Tag: 2016

IMPEACH SESSIONS

While under oath during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, then-U.S. Senator, and now-U.S. Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III claimed, “…I did not have contact with the Russians.”

As multiple media outlets are now reporting, Sessions did, in fact, have contact with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, on at least two occassions during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with the top Russian diplomat in Washington whose interactions with President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn led to Flynn’s firing, according to the Justice Department.

[…]

Sessions met with (Sergey) Kislyak twice, in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention, and in September in his office when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services committee. Sessions was an early Trump backer and regular surrogate for him as a candidate.

Regardless of what type of communication took place between Sessions and Kislyak, two indisputable facts are important here. First, Sessions told a U.S. Senate committee that he “…did not have contact with the Russians”. Secondly, and contrary to Sessions’s statement under oath, there are at least two documented instances of Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

The fact that Sessions committed perjury during his confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General is grounds for impeachment. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for Sessions to resign the office of U.S. Attorney General. I am not an attorney or a Member of Congress, but Sessions should either resign from office or face at least one impeachment charge (for perjury).

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The 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

As 2016 comes to a close, I hereby present the 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards. The Person of the Year will earn a spot on the list of members of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner. Starting in 2017, listings of individuals on the list of recipients of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner will become separate from the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards.

PERSON OF THE YEAR – JENNIFER WEISS-WOLF

2016 was, all around, an awful year for progressives, both in the United States and worldwide. However, one bright spot in progressive advocacy is Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a women’s rights advocate from New York City. Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy for increased access to feminine hygiene products in public restrooms and advocacy for abolition of sales taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products has earned her support for her ideas from Democrats and even a few Republicans. States like New York and Illinois have eliminated sales taxes on tampon thanks to Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy, and Weiss’s hometown of New York City has mandated that tampons be made freely available in public restrooms of city schools, jails, and shelters. Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2016.

ELECTED OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – BERNIE SANDERS

For the second time in consecutive years, Sanders, who represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, is the recipient of a ProgMid award. Although Sanders didn’t win his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and isn’t technically a Democrat, he has had a significant and largely positive impact on the Democratic Party. Sanders successfully pushed to make the national Democratic Party platform, which is non-binding for Democratic candidates, more progressive than in previous years and decades. Sanders helped bring progressive policies like making higher education truly affordable, single-payer health insurance, and expanding Social Security into the American political mainstream, even though none of those ideas will be enacted in the near future, at least at a national level. Furthermore, Sanders’s candidacy has led to the creation of the DNC’s Unity Commission, which will examine potential reforms to the Democratic presidential nomination process for the 2020 presidential election and future presidential elections after 2020. For his advocacy for progressive ideals and his efforts to improve the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is the ProgMid Elected Official of the Year for 2016.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – LILLY KING

While 2016 was a banner year for the far-right Vladimir Putin regime in Russia, one thing that did not go well for Russia this year was their performance in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Russia sent considerably fewer athletes to Rio than originally planned after the Putin regime was caught running a large-scale doping operation. Even worse for the Russians, they were completely embarrassed by Lilly King of the United States, who, after publicly criticizing Russia’s Yuliya Yefimova for doping, defeated Yefimova in the pool for the gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke swimming event. King was also a member of the U.S. team that won gold in the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay in Rio. For continuing the time-honored tradition of Americans defeating Russians in international sport, and for promoting ethical competition in sport, Lilly King is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2016.

PLACE OF THE YEAR – REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA

While the far-right has gained significant ground worldwide, Austria is, to an extent, an exception. Austrians rejected a far-right presidential candidate not once, but twice, in 2016. In the first of effectively two presidential elections held in Austria in 2016, left-leaning European federalist candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received more votes than far-right fascist candidate Norbert Hofer in a runoff election after no candidate received an outright majority of the vote in the first round of the first election. However, the Constitutional Court of Austria annulled the runoff results because Hofer complained of election irregularities, resulting in the runoff being re-held. Voters gave Van der Bellen an even larger majority in the re-run of the runoff, and Hofer finally conceded. For rejecting a fascist would-be head of state not once, but twice, in the same year, the Republic of Austria is the ProgMid Place of the Year for 2016.

