or her congressional committee, or both. There’s nothing illegal about this, but donors often grumble privately that this sends mixed messages about her priorities and why she’s interested in meeting with them… DNC policy is not to accept donations from lobbyists. However, her own DWS PAC accepts lobbyist money. Wasserman Schultz says this has never been a problem. “DWS PAC is a separate entity,” she said, denying that the initials have any relation to her name, although her father used to be its treasurer and it’s run day-to-day by Jason O’Malley, whose salary is split between the DNC, DWS PAC and Wasserman Schultz’s congressional campaign committee. He works out of a cubicle in the finance department at DNC headquarters.

Wasserman Schultz said she’s not going anywhere.
I suspect she won't weather the killing buzz and will resign imminently-- perhaps as early as tomorrow. She should take Steve Israel with her.


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Kathleen Parker slices and dices "Nutso Mark" Sanford -- now if only she'd troubled to remember who this slug really is

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"Nutso Mark" Sanford -- why won't he just shut up?

by Ken

As I occasionally note, sometimes it takes a right-winger to bag a right-winger, and so today we invite Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker to comment on one of the nation's leading sociopathic scumbags, fromer SC Gov. (and now Rep., and eternal Nutso) Mark Sanford.

Kathleen is especially touchy, in her column "Mark Sanford’s pathetic saga with himself," about Nutso Mark on account of their shared South Carolina heritage. She seems to feel some defense or maybe explanation is in order.
As a South Carolinian, it falls to me to examine the peculiarities afflicting our former governor and now-congressman Mark Sanford, who, contrary to decorum and taste, continues to demand attention.

Yes, that Mark Sanford — the erstwhile Appalachian Trail wanderer who in 2009 found himself not out hiking, as his gubernatorial staff had reported, but befuddled and besotted in Argentina with his longtime soul mate, Maria Belen Chapur [note: remaining links onsite -- Ed.].

Fast-forward through a tearful news conference, during which Sanford all but plummeted to a fainting couch confessing his infidelity, through his high-profile separation from his wife, Jenny, then next to his mysterious reelection to the congressional seat he held prior to becoming governor and . . . wait, fire the writer!

Not even a credulous soap opera viewer would buy a tale so tawdry and ridiculous. Not only is it not credible, it’s pathetic. Moreover, leading men do not long hold an audience after they cry over themselves.

These events also remind us of two tropes in no danger of dismissal: Love is a form of temporary insanity; and anti-secessionist James Petigru’s 1860 assessment of his state as “too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum.”
Which brings us up to Nutso Mark's latest invasion of our space, which I admit I needed filling in on. Oh, I'd read about his bizarre Facebook screed (a tip: nobody cares, Nutso!), but not about his "hiking" honey's perplexity.
Fast-forward again to a few days ago. Sanford, apparently finding unbearable his irrelevance and growing obscurity, decided to drop his manly charade and write a torturously long Facebook entry in which, among other true confessions, he announced the end of his engagement to Chapur.

Qué dice?” asked Chapur from Paris, where she had just spent a honeymoon-ish few days with Sanford.

Chapur knew they were no longer engaged, but she didn’t know that Sanford had announced it on Facebook until, like President Obama’s occasional receipt of awful news, she heard it from the media. In Paris, Chapur had hoped for a wedding date but was offered instead another two-year engagement. In light of which, one wonders what ever attracted at least two women to Sanford, whose charms remain elusive.

In his global missive, Sanford explained that he simply couldn’t drag Chapur through any more of this nasty business with his wife (oh, he noticed?), which recently included a request that Sanford submit to a psychological examination before he is allowed to spend time with their youngest son, now 16.

This request is doubtless difficult for Sanford, but under the circumstances it is hardly misplaced. Come to think of it, a state Department of Psychological Welfare might not be wasted.
And this leads Kathleen to another fellow South Carolinian of hers, former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, better known to DWT readers as "Republican coke freak Thomas Ravenel," who represented their home state so, er, dramatically on the "reality" show Southern Charm.

Kathleen dumps these Palmetto State wackos in a blender and purées them a bit, then comes up with this kind of weird Zeitgeist-y mulch:
With such public exemplars as Sanford and Ravenel, something, indeed, seems aloft — a shift away from the Southern stereotypes the national media love to exploit to a proud narcissism that knows no shame.

