Friday, July 21, 2017

Reddit: A Good Way For Candidates To Get Out Their Message

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Hillary didn't win any districts in Oklahoma, so the dependably backward-looking DCCC announced they are ignoring the state again this cycle. That's fine; they're a detriment anyway. OK-05 (Oklahoma City and environs) is the most likely district to flip red to blue and the candidate, Tom Guild, is building a grassroots operation meant to do just that. He's usually busy canvassing. In fact, he plans to knock on every door in the district and talk too as many voters-- one on one-- as he can. This week he also talked to the over 200,000 fellow Berniecrats on the Sanders For President reddit page. They invited him to do his first ever AMA, something I hope all the Blue America candidates will do. I asked Tom to do a guest post about his experience. I suggest you might want to read the archived AMA itself first.

Guest Post
-by Tom Guild


Howie Klein asked if I would like to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. He introduced me to David Fredrick and David walked me through the process.  David set up the post on Reddit for me and gave me patient advice on how to proceed. Since I was a newbie on Reddit, I was apprehensive and nervous about what I needed to do and how. Jacqueline Propps offered her help, too. Austin Miller from Tulsa, who was active in setting up the subreddit hosting my post, contacted me and patiently explained things to me, and was very helpful, too. It was time to jump off of the high tower at Sunset Lake, or the adult equivalent thereof.

That's about the easiest question/answer you'll find


My nerves pushed me to get on the Reddit site about 30 minutes early. There was already a backlog of questions waiting for me to answer.  I posted that I was in favor of a $15 minimum wage, phased in over a period of years, as mandated by the legislation recently filed by Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray. One person insisted that Oklahoma workers didn’t need or deserve a $15 minimum wage, and I held my ground. People asked about the youth employment bill now before the U.S. Senate, and I agreed legislation in this area is needed. A likely troll misled people reading his question and mistakenly suggested I favored right to work. I patiently explained that I not only opposed RTW (for less) when it was up for a statewide vote in Oklahoma, but was the principal speaker at two of the seven press conferences held by the committee opposing RTW in Oklahoma in 2001. He posted again and once again intentionally misrepresented my position and I gently reminded him of my response and position on the issue.

I was asked about protecting the environment, infrastructure spending, LGBT rights, the second amendment, and women’s reproductive freedom. On healthcare, I offered that for the time being we need to mend and not end the Affordable Care Act, and need to mend it by offering Americans a public option. That would cure one of the more serious urgencies needed to shore up the health care law. I continued that I support a gradual move to a Medicare for All single payer system, as promoted by Senator Bernie Sanders. That legislation has been introduced in Congress and has a fairly sizable number of co-sponsors in the U.S. House.

A number of people thanked me for fully and patiently answering their questions, and indicated that they intended to support me and vote for me. The quality of questions asked and answered was high. The vast majority of people weighing in (except two likely trolls) were well read, reasonable, passionate, and at least reasonably progressive. I answered questions for an extra fifteen minutes beyond the two hours scheduled, and went back later that evening and early the next morning to answer questions posted late. All in all it was a learning experience and gently prodded me to use a new medium and forum that initially was outside of my comfort zone.

Goal ThermometerWithout the help of team Howie, David, Jacqueline, and Austin, I would have been a lost lamb. With their expertise, knowledge, encouragement, and help it was a relative piece of cake. As the old saying goes, if you want to go fast…go alone…if you want to go far…go together. Together it was and together it is.

Thanks to all who posted questions, respected me and others, and made it a positive experience. For the trolls who tried to poison the well, all I can say is **&^%$_)((*##@!!

That’s all the news fit to print!  Bernie Peace!!

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Señor Trumpanzee Just Can't Get No Respect-- Well-Oiled Machine Is Still Sputtering Badly

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Crack in the base? Remember, Hillary beat Trump 65,853,516 (48.2%) to 62,984,825 (46.1%)-- so when the new poll from Reuters/Ipsos reported that one in 8 Trump voters are suffering to at least some degree of buyer's remorse, that's a very big deal. His razor thin margins in the midwest-- in the states that somehow gave him the electoral college win-- would immediately disappear. Reuters summed up the poll like this: about one in eight people who voted for Señor Trumpanzee last November "said they are not sure they would do so again after witnessing Trump's tumultuous first six months in office." Worse yet, "[T]he erosion of support within his winning coalition of older, disaffected, mostly white voters poses a potential challenge for the president. Trump, who won the White House with the slimmest of margins, needs every last supporter behind him to push his agenda through a divided Congress and potentially win a second term in 2020."
In the July survey, 12 percent of respondents said they would not vote for Trump "if the 2016 presidential election were held today"-- 7 percent said they “don’t know” what they would do, and the remaining 5 percent would either support one of the other 2016 presidential candidates or not vote.
This kind of sentiment-- widespread across the country-- is starting, finally, to embolden horrified Republican congressmembers to speak out about Trump and his abnormal regime. Many people woke up Friday and were astonished by the frankness in the Politico interview with conservative Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson. "[S]ome lawmakers," wrote Rachel Bade and Burgess Everett, "are even starting to blame Trump for his handling of the Russia probe, Twitter feuds and attacks on the media... [T]he crux of the problem is pretty clear six months into Trump’s presidency: Unified Republican control of government is a picture of complete disunity."
"I don't even pay any attention to what is going on with the administration because I don't care. They're a distraction. The family is a distraction, the president is a distraction," complained Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). "At first, it was 'Well yeah, this is the guy we elected. He'll learn, he'll learn.' And you just don't see that happening."
Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, reporting for the NY Times yesterday, asserted that Republicans are ceasing to fear Trump and his bombastic bullying tactics. One top GOP staffer told me that many of the members have come to see Trump as "a bullshitter" who "says anything that pops into his infantile mind" and then forgets it a few hours later. Haberman and Thrush began their report by bringing up right-wing senatorial sociopath Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the lunatic that sophomore Congressman Randy Bryce will probably take out in 2022. Johnson, they wrote, "could not be charmed" by Trump's buffoonish antics. "He could not be outbargained. And he could not be scared into supporting the measure for the sake of a president whose inability to bend fellow Republicans toward his political will has become a liability for his young presidency. As the brash Mr. Johnson reminded one associate recently, while Mr. Trump may have stunned the political world in 2016 by winning Wisconsin in the election, Mr. Johnson got 76,000 more votes in the state."

In fact, across the country, nearly every Republican senator who ran in 2016 ran ahead of Trump. If anything, Trump was a drag on Republican statewide tickets. Here are 10 typical examples:
AZ- McCain- 1,359,267; Trump- 1,252,401
FL- Rubio- 4,835,191; Trump- 4,617,886
GA- Johnny Isakson- 2,135,806; Trump- 2,089,104
ID- Mike Crapo- 449,017; Trump- 409,055
IA- Chuck Grassley- 926,007; Trump- ‎800,983
KS- Jerry Moran- 732,376; Trump- 671,018
NC- Richard Burr- 2,395,376; Trump- 2,362,631
OH- Rob Portman- 3,118,567; Trump- 2,841,005
UT- Mike Lee- 760,241; Trump- 515,231
WI- Ron Johnson- 1,479,471; Trump- 1,405,284
And that doesn't even speak to Trump dragging down incumbents Mark Kirk (IL) and Kelly Ayotte (NH) to such an extent that each lost an absolutely crucial Senate seat.
IL- Mark Kirk- 2,184,692; Trump- 2,146,015
NH- Kelly Ayotte- 353,632; Trump- 345,790
Trump-love may help a lot with a certain crackpot fringe inside the GOP and among usual non-voters but Trump's name was poison in 2016 and is even more poisonous now.




