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San Francisco just passed a resolution calling the NRA a ‘domestic terrorist organization’

National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre.  (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday declaring the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization” and urging the city to examine its financial relationships with companies that do business with the group.

The sharply worded declaration noted recent acts of gun violence, including the July shooting that killed three people, all younger than 26, at a food festival in Gilroy, Calif., south of San Francisco.

“The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence,” it read. “The National Rifle Association spreads propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence, and … the leadership of National Rifle Association promotes extremist positions, in defiance of the views of a majority of its membership and the public, and undermine the general welfare.”

NRA money flowed to board members amid allegedly lavish spending by top officials and vendors

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the board’s 11 supervisors, notes many of the statistics that make the United States stand out in terms of gun violence, stating that the country’s gun homicide rate is “25 times higher than any other high-income country in the world” and that 36,000 people in the United States die in gun-related incidents every year, an average of 100 per day.

It also said the city would assess its financial and contractual relationships with vendors that do business with the NRA.

“The City and County of San Francisco should take every reasonable step to limit those entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization,” it noted.

The news of its passage quickly drew attention from conservatives and right-leaning media outlets.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani told reporters that she had decided to write the declaration after the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. A gunman there killed a 6-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 25-year-old before taking his own life. The mass shooting was followed within days by massacres in El Paso, where a gunman killed 22 people, and Dayton, Ohio, where a man killed nine people.

“The NRA conspires to limit gun violence research, restrict gun violence data sharing and most importantly aggressively tries to block every piece of sensible gun violence prevention legislation proposed on any level, local state or federal,” Stefani said, according to KQED. “When they use phrases like, ‘I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands’ on bumper stickers, they are saying reasoned debate about public safety should be met with violence.”

Stefani told The Washington Post that she believed the group had earned the designation as a “terrorist organization.”

“They should reasonably know by now that they are fueling the hate fire in this country,” she said. “People are dying, and they continue to stand in the way of reform.”

Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the NRA, called the resolution a “reckless assault on a law-abiding organization, its members and the freedoms they all stand for.”

NRA shakes up legal team amid intensifying civil war

“This is just another worthless and disgusting ‘sound bite remedy’ to the violence epidemic gripping our nation,” she said. “We remain undeterred — guided by our values and belief in those who want to find real solutions to gun violence.”

The NRA has been at the center of political tensions in recent years as horrific acts of gun violence continue to regularly punctuate the political conversation. New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is investigating the group’s finances over its tax-exempt status as a nonprofit group.

Lawrence B. Glickman, professor of history at Cornell University, said it was unusual for governments to orchestrate boycotts of private entities.

“Municipalities in the era of the American Revolution called for ostracism or boycotting of individuals who violated the non-importation movement by using, for example, British tea,” he wrote in an email. “Those might be the clearest antecedents for the SF Board of Supervisors decision.”


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A little boy spends his birthday savings on victims of Hurricane Dorian

Jermaine Bell was going to Disney World.

No matter how long it took, or how much birthday money he would have to save, the 6-year-old South Carolina boy would spend his special day in “The Happiest Place On Earth.”

And, as local TV station WJBF reports, he was pretty close to realizing that dream, planning for a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom just in time for his seventh birthday this month.

Then he heard the story of the hurricane: how it transformed the Bahamas into the unhappiest place on Earth — and how it continues to churn up the East Coast, leaving a trail of tears in its wake.

How could Bell dream of Disney World when so many others were living a nightmare?

So the boy gathered his savings — and went to the grocery store. Instead of a romp in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Bell bought much-needed food and water for thousands of people forced to leave their homes in advance of the storm.

“The people that are traveling to go to places, I wanted them to have some food to eat, so they can enjoy the ride to the place that they’re going to stay at,” Bell told WJBF.

Indeed, Bell made it hard for anyone to miss his offer. He hauled a couple of homemade signs to Highway 125 in Allendale with the words “Free hot dogs and water” scrawled on them.

And he stood at the side of that highway, calling out to motorists, many of them tired and traumatized after leaving their homes behind. In all, he served more than 100 evacuees.

Jermaine Bell serving hot dogs to hurricane evacuees.Jermaine Bell served more than 100 hurricane evacuees. (Photo: Daniel Latimer)

“I am very proud,” his grandmother Aretha Grant told CNN. “We knew Jermaine was very special, but we didn’t know he was special in this way, to be such a giver like this.”

