Sunday, April 20, 2014

Did You Fall For The CIA's Fake Letter To The Jews Of Donetsk?


I'm not sure if my friend Adam is still addicted to drugs but I do know he's still addicted to the drug addicts on Hate Talk Radio who get all hopped up on coke or speed and just let it rip. Adam took it on himself last week to spread the latest set of meticuloulsy-crafted right-wing propaganda about the woeful fate of the Jews of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. He cited the now debunked USAToday fantasy by Oren Dorell, a shady Beltway journalist. When I told him that the whole thing was probably just right-wing propaganda designed to push Americans towards a pro-war mentality, he balked.

"I have been reading comments from Jews in Israel who speak Russian," he wrote, "and really looked into it. It seems that some have tried to torch synagogues. Putin admitted his organization distributed the flyers but was unaware of their content (one person wrote). I have a client in Crimea, and from what I was told, they are terrified and want Putin out. Either way, Putin is a liar, and it doesn't look good, he has already (as you know) targeted gays."

  Sensing a kindred spirit-- anti-gay, authoritarian-- the American right had drifted deep into the Putin orbit. The problems in the Ukraine gave them second thoughts. The opportunity to exploit the Donetsk Jew letter was something they just couldn't resist. Kerry was pushing it big time. And the monkeys at CNN and the rest of the mainstream media bit-- big time… just like my drug-addicted (or ex-drug-addicted) friend, Adam. This morning, Haaretz reported that the letter is a fake.
The pro-Russian separatist leader of Donetsk, whose alleged signature is on the now notorious fliers calling on the eastern Ukrainian city's Jews to register on pain of deportation, said the documents were fakes, the ThinkProgress website reported Thursday.

“Some idiots yesterday were giving out these fliers in targeted areas,” said Denis Pushlin, head of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, whose forces have taken over Ukrainian government buildings in the city. Pushlin said he didn't sign the documents and the People's Republic, whose name is stamped on the fliers, didn't produce them.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League said it was "skeptical about the … authenticity" of the fliers, which have been widely reported and accepted as authentic, including by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who denounced them as "grotesque."

Also, Julia Ioffe, who covers Russia for The New Republic, wrote: "The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed [the fliers] as 'a provocation,' which it clearly is. 'It's an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,' says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. 'I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid-- this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.'"

According to the original report from Novosti Donbassa news agency, the fliers were handed out by three men wearing balaclavas and carrying Russian Federation flags on Monday, Passover eve, to Jews leaving synagogue in Donetsk.

The fliers order all Jews over the age of 16 to register at the government building, which has been occupied by pro-Russian insurgents in defiance of Kiev rule. Jews would also have to pay a registration fee of $50 before May 3 and list all real estate and vehicles owned.

The notice explained the measure as being due to the alleged support of Jewish leaders for the "nationalist junta of [Stepan] Bandera in Kiev" and their hostility "to the Orthodox Donetsk republic and its citizens."

Failure to register, the notice said, would result in people being "stripped of their citizenship and deported forcibly outside the country with confiscation of property."
So who perpetrated this? Most people who denounced it as inauthentic from day one, are pointing to the CIA, which is not hard to believe, since the organization was key to toppling the former regime in Kiev and installing the new one which, understandably, has the Russians concerned. And this attempt to stampede Obama into a confrontation with Russia isn't their first-- and is certainly being applauded by the right-wing media.

It isn't the kind of analysis you'll ever see in the USA Today or on CNN or CBS or any of those news sources-- who are to busy with fake Jew letters-- but last week Naomi Klein, writing for The Guardian, went a long way towards explaining why the U.S. is so busy meddling in Ukraine.
The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress-- one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083)-- that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin's fossil fuels, and enhancing US national security.

According to Cory Gardner, the Republican congressman who introduced the House bill, "opposing this legislation is like hanging up on a 911 call from our friends and allies." And that might be true-- as long as your friends and allies work at Chevron and Shell, and the emergency is the need to keep profits up amid dwindling supplies of conventional oil and gas.

For this ploy to work, it's important not to look too closely at details. Like the fact that much of the gas probably won't make it to Europe-- because what the bills allow is for gas to be sold on the world market to any country belonging to the World Trade Organisation.

Or the fact that for years the industry has been selling the message that Americans must accept the risks to their land, water and air that come with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in order to help their country achieve "energy independence." And now, suddenly and slyly, the goal has been switched to "energy security," which apparently means selling a temporary glut of fracked gas on the world market, thereby creating energy dependencies abroad.