Traditionally, South Carolina has been stubbornly defiant, bellicosely belligerent and heartbreakingly wounded by the humiliation imposed by its invasion and conquest. Now that everyone suddenly loves South Carolina — at least its beaches, its plantations and its crown jewel, Charleston — the natives are bustling to pirouette on a pedestal. Add to these sudden tendencies the pestilential narcissism that breeds in social media like “skeeters” in the Lowcountry marshes and you’ve got the Sanford & Ravenel Show.
Huh?


THERE'S JUST ONE LITTLE
THING KATHLEEN'S LEFT OUT


I think where Kathleen has missed her turn -- and this seves as a reminder of why we have to be careful when we turn to right-wingers for guidance even, or perhapas especially, with one of their own -- and it's by somehow forgetting to explain who the fuck this whacked-out scumbag Nutso Mark Sanford is. Ah, how quickly they forget over there on the Cuckoo Side.

Mark Sanford was, until he started serially imploding, one of the country's most vicious, wrathful, self-righteously moralizing demagogues, raining down the wrath of God on all those liberal sinners who don't live their lives exactly the way he said we were supposed to. By now, of course, it has come to seem all but automatic: Anytime we encounter one of those right-wing fire-and-brimstoners, either wait just a while or do a tiny bit of digging and we'll discover that we're being browbeaten by a Grade A certified slimebag.

Mark Sanford doesn't have to apologize for being insane, though it would be the decent thing for someone in his advanced state of mental as well as moral decay to get the hell and stay the hell out of public life for as long as he continues, regrettably, to draw breath. What Mark Sanford needs to apologize for is, well, everything he ever said and did as a political person, because it was all based on delusions and lies.

There's some consolation in knowing that if even the tiniest fraction of his phony-baloney moralizing bullshit is true, he'll be rotting in hell for eternity. But I say that's too long to wait for the agonies he has so abundantly earned to commenced. What I want to hear from him is a deeply sincere apology for having been born.
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A Dream Deferred-- Will Mikey Suits Grimm Have To Resign While He's In Prison Or Can He Continue Serving?

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When Federal Judge Pamela Chen set Staten Island Mafia thug Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (R-NY) for December 1, she shattered one of my fondest hopes for the 2014 cycle. I had hoped against hope that the angry, low-info, Foxified voters of Staten Island and Bay Ridge would do themselves proud by reelecting a crooked congressman who was residing in a federal penitentiary. Instead, it looks like they'll be electing one on his way to a federal penitentiary. Yes, Grimm, under indictment on 20 counts (so far) is leading Steve Israel's weak-- even pathetic-- recruit, Domenic Recchia. Why replace one crooked pol with another?

The GOP has given up on Grimm-- and so have their big money donors. The only substantial money he's still getting is from Mob-controlled building trades unions. They've given him $199,000 so far-- $10,000 each, for example, from the Plumbers/Pipefitters Union, the Painters & Allied Trades Union, the Operating Engineers Union, the Carpenters & Joiners Union. Normal, non-Mafia affiliated unions have only given Democrat Domenic Recchia $59,500.
Grimm is holding on to a razor-thin lead in his battle to defend his Staten Island seat against challenger Domenic Recchia, according to a new poll released Tuesday evening… Grimm, a second-term Republican, is leading Mr. Recchia, a Democrat and former city councilman, by four percentage points ahead of the November election-- 44% to 40%, according to a Siena College/NY1/Capital New York poll released Tuesday.
This week the National Journal suggested if you want to know why Grimm is still a viable candidate-- let alone leading Recchia-- you need to know who lives in the district. I have a brother-in-law on Staten Island who spends his life listening to Hate Talk Radio, regurgitating whatever his favorite psychopaths say that day, while existing on the benefits of Medicare and Social Security that his beloved conservatives have always opposed and still oppose. Originally, though, he's from the Brooklyn part of the district. The Almanac of American Politics gives this background on the district: "Culturally, Staten Islanders are more conservative than people from the boroughs, particularly the Manhattanites who live a 20-minutres ferry ride away. Not many people here read the New York Times; the local paper is the Staten Island Advance. Fed up with the city's high income taxes and social programs, Staten Island residents voted in 1993 for secession, but the legislature never acted to carry out their wish. In that same election, Staten Islanders provided the margin of victory for Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani-- the only other borough he carried that year was Queens… Staten Island overall remains New York's whitest borough with the fewest immigrants. It was only 12% black and 18% Hispanic in 2011. John McCain carried the district in 2008, the only urban district he carried that year, while Barack Obama narrowly carried it four years later." Actually, it wasn't that narrow. Obama beat Romney 110,088 (52%) to 100,811 (47%). This is how Alex Roarty's post at the National Journal depicted Grimm's constituents:
It's amid hundreds of vintage Corvettes and Cadillacs that I find the people who want to vote for a congressman under federal indictment. Take Joe, for example, a mostly bald older man who declined to shake my hand or tell me anything other than his first name.

