Friday, February 23, 2018

Billy Graham Died


Ever watch the Last Kingdom? There's a dramatic scene towards the end of the second episode of the second season where Alexander Dreymon's character, Uhtred, the dashing heathen protagonist, dares the evil Abbot Eadred to "say it one more time and go meet the devil." She he does... and he does. Big deal that he killed a man of God, with big consequences, despite it being the arch-villain of the first couple of episodes of Season Two. I'm guessing that thou shalt not kill abbots was a big megillah back in the 9th Century.

Yesterday Billy Graham, who's been hectoring America for as long as I can recall-- not in the 9th Century, but definitely throughout the 20th-- died. No one killed Graham. Like Eadred, Graham was on the wrong side of history. His legacy is that evangelicals stand by while racial tensions and our planet get hot. "The world’s most famous evangelist let his apocalyptic anticipation of the coming kingdom of God blind him to the realities of living in this world." But my old friend in Asheville, Cecil Bothwell, wrote the obit for us:

Billy Graham And The Gospel Of Fear
by Cecil Bothwell

“We are selling the greatest product on earth. Why shouldn’t we promote it as effectively as we promote a bar of soap?”
- Billy Graham, Saturday Evening Post, 1963
Billy Graham was a preacher man equally intent on saving souls and soliciting financial support for his ministry. His success at the former is not subject to proof and his success at the latter is unrivaled. He preached to millions on every ice-free continent and led many to his chosen messiah.

When Graham succumbed to various ailments this week at the age of 99 he left behind an organization that is said to have touched more people than any other Christian ministry in history, with property, assets and a name-brand worth hundreds of millions. The address lists of contributors alone comprise a mother lode for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, now headed by his son and namesake, William Franklin Graham, III.

Graham also left behind a United States government in which religion plays a far greater role than before he intruded into politics in the 1950s. The shift from secular governance to “In God We Trust” can be laid squarely at this minister’s feet.

Graham’s message was principally one of fear: fear of a wrathful god; fear of temptation; fear of communists and socialists; fear of unions; fear of Catholics; fear of homosexuals; fear of racial integration and above all, fear of death. But as a balm for such fears, he promised listeners eternal life, which he said was readily claimed through acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior.

Furthermore, he assured listeners that God loved us so much that He created governments, the most blessed form being Western capitalist democracy. To make this point, he frequently quoted Romans 13, particularly the first two verses. In the New American Standard Version of the Bible, they read, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”

The question of whether this was actually the recorded word of God or a rider inserted into the bill by Roman senators with rather more worldly aims never dimmed Graham’s insistence that all governments are the work of the Almighty. Almost perversely, he even endorsed the arrest of a woman who lofted a Christian banner during his Reagan-era visit to Moscow, opting for the crack-down of “divine” authority over the civil disobedience of a believer.

Governments, he reminded his Moscow listeners, do God’s work.

Based on that Biblical mandate for all governments, Graham stood in solid opposition to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, all but addressed to Graham, King noted, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’ … If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.”

Fear is the stock in trade of most evangelists, of course, comprising the necessary setup before the pitch. As historian William Martin explained in his 1991 account of Graham’s early sermons, “… even those whose personal lives seemed rich and fulfilling must live in a world filled with terror and threat. As a direct result of sinful humanity’s rebellion against God, our streets have become jungles of terror, mugging, rape, and death. Confusion reigns on campuses as never before. Political leaders live in constant fear of the assassin’s bullet. Racial tension seems certain to unleash titanic forces of hatred and violence. Communism threatens to eradicate freedom from the face of the earth. Small nations are getting the bomb, so that global war seems inevitable. High-speed objects, apparently guided by an unknown intelligence, are coming into our atmosphere for reasons no one understands. Clearly, all signs point to the end of the present world order.
“… Graham’s basic mode of preaching in these early years was assault. … Then, when he had his listeners mentally crouching in terror, aware that all the attractively labeled escape routes-- alcohol, sexual indulgence, riches, psychiatry, education, social-welfare programs, increased military might, the United Nations-- led ultimately to dead ends, he held out the only compass that pointed reliably to the straight and narrow path that leads to personal happiness and lasting peace.”
Columnist and former priest James Carroll had much the same take, noting that “Graham had his finger on the pulse of American fear, and in subsequent years, anti communism occupied the nation’s soul as an avowedly religious obsession. The Red scare at home, unabashed moves toward empire abroad, the phrase ‘under God’ inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance, the scapegoating of homosexuals as ‘security risks,’ an insane accumulation of nuclear weapons, suicidal wars against postcolonial insurgencies in Asia—a set of desperate choices indeed. Through it all, Billy Graham was the high priest of the American crusade, which is why U.S. presidents uniformly sought his blessing.”

While Carroll had most of that right, the record suggests that, over and over again, it was Graham who sought presidential blessing, rather than the other way around. Letters enshrined in the presidential and Graham libraries reveal a preacher endlessly seeking official audience. As Truman said, years after his presidency, “Well, I hadn’t ought to say this, but he’s one of those counterfeits I was telling you about. He claims he’s a friend of all the presidents, but he was never a friend of mine when I was president.”

Of course, politicians have often brandished fear as well, and the twin streams of fear-based politics and fear-based religion couldn’t have been more confluent. Communist infiltrators, missile gaps and the domino effect each took their turn, as did the Evil Empire and, more recently, Saddam, Osama bin Laden and an amorphous threat of global terrorism.

In light of the Biblical endorsement of rulers, Graham supported police repression of Vietnam war protesters and civil rights marchers, opposed Martin Luther King’s tactic of civil disobedience, supported South American despots, and publicly supported every war or intervention waged by the United States from Korea forward.

Born on a prosperous dairy farm and educated at Wheaton College, Graham first gained national attention in 1949 when the publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, searching for a spiritual icon to spread his anti-communist sentiments, discovered the young preacher holding forth at a Los Angeles tent meeting. Hearst wired his editors across the nation, “puff Graham,” and he was an instant sensation.

Hearst next contacted his friend and fellow publisher Henry Luce. Their Wall Street ally, Bernard Baruch, arranged a meeting between Luce and Graham while the preacher was staying with the segregationist Governor Strom Thurmond in the official mansion in Columbia, S.Car. Luce concurred with Hearst about Graham’s marketability and Time and Life were enlisted in the job of selling the soap of salvation to the world. Time, alone, has run more than 600 stories about Graham.

The man who would become known as “the minister to presidents” offered his first military advice in 1950. On June 25, North Korean troops invaded South Korea and Graham sent Truman a telegram. “MILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS PRAYING GOD GIVE YOU WISDOM IN THIS CRISIS. STRONGLY URGE SHOWDOWN WITH COMMUNISM NOW. MORE CHRISTIANS IN SOUTHERN KOREA PER CAPITA THAN ANY PART OF WORLD. WE CANNOT LET THEM DOWN.”

