Friday, February 05, 2016

Red Hot Chili Peppers Played A Bernie Benefit Tonight-- And Some Advise From Bankster Lloyd Blankfein


Tonight's Red Hot Chili Peppers concert for Bernie was sold out-- weeks in advance. Flea, the Peppers' long-time activist bass player, is a big Bernie fan, although sometimes he can't help himself when it comes to denouncing the Republican clowns. "I can't take Donald Trump or anything he says seriously," he said last week. "I just think that he's a silly reality-show bozo and blustering guy who likes getting attention. I don't think he wants to be president, and I don't think he has a chance to be the president. He's just some egotistical, silly person whose main concern in life is getting a blowjob. He wants to be on TV and he wants everyone to thinks he's important... I don't think he even believes what he says. He's just a product of, if you yell loud enough and bluster around enough, people are going to pay attention to you. He works the media and they love it. I'm hesitant to even discuss it because I just find it all to be really trivial. This guy literally has never said a single thing about anything that actually affects an issue that has anything to do with anyone in America's reality. He's never said anything like he is going to help working class people or poor people. I guess he can help rich people get tax breaks. He's a real-estate bozo who was born rich and has parlayed it from being a money-scammer guy."

And he hasn't exactly been a fan of the other fascist-leaning Republican in the race, Ted Cruz. "Ted Cruz is a selfish, mean-spirited man. He's taking millions of dollars from companies like Goldman Sachs and all these corporations and those are the people who are going to tell him what to do if he gets in office. The NRA and big financial institutions are going to tell him what to do, and he's going to do what they say because they're the ones that own him." But he'd much rather talk about Bernie. He penned a story for Rolling Stone this week.
When we first started hearing about the Democratic [presidential] hopefuls, I saw that he was running and I just started paying attention. When I heard that he wasn't taking money from any corporations, didn't have any Super PACs and was doing it with a lot of small donations, I was amazed. The concept of a president in this country who is not beholden to corporate lobbyists is such a beautiful idea.

A year ago, nobody really cared about Bernie Sanders or knew who he was. And here's a guy that is not relying on fear-mongering or Super PACs or billions of dollars. He's just talking about issues that really affect us as human beings, like caring about each other and evening the playing field.

People try to demonize it like, "Socialism is the next step to communism." That's just insane silliness. Bernie isn't talking about eliminating the spirit of capitalism in terms of the competitive spirit of people being able to lift themselves up by their bootstraps through discipline and hard work and creativity and ingenuity. He's not trying to eliminate making something great of yourself and being part of the American dream. He's just saying, "Let's even the playing field so everybody can get a decent education and have an opportunity to get health care and take care of themselves and educate themselves." That's what civilization should be about.

The bottom line is that everybody deserves to get a good education. This country is completely capable economically of providing a high-grade education for everybody regardless of their economic class. And everybody deserves to have a high grade of health care regardless of their economic class. That is what's going to help [reduce] crime and poverty. That is what's going to make this country a beautiful, vibrant place.

People can still get rich, but it's just giving everybody a chance that everybody deserves. I'm for Bernie Sanders all the way. I believe in him; I believe in what he says. I relate to people who realize that we're all connected, and who realize that we have to look out for each other and love each other. And that's what Bernie's about.

Beyond economic issues, the thing that drives my interest the most in any presidential candidate is the one that's least likely to go to war and least likely to start some bloodthirsty murderous war campaign in order to keep the Military Industrial Complex going and make billions for the corporations at the expense of human life. I think Bernie is the least likely to start a cockamamie war.

I just don't care [that critics call him "unelectable"]. I think saying he's unelectable is a silly thing. Clearly, he's electable. He's a guy who's getting votes and just showed in Iowa that he's neck-and-neck with Hillary. Consciously electing someone based on being a human being with integrity who actually speaks for the people of this country and the things that concern them-- and not fear-mongering — is an amazing concept that's really inspiring. And it gives me a little bit of faith in the political process.

The Chili Peppers are doing a show for Bernie this weekend and it's something like $30,000 to rent the venue. We said, "Oh, we'll pay for the cost of the venue rental." And he wouldn't accept it! He said, "We can't accept you guys; you're a group-- you're incorporated-- so I can't accept that money." He can accept the ticket cost because each one is a small donation, but the 30 grand? "No, I don't accept money like that."

If he's elected, I would hope that a Sanders presidency would make it so 1) he wouldn't go off into any wars unless if it really was to protect other human beings, 2) that he would make high-quality health care accessible to everybody regardless of how much money they have, and 3) that he would make higher education available for everybody. And that means everybody. That means people who live in very poor communities and are struggling who deserve as good as an education as people in rich communities. The playing field is rigged. And if you're poor and a minority, you don't have a chance, man. Or your chance is like a needle in a haystack. I want everybody to have an equal chance.

Oh, and if you missed the show and still want to contribute to Bernie... here's the place.

More Rolling Stone... this time full of free advice from from Hillary booster Lloyd Blankfein plus bankster whores Joe Kernen and Becky Quick of CNBC. (Hillary's #2 campaign donor is Blankfein's company, Goldman Sachs-- $711,490.) Blankfein went on Squawk Box to squawk about how "dangerous" and "frightening" Bernie is.
"Could you imagine," he asked, "if the Jeffersons and Hamiltons came in with a total pledge and commitment to never compromise with the other side?"

The slobbering Squawk Box hosts went on to propose firing all the academics in the country, because clearly it is their fault that so many young people are willing to support a socialist.

"I'm ready," said co-host Joe Kernen, "to send my daughter to Brigham Young or Liberty or something."

Then Kernen, Becky Quick and Blankfein all made jokes about how socialism doesn't work and how all those Berniebots should take a trip to Cuba.

"The best real-time experiment is, I went to Cuba," said Lloyd.

"I haven't been," Kernen said proudly.

"You should go," said Lloyd. "You go there, stop in Miami and you just see the Cuban community and how much wealth they've generated.

Of course the politics of Sanders is closer to what you'd find in Sweden or Denmark than Cuba, but they were rolling by then.

Lloyd added that the current popular discontent with Wall Street was just something that happens randomly, like the weather. "There's a pendulum that happens in markets and it happens in political economy as well," he said.

He added that he didn't want to pick a candidate because "I don't want to help or hurt anybody by giving an endorsement."

For people who so very pleased with themselves for ostensibly being so much smarter than everyone else, people like Blankfein are oddly uncreative when it comes to deflecting criticism.

The people who don't like them are always overemotional communists. All those young people who are flocking to the Sanders campaign? Dupes, misled by dumb professors who've never been to Cuba.

And their anger toward Wall Street? Causeless and random, just a bunch of folks riding an emotional pendulum that brainlessly swings back and forth. Don't take it personally, people are just moody that way.

...Lloyd apparently thinks politicians should naturally reside in a state of more or less constant accommodation with Wall Street. Thomas Jefferson would have compromised with us, he says! One can assume that his model of a "compromising" politician is Hillary Clinton, who took $675,000 to give three speeches to his company. "Look, I make speeches to lots of groups," Hillary explained. "I told them what I thought."

Asked by Anderson Cooper if she needed to take $675,000 to tell Goldman what she "thought," Hillary shrugged. "I don't know," she said. "That's what they were offering."

