Friday, April 18, 2014

Urban Gadabout: Coming up -- Wolfe Walkers spring walks, World of the #7 Train, Jane's Walk Weekend


The No. 7 train to Flushing here has its most dramatic view of the Manhattan skyline. Jack Eichenbaum is doing this year's version of his "signature tour," the all-day "World of the #7 Train," on May 31 (see below).

by Ken

I mentioned recently that I did a pre-Passover tour with Justin Ferate to the heart of Chassidic Brooklyn -- to the worldwide nerve center of Chabad Lubavitch, on and around Kingston Avenue below Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights South. It was the first tour on Justin's Wolfe Walkers Spring 2014 Calendar. (You can download the Spring 2014 brochure here.) When our utterly engaging tour guide from the Chassidic Discovery Center, Rabbi Beryl Epstein, asked us all to introduce ourselves and explain briefly how we had come to take that day's tour, I was tempted to offer as my reason that Justin had scheduled a tour there, and if Justin thinks it's worth visiting, the odds are awfully good that it is.

Which is pretty much my governing principle in attacking each Wolfe Walkers brochure when it becomes available. Next up on the schedule (and I don't know if there's even still space) is:
Walking Tour with Queens Food Specialist Jeff Orlick
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 1:30pm-approx. 5pm
(Note: The start time is a half-hour earlier than is indicated in the brochure. Justin just sent out this change of time late tonight, as requested by Jeff, "to ensure that we are given ample time to savor the experience.")

Here’s the tour you’ve been asking for! Join the noted Queens food specialist Jeff Orlick on this very special food discovery tour of perhaps the most diverse area in the world: Roosevelt Avenue in Queens. Experience the cultural enclaves of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and Elmhurst in one afternoon. Get an insider’s view to as many as nine cultures such as Tibetan, Nepalese, Filipino, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Colombian, Thai and more in one afternoon. In neighborhoods noted for their complex array of cultures and ethnicities, we’ll taste our way across the globe to demonstrate Jeff’s ultimate premise: Food is the greatest medium for communication and connection.

On this special 3-hour tour, created just for the Wolfe Walkers, we'll travel from Little Manila to Little India, then the Himalayan Heights to Bogotá through Bangkok, exploring only the most authentic foods not made for tourists. In between bites, we'll stop at some of Jeff’s best-kept secret shops for clothing, jewelry, and other authentic ethnic wares while we work up our appetites. The tour will be tailored to our needs and interests, so we’ll share our interests with Jeff and be ready for an amazing afternoon. This promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience – unlike anywhere else in the world. This isn't a lecture; it’s an insider’s experience to the most culturally rich and diverse place in the world.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are included. The world is ours!

Limited to 15 participants. Fee: $75, advance registration only (includes tour guide, food, and non-alcoholic beverages)
There's usually an all-day bus extravaganza on the Wolfe Walkers schedule, with lunch included. For Spring 2014 it's a trip up the Hudson River to the Gomez Mill House Museum (the house, built in 1714, is the oldest Jewish dwelling in North America and the oldest home in Orange County), then back for lunch at the Buttermilk Falls Inn ("a delightful country hideaway that includes a renovated 1680 home on a 70-acre estate on the banks of the Hudson River"), stopping next at Wilderstein ("a remarkable 1852 house and estate that was owned by three generations of the Suckley family"), with a final stop at the bridge across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie, the old Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, whose 1.3-mile span was reopened a couple of years ago as a recreation area, the Walkway Over the Hudson, now "the world's longest (and tallest) elevated footbridge," with "expansive vistas" over the river.
Bus and Walking Tour with Justin Ferate

Saturday, May 10, 2014, bus leaves promptly at 8:15am, returns approx. 7pm

There's a much more detailed tour description in the brochure.

Limited to 40 people. Fee: $115, advance registration only (includes bus, admissions, guided tours, luncheon, and gratuities)
Farther along the schedule are:
Saturday, May 24, 10am-1pm,
$25 in advance, $28 on-site

Sunday, June 1, 10am-3:30pm (from and to Manhattan),
$25 in advance, $28 on-site, plus bus fare
Tour led by John Simko, director of the Nutley Historical Society Museum (a splendid tour guide who led us through the museum on our Wolfe Walkers visit to Nutley last year)

Saturday, June 15, 10am-1pm,
$25 in advance, $28 on-site
Wolfe Walkers advance registration (which you'll note is required for some tours) is by mail only, by check only -- you can download just the registration form here; of course it's also included in the PDF of the complete spring brochure.

I have no idea whether there's still space (it's limited to eight people), but there's also a (free) bicycle tour with the Belgian journalist Jacqueline Goossens, who has lived in New York for a couple of decades now and is one of the smartest and most charming and funniest people you'll meet. The spring ride is CENTRAL PARK, HARLEM, AND A BIT OF THE BRONX, and it's Saturday, June 21, from 10am to about 3:30pm.


I've mentioned this famous tour a lot, but it's been a few years since I actually did it, but I'm doing it again this year. Jack, an urban geographer who for some years now has been the Queens Borough Historian, has been talking about updating some of the mini-walking tours that make up the whole adventure to take note of changes that have been taking place in those areas, so it should be even more interesting.
Saturday, May 31, 2014, 10am-5:30pm

This series of six walks and connecting rides along North Queens’ transportation corridor is my signature tour. We focus on what the #7 train has done to and for surrounding neighborhoods since it began service in 1914. Walks take place in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Flushing, Corona, Woodside and Jackson Heights and lunch is in Flushing’s Asiatown.

Tour fee is $40 and you need to preregister by check to Jack Eichenbaum, 36-20 Bowne St. #6C, Flushing, NY 11354 (include name, phone and email address)  The full day’s program and other info is available by email

The tour is limited to 25 people.
Jack's public tour schedule is here, and there's also a link to sign up for Jack's e-mail list. One walk I'm especially looking forward to is a Municipal Art Society tour that has been rescheduled from last summer, when Jack wasn't able to do it. It's of WILLET'S POINT, the patch of terrain in northern Queens between Citi Field (home of the New York Mets) and Flushing, a sort of Land That Time Forgot. Jack describes it as "a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back attempts at redevelopment." Now, with developers lurking again, Jack aims to help us "understand the area’s important setting, confront ecological issues and learn why “Willets Point” is a misnomer." It's Sunday, May 25, 4pm-6pm, $15 for MAS members, $20 for nonmembers; for more information or to register, use the MAS link above.


The birthday of that late great urbanist Jane Jacobs provides a good clue to the timing of each year's celebraton of her visions of cities that work for their inhabitants, now celebrated widely around the world -- you can check online to see what festivities (free!) may be offered in your area.

In New York, since the Municipal Art Society took over the planning and operation of Jane's Walk NYC, it has become one of the great urban gadding weekends of the year. This year it's May 3-4, and I'm itching for the schedule of events myself. You can keep track at MAS's Jane's Walk page, where you can also sign up for updates.


