Tag: U.S. Senate

How to fix America’s antiquated electoral process

Granted, it would require amendment(s) to the U.S. Constitution and massive changes in federal and state laws, but America needs a massive overhaul of its election system.

Below are some of my own ideas for fixing America’s antiquated electoral system:

  • Drastically increase the size of the U.S. House – There should be one U.S. Representative for every 100,000 residents of the fifty states, rounded up, plus one U.S. Representative with full voting rights each for the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. This would result in a U.S. House size of 3,086, but it would be more representative of the country than a 435-member House.
  • Give the District of Columbia and each U.S. territory one Senator with full voting rights each – This would result in a U.S. Senate size of 106.
  • Implement a national popular vote system for electing the President, the Vice President, and major-party presidential and vice-presidential nominees – The Electoral College is an antiquated relic of the 19th century, when it wasn’t easy to report election results for a nationwide race. Ideally, an instant-runoff voting system should be used, in which voters can cast first, second, and third preferences, and second and third preferences can decide an election if no candidate gets a majority of first preferences. For party nominations for president and vice-president, a nationwide semi-partisan primary should be conducted, in which those registered with a political party would be able to choose between candidates running for their party’s nomination and unaffiliated candidates, but those not registered with a party can vote for candidates of any party affiliation, as well as unaffiliated candidates. Political parties that get 1% of the total primary vote send their top vote-getter (instant-runoff would be conducted within each party) to the general election, and any independent candidate who receives 1% of the total primary vote makes the general election ballot. Furthermore, presidential and vice-presidential candidates run as a ticket in both the primary and the general election. In the event that a presidential candidate or a vice-presidential candidate seeking a party nomination lacked a running mate, but won his or her primary, he or she would be paired with the candidate for the other office whose ticket got more votes within the party than any other ticket with a candidate for said other office
  • Standardize the electoral calendar nationwide – Here’s how I’d set up the election calendar for regularly-scheduled elections in a two-year electoral cycle:
    • Tuesday after first Monday in May of odd-numbered year – Political party leadership elections (closed to party members) and some judicial elections (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered year – County, municipal, and other local elections for the entire country (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in May of even-numbered year – Some judicial elections (open to all votes, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in September of even-numbered year – Partisan primaries for, depending on the year, President, Vice President, U.S. Congress, state executive positions, and/or state legislature (semi-partisan primary system in place)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday of November of even-numbered year – General elections for offices in which nominees were selected in the September primaries
  • Use hand-counted paper ballots for all elections, everywhere – Even when an online system is used for some absentee ballots (see below), a printout of the online absentee ballot would be hand-counted at the precinct after the polls close.
  • Speed up the absentee and military voting process with an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not part of the World Wide Web – If it’s not possible for an absentee or military absentee ballot to be physically sent to the voter’s home polling place on Election Day, set up an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not connected to the World Wide Web or any other existing infrastructure in order to allow the ballots to be scanned, uploaded to the electronic system, and printed out at the polling place so that it can be hand-counted on Election Night.
  • There should never be more than 1,000 people per polling place – It is absolutely unacceptable to cram several thousand voters into a single voting place, forcing them to wait in line for several hours.
  • Make federal judicial posts directly-elected – For federal district court judgeships, each federal district court would have at least four judgeships, with at least one seat being up for election every year. For federal circuit court appellate judgeships, a similar model to the district courts would be followed. For the U.S. Supreme Court, three associate judgeships would be up for election in years ending in “2”, two associate judgeships in years ending in “5”, three associate judgeships in years ending in “8”, and the Chief Justice’s seat in years ending in “0”.

These are just a few of my own suggestions for making America’s electoral process more efficient.

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ENDORSEMENT: Donna Edwards for U.S. Senate in Maryland

I proudly and unapologetically endorse Donna Edwards for the open U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)!

