Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Koch Brothers' War Against America Suffers A Setback In The Supreme Court


Clean air-- clearly a Marxist plot against the esteemed Koch borthers

The NY Times called it "a major victory for the Obama administration" but the 6-2 ruling by the Supreme Court yesterday to allow the EPA to regulate the smog from coal plants that drifts across state lines from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast was a victory for the American people first and foremost. And no one is more incensed than the Koch brothers! "Republicans and the coal industry," asserted the Times, "have criticized the regulations, which use the Clean Air Act as their legal authority, as a 'war on coal.' The industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules.
“It’s a big win for the E.P.A., and not just because it has to do with this rule,” said Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard. “It’s the fact that it’s setting the stage and creating momentum for what’s to come.”

...Two weeks ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld another major E.P.A. Clean Air Act rule that would cut coal-plant pollution from mercury.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a resounding victory for public health and a key component of E.P.A.’s efforts to make sure all Americans have clean air to breathe,” Gina McCarthy, the E.P.A. administrator, said in a statement. She added that “the court’s finding also underscores the importance of basing the agency’s efforts on strong legal foundations and sound science.”

The interstate air pollution regulation, also known as the “good neighbor” rule, has pitted Rust Belt and Appalachian states like Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky against East Coast states like New York and Connecticut.
Predictably, the 2 dissenters-- with corporate whore Sammy Alito having had the out of character decency to recuse himself-- were Scalia and Thomas, who called the rules "Marxist." One of the Koch brothers' most shameless handmaidens in Congress, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), who has a free reelection pass from his pal Steve Israel, twisted the ruling into a simplistic and misleading statement, as is his wont: "This is just the latest blow to jobs and affordable energy... We cannot allow E.P.A.’s aggressive regulatory expansion to go unchecked. We will continue our oversight of the agency and our efforts to protect American families and workers from E.P.A.’s onslaught of costly rules."

With the Koch brothers bribing the majority of the Members of Congress, the EPA isn't used to winning these kinds of victories lately. "Today's Supreme Court decision," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, "is a resounding victory for public health and a key component of EPA’s efforts to make sure all Americans have clean air to breathe. It serves to support the ongoing work to see that air quality in downwind states continues to improve. The Court’s finding also underscores the importance of basing the agency’s efforts on strong legal foundations and sound science. This is a big win for the nation’s public health and a proud day for the agency."

The White House statement emphasized that "240 million Americans can breathe easier" because of the decision.
EPA previously estimated that the rule will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days a year-- achieving up to $280 billion in annual health benefits.

These substantial health benefits will be achieved at modest costs using readily available pollution controls already adopted by many power plants. While leveling the playing field, the rule also gives power companies the flexibility to choose the most cost-effective option for cutting air pollution and protecting downwind communities.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is one of President Obama’s major clean air and public health accomplishments. Other major actions include:
First-ever national limits on mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants
New car and gasoline standards to cut vehicle pollution
Long-overdue limits on toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators
Rules to cut smog-forming pollutants from oil and gas wells
Tighter air quality standards for particulate pollution (or soot), reflecting new science about dangerous health impacts
Overall, the Administration’s clean air safeguards will save tens of thousands of lives, avoid millions of lost work and school days, and make our cities and towns healthier places to live and raise families.

Although we’ve made important progress in cutting smog, soot, mercury, and toxic air pollution, our work is not done. More action is needed to cut the harmful carbon pollution that causes climate change, impacting our communities and public health. In June, EPA will issue a proposed Clean Air Act rule to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. This step, which will build on the Administration’s previous clean air successes, is a central element of the President’s Climate Action Plan.
Steven Mufson and Tom Hamburger, writing over the weekend for the Washington Post laid out some of the contours of the coming war the Koch brothers are planning against America.
In state capitals across the country, legislators are debating proposals to roll back environmental rules, prodded by industry and advocacy groups eager to curtail regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gases.

The measures, which have been introduced in about 18 states, lie at the heart of an effort to expand to the state level the battle over fossil fuel and renewable energy. The new rules would trim or abolish climate mandates-- including those that require utilities to use solar and wind energy, as well as proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules that would reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

But the campaign-- despite its backing from powerful groups such as Americans for Prosperity-- has run into a surprising roadblock: the growing political clout of renewable-energy interests, even in rock-ribbed Republican states such as Kansas.

The stage has been set for what one lobbyist called “trench warfare” as moneyed interests on both sides wrestle over some of the strongest regulations for promoting renewable energy. And the issues are likely to surface this fall in the midterm elections, as well, with California billionaire Tom Steyer pouring money into various gubernatorial and state and federal legislative races to back candidates who support tough rules curbing pollution.

The multi-pronged conservative effort to roll back regulations, begun more than a year ago, is supported by a loose, well-funded confederation that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and conservative activist groups such as Americans for Prosperity, a politically active nonprofit organization founded in part by brothers David and Charles Koch. These groups argue that existing government rules violate free-market principles and will ultimately drive up costs for consumers.

The proposed measures are similar from state to state. In some cases, the legislative language matches or closely resembles model bills and resolutions offered by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a free-market-oriented group of state lawmakers underwritten in part by Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Duke Energy and Peabody Energy.

“Now more than ever is the time for states to lead the way,” ALEC’s top officials told its members at a meeting in December.
They turn their focus on Kansas, parcatically a Koch fiefdom, where normal people are beginning to fight back against the Koch plutocracy that controls the state. "The strong winds that blow across Kansas," they point out, "have carried new interest groups into the state. Kansas ranks sixth in the country in wind output, which jumped by a third last year and equaled 19 percent of the state’s electricity, the EIA says... Eventually, the Kansas Senate passed two bills, one postponing the renewable targets and one repealing them. Both failed in the state House, although the bill’s backers have vowed to bring them back."

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"You can say what you like, but he was a good man to us" (a maid of Adolf Hitler in the '30s, in 2008)


A view of the Berghof, near Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps

"At no point in her interview with the Salzburger Nachrichten does [Elisabeth Kalhammer] criticize the German dictator or mention his atrocities. . . . In fact, she remembers life as being pretty good at the Berghof."

by Ken

When it comes to all matters Hitler-related, I can count on my friend Leo to keep my up to date, which is a nearly full-time preoccupation, since as he notes frequently, Hitler "news" -- or whatever you want to call in -- just keeps on coming. I guess we could say in marketing terms that the Hitler brand is as potent as ever, and shows no signs of letting up, except for the small problem of finding new merchandise to bring to market.

I was a little surprised yesterday to notice, without having heard anything about it from my usual Hitler source, that the Washington Post had a report on the reminiscences to the Salzburger Nachrichten of an 89-year-old woman who served on the "staff of 22 housemaids" employed at the Berghof, near Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, the idyllic mountain retreat of Adi and his lovely and charming companion Eva. Within the day, however, I was in receipt of a link to a Haaretz report -- based, actually, on the Post story, "Hitler’s former maid remembers the good life at Der Fuhrer’s mountain retreat," by Gail Sullivan.

The Post story begins:
It’s not clear that Elisabeth Kalhammer knew who her employer would be in 1943 when she responded to a help wanted ad for a maid at the Berghof, Hitler’s Bavarian mountain retreat that served as Nazi headquarters away from Berlin.

