Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Are Republicans Fit To Govern If They Can't Even Pass A Bill To Protect Americans From The Zika Virus?


President Obama started asking congressional Republicans for emergency Zika funding in March. BY May they hadn't done a damn thing. We wrote at the time that instead of cooperation, what the House Republican leaders had given Obama instead of cooperation was more deranged right-wing intransigence and more of their crazy, dangerous anomie. The sociopaths at the Heritage Foundation started threatening to finance primaries against Republicans who moved to help Obama protect the country from a grave health problem unless the money to fight the virus was taken from programs already funded that they don't like (like Medicare and Obamacare). "When, we wondered aloud, is enough enough from these crackpots?"

Another 6-7 weeks have gone by and the Republicans are still playing politics with Zika. This morning even Politico noted that it could come back and bite them in the ass at election time. "Congress," wrote Burgess Everett, "is poised for an epic failure in its efforts to combat Zika before lawmakers leave Washington for a seven-week vacation-- and it could come back to bite Republicans at the ballot box if there’s an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in the United States this summer." Seven week vacation, while the country faces a truly devastating threat the GOP has let ride while Paul Ryan was busy wringing his hands about Trump, figuring out the most effective timing for the GOP's partisan Benghazi attack against Hillary, and repackaging his old schemes to wreck Medicare and Social Security by calling them "A Better Way?"

The GOP proposal the Senate Democrats rejected today not only stole money from the Affordable Crae Act, but gratuitously threw in some nonsense about allowing Confederate flags to fly at national cemeteries. This is why voters are so sick and tired of Congress-- and particularly so sick and tires of the House Republicans.
The attack ads this time write themselves: Faced with months of dire warnings from health experts, the Republicans who control Congress failed to provide money to stop the spread of Zika to the United States. Bracing for such a message, Republicans began the week spinning the expected defeat of the House-passed bill as politics as usual for Democrats, alleging that the minority party would rather attack Republicans over the issue than pass a funding bill.

...Republicans say there will be no do-over: Once the bill fails on Tuesday, the Senate will not revisit Zika funding, Cornyn said. They say Democrats got what they wanted and won’t take yes for the answer... The stalemate comes in the midst of the summer mosquito season, when the Zika threat is strongest.
In May, 3 Florida Republicans-- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Vern Buchanan and Carlos Curbelo-- worried their constituents might lynch them-- since that is the state were Zika is thought to be the biggest and most immediate threat-- voted with the Democrats against Ryan's bill (as did Justin Amash of Michigan). The chairman of the House Science Committee, Texas goof-ball Lamar Smith, wasn't helpful in the Zika matter. In fact, his only "contribution" to the debate was to demagogue against refugees and warn that refugees might be carrying Zika virus. As for President Obama's request for $1.9 billion last February to prevent a major Zika outbreak, Smith has been opposed. And in May ole Lamar voted for the ridiculously ineffective $622 million bill that isn't going to do anything but ruin the lives of thousands of infants and their families. Marco Rubio (R-FL) didn't agree with the approach Smith and Ryan were taking. "There is no reason why we should not fully fund this. Quite frankly, that’s just not going to cut it."

It's time for Lamar to Smith to move along

The Texas progressive running for the Austin-San Antonio district congressional seat Smith holds, Tom Wakely, sees it the same way Rubio and President Obama do-- and is worried that Smith's ideological obstructionism is getting in the way of safety for people in his state. "While departmental waste is undoubtedly a bipartisan issue that warrants investigation," he told us last month, "it boggles the mind that we're having a pay-for discussion in the midst of a public health crisis. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 36 reported cases of Zika virus in the state of Texas. Five of these cases have occurred in counties that are represented by my district. This is no longer a threat we can view with binoculars. It is no longer an issue that can be evaluated in dollars and cents. One of the Texan cases is already confirmed as being a pregnant woman. How many children have to be born with microcephaly before our Republican-led Congress addresses this as what it is, a public health emergency? Where's the media outrage over the fact that we're treating an emergency of this nature with the fiscal scrutiny typically reserved for corporate tax rates or oil subsidies? Quite frankly, the fact that Congress is willing to treat a public health crisis with the same blasé attitude that they employ in their unconditional rejection of a Supreme Court nominee should be a grave warning to the American people. If they're willing to make a point out of a plague, where does it stop?"

The final House bill passed Thursday 239-171, complete with all the GOP-engineered poison pills. Only 6 right-wing Democrats crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP in favor of it-- all the regular suspects, Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE), Scott Peters (New Dem-CA) and Jerry McNerney (CA).

The bill needed 60 votes in the Senate today and only got 52. The 48 NO votes included every Democrat but right-wing Blue Dog Joe Donnelly (IN), as well as Republicans Mike Lee (UT) and Jim Lankford (OK). In blocking the bill this morning, Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Democrat, noted that "Four months after the request for emergency funding, the House in the dark of the middle of the night, with no opportunity for debate, puts on an otherwise uncontroversial bill, a bill to deal with the virus. It's not serious. Instead, it's another attempt to use an emergency must-pass bill to try to further extremist political agendas. Why can't we grow up and get to the point that we don't want to play partisan politics? We need to stop playing these political games. It's time to treat this as a real emergency and it's time to pass the appropriations bill without all of this political agenda added to it."

Alan Grayson pointed out right after the Senate vote that "Florida's first Zika-related microcephaly birth was confirmed today. So, of course, Marco Rubio and his fellow Senate Republicans respond with a bill that not only fails to fund an adequate response to this unfolding crisis, but is also larded with poison-pills for Planned Parenthood, clean water protections and health programs. It was a craven abdication of their legislative duty. It has to stop. There's no time left to put politics over public health."

If you'd like to help Grayson get into the Senate and Wakely get into the House-- replacing the two buffoons that currently hold the seat-- please tap the thermometer below and contribute what you can:
Goal Thermometer

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Covering For The NRA Shills In The Democratic Party


The DCCC supports Democrats who take bribes from the NRA

The Beltway media covered last week's congressional sit in as a Democrats vs Republicans kind of confrontation, even including a widely reported scene featuring Texas crackpot Louie Gohmert storming the sit in and screaming about radical Islam. (Gun lobbyist bribes to Gohmert: $35,111.)
House Democrats, as a historically small minority opposition party, surprised nearly everyone with their seemingly unplanned protest of Republican intransigency on gun control measures in the wake of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Their occupation of the House floor to demand a vote on a host of gun curbing efforts on Wednesday, including the barring of gun sales to suspected terrorists on the “no-fly-list,” was met with fierce Republican disdain.

Hours into the sit-in lead by over 50 House (and a few Senate) Democrats, the chamber finished up several votes forced by Republicans as Democrats continued to yell and demand a gun vote when one Republican became so fed-up with the disobedience and breakdown of order that he angrily confronted his colleagues.

As California Democrat Brad Sherman was delivering his speech advocating for reform, Texas Republican Louie Gohmert stormed onto the floor, pointing and yelling, “Radical Islam killed these people!”

“We are talking about radical Islam!” Gohmert yelled, waving his finger at posters featuring photos of the victims of the recent mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay club. “Radical Islam killed these people!”