There are still a fair number of tours that have space in the remainder of the March-May schedule (or just remember and click on "Tours"). The new schedule should be posted sometime around May 15, and while it's true that some tours will fill up well before they take place, if you start doing your registering when the schedule comes out, you'll be able to register for any tour you want.

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It's a tough moment for right-wing fake-news media -- time to change the subject?


"We think just a look at a few of this week’s health-care related headlines provides the best summary: the ACA is working." This is the "bottom line" in this evening's ThinkProgress report, "The Thing Is Working." (For working linnks, you'll have to visit the site.)

by Ken

In a "Progress Report" post this evening, "This Thing Is Working," the crew in the CAP War Room reports: "A Slew Of Good Health Care News Has Conservatives On Their Heels," with news like "19 Million Americans Covered," "Exchanges Working And Costs Down," and "Conservatives On Defense."

On the latter front, the post notes:
As millions of people experience real, and not just theoretical, benefits of the law, Americans are getting more and more tired of the political battles to repeal it. A recent Kaiser survey found that 59 percent of Americans want keep the law in place or improve it, while only 29 percent want get rid of it. Pew reports that even a “majority of ACA opponents – representing 30% of the public overall – want politicians to do what they can to make the law work as well as possible, compared with 19% of the public that wants elected officials to do what they can to make it fail.”

And constituents are showing their frustration with their conservative elected officials’ fixation on repeal. Without any alternative to point to, and an increasingly frustrated public, these politicians have nobody to blame but themselves.
The post even offers the sampling checklist of upbeat ACA-related headlines at the top of this post.


As we were discussing last night ("Instead of apologizing for their lies, the lying liars of Fox Noise simply tell . . . new lies!"), with regard to the incredibly silly Fox Noise "report" about the great "surprise": that people who didn't sign up for Obamacare by March 31 -- meaning, among others, people who listened to the constant stream of end-of-the-world pronouncements from Fox Noisemakers and got the obvious message that they shouldn't sign up -- now can't sign up until, well, some terribly distant time like, you know, fall or something.

Of course there was nothing in the least "surprising" about this, since everyone knew that after the March 31 deadline insurance wouldn't be obtainable via the exchanges until the next registration period -- everyone, that is except, apparently, for the Right-Wing Noisemakers, who don't seem even to have wondered what that "deadline" might be the deadline for. And of course the logic of fixed enrollment periods is thoroughly well established in the insurance world, so that people can't simply wait till the day they decide they actually need coverage to sign up.

This was all known to everyone who even dabbled in the ACA signup story -- except, again, the right-wing noisemakers who are either too stupid or too dishonest to do the simplest basic job of actual reporters. As in this head you may recall from last night:

I had actually thought about making some little joke, wishing poor Jim Angle good luck in his next career, whatever it may be, since he obviously isn't cut out for reporting. It got a little confusing, though, because I would have wanted to make clear that I don't think his job is actual reporting, but that this is even a lousy job of fake-news reporting. It has the necessary virtue of touching the kinds of buttons Right-Wing Noisemakers love to touch among news-challenged viewers, and usually do so successfully. But this story collapses so completely in even the dimmest light of reality, and that's not really good enough for good fake-news.

Really the only solution the Right-Wing Noise Machine has come up with for when reality turns against them this cruelly is the extreme one: ignore it. I think we may be seeing some big-time news-ignoring in the days and weeks to come, and some big-time efforts of subject-changing.

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Rick Weiland-- Channelling Johnny Cash, George McGovern And Elizabeth Warren


Tuesday, Blue America-endorsed Rick Weiland, the prairie populist and progressive candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota, visited tiny Hudson (pop. 296). That made him the first candidate to have ever visited every one of the state's 311 incorporated towns and cities. And this morning he released a song about doing it.

Joined by his daughters, Taylor and Alex, and brother Ted, Rick re-worked the Johnny Cash classic "I’ve Been Everywhere" (written by Geoff Mack in 1959). Weiland and his family like getting together and playing music-- his son Nick shot the video-- but, as good as it sounds and as inspiring as the film is-- his motivations for this one weren't purely musical.

He talks about he growing up on stories of another prairie populist, George McGovern, standing in the family living room telling his dad, Bud, how he would break the GOP's stranglehold on the state by taking his compassionate populism directly to the people. He believes the U.S. is due for another course adjustment, like it was when McGovern represented South Dakota in the Senate. "Big money has stolen our government and turned it against us," Rick says, "and I'm trying to set the caring of my friend George McGovern, and the wisdom of a woman I admire very much, Senator Elizabeth Warren, to a modern tune, and sing it in a voice ordinary folks will hear." Here are Rick's lyrics:

I was on my way to meet with voters at the local coffee shop

When my opponent called and said “when are you gonna stop?”
All this listening to what voters say
Don’t mean a thing, you know my money will rule the day
I said you can raise all your millions by the sack
The time has come for us to take our country back


I’m goin’ everywhere, man
I’m goin everywhere
Our country needs repair, man
Gotta make it all more fair, man
I’m runnin’ ‘cause I care, man
I’m going everywhere
I’m going to:
Millboro, Flandreau, Lodgepole, Bloomingdale
Provo, Roscoe, Dakota Dunes and Yale
Scenic, Frederick, Smithwick, Red Shirt
Black Hawk, Dimock, Hitchcock, Holabird
Dupree, Hurley, Emery, Westerville
Selby, Gregory, Goodwill, what a thrill


I’m going to:
Madison, Lebanon, Harrison, Corona
Jefferson, Arlington, Marion, Ramona
Creighton, Raymond, Avon, Belvidere
Cleveland, Hetland, Rutland, Fort Pierre
Parmalee, Wounded Knee, Waverly, Willow Lake
Long Lake, Clear Lake, Timber Lake, what a break


I’m going to:
Centerville, Northville, Grenville, Iroquios
Lesterville, Shadehill, Mission Hill, Tolstoy
Springfield, Mansfield, Clearfield, Fort Mead
Bonesteel, Firesteel, Ideal, Little Eagle
Buffalo, Toronto, Ludlow, Rowena
Aberdeen-a, Estelline-a, see what I mean-a.


I’m going to:
Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Strandburg, Westport
Deadwood, Castlewood, New Underwood, Frankfort
St. Charles, St. Francis, St. Lawrence, Olivet
Chamberlain, McLaughlin, Roslyn, Orient
Astoria, Aurora, Fedora, Rapid City,
Trail City, Hill City, Garden City, what a city

Stace Nelson is one of the prominent far right Tea Party candidates running against Republican Establishment hack Mike Rounds, who got into hot water in South Dakota recently for trying to pass off photos of Paris as pictures of South Dakota. After Nelson saw Rick's video he posted a comment in the Madville Times:
“I'm a sucker for Johnny Cash. The first musician I can remember liking was him. I will wager none of those pictures are from France.. :-D

By the looks of it, Rick has all the candidates beat on musical talent. If anything, I'm a sentimental old broken down Marine, I like the incorporation of all the SD towns. Best part of campaigning is getting to go to all the places in SD and see every inch of this state and meet the people I have loved serving these many years.