Her mother had her doubts, Kalhammer, 89, told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten in what appears to be her first public interview about working for Hitler, but an employment office staffer told Kalhammer she should be thankful. Jobs were scarce in Germany as the war raged on all fronts.

After she was screened by the SS and a search of her mother’s home for signs of anti-Nazi propaganda turned up nothing suspicious, Kalhammer’s application was approved.

Kalhammer was nervous when she arrived at a house full of guests on her first day. Hitler wined and dined the likes of Benito Mussolini at the Berghof, where he spent much of his time during World War II.

Kalhammer, who joined a staff of 22 housemaids, saw Hitler but never said a word to him herself. Only long-serving staff members were allowed to address Hitler personally and enter his private rooms, she told the paper.

What happens at the Berghof stays at the Berghof, was the main rule when it came to chitchat. Staff were forbidden even from talking among themselves about the comings and goings of Nazi party members and their guests. Kalhammer was warned from the start that if she broke the rule she would face strict punishment.
At this point, however, the 89-year-old Ms. Kalhammer apparently feels more comfortable about violating those strict conditions of her employment and, says Gail Sullivan, "offers these tidbits about life at Hitler’s home away from home":
• Late at night, Hitler liked to steal away to the kitchen for a bite of “Fuhrer cake,” a specially prepared sheet cake with apples, nuts and raisins that the kitchen was expected to always have on hand.

• Hitler rarely got out of bed before 2 p.m. (This habit came back to bite him on D-Day when his generals dared not wake him though Allied troops were swimming ashore in Normandy).

• As a Christmas “gift” maids received wool so they could knit socks for troops on the front.

• The maids greeted Hitler’s girlfriend Eva Braun with “Heil, merciful lady.”
"Perhaps," writes Sullivan, "what’s most revealing is what Kalhammer doesn’t say."
At no point in her interview with the Salzburger Nachrichten does she criticize the German dictator or mention his atrocities. At no point does she express regret over being a cog, albeit a small one, in the wheel of Nazi machinery.

In fact, she remembers life as being pretty good at the Berghof. With plenty of food and fresh-pressed apple juice, Kalhammer was far better off than ordinary Germans. She did laundry and sewing, and cleaned up around the house. She also served tea, which Hitler liked to drink from a delicate Nymphenburg tea cup. She had to abide by a curfew as punishment after breaking one of the porcelain cups, which were very valuable.

Kalhammer also enjoyed girls’ nights out at Hitler’s private cinema on the estate where his lover, Eva Braun would watch the latest German propaganda films starring former actress, Marika Roekk. Braun was “spellbound” by Roekk, Kalhammer said.

Kalhammer, for her part, was quite a fan of Braun whom she described as an elegant woman who always wore tailored clothes of the latest fashion. “She was always good to me,” Kalhammer said.

Braun acted as the lady of the house at Berghof and designed the maids’ outfits – a white apron with diagonal buttons.

The mood in the house grew darker after a July 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler by senior Nazi officials failed. Kalhammer worked at Berghof almost until the end of the war. The compound was ultimately evacuated and was bombed in an Allied air raid.
Sullivan notes that Ms. Kalhammer "isn’t the first of Hitler’s maids to come out of the woodwork."
In 2008, another maid who worked for Hitler at the Berghof told Britain’s Daily Mail that Hitler “was a charming man, someone who was only ever nice to me, a great boss to work for. You can say what you like, but he was a good man to us.”

Like Kalhammer, she prefers a sanitized version of the past. “That he had ordered such terrible things, I just couldn’t believe it,” she said of having to confront the reality of Hitler’s atrocities after the way. “Even now, I prefer to remember the charming facets of his personality.”
I don't know why the maid who spoke up in 2008 isn't named, but she was Rosa Mitterer, then 91, who was described as "the sole survivor of those who served Adolf Hitler in the years before the Second World War." Rosa's service thus predated Elisabeth's wartime service.

"For one woman," the Mail's Allan Miller wrote, "the name Adolf Hitler evokes a smile not a shudder."
Rosa is 91 and until now has kept a vow of silence about her experiences. She has chosen to break it after realising she is the last survivor of the circle who served the tyrant in the years before he launched the Second World War.

And her verdict on her former master: 'He was a charming man, someone who was only ever nice to me, a great boss to work for. You can say what you like, but he was a good man to us.'

Rosa's remembrances of life at the court of the tyrant make gripping reading. She saw leading Nazis come and go. Himmler, the evil party secretary; Bormann, whom she described as a 'dirty pig'; and the club-footed, sexually-obsessed propaganda minister Goebbels.

Rosa went into Hitler's service at the age of 15 in 1932 when she was Rosa Krautenbacher. Her sister Anni had worked as a cook at Hitler's Berchtesgaden retreat since the late 1920s.

'She said he needed a housemaid and I would fit the bill,' Rosa recalled. 'I remember so clearly the first day I spoke to him in the kitchen. I said I was Anni's sister and that made him smile, because Anni was his favourite. I only ever knew Hitler as a kindly man who was good to me.'


CA-31-- Will Eloise Reyes Be Congress' First Ever Onion Topper? That's Way Better Than Another Crooked Bank Lobbyist


Speaking about her inspiring life story in her first TV ad, Eloise Reyes talks about the hard work and perseverance it took to go from topping onions as a small child and working her way through school and law school to the middle class and now running for Congress. "I made the journey," she says, "but for people these days, that journey has become so much harder." Eloise isn't a Republican or a corporate tool like her opponent, Pete Aguilar. Republicans and corporate tools want to pull the ladder up behind them and kick the people in the face who are trying to climb out over distressed economic situations. Instead, she says, she will "fight for families working hard to join the middle class and those struggling to stay there."

That's what her hard-pressed Inland Empire district (CA-31) needs. A majority minority district-- stretching from Upland and Rancho Cucamonga, along the 210 Freeway to San Bernardino and along the 10 Freeway through Colton, Loma Linda and Redlands. The median household income is $50,882 (compared to the state median of $57,287. Statewide about 19% of the residents have no high school diploma. In CA-31 that figure is 21%. Statewide, 45.8% of the voting age population turns out, on average, to vote. In the 31st, that drops down to 39.7%. Eloise wants to work on bringing all these figures up. Politically, her entire raison d'être is about helping to lift up her neighbors.

“I’m running for Congress to do a job-– not to get a job or keep a job," she told us today. "Congress is broken because career politicians who have their own self interest at heart have advocated for the wealthy and big corporations and left the middle class behind. It’s time to invest in bringing jobs back to our district, keeping the promise of Social Security and Medicare and passing comprehensive immigration reform that provides a true path to citizenship. Washington is not going to change me. I was born here in the Inland Empire. As a twelve year old I picked onions in the fields to pay for school clothes and after college and law school I returned home to raise my family and open a small business. My roots are in the Inland Empire and I will bring your voices-– and values-– with me to Congress.”