“It appears the gentleman is afraid to vote and afraid to debate,” Sherman hollered from the podium as his fellow Democrats cheered and chanted, “No bill, no break!

” “And given the weakness of his arguments and his position, his fear is well founded,” Sherman continued, speaking of Gohmert.

Afterward, Orlando-area Congresswoman Corrine Brown and Gohmert nearly came to blows before being quickly pulled away from one another.
Everyone was betting on Corrine to wipe the floor with Gohmert. But not all Democrats were supportive of the sit-in. In fact, there are Democrats-- particularly in Texas-- who would have liked to have helped Gohmert beat up Corrine Brown. The Hill's coverage mentioned that there were Democrats who sat out the sit-in, without once mentioning the coincidence that the sit-in boycotters are all on the NRA/gun lobbyist payroll and all are soaked in their blood money.

Most of the NRA Democrats have been defeated in the last few years. Democratic voters just stopped supporting them and their careers ended one by one. But there are still a handful of Democratic NRA shills left. They did not back the sit-in that 179 of their colleagues participated in. Over the weekend, a gun group contacted me and asked if Blue America would participate in an effort to defeat some of these types in the Senate in 2018, particularly Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester. Of course, I said YES with great enthusiasm but I hope to persuade them to go after some NRA Dems in the House as well.

The Hill's lame coverage mentioned that "the no-shows were absent for a range of reasons, only a handful of which were related to either the protest itself or the legislation it was designed to move. They included illness, family tragedy, travel and legal trouble." And yes, Mark Takai is battling cancer and Chaka Fattah is on his way to prison, but no where in The Hill's piece does it mention anything about gun lobbyist bribes.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (Ga.), a gun-owning Blue Dog Democrat, said that while he thinks firearms should be subject to "reasonable regulation" for sake of public safety, the proposals championed by his fellow Democrats went too far.  "[R]egulation of firearms and individual gun ownership or use must be consistent with civil liberties such as due process, equal protection, freedom from unlawful searches, and privacy," Bishop said in a statement. "Unfortunately, none of the measures [House Democrats were pushing] … would adequately do that."
With fellow Georgian John Barrow defeated, Bishop is now one of the NRA's top Democratic moles in the House. He's taken $50,315 from the gun manufacturers, quite a bit more than Gohmert, although The Hill didn't feel that was germane to their story. Even more bizarre was their assertion that "Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), another Democrat who almost certainly would have participated, is back in his district tending a family tragedy. Walz's brother, Craig, was killed Sunday by a tree toppled by violent storms that hit the northern Minnesota wilderness area where he was camping with his son." If Walz had participated he would have been hissing the Democrats from the Republican side of the aisle. Apparently no one at The Hill bothered to look up his gun-nut record in Congress or bothered to note that the gun nut groups have given him $20,950 in bribes.

The Hill also made excuses for Blue Dog Loretta Sanchez (CA) without mentioning that she;s taken $1,500 from the gun manufacturers. The closest they got to reporting that there were Democrats on the GOP side of the argument was in discussing 2 of the NRA Democrats from Texas, Filemon Vela and Gene Green, not even mentioning Henry Cuellar, an NRA stalwart. Gun lobbyist bribes to Green have amounted to $49,750, while Cuellar has sucked up $26,450 in blood money. There's no mention in the piece at all of NRA Dem Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) who the NRA has rewarded with $84,500 in bribes for his pro-gun voting record. That's the most they've given to any Democrat still serving in the House.
Rep. Filemon Vela said he backs both of "the Republican-authored bipartisan bills that inspired the sit-in." But the Texas Blue Dog didn't participate, he said, out of concern that unnamed other Democrats were preparing to expand their protest beyond the gun reforms that were the central focus.

"I understand and respect the passion of other members of Congress who did participate in the sit-in, but I wasn't sure that the sit-in was going to be confined to the no fly bill," Vela said in an email.

His office declined to specify what other issues he feared would be broached. Rep. Gene Green, another Texas Democrat who declined to join the protest, was similarly cryptic. Green said he also supports both the gun reforms and "the members right to sit in," and a spokesman sent a list of reforms Green has championed. But he didn't clarify why Green steered clear of the sit-in.
Sunday we mentioned a very different kind of Texas Democrat, populist and progressive Tom Wakely who is running an overtly anti-gun violence campaign against Republican crackpot and NRA darling Lamar Smith ($59,650). Wakely: "As Gandhi so eloquently wrote: 'Nonviolence is the weapon of the strong.' What we are confronted with now is an epidemic of violence that is perpetuated by ignorance and fear. It's time to reverse the cycle. I'm ready to fight for the change that our country needs-- are you?"

The really big gun lobbyist money to House members goes to bribe top Republicans like Speaker Paul Ryan ($167,355) and sell-outs with committee positions willing to carry their agenda like Ken Calvert ($127,150), Steve Pearce ($121,081) and Dean Heller ($104,265) but that $84,500 in bribes to Collin Peterson certainly sends a message to rat-fucking Democrats that the NRA is willing to play across the aisle in return for "friendly" behavior.

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Can Bernie's Political Revolution Win One For Eric Kingson In Syracuse Today?


Eric and Bernie on Friday in Syracuse

Sunday, the Washington Post decided to speculate on what happens to Bernie's revolution from here. The Clinton campaign will probably get the last majority of Bernie voters-- polls indicate as much as 88% of them already-- but what about the energy and the fundraising? When that flow to a campaign to put someone into office who many Bernie supporters see backing the same agenda that they were motivated to oppose? The Hillary delegates in the platform battles have already voted down a stronger $15/hour minimum wage proposal by Keith Ellison, voted down opposition to the TPP and fracking, voted down pretty much everything that most excites many Bernie supporters.

Friday Bernie made his first congressional campaign stop in Syracuse and it was for Eric Kingson, co-founder of SocialSecurityWorks, someone Bernie has known and worked with for years. 500 people showed up at the downtown ­Oncenter, making it the biggest rally, by far, for any congressional candidate in Syracuse this cycle. The Post asserts that "the campaign stop, Sanders’s first for a congressional candidate, offered a glimpse of the post-presidential-bid figure he would like to become: a politician who uses his unexpectedly strong showing in the presidential race to push his progressive policies in Congress, in campaigns and across the country."

This is a tough race-- with 3 Democrats facing off against each other, Kingson, the progressive, and two unaccomplished party hacks, one backed by Steve Israel and one backed by Gillibrand and Schumer, neither showing even the slightest indication of being able to make any mark in Congress whatsoever. The DCCC and EMILY's List, representing the right-of-center as usual, have backed Colleen Deacon, a low-level Gillibrand staffer, who would do exactly what she was told for eternity. If Kingson beats her today, it will be a very big deal.

The Post, though, is more interested in "the fate of perhaps the biggest donor list in politics." They say "Sanders is facing a challenge almost as steep as a presidential campaign. How does a revolutionary persuade his supporters to continue the revolution with someone else? Can he maintain the enthusiasm of followers who were new to politics after falling in the primaries to establishment stalwart Hillary Clinton? Can he transfer his popularity to relatively unknown figures?"
On his website, Sanders has already started to make the transition from active presidential candidate to another kind of leader. “This is your movement,” it now says, showing a montage of diverse faces.