Even more significant than the $675,000 Hillary took from Goldman, or the $30 million in speaking income she and her husband received combined in the last 16 months, is the account of what Hillary apparently told Goldman she "thought" during those speeches.

According to Politico, who spoke to several attendees, Hillary used the opportunity to tell the bankers in attendance that the "banker-bashing so popular within both parties was unproductive and indeed foolish."

She added that the proper attitude should be, "We all got into this mess together, and we're all going to have to work together to get out of it."

...In her speech, Hillary's we included the executives in her audience. Her message was basically that It Takes a Village to create a financial crisis. This was the Robin Williams breakthrough scene in Good Will Hunting, with Hillary putting a hand on the Goldmanites' shoulders, telling them, "It's not your fault. It's not your fault."

But it was their fault. The crash was caused by a tiny handful of people who spent years hogging fortunes through a bluntly criminal scheme in the home lending markets. The FBI warned back in 2004 of an "epidemic" of mortgage fraud that could have an "impact as big as the S&L crisis," but those warnings were ignored.

What the FBI was talking about back then mainly had to do with smaller local lending operations that were systematically creating risky home loans, falsifying credit applications to get unworthy borrowers into mortgages they couldn't afford.

What they didn't understand back then is that the impetus for that criminal activity was the willingness of massive banking institutions on Wall Street to buy up those bad loans in bulk. They created a market for those fraudulent loans, bought billions' worth of them from local lenders, and then chopped up and resold those bad loans to pension funds, unions and other suckers.

The "village" didn't do this. Lloyd Blankfein and his buddies did this. (Goldman just a few weeks ago reached a deal to pay a $5.1 billion settlement to cover its history of selling bad loans to unsuspecting investors, joining Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and others).

People aren't pissed just to be pissed. They're mad because a tiny group of crooks on Wall Street built themselves beach houses in the Hamptons through a crude fraud scheme that decimated their retirement funds, caused property values in their neighborhoods to collapse and caused over four million people to be put in foreclosure.

And they're particularly mad that they got asked to pay for this criminal irresponsibility with bailouts funded with their tax dollars.

What the Clintons have done by turning their political careers into a vast moneymaking enterprise, it's not a value-neutral activity. The money isn't just about buying influence. The money also physically moves people, from one side of an imaginary line to another.

You will never catch Bernie Sanders standing in a room as a paid guest of a bank under investigation for ripping billions off pensioners and investors, addressing the audience in the first-person plural. He doesn't spend enough time with that kind of crowd to be so colloquial.

The Clintons meanwhile have by now taken so much money that when they stand in a room full of millionaires and billionaires, they can use the word "we" and not have it sound odd. The money has irrevocably moved them to that side of the ropeline. On that side of the line, public anger isn't legitimate, but something to be managed and waited out, just as Lloyd suggests.

When people like Blankfein tell us they don't take criticism personally, what they're saying is that it's too brainless and irrational to be taken any other way. He means to be insulting. And we should all take it that way.
Goal Thermometer

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Blue America Endorses Sonny Palacios (TX-15)


TX-15 is a long skinny piece of gerrymandered south Texas-- they call it a "fajita strip"-- that starts in the suburbs northwest of San Antonio and at Seguin and meanders down to the Rio Grande Valley. It includes all of Duval, Guadaloupe, Jim Hogg, Brooks, Live Oaks and Karnes counties and portions of Hidalgo and Wilson counties. Most of the people live in the McAllen/Edinburg area, in deep blue Hidalgo County. Over half the votes from TX-15 come from Hidalgo and although Obama only beat Romney 57-42% districtwide, he took Hidalgo 70-29%. The district is over 80% Latino. They first elected moderate Democrat Rubén Hinojosa in 1996 and this past November announced his retirement. According to the U.S. Census the median income is $40,400 one of the lowest in the country. 25.4% of the families fall below the national poverty rate.

The district is blue enough so that it's safe to assume that whomever wins the Democratic primary will be the new congressman, although there are 3 whack job Republicans running (as well as 7 Democrats). How do I know the 3 Republicanos are what jobs? Although I included the video of a bipartisan candidate forum up top for another reason, I did watch the Republicans answer the questions; they're all whack jobs; one, Tim Westley said "God prompted me to run" and he sounds like to should be in a mental institution. One Hispanic Republican even said he'd support Trump if he were the GOP nominee; talk about self-loathing! Actually, the reason I embedded the video is because EMILY's List endorsed the woman candidate, Dolly Elizondo and is asking their members to contribute to Dolly's campaign. They're not telling their members that Dolly is a conservative, anti-Choice Democrat who uses the excuse of Catholicism for being against women's Choice, an issue she tries skirting around in the debate. (Watch her responding to a question at the 39 minute mark.)
Q: What is your stand on abortion and in Washington how would you take on this debate?

Dolly: I am opposed to abortion; I'm a Catholic...
Thanks, EMILY's List, always so eager to endorse conservative women that now they're even endorsing anti-Choice women! As far as I can tell the only progressive on that debate stage was Sonny Palacios who I've been talking to on the phone and who assured me he has every intention of joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus when he's elected to Congress. Blue America endorsed him and because his primary is March 1, he can use some help fast, something you can do right here. We asked Sonny to talk about his experience on the Edinburg school board and how that will inform his work in Congress. He told us that his family has deep roots in the Hidalgo County community and an equally deep love for public service. "My family values inspired me to be involved and take part in our community," he told us this morning.

Real Progressive Representation In South Texas?

-by Sonny Palacios
Candidate for Congress, TX-15
I wanted to serve my community where I believed there would be the largest impact and most meaningful and that was in the public school system. I ran and won a position on the innovative Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District school board in 2010. I am currently serving my second term. The school board has created a vast amount of projects that have gained us a great deal of recognition, not just locally and across Texas, but nationally as well. I aim at empowering youth, students, parents and educators. In my role on the Edinburg CISD school board, I helped lead the board from different executive positions throughout the years and with our team created new innovative projects and policies.

During my tenure at ECISD, I implemented a wide range of projects, including:
developed a full bullying and suicide awareness campaign
took on new green/ energy saving initiatives
developed a new high school
worked on successful project Labor agreements
improved playgrounds, classrooms and safe routes to schools
hired new teachers
gave district-wide raises
created a district-wide clinic with local hospital partnership
sought to expand and protect the LGBTQ community among students and employees
created new athletic director to focus on women’s sports
built performing arts building
grew district fund balance and created all this without raising taxes.
I was extremely proud that the Huffington Post recognized ECISD for our work on providing affordable healthcare to their students and families districtwide, providing a new school-based health center attached to the district headquarters. This was made possible by partnering with a private local hospital. For many Edinburg families this has been the first time they were able to receive care near their home, school, and work, and regardless of their immigration status. Thanks to additional support from another local health system, the 945-square-mile district will soon have two mobile clinics making scheduled visits to school campuses farther from the clinic site.

I also had the honor in working with our school district to take out the “Morality Clause” in our employment process. Until recently, an employee could get fired for being openly gay. I had them remove the clause to protect our employees even though our state Texas Education Agency still actively uses it. I went a step further and asked the school district to protect the LGBTQ community in the schools. To eliminate discrimination and bullying the school district adopted the LGTBQ community as a protected class. ECISD now empowers promising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.