Right now, he's patting Michael Grimm on the back and telling the House Republican he thinks he's innocent. "My theory is, if they don't want you around, there's a reason," Joe says. He's talking about the 20 charges filed against Grimm in April for tax evasion and perjury, allegations that could eventually land the lawmaker in jail. For now, the congressman is more worried they could put him out of a job if he loses reelection this November.

...It turns out a Staten Island car show is a great place for an embattled Republican to find support. But what's more important for Grimm's reelection campaign is that his supporters apparently aren't confined to a few isolated pockets. The entire 11th Congressional District, which includes all of Staten Island and a slice of Brooklyn, is giving the congressman greater-than-expected backing. Democratic and Republican operatives alike say Grimm can still win a third term in office and might even be a favorite to do so. And it's largely because his base (and possibly more than just his base) simply does not care about the charges of abuse and corruption.

…"Everyone's allowed to be human," John Picciano tells me. The 55-year-old retired firefighter had just shaken hands with Grimm at the car show. He, like a lot of Grimm supporters I talked with, alternated between proclaiming Grimm's innocence and arguing that even if he technically wasn't innocent, the charges were still unfair.

"I'm sure if you dig deep into everyone's past, you'd find something," Picciano said.

The federal investigation and temper, in a strange way, seem to endear Grimm even more to some of his constituents. The congressman's entire campaign is built on the premise that he, the lone GOP congressman from New York, is the only one with the moxie to fight for Staten Island. It's a tailor-made message for the so-called "Forgotten Borough," where the island's religious, culturally conservative electorate feels forgotten and maligned by city officials. "Staten Island, in particular, is always pushing uphill," Grimm told Fox Business host Neil Cavuto in one of the congressman's few one-on-one television interviews since the charges were announced. "And if you don't fight, in my district, you're going to get nothing."

It's how John Colombo sees the incumbent-- as an advocate for his district whose only sin was taking on the powers-that-be. "He speaks his mind," says Colombo, whom I meet later on Sunday at a motorcycle rally in honor of a slain police officer. "And there are people who don't like that. They feel intimidated by him."

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Another Day, Another Fred Upton Oil Spill In Southwest Michigan

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A gas pipeline owned by Trans Canada, the Keystone XL villains, and running from Canada to Texas ruptured... but not in Canada nor in Texas. The victims were in Michigan, in Berrien County, ironically, the second most populous county in MI-06, the home district of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, "drill, baby, drill" zombie Fred Upton. The county leans Republican. Upton wins there (56% in 2012) and so did Romney (53%) and failed GOP senate candidate Pete Hoekstra (50%). Upton has been one of the leading figures in the country pushing a Big OIl and Gas agenda that includes more dangerous pipelines, tax breaks, loopholes galore and everything their lawyers and lobbyists come up with to boost profits at the expense of consumers. Since 1990, Upton has taken $646,950 from Big Oil; in 2012 alone they gave him $208,300 and so far this year, he's scooped up $177,450. They like Upton. He bottles up environmental studies and green energy bills in his committee and lets their lobbyists have final say over every bill that passes out of the committee.

That works well for Big Oil… but not so well for ordinary residents of his own southwest Michigan district, like the 500 people forced out of their homes because of the latest oil pipeline explosion this week.
Vic Rogers, a farmer that lives just a quarter mile from where the blast occurred, says he heard a loud noise around 2 a.m. and came outside to see a geyser of mud and dirt 200 feet in the area.

The area around the pipeline is now swampy.

Rogers says Trans Canada, the company that owns the pipeline, has advised him that his three acres of potatoes around the explosion may be contaminated and should not be harvested.

Rogers says he's lived on this farm his entire life and he recalls as a child similar pipeline explosion some 40 years ago, when the company was putting in a second gas line.

He says back then the walls of his home were cracked.

A representative from Trans Canada says the line that broke was a large main, 24 to 30 inches in diameter.

The spokesperson says soon, after the system indicated a drop in pressure, the automatic valves started to shut both sides of the line.

The company does not know what caused the rupture and they say a thorough investigation will be conducted. Results could take weeks if not months.

In the meantime, people are worried about clean-up and about the quality of the water and soil.

