Thursday, June 30, 2016

Last Call For Berned Out, Con't.

The big question on the Democratic side of the race remains: will Bernie Sanders finally call it and endorse Hillary Clinton?  President Obama hasn't been able to cajole him into it, the DNC certainly hasn't, and the voters?  Well, Bernie listens to them selectively at best.

Enter the Biden!

Vice President Joe Biden is confident that Bernie Sanders is going to endorse Hillary Clinton and that the Democratic party will unify.

"Oh, I've talked to Bernie, Bernie's going to endorse her, this is going to work out," Biden said in an interview with Rachel Martin, host of NPR's Weekend Edition. "The Democrats are coalescing even before this occurs."

Sanders was asked about Biden's comment in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday evening and said he wasn't quite ready to endorse Clinton.

"I talked to Joe, I think it was three weeks ago," Sanders said. "Look, on that issue we are trying to work with Secretary Clinton's campaign on areas that we can agree." The Vermont senator also repeated his pledge "to do everything that I can to defeat Donald Trump."

Sanders said that the two camps are discussing issues like free public college and universal healthcare, which he says are critical to get his supporters to back Clinton. Those discussions may come to a head at a Democratic National Committee platform meeting in Orlando, Fla., late next week.

"Right now my hope is that we can reach an agreement on some very important issues and I can go forward to the millions of people who supported me and say, 'Look, this is the progress that you've made. This is where we're gonna go as a country,'" Sanders added on MSNBC. "So, I hope it happens. As of this moment, we're not there quite yet."

Biden's coming in to do what he does best, and that's force people hands.  He was a master of it in the Senate, and did it more than a few times as Vice President (remember him backing same-sex marriage back in 2012?) Bernie can dance around it all he wants to, but it looks like Joe has boxed him in.

So what now?  Bernie's going to have to either call out the VP or endorse Clinton, and do one of the two very soon.

We'll see how long it takes.

Chris Bag O' Veeps?

Don't look now, but Donald Trump's Guy Friday and McDonald's gofer Chris Christie (who may actually be Governor of New Jersey in his spare time, we're kinda cloudy on that) may be Trump's sidekick on the ticket come November.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is being vetted as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, according to two ranking Republican officials. 
Despite Christie going through the vetting process, the two ranking Republican officials told ABC News they doubt Christie would ultimately be Trump’s pick. 
Christie endorsed Trump for president in February, just weeks after suspending his presidential campaign, and has been a surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail. 
In addition to having been tapped to lead Trump’s potential transition in May, Christie has emerged as an influential voice on the Trump team.

At a press conferenceat the New Jersey statehouse, Christie denied that he would be vice president. 
"All I can tell you is that my intention is that I'm going to serve the rest of my term as governor until Jan. 16, 2018, and then return to the private sector," Christie said.

All I have to say is that New Jersey will be happy to get rid of the guy if he goes, but that would mean he'd be VP, and Trump...well...yeah.

I understand Mars is nice this time of year.

Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if it's Christie, he's just as mean as Trump is, only without the charisma. We'll see.

Trump Cards, Con't.

It's not a question of whether as president, Donald Trump would have an enemies list or not, the question is how many people, including Republicans, are already on it.

Donald Trump said Wednesday that he thought his Republican primary opponents who vowed to support the Party's nominee should follow through or be banned from running for public office.

Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in Bangor, Maine, said those who signed the RNC's pledge should "honor the pledge."

Trump went on to note that some of his former opponents, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Dr. Ben Carson, had endorsed him. But not everyone has given Trump the support he desires.

"But just remember this, they signed a pledge saying they will abide, saying they will back the candidate of the party. And now they sit back," Trump said. "They broke their word. In my opinion, they should never be allowed to run for public office again. Because what they did is disgraceful."

Yeah, as president and commander-in-chief of America's armed forces as well as our nuclear assets, I would totally feel like Donald Trump would be calm and level-headed leader who would never take petty revenge on people for slights either real or perceived.

Don't you?

In all seriousness, it's not surprising to see Republicans shrug and look away when Trump displays all the behavior that they have accused President Obama of engaging in for the last seven plus years, the narcissism, the anger, the need to settle scores.  Trump is all that and more, and yet Republicans are more than happy to nominate and vote for the guy.

Anyone still surprised at the rise of Trump really has been living under a rock for the last decade.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Last Call For The Gas Face

Gas is around $2.30 a gallon here in the Cincy/NKY area right now, and it looks like once again the Memorial Day - July 4th stretch will be the year's peak as gas prices are expected to fall again.

Gasoline prices may have peaked for the year, already falling as the busy Fourth of July travel weekend approaches, according to analyst projections. 
Prices at the pump typically top out near the end of June - absent major swings in crude oil costs - and this year gasoline prices likely will fall throughout the second half of 2016, according to a forecast by GasBuddy, which tracks fuel costs nationwide. Gasoline costs started decreasing just before the July 4 holiday in seven of the past 10 years.

"This defies the general consensus on Main Street that prices rise ahead of a major travel holiday," said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. 
Motorists will enjoy the lowest Fourth of July prices since 2005, according to GasBuddy. The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline on Tuesday was unchanged in the Houston area at about $2.11 from the past week, down from $2.54 for the same week last year and $3.48 in 2014. Nationally, pump prices fell an average of about 3 cents to $2.30. 
GasBuddy predicts the national average will dip to $2.27 per gallon on July 4, down significantly from 2014, when the national average hit $3.66 per gallon.

So why the good news?  Ask Nigel Farage.

The decision by United Kingdom voters to exit the European Union will add even more downward pressure to summer gasoline costs despite record-setting demand, Laskoski added. That's because the so-called Brexit is weakening global economies, depressing oil demand and prices. Cheaper oil - the primary feedstock of gasoline - means less expensive fuel. 
GasBuddy projects that average gas price nationally will again slip below $2 a gallon as early as November as demand falls after summer and refineries begin pumping out cheaper winter-blend fuels. The average U.S. price for gasoline is expected to fall to an average of $2.21 in August, $2.02 in October and $1.88 in December, according to GasBuddy.

Gas under $2 a gallon again this winter?  More than likely.  We'll see.

NC GOP Goes Down The Crapper, Con't

With heavy pressure coming from businesses (mainly the NBA) and activists alike, NC GOP lawmakers are thinking about tweaking the state's awful HB2 bathroom bill discrimination law.  If this sounds like feebly trimming the edges on a lawn full of evil mutant plants that are eating the neighborhood pets, you're probably right.

The draft bill would not change a key part of HB2 – the prohibition on transgender persons using the bathroom or locker room of their gender identity in public facilities.
It would restore the right to sue for gender discrimination in state court, a right removed by HB2 but sought by Gov. Pat McCrory. 
And it would use federal anti-discrimination standards in determining discrimination, not the standards in HB2. That could extend protections to sexual orientation, according to a lawyer familiar with the legislation. Critics, however, said the changes would do nothing to protect the LGBT community. 
The impact of certain rewritten sections of the law is difficult to gauge at first glance, said Charlotte lawyer John Gresham, an employment law specialist. 
For example, the revisions appear to reinstate and even broaden LGBT and transgender protections on hiring, firing and other workplace issues, Gresham said. But it excludes bathroom access from being classified as discrimination. 
The draft would make it easier for people who’ve had reassignment surgery to be recognized by requiring a “certificate of sex reassignment,” not necessarily a birth certificate, to prove their new gender. It would also increase penalties for violating people’s privacy in bathrooms or locker rooms
And it would create an “anti-discrimination task force” to review issues surrounding the law, including how claims of discrimination are handled in North Carolina.