Now I want to take my leadership role a step up and impact the quality of lives for the families of the 15th Congressional District of Texas. My experience as community leader, elected official, attorney and father has prepared me to be a strong candidate and I believe I can serve this seat well and fight for South Texas families.

As I travel the 15th district, I hear and see a lot of constituents in small rural towns who need the help and want someone to pay attention to the needs of their communities. I want to be their new leader and help bring solutions and resources to rural American communities that have been left behind. I plan to be more responsive to all the counties and cities of the 15th Congressional District and I intend to show more accountability and transparency and bring the word “represent” back to the title U.S. Representative.
I don't recall a South Texas congressman in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I get the feeling Sonny Palacios will be a valuable addition to that body and I hope you'll give him a hand winning this very much under-the-radar election. This is the Blue America ActBlue page where you can contribute to Sonny Palacios for Congress.

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Is The DCCC As Hated Among Florida Democrats As It Is Among California Democrats?


Every bit as horrible as the last DCCC chairman-- and the one before that

A few days ago we looked at why California Democratic Party activists have been rejecting the DCCC and telling them to go shove their corrupt conservative candidates up Ben Ray Luján's and Steve Israel's asses. But a growing hatred for the DCCC among Democrats isn't confined to California. Florida Democratic Party activists have been waking up to the Beltway shenanigans that have proven catastrophic for Florida Democrats for over a decade when then-DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel started recruiting Republicans to run as Democratic in the state.

This week the East Orlando Post reported that FL-10 voters are furious that the DCCC is interfering in their congressional primary on behalf of the incompetent conservative candidate, Val Demings to the detriment of beloved civil rights heroine Geraldine Thompson and highly-respected former Florida Democratic Party chairman Bob Poe. Demings may be seen as an easily-controlled shill by DC powermingers but she is not well-liked by many central Florida Democrats. Jacob Engels reported that Demings "suffered a tough loss to Republican Dan Webster in 2012 [and] angered many local Democratic voters and activists when she dropped out of the Orange County mayoral race at the last minute in 2014, leaving the party with no one to challenge long-term incumbent Republican Mayor Teresa Jacobs."
Regardless, an insider close to the DCCC told us that Demings earned the respect from running a campaign in a tough race against Republican statesman Daniel Webster. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan recently held an event for Demings in Central Florida, signalling DC insiders determination to hand the crown to the former police chief.

"We are not handpicking a candidate, but Chief Demings has earned the respect of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others on capitol hill. She seems to have the support locally."

Former Florida Democratic Party Chairman and serial entrepreneur Bob Poe, who is one of the candidates challenging Demings for the nomination, grew up in Florida's 10th district as a teen working at a gas station.

"This race is ultimately going to be decided by the voters in the 10th Congressional District and not a small group of power brokers in Washington," said Poe.

He continued by pointing to the fact that the party has far too many other "too close to call" races on their hands that have no contested primaries, and should be focusing their efforts there instead of in Florida 10.

"The DCCC should be spending their limited resources to defeat Republicans, not fellow Democrats."

Mr. Poe has spent the past three decades as an entrepreneur in the marketing and communications industry-- a sought after show-runner and ideas man. He has raised nearly $300k in the three weeks since he announced his bid.

A Democratic aide, who once worked in the office of Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the East Orlando Post that Poe does not have the right racial makeup for the district.

"Simply put, Poe can't buy this race. The hill has decided that we want Chief Demings, come hell or high-water. Thompson and Fahmy are not options either. They should wait their turn."

State Senator Geraldine Thompson, an African American civil rights icon, is also a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination. Thompson has served in elected office for 10 years in the area, and like Poe, she is determined to not let Washington dysfunction determine who the candidate ultimately is.

"This type of behavior signals a total disregard for the people in our district. To not allow a level playing field by openly supporting one candidate over the other three is flat out wrong. The Democratic party is supposed to be a big tent. I have been breaking down barriers and obstacles my whole life.

"While the open bias with which they are treating me and the other candidates is disappointing, I am not deterred. In this race is an openly gay man, a proud Latina woman and a veteran African American female elected leader. We are insistent that the people in the District will decide... not the Washington elite." Thompson told us on break from committee meetings in the Florida Capitol.

A donor familiar with the endorsement process and patterns of the DCCC told us that there is not really any rules against the committee supporting one candidate over another, but admitted that most of the time it is preferable to let the people decide.

"It is a little perplexing to see how they are handling this. Endorsements and support from Washington are in large part meaningless to the majority of voters. We have races that have no primaries and are extremely tough roads to victory against Republicans in the general election... why not focus on those?," the top bundler for Democrat candidates confided via text message, echoing Bob Poe's sentiment about smart allocation of precious party resources.

Fatima Rita Fahmy, a lawyer and former stockbroker who moved to Central Florida from Brazil when she was just five years old, is another Democrat making a run for congress in Florida's 10th district. Fahmy calls the DCCC's behavior "next level arrogance."

"They want to impose their will and I will push back hard against those movements. I am in total agreement with Mr. Poe and Senator Thompson, it shows a horrible disconnect between the power-brokers and everyday people."

Fahmy crashed a Demings event Monday morning where DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján was in attendance and publicly called attention to the committees unusual financial and structural support for a candidate who is facing a primary from other credible choices.
So, the DCCC claims that Poe, who is white and gay, "does not have the right racial makeup for the district" so they're stepping on a progressive African-American state senator and a Latina so they can support a conservative religious nut who also happens to be African-American. The district is 27.1% voting age African-American, 22.8% voting Hispanic, 44.3% voting age white and I was unaware Pelosi countenanced this kind of racial game-playing. The DCCC press secretary for the Southeast, Jermaine House, actually said, "We will never support Poe because he's white." I'd like to hear Pelosi defend that like DCCC statement. On top of that, the DCCC is complaining Poe "can't buy this election" when the hallmark of the DCCC in the last decade has been to always favor wealthy candidates over middle class candidates. The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

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The Pressure on Warren to Support Hillary Clinton


American Crossroads letting you know that Goldman Sachs' Blankfein isn't letting you know that he's backing Hillary Clinton — "because I don't want to help or hurt anyone by giving an endorsement." Smiles all round the table. (American Crossroads should be careful what it wishes for.)

by Gaius Publius

There are several parts to a story that's just starting to be told, the tale of the pressure applied by prominent and establishment Democratic women to get Sen. Elizabeth Warren to support Hillary Clinton. Part of that story is taking place in the present — the pressure is being applied now. And it now seems that part of that story may extend into the past — as earlier pressure not to "get in the way" (my characterization) of a possible, as-yet-unannounced Clinton run. The first part of the story is certain, the other, less so, though indications are beginning to emerge.

Let's look at these two parts briefly, the present story and the past one, to see if some dots connect, and to see what other dots might be connected later, pending more data.

Keep in mind, this is an unusual primary for Democrats — we can choose an anti-Money revolution, or a woman president, but we can't choose both, not this time. This complicates both the decision and the optics of endorsing Clinton, especially for women, and especially for women connected to the in-place Democratic establishment. If you haven't figured out why, you'll see in a moment. Read on.