Indeed, at his little stand in Allendale, Bell is giving people something much more precious than hot dogs. He’s offering hope — and along the way, the little boy with the big heart is making his own magic kingdom.

Want to follow Bell’s shining example? Click here to help people affected by Hurricane Dorian.


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A grandmother prevented a mass shooting by noticing the red flags and getting her grandson help

Given the sheer number of mass shootings that have happened since the assault weapons ban ended in 2004, Americans are starting to notice when someone exhibits behaviors that could lead to committing an act of horrific violence.

According to FBI statistics, mass shooters exhibit an average of 4.7 examples of “concerning behavior” before their attacks. These include: mental health issues, interpersonal problems, suicidal ideation, discussing an attack, poor work performance, threats or confrontations.

Mass shooters also had, on average, 3.6 stressors, which include: mental health, financial strain, job-related problems, conflicts with friends/peers, mental problems, and drug/alcohol abuse.

A grandmother in Lubbock, Texas noticed her grandson, 19-year-old William Patrick Williams, was exhibiting signs of committing a horrific massacre and averted the tragedy by getting him help.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas, in July, Williams told his grandmother he had purchased an AK-47 and planned to “shoot up” a hotel and then take his own life.

After hearing Williams’ plans, his grandmother convinced him to go to the hospital to get mental help.

AK-47via / FlickrWhile Williams was in treatment, police searched his hotel room and found an AK-47, 17 magazines, multiple knives, a black shirt that said “Let ‘Em Come,” and a black trench coat.

RELATED: These gun owners support stricter gun control for amazing reasons we all need to hear

It was later discovered that Williams allegedly lied on the paperwork he filled out to purchase the weapon. He was arrested on Thursday, August 1 by the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the FBI for making false statements to a firearms dealer. He could face up to five years in prison.

“This was a tragedy averted,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox told NBC News. “I want to praise the defendant’s grandmother, who saved lives by interrupting this plot.”

Williams’ grandmother saved countless lives, including that of her grandson, by seeing the warning signs and taking action.

While lawmakers fail to pass common sense gun laws that can reduce the number of mass shootings, the best way we can prevent these tragedies is to be vigilant like Williams grandmother — know the red flags and if you see something, say something.


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The RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard

The 2020 race is tightening.

Rex/Shutterstock (4)

Editor’s Note: Rolling Stone will soon update the 2020 leaderboard to reflect the impact of the primary debates in Detroit. For a preview of our thinking, read our assessments of the winners and losers from nights one and two of the debates, as well as our consolidated debate scorecard, grading the performance of all 20 candidates.

The first Democratic debates shook up the contours of the 2020 race, with Joe Biden falling back from undisputed frontrunner to join a crowded, four-contender pack, along with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and his new nemesis Kamala Harris.

Will the second round of debates on July 29 and 30th offer similar breakout moments for candidates seeking to join the top tier? Already Cory Booker is previewing his attacks on Biden over criminal justice reform — though Biden is promising supporters he won’t be so “polite” this time, prepared to punch back. With the sting of the first debate fading, and the former vice president’s poll numbers on the rebound, a strong performance could suggest that Biden’s status at the front of the pack is less precarious than it recently seemed.

The Michigan debates also feature a must-see face-off between the leading change agents in the race, with Sanders and Warren competing to differentiate their visions for sweeping transformation of America’s tax structure and social contract.

RELATED: RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Policy Guide

The Rolling Stone leaderboard is now tracking all twenty candidates who will stand on the debate stage in Detroit, and a handful who won’t. Those ranks include the billionaire activist Tom Steyer, whose bank account and increasingly relevant impeachment crusadecould leave a mark on the race yet.