This is a hideous compromise. Are you seriously telling me that the process of "fixing" the law is creating a legally separate class of human beings who need a certificate from the state in order to use the damn bathroom?  Have you guys even remotely read a histroy book down there?  Last time I checked, they still taught the humanities in the state concerning why this might be a bad, bad idea.

God I hope the NBA pulls All-Star Weekend from Charlotte.  This is repugnant.

Read more here:

Terror In Istanbul

"There was a huge explosion, extremely loud. The roof came down. Inside the airport it is terrible, you can't recognize it, the damage is big," said Ali Tekin, who was at the arrivals hall waiting for a guest when the attack took place.

A German woman named Duygu, who was at passport control entering Turkey, said she threw herself onto the floor with the sound of the explosion. Several witnesses also reported hearing gunfire shortly before the attacks.

"Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors," she said outside the airport.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest in a string of suicide bombings in Turkey this year, but the Dogan news agency said initial indications suggested Islamic State may have been responsible, citing police sources.

A Turkish official said it was too soon to assign blame.

The attack bore some similarities to a suicide bombing by Islamic State militants at Brussels airport in March which killed 16 people. A coordinated attack also targeted a rush-hour metro train, killing a further 16 people in the Belgian capital.

Paul Roos, 77, described seeing one of the attackers "randomly shooting" on the departures floor of the terminal.

"He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him. He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. I was 50 meters (55 yards) away from him," said Roos, a South African on his way back to Cape Town with his wife after a holiday in southern Turkey.

Both Turkish nationals and foreign tourists were killed in the attack, but to see something like this happen during Ramadan is going to draw nearly immediate accusations of Islamic State from President Erdogan, regardless.

We'll see.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

School Of Hard Knocks, Con't.

The overarching failure of charter schools in America over the last two decades, a failure that both parties and both the Bush and Obama administrations must be held responsible for, has now crushed a generation of public schools. But nowhere has been hit harder by this than the state that went all in on charter schools 23 years ago: Michigan, and especially the city of Detroit.

Detroit schools have long been in decline academically and financially. But over the past five years, divisive politics and educational ideology and a scramble for money have combined to produced a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States. 
While the idea was to foster academic competition, the unchecked growth of charters has created a glut of schools competing for some of the nation’s poorest students, enticing them to enroll with cash bonuses, laptops, raffle tickets for iPads and bicycles. Leaders of charter and traditional schools alike say they are being cannibalized, fighting so hard over students and the limited public dollars that follow them that no one thrives. 
Detroit now has a bigger share of students in charters than any American city except New Orleans, which turned almost all its schools into charters after Hurricane Katrina. But half the charters perform only as well, or worse, than Detroit’s traditional public schools. 
“The point was to raise all schools,” said Scott Romney, a lawyer and board member of New Detroit, a civic group formed after the 1967 race riots here. “Instead, we’ve had a total and complete collapse of education in this city.” 
The city has emerged almost miraculously fast from the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Downtown Detroit hums with development — a maze of detours around construction sites with luxury apartments, a new Nike store along a stretch of prime but empty storefronts. Even where blight resumes a few blocks out, farm-to-table restaurants and modern design stores sprout hopefully. Last year, the city had its smallest population decline since the 1950s. 
But the city’s residents — many of them stranded here after whites and middle-class blacks fled in waves — will not share in any renaissance as long as only 10 percent of rising high school seniors score “college ready” on reading tests.
“We’ll either invest in our own children and prepare them to fill these jobs, or I suppose maybe people will migrate from other places in the country to fill them,” said Thomas F. Stallworth III, a former state Representative who steered the passage of the 2014 legislation that paved Detroit’s way out of bankruptcy. “If that’s the case, we are still left with this underbelly of generational poverty with no clear path out.”

Charter schools have been a multi-billion dollar scam for taxpayers for years now, the promise of "professional education corporations" coming in to bring failing school districts around.  The reality is that generational poverty assures that it can't work, and voters perpetuate the system every time elections come around.

Public school in 2016 is essentially educational triage. The good kids in the wealthy districts get the money, instruction, attention and do well in life.  Everyone else gets thrown in the deep end with whatever is left and told to fend for themselves.  Increasingly, that's nothing, and only a few make it out of hell every year.  Everyone else, well, they're not worth saving, are they?

So while corporate Detroit is having a renaissance complete with hipsters and urban renewal, the people that lived here all their lives are getting none of that.

And so it goes.

The GOP Purity Patrol

Former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee is angry at RINOs like George Will and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, declaring they aren't really Republicans if they don't back Trump.

“My feeling about George Will is, if he wants Hillary Clinton to be president, and if he’s willing to go vote for her as he said he would, then he is not a Republican. And he needs to just be honest and frankly, if he’s one of these guys, ‘it’s my way or no way,’ then goodbye.”

“Senator Ben Sasse too?” asked Kilmeade.

“Yes, absolutely,” Huckabee replied. “I’m frustrated because we have a party, we have an election, not a selection. It’s not a back room bunch of good old boys who get to make the decision. We respect the voters.”

 If that's the case, then Huckabee should keep in mind that Trump never did get a majority of voters in many state primaries, and that Republican voters aren't satisfied with him as their choice.

Just 45 percent of Republican voters say they are satisfied with Donald Trump as their party's presumptive presidential nominee, while 52 percent say they would have preferred someone else, according to results from the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

By comparison, the numbers are reversed for Hillary Clinton among Democrats - 52 percent of Democratic voters are satisfied with Clinton, and 45 percent prefer someone else.

GOP attitudes about Trump break along ideological and educational lines. By a 53 percent-to-45 percent margin, conservative Republicans say they prefer a different nominee to Trump, while moderates are split 49 percent to 49 percent.

Maybe more tellingly, 58 percent of Republicans with a high-school education or less are satisfied with Trump as the party's presumptive nominee, versus 60 percent of Republicans with a college degree who want someone else.

So while Clinton is still consolidating her support, it looks like Trump still has serious problems uniting his party.

Do you blame them? They know what's coming.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Last Call For Messing With Texas

The Supreme Court finished off the 2015-2016 term today with a 5-3 decision finding Texas's TRAP laws unconstitutional.

Passed in 2013, the law said clinics providing abortion services must meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers. And it required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. 
Since the law was passed, the number of clinics providing abortion services in Texas dropped to 19 from 42. Opponents said that number would fall to ten if the Supreme Court upheld the law. 
The Center for Reproductive Rights called the law "an absolute sham," arguing that abortion patients rarely require hospitalization and that many patients simply take two pills. 
Justice Stephen G. Breyer in writing the majority opinion said "neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution."