And most of all, it's important not to notice that building the infrastructure necessary to export gas on this scale would take many years in permitting and construction-- a single LNG terminal can carry a $7bn price tag, must be fed by a massive, interlocking web of pipelines and compressor stations, and requires its own power plant just to generate energy sufficient to liquefy the gas through super-cooling. By the time these massive industrial projects are up and running, Germany and Russia may well be fast friends. But by then few will remember that the crisis in Crimea was the excuse seized upon by the gas industry to make its longstanding export dreams come true, regardless of the consequences to the communities getting fracked or to the planet getting cooked.

I call this knack for exploiting crisis for private gain the shock doctrine, and it shows no signs of retreating. We all know how the shock doctrine works: during times of crisis, whether real or manufactured, our elites are able to ram through unpopular policies that are detrimental to the majority under cover of emergency. Sure there are objections-- from climate scientists warning of the potent warming powers of methane, or local communities that don't want these high-risk export ports on their beloved coasts. But who has time for debate? It's an emergency! A 911 call ringing! Pass the laws first, think about them later.

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If we want an economy that works, says Ian Welsh, we have to "break or regulate" Google and the other "oligopolists" -- even as Mike Doonesbury wonders if he's ever sunk so low


What's driving Mike Doonesbury to all this soul-searching?

Dooonesbury, by Garry Trudeau, today [click to enlarge]

by Ken

"You want a good economy again?" Ian Welsh asked in a recent post.
You want an internet economy that lives up to the early hype and which provides even more jobs than the old economy?  Break or regulate Google, Apple, Facebook and all the other gatekeepers, scrapers and information brokers.
Ian was writing from his perspective as a longtime blogger, including his stints as managing editor of "The Agonist" and FDL. He's been in good position, he says, to observe the collapse of the blogospheric advertising market, going back to the big collapse of 2007-08 and worsening to this day. The reason the advertising market collapsed, he says,
is that in the old days you sold your ads direct, or through brokers who offered good deals.  As time went by, however, the percentage offered dropped and dropped and dropped. The brokers consolidated, and one broker took the lion’s share of the market: Google.

The reasons are simple enough: Google can offer the widest portfolio of websites to advertise on, and for all but the best branded websites, it determines more traffic than any single other factor.  For people with no brand, it determines almost all the traffic.

Google takes the value because Google takes the value of websites: content creators don’t matter for squat because without Google they don’t get read, or watched.  Oh, there are some exceptions, websites with a large enough community to provide their own traffic and push (Facebook, YouTube, etc…), but for the long tail and even the lower part of the fat end, Google is it.
"Google is remarkably similar in important ways to Walmart," Ian says.
If it doesn’t carry your goods, or sticks them in a lousy place on the shelves, you aren’t going to sell much.  The information problem in economics has absolutely not been solved, people cannot find what they would actually want to read or buy, but only what a few key companies show them (see Apple’s App Store for another example, or Steam, both of which take 30% in exchange for giving people a lottery ticket to make some money).
What this is, Ian says, is "pure skimming off of other people’s work,"
and while it makes a few companies obscenely profitable (Apple doesn’t even know what to do with all the money it’s sitting on), it destroys businesses. If you have to pay 30% to someone simply as the price of getting your product before consumers in theory (often not in practice), a lot of businesses simply become unviable, and the jobs at Apple or Facebook or Google do  not make up for all the jobs they kill.  If Google doesn’t serve your website in the first few pages, it’s not going to be read.  You will make a deal with Google (if you’re big enough for them to care) and you will create your content to pander to Google’s preferences as embodied by their algorithims, or you won’t get traffic, and even if you do get traffic, well your ads don’t pay squat, because Google takes almost all the profit.
Is there anything to be done?
Companies like Google, the key App stores, Walmart and so on must be heavily regulated, and the amount of commission they can take must be fixed by law.  If it isn’t, well, you get to read all sorts of articles wondering where the tech jobs are, asking why Instagram has so few employees, while Kodak had tons.  The reason is that tons of people are providing value to Instagram, or Google, or Apple, or Facebook, and they either aren’t getting paid, or are getting peanuts: they create content, that content has value, but because someone stands between them and the people who pay, they aren’t rewarded for the value they create.
And so, if we "want a good economy again," if we "want an internet economy that lives up to the early hype and which provides even more jobs than the old economy":
Break or regulate Google, Apple, Facebook and all the other gatekeepers, scrapers and information brokers.

(Oh, and reduce patents to only a few years, and enforce mandatory licensing, and a million (ok hundreds) of cell phone companies will blossom, driving smartphone prices down to a tenth of what they are today, or more.  It’s called a competitive market, and it doesn’t work in a strict protected works world.)

You can have an economy that works, or you can have a few oligopolist companies which make obscene profits and create oligarchs: your choice.