It was the first time Graham encouraged a president to go to war, and with characteristic hyperbole: Korea has never topped the list of Christian-leaning nations. Subsequently, Graham gave his blessing to every conflict under every president from Truman to the second Bush, and most of the presidents, pleased to enjoy public assurance of God’s approval, made him welcome in the White House. Graham excoriated Truman for firing General Douglas MacArthur and supported the general’s plan to invade China. He went so far as to urge Nixon to bomb dikes in Vietnam-- knowing that it would kill upward of a million civilians-- and he claimed to have sat on the sofa next to G.H.W. Bush as the bombs began falling in the first Gulf War (though Bush’s diary version of the evening somehow excludes Graham, as does a White House video of Bush during the attack).

According to Bush’s account, in a phone call the preceding week, Graham quoted poetry that compared the President to a messiah destined to save the world, and in the next breath called Saddam the Antichrist. Bush wrote that Graham suggested it was his historical mission to destroy Saddam.

Through the years, Graham’s politics earned him some strange bedfellows. He praised Senator Joseph McCarthy and supported his assault on Constitutional rights, then scolded the Senate for censuring McCarthy for his excesses. He befriended oil men and arms manufacturers. He defended Nixon after Watergate, right up to the disgraced president’s resignation, and faced public scorn when tapes were aired that exposed the foul-mouthed President as a schemer and plotter. Nixon’s chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, reported on Graham’s denigration of Jews in his posthumously published diary-- a claim Graham vehemently denied until released tapes undid him in 2002. Caught with his prejudicial pants down, Graham claimed ignorance of the hour-and-a-half long conversation in which he led the antisemite attack.

As reported by the Associated Press on March 2, 2002:
“Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon . . . some 30 years ago,” Graham said in a statement released by his Texas public relations firm. “They do not reflect my views, and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks.”“Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon . . . some 30 years ago,” Graham said in a statement released by his Texas public relations firm. “They do not reflect my views, and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks.”
Whether or not the comments reflect Graham’s views at the time or thirty years later, it is his defense that bears much closer scrutiny. What were we to make of a preacher who insisted that his words didn’t reflect his beliefs? Were we to believe him then or later, on other matters?

Graham was a political operative, reporting to Kennedy on purported communist insurgencies in Latin America, turning over lists of activist Christians to the Republican party, conferring regularly with J. Edgar Hoover and networking with the CIA in South America and Vietnam. He was even assigned by Nixon’s operatives to talk George Wallace out of a second run for the White House.

To accomplish the latter, he phoned Wallace as he was coming out of an anesthetic stupor after one of his numerous post-assassination-attempt surgeries. While the long suffering gunshot victim asked the minister to pray for him, the minister asked him not to make a third-party bid for the presidency. “I won’t do anything to help McGovern,” Wallace replied.

There are many who would argue that the good that Graham did outweighs whatever political intrigue he embraced, and even the several wars he enthusiastically endorsed. To the extent that bringing people to Christ is of benefit to them, an untestable hypothesis, he was successful with his calls to come forward. He accrued hundreds of millions of dollars which were used to extend his ministry and thereby bring more people to “be saved,” which is self-justifying but fails as evidence of goodness.

If Christian beliefs about the hereafter prove correct, we will all presumably discover what good he accomplished, or what chance for salvation we missed, in the sweet by and by.

In talking to one of his biographers, Graham recalled his mood during his fire and brimstone declamations, “I would feel as though I had a sword, a rapier, in my hand, and I would be slashing deeper and deeper into the consciences of the people before me, cutting away straight to their very souls.”

In that regard, Graham’s largest and most lasting monument is a highway cut through Beaucatcher Mountain, blasted through a majestic land form that once bisected Asheville, N.Car. He helped convince recalcitrant landowners to permit the excavation and construction through the cut of the short stretch of Interstate highway subsequently named the Billy Graham Freeway.

Downwind residents report that the weather has permanently shifted due to the gaping mountain maw and the future of the highway that transects the city continues to be one of the most divisive issues in that southern metropolis.

“Straight to their very souls,” indeed.

In every way, Graham was the spiritual father of today’s right-wing religious leaders who so inhabit the national conversation. If he cloaked his suasion in public neutrality it was the hallmark of an era in which such intrusion was deemed unseemly. If today’s practitioners are less abashed, it is in many ways reflective of the secure foundation Graham built within Republican and conservative circles.

Graham endorsed and courted Eisenhower and compared a militaristic State of the Union speech to the Sermon on the Mount, fanned anti-Catholic flames in the Nixon-Kennedy contest, backed Johnson and then Nixon in Vietnam, lobbied for arms sales to Saudi Arabia during the Reagan years, conveyed foreign threats and entreaties for Clinton and lent his imprimateur to G.W. Bush as he declared war on terrorism from the pulpit of the National Cathedral.

Billy Graham approved of warriors and war, weapons of mass destruction (in white, Christian hands) and covert operations. He publicly declaimed the righteousness of battle with enemies of American capitalism, abetted genocide in oil-rich Ecuador and surrounds and endorsed castration as punishment for rapists. A terrible swift sword for certain, and effective no doubt, but not much there in the way of turning the other cheek.

Graham will be cordially remembered by those who found solace in his golden promises and happy homilies, but the worldly blowback from his ministry is playing out in Iraq and Afghanistan, Chechnya and Korea, the Phillipines and Colombia-- everywhere governments threaten human rights and pie in the sky is offered in lieu of daily bread.

In the words of  Graham’s ministerial and secular adversary, Dr. King, “I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”

Farewell Reverend Graham. Let justice roll.

Labels: , , ,

Anti-Choice Democrats? Yep... That's A Thing


In the last few days we've been pointing out Democrats who back Wall Street's bid to help the GOP chip away at Dodd Frank protections and DCCC 2016 recruits who are NRA allies. Yesterday The Hill ran an op-ed on Anti-Choice Democrats, although the author, Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats For Life of America, was savvy enough to not name the Democrats they back. Most of them know being anti-Choice is a disadvantage in Democratic primaries, as slimy Chicagoland Blue Dog Dan Lipinski has been learning in recent months. The only anti-Choice Democrats featured prominently on the anti-Choice Democrats website are reactionary Blue Dogs Lipinski and Colin Peterson and an Arkansas candidate named Paul Spencer who we've already covered and who they crow "has a track record of fighting for ethics in government, for transparency, and fighting for life. Paul has publically [sic] stated that he will decline DNC money rather than change his pro-life stance. This and other stands against influence-buying have led to the slogan "Can't Buy Paul." The DNC doesn't give congressional candidates money.

Anyway, the op-ed says there's an anti-Choice March coming up and claims between a quarter and a third of Democrats are anti-Choice. She puts a Democrats sheen on it: "We are Pro-life Democrats because we are committed to protecting both the lives of unborn children and the lives of those who have already been born-- and not merely through charity. We believe in the dignity and worth of all, especially the poor, the vulnerable, the persecuted, and the abandoned. And we believe in an active government that safeguards that dignity and protects human rights. We are pro-life because we believe in the defense of all innocent human life, and we are Democrats because they are the party that, since the New Deal, has best stood up for the well-being of working-class and middle-class Americans."
[W]e are not going anywhere. Every March for Life, we are there marching-- and that’s not going to change. Every year, people come up to us-- Democrats, Republicans, Independents-- and tell us to keep fighting the good fight and that they, too, believe in both defending life and social justice for all.