 

CONCEPT OF THE YEAR – POLITICAL RESISTANCE

As I’m sure that virtually everybody who reads this blog knows, Republican Donald Trump won this year’s presidential election despite winning a minority of the national popular vote. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen more than a few people on the left, and even many establishment Democrats, call for a non-violent political resistance to the incoming Trump Administration. With a barrage of right-wing federal legislation likely to be enacted starting early next year, progressives are going to expect resistance from the Democratic minorities in both houses of Congress. Political resistance is the ProgMid Concept of the Year for 2016.

Donald Trump implicated in Scott Walker corruption scandal in Wisconsin

A recent leak of documents from the John Doe II investigation into allegations that Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) illegally coordinated with outside political groups (most notably the Wisconsin chapter of the right-wing group Club for Growth), has, yet again, shown that the Walker Administration in Wisconsin is grotesquely corrupt. You can view the documents here, and the British newspaper The Guardian has a special feature on the document release here.

As evidenced by the leaked documents, the corruption trail is so deep in Wisconsin, it leads right up to the individual that the Republican Party nominated for President of the United States in this year’s presidential election, Donald Trump.

According to a recently leaked email, Walker was scheduled to meet with Donald Trump at 725 Fifth Avenue in New York City on the afternoon of April 3, 2012. 725 Fifth Avenue is the street address of Trump Tower, the headquarters of Donald Trump’s business empire. At the time, Walker was facing a recall attempt against him, with the recall election scheduled for June of that year (Walker went on to survive the recall attempt against him).

On the exact same day that Walker was scheduled to meet with Trump, Trump wrote a check, a photocopy of which was recently leaked, for $15,000. The check was not written either to Scott Walker personally or to Friends of Scott Walker, Walker’s official gubernatorial campaign committee, but instead to “Wisconsin Club for Growth Inc.”. Wisconsin Club for Growth is an outside political group that has spent millions of dollars supporting Republican political efforts in Wisconsin.

I don’t think for one second that Wisconsin Club for Growth receiving a check from Trump on the same day Walker met with Trump is merely a coincidence. In fact, the document leak, at a minimum, suggests that Trump has been an active player in Republican corruption in Wisconsin.

I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the 2016 presidential election

Since it’s clear to me that Bernie Sanders is likely not winning the Iowa caucuses barring higher turnout than what the final Ann Seltzer poll has predicted, I’ll predict a few things, all of which are shocking to most people on here:

  1. Bernie probably will drop out of the presidential race late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, and he’ll stay completely out of the presidential race from that point forward.
  2. Bernie will not endorse a presidential candidate once he’s no longer running, and he won’t seek anyone’s vice-presidential nomination.
  3. Bernie will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2018, although he’ll continue to serve the people of Vermont until his current term in the Senate is over.
  4. Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic presidential nominee, and she will lose the general election to Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Will I vote for Hillary in the general election if she’s the Democratic presidential nominee? Barring an indictment of Hillary before the general election (extremely unlikely, and it’s not been confirmed as to whether or not Hillary is actually under criminal investigation), yes. However, indictment or no indictment, Donald Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States. That’s because Bernie doesn’t appear to have a realistic path to the Democratic nomination if he loses the Iowa caucuses, and, since Hillary lacks any kind of appeal to working-class voters, Trump, who does have appeal to working-class voters willing to vote for a ultra-wealthy racist, can take advantage of that by running a downright nasty campaign that would make Richard Nixon’s political campaigns of the 1960’s and the 1970’s look tame by comparison. Although I would not join them, I would predict that about 15% of Bernie supporters would go to Trump if it’s a Hillary vs. Trump race.

While I still think that there’s a slight chance that Bernie wins the Iowa caucuses (he’d need significant support among late Democratic registrants, however), If this is how the decades-long political career of Bernie Sandes comes to an end, it would be just an awful way for it to end.

