Sunday, January 21, 2018

To Many Movers And Shakers, Where Amazon Puts It's New Headquarters Is The Most Important Thing In The World


Amazon released the short list-- 20 cities-- they say they're considering for a second headquarters. Here's the list, not in alphabetical order, but in order of how many flights per day go to that city from Seattle, which doesn't seem all that important to me since if there's more demand, the airlines will put in more flights, but Geek Wire thinks this is a crucial consideration (and a reason to buy stock in Alaska Airlines). In any case, L.A. has 45 flights a day (and on 6 different airlines, which probably is something of a plus) and Columbus and Pittsburgh have no flights, although Alaska says they are adding a Seattle to Pittsburgh flight next fall.
Los Angeles
New York
Washington, DC
Montgomery County, MD
Northern Virginia
Interestingly, the Washington Post ran with a story by Andrew Van Dam on Saturday morning that looks at the momentous decision in terms of politics. Why is it important politically? 50,000 jobs. A new headquarters," wrote Van Dam, "would pack enough of an employment and economic punch that it could have a measurable effect on presidential elections. To estimate that effect, we need to understand who Amazon’s workers will be, and how they’ll vote. OK, they want young, educated workers, with a strong university system in the area and an "ability to recruit talent to the area."

Think about Pennsylvania. Trump’s 44,292-vote margin is smaller than the number of new Amazon employees if the company picks Philly or Pittsburgh. A Miami headquarters could shake up Florida, already a swing state. Ditto for Raleigh, North Carolina.
Which one predominates in practice? We can’t venture a guess, but the answer would significantly affect the political impact of Amazon’s decision. Outside workers are presumably more likely to change a city’s political mix than residents, but the arrival of a major new employer would help a city retain the sorts of workers that, in a previous era, might have moved away.

The group Amazon seems to regard as its hiring pool, college graduates younger than 40, leans heavily Democratic. In the 2016 election, the national network exit poll found 56 percent of them voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton vs. 35 percent for Trump.

But will there be enough of them working at Amazon's new headquarters to swing any states? Let’s try running some numbers.

It’s easy enough to count the workers. Amazon says it will hire as many as 50,000 people at its new hub over the next 10 to 15 years, as well as create “tens of thousands” of additional jobs through direct investment. In Seattle, it pegs that additional-job number at 53,000. We’ll use that figure in our back-of-the-envelope math,to obtain a high-side estimate.

That starts us out at 103,000 theoretical Amazon and Amazon-adjacent workers.

To estimate how many voting family members those workers might bring along, we can use a 2015 Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data that finds a marriage rate of about 65 percent for adults age 25 or older.

That brings us up to 169,950 workers and spouses. Caveat: We have no idea how many Amazonians married each other. The government doesn’t release that info.

Not all of those are eligible voters. Some may be felons, while many more won’t hold citizenship in the United States. For our estimate, then, we’ll count only 92 percent of the total-- roughly the percentage of adult U.S. residents who, according to the Census Bureau, held citizenship in 2015. That drops it to 155,844.

And not all those who are eligible to vote go to the polls. According to the census, voter turnout was 64.1 percent for bachelor’s degree holders ages 25 to 44 in 2016. That drops our number to about 99,896.

Based on our assumptions, the Democrats would capture about 55,942 of those voters and Republicans would get 34,964, making for a total Democratic margin of 20,974.

That’s more than Trump’s 10,704 margin in Michigan and close to his 22,748 margin in Wisconsin, but it’s not big enough to flip any of the states on the Amazon shortlist.

Ours is already a high-end estimate of Amazon’s impact-- it accounts for both Amazon’s hiring and the jobs it claims to directly create, and assumes that all such jobs will be new to the region. A more conservative set of assumptions would result in a margin of less than half that size. But neither model captures everything.

Specifically, the cities clamoring for the online retail giant’s attention are counting on a salubrious knock-on effect. They hope that Amazon’s economic activity and stamp of approval will draw in other tech companies and help their city become the next Seattle or San Jose.

If that happens, all of the political effects here will be multiplied, perhaps to the point where the state hosting the chosen city will tip from one party to the other-- unless Toronto wins, in which case all our assumptions are bunk because it's in Canada.

These cities are begging to have their economies transformed by Amazon, but not all of them, particularly those in red and purple states, may realize that it could transform them politically as well. After all, U.S. tech hubs end up following a similar political pattern.

Even if the city’s presidential pick doesn’t change, their new Amazonian voting bloc is likely to upend local and congressional elections.
And isn't Apple talking about opening some major new campus or campuses-- not exactly a headquarters, but something big? Des Moines, where Apple is almost surely building a $1.375 billion data center in the Des Moines suburb of Waukee, is already imagining...


Kaniela Ing (D-HI)... How To Be Much More Than Just The Lesser Of 2 Evils Kind Of Candidate The DCCC Loves


There isn't a better candidate running for Congress than Kaniela Ing-- not a better candidate in Hawaii or a better candidate running anywhere. On of the top members of the state legislature, he has a record, not just on policy, but on courageous leadership that qualifies him for Congress. He's the kind of candidate who will make Congress a better place-- or die trying. He's not the kind of guy who's going to sit quietly in the back of the room while Pelosi, Hoyer and the corrupted establishment tell him what their rules are.

Take a look at the clip up top. Yeah, Kaniela wants to impeach Trump... but that's not what his career in public service is all about. Every Democrat running should put out a video like the one above, looking straight into the camera and-- with no bullshit-- explain to the voters exactly what they'll get by voting for him or her. At around the one-minute mark, the clip is what makes a Democratic congressional race clarifying. Listen to him speak. This isn't a New Dem or Blue Dog from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. This is what a Democrat from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party sounds like.

