I proudly endorse ironworker, U.S. Army veteran, and cancer survivor Randy Bryce for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, which is currently held by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. Normally, when I endorse a political candidate, I mention the candidate’s background and/or political ideology, as well as criticize his or her political opponents. However, I’m simply going to share this web video from the Bryce campaign instead, since it’s one of the best web videos I’ve ever seen a campaign for public office in the United States produce:
Tag: U.S. House
Why Nancy Pelosi won’t step down, at least for now
Yesterday, Democrats lost the 6th Congressional District of Georgia special election runoff, with far-right Republican candidate Karen Handel defeating Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff by slightly less than 10,000 votes in an election where both major parties spent millions of dollars of money. On the same day, Democrats also lost the 5th Congressional District of South Carolina special election, with far-right Republican candidate Ralph Norman defeating Democratic candidate Archie Parnell by slightly more than 2,800 votes, even though Democrats didn’t invest a lot of resources into Parnell’s campaign. In other words, Democrats lost by a higher raw vote margin (not percentage-wise) when they actually invested the full resources of groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the U.S. House Democrats’ fundraising arm, than when they didn’t do so.
Already, a lot of people on the left, and even at least one Democratic U.S. House member, Kathleen Rice of New York, who voted for Tim Ryan over Pelosi in the House Democratic leadership race earlier this year (which Pelosi won), are calling for Pelosi to give up the position of House Minority Leader. Jackie Kucinich, the Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast, said this on Twitter about calls for Pelosi to step down:
Regarding Kucinich’s first point, it is more correct to say that Democrats had an opportunity to replace Pelosi, but decided not to. As I mentioned before, Pelosi defeated Tim Ryan earlier this year to retain the leadership of the House Democratic Caucus.
Regarding Kucinich’s second point, such an internal anti-Pelosi coalition within the House Democratic Caucus, if one were to form, would mostly overlap with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which, although home of some of the most progressive Democratic members of Congress, doesn’t consider removing Pelosi from the House Dems’ leadership to be of any priority, at least for now.
Any movement to force Democrats in either house of Congress to change their campaign strategies or force party leaders like Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to step aside would almost certainly come from outside of Congress and the Beltway, and almost certainly from the anti-establishment left. In fact, Republicans on the right fringe of their party (i.e., the Tea Party movement) have had past success going this route, forcing a group of Republican members of Congress to successfully push for the ouster of then-House Speaker John Boehner in 2015 over perceived apostasies of parts of the far-right agenda. However, unlike the GOP circa 2015, when they controlled both houses of Congress, Democrats are currently completely out of power at the federal level, and forcing Pelosi to step aside would not do anything whatsoever to address serious underlying problems with Democratic campaign strategies, one of which is the bizarre email strategy that a lot of Democratic campaigns, and, most infamously, the DCCC itself, have used. The Democratic email strategy comes across as a bizarre form of mind control of Democratic voters and donors. The second problem is a lack of any kind of a coordinated campaign platform for Democrats running in U.S. House and U.S. Senate races in 2018, which would probably be similar to the British Labour Party’s manifesto from the British House of Commons elections earlier this year.
Is this the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration?
We are just a couple of days short of being five months into what is supposed to be a four-year term of Donald Trump being President of the United States, but developments in the last few days or so are indicating that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.
The biggest recent news is the announcement that former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed the special prosecutor in the case regarding the Trump presidential campaign’s ties to Russia:
(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:
(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).
Additionally, there are other developments that have indicated to me that this could be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration:
- An audio tape (transcript here) in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bragged about Russian President Vladimir Putin paying Trump and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)…Republicans have tried to claim that McCarthy was merely joking, but it’s certainly suspicious when Republicans claim that Putin is paying some of their own, and it’s not 100% clear if they were being serious or not.
- Vice President Mike Pence has already set up a leadership PAC to support Republican political efforts…this is the first time a sitting VPOTUS has ever done this.
- Democratic members of Congress are openly mentioning the prospect of impeaching Trump.
- It has been reported that disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others with close ties to Trump had 18 contacts with the Russians that were not previously disclosed.
There’s certainly evidence that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.