Fear is perhaps the most powerful motivating force in politics, and fear of a powerful president is the surest lever to move a lawmaker from a “no” to a “yes” on a presidential priority. But over the past month, Mr. Trump scared no one into supporting the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He has proved simply too unpopular nationally-- polling at 36 to 40 percent approval this week-- too weak in many senators’ home states, too erratic and too disengaged from the details of governing to harness his party, as other new presidents have.

...The starkest demonstration of Mr. Trump’s weakness came on Monday when Mr. McConnell and his stunned team learned that Jerry Moran, a typically reliable and evenhanded conservative from Kansas, felt safe stiff-arming Mr. Trump on his top legislative priority, announcing that he opposed the bill.

“Right now, nobody’s afraid of Trump, and that’s a real problem,” said Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and once a top aide to Senator John Cornyn of Texas.

“But the truth is that he hasn’t really tried,” Mr. Jesmer added. “Where is he on local talk radio? Where is the trip to Kansas to say, ‘Hey, Jerry, we’re really close on this and could use your help’? It’s what he does well, getting out there and making the case. I don’t get why he hasn’t been more engaged.”

A Republican senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wanted to preserve his relationship with Mr. Trump, put it more bluntly. The president, he said, scares no one in the Senate, not even the pages.

“He has limited experience in government and politics, he lacks a deep and experienced team, and his poll numbers are disastrous,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, as senators from both parties grappled with the sudden collapse of Republican-only health care talks.

“It’s more or less impossible to sell a program when you have those conditions,” he added.

...[F]or all his public bluster, he despises private confrontation. He might actually be a little too nice, one top Republican Senate aide said with a laugh this week.

After Speaker Paul D. Ryan canceled the first scheduled vote for a repeal-and-replace bill, two top advisers urged Mr. Trump to show wayward House members that they would pay a price for challenging the president. But Mr. Trump ultimately stood by the leadership and declined to target anyone.

Mr. Trump expressed his pique to aides when Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, announced his opposition to the bill on the grounds that it preserved too many elements of the existing law. But when it came time to make the case personally, Mr. Trump opted for a putter over a cudgel.

[Note to DWT readers: Kentucky was one of the few states were Trump actually significantly outpolled a sitting Republican senator Rand Paul.]

Mr. Trump asked Mr. Paul to play golf-- to clear his head-- offering to play with him personally, if it meant getting him off TV bashing the Senate bill, according to three Republicans with knowledge of the exchange.

The president’s attempts to use force have backfired.

His team has talked with a possible Republican challenger to Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who has raised questions about the bill. So far, Mr. Flake has not changed his behavior.

When Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican who opposed the Senate’s first repeal-and-replace effort and who faces a tough re-election battle next year, a Trump-allied political action committee ran ads against him. But under pressure from Senate leadership, Mr. Trump himself expressed his desire to have the ads pulled from the airwaves, and they came down soon after.

And Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who is far more popular in his state than Mr. Trump, never backed off his opposition to the health measure, even after a phone call from the president and a series of one-on-one meetings with senior administration officials at the National Governors Association meeting last weekend in Rhode Island.

Mr. Trump, to exert pressure, sat Mr. Heller next to him during an awkward opening at a White House meeting on Wednesday with Republican senators convened to rekindle interest in voting on a clean repeal of the health care law before the August recess.

The president began with a barbed joke, urging the senator to back his third push for a Senate repeal.

“You weren’t there. But you’re gonna be,” the president said. “You’re gonna be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re gonna appreciate what you hopefully will do. Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare.”

Other senators were visibly stunned by the lightly veiled threat.

Mr. Heller blushed, laughed and remained politely noncommital.

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Ryan Unilaterally Kills Barbara Lee's Amendment To Repeal To AUMF, Which Has Already Passed Overwhelmingly

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Over the last month, Randy Bryce's now famous @IronStache twitter account has gone from 7,000 followers to 121,000 followers. And he's already using it to promote other progressive candidates as well as policies and actions he believes in. Wednesday I saw him reacting to Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee's anger at Paul Ryan's decision to secretly-- in fact, in the dead of night-- remove her amendment to the 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill, which had passed overwhelmingly in committee, to repeal and replace an outdated Bush-era Authorization for the Use of Military Force.




In explaining her disagreement with the Speaker to her constituents, her office released this statement:
In a desperate and undemocratic attempt to kill Barbara's AUMF repeal amendment, Speaker Paul Ryan stripped it from the Appropriations bill in the middle of the night without even bringing it up for a vote.

This shows the extreme tactics Ryan will use to uphold the status quo and avoid debating endless wars. It shows an underhanded move to make Barbara's amendment vanish into thin air. And it shows a new low for the Speaker that requires us to come together and take action.

...Congress has been missing in action on matters of war and peace for nearly 16 years. What is Paul Ryan afraid of? Why won't he let members of Congress honor their constitutional responsibility to debate and vote on U.S. military intervention abroad?

Paul Ryan should be ashamed of himself. This isn't leadership, this is autocracy.

If we are going to continue to send our brave servicemembers into battle zones to fight endless wars, Congress must have the courage to take up this debate. With your help, we'll make it clear to Paul Ryan that the American people want Congress to act to stop endless war.
Nor is Bryce the only candidate for Congress pissed off at what Ryan has done. Another progressive veteran running for Congress, Kansan Jim Thompson, sees eye to eye with Barbara Lee on this. "Our founding fathers, in their wisdom," he told us today, "vested Congress with the power to declare war as a check on the President being the Commander-in-Chief. For far too long, Congress has abdicated their responsibility, allowing the President power far in excess of anything our founders envisioned. Whenever we send our sons and daughters to war, Congress should engage in vigorous debate before sending them into harm's way. Congress has not declared war since World War II, but rather passed Authorizations to Use of Military Force. The last Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed 16 years ago on September 14, 2001 in the wake of 9/11. The new law authorized force against anyone responsible, or any country that harbored those responsible, for the 9/11 attacks. Congress drafted the law with such broad language that Presidents Bush, Obama, and now Trump used this law for attacks on many different countries in multiple situations. The House Appropriations Committee recently approved a bi-partisan Amendment canceling the authority for the 2001 AUMF. Rather than allow a debate, Speaker Ryan pulled the Amendment in the middle of the night and never allowed the Amendment to reach the floor for debate despite its bipartisan support. Congress owes it to our men and women in unform to debate and authorize any military use of force. Since Speaker Ryan never served a day of his life in uniform, he may not realize the weight of his responsibility to our armed forces. Maybe he does not understand that his decisions have very real life and death consequences for our troops. The men and women of our armed forces perform their duties every day, you would think Speaker Ryan could at least fulfill his."

