Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Billionaire Class Has Taken Over The Government-- Can We Fight Back And Win


If nothing else, please watch this 3 minute trailer for Trumping Democracy above-- and then send it to a friend.

Now the good news: Voters across the country prefer a Democratic takeover over Congress next year by double digits-- 50-39%. That's huge. Janet Hook: "Voters increasingly want Democrats to control Congress after the 2018 elections, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that offers several warning signs for the Republican Party."

Yesterday, NBC's Mark Murray reported that "Fresh off their victory in Alabama’s special Senate election, Democrats now enjoy their largest advantage in congressional preference in nine years... signaling a dangerous political environment for Republicans entering next year’s midterm elections." The most important numbers in the poll are 43% and 31%. 43% is the percentage of independent voters who prefer Democrats and 31% is the percentage who prefer Republicans. Outside of the deep red seats, primarily in the unreconstructed South, independents will determine who will win congressional elections in 2018. If that margin holds-- or, as is likely continues to grow in a blue direction-- Democrats will be in position to win dozens of seats held by Republicans, including between 7 and 10 in California, nearly as many in Texas and all the swing districts in the Northeast, including Maine, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, while picking up seats in the Midwest (Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana). And that augers well for the country, especially in terms of putting a check on Trump and his neo-fascist regime. In fact had Schumer not selected 2 especially wretched candidates for the Senate from Arizona (grotesquely corrupt far-right Blue Dog Kyrsten Sinema) and Nevada (utterly worthless and clueless conservative Jacky Rosen) I would be ready to predict a lock on a Democratic Senate takeover to go along with a House takeover. (And you can say goodbye to Paul Ryan and hello to iron worker Randy Bryce in the U.S. House of Representatives.)
The last time Democrats both held a double-digit lead and hit 50 percent on this question in the NBC/WSJ poll was September 2008, right before the party won the White House and picked up a substantial number of House and Senate seats.

This past October, Democrats had a 7-point advantage on congressional preference, 48 percent to 41 percent.

In this most recent poll, Democrats hold a whopping 48-point lead in congressional preference among voters ages 18-34 (69 percent to 21 percent), a 20-point lead among female voters (54 percent to 34 percent) and a 12-point lead among independent voters (43 percent to 31 percent).

By contrast, Republicans have a 2-point edge among white voters (46 percent to 44 percent) and a 12-point advantage with whites without a college degree (50 percent to 38 percent).

Notably, Democrats lead among male voters by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent, and among seniors by 4 points, 46 percent to 42 percent.

The NBC/WSJ poll also shows Democrats with the intensity advantage, with 59 percent of Democratic voters saying they have a high level of interest in next year’s elections (registering either a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale), versus 49 percent of Republican voters saying the same thing.

Additionally, 62 percent of voters who said they voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 have a high level of interest in next year’s midterms, compared with 50 percent of Trump voters.

"A double-digit margin here is an important indicator of Democratic intensity," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollsters from Hart Research Associates.
As Trump's disapproval numbers continue to grow, and as the country continues to see him as a liar and source of fake news, his impact on Republicans, largely seen as enablers and rubber stamps, also grows. In fact, in many cases, the disapproval numbers for members of Congress are significantly worse than Trump's disapproval. Let's look at 10 comparisons (from various recent polls) in key battleground districts of Tump's and Ryan's disapproval ratings. The first number represents Trump's disapproval in the district and the second represents Ryan's disapproval rating:
VA-10 (Barbara Comstock)- 59/71%
CO-06 (Mike Coffman)- 55/64%
PA-06 (Ryan Costello)- 52/70%
ME-02 (Bruce Poliquin)- 49/61%
IA-03 (David Young)- 53/65%
WA-08 (Dave Reichert)- 55/67%
MI-11 (Dave Trott)- 50/65%
MN-02 (Jason Lewis)- 52/62%
PA-15 (Charlie Dent)- 52/61%
IA-01 (Rod Blum)- 52/61%
Each one of these congressmembers is a Paul Ryan rubber stamp and each has built a voting record that can be easily tied to Ryan's hated, toxic agenda. None of these 10 is expected to be returning to Congress in 2019. In fact, 3 have already announced they are retiring, rather than face near-certain defeat. Two-- Bruce Poliquin and David Young-- have extraordinarily qualified progressive opponent, respectively Jared Golden and Austin Frerick. And a third district, the retiring Trott's MI-11, also has an excellent progressive candidate in Haley Stevens. All will be hanging this around their opponent's necks:

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Tim Canova On The Blue America Gung Ho Contest


As you may know, Blue America is trying to help the congressional candidates we've endorsed raise some last minute campaign funds to close out the year. Our friend Nancy Ohanian gave us a signed print she did, Gung Ho! as a prize for one lucky contributor. Monday at noon we'll be picking one contributor, randomly.

To bolster our efforts, Tim Canova sent his own supporters this team-work letter I want to share with you.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The very first progressive group to endorse our campaign last year against Debbie Wasserman Schultz was Blue America, and Blue America has been with us ever since.

Blue America is now contributing a work by the artist Nancy Ohanian in a contest to raise donations for our campaign, as well as 18 other progressive candidates around the country, from Maine to Hawaii, from Minnesota to Florida.

Just contribute any amount to any of the progressive candidates on this page. One dollar, ten dollars, $1,000... it's up to you. Split your donation between all the candidates, give to your favorite candidate or split it between 2 or 3 candidates . . . that’s all up to you. (Just not more than $2,700 to any one candidate.)

Then next week, on Monday, December 17, Blue America will pick one name randomly and send that person the signed “Gung Ho” print of Donald Trump, with spear in hand, leading a charge atop an elephant. . . that’s charging in the opposite direction!