And at the urging of his wife, Jane Sanders, he has been talking to his inner circle about launching a grass-roots organization to harness the energy of his supporters. Among aides, there is chatter about who might staff such an organization, which might resemble Democracy for America, the group that former Vermont governor Howard Dean launched following his failed 2004 presidential bid.

Sanders’s profile in the Senate is expected to increase once he returns to the chamber full time, and aides say he will almost certainly seek reelection in 2018-- though it is unclear whether either will translate into more muscle on Capitol Hill. Sanders has suggested that he will try to mobilize his supporters around key issues and that he wants to lead the Health, Education, ­Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over many of the high-profile issues he pushed during his campaign.

Sanders’s donor list, which the campaign says includes 2.7 million contributors across the country, is another uncertain-- and highly coveted-- asset. Sanders proved to be a surprisingly potent fundraiser, taking in more than $229 million as of last month, the vast majority in online, low-dollar increments.
Would donors to that list-- I'm one and over a thousand Blue America members are as well-- start giving money to Hillary or to right-of-center DCCC and DSCC candidates? Some might. I can't imagine any Blue America members doing so.
What is unclear is whether Sanders, who enjoys higher favorable numbers than Clinton or President Obama, will ever tell those voters to support the winner of the presidential primary contests. [That's absurd; it's very clear Bernie will hold his nose and endorse Hillary and tell his supporters to back her to defeat the Trump menace.]

Clinton aides have privately expressed frustration over Sanders’s continuing campaign and refusal to this point to endorse her, a step they believe could help unify the party heading into the fall.

“The intensity of his supporters is so much greater than the intensity for any other candidate, including Hillary Clinton,” said Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.), a Clinton endorser whose El Paso-based district went strongly for her but who suggested that Sanders could pull out voters who might normally skip elections. “In El Paso, she crushed him, and yet in terms of incoming calls and emails to our office, asking where to vote, it was like 3 to 1 Bernie. In Texas, he could get some of those folks who don’t traditionally vote to come out.”

Sanders’s role is under discussion, but he has said a more immediate priority is trying to find common ground on the issues he championed during the primaries.

“It’s not just Bernie Sanders saying, ‘Oh, yes, just vote for Hillary Clinton,’” Sanders told CNN on Sunday. “It is Hillary Clinton standing up and saying, ‘You know what? These are the things we need to do.’ And if she does the right thing, I am absolutely confident that the vast majority of my supporters will vote for her.”

Sanders has been lobbying Clinton to embrace several of his proposals, including tuition-free public universities and a $15 minimum wage. Asked why he had yet to endorse Clinton during an appearance Friday on CBS This Morning, Sanders said he had not “heard her say the things that need to be said.”

That struggle is visible in Sanders’s attempts to influence the Democratic Party platform, as well. A chief reason he has given for remaining an active candidate, the negotiations illustrate both the opportunity and the limitations of his newfound status.

A draft document approved Saturday would move the party to the left on wages, banking reform and climate change, and represents several concessions by Clinton. But Clinton allies on the panel also resisted Sanders’s aggressive overtures on trade, several environmental issues and universal health care, a core of Sanders’s mission to tackle income inequality.

There is some evidence that most Sanders supporters have already fallen in line behind Clinton. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday, just 8 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Trump; just 1 percent of Democrats and 3 percent of self-identified “liberals” said they would vote for the Green Party.

The Clinton camp, meanwhile, is moving forward with the use of other high-powered campaign surrogates. On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another darling of the left and a potential running mate, will campaign with Clinton in the battleground state of Ohio. Obama is expected to join Clinton on the campaign trail soon.
When Kingson debated his establishment opponents Friday , they clashed on "whether to raise the minimum wage to a 'living wage' or specifically to $15, whether to expand Social Security or merely raise the cap on the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA.

If a well-meaning but inconsequential hack like Deacon or Williams wins the primary, there's a good chance a pattern will repeat itself in the district. The Democrat will win in November when Democrats turn out to vote in the residential election. And then in 2018, a Republican will win because niether Deacon nor Williams will give any Democrats a reason to vote for them-- just the way the last last Democart in the seat, worthless New Dem Dan Maffei won in 2008 because of Obama, lost in 2010 because of what a terrible hack he turned out to be, won again in 2012 because of Obama again and then lost again in 2014, because of what a terrible hack he was when Democrats gave him a second chance. Neither Deacon nor Williams would alter that narrative one iota. Eric Kingson sure would, though.

The other crucial primary in New York for progressives is taking place in NY-19, south and east of Kingson's district, where Zephyr Teachout faces the voters. She is highly favored to win, probably by a landslide. We'll update this post later with results from both districts.

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Ryan's Better Way May Be Better For Wealthy People Who Hate Paying Their Fair Share Of Taxes, But It's Devastating For Seniors


Paul Ryan's political raison d'être has been clear since he was first elected to Congress-- slashing the New Deal and subsequent social insurance policies to ribbons. That's what he got from reading Ayn Rand's books when he was just a little right-wing nut in high school. Now he's a big right-wing nut in the House of Representatives and every year-- without fail-- he comes up with new ways of packaging and marketing his never-changing austerity goals.

Last week, when he presented his plan to kill Obamacare, he, somewhat predictably threw in a proposal to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare by two years, to age 67, in the hopes that enough people will die in those two years that taxes on his wealthy supporters can be further reduced.

I know from personal experience-- having been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 65-- what that means to people on Social Security. My treatments cost well over $2 million. The way Republicans want to change the insurance system, that means, in effect, I wouldn't have been treated and instead of writing this post about Paul Ryan today, I'd be dead or dying, despite having paid substantial taxes for half a century. (Well, in the early part of my career, the taxes I paid we're very substantial but I made up for that in later years when I did very well and paid large sums.)

Ryan, who survived a prematurely dead father because of Social Security, is now positively obsessed with lowering the meager standard of living of Social Security recipients. There are no Republicans running for Congress who don't back Ryan's "Better Way" proposals to diminish social insurance for the elderly. Extremists may be celebrating it, but even Republicans who try to pass themselves off as "mainstream," want to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits and regularly vote for Ryan's annual plans to do just that.

Our old friend, Carol Shea-Porter, running in New Hampshire's first district to win back her seat from teabagger Frank Guinta also comes at this from a personal experience, the way most Americans do. "I grew up in a three generation household, she told us. "My wonderful parents sheltered and cared for my great uncle and my grandmother in their old age. Medicare was essential to my dad's uncle and my mom's mother because they both had medical problems. If Congress had raised the eligibility age then, nobody else could have covered their bills. Paul Ryan knows that. Frank Guinta knows that. They have very cruel agendas, but delaying medical care to those who have no way to earn enough to pay without Medicare is despicable."