Congrats Rick, nice video.”
Monday at noon, Blue America is ending a little "contest" we're running to help raise money for Rick's TV ads. You can read all about it-- and contribute-- and perhaps wins a genuine RIAA-certified, double platinum Frank Sinatra award right here.

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Ratings Changes-- From A "Leans Dem" Down To A "Tilts Dem"


Rich, conservative New Dem in trouble with the Democratic base back home…I wonder why!

The Rothenberg Political Report (Roll Call) changed some of it's November ratings today. Stuart Rothenberg's and Nathan Gonzales' Beltway-oriented ratings changes are worthless. The silliest one day was moving Julia Brownley's reelection contest (CA-26) from "safe" down a tick to "Democrat favored." Either one is accurate in the real world but in their own world it is a demotion. And what was it based on? It seems to be based entirely on what the NRCC told them. Their analysis didn't include a word about the preferred GOP candidate, Tony Strickland, backing out of the race to run in another district. Instead:
When the Republican wave hit in 2010, it lost virtually all of its strength before it got to the West Coast. Most Democrats in competitive races west of the Rocky Mountains held on.

So Democrats are in a precarious electoral position this cycle, and it’s unclear whether some districts that look Democratic on paper could be a struggle to hold in November.

Barack Obama carried California’s 26th District by 10 points in 2012 and by a whopping 16 points in 2008. But Republicans believe that state Assemblyman Jeff Gorell is a unique candidate who can run a competitive race against Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley.
"Republicans believe that state Assemblyman Jeff Gorell is a unique candidate who can run a competitive race against Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley." Well, by all means, change that rating! Not going into Rothenberg predictions-- not ever-- are findings like this from reputable, nonpartisan pollsters: Reason-Rupe/ Princeton Survey Research Associates International: 62% of Americans oppose the subsidies that the federal government gives to oil, gas and coal companies or from the Pew Research Center: "65% of Americans favor setting stricter emission limits on power plants in order to address climate change." And this contrast:

But Rothenberg's silliest "analysis" today came in IL-10. I don't even disagree with the finding, just how they reached it. Short version: Dold has a chance to beat Schneider in a rematch. They downgraded the rating from "leans Democrat" to "Tilts Democrat." Here's the Rothenberg version:
Illinois’ 10th District was drawn by Democrats to elect a Democrat, and it did just that in 2012 when Brad Schneider defeated GOP Rep. Robert Dold.

But Schneider won very narrowly, 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent, a margin of a slightly more than 3,000 votes out of 264,000 cast. And he did it with President Barack Obama running at the top of the ballot. This year, Obama is not on the ballot, he’s more unpopular and Dold is running again.

This race likely won’t be decided by money. Both men should be able to raise and spend enough money to compete.

But it will likely be decided by Democrats’ ability to define Dold as being too conservative for the district, and Republicans banking on Schneider not yet being entrenched in the suburban Chicago territory.

This race could go down to the wire once again. We’re changing our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Leans Democrat to Tossup/Tilts Democrat.
The reason the "Democrats’ ability to define Dold as being too conservative for the district" comes into play is because the wretched New Dem incumbent, Brad Schneider, is also too conservative for the district. His consistent pattern of voting against progressive legislation and crossing the aisle in a way Democrats in red districts are told to do by the DCCC, will only do one thing in IL-10 (with its D+8 PVI)-- keep progressives home sitting on their hands. No mention of any of that by Rothenberg or Gonzales and no peak into Schneider's ugly conservative voting record which seems custom-made to win over Republican voters in Republican-leaning districts. If Schneider's record comes into play it will be a classic case of voter discouragement, a Steve Israel specialty when it come sot advising his lamest and most credulous freshmen.

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Why Is Pelosi Allowing Steve Israel To Gratuitously Screw Over Working Families In Southwest Michigan?


The ruin of Franklin Roosevelt's great political party

In a recent report from the Kalamzoo Gazette, Upton challenger Paul Clements sets new record for Democratic fundraising in 6th district, the photograph caption was "WMU Professor Paul Clements, who is looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Fred Upton in 2014, speaks to a packed crowd at the Kalamazoo County Democratic headquarters." Packed crowd? Maybe someone should tell DCCC chairman Steve Israel. Or perhaps mention the title to Israel, the part about setting new fundraising records, supposedly the only thing Israel really cares about anyway.

But no one will, because everyone knows it won't do any good. Israel doesn't challenge Republican committee chairs and policy-makers-- no matter how heinous their policies (and few are as heinous as Upton's). And he especially doesn't challenge his old fraternity brothers, like Upton, from his beloved Center Aisle Caucus. So here's the DCCC prioritizing and wasting money on dreadful deep red districts with even more dreadful conservative candidates, while a true blue progressive in a district ripe to be plucked (MI-6 with a PVI of R+1) is absolutely off the table. How can Nancy Pelosi abandon the working families of southwest Michigan to the tender mercies of Steve Israel this way… again?
Heading into the 2014 election season, Congressman Fred Upton's Democratic challenger announced that he has raised more money than any prior Democratic congressional candidate in Michigan's 6th district.

Paul Clements, 52, a political science professor at Western Michigan University, had raised $365,469 as of March 31, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Clements appears to be the first Democratic candidate in the 6th district to surpass the $300,000 threshold. In 2012, Democrat Mike O'Brien, who at the time had raised more money than any Democratic congressional candidate in the 6th district in 20 years, raised a total of $293,986, according to the FEC. (The current 6th district was formed in 1992, combining parts of the third and fourth districts.)

"Our report shows a broad movement that wants bipartisan solutions on job creation, education and investments in our future," Clements said in a statement. "The people of Southwest Michigan deserve an independent voice focused on their needs, and that's not what they have been getting with Congressman Upton."

During the first quarter of 2014, Clements raised $122,178. Of the more than 2,500 individual contributions, 86 percent were for less than $200, Clements' campaign reported, citing strong grassroots support. According to the FEC, Clements took in $3,950 from political action committees (PACs).

John Taylor, chairman of the Kalamazoo County Democratic Party and a county commissioner, confirmed that Clements had broken the Democratic congressional fundraising record set by O'Brien in 2012 for the 6th district.