Her main opponent, the DCCC's failed corporate shill, Pete Aguilar, is a former lobbyist for Arrowhead Savings and Loan, which his shady behavior helped drive into bankruptcy. Aguilar is desperate for a job in Congress but he's barely related to the community and has always been a pawn and a front-man for the Republican-dominated Chamber of Commerce. They appointed him to the Redlands City Council and they appointed him mayor. And, of course, Steve Israel bought right into this empty suit. Hilda Solis, who was the congresswoman from CA-31 before President Obama appointed her to his Cabinet as Secretary of Labor, endorsed Eloise last February, even though Israel was beating the bushes for support for the empty suit. At the time, this is what Solis said: "In this day and age when the powerful special interests are gaining even more power, the working families that make our country strong need a strong voice and their own tenacious fighter in Congress. Eloise Gomez Reyes is the person for the job. She has spent her entire career fighting for working families and people who can’t fight for themselves. She will bring that same tenacity to the fight to bring jobs to the Inland Empire. Eloise is one tough lady and she will not be intimidated by the extremist leaders of the GOP or their big bank accounts."

Xavier Becerra, the senior House Republican in Southern California and a close Pelosi ally was even more forceful about Eloise's outstanding credentials to be the next Member of Congress from San Berdoo:
Eloise is a proven leader who will get the job done in Washington for the working families of the Inland Empire. Quite frankly, I know she’ll work tirelessly on behalf of those who work hard, play by the rules and deserve a fair shot at the American Dream. That’s why today I’m endorsing Eloise Reyes for Congress.

I work with our leadership day in and day out, pushing on the obstructionist House Republicans to strengthen the ladders of opportunity and build an economy that works for all Americans. Having someone like Eloise among our ranks, I know, she will be not only an ally to myself and Leader Nancy Pelosi, but a strong voice for the Inland Empire, for California, and for working families all across the country.

Eloise is the American Dream fulfilled. Her story is mine and yours. My father was a construction worker and when my mother, a newlywed, came to this country she spoke no English. They sent their four children to college in America. Eloise started work at the age of 12 in the onion fields. Imagine the children of immigrants like Eloise and myself standing up, side by side. Imagine passing paycheck fairness, or comprehensive immigration reform, or raising the minimum wage.

This Californian is endorsing Eloise Gomez Reyes for CA-31 because she will be an effective leader and legislator for you.

...As Tip O’Neil once said, "all politics is local." I have been watching this race very closely for some time and I know that Eloise can win this race, but not without your support. Together, we can protect and renew el sueño Americano-- the American Dream for the next generation.
The photo below is Pete Aguilar, on any random evening. Look at that mess. He wants to go to Congress to be the Democratic version of Trey Radel (and Vance McAllister). There is just no comparison between him and someone of Eloise Reyes' character, intellect and honor. If you'd like to make sure she's the next Member and not Aguilar, please consider contributing to her grassroots campaign here.

Steve Israel's handpicked candidate, Pete Aguilar

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The Republican Party Is Making Itself Over As The Party Of Anti-American Sedition


Many Republican Party leaders, always sensitive to their hate-fueled, paranoid base, are still clinging to their racism and bigotry. Its reflected in their policy agenda, the Ryan budget, their refusal to pass the bipartisan Senate comprehensive immigration plan (which even Boehner admits is being held back by the hate mongers in his caucus). Take this GOP thought-leader and political boss:
LIMBAUGH: You just gotta be who you are, and I think it's time to get rid of this whole National Basketball Association. Call it the TBA, the Thug Basketball Association, and stop calling them teams. Call 'em gangs. You have the Laker Gang, you have the Heat Gang, you have a Timberwolf Gang [distortions of official team names], and let 'em strap up out there, and let 'em market their CDs. Instead of selling concessions, sell CDs out there at the concession stand.

All the players get involved in this, and if a fight breaks out, hey, it's what happens! It's what happens with gangs, and if a cop gets bloodied, you know, that's a bonus for the gang member that pulls that off, and let the fans, you know, go in knowingly. They're going in to watch the Crips and the Bloods out there wherever the neighborhood is where the arena happens to be, and be who you are.
Nothing about the Donald Sterling Gang? Or the gang of heavily armed domestic terrorists and seditionists in Nevada, the Cliven Bundy Gang? His as slicking posture towards Bundy and his KKK mob won't hurt Limbaugh much. Virtually all respectable advertisers have fled his airwaves already.
[M]any national advertisers have heeded the protests of Media Matters about Rush Limbaugh. (Back in late February, we passed the two-year anniversary of Rush’s remarks about Sandra Fluke.)
And, predictably, Sterling is getting the same treatment from advertisers. But what about the idiot politicians who jumped on the racist bandwagon with Bundy? I doubt it will hurt racists like Greg Abbott in deep red states like Texas where most Republicans give racism a big thumbs up. Over the weekend, Hannity-- hardly a crusader for the NAACP-- asked Abbot about Bundy's ugly racist remarks, Abbott stood his ground and refused to apologize or even discuss the matter. Fellow Texas racists Rick Perry and Ted Cruz will be just fine as Bundy's most prominent political backers. Republican wing nut Congressman Paul Gosar actually drove up to the Bundy compound to make sure the racist Mormons in his R+20 Arizona district had no doubt where he stood. Rand Paul, smarter than the other neanderthals backed away quickly-- as did the Republican most likely to suffer politically for his Bundy support-- Nevada Senator Dean Heller. Jon Ralston has exposed Heller for his craven posturing on all this.

Imagine hearing these words come out of the mouth of Sen. Dean Heller, who has called Cliven Bundy’s supporters “patriots” and who did not utter a critical word about the famous rancher until he began declaiming about the history of the “Negro” in America:

“Let me first say that I do not support those who do not comply with the law. Mr. Bundy has not paid grazing fees in over 20 years, and that is unacceptable, particularly considering the number of ranchers in Nevada who hold permits and pay fees to graze on public lands. Furthermore, this case has been reviewed by a federal judge and a decision was made to remove the cattle.”

You know who that sounds like: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  And if there is one person Dean Heller doesn’t want to sound like on Bundyville, it’s Harry Reid. But that’s what he believes, even though he has been too craven or politically opportunistic to say it.

How do I know?

Because I have obtained talking points and a legal analysis Heller had prepared for the KSNV program, “What’s Your Point,” both of which indicated that Bundy is a lawbreaker and has no firm legal ground beneath him. “Bundy has produced no valid law or specific facts raising a genuine issue of fact regarding federal ownership or management of public lands in Nevada, or that his cattle have not trespassed on the New Trespass Lands,” a summary of the case against Bundy prepared for Heller says.

I wonder why Heller did not say that. Or has not said it.

Instead the senator said on the program 10 days ago that Bundy’s defenders were not “domestic terrorists” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called them but “patriots.” Reid, who was sitting next to him, argued with Heller’s label, saying, ‘If they’re patriots, we’re in big trouble.”

It’s unclear if Heller’s “patriots” remark was premeditated-- there’s no mention of it in the talking points, which are dated April 17, the day before the program. But Reid made the “domestic terrorists” comment less than 24 hours before the two sat down together for the interview, possibly after the talking points were prepared. (It was an inane comment either way.).

Despite the plan outlined in the talking points to start with a criticism of Bundy and his lawbreaking, Heller instead offered a tribute to the "patriots" and then assailed the BLM for its putative overreach, even as his documents pointed out that the armed “militia types” were the “most dangerous aspect of the standoff.”