The progressive Democrat running in PA-07 in the Philly suburbs is Mary Ellen Balchunis. Her opponent, Rep Pat Meehan is one of those fake "moderates" the media always looks to to save the day, though they are only interested in saving their only careers. Last night Mary Ellen told us that Meehan claims to have "supported the Background Check bill, knowing full well the Republicans would not be calling it for a vote. If he were serious about the bill, he would call for a discharge petition to get a vote on the floor. He has just told Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Laws that the events of Orlando did not change his mind;  and he would not support a ban on assault weapons. (Meehan has received two A ratings from the NRA; and he is the fourth highest recipient in PA Congressional delegation of NRA money.) He is no different on Medicare and Social Security. His rhetoric does not match his action. The Republican party put out literature saying that Congressman Meehan would never vote to privatize Medicare and Social Security; but every chance that Meehan has gotten, he has voted to privitize both. We actually filed a complaint with the FEC. Of course, it did not go anywhere. Meehan has gotten booed at a senior center when he announced that he wanted to increase the retirement age. He told the audience that it would not apply to them, but they told him that they care what happens to their children and grandchildren too. When there was a vote that gave a tax break to the less than 1%, Meehan voted to give them another break. He is no moderate.

Speaker Paul Ryan was chair of the House and Ways Committee before becoming Speaker. You don't get put on the Ways and Means Committee if you are a moderate; Congressman Meehan was appointed the the House and Ways Committee. Meehan can sell himself how ever he wants, but when he gets the opportunity to help the elderly over the wealthy, money wins."

Alina Valdes is the official canddiate of the Democratic Party taking on Mario Diaz-Balart, a South Florida old line reactionary posing, from time to time, as a mainstream politician. He isn't. And because Alina is a medical doctor, we were eager to hear her take on what Ryan, Diaz-Balart and the rets of the Republicans are hoping to do to the system. A berniecrat, she's an avid advocate for expanding the New Deal programs and adamantly opposes cutting them:
As a country, we have traditionally expanded benefits for our seniors, our poor, and our disabled but lately, it has seemed that this Republican-controlled Congress is more concerned about entitlements for the wealthy and corporate welfare. They continue to cut programs that feed the hungry and help shelter and clothe the working poor, who are trying hard to maintain low wage jobs just to pay their bills. As a consequence, we have a high rate of poverty, including about 40% of our children, while income inequality continues to increase as the wealthy are rewarded with tax breaks and loopholes. In order to attempt to balance the budget, the Republican hard-line has been to cut benefits to seniors, who are barely getting by on their Social Security. This same Congress also wants to cut the ability of seniors to qualify or use their Medicare benefits by increasing the age to qualify for both programs and adding higher copays and deductibles so their health insurance corporate friends benefit with even higher profits at the expense of the elderly and sick. My Republican opponent in Florida's CD-25 supports and votes for these cuts that will adversely affect a large majority of the middle class and poor, the same people who he is supposed to represent and who have worked their entire lives to reach retirement only to find that they need to continue to work low level jobs to stay alive and make sure that they manage to stay healthy. There is no more security in growing old anymore as benefits are cut time and time again while the cost of living continues to rise. The Republican solution to getting sick is to hurry up and die, especially with people living longer because of technological advances. They mean to deny people who are not fortunate enough to be well-endowed financially these very same advances by cutting their earned benefits so they do just that.

As a physician who has worked my entire life with these very populations the Republicans are trying to undermine, I have seen for myself and heard many stories of people struggling to provide for their families while staying healthy since any illness is catastrophic for themselves and their families. In the homeless shelter clinic, I am seeing more and more seniors unable to maintain an abode or buy nutritious food so they end up on the streets homeless and hungry. This is not the future that I want to see or live in. We can increase benefits for our seniors by cutting corporate welfare and having the wealthy pay their fair share into the system they have benefitted from but now seem to be taking advantage of with the laws this Republican-controlled Congress continues to pass. Everyone deserves a fair chance at living with dignity and decency and it is time that these corporate-controlled shills are fired by the people for not doing their jobs. It is time to elect new faces with fresh minds who will truly work hard to make lives better for everyone and one of those people is me.
Paul Clements, running in southwest Michigan for the seat occupied by fake-moderate Fred Upton, summed it up well. "This November Americans face a choice. Will economic insecurity continue to increase for most Americans? Will access to health care be reduced? And will the super-rich who have gained so spectacularly in recent decades see their taxes cut even further? Or will we return to the New Deal trajectory to an economy that supports the life and liberty of all Americans? Yet another Paul Ryan budget plan, supported once again by my opponent Fred Upton, would take us further down the path of insecurity for most and ever greater wealth for the few. It is basic to American democracy that we support dignity for our seniors. In Congress I will work to strengthen Social Security and expand health benefits for the elderly."

Let's help make sure Ryan's dystopian vision is never enacted, by replacing stooges of his like Guinta, Meehan, Diaz-Balart and Upton with committed progressives Carol Shea-Porter, Mary Ellen Balchunis, Alina Valdes and Paul Clements. You can find all four of them at this thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Tomorrow Is Primary Day


Well... it is for voters in congressional races in Colorado, New York, Oklahoma and Utah. New York is tomorrow's big deal but let's take a quick look at the other state's first. There are no serious primaries for either party in House races in Colorado but there's a hot Senate contest. The state has 5 crackpot Republicans-- down from 15-- competing to face dull corporate Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet, who doesn't deserve reelection but will be judged as the lesser of two evils and will likely be helped by a reaction against-- and revulsion to-- Trump.

As of March 31 Bennet had raised $11,977,673 and spent $4,403,288. The Republicans haven't raised nearly as much-- combined:
Jack Graham- $1,341,605
Robert Blaha- $1,096,433
John Keyser- $400,209
Ryan Frazier- $352,181
Darryl Glenn- $45,462
Jim DeMint's far right Senate Conservatives PAC spent $539,355 on Glenn, so his low number is somewhat deceptive. Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin have also been campaigning for him, so that'll give you an idea about who the craziest extremist is in the race. He's a religious nut who brags about an unwillingness to compromise with Democrats-- which may work for a GOP primary, but is a sure-fire losing message in a Colorado general eelction. He also says he won't vote for McConnell to keep his job as GOP leader.

Former Rams quarterback and fired Colorado State athletic director Jack Graham, a former Democrat who is now billing himself as a "pro-Choice Republican," is supposed to be the "moderate" in the race but admits he supports Trump. He self-funded to the tune of $1,000,000, which is what explains why he's so far ahead of the other candidates' war-chests.

State Rep Jon Keyser was supposedly the national GOP establishment pick but he faded quickly, especially after it was discovered he had submitted petitions full of forged signatures to qualify for the ballot and after a widely panned ad accusing Obama and Bennet of wanting to give Iran nuclear weapons.

Robert Blaha is a rich, crooked businessman-- he also self-funded $1,000,000 into his campaign-- running as the Trumpist. He's best known for his TV ads about Hitler and about fist-fucking.

There are no races in Utah worth looking at-- all very status quo in the primaries. With one exception, OK-05, there are no serious primaries in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City congressional seat's freshman incumbent, Steve Russell, is too extreme for the district and in a Trump wipeout he could be vulnerable. There are 3 Democrats running for the endorsement, conservative Al McAffrey, who has nothing to offer and was slaughtered by Russell in 2014, Leona Leonard and progressive champion Tom Guild, the candidate with a clear progressive message to challenge Russell with. He's the Berniecrat in the race-- and in a state that went heavily for Bernie. And Blue America has endorsed him. (You can contribute to his campaign here.)

