People don’t vote against their own best interests. They may vote against what others perceive to be that voter’s best interests but they themselves are voting for the candidates, or party, that they feel will best represent them and their interests. To suggest otherwise is not only disrespectful but counterproductive.

One of the Democratic Party candidates, in a cringe-worthy (for me) moment during the recent MSNBC forum, stated emphatically that working class white people in poor states are “voting against their own best interests” when they vote for Republicans. Last Tuesday, when Kentucky voted for Matt Bevin, a Republican who vowed to repeal the Kentucky implementation of the Affordable Care Act and also refuse to take the Medicaid expansion money, Twitter and the lefty blogs were filled with denunciations of “those people” voting against their best interests.

It may indeed turn out that their best interests will not be served but they did not, when they pulled that lever or touched that screen or filled in that oval, think that they were voting against themselves and their futures … maybe even their own lives or the lives of their loved ones if they subsequently lost healthcare.

Words matter. And our words questioning people’s intelligence are not going to win them over. “Oh no, that lefty librul from the lefty librul city of Madison says I am being dumb to vote for the Republican! I must mend my ways!!!” Not. Bloody. Likely.

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Posted by: JanF | October 25, 2015

Passing the Baton to the Next Democratic President

Arriving in my Inbox last night was an email from David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s campaign manager from the 2008 election.

But it didn’t come from this time … it came from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign!

Friend —

During the most intense days of the 2008 primary, while I was serving as the Obama campaign manager, I would never have imagined writing this email.

But eight years later, I believe Hillary Clinton should — and will — be our next president. She will make an outstanding and worthy successor to President Obama. She will do big and important things — and we will all look back and be proud of whatever we did to help elect her.

Here’s what I (and so many fellow Obama campaign veterans) have learned about Hillary Clinton:

She doesn’t quit — and there were times I wish she had! But you have to deeply admire that strength and persistence. From her job at the Children’s Defense Fund to her work as First Lady of the United States, as a U.S. Senator for New York, and as the Secretary of State, she’s been working everyday to make people’s lives better.

You won’t find anyone in this race more determined than Hillary to make sure every single American has a fair shot to live up to their potential. There is no one more prepared, more diligent, or more ready with detailed plans for how to make it happen.

Hillary will protect President Obama’s legacy — and like President Obama before her, she will make history. I look forward to the day my daughter, who was born a little more than 48 hours after the glorious scene in Grant Park in 2008, will know just as well as my son that she can grow up to be anything she wants, even president of the United States.

The stakes in this election are enormous. The difference between Hillary and a Trump, Carson, or Rubio could not be more profound. Once again, we need a president who understands the challenges we face — someone who can and will do something about it.

Hillary Clinton is that leader. And if we step up to fight alongside her, she’ll be the next president of the United States.

Go win this thing, Madam Secretary.


David Plouffe

David Plouffe also posted his thoughts on Medium: Why I’m for Hillary Clinton.

In that post, he referenced Candidate Barack Obama’s speech at the 2007 Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner, a speech that set the tone for his campaign … and really his presidency.

This year’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner was held last night and Hillary Clinton spoke at this one as well but not as a challenger to Barack Obama but as a candidate glad to take the baton from President Obama and continue his legacy and further advance Democratic Party principles.

Transcript snippets:





I echo David Plouffe: “Go win this thing, Madam Secretary.”

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Hillary Clinton spoke at the Brookings Instution this past week and repeated her support for the Iranian nuclear agreement and laid out her own plan for dealing with Iran:

(Streamed live on Sep 9, 2015, Brookings live streamed remarks from former Secretary of State Clinton on her view of the significance of the Iran nuclear deal and its implications for the future of U.S. foreign policy in the region.)

Secretary Clinton:

“Here’s how I see it. Either we move forward on the path of diplomacy and seize this chance to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon – or, we turn down a more dangerous path leading to a far less certain and riskier future. […]

“Those of us who have been out there on the diplomatic front lines know that diplomacy is not the pursuit of perfection – it’s the balancing of risk. And on balance, the far riskier course right now would be to walk away.

Great powers can’t just junk agreements and expect the rest of the world to go along with us. We need to be reasonable and consistent, and we need to keep our word – especially when we’re trying to lead a coalition. That’s how we’ll make this – and future – deals work.