The question now turns to states with similar laws restricting abortion clinics through regulation of hospital admission privileges and surgery center layouts, most notably Ohio, where these same laws are threatening to shutter Cincinnati and Dayton's last two remaining abortion providers. Think Progress breaks down the beatdown:

As Breyer notes, the admitting privileges requirement is a solution in search of a problem. As the trial court determined in this case, “[t]he great weight of evidence demonstrates that, before the act’s passage, abortion in Texas was extremely safe with particularly low rates of serious complications and virtually no deaths occurring on account of the procedure.” Accordingly, “there was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure.” 
Indeed, when Texas’ solicitor general was “directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.” 
A significant reason why the admitting privileges requirement imposes such a heavy burden on abortion providers is that many hospitals require doctors to actually admit a certain number of patients in order to maintain those privileges. But abortion doctors rarely have a reason to do so. One clinic, for example, performed over 17,000 abortions over a decade, and “not a single one of those patients had to be transferred to a hospital for emergency treatment, much less admitted to the hospital.” Thus, Breyer writes, “doctors would be unable to maintain admitting privileges or obtain those privileges for the future, because the fact that abortions are so safe meant that providers were unlikely to have any patients to admit.” 

I don't see how John Kasich's TRAP laws survive in Ohio in the wake of Breyer's ruling, and we'll see how it plays out, but the damage has largely already been done as a result.  Texas still will have lost half its abortion providers, as will Ohio.

I'm pretty sure it's a gamble Republicans were willing to take, and we'll just move on to the next set of regulations that red states will come up with to close clinics.

The Turning Of The Screw Job

Republicans know Hillary Clinton isn't going to pick Bernie Sanders as her VP, and the GOP plans to use that in order to convince Sanders supporters to abandon her in November.

In a detailed memo outlining its strategy to combat Clinton’s VP choice, the committee says it will frame the selection as both a cynical play to certain constituencies and as an emotional letdown for voters who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primary. 
The goals, the memo says, are to “drive wedges between these top contenders and either Clinton and/or traditional Democrat constituencies, such as labor, environmentalists, and gun control advocates, and other traditional left-wing constituencies;” and “[w]here applicable, frame the choice as an insult to the large, deep base of Bernie Sanders supporters who are struggling with the notion of supporting Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democrat nominee.” 
Titled “Project Pander,” the RNC’s strategy memo also reveals which candidates the committee views as most likely to be selected. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) occupy the top tier; Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) are in the second. 
Authored by Raj Shah, the research director and deputy communications director at the RNC, the memo telegraphs a campaign of subterfuge that is traditionally executed in private. Parties normally don’t like their fingerprints on the attacks against the opposition. But this has been an untraditional election, with both sides relatively unapologetic about the mud they are slinging.

Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director and chief strategist, said that the committee already has conducted extensive field research in San Antonio, Boston and Richmond, Virginia (homes to Castro, Warren and Kaine, respectively) in addition to investigative work on all six potential choices. 
“We’ve audited previous research efforts from allied folks, ID-ed relevant video and historical paper archives,” Spicer said. He added that the committee had filed more than 20 freedom of information requests at the local, state and federal level on these potential VP choices and was ready to deploy operatives for further dirt-digging within 12 hours of an announcement.

Of course the Republicans are counting on the Bernie or Bust idiots to help Trump win, and they are more than happy to rile them up in order to get the job done. I don't know how I can make it too much more clear to Sanders than until he endorses Hillary and drops out of the race, he is a liability and he is helping Donald Trump, and so are his supporters.

There comes a time guys in which you have to choose a side.

Your choices are Hillary or Trump.


History Doomed To Repeat Itself

The white nationalists and skinheads, clad in black, began to arrive a little before noon Sunday for their planned march on the state Capitol grounds. They were met by hundreds of protesters toting signs that denounced “Nazi scum.”

Violence began almost immediately, authorities and witnesses said, and by the time the clashes ended 20 minutes later, at least seven people had been stabbed, nine were hospitalized and many more suffered bruises, scrapes and cuts.

"They attacked each other without hesitation," said counter-protester Chandra Zafra, 50, a member of the Mexica Movement nonprofit. "It was a war zone."

For much of the afternoon, the historic domed Capitol was locked down, with staffers and tourists inside. Police swarmed the park-like grounds, but by Sunday evening there had still been no arrests.

The Sacramento stabbings came several months after another violent confrontation between members of a Ku Klux Klan group and counter-protesters at an Anaheim park.

As Shakezula over at LGM puts it, these are our Brexit thugs, they are the guys that are going to be very, very angry after November 8 and they're not going anywhere.  This was the mistake the left made in 2008-2010, figuring that an America that could elect a black President was an enlightened, awesome place.  Instead we got the almost immediate Tea Party backlash, the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party in the South and Midwest, and a GOP Congress after two disastrous midterms.  We're one election away at this point from going back generations on civil rights.

These guys aren't going anywhere when Hillary wins, and 2018 is going to be brutal.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trump Cards, Con't.

The slow trainwreck of the Donald Trump campaign continues to disintegrate in June, where last month Trump had a slight lead over Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post/ABC News polls, he's now behind by 12 points, 51-39%.

The survey finds sweeping unease with the presumptive Republican nominee’s candidacy — from his incendiary rhetoric and values to his handling of both terrorism and his own business — foreshadowing that the November election could be a referendum on Trump more than anything else.

Roughly two in three Americans say they think Trump is unqualified to lead the nation; are anxious about the idea of him as president; believe his comments about women, minorities and Muslims show an unfair bias; and see his attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican American heritage as racist.

A slimmer majority say they disapprove of the way Clinton has handled questions about her use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state, and half of Americans are anxious about the prospect of a Clinton presidency, underscoring the historic unpopularity of the two major-party candidates.

In fact, so strong is many Americans’ opposition to Clinton and desire for a change in Washington that even some registering their disapproval of Trump say that as of now they feel compelled to vote for him.

Nevertheless, in a head-to-head general election matchup, Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 39 percent among registered voters nationwide, the poll found. This is Clinton’s largest lead in Post-ABC polling since last fall and a dramatic reversal from last month’s survey, which found the race nearly even, with Trump at 46 percent and Clinton at 44 percent.

And yes, Clinton would be the most unpopular candidate a major party was set to nominate in decades, except for the fact that Trump is even more unpopular and significantly so.  Of course there are people who dislike Trump who will vote for him anyway, but gosh, more people will vote for Clinton.

Of course this means Bernie Sanders supporters are starting to come around to Hillary, and they're not the only ones:

In May, Trump was more competitive with Clinton because he had just secured the Republican nomination and the party’s electorate was coalescing around his candidacy. Clinton’s unfavorable ratings among registered voters tied their record high last month, matching Trump’s at 57 percent and weighing her down.

But that dynamic reversed over the past month, with Democrats unifying behind Clinton and Republicans expressing fresh doubts about Trump. While 88 percent of Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents say they support Clinton, a smaller 79 percent of Republican-leaning voters back Trump.

And there is evidence in the poll that the emergence of Trump as the Republican Party’s standard bearer has pushed some GOP voters out of the fold. Just 69 percent of self-identified Republicans who supported a candidate other than Trump in the primary say they now support Trump; 13 percent say they back Clinton, while 11 percent volunteer “neither.”