Vote Vets is backing Lee up in a big way and contacted their own members, telling them that "Last Tuesday night, in the middle of the night, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took unilateral action to pull Congresswoman Barbara Lee's bipartisan bill to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force from the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.

"Here's the truth: We have troops in Iraq and Syria who were in diapers when the original AUMF was passed in 2001. Congress must do its Constitutional duty and have a new debate about the use of our troops in operations that could never have been foreseen in 2001.

"It is unconscionable that Speaker Ryan has decided to block this bipartisan effort. Our men and women who put their lives in the line for America deserve so much more. They deserve the Speaker of the House of Representatives to do his job.

"Sign VoteVets petition calling on Speaker Ryan to allow debate and vote on Congresswoman Barbara Lee's bipartisan bill to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

"Frankly, this is the kind of debate that the founders intended-- because war powers to rest with the Congress, not the President, and not the Department of Defense. It's time to allow a debate and vote on where and when the President is authorized to put troops in harm's way."

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Randy Bryce-- On The Environmental Challenges That Face Us All

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Let me put the bullshit smear about Randy Bryce favoring tar sands to bed right here and now. A political operative being paid to smear Bryce in progressive circles-- something that helps no one but Ryan-- has been running around making up stories about how he was pro-tar sands pipeline and basing it on "his union was for it and he's for his union, so therefor..." The assertions didn't jibe with Randy's very vocal backing for Bernie in Wisconsin, even after his union endorsed and started working for Hillary, nor did it fit in with discussions I've had with Randy before he declared his candidacy for Paul Ryan's congressional seat. His dedication to clean energy and to an environmental agenda to fight global warming, precluded backing tar sands pipelines. Endorsements by Blue America, the Working Families Party and DFA don't go to pro-tar sands candidates.

According to a statement to DWT from Working Families Party's Wisconsin Director, Marina Dimitrijevic:
We take our candidate vetting process seriously, and especially for high office. When Randy was considering getting into the race, climate was one of many topics we covered. He's firm in his opposition to the construction of dirty energy pipelines. He also wrote in his endorsement questionnaire in support of transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Who could be a better messenger to make the case for clean energy jobs instead of dirty pipeline jobs than someone like Randy?

Randy is the real deal. We don't endorse in every race, but we do when we see someone who shares our values so whole-heartedly and can win. Randy is not just any candidate. He has been involved in the Wisconsin WFP since we launched. I don't know many federal candidates who have been actively involved in building the institutions of the progressive movement than Randy.

Beating Paul Ryan is going to be an uphill battle. He'll have all the money in the world from every polluter, banker, union buster, and every other corporate interest. Our early endorsement helps make sure we have the time to build the kind of massive organization that will it will take to rival all that money.
The first time I talked to Randy about it he told me, simply that he'd "turned down 100K working in Canada on the tar sands while I was collecting unemployment because I didn’t want to make money by contributing to the project." Last night he gave me a more formal statement:
Combatting Climate change is one of my top priorities and it will be a major focus for me as a member of Congress from southeast Wisconsin. Along with that, we must immediately reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by investing in clean, renewable energy. We can create millions good-paying jobs by transitioning to a clean energy economy in which windmill and solar panel construction, installation, and maintenance employ my brothers and sisters in the labor movement.

Transporting fossil fuel presents a critical, and immediate environmental danger, whether by pipeline, ship, rail, or road. We need to have strong federal standards and protections to ensure that our natural resources and public health are protected. I do not trust that the CEO’s and corporate boards care about these matters, and as a member of Congress I will be on the side of our communities when a potential hazard is identified.

I have specific concerns about alternative dirty energy projects which are becoming all too popular. For example, tar sands are an especially dirty form of oil that are all too often categorized as clean by the entities looking to profit at the expense of our health and safety. As an ironworker, I was once offered the opportunity to work on one of these tar sands projects and immediately turned it down. My first concern is always the ability to take care of my family, and I need work to do so. However, I was taught to have courage in my convictions and in order to do so-- and to set a good example for my son-- I turned down this opportunity.

I am extremely concerned about the environmental impact of fracking, which reports suggest are now causing earthquakes and contaminating ground water. I’m deeply concerned that this dirty process-- and similar dirty processes-- disrespect and deny protections to indigenous nations. We must protect treaty rights and the rights of indigenous nations as we work together to build a bigger table, at which we can all succeed.

Let’s be honest, folks running for political office all too often say the right thing and then go to the capitol and carry out the wishes of the fat cats. As I’ve told folks every day on this campaign, I pledge to not take campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry-- their executives or their political action committees. I will hold true to this as candidate for Congress, and as a Congressman, after we repeal and replace Paul Ryan, who benefits from the greed and profits of big oil and the fossil fuel industry.
Jan Schakowsky's Illinois district is very close to WI-01. In fact it was Jan who proposed the Congressional Progressive Caucus endorse Randy (which it did-- unanimously). She's known to usually favor female candidates but at a meet and greet for Randy in DC this week, she was practically in tears introducing him. "The residents of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District deserve a representative that will show up and fight for them. As a veteran, ironworker, and cancer survivor, Randy Bryce understands the challenges Wisconsinites face daily. His sleeves are rolled up and ready to work.”

Yesterday Ruben Gallego, a progressive Democrat from Phoenix also spoke up for him: "I am excited to endorse Randy Bryce for Wisconsin's first Congressional District against Speaker Paul Ryan. Randy comes from a working class background and has served his country. As a fellow veteran, I know Randy has the training, toughness, and hard work mentality to fight for the people in Wisconsin. His leadership and values are needed in Congress more, now than ever."

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trump's Crazy Republicans Have An Arya Stark List Now

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Shouldn't Nancy Ohanian be commissioned to do the official Trumpanzee family painting?

Drawing on an historical perspective, author and activist Danny Goldberg bemoaned the left's circular firing squad for Nation readers yesterday. He wrote that "With excruciating predictability, mainstreamers blame young people for low turnout and for being seduced by the Libertarian or Green parties, as if finger-wagging at youth has ever been effective. Such lectures are like a rock band blaming the audience for not giving them an encore instead of improving the show. A certain number of low-information young voters struggling with college debt, stressed out by diminished job opportunities, and terrified of global warming were not motivated by charts showing statistical economic growth during the Obama years or by Tim Kaine’s harmonica playing. It is equally absurd when some on the left refuse to admit that the United States and the world would be in a lot better shape today if imperfect Hillary Clinton had won."
Democratic Party mainstreamers should stop claiming that they and they alone are pragmatic. (Or as a smug New York Times headline put it, “The Base Wants It All. The Party Wants to Win.”) That argument has long been highly debatable, but after 2016 it is delusional. They have controlled most of the candidate selection and most of the campaigns that have resulted in the weakest presence of Democrats in elective office since the age of silent movies.
But you know who's having even worse circular firing squad problems? The political right. Trump is encouraging television ad campaigns and primaries against Republican incumbents he doesn't like for one reason or another. One of his PACs already started running ads in Las Vegas and Reno against Dean Heller (R-NV) and he and his staffers have been meeting with perspective extremists who want to run against Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN). And the groups that feed the right-wing base its opinions are turning their big guns on Ryan, McConnell and Republicans in Congress.
“It’s shocking the amount of pushback he’s getting from his own party,” said Carl Higbie, a former spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC. “It’s time to primary some of these longstanding congressional leaders that can’t get the job done.”

Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt trained his ire on Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), arguably the most endangered GOP Senate incumbent in 2018, for opposing the repeal and replace bill.

Hewitt questioned Heller’s intelligence, saying on his Tuesday show that he’s not the “sharpest knife in the drawer” and accusing him of not grasping the damage he was doing to the Republican Party.

Hewitt even compared the list of Republican defectors from the bill to a fictional list kept by Arya Stark, a character on HBO’s Game of Thrones, of people who have been marked for revenge after wronging her family.

“We know the list to blame. It's like #AryaStark list. And it just keeps getting longer,” Hewitt tweeted.

Hewitt said that, along with Heller, Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.), Susan Collins (Maine), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) belong on that list for opposing the bill.

Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler fumed, ticking through the names of senators who he said abandoned conservative voters by opposing a subsequent measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put off replacement.

“[Alaska Sen. Lisa] Murkowski, [West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore] Capito and Collins. People are furious. And not one ounce of it is directed at Trump,” Meckler said.

The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), which funded ads in the past against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans, vowed to back primary challenges against Republicans who did not back the repeal efforts.

“Republicans have promised to repeal ObamaCare for years, and now with President Trump in the White House there is no excuse for them to break their promise,” said SCF chairman Ken Cuccinelli.

The outrage illustrated the intraparty divisions that have opened up in the Republican Party over healthcare and could imperil other parts of Trump’s agenda.

...The Drudge Report placed the blame right on Ryan and McConnell, with the heavily trafficked site's banner all day Tuesday showing a photo of Ryan and McConnell over the headline "MOST UNPRODUCTIVE CONGRESS IN 164 YEARS."
Meanwhile, back to the Democrats for a moment. Last yesterday, the GOP passed, 248-179, a heinous fracking-related bill, H.R. 2910, that will allow natural gas companies to seize private property and conduct surveys of private land without consent of the landowner. Only one Republican voted against it, but 11 from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- almost all of them Blue Dogs-- voted for it. The culprits were mostly the usual suspects who always vote with the Republicans and with the corporate special interests that pay for votes-- like Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX), Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) and Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX). Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), who voted against this bill, told her constituents that "Billion-dollar natural gas companies have no right to infringe on Americans’ private property-- end of story. This attack on the pipeline approval process would not only allow expanded use of eminent domain, but also deny communities the opportunity to participate in the public input process. Instead, it gives corporations free rein to cause irreparable harm to the environment."


One of the worst of the oil industry whores among Democrats is Gene Green, who represents a Houston shipping channel area district with severe environmental and pollution problems. Hector Morales is a young activist and school teacher challenging Green for the seat he has used for too long to serve the interests of Big Oil against the interests of his own constituents. He's one of the few progressives challenging an entrenched incumbent conservaDem anywhere in the country-- the toughest job in politics (please contribute to his campaign here). This morning, when we asked him about Green's vote with the Republicans, he told us that "This should not come as a surprise as Gene Green is one of the founding members of the Congressional Oil & Gas Caucus along with Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, to name a few. Green was also one of the scarce Democrats that voted in favor of the Keystone Pipeline with the abhorrent excuse the pipeline. Perhaps the Congressman should look no further than the Manchester neighborhood deep in the heart of the 29th Congressional District where all the refineries are located. After all, the low-income, heavily Latino community has high rates of childhood leukemia, asthma, and bronchitis-- an observation that has been backed up by data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Texas which found “unacceptable” levels of cancer-causing pollutants in Manchester’s air. Gene Green is nothing more than a corporate shill who has gotten away with representing the oil and gas companies while claiming to look after the well being of the community he has sworn to protect. But with $260,000 worth of campaign contributions in this quarter alone from special interests, what more could you expect?"

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Running For Office? Here's Some Free Advice

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A month or so ago, Andy Millard-- a candidate last year against NC crackpot Patrick McHenry-- told me how he wants to share what he learned in his run with other candidates. He's organizing the Democratic Candidates Conference to help with training, networking, resources and support that are often painfully difficult to come by (unless they're one of the select DCCC recruits). As you probably know, I'm always complaining about how the DCCC and the lame consultants who come out of the DCCC instruct their worthless zombie-robot candidates to avoid putting contentious issues on their websites. In an advice to candidates guest post, Andy goes further:

7 Online Mistakes Democratic Campaigns Must Avoid
-by Andy Millard



Dr. Kyle Horton’s website includes everything a candidate site needs to be effective


You can learn a lot about a candidate from their presence on the web-- and what you learn isn’t always good.

Motivated Democrats all over the country are stepping up to challenge GOP incumbents. Part of our mission here at the Democratic Candidates Conference is to uncover new candidates and help them to get off on the right foot. So we’ve been scouring the internet getting to know the early crop of candidates.

Sometimes you run across a candidate with an impressive internet presence that immediately makes you sit up and take notice.

Kyle Horton, challenging David Rouzer in North Carolina’s 7th congressional district, is one such candidate. She has a terrific website where you can get to know the candidate and her story. There’s a clear statement of why she’s running and where she stands on issues. Her Facebook and Twitter pages are consistent with the website and are updated frequently with fresh and relevant content. In fact the streams from both social media sites appear right on the campaign website.

Clearly this is a a candidate to be reckoned with. She has obviously put a lot of thought, time and effort into her candidacy. She means business.

Unfortunately, Kyle Horton is the exception rather than the rule. More often we see some variation a one-page website featuring a heroic photo of the candidate, a huge DONATE button, and an invitation join the candidate’s “movement.” And that’s it. Essentially, the message to the visitor is, “I’m a person you don’t know who’s running for office and you should love me.”

This is not a knock on those candidates. If you’re a Democrat up against a Republican, you’re our kind of people. We’re all in this together and we want you to be successful. So now is the time-- now, while your campaign is in its infancy, when prospective supporters are getting to know you primarily through your online presence-- right now is the time for you to look for problems and fix them.

Here are eight of the most glaring issues we have found. Some are easier to deal with than others. But they are all non-negotiable. If any of them applies to you, don’t expect to be taken seriously as a candidate until they’re addressed:

1- No campaign URL or official email address

I’m sorry, but johndoeforcongress@gmail.com is not an official campaign email address. Go to Godaddy.com and spend fifteen bucks on your own URL. Use it for your website, for your email address, and eventually for the addresses of your staff.

2- No campaign website

Believe it or not, we occasionally run across candidates whose only online presence is through Facebook. You should not pretend to call yourself a candidate until you have a campaign website.

3- No contact info on website

Virtually every candidate website features prominent buttons for making donations and signing up to volunteer, but precious few make it easy for visitors to comment, email or call. In our research of Democratic congressional campaigns, we have found fewer than 1 in 4 offer both an email address and phone number. In fact an amazing 28% of sites offered neither an email address nor phone number.

Campaigns are about communication. What does it say to your prospective constituents when you want them to give you money but don’t want them to talk to you? (And in case you’re wondering, an impersonal “contact” form is better than nothing, but it’s a poor substitute for a phone number and email address.)