Please donate what you can here to our campaign and perhaps one or more of the eighteen other Blue America progressive campaigns. I just made a $27 donation to one of the other candidates. If I win this raffle contest, I know exactly who I will be giving the Gung Ho print to as a holiday gift!

This particular Nancy Ohanian print is entitled “Gung Ho”-- a term that comes from two Chinese characters meaning “pull together.” The irony of this title, with the image of Donald Trump and the Republican Party elephant mascot pulling in opposite directions, is the appeal of this print.

Of course, it’s not enough to make fun of the troubles in the Republican Party. We are acutely aware of the rot within the Democratic Party as well. We progressives must offer a genuine alternative to voters that puts people first-- ahead of corporate profits, ahead of the lobbyists and CEOs and financial markets. When we fight on the issues that matter in people’s everyday lives, that’s when we have a far better chance of winning elections.

We’re excited to be in good company with eighteen other progressive candidates in this contest to raffle off a gorgeous print. We like to think of this group of candidates as our progressive “Gung Ho Gang”-- pulling together to take on the political establishment and challenge entrenched incumbents across the country.

Some weeks ago, Nancy Ohanian contributed several other prints in an auction fundraiser for our campaign. Nancy wants to do her part to help flip Congress from “red” to “blue” in 2018-- and not just any blue, but a true progressive blue.

Goal ThermometerWe must all do whatever we can. Alone your donation accomplishes little. But when combined with the contributions of thousands of other grassroots donors around the country, we will rock the establishment in 2018! In this sense, we are all part of this Gung Ho progressive movement, contributing our time and energies to the cause of restoring democracy and humanity to our country.

Thank you for all that you do to support our collective efforts!

In solidarity,

Tim Canova

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The Plundering Of America


I didn't realize that urbanologist Richard Florida was overtly political. I guess Trump is pissing him off as much as he's pissing off the rest of the country-- and the world.. Yesterday Florida tweeted that "It is the sole motivation of our plutocratic president & leadership. They look at Putin & say: "I can do a lot better plundering the US ..." He was commenting on this David Sirota report at International Business Times. The just of Sirota's article was that on Friday night Trump added a little clause into the Tax Scam bill to further enrich himself. Has any other president ever done anything like that? "Republican congressional leaders and real estate moguls," wrote Sirota, "could be personally enriched by a  real-estate-related provision GOP lawmakers slipped into the final tax bill released Friday evening, according to experts interviewed by International Business Times. The legislative language was not part of previous versions of the bill and was added despite ongoing conflict-of-interest questions about the intertwining real estate interests and governmental responsibilities of President Donald Trump-- the bill’s chief proponent."

The Trump organization and the Kushners (the family of Ivanka's husband, Jared) have overseen vast real estate empires, and top GOP lawmakers writing the tax bill collectively have tens of millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate-related LLCs. The new tax provision would specifically allow owners of large real estate holdings through LLCs to deduct a percentage of their “pass through” income from their taxes, according to experts. Although Trump, who became famous for his real estate holdings, has transitioned into branding in recent years, federal records show Trump has ownership stakes in myriad LLCs.

The new provision was not in the bill passed by the House or the Senate. Instead, it was inserted into the final bill during reconciliation negotiations between Republicans from both chambers. The provision, said experts, would offer a special tax cut to LLCs with few employees and large amounts of depreciable property assets, namely buildings: rent generating apartment and office buildings.

“This helps people who have held property for awhile, like Donald Trump,” David Kamin, an New York University law professor who served as a special assistant to the president for economic policy  in the Obama administration, told IBT. “If you’ve got an LLC that’s a trade or business with a bunch of real estate holdings and few employees, [I] think you’re now golden. You get the deduction.”

Similarly, Urban Institute tax expert Steve Rosenthal told IBT the provision would specifically benefit real estate investors.

“It would benefit real estate businesses especially, which typically operate as pass-through businesses, most often LLCs,” said Rosenthal, a former tax attorney at Ropes & Gray. “An LLC's building, and other depreciable property, would be ‘qualified property’ for purposes of the new test, as long as the LLC had not fully depreciated the property. That would be unlikely, as commercial real property is currently depreciated over 39 years.”

IBT previously reported that 13 GOP lawmakers directly sculpting the bill-- including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan-- have between $36 million and $163 million worth of ownership stakes in real estate-related LLCs. Those entities generated between $2.6 million and $16 million in “pass through” income and could benefit from the new provision.

Sen. Bob Corker, who was considered a potential “no” vote on the bill, abruptly switched his position upon the release of the final legislation. Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit.

“Pass throughs” are business entities that don’t pay corporate income taxes, like partnerships, LLCs and S-Corporations. Instead, they “pass through” income to partners, who then pay personal income taxes on the money they receive. The Senate version of the tax bill would have added a 23 percent deduction for income from pass-throughs to the tax code. The new reconciled tax bill shrinks that deduction to 20 percent but, in a last minute change, added a new way around restrictions that would have kept pass-throughs with large income but few employees from benefiting.

The new bill still has the same income provision but adds a loophole: depreciable property. So instead of being being able to get a large tax cut only if you pay a lot of wages, now you can get the tax cut if you own a lot of property.

“If they were saying before Trump wouldn’t get this because his pass-through firms don’t have employees, that’s clearly no longer the case,” Kamin said.

