Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Are Our Brains Already Pre-Wired To Determine The 2016 Election?-- A Guest Post By Daniel Levitin

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Our guest blogger today is Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist who has written for us a few times over the years. Dan and I have been close friends for over 3 decades. He is perhaps best known as the author of the mega bestsellers This Is Your Brain On Music (which is required reading at Harvard for all incoming freshman) and The Organized Mind. His new book is timed for the start of this election season and is a primer on critical thinking for everyone. It’s called A Field Guide to Lies and I urge you to buy his book-- I read it in galleys and it will change the way you read the news, I guarantee it. You can pre-order it here. Dan gave me two signed advance copies of the book and I'll send them out as a thank you from Blue America today to the two most generous contributors to either Grayson on this page.

Recently he told me that "in 1996, five Mt. Everest hikers lost their lives because they did not allow new and relevant information to alter their views about the safety of proceeding. The 2007 global financial crisis has been traced to belief perseverance, when financial experts stuck with the status quo in spite of new evidence of weakening financial instruments." We talked about how the brain works in this regard in impacting politics and he added that there's a "need to nudge ourselves to think about how things might turn out if they don't go the way we think they will-- to imagine extreme, but still realistic scenarios. Use pre-mortems-- think ahead to all the things that could go wrong, and what might be the effects of these failures. Part of practicing the pre-mortem is recognizing that we are fallible and will make mistakes, succumbing to biases. What if a short-tempered candidate said the wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time? What if a candidate who wants to expand social support systems is confronted instead with a dire financial crisis? Which of these scenarios would yield the worst outcome? Third, identify what you would need to know in order to endorse or reject a candidate-- what are the real deal-breakers and deal-makers for you. Then take a dispassionate look at what the candidates really-and-truly stand for, not just what you've assumed they do."




Why It's So Hard To Learn Anything New About The Candidates
-by Daniel Levitin


Many Americans decided months ago which of the two presumptive Presidential nominees we would support, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The contrast between them is pronounced, and it has been said to be the most stark in the 52 years since the LBJ/Goldwater contest in 1964.

As new information comes in from journalists about the candidates' trustworthiness, rationality, attitudes about race, and views on the responsibilities and functions of a free press, most of us will tend to ignore it. This is because of confirmation bias and belief perseverance, cognitive short-cuts that cause us to discard information that contradicts things we think we already know. Our brains can be lazy, and don't want to have to keep revisiting old decisions. This can save previous neural resources but can lead to devastatingly bad decisions.

Every time the press reports something negative about Donald Trump, his supporters will tend to dismiss it as biased or irrelevant. After all, their candidate is "an outsider" who "bucks the establishment," while "the media want to keep the status quo and are against someone who tells it like it is." Every time the press reports something negative about Hillary Clinton, her supporters will tend to dismiss it, believing that their candidate is the victim of a "Clinton-bashing media" who have had it in for her and her husband for more than three decades.

Those initial decisions are often based on emotion and intuition, and we then cherry-pick evidence that allows us to maintain our view. When a candidate is shown to have committed some unsavory act, we find ourselves saying, "Yeah, but (s)he's still the best person for the job." Drew Westen at Emory University found that people making decisions this mode during the 2004 presidential elections failed to use the parts of their brains associated with deliberate, logical thinking (in the prefrontal cortex), and instead they engaged brain regions associated with sympathy. This in turn causes voters to give the benefit of the doubt to their preferred candidate but not to the opponent.

What kind of evidence would it take to unseat these biases? How strong an argument would have to be presented to make us change our minds? More than you'd think, and more than would seem rational or adaptive.

In a classic study, students at Stanford University were shown photos of people while hearing what they thought was a playback of their own heartbeat-- the heartbeat would speed up at points randomly determined by the experimenter. The students were thus led to believe that they felt more strongly about some individuals than others. After all, physiology doesn't lie.

At the end of the experiment, the researchers explained that the heartbeat had been computer manipulated and didn't correspond to their true judgments at all. Asked to rate whom they felt the strongest about, the students were overwhelmingly biased toward the photo that had been accompanied by the accelerated heart rate.

Think about this: The only evidence the students had for which person they felt strongest about had just been removed, yet they tenaciously clung to their initial belief. Social scientist Emily Thorson of George Washington University calls these "belief echoes," and in her research confirms that exposure to political information persists in shaping attitudes long after that information is discredited.

Trial attorneys know this well-- they will often make a defamatory remark about a witness or defendant that they know will lead to an objection, which the judge will sustain; but if that remark caused the jury (and possibly the judge) to form a negative impression, it can take hold and govern the outcome of the trial, even if it has been shown to be false.


Politics, like high school, is partly (maybe largely) tribal, ideological and emotional. But it doesn't have to be. In this increasingly inter-connected, global economy, each of us has a stake in how our leaders interact on our behalf with us, our neighbors, our trade partners, and even our enemies. Emotions are most useful when they motivate us to act, but such actions should be based on reason.

You wouldn't step in an airplane that was designed by someone using emotion as their sole blueprint-- you shouldn't want a country governed by someone whom voters have not properly vetted. Political parties and candidates are not like a hometown sports team that you stick with through thick and thin-- political issues are complex, and many of us find that we agree with some of the things being said by candidates in both parties.

Overcoming these biases is necessary to being informed, and being informed is fundamental to any democracy. Thomas Jefferson himself believed that democracy (or a democratic republic) "rests on the foundation of an educated electorate." Jefferson also said that "Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine percent." The whole point of democracy is to prevent the more powerful from dominating the less powerful. Our best defense against that-- to prevent us from devolving into a mob-- is to apply educated reason, arrived at through an analysis of facts.

Sure, a good candidate should stir emotion, patriotism, and should inspire. But to what end? Overcoming our biases requires three steps. We first need to be aware of them. In a study by McKinsey, investors who were made aware of cognitive biases were able to overcome them and increase their profits by 7%. Next, we need to make an extra effort to slow down and try to evaluate information from multiple sides objectively, and be ready to change our views. Psychologists Philip Tetlock and Jennifer Lerner call this making a break from using confirmatory thought to using exploratory thought. Finally, as my colleague Daniel Kahneman notes, there's a better chance of overcoming biases when a discussion of them is widespread. Therefore, discuss your views with others, and not necessarily others with whom you agree. You don't learn anything by only talking to people who agree with you. The press is helping us to wade through all of the conflicting claims, fact-checking, and contextualizing. Listening to them with an open mind is up to us.