(TRIGGER WARNING) Comparing Bernie Sanders to a domestic abuser minimizes domestic abuse
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet that includes an image depicting violence against women. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
The Democratic Party is being increasingly dominated by two forms of progressivism. One form of progressivism prioritizes human rights issues, especially in regards to women’s reproductive rights, over other issues. This form of progressivism is associated with very liberal voters who voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, who are the core base of support, although not 100% of the support, of the resistance to the Trump Administration. The other form of progressivism prioritizes economic issues, especially in regards to efforts to reduce income inequality, over other issues. This form of progressivism is very strongly associated with Bernie Sanders, in fact, Sanders has often by criticized by progressive critics of Sanders for having supported candidates for public office who oppose abortion rights (although Bernie himself has a very pro-choice voting record as a U.S. Senator) and not regarding reproductive rights as an important issue.
Sanders has come under extremely heavy criticism for publicly endorsing Omaha, Nebraska mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who, as a member of Nebraska’s unicameral state legislature, voted for legislation that required doctors to give women who consider terminating a pregnancy a list of ultrasound providers. Although Mello has publicly disavowed his past support for anti-abortion legislation, the bill that he supported as a state legislator was designed purely to shame women, and nobody can re-write history.
Sanders’s support for Mello has prompted a large amount of criticism from progressive critics of Sanders. While most of the criticism has been over the fact that Sanders has, despite being pro-choice himself, endorsed anti-choice politicians from time to time, as well as Sanders not regarding women’s rights issues as important, there has been at least one example of criticism of Sanders that goes straight into the gutter of American politics. This was a tweet that somebody going under the alias “BroStoogeRally” posted about Bernie endorsing Jon Ossoff, a pro-choice and anti-interventionist Democrat who is running in a special election in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia:
Really? Bernie endorses a candidate with a realistic chance of winning a U.S. House seat that was previously held by a Republican who is now a member of the Trump Cabinet, and this guy has the gall to compare Bernie to a domestic abuser? Bernie is, to my knowledge, not a domestic abuser, and comparing someone like Bernie to a domestic abuser minimizes violence against women, which is a serious problem in America. Although these statistics date back to no later than late 2014, nearly 5 million American women each year experience physical violence by an intimate partner, one in four American women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner, and over 38 million American women have experienced physical intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetimes. It is inherently clear that domestic violence is a major problem in America, and using graphic images of domestic violence to compare political figures who aren’t domestic abusers to domestic abusers minimizes the serious problem in America that is domestic violence.
The GOP and the media don’t want you to know it, but it’s not over yet in Georgia
The winner of the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is…nobody! For congressional special elections, Georgia uses a two-round system in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, appear on the same ballot in the first round, and, if one candidate gets a majority of the first-round vote, that candidate wins, otherwise, a runoff election is held at a later date between the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation. No candidate received a first-round majority, although Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff came only a couple thousand votes short of an outright victory, and Ossoff will face Republican candidate Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff.
The narrative from the Republicans and the corporate media is that they believe that Handel is going to win the runoff easily. Trump is touting a “BIG “R” win” on Twitter, even though nobody has won the election yet, and the runoff election is two months away.
Let me tell you this: the election in the 6th District of Georgia has only begun, and there are a number of reasons why:
- Most pre-election opinion polling had Ossoff projected to receive somewhere around 40-45% of the vote in the first round. Ossoff received roughly 48% of the vote in the first round, slightly outperforming Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential election performance in most precincts in the 6th District of Georgia.
- Handel might be the worst candidate for the Republicans to have sent to the runoff. She ran as not enough of a Trump loyalist for the Trump loyalist crowd in the first round, and now she’s trying to run as a Trump loyalist in the runoff. Also, Handel was the person who nearly destroyed the Susan G. Komen Foundation over her opposition to reproductive rights.
- Trump is very unpopular among some voters in the 6th District of Georgia who had voted strongly Republican prior to November of last year; most of these voters voted for Ossoff in the first round of the 6th District special election.
- Trump may campaign for Handel at some point before the June 20 runoff.
If you live in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia, vote for Jon Ossoff on June 20.
A whole slate of endorsements, because it’s time to hold Trump accountable
I’m going to announce a whole slate of endorsements in a number of elections across the country, including special elections this year, Democratic primaries for general elections this year, and Democratic primaries for general elections in 2018.
