Tag: report

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.

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No surrender

No surrender

I haven’t written much about Illinois state politics in recent months, largely because there’s not much going on due to the ongoing state government shutdown.

However, the website of The New York Times has published this report on how a handful of wealthy individuals, some of which aren’t Illinois residents, are holding the state of Illinois hostage by way of big-money politics:

In the months since, Mr. (Kenneth C.) Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.

Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.

[…]

Many of those giving, like Mr. Griffin, come from the world of finance, an industry that has yielded more of the new political wealth than any other. The Florida-based leveraged-buyout pioneer John Childs, the private equity investor Sam Zell and Paul Singer, a prominent New York hedge fund manager, all helped elect Mr. Rauner, as did Richard Uihlein, a conservative businessman from the Chicago suburbs.

In short, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on his gubernatorial campaign last year, also spent millions upon millions of dollars of money from a handful of wealthy individuals, and now Rauner is holding Illinois hostage by demanding a Scott Walker-style far-right economic agenda that would hurt Illinois’s economy in return for a functional state government.

To the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly and the people of Illinois, I have two words for ya’ll: No surrender! Illinois cannot afford busting unions, driving down wages, making it harder for working Illinoisans who are injured on the job to get workers’ compensation benefits, cuts to pension benefits, and every other item of right-wing economic policy that would hurt Illinois’s economy by taking away disposable income from Illinois consumers. Illinois cannot afford surrendering to Bruce Rauner and his big-money cronies from the finance industry.

(READER DISCRETION ADVISED) Dashcam video of Laquan McDonald shooting shows that McDonald did NOT lunge at officer

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet containing a graphic video depicting a person being shot and killed. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


Earlier today, the police car dashcam video of the shooting and killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke clearly shows that McDonald did not lunge at Van Dyke or any other police officer. In fact, the video shows that, even if McDonald intended to lunge at Van Dyke or a different officer (which is not 100% clear, although McDonald did turn around to face the squad car that the dashcam footage was recorded from right before being shot), he didn’t have time to do so before Van Dyke repeatedly shot McDonald. Van Dyke was immediately behind a white police van when he opened fire on McDonald, and, from the perspective of the dashcam, Van Dyke was shooting from left to right at McDonald.

Here’s the dashcam video:

https://twitter.com/goldietaylor/status/669302334200160256

McDonald was shot a total of 16 times by Van Drew, and McDonald died as a result of the shooting. Van Drew has been officially charged with first-degree murder, which, in Illinois, is punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011), although the case has not yet gone to trial.

Furthermore, Chicago Police have deleted security footage from a Burger King fast food restaurant near the site of the shooting, according to a report from Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV, citing a district manager for Burger King:

https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/669198386420170752

It’s clear to me that the Chicago Police Department tried to cover up evidence of one of their officers shooting and killing a black teenager. Whoever deleted the Burger King security camera footage should, if possible, be charged with destroying evidence or whatever applicable criminal charge would apply in this scenario.

It’s time to abolish charter schools in America

Charter schools are schools that are run with varying levels of autonomy from laws, rules, and regulations that apply to traditional public schools and are granted a charter by either a government entity of some kind (in the U.S., this is either a state-level education authority, a public higher education institution, or a local school district) or a private entity granted charter authorization power by a state or local government entity. In recent decades, charter schools have opened en masse in many U.S. states.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a Wisconsin-based progressive watchdog group, recently conducted research of both a federal program designed to provide funding to charter schools, and they released their report on their findings last month. For supporters of public education and American taxpayers, the findings are not good at all.

At the federal level, there is a little-known federal government program that provides taxpayer-funded grants to charter schools, called the Charter Schools Program State Educational Agencies (CSP SEA). Out of a total of over $3.7 billion in federal funds given out to charter schools since 1995, over $3 billion of that has been given out via the CSP SEA program. Federal charter school grant programs operate with very little accountability or transparency. In fact, the federal government has passed off the primary responsibility of accountability for federal charter school grants to the states, which, in turn, have passed off responsibility for the federal grants to charter school authorizers, some of which are public entities and some of which are private entities. Additionally, there wasn’t anything resembling a public list of charter schools that received CSP SEA funds until CMD repeatedly asked for the federal government to give them a list of such charter schools.