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Sunday Classics, special Resurrection Edition: Chopin's ballades and Beethoven's Op. 111 Sonata revisited


Agustin Anievas, piano. EMI, recorded in London, June 1975

Sviatoslav Richter, piano. Praga, recorded live in Prague, Feb. 21, 1960 (mono)

by Ken

Sometimes when I go back to an old "Sunday Classics" post I take heart in the realization that if there's nothing else to be said for it, there's the music. It happened again this week with a May 2012 post I happened to be looking at, "A vision for the future in Beethoven's last piano sonata," for a reason I'll explain in a moment.

After a tease of Beethoven's immensely compact and cryptic yet approachable Op. 111 Piano Sonata, we heard the second of Chopin's four miraculously dramatic ballades, much as we just did above. (In fact, as regards the performances, exactly as we just did above. The score page is new, though. And in the original post I did include this compact note about the two performances: "first a lovely performance by Agustin Anievas, then a more searching performance by Sviatoslav Richter (from the same Prague broadcast from which we recently heard the First Ballade).")


Read more »

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The Republican Party Still Exists In New York-- But Just Barely


Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn)

I'm from Brooklyn. I went to PS-197 and then James Madison High School. So did Ken-- not to mention Bernie Sanders, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chuck Schumer and… Norm Coleman. When Ken, Chuck and I were kids, the congressman was the dean of the House Dems, Emanuel Celler, who served from 1923 to 1973. [An opponent of civil rights he was finally defeated in a primary by a more progressive Democrat, Elizabeth Holtzman. She went to Lincoln, the next high school over.] But when I was growing up I remember there were always Republicans who ran against Celler. You never heard of any of them and every other fall they would have their posters on telephone polls for a few weeks and then you would never hear from any of them again.
1962- Emanuel Celler (D)- 81.0%
Seymour Besunder (R)- 19.0%

1964- Emanuel Celler (D)- 87.5%
Samuel Held (R)- 12.5%

1966- Emanuel Celler (D)- 82.1%
Erwin Rosenberg (R)- 17.9%

1968- Emanuel Celler (D)- 70.5%
Frank Martano (R)- 29.5%
By the next election, I was living in a remote village in Afghanistan. Today, that area of Brooklyn is part of the 9th CD, Yvette Clark's district, a district with an African-American majority. I only remember half a dozen African-American kids at Madison when I was there. The 9th now includes Prospect Park, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Park Slope, Flatbush, Midwood, and Sheepshead Bay. In 2012 President Obama beat Mitt Romney 202,361 (85%) to 33,045 (14%). The PVI is D+32, tied for the 14th bluest district with John Lewis' 5th CD in Atlanta and Janice Hahn's 44th CD in Los Angeles. There are five New York City districts even bluer than Clarke's:
NY-15 (South Bronx)- Jose Serrano- D+43
NY-13 (Harlem and Upper Manhattan)- Charlie Rangel- D+42
NY-05 (Southeast Queens)- Gregory Meeks- D+35
NY-08 (Bedford-Stuyvesant)- Hakeem Jeffries- D+34
NY-07 (Lower East Side, Chinatown, Bushwick, Cypress Hills)- Nydia Velazquez- D+34
Yvette Clarke had a Republican opponent in 2012, Daniel Cavanaugh. He did even worse than Romney-- 11%. He's running again this year but the Republicans didn't even bother to endorse him. He's running on the Conservative Party line. And the 9th isn't the only district where the Republicans have just given up and ceded the right to the Conservative Party.

In 2012, the GOP ran Frank Della Valle against Serrano. Serrano beat him handily-- 152,661 (97%) to 4,427 (3%)-- the same outcome we saw that district deliver in the presidential race! It was Romney's worst-performing district in America. The last Republican to carry the Bronx was Calvin Coolidge in 1924. I wonder if Ted Cruz will do even worse than Romney. The Republicans aren't running a candidate against Serrano this year. The Conservative Party is running someone named Eduardo Ramirez.

Although Rangel has 3 Democratic primary opponents and a Green and a Working Families Party general election opponents in November, neither the Republicans nor even the Conservatives are bothering to go through the motions in 2014. Their 2012 nominee, Craig Schley, only managed to get 6%. Now that they've rebranded, some people though they might mount a real candidate but… well not even the Republican Party believes all that rebranding claptrap.

Gregory Meeks, a worthless New Dem who totally sells his Jamaica, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Rockaway constituents out on a regular basis, faces a primary from Joseph Marthone but no Republican or Conservative. Why bother? Meeks supports them more than they could ever expect from someone in a district like his!

Hakeem Jeffries' 2012 Republican opponent, Alan Bellone, got 9% of the vote. The Brooklyn GOP decided to handle it the same way they're handling the Yvette Clarke race-- by leaving it to the Conservative Party. Bellone will appear again this year, but on the Conservative line, not the Republican line, which will be empty.