"The really impressive thing about Paul's number is there's very little PAC checks in there," he said in a phone interview. "Individuals are stepping up for his race and that's a positive sign."
Israel, instead, is staying focused on Jennifer Garrison an anti-Choice, gay-hating, pro-NRA, pro-fracking conservative who is said to look an awful lot like his former mistress (his latest former mistress, the one his most recent wife divorced him over). Her district doesn't have a PVI of R+1, like Upton's. It has a PVI of R+8. And even with all the help Israel and Steny Hoyer are giving her, she isn't raising the kind of money grassroots progressives like Clements are. This quarter she brought in a meager $89,000, about a third of what the DCCC had assigned her. And she isn't the only Steve Israel recruit who fell flat on their face, rejected by the Democratic grassroots. Among other big Israel Q-1 recruiting failures were Red to Blue designees Jackie McPherson (AR-01)- $112K, Jerry Cannon (MI-01)- $143K, Bobby McKenzie (MI-11)- $133K, and Kevin Strouse (PA-08)- $115K, who is losing the money race to a more grassroots primary candidate Shaunghnessy Naughton, who, unlike him, is campaigning against fracking, which he foolishly supports in the very environmentally-conscious Bucks County (which he is unfamiliar with).

I asked a Member of Congress today if it is too late for the Democrats to win back the House in November. He wasn't optimistic but offered his opinion that damages could be minimized if Pelosi replaced Israel as DCCC chairman. "We'll never win it back with Steve calling the shots there, but I could name half a dozen Members who could walk in there tomorrow, shake the place up, get rid of some of the dead weight, and stop the bleeding… Steve will be lucky to break even. And I don't think Lady Luck has been kind to him in recent years… Nancy should kick him upstairs and give Keith [Ellison] the job. Even [he called me back and asked me to omit this name] would do a better job than Steve."

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Forget The Beltway Pundits-- Could Kathleen Sebelius Win Back Voters In Kansas' Senate Race?


In 2002, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, then the state's Insurance Commissioner, was elected Governor of Kansas over fringe Republican extremist Tim Schallenberger, 441,858 (53%)- 376,830 (45%). She ran on a platform that was pro-Choice, anti-capital punishment and against people carrying concealed weapons, called for a $1,000 per student increase in public education spending and refused to take the conservative "no new taxes" pledge.

Her 4 years in office made an excellent impression on Kansas voters and in 2006 she was reelected with a whopping 491,993 votes (58%) against Republican state Senator Jim Barnett's 343,586 votes (40%). She led in every single poll taken in 2006, almost all of them by GOP polling firm Rasmussen.

Not everybody remembers all that. But everyone remembers that Obama appointed her Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2009 and that she was charged with implementing the Affordable Care Act. Some Catholics are also aware that the fascist Cardinal Raymond Burke, recently fired from his key job and sidelined by Pope Francis, had denied her the right of communion.

Yesterday, the NY Times reported that Sebelius is considering running for the Kansas Senate seat currently being contested by out-of-touch, doddering incumbent Pat Roberts and extremist kook Milton Wolf.
Several Democrats said this week that Ms. Sebelius had been mentioned with growing frequency as someone who could wage a serious challenge to Mr. Roberts, 77, who is running for a fourth term and is considered vulnerable. One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea.
Beltway pundits, of course, say she has no chance at all. That's what they do. "Sebelius is not (popular) in Kansas anymore" and "[s]he is the person most closely associated with Obamacare's implementation" is how its viewed Inside-the-Beltway. That's true, but she has 'til June 3 to decide and then 'til November to remind Kansans how much they liked her-- and what a good job she did-- when she was governor. And who will she be running against? One of two Republicans who are absolutely destroying each other now. Beltway knows best? Rarely.

And a lot could happen between now and then… including the continued success of the Affordable Care Act that will eventually (but how soon?) make her into an American heroine. And don't you think Kansas voters would love the idea of electing their first Democratic senator since… the 1930s!

UPDATE: Sebelius Won't Run… Maybe

The NY Times is reporting that Sebelius isn't running, kind of. "Secretary Sebelius is continuing her important work at H.H.S. and is not considering a run for the Senate," the spokeswoman said. OK, but what about after her replacement is confirmed and she isn't continuing her important work at H.H.S.? Will be consider a run then?

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Instead of apologizing for their lies, the lying liars of Fox Noise simply tell . . . new lies!


What? Ya mean we wuz supposeta sign up for evil, liberty-destroying Obamacare? Who knew? And now this terrible surprise creeps up on us. (Even though people who were in even occasional contact with reality knew about it . . . well, from the start. Apparently nobody told poor Jim Angle, or his editors.)

by Ken

Thanks to HuffPost's Joan McCarter ("Fox News outraged that all the people it told not to buy insurance can't get insurance until fall") for calling attention to Brian Beutler's post "The Right's New Scam: Feigning Anger on Behalf of People They Encouraged to Skip Obamacare."


Or at least it would be if we weren't talkling about Fox Noisemakers. I keep imagining (dreaming?) that at some point the Lying Liars of the Right will be held accountable in some fashion for their lifetimes of spreading lies and delusions. This in spite of the overwhelming evidence that no, it's not going to happen.

True, a major part of the Right-Wing Noise Machine infrastructure is made up of mental primitives -- affectionately known as "hannities" -- who show no evidence of any mental capacity for learning or reasoning (possibly the necessary circuitry is present in their brains but is merely permanently set ion the "off" position) and may therefore be sincerely unaware that the incessant screeching that comes out of their mouths is all lies and delusions, and it might be argued that they shouldn't be subject to the appropriate penalties for their actions, by reason of mental defect. Which leaves plenty of right-wing blowhards who know, or have no excuse for not knowing, that they're full of it.

These are the very people, as you can't possibly have forgotten, who from the time the Affordable Care Act was signed into law have been screeching nonstop at the top of their lungs that it is:

* the greatest evil perpetrated in the history of the human race

* the death of liberty, and probably of Truth, Justice, and the American Way

* on the verge of repeal, if there's any decency left in the world

There was an idea behind the Right-Wing Noisemakers' "variety of efforts (both subtle and explicit) to discourage people, particularly young people, from enrolling in ACA-compliant health plans." That idea, says, Brian,
was to deny state-based insurance markets critical mass, and sound risk pools, and send them into actuarial death spirals. In almost every instance, conservatives were appealing to strangers to undertake considerable personal risk in service of dubious ideological principles.
Now the Noisemakers may not have achieved "the larger goal," Brian says, "but they almost certainly succeeded at convincing some people to skip Obamacare."
And when confronted about the recklessness of their strategy, the most unscrupulous conservatives would say, No biggie! Obamacare allows people to enroll after they get sick or injured. So there's no risk at all.
"This was a lie," Brian says.
And if it weren't such a dangerous lie, I'd be amused to find that conservatives now want you to be outraged about the fact that the Affordable Care Act creates limited open-enrollment periods each year to prohibit precisely that kind of free riding.
And Jim quotes from Jim Angle's Fox Noise blitherama:
There is yet another ObamaCare surprise waiting for consumers: from now until the next open enrollment at the end of this year, most people will simply not be able to buy any health insurance at all, even outside the exchanges.