Kaniela isn proud to be the first elected official in Hawaii to call for Trump's impeachment-- just as he was proud to be the first elected official in Hawaii to endorse Bernie for president. He wants to be clear with voters though, this his race isn't just about impeaching Trump. He lays out 9 core issues he's running on:
Universal Healthcare
Debt-free college
Banning private prisons
Ending reckless wars
$3 trillion infrastructure/jobs plan
Affordable Housing
Living Wages
Legalizing Adult-use Cannabis
Campaign Finance Reform
Goal ThermometerThis sure isn't the agenda that the "ex"-Republicans running against him are for. As he explains, his populist, grassroots campaign stands up to Big Pharma, insurance companies and the military industrial complex. Is this your kind of agenda? Kaniela doesn't take corporate contributions. The only way he's going to get his message out in a competitive primary-- filled with big money, establishment corporate shills-- is with the help of grassroots contributions. The ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right will take you right to a page where you can contribute to Kaniela's campaign. When Ro Khanna (D-CA) endorsed him, he explained that he was doing so "because Kaniela walks the walk to get money out of politics and fights for a new way forward. It's young, proven leaders like Kaniela who will shift paradigms on climate action, innovation, and building a future economy that leaves no one behind." Closer to home, Re‍‍‍presentative Sylvia Luke endorsed, in her own words, "because he is the only candidate who has unwaveringly stood up for equal rights and a woman's right to choose. He's someone who captures the spirit and essence of Hawaii. Kaniela is what Hawaii needs right now, and I ask you to join me in supporting him."

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Why Is Paul Ryan Letting Pennsylvania Crook Pat Meehan Off So Lightly?


Pat "Chester the Molester" Meehan doesn't look so happy

Yesterday I got an e-mail from Keystone Progress, one of the most reliable progressive groups in Pennsylvania. They were demanding Republican Pat Meehan resign from his swing district seat in the Philly suburbs-- one of the 3 most gerrymandered seats in the whole country, PA-07, which includes parts of Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, (a tiny sliver of) Lancaster and Chester counties. The district went for Obama 53-46% in 2008, for Romney 50-49% in 2012 and for Hillary 49.3-47.0% in 2016. The PVI went from R+2 in 2015 to R+1 this year. The DCCC has managed to screw up the races every year since 2010 when Joe Sestak left the seat. The e-mail from Keystone Progress:
Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Cheltenham) settled a sexual harassment claim against himself using thousands in public dollars. Additionally, Meehan has been a "leader" in the effort by this congress to, ostensibly, investigate sexual harassment.

Meehan's conduct should be disqualifying of a congressperson.

Join us in calling for Pat Meehan's resignation, for conduct unbecoming of the office and for abuse of the public trust.

Every man should be held accountable when they violate a woman, including elected officials.

Pat Meehan can no longer serve the interests of his constituents, and we call on him to resign immediately. 

They forgot to mention that Meehan, a Ryan rubber stamp, is a member of the House Ethics Committee who worked hard to position himself as a leader in fighting sexual misconduct. Ken Vogel from the story Saturday in the NY Times noting that last year the staffer who accused him of making unwanted romantic overtures to her was decades younger than him and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate and ruined her career.
Life in the office became untenable, so she initiated the complaint process, started working from home and ultimately left the job. She later reached a confidential agreement with Mr. Meehan’s office that included a settlement for an undisclosed amount to be paid from Mr. Meehan’s congressional office fund... The handling of that complaint-- which included an aggressive pushback by representatives from Mr. Meehan’s office and congressional lawyers, who suggested she had misinterpreted the congressman’s behavior-- demoralized the aide. It led to her estrangement from her colleagues, and isolation from friends, family and her boyfriend, according to the people in whom she confided. It set her back financially and professionally, as she continued to pay legal costs associated with the complaint even after leaving her job in Mr. Meehan’s office and struggling to find a new one. She moved back in with her parents and ultimately decided to start a new life abroad.

...After counseling and mediation sessions mandated by the Office of Compliance, the sides reached an agreement that included a settlement and a strict nondisclosure agreement, according to people familiar with the process.

The exact amount of the settlement could not be determined, partly because Mr. Meehan’s office paid it from a congressional office fund that allows such payments to be disguised as salary and reported months after they were made. But people familiar with the payout said it was thousands of dollars.

...The aide’s dealings with the Office of Compliance left her feeling as if the settlement was not worth the emotional distress the process had caused, said the friends and former colleagues. All spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because they were concerned that, if lawyers for Mr. Meehan or the House accused the woman of violating the nondisclosure agreement, her settlement could be withdrawn and her career prospects further damaged.

Other women who have endured the complaint process have suffered personal and professional consequences.

“I tried to get another job with another member of Congress, and I was blackballed. Nobody wanted to touch me,” said Marion Brown, who filed the complaint that led to Mr. Conyers’s resignation, and who was not speaking about the Meehan case. “And I’m still going through backlash, because he resigned without admitting doing anything wrong.”
Meehan is denying the charges and the woman's attorney called his statement "a desperate effort to preserve his career." It's worth mentioning that she had paid her own lawyers’ fees, and the settlement she reached was not enough to cover her legal and living expenses while she was out of work. Vogel ends his piece by mentioning that "one of the leading Democratic prospects, State Senator Daylin Leach, suspended his bid in December, after he was accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching."

What he didn't bother mentioning is that the one woman who came out publicly against Leach, a self-admitted Kirsten Gillibrand wannabe named Aubrey Montgomery accused Leach of telling dirty jokes in front on her a decade ago. She continued to donate to his campaigns for the next ten years and didn't suddenly turn on him until she became a finance consultant for another Democrat in the race, a sleazy character and carpetbagger named Dan Muroff, who had been pushing the story around for months before The Inquirer finally went with it.

Late Saturday afternoon Ryan kicked Meehan off the Ethics Committee and told him to repay taxpayer funds he used as hush money to cover up his unethical behavior. No one understands exactly why Ryan isn't asking Meehan to resign the way John Conyers, Trent Franks and Blake Farenthold were forced to, for the exact same behavior. Oh yeah... only Meehan has been a devoted Ryan rubber stamp. How could I forget?