The Present Pressure on Elizabeth Warren to Endorse Hillary Clinton

This present part of the story comes via a good story in The Hill. I encourage reading it all; I found all of it useful: 
Female senators urge Warren: Back Hillary Clinton

Female Democratic senators are privately urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren to formally endorse Hillary Clinton for president.

The lobbying campaign comes as the Democratic race between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is heating up going into the New Hampshire primary next week.

A group of Democratic ­senators is taking a bus tour of New Hampshire this weekend to stump for Clinton, and they want the liberal Massachusetts powerhouse to get on board. Clinton narrowly defeated Sanders in the Iowa caucuses earlier this week, but the Vermont senator is a heavy favorite to win New Hampshire.

A few of the senators have discussed with Warren the possibility of publicly backing Clinton. ... “I’m hopeful she’ll join us. I’m hopeful she’ll join the revolution that will allow us to come together to elect” the first female president, said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), one of Clinton’s staunchest supporters.

Asked if she or other senators had approached Warren personally, Stabenow said, “We all talk about it,” but declined to reveal what Warren has said in response.
A Democratic aide said the Senate women have been “trying to do a little arm twisting in recent months.”

“Her role in this campaign would be valuable,” the staffer said. “I think she’s gotten more attention than most senators, and I think it would mean a lot.”

Other women in the Senate have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the campaign for Clinton, which they see as a historic opportunity to advance women’s rights.
Women named in the article as lobbying Warren to support Clinton include Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Barbara Mikulski (Md.). Others named in the article as campaigning actively for Clinton, though not named as lobbying Warren, include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii).

The question is, why would a senator who said this on the floor of the Senate (my emphasis)...
"A new presidential election is upon us. The first votes will be cast in Iowa in just eleven days. Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club."
... endorse Hillary Clinton? That's a real question. And the answer is, "Of course she would endorse Clinton — unless she were speaking of Clinton."

Which raises real questions, I think, about the reason many (but not all) establishment Democratic women are endorsing Clinton over Sanders. It's certainly true that many think it is time for the first woman president and that Clinton should be that woman, in spite of her ties to Money — for example, ties to the Goldman Sachs executive in the video above.

But it also has to be said that some (I have a few names in mind) think Clinton should be that woman because of her ties to Money and the mainstream establishment that feeds from (and feeds) the same troughs, the establishment from which they draw their own daily cup. For these women, endorsing Clinton achieves two goals with one stroke of the pen, both of which are desirable.

Hillary-Only Feminism?

I wonder ... if there were only a way we could test those commitments to "first woman president" and factor the ties to Money out of the choice. Perhaps if Warren were also running ... or thought to be thinking about running ... with Clinton not yet declared as as candidate ... would these women support Warren because "first woman president"?

I wonder...
In 2014, Zephyr Teachout asked me [the writer of the piece] whether she should run against powerful incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo. I told her that the only reason not to do it would be fear — fear that his machine would belittle her, discredit her, turn her into a joke. She stared at me, and said, “Now I have to do it, because you just dared me to.” That’s a bad ass lady, the kind of lady who is gonna take a hammer to the glass ceiling, smash it, and pull everybody up with her.

We fought that race with almost zero institutional support. Hillary Clinton supported Cuomo. Imagine an alternate universe where Hillary was the champion of progressive women in her own state. She would have been on our rickety bus, sweating the broken air conditioning, letting people know that the era of “three men in a room” making all the decisions was over. We would have elected our first female governor in New York.

After Zephyr lost her campaign, I teamed up with some other awesome ladies who wanted to see Elizabeth Warren run for president. We were inspired not just by her passion for financial reform, but also by her biography. Once again, institutional support was thin. And the supposedly feminist argument from a lot of Hillary fans was that it wasn’t Elizabeth’s turn. Another woman would dilute Hillary’s chances, which would be bad for the cause of electing Hillary as the first female president. Hillary-only Feminism. [my emphases]
Four takeaways for later thought:
  • "Hillary Clinton supported Cuomo" against a progressive woman with a real chance to win, Zephyr Teachout.
  • "[Warren's] institutional support [for a possible presidential run] was thin."
  • A "supposedly feminist argument from a lot of Hillary fans was that it wasn’t Elizabeth’s turn."
  • "Hillary-only Feminism" is a striking turn of phrase, and the most highlighted phrase from the article according to Medium.
Why did Ms. Clinton not support Ms. Teachout, also a "progressive," as "first woman governor" of New York? Seems appropriate for someone asking for support on the basis of "first woman president." Perhaps Clinton thought Teachout was the wrong woman to be the first woman governor of NY.

Much to think about. I'd love to know if anyone made the "not your turn" argument to Warren herself, or whether these "Hillary fans" just said it to each other.

Perhaps when Warren writes her page-turning memoirs, she'll peel back that curtain as well.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, go here; you can adjust the split any way you like at the link. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)


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I Never Used The F-Word On This Blog... Until Reading Nick Kristof's Anti-Bernie Crap Today


Elizabeth Warren has been talking a lot lately about Bernie's issues, not because they are Bernie's issues-- they're her issues too-- but because they are the issues the voters of Massachusetts elected her to talk about. And if she sounds like she's denigrating the Clinton campaign by continuing to attack Wall Street abuses and the rigged economy and by continuing to attack the inherent unfairness in the TPP and taking to the Senate floor to declare, "Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club," well... if the shoe fits... But she hasn't endorsed Bernie and I doubt she will. She's the only Democratic woman senator who hasn't endorsed Clinton though. And the worst of the right-of-center Clinton shills-- the Claire McCaskills, Kirsten Gillibrands, Debbie Stabenows and Jeanne Shaheens-- have been pressuring her to get on board the women's train for Hillary. I imagine the shills at EMILY's List are doing the same. Warren didn't run for the Senate because she was a woman; she ran because she has a progressive vision for how to make our country a better place, a progressive vision which is far, far, far more in synch with Bernie's than with the reflexive timidity (at least on policy) and conservatism of Hillary, Claire McCaskill, Kirsten Gillibrand, Debbie Stabenow and Jeanne Shaheen. Progressives don't admire and respect Warren because she's a woman; they respect her because of what she stands for. Otherwise she's just be some wretched careerist hack like McCaskill or Gillibrand. Or what Pelosi has turned into in her dotage.

In 2013, right after election day, E.J. Dionne looked at the results and wrote America Shifts Left, not as a celebration of the ugly and failed identity group politics that dominates the worst elements of the Democratic Party but as elebration of the election of politicians who stand for progressive values and principles.

Much earlier, in their seminal 2006 book on grassroots politics Crashing the Gate Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong eviscerated many notions of old school Democratic Party politics, narrow identity politics being one especially ugly component. Writing last year about how EMILY's List has devolved into an organization that primarily helps wealthy conservative women-- who are (mostly, but not always, soon we'll be introducing the newest anti-Choice EMILY's List endorsee) pro-Choice-- target progressive men, I noted that when the book first came out I didn't fully appreciated that point-- "about how the single-minded, single interest groups that make up the Democratic coalition are a force for dysfunction. EMILY's List, far more than any other group, is the poster child for that destructive attitude that has been, in recent years, so harmful to the progressive movement." They are the organization you can LEAST count on to "examine the content of his or her character," let alone his or her stands on issues, when looking at candidates.