"It's all closed down. You cannot buy a policy that is a qualified policy for the purpose of the ACA (the Affordable Care Act) until next year on January 1," says John DiVito, president of Flexbenefit which has 2,500 brokers.

John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas adds, "People are not going to be able to buy individual and family policies, and that's part of ObamaCare. And what makes it so surprising is the whole point of ObamaCare was to encourage people to get insurance, and now the market has been completely closed down for the next seven months."

That means that with few exceptions, tens of millions of people will be locked out of the health insurance market for the rest of this year.
Joan McCarter points out in her HuffPost post that the shocking Fox Noise surprise is "not really news."
The practice of enrollment periods, embraced by the law, was designed specifically to address those "free-riders" Fox News would in any other circumstance hate -- the people who would wait until they needed health insurance to get it. The difference now, though, is that if those people get sick while they're uninsured, they don't have to worry about that preventing them from getting insurance once open enrollment kicks in again. (There are some exceptions: people who qualify can enroll in Medicaid or enroll their kids in SCHIP programs at any time, and people who have "qualifying life events" or other special circumstances as detailed here can sign up.)
"But of course," Joan adds,
Fox News doesn't really care about all the people it told not to sign up who didn't sign up and now don't have care. Nor do they care that they're showing their rank hypocrisy in pushing this story. Just as long as they have some Obamacare outrage story.
You know, come to think of it, this could just be yet another example of the Rupert Murdoch school of TV salesmanship. As my friend Peter loved to point out, on the Fox Network first they hyped their coverage of the great alien autopsy. Then without skipping a beat they hyped they coverage of the great alien-autopsy hoax story.

This might not be the ideal business model if you were running, say, a TV news network. But if you're really wrangling a herd of Noisemakers, well, send in the clowns.

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Just Why Exactly Did Bernie Sanders Endorse Paul Clements In Michigan-- When Steve Israel's DCCC Refuses To?


West Virginia Blue Dog Nick Rahall is never going to be endorsed by Blue America and we often note that he acts in concert with the GOP more than almost any other House Democrat-- there are a few who are worse. Example: only 9 Democrats refused to sign the discharge petition to force Boehner and Cantor to bring immigration reform to a vote. Every Republican and those 9 shameless Democrats refused to sign and, predictably, Rahall was one of them. But that hasn't stopped him from being targeted and attacked by Republicans and their predatory allies. In Rahall's new TV spot above, he attempts to defend himself against a withering barrage of Koch-financed advertising against him, despite the fact that he has been more supportive of the anti-family/anti-environment/anti-democracy Koch agenda than just about any other Democrat in Congress.

This morning, writing at Huff Po, Senator Bernie Sanders asked Who are the Koch Brothers and What do They Want? He doesn't go into their virulently anti-American, fascist-oriented family tree but he does point out that trying to undermine American democracy by buying the Republican Party isn't their first foray into electoral politics and not the first time they've tried imposing fascism on the United States.
In 1980, Libertarian vice-presidential candidate David Koch ran on a platform that called for abolishing the minimum wage. Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, not only does virtually every Republican in Congress oppose raising the $7.25 an hour minimum wage, many of them, including Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John McCain, are on record for abolishing the concept of the federal minimum wage.

In 1980, the platform of David Koch's Libertarian Party favored "the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people. Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party, as seen in the recently passed Ryan budget, is to end Medicare as we know it, cut Medicaid by more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million people-- 1 in 8 Americans-- would lose health insurance or fail to obtain insurance by 2024. Most of them would be people with low or moderate incomes."

In 1980, the platform of David Koch's Libertarian Party called for "the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party is that "entitlement reform" is absolutely necessary. For some, this means major cuts in Social Security. For others who believe Social Security is unconstitutional or a Ponzi scheme this means the privatization of Social Security or abolishing this program completely for those who are under 60 years of age.

In 1980, David Koch's Libertarian Party platform stated "We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes ... We support the eventual repeal of all taxation... As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, 75 Republicans in the House have co-sponsored a bill that Paul Ryan has said "would eliminate taxes on wages, corporations, self-employment, capital gains, and gift and death taxes in favor of a personal-consumption tax."

Here is what every American should be deeply concerned about. The Koch brothers, through the expenditure of billions of dollars and the creation and support of dozens of extreme right organizations, have taken fringe extremist ideas and made them mainstream within the Republican Party. And now with Citizens United (which is allowing them to pour unlimited sums of money into the political process) their power is greater than ever.

And let's be very clear. Their goal is not only to defund Obamacare, cut Social Security, oppose an increase in the minimum wage or cut federal funding for education. Their world view and eventual goal is much greater than all of that. They want to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in this country. Every piece of legislation!

The truth is that the agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of billionaire families.

Our great nation must not be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must fight back.

One incumbent carefully cultivated and supported by the Koch brothers and their affiliated groups is House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Fred Upton. In return, he has allowed the Koch agenda too become the Energy and Commerce Committee agenda-- with no variation… none… ever. His opponent this cycle, in a very winnable southwest Michigan district (R+1) is Paul Clements. As we've mentioned before, DCCC chair is as dedicated to protecting Upton as DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is to protecting Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In March the Sierra Club endorsed Clements and yesterday, so did independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Blue America endorsed Paul last year, in part because of his determination to stick up for working families, for equality and for sustainable, healthy environmental policies-- i.e., the polar opposite of the Koch agenda. And, unlike Nick Rahall, when Paul gets bombarded with negative ads paid for by the billionaire Kochs, he will have earned them!

This afternoon, he told us that "The Koch brothers illustrate clearly how unregulated big money has corrupted our politics and undermined our democracy. Billionaires spending fractions of their net worth to tip the scale in our democratic process goes directly against the inclusive democracy that generations have worked to create. We already have billionaires paying lower tax rates than their secretaries. If we want government of the people, by the people and for the people we need to keep standing up to the big money that is corrupting our politics and push bold solutions for working families-- as I promise to do if elected to Congress."

If you'd like to help Paul Clements replace Fred Upton in Michigan, and thwart the toxic Koch agenda, please consider a contribution to his grassroots campaign here at the Blue America ActBlue page. There are no contributions that are too small when we're fighting for our country.

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Oklahoma City Voters Don't Need Another Democrat Too Scared Of Republicans To Stand Up For Working Families


As you already know, Blue America has endorsed Tom Guild for the Oklahoma City congressional seat James Lankford has abandoned to run for the U.S. Senate. His an unabashedly progressive leader who isn't compromising principles and values to win his a House seat. He's running for a House seat to promote those values and principles.

