Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Democrats Overcome GOP Opposition To Medical Marijuana In Veterans Hospitals


The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll dug into how independent voters view the two parties. It's just a snapshot in time but 23% of independent voters saw the Democratic Party positively and 37% saw them negatively. Pretty horrible. But it was far worse for the Republicans. Only 8% of independent voters have a positive view of the GOP, while a staggering 52% see the Republicans negatively. Knee-jerk, systemic Republican congressional obstructionism helps explain the numbers.

Voters see the inability of the Republicans to deal with even things as basic as voting on a Supreme Court vacancy or protecting the citizenry from the spread of the Zika virus in a very negative way. If Americans-- or even just independents-- voted on those feelings, there would be just a small handful of Republicans left in Congress.

It isn't even just on the big matters of state where the GOP seems deranged and filled with destructive hatred. They can be counted on to be wrong on almost everything. When I was a teenager I used to smoke pot. It's what teenagers were doing in the 1960s. By the 70s, I had stopped completely. I had zero interest in marijuana for 4 decades until I started feeling the effects of chemotherapy. I still didn't want to use marijuana... until I was persuaded it would help me to survive; and it did. That was over a year ago. I have plenty of the stuff left but now that I'm well, I have no use for it and no interest in it. It saved my life though, so... I respect it. It's lucky for me that I live in California, where medical marijuana is legal.

Last Thursday, Congress moved towards making medical marijuana legal everywhere. The House voted 233-189 by an amendment by Oregon's Earl Blumenauer to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act that will "prohibit use of funds to implement, administer, or enforce any Veterans Health Administration Directive relating to the prohibition on VA providers from completing forms seeking recommendations on opinions regarding a veteran's participation in a state marijuana program." It was widely seen among Members of Congress for what it is: a step towards medical marijuana legalization.

Only 5 Democrats, led by reactionary anti-pot psychopaths Dan Lipinksi (IL) and Henry Cuellar (TX)-- 2 Blue Dog throw-backs-- opposed it. Even anti-marijuana crusader Debbie Wasserman Schultz voted yes! And so did 57 Republicans! Of course-- and this helps explain why independents have such negative feelings about the Republican Party-- 184 Republicans voted NO! The Senate passed a companion amendment with several senators from both parties noting that it would help veterans avoid using dangerous and addictive opiates. Tuesday, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, who has been a major advocate for legalization in Congress, told marijuana activists he has been using a marijuana-rub to relieve the pain of arthritis.

Among the Republicans voting against the amendment was the ridiculously placed chairman of the House Science Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas-- Austin no less!-- who's living (and legislating) in a different era. No medical marijuana relief for veterans living in Austin, San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos or the Texas Hill country! This morning we contacted a military veteran and winner of the TX-21 Democratic congressional primary, Tom Wakely, who had a very different perspective than Lamar Smith's. "It seems par for the course that Congressman Smith, who refused to provide a hearing on Ron Paul and Barney Frank's resolution to end the federal prohibition of marijuana, would try to make it more difficult for veterans to get access to legal medication in their home state. The constituents of our district favor medical marijuana. San Antonio is a military town and I can guarantee the veterans of this district are just as confused as I am on why Republicans seemingly favor our 10th Amendment except in the case of a proven, harmless drug. I stand with the majority of House Democrats and the few Republicans who recognized this was a common sense vote. Personally, I'd like us to go further and put an end to the federal prohibition of marijuana, allowing the drug be turned over to the states for regulation. By definition that's supposed to be the conservative viewpoint. Then again, it's becoming harder and harder to define the platform of the modern Republican party."

Mario Diaz Balart joined the reactionary Republicans voting against the amendment, the only South Florida congressman to do so. Every Florida Democrat plus Florida Republicans Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Tom Rooney voted in favor of the amendment but, for some reason, Diaz-Balart decided that veterans in Miami-Dade, Collier and Hendry counties, whose doctors want to prescribe marijuana for pain, sleep or to help with appetite will just have to do without. This morning we contacted the progressive Democratic physician running for the seat Diaz-Balart is sitting in, Alina Valdes, who has a very different perspective than Diaz-Balart, one based on science and humanity. "I have been practicing medicine for over 30 years," she told us, "and that time has been spent in physician shortage areas where people feel disenfranchised because they do not have the resources to make their voices heard especially after the Citizen's United and Corporate Personhood decisions. Many have given up on the political system which does not care about them and their needs. This vote on the use of marijuana to relieve pain and suffering is wrong as many studies have shown the benefits to neurological and musculoskeletal conditions, which many of our vets suffer. To insist that they use traditional opioid BigPharma medications to relieve their symptoms is causing further suffering. Many patients have expressed the desire to be pain free without needing to feel like a zombie while also risking an unintended overdose due to tolerance that is known to develop with these narcotic medications. Many of them use street marijuana and risk arrest and imprisonment because it helps them feel both physically and therefore mentally better.  This is a natural weed with medicinal benefits and is available to many living in states that allow physicians to write these prescriptions. As a general internist, I took an oath to serve, heal, and relieve pain and suffering in so doing. I would personally have no problems prescribing medical marijuana under the appropriate circumstances. To continue to classify marijuana as a class I controlled substance in the same category as heroin and peyote makes no rational sense. It just feeds the inhumane thinking of profits over people in both the pharmaceutical and private prison industries. Our vets especially deserve better than this and it is time for Congress to educate themselves rather than allow their votes to be swayed by big corporate interests funding their re-election campaigns."

And then there was backward Republican multimillionaire and Chris Christie's puppet-congressman Tom MacArthur. He voted against the amendment too, even though every New Jersey Democrat plus New Jersey Republicans Frank LoBiondo and Scott Garrett voted to give the vets a break. MacArthur thinks he has the right to override physicians who want veterans in Burlington and Ocean coutnies to have the opportunity to use medical marijuana if it will help their conditions. This morning we contacted the progressive Democrat running against MacArthur, Jim Keady. "This issue shows a clear difference between myself and my GOP opponent. I believe that we need to make marijuana legal for both medicinal and recreational use at the federal level. We then can regulate it, tax it and use the revenues for tax relief or for a range of social programs," said Keady. "Specific to our Veterans, I was just listening to two Vets who were at my family's tavern the other night; both of them wanted to be able to use marijuana to deal with PTSD. They should be able to do this, legally, anywhere in the United States."