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I Know The Trump Family From Avenue Z-- They Were The Neighborhood Con Artists

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The simplest way to see the Trump campaign is to never lose sight of that fact that he has always been and will always be a scam artist or, as most of his opponents in the Republican primary called him, a con man. The new flap over his immigration policy is just another example of that. After all the pain and anguish and turmoil he cause with his hateful rhetoric, he is now tap-dancing away from his round-up and deportation squads that so animated the racists and xenophobes on the GOP's fringes-- and beyond-- to try to reposition his deportation plan as one that will simply distinguish "bad" undocumented immigrants from others; in other words, Obama's system. On Fox with O'Reilly he pretty much admitted that the U.S. doesn't have open borders and that Obama is enforcing the law-- exploding the biggest premise of his own candidacy and putting the lie to the ad his campaign is running now. Yes, the guy is a two-bit hustler who's hustling two groups of Americans: racists and the intellectually handicapped. Are you a Trumpist? Which group do you fall into?


Some of the unfinished office space in Trumpanzee Tower that the Trumpanzee campaign had been paying $35,000 a month for until May. The campaign paid nearly $170,000 for its Trumpanzee Tower space in July


The newest scam uncovered by the media shows Señor Trumpanzee using campaign contributions to pay himself premium $120/square foot office space at Trumpanzee Tower when he hasn't been able to find a tenant to rent the same space for $90/square foot. If he is eager to soak and cheat his supporters, what do you think he has in mind for the a country stupid enough-- in his mind-- to elect him president? S.V. Date broke the story at HuffPo: Trumpanzee Jacked Up His Campaign’s Trumpanzee Tower Rent Once Somebody Else Was Paying It. The rent he charged his campaign "soared in July after Trump’s campaign began accepting donor contributions."
After bragging for a year about how cheaply he was running his campaign, Donald Trump is spending more freely now that other people are contributing-- particularly when the beneficiary is himself.

Trump nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign, according to a Huffington Post review of Federal Election Commission filings. The rent jumped even though he was paying fewer staff in July than he did in March.

The Trump campaign paid Trump Tower Commercial LLC $35,458 in March-- the same amount it had been paying since last summer-- and had 197 paid employees and consultants. In July, it paid 172 employees and consultants.


“If I was a donor, I’d want answers,” said a prominent Republican National Committee member who supports Trump, asking for anonymity to speak freely. “If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an (attack) ad out of it.”

...The FEC filings show that Trump began increasing the rent at Trump Tower starting with the May 31 payment of $72,800. The Trump campaign paid $110,684 in rent on June 9, and $169,758 on July 10... Trump’s money makes up a tiny percentage of his campaign’s spending. The bulk now comes from outside donors, both small-dollar givers and those writing maximum-limit checks of $2,700.

“Nobody cares when you’re spending your own money, but when you’re spending the donor’s $27, that could cause problems,” the RNC member said, adding that small donors especially may not be sympathetic to Trump’s extravagance. “Most campaigns run on a much tighter budget.”

For many months, Trump’s campaign prided itself on its low-rent operation. It invited reporters in to tour its headquarters on the fifth floor of Trump Tower that had once been used as production offices for “The Apprentice” TV show, which starred Trump. Photos and video from those tours show work space with unfinished ceilings, makeshift drywall partitions, and only a few campaign workers.

Commercial real estate is available in the midtown Manhattan neighborhood in the range of $70 per square foot annually, although Trump has charged more than that. Trump Tower rented 9,000 feet of office space in December at $120 per square foot, but has been unable to rent a 15,000 square-foot office that includes six terraces overlooking Fifth Avenue, even at a discounted rent of $90 per square foot.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has been leasing two entire floors in a Brooklyn office building totaling 80,000 square feet since the start of her campaign. The rent for that space has been about $212,000 per month.


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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Right-Of-Center Labour Party Careerists In The U.K. Are Every Bit As Sleazy As Wasserman Schultz And Steve Israel Here

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Jeremy Corbyn rushed to hospital with multiple stab wounds in back

We've been writing for some time now about how the Democratic Party establishment sees "party unity" as a one way street. When someone from the corrupt-conservative wing of the party wins a primary-- or steals a win-- progressives must jump on board and back her (or him). But when progressives win primaries-- as, for example, Mary Ellen Balchunis (PA-07), Tom Wakely (TX-21), Mary Hoeft (WI-07) all did-- the establishment abandons them or even works to crush them and aid the Republicans.

Goal Thermometer In fact, Blue America just started a new ActBlue page (on the right), dedicated to progressive candidates in winnable districts who the DCCC has refused to help against the GOP. Many grassroots Democrats can't cope with the very concept that Pelosi and her henchmen, while begging for money to "help take back Congress," are sabotaging that very effort by trying to stamp out legitimate progressive candidates in tough races. (Yes, Pelosi used to be a progressive herself, but that was many years ago and has virtually nothing to do with the crass partisan hack she has willfully morphed into in recent years.) It should come as no surprise that these tactics employed by the Democratic Establishment here, are also being employed by the Labour Party establishment in Britain, where the Conservative wing of the Labour Party is attempting to annihilate progressives in general and Jeremy Corbyn in particular. Writing over the weekend for The Telegraph, Kate McCann exposed their shenanigans.

So called "centrists" are moving to expel thousands of Corbyn supporters in the run-up to a party leadership election in late September, smearing them as "anti-Semites" and conspiring with the Conservative Party to annihilate Labour in an early election.
Almost 6,000 people have been reported to the party’s National Executive Committee as part of a new initiative introduced in mid-July to curb threats and poor behaviour.

It came as Tory MP Andrew Bridgen revealed he had been approached by Labour MPs as part of an attempt to secure an early general election to “get rid of Jeremy Corbyn” as the party’s leadership contest continues.

Mr Bridgen said he has been approached by three Labour MPs in Westminster who have asked for him to continue his bid for a nationwide vote in order to oust Mr Corbyn.

The MP claims that the Labour members warned the only way to rid the party of Mr Corbyn would be for Labour to be “wiped out” at a general election and prove his unpopularity with the public.