Bernie Sanders forces Donald Trump to flip-flop on raising wages

For all of Donald Trump’s bluster about the Clintons, there’s one presidential candidate that Trump is truly scared of, and his last name isn’t Clinton:

Bernie (Sanders) has consistently maintained that Trump supporters are working class people who are taking out their grievances on minorities and others, rather than addressing the rigged political and socio-economic system that has let them down. Bernie has for some time been saying that Trump is a demagogue who does “what demagogues do … scapegoating others.” And Bernie has asserted that his message of economic justice would resonate with those voters, and he could peel away many Trump supporters.

But on CBS Face the Nation last week he seems to have struck bone.

“This is a guy who does not want to raise minimum wage,” he said of Trump. “In fact, he has said that wages in America are too high.”

Trump responded to Bernie exposing Trump’s big weakness with the white, working-class voters he’d need to win a general election for president by…you guessed it…flip-flopping on raising wages:

Make no mistake about it, white, working-class voters are going to decide the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton has virtually zero appeal to white, working-class voters, so she’d lose badly to Trump. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is an ardent economic progressive who can appeal to white, working-class voters left behind by both a Democratic establishment that openly attacks them and a Republican Party that is hell bent on destroying their livelihoods.

The First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

For the first time ever, this blog will be awarding end-of-the-year awards to several individuals who I consider to be effective at advancing progressive causes during the year, regardless of whether or not one meets the typical criteria of being politically progressive or not. This is the first annual awarding of the Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015. All ProgMid Award winners for this year and years in the future are automatically inducted into the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner.

The award categories for the first ProgMid Awards are as follows:

  • Person of the Year
  • Man of the Year
  • Woman of the Year
  • American of the Year
  • International Person of the Year
  • Group of the Year
  • Athlete of the Year
  • Blogger of the Year
  • Activist of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year
  • Entertainer of the Year
  • Young Person of the Year

There are two important notes regarding the awards:

  • Many award recipients will receive multiple awards. For example, if the Person of the Year in a given year is a female athlete from Canada, she would win Person of the Year, Woman of the Year, International Person of the Year, and Athlete of the Year.
  • Should multiple people or a group of people win award(s) other than Group of the Year, the plural form of the name(s) of the other award(s) will be used (People, Men, Women, Americans, International People, Athletes, Bloggers, Activists, Elected Officials, Entertainers, and/or Young People).

With that said, I hereby present the First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015!

Person of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Person of the Year is the only open ProgMid Award category.

No person has made a bigger impact on advancing progressive causes in the year 2015 than Bernie Sanders. Bernie, the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont, is currently seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 elections, and he has made improving America’s economy a key part of his campaign. Bernie has publicly championed raising the U.S. minimum wage to $15/hour, guaranteeing paid family leave, making college in America truly affordable, breaking up large financial institutions, and many other progressive ideals. Bernie is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2015.

Man of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Men are eligible for the Man of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is male, Bernie is also the ProgMid Man of the Year for 2015.

Woman of the Year – Rachel Notley

Women are eligible for the Woman of the Year Award.

In Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province, Rachel Notley led the Alberta New Democratic Party to a landslide victory in the Alberta legislative general election in May of 2015, and, as a result of the election, Notley became Premier of Alberta. Notley and her party ran on a progressive platform that championed good government, Alberta’s environment, economic justice, and common sense, and they won in a very conservative part of Canada. Notley is the ProgMid Woman of the Year for 2015.

American of the Year – Bernie Sanders

In order for one to be eligible for the American of the Year Award, one must be a United States citizen, United States national, resident of the United States, or some combination thereof.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an American, Bernie is also the ProgMid American of the Year for 2015.

International Person of the Year – Rachel Notley

Those who are not eligible for the American of the Year Award are eligible for the International Person of the Year Award.

Since the Woman of the Year, Rachel Notley, is a Canadian, Notley is also the ProgMid International Person of the Year for 2015.