In his NYTimes column yesterday, Nick Kristof posed 2 questions to the spirit of Bernie' campaign that you would expect to see from the epitome of establishment news and opinion:
Can you translate your bold vision into reality? ... I’m skeptical. I’m for Medicare for All, but it won’t happen.

Can you get elected? Or would your nomination make a President Cruz more likely?

When voters are polled today about how they would vote in a general election, Sanders does pretty well. For example, he beats Ted Cruz in the RealClearPolitics average, while Clinton loses to Cruz. But at this stage that’s almost meaningless: Republicans are blasting Clinton while ignoring Sanders. If he were the nominee, he would be savaged.

One particularly sobering item for Sanders supporters: A Gallup poll last year asking voters what kind of person they would be unwilling to consider voting for. Six percent of Americans say they wouldn’t vote for a Catholic, and 7 percent wouldn’t support a black or a Jew. Some 24 percent wouldn’t vote for a gay candidate, and more than a third would refuse to vote for a Muslim or an atheist.

However, the most objectionable kind of person by far was a socialist. Fifty percent of Americans said they would be unwilling to consider voting for a socialist.

First off, Nick Kristof, ladies and gentlemen, has decreed that although some of his best friends are single payer, "it won’t happen." Is that so, Nicky? What would have you said between 1773 and 1776 when the progressives were arguing for the Declaration of Independence? That King George was our friend, as so many establishment conservatives did? Would you have denounced Thomas Paine as a lunatic and a dreamer and banned Common Sense from your household? Would you have scoffed at Richard Henry Lee's resolution by insisting that declaring independence was "premature," as so many establishment conservatives did? Would you have backed the conservative delegations from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and New York in threatening to withdraw from the Continental Congress? Would you have said it was impossible for the struggling little colonies to fight off the world's mightiest army? How about in the battle for emancipation of the salves? Too hard? Impossible? Women's suffrage? Public education? How absurd and pie-in-the-sky was that? The anti-Trust laws? Food safety inspections? The abolition of child labor? Rural electrification? Land grant colleges? National parks? The weekend? The minimum wage? Social Security? Civil rights and voting rights for minorities? Clean air and water and consumer safety? Medicare? All of those things were foot against-- long and hard-- by conservatives and the establishment declared them all "impossible." Fuck you! As Senator Warren said, in case you weren't paying attention, "Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard, has crawled into bed with the billionaires."

Question 2: Your kind never stopped screeching that FDR was a socialist. He was elected and reelected 4 times. Every poll-- not "some polls," shows that Bernie would beat Cruz, Trumpf and Rubio," unlike Hillary. But we're supposed to ignore that data and pay attention to your establishment intuition instead? And by the way, Herr Trumpf has been the most effective destroyer of reputations of anyone in politics in recent years. He and his followers have been attacking Bernie daily... as Bernie's polling numbers continue to rise and as poll after poll after poll shows that he's the only candidate from either party with a positive favorability rating from voters. More Americans hate Jeb, Trumpf, Rubio, Cruz and Hillary than like them. But more Americans-- though not establishment whores like yourself-- like Bernie than dislike him. Why don't you go live in England and pledge fealty to the royal family?

You can contribute to the Make Nick Kristof Cry Fund here. And then he can celebrate Medicare For All single payer healthcare some day.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Who Lost In The Iowa Democratic Caucus? And Why Bernie Won


-by Melody Siegler

Hillary Clinton crows that she won in Iowa. That’s surely what she sounded like she was doing her "victory" speech. So, of course, Bernie Sanders lost. Hmmm… but who actually lost?

Before getting into that, here is one of several reports about the improbable coin toss:
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won six back-to-back coin tosses against opponent Bernie Sander's camp at a half-dozen Iowa precincts where voting results were too close to call Tuesday morning-- a mathematical feat that raised eyebrows and a few questions.

The 1-in-64 odds of Clinton successfully winning six coin flips across Polk, Jasper, Cedar and Johnson counties during a deadlocked Iowa caucus prompted confusion and concern from political experts and social media users.

"It is curious," said Dr. David Bridsell, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College. "You don’t want the awarding of delegates to come down to heads or tails."
I was one of those with "raised eyebrows," so I whipped out an Excel Spreadsheet, and got into the niggly math. According to various sources (including the Iowa Democratic Party) the final delegate counts were Clinton- 699.57, Sanders- 695.49, O’Malley- 7.61, out of 1403 delegates. That doesn’t quite add up to exactly 1403, because there were 0.33 uncommitted delegates. So, given 1403 delegates, here are the percentages, using Clinton’s 6/6 coin tosses as a starting point. I followed the money, so to speak.

Here are the results, given various scenarios:

1) Clinton 6/6 coin toss wins Clinton: 49.86%, Sanders: 49.57% (thus final report of 49.9% vs 49.6%)

2) If, however the coin tosses had gone 3/3, we have Clinton: 49.65%, Sanders: 49.79%. Assuming 0.65 rounds up to 0.7, the result is Clinton 49.7% vs. Sanders 49.8%. Win for Sanders.

3) And if had the "money" been on Sander’s side, 6/6 to Sanders, we have Clinton: 49.43%, Sanders: 50.00%, or Clinton 49.4% vs. Sanders 50.0%. Win for Sanders.

As an aside, after an onerous adventure trying to understand the numbers and the ins and out of the Iowa Caucuses, I found this from NPR. I confess I am not a big fan of NPR (aka Nice Polite Republicans) reporting, but their 1, 2, 3 list seemed to be okay-- in terms of explaining the massive confusion about Iowa... below.
Iowa has a multistep process for picking delegates. Monday night was just Step 1. Here's how it works:

1. There were 1,683 precinct caucuses on Iowa caucus night.

2. Those precinct caucuses elected 11,065 delegates to the county conventions, which take place March 12.

3. That universe of 11,065 delegates is whittled down to 1,406 who will attend congressional district (April 30) and state conventions (June 18).

4. And here's the root of what's causing all the confusion: The breakdown of those 11,065 is not reported on caucus night. (my emphasis)

5. What IS reported, what Clinton's 49.9 to 49.6 percent tracing-paper-thin lead is based on, is "state delegate equivalents."

6. Those are ESTIMATES of how many of those 11,065 will attend the congressional district and state conventions.
Now back to my question at the top. Who lost in the Iowa Democratic caucus? Or, rather, who lost out in the Iowa Democratic caucus? Clinton thinks Sanders lost, but...

For one, it was the potential Democratic voters who couldn’t make it to the site of their caucus at 7 pm promptly. For example, people working at the 7 p.m hour, who depend on their job income to keep afloat financially, in a job that offers no leeway for time off. Some might have only one job, but others, might have two or three jobs, just to meet expenses. Not exactly unheard of, yanno.

Or maybe there were others who couldn’t get to a caucus because they were chronically ill, bedridden, elderly. And are desperately in need of health care. Use your imagination.

And, then there’s another group of voters, who made it to a caucus, but whose votes didn’t count as full votes. So, each counted as a fraction of a person in weighing the votes.
Just like how the electoral college system makes it so extra Democrats votes are worth less in Vermont than in Ohio, the (Iowa) caucus process makes it so extra supporters in a heavily Sanders precinct are worth less than if they were in a battleground precinct...