There is also little evidence that Trump is winning over Democratic primary voters. On the campaign trail in recent weeks, Trump has made direct appeals to disaffected supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But the poll finds that just 8 percent of voters who backed Sanders in the primaries say they support Trump, down from 20 percent in May.

So yes, Trump is starting to really show signs of total disintegration here.  We'll see.

Sunday Long Read: Hell In A Cell

This week's long read is Shane Bauer's outstanding, heartbreaking piece on his four months undercover as a prison guard in the nation's oldest private federal correctional facility in Louisiana, making $9 an hour working for the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and seeing every kind of hell imaginable.

At the end of one morning of doing nothing, the training coordinator tells us we can go to the gym to watch inmates graduate from trade classes. Prisoners and their families are milling around with plates of cake and cups of fruit punch. An inmate offers a piece of red velvet to Miss Stirling.

I stand around with Collinsworth, an 18-year-old cadet with a chubby white baby face hidden behind a brown beard and a wisp of bangs. Before CCA, Collinsworth worked at a Starbucks. When he came to Winnfield to help out with family, this was the first job he could get. Once, Collinsworth was nearly kicked out of class after he jokingly threatened to stab Mr. Tucker with a plastic training knife. He's boasted to me about inmate management tactics he's learned from seasoned officers. "You just pit 'em against each other and that's the easiest way to get your job done," he tells me. He says one guard told him that inmates should tell troublemakers, "'I'm gonna rape you if you try that shit again.' Or something; whatever it takes."

As Collinsworth and I stand around, inmates gather to look at our watches. One, wearing a cocked gray beanie, asks to buy them. I refuse outright. Collinsworth dithers. "How old you is?" the inmate asks him.

"You never know," Collinsworth says.

"Man, all these fake-ass signals," the inmate says. "The best thing you could do is get to know people in the place."

"I understand it's your home," Collinsworth says. "But I'm at work right now."

"It's your home for 12 hours a day! You trippin'. You 'bout to do half my time with me. You straight with that?"

"It's probably true."

"It ain't no 'probably true.' If you go' be at this bitch, you go' do 12 hours a day." He tells Collinsworth not to bother writing up inmates for infractions: "They ain't payin' you enough for that." Seeming torn between whether to impress me or the inmate, Collinsworth says he will only write up serious offenses, like hiding drugs.

"Drugs?! Don't worry 'bout the drugs." The inmate says he was caught recently with two ounces of "mojo," or synthetic marijuana, which is the drug of choice at Winn. The inmate says guards turn a blind eye to it. They "ain't trippin' on that shit," he says. "I'm telling you, it ain't that type of camp. You can't come change things by yourself. You might as well go with the flow. Get this free-ass, easy-ass money, and go home."

"I'm just here to do my job and take care of my family," Collinsworth says. "I'm not gonna bring stuff in 'cuz even if I don't get caught, there's always the chance that I will."

"Nah. Ain't no chance," the inmate says. "I ain't never heard of nobody movin' good and low-key gettin' caught. Nah. I know a dude still rolling. He been doin' it six years." He looks at Collinsworth. "Easy."

The inmates' families file out the side entrance. A couple of minutes after the last visitors leave, the coach shouts, "All inmates on the bleachers!" A prisoner tosses his graduation certificate dramatically into the trash. Another lifts the podium over his head and runs with it across the gym. The coach shouts, exasperated, as prisoners scramble around.

"You see this chaos?" the inmate in the beanie says to Collinsworth. "If you'd been to other camps, you'd see the order they got. Ain't no order here. Inmates run this bitch, son."

"None of you seem to understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me."

Our mass incarceration system is awful.  Our corporations are awful.  Putting the two together was arguably the worst idea America has had over the last 20 years.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Last Call For Will To Powerless

The Party of Trump has lost long-time conservative WaPo curmudgeon and weird baseball fetishist George F. Will, who has apparently tendered his party affiliation in a fit of pique.

Will, who writes for the Washington Post, acknowledged it is a “little too late” for the Republican Party to find a replacement for Trump but had a message for Republican voters.

“Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House,” Will said during an interview after his speech at a Federalist Society luncheon.

Will said he changed his voter registration this month from Republican to “unaffiliated” in the state of Maryland.

“This is not my party,” Will said during his speech at the event.

He mentioned House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) endorsement of Trump as one of the factors that led him to leave the party.

Here's the kicker:

Will, a Fox News contributor, said a “President Trump” with “no opposition” from a Republican-led Congress would be worse than a Hillary Clinton presidency with a Republican-led Congress.

Which, if you think about it, that's bonkers, and this is how I know he's lying.  Trump with a GOP Congress would be the Dubya years unchained, would almost certainly lead to a 6-3 SCOTUS conservative majority, and effectively the end of the New Deal and Great Society eras that have defined modern liberalism for the last 80 years.  The Republicans would have nearly unfettered control of the entire US government and total control of at least half the states and the Democrats would be relegated to a being a coastal, urban party.

In part, it would be exactly what Will has said that he has wanted for decades. And you want me to believe that he's bailing on Trump out of principle after helping to create and enabling his rise?

That's hysterical.  Tell me another knee-slapper like this, laughing this hard burns a respectable amount of calories.

It's far more likely that Will is walking away from this slow-motion car crash so he can say "See? Trump failed our conservative values, but I was smart enough to know better."  He's saving his career, is what he's doing.

Nothing more, nothing less.  Count on it.

Waging Concession Negotiations

The Sanders camp is starting to get concessions from Clinton and the DNC as far as this year's official party platform, and the first is something America needs to get behind: a federal $15 minimum wage.

Democrats' platform drafting committee took a first step toward giving Bernie Sanders a major concession, voting to adopt language in support of a $15 minimum wage. The committee, which will continue drafting the party's guiding document Saturday, also aligned itself with Sanders's support for progressive ideas such as abolishing the death penalty and expanding Social Security, the Associated Press reported. The minimum wage language adopted echoes a common refrain by Sanders, who has called the current federal minimum of $7.25 a "starvation wage."

The platform also tackles financial reform, calling for "an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall."

Sanders has refused to suspend his campaign and endorse Clinton despite the fact that she has clinched the nomination. He has turned his focus to instilling progressive ideas into the party's platform — the party adopting proposals in support of a $15 minimum wage and free college tuition could factor into Sanders's potential support of Clinton.

"Right now, to be very frank with you, we are talking to the Clinton campaign to try to determine whether or not they can come up with some very serious proposals which will help us transform America," Sanders said to supporters at a rally in Albany, N.Y., Friday. "Whether it will happen or not — that's a good question. I don't know. We are working with them right now."

Clinton has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $12 but has expressed support for movements calling for $15 in places like New York and Los Angeles.

Considering California and New York have already beaten Clinton to the punch on that, it's good to see yet more evidence that Clinton is trying to accommodate the Sanders position on things in the name of unity, that's how it's supposed to work.

Having said that, hey Bernie folks? You will never, ever, ever, ever, ever see a dime increase in the federal minimum wage in this country again as long as Republicans control either chamber of Congress.

Help Democrats fix that in November.