Donna is a strong champion of progressive values on a wide array of issues. Donna fought to protect Social Security benefits by taking on President Obama and corporate Democrats in Congress when they tried to cut Social Security benefits, and she’s strongly opposed Republican-backed efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Additionally, Donna is a staunch opponent of big-money politics, and supports amending the U.S. Constitution to repeal disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC. Furthermore, Donna strongly supports common-sense measures designed to end gun violence in America. Also, Donna is strongly pro-choice and pro-equal pay.

Donna’s opposition in the Democratic primary is Chris Van Hollen, a political crony of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer who supported Obama’s plan to cut Social Security benefits. One of Van Hollen’s supporters is Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., the Maryland state senate president. Miller said that he thought that Van Hollen was “born to the job” of being a U.S. Senator:

Rep. Donna F. Edwards wants her supporters to know that one of the most powerful Democrats in Maryland backs her opponent in the state’s Democratic Senate primary. In particular, she wants them to know that Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. thinks Rep. Chris Van Hollen was “born to the job.”

“Born to the job?” she wrote Tuesday in a fundraising email. “The fact is, our country’s systems and institutions have largely been led by people who have always looked like that senior elected official, not like me. . . . I don’t believe anyone in this country was born to anything.”

The fact of the matter is that nobody in this country is born to any kind of job, and anyone who thinks that anyone is born to a political office of any kind doesn’t believe in democracy.

Donna marches to the beat of her own drum and fights for progressive values on many important issues, even if it means taking on the leadership of her own party. That’s the kind of strong leadership that Maryland needs and deserves. You can learn more about Donna’s campaign to become Maryland’s next U.S. Senator here.

Why I’m demanding a no vote on SCOTUS appointee Merrick Garland

Earlier today, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who currently holds the most powerful federal judgeship below the Supreme Court, the office of Chief Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Cir.), to the Associate Justice seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that became vacant upon the death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

While Garland would be a significant improvement over Scalia and a left-leaning swing vote on SCOTUS if confirmed, I strongly encourage Democratic U.S. Senators to demand that the Senate do its constitutional duty of conducting a confirmation process on the Garland appointment, but vote against Garland if given the opportunity to do so.

There is one primary reason why I oppose the nomination of Garland to our nation’s highest bench, and that is Garland’s deferral to the executive branch of the federal government, even if it blatantly goes against the constitutional rights of people. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Garland deferred similarly to federal agencies during the presidency of George W. Bush, irking many liberals with a 2003 ruling that denied Guantanamo detainees judicial review (later overturned by the Supreme Court) and with a string of pro-police rulings under Presidents Bill Clinton, Bush and Obama.

The job of a U.S. Supreme Court justice is not to build political consensus or issue rulings based on the current political climate at the time the ruling is issued. The job of a U.S. Supreme Court justice is to interpret the U.S. Constitution and federal laws, with the Constitution being the supreme law of the land. Garland’s complete disregard for the constitutional rights of the accused shows that Garland’s own interpretation of the Constitution is flawed, and that he should not be a SCOTUS justice.

While I strongly oppose Senate Republicans who won’t even schedule a confirmation hearing for Garland, I call for Senate Democrats to demand an opportunity to vote against Garland, in committee and, if he were to make it out of committee, the full Senate.

Joni Ernst sends virtually blank response to constituent’s request not to block SCOTUS appointment

Sometime in the immediate future, President Barack Obama will appoint someone to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

One of the many Republican U.S. Senators who support obstructing anyone that the president appoints to the Supreme Court is Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). Many of Ernst’s constituents in Iowa are not happy at all that Ernst wants the U.S. Senate to neglect its duty to either confirm or reject whoever the president appoints to SCOTUS, and one of them is Maggie White, who is a civil rights attorney from Iowa’s largest city, Des Moines. When White emailed Ernst’s office about Ernst and her fellow Senate Republicans wanting to do absolutely nothing in regards to the president’s SCOTUS pick, White did a very important civic duty by contacting Ernst’s office about the matter. Here’s how Ernst responded to White:

Joni Ernst sent one of her constituents a virtually blank response to a message that one of her constituents sent to her! By “virtually blank response”, I mean that Ernst’s response to Maggie White’s message contained a letterhead, a salutation, and a closing, not a body. The body of the email, which there is none in this particular email, is where Ernst’s response to White’s message would have been.