The only exception in these half dozen super-blue districts is in Nydia Velazquez's 7th CD, where she beat her GOP opponent 95-5% in 2012. This time the GOP is running Jose Luis Fernandez and the Conservative Party is running Allan Romaguera.

Republicans have virtually no serious candidates in any of the Democratic-held seats in New York State. And in 9 of the state's 27 districts that don't even an unserious candidate. Democrats are targeting 3 Republicans: Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm in Staten Island, Tom Reed in the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes district and Chris Gibson in the northern Hudson Valley and there is just one Republican seat that is going without at least a Democratic candidate: NY-22 (Utica and Binghampton), where Richard Hanna has 2 Tea Party primary opponents. The Democrats could have done a better job by going after Hanna as well as Peter King and by recruiting better candidates against Grimm and Gibson. But the Republicans… they're barely a party in New York State anymore.

The last U.S. Senator elected in New York was Al D'Amato in 1992. Since Nelson Rockefeller died schtuping his 25 year old mistress in 1973, the Republicans have only elected one governor, George Pataki. In fact, the last GOP candidate for governor, Carl Paladino took only 33.3% of the vote and lost all but 13 of New York's 62 counties. This year they failed to recruit a serious candidate and will be running Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is unlikely to do even as "well" as Paladino! No one even wanted to run under him as Lieutenant Governor-- so they have no candidate-- and all the other statewide candidates are considered not serious contenders. In the future there will be a competent DCCC and the GOPs 6 congressional seats could be reduced to one seat in two well-planned cycles, ending the careers of Peter King, Michael Grimm, Chris Gibson, Richard Hanna, and, if he survives this year, Tom Reed.


Coming up at 5pm ET/2pm PT: a special Resurrection Edition of Sunday Classics.

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How Is Steve Israel's Advice Working Out For New Hampshire Democrats?


Anne and Carol, New Hampshire Democrats with different approaches

Last year, as early New Hampshire congressional polling began showing up, we saw an interesting trend. Anne Kuster, a New Dem who represents the bluer of the two congressional districts (D+3) but who votes far more conservatively, was jeopardizing her reelection by turning off the Democratic base, while the more progressive and independent-minded Carol Shea-Porter, who represents a Republican-leaning swing district (R+1), was in excellent shape because, in sticking to her progressive values, she had pleased the base and the independents. In short, following Steve Israel's advice to rebrand herself as a New Dem is not paying off for Kuster. And a brand new Granite State Poll this week confirmed that. Steve Israel should pay very close attention to this before he destroys any more Democratic freshmen with his horrible advise: "District 1 Congresswoman Carol-Shea Porter’s favorability ratings are at their highest point since 2012, and she leads her two potential GOP challengers. District 2 Congresswoman Ann Kuster continues to struggle with poor favorability ratings and is in a dead heat with relatively unknown challenger Marilinda Garcia." Israel continues telling vulnerable Democrats to vote with the Republicans. And Nancy Pelosi winks and nods vacuously and calls him reptilian… approvingly. In 2012 Obama won an historic victory and Patty Murray led the DSCC to jaw-dropping victory after jaw-dropping victory in almost every contested GOP-favored race, including in pretty red territory like North Dakota, Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Montana, West Virginia… while Israel lost his ass in district after district-- and handed Boehner another term as Speaker on a silver platter. An incompetent and an idiot, incapable of learning from past mistakes, he's in the midst of doing the same thing again this cycle.

Independent of the corrupt Beltway bosses, Shea-Porter is viewed as someone toiling away solely in the interests of New Hampshire's working families. The Granite State poll analysis:
Democrat Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who was elected in 2006 from New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, lost in 2010, and regained the seat in 2012, remains modestly popular in her district. Currently, 45% of 1st District adults have a favorable opinion of Shea-Porter, 30% have an unfavorable opinion, 9% are neutral, and 16% don’t know enough about her to say. Her net favorability rating, the percentage who have a favorable opinion of her minus the percentage who have an unfavorable opinion, is +15%, which is up from +7% in January. This represents Shea-Porter’s highest net favorability score since August 2012. She is very popular among Democrats (net +61%), somewhat popular among Independents (net +10%), and unpopular among Republicans (net -28%). Shea-Porter’s net favorability among likely 2014 voters is +16%… In a trial heat between Shea-Porter and Guinta, 44% of likely 1st District likely voters say they would vote for Shea-Porter if the election were held today, 35% would support Guinta, and 21% are undecided.