And many pro-lifers recognize an obvious fact: The pro-life movement cannot possibly succeed without bipartisan support. A more bipartisan pro-life movement is the key to passing critical pro-life legislation and locking in support for these measures long-term. It is encouraging to see that the current leadership of the March for Life recognizes this need for a bipartisan pro-life movement.

So, yes, pro-life Democrats are different from the many conservatives who populate the pro-life movement and shape its image. And we will continue to be different. We will work together with all other pro-lifers to protect unborn life whenever possible.

But we will also be the ones constantly pushing for more assistance for pregnant women, stronger efforts to reduce poverty, and greater economic security for all Americans. We will push our fellow pro-lifers to be consistently pro-life-- to follow through on the common values we profess.

We will do this because we are pro-life Democrats: pro-life, Democrats, and unwilling to abandon our most cherished principles.
Goal ThermometerBlue America supports pro-Choice candidates, not anti-Choice candidates. When Tom Perriello first ran for Congress in 2008 he fed me a line of bullshit about how he would never vote to take away the right to choice for any woman and Blue America ignored warnings from others who told me he's a liar-- and we supported him. Were we in for a shockeroo when the issue came up in Congress and he voted anti-Choice. Maybe he thought it would help him with conservatives in his district. It didn't and it turned off enough real Democrats that they didn't turn out for him in the 2010 midterm. So: single termer. Every single candidate you'll find by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer on the right is pro-Choice. None of them are anti-Choice. We learned from our horrible Perriello experience into figuring out who's lying to us to get our endorsement the way he did.

Labels: ,

Hot Rumor: The Federal Trade Commission May Be Coming Back To Life


This week, the Open Markets Institute reported some good news, namely that the Federal Trade Commission may be about to "waken from it's anti-trust slumber." Hard to imagine.
For the last few years, the Federal Trade Commission all but vanished as a major player in anti-monopoly enforcement. In part, this was due to a lack of staff. For much of the last year, the FTC had only two sitting commissioners. Mainly, however, it was due to ideology.

Two of the most influential recent commissioners-- Maureen Ohlhausen and Josh Wright-- were strong proponents of libertarian competition philosophy, with its strong pro-monopoly bent. Further, even many recent Democratic appointments tended to take a highly permissive approach to economic power.

But a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on February 14 provided strong signals that the FTC may soon be back in the business of promoting competition in the United States. All five FTC commissioners are being replaced more or less at the same time, which means the character of the agency has the potential to change dramatically. And among both senators and nominees, the libertarian thinking that has long held sway in the Commission appeared to be decidedly out of fashion.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a former director of policy planning at the FTC, has in the past largely opposed government regulations, including net neutrality. But at the hearing last week, Sen. Cruz expressed deep concern about the immense power wielded by Google and Facebook, citing a cover story in Esquire that calls for the break-up of big tech. Sen. Cruz appeared especially concerned about the anti-competitive implications of Facebook and Google's dominance, saying that their "market power, size, and control of public discourse is unprecedented."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) urged the nominees to use the "new populism…sweeping the country" as a mandate to invigorate enforcement and advocacy. "Going beyond the FTC being a resource, I'd also like you to be a champion," he said. "You have the bully pulpit. You can bring zeal and passion to consumer issues that no one else will do at the federal level." Sen. Blumenthal also submitted a statement from the Congressional Antitrust Committee into the hearing record.

Joe Simons, nominated by President Trump to chair the agency, said he wants to scrutinize dominant firms that wield market power and review the Commission's enforcement record. “At a high level, I don’t believe that big is necessarily bad,” he said. But he added, “Companies that are already big and influential can sometimes use inappropriate means, anti-competitive means, to get big or to stay big.” In particular, Simons said he was "very concerned" about drug pricing and would explore convening a drug pricing monitoring task force to track anti-competitive price spikes and enable prompt investigations and enforcement actions.

In discussing extreme consolidation in agriculture with Sen. John Tester (D-MT), Simons further explained that even when bad mergers cannot be easily unscrambled, the agency can investigate dominant industry players for anti-competitive conduct and target their power through injunctions. Coupled with his written comments, Simons’ remarks suggest he intends to target abusive actions by dominant companies.

The only Democratic nominee at the hearing, Rohit Chopra, expressed interest in reviewing barriers to entry in monopolized markets. In particular, he noted that consolidated control over data creates hazards both for consumers and independent businesses. He said, "Data breaches impose great deals of costs on small enterprises. The Equifax data breach led to significant losses for community banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions."

A fifth slot on the Commission, reserved for a Democrat, still lacks an official nominee. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has recommended to the White House that it nominate his chief counsel, Rebecca Slaughter, for the position.
The founding members of the House AntiTrust Caucus are some of the House's most progressive members: Ro Khanna (CA), Mark Pocan (WI), Rick Nolan (MN), David Cicciline (RI), Keith Ellison (MN) and Pramila Jayapal (WA).

Austin Frerick has made fighting monopolies a key part of his platform, so it was no surprise when he told us that the Antitrust Caucus will be the "first caucus I will join. Also as an Iowa congressman, I plan to make antitrust a central requirement for my endorsement in the 2020 caucuses."

Derrick Crowe, the progressive running for the open seat in the Austin/San Antonio corridor told us he "would absolutely join the Congressional Anti-Trust Caucus. The rise of monopoly power threatens our bank accounts, worsens inequality, and undermines our political liberties. Busting trusts is defending democracy."

Goal ThermometerLisa Brown, the economist who served as Chancellor of Washington State University, Spokane and is currently busy campaigning to replace Paul Ryan lieutenant Cathy McMorris Rodgers that us "it’s a basic tenet of Econ-101 that concentrated economic power in a market, in which only a few producers  dominate, has adverse outcomes for consumers. Higher prices and less consumer satisfaction generally result from oligopoly and monopoly power. Effective federal regulation can counter these results. It’s encouraging that some members of Congress are getting  more active in this arena and I would welcome the opportunity to join them."

And we'll leave the last word for Lillian Salerno, former Obama deputy secretary of Agriculture, who is running a vigorous campaign in north Dallas that takes on monopolization head on: "Concentrated corporate power is out of control," she often says, "and it's time for Congress to step up with a renewed focus on anti-monopoly rules and investigations. That's what I'll do when I get there."

Labels: , , , , , ,

DCCC Comes Out Of The Closet As The Progressive-Hating Attack Machine It's Been For Over A Decade


Jason Westin: Above the ugly DCCC fray in Houston
It isn't hard to figure out why I'd be attracted to Jonathan Tilove's headline in the Austin American-Statesman a few days ago... Nancy Pelosi’s 'cold-blooded' warning to Democratic primary voters: 'If the person who can’t win, wins, it’s not a priority race for us anymore.'. That's old DCCC standard operating procedure: if their corrupt conservative candidate doesn't win the primary, the DCCC abandons the district to the Republicans. Ever since Pelosi took control of the DCCC, that's how it's been run. She never admits it though. So why did she in Texas? Senility?