Isn't it time to retire these Republican wastes and replace them with more forward-thinking progressives? Please consider contributing to the grassroots congressional campaigns of Tom Wakely, Alina Valdes and Jim Keady, progressive Democrats in Texas, Florida and New Jersey.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

That Lindsey Graham Magic


Lindsey Graham has always had a tart tongue and he was one of the first of the Deep Bench Republican losers who hissed back at Trump (before dropping out of the race with approximately zero percent support... give or take. He must have been traumatized to see Trump win all 50 South Carolina delegates-- with 32.5%, 10 points higher than second-place finisher Marco Rubio. Trump won every congressional district in the state and every county except Charleston and Richalnd-- and they were both pretty close. Earlier Lindsey got fewer voters than Jim Gilmore's 12 votes in Iowa and just 70 votes in New Hampshire to Trump's 100,406. (Yes, Jim Gilmore beat Lindsey in New Hampshire too-- with 133 votes.)

Back in early March Lindsey was on CNN, saying the GOP should have expelled Trump from the day he came down the escalator to call Latino immigrants "rapists." Lindsey to Wolf Blitzer: "He took our problems in 2012 with Hispanics and made them far worse by espousing forced deportation,” Graham said. “Looking back, we should have basically kicked him out of the party... The more you know about Donald Trump, the less likely you are to vote for him. The more you know about his business enterprises, the less successful he looks. The more you know about his political giving, the less Republican he looks. We should have done this months ago."

Instead they gave him the party and, as you've probably heard, Lindsey has hopped on board the Trump train. Gone are the days of him telling audiences that "This is not about who we nominate anymore as Republicans as much as it’s who we are. This is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. What is conservatism? If it’s Donald Trump carrying the conservative banner I think not only do we lose the election, but we’ll be unable in the future to grow the conservative cause." Poor dear. By mid-May he was changing his tune, giving Trump suggestions to try to act less insane because if he's going to beat Hillary he'd have to remember that "crazy loses to crooked." (Never mind that he's well aware businessman Trump is a fraud and a cheat whose picture belongs in a dictionary next to the definition of the world "crooked.") And then a few days ago, he was back on CNN saying Trump has a 50/50 chance to win and that he's warming up to him. Ah, yes, the evil of two lessers now haunts American politics.

And now, ole Lindsey is campaigning for Trump among rich Republicans in Florida. No more of that "unfit for office" stuff and no more hissing about he wouldn't vote for Trump or Hillary. Today, after Trump petted him on the head with a phone call about Middle East policy, Graham is wagging his tail and-- at the very least-- it's now all about... the lesser of two evils.

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Bernie's Never Taken Any Bribe Money From Trump-- But Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid And Hillary Clinton Sure Have


Who was Trump talking about when he talked openly about bribing politicians? The two most corrupt Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid, have always gotten Trump to write sizable checks to the DSCC-- $60,000 in 1998, $25,000 in 2002, $25,000 in 2004, $30,000 in 2008... What happened in 2006? Rahm Emanuel got him to give $20,000 to the DCCC-- and then-- literally, another $15,000 on the same day (June 19, 2006). And he gave the Schumer and Reid $7,500 for the DSCC 3 months later, up from the $5,000 checks he had given them in 2000 and 2005. Some of the corrupt Democrats, widely known for being open to selling both access and their votes for big checks, he gave campaign cash to:
Charlie Rangel's PACs- $24,550
Hillary Clinton- $11,800
Charles "Little Chucky Schmucky" Schumer- $9,900
Harry "Dirty Harry" Reid- $9,400
Kirsten Gillibrand- $6,350
Anthony Weiner- $4,300
Robert Menendez- $2,000
Honorable mention goes to South Jersey crook, Donald Norcross, who gets his thousands of dollars (about $10,000 so far) in Trump payoffs laundered through Ivanaka. In fact Ivanka wrote Norcross 3 checks for $2,600 each on June 3, 2014, which is over the campaign finance limit. Of course, Trump has sunk far more into the GOP cesspool and given much more money to their organizations and to a plethora of corrupt right-wing politicians who have helped his shady business interests over the years, especially Giuliani, Miss McConnell, John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, Peter King, Dean Heller, Charlie Crist, and John McCain.

Maybe the Department of Justice should look into the bribery he's admitted to on national TV and see which politicians need to be put on trial. I'd start with Donald Norcross and his brother George.

Defining political corruption in New Jersey politics-- 2 Donalds

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Alienating Voters... A Rigged System


The big headline over the weekend is how all these polls came out showing that the electorate is pretty surly and taking it out on Trump and Clinton, both of whom they dislike. More and more Americans are becoming familiar with the term "lesser of two evils." The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, for example, shows them as the "two most unpopular presidential nominees in history."
Thirty four percent of registered voters have a positive opinion of Clinton, versus 54 percent who have a negative opinion (-20)-- a slight uptick from her minus-24 score last month.

Trump's rating is even worse than Clinton's: Twenty nine percent have a positive opinion of him, while 58 percent have a negative opinion (-29)-- an improvement from his minus-41 score in April.
Democrats may be cheering because voters seem to shudder at the thought of voting for her slightly less than they shudder at the thought of voting for Trump-- TRUMP!-- but why take the chance when there's a far better candidate, who would make a much better president and who the November electorate actually likes? Look at these two head-to-head match-ups:

On Meet the Press Sunday, Hillary made the false claim that Bernie isn't really better liked than she (and her pal Trump) are; he just hasn't had negative campaign ads directed at him. That isn't just self-serving on her part, it is-- like so much of what she says-- which is why she's so hated by the voters, twisted and false. PolitiFact looked at the latest Clinton lie about Bernie:
When Chuck Todd pointed out that Sanders fares better than Clinton in head-to-head matchups against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, Clinton suggested Sanders hasn’t been vetted as thoroughly as she’s been.

"Let me say that I don't think he's had a single negative ad ever run against him. And that's fine. But we know what we're going into, and we understand what it's going to take to win in the fall," she said. "And finally, I would say that, you know, polls this far out mean nothing."

Clinton has a point that compared with her, Sanders hasn’t really felt the burn of negative ad blitzes from Republican groups. But her claim that he hasn’t had "a single ad ever run against him" is an exaggeration.

Many of the attacks we found on Sanders in the Political TV Ad Archive actually come from other Democrats, including by Clinton supporters.

Generation Forward, a pro-Martin O’Malley super PAC, went after Sanders while O’Malley was still in the race. In an attack ad, the group highlighted Sanders’ and Clinton’s Saturday Night Live portrayals and less-than-serious moments on the campaign trail (i.e. dancing). It ended with O’Malley saying a presidency shouldn’t be about entertainment.