…The documents unmask Heller as someone willing to ignore facts and research his own aides have given him to genuflect to the worst elements of his party. That he and his fellow travelers such as Sean Hannity and Alex Jones have received their swift just desserts as Bundy’s ignorant racism pours out with his every utterance only makes his “patriots” comment more egregious. Heller was willing to enable Bundy and his band of “patriots” without regard to the consequences, even though he clearly knew before he appeared on the program that Bundy and his followers were in the wrong.

…If you want to know where Heller stands on other issues-- or where his staff says he should stand-- the document is worth reading-- and comparing to what he has said and will say on these issues.

After the What’s Your Point interview, which ended at 1 PM on that Friday, Heller’s aides scurried to whisk him out of the studio and away from prying journalists. “I have to get him to the airport in 11 minutes,” his aide Jack Finn said.

In their haste to ensure Heller did not make any more unscripted comments, someone left behind the packet with the talking points and the legal analysis. One other piece of paper was in there, too:

A Southwest Airlines boarding pass, showing his flight didn’t leave for another two hours.
And not all domestic terrorists are lurking in rural Nevada. Cliff Schecter just braved the NRA Convention in Indianapolis, a den of anti-American sedition and treason potential far more serious than what's going on at Cliven Bundy's compound. His report-- Preparing for War in Indianapolis: Inside the NRA Plot to Terrify America-- would probably horrify most normal Americans.
Through the entrance to the hall were rows, probably a dozen of them or more, each filled with one booth after another of salesmen hawking their wares, going on for as far as the eye could see. The NRA had a banner outside the convention center describing it as “9 Acres of Guns & Gear,” and for once it wasn’t exaggerating.

As I entered the room, directly in front of me were T-shirts for sale with assault weapons on them, bearing the likenesses of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, President Obama and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Two coastal Jews and an African-American from Chicago-- what’s known in Alex Jones land as “The Trifecta.” As I moved past the T-shirts, two guys walking past me looked back, and one chuckled. “Bloomberg,” he said, and shook his head.

Military-style weaponry of every kind occupied almost every inch of the terrain to my left and right as I began the long trek down each aisle. Not your father’s hunting rifle, for the most part—although there were a few of those here and there-- but the kind of arms you use to start a war. Fifty-caliber rifles, which can take down small aircraft. Assault rifles-- rebranded “sporting rifles,” in case your sport might be decimating a small village under a minute. High-capacity magazines of the variety used in so many recent massacres at malls, schools, and universities.

…[The NRA] has embraced this new mission to militarize the streets of America with zeal, scaring the bejesus out of its most faithful adherents with ghost stories about preparing for the breakdown of civilization, to destroy any faith they might have in our democracy or our first responders. You’re all alone, in their telling. Just you and the one thing that’s always faithful: your gun.

…The NRA’s executive vice president of the and foaming mouthpiece, Wayne LaPierre, made this crystal clear during his stump speech at the convention. Here is a sliver of what Good Time Charlie had to say to the assembled:
“We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and knock-out gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all,” he said.
LaPierre, of course, is never held responsible for this rhetoric, even though it is not too much of a stretch to say that its repetition in all of the NRA’s magazines, radio show, emails, newsletter, speeches, on Fox News, and on right-wing talk radio and beyond clearly contributes to the killing everyday American citizens and members of law enforcement.

Nor do members of Congress with close NRA ties who scare the populace and encourage sedition face any consequences. That includes board member Rep. Don Young (R-AK), who took the stage with radical militia leader Schaeffer Cox in 2011 and signed a declaration in direct contravention to the oath he swore to the United States government, of which he is a member. It read:
“Let it be known that should our government seek to further tax, restrict or register firearms…thus impairing our ability to exercise the God-given right to self-defense that precedes all human legislation and is superior to it, that the duty of us good and faithful people will not be to obey them but to alter or abolish them.”

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People Want To Know Why We Endorsed Bonnie Watson Coleman In NJ-12 Instead of Linda Greenstein. OK, Here's Why


Bonnie knows what team she's playing for-- New Jersey's working families

When Blue America decided to endorse Bonnie Watson Coleman one thing that weighed heavily on our decision was how-- when the climate was tough-- Bonnie stuck with Barbara Buono while the Linda Greenstein was running ads touting her fealty to Christie. It drove many of us at Blue America up the wall at the time and it made our endorsement of Bonnie pretty much inevitable. There have been a lot of people telling us that either would be a good replacement for Rush Holt and that both are "progressive Democrats." That's patently absurd. Technically it's true but the reality is far more nuanced. Linda Greenstein is a progressive... she is a conservative... she is a moderate... she believes in Chris Christie's policies… she is against Chris Christie's policies... she is essentially whatever the polling and focus groups tell her to be in order to win her next election.

In this race, Bonnie Watson Coleman is the only true progressive, and the real Democrat. Bonnie has always been there fighting on the front lines for working families and has always stood up for her beliefs and her principles when others were silent. She doesn't follow along with tough positions when it's easy. She leads when it's hard. That's why Blue America endorsed her.

When it came time to vote to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey, Bonnie proudly did so. Linda Greenstein did not. And, when the New Jersey Assembly was debating their marriage equality bill, Bonnie spoke up, loud and proud, when many were silent. Including Linda Greenstein. Here is Bonnie’s floor speech.

And, like I said, the kicker, when it came to standing up to that bully Chris Christie, Bonnie proudly stood with our friend Barbara Buono. While some Democrats like Linda Greenstein stood silently and took cover when some members of the party helped Chris Christie, Bonnie took on an even larger leadership role and became Barbara's Campaign Chair. While Bonnie was out there with Barbara fighting day in and day out against Christie’s transactional, self serving politics Linda was running ads saying that she would work with Christie.

The truth is that Linda is not a progressive Democrat, and she has not considered herself progressive until polling came back to suggest that she should be. Here is a link to an interview that Linda gave just after Rush Holt announced that he was not running.  Go to 1:42 to hear how progressive Linda considers herself to be. The fact that she can't even say if SHE is progressive, let alone as progressive as our friend Rush Holt, frightens me.

Linda voted time and time again with Chris Christie’s Bridgegate hatchet man Bill Baroni when he was also in the New Jersey Legislature because she was more concerned with maintaining her position then she was standing on principle. She voted against our values on bills that would limit campaign contributions from entities with government contracts, benefit those making real estate transactions that are over one million dollars and voted against legislation to provide financial aid to public school districts that need it the most. She also chose not to vote on a bill that would criminalize racial profiling.

Linda is not progressive, Linda has never been progressive, and Linda will not be progressive. The truth is that she has flirted with being progressive because her polling and focus groups said that is what the voters of the 12th district want. The truth is that you can’t lead from behind, and you can’t lead based on polling.

Please join me to support Bonnie Watson Coleman, and fight to ensure that Rush Holt’s progressive legacy is carried on. You can donate to Bonnie’s Campaign here!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Will Aaron Schock Be Collateral Damage As The Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm Scandal Unfolds?


Aaron has always been a sucker for psychotic blue eyes on tough guys

Yesterday, just as the news was breaking that Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, the Mafia-connected (Gambino Crime Family) Staten Island Republican was in federal custody and had been indicted on twenty counts, one of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, a prominent attorney who knows how to read indictments, e-mailed me:

Tax fraud-- just like Al Capone

The New York papers are, predictably, having a field day. But the Times, which has been on the Grimm case for as many years as the FBI, is reporting calmly and without frenzy
Representative Michael G. Grimm, a second-term congressman from Staten Island, was indicted on Monday on federal fraud charges for underreporting the wages and payroll while running an Upper East Side restaurant, concealing the actual payroll in a separate set of computer records.