4- Missing social streams

In 21st Century politics, every campaign must have an active Facebook page and Twitter account. LinkedIn and Instagram, if well executed, will boost your credibility. But you’ve got to have Facebook and Twitter.

5- Broken links on website

If a visitor clicks a link on your site and gets an error message or is sent to a dead end, you the candidate look bad. Check every link on your website and make sure they work.

6- Not mentioning the district you’re running for

I estimate that in 2018 there will be 300 or more Democratic candidates for U.S. House of Representatives alone, and that’s not counting incumbents. Don’t leave your visitors wondering what seat you’re seeking. Tell them clearly on your website and social pages.

7- No favicon (or worse, one belonging to someone else)

This is a little thing, but little things are important. A favicon is a tiny icon that appears on the tab of your web browser. It identifies the site you’re on. When I ran for congress, my favicon was a simple red “A” for my first name. Every website provider allows you to upload a favicon; it’s easy and free.

Here’s why it’s important: If you don’t upload your own favicon, your website host (Wordpress, Weebly, NationBuilder, etc.) will use theirs in its place, which makes you look like an amateur.

8- No website footer

Every professional campaign website should have a footer at the bottom of each page. It should include: phone number, an email address, mailing address, and “Paid for by [name of campaign committee].” (A good footer to emulate is at MartyWaltersForCongress.com.) If you don’t use your own footer, your website host is likely to use their own, and it will say “Powered by Wordpress” or “Powered by Weebly,” etc., which means you’re using your precious web real estate to advertise for them.

Marty Walters, one of several Democrats running in California’s 1st Congressional district, includes an information-packed footer on every page of her website


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Even More Orange County Republicans Calling Themselves "Ex"-Republicans To Run For Congress

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Gil Cisneros-- Does this look like an "ex"-Republican to you?

A trusted political operative told me today about an encounter he had with a scumbag multimillionaire "ex"-Republican who the DCCC is trying to impose on a district filled with progressive Democrats. The "ex"-Republican is running as a Democrat and pretending to take progressive-- or progressivish-- policy positions. He tried hiring my friend and told him that "once [the primary] is over I'll shake off all that blue shit and pivot." They're usually better at hiding their intentions until after the DCCC sneaks them into Congress. Tuesday we saw the DCCC admit that they are recruiting Blue Dogs and Wednesday we looked at how that endangers progressive agenda items like, for example, single payer, and how it's usually only Blue Dogs and New Dems who vote for corporate-sponsored, bribery-triggering GOP legislation like the bill this week to allow more air pollution-- 4 Democrats-- all Blue Dogs of course-- joined all but 11 Republicans to pass this deadly, toxic bill. You want more Blue Dogs in Congress? The DCCC leadership sure does!

Let me say something about "ex"-Republicans. I love it when a Republican sees the light based on policy concerns and gives up the GOP and joins the Democratic Party. I know plenty of good people who have done that. But we have to be very careful about elevating them to positions of party leadership and power by quickly moving them ahead of real Democrats to favor them getting party nominations, especially for Congress. I've watched dozens and dozens of them through the years and with only one or two exceptions, they all gravitate to Republicans and vote with Republicans on crucial issues, just the way Charlie Crist ("ex"-Republican Blue Dog-FL) and Tom O'Halleran ("ex"-Republican Blue Dog-AZ) and doing today.

How are they even Democrats? ProgressivePunch rates them each "F" and their crucial vote scores are, respectively, 41.94 and 28.12. On crucial issues they vote more with Ryan and McCarthy than with Pelosi. Why are they even considered Democrats? Is enough to just vote to further the career goals of Pelosi and Hoyer? Is that the standard for which someone can claim to be a Democrat? One of the places where the DCCC is recruiting "ex"-Republicans and trying to pass them off as Democrats is Orange County. Yesterday Orange County Register reporter Martin Wisckol exposed the whole charade. The headline seemed non-controversial enough: Republicans-turned-Democrats challenging O.C. GOP Congress members. "The parade of Orange County Democrats running for Congress," he wrote, "is expected to grow to 19 today, July 19, with two former Republicans joining the pack seeking to take out GOP incumbents. Brian Forde, a former technology adivsor in Barack Obama’s White House, planned to announce today that he will challenge Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Beach, bringing the field of Democrats in that race to six. Navy vet, lottery winner and philanthropist Gil Cisneros on Monday launched his challenge of Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, who now has four Democratic opponents." DWT first exposed Cisneros (the lottery winner the DCCC wants to sell the nomination to) as an "ex"-Republican. Forde has been making Republican-sounding noises so it was an easy guess before the OC Register spelled it out.

Forde, who is 37, blames his parents for his adherence to the Republican Party. He told Wisckol he "had adopted his parents’ party affiliation as a Republican until re-registering as a Democrat"... wait for it last year, age 36, "a change he said was overdue because of changes in the GOP and his own political evolution." Like many Orange County Republicans, he voted for Hillary last year. He didn't mention if he had voted for Mimi Walters or not.

Cisneros, who is the perfect mascot for Pelosi's DCCC, had a standard GOP line for why he switched, which doesn't mention anything about his own political ambitions.
A longtime Republican who re-registered as a Democrat in 2015 after three years as an independent, Cisneros said it’s not his views that have changed but those of the GOP.

“What a Republican was in the ’80s is kind of what a Democrat is today,” he said, pointing to President Ronald Reagan’s support of amnesty for undocumented immigrants and of the gun control measure known as the Brady Bill.
Goal Thermometer He hasn't even been elected to anything yet and he's already responding to every tough question with a lie. So, in that way at least, he's still a Trump Republican-- not just hoping to buy the nomination, but claiming, falsely, that he had planned to move to CA-39 all along. He had no intention of moving out of his $10 million beachside mansion until he was called out for being a district-shopper and buckled to the pressure. Besides, a big lottery winner ($266 million) can afford numerous homes. These two are just the latest "ex"-Republicans to jump in in Orange County. But if you tap the Act Blue thermometer on the right you'll come to a list of candidates that incliudes no "ex"-Republicans, no Blue Dogs, no New Dems and no one from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- and we've already endorsed 2 Orange County candidates, Sam Jammal (CA-39), Ed Royce's progressive opponent, and Doug Applegate (CA-49), Darrell Issa's progressive opponent. We are in the middle of our long vetting process for the other districts, but CA-45 has two outstanding progressives so far, Katie Porter and Kia Hamadanchy, so it'll be hard to endorse just one candidate.


UPDATE: Do "Ex"-Republicans Always Lie About Everything?

Cisneros has been busy lying to the press. People are wondering who at the DCCC encourages this kind of behavior. Señor Trumpanzee, apparently, doesn't have an exclusive on bullshit.

The L.A. Times article reported that Cisneros switched from the Republicans way back in 2008. But, unluckily for the lottery winner, the O.C. Register looked up his registration and notes he left the GOP in 2012 as an independent before becoming a Democrat in... 2015.  He also is quoted as saying he supported Bernie in the primary-- pure bullshit from someone desperate the pretend to be a progressive. A quick look at the FEC reports show he maxed out to Hillary Clinton in March of 2016 and gave ZERO to Bernie. This guy is pathetic. The DCCC should be ashamed.