1 p.m. UPDATE: The Berrien Co. Sheriff's Office tells WSBT that the evacuation order is still in place, pending an all-clear on air quality checks.
How many counties in Michigan have to be polluted by oil spills before voters in MI-06 throw Upton out? In 2010 the congressman who the L.A. Times dubbed the "biggest threat to planet Earth on planet Earth" saw another catastrophic oil spill from the industry that finances his political career-- this one in Calhoun county. In July of 2010 another oil pipeline broke and polluted the Kalamazoo River, the largest inland oil spill (over a million gallons) and one of the most expensive spills, not just in Michigan, but anywhere in America. Like the Keystone XL Pipeline being pushed so aggressively by Upton and his right-wing, bought-off allies, this pipeline also carried highly toxic bitumen, heavy Canadian oil sands, that sank to the bottom of the river.

The Canadian company, which was fined $3.7 million for negligence, estimated the cleanup costs could go as high as $5 million and take weeks. It's been years and the costs are $765 million. Cleanup efforts were still being conducted at the end of 2013. Watch this short video about the oil company coverup.

Blue America has endorsed Paul Clements, the progressive Democrat running against Upton this year. Steve Israel and the DCCC are, once again, working hard to protect Upton is a very tight swing district. Upton would have virtually no chance to be reelected without the diktat from Israel that the DCCC not help Clements. Israel does not target GOP leaders of committee chairmen (in return for his own immunity) and he does not target fellow frat brothers in his ridiculous Center Aisle Caucus (like Upton). That pretty much explains why the Republicans will keep control of the House until Pelosi fires Israel. That won't happen this cycle. If you'd like to help replace Fred Upton with Paul Clements, you can contribute directly to Paul's campaign here. You're never hear anything remotely like this from Fred Upton… It's Paul's statements on Climate Change and the environment:
Climate change is the greatest threat to Michigan and to the world in the 21st century. We need to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius, but this takes a strong international agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions in each country. Such an agreement can only be reached with American leadership.

Recently Michigan has seen failures of apple and cherry crops, Lake Michigan at historic lows, some of the hottest and driest summers in our history, and increased flooding from stronger storms and heavier rainfall. These and other influences from climate change are likely to get worse. With runaway climate change we could lose half our species of plants, trees, animals and birds. West Michigan could have a climate similar to West Texas by the end of the century, with summers seven degrees Fahrenheit hotter than today. But around the world it would be even more disastrous. Runaway climate change is likely to cause droughts and floods that drive millions from their homes, collapsing governments, and wars over water and other resources.

The technology exists to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. Southwest Michigan must lead in manufacturing based on this technology. America must take the lead to negotiate an international agreement, address the harms from climate change, and develop the technologies for a clean energy future.

…In America and around the world we are “mining” natural resources such as water supplies, fisheries, and forests. We are withdrawing more each year than nature regenerates. Also, polluters and others who harm the environment usually do not pay the cost of their pollution.

We should move toward full cost accounting, taxing polluters for environmental harms. For example, coal-based power plants should be taxed for the health effects from their pollution, and nuclear energy, oil and natural gas companies should be held liable for accidents and other harms they may cause.

Michigan is blessed with great lakes, forests, rivers and wildlife. It is our responsibility to sustain these blessings for future generations.


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Is Steve Israel Helping The CIA Infiltrate Congress With Its Own Agents?

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I don't know the answer to the question posed in the title above. I've been trying to find out and I've been tracking down several leads. The names that come up most frequently are Kevin Strouse, who like all CIA spies bills himself as an "ex-CIA analyst" and is running against Mike Fitzpatrick in Bucks County (PA-08); Bobby McKenzie, another former CIA spy who glosses over that and calls himself an "ex-US State Dept. Counterterrorism Official" and is running in MI-11 against Michigan's least attractive politician, Dave Trott the state's foreclosure king; and Jerry Cannon the former comandante of the Guantánamo gulag/torture prison who is running against GOP sad sack Dan Benishek way up in the sparsely populated, desolate Upper Peninsula of Michigan, flush up against Canada.

I spoke to one Bucks County political expert this morning about Strouse's CIA connections and he told me Strouse has no chance to win and that the DCCC, after recruiting him and pushing him against a plausible grassroots Democrat, Shaughnessy Naughton, has abandoned Strouse entirely. "There is no way," he told me, "that Strouse wins this race unless the CIA arranges to kill Fitzpatrick. I'm hearing Strouse is down by 20 points." 20 points?!!?! This is an R+1 swing district that Obama won 53-46% in 2008 and then fought Romney to a 49-49% head heat 4 years later. How does a Democrat-- even a crappy Steve Israel Mystery Meat candidate like Kevin Strouse lose a district like that by 20 points.