…In New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District, first term Congresswoman Ann Kuster’s favorability ratings continue to remain low. Currently, only 27% of 2nd District adults have a favorable opinion of Kuster, 33% have an unfavorable opinion of her, 10% are neutral, and 29% don’t know enough about her to say. Her net favorability rating is very low for an incumbent, -6%, which is down from -2% in January. She is popular among Democrats (net +46%), but is very unpopular among Independents (net -50%) and Republicans (net -36%). Kuster’s net favorability among likely 2014 voters is -5%.

The two Republican candidates who have challenged Kuster are former State Senator Gary Lambert (R-Nashua) and State Representative Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem). Neither is particularly well-known -- only 4% of Second District adults have a favorable opinion of Lambert, 6% have an unfavorable opinion, 9% are neutral, and 80% don’t know enough about him to say. His net favorability rating is -2%, which is down from +1% in January. Lambert’s net favorability among likely 2014 voters is also -2%. Meanwhile, 13% of Second District adults have a favorable opinion of Garcia, 6% have an unfavorable opinion, 5% are neutral, and 76% don’t know enough about her to say. Her net favorability rating is +7%, which is up from +5% in January. Garcia’s net favorability among likely 2014 voters is +11%.

Despite being relatively unknown in the District, Garcia is in a dead heat with Kuster. If the election were held today, 34% of likely voters in the 2nd District say they would vote for Kuster, 33% would vote for Garcia, 1% would vote for someone else and 32% are undecided… Both Garcia (38%-14%) and Lambert (34%-14%) lead Kuster by double digits among independent voters. But the primary reason Garcia does better than Lambert when matched with Kuster is that Garcia gets more support among women. Kuster leads Lambert by 16 percentage points among women but only leads Garcia by 5 percentage points.
This should be a warning to incumbents and candidates alike-- following Steve Israel's advice to vote against the base, turns off the base, turns off independents and wins no support among Republicans. Blue America, is, once again, endorsing Carol Shea-Porter; she's earned our continued support. Since there is no primary challenger this year, we have nothing to say about Kuster's race. You can help make sure Carol is reelected here.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

There Is "Bipartisanship" And Then There Is Bipartisanship-- West Virginia And California


Evan Jenkins was a very right-wing Democrat who followed his opportunistic instincts to switch parties recently and run against a right-wing Democrat who hasn't switched parties, Nick Rahall. Jenkins' TV spot above has a couple of lines I want to call special attention to:
"Nick Rahall-- a lying politician, just like Obama. A better choice: Evan Jenkins-- the backbone to defend our way of life from Obama's 'War On Coal.' Jenkins puts West Virginians first, not politics. Work with both parties, create jobs… That's Evan Jenkins."
"Work with both parties?" By calling Rahall and Obama liars, making up noonsense about a "war on coal?" Demonizing Democrats? Jenkns may mean he's willing to work with the Republican Party and the Tea Party when he says "both parties." But one thing is sure-- none of these corporate whores from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party are willing to represent the interests of ordinary working families-- not in the valleys of West Virginia and not in California's Silicon Valley. We'll get back to Ro Khanna and the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in Silicon Valley in a moment.

First, let's take a look at some real bipartisanship from one of Mike Honda's biggest California supporters, Nancy Pelosi. Last week, the Democratic House Leader responded to a letter from both Democratic and Republican governors, most of whom really are more interested in solving problems than in scoring political points. House Republicans and right-wing candidates like Jenkins may oppose renewing emergency unemployment insurance for millions of workers but governors understand that for their states to succeed, their people have to succeed. Republicans in the House are too immersed with political game-playing to even ever consider that. Pelosi's letter, in part, to Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) and Brian Sandoval (R-NV):
I have received your letter of April 11 expressing your support for the bipartisan measure to renew emergency unemployment insurance overwhelmingly passed out of the Senate last week.

…It is unconscionable that the House has not acted to renew emergency unemployment insurance. But as you know, House Republicans have blocked the House from considering this desperately needed legislation each and every time Democrats have moved to hold a vote.

Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment insurance to expire while long-term unemployment rates have remained so high. Failure to restore this lynchpin of economic security for the long-term unemployed is costing us 240,000 jobs this year alone. House Republicans' refusal to extend emergency unemployment insurance is callous, shortsighted and immoral.

House Democrats will continue to push for a vote to extend emergency unemployment insurance, and to advance the bipartisan Senate legislation in the House. Your bipartisan letter, together with those from other governors, and the countless letters from Americans reeling from the loss of their unemployment insurance, reminds us just how critical this work is.