Another ad attacked Sanders for his record on guns: "Bernie Sanders voted against the Brady Bill-- background checks and waiting periods... Bernie Sanders is no progressive when it comes to guns."

...Though Sanders hasn’t been hit nearly as hard as Clinton, he has been attacked by the right a few times. Future 45, a conservative Super PAC funded by backers of Marco Rubio, ran a 30-second spot sounding the alarms on higher taxes to come under Sanders.

Sanders is also featured in Republican-on-Republican attack ads as an unfavorable comparison.

For example, the anti-Trump Club for Growth has highlighted similarities between Trump’s positions and Sanders’ (as well as Clinton’s and Obama’s). Similarly, American Future Fund, a conservative 501(c)(4) or "dark money" group, ran an attack ad against Ted Cruz by lumping him in with Sanders and other Democrats on national security issues.

Mike Huckabee’s campaign, meanwhile, warned voters about "a crazy old man named Bernie" in a rhyming Christmas-themed ad and crooned "Hello from the caucus night. If Bernie wins, I’m going to die" in an Adele-inspired attack.

We should also note 2016 is not the 74-year-old’s first time around the block. He has, after all, competed in political races since the 1970s.

Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs pointed to "blistering negative ads in his first Senate campaign." In 2006, Sanders’ Republican opponent Richard Tarrant spent millions on ads accusing Sanders of wanting to protect child molesters and voting against single-working mothers. They didn’t end up doing much for Tarrant, who lost to Sanders by 33 percentage points.

Our ruling

Clinton said, "Let me say that I don't think (Sanders has) had a single negative ad ever run against him."

The number of attack ads against Sanders pales in comparison to the number against Clinton, but she’s wrong that he’s been completely spared.

Democratic groups, including one supporting Clinton, and Republican outfits alike have gone after Sanders.

We rate her claim False.

Voting for Hillary Clinton in the primary is like buying a ticket on the Titanic, while already knowing it's outcome! Now, have you figured out why I started this post with that wonderful John Oliver video? Help save America from Trumpism here. Please.

Hillary Clinton: "Let me say that I don't think (Bernie Sanders has) had a single negative ad ever run against him."
Meet the Press – Sunday, May 22, 2016

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A Desperate And Drowning Wasserman Schultz Tries To Politicize The Iran Deal


One of the Wasserman Schultz's top henchmen, Steve Paikowsky, has organized a groups of people to creep around whispering to the growing number of Wasserman Schultz detractors that Tim Canova isa threat to Israel and that his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal proves it. I guess he hopes that no one remembers that Israel also opposed that treaty and that plenty of sincere progressives-- Ted Lieu is a perfect example-- were also very skeptical. Wassermann Schultz voted for it and Canova was very critical of the deal.

This morning, I mentioned to Canova that the Paikowsky squad keeps trying to turn people off to his candidacy by harping on his opposition to the Iran treaty, ostensibly from the left. Tim told me that he thought the treaty was "a terrible deal" but "now that it’s been adopted, I support its full implementation. The NY Times magazine published an article a week ago about Ben Rhodes, the White House communications person on the Iran deal, boasting about constructing a "false narrative" about how the moderates were really in charge in Iran, even though the administration knew the hard-liners were still calling the shots. Debbie Wasserman Schultz boasted about having been in on 20 meetings in the White House Situation Room. Was she duped by Ben Rhodes or did Debbie just keep quiet and go along with the false narrative? Many Democrats voted against the deal, including Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings here in South Florida. I opposed the war in Iraq and the regime change actions in Libya and Syria."

Thug life
And he's a firm believer in legitimate Israeli security concerns. "The gravest threat to Israeli and American security," he wrote, "would be nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other authoritarian Middle East countries that promote radical and violent Islamic fundamentalism. The Iran nuclear deal was a flawed agreement in many ways. I am concerned that while Iran is required to decommission many of its centrifuges, they can simply mothball rather than destroy the centrifuges, thereby allowing them to restart a nuclear program for military use in the future. Just weeks after the nuclear deal was finalized, Iran began testing precision-guided ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. These missile tests also occurred after the lifting of sanctions and release of about $100 billion in frozen assets to Iran. A more measured and incremental lifting of sanctions and release of frozen assets would have provided continuing incentives for Iran to comply not just with the nuclear deal but also with its anti-ballistic missile commitments. Instead, the wholesale lifting of sanctions and release of assets may strengthen hard liners in Iran and provide the country with the resources to further aid Hezbollah and Hamas and other terrorist groups. Finally, I have concerns that the deficiencies in the Iran nuclear deal could lead other regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia, to seek nuclear weapons. While I have criticized many problems with the Iran nuclear deal, now that it has been entered into, I support its strict enforcement and implementation. U.S. policy should be to ensure that Iran abides by all of its nuclear and ballistic missile commitments. If there are any mate- rial violations by Iran, the U.S. should snap back to sanctions against Iran. Moving forward from this agreement, the U.S. must do everything in its power to prevent a nuclear arms race in the region, including diplomatic efforts to negotiate a general disarmament for the entire region that includes nuclear, missile, and conventional arms reductions. We should recognize that peace and security for Israel, the U.S., and the rest of the world is no longer possible without general disarmament and fundamental political and social reforms throughout the Middle East. We must work to bring about such reforms as much as possible through non-violent peaceful means using the full range of U.S. economic and diplomatic power."

A lot to think about... and Wasserman Schultz has a plateful of problems of her own, as you've probably noticed over the last few days-- a plateful of problems that are rapidly cascading out of control. Even Fox has started taking note of the fact that Canova is giving her a run for her (lobbyist friends') money. Watch that clip from yesterday on Fox News about her woes. They're going to get a lot worse. Meanwhile, please consider contributing to Canova's campaign to replace her as the Broward/Miami-Dade congressmember from the 23rd district:

Goal Thermometer

UPDATE: Karl Rove Weighs In On The FL-23 Race

American Crossroads explained, rather cynically, why they'd rather see Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep her seat than watch Tim Canova win it. Aside from the reasons in their press statement endorsing her, there's the obvious point that with no chance of a Republican winning in the deep blue district, Rove wants a conservative like Wasserman Schultz who will vote with the GOP against working families. Tim is someone the Republicans fear. Wassermann Schultz is someone they find entertaining.