The charges, unsealed on Monday, detail how Mr. Grimm concealed more than $1 million in gross receipts for the restaurant, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in employee wages, thus getting around federal and New York State law. He also lied under oath in January 2013, while he was a member of Congress, during a deposition, the indictment says.

The indictment charges Mr. Grimm with, among other things, perjury, wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, employment of illegal immigrants, obstructing and impeding tax laws, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
In case you were wondering who has been legally underwriting Grimm's seedy political career-- so not the illegal Mob and foreign money but the legalistic bribes, here's the list of his top donors. Do you think the shady right-wing building trades unions are proud of the company they're in?

The plea bargain and trial will work out on their own and we'll report back, of course. Politically, though, there are some interesting tangents. Steve Israel has some corrupt "mystery meat" hack, Domenic Recchia, as the DCCC-backed candidate. The other guy trying to run as a Democrat, Erick Salgado, is even worse-- worse than Recchia, probably worse than than Grimm! I'd vote for the Green Party candidate, Hank Bardel. Yesterday, Bardel, who chose not to comment on any of the corruption charges or on Recchia's reputation, told me "I don't think the election of Domenic Recchia is going to change much for the people in the 11th Congressional District of NY State or the United States, in my opinion, because there is not much difference in their political policies. Democratic and Republican policies have brought the United States to the point where the 1% own 35% to 40% of the wealth in the U.S. This is what is causing a bad economy in our country and it hasn't been this bad since 1929."

There's another aspect of this case that will have people wondering how many other Republicans will be tainted by Grimm's corruption. Forget about his pal Chris Christie for now and let's look all the way across the prairies towards Peoria. That fun-lovin', flamboyantly-dressed (or shirtless) closet case you see is Grimm-crony Aaron Schock.

When the Republican Party recruited Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm to run for a House seat on Staten Island and the Mafia-domninated Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, they knew exactly what they were doing. The former FBI agent who crossed over the line and became a Gambino Crime Family operative was perfect for the pathetic shell of the New York Republican Party. And with the kinds of weak and sleazy conservative Democrats who always run in that part of town… well Grimm would have a better than even chance for a career-- as long as he could stay out of prison. Which, it turns out, doesn't look like it will be a terribly long time. His short political career has been marred by one corruption scandal after another, enough to have had him booted out of Congress by voters in almost any district in America. Ever been to Staten Island? Bay Ridge?

Back in January we looked at more ties between Grimm and the crooked Israeli rabbi, Yoshiyahu Pinto. But the campaign finance violations kept piling up and, by then the New York media was used to reporting it routinely. The ex-FBI agent was looking for more ways to get another campaign finance laws and regulations that make political bribery just a tiny bit tough on dumb politicians. Grimm, whose first meeting with Boehner after he was elected, was to demand that Members be allowed to "pack heat" on the floor of Congress, is as dumb a politician as you're likely to find outside of the Deep South. NY Daily News:
As the campaign for control of Congress gained steam in 2010, D.C. lawyer Bazil Facchina pulled out his checkbook.

On March 31, 2010, Facchina donated the legal maximum, $4,800, to Michael Grimm, a Republican running for Congress on Staten Island. Facchina was no stranger to financing campaigns-- he already had given the maximum to Bert Mizusawa, a Republican running for Congress in Virginia.

Facchina’s $4,800 donation to Grimm would have been unremarkable but for one thing: On the same day, two Grimm donors-- one of them, his girlfriend, Diana Durand-- gave a total of $4,800 to Mizusawa.

The parallel transactions raise questions whether Grimm-- who went on to win a House seat in 2010-- engaged in “donor swapping,” a controversial practice that allows candidates to sidestep fundraising limits.

The swapping works like this: A donor who gives the maximum to Candidate A then donates to Candidate B. In return, a donor or friend of Candidate B gives an identical amount to Candidate A.

A Daily News review of 2010 fundraising records found more than 20 transactions suggesting supporters of Grimm and candidates in California, South Dakota, Illinois and Virginia swapped donations totaling more than $75,000.

One set of transactions involved Grimm himself:

On March 31, 2010, Grimm and Durand each gave $2,400 to Michael Curb, a Republican making a longshot bid for Congress in South Dakota. On the same day, Allison Bolger, an accountant in a Sioux Falls, S.D., firm headed by Curb, donated $4,800 to Grimm.

“Why would someone in South Dakota be interested in Grimm?” said Melanie Sloan, who heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and examined the transactions at the request of The News. “They certainly are suspicious.”

A thread through the apparent swaps is Durand, 47, of Houston, who was arrested last week on charges she reimbursed donors to mask more than $10,000 in illegal contributions to Grimm.

There was no mention of donor swaps in the charges.

However, the pattern of apparent swaps discovered by The News suggests that Durand was more involved with Grimm’s fundraising than previously reported. And Grimm’s role in one of the apparent swaps ties him for the first time to questionable conduct.

The federal complaint accuses Durand of giving an unnamed couple a check for $4,800 on Oct. 20, 2010, after asking the donor to contribute to a congressional campaign identified as “Committee B.”

According to records examined by The News, on Oct. 28, 2010, Tina and Ruben Sanchez, a Houston couple who had given the maximum to Grimm, contributed $4,800 to Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). On the same day, Darren and Rebecca Frye, a Peoria, Ill., couple who had given the maximum to Schock, gave $4,800 to Grimm.

Donor swaps exist in a gray area. Illegality is hard to prove, but a lage-scale swap of donations led to the 2010 conviction, later overturned, of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) on money-laundering charges.

None of the donors involved in the apparent swaps responded to requests for comment. Lawyers for Grimm and Durand declined comment. Grimm has denied wrongdoing.

A two-year federal investigation of Grimm’s fundraising has been reported, but not the apparent donor swapping.
Darren Frye was Aaron Schock's guest at the 2012 State of the Union speech. His wife Rebecca gave $25,000 to Schock in a 2010 fundraiser in order to meet with Laura Bush.

Schock is already under investigation for campaign violations involving getting shady funds to Adam Kinzinger, the fellow Illinois GOP congressman he is known to have a major crush on. Being tainted by a connection to the Mob and to Mafia money and tactics won't go over in Peoria as well as it does on Staten Island.

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Food Watch: Aren't you just dying to know what the World's Best Dumpling is?


And the World's Best Dumpling is . . . Oh wait, we probably shouldn't spoil the suspense. Hey, just keep yer pants on. (For the record, these [REDACTED]s are made with crab paste, which apparently is okay but isn't necessarily part of the [REDACTED].) 

by Ken

You'd be hard put to find someone who loves dumplings more than I do. I always say that I've never met a dumpling I didn't like, though every time I say it, I realize this is not -- as I often say -- the sort of thing you really want to put in the form of a challenge. It doesn't take any time at all to start thinking of all sorts of icky stuff that could be packed into a dumpling.