His main opponent, state Senator Al McAffrey, who jumped in when Lankford said he wouldn't run for reelection, wants to be the Democratic nominee as the next setp in his career trajectory. But what's his position on the issues important to Oklahoma Democrats? No one knows on most issues, because he appears to be trying to slip by on his charm and good looks and by repeating broad platitudes such as he is the “best candidate”…

We know that McAffrey doesn’t support raising the minimum wage to $10.10, despite the overwhelming support for raising the wage from Oklahomans and Americans nationwide. When the Republican-inspired legislation to "outlaw" any Oklahoma municipality from voting to have a higher minimum wage than the national wage, McAffrey went AWOL and refused to cast a vote one way or the other.

To make matters worse, a well know local activist gave McAffrey an opportunity to sign the petition to raise the wage to $10.10 in Oklahoma City by a vote of the people, and he refused to sign and said, "I can’t do that."

Like we've been saying since last year, Tom Guild is the progressive alternative-- who stands for something. Although Guild can’t sign the petition, because he lives in Edmond, he is circulating the petition, along with his campaign staff and volunteers. "Millions of American families," he told us on the phone today, "would move out of poverty and be able to pay their bills with a hike in the minimum wage. It is hard to estimate what this newfound independence would mean for those families and particularly the minor children in those families. No one should work full-time in America just to remain at or below the poverty line. Raising the wage is simply rational public policy and the right thing to do."

Guild also took part in the national petition drive spearheaded by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to raise the wage nationally. Guild’s campaign, along with the PCCC gathered more than 60,000 signatures nationwide. Guild notified the press, and presented the hundreds of signatures gathered locally to Congressman James Lankford’s office, urging Lankford to vote to raise the wage in Congress.

People shouldn’t be handed a congressional nomination on a wing and a prayer. We’ve seen that movie before. Democratic nominees should represent working Americans, not the self-appointed elitist political class. Democrats should stand for something and make their views known. Despite his best efforts, McAffrey wasn’t able to hide his sketchy views on the minimum wage. He should be soundly rejected in favor of progressive Democrat Tom Guild in the June 24 Democratic Party primary in Oklahoma.

The difference between McAffrey and Guild is that Guild says stuff like this and McAffrey is as likely to say it-- or act on it-- as any of the Republicans looking to replace Lankford:
Expanding Social Security by implementing the plan put forward by Oklahoma native Senator Elizabeth Warren would give peace of mind and a semblance of economic security to tens of millions of American seniors. Her plan to provide an additional supplement to the income of Americans when they reached the age of 75 and again at the age of 85 would help account for the additional cost of living seniors have in providing for added medical needs. Her plan would also make the program completely self-sustaining for additional decades. Expanding benefits will make a great program even better.
You want to help a Democrat coming from there get into Congress… from Oklahoma? You can contribute to Tom Guild's campaign here.

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Whole Lotta Hypocrisy On Immigration Reform-- On Both Sides Of The Aisle


Early yesterday, President Obama addressed the House Republicans obstruction of the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill. "Both sides," he pointed out, "worked together to pass that bill with a strong bipartisan vote. The Senate’s commonsense agreement would grow the economy by $1.4 trillion and shrink the deficit by nearly $850 billion over the next two decades, while providing a tough but fair pathway to earned citizenship to bring 11 million undocumented individuals out of the shadows, modernizing our legal immigration system, continuing to strengthen border security, and holding employers accountable. Simply put, it would boost our economy, strengthen our security, and live up to our most closely-held values as a society. Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform. Instead of advancing commonsense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from 'Dreamers.' The majority of Americans are ahead of House Republicans on this crucial issue and there is broad support for reform, including among Democrats and Republicans, labor and business, and faith and law enforcement leaders. We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote."

All Democratic House Members-- except 9 of the most repulsive Blue Dog racists and bigots from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (like John Barrow, Jim Matheson and Dan Lipinski)-- have signed the discharge petition that would force Boehner and Cantor to allow an open up or down vote on the Senate legislation. There are enough Republicans in the House who back the bill for it to pass but Boehner and Cantor are too scared of their dominant Confederate wing ad crazed teabaggers to allow the vote. And none of the GOP immigration reform "supporters" have the cajones to sign the discharge petition. Not one-- not even the ones in very heavily Latino districts, like Ileana Ros-Lehinen (R-FL), whose district is 75% Latino, Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), whose district is 70.7% Latino, David Valadao (R-CA), whose district is 65.8% Latino, Steve Pearce (R-NM), whose district is 46.9% Latino, Blake Farenthold (R-TX), whose district is 45.1% Latino, or Gary Miller (R-CA), whose district is 44% Latino. In fact, Gary Miller, a blatant and overt racist, is retiring rather than bend on immigration reform.

The DCCC is trying to pressure this GOP racists and bigots with a half-assed publicity stunt-- and without calling out their own 9 racists. Many of the 30 targets for an ineffectual, almost silly, campaign they're "mounting" are almost random and make next to no sense on any level. They certainly left Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy off, as well as Farenthold, who could actually be defeated in November with a real campaign along these lines. On the other hand, several Republicans the DCCC has been giving cover to all cycle-- Darrell Issa, Paul Ryan, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Peter King and Sean Duffy, for example-- are included. Here's the full list:
Justin Amash (R-MI)
Mark Amodei (R-NV)
Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
John Carter (R-TX)
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Mike Coffman (R-CO)
Jeff Denham (R-CA)
• Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Sean Duffy (R-WI)
Renee Ellmers (R-NC)
Tim Griffin (R-AR)
Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (R-Gambino)
Joe Heck (R-NV)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Mike Kelly (R-PA)
Raúl Labrador (R-ID)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Peter King (R-NY)
Vance McAllister (R-Duck Dynasty)
Devin Nunes (R-CA)
Steve Pearce (R-NM)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Aaron Schock (R-IL)
Chris Stewart (R-UT)
David Valadao (R-CA)
Greg Walden (R-OR)
Daniel Webster (R-FL)
Don Young (R-AK)

Of the 30 members targeted, eight told CQ Roll Call they back the principles: Amodei, Denham, Diaz-Balart, Ellmers, Heck, King, Ryan and Valadao. Pearce, who is also targeted, told us he could possibly support them; Griffin told us he doesn’t support the principles; Labrador told us it wasn’t the right time; Schock and Young said they were undecided; Carter, Nunes and Ros-Lehtinen declined to comment; and the other 14-- Amash, Bachus, Chaffetz, Coffman, Duffy, Grimm, Issa, Johnson, Kelly, Lankford, McAllister, Stewart, Walden and Webster-- did not respond to our repeated attempts to get an answer.
This is how a Republican legislator at a private GOP conclave described fake "moderate" Susana Martinez, New Mexico's governor who models her deceitful political career on Susan Collins' deceitful political career: "Nastiness, misinformation, innuendo, and flat-out lies have created a toxic political environment."
On Teachers & Hiding Her True Positions During the Campaign

Martinez told campaign staffers she would hide her opinions on teachers during the campaign, but she didn’t like teachers who “already don’t work” referring to summer school breaks.