One senior Labour source told The Telegraph: “The sad truth is the Labour Party is no longer a safe space for women and Jews. Party members who receive a daily barrage of disgusting abuse deserve better than for Jeremy Corbyn to attempt to downplay it or tell them to simply ignore it.”

It follows an appeal by Labour supporters who were banned from voting in the party’s leadership election, which was later overturned by the High Court. The decision means that 130,000 people will be barred from voting in a decision thought likely to hit Mr Corbyn hardest, as many of his ­supporters are not party members but activists.
Come on, you didn't think for one minute that self-serving careerist slime like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve Israel, Ben Ray Lujan, Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel only exist in America, did you? This kind of back-stabbing was, after all, invented in the United Kingdom, right?


Slimy Democratic Party bosses Hoyer and Wasserman Schultz



Bonus For Americans Who Don't Want To Read About The Foreigners: A Moral Test

Are you as moral as you think you are?

This test only has one question, but it's a very important one.

By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally.

The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.

Only you will know the results, so remember that your answer needs to be honest.

THE SITUATION:

You are in Florida, Miami to be specific.

There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding.

This is a flood of biblical proportions.

You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless.

You're trying to shoot career-making photos.

There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water.

THE TEST:

Suddenly you see a man in the water.

He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.

You move closer.

Somehow the man looks familiar.

You suddenly realize who it is.

It's Donald Trump!

At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever.

YOU HAVE TWO OPTIONS:

You can save the life of Donald Trump or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most powerful Republican men hell bent on the destruction of America.

THE QUESTION:

Here's the question, and please give an honest answer.

"Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?"

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America's Infrastructure Is A Shambles-- And It Will Get Much Worse As Long As Conservatives Worship The Concept Of Low Taxes For The Ultra-Wealthy

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This morning, I was speaking with one of the congressional candidates Blue America is most enthusiastic about this cycle, Paul Clements from southwest Michigan. He's running for the seat held by Energy Committee chairman Fred Upton (MI-06) and he told me that "the biggest holes in investment in America, if we were going to promote broad-based economic growth, are in infrastructure and education. Pot-holed roads, a failing electric grid, and collapsing bridges are just some of the more visible results from our long-term failure to keep up with infrastructure needs.  But Congressman Upton has been part of the Republican bulwark against eliminating tax loopholes so the super-rich would have to do their part and we would have the money for these critical investments. We are still living with the fallout from Upton’s failure on the 2011 Supercommittee to deliver a federal budget, and Upton has been a staunch supporter of Paul Ryan’s proposals to cut taxes on the wealthy even further, so bare bones budgets would have to continue well into the future. Failing infrastructure raises costs for everyone-- business and consumers alike-- and fixing it would bring millions of good paying jobs. In Congress I will work to pass Hillary Clinton’s plan to double federal infrastructure spending." Upton has made it perfectly clear that stopping Mrs. Clinton's infrastructure plan is where he stands.

Earlier today, we saw what an unnamed top GOP congressional aide had to say about a Washington Post report over the weekend that President Hillary, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Ryan would work on a massive American infrastructure plan. Short version: "Hillary is delusional." He goes into a typical Republican song and dance about how investing in the infrastructure would cost too much (for the wealthy campaign contributors to stomach) so it can't happen. Well, that inspired me to pull out the most recent American Society of Civil Engineers scorecard on infrastructure I could find. The overall grade wasn't an F; it was a D+. I grew up believing nothing less than an A was good enough and that a D or a D+ was the same as an F.

They need something like $3 trillion dollars to fix this mess. Something's got to give-- and I hope it isn't a crowded bridge. I want to give you a little more depth than the graphic above that shows how miserable every piece of the country's infrastructure has become, rotting away while taxes on the rich got lower and lower and lower-- nonexistent in cases of people like the Trumpanzee family.
Every family, every community and every business needs infrastructure to thrive. Infrastructure encompasses your local water main and the Hoover Dam; the power lines connected to your house and the electrical grid spanning the U.S.; and the street in front of your home and the national highway system.

Once every four years, America’s civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories in ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card). Using a simple A to F school report card format, the Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of current infrastructure conditions and needs, both assigning grades and making recommendations for how to raise the grades. An Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns the grades according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories.

Now the 2013 Report Card grades are in, and America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+. The grades in 2013 ranged from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+. No categories saw a decline in grade this year.

The 2013 Report Card demonstrates that we can improve the current condition of our nation’s infrastructure-- when investments are made and projects move forward, the grades rise. For example, greater private investment for efficiency and connectivity brought improvements in the rail category; renewed efforts in cities and states helped address some of the nation’s most vulnerable bridges; and, several categories benefited from short-term boosts in federal funding.

We know that investing in infrastructure is essential to support healthy, vibrant communities. Infrastructure is also critical for long-term economic growth, increasing GDP, employment, household income, and exports. The reverse is also true-- without prioritizing our nation’s infrastructure needs, deteriorating conditions can become a drag on the economy.

While the modest progress is encouraging, it is clear that we have a significant backlog of overdue maintenance across our infrastructure systems, a pressing need for modernization, and an immense opportunity to create reliable, long-term funding sources to avoid wiping out our recent gains. Overall, most grades fell below a C, and our cumulative GPA inched up just slightly to a D+ from a D four years ago.

We invite you to take a deeper look at the nation’s infrastructure conditions in the 2013 Report Card-- from the state infrastructure facts, to the interactive charts, to our three key solutions.

A brief summary of the findings for each category is below. Click on any heading to get more detailed information on the category and explore the interactive content.


Water and Environment

Dams: Dams again earned a grade of D. The average age of the 84,000 dams in the country is 52 years old. The nation’s dams are aging and the number of high-hazard dams is on the rise. Many of these dams were built as low-hazard dams protecting undeveloped agricultural land. However, with an increasing population and greater development below dams, the overall number of high-hazard dams continues to increase, to nearly 14,000 in 2012. The number of deficient dams is currently more than 4,000. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that it will require an investment of $21 billion to repair these aging, yet critical, high-hazard dams.

Drinking Water: The grade for drinking water improved slightly to a D. At the dawn of the 21st century, much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. Assuming every pipe would need to be replaced, the cost over the coming decades could reach more than $1 trillion, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The quality of drinking water in the United States remains universally high, however. Even though pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement, outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare.