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Telling the Climate Truth — The Pros and the Cons

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Cover image from the New York Magazine feature story, "The Uninhabitable Earth."

by Gaius Publius

We need new Cassandras to warn us of new disasters, even though they'll never be believed.
Richard Clarke (paraphrased)

We aren’t doomed — we are choosing to be doomed by failing to respond adequately to the emergency.
—Margaret Klein Salamon

The recent, major New York Magazine article on the coming "uninhabitable earth" stirred quite a response, both positive and negative. The positive response was, in general, "Finally, someone telling the truth." The negative response was, in general, "But it contains these errors," and "Does it really help to scare people this much?"

The errors are secondary to the article's main point, but the question about climate communication strategy is both long-standing in the climate activism community and important.

If we tell this much truth, are we scaring people into inaction? Or does telling this much truth motivate people more effectively than the message that "we've got until 2050 to get fully in gear" currently does? (Is it even moral not to tell this much truth?)

My own thoughts below (click to go directly to them). First, here's one person's unique perspective on this question. The following is from Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist and also the founder of the climate action group The Climate Mobilization (TCM), which advocates for starting a "World War II-scale" emergency mobilization to convert from fossil fuels, and starting it now.

The following is Ms. Klein Salamon's recent letter to her mailing list, also published here. Please read it through as she considers this critical issue — Does telling the climate truth hurt or help? I've highlighted a few key ideas and reformatted the piece just slightly.

As you read, please keep the terms affect tolerance and affect phobia in mind. She'll clarify the definitions. I'll offer closing comments at the end.



Allies—

Last week, David Wallace-Wells published a cover story in New York Magazine, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” on some of the worst-case scenarios that the climate crisis could cause by the end of this century. It describes killer heat waves, crippling agricultural failures, a devastated economy, plagues, resource wars, and more. It has been read more than two million times.

The article has caused a major controversy in the climate community, in part because of some factual errors in the piece — though by and large the piece is an accurate portrayal of worst-case climate catastrophe scenarios. But by far the most significant criticism the piece received was that it was too frightening:
“Importantly, fear does not motivate, and appealing to it is often counter-productive as it tends to distance people from the problem, leading them to disengage, doubt and even dismiss it.” –Michael Mann, writing with Susan Joy Hassol and Tom Toles.
Eric Holthaus tweeted about the consequences of the piece:
A widely-read piece like this that is not suitably grounded in fact may provoke unnecessary panic and anxiety among readers.

And that has real-world consequences. My twitter feed has been filled w people who, after reading DWW's piece, have felt deep anxiety.

There are people who say they are now considering not having kids, partly bc of this. People are losing sleep, reevaluating their lives.
While I think both Mann and Holthaus are brilliant scientists who identified some factual problems in the article, I strongly disagree with their statements about the role of emotions — namely, fear — in climate communications and politics. I am also skeptical of whether climate scientists should be treated as national arbiters of psychological or political questions, in general. I would like to offer my thoughts as a clinical psychologist, and as the founder and director of The Climate Mobilization.

Affect tolerance — the ability to tolerate a wide range of feelings in oneself and others — is a critical psychological skill. On the other hand, affect phobia — the fear of certain feelings in oneself or others — is a major psychological problem, as it causes people to rely heavily on psychological defenses.

Much of the climate movement seems to suffer from affect phobia, which is probably not surprising given that scientific culture aspires to be purely rational, free of emotional influence. Further, the feelings involved in processing the climate crisis—fear, grief, anger, guilt, and helplessness — can be overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean we should try to avoid “making” people feel such things! Experiencing them is a normal, healthy, necessary part of coming to terms with the climate crisis.

I agree with David Roberts that it is OK, indeed imperative, to tell the whole, frightening story. As I argue in The Transformative Power of Climate Truth, it's the job of those of us trying to protect humanity and restore a safe climate to tell the truth about the climate crisis and help people process and channel their own feelings — not to preemptively try to manage and constrain those feelings.

Holthaus writes of people feeling deep anxiety, losing sleep, re-considering their lives due to the article… but this is actually a good thing. Those people are coming out of the trance of denial and starting to confront the reality of our existential emergency. I hope that every single American, every single human experiences such a crisis of conscience. It is the first step to taking substantial action. Our job is not to protect people from the truth or the feelings that accompany it — it’s to protect them from the climate crisis!

I know many of you have been losing sleep and reconsidering your lives in light of the climate crisis for years. We at The Climate Mobilization sure have. TCM exists to make it possible for people to turn that fear into intense dedication and focused action towards a restoring a safe climate.

In my paper, Leading the Public into Emergency Mode—a New Strategy for the Climate Movement, I argue that intense, but not paralyzing, fear combined with maximum hope can actually lead people and groups into a state of peak performance. We can rise to the challenge of our time and dedicate ourselves to become heroic messengers and change-makers.

I do agree with the critique, made by Alex Steffen among others, that dire discussions of the climate crisis should be accompanied with a discussion of solutions. But these solutions have to be up to the task of saving civilization and the natural world. As we know, the only solution that offers effective protection is a maximal intensity effort, grounded in justice, that brings the United States to carbon negative in 10 years or less and begins to remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere. That's the magic combination for motivating people: telling the truth about the scale of the crisis and the solution.

In Los Angeles, our ally City Councilmember Paul Koretz is advocating a WWII-scale mobilization of Los Angeles to make it carbon neutral by 2025. He understands and talks about the horrific dangers of the climate crisis and is calling for heroic action to counter them. Local activists and community groups are inspired by his challenge.

Columnist Joe Romm noted that we aren’t doomed — we are choosing to be doomed by failing to respond adequately to the emergency, which would of course entail initiating a WWII-scale response to the climate emergency. Our Victory Plan lays out what policies would look like that, if implemented, would actually protect billions of people and millions of species from decimation. They include:

1) An immediate ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure and a scheduled shut down of all fossil fuels in 10 years;

2) Massive government investment in renewables;

3) Overhauling our agricultural system to make it a huge carbon sink;

4) Fair-shares rationing to reduce demand;

5) A federally-financed job guarantee to eliminate unemployment;

6) A 100% marginal tax on income above $500,000.

Gradualist half measures, such as a gradually phased-in carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, that seem “politically realistic” but have no hope of actually restoring a safe climate, are not adequate to channel people’s fear into productive action.

We know what is physically and morally necessary. It’s our job — as members of the climate emergency movement — to make that politically possible. This will not be easy, emotionally or otherwise. It will take heroic levels of dedication from ordinary people. We hope you join us.

Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD
Founder and Director, The Climate Mobilization



Gaius again. I largely concur with Ms. Klein Salamon, that "gradualist half measures" which have no hope of achieving the real and only goal — "restoring a safe climate" — won't channel voter and citizen fear into productive action. They will instead, in my view, encourage those voters, those citizens, to continue to pass the climate buck to the next half-generation, unaware that this generation — today's voters and citizens, their own selves — will go over the first part of the climate cliff first.

About her action plan, note points five and six — a jobs guarantee program (MMT theorists have been calling for this for a while) and a 100% tax on all income over $500,000. Like it or not, none of the climate and environment goals can be met without great economic change as well. That may sound like too much of an ask, but remember the World War II analogy. FDR turned the U.S. into a rationed, command economy, a step absolutely necessary to deal with war demands.