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When "Good Guys" Do Bad Things


The way they finance their campaigns, Donald Norcross and Patrick Murphy are not just dancing with the devil, they're changing costumes, doing flips and ending the routine with a dip and kiss

We've been writing for almost a year about how the righteous-sounding PAC, End Citizens United is a scam. It was set up and is run by a gaggle of DCCC and DSCC losers to primarily funnel money to their corrupt conservative candidates and campaign finance criminals like Patrick Murphy, Lacy Clay, Ami Bera, Pete Gallego, Monica Vernon, Steny Hoyer, Val Demings, Scott Peters and Lon Johnson. In fact, on Saturday, the Sacramento Bee dug into the campaign finance abuse system Steve Israel thought up that is landing Ami Bera's father in prison and should send Ami Bera, Patrick Murphy, Murphy's parents, Scott Peters and Scott Peters' parents to prison as well. That's specifically the kinds of candidates "End Citizens United" is funding.
Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, whose father is awaiting sentencing on two felony counts of election fraud, for years has engaged in a complex series of campaign donations involving his parents and the families of other congressional candidates, federal records show.

Beginning six years ago, when he unsuccessfully challenged former Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, Bera and his family wrote checks to other Democrats, almost always for the maximum amount allowed under federal law. Those candidates or their families gave similar amounts to Bera, and the contributions often occurred within days of one another.

The practice differs from the reimbursement scheme perpetrated by Babulal “Bob” Bera, 83, in which he repaid donors as a way to direct more money to his son’s campaign committee. Federal officials and Ami Bera maintain the congressman, who has represented a suburban Sacramento County district since defeating Lungren in a 2012 rematch, was unaware of his father’s illegal activities.

The pattern of giving involving other candidates, known as donor swapping, is most often seen among deep-pocketed families. Campaign finance experts said such see-saw contributions generally do not run afoul of federal law, but say they are a way to sidestep individual donation limits and help show fundraising prowess. 
...Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan election reform group, said an argument can be made that coordinated exchanges between candidates’ families evade the law, which prohibits making contributions in the name of another.

Some instances in which Bera’s parents engaged in a pattern of giving with families of other congressional candidates have been reported in the past. Following his father’s guilty plea, the Sacramento Bee reviewed contribution records for four election cycles, finding such a pattern between Bera and his family and at least six other congressional candidates. Nearly $240,000 changed hands. 
Bera’s father, listed in campaign finance records as Babulal, Babulal R., or B.R. Bera, and his wife, Kanta Bera, gave the maximum allowed to their son’s campaigns, and contributed at least $75,000 to candidates whose immediate families gave to Bera.

Candidates can give unlimited amounts to themselves, but donor-swapping makes it appear that they have a larger list of supporters and do not need to rely as much on their own wealth.

...The elder Bera this month admitted to recruiting friends, family and acquaintances to contribute nearly $270,000 to Bera, and then largely reimbursed them with his own money. Prosecutors said as part of the plea bargain the government agreed not to charge Kanta Bera. Ami Bera said he has since given the money to the U.S. Treasury. Babulal Bera faces 10 years in prison, though prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than 2 1/2 years.

...Another series of contributions occurred between Bera and Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Florida.

In 2011, three days after Janine Bera gave $5,000 to the “Friends of Patrick Murphy” committee, Murphy’s father, Thomas P. Murphy, provided $5,000 to “Ami Bera for Congress.” In 2013, the younger Murphy’s mother, Leslie, gave $5,200 to Bera. Babulal and Kanta contributed a total of $10,400 to Murphy two weeks later. Three months later, Janine Bera donated $5,200 to Murphy.

Murphy’s campaign sent $1,000 to Bera in 2014, and Babulal Bera sent $5,000 to Murphy last June.

Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen did not respond to specific questions from The Bee, including whether the families coordinated. Instead, Slayen pointed to a recent Treasure Coast Newspapers story quoting an email from her stating Babulal Bera did not arrange an exchange.

Murphy said he recently donated $10,200 he had received from Babulal Bera to a trio of nonprofits: Common Cause Florida, Big Bend Homeless Coalition and Renewal Coalition.
Another "liberal" PAC playing with Dark Money has gone bad-- the Patriot Majority USA SuperPAC and phony 501 (c)(3), which has always targeted Republicans (usually completely ineffectively, having lost nearly every race it got involved in) but is now targeting progressive Berniecrat Alex Law in order to assist the most right-wing Democrat in New Jersey, corrupt Machine candidate Donald Norcross. Patriot Majority USA just spent $67,486 sending several illegally coordinated mailings on behalf of Norcross in South Jersey, using messaging illegally originated from Norcross' congressional staff. Although this is the first time the group involved itself in a primary, warned about their shady practices in 2013.
A liberal, labor union-backed nonprofit that’s not supposed to be primarily political spent $23.7 million last year in the run-up to national elections-- 46 times what it spent in 2011, a non-election year, according to its new Internal Revenue Service tax return.

And although it describes itself as a grassroots group, a single $6 million donation from an unnamed source made up one-fourth of Patriot Majority USA’s $23 million in 2012 revenue. More than half of its haul, $12 million, came from anonymous donors that gave more than $1 million each, its tax return indicates.

Patriot Majority USA states on its website that it advocates for “comprehensive campaign finance reform that increases transparency and limits the influence of greedy special interests who ... buy elections.”

Unlike super PACs and traditional political campaign committees, nonprofits such as Patriot Majority USA aren’t required to disclose their donors because they supposedly exist to primarily promote the public good and social welfare. But nebulous Internal Revenue Service rules have led these “dark money” groups to proliferate and spend millions of dollars on politics. The agency proposed tightening the rules last week.

For its part, Patriot Majority USA reported spending $9.3 million on politics-- almost 40 percent of its expenses. It reported the political spending was for “expenditures and grants for issue advocacy to educate voters on candidates’ views.” More than half of its $1.4 million in grants went to groups considered politically active such as American Working Families Action Fund and No on 3 Inc. in Florida, a group that opposed a constitutional amendment changing the way state revenue caps are set.

Patriot Majority USA also fields a super PAC-- Patriot Majority PAC-- that spent just a small fraction of what its nonprofit sister group did during 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Patriot Majority USA’s overall expenses are nearly three times that of an arguably better-known liberal nonprofit group Priorities USA, which has ties to President Barack Obama.

And although the group doesn’t disclose its donors, the Huffington Post reported labor unions contributed $2.3 million to Patriot Majority USA last year, based on calculations from Department of Labor filings. The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, a trade association, also gave the group $750,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Patriot Majority USA was formed in 2008 and technically spun off into a separate entity in 2011. When it applied to do that, it told the IRS it didn’t plan to hire employees and would instead rely on a “large base of volunteers” to developing and disseminating the organization’s message.