She identified a peaceful path for Iran to follow while not taking anything off the table as it relates to dealing with future transgressions – a delicate balancing act. As much as we all prefer peace over war, to take the use of military force off the table would not be wise. That said, to actually use military force unless absolutely necessary would be reckless. I, for one, hope she can successfully thread that needle.

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Posted by: JanF | September 9, 2015

Things That Actually Matter: Campaign Finance Reform

While everyone was off chowing down on the nothingburger being served by the bored press (“not sorry?” “sorry” “but are you really really sorry?”), Hillary Clinton was rolling out more of her 2016 presidential campaign platform. On Tuesday, it was campaign finance reform, something that is personal for her.

Did you know Citizens United was started by a conservative group lobbying against Hillary Clinton? Watch as Kristina Schake of the Hillary For America campaign explains why Hillary is passionate about overturning Citizen United, and stoping the flow of dark unaccountable money in campaigns.

Secretary Clinton:

“We have to end the flood of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political system and drowning out the voices of too many everyday Americans,” Clinton said in a statement. “Our democracy should be about expanding the franchise, not charging an entrance fee. It starts with overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and continues with structural reform to our campaign finance system so there’s real sunshine and increased participation.” […]

David Donnelly, the president and CEO of Every Voice, a campaign finance reform group, praised Clinton’s plan, noting it was as comprehensive and bold on the issue as the proposals he has seen from any presidential candidate.

“These proposals get us 90 percent to 95 percent there to address the issue of money in our elections,” he said, adding that the additional 5 to 10 percent comes down to enforcing the rules.

To those who call this call for changes hypocritical since Hillary Clinton’s campaign will benefit from Super-PACs:

“Those candidates that are competing in the current system have to play under the rules as they are rather than the rules as they should be,” [Donnelly] said. “Hillary Clinton has chosen to come out with a serious plan to address a major problem that every voter and every candidate knows exists, and the alternative is to basically clam up and not talk about it and accept the way things are.”

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Leonard Pitts, Jr. has something to say about #BlackLivesMatter:

This is a column about three words of moral cowardice:

“All lives matter.”

Those words have risen as a kind of counter to “Black lives matter,” the movement that coalesced in response to recent killings and woundings of unarmed African Americans by assailants — usually police officers — who often go unpunished. Mike Huckabee raised that counter-cry last week, telling CNN, “When I hear people scream ‘black lives matter,’ I’m thinking, of course, they do. But all lives matter. It’s not that any life matters more than another.”

As if that were not bad enough, the former Arkansas governor and would-be president upped the ante by adding that Martin Luther King would be “appalled by the notion that we’re elevating some lives above others.”

“Elevating some lives.” Lord, have mercy.

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Posted by: JanF | August 16, 2015

Deal me in!

Friday night, Hillary Clinton, along with the other 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidates, spoke at the Wing Ding Dinner, an Iowa Democratic Party fundraiser in Clear Lake, IA.

There is a lot at stake in the 2016 presidential election, an election where the contrasts between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party could not be more stark. On the environment, climate change, diplomacy rather than war, women’s rights, income inequality, racial justice, poverty, access to affordable health care, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and more … on issue after issue one party stands firmly on the side of the people and one stands firmly on the side of the special interests and those who do not value the dignity of human life.

One such issue is the full on assault on women’s health. In 2016, all of the the declared Republican candidates have vowed to defund Planned Parenthood and many of them have declared their support for new abortion restrictions: no exceptions for any reason including to save the life of the mother. That restriction is not just ignorant (in an ectopic pregnancy, for example, neither the pregnant woman or the fetus would survive) but so out of the mainstream view on abortion that only 9% of Americans support it. Even their refusal to exempt the cases of rape and incest are at odds with most Americans as a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll (PDF, pg 15) showed that 83% support keeping abortion legal when the physical health of the mother is at risk or in cases of rape and incest.

In 2012, after losing the presidential election, and women’s votes by 12% (including a whopping 38% of unmarried women), the Republican National Committee conducted a post-mortem. One of the “shocking” discoveries was that people believed that Republicans are completely out of touch with women’s issues including equal pay, family leave, and reproductive rights. The RNC boldly declared that they would change their language (but not their policies) and in 2014, they Etch-a-Sketched away their Senate candidates’ extremist positions on fetal personhood laws and gained a majority in the U.S. Senate and in the 114th Congress.