Tilove didn't understand what she was even doing in his office sitting around for an interminable interview. "She had done public events in Houston over the weekend, and had another, later in the day Monday, in San Antonio. In Austin," he wrote, "it was just private meetings, and this interview. They talked about TX-21, the open Austin/San Antonio district where a wealthy Republican, Joseph Kopser, is pretending-- a little-- to be a Democrat during the primary so that he can beat progressive stalwart Derrick Crowe. The establishment-- par for the corse-- favors Kopser. Tilove had written that story a couple weeks ago. At the time, he had written that "The race for the party’s nomination in the 21st Congressional District has emerged as a microcosm of the sharp division among Democrats across the nation in how to respond to Trump-- do they nominate a candidate like Joseph Kopser, a former Army Ranger turned tech entrepreneur who the smart party money says can appeal to folks in the middle who rarely if ever vote Democratic but are offended by Trump, or go with a candidate who taps the outraged passions on the left, like Derrick Crowe, Elliott McFadden or Mary Wilson?"

Pelosi explained the DCCC theory of the battle for control of the House:
[I]f you’re an incumbent and you’re a chairman, and your votes have been terrible this last year you go home and masquerade as some kind of a moderate but you’ve been up here enabling nothing to come up on guns, nothing to come up on immigration, all these terrible things, well you’re thinking, “I’ve had a nice career, I’m respected in my community, nobody knows how I’ve voted, but they’re going to tell them in this election and I’m going to have to spend a lot of money to win, and I’m probably going to be in the minority, I think I’ll teach in the university.

So they get the retirements. We get the A-plus recruits. And so 36 of them, I think, maybe it’s changed since this morning, around 36 of them have said they are not running, 7 or 8 of them are committee chairman who are not running. So they see the handwriting on the wall.

... [I]t’s not even a recruitment because so many of these people self-recruited-- veterans, academics elected officials, private sector people, so many people coming forward. Forty-five happens to be one of our best recruiters. I have never in my whole political life seen anything like the energy at he grassroots level. You saw that at the march and that was organic, it wasn’t political, they did it and now they’re showing how they want to participate And this past year, all of those people helped us fend off the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, we couldn’t defeat the tax bill, but we won the argument so far.

So we have something like a hundred races, a hundred races, far too many, that are better than any of those special elections, because those special elections were in Republican districts, where hates those Cabinet officers, or Murphy had to resign, right away, your computers turned off, get out of the building kind of resign.

...So, out of that hundred, we have to reduce that down about two-thirds of that to get down to the 24 we need, perhaps 30, 35, you know I’d like to have more than the 24. Right now, today  we could do that. But 100 is too much. In other words, we’d rather double down and win than spread too thinly and lose by a little.

The value of that is, say you’re a slacker, you’re not the candidate we need you to be, you say, “Sunday’s I always play golf.”

“Oh really, not on our time.”

And then we say, we have other places we can go.

So many women candidates.

So candidates know, this is almost like a competition. They have to do their share. This isn’t an entitlement program. We need people to run, oh you’re good, you look good for the district here’s the money, No, they have to work. How do you connect with your constituents. That’s the most important thing. First of all, it’s you would win, but even before that, chronologically, show you are going to represent them. How are you going know them, how are they going to know you.

We have  a great (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) chairman, Ben Ray Luján, who is from New Mexico, very talented, very respected by the members.
She's completely delusional... living in her own fantasy world. She got one thing right: Luján is from New Mexico. But he is not "very talented"-- he's the opposite of that-- and he is not "very respected by the members." Many of them think he's an idiot.

Back to her endless babbling to the poor reporter in Austin: "Forgive me for using this word,  you have to be very cold-blooded about how you make these decisions about the races because everybody’s so great, but one in five children lives in poverty in America and we have to have our best fighters go out there to win.So today we would win. Texas is really  important to us. We have always invested in Texas because Texas will make the difference as to what the future of our country is. Imagine Texas just turning purple even. Wow. We’re one of the few national committees that actually does invest in Texas because we have prospects, and we believe in turning Texas blue, purple, whatever the color."

She's crazy as a loon. The House Democrats elected Jared Polis DCCC Regional Vice Chair for the area that includes Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. He ignored his duties 100% and then decided to run for governor of Colorado. He resigned as regional vice chair. Luján, Pelosi and Hoyer decided to ignore pleas to replace him immediately from people who really did think Texas is key to the 2018 midterms. They refused. It's been over a year and it's the only region without a vice chair. It allows the notoriously corrupt DCCC staff to run wild. And it allowed Luján, Pelosi and Hoyer to handle the area directly. Here's what that means to Hoyer, for example.
PELOSI: We have five races.

(The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted five seats in Texas, now held by Republicans, that it would like to flip. In addition to Smith’s seat in the 21st, they are John Culberson’s seat in the 7th CD, Will Hurd’s seat in the 23rd, Pete Sessions’ seat in the 32nd, and, most recently, John Carter’s seat in the 31st.)

I’ll talk to you  after the primary or the runoff. We think we have a couple of prospects in the Houston area, one in  Dallas, in the Valley. I have a little broader list than the cold-blooded list of the committee, so I’m still hopeful of a little more.

Pelosi is handed a binder by Aguilar, the aide, who executive director of Nancy Pelosi for Congress, with a list of the races and the Democratic candidates competing in each.

So they’re all multi-candidates. So we’ll see. this is about the choice of the people in those districts about who they want.

Could she identify the preferred candidates?

PELOSI: I wouldn’t think of doing that.

There are candidates who match the districts.

...How can I say this in a nice way? We have to be cold-blooded in what we do. In other words, if the wrong person wins-- well nobody’s wrong-- but if the person who can’t win, wins, it’s not a priority race for us anymore, because we’ve got 100 races.

For the Democratic aspirants in the Texas 7, 21, 23, 24, 31 and 32, the March 6 primary is the time to show and prove.

...Show us your strength or your weakness in a race.

Now people have their own enthusiasm, their own enthusiasm that they bring to it and they might be able to created something.

I hope for a wave, but I believe you make your wave. You make your wave.

Since it’s the Olympics, this is what I tell them. In one second, you’re gold, silver, bronze or nothing. These races are tough. They are tight, you win by 300 votes, 1,000 votes, this isn’t like, I’m riding a wave here and it’s just a question of hail fellow well met, combed hair. You have to go door to door to door to door, over and over again so people see what’s in your heart your sincerity, Authenticity is bigger than any amount of intellectual prowess, because people think you can buy that anyway. You can hire that. But conviction, courage, that’s who you are.

It’s always that way but even mores this year because of our friend in the White House, the great organizer.
Her theory behind the races exploded yesterday in Houston when the DCCC did something publicly that it usually only-- and always-- does behind the scenes where no one can watch. It viciously attacked a progressive candidate, Laura Moser, to benefit an establishment corporate shill in the primary. And DCCC appendage, EMILY's List, joined, albeit to benefit it's own establishment corporate shill. [Note: Blue America isn't backing any of these candidates. Our candidate is the other progressive, award-winning cancer researcher and doctor, Jason Westin.] But what the DCCC and EMILY's List are doing to Laura is a story that must be told.