In addition, CMD researched charter school practices in eleven states (California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, New York, Utah, Wisconsin, and Indiana), as well as the District of Columbia. Here’s how federal funding in those jurisdictions was wasted:

  • In California, home to one-fifth of the nation’s charter school students, a total of 13 charter schools closed after receiving a total of over $4.7 million in federal grants.
  • In Indiana, two charter schools that received a total of over $1.4 million in federal grants were closed due to poor student performance, one charter school received a $702,000 federal grant before becoming a private religious school, one charter school that never opened was awarded a $193,000 federal grant, and one charter school that has yet to open was awarded $193,000 federal grant.
  • In Michigan, which provided CMD with the least amount of information regarding charter school funds, nearly $1.75 million in federal grants was paid out to 21 “ghost schools”, or charter schools that never opened.
  • In Ohio, a total of over $4.6 million in federal grants was awarded to a total of 19 charter schools that either closed or never opened.
  • In New York, a nearly $200,000 net discrepancy in 2011-2012 and an over $300,000 net discrepancy in 2012-2013 existed between New York state records on federal charter school grants and federal records on federal charter school grants awarded to New York charter schools.
  • In Texas, a $600,000 federal grant was awarded to a charter school created by the founder of a religious education association.
  • In Utah, the state hasn’t accepted any federal grants for expanding or replicating charter schools, although the state has spent millions in state taxpayer money on charter schools.
  • In Arizona, the federal government has granted roughly $69 million in federal funds for charter schools since 2009, and, from mid-2010 to mid-2014, more than 100 Arizona charter schools closed their doors.
  • In Colorado, the federal government has awarded up to $81 million in federal grants for charter schools. More than a dozen charter schools have closed in Colorado.
  • In Florida, the federal government awarded the state up to $104 million in federal charter school grants to the state in 2011. Since Florida authorized charter schools over a decade ago, more than 120 charter schools have closed down.
  • In Wisconsin, a total of over $2.5 million in federal grants were awarded to a total of 10 charter schools that closed.
  • In the District of Columbia, where charter schools operate a short distance away from the U.S. Department of Education headquarters, the federal district’s charter school authorizer has landed a total of over $37 million in federal charter school grants since 2010, despite the fact that, up until 2013, the federal district saw 30 charter schools close their doors.

That’s just the waste of federal taxpayer dollars on charter schools. There are many more problems with charter schools and agencies responsible for authorizing and regulating them. While problems with charter schools and their regulation vary from state to state, they include the following:

  • lack of government oversight and transparency
  • financial mismanagement
  • charter school supporters getting into positions of government power over charter schools
  • refusing to respond to open records requests in a timely manner
  • poor academic results and learning conditions
  • low enrollment numbers
  • at least in California, unsafe charter school buildings
  • misreporting charter school data, such as enrollment figures, to governmental authorities
  • charter schools violating laws, rules, regulations, and their charters
  • at least in Indiana, racial segregation
  • in Michigan, criminal activity, including felony fraud and tax evasion, by charter school operators
  • religious schools operating as charter schools and receiving taxpayer funding for charter schools
  • for-profit companies running charter schools
  • charter schools that closed or never opened receiving taxpayer funding
  • in Ohio, scrubbing performance data of online charter schools
  • charter school operators having undue political influence over regulators
  • in Colorado, sexual misconduct
  • in Colorado, at least one charter school operator not following multiple federal and state employment laws
  • state legislators and executives advocating for charter schools and implementing pro-charter school legislation
  • lack of efforts by regulators and authorizers to ensure that charter schools are non-religious in nature
  • taxpayer money that should go to traditional public schools going to charter schools instead

While CMD has recommended much stronger accountability measures for charter schools, I think that the problems that are inherent with charter schools are too serious to justify their continuation, and I support completely abolishing charter schools and giving the taxpayer money that would otherwise go to charter schools to traditional public schools instead.

Alleged extramarital affair between House Republicans Kevin McCarthy and Renee Ellmers reported by right-wing website

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post contains sexually suggestive and profane language. Reader discretion is advised.