Meanwhile, as of the June 30 FEC filing deadline, Strouse had only raised $1,016,010 to Fitzpatrick's $2,482,114 and only had $268,721 cash-on-hand to Fitzpatrick's $1,906,830. The DCCC hasn't spent a dime on Strouse's behalf so far. However, the DCCC as reserved $1.9 million on Philadelphia broadcast from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, which could mean ads for Strouse or Manan Trivedi (PA-06) or Aimee Belgard (NJ-03). Their House Majority PAC has reserved another $1.2 million for unspecified candidates in the Philly area. Despite the rumors that the DCCC has kicked Strouse to the curb, unlike some of the candidates that they have dumped, he's still on the most current Red-to-Blue list soliciting money for their candidates. I guess if Michael Fitzpatrick turns up dead or suddenly resigns for some bizarre reason, we'll know the CIA plan is operational.



Jerry Cannon has also been seriously underperforming as a candidate. He and Benishek last reported on July 16 and Benishek had raised $1,497,655 and had $830,703 on hand while Canon only raised $647,734 and had $336,663 on hand. This unlikely red-to-blue district has a PVI of R+5 and would be a steep climb for even a good Democratic candidate. Obama, though, did beat McCain, 50-48%, although he lost to Romney four years later 54-45%. (Benishek barely fended off his last challenge by another bad Democratic recruit, Gary McDowell, 167,060 to 165,179.) What McDowell and Cannon have in common is that they're both conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Is the CIA behind Cannon? I haven't found anything that would make me comfortable asserting as much, just rumors.

The DCCC has spent $237,304 in negative ads against Benishek so far, part of a $450,000 Traverse City broadcast from Sept. 2 to Sept. 22 they reserved. They have another $490,000 on hold for Oct. 14 through election day. Yesterday, Emily Cahn at Roll Call reported that the NRCC just reserved a million dollars worth of ad time in the district to defend Benishek and will start running them on Friday and not stop until November 4.

OK, now let's go back to MI-11, Kerry Bentivolio's mostly suburban district north and northwest of Detroit that includes parts of Oakland and Wayne Counties, an R+4 district but good hunting for a Democrat, especially with such an awful and indefensible candidate like Trott. But the CIA agent, or, supposedly, "ex"-CIA agent, McKenzie, just wasn't closing the deal. Trott, who wrote his campaign a casual $2,423,402 check for the primary, had $1,018,913 cash-on-hand on July 16. McKenzie only raised $375,432 and had $68,448 left after the primary, which shouldn't be enough to stay competitive. The DCCC hasn't spent any money in the district yet but they've reserved $850,000 in the Detroit broadcast market and $290,000 in the Lansing market between Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, money that could go to help McKenzie (who is no longer on their Red-to-Blue page at all) or Pam Byrnes (who the DCCC has reportedly given up on entirely). Strange. I suppose they could use the reservations to support Eric Schertzing against Mike Bishop in the district Mike Rogers is abandoning (MI-08, Ingham and Livingston counties, R+2 PVI) but there is no indication they are getting behind Schertzing or any other Michigan candidates.

And now the big "however" in this race. Someone (a CIA cutout, supposedly) persuaded Bentivolio to run as a write-in candidate and pull the extreme right away from Trott, who he really hates, so that McKenzie wins the seat. Yesterday, the Detroit Free Press reported that a very bitter Bentivolio just wants Trott to lose.
“Everywhere I went here at home or in D.C. I had a Trott tracker working for a self-serving, self-absorbed entitled bully,” Bentivolio said in an e-mail to the Free Press. “Now they want unity?”

In last month’s primary, Trott beat Bentivolio by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. In the race to represent a district widely considered to lean Republican, Trott faces Bobby McKenzie, a former U.S. State Department employee and the Democratic nominee, who Bentivolio said he also opposes.

Bentivolio told MIRS he was “pretty frustrated” by the loss and the amount of money Trott spent defeating him. He said he has been approached by “a lot of people out there” who want him to run as a write-in “because they don’t see much difference” between the two parties.

…[H]e e said that it’s difficult for him to listen to Republican Party calls for unity and support given that he was targeted for defeat by mainstream elements in the party when former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter resigned abruptly in 2012 and left Bentivolio the only other GOP name on the ballot.
I'm trying to track down what Bentivolio meant exactly when he said he's being pushed to run by "a lot of people out there." It would mean a lot to the CIA and other intelligence entities to have one of their own-- or 3 of their own-- inside the branch of government charged with overseeing all the unconstitutional activities.