Let's start by going right to the source, Ben Ray Luján, who the delusional Pelosi says is "from New Mexico, very talented, very respected by the members." She forgot to mention "very bloodthirsty" when it comes to progressives. Right on the DCCC website... ammo for the Republicans if TX-07 voters decide to nominate Moser:
Democratic voters need to hear that Laura Moser is not going to change Washington. She is a Washington insider, who begrudgingly moved to Houston to run for Congress. In fact, she wrote in the Washingtonian magazine, “I’d rather have my teeth pulled out without anesthesia” than live in Texas. As of January 2018, she claimed Washington, DC to be her primary residence in order to get a tax break. And she has paid her husband’s Washington, DC political consulting firm over $50,000 from campaign contributions; meaning 1 of every 6 dollars raised has gone to her husband’s DC company.


Moser just moved to Texas from Washington, DC. (BACKUP)

In a November 2014 article, Moser said she’d rather have her “teeth pulled without anesthesia” than live in Texas. (BACKUP)

As of January 2018, Moser was still receiving the DC Homestead Exemption on her property in Washington, DC. (BACKUP)

In 2017, Moser paid over $50,000 in campaign money to her husband’s DC consulting firm. More than 1 of every 6 dollars spent by her campaign went straight into her husband’s DC company’s bank account. (BACKUP)
No one has ever seen the DCCC go after a legitimate Democratic primary candidate so viciously in such a public way before. And Ryan Grim pointed out how the despicable EMILY's List piled on immediately.
EMILY's List is dumping big money into an upcoming Democratic primary in Texas’s 7th Congressional District, pitting the women’s group against a pro-choice woman who was, in the months after the election of Donald Trump, a face of the resistance.

Laura Moser, as creator of the popular text-messaging program Daily Action, gave hundreds of thousands of despondent progressives a single political action to take each day. Her project was emblematic of the new energy forming around the movement against Trump, led primarily by women and often by moms. (Moser is both.)

It was those types of activists EMILY’s List spent 2017 encouraging to make first-time bids for office. But that doesn’t mean EMILY’s List will get behind them. Also running is Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, a corporate lawyer who is backed by Houston mega-donor Sherry Merfish. EMILY’s List endorsed her in November.

The 7th District includes parts of Houston and its wealthy western suburbs, and Merfish and her husband, Gerald Merfish, are among the city’s leading philanthropists. Gerald Merfish owns and runs a steel pipe company in the oil-rich region and Sherry Merfish, who worked for decades for EMILY’s List, is a major donor to the Democratic Party and to EMILY’s List.

...The Houston district is one of scores where crosscurrents of the Democratic Party are colliding. Democrats, who in the past have had difficulty fielding a single credible candidate even in winnable districts, have at least four serious contenders in the race to replace Republican John Culberson. Moser, who has more than 10,000 donors — more than 90 percent of whom are small givers — and cancer researcher Jason Westin make up the progressive flank, while Fletcher and Alex Triantaphyllis are running more moderate campaigns. Triantaphyllis, a former Goldman Sachs analyst who doesn’t live in the district, has the backing of some establishment elements of the party.

“Alex T has been open about being the chosen candidate of the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee],” said Daniel Cohen, president of Indivisible Houston, who is not endorsing any particular candidate. (The DCCC has not officially endorsed a candidate in the primary, though its support can come in less public ways.)

...With both Fletcher and Moser battling for a spot in the two-person runoff, and Westin surging in the race, EMILY’s List’s endorsement of Fletcher could end up having the paradoxical effect of producing a runoff between the two men. EMILY’s List, while expending resources in several competitive primaries between women, has also stayed out of other races that pit a pro-choice woman against an anti-choice man. Despite significant pressure, the group held out on endorsing Marie Newman against Democratic incumbent Daniel Lipinski, only shifting course when it became clear the SEIU would be breaking with Lipinski.

The group has also declined to endorse the pro-choice Kara Eastman running against anti-choice Democrat Brad Ashford; the same is true for Lupe Valdez running against Andrew White for Texas governor. (White says that he believes Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and that his religious beliefs would not influence how he approached the issue, but he is far from a champion of reproductive rights.)

The support of first Merfish and then EMILY’s List for Fletcher raises questions about whether the endorsement was made at the behest of a major donor or because the organization truly believed Fletcher is the stronger candidate.
Abby Livingston, political reporter for the widely read Texas Tribune is covering this disgraceful attack by the establishment against Moser. "The campaign arm of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives set its sights on a surprising target Thursday: Democratic congressional hopeful Laura Moser. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted negative research on Moser, a Houston journalist vying among six other Democrats in the March 6 primary to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. John Culberson. Democrats locally and nationally have worried that Moser is too liberal to carry a race that has emerged in recent months as one of the most competitive races in the country."
DCCC spokeswoman Meredith Kelly went even further in a statement to the Texas Tribune.

"Voters in Houston have organized for over a year to hold Rep. Culberson accountable and win this Clinton district," Kelly said.

Then, referring to a 2014 Washingtonian magazine piece in which Moser wrote that she would rather have a tooth pulled without anesthesia than move to Paris, Texas, Kelly added:"Unfortunately, Laura Moser’s outright disgust for life in Texas disqualifies her as a general election candidate, and would rob voters of their opportunity to flip Texas’ 7th in November.”

Later Thursday evening, Moser obliquely responded to the allegations on Twitter, quoting former First Lady Michelle Obama: "When they go low, we go high."

Later in the evening, she expanded her comments in a statement.

"We're used to tough talk here in Texas, but it's disappointing to hear it from Washington operatives trying to tell Texans what to do. These kind of tactics are why people hate politics," she said. "The days where party bosses picked the candidates in their smoke filled rooms are over. DC needs to let Houston vote."

"This is a landmark year in Texas and in states all across the country," she added. "We have a real chance to not only flip District 7, but bring some sanity back to Congress and resist the erratic extremism holding our White House hostage."

"It's a lot to ask, and we can't do any of it by throwing mud and tearing each other down. This is not the time to be a house divided."

Until this point, the DCCC so far this cycle has gone to great lengths to avoid the impression it was taking sides in primaries across the country. A Democratic source did point out to the Tribune that the campaign committee made a similar effort in a 2014 California House race.

A former Democratic operative emailed the Tribune suggesting that the posting was intended to signal to allied groups where and how to make paid attacks.

UPDATE: Note From A Progressive Congressmember

Dear Howie:

This is shocking to me. Apart from the unfairness of it, what if she wins anyway? They’ve kneecapped her. Didn’t they notice what happened when McConnell spent $7 million against Roy Moore, and then he became the nominee?