OK, on to New York. Tragically, democracy isn't vibrant enough in the Empire State for anyone to be challenging Wall Street whore Chuck Schumer. There's a hot primary between two mediocre Democrats in NY-01 at the eastern end of Suffolk County. Lee Zeldin is the incumbent and the two weak corporate Dems duking it out with each other are Dave Calone (New Dem) and Anna Throne-Holst, an independent who is rumored to be screwing Steve Israel and just switched to a Democratic registration. Any of the three promises more bad representation for Suffolk County.

Speaking of Steve Israel, he was forced to quit in order to avoid a likely prison sentence in the criminal case that was hatched by Israel and has already sent Ami Bera's father to prison and will probably see charges against Patrick Murphy and his parents as well. His handpicked replacement is a hack named Steve Stern but there are 4 other Democrats in the race as well, including Berniecrat Jonathan Clarke and likely winner Tom Suozzi.

If there is one New York House incumbent whose over-the-top corruption cries out for a primary opponent it's Gregory Meeks in NY-05 (Queens) and Ali Mirza is running against him. As of March 31 Meeks had spent $629,896 and Mirza had spent $21,559.

Progressive icon Jerry Nadler is being challenged by a gay bankster fronting Jewish extremists in Brooklyn who oppose peace with Iran, Oliver Rosenberg. In a low turn-out election, the right-wing Democrats hope they can turn out enough zombie-like Hassidics to beat Nadler but that's highly unlikely with as unattractive a candidate as Rosenberg.

Ken covered the race to replace Charlie Rangel in NY-13 (Harlem) last week here. There isn't anyone good in the race.

Out of New York City there are two crucial primaries pitting stellar Berniecrats, Zephyr Teachout (NY-19) and Eric Kingson (NY-24) against run-of-the-mill uninspiring Democratic careerists. Teachout and Kingson are two of Blue America's top candidates for 2016 but both have to win their primaries tomorrow in order to go on to November. Teachout looks like a shoe-in against some guy named Will Yandik. Kingson, the founder of SocialSecurityWorks, and a Bernie appointee on the Democratic Convention platform committee, is up against a low level Kirsten Gillibrand staffer, Colleen Deacon, running on the platform of "I woman" and some guy Steve Israel dug up, Steve Williams.

As of the March 31 FEC filing deadline fundraising among the 3 Democrats was neck-and-neck but after Bernie endorsed Kingson 2 weeks ago small contributions started flooding in for him and he is probably out ahead in fundraising now. The only outside spending so far has been from Blue America, $14,500 for a mobile track (photo above) and I believe another couple thousand for a Google ad:

If you live in the Upper Hudson Valley and the Catskills, please remember to go vote for Zephyr Teachout tomorrow, and in the Syracuse area of Central New York, Eric Kingson. You can find both at the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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Maine Polling Result Offers A Picture Of Two Candidates Most Americans Do Not Think Fit For The Presidency


Cain: "Poliquin is trying to have it both ways, criticizing Trump in public while praising him in private, and refusing to answer questions on whether he will support Trump in November. Mainers deserve straight answers."

Americans are being asked to vote for the lesser of two evils. If we do, we will always and forever be asked to do the same. Trump may be the worst thing on earth but there is nothing that would get me to vote for Hillary Clinton-- not even the threat of Donald Trump. I don' want to see her in the White House... so I won't vote for her. I'm happy to vote for Jill Stein, with whom I agree on far more than I do with Clinton. Clinton's appointees to the Democratic Convention's platform committee confirm what I have feared all along-- she's a moderate Republican disguised as a conservative Democrat.

The Portland Press Herald poll released yesterday shows a grudging public holding their noses and voting for her. 57% of likely voters have an unfavorable opinion of her, terrible, but not as bad as Trump's 62% unfavorable rating. Clinton's other selling point-- other than the claim to be the lesser evil is that he'sa woman. And, among Maine voters 48% favor her over just 28% for Trump. The most highly educated voters (post-graduate) favor her 59-19% and the least educated voters are all in for Trump, 46-35%. The wealthiest Mainers-- those making $100,000 or more-- also favor Hillary 43-21%. Party registration levels in Maine:

Independent- 37%
Democratic- 32%
Republican- 27%
Green- 4%
“These are the two most unpopular candidates to have ever run for president, at least going back for as long as there has been polling,” said Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center. “You never see them both under water like this.”

Still, among the party faithful, 74 percent of Democrats said they will likely vote for Clinton and Trump sees an identical level of support among Republicans, according to the poll of 609 randomly selected adults conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

The poll has Clinton leading Trump in Maine, with 42 percent saying they are likely to vote for her Nov. 8, while 35 percent say they will vote for Trump. Another 19 percent say they will vote for somebody else and 4 percent are undecided.

Clinton’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error for likely voters, which is plus or minus 4.5 percent.

The numbers mimic what Americans in general are feeling about their presidential choices. A June 23 poll by Reuters/Ipsos of 1,339 registered voters nationwide showed 44 percent favored Clinton and 34 percent favored Trump.

Smith said it’s also telling that nearly 20 percent of respondents in the Press Herald poll said they would vote for someone else. While that doesn’t mean a third-party candidate such as Libertarian Gary Johnson will be able to pull off a victory, it does mean alternative party candidates are likely to siphon off more votes than ever before from the major party candidates.

That is a problem for both Democrats and Republicans, even though most of the media attention has focused on divisions among Republicans over Trump, Smith said.

“Voter antipathy towards Clinton on the Democratic side is as bad as it is towards Trump on the Republican side,” he said.

The appeal of Bernie Sanders to younger and more progressive Democrats has left many of them disappointed and dissatisfied, meaning some may simply choose not to vote at all while a small percentage may even side with Trump. Smith said Sanders and Trump share an anti-establishment message that especially resonates with young voters.

Earlier this week Trump made an appeal to Sanders voters, urging them to join his movement. Smith said he doubts Sanders’ fans will do so in droves, but some will certainly find greater solace in a vote for Trump than for Clinton.

“The Democrats have a fairly significant problem,” Smith said. Bringing Sanders voters back into the Democratic fold could be critical for Clinton, he said.
The same poll shows progressive Democrat Chellie Pingree eviscerating GOP challenger Mark Holbrook in her re-election bid. She leads 56-34% in the 1st district. No news there. The more interesting race is in the 2nd where the Democrats hope to take back the House seat won in 2014 by teabagger Bruce Poliquin. It's a rematch with a worthless, uninspiring EMILY's List type, Emily Cain. He's leading 41-40%.
Poliquin, 62, a former state treasurer under Gov. Paul LePage, was elected in 2014 after the seat became vacant when former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, stepped down to run against LePage.

Cain, 36, spent 10 years in the Maine House and Senate before running for the U.S. House seat two years ago.

For a sitting congressman, Poliquin had a low favorability rating of 33 percent, according to the poll, although it was still higher than Cain’s favorability of 30 percent.

But Poliquin also held an edge in unfavorability – 32 percent viewed him unfavorably, compared to only 20 percent who felt that way about Cain. The Democrat did have a much higher percentage of those who didn’t know-- 37 percent-- compared to only 23 percent who are unsure about Poliquin.