The U.S. Constitution is clear. The president must appoint a new SCOTUS justice, the Senate must either confirm or reject that appointment. For the Senate to not even conduct a confirmation process amounts to the Senate neglecting its Constitutional duty of advice and consent. It doesn’t take a lawyer to figure that out.

Ted Cruz gets his history wrong about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff

In tonight’s Republican presidential debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), one of four Republicans seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination, claimed that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff led to the Great Depression.

This is yet another right-wing lie from Cruz.

The truth of the matter is that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was enacted in response to the Great Depression, not before the Great Depression. Although economic problems that led to the Great Depression had been building up for years prior to the 1929 stock market crash (most notably rampant income inequality), the crash is seen as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Great Depression. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff, named after then-Sen. Reed Smoot (R-UT) and then-Rep. Willis C. Hawley (R-OR), was signed into law by then-President Herbert Hoover in June of 1930, nearly nine months after the Black Tuesday stock market crash of 1929.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff failed to reverse the extreme economic decline for a number of reasons. First, the tariff was completely reactionary and not designed primarily to protect American manufacturing jobs or bring manufacturing jobs that went overseas back to America. Second, there wasn’t much in the way of social safety net programs or public works programs that any revenue generated by the tariff could be used to pay for back in 1930, as many of them still in place nowadays were enacted either as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal or as part of other policies enacted by subsequent presidents.

Ted Cruz, as well as many of the people he associates himself with, has a habit of lying through his teeth, and he’s proven that yet again. If you’re looking for a presidential candidate who will rebuild America and take on Wall Street greed, he’s not on stage tonight…he’s Bernie Sanders, and he’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republicans attempt to swiftboat Tammy Duckworth

While the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has since deleted the tweet in question, here is a screengrab (courtesy of Nate Cohn) of an NRSC attack against Tammy Duckworth, a candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination here in Illinois:

Tammy Duckworth has two main strengths, from a political standpoint. The first is her service in the U.S. Army during the Iraq War, and the second is her strong track record on veterans’ affairs. As someone who served our country in uniform and hails from a military family, Duckworth understands what veterans in this country need. Duckworth has called for mandatory federal funding for veterans’ health care, and Duckworth understands that it’s a national disgrace for large numbers of veterans in this country to be homeless.

The Republican Party of 2016 has launched some of the most ridiculous attacks against Democrats of virtually every faction of the Democratic Party.

How I will fill out my Illinois Democratic primary ballot on March 15 (plus other Illinois endorsements)

On March 15, I will be a Democratic primary voter in the State of Illinois, Vermilion County, Georgetown Township, Precinct 7. My precinct includes parts of my hometown of Westville, Illinois.

Below is a complete list of races on my ballot (for the presidential and U.S. Senate races, the order in which candidates are listed on the ballot for a particular race may vary from one part of the state to another), as well as which candidates I will vote for (if any).

President of the United States

There are six candidates on the Illinois Democratic presidential primary ballot: Hillary Clinton, Willie Wilson, Martin O’Malley, Rocky de la Fuente, Larry Cohen, and Bernie Sanders, from top to bottom. Additionally, there is a line available for write-in candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, although I know of no write-in candidates who have filed official paperwork to run as such.

I will vote for Bernie Sanders. Bernie is the only candidate who strongly supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, making higher education tuition-free, restoring American manufacturing jobs, and protecting America’s environment. In the extremely unlikely circumstance that Bernie were to drop out of the presidential race before March 15, I would write-in the name of an individual who is not running for president, although I won’t publicly name that individual. In any case, I will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in the November general election.

United States Senator

There are three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mark Kirk: Andrea Zopp, Tammy Duckworth, and Napoleon Harris, from top to bottom.