Fast forward to 2015 where their current crop of candidates make cavemen look like feminists.

Secretary Clinton had this to say about women’s issues Friday night:

“… when it comes to women’s health and women’s rights, Mr. Trump’s words are appalling, but so are the policies of the other candidates. Senator Rubio brags about wanting to deny victims of rape and incest access to an abortion. Governor Bush says $500 million is too much to spend on women’s health. And they all want to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Well, why don’t they try telling that to the mom who caught her breast cancer early because she was able to get a screening. Or the teenager who avoided an unintended pregnancy because she had access to contraception. Or anyone who was protected by an HIV test.

Now, this might work in a Republican primary, but it sure doesn’t work in 21st century America. I am so tired of politicians shaming and blaming women. I am tired of Republicans dismissing the contributions women make to our economy and ignoring the obstacles that hold so many back from contributing even more. We cannot afford to leave talent on the sidelines. Women who want to work should be able to do so without worrying every day about how they’re going to take care of their child or what happens when a family member gets sick. That is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, and it’s also an economic growth strategy.

“This isn’t complicated. When you shortchange women you shortchange families, and when you shortchange families you shortchange America. And I know when I talk about this some people think, “There she goes again with the women’s issues.” Like, Mitch McConnell said recently I’m playing the gender card.

“Well, if calling for equal pay and paid leave is playing the gender card, then deal me in. Let me add, if helping more working parents find quality, affordable childcare is playing the gender card, then I’m ready to ante up.

Hey, deal me in, too! Let’s take this fight to the Republican Party in 2016 and let’s take this fight to them with the strongest candidate on women’s issues that we have: Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton: If this feels like a full on assault on women’s health, that’s because it is.”
Support and Stand with Planned Parenthood

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Posted by: JanF | July 21, 2015

Working together towards a common goal

The latest dustup in the progressive blogosphere has exposed a rift in the progressive movement.

It is something that should not be a rift and maybe it does not reach the level of rift but is still a pretty strong disagreement that is generating more heat than light.

The goals of the #BlackLivesMatter movement are fundamental to our core Democratic Party principles and should not just be picked from a grab bag of progressive issues to focus on in the coming election. Racial justice issues need to be addressed because they are a matter of life and death. It can be argued that economic issues are a matter of life and death and that is certainly true. But a rising economic tide that raises all boats does nothing but drown those who have no boats, who can’t swim, or who are being held down.

Maybe the rift turned into a flame war because we, as Democrats, haven’t had to deal with a primary process for 7 years and we forget the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008. Maybe it is because we remember the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008 and don’t want to give an inch lest our ideal of Perfect Progressivism will not match up to the eventual nominee selected to carry our banner into the general election in 2016.

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The annual San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain known as The Running of the Bulls often features accidental gorings as thousands of sanity-challenged people run alongside the fighting bulls in the streets of the village.

In America, we have the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary where the running of the bull is not restricted to 9 days in July but started in January 2015 with the Steve King Iowa Pigslop and will last 543 long painful days until the Republicans crown a “winner” at their national convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016.

As of today, there are 14 announced candidates and 2 waiting to jump into the fray. One of those two, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, is trying to ratchet up the enthusiasm by releasing his logo over 9 days … one day at a time (hello? is your PR person a 13 year old girl???). It started out with what looks like a toilet plunger in the lower right hand corner and here it is 4 days in … with yesterday’s “piece” unveiled on Twitter:

There were several guesses made as to how the logo would end up and this one, while lacking in madd photoshop skillz, looks juuuust riiiiight:

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Posted by: JanF | July 5, 2015

The Scott Walker Story: Intimidated, again!

Earlier this year, the Republican dominated Wisconsin legislature did Gov. Scott Walker’s bidding and elided The Wisconsin Idea from the University of Wisconsin system’s mission statement. The Wisconsin Idea had been part of the statutes for well over a century and promised this:

Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.

You can see why this scared the Walker Administration: education, search for truth, public service. Not welcome in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin! The Walker Way overrides the Wisconsin Way and the Wisconsin Idea.