1) Joe Biden

The first Democratic debates in Miami exposed Biden as unsteady — and unready to defend the many problematic parts of his record, including his coziness with segregationists and opposition to busing to integrate schools. One bad debate does not a campaign make. And while Biden now seems far from inevitable as the party’s 2020 nominee, the former vice president still offers America a seductive promise — a reboot from the Trump catastrophe. And rather than risk falling in love with a progressive New Hope, many rank-and-file Democrats, particularly older voters, seem happy to fall in line behind Biden, 76, who is raising plenty of cash: $21.5 million in the second quarter alone. At his Philadelphia kickoff rally in May, Biden touted his record as a Mr. Fixit: “I know how to make government work.”
Signature Policy: Biden has peerless foreign policy credentials and isn’t afraid to tout them: “I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” he’s said. “I know as much about American foreign policy [as] anyone around, including even maybe Kissinger.” (Read more about Biden’s platform.)
Signature Apology: “I’m sorry I didn’t understand more,” Biden told reporters after being rebuked by multiple women for his space-invader style of politics. “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. So that’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for God’s sakes.”
RS Coverage: Joe Biden Is Not Helping

2) Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts senator continues to outpace her competitors on policy, including calling to wipe out student debtfor tens of millions of Americans. Warren is targeting Democrats who seek progressive purity from their 2020 champion, including in fundraising. Eschewing fundraisers with big contributors seeking political favors, Warren raised more than $19 million from grassroots donors in the second quarter, and joining Sanders as the only candidates with more than 1 million total donations. But unlike Sanders, who embraces the mantle of democratic socialism, the 70-year-old Warren is a capitalist at heart, having spent a career trying to make the system work for working people. As a law professor, she sparred with then Senator Joe Biden about the 2005 bankruptcy bill he backed, which Warren argued favored special interests. “At a time when the biggest financial institutions in this country were trying to put the squeeze on millions of hardworking families,” Warren has said, “Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.”
Signature Policy: Warren wants to address American inequality with a wealth tax, imposed annually on “ultra-millionaires,” to pay for benefits, including universal free or low-cost childcare, for “yacht-less Americans.” Fortunes greater than $50 million would be taxed at 2 percent. Billionaires would pay 3 percent. The proposal has greater than 60 percent support and would raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years. (Read more about Warren’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Warren has apologized for conflating “family stories” about Cherokee heritage with native identity. “I am sorry,” Warren said, “for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”
RS Coverage: Elizabeth Warren Wants to Wipe Out Student Debt for 42 Million Americans

3) Kamala Harris

Harris showed both fearlessness and surgical precision in attacking Biden in the Miami debates. The performance vaulted the 54-year-old former prosecutor back into the top tier of 2020 candidates, with a pair of polls even showing her in second place. The Californian stands astride the tectonic plates of the Democratic Party — an establishment politician who has adopted a platform responsive to the passion of the grassroots, including a Green New Deal and marijuana legalization. Her fundraising in the second quarter reflects success in sustaining this tricky balance: Harris raised $12 million, including $2 million in a post-debate surge. Black women are the heart of the Democratic Party, and seeing themselves reflected in the Howard University-educated Harris (born to Jamaican and Tamil Indian parents) could boost her prospects in an early-vote state like South Carolina.
Signature Policy: Harris has promised executive action to punish pay disparities. She would require companies to receive an “Equal Pay Certification” and fine one percent of corporate profits for every percent of wage gap that persists between male and female employees. (Read more about Harris’ platform.)
Signature Apology: Harris has accepted accountability for missteps as California’s attorney general: “The bottom line is the buck stops with me, and I take full responsibility for what my office did.”
RS Coverage: Kamala Harris’ Moment

4) Bernie Sanders

The 77-year-old Sanders has dipped slightly in the polls, but he remains a force thanks to a potent combination of people-power and cash. His campaign announced in July that it raised $18 million in the second quarter, with an average donation of $18. And the campaign’s focus on grassroots organizing is peerless in the 2020 field. Sanders does not have the left lane to himself anymore — many candidates have embraced his once-distinctive proposals. But he is seen as an uncompromising champion of policies like Medicare for All. And he’s one-upped Warren’s income-based college debt relief by calling for a complete wipeout of the nation’s $1.6 trillion in student debt.
Signature Policy: Sanders’ 2016 campaign set the table for 2020. He gets full credit for mainstreaming a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free college. Sanders recently introduced the “For the 99.8% Act” that would sharply increase the estate tax, including imposing a 77 percent tax on estates in excess of $1 billion, raising an estimated $315 billion over a decade. (Read more about Sanders’ platform.)
Signature Apology: Sanders apologized to former female staffers for a 2016 campaign marred by pay disparities and allegations of sexual harassment by male staffers, promising to “do better” moving forward.
RS Coverage: On the Trail With Bernie Sanders 2.0