I will vote for Tammy Duckworth. There’s not really a progressive candidate in this race, but Duckworth served our nation during the Iraq War as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, and Duckworth will stand up for those who served our country in uniform if elected to the U.S. Senate. Andrea Zopp voted for Rahm Emanuel’s school closing scheme in Chicago as an appointed Chicago school board member, and Napoleon Harris refused to vote for marriage equality as a member of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois Comptroller (Special Election)

This is a special election for the last two years of what would have been Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s second term as Illinois Comptroller (Topinka died not long after being re-elected in 2014). The current Illinois Comptroller is Leslie Munger, who was appointed to the Comptroller’s office by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

There is only one Democrat seeking the party’s nomination for this office (Susana Mendoza), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, since I think that it’s worthless to vote for a candidate in an uncontested race. I will vote for Mendoza in the special general election in November, however, as she will face opposition from Munger in the special general election.

United States Representative – 15th Congressional District

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention – 15th Congressional District

Illinois is unusual in that Democratic primary voters are asked to vote for both a presidential candidate and delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Delegates are elected by voters in each of Illinois’s 18 congressional districts, although I’m not sure of the exact formula that is used. There are seven individuals who have filed for four delegate slots out of the 15th Congressional District: four delegates pledged to Hillary, one delegate pledged to O’Malley, and three delegates pledged to Bernie. Democratic voters in the 15th Congressional District can vote for as many as four delegates.

I will vote for the three Bernie Sanders delegates (Cory Douglas, Amanda Benefiel, and Barbara Lawrence), and I will also vote for Hillary Clinton delegate Ann Sykes. Since I’m voting for Bernie in the presidential preference poll, I’m obviously going to vote for Bernie’s delegate slate here in the 15th Congressional District, and I’m grateful that Douglas, Benefiel, and Lawrence are supporting a fantastic presidential candidate in Bernie. However, since Bernie is one delegate short of a full slate here in the 15th Congressional District, that gives me three options: either vote for only the three Bernie delegates, vote for three Bernie delegates and O’Malley delegate John Warner, or vote for the three Bernie delegates and one of the Hillary delegates. I’ve decided on the latter-most of those three options, and my vote for Hillary delegate Ann Sykes will be a tribute to the late former Vermilion County Clerk and incredible public servant Lynn Foster, who passed away not long ago (Sykes worked for Foster when she was county clerk here in my home county).

Illinois Senate – 52nd Legislative District (4-year term)

There is only one candidate on the ballot in this race (incumbent State Senator Scott Bennett, who was appointed to the seat after Mike Frerichs was elected Illinois Treasurer), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, although Bennett will get my vote in the November general election, as he’ll be going up against Republican Mike Madigan in November.

Illinois House of Representatives – 104th Representative District

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Circuit Clerk

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Recorder

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County State’s Attorney

Despite this being an open seat due to the Republican incumbent retiring, no Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Auditor

There is only one Democratic candidate seeking this office (incumbent county auditor Linda Lucas-Anstey, the only Democrat to hold a county-wide office in Vermilion County), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, although I will vote for Lucas-Anstey in the general election.

Vermilion County Coroner

Although we don’t get too many Democrats running for county-wide office here in Vermilion County, there is a competitive primary for county coroner (believe it or not, Illinois county coroners are elected in officially-partisan races). There are two Democrats running for coroner: Steve Cornett, the Village of Tilton police chief, and Butch Fields, a paramedic from Tilton.

I will vote for Steve Cornett. Butch Fields is a convicted arsonist, so that completely disqualifies him from receiving my vote in a Democratic primary, although I will vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

Vermilion County Board of Supervisors – County Board District 4

There are two seats up for election in Vermilion County Board District 4, and there are two Democrats running for the party’s nomination in the district, which includes all of Georgetown, Love, and McKendree townships in Vermilion County. There are two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in this race: Dale Ghibaudy and John Barton. In county board races in Illinois, voters in the Democratic primary can vote for as many Democrats as the number of county board seats in their district that are up for election (in my district this year, this is two, although this number varies from one Illinois county to another, as well as within Illinois counties and from one election cycle to the next).