Group of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

The Group of the Year Award is the only ProgMid Award that is required to be awarded to a group of people.

In response to racism, police brutality, and police shootings of black people in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of progressive activists seeking reform of the criminal justice system and increased accountability of law enforcement in America, has brought the issues of criminal justice reform and law enforcement accountability to the forefront of American politics. Black Lives Matter is the ProgMid Group of the Year for 2015.

Athlete of the Year – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Professional athletes and individuals primarily known for being amateur athletes (including, but not limited to, collegiate athletes and amateur Olympic athletes) are eligible for the Athlete of the Year Award.

Although one would usually not think of a NASCAR driver as advancing a progressive cause, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. played an important role in building public support for taking down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When asked about his thoughts about the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. called the Confederate flag “offensive to an entire race” and said that the Confederate flag “belongs in the history books, and that’s about it”. For his condemnation of the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2015.

Blogger of the Year – Kelly Wilz

Those who are an administrator of, editor of, author of, and/or contributor to a blog are eligible for the Blogger of the Year Award.

One of the newest members of the progressive blogosphere is Kelly Wilz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. Wilz is also the author of the progressive political blog Dissent and Cookies, which launched in May of 2015. As a blogger, Wilz has primarily focused on ending rape culture in America and supporting tenure protections for college professors, both of which are very important causes. Wilz is the 2015 ProgMid Blogger of the Year.

Activists of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

Those who are largely or primarily known for being a political activist are eligible for the Activist of the Year Award.

Since the Group of the Year, the Black Lives Matter movement, is a group of political activists, members of the Black Lives Matter movement are also the 2015 ProgMid Activists of the Year.

Elected Official of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Those who were a public official elected either directly by the people or elected by a body elected by the people (such as the U.S. Electoral College) at any point in the year in which the award is given are eligible for the Elected Official of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an incumbent elected official, Bernie is also the 2015 ProgMid Elected Official of the Year.

Entertainer of the Year – Jon Stewart

Those who are entertainers (actors/actresses, comedians/comediennes, musicians, sports announcers, radio show hosts, television show hosts, etc.) are eligible for the Entertainer of the Year Award.

While Jon Stewart left the anchor desk of the Comedy Central news satire program The Daily Show in August of this year, Stewart has not abandoned the first responders who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stewart passionately advocated for, and won, renewal of federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders. Stewart is the 2015 ProgMid Entertainer of the Year.

Young Person of the Year – Keanan Sargent

In order to be eligible for the Young Person of the Year Award, one must be less than 18 years of age on December 31 of the year in which the award is given.

At an August 2015 LGBT pride parade and rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Keanan Sargent, the then-nine-year-old son of Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent, did something incredibly creative when confronted by homophobia. Keanan used balloons to obscure a sign that anti-LGBT protesters were displaying at the pride parade and rally. For his creativity and progressive values, Keanan Sargent is the 2015 ProgMid Young Person of the Year.

Hillary donors claim that Bernie is raising more money than Hillary

Well, this is interesting, to put it mildly…many of Hillary Clinton’s campaign donors expect Bernie Sanders to raise more money than her when the next round of federal campaign finance reports are filed next month, according to this POLITICO report:

Hillary Clinton’s donors say they think Bernie Sanders will raise more money in the fourth quarter than their candidate for the first time ever — a testament to the underdog’s online cash juggernaut and a harbinger of donor fatigue among the front-runner’s backers.

[…]

…Over the past few days, Clinton’s advisers have taken steps to stoke donor enthusiasm: Bill and Chelsea Clinton, who on Monday announced she is pregnant with her second child, have stepped up their fundraising for the campaign. They are expected to become even more involved in the campaign beginning in January.

And many of the donors POLITICO has interviewed over the last few months say the widespread perception that’s she’s a shoo-in is prompting would-be donors to remain on the sidelines — waiting to throw their financial support behind her for the only race they believe truly matters — the general election.