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Re-rigging Wall Street Against America


Yesterday, we started the day off looking at how conservative Democrats are joining with the Republicans to gut Dodd-Frank and set Wall Street free to rip off America and Americans again, Elizabeth Warren and progressive House candidates Austin Frerick (IA), Tim Canova (FL), Lillian Salerno (TX), DuWayner Gregory (NY), Ellen Lipton (MI) and Sam Jammal (CA) explained why that's a terrible idea. "Giant regional banks," wrote Canova, "are trying to mischaracterize this bill as an effort to help small banks and rural communities. In reality, this legislation would relax regulatory oversight of dozens of huge banks with more than $50 billion in assets. This may well undermine not just consumer protections, but the safety, soundness, and stability of the financial system. Instead of deregulating big banks, Congress should be creating public banking alternatives, including a national infrastructure bank, to serve the needs of our local communities." And Ellen Lipton added that "If there's any issue to take a stand on, and NOT engage in bipartisan hand-holding, it would be this one. The elimination of this regulation would allow an institution like Countrywide off the hook."

Do you ever read Wall Street on Parade. On Wednesday Pam and Russ Martens wrote that "nothing buttresses Senator Bernie Sanders’ position that fraud on Wall Street is not a bug but a feature better than the news last week that the Citigroup Board was bumping up CEO Michael Corbat’s pay by 48 percent to $23 million for 2017." I'd like to see Elizabeth Warren take on Corbat at a Senate hearing, wouldn't you?

Corbat has sat at the helm of the bank since October 2012 as the bank has paid more than $12 billion in fines and restitution for serial abuses of the public and investors, including its first criminal felony count in more than a century of existence. The felony count came on May 20, 2015 from the U.S. Department of Justice over the bank’s involvement in a bank cartel that was rigging foreign currency markets. Numerous other charges against the bank have focused on money-laundering. Citigroup’s long history of involvement in money-laundering also gives the appearance of being a feature not a bug.

Aside from the feeling that overseeing a business model of fraud on Wall Street is a road to riches for Wall Street’s mega bank CEOs, there is the disquieting question as to whether this strangely uniform obscene pay of the top dogs on Wall Street is being orchestrated by another invisible cartel.

On October 14, 2016 Bloomberg News’ reporters Greg Farrell and Keri Geiger landed the bombshell report that the top lawyers of the biggest Wall Street banks had been meeting secretly for two decades with their counterparts at international banks. At the 2016 secret meeting, held in May at a posh hotel in Versailles, the following were among the big bank lawyers: Gregory Palm, part of the Management Committee at Goldman Sachs; Stephen Cutler of JPMorgan (a former Director of Enforcement at the SEC); Gary Lynch of Bank of America (also a former Director of Enforcement at the SEC); Morgan Stanley’s Eric Grossman; Citigroup’s Rohan Weerasinghe; Markus Diethelm of UBS Group AG; Richard Walker of Deutsche Bank (again, a former Director of Enforcement at the SEC); Robert Hoyt of Barclays; Romeo Cerutti of Credit Suisse Group AG; David Fein of Standard Chartered; Stuart Levey of HSBC Holdings; and Georges Dirani of BNP Paribas SA.

Reuters reported last Friday how Corbat’s $23 million pay compared to his peers on Wall Street. It noted that Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase is now making $29.5 million. (Dimon has presided over three criminal felony counts at the bank within the past four years while keeping his job and watching his pay skyrocket.) Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman is making $27 million. Lloyd Blankfein, whose bank is tiny compared to JPMorgan Chase, is making $22 million. And Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan is being paid the same as Corbat, $23 million after recently getting a 15 percent pay boost.

Every one of the top lawyers of these banks were at that secret confab in 2016.

The most recent proxy filed by JPMorgan Chase goes to inordinate lengths to justify what it is paying its CEO Jamie Dimon. It includes a graph comparing his pay to peer bank CEOs and another graph that shows what percent of profits he and the CEOs of peer banks are receiving. (How that became a relevant metric is anyone’s guess. These are not, after all, family-owned businesses but banks that are subsidized by a taxpayer backstop for their trillions in insured deposits which typically earn less than one percent interest as the banks simultaneously charge 10 to 20 percent interest on their credit cards issued to the struggling middle class of America.)

A better metric would be how much shareholders have lost from fines and settlements under the reigning CEO. In Jamie Dimon’s case, it’s north of $36 billion since the financial crisis in 2008. Additionally, there’s those three criminal felony counts, the first in the bank’s more than century-old existence. Two felony counts were leveled by the U.S. Justice Department in 2014 for the bank’s role in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Another felony count came the very next year for the bank’s role in the foreign exchange rigging.

The era of obscene pay on Wall Street has occurred side-by-side with the era of serial charges of crimes. There is only one way to interpret this: the Boards of Directors of these banks have lost their moral compass.
Katie Porter, a professor at UC, Irvine, has worked closely with Elizabeth Warren on bankster problems-- in fact they co-authored a book about Wall Street abuses. Today she told us, regarding the bill to gut Dodd Frank, "This is unacceptable. This bill is a disaster for consumers and shows just how much power Wall Street banks, powerful special interests, and their high priced lobbyists have in Washington. Congressional action to weaken and erode banking rules protecting consumers is what fueled our financial crisis, and, once again, we are seeing history repeat itself. I’ve spent my career fighting for middle-class families, and now I want to take that fight to Washington." Katie is running for the Orange County seat currently held by Wall Street shill Mimi Walters. Please consider helping Katie's campaign here. And... how about Bernie/Elizabeth 2020?

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Midnight Meme For The Day!


by Noah

And isn't it strange that we have a so-called "president" who did away with a law that made it tougher for mentally ill people to get guns. Was it because that so-called "president" was so determined to undo any of the good things that his predecessor did for the American people that the idea of making it easier for the mentally ill getting their hands on war weapons didn't matter? Or, was it because we obviously have a severely mentally ill so-called "president." Or, both? That's a rhetorical question. We have a madman in the oval office.

Now, after 17 more are dead at the hands of a mentally ill gunman, it's not so strange that that so-called "president," only out of some sort of political expediency, now claims that, maybe we should "look into" making it harder for mentally ill people to get guns by having background checks that might trip up some of them. Oh wait, that is pretty strange. Should we just have laws that enable the mentally ill to buy guns every other year? Every 2 years? Just during leap years?

And isn't it strange that the mentally ill inhabitant of the oval office still has the whole-hearted support of his party and that fellow psychotics like House Speaker Paul Ryan still say, after every damn mass shooting, including the one last week, that "now is not the time" to discuss the problem? Well, not really, if, like Ryan you don't see mass shootings as enough of a problem, not when you have more important things to do like strip people of their Social Security and Medicare. "Now is not the time" has become as much of a mantra and defining point of being a republican as being anti-abortion. That's pretty confusing, if you think about it. To Republicans, a woman doesn't have the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy via abortion but a mental case has the right to terminate a fully-formed, living, breathing, laughing, learning teenager, or any of us, via a gun?

And, isn't it strange that any politician who takes bribes from the NRA continues to value that cash in the pocket more than they value the lives of our children, or us, and continues to do so as the bloody corpses pile up?