Although both Dale Ghibaudy and John Barton will be on the November general election ballot, I’m not sure if one candidate receiving more votes than the other would have any affect on general election ballot placement, so I will vote for Dale Ghibaudy. I know absolutely nothing about John Barton, and I know extremely little about Dale Ghibaudy outside of the fact that I attended high school with two people of the same last name (Kody and Karly Ghibaudy, who are siblings, but I’m not sure how they’re related to Dale, if at all).

Vermilion County Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman – Georgetown Township Precinct 7

In my home precinct, no candidate filed for a Democratic Party precinct committeeman slot. Georgetown Township Precinct 7 includes parts of the Village of Westville in Vermilion County, as well as some rural areas immediately to the west and east of Westville.


Additionally, I want to take this opportunity to endorse candidates seeking Democratic nominations in other parts of Illinois. Please note that I do not live in any of the constituencies listed here, so I am encouraging people who live in an area of Illinois where one or more of these races are on the ballot to vote for the candidates that I’m endorsing. The two U.S. House races where I’m endorsing a candidate are in the Chicago suburbs, whereas the state house and state’s attorney races where I’m endorsing a candidate are all in Cook County.

United States Representative – 8th Congressional District

I endorse Michael Noland in Illinois’s 8th Congressional District. As an Illinois State Senator, Noland has been a strong champion of good government and ethics reform, and he’ll bring his pro-good government mindset to Washington if nominated and elected.

United States Representative – 10th Congressional District

A while back, I endorsed Nancy Rotering in Illinois’s 10th Congressional District, so, for the sake of completion, I’ll reiterate my endorsement of Rotering on here. As mayor of Highland Park, a Chicago suburb located in Lake County, Rotering helped to provide legal aid to people who couldn’t afford to sue their landlord after their landlord wronged them. Rotering’s Democratic primary opponent, Brad Schneider, is a D.C. insider who opposes President Obama’s deal to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands.

Illinois House of Representatives – 5th Representative District

This race pits incumbent State Representative Ken Dunkin, a Raunercrat (i.e., a Democrat who is a political ally of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner), against primary challenger Juliana Stratton. I endorse Juliana Stratton in Illinois’s 5th Representative District. Ken Dunkin has voted with Bruce Rauner in opposition to funding child care and other important state government services, and Dunkin has benefited from big-money Rauner allies like Dan Proft.

Illinois House of Representatives – 22nd Representative District

This race pits powerful State House Speaker Mike Madigan (not the same Mike Madigan who is running as a Republican in the 52nd Legislative District state senate race) against primary challenger Jason Gonzales and two other primary challengers planted by Madigan in an attempt to split the anti-Madigan vote in the Democratic primary. I endorse Jason Gonzales in Illinois’s 22nd Representative District. Madigan is anti-abortion, supported a pension theft bill that was unanimously struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court, has strongly opposed many common-sense good government measures, such as independent redistricting and term limits, and supports corporate-minded politicians like Rahm Emanuel.

Illinois House of Representatives – 26th Representative District

This race pits incumbent State Representative Christian Mitchell against Jay Travis, who nearly defeated Mitchell in the 2014 Democratic primary for this seat. I endorse Jay Travis in the 26th Representative District. Christian Mitchell has taken money from the same anti-public education/pro-school voucher lobby that supports far-right Republicans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Cook County State’s Attorney

This race pits incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez against primary challengers Kim Foxx and Donna More. I endorsed Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney a while back, so I’ll reiterate that endorsement here for the sake of completion. If nominated and elected, Foxx will restore public trust in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Anita Alvarez played a key role in hiding the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald for many months, and Donna More donated to Bruce Rauner’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

Meet the Democrats who took Donald Trump’s money

I absolutely hate Ted Cruz’s guts. As a candidate for president, he has openly supported religious discrimination and does not believe in separation of church and state, for starters. He’s also what I consider to be the least electable Republican presidential candidate, except for maybe Jeb Bush or Ben Carson.