6th Congressional District of Georgia special election – Jon Ossoff
Early voting is underway in the special election to replace Republican U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in the U.S. House of Representatives, and it is likely that Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff will get a plurality of the votes in the April 6 election, and, if no candidate gets a majority in the special election, a runoff between the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the April 6 election would be held on June 20. Prior to entering electoral politics, Ossoff was
Han Solo an investigative filmmaker and a baseball player. As an investigative filmmaker, Ossoff exposed judicial corruption in the African country of Ghana and uncovered acts of brutality committed by ISIS in Iraq. Republicans are so frightened that Ossoff might win one way or another, Republican-aligned political organizations have spent tons of money on television ads attacking him because he’s a fan of Star Wars. While I’m no fan of Star Wars, that is one of the most ridiculous things to attack a candidate for public office over. Should a runoff be needed, Ossoff’s most likely GOP runoff opponent would probably be Karen Handel, who, when she was the vice president for public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, cut off Komen’s funding to Planned Parenthood, an organization that…you guessed it…provides breast cancer screenings to women! Only Karen Handel could mess up a charity seeking to eradicate breast cancer. I endorse Jon Ossoff’s campaign, and I encourage voters in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia to vote for Ossoff on April 6, and, if necessary, on June 20.
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts Democratic primary – Brianna Wu
I proudly endorse video game developer Brianna Wu in next year’s Democratic primary in the 8th Congressional District of Massachusetts. Prior to entering electoral politics, Wu, who was born in West Virginia and grew up in Mississippi but now lives in Massachusetts, was repeatedly harassed and doxxed online by a bunch of misogynists as part of Gamergate. Wu supports collective bargaining, internet privacy rights, and other progressive ideals.
At-large Congressional District of Montana special election – Rob Quist
Another special election is taking place across the entire state of Montana for the U.S. House seat vacated by Republican U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Democrats have nominated musician and former Montana Arts Council member Rob Quist in the upcoming special election for the seat. Quist was born and raised in Montana, and he supports closing corporate tax loopholes and opposes Donald Trump’s efforts to take health insurance away from millions of Americans. Quist’s GOP challenger is Greg Gianforte, a wealthy carpetbagger from New Jersey who supports the Trump agenda and wants to bring New Jersey values to Montana. The special election in Montana will take place May 25.
Governor of New Jersey Democratic primary – John Wisniewski
Speaking of New Jersey, I proudly endorse John Wisniewski for the Democratic nomination for the office of Governor of New Jersey. Wisniewski has been perhaps the most vocal critic of Chris Christie there ever is, the most vocal critic of Chris Christie there was, and the most vocal critic of Chris Christie there will ever be, particularly in regards to the Bridgegate scandal. If nominated for and elected governor, Wisniewski will take on both the Republicans and the George Norcross machine that is holding back the New Jersey Democratic Party, and he’ll be a steadfast advocate for progressive ideals. New Jersey holds its gubernatorial election this year.
Governor of Virginia Democratic primary – Tom Perriello
I proudly endorse former U.S. Representative and former diplomat Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Virginia. If nominated for and elected governor, Perriello will be a fighter for the people of Virginia by standing up for women’s reproductive rights, rebuilding Virginia’s crumbling infrastructure, expand broadband internet access in Virginia, and treat opioid addiction as a treatable illness, not a criminal act. Like New Jersey, Virginia holds its gubernatorial election this year.
Republicans are making their atrocious health care bill even worse to appease the far-right
If you thought the Trumpcare bill in Congress was bad, well, Republicans are now trying to make Trumpcare, which is the proposed legal vehicle for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided millions of Americans with health insurance, a lot worse in order to appease members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Republicans have, since Monday, made two major amendments to the original Trumpcare bill.
The first is the so-called “manager’s amendment”. What the manager’s amendment, if enacted, would end the popular and effective Medicaid expansion a lot sooner than the original bill would have, allows states to raid federal Medicaid funds and use them for purposes other than Medicaid, and makes the Medicaid funding cuts from the original bill a lot more severe, giving state governments, particularly those controlled by Republicans, an opportunity to deprive large numbers of people of health insurance. ThinkProgress, a left-leaning website, gave a more detailed description of the manager’s amendment here.