5) Pete Buttigieg

The 37-year-old mayor vaulted from dark-horse to phenom in a matter of months, but has lately plateaued. Plainspoken and steeped in the values of the Christian left, Buttigieg has wowed pundits and prospective voters alike. He was featured in a photo-shoot in Vogue, and (with his husband Chasten) scored the cover of Time. Is “Mayor Pete” a true contender? His fundraising is prodigious: Buttigieg raised nearly $25 million in the second quarter alone. We only wish he were as quick to understand the traumas of black America as he was to learn Norwegian. Indeed, his lack of resonance with black voters is holding him back. In recent polls he’s registered at zero percent support among African Americans in South Carolina, Florida,and Mississippi

, despite scoring in or near double digits with whites.
Signature Policy: “The electoral college needs to go.” (Read more about Buttigieg’s platform.)
Signature Apology: After news reports revealed that Buttigieg declared “all lives matter” in 2015, Mayor Pete distanced himself from the comment, insisting he “did not understand” at the time that the slogan was “being used to devalue what the Black Lives Matter movement was telling us.”
RS Coverage: Is America Ready for Mayor Pete?

6) Cory Booker

The former super-mayor of Newark, Booker is running on a values-heavy message of love, unity and “a revival of civic grace.” The 50-year-old has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate, and he’s changed the conversation around federal cannabis legalization with his proposed Marijuana Justice Act. “I get angry when I see people taking just one step — legalizing marijuana — without doing anything to address past harms,” he told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. Booker has also demonstrated his policy chops by unveiling an ambitious affordable housing plan that would provide tax credits to renters, increase housing investments in rural America, and push localities to reform their zoning laws that stand in the way of building more affordable housing units. But his outward liberalism has been undercut at times by problematic connections to Wall Street and Big Pharma. He vowed to not accept corporate PAC or lobbyist donations, and announced raising $4.5 million in the second quarter.
Signature Policy: Baby bonds. Booker would target the wealth gap in America by seeding “American Opportunity Accounts” for children that would allow kids from the poorest families to enter adulthood with a nest egg of up to $46,000 to invest in education, home ownership or retirement. (Read more about Booker’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Booker has disavowed the tough-on-crime approach he championed in his early days as Newark mayor. In his book United, Booker credits his then-chief of staff for delivering a wake-up call on racial disparities in policing: “He told me that if I had so quickly forgotten my own life experiences, I had my head up my large black posterior region.”
RS Coverage: Why Cory Booker Cares So Much About Legal Weed

7) Julián Castro

After toiling in relative obscurity since he entered the race in January, Castro had a breakout moment at the first Democratic debate. He spoke forcefully about the need to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings and make them a civil violation. He hammered fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke for not supporting that plan. His stage presence and command of the issues showed why Hillary nearly picked him as her 2016 running mate. The only Latino contender in the field, Castro, 44, is also one of the youngest. His “People First” policy agenda earned high marks for offering a sweeping immigration plan that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; an education overhaul that would reinvest in public education from pre-K through college; and a $5-billion plan to “eliminate lead poisoning as a major public health threat.”
Signature Policy: Pre-K for USA, nationwide universal pre-kindergarten programs, are the centerpiece of his People First education plan. “Investing in early childhood education isn’t just the right thing to do on behalf of our children,” Castro says. “It’s an investment that we can’t afford not to make.” (Read more about Castro’s platform.)
Signature Apology: In 2016, Castro apologized for dissing Trump and talking up Clinton while on the job as HUD secretary, a violation of the Hatch Act

. “When an error is made — even an inadvertent one — the error should be acknowledged,” Castro said. “I made one here.”
RS Coverage: Julian Castro Officially Enters the 2020 Presidential Race