Hazardous Waste: There has been undeniable success in the cleanup of the nation’s hazardous waste and brownfields sites. However, annual funding for Superfund site cleanup is estimated to be as much as $500 million short of what is needed, and 1,280 sites remain on the National Priorities List with an unknown number of potential sites yet to be identified. More than 400,000 brownfields sites await cleanup and redevelopment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one in four Americans lives within three miles of a hazardous waste site. The grade for hazardous waste remained unchanged at a D.

Levees: Levees again earned a near failing grade of D- in 2013. The nation’s estimated 100,000 miles of levees can be found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Many of these levees were originally used to protect farmland, and now are increasingly protecting developed communities. The reliability of these levees is unknown in many cases, and the country has yet to establish a National Levee Safety Program. Public safety remains at risk from these aging structures, and the cost to repair or rehabilitate these levees is roughly estimated to be $100 billion by the National Committee on Levee Safety. However, the return on investment is clear-- as levees helped in the prevention of more than $141 billion in flood damages in 2011.

Solid Waste: In 2010, Americans generated 250 million tons of trash. Of that, 85 million tons were recycled or composted. This represents a 34% recycling rate, more than double the 14.5% in 1980. Per capita generation rates of waste have been steady over the past 20 years and have even begun to show signs of decline in the past several years. The grade for solid waste improved in 2013, and it earned the highest grade of B-.

Wastewater: The grade for wastewater improved slightly to a D. Capital investment needs for the nation’s wastewater and stormwater systems are estimated to total $298 billion over the next 20 years. Pipes represent the largest capital need, comprising three quarters of total needs. Fixing and expanding the pipes will address sanitary sewer overflows, combined sewer overflows, and other pipe-related issues. In recent years, capital needs for the treatment plants comprise about 15%-20% of total needs, but will likely increase due to new regulatory requirements. Stormwater needs, while growing, are still small compared with sanitary pipes and treatment plants. Since 2007, the federal government has required cities to invest more than $15 billion in new pipes, plants, and equipment to eliminate combined sewer overflows.



Public Facilities

Public Parks and Recreation: The popularity of parks and outdoor recreation areas in the United States continues to grow, with over 140 million Americans making use of these facilities a part of their daily lives. These activities contribute $646 billion to the nation’s economy, supporting 6.1 million jobs. Yet states and localities struggle to provide these benefits for parks amid flat and declining budgets, reporting an estimated $18.5 billion in unmet needs in 2011. The federal government is also facing a serious challenge as well since the National Park Service estimates its maintenance backlog at approximately $11 billion. The grade for parks remained unchanged at a C-.

Schools: Almost half of America’s public school buildings were built to educate the baby boomers – a generation that is now retiring from the workforce. Public school enrollment is projected to gradually increase through 2019, yet state and local school construction funding continues to decline. National spending on school construction has diminished to approximately $10 billion in 2012, about half the level spent prior to the recession, while the condition of school facilities continues to be a significant concern for communities. Experts now estimate the investment needed to modernize and maintain our nation’s school facilities is at least $270 billion or more. However, due to the absence of national data on school facilities for more than a decade, a complete picture of the condition of our nation’s schools remains mostly unknown. Schools received a D again this year.




Transportation

Aviation: Despite the effects of the recent recession, commercial flights were about 33 million higher in number in 2011 than in 2000, stretching the system’s ability to meet the needs of the nation’s economy. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that the national cost of airport congestion and delays was almost $22 billion in 2012. If current federal funding levels are maintained, the FAA anticipates that the cost of congestion and delays to the economy will rise from $34 billion in 2020 to $63 billion by 2040. Aviation again earned a D.

Bridges: Over two hundred million trips are taken daily across deficient bridges in the nation’s 102 largest metropolitan regions. In total, one in nine of the nation’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient, while the average age of the nation’s 607,380 bridges is currently 42 years. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that to eliminate the nation’s bridge backlog by 2028, we would need to invest $20.5 billion annually, while only $12.8 billion is being spent currently. The challenge for federal, state, and local governments is to increase bridge investments by $8 billion annually to address the identified $76 billion in needs for deficient bridges across the United States. However, with the overall number of structurally deficient bridges continuing to trend downward, the grade improved to C+.

Inland Waterways: Our nation’s inland waterways and rivers are the hidden backbone of our freight network-- they carry the equivalent of about 51 million truck trips each year. In many cases, the inland waterways system has not been updated since the 1950s, and more than half of the locks are over 50 years old. Barges are stopped for hours each day with unscheduled delays, preventing goods from getting to market and driving up costs. There is an average of 52 service interruptions a day throughout the system. Projects to repair and replace aging locks and dredge channels take decades to approve and complete, exacerbating the problem further. Inland waterways received a D- grade once again as conditions remain poor and investment levels remain stagnant.

Ports: This new category for 2013 debuted with a grade of C. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that more than 95% (by volume) of overseas trade produced or consumed by the United States moves through our ports. To sustain and serve a growing economy and compete internationally, our nation’s ports need to be maintained, modernized, and expanded. While port authorities and their private sector partners have planned over $46 billion in capital improvements from now until 2016, federal funding has declined for navigable waterways and landside freight connections needed to move goods to and from the ports.

Rail: Railroads are experiencing a competitive resurgence as both an energy-efficient freight transportation option and a viable city-to-city passenger service. In 2012, Amtrak recorded its highest year of ridership with 31.2 million passengers, almost doubling ridership since 2000, with growth anticipated to continue. Both freight and passenger rail have been investing heavily in their tracks, bridges, and tunnels as well as adding new capacity for freight and passengers. In 2010 alone, freight railroads renewed the rails on more than 3,100 miles of railroad track, equivalent to going coast to coast. Since 2009, capital investment from both freight and passenger railroads has exceeded $75 billion, actually increasing investment during the recession when materials prices were lower and trains ran less frequently. With high ridership and greater investment in the system, the grade for rail saw the largest improvement, moving up to a C+ in 2013.

Roads: Targeted efforts to improve conditions and significant reductions in highway fatalities resulted in a slight improvement in the roads grade to a D this year. However, forty-two percent of America’s major urban highways remain congested, costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually. While the conditions have improved in the near term, and federal, state, and local capital investments increased to $91 billion annually, that level of investment is insufficient and still projected to result in a decline in conditions and performance in the long term. Currently, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis to significantly improve conditions and performance.