The second is the Meadows Amendment, named after U.S. Representative and House Freedom Caucus member Mark Meadows (R-NC). Among other things, the Meadows Amendment would allow private-sector health insurers to:
- deny health insurance to those with pre-existing medical conditions
- force women to pay more money for the same exact health insurance that men receive
- enact annual and/or lifetime limits on health care coverage
- force people to pay money out-of-pocket for vital preventative care, such as mammograms and vaccinations
It’s not hard to understand why most Americans don’t like Trumpcare.
Paul Ryan and John Shimkus don’t understand the concept of insurance
It has become inherently clear that the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress have zero concept of how insurance is supposed to work. Broadly speaking, insurance is a method of protecting one’s self from financial loss, and insurance can be an individual policy (such as a car insurance policy through a private-sector entity like State Farm, GEICO, or one of their competitors), a group policy (such as group health insurance plans provided by employers through a private-sector health insurance firm to the employers’ employees), or a government policy (such as the federal Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program commonly called Social Security). Likewise, health insurance is a method of protecting one’s self from financial loss associated with medical expenses, and can be an individual policy, a group policy, or a government policy. In order for insurance policies to be financially sustainable, those who do not need the benefits of the insurance policy in question must, by buying into the policy (which can be by paying premiums, taxes, and/or other means), effectively subsidize those who do need the benefits of the insurance policy in question.
The problem is, Republicans, who want to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), don’t understand how a financially-sustainable health insurance policy works.
At a recent press conference, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin bizarrely claimed that health insurance doesn’t work if healthy people have to effectively subsidize people people who are ill and/or injured:
…He even lost the suit coat and broke out the PowerPoint on Thursday. It was like watching something on cable access late at night, or a flop-sweaty rookie substitute teacher, and it was hilarious—except for the parts where people will lose their health insurance and die, of course. And this is what he said and, peace be unto Dave Barry, I am not making it up, either:
Paul Ryan said that insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick.
As if Ryan wasn’t far enough out of touch with reality, the person who legally represents me and several hundred thousand other people in downstate Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives, John Shimkus, made the sexist motivation behind repealing the ACA publicly known in committee:
But Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois took the cake on Thursday night when he questioned why men aren’t exempt from paying into insurance plans that cover prenatal care. “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” the congressman said. “Is that not correct? And should they?”
Let me ask a similar question: Why should women have to purchase health insurance for prostrate cancer treatments? Clearly, men never need prenatal care, and women never need prostate cancer treatments. However, if only women had to pay for health insurance covering prenatal care, such a system, regardless of whether the public sector or the private sector were to administer it, would be financially unsustainable. The same problem would be the result if only men had to pay for health insurance covering prostate cancer treatments. This is because a large percentage of women will need prenatal care for at least several months of their lives, so it would be only women who never get pregnant effectively subsidizing those who get pregnant any number of times in their lives. Health insurance covering gender-specific health illnesses/procedures can only be financially sustainable if both men and women pay into a health plan covering prenatal care, prostate cancer treatments, etc..
While I’d never run for public office myself, John Shimkus may legally represent all people in the 15th Congressional District of Illinois, but a significant minority of voters in the 15th district, including me, understand that Shimkus doesn’t understand how health insurance works.
Do Wisconsin Democrats have a potential savior from a gubernatorial campaign trainwreck?
Yesterday, it was reported that former Wisconsin State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville is going to seek the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin, with Cullen set to launch his gubernatorial bid sometime next month. If Cullen does enter the race, he will likely be the second candidate to run for governor as a Democrat; a former state legislative aide by the name of Bob Harlow is currently running for governor as a Democrat.
However, I strongly believe that neither Cullen nor Harlow can defeat one of the worst of the worst in the Republican Party, incumbent Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is likely to run for a third four-year term.
Regarding Cullen, he is probably best known for briefly leaving the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Caucus in 2012 for not getting a committee assignment that he wanted. That sounds like something that Donald Trump would do, and it tells me that Cullen has very poor leadership skills and is very self-centered. There’s also that part of the now-infamous “David Koch” prank call where Walker bragged to a guy who he incorrectly believed to be right-wing billionaire David Koch that Cullen was a “pragmatist” and praised Cullen. Any Democratic primary television advertisement attacking Cullen from the left practically writes itself.