This hasn’t proven true. The organization reported no volunteers last year and paid its founder and president, Craig Varoga, $144,053 last year for 25 hours of work per week, according to its 2012 tax return. Other expenses reported include $11.6 million on a “media buy,” $2.5 million for direct mail production and $1.5 million on voter registration efforts.

Varoga, who was national field director for Gen. Wesley Clark’s 2004 presidential campaign, did not respond to questions from the Center for Public Integrity.

Varoga instead emailed a statement that his group “has been recognized by the IRS and has a very well defined, multi-year, bipartisan primary purpose, which is to work on economic solutions and encourage job creation throughout the United States.”
The following year, the same author, Michael Beckel, followed up with an article for Slate called The Dark Arts that featured Patriot Majority USA's shady practices and gross hypocrisy. "Liberals," he wrote, "may blame conservatives for the ongoing surge of political 'dark money' dominating the 2014 midterm elections, but Democrats are now taking full advantage of these secretive, free-wielding political behemoths-- while bemoaning their influence. At the forefront is the nonprofit Patriot Majority USA, which is providing Democrats with a countervailing force against the political machine of conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch. This election cycle, Patriot Majority USA has spent more than $7 million on political advertisements, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That makes it the largest Democratic-aligned dark money operation in the country."

And now they've turned their guns on one of the most effective grassroots campaign's in the country, Alex Law's, to assist the most corrupt Machine in the Northeast United State, George Norcross'. (By the way, Norcross, who's is panic-stricken over Law's headway and is sending out coordinated mailings smearing Law, had raised $912,186 to Law's $46,380 as of the March 31 FEC reporting deadline.)
Among the newly identified contributors: the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare ($500,000), the International Longshoremen’s Association PAC ($50,000), the American Health Care Association ($25,000), and the American Association for Justice PAC ($10,000).

Patriot Majority USA’s top known donor is the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, which gave $1.25 million over two years. That health industry trade group-- which last year merged with the American Health Care Association-- was first identified as a contributor to Patriot Majority USA by the Center for Responsive Politics. Greg Crist, a spokesman for the American Health Care Association, declined to comment, saying, “As a general practice, we don’t comment on our political giving strategies.”

Patriot Majority USA has also collected seven-figure sums from at least two labor unions: $1.14 million from the Service Employees International Union, including $280,000 from the SEIU’s state council in Pennsylvania, and $1 million from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
I wonder if the union members know their dues are going to fund an arch conservative and to try to bury a progressive reformer. If you'd like to contribute to Law's grassroots campaign, you can get to it by tapping the thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Austrian Voters Narrowly Decide Not To Revisit Their Country's Nazi Past By Electing Their Version Of Trump


DWT readers weren't taken by surprise by the near win this weekend-- counting 700,000 absentee ballots flipped the final outcome today-- that would have put a neo-Nazi in Austria's presidential race. Sunday it looked as though Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer won 51.9% of the vote in a run-off with an independent backed by the Green Party, Alexander Van der Bellen, the two corrupt mainstream p[arty candidates having been eliminated in April. But after the absentee ballots were counted, the final result was 50.3% for Van der Bellen and 49.7% for Hofer. Voters were sick of the tweedle-dee/tweedle-dum politics of the right of center People's Party and the slightly left of center Social Democrats-- and their corrupt, inept Grand Coalition-- and almost opted for a far right extremist. Instead of comparing him to Hitler though, the European press is calling Hofer Austria's Donald Trump. Exit polls showed that van der Bellen won 81% of voters with college educations and Hofer won 86% of the Austrian working class. In the end, just 31,000 voters, out of 4.6 million votes cast, separated the two candidates.

The Nazis have no intention of giving up. Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom party, wrote on his Facebook page: "This is just the beginning. The start of a new era in our democracy, towards more direct democracy and binding referenda." The Guardian reported that during "the election, Viennese coffee houses set aside separate areas for supporters of the rival candidates over fears of clashes.
During his campaign, Hofer has been compared to Donald Trump for his anti-immigration stance, carried a 9mm glock with him everywhere he goes, and has claimed increases in gun ownership in Austria are linked to immigration.

...Hofer's key message is one of immigration control. Last year, roughly 90,000 migrants settled in Austria, a number Hofer sees as far too high. He has promised to try and curb further migration from outside of Europe and has also reportedly vowed to carry out the deportation of Muslims.

Hofer has also advocated repatriating the Italian territory of South Tyrol, which was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Hofer proposed the idea in a speech in 2015 and has since said that one way of achieving this could be to give people in the area dual Italian and Austrian nationality.

Hofer is a huge advocate for guns, carrying a 9mm Glock pistol around with him on the campaign trail.

He has said that he understands the increase in gun ownership in Austria, "given current uncertainties," and says that gun ownership is a "natural consequence" of immigration. It is reported that Hofer has previously posted images on social media of him at a firing range with his family. Business Insider was unable to find these pictures.

Hofer has been described by some commentators as the "Austrian Donald Trump" for his strong stance on immigration, populist politics, and promises to put "Austria First," a slogan that it has been suggested, draws inspiration from Trump's famous "Make America Great Again" battle cry.

  ...It has been suggested that Hofer would be the first far-right head of state in Europe since the end of World War II. While this is not strictly true because of Spain's Francisco Franco, who ruled the country as a fascist dictator until 1975, Hofer is by far the most right-wing politician to be elected to office in many decades.

Austria's presidency is a ceremonial role, and the most important power held by the president is the ability to dissolve Austria's parliament. But Hofer has already said he would try to extend his powers.

He vowed that once elected, he will go to Brussels to attend European Union meetings, something that is generally reserved for Austria's chancellor, currently Christian Kern. Hofer said he would also refuse to sign the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal, as he believes it would infringe on Austria's sovereignty.

...One of the biggest concerns in some circles about Hofer's potential election is that it could help to galvanise other far-right parties across Europe. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's Front National is expected to reach the second round of next year's presidential election, while in Germany, Alternative for Deutschland-- an anti-Islamic party-- has also experienced a gain in popularity. The Netherlands has also seen a rise in the popularity of the Party of Freedom, which now tops the polls. The party is headed by Geert Wilders, who was banned from entering the UK for his role in creating anti-Islamic film Fitna.