Transit: The grade for transit remained at a D as transit agencies struggled to balance increasing ridership with declining funding. America’s public transit infrastructure plays a vital role in our economy, connecting millions of people with jobs, medical facilities, schools, shopping, and recreation, and it is critical to the one-third of Americans who do not drive cars. Unlike many U.S. infrastructure systems, the transit system is not comprehensive, as 45% of American households lack any access to transit, and millions more have inadequate service levels. Americans who do have access have increased their ridership 9.1% in the past decade, and that trend is expected to continue. Although investment in transit has also increased, deficient and deteriorating transit systems cost the U.S. economy $90 billion in 2010, as many transit agencies are struggling to maintain aging and obsolete fleets and facilities amid an economic downturn that has reduced their funding, forcing service cuts and fare increases.



Energy

Energy: America relies on an aging electrical grid and pipeline distribution systems, some of which originated in the 1880s. Investment in power transmission has increased since 2005, but ongoing permitting issues, weather events, and limited maintenance have contributed to an increasing number of failures and power interruptions. While demand for electricity has remained level, the availability of energy in the form of electricity, natural gas, and oil will become a greater challenge after 2020 as the population increases. Although about 17,000 miles of additional high-voltage transmission lines and significant oil and gas pipelines are planned over the next five years, permitting and siting issues threaten their completion. Thus, the grade for energy remained a D+.

Conclusion

Infrastructure is the foundation that connects the nation’s businesses, communities, and people, driving our economy and improving our quality of life. For the U.S. economy to be the most competitive in the world, we need a first class infrastructure system-- transport systems that move people and goods efficiently and at reasonable cost by land, water, and air; transmission systems that deliver reliable, low-cost power from a wide range of energy sources; and water systems that drive industrial processes as well as the daily functions in our homes. Yet today, our infrastructure systems are failing to keep pace with the current and expanding needs, and investment in infrastructure is faltering.


The Society recommends in the strongest possible terms that we, as a society, immediately commit to make their vision of the future a reality-- an American infrastructure system that is the source of our prosperity. We asked our most recently endorsed candidate for Congress, Mary Hoeft what's holding this up, since her Wisconsin district, is very much in need of attention for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades. 21% of Wisconsin's 13,539 miles of major roads are in poor condition and driving on roads in need of repair costs Wisconsin motorists $2 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs-- $502.10 per motorist. "Congressman Sean Duffy," she reminded us, "has been on the Donald Trump Campaign Trail, flying from event to event. That's because my opponent isn't willing to ruin his car driving on Wisconsin roads that have the distinct honor of ranking third among our nation's worst roads. Our potholes cost drivers two times the national average in repairs. Does Duffy care? Apparently not. Does he care that potholes are killing our residents?  Apparently not. Duffy has introduced ZERO legislation to address our crumbling infrastructure. And why should he when it is so much more glamorous to introduce legislation intended to cripple the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau. We know what Sean Duffy values and it isn't the welfare of the people he represents in Wisconsin. His focus is on Wall Street."

Tom Wakely, the progressive Democrat running in the Austin-San Antonio corridor of Texas, is also concerned with the need for infrastructure improvement in Texas. "It's unconscionable," he told us, "that our nation's drinking water infrastructure is graded as a D. This should be one of the most protected aspects of a country that considers itself to be part of the first world. We encourage fracking practices which allow for the vacuuming of our most precious resource in drought-stricken areas and have the potential to pollute whatever is left. We allow foreign nations to buy massive tracts of land on our soil to help grow their crops with little federal oversight as to how they use local water. We ignore companies like Nestlé who wish to privatize the resource and view it strictly as a commodity. We practically forget the composition of our local infrastructure and wind up poisoning an entire community in Flint.

"We can do so much better. There must be better federal oversight of this necessary, life-giving resource. We have to consolidate the jurisdictions and declare that clean drinking water is a human right. We cannot in good faith employ fracking practices when renewable energy is just around the corner. Clean drinking water cannot be viewed as a traded commodity. There must be a new federal database that maintains an inventory of our municipal water infrastructures so that we can avoid disaster should we need to switch sources. It is essential to human survival, and we must view it as such."

Goal Thermometer

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Endorsement Motivations

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Every wonder how endorsers decide who to endorse? Let's look at a race in Florida, the one for the U.S. Senate seat. The most valuable endorsement you can get in a Democratic primary is Obama's. So how did he pick between Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson? Murphy consistently voted with the Republicans on almost everything Obama claimed was important to him-- even direct attacks. I mean there were a whole contingent of corrupt conservative Democrats like Murphy who voted with the GOP on Keystone Pipeline XL every time it came up. But almost none of them went along with the GOP when they proposed a bill to remove Obama from the decision-making process. But Murphy did. Grayson opposed Keystone XL, of course, and proposed a resolution challenging the constitutionality of the GOP bill Murphy backed. Of the 7 right-wing Democrats to vote for the Republican witch hunt against Hillary-- their so-called Benghazi Committee-- only 3 are still in Congress... and one of them is Murphy. So why did Obama endorse him and lie in ads to Democratic voters by claiming the reactionary Murphy is "a progressive" and a defender of Social Security (even though Murphy offered to support legislation to lower benefits as part of a compromise with his pals the Republicans?



It's not much of a mystery. Aside from being hounded by Chuck Schumer and his Wall Street allies to get Murphy into the Senate to "balance out" Elizabeth Warren, we were told by a high up staffer who works for Joe Biden that Obama did it to get contributions to his uber-expensive presidential library, ostensibly from Murphy's rich, crooked father, from the super-wealthy Saudi family that sponsors Murphy (the notorious Al-Rashids) and from Schumer's Wall Street patrons. Our Obama would do something like that? Something that disgusting? Yeah... he's from the Chicago Democratic Machine; it's what they do.

