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Divernan's Journal
Divernan's Journal
April 26, 2016

Mid-day report, Penn. primary/2x normal turnout by 12:30

I'm a judge of elections in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, taking my 1/2 hour break to check in on line.

Our polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. As of 12:30 p.m., (5.5 hours) our voter turnout was more than double the entire, 13 hour day's turnout for our last primary and that goes for both Dems and Reps. Have noticed a significant increase in Democratic, white male voters over previous elections. At this rate, we'll exceed the turnout for the last two general presidential elections.

Are they motivated to turn out to vote for Hillary? Not according to the polls as to which candidate is the favorite of white males.

Lo-o-o-o-o-ng day!

April 24, 2016

If you're pro-barely-regulated fracking, McGinty's your gal!!!

While she was Rendell's appointed secretary of the state's Department of Environmental Protection,
she awarded millions of dollars of state contracts to corporate employers of her husband (a fracking lobbyist). She was investigated and censured by the state ethics commission, which warned her if she did it again, she would spend 10 years in prison. Her boss, Fast Eddie Rendell, then the governor and now a fracking lobbyist himself, appealed that ruling to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. The Court upheld the ruling against Katie McGinty.

My latest email from Senate candidate, retired Admiral/former congressman, Joe Sestak:

There is a lot at stake in this election, including clean water and people's health.

Just recently, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Health Review [/b]discovered that living near a Marcellus shale fracking well may increase pregnant women’s risk of giving birth prematurely:
“Environmental epidemiologist Brian Schwartz analyzed birth data from nearly 11,000 babies in 40 counties in Pennsylvania. He and fellow researchers compared that data with data on nearby fracking wells—there are more than 8,000 in the state. Living in the most active drilling regions was associated with a 40 percent increase in the likelihood of a pre-term birth and a 30 percent increase in the chance that the pregnancy was designated high-risk.” - Johns Hopkins Health Review, Spring/Summer 2016 edition

Nancy, I have been a longtime, consistent supporter of a moratorium on Marcellus shale fracking – until we can prove we can get it right. The EPA is forbidden from examining what they are putting into the ground, and we know that lead is used by frackers.

Despite this and other studies, my primary opponent unfortunately continues to support hydraulic fracking as Pennsylvania's “secret sauce,” and her campaign is partially funded by executives in the fracking industry.

In fact, in Congress I introduced legislation to close the Halliburton Loophole that allows fracking companies to keep secret the chemicals used in fracking fluid.

So when my opponent talks about fracking as Pennsylvania’s “secret sauce,” it reinforces why I am running: to be a leader who is accountable to people above anything else.

There is a lot at stake in this election, Nancy. Please pitch in today to ensure that your next Senator is looking out for you, not special interests, and not the fracking industry.


Your recs would be appreciated. Let's get this on the greatest page for many Pennsylvania voters who do not check in to the Pennsylvania state page. Thank you.

April 20, 2016

The Invisibility of U.S. Oligarchs: The Case of Penny Pritzker


Other countries, not the U.S., have oligarchs apparently. Billionaire and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker came and went to the National Press Club with hardly a tough question on Monday—see video and PDF.

I’d submitted several questions, but first a word on the choreography of the event: Virtually every “news maker” event I recall seeing at the Press Club had the speaker at the head table which is on a stage a few feet up, speaking at a podium. This event, it was just her and the moderator, Press Club President Thomas Burr on two cushy chairs on the stage, with the “head table” below them. Whether this was to elevate the two of them, save her the trouble of having prepared remarks, a new thing, an attempt to cast the billionaire in a more casual light—inspired by Davos type events—I don’t know. But it was weird.

Speaking of choreography, on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue around the same time, several hundred people were arrested at the Capitol Building as part of the “Democracy Spring” and “Democracy Awakening” actions. It seemed odd to me, protests happening, with “arrests” as part of a very planned action, aimed in part against money in politics, while the very personification of big business advocacy in government received virtually no scrutiny.

It’s not just her job, or that she and her family is incredibly rich. It’s that Pritzker enriched herself by crashing a bank with sub-prime loans, causing 1,400 people to lose their savings. In addition, a relation of hers was mentioned in the Panama Papers. So while so many were breathlessly reporting on associates of official bad guys like Putin being mentioned in the Panama Papers, hardly a soul noted the Pritzker connection. Finally, and perhaps most incredibly, Forbes several years ago did an investigation in to the Pritzker family and found that they set up shell companies decades ago in ways that would be illegal now. It’s in a sense not just oligarchy, it’s aristocracy. A newly rich person can’t do what they’ve done, according to Forbes. [See a summary of each of these issues, based on investigations by Tim Anderson, Dennis Bernstein, Stephane Fitch and McClatchy.]