Take the university towns: More than a quarter-- 27 percent-- of Sanders supporters come from just three counties of Iowa’s 99, according to the Register poll, each home to one of the state’s largest universities. But those three counties award only 12 percent of the total 1401 (1403!) delegates at stake statewide.
So, sure, Clinton "won." By a very narrow margin indeed. But, I wonder if she is thinking about anything except her iron footed march to the White House? To do the best for the people in the U.S., as she claims? I wonder if she thought about the people disenfranchised by the Iowa Democratic caucuses? My answer: no, she was thinking about Hillary. Sander’s was and always has been thinking about what people in the U.S. (apart from the billionaires) need to survive and flourish. I call it a win for Bernie.

UPDATE: Was Iowa Fixed?

The Des Moines Register has some serious questions about how the caucuses were run. Did Wasserman Schultz strike again in an effort the fix the count for the grotesquely corrupt establishment candidate she backs?
What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states.

...Second, too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

The Sanders campaign is rechecking results on its own, going precinct by precinct, and is already finding inconsistencies, said Rania Batrice, a Sanders spokeswoman. The campaign seeks the math sheets or other paperwork that precinct chairs filled out and were supposed to return to the state party. They want to compare those documents to the results entered into a Microsoft app and sent to the party.

“Let’s compare notes. Let’s see if they match,” Batrice said Wednesday.

Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, dug in her heels and said no. She said the three campaigns had representatives in a room in the hours after the caucuses and went over the discrepancies.

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What does it mean to be a Schumercrat? Let's Look At A Pennsylvania Schumercrat, Katie McGinty


In the video above, the establishment candidate for the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nomination, Katie McGinty, is very clear that she didn't accept any money from the oil and gas industry. That's what Democrats expect from their nominees since the oil and gas industry seeks to bribe politicians with funding. Pennsylvania Democrats ended the sleazy career of pro-fracking Blue Dog Tim Holden in 2012 when progressive insurgent Matt Cartwright called him out for his ties to Big Oil. Although Holden was heavily backed by the same corrupt Pennsylvania establishment that backs McGinty, Cartwright beat him 57-43%. It's worth noting that although Holden was the dean of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation and had been in Congress for two decades starting in 1993, McGinty has never been elected to anything anywhere and her one try for elected office-- in 2014-- resulted in complete rejection by Democratic primary voters, only 7.66% backing her on election day.

Despite her claim to not be taking Oil and Gas money, it turns out her FEC disclosure shows the worst of the fracking industry has pumped over $125,000 into her Senate campaign in the last few months, not to mention thousands more from fracking industry lobbyists. This is especially ironic since McGinty has been instructed by Schumer to falsely claim that she's an environmentalist-- just as he has done with Florida Schumercrat Patrick Murphy despite Murphy's lock-step votes for the Keystone XL Pipeline and for oil drilling off Florida's pristine beaches. McGinty hates her claim on having worked as an environmental advisor to conservative administrations that always played footsie with Big Oil-- Bill Clinton's and Ed Rendell's.

A few days ago we talked about how right-wing Democrat Gene Green has been taking oil money and pushing their agenda for a very long time. He was elected in 1992, the same year as Holden. Although the Energy Sector contributes primarily to Republicans, since he's been in Congress he's taken $1,221,738 from the sector, more than any other Democrat in the House other than Majority Whip Steny Hoyer. In return, Green protects their interests from his perch on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. He is widely considered one of the worst of the pro-pollution Democrats in Congress and consistently takes the side of special interests rather than consumers and working families in his Houston area district. Blue America has endorsed Adrian Garcia, his progressive primary opponent, and if you'd like to help his campaign, you can do so here.

As for McGinty, she has two opponents, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and Admiral Joe Sestak. Neither is a Schumercrat and either would be preferable to McGinty. You can contribute to Fetterman's campaign here, on the page reserved for candidates who have endorsed Bernie Sanders and are running on his issues.

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Trump Has All The Dirt On Sweaty Little Rubio He Needs To Neutralize Him


Wednesday right-wing loon and religious nut Rick Santorum ended his presidential campaign, as expected, after finishing with basically no votes in Iowa. (Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Martin O'Malley also dropped out after failing dismally in Iowa. Chris Christie will likely wait until he's humiliated in New Hampshire before joining them, although not before doing his best to destroy the hated boy in the bubble.) What was interesting, at least marginally, about Santorum leaving the race was his endorsement of "a tremendously gifted young man," Marco Rubio. That came just in time for the hard-hitting expose of Rubio in the New York Observer, which is owned by Herr Trumpf's son-in-law, Jared Kushner (husband of Ivanka, son of Trumpf criminal crony Charles Kushner.

OK, so here's the haps. Like we saw Wednesday, the Kochs told Rubio he could be president if he'd show them he could effectively attack Herr. And since policy attacks-- "he's not a real conservative" and "he wants single payer"-- haven't proven to not work, it's got to be personal stuff. OK, like Coulter says, Rubio's a sweaty-- she means greasy-- little liar and he may be nervous about going mano-a-mano against Trumpf but his team has an opposition book of personal slimery to use against Trumpf. So Trumpf unleashed the son-in-law on Marco to give him a taste of what he can expect if he dares. "Marco Rubio: Poor Little Rich Boy Runs Into Real Estate Trouble" may sound innocuous enough... but the story isn't. Ken Silverstein's sub-headline is more to the point: "The Senator's three houses, various lady friends, assorted con artist pals and piles of unexplained income."

When it comes to sheer brazen corruption, chicanery and dishonesty there is one candidate who stands head and shoulders above everyone else and that is the right-wing Cuban-American and Tea Party darling Senator Marco Rubio of-- naturally-- the great State of Florida.

Mr. Rubio’s entire public image-- the child of poor Cuban immigrants fleeing the repression of Castro’s Cuba who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and even now is a simple José Sixpack and family man-- is less tethered to reality than The Wizard of Oz. For example, in his autobiography, An American Son: A Memoir, Mr. Rubio describes how he allegedly grew up poor and mowed the grass and walked dogs to make a bit of spare change. Technically this may be correct, but most poor kids don’t get paid by relatives heavily involved in narcotics trafficking and whose pets double as guard dogs for a drug cartel, as was the case with young Marco, a federal indictment shows. (See these articles for more on young Marco’s upbringing.)

But it was only after getting into politics that Mr. Rubio really started making big money-- and he made it very quickly, with the help of a few intimate companions-- especially after taking over as Florida House majority leader and whip in early 2003. In fact, his income nearly tripled during the two years-- from $122,000 to $330,000, based on financial disclosure forms-- and spiked again in 2008, which may be tied to the fact that he became Florida House speaker in November 2006.

Mr. Rubio was able to cash in in spectacular fashion because Florida’s preposterously flaccid political rules allow politicians to simultaneously hold public office and work as “consultants” to major law and lobbying firms-- much like the arrangement that recently landed Sheldon Silver in prison in New York. That means that they technically can’t “lobby” but do it anyway and call it “consulting.” So, for example, when Mr. Rubio became House majority leader in 2003 he went to work for the powerhouse lobbying firm of Broad and Cassell, which is precisely the point where disclosure forms reveal a giant spike in his income.