Dispatches From Bevinstan, Con't

The unstoppable Obamacare analysis machine that is Richard Mayhew takes a look at Gov. Matt Bevin's new Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid waiver and nails him to the wall in one paragraph:

The only way money is being saved as per person costs are either the same or higher is by covering fewer people. The way that Kentucky will cover fewer people is by putting up half a dozen barriers to enrollment. Premiums, health savings accounts, limited open re-enrollment periods, benefit lock-outs and job training requirements all are barriers. Individually any of those barriers might only knock a few people out from the pool, but they are a bewildering array of complexity when put together. The goal of this type of waiver design is to reduce costs by making more people go without insurance.

And if all that sounds familiar, that's the same exact plan Republicans are using to keep people from voting, to keep people from getting abortions, and to keep people from taking advantage of a host of other government programs.  If you make it too obnoxious to get, then people will start going without it.

Bevin is no different.  His plan is designed to kick people off the Medicaid rolls, period, and claim that they're too lazy to jump through the hoops he set up to get back on.  It's not his fault people aren't going to do all the things he's making them do in order to get health coverage, you see, it just weeds out the bad ones.

The reality is far different, but Bevin doesn't care.  Once again, we punish the poors and tell ourselves that if we ever needed Medicaid, that we would follow all the rules out of "dignity".

And this state will buy that line of crap every time.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Is Kaine Able?

Hillary Clinton will be here in Cincinnati on Monday at a fundraiser with Mayor John Cranley, which isn't super weird with Ohio very much being in play in November or anything. She'll be here along with Elizabeth Warren, which is definitely making people ask if Clinton has made her VP selection already.

Hillary Clinton will campaign Monday in Cincinnati with progressive U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – marking Clinton's first public appearance in Cincinnati this election cycle and her first campaign stop with Warren, a possible vice presidential pick. 
Clinton will also appear Sunday night without Warren at a twice-postponed fundraiser at Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley's home, with contribution levels ranging from $1,000 to $33,400. 
On Monday, Clinton and Warren will appear at 10:30 a.m. at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal. The two women "will discuss their shared commitment to building an America that is stronger together and an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," Clinton's campaign said in a statement. Tickets to the event are available at
Clinton and her supporters have touted Warren's endorsement as the former first lady seeks to unite Democrats after a long primary battle with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders' progressive ideas won support, and primaries, all over the country. But Clinton won more delegates in primaries and won the support of most of the party's superdelegates, emerging this month as the presumptive Democratic nominee. 
Warren, a longtime progressive leader, waited until this month to endorse the former secretary of state over Sanders. She could help Clinton pull more Sanders supporters to her side.

But having Warren actually by her side isn't enough apparently to stop the rumors that Clinton really wants Virginia's Tim Kaine as her running mate.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is emerging as the leading candidate atop Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential short list, according to Democratic allies and operatives close to the campaign. 
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and HUD Secretary Julian Castro are also top prospects for the Democratic ticket — both representing nods to important Democratic constituencies.

But they have serious drawbacks that make them less appealing for Clinton than the Spanish-speaking, Terry McAuliffe-endorsed, former missionary and swing state governor, who was a finalist in Barack Obama’s vice presidential vetting process eight years ago. 
Kaine currently towers over other top-tier candidates still in consideration like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, California Rep. Xavier Becerra and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. 
“Tim Kaine was a finalist eight years ago because of his executive experience, solidity, values, standing in a critical state and overall profile as someone who would be a good governing partner to Obama,” said former Obama senior strategist David Axelrod, who was involved in the selection process eight years ago. “He was very much in contention and highly regarded.”

Which is weird, because that's exactly what Politico said 8 years ago about him being Obama's veep.

As Senator Barack Obama turns to the choice of his running mate, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has emerged as one of the campaign’s potential finalists, sources familiar with conversations in Richmond and in Chicago said. 
Kaine, an early Obama supporter whose biography nicely dovetails with the Illinois senator’s, "ranks very, very high on the short list," said a source who has spoken recently to senior Obama aides about Kaine. 
Kaine "is getting a critical examination," the source said.

That turned out to be utter BS, and we already know that Politico is happily printing warnings from Wall Street that they will abandon the Democrats completely if she picks Liz Warren.

So no, I wouldn't worry about Kaine, rather than Clinton campaigning in a swing state with somebody on her short list.

Anarchy In The UK

A little Sex Pistols this morning in honor of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson (who will most likely be the net PM) and the rest of the Brexit crew managing to convince the UK to leave the EU and wreck their own economy for a decade or so. 

I am an anarchist
Don't know what I want
But I know how to get it
I want to destroy the passerby

Apart from causing a sharp, short-term hit to Britain’s economy, the first consequence of Thursday’s vote to leave the EU will be a government crisis in London. David Cameron is now almost certain to resign as prime minister and Conservative party leader — most probably sooner rather than later. A new Conservative administration, distinctly more anti-EU in tone, would replace him.

Unless carefully managed, this process will damage relations between London and other EU capitals. The latter will interpret the Brexit vote as a hammer blow to Europe’s unity. For the sake of protecting that unity, they will be in no mood to offer generous post-Brexit deals for Britain. Negotiations will be in danger of turning into an acrimonious tug of war, distracting Europe from other urgent business.

Second, Brexit will make financial markets more sensitive to the vulnerabilities of the 19-nation eurozone. Sterling has already plunged to a 30-year low. Investors will ask whether, in the light of the Brexit shock, eurozone governments have the political will and public support to strengthen the architecture of European monetary union.

One test will be whether Europe’s banking union, including a plan for common deposit insurance, makes progress over the next 12 months. At present it is blocked. More ambitious proposals, such as an Italian plan for common EU “migration bonds” to finance the EU’s response to the refugee and migrant crisis, will have little chance of being turned into action.

Individual eurozone countries will be under intensified market scrutiny. Ahead of the British vote, yield spreads widened between German government bonds and those of less financially solid southern European countries.

The outlook for Portugal, which is ruled by a shaky coalition of the moderate and radical left, is unsettling investors. The deep-seated troubles of Greece have never gone away. In Spain, which holds a general election on Sunday, the prospects for stable government and economic reform are clouded by a fragmented political party system and Catalan separatism.

Not to mention the almost assured rise of Marine Le Pen and the French nationalists in Paris. Count on other countries to hold referendums as well, and it's not going to be pretty.

Now it's still possible that the next government will find a way to stay in and will not invoke Article 50 and leave the EU within two years, but the odds of that are pretty low.  We won't know the full damage from this for several years at the minimum, but this is a cautionary tale: fear of the other won an historic victory in the UK last night.  I'm thinking at some point it will win here in the US, too.  Maybe not Trump, but somebody far worse.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trump Cards, Con't

It's finally soaked in under The Donald's neoprene hairpiece that the best way to get Republicans to stop hating him is to make them hate Hillary Clinton as much as possible. That it took this long for him to deliver a conspiracy-laden tirade against her in a speech is telling, but it was the red meat the Pretty Hate Machine wanted to chew through, and they got it by the truckload. NPR's Mara Liasson was very impressed.