And, isn't it strange that the so-called "president's" party and media allies react to the protests of children whose friends and teachers got shot in their schools by saying they are being paid to protest by the other party? Can you imagine being so personally whacked out that you actually believe that and say that aloud, in public? You'd have to be mentally ill yourself. Imagine that, a whole party of the mentally ill, for the mentally ill. Would you let your congressperson buy a gun?

And isn't it strange that so many Americans vote for people who act so strangely and don't give a damn about them? It's that the ultimate case of voting against your own self-interest. It's a Death Wish.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens Career In Politics Is Ending Ugly


Greitens is another one of those fake Democrats the DCCC and DSCC love so much but who found his true calling when, like so many Blue Dog types, he officially became a Republican (in 2015). A much-decorated former Navy Seal, now 43, he was elected governor of Missouri in 2017. He was a Rhodes scholar who earned a doctorate from Oxford University. When he switched parties and decided to run for governor, he wrote a scathing OpEd for Fox, denouncing Democrats as "world-class hypocrites." In 2016 he beat Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster 1,424,730 (51.29%) to 1,261,110 (45.40%). Today he was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury on a felony charge of invasion of privacy involved in an extramarital affair in 2015 to which he has already admitted. His is a case of #MeToo ugliness on steroids. Where is Kirsten Gillibrand when someone actually needs her?

Greitens seems his military service entitled him to break the law at will. During the campaign, he was constantly getting into financial trouble for the unethical ways he ran his very sleazy political operation. . But Missourians weren't ready for the scandal that started when he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman he had being boinking, taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, if she ever spoke publicly about the affair.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched a criminal investigation of the allegations last month shortly after they become public. The indictment accuses Greitens of not only knowingly photographing the women with whom he had an affair, but also transmitting the image “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”

...The allegations against Greitens surfaced shortly after he delivered his annual State of the State address last month. The ex-husband of the woman with whom Greitens had an affair gave St. Louis TV station KMOV an audio recording of her confessing the affair and accusing Greitens of threatening to blackmail her.

...The investigators, both of whom have FBI experience, were back in Jefferson City this week interviewing more lawmakers.

According to lawmakers who were interviewed, the questions focused on the conversations and interactions legislators had with the governor about the affair and alleged blackmail before and after the story went public.

The allegations facing Greitens have hung over the Capitol for weeks.

A handful of Republican lawmakers quickly called on Greitens to resign. And earlier this week, while debating a bill that would outlaw “revenge porn,” Republicans overwhelming supported amending the bill to make it a felony to threaten someone with releasing a sexually explicit photo.

Greitens has bucked calls for his resignation, but the indictment could lead lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings and potentially force him out of office.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, said that the Missouri House “should move quickly to resolve the issue. They should investigate and let the process work… They should act quickly.”

Rep. Nate Walker, a Kirksville Republican, called news of the indictment “tragic for the state of Missouri.”

“I think it’s tragic for Gov. Greitens and his family,” Walker said. “I find no joy in it, but sometimes people have to be held accountable for their actions.”

Walker, an early Greitens supporter, called for him to resign in the days after the allegations surfaced. He renewed those calls Thursday when asked whether the House should pursue impeachment.

“I called for him to step down three weeks ago because I thought this was going to happen… My understanding was he was led off in handcuffs and that’s not a good sign for our executive of the state of Missouri,” Walker said. “He should resign.”


Flippable: CA-39... With The Right Candidate


As it had for cycle after cycle, in 2016 the DCCC ignored CA-39 entirely. But as Hillary beat Trump there-- 51.5% to 42.9%-- Brett Murdock, the un-funded Democrat who ran (spending $76,014 to incumbent Ed Royce's $3,640,434), managed to win 42.3% of the vote. This cycle the DCCC decided to use the 39th-- a district in the northeast corner of Orange County that spills into L.A. and San Bernardino counties-- as a dumping ground for multimillionaire self-funders from other districts. They hadn't counted on an actual grassroots, policy-driven local, Sam Jammal, running. Meanwhile, Royce sniffed around and, despite a massive warchest, decided not to seek reelection. He bowed out, leaving half a dozen Democrats with 6 or 7-figure warchests. Blue America surveyed the field and endorsed Sam Jammal, who released his first video today, which he describes below-- and which you can watch above.

Piss Off Trump-- Send a Latino/Arab American to Congress
-by Sam Jammal

Imagine next January when the House begins taking up the articles of impeachment against Trump. What if the deciding vote was the son of immigrants? What if this vote was the son of Latino and Arab American parents? Is there anything that would piss off Trump more?

Right now, we can do that in the 39 th district. A new poll from Public Policy Polling has a Democrat ahead by 2%. But, while Hillary Clinton won this seat by 8.6%, not just any Democrat can win. We house the Nixon birthplace and library here in the 39th. Our demographics are changing, but voters are only starting to take a look at Democrats.

My story is that of the 39 th district-- a welcoming community with immigrants from all over the world and a desire to make sure the next generation can succeed. I am not an out of district millionaire – I am from the community.

Goal ThermometerUp top is my first ad of the campaign telling the story of why I decided to run for Congress: We can do better than today’s politics. Washington is broken-- I saw it in my roles in government and experienced it in business. You see I grew up in a working class home where we had to learn to stretch a dollar. We never had the luxury of doing nothing, so I can’t wait for Congress to fix itself. We fix it by electing new people who are actually from their communities and will fight.

But change first starts with stopping Trump. And we can do that while also infuriating him. With your support, I can be Trump’s worst nightmare-- a Latino and Arab American in Congress.

Join my campaign at sam4congress. Please help us flip the 39th district and bring new voices to Congress.

Labels: , , ,

Has Gun Control's Moment Come Again-- Despite Cowardly Politicians?


Cameron Kasky, one of the students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School brought down the house at the CNN forum Wednesday night when he asked his senator, Marco Rubio, if he would stop taking NRA money. Rubio-- like every single blood-soaked member of Congress from either party who takes NRA bribes and votes for their sick, murderous agenda, said that the NRA buys into his agenda, not that he buys into theirs. Maybe Rubio even believes that. But the kids didn't. They boo-ed him loudly and repeatedly. Rubio's not up for reelection again until 2022. It was gracious and somewhat courageous of him to jump into the lion's den.

Trump immediately went for the most simple-minded and idiotic right-wing suggestion-- arm the teachers. Even Rubio said he wouldn't support that idea. I asked my friend who works at a public school in Compton. He said that it's a crazy idea that not only wouldn't work but that would result in more than half the teachers he knows retiring. "You think there's a teacher shortage now," he said, if Trump manages to push this through, the whole school system will collapse. Maybe that's just what DeVos wants to see happen." He also told me he's buying bulletproof clothing for school.

Rubio told the audience he's going to try-- an impossible task?-- to get unanimous consent to bring the background check bill-- FIX NICS-- to the floor. I can't see that happening... and even if it does, Ryan will stop it in the House by keeping it attached to the concealed carry reciprocity bill, an NRA strategy which will prevent Democrats from voting for it. Rubio said he favors raising the age for legal assault rifle purchases from 18 to 21-- a total non-started for the gun manufacturers lobbyists-- and says he will back mental health background checks gun violence restraining orders and limiting the size of magazine clips. When confronted by a student on his refusal to back limits on large capacity magazines in the past, he said he's "reconsidering that position... While it may not prevent an attack, it may save lives in an attack." That would be enough for the NRA to go to try to make an example of him for other Republicans.