She then laughs with her chief campaign strategist, Jay McCleskey, about ways to avoid accusations that she hid her true anti-teacher feelings during the campaign

On Democrats as "Little Bitches" and "Little Retards"

Susana Martinez laughs and plays along as an aide calls Ben Lujan (former Speaker of the House and father of NM Congressman Ben Ray Lujan) is a "little retard"

Martinez slams her former Democratic opponent as "that little bitch."

Reminder:  Governor Martinez has actively promoted her own advocacy for her developmentally disabled sister in campaign ads, media pieces and slickly-produced profiles of her. “Retard” as a descriptor of people like her sister has long since been considered inappropriate.

Belittling Hispanic Business Group and Women’s Job Program

Belitting Hispano Chamber of Commerce and Commission Helping Women Learn Job Skills and Equal Pay

Martinez dismisses the role of the “Hispano Chamber of Culture, or I don’t know what the hell it was” and Commission on the Status of Women which helps women learn job skills and advocates for policies including women in the workplace.

She laughs and agrees when her campaign manager, Jay McCleskey, makes a sexist comment suggesting one of their male campaign staffers wants to run that commission to “study more women.”

She's got a good name for political office in New Mexico though.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What A Grassroots Progressive Blueprint For America Sounds Like Far, Far From The Beltway-- OH-06


We've written a few posts here and there about Steve Israel's worst recruit of the 2014 cycle, Jennifer Garrison, an anti-Choice, anti-environment, homophobic fanatic who has been embraced by the DC Blue Dogs and by others from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. We haven't done as much about Garrison's progressive primary opponent, Greg Howard, mostly because he is relatively new to the field of battle. Progressives in eastern and southern Ohio didn't mobilize to find a real Democrat until early in 2014, long after Garrison assumed she had wrapped up the nomination (having chased state Senator Lou Gentile out of the race).

This morning, Gallia County's Gallipolis Daily Tribune published a report by Michael Johnson on Greg's campaign blueprint. ALthough Greg only draws distinctions between himself and Republican Incumbent Bill Johnson, almost all of those distinctions allies equally well to Jennifer Garrison. Her vision of governance has far more in common with Johnson and the GOP's than with Howard's and the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party's.
Greg Howard has several points for what he calls a “blueprint for a Democratic and economically sound society.”

...The first item on his blueprint calls for no cuts to Medicare or Social Security.

“People need to know the things I took for granted,” he said. “Medicare and Social Security are not entitlements. We pay for them and they shouldn’t be messing with them.”

Howard also believes in job creation and plans to call for the end to the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I’ve looked at (NAFTA) pretty hard,” he said. “It promised 600,000 to 800,000 jobs and we’ve lost 1 million. Mexico hates it, too. They were in the streets not too long ago protesting it. It only benefits a few guys on Wall Street. As far as I’m concerned, (NAFTA) needs to go away.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership should not even get started,” Howard added. “We need to review all these trade laws and start creating legislation for the American people.”

Howard said monetary reform is in need to build infrastructure in the U.S.

“High-speed broadband is a necessity, not a luxury,” he said. “Companies won’t come here if there is no access to it. The fast Internet-- the gigabit system, does not exist in District 6 or anywhere in Ohio.”

Howard also said many highways and bridges are needed.

“Many of our state, county and township bridges have been de-rated,” he said. “This limits growth at the grass roots level. We need a program to bring them up to highway standard.”

Howard also believes money should stay away from politics.

“Government is not broken, it is ‘fixed,’” he said. “It is working just as Big Money intends. The Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. FEC, of 2010, has allowed corporations to flood the political scene with money. This drowns out the voices of individuals and effectively silences them. No longer is it ‘one person, one vote.’”

Other points on Howard’s blueprint include employment, energy, agriculture and education.

“Congress has worked diligently at keeping unemployment high,” he said. “High unemployment equates to high corporate profits.”
Crystal clear… and if you'd like to help make sure Greg Howard is the Democratic nominee in Ohio's 6th district-- and voters there have an actual choice rather than being forced to pick between two conservatives-- you can contribute to one of the most grassroots-oriented campaigns anywhere in the country… right here.

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What happened that day . . .


by Ken

The first thing I remember hearing as I regained consciousness was somebody asking somebody else if the somebody else had heard about what happened in Boston. What with my still-woozy state and the time it took to be moved to someplace where I had even minimal media accesst, it must have taken me awhile to piece together what-happened-in-Boston that day, a year ago yesterday, but in the days that followed I had an inoridnate amount of face time with the talking TV, so along with everyone else I was able to glean the occasional bits of news out of the 95 percent that could most fairly be described as news gibberish.

When my doctor's surgical coordinator had first proposed April 15 as a date for my knee-replacement surgery, I divined the hand of destiny: Apart from maybe January 1 or July 4, what easier date could there be to remember, then and forever? Of course I had no idea that "my" April 15 would be permanently linked with such an explosive public story.

I didn't have much time to reflect on that anniversary Monday or yesterday because I was in the grip of an even more than usually terror-ridden face-off with the "real" April 15. Thanks in good part to my surgical adventure and the related medical leave, I had what was for me an unusual and confusing tax year, the consequences of which were shrouded in mystery until I got up the courage to plug all the data into the tax software. Even I wasn't ridiculous enough to leave that whole process till April 15, but April 14 didn't give me all that large a head start.

As usual I was both surprised and relieved to survive the ordeal. What's more, in these days of electronic filing, it no longer even involves a countdown-to-midnight schlepp to NYC's General Post Office on Eighth Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets. (In the olden days of GPO-schlepping, there were years when the countdown cut it close indeed to the midnight witching hour. The worst part was having the TV on during the counting-down hours with live shots of the tax laggards who had only just made their way to the GPO -- still ahead of me.)

This morning there was still no time to reflect on the "other" anniversary, as I had to wend my way to my appointment for the one-year follow-up appointment with my doctor, or rather to the radiology floor an hour ahead of my appointment to have new X-rays taken first. Eventually I was sent off instructions to return for new X-rays in five years. Or when the other knee, in none too good shape, cries out for more intimate attention.

The one thing about the surgery which I was infinitely grateful for was that I have no awareness of anything, not even the passage of time, from the moment I was put under till the moment I regained some level of awareness -- and heard that question about what happened in Boston.

A year later I'd love to be able to say I have some thoughts worth sharing about what happened in Boston, or even a thought. But I don't.

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Despite Beltway Pundits, Matt Miller Will Never WIn A Congressional Seat


Henry Waxman's district, CA-33, is solidly blue. The PVI is D+11 and, with only a tiny African-America population (3.3%) Obama beat McCain 64-34% and beat Romney 61-37% 4 years later. With Waxman retiring, there are, at last count-- James Graf having just pulled out-- 9 Democrats running. With Republican turnout always better than Democratic turnout to begin with and the 9 Democrats splitting the DEmocratic vote up among themselves, it looks like one of the slots in the June 3 primary may well go to one of the GOP crackpots running, Elan Carr. And that's without even factoring in independent progressive Marianne Williamson (as the Democrats all wish they could).