I wonder if the poor wife knows

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Clearing The Congressional Field... In California


America needs REAL Dems to push us forward, not more corrupt New Dems

One of the ways the Democratic establishment-- usually led by the DCCC-- advantages its corrupt conservative candidates is by clearing the field. A week or so ago we looked at how one of the big players in this game-- the execrable corporate whore Steny Hoyer-- is trying to do it for Jason Crow in Colorado. It's interesting that this year, when you look at the list of garbage candidates the DCCC is pushing-- mostly New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, there's no one from California. Why's that? The DCCC lists 10 districts in California on their 2018 target list. I'm guessing that the reason the DCCC isn't playing dirty in California, the way they are in every other part of the country, is because the Democrats in Congress elected Ted Lieu DCCC regional vice-chair for the West Coast and he believes the DCCC should be neutral in primaries. So the DCCC seems to be pretty neutral in this state, something the party establishment doesn't seem that happy about.

The corruptionists, led by vicious anti-Bernie Sanders fanatic Zoe Lofgren in the House and by local machine bosses and paid political hitmen from the New Dem campaigns, are trying to undo Lieu's policy of primary neutrality with their clearing the field stratagems. I'll come back to this in a second but allow me a brief tangent first. The world of political operatives is hardly a church choir but it is generally recognized in that sleazy industry that the bottom of the barrel is a firm called BergmannZwerdling Direct. They're as low as it gets, a veritable poison factory, working hand-in-glove with the very worst of the DCCC staffers, Kyle Layman, an overt woman-hater who the DCCC has working in California and doing an especially terrible job. In past elections Bergmann and Zwerdling were the slime bags responsible for most of the lies circulating online about Alan Grayson on behalf of their fake-Democrat New Dem client Patrick Murphy. That's what they specialize in-- scraping the bottom of the toilet for Republicans pretending to be Democrats. This cycle their clients include 6 of the worst Democraticish candidates in California: "ex"-Republican lottery winner Gil Cisneros (CA-39); New Dem and former Chuck "Wall Street" Schumer aide Dave Min; Josh Harder, the anti-progressive careerist, fucking up the race against Jeff Denham in CA-10; Brian Caforio, Zoe Lofgren's candidate to stop progressive Katie Hill from being able to beat Steve Knight; self-entitled Hans 'it's all about me, me, me' Keirstead in CA-48; and, the funniest of all, the Qualcomm heiress and Clinton volunteer who parachuted into CA-49 from Brooklyn expecting to be crowned princess/congresswoman, Sarah Jacobs.

So while Lofgren, the Bernie-hater, is demanding the DCCC clear the field (of progressives), Achim Bergmann has his detestable whispering campaigns zipping around the Democratic caucus in DC and Sacramento as the California Democratic Party prepares for pre-convention endorsement meetings. In Orange County's CA-45, for example, they are desperate to knock out Katie Porter, the progressive candidate endorsed by Elizabeth Warren, in favor of Schumer's pointless corporate shill, New Dem Dave Min. Why desperate? New polling from Global Strategy Group shows that Min isn't exactly resonating with likely primary voters. From the Global Strategy Group memo: "Katie Porter’s profile and message not only make her the best-positioned Democrat to emerge from the CA-45 jungle primary, but also the one most likely to defeat Mimi Walters in the general election. In a largely unknown field of Democratic challengers, Porter starts out ahead of the other Democrats. More important, the poll reveals Porter’s profile to be especially resonant in this competitive Clinton-won district, driving her to a large advantage over the other Democrats in a simulated race and demonstrating her ability to not only consolidate Democratic support but appeal to NPP voters and moderate Republicans as well." Their findings are NOT what BergmannZwerdling and the New Dems want to see:

Goal ThermometerMeanwhile, Achim Bergmann is just making up ridiculous crap to persuade California Democratic Party pre-convention delegates that only conservatives like Min can win against Walters, the old truism that conservative Democrats have used since Rahm Emanuel popularized it in 2006 and has led the Democrats into near political oblivion. There's one thing you can be sure of-- if a candidate is a client of BergmannZwerdling the chances that they represent Democratic values and principles is almost nonexistent. On the other hand, there are no New Dems, no Blue Dogs, no clients of BergmannZwerdling on the list of California progressive candidates you'll find by clicking on the ActBlue congressional candidates thermometer on the right. And if you want to keep more careerist creeps from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party from sneaking into Congress, please consider supporting any of the candidates you find on that list. Take a look.

This doesn't look like a field that will be easily cleared by a corrupt old DC politician and a couple of sleazy campaign operatives

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The Women's March Is Crucially Important, And... And But...


I don't go in for identity politics at all. Voting for someone because they were born a woman, gay, of any particular religion, Asian or black, for example, is not my cup pf tea. Nor is voting for someone who is a veteran, a scientist, a doctor or part of any age group. Take women. Women make up 51% of the population but just 22% of the Senate and 19% of the House. That's outrageous. And that's why when when two candidates-- one man and one woman-- are equally good, I'll vote for the woman. But, not all women candidates are good candidates or good political leaders. Some are absolutely horrible in fact. Look at the House. Arguably, the very best member of the House is Pramila Jayapal, a woman elected from Seattle. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) have fantastic voting records too. And you want to find incredible leadership and courageousness in Congress? Look no further than Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and Barbara Lee in the House. Bad news though. The absolute rotgut worst Democrat in the House is a woman: Kyrsten Sinema, the head of the Blue Dogs who represents a nice blue district in the Phoenix area. And she isn't the only Democratic woman who is so horrible that no one who believes in Democratic values should support her. Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL), Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL), and Jacky Rosen (NV) have amassed voting records that no one but Paul Ryan and EMILY's List could possibly like. In the Senate, the worst Democrat is Heidi Heitkamp-- yes, my friends, even worse than Joe Manchin. And who voted to throw the DREAMers under the bus-- or in this case onto a bus headed for Mexico or El Salvador-- Friday night? Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill (as well as Manchin and Joe Donnelly).