Anyway, as a confirmed dumpling devotee, I had mixed feelings when I saw the headline on this Thrillist "Power Rank" piece, "The World's Best Dumpling: Which International Variety Is Tops?" On the one hand, the subject of dumplings immediately puts my in my constitutionally inclusive mode, where I'm more inclined to ask if our dumplings can't all get along than to subject them to some form of cutthroat dumpling competition. And I'm not sure I have any idea what it would mean to establish a competitive rankings among, say, Chinese dumplings and Japanese gyoza and ravioli and kreplach. (SPOILER: Watch out for ravioli, though.)

What's more, I'm not sure I trust even so august an authority as Thrillist food/drink staff writer Adam Lapetina to be the Dumpling Determiner. Even if it's true that "his life was changed when he had his first [REDACTED] one year ago."

However, the alternative is attacking my pile of pathological right-wing liars, who have been especially noisy of late, and frankly I'm just not up to that today. Or saying something about L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling -- who curiously figures on the other list as well (though as a person-lied-about rather than a liar himself). So all in all, I say . . . LET'S DO DUMPLINGS!

Because Thrillist insists on doing so, we'll take the World's Best Dumplings in the now obnoxiously traditional (you'll get yours, David Letterman) reverse order.

For the descriptions of nos. 14 through 4, you'll have to consult the article.




11. MOMO
[Coincidentally, I just had my first momo this weekend on my Wolfe Walkers Jackson Heights food tour with Jeff Orlick, at a tiny place at the back of a store that normally houses two other businesses, except that they're both out of business. That's why it's called Tibetan Mobile. Oh yes, it was good, but then I've never met a dumpling I didn't like. -- Ed.]








You'll notice that already we've mixed up two items called dumplings which as far as I'm concerned have nothing to do with each other: the things that are shaped pieces of flat dough stuffed with something yummy, what I would obviously think of when we're talking World's Greatest Dumpling; and the things that simply are cooked chunks of dough -- fine for what they are, but not what we ought to be talking about. ("Chicken and dumplings" is the World's Fifth Best Dumpling?)



"The Georgians have devised a dumpling for the ages -- khinkali are beef, pork, or onion-stuffed dumplings that contain uncooked meat that becomes edible when the dumplings are cooked. This means the juices are sealed in, and become a hot broth that's sucked out during the inaugural bite."


"You can't discuss dumplings without talking about ravioli, which are technically dumplings because they're made of dough and stuffed with... well, stuff. The stuff in question, however, is what gets them rated so highly. Italy's already treasured and emulated around the world for its superb cheeses and produce, and when they all get stuffed into a dumpling, it's obligated to be one of the top three. BUT NOT QUITE NUMBER ONE."


"You haven't lived until you've tried xiaolongbao, the Chinese soup dumpling. These steamed treasures are marvels of Eastern engineering, and contain ACTUAL SOUP and delicious pork filling. How do they get the soup in there? Well, the broth is turned into a gel and added into the filling before the entire package is steamed to perfection and served on a bamboo platter. It's warm and comforting, savory, soupy, and meaty all rolled up into one. It is the ideal dumpling."
Yeah, right.


Has Steve Israel Found The Next Alex Sink?


Courtesy of Joel Cantor
Joel Cantor’s mansion, built in 2010, was rented for four days in August during the Republican National Convention for $25,000

The DCCC and EMILY's List having massively screwed up her campaign, Alex Sink will not subject herself to a rematch with now-Congressman David Jolly in November. That leaves Rev. Manuel Sykes as the official Democrat candidate. But if Steve Israel is going to lose again in Pinellas County, Manuel Sykes is not the candidate he plans to waste millions on. The DCCC has been beating the bushes looking for another deep-pocketed self-funding centrist, a… you know… a "problem solver," preferably one with no stands on any of the divisive policy issues that divide progressives and reactionaries. And they seem to have their sucker on the hook. Real estate developer Joel Cantor says he'll jump in if Israel guarantees he can have the nomination without a pesky primary from some progressive true-believer.

Cantor has been a moderately generous donor to the Democratic Establishment, $10,000 to the DNC, $7,500 to Obama's reelection, no money to actual candidates but nice chunks to the Democratic Party of Ohio, of Pennsylvania, of Virginia, of Colorado, or North Carolina, of Nevada, of Wisconsin, of Iowa, of New Hampshire and, of course, of Florida. Previously he had only contributed to the Florida Republican Party and the NRC. But the high-end high-rise developer admits he's been talking to the DCCC about running against Jolly. All Florida candidates who plan to be on the ballot need to qualify this week. It's all over on Friday.
According to one of the state’s leading Democratic fundraisers, developer and real estate investor Joel Cantor is interested in challenging Republican David Jolly this November.

...The DCCC confirmed Monday morning that Cantor is indeed looking at running.

“Congressman David Jolly has been in office just over a month and he’s already facing a backlash from Pinellas residents for breaking his hollow campaign promises,” said DCCC spokesman David Bergstein. “Joel Cantor is one of several strong potential candidates w‎ho are taking a serious look at this race.” …Cantor appears to be a reluctant candidate and only interested in running if the DCCC can assure him that the field is cleared for him to challenge Jolly. Even then, Cantor is said to be hesitant about putting his private-sector work on hold to run for public office.
Oh, and before he was a real estate developer-- he was a Wall Street bankster ... what could be a better pick as a candidate for Steve Israel? He worked for Chase and then Salomon Brothers in real estate finance and I bet the Republican opposition research team will come up with some awesome stuff that will inoculate former sleazy lobbyist David Jolly from any kind of serious concerns about reelection.

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CA-33: Dual Endorsement-- Ted Lieu And Marianne Williamson


Ted Lieu and Marianne Williamson-- every district should get this lucky!

Rarely does a district get even one candidate running for Congress as stellar as either state Senator Ted Lieu or inspirational author Marianne Williamson, let alone two. Why can't my district-- right next door-- have someone good running for Congress? In fact, the very first time I spoke with Marianne was to beg her to run against Blue Dog warmonger Adam Schiff. At the time, her home was right on the boundary between the two districts. It was almost as though she was a Waxman constituent in the living room and a Schiff constituent in the bathroom. But Marianne felt she knew her base… and she knew where they live.

Since then, I've written dozens of posts about Marianne, her platform and her campaign. She goes beyond the idea of "more Democrats" or even "more and better Democrats." She's the next step-- Better Than A Democrat… like Bernie Sanders. Sunday, following the powerful endorsement from Keith Ellison a couple weeks ago, Alan Grayson endorsed her: "Marianne Williamson has taught us that ‘playing small doesn’t serve the world.’ Every Member of Congress needs to hear those words. We all need to ‘play big,’ and create a world where each one of us is free to-- in Marianne Williamson’s words-- ‘let our own light shine.’ In a nation where Marianne Williamson helps to make the laws, our differences will no longer divide us; they will be cultivated and nurtured and cherished, so that every one of us can be all that he or she can be."

If all the candidates running were tools and mealy-mouthed conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party like Wendy Greuel and Matt Miller or even just garden variety Democrats, Blue America would have had no problem in standing with Ellison and Grayson and urging people to vote for Marianne. Well, we are urging people to vote for Marianne-- but we are also urging people to vote for Ted. He's an extraordinary legislator who, despite being a Democrat, is likely to have a substantive impact on making the progressive vision a reality.