The Republican congressional zombies-- did you watch Z-Nation Friday night?-- seem to be on autopilot over this massively unpopular Tax Scam. It's almost as if they've become downright fatalistic about the massive electoral losses they know they're about to suffer at the hands of angry voters. And just can't stop themselves. Perhaps they're looking forward to life after Congress... on K Street. As McKay Coppins reported Thursday for The Atlantic, The Republican Nightmare Is Just Beginning-- and they know it. "Even as Moore’s political obituaries were being written, party strategists were bracing for the army of Moore-like insurgents they expect to flood next year’s Republican primaries... [T]he dynamics that made it possible for Moore to win the Republican primary in Alabama are unlikely to change by 2018-- and the consequences of the GOP nominating a slate of toxic standard-bearers could reverberate well beyond the midterms." It's almost as if dozens of mainstream Republican electeds are just giving up and ceding the party to the fringe psychopaths that have been enabled by Fox, Hate Talk Radio, an increasingly turgid education system, and the widespread opioid addiction that now defines "red state America," or at least the Trump base.

The "enhanced" Tax Scam shocked even Nancy Pelosi in its audacity to steal from America and enrich its authors. "With each version," she said yesterday, "the GOP tax scam becomes an even more cowardly, outrageous, and brazen theft from middle class families to corporations and the wealthiest one percent. Slashing the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans even deeper is Republicans’ final insult to hard-working Americans in this deficit-exploding scam of a bill. Republicans went into conference with two bills that raise taxes on tens of millions of middle class families. But instead of actually helping middle class Americans, the GOP throws them a few meager crumbs while slashing taxes for millionaires even deeper. The GOP tax scam’s theft from middle class families to give to the wealthiest is a moral obscenity. The American people see it for exactly the con job it is. And the American people will hold Republicans accountable for the votes they cast next week."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

I've heard it said that everyone has, somewhere on this Earth, a doppelgänger. Doppelgängers are our doubles and they are usually seen as harbingers of bad luck or as an evil twin. How sad would it be if you had a good heart like the Munster family and your doppelgänger was a prominent Republican, or any Republican for that matter. But these three? Well, that's just going way too far! You could never do enough good work to make up for these.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

If Aliens Decide To Visit, Would You Want Trump In Charge? Just Asking For A Friend


For some reason, the government wants to keep its UFO programs secret. The Pentagon hides the UFO office and makes it almost impossible to find in its budget requests. Congress obliges with increasingly secretive appropriations for the military UFO hunters, even though the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program went the way of the dodo bird with the retirement of its greatest advocate, Harry Reid. Yesterday, the NY Times had a team on the case, which reported that "For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by the New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze. The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties."
The shadowy program-- parts of it remain classified-- began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

On CBS’s 60 Minutes in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.

Working with Mr. Bigelow’s Las Vegas-based company, the program produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift.

Officials with the program have also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft-- including one released in August of a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.

Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program. “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”

Two other former senators and top members of a defense spending subcommittee-- Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Daniel K. Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat-- also supported the program. Mr. Stevens died in 2010, and Mr. Inouye in 2012.

While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy. “When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it’s worth investigating seriously,” she said. But, she added, “what people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.”

James E. Oberg, a former NASA space shuttle engineer and the author of 10 books on spaceflight who often debunks U.F.O. sightings, was also doubtful. “There are plenty of prosaic events and human perceptual traits that can account for these stories,” Mr. Oberg said. “Lots of people are active in the air and don’t want others to know about it. They are happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise, or even to stir it up as camouflage.”

Still, Mr. Oberg said he welcomed research. “There could well be a pearl there,” he said.

In response to questions from The Times, Pentagon officials this month acknowledged the existence of the program, which began as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Officials insisted that the effort had ended after five years, in 2012.

“It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change,” a Pentagon spokesman, Thomas Crosson, said in an emailed statement, referring to the Department of Defense.

But Mr. Elizondo said the only thing that had ended was the effort’s government funding, which dried up in 2012. From then on, Mr. Elizondo said in an interview, he worked with officials from the Navy and the C.I.A. He continued to work out of his Pentagon office until this past October, when he resigned to protest what he characterized as excessive secrecy and internal opposition.

“Why aren’t we spending more time and effort on this issue?” Mr. Elizondo wrote in a resignation letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Mr. Elizondo said that the effort continued and that he had a successor, whom he declined to name.

U.F.O.s have been repeatedly investigated over the decades in the United States, including by the American military. In 1947, the Air Force began a series of studies that investigated more than 12,000 claimed U.F.O. sightings before it was officially ended in 1969. The project, which included a study code-named Project Blue Book, started in 1952, concluded that most sightings involved stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy planes, although 701 remained unexplained.

Robert C. Seamans Jr., the secretary of the Air Force at the time, said in a memorandum announcing the end of Project Blue Book that it “no longer can be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.”

Mr. Reid said his interest in U.F.O.s came from Mr. Bigelow. In 2007, Mr. Reid said in the interview, Mr. Bigelow told him that an official with the Defense Intelligence Agency had approached him wanting to visit Mr. Bigelow’s ranch in Utah, where he conducted research.

Mr. Reid said he met with agency officials shortly after his meeting with Mr. Bigelow and learned that they wanted to start a research program on U.F.O.s. Mr. Reid then summoned Mr. Stevens and Mr. Inouye to a secure room in the Capitol.

“I had talked to John Glenn a number of years before,” Mr. Reid said, referring to the astronaut and former senator from Ohio, who died in 2016. Mr. Glenn, Mr. Reid said, had told him he thought that the federal government should be looking seriously into U.F.O.s, and should be talking to military service members, particularly pilots, who had reported seeing aircraft they could not identify or explain.

The sightings were not often reported up the military’s chain of command, Mr. Reid said, because service members were afraid they would be laughed at or stigmatized.

The meeting with Mr. Stevens and Mr. Inouye, Mr. Reid said, “was one of the easiest meetings I ever had.”