April 19, 2016

From BBC: "Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy"

2 U.S. professors (Princeton/Northwestern) have conducted exhaustive research/multivariate analysis of 21 years of data to support this conclusion. I think they'll get the Nobel prize for their work. Here's how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted. "A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time."

On the other hand: When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

They conclude: Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

April 18, 2016

In Pennsylvania, it's a fight for the soul of the Democratic party.

Here's my last email from Joe Sestak, candidate for Senate in the PA primary. He is a wonderfully ethical, well educated, superbly experienced and unbribeable candidate - quite rare! I knew the 3rd way & state machine dems hated him because he is not a yes man - and I was disgusted to learn that a large part of the corrupt state dem machine's opposition to him comes from the fact that in the last campaign he refused to fork over half a million in "street money", traditionally used in Philadelphia to pay registered Dems to vote. They were notorious for that back in the 90's & the 00's - turns out they are still doing that.

So please take a few minutes to read this to learn about what is going on in PA. Please vote for Joe Sestak in the primary, and if you can spare even $5, you can give on line. Go to joesestak.com

Thank you for your time and consideration.

When I announced our Senate campaign, I said “We are in a fight for the soul of America.” But I believe we are also in a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party.

I do not take being opposed by my party’s D.C. leadership lightly, and last year requested several meetings with key U.S. Senators.
DC was uneasy I had refused to sit down in the 2009/2010 Senate race after Senator Specter switched parties, even though they had initially asked me to run against Specter while he was still a Republican.

A senior Senator made it clear what was at stake for them: “Sestak, whenever I tell you anything, the only answer is to be ‘yes.’”

It may be unnerving to some that almost the entire DC and PA Democratic establishment seem opposed to me, but I understand the political challenge most are under, as one Senator called last week to say, “Joe, I want you to know a lot of us are pulling for you down here.”

So what is really at stake is something different for the Democratic Party than “just say yes” – and it is what is also ailing America. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Philadelphia Inquirer underscored it in their endorsement of me for my “independence… accountability... integrity,” “willingness to put principle above party,” but with “deep understanding of government and foreign policy.”

Similarly, Admiral Vern Clark, the last Chief of Naval Operations I worked for in the U.S. Navy, told The Philadelphia Inquirer about me: “Incredible moral courage, the courage to take the independent stand. When everybody else was saying, ‘This is what we ought to do,’ he would stand up and say, ‘I don't see it that way.’” “He was an incredible officer, the best I've ever seen.”

Which brings us to our “soul” … and DC’s lack of accountability for it.

On the one hand, it may seem small. My 2010 refusal to give half a million dollars in “street money” still remains upsetting to certain PA Democratic politicians. But I had seen as I flew into Afghanistan with someone who had millions in cash to buy “loyalty” from the tribes, that even this more serious “street money” doesn’t buy loyalty or accountability; nor would there have been any for those who contributed to me here at home.
Bigger yet, millions of dollars have been given to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and other outside interest groups for it to be used to defeat Republicans. Now, because of the personal direction/whim of one Senator, with no discussion or concurrence of the Democratic donors, $4 million of it is being used at his sole, unaccountable discretion against me, a fellow Democrat – and not Pat Toomey or Donald Trump.

I am now out-funded by more money from my party than the first year of Citizens United when I ran against Pat Toomey and came within 2 percent – yet, I am still leading in today’s polls.

But the real issue is that our DC party leaders, in having become power brokers instead of leaders, have permitted the corruption of our purpose, our mission.

DC Democratic money is now used without asking donors whether it can be contrary to the original purpose of the contribution: not against Republicans, but against another Democrat…and in support of the DC-chosen candidate (their 7th choice to run against me) who got 8% of the vote in the race for governor.

Trust is the biggest deficit in America today; sadly, we have permitted it to erode our Democratic soul. Help me begin to restore that trust by supporting my willingness to put “principle” first…and win. Please contribute $25, $40, $60, $125, $200, or whatever you will – to have a warrior for integrity in service for you.

Joe Sestak


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Friends of Joe Sestak
P.O. Box 1936
Media, PA 19063
April 16, 2016

Pope Francis’ Popularity Bridges Great Divides

He may be the world’s foremost Catholic, but to his fans, Pope Francis is more the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than Pope Benedict XVI. He speaks, and millions listen — whether they are Muslim or Baptist, Hindu or atheist. “I believe he’s a world leader more than a religious leader,” said Sasha Datta, a practicing Hindu who was planning to try to see Francis in Washington. “His openness, his ability to not shy away from real issues — I see a lot of hope when I see people like Pope Francis.”