Is THIS the real reason why House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropped out of the race for Speaker of the House of Representatives?:

Multiple sources within Bakersfield, North Carolina, & on Capitol Hill tell Gotnews.com that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Renee Ellmers (R-NC) have been carrying on a long-running affair since 2011.

The affair is something of an open secret in Washington, D.C. Reporters at other publications, lobbyists, congressional staffers of both parties all know about it. One staffer for a congressman describes it as the “biggest open secret” in D.C. A lobbyist describes Ellmers as a “social climber who has ingratiated herself” with McCarthy.

House leadership also knows about the affair. Speaker John Boehner reportedly told McCarthy to stop the affair once McCarthy was elected Majority Leader says a well placed congressional staffer. At least one leadership staffer doesn’t think the affair ended. “They are unusually close,” says the staffer who insists that the affair is going on. “It’s weird if he’s not fucking her.”

(emphasis mine)

Granted, it’s from a right-wing website citing unnamed sources, so it’s something that should be treated as merely allegations at this point. However, it has been alleged that Kevin McCarthy, who was the frontrunner for U.S. House Speaker until earlier today when he ended his campaign for speaker, and Renee Ellmers, a Republican congresswoman from North Carolina, have been involved in an extramarital affair with each other. McCarthy has a wife (Judy McCarthy, who is not an elected official to my knowledge) and two children, whereas Ellmers has a husband (Brent Ellmers, a surgeon who has never held elected office) and one child.

If you thought the Republican Party was in total disarray, wait until the mainstream media picks up on this story…

(TRIGGER WARNING) Roanoke, Virginia local news reporter and news photographer shot and killed on live television

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article includes a vivid description of a murder that many readers would find to be unsettling.


Alison Parker (left) and Adam Ward (right) (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News Twitter page)
Alison Parker (left) and Adam Ward (right) (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News Twitter page)

Alison Parker, a reporter for WDBJ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, and Adam Ward, a news photographer for the same station, were shot and killed earlier this morning at Bridgewater Plaza (a miniature golf course, arcade room, shops, and restaurants that primarily serve tourists at Smith Mountain Lake) in Moneta, Virginia. The shooting occurred as Parker was doing a live, on-air interview. Parker was 24 years of age; Ward was 27 years of age. Vester Flanagan, a former WDBJ reporter who went under the stage name Bryce Williams when he was a WDBJ employee, was the perpetrator of the attack; Flanagan fled the scene and committed suicide in another part of Virginia.

I’ve seen video of the shooting once (it’s been plastered all over social media), and I don’t want to see it again, but I will give a description of the shooting. Parker was interviewing a subject about a light subject of some kind and several shots were fired. Parker remained very calm as the first couple of shots that were fired, but then Parker began screaming extremely loudly (although I didn’t actually see a bullet enter Parker’s body on-camera, I’m guessing Parker began screaming after she had been hit by one or more bullets), and then the camera was knocked over in a way that it was filming a deck or balcony and that Parker was not in the view of the camera lens. It’s the single most disturbing thing I’ve ever watched online.

Many people don’t realize this, but journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Even if they’re not covering war or some other type of hostility, journalists, especially if they work in television, are regularly in the public eye and do their jobs with the constant threat that someone might harm, or even kill, them for whatever reason. Additionally, those who work with journalists, such as news photographers, face the same threats as journalists do. Parker and Ward were shot and killed while doing a fluff piece.

Did Phil Mickelson bet on himself losing golf tournaments he played in?

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson, known for his aggressive, daring style of golf and his right-wing political views, has been found to have been involved with an illegal gambling ring:

Nearly $3 million transferred from golfer Phil Mickelson to an intermediary was part of “an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events,” according to two sources and court documents obtained by Outside the Lines.

Mickelson, a five-time major winner and one of the PGA Tour’s wealthiest and most popular players, has not been charged with a crime and is not under federal investigation. But a 56-year-old former sports gambling handicapper, acting as a conduit for an offshore gambling operation, pleaded guilty last week to laundering approximately $2.75 million of money that two sources told Outside the Lines belonged to Mickelson.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed “gambling client” of his between February 2010 and February 2013. Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed “gambling client.” Silveira is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips and faces up to 60 years in prison, though the sentence will likely be far shorter.