Both Poliquin and Cain poll well within their respective parties, the poll found, and Poliquin has a slight edge among independent voters-- 30 percent to 27 percent, although that group also is 25 percent undecided.

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Self Harm-- A New Political Goal To Contend With... From Brexit To Trumpism


Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn genuinely thought he could bring all factions of the Labour Party together or perhaps he felt he just didn't have the power to cast the Blairites out, but after he was elected party leader, he formed a shadow cabinet filled with his political enemies. Now they're using Brexit and a likely snap election as excuses to oust him. The slimeball behind the effort is shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn-- since fired-- who claims to have persuaded a majority of the shadow cabinet to resign if Corbyn doesn't step down. But if you think Brexit has roiled Labour, keep in mind the Trump-like Boris Johnson is likely to take over as Conservative Leader whose prime minister announced he's stepping down after a reaction against his austerity policies overturned the established order. And the Liberal Democrats... well they're basically launching an election campaign based on ignoring democracy itself.

Lib-Dem leader Tim Farron says they'll run on a clear platform of setting aside the Brexit results and keeping the U.K. in the E.U., calling the vote a "howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they felt they were out of touch and had let them down. The British people deserve the chance not to be stuck with the appalling consequences of a Leave campaign that stoked that anger with the lies of Farage, Johnson and Gove. The Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear and unequivocal promise to restore British prosperity and role in the world, with the United Kingdom in the European Union, not out."

Now let's look at that in the light of what we've been calling at DWT "life's losers," the people with no stake in society and who hate everything, even their own families and themselves, i.e.-- an average Trump supporter. Don't say it can't happen here-- it can, especially with a candidate as disliked and mistrusted as Hillary Clinton as the alternative-- and playing the establishment card to the hilt. British sociologist Will Davies addressed this in an essay about why so many Labour voters went for Leave.
One of the most insightful things I saw in the run-up to the referendum was this video produced by openDemocracy’s Adam Ramsey and Anthony Barnett discussing their visit to Doncaster, another Labour heartland. They chose Doncaster because it looked set to be a strong pro-Leave location, and wanted to understand what was at work in this. Crucially, they observed that-- in strong contrast to the Scottish ‘Yes’ movement-- Brexit was not fuelled by hope for a different future. On the contrary, many Leavers believed that withdrawing from the EU wouldn’t really change things one way or the other, but they still wanted to do it. I’ve long suspected that, on some unconscious level, things could be even stranger than this: the self-harm inflicted by Brexit could potentially be part of its appeal. It is now being reported that many Leave voters are aghast at what they’ve done, as if they never really intended for their actions to yield results.

This taps into a much broader cultural and political malaise, that also appears to be driving the rise of Donald Trump in the US. Amongst people who have utterly given up on the future, political movements don’t need to promise any desirable and realistic change. If anything, they are more comforting and trustworthy if predicated on the notion that the future is beyond rescue, for that chimes more closely with people’s private experiences. The discovery of the ‘Case Deaton effect’ in the US (unexpected rising mortality rates amongst white working classes) is linked to rising alcohol and opiate abuse and to rising suicide rates. It has also been shown to correlate closely to geographic areas with the greatest support for Trump. I don’t know of any direct equivalent to this in the UK, but it seems clear that-- beyond the rhetoric of ‘Great Britain’ and ‘democracy’-- Brexit was never really articulated as a viable policy, and only ever as a destructive urge, which some no doubt now feel guilty for giving way to.

Thatcher and Reagan rode to power by promising a brighter future, which never quite materialised other than for a minority with access to elite education and capital assets. The contemporary populist promise to make Britain or American ‘great again’ is not made in the same way. It is not a pledge or a policy platform; it’s not to be measured in terms of results. When made by the likes of Boris Johnson, it’s not even clear if it’s meant seriously or not. It’s more an offer of a collective real-time halucination, that can be indulged in like a video game.

The Remain campaign continued to rely on forecasts, warnings and predictions, in the hope that eventually people would be dissuaded from ‘risking it’. But to those that have given up on the future already, this is all just more political rhetoric. In any case, the entire practice of modelling the future in terms of ‘risk’ has lost credibility, as evidenced by the now terminal decline of opinion polling as a tool for political control.

One of the complaints made most frequently by liberal commentators, economists and media pundits was that the referendum campaign was being conducted without regard to ‘truth’. This isn’t quite right. It was conducted without adequate regard to facts. To the great frustration of the Remain campaign, their ‘facts’ never cut through, whereas Leave’s ‘facts’ (most famously the £350m/week price tag of EU membership) were widely accepted.

...In place of facts, we now live in a world of data. Instead of trusted measures and methodologies being used to produce numbers, a dizzying array of numbers is produced by default, to be mined, visualised, analysed and interpreted however we wish. If risk modelling (using notions of statistical normality) was the defining research technique of the 19th and 20th centuries, sentiment analysis is the defining one of the emerging digital era. We no longer have stable, ‘factual’ representations of the world, but unprecedented new capacities to sense and monitor what is bubbling up where, who’s feeling what, what’s the general vibe.
As rightist David Stockman wrote over the weekend, Bravo Brexit-- "the tyranny of the global financial elite has been slammed good and hard... The central bankers and their compatriots at the EU, IMF, White House/Treasury, OECD, G-7 and the rest of the Bubble Finance apparatus have well and truly over-played their hand. They have created a tissue of financial lies; an affront to the very laws of markets, sound money and capitalist prosperity... On the immediate matter of Brexit, the British people have rejected the arrogant rule of the EU superstate and the tyranny of its unelected courts, commissions and bureaucratic overlords. As Donald Trump was quick to point out, they have taken back their country. He urges that Americans do the same, and he might just persuade them."

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A Message From St. Petersburg, Russia


St. Petersburg seems more Lenin-friendly than Moscow-- or at least not all hung up about him. I've felt more in touch with him here than I did on my two sojourns through the capital, including when I visited his bizarrely preserved corpse in Red Square, which appeared to be a plastic doll with a painted on mustache... but what do I know?

Lenin, who always favored a vanguard of socialist intelligentsia which could lead the basically unevolved working-classes, predicted that the revolution would not come in his lifetime-- just as the stage was being set for World War I, which, unexpectedly though seemingly inevitably, brought all the powerful monarchies of Europe crashing down. Lenin had hoped he and other revolutionaries could turn World War I into a proletarian revolution that would hasten the downfall of capitalism across all of Europe. No one wins 'em all.

The Democratic Party apparatchiks appointed by HRH Hillary and Wasserman Schultz to the platform committee are not doing anyone any favors by crushing all the left-populist proposals coming from the Bernie camp. They're not going to win over the millions of young people who voted for him. I guess they're gambling that HRH Hillary can ride the lesser of two evil thing all the way to the White House. Trump's so terrible... the end of the world... etc, etc.

Did the corporatists from the HRH Hillary camp miss the news on Brexit? Right on the heels of that experiment with national suicide, the HRH Hillary wing is actually doubling down on the policies which created the anti-establishment revolt. Feminists won't vote for Trump. But there are plenty of unevolved working people who will feel pushed into it.