Thanks you for your support in this effort, and I look forward to working with you to pass this vital legislation as soon as possible.
So… bipartisanship. 38 crackpot Republican obstructionists in the Senate, who would rather see America and Americans fail than see Obama succeed, voted NO, but both Nevada senators, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Dean Heller voted for the bill. Sandoval must have been relieved. Of Nevada's 4 House Members, though, there is a split-- a party line split, the two Democrats, Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, want to pass the Senate bill, while the two Republicans, Mark Amodei and Joe Heck, are too scared to break with Boehner and support the efforts. In West Virginia, Rahall wants to vote for the Senate bill but, of course, Evan Jenkins would like to get into Congress and oppose it… "defending our way of life?"

Like I said earlier, Nancy Pelosi has been one of Mike Honda's most steadfast backers in his battle against Ro Khanna and the Republican wing of the Democratic Party trying to take his seat. Though Khanna has been a major conduit for Indo-American money into the Democratic Party and Pelosi knows him well, she helped persuade the entire California congressional delegation to back Honda. "Congressman Mike Honda's life," she said when endorsing him, "has been a tribute to the quintessential American ideals of equality and opportunity for all. From a childhood spent in an internment camp, Mike has risen to the heights of American leadership-- as one of the top Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee and a critical voice for fairness, the rights of LGBT couples and all families. Mike is a bold and effective leader who understands the needs of Silicon Valley and the 17th District, ensuring American competitiveness and fighting for American manufacturing, comprehensive immigration reform, STEM education and technological innovation. We need his continued leadership for our nation in the House of Representatives, and I am proud to endorse him."

Honda has been a champion for ordinary working families and Khanna has a long, clear and shameful record of deceit and cheating going back many years. Lately he's been howling about a "bipartisan" approach. But his bipartisanship is much like Evan Jenkins'. Jenkins has already switched to the GOP. Khanna's donors are Republicans and if voters in CA-17 were, he would have switched as well. Last week, his response to Mike Honda's vote against the toxic Ryan budget and for the more responsible, progressive alternative budget was a slimy OpEd in the San Jose Mercury News blaming "both sides," as though progressives like Honda standing up for working families equates with the sociopathic and obstructionist Republicans doing the bidding of their (and Khanna's) avaricious donors. Khanna calls for "compromise," meaning cutting Social Security-- he backs Chained CPI, for example, a method of cutting seniors' cost of living increases-- and cutting back on Medicare, although what he talks about in his OpEd are teaching computer coding and programming in schools, something Honda has long championed. Khanna, like Jenkins, is a joke. If he wins the June primary, though, the joke will be on us. You can help Mike Honda beat back this conservative challenge here at the Blue America incumbents page.

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When the young(er) Joanie Caucus met up with the Doonesbury gang


You remember this Doonesbury strip?

DOONESBURY -- Monday, Februay 4, 2013

[Click to enlarge]

by Ken

Awhile back, pursuing an earlier fit of Doonesbury nostalgia, I offered "Our own Doonesbury flashback: When Joanie Caucus joined Elizabeth Warren's Senate staff," reprising two weeks' worth of strips that Garry Trudeau himself had just reprinted, originally from February and March 2013, when our old, old Doonesbury companion Joanie Caucus came out of retirement to join the Senate staff of Elizabeth Warren, whose candidacy she had supported so ardently. What I couldn't get over, and had to give Garry Trudeau immense credit for, was allowing his characters to face the rigors of time. Which made it harder, not easier, for me to deal with the Joanie of modern times (now a great-grandmother!):

Lately Garry T has been flashing back to the earliest days of Doonesbury, days before I discovered the strip, from which I've seen only the occasional reprised or anthologized specimen. And among the resurrected strips have been those that introduced us and the Doonesbury gang, then ensconced in their Walden commune, to the young(er) Joanie. I couldn't resist revisiting how she came into their, and our, lives.

DOONESBURY by Garry Trudeau

Joanie meets Mark S and Mike D, then Zonker H
[Click on any strip to enlarge it]

Day 1

Day 2

Two days later

Joanie starts a job -- in day care
[Click on any strip to enlarge it]

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3



PA-13-- How Much More Mud Will The Mezvinsky Clan Drag The Clintons Through?


I hate the money game that American electoral politics has devolved into, drowning out ideas and, in too many cases, all agendas and even visions other than those of the donor class. But it's how the Beltway pundits and the mass media view momentum and electability. And, normally, the candidate with the most money wins-- not always, but most frequently. In the PA-13 (northeast Philly and Montgomery County in the clsoe-in Philadelphia 'burbs) race to replace Allyson Schwartz, the candidate long dubbed the "front-runner," a corrupt, conservative wretch and former failed congresswoman best known these days as Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, may have raised the most money-- with help from the Clintons-- but, through gross incompetence, a hallmark of her long, sordid career-- she has the least to spend in the primary. Cash-on-hand that can be used in the primary (as of April 1):
Daylin Leach- $598,311
Val Arkoosh- $577,225
Brendan Boyle- $309,420
Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky- $2,226
Years ago, when Margolies Mezvinsky and her husband, also a member of Congress (from Iowa), were caught up in one of the worst congressional fraud scandals in history-- he served 5 years in a federal prison while she walked away scott free-- she tried evading her debts by going to bankruptcy court. The judge was not amused and refused to grant her the discharge from her debts she was seeking. The court found Marjorie had failed to satisfactorily explain a significant "loss of assets" in the four years prior to her bankruptcy filing and the judge stated, in her published opinion, "I find that the Debtor has failed to satisfactorily explain the loss of approximately $775,000 worth of assets (the difference between the $810,000 represented in May 1996 and the $35,000 now claimed in her Amended Schedule B)."