Two years after his papacy began, Francis — the pontiff with the common touch and the tolerant embrace — is a lodestar to both the spiritual and secular worlds, a global celebrity to those who admire his warmth and a rudder to those who share his concerns about climate change, social justice, poverty and more.

The breadth of his appeal can be traced, in part, to the role he has carved out as a champion of causes beyond the scope of church doctrine. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in early September found that 45 percent of respondents saw Francis more as a leader and humanitarian spokesman for all people, regardless of their religion, than as simply the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

A Pew Research Center poll in February found that his approval rating among white mainline Protestants was 74 percent. Among those with no religious affiliation, it was 68 percent.[/div

April 14, 2016

An iconic candidate in an iconic location.

I'd love to have been there for that magical New York moment.
Cue the Piano Man:

April 13, 2016

On Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide, Bill Clinton’s Words Ring Hollow

This powerful HuffPo article condemns Bill Clinton & his administration for his actions in pushing to remove 90% of the United Nations peace-keeping force, and watering down the mandate of those remaining from peace keeping to merely observing. It is written by two black survivors of the Rwandan genocide & war. They have impeccable credentials. I would have preferred to post this in the AA forum but have been banned from there. Will any of their approved members cross-post this article? I hope they do, and look forward to their comments on this article and the role Bill Clinton played. The article points out that "first lady Hillary Clinton" joined Bill in visiting the State Department to congratulate its task force on evacuating white Americans. As the authors forcefully point out, Rwandan black lives didn't matter to the Clintons.

Alice Gatebuke is a Rwandan genocide and war survivor, Cornell University graduate, and a human rights advocate. She serves as the communications Director for AGLAN. She can be reached at alice@aglan.org.

Claude Gatebuke is a Rwandan war and genocide survivor. He is the executive director and co-founder of the African Great Lakes Action Network. He can be reached via email at claude@aglan.org, Facebook at the African Great Lakes Action Network (AGLAN) page, and on Twitter @AGLANglr.


During the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, President Bill Clinton and members of his administration pushed for the reduction of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Rwanda from over 2,500 troops to 270, with the remaining troops’ mandate being reduced to a mere observers’ role. The U.S. government evacuated foreign (read: white) personnel from Rwanda, and pretty much ensured the total success of the 100-day slaughter that occurred. President Clinton later told Rwandans that he “did not act quickly enough after the killing began” in his 1998 address in Rwanda.

President Clinton did not fail to act as he told the world then. Actually, he actively pushed for a particular course of action. The genocide began after the April 6 assassinations of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents. By April 11, U.S. government and foreign personnel were successfully evacuated from Rwanda. Once the evacuations were completed, President Clinton, along with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, “visited the State Department task force in charge of evacuating American citizens to congratulate them on finishing their job.” President Clinton’s administration then strongly and successfully pushed for the reduction and evacuation of the peacekeeping force, by April 21, 1994.

On the day the Rwandan Genocide is generally commemorated, former President Clinton’s words rang hollow both in material and delivery. Instead, they conjured up images, of white foreigners being evacuated from Rwanda to safety at the outset of the genocide. The rest of us, the innocent civilians, were provided with neither the option of evacuation, nor the decency of protection, but were left, amidst a bloody war and genocide, come what may.

What about our black lives made them immaterial to President Clinton and his administration? The cynicism of his utterance “Black Lives Matter” in Africa juxtaposed to his administration’s comments and actions goes even deeper. In discussions about whether to call the events occurring at the time in Rwanda genocide, Clinton National Security Council staff member Susan Rice, who went on to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., and as current National Security Advisor, said, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”

It is almost impossible to articulate the depth of betrayal felt at this profound sense of political expediency. While our lives were being slaughtered, at least somewhere in the United States, elections were being won. And in exchange, 800,000-1,000,000 casualties of black lives that apparently did not matter more than mid-term elections were lost.
April 13, 2016

Pittsburgh P-G endorses Sestak: "toughest challenger to Toomey"


Joe Sestak for the Dems: He’d be the toughest challenger to Pat Toomey

Democrats who want a formidable challenger to take on U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in November should nominate the person who nearly beat the Republican six years ago: former congressman and three-star admiral Joe Sestak.

Mr. Sestak, 64, spent two terms in the House after a 31-year career in the Navy that was capped by service under President Bill Clinton as a defense policy adviser. In 2010, after defeating newly minted Democrat Arlen Specter for the party nomination, he narrowly lost the general election to Mr. Toomey — by just two percentage points in a year that Republicans were ascendant. The Delaware County resident has spent the last several years crisscrossing Pennsylvania, denouncing an obstructionist Republican Congress, defending the merits of the Affordable Care Act and seeking a rematch with Mr. Toomey.