Regarding Harlow, I have been notified by a California-based political source that Harlow ran for a U.S. House seat in California in 2016, and, during that campaign (which he failed to advance to the general election), Harlow and canvassers working for Harlow’s campaign openly hurled insults at voters by calling them “corporatists” because they told the Harlow campaign that they were going to vote for the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo. While Harlow was once an intern for former Republican Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz, Harlow is a lot more progressive than Schultz. The only Wisconsin-based political figure that I’m aware of who has praised Harlow since the launch of his gubernatorial campaign is Monona Grove School Board member and political blogger Jeff Simpson, who is known for saying what he thinks about the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin and telling it like it is (example here). However, Harlow has a proven track record of being incompetent at political campaigning, and it’s not like Wisconsin has any affinity for people from California moving to their state to run for public office. I fear and suspect that the Trump White House and/or foreign influencers (such as the Russian government, Wikileaks, and/or other foreign-based entities) may try to aid Harlow in his gubernatorial bid.
It’s important to note that, judging by the Twitter pages of some of the Democratic elected officials in Wisconsin, they do not appear to be circling the wagons around Cullen, in contrast to their reaction to Mary Burke’s entrance to the 2014 gubernatorial race in Wisconsin, where Burke had near-total support from Democratic state legislators from the outset of the campaign. This pretty much guarantees that at least one other candidate with considerable Democratic Party political connections in Wisconsin, political experience, and/or personal wealth is going to enter the gubernatorial race, which would mean a competitive primary between Cullen, Harlow, and at least one other candidate. If Mary Jo Walters could get somewhere around 45% or so of the vote against John Lehman in a primary for lieutenant governor, then it would not be out of the realm of possibility for Harlow to win the gubernatorial primary with a plurality. Harlow is completely unelectable in a general election, because the GOP would paint him as a carpetbagger from California if, by some chance, he won the Democratic nomination.
It has become increasingly clear to me that Wisconsin Democrats need a savior to step up to the plate to save the party from a potential trainwreck in the gubernatorial race next year. We know from past experience that Hillary Clinton/Jim Doyle-style neoliberalism is not going to win elections for Democrats in Wisconsin, and the Democratic primary electorate in Wisconsin is very left wing and absolutely distrusts the current Democratic establishment. Ron Kind is not a progressive by anyone’s imagination, so he’s no savior. Susan Happ is a proven loser, so she’s no savior. Kathleen Vinehout couldn’t win the Democratic nomination in the gubernatorial recall election, so yet another proven loser. I don’t know enough about Dana Wachs or Joe Parisi to tell you anything about either of those two.
The ideal political savior for Democrats in Wisconsin would be someone who is strongly progressive, and, therefore, ideologically similar to Harlow, but is considerably more politically skilled than Harlow. One might point to State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) as a potential savior for Wisconsin Democrats, given her fearless, no-holds-barred style of progressive politics. However, if she runs statewide, it would probably be for attorney general, not for governor, although she’d be an absolutely awesome candidate for either office. Late last year, Wisconsin-based political blogger Chris Walker mentioned State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) as a potential gubernatorial candidate, and, if she were to run for governor, I would endorse her campaign without hesitation. She is one of the most progressive state legislators in the entire country, and, having read some of her op-eds, she seems like someone who genuinely cares about…no pun intended…making her state great again. However, Sargent could probably get elected to the state assembly for two-year terms for the rest of her life if she wanted to, so I highly doubt that she’d run for statewide office, but she’s never publicly ruled out a gubernatorial bid to my knowledge. If, by some chance, she were to seek the Democratic nomination for Wisconsin’s highest office, Sargent would probably win over nearly all of the voters who would be open to voting for someone like Harlow, and she’d have a good chance of winning the nomination, provided that she were to run a true statewide campaign. I don’t know enough about people like Dave Hansen or JoCasta Zamarripa to tell you about whether or not they’re interested in a gubernatorial bid or give you an opinion about them.
Long story short, Wisconsin Democrats can do a lot better than Tim Cullen or Bob Harlow.
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).