Among candidates for Congress this cycle, people such as Nina Ahmad (D-PA), Katie Porter (D-CA), Jenny Marshall (D-NC), Lisa Brown (D-WA), Jess King (D-PA), Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-NM)... are simply the best people running for Congress. It's stupid to call them the best woman candidate when they are just the best candidate, period. I remember how Joni Mitchell used to curse critics at reviewers who called her the "best woman songwriter." You can't imagine how offended she was by that. She was the best songwriter-- end of story. How about that? Those candidates are not the best women candidates; they are the best candidates. Period. You could say Nina Ahmad is the best woman candidate born in Dacca and, technically, you'd be correct. It makes more sense to say she's the best candidate running for Congress. Someone might want to argue with you-- maybe, say, proponents of Randy Bryce or Marie Newman, who might say one of them is better-- so fine, make the argument... but it's not about anyone's plumbing.

Another awesome congressional candidate, a woman, running in the Houston area, is Dayna Steele. She's amazing and would make a fantastic member of Congress with a unique and much-needed perspective. Yesterday she emailed he supporters about the woman's march: "One year ago, I marched with my husband and youngest son in downtown Houston. Expecting to see maybe 500 people, I was stunned to find over 30,000 women, men, and children. That scene repeated itself all over the world, where people gathered to take a stand.  When the march was over my young son asked 'What good will this do? What will you do moving forward?' After much thought and counsel, I decided to run for Congress. Today, with the government shut down because folks like Brian Babin won't do their job, I’m marching again with my husband and youngest son, this time as a candidate for the 36th district of Texas. If you support women’s rights, equal rights, healthcare for all, quality public education, DACA, CHIP, and making people‘s lives better, I’m asking you to support our campaign today." Support her here.

"Activists," wrote Michelle Price and Anita Snow, "are returning to the streets a year after a million people rallied worldwide at marches for female empowerment, hoping to create an enduring political movement that will elect more women to government office... A rally Sunday in Las Vegas will launch an effort to register 1 million voters and target swing states in the midterm elections. The 2017 rally in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of similar marches created solidarity for those denouncing President Donald Trump’s views on abortion, immigration, LGBT rights and more. Afterward, a wave of women decided to run for elected office and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct became a cultural phenomenon. 'We made a lot of noise,' said Elaine Wynn, an organizer. 'But now how do we translate that noise into something concrete or fulfilling?' Linda Sarsour, one of the four organizers of last year’s Washington march, said Las Vegas was slotted for a major rally because it’s a strategic swing state that gave Hillary Clinton a narrow win in the presidential election and will have one of the most competitive Senate races in 2018. Democrats believe they have a good chance of winning the seat held by embattled Republican Sen. Dean Heller and weakening the GOP’s hold on the chamber."

Too bad [male] puppetmasters Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer handpicked one of the worst Democrats in the House, Jacky Rosen, as the Democratic candidate for that Senate seat. I'd vote for a pool of puke on the street before voting for Jacky Rosen. And the DCCC just endorsed a garbage candidate for Rosen's seat in the House, an incredibly wealthy, Mafia-connected socialite-- and Pelosi crony-- Susie Lee. If you want horrible-- albeit horrible without a penis-- you've got two to support right there in Las Vegas. And then you can feel like you've been cheated next year when they start voting like Heitkamp and McCaskill.

Instead, we should be putting our energy into electing great candidates-- many of whom are women-- who are shunned by corrupted slime like Reid and Schumer and the DCCC. Another Blue Dog in the House who is beyond horrible is Chicagoland walking garbage pile Dan Lipinski. He joined Paul Ryan to speak at the counter-rally against Choice on Friday. And his opponent is not just better than he is; his opponent is fantastic and someone who will make Congress a better place. Oh, and she happens be a woman: Marie Newman. Robin Marty, writing for Right Wing Watch wrote about that anti-Choice movement's rally and the horror of what's behind it. This is a lot more salient than electing crap candidates in Las Vegas.
When tens of thousands of abortion-rights opponents gather in Washington, D.C., this week to protest the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, many will be lobbying the Trump administration and Congress on measures that they hope will chip away at and ultimately lead to the repeal of Roe. But a smaller group of activists are taking a much more direct approach to their efforts to stop legal abortion. Quietly, the anti-choice “rescue” movement has been trying out new tactics to test the limits of the FACE Act, the 1994 law that stopped them from physically blocking the entrances of abortion clinics in order to deny women access.

“Rescues” or abortion clinic sit-ins, are nothing new to the anti-abortion movement. In 1991, as many as 500 protesters a day gathered in front of abortion clinics in Wichita, Kansas, blocking patients from entering the buildings. The anti-abortion “rescue” movement was at its height then, with thousands gathering at national events to shut down clinics, while dedicated local activists focused on regular daily or weekly “rescues” that involved barricading elevators, blocking the vehicles of abortion providers, even locking themselves to buildings, cement blocks or cars so they couldn’t be removed from the premises.

The FACE Act put an end to almost all of those tactics. Signed into law in 1994 by Democratic President Bill Clinton, FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) made it a federal crime to physically obstruct a clinic entrance or use force, threat of force or intimidation against anyone attempting to provide or procure an abortion, or to intentionally damage or destroy the property of a reproductive health services facility. (FACE’s rules also applied to anyone trying to block access to a place of worship.)

The FACE Act brought a quick end to the rescue movement as it existed in its heyday, ending the ability of anti-choice activists to physically prevent women from accessing abortion. But the strength of the law depends on how aggressively the federal government is willing to enforce it. In the five years that the FACE Act was in effect under President Clinton, the administration used it to file charges in 46 criminal or civil cases. During the two-term presidency of Republican George W. Bush, on the other hand, the Department of Justice had a 75 percent drop in criminal FACE Act violation charges, and filed just one civil case in eight years. Aggressive enforcement began again with the election of Democratic President Barack Obama, whose administration prosecuted 11 criminal and nine civil FACE Act violations in his first term alone.