Like other candidates, he believes that creating jobs must be Washington’s top priority. He also wants a strong homeland defense, new investment in infrastructure and a ban on fracking — a position that the Post-Gazette, which supports tough regulation of deep gas drilling, wishes he would reconsider. He endorses the Iranian nuclear accord and condemns the Trans-Pacific Partnership on trade, although he’d like to see a “principled compromise.” His voting record on Capitol Hill earned a 100 percent rating from the Sierra Club and a zero from the National Rifle Association.

Of the leading pair for this key nomination, both of whom have had distinguished careers in public service, one (McGinty) can showcase her high-profile political allies and the other can highlight his independence, his call for accountability and his promise to restore integrity in government. If this is truly the year of the political outsider, the Democrats’ best bet for the U.S. Senate is Joe Sestak, who has earned the Post-Gazette endorsement.

This endorsement joins that of the state's largest newspaper, the Phillie Inquirer on the other side of the state.

Will the $1.5 million the DSCC just recently pumped in to this primary for false, lying ads attacking Sestak, trying to destroy his 16 point lead in polls, let them buy the primary? Not if major newspaper endorsements have anything to say about it! The press are also calling out McGinty's campaign for blatant lies about Sestak's voting record!

The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial included the following reasons for endorsing him:
“his willingness to put principle above party”

“the best credentials and experience to immediately serve Pennsylvania and the nation”

“he can maneuver beyond partisan politics to help the middle class rebound from years of stagnant wages”​

“Sestak’s refusal to be put into a partisan box”

“a deep understanding of government and foreign policy that Katie McGinty and John Fetterman cannot match.”

And just to remind you all, in 2010 Sestak lost to Toomey by only 2 %, despite it being a year when the GOP swept congressional races across the nation, and DESPITE THE FACT THAT TOOMEY OUTSPENT SESTAK 4 TO 1.
In that primary, for the first time ever, the DSCC gave over a million to a primary candidate, Arlen Specter and not one red cent to the primary winner, Joe Sestak, in the general election. This year they're pulling the same shit - giving $1.5 million to a primary candidate which should have been made available to whichever Dem. wins the primary.
April 13, 2016

"Bill Clinton, Eternal Campaigner. . grabbing political 3rd rail and refusing to let go."

SOURCE: April 12, 2016 edition of The New Yorker

Former President Clinton apparently was not expecting, when he appeared last week at a campaign event in Philadelphia on behalf of his wife, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to be confronted by Black Lives Matter protesters over the consequences, intended and not, of one of his Administration’s signature bills—the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Clinton, his voice raised, wanted protesters to believe that it was thanks to this bill that the nation’s crime rate went down, police forces became more diverse, and a federal assault-weapons ban became law, at least until the ban expired, a decade later; he was able recite a fusillade of statistics without it always being clear where they came from or what, exactly, they referred to. The shouting, Clinton’s finger-wagging replies, and the reluctance to accept what others were saying provided a fascinating glimpse of a group with a deeply felt point of view and of a major political figure repeatedly, even stubbornly, grabbing a political third rail and refusing to let go. For all that, as a political actor, he never broke character, never stopped trying to connect, reminding witnesses of his enormous talent as a campaigner, as well as his potentially volatile role in his wife’s race for the Presidency.

Last week’s confrontation must have been especially hard for Bill Clinton, who loves to speak, hold forth, speak some more, and further explain—none of which is possible when you can’t be heard and you don’t listen. What must have made it harder was listening to his wife’s challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders, whose supporters include Spike Lee and Harry Belafonte, say that “the President owes the American people an apology for trying to defend what is indefensible.” Clinton later said that he was “almost” ready to apologize for the angry tenor of the occasion, which, after all, was intended to bolster black support for his wife generally, and specifically in the now-competitive April 19th New York primary. However much he is helping or harming his wife’s campaign, he’s visibly enjoying his work (on Sunday, he spoke at three Harlem churches), even if his enthusiasm sometimes pushes him over the rhetorical line. His encounter with Black Lives Matter protesters, though, did not help the campaign at all.

Clinton did not exactly reprise his “Sister Souljah moment,” of 1992, when, as the Democratic candidate for President, he offended some supporters (and won many others) by comparing a rap singer’s remarks to the views of the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. It was, rather, more of an anti-Souljah episode, showing impatience and irritation with people whose views he seemed unable to acknowledge. It was, above all, a case of the present confronting the past—modern awareness confronting yesterday’s mistakes, such as Hillary Clinton’s use of the term “superpredator” to refer to some of the juvenile criminals who would be most affected by the crime bill’s harsh sentencing provisions. The former President did not say much about how the legislation led to a very bad outcome—the imprisonment of African-Americans, in alarming numbers, for nonviolent crimes.

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