Note also that the FDR tax rates to deal with the Depression were massively high by modern (post-Reagan) standards, were increased again during World War II, and stayed high through the Eisenhower administration and into the Kennedy administration.

Source; click to enlarge.)

If something is necessary for success, it must be made part of the plan. In this case, the alternative — and people need to be told this — is accelerating devolution of our species to hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Take your pick — but recall that World War II America chose the effective solution.

The View from the Oh It's You Senator Lounge

Why must we do this now? Because the climate crisis is starting now. Mass migration, in part due to climate change, is starting now. Deaths by weather extremes are increasing as we watch them. The three hottest years on record are the three immediately behind us. We're so close to +2 degrees warming already, we can almost taste it.

So what's in the way? The answer is simple — we have ceded control of climate policy to the greedy and pathological, to climate sexagenarians and octogenarians like Charles and David Koch, who, through the politicians they control (looking at you, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump), are marching to their own graves in triumph, leaving a wrack behind.

Does David Koch care about the world he will see from the grave? Or does he merely wish to enter it having won every battle he fought?

This is clearly pathological behavior on his part. It's therefore up to us to stand up for ourselves — or so it seems to this humble Cassandra — because few of our so-called "leaders," servants to pathological masters, care about us, "the littles," from their comfortable chairs in the Oh It's You Senator lounge.

An Easter Island Solution

Klein Salamon is right; an emergency mobilization is needed. But to get there, we have to gain control of the Titanic, to put our own hands on the wheel. Or, to put it differently, we must depose the village chief and enact our own "Easter Island solution." As I described it earlier:
You're a villager on Easter Island. People are cutting down trees right and left, and many are getting worried. At some point, the number of worried villagers reaches critical mass, and they go as a group to the island chief and say, "Look, we have to stop cutting trees, like now."

The chief, who's also CEO of a wood products company, checks his bottom line and orders the cutting to continue.

Do the villagers walk away? Or do they depose the chief?

There's always a choice ...
You can't change what you don't control — that way madness lies. And this madness, or its best friend, fatal resignation, has a world historical conclusion. Do we seize control of the ship and turn to safer waters? Or let the disaster happen to us all because the hands of the soon-to-die greedy were allowed at the wheel instead?

Do we depose the chief and save the island, or fail to act while action is still possible? Me, I say best depose the chief. After all, these won't be the first chiefs deposed in the arc of history — just the most dangerous.

Mes petits sous,

GP
  

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Is Orange County Congressman And Trumpist Dana Rohrabacher An Actual Paid Kremlin Operative? Or Is He Doing This All For Free?

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In the wee hours Wednesday, Nico Hines broke an explosive story at the Daily Beast about Orange County crackpot Dana Rohrabacher. The title sounds unbelievable and unplausible-- unless you've followed Dana Rohrabacher's political career: GOP Lawmaker Got Direction From Moscow, Took It Back to D.C..

A low-level Reagan staffer, Rohrabacher first won what was then a deep red district in 1988. By 1989 people in his district and on Capitol Hill had already started realizing that he had a screw loose. He skipped freshman orientation so he could go to Afghanistan and play dress-up with the Taliban. He's gotten crazier and crazier over the years-- and his district isn't quite so red as it used to be. In fact, the DCCC is targeting it because Hillary narrowly beat Trump there last year-- 47.9% to 46.2%. We'll come back to that in a moment. First though, this is what Hines reported about Rohrabacher's latest foray into foreign affairs:
Members of the team of Russians who secured a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner also attempted to stage a show trial of anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder on Capitol Hill.

The trial, which would have come in the form of a congressional hearing, was scheduled for mid-June 2016 by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a long-standing Russia ally who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe. During the hearing, Rohrabacher had planned to confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie that viciously attacks him-- as well as at least two witnesses linked to the Russian authorities, including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Ultimately, the hearing was canceled when senior Republicans intervened and agreed to allow a hearing on Russia at the full committee level with a Moscow-sympathetic witness, according to multiple congressional aides.

An email reviewed by the Daily Beast shows that before that June 14 hearing, Rohrabacher’s staff received pro-Kremlin briefings against Browder, once Russia’s biggest foreign investor, and his tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky from a lawyer who was working with Veselnitskaya.

Although House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) had prohibited Rohrabacher from showing the Russian propaganda film in Congress, Rohrabacher’s Capitol Hill office still actively promoted a screening of the movie that was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on June 13, 2016. Veselnitskaya was one of those handling the movie’s worldwide promotion.

Invitations to attend the movie screening were sent from the subcommittee office by Catharine O’Neill, a Republican intern on Rohrabacher’s committee. Her email promised that the movie would convince viewers that Magnitsky, who was murdered in a Russian prison cell, was no hero.

The invite, reviewed by the Daily Beast, claimed that the film “explodes the common view that Mr. Magnitsky was a whistleblower” and lavishes praise on the “rebel director” Andrei Nekrasov.

...Rohrabacher’s office was given the film by the Prosecutor General’s office in Moscow, which is run by Yuri Chaika, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin who is accused of widespread corruption, and Viktor Grin, the deputy general prosecutor who has been sanctioned by the United States as part of the Magnitsky Act.

That same Prosecutor General’s office also was listed as being behind the “very high level and sensitive information” that was offered to Donald Trump Jr. in an email prior to his now infamous meeting with Russian officials at Trump Tower on June 9-- just days before the congressional hearing. Veselnitskaya attended that meeting with Trump Jr. She also happens to have worked as a prosecutor in the Moscow region and is a close personal friend of Chaika.

The Daily Beast reviewed a copy of a document that was passed to Rohrabacher in Moscow in April 2016. The document, marked “confidential,” was given to Rohrabacher and Behrends. It lays out an alternate reality in which the U.S.-- and the rest of the world-- has been duped by a fake $230 million scandal that resulted in sanctions being imposed on 44 Russians linked to murder, corruption, or cover-ups.

The document, which was handed over by an official from the Prosecutor General’s office to Rohrabacher along with means of viewing the Russian propaganda movie, suggested that U.S. “political situation may change the current climate” and claimed that it was the ideal moment to foment a challenge to the Western narrative on Putin’s kleptocracy. A subcommittee hearing that would re-examine the sanctions placed on Russia, the paper claimed, would be appreciated in Moscow.

“Changing attitudes to the Magnitsky story in the Congress… could have a very favorable response from the Russian side,” the document said.

What the U.S. would get in exchange for holding a subcommittee hearing was not laid out in detail. But the document promised to help iron out “key controversial issues and disagreements with the United States.”

...When Rohrabacher returned to the United States, he delayed the passage of the Global Magnitsky Act by holding it up in committee and tabled an amendment to remove Magnitsky’s name from its title, citing several of the claims found in the Russian document.

Next, Rohrabacher and Behrends, with the help of Rinat Akhmetshin, a Soviet army veteran and lobbyist who was also present at the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, put together a subcommittee event with witnesses including Veselnitskaya and Nekrasov, the director of the movie.

When Royce, the chair of the foreign relations committee, got wind of the hearing, he nixed Rohrabacher’s plan and offered instead to hold a full committee hearing on Russia relations. House aides conceded that he did so, in part, to avoid Rohrabacher staging an event that could have embarrassed the Republican Party-- and Congress.