The outcry was fierce and Walker had to back down … the change was withdrawn (and blamed on a staffer, which is also the Walker Way).

Lesson learned, right? No. It. Was. Not.

On Thursday night, right before the long holiday weekend, Walker’s GOP legislature snuck a provision into the omnibus Budget Bill they were “crafting”, a provision that would essentially repeal the state’s Open Record Law. When this change was exposed by the Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee and questioned by the press, the Republican leaders refused to identify who had asked for the change. But you don’t have to dig deep to realize that the Open Records laws were behind the surprising interest of the normally docile press in Wisconsin, in investigating irregularities in WEDC, an agency set up by Walker to pick winners and losers in the economy with a special focus in including Walker campaign donors in the winners circle.

The outcry was even more fierce this time and came from some surprising places: the teaparty Attorney General and the right-wing talk show radio hosts in Milwaukee who created Scott Walker as an empty vessel to fill with their ideology. There had been signs that the right-wing talkers were realizing they had used Abby Normal’s brain when they built their Frankenstein and this time they Tweeted their dismay and spoke out in editorials, one on the front page of the normally pro-Walker Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Posted by: JanF | June 5, 2015

How did that turtle get on the fence post?

Yesterday, June 4th, was the anniversary of the day that Congress passed the 19th Amendment, granting the right of women to vote, and sent it to the states for ratification. That act was an example of what happens when people of good will come together to right a wrong. It happened again in 2006 when a Republican president signed the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act … a bill that had passed 98 to 0 in the U.S. Senate and 390 to 33 in the House of Representatives.

Since 2006, this happened.

First, in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that there is no racial discrimination in America, none, zero, zilch, nada … and that the quaint pre-clearance rules in the Voting Rights Act should be relegated to the dustbin of history. Then, to exactly no ones surprise, in 2013 and 2014, teaparty governments in states that would have been subject to pre-clearance passed some of the most onerous voter suppression laws in the country.

Hillary Clinton, June 4, 2015:

‘You find a turtle on a fence post, it did not get there on its own.’ Well, all of these problems with voting did not just happen by accident. And it is just wrong, it’s wrong to try to prevent, undermine, inhibit Americans’ rights to vote. Its counter to the values we share. And at a time when so many Americans have lost trust in our political system, it’s the opposite of what we should be doing in our country.


During a speech at Texas Southern University in Houston, Hillary Clinton called for expanding Americans’ voting rights while decrying Republican efforts to restrict them. The latest in her long history of fighting to expand voting rights, she called for universal, automatic voter registration for every American in every state when they turn 18. She called for a new national standard of no fewer than 20 days of early in-person voting in every state, including opportunities for weekend and evening voting. And she urged Congress to restore key sections of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court invalidated

Hillary Clinton Remarks on Voting Rights

Secretary Clinton was at Texas Southern Universty to accept the inaugural Barbara Jordan Public-Private Leadership Award from The Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at the university. She spoke to the gathering:

… like every woman who has run for national office in this country in the last four decades, I stand here on the shoulders of Barbara Jordan and so does our entire country. […]

… unfortunately, Barbara isn’t here to speak up for them and so many others. But we are. And we have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country—because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.

Because since the Supreme Court eviscerated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, many of the states that previously faced special scrutiny because of a history of racial discrimination have proposed and passed new laws that make it harder than ever to vote. […]

Today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of? […]

We need a Supreme Court that cares more about protecting the right to vote of a person to vote than the right of a corporation to buy an election. […]

But of course, you know what we really need? We need more elected leaders from Houston to Austin to Washington who will follow in the footsteps of Barbara Jordan and fight for the rights and opportunities of everyday Americans, not just those at the top of the ladder. And we need to remember that progress is built on common ground, not scorched earth. […]

As Barbara Jordan famously reminded us, when the Constitution was first written, it left most of us here out. But generations of Americans fought and marched and organized and prayed to expand the circle of freedom and opportunity. They never gave up and never backed down.

And nearly a century ago on this very day, after years of struggle, Congress finally passed the 19th amendment to give women the right to vote in the United States.

So that is, that is the story of progress, courageous men and women, expanding rights, not restricting them. And today we refuse, we refuse to allow our country or this generation of leaders to slow or reverse America’s long march toward a more perfect union.

Commentary and full transcript below …

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