He added, “Ted Stevens said, ‘I’ve been waiting to do this since I was in the Air Force.’” (The Alaska senator had been a pilot in the Army’s air force, flying transport missions over China during World War II.)

During the meeting, Mr. Reid said, Mr. Stevens recounted being tailed by a strange aircraft with no known origin, which he said had followed his plane for miles.

None of the three senators wanted a public debate on the Senate floor about the funding for the program, Mr. Reid said. “This was so-called black money,” he said. “Stevens knows about it, Inouye knows about it. But that was it, and that’s how we wanted it.” Mr. Reid was referring to the Pentagon budget for classified programs.

...The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. “There’s a whole fleet of them,” one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.

“Internationally, we are the most backward country in the world on this issue,” Mr. Bigelow said in an interview. “Our scientists are scared of being ostracized, and our media is scared of the stigma. China and Russia are much more open and work on this with huge organizations within their countries. Smaller countries like Belgium, France, England and South American countries like Chile are more open, too. They are proactive and willing to discuss this topic, rather than being held back by a juvenile taboo.”

By 2009, Mr. Reid decided that the program had made such extraordinary discoveries that he argued for heightened security to protect it. “Much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace-related findings,” Mr. Reid said in a letter to William Lynn III, a deputy defense secretary at the time, requesting that it be designated a “restricted special access program” limited to a few listed officials.

A 2009 Pentagon briefing summary of the program prepared by its director at the time asserted that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact,” and that the United States was incapable of defending itself against some of the technologies discovered. Mr. Reid’s request for the special designation was denied.

Mr. Elizondo, in his resignation letter of Oct. 4, said there was a need for more serious attention to “the many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities.” He expressed his frustration with the limitations placed on the program, telling Mr. Mattis that “there remains a vital need to ascertain capability and intent of these phenomena for the benefit of the armed forces and the nation.”

Mr. Elizondo has now joined Mr. Puthoff and another former Defense Department official, Christopher K. Mellon, who was a deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, in a new commercial venture called To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science. They are speaking publicly about their efforts as their venture aims to raise money for research into U.F.O.s.

In the interview, Mr. Elizondo said he and his government colleagues had determined that the phenomena they had studied did not seem to originate from any country. “That fact is not something any government or institution should classify in order to keep secret from the people,” he said.

For his part, Mr. Reid said he did not know where the objects had come from. “If anyone says they have the answers now, they’re fooling themselves,” he said. “We do not know.”
I certainly do not know-- and I had 3 scary but not aggressive UFO experiences in the 1970s (long after I had quit using drugs, one near Sitges south of Barcelona, one on the North Sea near Alkmaar northwest of Amsterdam and one in Noe Valley in San Francisco). The most physical one was on the beach in Holland when my girlfriend and I, late at night, watched a tiny speck of light rapidly descend and hover just above us, as big as a barn-- a big barn. We never saw who was driving but they communicated with us both telepathically. They wanted us to come with them-- seemed completely aware of what was going on with us (a breakup)-- but didn't insist. In fact they were very amicable and reassuring that they had no intention of forcing us to do anything. When we said we weren't going to go with them, they said bye-bye and took off and because a speck of light again. Years later in San Fran, they indicated it was my last chance to come with them and I got the feeling it was either the same beings or beings that the ones on the beach near Alkmaar had told about me. I said no and they said bye-bye again. I never heard from them again.

Blink-182's big breakthrough third album, Enema of the State had sold over 15 million copies when lead singer Tom DeLonge left the band. If the anti-Hillary Wikileaks leaks are to be believed, DeLonge has some kind of a relationship with Hillary campaign chairman John Podesta (a lobbyist and former Obama chief of staff). Podesta's in a documentary DeLonge produced about UFOs and the two of them emailed about UFOs as well. Hillary's campaign didn't want to talk about UFOs but certainly blamed the Podesta-Blink-182 leak on the Trump's pal Vlad in the Kremlin.

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Eminem May Not Be A Trumpanzee Supporter


This afternoon, NPR had a special guest: Eminem. NPR isn't a rap station but Eminem's new album, Revival, is socially significant enough for NPR to just just interview him but to promote the interview all day Friday. They knew it would be a big deal, even beyond the (mostly) good music reviews. It should be no surprise that Em is no fan of Señor Trumpanzee-- but if it is... it won't be any longer, not after this album. There's even a fantasy, "Framed," about Ivanka in the trunk of his car, referring to her as "the dumb little blonde girl that motherfuckin’ baton twirler that got dumped in the pond."

Here's a verse from "Like Home," which Alicia Keys joins him on:
Someone get this Aryan a sheet
Time to bury him, so tell him to prepare to get impeached
Everybody on your feet

This is where terrorism and heroism meets, square off in the streets
This chump barely even sleeps
All he does is watch Fox News like a parrot and repeats

While he looks like a canary with a beak
Why you think he banned transgenders from the military with a tweet?
He's tryin' to divide us
The shit's like a cult, but like Johnny he'll only unite us
'Cause nothin' inside drives us like this fight does
Similar to when two cars collide 'cause
Our spirit's crushed, and this spot's a tight one
But here the jaws of life come

To pull us from the wreckage that's what we get pride from
When we can't wear stars and stripes 'cause
'Cause this type of pickle we're in is hard to deal
But there's always tomorrow still

If we start from the scratch like a scab, get the scars to heal

 And band together for Charolettesville

And for Heather, fallen heroes, fill this wall with murals

Nevada get up, hit the damn resetter

Let's start from zero, this is our renewal

Spray tan, get ride of, get a brand new, better

America, and here's to where we're from
OK, ok, one more verse... but that's it:
Didn't wanna piss your base off, did ya?
Can't denounce the Klan, 'cause they play golf with ya
You stay on Twitter, way to get your hate off