This morning, Marc Caputo termed that "a striking turnabout for Rubio, who never met a gun-rights bill he didn’t vote for in the Florida legislature and in Congress."
Rubio said he would leave it to law enforcement to suggest what the right magazine size would be.

That wasn’t enough for the audience, even as Rubio chided them that politicians should be allowed to change their minds. And it wasn’t enough for the other people on stage.

“The time for talking in Washington about to do about guns is over. It’s over. We know what to do,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents the district where the school is located, in the city of Parkland.

But Rubio steadfastly refused to consider banning semiautomatic rifles outright. And he said he would not refuse money from the National Rifle Association, which has steered $3.3 million in contributions to him over the course of his career and given him an A+ rating-- support he might not be able to count on after Wednesday night.

In June 2016, Rubio cited the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a major reason he leapt back into his Senate race, which he’d been weighing doing for months after failing in the presidential primaries. Rubio said that massacre had “impacted” him and made him feel he had to return to the Senate. He won, with NRA support. But in the nearly two years since, he has not championed any new gun legislation in Congress.

...The evening didn’t start particularly well for Rubio, either, when he was questioned by Fred Guttenberg, whose 14 year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed last week in school.

“Were guns the factor in the hunting of our kids?” Guttenberg asked.

“Of course they were,” Rubio replied. “Number one, Fred, I absolutely believe that in this country if you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle and I will support a law that takes that right away.”

Rubio was met with applause and went on to say he supports banning “bump stocks,” which can make a semiautomatic fire like a machine gun. He also voiced his support for better background checks and mental health funding.

But when Rubio said an “assault weapons ban” would not have prevented last week’s murders, the boos rained down.

“It is too easy to get,” Guttenburg said. “It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can’t stand with everybody in this building and say that, I’m sorry.”

Yesterday we looked at Ron Brownstein's ideas about what kinds of districts the Democrats could win to build a House majority. This morning, writing for The Atlantic, he reiterated his analysis in the light of the reinvigorated national gun debate. Trump-hatred in the suburbs is going to help the Democrats and the gun issue is going to amplify that.

Despite the widespread Democratic defection from outside the major urban centers, the Brady and assault-ban bills passed because Clinton drew support from dozens of suburban Republicans inside those metropolitan areas. Fifty-four House Republicans backed the Brady bill in 1993, and 38 supported the assault ban the next year; the latter number grew to 46 when the ban was included in the final version of Clinton’s crime bill. Of those 46 Republicans backing the overall bill, most were from heavily suburban, Democratic-leaning states, including eight from New York; five from New Jersey; and three each from California, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

In the years since, the GOP’s geographic base has shifted away from major metropolitan areas and its demographic base has tilted further toward older, blue-collar, evangelical, and rural voters. Reflecting those changes, GOP congressional leaders have tightened their alliance with the NRA and hardened their opposition to gun control. The remaining Republicans from suburban districts, even in the bluest states, have bent compliantly to that current. Compared with their counterparts in the 1990s, suburban House Republicans now vote much more in lockstep with the NRA.

In December, all but 10 suburban House Republicans voted for legislation to override individual state gun laws and require every state to honor a concealed-carry handgun permit issued in any state. In February 2017, all but two House Republicans (New York’s Peter King and Dan Donovan) voted to overturn a regulation from former President Barack Obama that required the Social Security Administration to share information with the national background-check system about anyone deemed incapable of managing their benefits because of mental illness.

Many of the Republicans who voted with the NRA on both measures represent white-collar suburban seats atop the Democrats’ 2018 target list. That includes GOP legislators near Denver (Mike Coffman); Los Angeles (Dana Rohrabacher, Mimi Walters, and Steve Knight); Minneapolis (Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis); New York (Lee Zeldin); Northern Virginia (Barbara Comstock); Omaha (Don Bacon); Des Moines (David Young); Houston (John Culberson); and Dallas (Pete Sessions). Except for King and Donovan, every other top-target metro Republican-- from Carlos Curbelo in Miami to Leonard Lance in New Jersey-- who voted against the concealed-carry reciprocity bill voted for the repeal of Obama’s Social Security regulation.
Goal ThermometerAmong those Republican politicians Brownstein wrote are now vulnerable because of their unswerving support for the NRA is David Young, the pius hypocrite who Austin Frerick is taking on in Des Moines and southwest Iowa. Austin ripped into him this morning: "I’ve personally become even more driven to defeat Congressman Young knowing that’s he’s taken the 3rd most money from the NRA and continues to do their bidding tragedy after tragedy. He's just a do-nothing hollow man who does the bidding of his largest donors. After the Law Vegas massacres, Congressman Young said that he couldn't think of a good reason why bump stocks exist. His solution was to write a letter to the ATF, but the ATF doesn't think it can act. Did he do something after that ATF decision? No, but he did have time to visit a gun store whose owner was very concerned about his comments on bump stocks, and wanted to show him why they were fine."

Katie Porter is running for the Orange County seat NRA ally Mimi Walters claims to be representing-- although she doesn't live there. Katie told us she's "tired of seeing our elected officials like my opponent Mimi Walters offer her thoughts and prayers after every mass shooting, and then voting however the NRA wants-- regardless of our families’ safety.The gun lobby has spent decades perpetuating this idea that there’s nothing we can do to stop gun violence in this country. That is just ridiculous. To reduce deaths from lethal weapons, our leaders in Congress just need to find the courage to stand up to the NRA and its special interest money. Not only has my opponent received thousands of dollars of contributions from the NRA, but she is voting against the will of her constituents. 60% of CA-45 voters voted for Proposition 63, a common sense gun initiative, in 2016-- more proof that Mimi Walters votes with special interests, not her constituents."

Lillian Salerno, the progressive in the race to replace Pete Sessions in Dallas, has a similar perspective. "Pete Sessions," she told us today, "has been in the pocket of the NRA since his initial run for Congress twenty years ago, and there is no sign he will change course now. Even after hundreds of children have lost their lives to gun violence, the NRA knows they have an unwavering ally in Sessions. And what did it take to secure his allegiance? $150,000 in contributions and outside spending from the NRA. $150,000 is the price Sessions puts on the lives of children and families. And as a member of Congress, I will never, under any circumstance, take money from the NRA."

Another GOP incumbent Brownstein singled out: extremist Steve Knight (CA-25). And his progressive opponent, Katie Hill, has been reminding voters in Santa Clarita, the Antelope Valley and Simi Valley what a danger he is. "Steve Knight has prioritized special interests like the NRA over constituents since he joined Congress," she told us. "We need an elected official willing to stand up and do the right thing. I support the immediate ban of bump stocks, silencers, and assault weapons. There is no compelling reason for a civilian to own weapons of war and it is time that the law reflected it."

Now watch Derrick Crowe:

Labels: , , , , , , , ,