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How Active Will The Mafia Be In The Presidential Election This Cycle?


John Catsimatidis interviewed two former GOP governors on his radio show yesterday, Jon Huntsman (UT) and George Pataki (NY). Huntsman said he'd support "the party's nominee," but said he has "concerns about some of the things he's said and his stylistic approach, but then I say OK, he has a unique opportunity to bring together constituents under the Republican banner that really have never joined before." So... another Republican putting party over country. Pataki told Catsimatidis he's not prepared to endorse Trump yet. He said he's "not overly concerned about things he’s said during the course of his campaign... I ran for office a lot, I know how easy it is to say something that in retrospect you go 'Woops why did I say that?'" But he doesn't think Trump has shown he's ready for the presidency. "I think he needs to articulate a number of thoughtful positions on the issues for me to be able to endorse him... If he does those things, I’d be happy to support him and help him win the election." I'm not sure what Pataki-- who was governor of New York from 1995-2006-- could do to help Trump win the election, but I suppose he could just keep quiet about everything he knows about Trump's long-standing ties to the Mafia, not a big secret among New York Republican politicians, but one no one talks much about, at least not publicly. Remember, it wasn't just a coincidence that Trump's strongest showing anywhere was in Staten Island-- Mob County, USA-- where he won the primary with a staggering 82.1% of the vote.

Investigative journalist David Cay Johnston has spent nearly 3 decades looking into Trump's relationship with the Mob-- a relationship nurtured by the notorious Mob consigliere for “Fat Tony” Salerno (Genovese crime family) and Paul Castellano (Gambino crime family), McCarthyite and hate-filled closet queen Roy Cohn-- and he wrote about it in his book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business and for Politico readers yesterday.
In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”

I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.

This is part of the Donald Trump story that few know. As Barrett wrote in his book, Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn, in a meeting recounted by a Cohn staffer who told Barrett she was present. This came at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business.

From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.

...There was something a little peculiar about the construction of Trump Tower, and subsequent Trump projects in New York. Most skyscrapers are steel girder construction, and that was especially true in the 1980s, says John Cross of the American Iron & Steel Institute. Some use pre-cast concrete. Trump chose a costlier and in many ways riskier method: ready-mix concrete. Ready-mix has some advantages: it can speed up construction, and doesn’t require costly fireproofing. But it must be poured quickly or it will harden in the delivery truck drums, ruining them as well as creating costly problems with the building itself. That leaves developers vulnerable to the unions: the worksite gate is union controlled, so even a brief labor slowdown can turn into an expensive disaster.

Salerno, Castellano and other organized crime figures controlled the ready-mix business in New York, and everyone in construction at the time knew it. So did government investigators trying to break up the mob, urged on by major developers such as the LeFrak and Resnick families. Trump ended up not only using ready-mix concrete, but also paying what a federal indictment of Salerno later concluded were inflated prices for it-- repeatedly-- to S & A Concrete, a firm Salerno and Castellano owned through fronts, and possibly to other mob-controlled firms. As Barrett noted, by choosing to build with ready-mix concrete rather than other materials, Trump put himself “at the mercy of a legion of concrete racketeers.”

Salerno and Castellano and other mob families controlled both the concrete business and the unions involved in delivering and pouring it. The risks this created became clear from testimony later by Irving Fischer, the general contractor who built Trump Tower. Fischer said concrete union “goons” once stormed his offices, holding a knife to throat of his switchboard operator to drive home the seriousness of their demands, which included no-show jobs during construction of Trump Tower.

But with Cohn as his lawyer, Trump apparently had no reason to personally fear Salerno or Castellano-- at least, not once he agreed to pay inflated concrete prices. What Trump appeared to receive in return was union peace. That meant the project would never face costly construction or delivery delays.

The indictment on which Salerno was convicted in 1988 and sent to prison, where he died, listed the nearly $8 million contract for concrete at Trump Plaza, an East Side high-rise apartment building, as one of the acts establishing that S &A was part of a racketeering enterprise. (While the concrete business was central to the case, the trial also proved extortion, narcotics, rigged union elections and murders by the Genovese and Gambino crime families in what Michael Chertoff, the chief prosecutor, called “the largest and most vicious criminal business in the history of the United States.")

FBI agents subpoenaed Trump in 1980 to ask about his dealing with John Cody, a Teamsters official described by law enforcement as a very close associate of the Gambino crime family. The FBI believed that Cody previously had obtained free apartments from other developers. FBI agents suspected that Cody, who controlled the flow of concrete trucks, might get a free Trump Tower apartment. Trump denied it. But a female friend of Cody’s, a woman with no job who attributed her lavish lifestyle to the kindness of friends, bought three Trump Tower apartments right beneath the triplex where Donald lived with his wife Ivana. Cody stayed there on occasion and invested $500,000 in the units. Trump, Barrett reported, helped the woman get a $3 million mortgage without filling out a loan application or showing financials.

In the summer of 1982 Cody, then under indictment, ordered a citywide strike-- but the concrete work continued at Trump Tower. After Cody was convicted of racketeering, imprisoned and lost control of the union, Trump sued the woman for $250,000 for alteration work. She countersued for $20 million and in court papers accused Trump of taking kickbacks from contractors, asserting this could “be the basis of a criminal proceeding requiring an attorney general’s investigation” into Trump. Trump then quickly settled, paying the woman a half-million dollars. Trump said at the time and since then that he hardly knew those involved and there was nothing improper his dealings with Cody or the woman.

There were other irregularities in Trump’s first big construction project. In 1979, when Trump hired a demolition contractor to take down the Bonwit Teller department store to make way for Trump Tower, he hired as many as 200 non-union men to work alongside about 15 members of the House Wreckers Union Local 95. The non-union workers were mostly illegal Polish immigrants paid $4 to $6 per hour with no benefits, far below the union contract. At least some of them did not use power tools but sledgehammers, working 12 hours a day or more and often seven days a week. Known as the “Polish brigade,” many didn’t wear hard hats. Many slept on the construction site.

Normally the use of nonunion workers at a union job site would have guaranteed a picket line. Not at this site, however. Work proceeded because the Genovese family principally controlled the union; this was demonstrated by extensive testimony, documents and convictions in federal trials, as well as a later report by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.

When the Polish workers and a union dissident sued for their pay and benefits, Trump denied any knowledge that illegal workers without hard hats were taking down Bonwit with sledgehammers. The trial, however, demonstrated otherwise: Testimony showed that Trump panicked when the nonunion Polish men threatened a work stoppage because they had not been paid. Trump turned to Daniel Sullivan, a labor fixer and FBI informant, who told him to fire the Polish workers.