Nazi, I do not see a way y'all differ
And all you got are race cards

Better get the swastika with your name carved in it

Should be your trademark, 'cause hate's all you played off

And you just lick the plate off

So I guess it pays to feed off of chaos

So basically, you're Adolf Hitler!
But you ain't ruinin' our country, punk

Or takin' our pride from us, you won't define us

'Cause like a dictionary, things are lookin' up
So much, got a sprained neck, know we would rise up

Against this train wreck and take a stand
Even if it mean sittin' when they raise the flag
This ain't the Star Spangled Banner
This man just praised a statue of General Lee

'Cause he generally hates the black people, degrades hispanics
Take it back to the Shady national convention
Wish I woulda spit on it before I went

 To shake his hand at the event
Or maybe had the wherewithal
To know that he was gonna try to tear apart
Our sacred land we cherish and stand for
So, hands in the air, let's hear it for
The start of a brand new America
Without him, and be proud of where we're from
And here's to where we're from


Will The GOP Tax Scam Hurt Them On Voting Day?


Ryan is so excited about being so close to passing his Tax Scam that he was talking about retiring from Congress this week. And Trump is giddy-- first for being close to finally having something he accomplished legislatively-- and second, because of all the money he will save in a plan written specifically to benefit multimillionaires and billionaires like himself. But as the Alabama-based political research firm ALG noted in a memo this week, while Trump, Ryan and their GOP allies rejoice, "polling suggests they could be in for a rude awakening next November after voters have learned more about it. Voters want tax reform that provides relief to the middle class, makes the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, and does not increase the deficit. They are unlikely to reward Republicans in Congress when they discover that the GOP plan delivers the opposite."

On Friday ALG analyzed recent national polling and concluded that Americans' top priorities for tax reform are "a tax cut for the middle-class and low-income working families, higher taxes for the wealthy and corporations, and no increase in the deficit. The Trump/Ryan Tax Scam bill "not only fails to meet all three of these priorities, but actually delivers the opposite. It provides massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, raises taxes on millions of middle class households next year alone (and nearly half of the middle class over the next ten years), and will increase the deficit by more than $1.4 trillion (triggering $25 billion in funding cuts to Medicare)."
A recent ABC / Washington Post poll highlights just how out of touch the Republican tax reform plan is with what Americans are looking for. It finds that 73% of Americans already believe our tax system favors the wealthy, and that while over three-quarters (78%) support reducing income taxes for middle and lower-income people, 62% oppose reducing taxes for higher income people. As for corporations, it finds that nearly two-thirds (65%) already believe that they pay too little in taxes.

These results are consistent with findings from a recent poll of likely 2018 voters in Senate battleground states that we conducted for Center Forward. In an open-ended question on their top priorities for tax reform, these voters were most likely to volunteer "reducing taxes for middle and lower income Americans," and "raising taxes on the wealthy" as what they most wanted to see from tax reform.

While most Americans are not yet familiar with the details of the Republican tax plan, they already oppose it by a 14-point margin, based on an average of recent polling on the plan compiled by FiveThirtyEight, with 32% supporting it, 46% opposing it, and 15% undecided.

Even though most are still uninformed about the plan, the ABC / Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans (51%) already believe it is designed to reduce taxes on the wealthy, not the middle class, while only 24% think it will treat the wealthy and the middle class equally, and even less (10%) believe it will mainly reduce taxes on the middle class.

Based on how out of step this plan is with the public's priorities for tax reform, we expect opposition to rise once the bill is finalized and the public learns more about what's in it. But compared to other recent tax bills, the current GOP bill is already historically unpopular. In fact, it is the only major tax cut in recent years found to have negative support, and is even less popular than the tax hikes passed in the 1990's.

Additionally, an analysis by George Washington University political scientist Chris Warshaw found that this tax plan is less popular than almost every major piece of legislation since 1990. The only less popular piece of legislation over that period was the GOP's recent failed plan to replace Obamacare.

While Congressional Republicans' commitment to reining in the deficit seems to have vanished, deficit neutral tax reform is a priority for the public. A recent Marist poll found that two-thirds of Americans oppose increasing the deficit even if it meant that they would receive a tax cut.

This tracks closely with our polling for Center Forward, which found that simply noting that the Republican tax plan would increase the deficit caused opposition to increase 23 points to 61%. And this surge in opposition came after respondents had heard about the more popular aspects of the bill. This revolt against the plan due to its impact on the deficit was especially pronounced among Independents (29-point increase in opposition), and particularly among non-college Independents (+36) and Independent women (+35).

In addition to the problems that a deficit hike could cause for the GOP among Independents, it could also significantly hamper Republicans' ability to use this legislation to rally their base next November. After hearing that the plan would increase the deficit, support among Republican voters fell 32 points to just 50%, with only 14% of Republicans supporting it strongly.

As a result, information on the impact on the deficit created a huge intensity gap among voters in 2018 Senate battleground states, with strong opponents of the plan outnumbering strong supporters by a more than 4 to 1 margin (35% strongly oppose vs. 8% strongly support).

Center Forward's qualitative research with swing voters revealed that a big reason voters are so bothered by tax reform increasing the deficit is because they find it so unnecessary. They feel that a tax reform plan could easily cut taxes for middle and lower income Americans without increasing the deficit by making the wealthy pay their fair share.
They also cite that CNN poll that recently showed 52% of voters disapproving of lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, 56% disapproving of repealing the estate tax and 52% disapproving of eliminating deductions for state and local income and sales taxes (52%). So how is this going to play out in the midterms? To get a better idea we asked candidates in 3 of the most hotly contested swing districts in the country, CA-39 (a sububan and small town district primarily in northeast Orange County), TX-21 (a San Antonio-Austin corridor district) and MI-06 (southwest Michigan from Kalamazoo to Lake Michigan).