Joe Macaré, a Brit writing for TruthOut Friday asked who's fault was Brexit and what's next? "[T]hose of us who would like to celebrate the departure of the man who took an axe to the National Health Service cannot," he wrote of David Cameron falling on his own sword, "since he is likely to be followed to by someone even worse, from his party's further-right wing. Meanwhile, leaders in Scotland and Northern Ireland, whose residents overwhelmingly voted to remain within the EU, are now openly calling for independence from the UK, which in the latter's case could mean a united Ireland."
Americans trying to understand the Brexit dynamic should know that there's a very Anglo-Saxon form of racism at work here, in which the parameters of Anglo-Saxon whiteness exclude not only the refugees from the global South who are supposedly coming to the UK via Europe, but also continental Europeans usually understood to be white by Americans. The noxious continuum of this long-standing Anglo-Saxon racism is apparent in everything from The Sun's coverage of any football match against "the Germans" to the fact that respectable liberal broadsheets offer a platform for pundits such as Julie Burchill to complain about immigrants from within Europe-- specifically Albanians, Poles and other Eastern Europeans, whose whiteness is questioned.

This explains why the pro-Brexit rhetoric tends to bundle together and conflate tropes of "lazy and irresponsible" Greeks, "Brussels bureaucrats" and "scary" refugees. EU power is antagonistic to refugees and to the people of Greece, but these distinctions are irrelevant to English nativists. The prospect of the definition of Europe being widened to include Turkey instills even more racist animosity among these nativists, and this has been exploited and propagated by the "Vote Leave" campaign.

...[W]e can blame the mainstream parties. This includes not just the Conservatives-- who have always been a force for nationalism, prejudice and ahistorical nostalgic folly even on their best days -- but also the right wing of the Labour party: in other words, its dominant wing from the time when Tony Blair made it "New" until Jeremy Corbyn clawed back a tenuous hold for its embattled left.

For 20 years, Blairism and the Tory party have combined xenophobic rhetoric (sometimes dog whistles, sometimes blatant) with economic policies that have put the screws to the British public. Blair himself really perfected the modern art of scaremongering about immigrants ("We know we have to tighten the asylum system further," he said in 2005) and about the EU imposing its allegedly soft-on-terror human rights laws, while cozying up to people like Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi was and remains among the most flagrantly corrupt of Europe's rich and powerful: Blair's closeness to the then Italian Prime Minister was as off-putting an example as any of UK elites working closely with their continental European equivalents to line the rich's pockets and impoverish everyone else. Yet Blair posed with a sign reading "I'm voting Remain!" in the run-up to the referendum, still shameless as ever about the consequences of his time as prime minister.

Secondly, we can blame the British media across the political spectrum that have either tolerated or encouraged racism while obscuring the real causes of economic misery. The "across the political spectrum" part of this statement cannot be emphasized enough, because while a driving force for the "Leave" campaign has been the UK's powerful right-wing newspapers (The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International; the Daily Mail; the Daily Express), more reputable media sources often enviously revered by US progressives have also been complicit.

The BBC's international coverage may still be far more reliable than that of US cable news, but in reality the BBC has pandered to Nigel Farage, leader of the nationalist UK Independent Party, as much as anyone has ever pandered to Donald Trump, inviting Farage onto its flagship political discussion show Question Time more often than any other politician between 2009 and 2013. The BBC helped create Farage as a prominent figure, then claimed to only be responding to his popularity. Meanwhile, liberal and left-leaning publications like The Guardian and Independent have delighted in giving column inches and pixels to "contrarian" pundits such as Nick Cohen and Julie Burchill, eager to tell us that it's not actually racist to say that the UK has too many immigrants and that we'd better keep an eye on Muslim immigrants especially, and so on.

Thirdly, the European Union itself should not escape blame for this turn of events. It is an undemocratic, business-class institution with blood on its hands from imposing punitive austerity measures on member states like Greece. As George Monbiot puts it, it is "a festering cesspool of undue influence and opaque lobbying," though the alternative offered by the political forces driving Brexit is worse. Anyone under any illusions that the EU represents a shiny beacon of democracy and progress should have that dispelled by the petty, punitive response from its leaders: EU president Donald Tusk, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and others have said the UK must quit "as soon as possible," even as Cameron and Johnson insisted the actual process of leaving would not be rushed. Yet it's the handful of EU laws that are preferable to those the UK political class would impose on its own-- health and safety regulations, some degree of protection for refugees, and other human rights laws-- to which the "Leave" camp has most objected, despite occasional forays into denouncing European bankers.

Finally, of course, we can blame the rising English nativist parties and tendencies within parties themselves. From UKIP to Britain First, these borderline fascist and explicitly fascist groups are very bound up with anti-EU sentiment and are demonstrably violent: They have already claimed the life of UK parliament member Jo Cox. However, without the factors above, these groups would have much less traction. They have been emboldened every time the media and mainstream parties adopted their talking points while claiming this was necessary to keep them on the margins.

What lessons can those of us residing in the United States take from this?

The first is that it is always a mistake to underestimate the forces of right-wing nationalism and nativism.

Much like Donald Trump, several of the winners in the "Leave" campaign have previously been dismissed as national jokes, whilst simultaneously being coddled and celebrated by the media. Boris Johnson has been called the British Trump, but he actually predates Trump in politics-- he became mayor of London after fusing media-savvy and deliberately clownish antics with very real racism and putting the super-rich first. Now he may be the next prime minister. Meanwhile, Farage, once seen as even more of a fringe outlier than Trump, gave a horrifying speech claiming the "Leave" vote as a victory for "the real people, for the ordinary people, for the decent people." The fascism here is barely coded, and the actual decent people of the UK-- those who oppose this fascistic and anti-immigrant turn-- will need to scramble to protect those defined by Farage as not "real."

The second lesson for US onlookers is that when far-right nationalist parties, figures and campaigns are successful, there are immediate consequences, and it is extremely reckless for the left not to oppose them. There is a left-wing case for leaving the EU. That is not what triumphed yesterday. Farage, like Trump, sometimes produces rhetoric that sounds anti-corporate: "We have fought against the multinationals, we have fought against the big merchant banks," he said in his speech on Wednesday night.

But it is not the multinationals who will feel the painful results of an emboldened UKIP and an emboldened Britain First. Nor is there any guarantee that the damage this result does to the Conservative Party will create any opportunities for the left in UK, not when some Labour MPs are already using it as another pretext to call for Corbyn's head. There are lessons here for people on the left who swallow Trump's isolationist and protectionist flourishes, for those who would like Trump to win just to spite the political establishment and accelerate a political shakeup, and for the Democrats who cackle over Trump's rise, believing that the GOP is being "destroyed." All should pay attention to what happens next in the UK and how it actually affects the most vulnerable people living there.

Thirdly, and perhaps the toughest pill to swallow, is the fact that centrist political parties will reap what they sow if they pursue a course in which they slyly invoke nationalist and racist sentiments when it suits them. Voters will not subsequently be convinced by professed outrage at the rise of political demagogues for whom racism and nationalism are the unchecked primary driving forces. This is especially true if the political center continues economic policies that pile on the misery and increase the likelihood that voters will be looking around desperately for someone to blame.