This week, the L.A. Times reported on a rare candidate forum showcasing just the Democratic Party candidates. In other words, the charismatic Williamson was not invited to participate. The forum was held Sunday by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club and included only 4 candidates who had managed to raise serious money: state Senator Ted Lieu, a progressive who is also the official California Democratic Party nominee; Wendy Greuel, a Big Business-friendly careerist and ex-Republican; Matt Miller, "center" on KCRW's Left, Right and Center, who would surely win if just Beltway types were allowed to vote; and some guy from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, David Kanuth, who raised $800,000 from wealthy friends and family but has less name recognition in the district than John Amato's cat "Sammy."
Not surprisingly, the four candidates displayed similar views on most issues: Protect the environment, improve public education, boost the minimum wage and take other steps to ease the income diversity between the rich and the poor.

All said they would like to see the Affordable Health Care Act improved upon by extending Medicare to all Americans and not remain limited to those over 65. Miller also called for finding ways to cut medical costs so healthcare dollars can be spent more efficiently. Savings also could be funneled to other needs, such as education, he said.
Coming from a radio background, Miller immediately went on the attack, calling other candidates names and eliciting boos from the audience-- he lives in the posh Pacific Palisades neighborhood so these were his neighbors-- when he started on his regular shtick of defending the Surveillance State-- this time the bulk collection of personal information by the NSA, something that immediately marks a major difference between Miller and Ted Lieu, who wrote SB 828, to protect Californians from the kind of warrantless searches and seizures Miller advocates-- and are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

When it came time for the club to vote, predictably, Lieu won handily, even though Pacific Palisades is one of the few areas in the congressional district not part of Lieu's senatorial district.

A deep dive into today's campaign finance reports for CD-33 yields some interesting themes. First, it shows Wendy Greuel does not appear to have learned from her failed mayor's race loss where she had a high burn rate and spent much of her money on a top-heavy, consultant-driven, high overhead operation. Although she raised $672k, under the direction of Robbie Mook wanna-be Michael Trujillo, she already spent nearly $175k in less than two months for a cash on hand of only $493k. Greuel paid him $20,000 in the last 2 months and what does she have to show for it? She lost the Democratic Party endorsement by a gargantuan landslide-- as well as losing SEIU, ILWU, CTA, Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, etc.

In contrast, Senator Ted Lieu, who has always run efficient campaigns, raised over $621k with nearly $580k cash on hand. Second, once a high burn rate starts, it is very hard to stop because staff and consultant salaries are already locked in. That means for the rest of this campaign, Greuel will have significantly less resources than Lieu to spend on the only thing that really matters in an election: effective voter contact.

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Rand Paul, The GOP Nominee? Over Dick Cheney's Dead Body


Two wings, one grand old party

Bret Stephens is a deputy editor of the radical right editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Before that he was the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. No telling when his bigotry made him one of America's most vile smear artists. Is column Monday was well-written, a well-written diatribe against poor Rand Paul, who the Cheney wing of the Republican Party, Stephens' wing, fear could somehow win the next-to-worthless Republican nomination against Hillary. He comes right out, dripping with sarcasm, to warn that nominating Paul will give the Republicans just what they "need", a humbling landslide defeat. That's probably true of any Republican and after the insanity Americans are going to witness with increased GOP power in the legislative branch through 2015 and 2016, the Republican thrashing in 2016 will certainly be on a par with Goldwater's. Remember, this is how Republicans talk to each other:
Republicans, let's get it over with. Fast forward to the finish line. Avoid the long and winding primary road. It can only weaken the nominee. And we know who he-- yes, he-- has to be.

Not Jeb Bush, who plainly is unsuited to be president. He is insufficiently hostile to Mexicans. He holds heretical views on the Common Core, which, as we well know, is the defining issue of our time. And he's a Bush. Another installment of a political dynasty just isn't going to fly with the American people, who want some fresh blood in their politics.

Unless the dynasty is named Clinton. Or Kennedy. Or Nunn. Or Carter. Or, come to think of it, Paul. In that case, dynasties are just fine, thank you.

Chris Christie is also unfit to be president. His aides caused a traffic jam in the service of a petty political vendetta. The New Jersey governor may not have known about it, but it doesn't matter because the mere taint of scandal makes him unfit to be the Republican nominee, much less the president.

…[W]hat we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.

This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes. The man who, as of this writing, has three years worth of experience in elected office. Barack Obama had more political experience when he ran for president. That's worked out well.

Mr. Paul was in New Hampshire last weekend, speaking to conservative activists at the Freedom Summit, emphasizing the need for Republicans to do a better job of reaching out to Hispanics and African-Americans.

It's a fine message. Or rather, it would be a fine message if it weren't for Mr. Paul's long political association with Jack Hunter, aka the "Southern Avenger," a former radio shock jock who co-wrote Mr. Paul's 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington. On April 14, 2004-- the 139th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination-- Mr. Hunter wrote a column titled "John Wilkes Booth Was Right." He also lamented that "whites are not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity" as blacks and Hispanics.

Mr. Hunter remained a member of Mr. Paul's staff until last July, when the Washington Free Beacon broke the story. Afterward, Mr. Hunter recanted his views and pleaded amnesia. As for Mr. Paul, he defended his former aide, saying he had merely been "stupid," that he had been "unfairly treated by the media," and that "he got along fine with everybody in the office, treated everyone fairly, regardless of race or religion."

So can we now, um, switch the subject?

Yes, we can. Let's move on to a YouTube video of Mr. Paul in April 2009, offering his insights to a college group on foreign policy. Channeling Dwight Eisenhower, the future senator warned "we need to be so fearful of companies that get so big that they can actually be directing policy."

"When the Iraq war started, Halliburton got a billion-dollar no-bid contract. Some of the stuff has been so shoddy and so sloppy that our soldiers are over there dying in the shower from electrocution."

Then he gets to his real point: Dick Cheney, who opposed driving all the way to Baghdad when he was defense secretary in the first Bush administration, later went to work for Halliburton. "Makes hundreds of millions of dollars, their CEO. Next thing you know, he's back in government and it's a good thing to go into Iraq."

Mr. Paul's conclusion: "9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq."

Cui bono-- to whose benefit? It's the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

If Mr. Paul wants to accuse the former vice president of engineering a war in Iraq so he could shovel some profits over to his past employer, he should come out and say so explicitly. Ideally at the next Heritage Action powwow. Let's not mince words. This man wants to be the Republican nominee for president.

And so he should be. Because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat. When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.
This is all so much hot air. This gigantic landslide against the GOP is going to belong to Ted Cruz, not Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Huckabee or Rand Paul.

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