Donald Trump did what Republicans have begged their presidential candidate to do for months — lay out the case, from A to Z, against Hillary Clinton. 
Trump didn't hold back in a blistering speech Wednesday. He went through chapter and verse of every criticism — based in fact or conspiracy theory — against the Clintons. In sum, Trump said, Hillary Clinton may be a "world-class liar" and "the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States." 
The speech will be fact-checked, and before it was even delivered, the Clinton campaign and its allies were pushing back with a detailed rebuttal. Nevertheless, the political significance of the speech is undeniable. After wasting the first six weeks of his time as the presumptive nominee of the GOP — getting sidetracked almost daily by petty personal feuds and provocative statements — Trump finally laid out a case against Clinton on foreign and domestic policy. 
This speech should quiet some of the angst inside Republican circles about the quality of the campaign Trump is running (or not running). Opposition to the Clintons is one of the strongest strands in the GOP's DNA — and now that decades-long animus seems to have found a focused champion in Donald Trump. 
It's the speech Republicans have been itching to hear, in a crystallized way, since the 1990s. Trump gave them exactly what they wanted and likely quelled some fears about his candidacy. They might not be totally behind him, but Republicans are virulently opposed to her. 
And the best way to galvanize people who should be on your team is to find a common enemy.

So we're congratulating Trump for being a standard, hateful Clinton-bashing Republican? Mara definitely misses the 90's. Ironically, it took this long for Trump to focus on Clinton because his overweening narcissism prevented hm from talking about anyone other than himself for a year.

And let's not overlook the fact that the speech itself was basically one giant bucket of lies.

Look, Trump figures his only shot is to try to drag Clinton down to his level.  It will probably work to keep the "Never Trump" rubes (including Liasson, apparently) in line, but it's not going to help him with anyone else.  Still, to have any shot in November, Trump has to get his party behind hating Clinton 24/7.

We'll see how that works out for him.

Ryan In The Reign Storm

So how did Rep. John Lewis and House Democrats get away with their sit-in protest over forcing a vote on gun control legislation on the floor of the chamber yesterday, and why were House Republicans so utterly unprepared to deal with it?  Two reasons: social media, which allowed the Democrats to broadcast even after the GOP pulled the plug on proceedings in the House, and Paul Ryan being the most inept House Speaker in decades. 

A Democratic protest demanding votes on gun-control legislation led to pandemonium in the House chamber that did not end until early Thursday, when Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his fellow Republicans reclaimed control long enough to force through a major spending bill. They then abruptly adjourned and left the Capitol.

Furious Democrats remained on the House floor, where they huddled around their leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who praised their stand as a “discussion heard around the world.”

Ms. Pelosi expressed bewilderment at the Republican position. “What could they be thinking?” she asked. “Whatever it is, they don’t want to tell anybody about it. That’s why they left in the dead of night.”

The standoff, which began with a Democratic sit-in on the House floor just before noon on Wednesday, did not end until about 3 a.m. Thursday when Mr. Ryan — barreling over Democrats’ objections — took the rare and provocative step of calling a vote on a major appropriations bill in the wee hours and without any debate. He then adjourned the House, with no legislative votes scheduled until July 5.

The House approved the bill, which includes $1.1 billion in emergency financing to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus — and more than $80 billion in other government spending — by a vote of 239 to 171 shortly after 3 a.m.

Republicans dashed from the chamber into the sticky heat gripping Washington and were met by protesters who jeered, with some shouting, “Do your job!”

All I have to say is that John Boehner, for all his incompetence in getting rolled by Nancy Pelosi and sometimes even his own party on a regular basis, never would have let John Lewis get this far in the first place.  He would have known this was coming after Senate Democrats tried a similar move, moved the Zika vote up, and would have placated Lewis with a promise to vote before the Dems got hours of free publicity making the GOP look like a bunch of savage assholes.

But this was Paul Ryan's show, and he failed the tests from the get-go. Instead of taking control of the House immediately, Ryan went to CNN to talk to Wolf Blitzer, when Republicans had been avoiding the media for the month of June in order to dodge Donald Trump questions.

Amid Ryan's bluster about due process, which should come as a real surprise to the families of  the victims of Orlando's massacre, was the fact that Ryan was pleading with media to call foul on the whole affair and side with him in order to help shut Lewis down.

No such luck. Meanwhile, the Senate is introducing bipartisan legislation that would block gun sales to people on the No Fly list.

Maine Republican Susan Collins and a bipartisan group of senators have introduced a compromise bill that would authorize the Justice Department to deny gun sales to individuals on two terror watch lists; while the proposal's chances of passage are still unknown, it's the first congressional response to the Orlando attack that has had the backing of figures from both parties. (Four other gun-control bills failed along party lines in the Senate earlier this week.)

The bill—technically an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act—would apply restrictions to individuals on the no-fly and "selectee" lists, a narrower group than would have been covered by a failed amendment proposed by Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The proposal attempts to address concerns about Constitutional-rights issues related to the watch lists by including "a process for Americans and green card holders to appeal a denial in U.S. Court of Appeals and to recover their reasonable attorneys fees if they prevail."

So by shutting down the House, Ryan now gives the Democrats in the Senate the opportunity to move this bill forward and continue their narrative, with Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine already on board.

Ryan got rolled, plain and simple.  For once, it's working in America's favor.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Last Call For Crossing The Rubio Con, Con't

It's official, Sen. Marco Rubio really is going to run for re-election after his disastrous presidential run.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will seek reelection to a second term, sources familiar with the decision said Wednesday, a complete reversal from his earlier plans that gives the GOP a significant boost in its efforts to block a Democratic takeover of the Senate. 
Rubio becomes the immediate frontrunner in a battleground race that Democrats had been slightly favored to win, though he faces a primary and a potentially tough general election to secure a second term.

Indeed, the first Quinnipiac poll measuring Rubio getting back in the race after his heavily rumored return last week finds Rubio coasting to an easy win over both his potential Democratic opponents.

In Florida, Sen. Rubio leads U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy 47 - 40 percent and tops U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson 48 - 40 percent. Murphy and Grayson are ahead of several largely unknown Republican contenders.

That's somewhat surprising, but we'll see how long this lasts once Rubio comes under attack.

"With Republican national leaders worried about keeping control of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Marco Rubio might ride to their rescue if he decides to reverse field and seek re-election," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"This Quinnipiac University poll finds Sen. Marco Rubio in good shape when matched against his two potential Democratic opponents," Brown added.

"None of the other Republican candidates for Sen. Rubio's seat has a lead over either of the two Democrats, Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson. But if Rubio's last-minute decision is to seek re-election, he could be in the driver's seat."

Until he crashes the car.  We'll see.

Bevin Dis-Kynects Medicaid In Kentucky

And so seven months after taking office, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin makes good on his threat to wreck the country's most successful Medicaid expansion under the ACA and replace it with Indiana's broken plan where everyone pays a monthly premium for Medicaid "out of dignity".

Gov. Matt Bevin announced Wednesday he's seeking a Medicaid waiver from the federal government. 
If the Medicaid waiver is approved, Bevin said it will result in $2.2 billion in taxpayer savings. 
Bevin announced his "transformative and sustainable program" called Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health, or HEALTH. Under the plan, Kentucky would impose premiums on able-bodied adults from $1 to $15, depending on their income levels. 
Bevin said requiring Medicaid expansion users to pay for their own premiums will give them "dignity and respect." The program is about teaching people, he said, emphasizing it is a "learning experience."