Although the full identity of the “gambling client” has not been officially revealed, the initials of the “gambling client” were listed in court documents as P.M., and ESPN is reporting, citing unnamed sources, that the “gambling client” is Phil Mickelson.

While Mickelson is probably not going to face federal criminal charges due to the nature in which illegal gambling rings are prosecuted at the federal level in the United States (federal prosecutors only go after illegal gambling enterprises and the individuals running them, not individual bettors in illegal gambling enterprises), this raises a series of questions regarding Mickelson’s role in the illegal gambling enterprise:

  1. Did Phil Mickelson bet on golf tournaments?
  2. If the answer to question #1 is “yes”, did Mickelson bet on golf tournaments in which he was a competitor?
  3. If the answer to questions #1 and #2 are both “yes”, did Mickelson deliberately lose golf tournaments that he bet on?

To answer those questions, the PGA Tour, the United States Golf Assocation (USGA), the R&A, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), the Augusta National Golf Club, and any other golf sanctioning bodies in which Phil Mickelson played sanctioned golf tournaments in should conduct an investigation in order to determine whether or not Phil Mickelson deliberately lost golf tournaments in order to receive monetary payouts from Gregory Silveira’s illegal gambling operation.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin officials release the party’s own autopsy

A 22-member Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) committee, led by DPW Second Vice-Chairman Jeff Christensen, released its own internal report on the 2014 midterm elections in Wisconsin yesterday. You can read the full report here; it’s a 14-page PDF file.

According to the DPW Administrative Committee, here’s what I’ve interpreted as being the main points in the report:

  • Since 1990, Wisconsin has become an extremely polarized state, with a very strong two-party system and the top-of-the-ticket race in November general elections in Wisconsin having a huge impact on downballot races.
  • The DPW should provide more support to candidates in officially non-partisan local elections in order to build a bench of Democratic candidates for state legislative and statewide elections.
  • The DPW shouldn’t meddle in contested primaries unless it has a very good reason to do so (such as scenarios involving known Republicans/conservatives running in a Democratic primary or a candidate who is clearly unfit for public office running in a Democratic primary).
  • The DPW leadership should explain its proper role in the political process and management of the party more effectively.
  • The Republicans’ message in Wisconsin is to effectively paint the Democrats as the “party of government”, even if Democrats aren’t in power.
  • Democrats should rebut the Republicans’ talking points more effectively.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin have focused too much on attacking Scott Walker and not enough on promoting a positive message of any kind.
  • To use terminology that was used in the report, Democrats in Wisconsin have “played nice in the sandbox”, leading to Democratic candidates who are too defensive.
  • While Democrats should focus heavily on tailoring a positive message to rural voters, both rural and urban voters in Wisconsin regard education, infrastructure, and jobs as three important issues.
  • Election fatigue is becoming a major problem among Democratic activists/volunteers in Wisconsin.
  • In regards to the DPW’s field operations, the DPW should find various ways to optimize voter turnout.
  • Three programs created as part of the “72-county strategy”, regional field organizers, Spring Forward (support for known Democrats running in officially non-partisan local elections in Wisconsin), and Red-to-Blue (support for Democratic state legislative candidates in Republican-leaning or heavily-Republican areas of Wisconsin) should be expanded.
  • The most important point of the report is that “the path to a new progressive era (in Wisconsin) is entirely possible”.

While some of these points are specific to Wisconsin, some of the points also apply to state-level Democratic parties in other states as well.

The report strongly suggested that the DPW should run statewide candidates who can run on a positive, progressive message, as well as relate to both urban and rural voters. However, the report didn’t suggest any potential statewide candidates for future elections in Wisconsin, and there aren’t that many Democrats in Wisconsin who could pull off such a campaign. Lori Compas, who was the recall organizer and Democratic candidate in the 2012 recall attempt against Republican State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, is the first person that comes to mind for me. However, I don’t think that Compas is interested in running for public office again at all. The second person who comes to my mind is Kathleen Vinehout, a state senator from the west-central part of Wisconsin who was the third-place candidate in the 2012 Democratic primary in the gubernatorial recall election. Vinehout nearly ran for governor last year, but injuries sustained in an automobile crash prevented her from running for governor. There’s probably a few others out there as well.