Trump knew the Polish brigade was composed of underpaid illegal immigrants and that S&A was a mob-owned firm, according to Sullivan and others. "Donald told me that he was having his difficulties and he admitted to me that-- seeking my advice-- that he had some illegal Polish employees on the job. I reacted by saying to Donald that 'I think you are nuts,'" Sullivan testified at the time. "I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains." In an interview later, Sullivan told me the same thing.

In 1991, a federal judge, Charles E. Stewart Jr., ruled that Trump had engaged in a conspiracy to violate a fiduciary duty, or duty of loyalty, to the workers and their union and that the “breach involved fraud and the Trump defendants knowingly participated in his breach.” The judge did not find Trump’s testimony to be sufficiently credible and set damages at $325,000. The case was later settled by negotiation, and the agreement was reportedly sealed.
I bet the Mafia connections won't be brought up by a Clinton campaign that knows very well about people who live in glass houses. Bernie, on the other hand... no Mob connections.
Goal Thermometer

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Do You Want To Be In A Party Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is The Head Of?


My grandfather was a Socialist who loved FDR but distrusted the Democratic Party. He was my political mentor and he taught me how self-serving and corrupt New York's Democratic Party was. He told me they were better than the Republicans but that I should never trust them to do the right thing. Nothing's changed.

A few weeks ago I ran a photo of myself-- age 16-- at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in 1964. It was the cover of the New York Daily News and it shows me leading a pro-LBJ march. Hillary isn't in the photo, of course, since she was campaigning for Barry Goldwater that day. Not much has changed for either of us. She's some kind of conservative Democrat now-- one who told an NPR audience a few years ago that "I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with... I'm very proud that I was a Goldwater Girl." And I'm a progressive whose only substantive connection to the Democratic Party is that I register as one so that I can vote in Democratic primaries in the futile hope I can help pull the party back towards its progressive Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt roots and away from what the Clintons have transmongrified it into.

Shaun King, a former pastor, is a Daily News columnist now, though I'd bet he wasn't born when I was campaigning for LBJ and Hillary was campaign for Goldwater. (I was president of the Young Democrats at Stony Brook; she was the president of the Young Republicans at Wellesley.) Yesterday Shaun told his readers why he's quitting the Democratic Party and re-registering as an independent. "When you find evil in the world," he wrote, "when you find corruption, when you find starvation and exploitation, when you find poverty and despair, when you find drugs, guns, and substandard housing, when you find evil-- if you dig far enough, you will often discover the love of money at the root. Underneath so much of what is wrong in this country is the deep love of money and all that it brings. Sometimes the connection is obvious and undeniable-- other times not so much, but like the huge glacier underneath the still water, it is there."
Right now, the Democratic Party, which I have called home my entire life, is deeply in love with money. Consequently, its leaders have supported and advanced all kinds of evil, big and small, in devotion to this love affair.

My sweet mother, who worked in a scorching hot light bulb factory for over 40 years of her life, introduced me to the party. While I'm not so sure it was ever really true, she taught me that Democrats were for the poor and working class of America. We waffled between those two groups ourselves, so for me, I chose to be a part of the party that represented us.

As a senior in high school, I attended my first political rally in 1996 as President Bill Clinton spoke at the University of Kentucky in his reelection bid. He was amazing.

In 1999, Atlanta's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, whom I loved and revered, recruited me to campaign for Al Gore and encouraged me to get involved with the party. As student government president at Morehouse College, I spoke at campaign events alongside Vice President Gore and his family and fought hard as hell for him to win. How he lost stung as much as the fact that he lost.

...The optimism, hope and dedication to change that Obama campaigned with was authentic. To prove it, his transition team introduced what were called the "most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history."

They effectively banned lobbyists and their money not only from his transition process, but also put in place a 12-month-ban on when they could serve in the administration after serving as a lobbyist.

Because he came into office with such momentum and a clear mandate, Obama also began to enforce similar restrictions on lobbyists with the DNC. If he could first change his administration, then change his party, he could change the entire game, he thought.

Did you know that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was a co-chair of Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign against Obama, and is now the chair of the DNC, earlier this year did away with all of the restrictions on lobbyists that President Obama put in place?

According to the Washington Post,
"The DNC's recent, more sweeping reversal of the previous ban on donations from lobbyists and political action committees was confirmed by three Democratic lobbyists who said they have already received solicitations from the committee. The lobbyists requested anonymity to speak freely about the committee's decision, which has been otherwise kept quiet."
Unless you are a political insider, it would be hard to know that such a thing had ever happened. No doubt, that was their goal. Why? Are they ashamed? It certainly appears so.

The article continued,
"For the most part, they (the lobbyists) said, the DNC has returned to business as usual, pre-2008. The DNC has even named a finance director specifically for PAC donations who has recently emailed prospective donors to let them know that they can now contribute again, according to an email that was reviewed by the Washington Post."
Campaign watchdog groups were furious. This is a disgusting and unnecessary reversion, but it gives us a real clue into how the Democratic Party sincerely sees money in politics. They love it. They certainly didn't do this for Bernie Sanders. His campaign does not accept donations from SuperPACs or lobbyists and he's won 21 primaries and caucuses without it. The Clinton campaign, on the other hand, is awash in this type of money.

In essence, Hillary Clinton and the DNC each wants us to believe that lobbyists and SuperPACs don't expect anything from them in return for their money. This is the most basic, foolish, offensive lie they could ever tell. Of course they want something in return. That's the business they're in.

On April 18, the Sanders campaign wrote an open letter declaring that Clinton's campaign was violating campaign finance laws through an unethical joint arrangement with the DNC. The Clinton campaign's response was that she was actually raising money for down-ticket Democrats. Two weeks later, though, Politico released an amazing investigative report which found that out of the $61 million the Clinton campaign was raising for state parties, the parties were only allowed to keep 1% of it. You read that correctly. I'll spell it out so that you know a digit wasn't missing. They got to keep one percent of the funds she claimed she raised for them.

It appears to be a money laundering scheme. Do you remember when George Clooney said that Bernie Sanders and his supporters were right to be disgusted by the fact that some seats at the fundraiser cost $353,400 per couple, but that he could live with it because the money was mainly going to help smaller candidates win local elections?

He was wrong.