Yesterday there were a conflicting endorsement stories in central Florida. The Brady anti-gun campaign looked at FL-09 and feared that NRA poster child Darren Soto could get the Democratic nomination. But instead of endorsing Dena Grayson, an avid supporter of gun safety regulations, who is best positioned to beat Soto, they clumsily backed Susannah Randolph, a candidate who might take away enough support from Grayson to allow Soto to slip in. But the Randolph campaign's celebrations over the endorsement today might be dampened by the fact that DFA (Democracy for America) seems to have unendorsed her. They pulled their phone-banking out of the district and removed her from the list of candidates on their website. Why? [When I asked a DFA executive, she responded by e-mail, "Hi Howie- thanks for flagging - she's back on the website now." And, sure enough, she was back on the website, or at least on one list of candidates, albeit not the list on their site's front page. Odd.] A couple of weeks ago I saw a tweet from Lucy Flores, which alerted me to a problem for Susannah's campaign. It led to this statement which has been circulating in the progressive blogosphere ever since:




I know Susannah for years and she's a decent person and a committed activist. Blue America announced early on we wouldn't endorse in this race because both Susannah and Dena are both great candidates, while Soto is a typical nightmarish conservaDem (endorsed by the New Dems, Congress' Republican wing of the Democratic Party). But polling-- and now this whole flap over sexual harassment-- has made us worry that a vote for Susannah just weakens Dena's chance to defeat Soto. So we endorsed Dena. (Please consider contributing to her campaign here.)

In another Orlando area district, the DCCC got clueless anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, to unload half a million dollars in ads for weak puppet candidate, Val Demings, even though the more independent-minded and progressive candidate in the race, Bob Poe, has been running all his TV spots about banning automatic weapons and taking an even stronger and more relatable anti-violence stand than Bloomberg's own anti-gun organization!



How about newspapers... how do they do their endorsements? Tangent: there was one in the Salt Lake Tribune last week by David Irvine explaining why he, a lifelong Republican, is voting for Hillary. Irvine was a member of the state House of Representatives and used to be the chairman of the Davis County Republican Party, in the very red suburbs between Salt Lake City and Ogden. It's notTrump country. Cruz won the primary with 68.4% and Kasich came in second with 20.3%. Trump brought up the rear with 11.3% (with just over half the votes Bernie Sanders got in Davis Co.) Irvine wasn't really so much as endorsing Hillary as he was denouncing Trumpanzee-- and the Republican leaders, like Paul Ryan, who back him. "It is unfortunate that so many of those who claim to be leaders of the congressional and presidential wings of the Republican Party have long since made their Faustian bargains and are actively endorsing a totally self-centered know-nothing who behaves like the caricature of a banana-republic dictator," he wrote... "There's a point where this failure to withdraw an endorsement becomes a self-indicting embrace of a demagogue's values. Trump is riding astride the Four Horsemen of Calumny he has resurrected from an earlier and equally dismal Republican playbook: Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear... It's entirely possible that this election could turn on Utah's electoral votes. Recognizing that reality, every Clinton vote is crucially important. A nonvote or a Johnson vote is a vote for Trump."




But endorsements or not, and with a new poll showing that half of the voters won't consider casting a voter from the Trumpanzee, thinks are looking more dire by the day for the GOP. Politico, though, thinks they've found a silver-lining in the Republican cloud. Although Latinos rushing the register to vote in time for the November election have swelled Democratic Party ranks in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, the opposite is happening in states where large numbers of voters have keep their Democratic Party registrations but have long ago stopped voting for Democrats. Red counties in Florida, North Carolina and backward areas of Pennsylvania (primarily in the southwestern part of the state) are seeing lot of voters re-registering as Republicans, in line with how they've actually been voting. Writing for Politico Monday, Ben Schreckinger reported that "registration numbers in Eastern and Midwestern battleground states offer a rare piece of welcome news to Republicans bracing for the possibility of a November massacre." Clearly this is part of a partisan realignment that is coming into focus this year as Trump courts white, alienated blue color workers abandoned by Wall Street Democrats and Hillary courts traditional suburban professional that have been the mainstay of the GOP. And these numbers are very real.
In Pennsylvania-- where Democrats’ registration advantage has fallen by a fifth since the 2012 election to 915,000 voters-- more than 85,000 former Democrats have become Republicans this year, almost three times the number of voters who made the opposite switch.

The party-switching has been especially lopsided in Pennsylvania counties in the southwest region, coal country, and the northeast, which includes Scranton. Megan Sweeney, the communications director for the state Republican Party, and Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist based in Harrisburg, said the party-switching was a mix of push and pull factors. “Certainly part of it is Trump-motivated,” Gerow said. My view is that a lot more of it is motivated by the disgust that many Democrats have for the administration.”

In North Carolina, Democrats’ voter registration advantage shrunk by 44,000 between last June and this May, more than twice the rate it fell at it during that period last cycle. As of August 13, the Democratic advantage had dwindled to 641,000.

The picture in North Carolina is complicated by the rise of unaffiliated voters. Even more striking than Democrats’ shrinking registration advantage over Republicans is the influx of new residents into the state who do not register with either party but tend to be less tied than longtime residents to the white Southern culture that has taken a shine to Trump. The number of independents has surged almost 40 percent since 2008, from roughly 1.4 million to more than 1.9 million. During that period, the Republican rolls have remained essentially static and Democrats have lost about 200,000 voters.

...More concerning for Democrats should be Florida, where the party’s registration advantage has shrunk to 259,000 voters-- less than half what it was during the 2012 election.

Florida, like North Carolina, has seen a surge in independent voter registrations in recent years, but in a crucial swing state with a large and growing minority population, the shrinking advantage is nonetheless disappointing.

So far this year, Florida Republicans have added close to 70,000 more voters to their rolls than Democrats have. “That [change], especially when you’re talking about a state that Obama carried by less than 100,000 votes last time, could be significant,” said Cauvillon, the Louisiana pollster.

The strength of Trump’s ground operation in the primaries varied wildly from state to state, but in Florida, under the direction of former Rick Scott aide Karen Giorno, his campaign has taken credit for registering 35,000 new Republicans and bringing 5,000 independents and Democrats into the party.

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In November Ballot Initiative, California Voters Take On Big Pharma & Sky-High Drug Prices

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What drug company CEOs are doing to patients for a few dollars more (source)

by Gaius Publius

Sky-high drug prices are a scandal, but everyone knows that, even those responsible for the prices. They're also a source of enormous profit and wealth, which is the problem. The drug companies, acting alone and through their lobbying arm, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), are literally sending people to their deaths in order to drain others of a few dollars more. It would not be out of line to call this behavior murderous and psychopathic — in a Martin Shkreli sense — though most would settle for a term from economics. Something related to capitalism, perhaps.