Then, when Mr. Rubio stepped down from the House in 2008 (two years before he ran and won a U.S. Senate seat) he became partner in another law/lobbying firm-- Florida Strategic Consultants-- with the wife of a notoriously corrupt Florida politician and lobbyist named Esteban Bovo, sometimes known as “El Bobo.” (El Bobo’s wife, Vivian Bovo, had been Mr. Rubio’s top aide in the House.) While working at the firm, Mr. Rubio scored fat contracts from Miami Children’s Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital. Meanwhile, El Bobo was in position to appropriate money for the hospitals as chairman of a subcommittee of the Florida House Budget Committee. It was a win-win for Mr. Rubio and the Bovo clan.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rubio was making more money on two highly suspicious real estate deals. In the first, Mr. Rubio had a little help from Mark Cereceda, a chiropractor with a lengthy rap sheet. I should note here that after Dr. Cereceda lent a financial hand, Mr. Rubio flipped his position on a key issue of great import to the chiropractor.

Here are the key details: In 2003, Mr. Rubio bought his first house (at 6247 14th Street SW in West Miami) for $175,000, putting zero money down. He put it up for sale in 2005 but had difficulty selling it because of a weak local real estate market. But gracias a Dios, Dr. Cereceda’s mama, Nora Cereceda (now deceased), bought Mr. Rubio’s house in 2007 for $380,000 cash, netting Mr. Rubio a profit of about $205,000. Que suerte!

Shortly after Mr. Rubio sold the house, he did a 180-degree rotation on a key insurance bill for which Dr. Cereceda had been lobbying. Whereas he had previously been an outspoken opponent of the measure-- indeed, he was described in one local press item at the time as “the main holdout”-- he ended up voting for the legislation, which required Florida drivers to purchase $10,000 worth of personal injury Insurance.

Many of Dr. Cereceda’s clients were injured drivers who paid him with insurance money. And by the way, reported cases of personal injury fraud immediately soared in Florida after the measure passed.

Dr. Cereceda has a lengthy arrest record both prior to and after his mama bought Mr. Rubio’s house. In 2003, he was arrested on charges of Aggravated Assault With A Deadly Weapon. Two years later, he was arrested for Felony Battery and also for Disorderly Conduct, and then in 2013 he was busted for running an illegal political contribution scheme by which he ordered his employees to contribute to political campaigns in their names and then he and his relatives reimbursed them. The doctor got off light. He was sentenced to house arrest and given probation.

Dr. Cereceda has been a big donor to Ana Maria Pando, a disgraced former Hialeah branch county court judge, who wrote a letter to state authorities-- on official letterhead-- asking that Dr. Cereceda’s company be reinstated after it got into some legal trouble. Pando was later convicted for taking a bribe from Dr. Cereceda, who ratted her out.

Now let’s turn to Mr. Rubio’s second surprisingly profitable real estate deal. It involves his current Miami-area residence, which he bought in December 2005 for $550,000. He put only 10 percent down on the house, and took out a $495,000 mortgage. Then, just 37 days later, he took out a $135,000 home equity loan (which he initially failed to disclose on his financial disclosure form) on the property.

Mr. Rubio bought the house from a shell company called Sanval Boats LLC and no one knows who controlled that entity and hence who he in fact bought it from. But we do know that Mr. Rubio got very generous terms to finance the house from Miami’s U.S. Century Bank, whose CEO was a former head of the Florida Republican Party named Jim Greer, who later went to jail for money laundering.

A book about Greer called The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer has some juicy anecdotes about Mr. Rubio and David Rivera, Mr. Rubio’s one-time best friend and roommate as well as a noted womanizer and former Florida State House member and federal congressman. (A number of other top officials at the U.S. Century Bank were major political supporters of Mr. Rubio’s.)

A passage from the book reads:
“There was an indication that Rubio had an affair,” said Greer. A woman who had worked in his legislative office when he was Speaker of the House abruptly left and got a job at Florida International University as a part-time professor. Emails she had sent him through her college account had become public record. Our opposition research specialist said the emails included things like, “I have to talk to you right now. I can’t take this anymore. Why aren’t you returning my calls?” To an oppositional researcher the Crist campaign had hired, it appeared there had been a close relationship between the two and that Rubio had broken it off.”
In any event, Mr. Rubio’s $135,000 home equity loan was granted only because U.S. Century Bank mysteriously reappraised its worth upwards by about one-third, to $735,000, little more than a month after he purchased the property. “It looks a lot like somebody’s currying favor with an important political person,” one real estate analyst said of Mr. Rubio’s real estate dealings in a 2008 story that ran in a Miami newspaper. “People off the street don’t get this deal.”

It’s worth pointing out here that Miami-Dade County assessors put the market value of the house at $503,000 in 2006, some 50 percent less than US Century Bank’s appraisal at the same time. The house’s assessed value topped out the following year at $540,401 and last year county assessors estimated its worth at a mere $400,492, an increase from $391,443 in 2013.

David Rivera’s former girlfriend, Ana Alliegro, is currently under house arrest for her role in a complicated campaign finance/bribery scheme allegedly masterminded by Mr. Rivera, who helped her flee to Nicaragua before she was apprehended and turned over to U.S. authorities. Mr. Rivera is under investigation in the scheme, but the case has been stalled for months, infuriating Ms. Alliegro, who has publicly denounced Mr. Rivera and said she wants him to go to prison. I’m told by a few well-placed sources that Ms. Alliegro knows everything about Mr. Rubio, including the names of a number of his lady friends-- more coming on that-- but I was unable to reach her.

Mr. Rubio and David Rivera met in 1992, when both worked for the campaign of Florida Congressman Lincoln Díaz-Balart, and have been bosom buddies ever since. According to a Politico story, Mr. Rivera advised and stumped for Mr. Rubio in his first campaign for the state House in 2000. Mr. Rubio repaid the favor and helped Mr. Rivera win a House seat two years later. In 2006, Mr. Rivera played a key role in getting Mr. Rubio selected as the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House.

Anyway, Mr. Rivera is just a generally shady guy. (In 2012, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named him one of the most corrupt members of the House.) He was investigated by Florida law enforcement authorities in 2004 over a $1 million contract he received to promote a ballot initiative pushed by a Florida gambling magnate named Alex Havenick. Mr. Havenick’s family has long thrived in Florida’s notoriously crooked dog track betting industry, whose roots trace back to Meyer Lanksy, Al Capone’s CFO. Mr. Rivera was not charged in the case.

There’s a lot more about all of this below and I should probably get on to the topic of Mr. Rubio’s lady friends, but first (and relatedly) I need to discuss a third house that Mr. Rubio owned, or co-owned anyway, with Mr. Rivera, the former House member and skirt chaser. This house is located in Tallahassee, the state capitol, where a lot of lobbyists work, including a few who are close friends of Mr. Rubio’s.

There is, for example, Bridget Nocco of Smith & Ballard (now known as Ballard Partners), a former top staffer in the Florida House who raised oodles of cash for Mr. Rubio when he served in the state congress and who is now “known nationally as a top-tier Republican fundraiser,” and who over the years has traveled with Mr. Rubio and gotten paid quite well from several of his dubious political action committees. (She did not return a phone call seeking comment.)