With another Republican president in the White House-- one who anti-abortion groups worked zealously to get elected once they accepted the fact that he would be their inevitable nominee-- it is still unclear how aggressively the Department of Justice will enforce the FACE Act. Last year, the Trump Justice Department showed that it was willing to prosecute the most flagrant FACE violations after the radical anti-choice group Operation Save America attempted an old-school clinic blockade in Louisville, Kentucky. Police arrested 11 anti-abortion activists associated with Operation Save Americain May after they sat and directly blocked the front doors of the only abortion clinic in the state. Ten of the activists were ultimately charged with civil FACE Act violations, and a temporary restraining order was issued to keep them from the clinic property when they returned for a national event two months later. A full trial on the charges will occur this spring.

Whether the Trump administration will pursue less clear-cut cases remains to be seen. In response, anti-abortion activists appear to be nibbling around the edges of the law, trying out new strategies to test how far the Justice Department will allow them to go.

...More anti-abortion activist groups are staging marches and protest events like this outside abortion clinic doors to thwart patients from obtaining legal abortion care. If a patient approaching a clinic for medical care is confronted with a sea of thousands of protesters, that can hardly be seen as anything other than intimidation of a person attempting to access an abortion. Yet these marches, because they are currently being organized in a permissible way in public thoroughfares, often come with the assistance and tacit support of local government and law enforcement agencies.

While the Trump administration is in power, it remains very unlikely that we will see many activists charged with FACE Act violations-- that is, unless we see more blatant Operation Save America-style clinic-door blockades like we saw in the spring of 2016. But as for, more tentative steps into potential FACE violations pacifist clinic trespasses, city-issued and permitted mass marches and similar tactics-- it is safe to expect these to multiply, especially as federal authorities stick their heads in the sand and local law enforcement provide little more than wrist slaps in response.

And considering that this was how the original rescue movement grew from local nuisance to a national threat to access, that could be the most alarming development of all.
Goal ThermometerThis is Dan Lipinksi's world. Last Thursday, when the Republicans brought up the enabling legislation for another of their ugly and vicious anti-Choice bills, the so-called Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, only two "Democrats" voted with the Republicans to allow the bill to move forward, vile Blue Dogs Dan Lipinski and Collin Peterson. The DCCC will never quit Dan or Collin. But supporting Marie Newman and helping her replace Lipinski is a far more effective way to bring about real change than backing Reid's, Schumer's and the DCCC's godawful women candidates in Nevada. We're not asking you to support Marie Newman because she's a woman-- although I'm happy she is and that's a crucial part of who she is-- but because she is the best candidate and because will make Congress a better place because of what she's got between her ears. If you click the ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right, you'll find Marie Newman... and a whole slew of awesome women candidates-- and awesome male candidates. These are the people we should be supporting if we want a better country, not Jacky Rosen, not Kyrsten Sinema and not Susie Lee.

The choice couldn't be more clear

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Midnight Meme Of TheDay!


-by Noah

OK, let's talk about Stormy Daniels. For those of you who have been vacationing in Siberia or fishing for the rare Arapaima in the headwaters of the Amazon, Stormy is the porn star who slept with Señor Trumpanzee and got $130,000 for her troubles. Not only that, she slept with this sweaty, orange ball of slimy follicle-challenged ectoplasm for a year, a whole eff-ing year! Really, can you imagine 5 minutes? 2 minutes? 30 seconds? 5 seconds? The later is what it would be anyway, but, no matter what, $130,000 isn't enough. Talk about selling yourself cheap! $130 Billion wouldn't be enough. She's an idiot and so is the assclown who paid her to keep her silence. But, maybe he actually does know something about The Art Of The Deal. Nah, Stormy is the proverbial $10 whore that you can find on any afternoon on any street that runs from the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal to the Lincoln Tunnel. She's enjoying her 15 minuets of fame. It is, however a second 15 minutes. She once explored running for the Senate in Louisiana against none other than Senator David "Diapers" Vitter. Her candidacy never got off the ground.

Stormy did earn her money of course. You'd have to pay me $130,000 just to be in the same room with Trump but it would have to be The Thunderdome, you know, that "2 go in 1 man leaves" place from one of the Road Warrior movies. One night, about 25 years ago, I was almost in the same room as Trumpanzee. I was sent to the wrong room at a famous New York recording studio, opened the door, and there was Trump on the control room couch, sitting there listening to something, a blonde on either side. I guess some actress, model, whatever thought she could sing, or someone told her she could. Anyway, nice guy that I am, I said excuse me, closed the door, and went and found the right room, the room, very ironically, where a fine band named Spread Eagle was recording their second album. To think, I could have changed history simply by going into that first room and jamming a live cable into Señor Trumpanzee's ear. I often think of that night. It haunts me. I think about what a service I could have performed for all humankind and every creature that walks, swims, or flies on this planet. Then, I stop myself when I realize, that all I would have done would have been to pave the way for Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, or some other total jerkoff to take his place.

So what is it that Stormy did for her $130,000? Did she use his tiny dick for dental floss? Did she "Oh baby, baby, you're the best I ever had!" Or, did she just smile and then run to the bathroom to throw up? Well, the details are coming out. Stormy says that one of the services she performed was that the man that is now the President Of The United States had her spank him with a rolled up copy of an issue of Forbes Magazine. I think it was the one from 2006 that had him and a couple of his insipid kids on the cover. Given his love of fake magazines with him on the cover, who knows whether the magazine of choice was all real or not, but just think of having to look at that blotchy orange cellulite farm of an ass as you beat it with a magazine. It makes me wonder what other magazines did Stormy have to bring to her "job." I've composed a list:
1. Any one of a number of fake Time Magazine issues with Trump's face on the cover.
2. That issue of Time from the 1930s that had Hitler on the cover.
3. Guns and Ammo.
4. A male gay porn magazine that caters strictly to overly chubby men?
5. A Miss Universe pageant program?
6. Better yet, a Teen Miss Universe pageant program?
7. A copy of the defunct Trump Magazine?
8. A copy of a New Jersey Generals yearbook, his failed pro football team?
9. Loser?
10. The American Journal of Proctology?
So, was it all "Donnie, you're a bad, bad boy!" Did he make her address him or his penis as "Mr. President?" Were there dirty emails? Let's see the emails! Calling wiki-leaks!