According to Politico, "The victory fund has transferred $3.8 million to the state parties, but almost all of that cash ($3.3 million, or 88%) was quickly transferred (back) to the DNC, usually within a day or two, by the Clinton staffer who controls the committee, Politico's analysis of the FEC records found."

Who really got the money? The Clinton campaign pocketed almost all of it and state parties were left with one penny on the dollar.

The Politico report continued: "By contrast, the victory fund has transferred $15.4 million to Clinton's campaign and $5.7 million to the DNC, which will work closely with Clinton's campaign if and when she becomes the party's nominee. And most of the $23.3 million spent directly by the victory fund has gone toward expenses that appear to have directly benefited Clinton's campaign, including $2.8 million for ‘salary and overhead’ and $8.6 million for web advertising that mostly looks indistinguishable from Clinton campaign ads and that has helped Clinton build a network of small donors who will be critical in a general election expected to cost each side well in excess of $1 billion."

Of course, none of this is happenstance or coincidence. All of this is a well orchestrated plan. The American people are just now beginning to understand this ugliness. It's one of the primary reasons why 10 million people have voted for Bernie Sanders and why he has won 21 contests without even a smidgeon of support from the Democratic Party.

The thing is, though, the Democratic Party isn't really very democratic. It's sincerely just a machine for Hillary Clinton.

Van Jones, a former Obama administration official, said earlier this week on CNN, "Debbie, who should be the umpire, who should be the marriage counselor, is coming in harder for Hillary Clinton than she is for herself. That is malpractice."

"I wish Reince Priebus was my party chair. He did a better job of handling the Trump situation than I've see my party chair handle this situation," Jones said.

"I'm ashamed to say that. Yeah, I said it."

Let that sink in for a minute. A man who has not endorsed a candidate, who worked for Obama, and is an award-winning leader said that he would rather the Republican Party chair be in charge of the DNC than Debbie Wasserman Schultz because of how hard she fights for Hillary Clinton. Forgive me for being repetitive, but please remember that Wasserman Schultz was a co-chair of Clinton's campaign in 2008. None of us should be surprised that she is so biased, but we should be disgusted that she is in charge of the entire party at a time when it required an unbiased presence.

I'll give it to her-- Debbie Wasserman Schultz will say or do anything to get Hillary Clinton elected, even if it means completely ignoring the political reality that nearly half of the people who've voted in this primary have declared that they want to see lobbyists and SuperPACs out of politics. Her words and her deeds throughout this campaign have not only been unethical, but are out of step with the future of the party. Voters under the age of 45 prefer Bernie because they trust him and his principles. Wasserman Schultz and Clinton represent a brand of politics that they know well, but we're simply tired of it. Another op-ed was just released calling on her to be replaced.

Robert Reich, the famed economist who served as Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton, went so far on Thursday to suggest that a new party should be formed if Hillary wins the election.

Reich said, “Never, ever give up fighting against the increasing concentration of wealth and power at the top, which is undermining our democracy and distorting our economy. That means, if Hillary Clinton is elected, I urge you to turn Bernie's campaign into a movement-- even a third party-- to influence elections at the state level in 2018 and the presidency in 2020. No movement to change the allocation of power succeeds easily or quickly. We are in this for the long haul.”

Back in February, Michelle Alexander, the law professor and author of The New Jim Crow, made a similar declaration. Her words struck me to my core.

“The biggest problem with Bernie, in the end, is that he's running as a Democrat-- as a member of a political party that not only capitulated to right-wing demagoguery but is now owned and controlled by a relatively small number of millionaires and billionaires,” she said.

“Yes, Sanders has raised millions from small donors, but should he become president, he would also become part of what he has otherwise derided as ‘the establishment.’ Even if Bernie's racial-justice views evolve, I hold little hope that a political revolution will occur within the Democratic Party without a sustained outside movement forcing truly transformational change. I am inclined to believe that it would be easier to build a new party than to save the Democratic Party from itself."

I am in full agreement with both Reich and Alexander. Whatever happens between now and the Democratic Convention-- what's next is that we form a brand new progressive political party from scratch. It has never been more clear to me that millions and millions of us do not belong in the Democratic Party. Their values are not our values. Their priorities are not our priorities. And I'll be honest with you, I think too highly of myself, of my family, of my friends, and of our future, to stick with a party that looks anything like what Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are leading right now.

Clinton's refusal to release the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. Her indignant and irrational excuses made no sense-- particularly in light of the reports stating that the transcripts would ruin her campaign and made her sound like an executive at the company.

I'll start where I left off-- the root of all of this is the love of money. In this campaign, Bernie Sanders, with a ragtag group of misfits, proved to the world that another way exists. He has created a blueprint for us on how we build a political movement without the money from billionaire class and their special interests.

In my heart, I believe we are on the brink of something very special. It isn't going to be the presidency of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump either. It's going to be what those of us who've seen a better way do next.

Don't believe what anyone tells you-- the ball is in our hand and we have more power than progressive people have had in a very long time in this country. I will fight for Bernie Sanders until he is no longer running for president.

After that, this will be my last election as a Democrat. I'm moving on and hope you do, too.
I'm just guessing but I'd bet that Glenn Greenwald gave up on the Democratic Party long ago. He's closer to my age than to Shaun's. Yesterday he was also writing about how Wasserman Schultz has made the Democratic Party far, far worse and how she deserves to be defeated in the Florida primary at the end of August. "In general," he wrote, "Wasserman Schultz is the living, breathing embodiment of everything rotted and corrupt about the Democratic Party: a corporatist who overwhelmingly relies on corporate money to keep her job, a hawk who supports the most bellicose aspects of U.S. foreign policy, a key member of the “centrist” and “moderate” pro-growth New Democrat coalition, a co-sponsor of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was “heavily backed by D.C. favorites including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the music and motion picture industries” and which, if enacted, would have allowed extreme government and corporate control over the internet... Democrats nationwide, and in her district, have a choice. For the first time in her long congressional career, she faces a primary challenger for the Democratic nomination. He’s Tim Canova, a smart, articulate, sophisticated lawyer with a history of activism both with the Occupy movement (he’s against the Wall Street bailout for which Wasserman Schultz voted and the general excesses of big banks and crony capitalism) as well as a steadfast opponent of the Patriot Act (for which Wasserman Schultz repeatedly voted)."

If you'd like to help Canova replace #DebtTrapDebbie Wasserman Schultz in Congress, please consider giving his campaign a contribution. It's one way to save the Democratic Party. Just tap the thermometer and do what you can:
Goal Thermometer

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