Goal ThermometerSam Jammal's Orange County district has really been targeted by Ryan's tax scam and I'm actually shocked Royce couldn't-- or wouldn't-- do something to protect his own constituents, who are going to bear a lot of the brunt of giving billionaires and corporations lower taxes. Sam seems to see it the same way that I do. "This tax plan is bad for families in the 39th district. 80% of our homeowners will lose their mortgage interest deduction. 37% of our families will lose the state and local tax deduction. Countless young professionals here take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction and, as a community that includes and neighbors a number of universities, its troubling what this bill does to grad students. The bill is already unpopular and the ink isn't dry. Ed would be a 'No' vote if he still represented us, but its been years since he even made an effort."

Derrick Crowe is the Blue America-back progressive in central Texas (TX-21) and he's running in an open Republican seat, where the incumbent, Lamar Smith, has decided to get out while the gettin' is good. "We are going to absolutely hammer Republicans if they pass this tax scam bill," Derrick told me today. "Their constituents don’t support the budget impact of the plan, and the rest of America knows it’s a giveaway to the billionaire class. It does not solve the basic problem of the rigged economy, which is that people working full-time cannot afford a roof over their head and food on the table. Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires for private jet ownership, We should be focusing on raising the minimum wage and providing healthcare as a right to all Americans."

Paul Clements (MI-06) was a candidate Blue America endorsed in 2016 and who were urged to run again in 2018. He was also endorsed by Bernie and is running on a forward-think Bernie-type agenda. This morning he told us that "People in southwest Michigan already resented being left behind by an economy built for the corporate elite. Now they are angry, and not only because this tax plan skews the economy even worse. They also don’t like being lied to. Congressman Upton, who currently represents this district and who sits on the reconciliation committee, has been saying this is a tax plan is for the middle class and for small businesses, and that it will double economic growth. The facts say otherwise. This week I spoke at demonstrations at Upton’s Kalamazoo and St. Joseph offices, and the response was palpable... from the people assembled, and from drivers passing by. We don’t want a 500-page bill rushed through Congress in record time, completed in the dark of night, aiming explicitly to satisfy big Republican donors and to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, and with no chance for Democrats or the American people to get a word in. Since Upton arrived in Congress in 1986 Michigan’s average household income has risen 2%, with people working longer hours, while the stock market has risen, in real terms, over 700%. This tax plan makes economic inequality even worse. It also pushes up health insurance costs, particularly for people 50-64 years old, by undermining the Affordable Care Act. And it makes it harder to address real priorities, such as a living wage, food security, better education, and a fairer criminal justice system. It’s a give-away to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans, putting the cost on our children by raising the deficit, and we will be reminding the voters of Upton’s role in it all the way through next November."

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Illegal Ballot Destruction In The Midst Of A Law Suit Means Wasserman Schultz Stole The FL-23 Primary Election Afterall


Donna Edwards became a member of Congress-- one of the best members of Congress-- in 2008. But, truth be told, her constituents elected her in 2006... only to see the victory snatched out of her hands on election night with last minute stuffed ballot boxes from corrupt conservative Al Wynn and his Machine. Donna got to work on the 2008 campaign the next day and after Donna eviscerated him in the primary-- 59% to 37%-- he resigned to become a corporate lobbyist.

Last year Tim Canova ran a similar grassroots progressive race against the female counterpart to Wynn-- Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the same crook who, as DNC chair, was fired for fixing the primaries for Hillary Clinton. She fixed the election for Hillary; did she fix her own election against Canova? He always thought so but the media and DC establishment went bonkers when he mentioned it and nearly drove this good man out of politics with all their vitriol and venom. Polling was showing him ahead but on primary day Wasserman Schultz beat him 28,809 to 21,907 in a very low turnout election.

Friday, Marc Caputo broke the a story at Politico about how Brenda Snipes a crooked Wasserman Schultz crony and ally and the Broward County elections chief broke the law by destroying ballots cast in the tight primary election between Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova after Canova sued to get access to the ballots. Canova, according to Caputo "wanted to inspect the optical-scan ballots cast in his Aug. 30 primary race against Wasserman Schultz because he had concerns about the integrity of the elections office."
Under longstanding federal law, ballots cast in a congressional race aren’t supposed to be destroyed until 22 months after the election. And under state law, a public record sought in a court case is not supposed to be destroyed without a judge’s order.

Snipes’ office, however, destroyed the paper ballots in question in October-- in the middle of Canova’s lawsuit-- but says it’s lawful because the office made high-quality electronic copies. Canova’s legal team found out after the fact last month.

“The documents were not destroyed because they were maintained in an electronic format,” Snipes’ attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, told Politico. “They have the documents... They did a two-day inspection of the ballots.”

But Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, and his attorney say they wanted originals to make sure they weren’t tampered with. Digital copies can be altered, they said.

Seven election-law lawyers interviewed by Politico do not share Snipes' attorney's interpretation of the statute. Nor does the Department of Justice’s voting division, which is in charge of enforcing the federal law.

“If it’s a federal election, i.e., there is at least one federal candidate on the ballot, the custodian must keep the ballots for 22 months,” Brett Kappel, a Washington lawyer with Akerman LLP, said in an email to Politico. “State law may require a shorter time for retention, but federal law would pre-empt any such state law with regard to ballots cast for federal candidates.”

Kappel said evidence in an active court case should never be unilaterally destroyed. He said actual paper ballots are superior to imaged copies, and he pointed to the legal wrangling over Florida’s now-discarded punch-card ballots that were banned after the disputed 2000 presidential elections in Florida.