What if this news had come out before the election? Would it have made a difference? I seriously doubt it. His supporters hear stuff like this and say "That Trump, he's the man!" They love pedophiles, too, so if you support pedophile candidates, why wouldn't you support a wacko who pays porn stars to spank him? Meanwhile, they and their whole damn party will talk you to death about "Family Values."

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

How Do Members Of Congress Get So Rich While They're In Congress (A Full Time Job)?


Ken Calvert

There are some really, really wealthy members of Congress, most of them-- though not all-- crooks. 7 House members are ungodly rich:
Darrell Issa (R-CA)- stealing cars & the starting a car alarm company-- $330,050,015
Jared Polis (D-CO)- internet entrepreneur-- $313,556,22
John Delaney (New Dem-MD)- bankster-- $232,816,089
David Trott (R-MI)- foreclosure and eviction king-- $177,149,145
Vernon Buchanan (R-FL)- used car salesman, offshore insurance and charter jets-- $115,534,558
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)- married an investment banker-- $100,643,521
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)- says he was a humble pigeon cage cleaner before he married an heiress-- $95,569,028
They were rich before they got to Congress and some may have used their offices to increase their wealth, none of them are in the Open Secrets list of members of Congress with the mega-increases of wealth for the decade from 2005-2015. That list indicates that 8 House members became very wealthy while they were in Congress, each of them increasing their net worth by over a 1,000%. The worst is a notorious crook, Ken Calvert from California's Inland Empire. His district is one of the reddest in the state and he's likely to be one of the last Republicans left in the California congressional delegation, which will probably shrink by half this year. Calvert knows there's no accountability headed his way. The district (CA-42) starts in the suburbs west of Riverside and goes from Eastvale, Norco and Corona. south past Lake Elsinore through Menifee and Murrieta to the suburbs north of Temecula. Obama lost the district both times he ran, 55-44% against McCain and 57-41% to Romney. Trump beat Hillary 53.4% to 41.4% and the PVI stands at R+9. Calvert has never been in a competitive reelection. His opponents have never raised, if anything, more than a fraction of what he has and the best they do, generally, is just over 40% of the vote. This cycle there are 3 Democrats vying to take him on, Julia Peacock, Norman Quintero and Thomas Price. As of the Sept. 30 FEC reporting deadline Peacock had raised $23,060 and neither Quintero nor Price had raised the $5,000 that triggers a report. Calvert has a $962,663 warchest. Hde isn't worried.

Calvert had a 4900% increase in net worth since he 2005. At that time he was in debt (around $100,000) and now his net worth is $4,800,003. So how did he get so rich? Well, Calvert graduated from San Diego State in 1975 and managed his family's restaurant, the Jolly Fox, in Corona before becoming a real estate agent and starting his own realty company, Ken Calvert Real Properties. He was elected to Congress in 1992. He is thought to use his perch on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and as chairman of the Subcommittee on Interior and Environment to enrich himself. He is notorious for frequently using taxpayer money to build highways to worthless land he owned to increase its value. That's why he's a multimillionaire today.

There are at least 4 other congressional criminals who became millionaires while in Congress. You can see their net worth in 2005 followed by their net worth in 2015
Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)-- $267,511--> $12,193,002
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)-- $81,537--> $2,523,001
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)-- $83,001--> $1,687,509
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)-- $175,505--> $3,547,506
In 2015, CNN made the point that "the typical American family is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, but Congress is getting wealthier every year. The median net worth of lawmakers was just over $1 million in 2013, or 18 times the wealth of the typical American household, according to new research released Monday by the Center for Responsive Politics. And while Americans' median wealth is down 43% since 2007, Congress members' net worth has jumped 28%."

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The NRA-Kremlin-Trump Triangle-- Will Mueller Sort That One Out?


Thursday, McClatchy ran a pretty eye-popping piece by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump. The jist of it was that Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank-- a Putin crony-- was illegally funneling cash to the Trump campaign via the NRA.
[T]he NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump-- triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

Two people with close connections to the powerful gun lobby said its total election spending actually approached or exceeded $70 million. The reporting gap could be explained by the fact that independent groups are not required to reveal how much they spend on Internet ads or field operations, including get-out-the-vote efforts.

...Torshin, a leading figure in Putin’s party, has been implicated in money laundering by judicial authorities in Spain, as Bloomberg News first revealed in 2016. Spanish investigators alleged in an almost 500-page internal report that Torshin, who was then a senator, capitalized on his government role to assist mobsters laundering funds through Spanish properties and banks, Bloomberg reported.

A summary obtained by McClatchy of the still-secret report links Torshin to Russian money laundering and describes him as a godfather in a major Russian criminal organization called Taganskaya.

Investigators for three congressional committees probing Russia’s 2016 operations also have shown interest in Torshin, a lifetime NRA member who has attended several of its annual conventions. At the group’s meeting in Kentucky in May 2016, Torshin spoke to Donald Trump Jr. during a gala event at the group’s national gathering in Kentucky in May 2016, when his father won an earlier-than-usual NRA presidential endorsement.

I bet Maddow wishes she could get Torshin for an interview on her show! Yesterday, Bob Bauer, reporting for wrote that "recent commentaries and press reports have tended to downgrade the prospects for a special counsel prosecution of campaign finance charges. Moving ahead of them in the Mueller speculation sweepstakes are obstruction of justice and, in some accounts, business crimes. No one knows, of course, what the special counsel, or the congressional investigating committees, have learned that has not appeared in the press. Steven Bannon’s outburst about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting may have stoked fresh interest in the 'collusion' issues. But it is useful to ask, and to question, why-- knowing what we know and could reasonably expect to discover-- the campaign finance dimension has generally encountered skepticism."