One catch though, for people who have been on Medicaid for "years" it seems that $15 a month may not "fully cover" benefits.  Also, it seems that Gov. Bevin will "use health care dollars" to address the state's opoid addiction epidemic, but he doesn't say how.  On top of that, there are several things that will no longer be covered by HEALTH that Medicaid in Kentucky covers now, like "non-emergency transportation". Also, Bevin says that the program will go statewide but start as a "trial" in "select counties" first, by which I'm betting he means Fayette and Jefferson counties. You know, Lexington and Louisville.  Where those people live.

That's how he'll get away with it with the voters until after he's up for re-election in 2019.

Oh, and finally, he's taking 400,000 hostages.

Bevin said if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does not grant the waiver, he will still move ahead with his plan to repeal Medicaid expansion in the state.

Understand that this is an open threat to 400,000 Kentuckians: accept being one of the poorest states in the nation where Medicaid recipients have to pay monthly premiums, or Bevin will kick them off health coverage completely.

Because "dignity".

By the way, you can laugh at Kentucky being stupid all you want to, but I won't spend too much time on it. Should the Republicans win in November, the Bevin HEALTH plan is coming to your state, too.

King Of Money

Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King decided he wanted to score some cheap points by introducing legislation stopping the Treasury from putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, but not even his fellow House Republicans want to touch that one in an election year.

U.S. Rep. Steve King has introduced anamendment in Congress that would prevent Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist and supporter of women's suffrage, from replacing President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

However, the House Rules Committee agreed Tuesday night to deny floor consideration of proposal, which would have prevented the Treasury Department from spending money to redesign paper currency or coins.

The Iowan Republican's amendment, which was first reported by the Huffington Post, would scrap the federal government's plans to replace Jackson on the $20 bill with a picture of Tubman, a black woman who was born in to slavery in 1822 and later escaped. She subsequently made repeated missions on the Underground Railroad to rescue black people from slavery. During the Civil War, she served as a Union Army scout and spy.

"It's not about Harriet Tubman, it's about keeping the picture on the $20," King said Tuesday night, according to Politico, pulling a $20 bill from his pocket and pointing at President Andrew Jackson. "Y'know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have."

Politico quoted King as saying it is "racist" and "sexist" to say a woman or person of color should be added to currency.

"Here's what's really happening, this is liberal activism on the part of the president, that's trying to identify people by categories and he's divided us on the lines of groups. … This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president and mine's unifying. It says just don't change anything."

Well, refusing to change anything is the definition of political conservatism alright, but I'm not sure what's more directly insulting, that King feels a famous civil rights leader who risked her life to help end slavery shouldn't be on the $20, or that the Treasury department honoring her is "divisive" in some way.

When your proposal is so transparently racist, sexist, and stupid that it can't even get out of your own party's House Rules Committee, you might want to re-examine your political stunt checklist, Steve.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Last Call For Chaka Convict

It's official: Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah has been rung up on all corruption charges that he faced in federal court this afternoon.

Fattah, 59, had been charged with bribery, racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, and filing false statements as part of a years-long criminal scheme that even included Fattah lobbying President Barack Obama for an appointment for one of his co-conspirators. Fattah was found guilty on all charges, as were four co-defendants. 
The guilty verdict brings to a stunning end Fattah's three-decade career in Philadelphia politics, and is a major victory for the Justice Department and Zane David Memeger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Memeger's office prosecuted the case against Fattah, who was first elected to Congress in 1994. 
“Chaka Fattah Sr. and his co-defendants betrayed the public trust and undermined our faith in government,” Memeger said. “Today’s verdict makes clear that the citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania expect their public officials to act with honesty and integrity, and to not sell their office for personal gain. Hopefully, our elected officials in Philadelphia and elsewhere hear today’s message loud and clear.” 
Fattah is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4. He could face as long as 20 years behind bars on the bribery charges alone, but it is not yet clear how much prison time prosecutors will seek. Fattah is likely to appeal his conviction.

So what becomes of Fattah's seat?  He had already lost his April primary to Pennsylvania state Rep. Dwight Evans, so should Fattah be forced from his office (and I can't see how he stays now with these convictions) it would be up to Gov. Tom Wolf to set a special election date.

Wolf can set the election date as the next regular election if he wants, he just can't set it any sooner than 60 days from the point where the seat is certified to be open according to state law, so yeah, Wolf can stretch it along if he wants to, but he can't appoint anyone to the office in the interim as state law doesn't allow it.

I would think that neither party would complain too much about the election happening in November as usual, so we'll see if Fattah leaves now or later.

Once again, not all corrupt politicians are Republicans, not by any stretch of the imagination. I've no pity or sympathy for the man ripping off his constituents for years, and hope he serves as an example in a very unpleasant section of substandard federal housing.

Gunmerica The Beautiful

USA Today's editorial board is really disappointed that Senate Republicans (and more than a few Senate Democrats) are in the pocket of the NRA. Guys? Where the hell have you been for the last 15 years?

You'd think that if there was one step both parties in Washington could support in the wake of the nation's worst mass shooting, it would be to close a yawning gap in federal gun background checks — a strategy supported by nearly 90% of Americans. 
Yet in an extraordinary act of cowardice on Monday evening, 56 senators — 53 Republicans joined by three Democrats — threw away yet another opportunity to keep guns out of the hands of more felons, fugitives, the mentally ill or people prone to domestic violence. 
These spineless lawmakers voted against advancing a commonsense measure to expand background checks to virtually all sales of guns, not just those sold by federally licensed dealers. The existing gap allows buyers who purchase from private sellers at gun shows, online or from newspaper ads to simply avoid the federal background check system. 
That system, run by the FBI, is efficient for buyers: More than nine of 10 gun buyers get a yes or no within minutes. And the system is effective for screening out those barred by federal law from buying firearms: It has denied guns to 2.4 millionprospective buyers since it was created in 1994. The largest category is felons and people who've committed serious misdemeanors. 
This was the third time since the fatal shooting of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 that the Senate has derailed similar measures. (Senators also rejected three other gun amendments on Monday.) 
Would expanding background checks be a panacea? Of course not. The Orlando killer, a security guard, was able to purchase his guns legally. But no one should buy into the absurd notion, pushed by the gun lobby, that to be worthwhile a measure must demonstrate that it could have prevented the most recent atrocity or all mass murders.

I'll say this again for the cheap seats: nothing will happen until lawmakers start getting voted out of office for supporting the NRA. Until that happens, nothing will get done on background checks, nothing will pass on smart gun technology, nothing will happen on weapon or clip/magazine restrictions nationally.

Yes, 90% of Americans support background checks.  The 10% who don't have enough power in the Senate from low-population red states to prevent anything from ever being signed into law. Until that changes, nothing will get done, and you can copy and paste this editorial after the next bloody, hideous mass shooting.  And the next. And the one after that.

And all the rest that will come.

Yes, Trump Is Flat Broke, And No, It Won't Matter One Bit

As TPM's Josh Marshall keeps saying, all the sturm und drang over Donald Trump's fired campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and the bad month of June in the polls so far really are symptoms of the fact that the Trump campaign is effectively broke, and that's because Trump himself has been conning the world about his wealth.