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do Steve Israel And Debbie Wasserman Schultz Actually Work Against Democratic Candidates? Oh, Do They Ever!

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Today Maggie Haberman did a puff piece on the failed DCCC chairman Steve Israel. "My position as DCCC chair," he boasted, "has given me the opportunity to elevate House races and the midterms to some of the most influential and highest-profile donors in the country. Unlike in a presidential campaign, we’re spending millions of dollars in House races right here in New York." Israel has targeted 8 races in New York, 2 to protect endangered incumbents, Maffei in a deep blue D+5 district (Syracuse) and Tim Bishop in the Suffolk County swing district (R+2). Israel crony Kathleen Rice, another corrupt Wall Street shill like Israel, is running to replace Carolyn McCarthy who is retiring from a D+3 Nassau County district just south of Israel's own. There's no definition of "Red-to-Blue" that includes Rice but she's on the list because she fits Israel's prejudices for turning the House Democratic caucus away from working families and towards Wall Street and Big Business. Oh, and to make Israel's scorecard and success to failure ratio look less dismal in November.

When Israel brags how he elevates House races to some of the most influential and highest-profile donors in the country, he means "certain House races." Others he deprecates, as does Wasserman Schultz. It's how the two of them role. People are shocked when I write that Israel, who is, after all, charged with electing Democrats to the House tells those "highest-profile donors in the country" he's always bragging about having in the palm of his hand to not fund Democratic candidates who don't fit into his loser strategy of backing Blue Dogs and New Dems.

Several of Blue America's top donors used to be among the Israel/Rahm/Wasserman Schultz collection of "highest-profile donors in the country" who realized that they had been, year after year, mislead into backing awful candidates from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- corrupt Wall Street corporatists, anti-Choice and anti-gay reactionaries who they had nothing in common with.

Doug Kahn is not just a progressive activist, he ran for Congress himself against an entrenched Republican and helped introduce the deep red district to progressive political values so that it was eventually won back from the GOP. It wasn't Doug who went to Congress though. More recently, he's worked steadily behind the scenes helping elect and re-elect Democrats like Alan Grayson, Matt Cartwright and Carol Shea-Porter. Before finding Blue America he was contributing large sums to Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party pushed by the DCCC. He doesn't write checks to those kinds of candidates any longer-- nor to operations like the DCCC and the DNC.

If they want my support again, they'll have to start supporting progressive candidates who want to run against people like Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership in the House, some of whom are in winnable districts. Winnable for real Democrats, of course, not the 'Republican Lite' hacks they keep recruiting to fill the Democratic line on the ballot.

You see this in state and local party organizations, too. The top positions get occupied, and never voluntarily vacated, by people who just want to be in charge of an organization. Hacks, in other words. Helping working people isn't on their to-do lists. Why should they care about getting new, progressive members into our House delegation? It would just threaten their own little spheres of influence.
Last cycle I spoke with mega-donors who told me flat out that both Israel and Wasserman Schultz had called them and told them not to contribute to Rob Zerban and Lee Rogers (Israel) and Alan Grayson (Wasserman Schultz, although it's reasonable to assume that she just didn't want the gentleman to give the money to Grayson through Blue America and perhaps it wasn't really Grayson she was targeting… perhaps). Let me tell you about one of the instances.

A major Democratic donor who has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates had been asking me for an onerous, distasteful and burdensome favor. I declined. The donor went to a mutual friend of ours who suggested persuading me by helping Blue America candidates. Recall that last cycle, when Paul Ryan was totally vulnerable and beatable-- in a district Obama has won 185,855 (51%) to 176,152 (48%) in the last election, Israel took Rob Zerban off the table in a very big way. He was running around frantically telling donors to stop giving money to Zerban (the Democrat) who had raised $2,265,721 from grassroots donors (and needed a little help to be competitive against Ryan-- who wound up spending $6,651,221 on the race). The contributor volunteered to hold a fundraising event at the family mansion for Zerban if I agreed to do the favor. I agreed… with a big smile on my face. And the next thing I knew, I got a call from the donor telling me "Steve" said Zerban wasn't a serious candidate and not to waste the money and effort. Fundraiser cancelled. Do you ever wonder why DWT from time to time offers a slightly negative editorial perspective on Steve Israel (and his ilk)? And no, you will never read a story like this by Maggie Haberman or anyone else who writes for the Beltway trade press.

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