He writes about why it is so difficult to prove that all the help Russia gave Trump-- other than the NRA money-laundering cash into Trump's campaign, which he didn't cover-- has Mueller's investigation probably looking in different directions. Obviously, the Torshin-NRA connection could change all that.
A former senior DOJ attorney recently offered me one theory for why the special counsel may hesitate to bring campaign finance charges. Mueller may fear that case is insufficiently concrete or direct to win over a jury. While the law bars contributions of any kind, including providing campaigns with “things of value,” a jury may struggle with the extraordinary circumstances of Russia’ support for the Trump campaign. Rather than make the more familiar cash contribution, the Russian government generated “things of value” in the form of hacked Clinton and DNC material that WikiLeaks then made public. There is no evidence that Trump or his campaign arranged in advance for the hacking, though they were plainly pleased and eager to have the support and conveyed their receptivity to the Russians.

This experienced attorney suggests that both factors-- the nature of the “things of value” as stolen goods and the absence of direct campaign complicity in illegally acquiring them-- will make prosecutors uneasy about bringing criminal charges. They may feel that the case is so “out there” that it lacks the look or feel of a campaign finance matter in any conventional sense of the term. It has not helped that the shorthand for the Trump-Russia connection has become “collusion,” which is not a legal term.

Prosecutors might well also worry that the recent history of high-profile criminal prosecutions under campaign finance laws is not encouraging. The aggressive case brought against John Edwards failed. In another more obscure prosecution, the government unsuccessfully sought to hold a fundraiser for the Clinton Senate campaign liable for lying about unreported “in-kind” payments for a campaign event. The jury in the Senator Bob Menendez prosecution deadlocked on multiple counts that included alleged corrupt pay-offs in the form of contributions to a Super PAC. Maybe juries, cynical about politics, nonetheless fear “criminalizing” it. Or this skepticism may cause them to distrust the prosecution more than the defense.

The question these considerations raise is whether there is any way to put clear boundaries around the term “things of value” and give it the heft it deserves, making it a firm basis on which to prosecute such a case. It is a fair question, to which there is a reasonably clear answer. It is not necessary to construct a theory that captures the notion behind “collusion” by making the case for illegal “’coordination.” One could, as there is a respectable case for coordination to be made. But there are two other clear grounds for federal campaign finance law liability: soliciting a “thing of value” from a foreign national, and “substantially assisting” the foreign national in spending to influence an election.

The law does not reach every “thing of value” a foreign national might provide to a campaign. However, the coverage of prohibited “things of value” is broad, subject to some specific exceptions. For example, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has concluded that an individual foreign national may volunteer time or services to a campaign. The commission notably struggled with this question before resolving it, first deciding that foreign nationals did not have the benefit of the general exception from the definition of contribution for “uncompensated services.” It later concluded that they did.

What may have given the agency pause, driving the first negative judgment, was the legislative drafters’ intention to keep foreign influence entirely out of American elections. The lead sponsor of a key amendment to the foreign national ban, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, had declared that foreign nationals had “no business” in political campaigns.

After issuing inconsistent opinions, however the FEC ultimately came down on the side of reading the definition of “contribution,” along with the express exceptions, the same for foreign nationals as for U.S. donors. It relied on a specific exemption in the statute and rules. Absent that exemption, the term “thing of value” is comprehensive: whatever is not “money” but is donated or spent for the purpose of influencing an election. Items of opposition research are clearly “things of value.” It is odd that there should be any question about this in the Russia-Trump case, given the evident importance in the campaign of the WikiLeaks hacks.

As my interlocutor suggested, the sticking point for some commentators may be the illegality of these “things of value.” Some may believe that while there is clearly a legal problem here, it is not a campaign finance problem. Nothing in the rule supports this line of argument or justifies this hesitation. If a candidate’s supporter were to steal a fleet of cars and vans for a get-out-the-vote drive, he would be donating a “thing of value.” Whether an item is valuable depends on the use of the good or service, not its origin. As a matter of enforcement policy, it makes little sense to give a campaign a pass on a violation of the campaign finance laws because the contributor or spender trafficked in stolen goods.

This Bill Maher clip below (from last night) doesn't have much to do with the Kremlin coup but... it's hilarious and everyone really needs to watch it. So... take a minute and enjoy yourself:

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Can One Family Of Psychotic, Fascist Billionaires Turn 250 Years Of American History On Its Head? Meet The Mercers


Because I was asked to share a dais honoring us both, I've been covering the Mercer family-- dangerous American fascists-- longer than most. I persuaded our hosts to have two seperate ceremonies so I never got a chance to meet Mercer in person, probably a mistake. At the time he was the biggest single donor to the Ted Cruz presidential campaign-- bad enough-- although he soon took over the Trumpanzee circus and started calling all the shots at his campaign through family vassals Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Patrick Caddell, Jeff Sessions and David Bossie, as well three nefarious far right firms he controls-- Breitbart News, Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center, and, most importantly, the dark data firm Cambridge Analytica.

American mainstream media hasn't given the Mercers nearly the exposure they deserve, primarily because the Mercers are media phobic and refuse to do interviews. This week, Keith Boag, for Canada's biggest media outlet, the CBC, asked the question about Mercer's ultimate goal in helping to place Trump in the White House. David Magerman is a former employee of Mercer’s hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, and he's suing Mercer. He told Boag that "If the world knew what [Mercer] was trying to do, they wouldn’t stand for it."
Seen from a distance, Mercer can appear like a Bond movie villain. A computer scientist-turned hedge fund billionaire, he is reclusive and taciturn. He does not do interviews. He stays out of sight sailing the world in his luxurious, high-tech super yacht, Sea Owl, or holed up in his Long Island estate, Owl’s Nest, while plotting the political transformation of America.

But when he backed Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and helped install Bannon to run it, people began asking more seriously, “Who is this man?”

Mercer barely talks to anyone. Trump once joked at a party that the longest conversation he’s ever had with “Bob” was just “two words.” That’s an anecdote from Jane Mayer’s 2017 profile of Mercer in the New Yorker, which, like most of what’s been written about him, was based on evidence from people such as Magerman.

Magerman is a multi-millionaire-- the lower nine-figure range, he said-- who, like many employees at Renaissance Technologies, became rich through his relationship with Mercer. Unlike most of them, Magerman is not afraid to be publicly critical of how Mercer has used his money in politics.