However, I will say one thing favorably about Ted Cruz, and that is the fact that his campaign is going after Donald Trump for propping up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party with his checkbook for many years. Granted, Cruz’s people aren’t all that great at spelling and grammar, but here’s the individuals and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party in some way, shape, and form:

  • Jimmy Carter – $1,000 – Carter was the 39th President of the United States, elected in 1976, lost re-election in 1980. Carter has not sought public office of any kind since losing the presidency. Carter has actually built a progressive reputation since leaving the White House, although he did deregulate the airline industry and gave out a huge capital gains tax cut to the wealthy as President.
  • Max Baucus – $2,000 – Baucus was appointed to the U.S. Senate after originally being elected to it in 1978 and represented Montana in the Senate until 2014, when he resigned to take a political appointment from President Barack Obama in order to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus was notorious for being a virulent opponent of single-payer health care during his time in the Senate.
  • Shelley Berkley – $1,000 – Berkley served seven terms in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2013. Berkley represented the Las Vegas area of Nevada, where Trump has substantial business interests, in the House.
  • Joe Biden – $1,000 – Biden, who is from Delaware and represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for decades, is currently Vice President of the United States. Vice President Biden ran for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, losing both times; in fact, his first presidential campaign was derailed after he was caught plagiarizing then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.
  • Erskine Bowles – $1,000 – Bowles, who is from North Carolina, served in multiple positions in the Bill Clinton Administration, and he also ran for U.S. Senate in North Carolina twice, losing both times. Bowles was one of the architects of the Simpson-Bowles austerity plan that included, among other things, cutting Social Security benefits.
  • Hillary Clinton – $9,500 – Hillary was a First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator from New York, and a U.S. Secretary of State. New York is Trump’s home state and a state where Trump has significant business interests. Hillary is currently seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, running against single-payer health care and reinstating Glass-Steagall financial regulations that kept commercial and investment banks separate. As Secretary of State, Hillary helped develop the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade giveaway that would allow Vietnam, a country where the average worker is paid far less than the average worker here in the U.S., to effectively dictate U.S. domestic policy by allowing investors to sue in special courts. Hillary also ran a presidential campaign in 2008, losing the Democratic nomination to now-President Obama after, among other things, she pandered to white racists throughout her campaign.
  • Tom Daschle – $4,000 – Daschle, who is from South Dakota, is a former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and he was Senate Minority Leader when he was defeated in the 2004 Senate election in South Dakota. Daschle was a lobbyist for the health care industry after leaving elected office, and he wrote a book opposing single-payer health care.
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – $116,000 – The DSCC is an entity established by the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for Senate seats.
  • Chris Dodd – $3,000 – Dodd is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Dodd ran for president in 2008, losing in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, and he’s now a lobbyist for the movie industry.
  • Democratic National Committee (DNC) – $15,000 – The DNC is the main national organization of the Democratic Party, currently chaired by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. The DNC has openly tried to sabotage the Sanders presidential campaign, most notably by briefly cutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to the DNC voter file in violation of the contract between the Sanders campaign and the DNC vendor responsible for maintaining the DNC’s voter file.
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – $46,050 – The DCCC is an entity established by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for House seats. The DCCC ran web ads promoting President Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security benefits in 2013.
  • Dick Durbin – $1,500 – Durbin is the Assistant Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, representing Illinois. Illinois is a state where Trump has significant business interests.