So it all comes down to, where's the money? We tend to look at Trump's threadbare campaign as a product of epic disorganization or the candidate's mercurial personality. But as the mammoth TV ad campaigns ramp up unanswered and field operations fail to materialize, those explanations are really no longer sufficient.

Trump may be unwilling to abase himself by dialing for dollars and his digital fundraising may be anemic. But at the scale of Trump's purported wealth, the sums in question are actually paltry. It may take a billion dollars to run a presidential campaign. But at this moment Trump is in dire need of a few million dollars. To go back to cash on hand, Trump currently has $2.4 million and Clinton has just over $30 million. Remember, Trump is allegedly worth $10 billion, which at the risk of stating the obvious means he is worth ten thousand million dollars. Someone in that position might be hard pressed to quickly produce billions of dollars or even hundreds of million in actual cash. But we're talking tens of millions or even just a few million dollars he needs right now.

Trump may be stingy. He may be saying that the RNC should take responsibility for fundraising, which is something it's clearly not capable of doing. (The RNC has massive fundraising capacity but it can't simply take on singlehanded what the candidate was expected to raise.) But as big a disaster as Trump's campaign is at the moment he stands a real shot at being the next president of the United States. It is simply not credible that he is standing on principle in not giving his campaign any more money at such a critical moment when his bid is being so deeply damaged.
The only credible answer is that it is difficult or perhaps even impossible for him to produce these comparatively small sums. If that's true, his claim to be worth billions of dollars must either be a pure sham and a fraud or some artful concoction of extreme leverage and accounting gimmickry, which makes it impossible to come up with actual cash. It's true that he's already loaned his campaign over $40 million, which at least suggests a substantial amount of liquid assets to draw on. But we've never really known where that money came from or whether it needs to be repaid to some other party. Indeed, Trump's unwillingness to give up his right to be repaid, essentially reimbursed for the primary campaign, by GOP high rollers has always been a telling but largely ignored detail.

It's been a subject of endless fascination for many to try to make sense of Trump's business empire and a producer of schadenfreude on an epic scale for those poking holes in his account of his billions. Perhaps later this week he'll prove me totally wrong and announce he's loaning himself another $100 million or $200 million. But I doubt it. If he could, why would he have allowed himself to get into this money crunch? This is now perhaps the critical question in the campaign: what happens if Donald Trump is effectively broke and can't produce critical funds for his campaign at make or break moments let alone self-fund the whole endeavor?

We've seen what happens: he blames other people and will continue to.  This is why Lewandowski was fired, and this is why when things magically fail to improve heading into the GOP convention next month, Paul Manafort will most likely get the axe too.

The reality is that Trump is a broke con man running the most ambitious con in American history, a guy who is running on being a self-sufficient paper billionaire who doesn't have two nickels to rub together when it comes to funding the day-to-day operations of his own campaign.

Here's the dirtiest secret of the 2016 election: Trump is broke but it doesn't matter one bit. Since facts don't matter to his supporters, he'll continue to run with the grift as long as they let him, and he's most likely right that the GOP now has no choice but to play along or be destroyed by the same voters. They will turn on the party so rapidly that the blood won't have time to hit the floor. The rough beast slouching its way towards Cleveland won't be denied.

Since we have empirical evidence that Republicans and their supporters are moral cowards (that they let Trump get this far is all the evidence you need) again, we're somehow counting on Republican establishment donors and major players to show courage here and cut him off?  Hardly. The marks bought into the Ponzi scheme and now they have to keep it going or they get ruined too.

Believe me when I say that while GOP donors with big pocketbooks are supposedly standing up to Trump now (and it's helping that Trump is too lazy to do fundraising, his all-consuming narcissism means that it's beneath him to go begging to anyone who doesn't automatically agree how great Trump is) once Trump becomes the nominee, the donors will fall in line just like the rest of the party, and they will do so out of abject fear.

Yes, Trump is broke, but he'll get the money he needs anyway from the party, or his fanatics will abandon the Republicans and take the GOP's hard-fought power at the state and congressional level with it. The GOP knows it. They talk a big game, but they've already beaten and were beaten on this months ago. They will fold.

At some point next month, Reince Preibus will have a conference call with the Super PACs and say "If you don't support the guy at the top of our ticket, then we'll lose it all. Pay up." And they will. They have no choice.

All Trump has to do right now is get through the convention and whatever money problems he has will vanish, out of necessity. If not, he takes the entire Republican apparatus down with him, and 2016 will become the biggest national landslide in generations...for the Democrats.

It still may.  He's broke, but he still wins.  Trump's a winner, you see. And if the GOP's not going to go along, that makes them losers by default.

And nobody likes a loser. Losers get fed to the rough beast.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Last Call For Berned Out, Con't

If Bernie Sanders can't even win over his own Senate caucus members in the Democratic party, it's a hard sell to imagine that he'd be able to influence House Democrats either.  His quixotic antics and habit of stomping on others' toes has now won him the ire of the Congressional Black Caucus over the matter of super-delegates.

In a letter sent to both the Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns, the CBC is expressing its resolute opposition to two key reforms demanded by Sanders in the run-up to the Democratic convention: abolishing the party’s superdelegate system and opening Democratic primaries up to independents and Republicans.

"The Democratic Members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently voted unanimously to oppose any suggestion or idea to eliminate the category of Unpledged Delegate to the Democratic National Convention (aka Super Delegates) and the creation of uniform open primaries in all states," says the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO. "The Democratic Party benefits from the current system of unpledged delegates to the National Convention by virtue of rules that allow members of the House and Senate to be seated as a delegate without the burdensome necessity of competing against constituents for the honor of representing the state during the nominating process." 
The letter — which was also sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — follows a Wednesday CBC meeting where members discussed for over an hour the impact of eliminating superdelegates on the African-American community, according to CBC Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). 
"We passed a resolution in our caucus that we would vehemently oppose any change in the superdelegate system because members of the CBC might want to participate in the Democratic convention as delegates but if we would have to run for the delegate slot at the county level or state level or district level, we would be running against our constituents and we're not going to do that,” said Butterfield. “But we want to participate as delegates and that's why this superdelegates system was created in the beginning, so members would not have to run against their own constituents." 
The opposition to open primaries is based on the fear that allowing independent or Republican voters to participate in Democratic primaries would dilute minority voting strength in many places.

Now having said that, it's clear that the CBC is protecting its turf the way Bernie Sanders wants to protect his own interests, but it's clear that what Bernie wants to do is going to come at the expense of black voters.  Open primaries that include independents and Republicans are a bad idea, period, and super-delegates do give people in the party more of a voice.

On the gripping hand, the entire Sanders campaign has been one long episode of "We really don't understand why you people aren't voting for him" and the Sanders side hasn't really made any effort at asking, other than saying black voters in the South "don't count" or "are really conservatives" or "aren't informed voters".  It's annoying as hell.

So yes, expect the CBC to now be on the Bernie or Bust "corrupt establishment" list along with anyone else who is too impure to see the light of Saint Bernard.

(Also, good job Bernie, you made me defend the CBC, which actually is mildly obnoxious and only really concerned about its own political power.)
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