Marianne's charisma and ability to communicate to people who politicians usually can't reach, is very powerful and very much needed by the progressive movement. Ted's ability to see a problem and figure out how to address it legislatively and politically is a more traditional, but no less consequential, way of looking at a candidate's qualifications. Put those traits together and you have… well, Alan Grayson or Elizabeth Warren.

The first time I met Ted in person was quite a time after I had already met Marianne. It was at John Amato's birthday party in Santa Monica. In preparation I went back to an old Calitics post then-Assemblyman Ted Lieu had written in 2008, Enough Is Enough. I was impressed that he began by referencing a popular film. "Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street," he wrote, "famously said, 'Greed is good . . . Greed is right, greed works.' Real life Wall Street, however, reminds us that excessive and unregulated greed wrecked havoc in the mortgage industry and took down our economy. The core cause of the chaos in our financial sector was the unregulated selling of unsuitable and risky subprime home loans that resulted in a massive wave of foreclosures." Eventually Ted became chairman of the Banking Committee and made it his mission to solve the problems endemic for consumers dealing with crooked mortgage banksters.
During the mortgage boom, industry players became addicted to the drug of high-yield, adjustable rate subprime mortgages that they foisted on borrowers. Raking in massive quarterly and annual bonuses, corporate executives didn't care if borrowers could repay the mortgages a few years later. It was greed on speed, the future be damned, and now all of us are suffering the consequences.

The collapse of financial giants Lehman Brothers, Ameriquest, IndyMac Bank, and New Century Financial; the fire sales of the venerable Merrill Lynch, the lawsuit-challenged Countrywide, and WaMu and Wachovia; and the existing taxpayer bailouts of AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac would NOT have happened if effective laws were in place to prevent predatory and unsuitable home loan products and practices from occurring in the first place.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan contributed to the financial meltdown by taking actions that artificially inflated the housing bubble; promoting risky, adjustable rate mortgages; and worst of all keeping government from effectively regulating the mortgage industry. In hindsight his decisions were absolutely and categorically wrong in every way possible.

While we wait for Mr. Greenspan to apologize, his successor, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and Treasury Secretary Paulson have unveiled the largest government intervention in the free market in the history of the world. Taxpayer bailouts of large corporations do nothing to reform the broken mortgage system. While we may be forced to do a short-term fix, ultimately what is needed is fundamental reform.

Several states have passed effective laws to prevent predatory practices and the making of bad loans.  California's legislature put on Governor's Schwarzenegger's desk AB 1830 (Lieu), a comprehensive subprime mortgage reform bill. This bill, which received bipartisan support, bans predatory subprime loan practices and exotic, overly risky and unsuitable loan products.  Unfortunately, Governor Schwarzenegger catered to a few special interest groups in the mortgage industry and vetoed AB 1830.

Despite Governor Schwarzenegger's mistake, there is an opportunity nationally for fundamental reform. If the Bush Administration wants to use your hard-earned money to bail out Wall Street, then taxpayers should demand major industry reforms. First, industry should agree that they will no longer fight mortgage reforms such as those contained in AB 1830. Second, industry should agree to fix executive compensation so that the Gordon Geckos of Wall Street are not incentivized to place short-term profits above long-term financial health.

Third, we need to slow down the number of foreclosures and stabilize home prices or the problems will get even worse. This can be done by granting bankruptcy judges the ability to modify loans on the borrower's place of residence, and by following the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's lead of imposing a foreclosure moratorium.

Approximately 1,300 foreclosure filings occur every day in California, the worst in the nation. By the time you finish reading this article, another foreclosure filing would have occurred. This is unacceptable and has to stop.

If we are going to give massive corporate welfare to banks, then taxpayers better get something in return.  It is time to reform the mortgage industry and Wall Street. Enough is enough.
It took him 3 tries to pass. Banksters got their conservative allies to oppose it of course and when Ted did get it passed, Gray Davis, a conservative Democrat very much like Wendy Greuel and Matt Miller, vetoed it. The next time Ted got it passed, the banks were too embarrassed to fight it too hard and Arnold Schwarzenegger actually signed it. Most legislators don't have that kind of tenacity and force of character to take on the Establishment over and over. We think both our candidates are awesome. It will be really tough if they have to face off in November after the jungle primary. Every district should be so lucky to have to make that kind of a choice!

UPDTE: Ted Lieu's First TV Spot Goes After NSA Domestic Spying

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Many New York Democrats Plan To Hold Their Noses When They Vote For Cuomo In November-- Or Will They?


On Sunday, Steve Kornacki took a little look at the expanding rift between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and much of the Democratic base. It's worth looking at the video above. Salon's Joan Walsh did a particularly excellent job straightening out Beltway political entrepreneur Ann Lewis, who actually defended Cuomo by quoting Ronald Reagan. I'm not going to get into speculating about what the Working Families Party may or may not do, beyond saying that with the union leadership telling them they;re on their own, they probably won't do much. Still, good segment from Kornacki.

What would make this interesting would be if, for whatever reason, Hillary decides not to run. Were that to happen-- which I don't expect-- there are a whole bunch of centrists, Cuomo being the worst of them, but also Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, and-- a little more right of center--Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who have signaled they are eager to run. And then there's progressive icon Elizabeth Warren, who says she doesn't want to run, but who's new book, A Fighting Chance sounds like she'd be completely prepared to make a rip-roaring' declaration speech. Her supporters really want her to run. Unlike the other candidates, her supporters are real people.

This is the book's prologue:
I’m Elizabeth Warren. I’m a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. For nearly all my life, I would have said I’m a teacher, but I guess I really can’t say that anymore. Now I’d have to introduce myself as a United States senator, though I still feel a small jolt of surprise whenever I say that.

This is my story, and it’s a story born of gratitude.

My daddy was a maintenance man and my mother worked the phones at Sears. More than anything, my parents wanted to give my three older brothers and me a future. And all four of us have lived good lives. My oldest brother, Don Reed, served twenty years in the military, with 288 combat missions in Vietnam to his credit. In good years, my brother John had a union job operating a crane, and in leaner years he took whatever construction work he could get. My brother David had a special spark; he started his own business, and when that didn’t work out, he started another business, because he couldn’t imagine a world where he wasn’t living by his wits every day. I went to college and became a teacher, first for special-needs kids and then for law students; only much later did I get involved in politics. My brothers and I all married and had children, and my parents plastered their walls, their refrigerator, and their tabletops with pictures of their much-loved grandchildren.

I will be grateful to my mother and daddy until the day I die. They worked hard-- really hard-- to help my brothers and me along. But we also succeeded, at least in part, because we were lucky enough to grow up in an America that invested in kids like us and helped build a future where we could flourish.

Here’s the hard truth: America isn’t building that kind of future any longer.

Today the game is rigged-- rigged to work for those who have money and power. Big corporations hire armies of lobbyists to get billion-dollar loopholes into the tax system and persuade their friends in Congress to support laws that keep the playing field tilted in their favor. Meanwhile, hardworking families are told that they’ll just have to live with smaller dreams for their children.

Over the past generation, America’s determination to give every kid access to affordable college or technical training has faded. The basic infrastructure that helps us build thriving businesses and jobs-- the roads, bridges, and power grids-- has crumbled. The scientific and medical research that has sparked miraculous cures and inventions from the Internet to nanotechnology is starved for funding, and the research pipeline is shrinking. The optimism that defines us as a people has been beaten and bruised.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I am determined-- fiercely determined-- to do everything I can to help us once again be the America that creates opportunities for anyone who works hard and plays by the rules. An America of accountability and fair play. An America that builds a future for not just some of our children but for all of our children. An America where everyone gets what I got: a fighting chance.