During Royce’s hearing, Rohrabacher approvingly compared Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin. The congressman also submitted, for the congressional record, testimony that claimed Russia had not been behind the radioactive poisoning of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London.

Rohrabacher, Behrends, Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya, and Matlock had dinner together later that night at the Capitol Hill Club, a private members’ establishment for Republicans. The evening was organized by Lanny Wiles, a veteran GOP operative.

The following day, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was caught on tape telling Republican colleagues: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” When some of the lawmakers laughed, he replied: “Swear to God.”

...Four years prior to the hearing, Rohrabacher was taken into a quiet room in Congress and warned by FBI agents that Russian intelligence operatives were trying to recruit him as an asset.

If he took the warning seriously, it certainly didn’t stop him from spending time with figures linked closely to the Russian state apparatus.

Earlier this year, Rohrabacher, who says he once arm-wrestled Putin, met Akhmetshin in Berlin. The congressman acknowledged to CNN that he suspected the former member of a Soviet counterintelligence unit might have links to the current Russian security service.

“I would certainly not rule that out,” Rohrabacher said. “[He has] an ulterior motive.”

That meeting in Germany apparently came about through sheer happenstance.

The same cannot be said of Rohrabacher’s congressional delegation trip to Moscow in the spring of 2016.

The itinerary for that three-day trip, reviewed by the Daily Beast, shows that Rohrabacher and Behrends attended a side meeting-- without the other members of the delegation-- with one of Putin’s closest confidants, Vladimir Yakunin.

A former head of the Russian Railways who has been sanctioned by the U.S., Yakunin has routinely accompanied Putin on domestic and international trips over the years. He owns a dacha near the president in an exclusive enclave on the shore of Lake Komsomolskoye.

Rohrabacher said at the time that he had agreed to the meeting at the request of Sergey Kislyak. “The Russian ambassador asked me if I would meet with him in Moscow,” he told BuzzFeed.

Kislyak has since gained notoriety in the U.S. after a series of Trump campaign associates failed to disclose their conversations with a man who has been described as “a top spy and recruiter of spies.”

There were no other meetings with Russian officials scheduled for Rohrabacher and Behrends alone. But after a delegation meeting with Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of Russia’s foreign affairs committee, at the Duma the two of them were asked to stay behind.

Once the other members of the delegation had left the room, Viktor Grin, a top Chaika deputy in the Prosecutor General’s office and one of the 44 Russians enduring a travel ban and asset freezes under U.S. sanctions, appeared with the document outlining Russia’s position on the Magnitsky sanctions. Rohrabacher and Behrends were also given access to the anti-Magnitsky movie.

...When the Royce hearing did roll around, on June 14, one of the members of Congress on the committee was appalled by the litany of Kremlin lines being repeated by Rohrabacher and his friend Ambassador Matlock.

“I thought I’d just heard a presentation from RT,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) told the Daily Beast, referring to the Kremlin-funded English-language TV network.

Connolly said the rest of the committee had come to believe that evidence from a Russian source should be treated with considerable skepticism, as the country’s operatives are experts at disinformation and falsification of evidence.

He was alarmed to discover that Behrends had been taking briefings direct from Russia’s anti-Magnitsky operation.

“If that is corroborated, it is deeply disturbing,” Connolly said. “We are United States congressmen. Our job is to protect the interests of our country and our allies. It is not to collude with, excuse, dismiss, or, even worse, collaborate with a foreign adversary and its minions.”
The southern tip of Ted Lieu's district-- a beautiful piece of Southern California coastline Trump has taken over for one of his horrific golf course resorts for the very wealthy-- is just a few miles from the northern tip of Rohrabacher's district. When Congressmen Lieu and Ruben Gallego took to the floor of the House last week to read Don, Jr.'s e-mails about his meetings with Kremlin spies, Rohrabacher kept interrupting and making a monkey out of himself before the chair told him to pipe down and behave like an adult. On August 1 Ted will be visiting CA-48 to answer residents' questions about healthcare, since-- predictably-- Rohrabacher refuses to hold public meetings with his own constituents.

The district is unlikely to flip in one cycle but if the anti-Trump wave is big enough... anything could happen. Or, in a sane world with a strategic, competent DCCC, they would be working on a 2-cycle flip for 2020. So far there are at least 7 Democratic candidates vying for the opportunity to take on Rohrabacher: Anthony Zarkades, Boyd Roberts, Laura Oatman, Michael Kotick, Omar Siddiqui, Harley Rouda and the DCCC recruit, Hans Keirstead. The two candidates who seem to be getting the most traction so far are Rouda and Keirstead. Yesterday, Harley told us that "At the very least, Dana Rohrabacher was woefully derelict in doing due diligence on who he was talking to. At most, it’s something far more serious. After Dana Rohrabacher was warned by the FBI that Russian intelligence was recruiting him, he should have been on high alert for well-connected Putin allies bearing gifts. Regardless of Dana’s motives, my question is this: How does any of Dana’s pro-Putin funny business help the hardworking people of the 48th district?"

And Keirstead told us that he's "profoundly concerned with Congressman Rohrabacher's continued relationship with suspected Russian intelligence officials. He has made it a priority to entertain the Kremlin's whims and shown that he can be influenced by the Russian government. Now, it's clear that he has attempted to act on that influence. The people of Orange County deserve a representative who is standing up for them-- not one who is focused on defending Russia's interests."

The hat is part of his disguise



UPDATE: Rohrabacher Panics

This morning, The Atlantic is reporting that Rohrabacher's top Russia aide, Paul Behrends, was fired from the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that Rohrabacher chairs.
“Paul Behrends no longer works at the committee,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesperson said on Wednesday evening.

Behrends accompanied Rohrabacher on a 2016 trip to Moscow in which Rohrabacher said he received anti-Magnitsky Act materials from prosecutors. The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 bill that imposes sanctions on Russian officials associated with the 2009 death in prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who had been investigating tax fraud. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney and lobbyist who met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower last year, reportedly brought up the Magintsky Act during the meeting.

Rohrabacher’s meeting in Moscow was an object of concern for embassy officials, who had warned the delegation about FSB presence in Moscow-- warnings Rohrabacher brushed off.

“Paul Behrends has done a terrific job for me and the committee,” Rohrabacher said in a statement on Wednesday. “I have not heard anything to the contrary. I am looking forward to discussing this with the committee leadership. I am sure we will work this out."

Behrends is a controversial figure on the Hill, where he is seen by some who have worked with or around him as egging on Rohrabacher’s pro-Russia instincts.

Behrends worked for Rohrabacher in the 1990s before becoming a lobbyist. He rejoined Rohrabacher’s office in 2014.

One of the sources with knowledge of the events suggested that Behrends was fired from the committee under pressure from House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce.

There has been tension between Royce and Rohrabacher over Rohrabacher’s activities, and Royce scuttled Rohrabacher’s plan last year to screen an anti-Magnitsky film in Congress. Royce also nixed Rohrabacher’s plan to visit Moscow again earlier this year.

Another Hill source said there was talk of a “shakeup” on the subcommittee chaired by Rohrabacher.

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