“People weren’t aware of what was going on [in 2016]. It looked like some eccentric billionaire was giving money to political causes the way people normally do,” Magerman said. “I knew that he was actually trying to do something different than that.”

Mercer’s fortune and Bannon’s media instincts combined with a shared ideology to produce the anti-liberal, anti-Clinton ecosystem that includes Breitbart, the conservative non-profit Citizens United, the book Clinton Cash and much more. Together, they oversaw the data analysis company Cambridge Analytica, whose impact on the UK’s Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. election remain troublesomely murky.

For a long time, even Magerman didn’t know about Mercer’s political interests or his ultra-libertarian, minimalist-government goals.

“When I read all that, I felt not only did I have to do something,” Magerman said, “but I’d been negligent in not doing something earlier.”

...Magerman thinks Mercer has bought special access to impose “extra-societal” views on the Trump administration.

Magerman, who now spends much of his time at his sprawling estate in the wealthy Philadelphia suburb of Merion Station, is uncommonly thoughtful about the impact on U.S. political life of rich people like himself, and especially the ones he calls “the instant billionaires,” like Mercer.

“The ultra-wealthy of today differ from the ultra-wealthy in past eras in that they have, a lot of them, no stake in the infrastructure of society,” Magerman said. He’s seen that their wealth does not depend on the health and stability of the country. In fact, they get rich on volatility and instability.

Organizations that track who spends money in politics have noted the same thing. Sarah Bryner, research director at the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, said “hedge fund wealth is a sort of recent phenomenon, at least in the campaign finance world.”

“It’s not like you’re working for [big banks such as] Chase or Wells Fargo, in a very well-regulated and huge industry” with obvious policy aims.

High net worth individuals aren’t like that at all, she said. “With Mercer, we don’t really know much about why he’s getting involved.”

...The problem that Renaissance Technologies faced trying to predict market behaviour is, he said, essentially the same problem that Cambridge Analytica faces in voter analysis and persuasion.

Data analysts are largely skeptical that Cambridge Analytica could have had a decisive impact on the 2016 U.S. election or the Brexit referendum, but Magerman brushes that off with a reminder that so-called experts were also skeptical that computer algorithms could predict financial markets.

“They said there is no way they can do that with the data available,” he said. And yet, there’s Medallion [Renaissance Technologies' big money-maker, open only to employees], with its unheard-of nearly 80 per cent annualized returns. There's Cambridge Analytica, on the winning side of two political upsets.

And there is Mercer, a brilliant scientist at the helm of both companies.

In January 2017, before Trump’s inauguration, Magerman called Mercer to chat about politics and the new administration. He wanted to persuade Mercer to withdraw support from Trump.

They talked about Obamacare and the social safety net and disagreed about Trump’s positions on those issues. Then, Magerman says Mercer made a series of comments on U.S. society:
The United States began to go in the wrong direction after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s;
African-Americans were doing fine in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s before The Civil Rights Act;
The Civil Rights Act “infantilized” African Americans by making them dependent on government and removing any incentive to work;
The only racist people remaining in the U.S. are black; and
White people have no racial animus toward African-Americans anymore, and if there is any, it’s not something the government should be concerned with.
Magerman felt he couldn’t keep that to himself.

“I really thought I was just going to let people know what I know and that would be the end of it,” Magerman said of his decision to do an interview with the Wall Street Journal, which amounted to a warning flare about Mercer to anyone paying attention.

The story quoted Magerman saying that Mercer has contempt for the social safety net and that he now wants to use the money Magerman helped him make to “shrink government to the size of a pinhead.”

But the most sensational part was what Magerman relayed that Mercer had said to him on the phone one day. “I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist. That’s ridiculous.”

Magerman, having cleared his conscience in the Wall Street Journal, expected to go back to work at Renaissance Technologies. Instead, he was suspended.

“If they hadn’t suspended me, I think the story would have kind of died quickly,” he said, but that’s probably not true. After the article appeared, Magerman continued to talk to the media.

He wrote a piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer in which he said that, during the presidential election, Mercer “was effectively buying shares in the candidate” and “now owns a sizable share of the United States presidency” and that “Mercer has surrounded our president with his people, and his people have an outsized influence over the running of our country simply because Robert Mercer paid for their seats.”

After that, Magerman’s suspension was made permanent and he sued his boss for wrongful dismissal.

...Mercer was the third-largest Republican donor ($25.5 million) in the 2016 presidential race. In the New Yorker profile, a “high-level Renaissance employee” is quoted as saying, “Bob thinks the less government the better. He’s happy if people don’t trust the government. And if the president’s a bozo? He’s fine with that. He wants it all to fall down.”

I asked Magerman if he was the anonymous employee behind the quote. He said he couldn’t remember saying it, but it certainly sounded like something he would say.

Of course it does. One of Magerman’s cautions about “instant billionaires” is that they really don’t understand what the government is for. They didn’t get rich by providing the goods, services and infrastructure that bring people into direct contact with their community and its interests-- they got rich in financial markets, making money for the sake of it.

Often cited among the accomplishments of the Trump administration’s first year are the number of regulations that have been eliminated in the name of freeing businesses to create jobs. But the real shrinking of the role of government has been in Trump’s choice of cabinet members, whose aim seems to be to assail the policy goals of their departments.

Thus, the secretary of energy is someone who once campaigned to get rid of the Energy Department; the Secretary of Education has advocated against the public schools system; the Environmental Protection Agency director has a record of repeatedly suing the EPA; and the Attorney General has a reputation for opposing the expansion of civil rights.

Other departments are reportedly withering from neglect, as key positions are filled by unqualified people or not filled at all. The tax cut bill passed in December is forecast to add about a trillion dollars to the federal deficit, forcing further restraint on future governments.

It’s hard to imagine that Mercer would be unhappy about any of that given his thoughts about the size of government and the observation that he “wants it all to fall down”-- and especially since his daughter Rebekah was part of the transition team that helped Trump choose his cabinet.