My story seems pretty unlikely, even to me. I never expected to run for office-- but then again, I never expected to do a lot of things in my life. I never expected to climb a mountain. I never expected to meet the president of the United States. I never expected to be a blonde. But here I am.

The story starts in Oklahoma, where I grew up, and it tumbles through a life built around husbands and babies and setting the kitchen on fire. I made my way to a commuter college, a teaching job, a public law school, and, eventually, a professorship. As I started weaving in academic research, I became more and more worried about what was happening to America’s families, and the story shifted to Washington, where I picked my first public fight. In 1995, I agreed to take on what I thought would be some part-time public service for a couple of years, and I quickly got caught up in a battle over our nation’s bankruptcy law. I know that sounds a little obscure, but underneath it was a clash about whether our government exists to serve giant banks or struggling families.

The battle lasted much longer than I’d expected-- a full ten years, in fact. My own life threaded through, of course, with graduations and funerals and grandchildren of my own. When that battle ended, I picked up another, and then another and another-- a total of five big fights in all. They ranged from fighting for a fresh start for families who had suffered a job loss or a serious illness, to trying to force the government to be transparent about what was really going on with the bank bailout, to tangling with the big banks over dishonest mortgages. But the way I see it, even as they took me this way and that, all five battles were about a single, deeper threat: America’s middle class is under attack. Worse, it’s not under attack by some unstoppable force of nature. It’s in trouble because the game is deliberately rigged.

This book tells a very public story about fraud and bailouts and elections. It also tells a very personal story about mothers and daughters, day care and dogs, aging parents and cranky toddlers. It’s not meant to be a definitive account of any historical event-- it’s just what I saw and what I lived. It’s also a story about losing, learning, and getting stronger along the way. It’s a story about what’s worth fighting for, and how sometimes, even when we fight against very powerful opponents, we can win.

I never expected to go to Washington. Heck, for the most part I never even wanted to go. But I’m here to fight for something that I believe is worth absolutely everything: to give each one of our kids a fighting chance to build a future full of promise and discovery.
She was on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, explaining why she left the Republican Party. Her explanation (below) will probably make a lot of sense, not just to Democrats and independents, but to more than a few Republicans as well… though probably not to Andrew Cuomo.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Most Are, But Not Every Congressional Whore The Kochs Use To Sabotage Green Energy Is A Republican


It's very hard to trace the Koch cash sloshing around American politics; it's meant to be hard. They funnel so much money into so many right-wing groups that it would be a full time job to sort it all out. Perhaps it's safe to assume, though, that the recipients of legalistic bribes from Koch Industries directly are among those most devoted to the Koch war against democracy. In the last cycle, Koch Industries alone doled out almost $2,000,000 to candidates for Congress, all but $40,737 of it to Republicans. Koch Industries knew exactly which corrupt Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party to give a taste:
John Barrow (Blue Dog/New Dem-GA)- $10,000
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- $10,000
Mark Pryor (AR)- $10,000
Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR)- $5,000
Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK)- $2,000
Mary Landrieu (LA)- $2,000
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)- $1,250
Bruce Shuttleworth (VA)- $287
Rob Wallace (Blue Dog-OK)- $200
Serious money, of course, went to Koch addicts in the GOP like their own personal congressional shill, Mike Pompeo (R-KS) who walked away with $110,000. Their 5 biggest investments in Congress went towards trying to win Senate seats... and all 5 attempts failed miserably:
George Allen (R-VA)- $45,000
Connie Mack (R-FL)- $33,500
Denny Rehberg (R-MT)- $29,000
Richard Mourdock (R-IN)- $28,500
Rick Berg (R-ND)- $26,500
So far this cycle, Koch Industries has given $852,100 to congressional candidates, all but 6 to members of the party they already own. The half dozen who received the biggest bribes so far-- and the cycle is young and the spending is just ramping up-- are:
Mike Pompeo (R-KS)- $48,900
John Boehner (R-OH)- $20,200
John Cornyn (R-TX)- $17,900
Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)- $15,000
Bill Flores (R-TX)- $13,000
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $10,500
Blue Dogs and New Dems on the Koch gravy train so far this year were Barrow ($5,000), Jim Matheson ($5,000), Collin Peterson ($2,000), Sanford Bishop ($1,000), Eric Swalwell (not exactly a Blue Dog-CA- $1,000), and conservative Delaware Senator Chris Coons ($250).

Last night the editorial board of the NY Times, in an editorial, The Koch Attack on Solar Energy wrote "At long last, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have found a new tax they can support. Naturally it’s a tax on something the country needs: solar energy panels." Tuesday we looked at how much Koch money has accomplished in putting the brakes on the development of Oklahoma's green energy industry, even though solar and wind energy are the most cost-efficient alternative source of electricity.
For the last few months, the Kochs and other big polluters have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, which have been adopted by most states. They particularly dislike state laws that allow homeowners with solar panels to sell power they don’t need back to electric utilities. So they’ve been pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive.

Oklahoma lawmakers recently approved such a surcharge at the behest of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative group that often dictates bills to Republican statehouses and receives financing from the utility industry and fossil-fuel producers, including the Kochs. As the Los Angeles Times reported recently, the Kochs and ALEC have made similar efforts in other states, though they were beaten back by solar advocates in Kansas and the surtax was reduced to $5 a month in Arizona.

But the Big Carbon advocates aren’t giving up. The same group is trying to repeal or freeze Ohio’s requirement that 12.5 percent of the state’s electric power come from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2025. Twenty-nine states have established similar standards that call for 10 percent or more in renewable power. These states can now anticipate well-financed campaigns to eliminate these targets or scale them back.

The coal producers’ motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. (It is slightly higher in California and Hawaii.) But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy. In 2013, 29 percent of newly installed generation capacity came from solar, compared with 10 percent in 2012.

Renewables are good for economic as well as environmental reasons, as most states know. (More than 143,000 now work in the solar industry.) Currently, 43 states require utilities to buy excess power generated by consumers with solar arrays. This practice, known as net metering, essentially runs electric meters backward when power flows from rooftop solar panels into the grid, giving consumers a credit for the power they generate but don’t use.

The utilities hate this requirement, for obvious reasons. A report by the Edison Electric Institute, the lobbying arm of the power industry, says this kind of law will put “a squeeze on profitability,” and warns that if state incentives are not rolled back, “it may be too late to repair the utility business model.”

Since that’s an unsympathetic argument, the utilities have devised another: Solar expansion, they claim, will actually hurt consumers. The Arizona Public Service Company, the state’s largest utility, funneled large sums through a Koch operative to a nonprofit group that ran an ad claiming net metering would hurt older people on fixed incomes by raising electric rates. The ad tried to link the requirement to President Obama. Another Koch ad (below) likens the renewable-energy requirement to health care reform, the ultimate insult in that world. “Like Obamacare, it’s another government mandate we can’t afford,” the narrator says.

That line might appeal to Tea Partiers, but it’s deliberately misleading. This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change.

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