  • Fritz Hollings – $3,000 – Hollings was a U.S. Senator from South Carolina for nearly four decades. Hollings had a history of making racist and anti-Semitic comments as a Senator. Hollings voted against the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Ted Kennedy – $7,000 – Kennedy was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for over four and a half decades before dying in office in 2009. Kennedy ran against then-incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Democratic primaries and caucuses, losing the nomination to Carter. Kennedy supported the 2007 George W. Bush-backed immigration reform plan that would have established slavery-like guest worker programs, and he also supported the 2001 No Child Left Behind law that destroyed public education in America.
  • Patrick Kennedy – $2,500 – Kennedy, who is a son of Ted Kennedy, represented parts of Rhode Island in the U.S. House for nearly two decades. Kennedy is also a former DCCC chairman.
  • Harry Reid – $8,400 – Reid is currently U.S. Senate Minority Leader, representing Nevada in the Senate. Reid has publicly praised Trump in recent months, and he has called for the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which protects abortion and reproductive rights, to be overturned.
  • Rahm Emanuel – $50,000 – Emanuel is currently the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and, before that, he was a U.S. Representative and a DCCC chairman. Prior to his first mayoral bid, he was President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff. Rahm played a role in the cover-up of the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald, and he’s strongly supported privatizing city government services in Chicago.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand – $4,800 – Gillibrand currently represents New York in the U.S. Senate.
  • Terry McAuliffe – $25,000 – McAuliffe is currently the Governor of Virginia. Prior to that, he was the DNC chairman the last time that the Democratic presidential nominee lost a general election for president.
  • Elliot Spitzer – $21,000 – Spitzer was Governor of New York for a little more than a year from 2007 to 2008 before resigning from office after his involvement in prostitution became public knowledge. Spitzer ran for New York City Comptroller in 2013, losing in the Democratic primary.
  • Andrew Cuomo – $84,000 – Cuomo is the current Governor of New York. Cuomo is very right-wing on economic issues, including openly railing against public employee unions and supporting tax breaks for businesses. Cuomo disbanded a special commission that he established to root out corruption in New York State politics after the commission was actually doing its job.
  • David Dinkins – $7,750 – Dinkins was Mayor of New York City, New York for four years in the early 1990’s. Dinkins lost re-election in 1993 to Republican police brutality apologist Rudy Guiliani.
  • Chuck Schumer – $7,900 – Schumer is currently the senior U.S. Senator from New York. Schumer has publicly opposed the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal that is designed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran.
  • New York State Democratic Committee (NYSDC) – $116,000 – The NYSDC is the official state-level Democratic Party organization for New York State. In it’s current form, the NYSDC has acted as an arm’s length organization of corrupt New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • Anthony Weiner – $4,450 – Weiner has also gone under the alias Carlos Danger. Weiner was U.S. Representative from New York City for over a decade until he was forced to resign after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself via Twitter to a female follower of Weiner’s Twitter page. Weiner ran in the 2013 New York City mayoral election, losing the Democratic primary after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to a different woman.
  • John Kerry – $5,500 – Kerry is the current U.S. Secretary of State. Prior to being appointed by President Obama to the Secretary of State’s post, Kerry served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for nearly three decades, and, before that, Kerry was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts for nearly two years. Kerry also ran for President in 2004, losing to Republican incumbent George W. Bush. To this day, Kerry is the last Democratic presidential nominee to lose a general election for president.
  • Joe Lieberman – $4,000 – Lieberman is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Lieberman was a Democrat until 2006, when he ran under Connecticut for Lieberman political party banner after losing the Democratic primary in his re-election bid, and Lieberman went on to win the general election that year. Lieberman also was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee on the unsuccessful Al Gore/Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, and Lieberman himself ran for president in 2004, losing the Democratic nomination. Lieberman has publicly supported Republicans, including speaking at the 2008 Republican National Convention that nominated John McCain for president and Sarah Palin for vice-president, a ticket that went on to lose in a landslide to the Obama/Biden Democratic ticket.
  • Carolyn Maloney – $4,000 – Maloney has represented parts of New York City in the U.S. House since 1993.
  • Bill Nelson – $2,000 – Nelson has represented Florida in the U.S. Senate since 2001. Nelson was the only Democratic Senator to vote against defunding the torture programs that were run by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in committee in 2007.