8) Amy Klobuchar

The Minnesota senator’s understated persona stands in contrast to Trump’s bluster and bravado, winning her plaudits from conservatives including Washington Post columnist George Will and Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins. In theory, Klobuchar should benefit from a near-home-field advantage in neighboring Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucus. But the latest poll has her bumping along at 4 percent support. Klobuchar didn’t score any major breakthroughs in the Miami debates, but voter opinions of her improved incrementally after she argued she could win in the “reddest of districts.”
Signature Policy: Known for playing small-ball, Klobuchar has emphasized her record of enacting practical laws that have reduced the backlog of rape kits and banned lead in toys. If Biden continues to decline, Klobuchar seems likely to corral some of his moderate-minded voters. (Read more about Klobuchar’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Klobuchar has been dogged by reports she abused and demeaned staff, including by throwing a binder that “accidentally” hit a staffer. The senator has admitted she has pushed employees “too hard” at times and can be a “tough boss,” but added she just wants to hold her employees — and the country — to high standards.
RS Coverage: Amy Klobuchar on Al Franken, Brett Kavanaugh and the Road Ahead

9) Beto O’Rourke

After firing up the nationwide political machine that helped him nearly topple Texas mega-villain Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, O’Rourke began his presidential bid with a burst of cash and momentum, but stalled out almost immediately. In May, just six weeks after his official launch, O’Rourke attempted a campaign re-set, apologizing for a Vanity Fair cover timed to his launch, and swearing off money from fossil fuel executives under pressure from environmental activists. His troubles followed him onto the debate stage in Miami, where it was clear O’Rourke’s rivals were out for blood. New York mayor Bill de Blasio chided Beto for supporting a broken private insurance system, and fellow Texan Castro castigated him for not doing “his homework” on immigration. O’Rourke’s fundraising has also seen a precipitous drop off, falling from $9.4 million in the first quarter to $3.6 in the second.
Signature Policy: O’Rourke has struggled to find his policy niche. A former representative for El Paso, he first prioritized immigration reform, before turning to climate policy, most recently pivoting to veterans, proposing to boost services through an annual “war tax” on non-military families. (Read more about O’Rourke’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Beto was arrested for drunk-driving at 26, which he’s called a “terrible mistake.”
RS Coverage: Beto O’Rourke Shares the Story of His Old Band, Foss — and a Single

10) Jay Inslee

Inslee made sure the climate crisis got at least some discussion in the first round of Democratic debates, despite the moderators largely avoiding the subject. “We have to understand that this is a climate crisis, an emergency,” he said. “This is our last chance,” Inslee insisted of the next administration, “to do something about it.” The Washington state governor has built his campaign around the climate issue, leading the pack of 2020 contenders with ambitious, detailed climate policy proposals. In mid-May, Inslee unveiled his Evergreen Economy Plan, which calls for $3 trillion in federal spending to “defeat climate change” and create 8 million jobs. Inslee, 69, has also led the charge to pressure the DNC to host an official climate-specific debate — a demand the committee has so far refused.
Signature Policy: Fighting climate change. Inslee’s track record includes creating a $120 million clean-energy fund, directing his state government to set new caps on emissions (now being challenged in court) and launching the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan group of 22 governors implementing the Paris climate accord. (Read more about Inslee’s platform.)
RS Coverage: Jay Inslee Wants to Be the First Climate President. Is America Ready?

11) Tulsi Gabbard

An Iraq war vet, Gabbard, 38, is the first Hindu to serve in the House of Representatives. She has introduced a bipartisan bill with Rep. Don Young (R-AK) to legalize marijuana, and made a strong impression in the June debates blasting Trump’s “chickenhawk” Cabinet and the administration’s saber-rattling at Iran. Gabbard has also ruffled feathers within her own party. After Attorney General William Barr released his controversial, four-page summary of the Mueller report, Gabbard said that it was time to “put aside partisan interests” and “move forward.”
Signature Policy: Appealing to dovish Democrats, Gabbard has staked her campaign in opposition to wars of regime change. But her foreign policy credentials are worrying: She visited Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017 on a secret “fact-finding” mission and dismissed his opposition — across the board — as terrorists. Gabbard’s rollout also received an unsettling signal boost from Kremlin-backed English language media networks, RT and Sputnik. (Read more about Gabbard’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Into adulthood, Gabbard espoused virulently anti-LGBTQ views. She released an apology videosaying, “In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong.”
RS Coverage: We’ve Hit a New Low in Campaign Hit Pieces

12) Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand has framed 2020 as a contest between bravery and fear, and herself as the Democrats’ own Fearless Girl™ (complete with Wall Street funding). Gillibrand, 52, is distinguishing herself as the first candidate to speak up when it comes to the issues most important to women. She has called for codifying Roe and repealing the Hyde Amendment, and she has promised to appoint only pro-choice judges. Nonetheless, Gillibrand’s bid has struggled to gain traction, and she wasn’t able to help her cause during the first Democratic debates in June. According to a post-debate poll, more Democratic voters said their opinion of Gillibrand worsened, rather than improved, based on her performance.
Signature Policy: In addition to her commitment to protecting women’s rights, Gillibrand has unveiled a Family Bill of Rights, which would include universal pre-K, national paid family leave, and measures to ensure child care is accessible and affordable. (Read more about Gillibrand’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Gillibrand began her 2020 bid with frank apologies for her anti-immigrant past as a Blue Dog Democrat representing Upstate New York: “I was callous to the suffering of families who want to be with their loved ones,” she told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. “Looking back, I just really regretted that I didn’t look beyond my district.”
RS Coverage: Gillibrand: ‘Trump Has Started a War on America’s Women. And He’s Going to Lose’

13) Andrew Yang

The most unlikely grassroots sensation of 2020, Yang is a businessman who founded Venture for America, working to revitalize struggling urban centers by training and fostering entrepreneurs in cities like Detroit and New Orleans. Yang’s campaign raised $2.8 million in the second quarter, as his campaign became cultivated meme-warrior members of the #YangGang. Expectations were high that Yang could make a stir in the first debates. Instead his performance fell flat, as he failed to make a clear pitch, even on his signature policy of free money from the government. Yang apologized to his fans on Twitter, vowing to “do better” in future debates.
Signature Policy: The 44-year-old is running on a platform of a universal basic income, to counteract the worst effects of automation in the workforce. Yang spoke at length to Rolling Stone about his “Freedom Dividend,” insisting: “You want to universalize it so it’s seen as a true right of citizenship.” (Read more about Yang’s platform.)
RS Coverage: ‘I Came From the Internet’: Inside Andrew Yang’s Wild Ride

14) Bill de Blasio

The mayor of New York since 2014, de Blasio made a forceful appeal on the debate stage for Democrats to be the party of working people, embracing a mix of policy proposals from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. Though de Blasio, 58, has his sights set on Washington, he has plenty of problems to address closer to home. His approval rating in New York is hovering in the low-40s. And his national disapproval numbers top the field. A recent poll found that 42 percent of Democrats and independents think he should drop out.
Signature Policy: Implemented universal pre-K in New York City. (Read more about de Blasio’s platform.)
Signature Apology: After the first Democratic debate in Miami in late June, de Blasio attended a strike by airport workers, declaring, “Hasta la victoria, siempre.” This, unfortunately for hizzoner, was the battle cry of one Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the revolutionary and Fidel Castro lieutenant who is despised in much of South Florida. “I did not know the phrase I used in Miami today was associated with Che Guevara & I did not mean to offend anyone who heard it that way,” de Blasio tweeted. “I only meant it as a literal message to the striking airport workers that I believed they would be victorious in their strike.”
RS Coverage: Why Are Marijuana Policies So Behind in 4/20-Heavy Places Like New York?

15) Marianne Williamson

One of Oprah’s favorite self-help gurus is campaigning to give the United States a “moral and spiritual awakening.” Williamson, 66, has limited political experience: She once finished fourth in a congressional primary in California. But she says she’s pursuing the presidency on a track record of helping transform “moral dysfunction.” Her debate performance was otherworldly, and not it a good way. But she Williamson’s brand of woo has earned her millions of fans. Nobody knows where this is going.
Signature Policy: Called for $100 billion in reparations for black people, distributed over 10 years. Scholars have estimated a fair value for reparations at between $6 and $14 trillion. (Read more about Williamson’s platform.)
Signature Apology: In her Prayer of Apology to African Americans, the bestselling author apologizes for slavery, lynchings, white supremacist laws, the denial of voting rights, the denial of civil rights, unequal treatment of Black Americans in the criminal justice system, police brutality, economic injustice and more, asking God for forgiveness. “May the screams that were not allowed, be allowed now / May the cries that were never heard be heard now / May the tears that were never heard be heard now./And may the healing begin / In this sacred container, may the healing begin / May the Light of love now heal us all / Amen.”
RS Coverage: Marianne Williamson Is the Cosmic Sorceress We Need Now