Life just sort of happens around Marjorie. Money comes and goes, appears and disappears, and she is oblivious. She is either lying, or is someone we want nowhere near the federal treasury. Her claims that she had "no idea" where all the money went when her husband stole it was not credible. That may have been "a long time ago" but more recently she claimed she had nothing to do with raising her own salary at her charity, when the minutes show it was her idea and she voted on it. She has always been bad news for the Clintons but they continue supporting her. Now people are asking about the shady finances around the event Bill Clinton did for her a couple weeks ago. If the April 10 Clinton event cost $15,000-- does that include the secret service costs?-- and had to paid up front, which one would imagine the restaurant and the Warwick Hotel required, and its not on her campaign finance reports, then she is breaking the law in two ways:
1. She did not file an accurate campaign finance report

2. She used general election money for primary expenses.
Now comes the problem of her immense campaign burn rate, close to $75,000, mostly on a bevy of greedy, avaricious consultants and staffers-- no TV. She has been badly mismanaging her campaign funds and shouldn't be elected based on that alone-- even without getting into her refusal to answer voters' questions on policy or on her anti-family agenda of crushing retirees' dignity. One has to wonder why Josh Shapiro, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is supporting a candidate with a clear pattern of ethical problems who is unable to manage money in a transparent way. This is what Philly area voters who read the Inquirer woke up to this morning: Margolies Seems To Be Losing Fundraising Race.
It turns out a visit from Bill Clinton isn't the only thing Marjorie Margolies needs to complete her political comeback. More money would help, too-- a lot more.

Campaign finance reports released this week show that Margolies, widely viewed as the front-runner to reclaim the congressional seat she lost two decades ago, was limping into the final stretch.

While most of her 13th District rivals boasted hundreds of thousands of dollars stored up by early March, Margolies had barely $5,000 left to spend on her campaign before the May 20 primary, according to reports she filed with the Federal Election Commission.

"I don't think Marjorie can do anything for the next couple of weeks. How's she going to pay staff? How's she going to pay rent? How's she going to buy postage?" said Dan Fee, a Democratic political consultant who is not affiliated with the race to replace Allyson Y. Schwartz in a district covering parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County.

Margolies' campaign had an additional $155,000 on hand, but it was designated for the general election, the reports show. Under federal law, candidates cannot spend or borrow general-election funds before the primary is over.

…[F]or the last two quarters, she spent more than she raised-- and she spent most of it in the office.

In the first three months of 2014, more than 77 percent of Margolies' expenses went to consultants and pollsters. Smukler, for example, has received $199,000 since June for media outreach, research, and general consulting.

Fee said that in a campaign of this size, candidates usually try to keep administrative costs to about 20 percent, and save the bulk of their cash for advertising.

"I would be shocked if [her campaign] can point to a single example of a nonincumbent winning when other people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV and they spend none," he said.

Lara Brown, associate professor at the graduate school of political management at George Washington University, said Margolies' spending patterns could turn off some donors.

"A burn rate like that starts to raise questions in donors' minds about why they should give you money," Brown said. "The first question that comes to mind is, how serious is this campaign? Does she really want to win, or does she simply want to essentially have her name out there again?"

Two of Margolies' opponents-- physician Valerie Arkoosh and State Sen. Daylin Leach-- have raised more than $1 million each and have more than $550,000 left to spend in the next month.

Both Arkoosh and Leach have reserved more than $400,000 worth of TV time in the two weeks before the primary. Margolies has not reserved any airtime, and would need a significant infusion of cash to do so.

State Rep. Brendan Boyle, running fourth in fund-raising, had $320,000 cash to spend on the primary in the first quarter. Boyle's fund-raising totals also appeared rosier on the surface than they were.

Nearly 15 percent of Boyle's total fund-raising came from in-kind donations, mostly from his staff and interns… No other candidates have listed a significant number of in-kind contributions, from themselves or others.
The primary is May 20th and Blue America has endorsed Daylin Leach. If you'd like to learn more about the substance of his campaign, here are a few posts we've run already. And here's the place where you can chip in to make sure he-- and not someone from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- is the nominee.