Drug companies and their wealth have captured the national legislative and regulatory process and even some of the national patient advocacy groups (see below for more). How to crack the nut of deadly high drug prices and bring them down to an affordable level? Activists in California are making a very credible attempt at the state level with a November ballot initiative called the Drug Prices Relief Act, or Proposition 61.

Fran Quigley, writing in Truth-Out, first describes the scale of the problem (my emphasis throughout):
It is hard to overstate the level of dysfunction in the US medicines system. The headline-producing greed of "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli was just the most dramatic example of a pharmaceutical industry whose patent monopolies grant it immunity from market forces while its political clout shields it from government regulation. Taking full advantage of taxpayer-funded research, drug corporations make record profits, even by Fortune 500 standards, and pay their CEOs as much as $180 million a year. Those corporations spend far more on incessant marketing to consumers and physicians than they do on research -- part of the reason they have largely failed to develop new medicines that address the most deadly illnesses and diseases.

As for the patients who rely on those medicines, pharma lobbying has ensured that the US Medicare program is alone among industrialized nations' government health plans in not negotiating down the price it pays for medicines, causing US patients to pay far and away the highest global price for necessary drugs. One in every five US cancer patients can't afford to fill their prescriptions, and many seniors on Medicare are forced to cut their pills in half to stretch their supply. ...

The industry's US trade organization, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, has an annual budget exceeding $200 million, which it directs to the promotion of the image and interests of its 57 member companies. The industry's US lobbying expenses for 2015 were $238 million, and its campaign contributions have reached as high as $50.7 million in a year. That money has been well-spent.
Even those in government who say they're trying to help aren't helping:
Not that the Obama administration has always been a champion of medicine access: the Affordable Care Act enshrined a huge guaranteed market for pharmaceutical companies, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently flat-out refused to exercise its legal right to address huge corporate mark-ups on cancer medicines the NIH helped develop.
I'm shocked about the NIH not using authority it already has to provide relief. That's a good indication of the extent to which all of national government is captured by this industry.

Only the Veterans Administration, unlike Medicare, negotiates down drug prices. Medicare is forbidden by law to do so. Which makes the prices paid by the VA for prescription drugs an interesting benchmark.

Proposition 61: Marking California Drug Prices to the VA Benchmark

In a nutshell here's what Prop 61 would do:
The initiative, recently certified by the California Secretary of State as Proposition 61, calls for state agencies to be blocked from paying more for a prescription drug than the price paid by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Unlike the Medicare program, the VA is free to negotiate the price it pays for drugs and as a result, pays as much as 42 percent less than Medicare and usually significantly lower than state Medicaid programs. The primary force behind the ballot measure, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says the law could save Californians hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lower government costs and lower individual co-payments.
Are you a California resident? Imagine a 42% cut in drug prices. (It's not hard to predict prescription prices falling throughout California if state agencies become the go-to source for low-cost drugs.) That alone, I think, makes Prop 61 worth your active and vigorous support. It would literally change lives, including your own.

Are you a resident of any other state with a ballot initiative option? If Prop 61 passes in California, it will be exported, perhaps to a state near you. Another reason to give Prop 61 your active and vigorous support.

Quigley's piece has much more information, including some he said-she said about whether Big Pharma is worried about this initiative passing (count on it, regardless of what they say) and whether the ballot measure will deliver the change it advertises (again, count on it, regardless of what its opponents say). I recommend reading it through if this effort interests you at all. It looks very promising to me.

I do want to leave you with one more quote from the article, however, related to those patient advocacy groups who are opposed to Prop 61.

Some Patient Advocacy Groups Are Opposed; Guess Why

The opposition is quoting some patient advocacy groups that are opposed to the measure. For example:
While the pharmaceutical industry opposition to the measure is predictable, some patient-connected advocacy organizations have raised concerns as well. Anne Donnelly, policy director for the San Francisco-based HIV and Hepatitis C advocacy group Project Inform, has been widely quoted by the opposition campaign and in media reports questioning the wisdom of the ballot initiative. Donnelly says her group is officially neutral on the referendum and points out that Project Inform supports a drug price transparency bill that is pending at the California state legislature. "We are supportive of the goal of lowering drug prices, but the drug pricing system is so complex that I am not sure this simplistic (ballot) measure is the best approach," she said in an interview.
But...
Project Inform's lack of support was highlighted in a July New York Times article on the referendum. But the referendum's supporters have in turn questioned Project Inform's motivations, noting that the organization -- like many patient advocacy groups -- is funded in significant part by pharmaceutical company donations. "When you look at who is speaking out against the initiative, you have to ask what it is in it for them," says Burger of the CNA. Donnelly confirms that industry donations make up between 20-36 percent of Project Inform's budget, but says the organization takes precautions to ensure that the industry does not influence its positions.
Money doesn't talk, it swears. Or so I hear. Though maybe Ms. Donnelly hears it sing a different tune.

GP

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GOP Congressional Strategists Already Building A Wall Of Obstructionism Against President Hillary

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I've been talking with congressional candidates in swing districts-- and some red districts-- all over the country who are telling me their internal polling numbers show Hillary absolutely crushing the Trumpanzee. Many are hopeful that Hillary's coattails are going to sweep them into office and, in fact, the DCCC and DSCC seem to think even their incredible weak menagerie of unlovable conservative candidates can win-- despite what Democratic voters want and expect from Congress-- as a result of an anti-Trumpanzee tsunami. And the DSCC may manage to drag atrocious otherwise unelectable candidates like Katie McGinty (PA), Ted Strickland (OH), and even Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ) over the finish line and win a Senate majority, but Pelosi's shockingly incompetent DCCC would need an certifiable miracle to do the same in the House. Even with a Democratic Senate (stuffed with shitty members from the far right of the party who will be eager to work out terrible deals with the GOP), President Hillary is still going to have to face a GOP-controlled House with two objectives: obstruction beyond even what they did to Obama and a concerted effort to destroy her politically in time for the 2020 election.

First thing Monday morning Politico started the day with a warning from an unnamed "powerful Hill GOP aide" who was referring to a Washington Post piece that weekend envisioning Clinton, Paul Ryan and Chuck Schumer working on a package to boost infrastructure spending, alongside some form of corporate tax reform. The "powerful Hill GOP aide" attributes that vision to Clinton and calls it absurd. "Clinton is delusional. Nothing they want can be remotely paid for without massive, economy-crushing tax increases. And no one will be politically cowed by her after this election. It won’t be difficult for Republicans to unite in opposition to virtually every single thing she has campaigned on. And if Paul [Ryan] is running for president in 2020, all of his upside is in fighting her tooth and nail."