It’s also worth noting that the Bernie fundraising strategy of relying virtually entirely on small donors has one big advantage: Bernie can get many of the same small donors to donate to his campaign over and over again. This stands in contrast to the Hillary fundraising strategy, as many of Hillary’s big-money donors have already donated the maximum amount of money that one can legally donate to a federal campaign committee.

Obama Administration now trying to sabotage Bernie Sanders campaign

I’ve made no bones about how much I’ve come to despise the Obama Administration. In particular, President Obama has tried to cut Social Security benefits to retirees, and he’s fought to destroy American sovereignty by enacting free trade agreements that allow foreign countries to steal our jobs.

Now, the Obama Administration has really gone too far by blocking internet access to the official Bernie Sanders campaign website on military computers. This has been confirmed by multiple members of the U.S. Armed Forces and a group representing pro-Bernie veterans. For the Obama White House to block the campaign website of a presidential candidate on military computers is highly undemocratic and an impeachable offense for President Obama and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. I am calling for President Obama to issue an executive order requiring the Defense Department to allow access to all presidential and downballot campaign websites on military computers. Individual members of our Armed Forces can support any presidential candidate they want, but I will not tolerate political sabotage of any kind.

Interestingly, active-duty Armed Forces members can access the Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R) campaign websites just fine. I think we know who Obama is backing…

Why the Bernie Sanders campaign probably has a solid case against the DNC

Although I am not an attorney, having read the lawsuit filed by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over the ongoing voter list controversy, it’s pretty clear to me that the DNC and their voter list vendor did not follow proper procedure for dealing with the breach of the DNC master voter list.

Paragraph 13 of the lawsuit (pages 3-4) quotes part of the agreement that the Bernie campaign signed with the voter list vendor:

In view of the national political importance of the Campaign — and by extension, the importance of the Voter Data and the Agreement — the Agreement substantially restricts both Parties’ rights of termination to cases of prolonged and voluntary breach. The Agreement states, in relevant part:

Either party may terminate this Agreement in the event that the other party breaches this Agreement; the non-breaching party sends written notice to the breaching party describing the breach, and the breaching party does not cure the breach to the satisfaction of the non-breaching party within ten (10) calendar days following its receipt of such notice.

That is a very important part of the Bernie campaign’s argument, since this is clearly a contract law case.

Paragraph 14 (page 4) describes how what was outlined in Paragraph 13 is the only legal method of stripping the Bernie campaign of access to the voter list:

The Agreement does not permit either Party to suspend its performance of the Agreement prior to terminating the Agreement in accordance with the provision above.

In other words, the only way that the DNC and their vendor can legally deny Bernie access to the voter files is through the ten-day process described in Paragraph 13.

Paragraphs 20-22 (page 5) describes the glitch in the voter list database that allowed the breach to take place:

On the morning of December 16, 2015, NGP VAN released a modification (the “Release”) to the software that the Campaign and other candidates use to access Voter Data.

This Release contained a critical security flaw (the “Bug”) that allowed the Campaign and other presidential candidates to view Confidential Information disclosed by competing campaigns.

The Bug was resolved within approximately four hours, by the afternoon of December 16, 2015.

Paragraph 24 (page 6) outlines the Bernie campaign’s role as the breaching party:

Before the Bug could be resolved, several staff members of the Campaign accessed and viewed Confidential Information (the “Disclosed Information”) disclosed to the DNC by the 2016 campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (the “Competing Campaign”).

Paragraph 27 (page 6) describes the DNC’s violation of the contract between the vendor and the Bernie campaign:

On December 17, 2015, at approximately 2:47 p.m., the DNC suspended or terminated the Campaign’s Voter Data access. The suspension or termination of the Campaign’s access was undertaken without contractual cause, and in contravention of the Agreement’s termination protocols.

To put that another way, the DNC suspended the Bernie campaign’s access to the master voter list only one day after the breach occurred, and without following the ten-day process for terminating the contract outlined in the contract between the Bernie campaign and the voter list vendor. I’m not an attorney, but this looks like a solid case for the Bernie campaign.