Additionally, while the DPW’s report didn’t touch on any of these points at all, I do have several suggestions of my own:

  • Democrats in Wisconsin should run against income inequality, preferably by using “1% vs. 99%” messaging and supporting ideals such as raising taxes on the wealthy and ending tax breaks and other forms of corporate welfare for businesses.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should run on progressive ideas and values, and, even more importantly, they should explain how progressive policies would benefit all or the vast majority of people.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should stop speaking favorably of Republicans, as well as stop ignoring and criticizing progressives.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should emphasize restoring local control to counties and municipalities over issues that are best dealt with at the local level.
  • Progressive-minded Democrats in Wisconsin should, as much as possible, distance themselves from fellow Democrats who are opposed to progressive ideals and values on many issues, most notably Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin, should, if possible, use the own words of Republican elected officials and candidates against them.

One thing is clear from the DPW’s autopsy: The DPW, in its current state, is one of the weakest state-level Democratic Party organizations in the entire country. A Second Progressive Era in Wisconsin is certainly obtainable, although it’s going to require progressives to hold the DPW leadership accountable to many of the points they made in their own report on the 2014 elections, as well as require Democrats to run progressive candidates who can appeal to a wide coalition of voters.

The New York City media is a textbook example of how the corporate media encourages racism in America

The local news media in the New York City television market, the largest local television market in the entire country, is a textbook example of how the local television newscasts in this country encourage racism in America.

Color of Change, an organization noted for its progressive and civil rights advocacy, published this infographic to their Twitter page. The infographic makes these two main points:

  1. While 51% of the people arrested by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for murder, assault, and/or theft are black, a whopping 75% of the people that local television newscasts in the New York City market broadcast as being responsible for murder, assault, and/or theft are black.
  2. The fact that the local television newscasts in the New York City market broadcast instances of black people being responsible for crimes at a considerably higher percentage than the percentage of black people who are arrested by the NYPD for crimes cause many non-black viewers in the New York City area to develop hatred towards black people and drive a stereotype that all black people are criminals that should be avoided at all costs, which is an absolutely false stereotype.

You can view the full report on how local television newscasts in the New York City media market encourage racism in the New York City area here. The report studied local newscasts on four New York City local TV stations: WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, WNYW-TV, and WABC-TV.

As a resident of the Champaign-Springfield television market in Illinois, I can attest that the local TV stations around here also broadcast instances of black people being accused of crimes at a far higher rate than the percentage of black people in the area covered by the Champaign-Springfield television market. In fact, the fact that local TV stations across the country tend to report instances of black people being accused of crimes at a far higher rate than the percentage of black people in the local television markets they serve is, more than likely, a nationwide problem that is dividing this country along racial lines.

George W. Bush-era CIA torture program violated human rights and made America less secure

The report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s program of torturing enemy combatants who were captured by the U.S. in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, which was active during the administration of former Republican President George W. Bush, has been declassified, and here is the executive summary of the report.

According to the report, the George W. Bush-era CIA’s detention and torture program, among other things:

  • Didn’t help the CIA get intelligence from detainees
  • Violated the human rights of detainees
  • Put American national security at an even greater risk by impeding national security efforts at other federal agencies
  • Wasted American taxpayers’ money
  • Detained individuals who didn’t meet the legal standard for detention
  • Was badly mismanaged and unaccountable
  • Hurt our country’s standing in the world

Additionally, the George W. Bush-era CIA lied to Congress and the media about the detention and torture program’s activities, and had repeatedly impeded oversight by various government entities, including the Office of the CIA Inspector General.

Long story short, the CIA’s program of torturing enemy combatants in U.S. custody was one of the most disgusting things that the U.S. federal government has ever done and served no purpose whatsoever. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other officials involved in the program should be charged with perjury, war crimes, and other applicable offenses.