Mr. Rubio is also extraordinarily close to another lobbyist, but this one-- Dana Hudson-- is a vegetarian, according to her Twitter feed, lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and advocates on behalf of Homeland Security. Note here that Mr. Rubio does not serve on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, but the subject is dear to him, as one can immediately discern from his official website. Based on her tweets, the perky blonde Ms. Hudson is mad for Mr. Rubio, who she talks about obsessively, and is clearly a passionate supporter of his presidential campaign. For example, on January 6, when campaign consultant and “Jesus-follower” Gary Marx signed on with Mr. Rubio, Ms. Hudson tweeted, “@Garymarx very excited u joined #TeamMarco! Let’s do this! and elect @marcorubio #POTUS.” (Ms. Hudson did not return a message left at her office, nor did she reply to messages left via Twitter and Facebook. I should also note here that Ms. Alliegro, the former girlfriend of David Rivera, has suggested that Ms. Hudson traveled with her former boyfriend and knew him well.)

Anyway, let’s return now to the house in Tallahassee-- at 1484 Bent Willow Drive in an area called Timber Lakes-- that Mr. Rubio and Mr. Rivera co-owned and that Politico dubbed their “house of horrors.” When they bought it in 2005 for $135,000, they were repeatedly behind on the mortgage payments, it was almost foreclosed on at various points and they sold it last year for less than they paid for it. Also, I’m not sure exactly who officially hosted or attended but there were reportedly wild parties thrown at the house. The house sold in July for just $117,000.

Public records show that a woman named Tamara Hardy moved into the house in 2010 and lived there during the time Mr. Rubio and Mr. Rivera were trying to sell it. I have heard conflicting accounts about whether Ms. Hardy paid rent at the house or lived there because she was a friend of either Mr. Rubio or Mr. Rivera. I tried to reach Ms. Hardy for comment but was unsuccessful.

(I should also note that I sought comment from Mr. Rubio’s Senate office for this story and it directed me to his presidential campaign office. It failed to reply to a long list of questions for this story.)

I mentioned above a PAC and a bribe so let me turn to that story now, which actually involved a few of Mr. Rubio’s PACs and assorted businesses. Pay particular attention here to three key figures who were all intimate, longtime friends of Mr. Rubio’s:
Alexander Heckler, an attorney who in 2011 was found to have set up PACs that shuffled illegal straw donations to political candidates for his clients. Heckler, a lawyer and leading Florida lobbyist as well as a “Hillraiser,” the term for then-Senator Hillary Clinton’s top fundraisers, performed legal and accounting services for the treasurer of a Rubio-affiliated PAC, but only disclosed that several years afterwards, apparently to obscure his role. Heckler is also the stepson of Franklin Sands, who for many years-- including the period when the story below took place-- was the most powerful Democrat in the Florida House.

Joaquin Urquiola, the treasurer for the two Rubio-affiliated PACs who Heckler did work for, who at the same time was being questioned by federal regulators about his role at an Ecuadorian bank with Miami offices that was suspected of violating anti-money laundering laws by taking in cash from several South American drug cartels. Urquiola was an accountant and director of the bank, Pacific National Bank, and he and Pacific were in fact subsequently hit with fines for violating anti-money laundering laws and the Bank Secrecy Act. According to a 2011 story about the case in the South Florida Business Journal, the bank and its directors had previously been sanctioned for similar crimes and allowed “the violations to continue for years.”

Bridget Nocco, the lobbyist friend of Mr. Rubio’s whom I mentioned above.
The story begins in late 2002 when Jeanette Dousdebes, Mr. Rubio’s wife, incorporated a nonprofit PAC called Floridians for Conservative Leadership Committee (FCLC). She was the registered agent and only director for this short-lived entity, which the State of Florida dissolved three years later because it had failed to file an annual report. Urquiola, the executive at the bank that allowed a drug cartel to launder money, was the group’s treasurer, and Heckler quietly helped him out, according to information provided to me by the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group that provided key research for this section of the story.

During its brief existence, FCLC raised $228,350, of which roughly $35,000 disappeared into thin air, according to the entity’s own tax returns. Its largest donor by far was a scandal-plagued PAC called OPH ($50,000) but Democratic super-lobbyist Ron Book also gave generously. Bridget Nocco, Mr. Rubio’s lobbyist pal, was paid nearly $26,000 by the PAC for salary and consulting services, according to its nonprofit tax filings with the IRS.

Shortly before its demise FCLC made two payments to a super PAC (which are known as 527s, based on the IRS rule that allows them) with a similar name, Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government (FCLG). The latter was formed in 2004 with Marco Rubio as its president and registered agent, his wife as the VP and Urquiola as its treasurer.

In any event, the State of Florida dissolved Mr. Rubio’s 527 in 2006 because-- you guessed it-- it failed to file an annual report.

Many of the companies and individuals that donated to the two groups had major business interests before the Florida Legislature and the two entities had overlapping donors, such as super-lobbyist Mr. Book, and payees, such as Bridget Nocco, who netted $90,062 from the 527 for salary and consulting services.

Another notable recipient of cash from Mr. Rubio’s 527 was a company called Servicarga, which in 2004 received $3,500, which it billed for “courier services.” What’s curious here is that Mr. Rubio’s wife owned Servicarga and that, according to IRS returns and other documents, the company stopped operating in 1997.

Mr. Rubio, Urquiola and Heckler were all players in another shady deal, this one involving a nonprofit PAC called Floridians for Real Family Values Inc. It was set up by Heckler in 2006-- the year Mr. Rubio was sworn in as speaker of the Florida House.

For some reason Heckler failed to disclose to Florida election authorities that Urquiola was the PAC’s treasurer, but he was listed as filling that role in the group’s federal tax returns, which Heckler filed. What’s also odd is that the federal tax identification number Urquiola used for Floridians for Real Family Values’ tax return was actually the same used by the FCLG, the 527 that Mr. Rubio created and was president of, which suggests that the two entities were essentially identical.

Between October 24 and November 2 of 2006, Floridians for Real Family Values raised $244,000. Also in 2006, Urquiola incorporated a company called Florida Media Productions Group Inc., which operated out of the same address as the FCLG.

Florida Media Productions Group was established to work on behalf of political campaigns, but there’s not much evidence that the company did any work at all. It never bothered to set up a website nor did it ever create a single TV, print or online campaign ad. The only income it ever received-- about $150,000-- came from two Heckler’s controlled PACs, one being Floridians for Real Family Values.

All that money was paid for “consulting” services, though the payments were made long after the election year was over. Most of the money raised by Floridians for Real Family Values that didn’t go to Florida Media Productions Group-- about $33,000-- simply disappeared when the former was shut down.

Mr.Rubio would appear to be a terrible money manager. He’s made a ton of cash in politics (and spent piles of political money on what appear to be personal items, such as a family reunion he later claimed was charged to his campaign by mistake), as a “consultant,” and on two real estate deals, but records show he has serious cash flow problems.

All of this raises a lot of questions-- to take an obvious one: Where does all of his money go? Whatever the answers, one thing is clear. Marco Rubio has some very, very curious and disturbing political bedfellows.
Something tells me sweaty little Rubio is going to be too scared of the megaphone Herr Trumpf commands to attack him personally, at least not in strong enough terms to satisfy the Kochs, who detest Trumpf and who are threatening to make Cruz their candidate if the boy with the high heeled booties doesn't do his part in bringing down Trumpf.

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