16) Tom Steyer

The progressive billionaire best known for leading an impeachment crusade against president Trump threw his hat into the crowded 2020 ring on July 9th, promising to betray his class and wrest political power from America’s moneyed interests. Steyer has plenty of cash to help overcome his late start. He’s vowed to spend $100 million on his campaign.
Signature Policy: Steyer’s Need to Impeach campaign has signed up more than 8 million Americans seeking Trump’s constitutional removal. (This list could provide Steyer with a formidable grassroots base.) “It’s important to stand up for the American democracy,” Steyer has told Rolling Stone about the fight for impeachment. “We believe fighting against a reckless and lawless president is not something that will turn off voters.”
RS Coverage: A Conversation With Tom Steyer, the Liberal Billionaire Bankrolling Trump’s Impeachment

17) Steve Bullock

The Montana governor with a Deadwood-worthy name could be a 2020 dark horse. He entered the race in May and was shut out of the Miami debates. But his polling has improved and he’ll be on the stage in Michigan. Even in a crowded field, Bullock’s experience stands out. He won statewide office in a state Trump carried by 20 points — and then got a GOP-majority legislature to agree to expand Medicaid. He raised $2 million in his debut fundraising quarter.
Signature Policy: The 53-year-old has focused on ending the influence of unlimited political contributions and dark money. “If we wanna address all the other big issues,” he said in a stump speech in Iowa, “you’re not gonna be able to do it unless you also address the way money is affecting our system.” (Read more about Bullock’s platform.)
Signature Apology: A former Bullock aide, fired for sexual harassment, went on to harass again in the office of the mayor of New York City. “I should have done more to ensure future employers would learn of his behavior,” Bullock wrote in February. “These realizations come too late for the two women in New York City. For that, I’m deeply sorry.”
RS Coverage: The Democrats’ Battle for Montana

18) John Delaney

The former Maryland Congressman, 56, has been running for president since July 2017. Delaney preaches a relentlessly bipartisan message of national unity. One thing that won’t slow him down is funding: Delaney is worth close to $100 million and is largely self-financing his campaign. (He raised only $284,000 in the second quarter.) An entrepreneur in high finance, he launched two companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange. In June, he was booed at a Democratic event for describing Medicare-for-All as “not good policy.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested he “sashay away” from the primary. He got little respect or airtime at the June debates, with even the moderators shutting him down.
Signature Policy: Delaney is promoting a national youth service program to bring the country together. (Read more about Delaney’s platform.)
RS Coverage: John Delaney Says He’s ‘Skating to Where the Puck Is Going’

19) Michael Bennet
The 54-year-old senator is campaigning for a return to integrity in government and a revival of American economic mobility. A former chief of staff to then-Denver mayor Hickenlooper, Bennet positions himself as “pragmatic idealist” and has been calling for Democrats to temper ideas like packing the Supreme Court. He has been lauded by “Morning” Joe Scarborough for combining “an Ivy League pedigree” with “a common touch” and for his “commitment to key centrist fiscal policies.” (The alleged common touch was MIA in Miami, where Bennet spoke with a patrician accent and denounced Chinese “mercantilism.”) Bennett raised a respectable $2.8 million in the second quarter.
Signature Policy: Medicare X. With Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bennet is proposing legislation to create, and slowly roll out, a public option for the Obamacare state marketplaces, with the same doctor and hospital networks as Medicare, and similar reimbursement rates. Bennet has called Medicare-for-All, which would disrupt existing health care plans for millions, “bad opening offer.” (Read more about Bennet’s platform.)
RS Coverage: The 21st Democratic Presidential Candidate Has Entered the 2020 Race — Make It Stop

20) John Hickenlooper

Colorado’s former governor, 67, markets himself as a centrist who can bring opposing interests to the table. “I am who I am,” Hickenlooper told Rolling Stone. “True to that north star.” But on the debate stage Hickenlooper’s top priority seemed to be defusing the GOP’s attack that Democrats are “socialists.” (Note to Hick: GOP will blast the 2020 nominee as a socialist, regardless.) Hickenlooper raised just $1.1 million in the second quarter and recently took responsibility for being the central “problem” of his own campaign.
Signature Policy: In the wake of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting that left 12 dead and dozens injured, Hickenlooper’s state government passed background checks and magazine capacity limits