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CA-33-- One Way To Know What To Expect From Political Leaders Is To Examine What They've Already Done


Wendy Greuel has a shocking campaign payroll. She has an army of lame, high-priced consultants from outside the area who can't seem to lessen the intensity of the negative perception their employer has working against her in the CA-33 House race. Instead, they're running around whispering their poisonous messages about the other candidates to anyone who will listen. The latest is a nasty attack on Marianne Williamson as the "Paris Hilton candidate," although it doesn't seem to be based on anything concrete other than that other Hollywood celebrities-- though not Hilton-- have endorsed Williamson and some, like Alanis Morissette and Chaka Khan, have done events for her. But the district includes the places were Hollywood celebrities actually live-- unlike Valley girl Greuel. It will be hard for her and her sleazy team of outsiders to demonize them or people who are endorsed by them.

One of the more trustworthy Members of Congress watching this race closely-- someone who admires Williamson but hasn't endorsed her (yet)-- asked me, rhetorically, I think, "What has Wendy Greuel ever done to touch anyone's life?" Good point-- and, basically, it's what a lot of Angelenos ask themselves about Greuel, including former allies who helped finance her shady, failed campaign against Eric Garcetti last year.

When I asked my neighbors, who aren't very "political," if they had ever heard of any of the candidates, they said they hadn't-- and didn't care. I mentioned Marianne. They heard of her. One of them started crying. They both said Marianne saved their lives. I assumed they meant that it was because of something in one of her books, or maybe in a one of her lectures. Her whole career has been the polar opposite of a grubby career politician like Wendy Greuel. Her career has been about reaching out and touching people and making their lives better. Maybe Wendy should try reading some of those books before she runs for her next office.

But maybe it wasn't one of Marianne's books that brought on the strong emotional reaction from my neighbors. Maybe it was Project Angel Food. Do you know what that is? While Greuel was switching from the Republican Party to the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Marianne was starting Project Angel Food, an outreach program that was an outgrowth of the Center for Spiritual Living, providing non-medical services to people with life threatening disease. People came to the center for meals and care. Then when the Aids victims started to not show up because they were too ill to leave their homes, Marianne started to deliver the meals on wheels program. That was back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When Marianne started the program, she started delivering 15 meals. It grew to 90 meals a day in 1990 and to over 1,000 meals a day by 2000. Today they have delivered over 8 million meals That's not what career politicians like Wendy Greuel do. No they're too busy climbing the ladder of political opportunism, which is, basically, all she has ever done.

"Project Angel Food emerged from a crisis," Marianne told us yesterday. "People were aware that the situation was one of life and death, and we acted because we had to. I see a crisis in America today-- not a question of life or death necessarily, but a question of whether we retain our democracy or not. That's still a crisis, and once again it's time for us to act."

Career politicians like Greuel, who have never done anything for anyone on the planet earth, need to understand what service means before they offer themselves to the public. People don't like politicians because so many of them are just like Greuel. So few of them are anything like Marianne Williamson. If she wins this congressional seat, that could change. Thats' what people mean when they say Williamson's campaign is transformative. If Greuel wins, I can assure you nothing will change; everything will continue on its dismal downward spiral.

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DC 's Conservative Consensus Has Us On The Road To Patrimonial Capitalism


Paul Krugman to Bill Moyers: "We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like." Wednesday was my sister's birthday. In her honor, we ran a post, Oligarchy, It's Never Too Late For Americans To Recapture Democracy. But maybe it is.

Yesterday, Marianne Williamson, one of the leading candidates running for Henry Waxman's old congressional seat (CA-33) tweeted that this was the reason she is running. What she was pointing to was part of the BBC's "Today's Must-Read," a study of the replacement of U.S. democracy with an oligarchy. It's very much what I wrote about in the host for my sister and very much what Krugman was discussing with Bill Moyers. It's more important for the American public-- if not the Clintons and Mezvinskys-- than this:

The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

This is not news, you say.

Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time."

On the other hand:

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.

They conclude:

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn't surprised by the survey's results.

"American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media)," he writes. "The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious 'electoral' 'democratic' countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now."

This is the "Duh Report", says Death and Taxes magazine's Robyn Pennacchia. Maybe, she writes, Americans should just accept their fate.

"Perhaps we ought to suck it up, admit we have a classist society and do like England where we have a House of Lords and a House of Commoners," she writes, "instead of pretending as though we all have some kind of equal opportunity here."
Watch the full Moyers interview with Krugman below-- and forget your preconceptions when you go to the polls next November… which you should do even if you only want to write in "none of the above."

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Friday, April 18, 2014

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


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

by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

by Ken

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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