Donald Trump has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party for decades. Now, he’s running for the Republican nomination on a platform of bigotry against anyone who isn’t a white racist, enacting Nazi Gemrany-like measures against Muslims, and giving tax breaks to rich people like himself. I encourage people to vote and caucus for Bernie Sanders, if their state has not already held a Democratic presidential nomination contest, in order to send a loud and clear message to corporate Democrats that we’re sick and tired of Donald Trump’s Democrats running the party into the ground.

Senate Republicans evade their constitutional duty

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Even though I strongly disagreed with the vast majority of Scalia’s opinions, I offer my condolences to Justice Scalia’s family.

However, Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and presidential candidates Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn’t wait for Scalia to be cremated before showing that they are more than willing to evade their constitutional duty, with McConnell flatly saying that the Senate should wait until a new president is in the White House before confirming a new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This stands in sharp contrast with President Barack Obama, who intends to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing a new associate justice to this country’s highest bench, even if Republicans obstruct his nomination.

By fulfilling one’s constitutional duty, I’m referring to, in this specific instance, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine; in Article II of the Constitution, “he” refers to the president, regardless of the president’s gender)

The President has the power and constitutional duty to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, however, the Senate has the power and constitutional duty to either affirm or reject the president’s appointment. It’s clear to me that one party to the process to appoint Supreme Court justices intends to do his constitutional duty (the President), whereas the other party does not (the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate).

The Senate is not required to approve of the president’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate can, if they wish to, establish a process to determine whether or not to approve or reject the president’s pick, and can opt to vote the president’s pick down, either in committee or in the full Senate. However, for the Senate to not establish any kind of process for accepting or rejecting the president’s pick amounts to completely evading the constitutional duty of the Senate.

From an electoral standpoint, it would be absolutely foolish for Republicans to obstruct the president’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans go through with their threat to obstruct the president’s pick until, at the earliest, a new president is sworn into office, that would, in effect, put control of both the White House and the Supreme Court on the line in the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. That is the poker equivalent of going all in with a likely losing hand. This strategy could very easily backfire on Republicans, and they would not like the nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (I’m a Bernie supporter) would pick. Hillary would likely nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, and Bernie would probably appoint someone who is ideologically similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most progressive of the current Supreme Court justices, if not even more progressive than Ginsburg. If Democrats were to retain control of the White House and regain control of the Senate, stalling on filling the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court could end up resulting in a more progressive justice than someone that Obama will pick being seated on our nation’s highest bench (I’m guessing that Obama will pick someone to his ideological right for Supreme Court). Furthermore, U.S. Senate races where Republicans are thought to be safe or favored, such as Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, would become more competitive for Democrats, and U.S. Senate races that are either competitive or where Democrats are favored, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, would become even more favorable for Democrats.

Hillary admires war hawks like Henry Kissinger and anti-LGBT bigots like Paul Wellstone

At the most recent Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton praised one of the most dangerous people in American history, Henry Kissinger, who was Richard Nixon’s right-hand man on foreign policy (Operation Menu was a U.S. carpet-bombing operation in Cambodia that Kissinger played a key role in). Nowadays, a carpet-bombing operation of any kind would be considered a war crime under international law. For someone like Hillary to praise someone like Kissinger is, in and of itself, proof that Hillary does not stand for the progressive values that the Democratic Party should stand for.

In recent days and weeks, Hillary has also praised the late Paul Wellstone, who represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate for nearly two terms before his tragic death in a 2002 plane crash, was nearly a polar opposite of someone like Kissinger. In fact, Wellstone is someone that I admire, as he was progressive on nearly every political issue. However, he committed an unforgivable sin in 1996, when he voted for Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act, a bill designed to discriminate against LGBT  couples by denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages. For Hillary to praise someone like Wellstone and use Wellstone to attack Bernie Sanders for standing up to progressive values amounts to effectively defending Wellstone’s bigotry towards the LGBT community.

Hillary Clinton is running the most right-wing campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination since George Wallace in 1972.