How was anyone supposed to take pro-EU Conservative David Cameron or the Blairites seriously as opponents of nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment and nostalgia for British imperialism? They had gone back to that well far too often to credibly claim it was poisoned. The US parallels are clear: How are US voters supposed to take it seriously when Democrats decry Trump's Islamophobia and anti-immigrant values as "not American values," when the Democrats have been so willing to support policies steeped in xenophobia and fear mongering?

The prospects for both US and European politics were already looking bleak before Brexit, but the urgency is now undeniable. Those who would oppose white supremacist nativism, imperialistic nationalism and violent xenophobia on both sides of the Atlantic will need to move quickly, boldly and resolutely to protect the people vilified by these resurgent right-wing forces and avert a truly grim future.
As Les Leopold blogged for HuffPo last week, Bernie and his supporters have to keep building. He writes that the platform battle is already fixed by HRH Hillary and Wasserman Schultz by who they appointed and that Bernie "[r]ather than parsing words in the party platform (that Hillary and the rest of the establishment Democrats can and will ignore at will)... should concentrate on launching a new movement organization right now-- one that would mobilize for his democratic socialist agenda. We need an organization dedicated to reversing runaway inequality that can serve as a home for the incredible energy and idealism of his supporters. Immediately, this new organization would have two goals: 1) defeat Trump; and 2) organize a million people to come to the Washington mall shortly after the inauguration to press for free higher education and a Wall Street speculation tax."

This is the perfect time to launch a large-scale progressive alliance with an organizational presence in every state. We need organization not just spontaneous eruptions that flower and wilt. We can’t just tweet an end to runaway inequality. We’ll need to systematically fight for it over a long period of time. We need an organizational structure that brings us together and connects our many issue and organizational silos. We should be able to go to Patterson, Pensacola or Pasadena to attend a meeting of a common organization that fights to reverse runaway inequality.

Bernie’s army of volunteers and small donors would likely support such a formation in large numbers if they thought it would really carry on the fight for the Sanders agenda.

...Pundits like Paul Krugman still claim that Sanders cares only about individual inequality and fails to address inequality between ethnic and racial groups. Krugman asserts that Hillary gets racism and Bernie, with his universal programs, does not, and that’s why Hillary got so many more votes from people of color.

It’s time to put this canard to rest. The Sanders campaign overwhelmingly won the votes of those under-thirty including the majority of black, Latino and Asian young voters. Hillary received strong support from older voters of color. What does this say about race and voting? It says that race doesn’t explain very much. Age, not race, created the major differences in these voting patterns. There is every reason to expect that an ongoing Bernie-led movement would draw young people of all shades and ethnicities.
Kate Aronoff, writing for Rolling Stone covered the People's Summit in Chicago, which she compared with Netroots Nation, "a shiny annual conference for progressive non-profit and Democratic Party staffers" by describing it as feeling "less like a networking event than the kindling for a democratic socialism with teeth."
"There will be a revolution in this country one way or another," Transparent star and Sanders surrogate Gaby Hoffman tells Rolling Stone. "And if it's not a civil, compassionate revolution like the one that we're talking about here, it is going to be a bloody revolution in the streets."

People for Bernie co-founder and Occupy Wall Street alumni Winnie Wong says National Nurses United was quick to hand over resources and control of the proceedings. "They allowed activists like myself to lead the program and logistical aspects of this and said, 'You guys are in charge. The space is yours,'" she says.

"This is a celebration of the emergence of democratic socialism in America," she adds. "Twelve million people passionately voted for a democratic socialist…. Socialism is here to stay. Don't be afraid of it. Embrace it."

Events like the People's Summit might be the tonal opposite of rowdy general assemblies in Zuccotti Park, but they may well be two sides of the same coin. Sanders' campaign has offered activists, socialists included, more of a taste of power than leftists have enjoyed for at least a decade, and a level of public legitimacy never previously experienced by the scores of millennials who voted for him.

For National Nurses United head RoseAnn DeMoro, the People's Summit was the next stop after testifying at the Democratic Party's platform committee in Phoenix. The meeting, which extended through the weekend, poached would-be Summit guests Cornell West and Bill McKibben, both hand-picked by Sanders to help draft the party's platform. A number of attendees, as well, will go on to become delegates at the convention in July. But building strength in the long term, activists agree, won't come simply from access to closed-door negotiations. Supporters at the summit and elsewhere are now tasked with figuring out what to do with their new-found prestige, and keeping the momentum the campaign generated going into the general election and beyond. While still far off from a coherent platform, this weekend's Summit was a small preview for what a sustained, progressive battering ram on the Democratic Party might look like.

"The Democratic Party is worth fighting for," former Ohio Rep. Nina Turner tells Rolling Stone, harkening back to the legacy of the New Deal and the Civil Rights Act-- each pushed through by Democratic presidents facing pressure from popular movements. "But from time to time," Turner says, "you have to shake things up within your own organization."

As she said from the main stage, "We need folks elected to office who actually give a shit about the people they represent!"

Making sure people do indeed give a shit will depend on the kind of force activists can muster, especially post-DNC. Keeping Sanders supporters engaged over the coming months will require a new level of collaboration between the grassroots and more institutional forces, like the nurses' union and the Working Families Party.

George Goehl, the co-director of People's Action, a national network of grassroots groups and another of the Summit's key conveners, laments that the success of Sanders' candidacy caught progressives off-guard, making it difficult to absorb those newly activated by Berniementum into their ranks. This also makes it hard to keep up morale.

"We have to build organizations to catch up with the moment," he says. "There are going to be waves of activity that we have to figure out how to provide the scaffolding. Honestly, we weren't ready." In addition to running candidates, which People's Action has been doing for the last several years, Goehl predicts members will continue the education and base-building work that has been their bread and butter for decades. He says he hopes activists will "recruit people up and down the ballot to run on a big-ideas platform," and become better able to adapt to shifting ground. "Overall, I'm more hopeful than I've been in a long time," Goehl says.

Though present at the Summit, the "Bernie or Bust" crowd was marginal. The more obvious shared sentiment among Summit-goers was not a repudiation of Hillary Clinton but rather an excitement for movement-leaders and ideas to make their way into the political mainstream.

Beyond encouragements to run for office and pledges to push on progressive issues, there were no grand plans presented at the Summit. The nurses' union and People's Action have plans to support future gatherings, and they-- along with other groups-- are planning a demonstration in Washington this February to welcome whoever gets inaugurated the month prior. Exactly what kind of progressive force greets the next president remains to be seen.

With a younger and more progressive electorate swelling each year, the sea change Bernie's campaign marks in the Democratic Party will almost certainly outlive him. His supporters are fighting hard against the Clintonite wing of the Democratic Party, and for their new order to take its place. "It is war," Wong says. "A line in the sand has been drawn, and we're ready to do battle."
We need to elect strong, capable progressives like Alan Grayson, Zephyr Teachout, Eric Kingson, Pramila Jayapal, Mary Ellen Balchunis, Nanette Barragan, Tim Canova, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Paul Clements, Tom Wakely, Alina Valdes, Jamie Raskin...
Goal Thermometer

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