...Hans von Spakovsky, an elections expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the ballots must be preserved in paper form for 22 months. He said there’s a simple reason that original ballots are superior to an electronic image: “These electronic systems can be hacked.”

According to Snipes’ office, however, the ballot copies are of high quality for a review. Her attorney also dismissed Canova as a sore loser who’s trying to create a name for himself as he challenges Wasserman Schultz a second time.

“Mr. Canova lost this election,” she said. “He’s been all over Washington and has been trying to do a documentary because he’s upset he lost the election.”

In one hearing, Norris-Weeks insisted that she “certainly could get [a sworn statement] from Debbie Wasserman Schultz” to say that “she knows that they're preparing a documentary, and they're running all around talking to different people trying to do that.”

But Canova said the accusation was false.

“I’m not working on a documentary,” he said. “It is unfortunate that counsel for the Supervisor of Elections has to make things up to somehow justify the office’s illegal actions.”

Wasserman Schultz’s office declined to comment, but she has said she looks forward to again facing Canova, whom she beat by 13.6 percentage points last year.

Canova didn’t want to comment about his specific motivations for the suit, but acknowledged he has concerns about the race against Wasserman Schultz. Canova’s interest in the ballots was piqued by Lulu Friesdat, a documentary filmmaker and activist with a group called the Election Integrity network, which filed the first records request to inspect or copy the ballots in March.

A month later, Snipes’ office responded to the records request by saying it would cost $71,868.87 to sort and produce the ballots for inspection. Canova soon got involved with his attorney, Leonard Collins, and eventually they negotiated a price reduction that brought the cost down to about $3,000. But relations soured, and Canova sued in June.

Snipes’ office, meanwhile, is involved in two other lawsuits and has been plagued by errors and controversies over public records and paperwork.
Goal ThermometerOne of the reasons Donald Trump is in the White House is because the Democratic Party was saddled with a corrupt party head, Wasserman Schultz, whose entire career, going back to her days in the Florida state legislature, have been marked with blatant and persistent corruption. She has long been the poster child of everything plaguing the Democratic Party. She has smeared and slimed Canova non-stop from the moment he dared to challenge here reelection. And now its getting closer and closer to the day when she will be, not just fired as the worst DNC chair in history but fired from Congress itself. Please consider helping Canova's campaign by clicking on the Blue America thermometer on the right. Meanwhile, this was the statement he issued after Caputo's explosive report yesterday:
In ordering the destruction of ballots, the Supervisor not only violated federal law requiring ballots be maintained for 22 months. Snipes also certified that the ballots were not subject to a pending lawsuit, which she knew was a complete falsehood given that Snipes had been personally served as the defendant in our lawsuit nearly three months earlier and even though we had already made public records requests and pre-trial discovery demands to inspect the ballots.

The ballot destruction raises serious questions:  Why engage in this blatant lawbreaking? To cover up something worse? What has the Supervisor of Elections been hiding? We demand state and federal investigations into the ballot destruction and prosecution of illegal wrongdoing.

Destruction of ballots prevents any reliable audit of the election results. We are left dependent on scanned ballot images created and sorted by scanning software that requires inspection by software experts. But the scanning software is considered proprietary software, owned and controlled by the private vendors, and often protected from independent inspection and analysis.

This destruction of ballots undermines people's faith and confidence in the integrity of our elections and this election in particular. To restore confidence, Congress must investigate and hold public hearings on the circumstances of my primary, including inspection and analysis of the scanned ballot images and the scanning software. Congress should also investigate the relationships between the vendors that control the electronic voting machines and software, their officers and directors, the Broward Supervisor of Elections office, Democratic party officials, and candidates for public office.
The Democratic Party will never be a real alternative to the Republican Party nor a welcoming home for good government reformers, with people like Wasserman Schultz exercising leadership roles in it. This person isn't even the lesser of two evils, which is all the Democrats can claim half the time anyway. She is what makes contemporary politics disgusting and she is the embodiment of what keeps decent people from wanting to get involved with politics.

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Trump Deserves No Loyalty-- Quite The Opposite


Michael Gerson, Bush's chief speech-write and a self-described "pro-life conservative," got it right at the Washington Post yesterday, when he described his elation at the defeat of Roy Moore and the election of Doug Jones in Alabama. "Trump and his admirers," he wrote, "are not just putting forth an agenda; they are littering the civic arena with deception and cruelty. They are discrediting even the good causes they claim to care about. They are condemning the country to durable social division. In Trump’s GOP, loyalty requires corruption. So loyalty itself must be reconceived."
What would weaken the grip of Trump on the GOP? Obviously not moral considerations. The president has crossed line after line of decency and ethics with only scattered Republican bleats of protest. Most of the party remains in complicit silence. The few elected officials who have broken with Trump have become targets of the conservative media complex-- savaged as an example to the others.

This is the sad logic of Republican politics today: The only way that elected Republicans will abandon Trump is if they see it as in their self-interest. And the only way they will believe it is in their self-interest is to watch a considerable number of their fellow Republicans lose.

It is necessary to look these facts full in the face. In the end, the restoration of the Republican Party will require Republicans to lose elections. It will require Republican voters-- as in Alabama and (to some extent) Virginia-- to sit out, write in or even vote Democratic in races involving pro-Trump Republicans. It may require Republicans to lose control of the House (now very plausible) and to lose control of the Senate (still unlikely). It will certainly require Trump to lose control of the presidency. In the near term, this is what victory for Republicans will look like: strategic defeat. Recovery will be found only on the other side of loss.