Politico urges its readers t take note: "this is an important preview of the next year if Hillary wins. Even if the Senate turns Democratic, the House is likely to remain in Republican hands. And if Clinton wins the White House, she’ll have to navigate a House Republican Conference that is only becoming more conservative."

And not "more conservative" in the way Trumpist sociopath Steve Bannon seems to define it. The Trumpists won't be a major presence in Congress. The only Member Trump endorsed and did an ad for so far, Renee Ellmers (R-NC) got crushed in her reelection primary and the only Republican in either house of Congress to have contributed money to the Trumpanzee campaign is clueless and anti-science House Science Committee chairman, Lamar Smith. Trump may have an enthusiast in Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and a miniscule handful of House backbenchers-- nose-bleed seats, in fact-- but his influence in Congress will be next to nothing by November 9. If he has any influence it will be because the buzz about his new media empire with Bannon, Ailes, and Mercer turns out to be real. But here's how Bannon described his own vision for America, which is distinctly any but conservative, to Ronald Radosh of the Daily Beast 2 years ago:
[W]e had a long talk about his approach to politics. He never called himself a “populist” or an “American nationalist,” as so many think of him today. “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.

Shocked, I asked him what he meant.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.

...“National Review and the Weekly Standard,” he said, “are both left-wing magazines, and I want to destroy them also.” He added that “no one reads them or cares what they say.” His goal was to bring down the entire establishment including the leaders of the Republican Party in Congress. He went on to tell me that he was the East Coast coordinator of all the Tea Party groups. His plan was to get its candidates nominated on the Republican ticket, and then to back campaigns that they could win. Then, Bannon said, when elected they would be held accountable to fight for the agenda he and the Tea Party stood for.

If they didn’t, “we would force them out of office and oppose them when the next election for their seats came around.”

That, essentially, was the tactic employed when Eric Cantor was ousted by a far right candidate, virtually unknown college economics professor Dave Brat, in his Virginia district’s primary. It was also the path Donald Trump’s supporters took in Wisconsin, when hoping to duplicate their successful tactics in Virginia, they ran a candidate in the Wisconsin Republican primary against Speaker Paul Ryan in his own district. There are a few Republicans that Bannon does respect. One of them is Rep. Louis Gohmert, the fiery congressman from Texas, who was also at the party. Gohmert, who is part of the self-proclaimed anti-establishment wing of the Republican Party, was an ally of Cruz in the government shutdown.

Trump’s decision to take on Bannon indicates that he wants to wage his campaign along the lines laid down by him-- that of destroying the Republican leadership and the Party as we know it. Trump’s behavior thus far has been compatible with Bannon’s belief in Leninist tactics. As the Bolshevik leader once said, “The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive.”

Only one question remains. Knowing this, why do leaders like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and others, who regularly condemn Trump’s statements but yet still endorse him, stick with such a self-defeating approach? They will only end up helping Bannon and company cast them into oblivion and finish their hostile take-over of the GOP.
So maybe the House Republicans will have a two-front war on their hands next year-- battling President Hillary one the one hand and the Trumpanzee Media Empire on the other. I would suggest that a plan to making sure that neither brand of conservatism becomes the dominant governing principle of this country, we should do our best to elect as many progressives as possible, not garden variety DSCC and DCCC Democrats who will never stand up for anything, but real progressives like the ones on this page that pops up when you click the thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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Monday, August 22, 2016

How Toxic Is The Trumpanzee On Long Island?

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Jack Martins, stuck between sociopath Donald Trump and convicted felon Dean Skelos

Judging by turnout in the primary, there's a lot more enthusiasm for Hillary on Long Island than there is for Mr. Trumpanzee. Both candidates are known by virtually everyone in Nassau and everyone in Suffolk. These were the primary votes in Nassau County:
GOP

Trumpanzee- 66,989
Kasich- 21,682
Cruz- 9,325

Democratic

Hillary- 70,947
Bernie- 42,301
And these are the primary votes for Suffolk County:
GOP

Trumpanzee- 69,379
Kasich- 17,716
Cruz- 8,548

Democratic

Hillary- 49,926
Bernie- 41,363
204,537 Democrats voted and 193,639 Republicans voted in the two counties. Since then, Señor Trumpanzee has completely tanked among suburban women. A newly released poll by the the Global Strategy Group in NY-03 shows Hillary up 51-35% over Trump, almost as bad as the numbers in the suburbs around Philly where she has been advertising heavily. Trump's unfavorables are unprecedented-- 67% with 53% very unfavorable.

The Democratic candidate for NY-03 is Tom Suozzi, a former County Executive, and the Republican candidate is probably state Sen. Jack Martins, a hack from the corrupt Dean Skelos machine who got hoist on his own petard by having Republican Phil Pidot illegally kicked off the primary ballot. A court has since ordered that Martins has to run against Pidot in October.

Martins, who has embraced Trump, is seeing the same polling numbers that everyone else is seeing-- with Trump dragging his campaign down the toilet. The latest poll shows Suozzi beating him by 16 points, 52-36%. Angry that he has to face Pidot in a primary, angry that Suozzi is cleaning his clock and petrified about being on the same ballot as Trump, Martins is demanding the election be postponed a month until December 6.

Suozzi was joined this weekend by the Libertarian candidate and the other Republican, Pidot, is denouncing Martins tactics. "Jack Martins," he reminded the media, "has unsuccessfully attempted to eliminate each and every opponent who has filed signatures to qualify for the ballot in the 3rd Congressional District. These are the kinds of petty insider political games that voters are sick of. Martins needs to stop wasting everyone’s time and millions of taxpayer dollars and instead tell us what he is really about." Yesterday, The Island Now covered the three candidates' press conference in Greenvale. "It's time for Jack Martins to put on his big boy pants," said Suozzi."This is an election about important issues, and it's time to talk about the issues and actually have a debate and let the people decide who they think the best candidate is, instead of playing these weaselly maneuvers that he's been using over and over again."

I bet other Republicans all over the country would like to try the same tactic-- postponing the election-- to get away from Trump.

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