Even if moral arguments do not suffice, the political ones are compelling. Trump and his allies are solidifying the support of rural, blue-collar and evangelical Christian whites at the expense of alienating minorities, women, suburbanites and the young. This is a foolish bargain, destroying the moral and political standing of the Republican Party, which seems complicit in its own decline. It falls to Republican voters to end this complicity.

...In GOP losses such as the Alabama Senate race, it is not rogue Republican voters (or non-voters) who are at fault. It is the blind ideologues who gave them an impossible choice. Similarly, if Republicans lose the House, the Senate, the presidency and (for a time) the country-- and incur some policy losses in the process-- Trump’s Republican opponents will not be to blame. It would be Trump and his supporters, who turned the Republican Party into a sleazy, derelict fun house, unsafe for children, women and minorities.

A healthy, responsible, appealing GOP can be built only on the ruins of this one.

Such political disloyalty to the president is now the substance of true loyalty to the Republican Party-- and reason enough to welcome Sen. Jones with cheerful relief.
Sounds like he's no fan of Steve Bannon, but before we get to Bannon, let's take a little detour over to Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight and the mathematics that show an anti-Trump/anti-GOP wave forming. The Alabama debacle for the GOP wasn't just because of what a terrible candidate Moore was, but "part of a larger pattern we’ve seen in special elections so far this year, one in which Democrats have greatly outperformed expectations." He wrote that the Democratic margin in the 70 special elections for state and federal legislative seats in 2017 has been 12 percentage points better, on average, than the partisan lean in each race. "Democrats are doing better in all types of districts with all types of candidates. You don’t see this type of consistent outperformance unless there’s an overriding pro-Democratic national factor.
And to be clear, although there have been more special elections on the state level, the pro-Democratic environment is quite clear if you look only at federal special elections. There have been seven special U.S. House and U.S. Senate elections so far this year. The Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean in all of them... [T]he average Democrat has outperformed the baseline by 16 percentage points. The shift in the margin is all that matters here-- in predicting a wave election-- not who wins or loses.

The average swing in special federal elections has forecast midterm results fairly well since the 1994 cycle. We can see this below by looking at the average swing in special federal elections preceding each midterm cycle versus the national House vote in that midterm.

The cycle that looks most like this one is 2006, when Democrats gained 30 seats and control of the House from the Republicans thanks to a hefty win in the popular vote across all House races. In 2018, they need 24 seats to win back control of the lower chamber. The difference between the average swing in special federal elections and the margin of the national vote for the House has averaged just 3 percentage points since 1994. It has never differed by more than 7 points. So even if Democrats do 7 points worse in the national House vote than the average swing so far suggests, they’d still win the national House vote by 9 points, which would likely mean that they reclaim a House majority next year.

Enten is overly cautious-- drastically so, to the point of silliness. That's why these DC prognosticators are always-- always-- months behind the curveball. The discussion is way beyond if the Democrats will win back the House and now way into by how many dozens of seats and whether or not that can win back the Senate as well. Of course things could change between now and election day, but the overwhelming likelihood is that they will change for the better-- for Democrats and worse for Republicans. Trump, McConnell and Ryan will continue their roles of albatrosses around the necks of Republican incumbents and candidates and... then there's Steve Bannon, the GOP's very own Mr. Destructo. The AP's Jonathan Lemire reputed that Bannon is "catching blame from fellow Republicans for coughing up a safe Senate seat in deep-red Alabama and foisting damaging political advice" on Señor Trumpanzee. Better yet-- for Democrats-- "Bannon is showing no signs of abandoning his guerrilla war against the GOP establishment."
when Moore lost on Tuesday, handing the Democrats control of their first Senate seat in Alabama in a generation, Republicans turned on Bannon. The Breitbart News head already had made scores of enemies for declaring a siege on his own party.

"This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running," said Steven Law, head of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC for Republicans aligned with GOP leadership. "Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco."

Bannon's team vowed that its revolution would continue, insisting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should be the one to take the blame.

Bannon's allies dismissed the Alabama loss as little more than a temporary setback that would soon be forgotten. They expect that the Republicans cheering Moore's loss will simply enrage Trump's most loyal supporters nationwide, who already suspected some Republican leaders were trying to undermine the president's agenda.

"They're stomping on the very base they need to turn out for their candidates in the general election in 2018," said Andy Surabian, a senior adviser to the Bannon-backed Great America PAC. He contended that "the average Republican voter across the country is pointing their finger at Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment."

Bannon's team blamed McConnell for abandoning Moore, though it was a somewhat incongruous argument after Bannon warned McConnell to stay out of Alabama when Moore won the GOP primary. On his Sirius XM radio show Wednesday, Bannon credited Democrats with "out-hustling" the GOP on the ground in Alabama-- praise that doubled as a swipe at the lack of Senate Republican campaign committee field staff on the ground in the state.

...Bannon's group indicated they would forge forward with plans to challenge the GOP establishment in Senate races in as many as 10 states, including Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee, though one adviser suggested that a greater effort may be made on recruiting and screening candidates.

But in the hours after the stunning defeat, many Republicans reveled in Bannon's failure.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina argued that Bannon should have called off his guns and simply backed Trump's first choice.

"When it comes to Alabama politics Steve Bannon should have followed President @realDonaldTrump lead in supporting Luther Strange," Graham tweeted. "Trump's instincts on the Alabama race proved to be correct."

And Rep. Peter King, R-NY, declared that Bannon looked "like some disheveled drunk who wandered onto the political stage."

"This is not the type of person we need in politics," said King said. "(Bannon) sort of parades himself out there with his weird alt-right views that he has, and to me it's demeaning the whole government and political process. And last night's election was a manifestation of the revulsion by the American people."

Active Shooter and all the art of this post is by Nancy Ohanian

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