. (Read more about Hickenlooper’s platform.)
Signature Apology: In 2014, Hickenlooper apologized to local sheriffs for not consulting them before pushing a gun-control measure, but didn’t take well to being pressed further on the issue by one officer at a public forum. “How many apologies do you want? What the fuck?,” the governor said. “I apologize!”
RS Coverage: John Hickenlooper Believes He Can Be the Bridge

21) Tim Ryan

A nine-term congressman, Ryan represents post-industrial Youngstown, Ohio, and wants Democrats to compete for the disaffected voters who turned to Trump in 2016. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ryan, 45, insisted: “I think we need an absolute, aggressive campaign in rural America, because I think we can win those voters back.” Ryan has begun to register in national polls, but he got pummeled on the debate stage in Miami by Gabbard after suggesting the U.S. needs to recommit to the endless war in Afghanistan. Ryan raised only $876,000 in the second quarter.
Signature Policy: The centerpiece of Ryan’s candidacy is a long-term industrial strategy to make the U.S. competitive with China in industries like automotive, solar, wind and clean manufacturing. (Read more about Ryan’s platform.)
RS Coverage: Tim Ryan: ‘We Need an Absolute, Aggressive Campaign in Rural America’

22) Seth Moulton

Moulton, 40, is a former Marine captain who served four tours in Iraq. He has made his experience in war a centerpiece of his campaign. Moulton has been frank about his struggles with PTSD, stemming from bearing witness to civilian casualties: “My story is one of success because I got help for it,” he’s said. “I decided to talk to someone, to see a therapist.” Moulton has also used his first-hand foreign policy experience to challenge his “mentor” Joe Biden, telling CNN: “I do think that it’s time for the generation that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan to step in for the generation that sent us there.” Moulton did not qualify for the first debate in Miami and has been shut out again in Michigan.
Signature Policy: “Democrats should be the party of national defense,” Moulton has told Rolling Stone. “We have a commander in chief who is reckless. We need a smart, strong national security strategy,” he said. “We do that by having credible voices in the party who can speak on matters of national security because they’ve been out there on the ground themselves.” (Read more about Moulton’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Moulton has not apologized for his role in attempting to deny Pelosi the Speaker’s gavel, but concedes that she’s done a “good job” since resuming the post.
RS Coverage: Seth Moulton Wants to Bring Mental Health into the 2020 Conversation

23) Wayne Messam

The mayor of fast-growing Miramar, Florida, Messam has a low national profile. But the 45-year-old was recently elected to a third term in the Miami suburb (with more residents than South Bend, Indiana) and the former football standout has set his sights on Washington. His cash-strapped campaign reportedly missed payroll in April and lost key staff. He did has been shut out of the debates.
Signature Policy: Messam has called for statehood for Puerto Rico, and was the first Democrat to call for cancelling all student debt. “It’s interesting to see other candidates now beginning to start to put out a proposal,” Messam said in West Des Moines, referencing Warren’s debt-relief plan. (Read more about Messam’s platform.)

24) Joe Sestak

The former three-star Navy admiral and two-term congressman threw his hat into the 2020 ring in mid-June, and has been spotted stumping before sparse crowds in Iowa. Sestak is a name political junkies will remember from his failed bids for a senate seat from Pennsylvania. In 2010 he unseated the party-switching Democratic incumbent Arlen Specter in the primary, before losing to Republican Pat Toomey in the general. (Sestak lost an expensive Democratic primary race in 2016.) He did not qualify for the debates in Detroit.
Signature Policy: Sestak is campaigning on his military and foreign policy credentials insisting he “has the depth of global experience to restore America’s leadership in the world.”

Chaos Agent: Mike Gravel

Political observers weren’t sure if former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel was serious, joking or hacked when his long-dormant Twitter account sputtered to life late one March night with a “#Gravel2020” tweet. It turned out to be a little bit of all three: A trio of teenagers from New York state had convinced the anti-war octogenarian, famous for making the Pentagon papers public, to mount a protest bid for the Democratic nomination. David Oks and Elijah Emery, high school seniors in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and Henry Williams, a freshman at Columbia University, initially just wanted to get Gravel on the debate stage to push the other candidates in a more progressive direction. They did not achieve that goal, but that hasn’t stopped the teens from mercilessly roasting the rest of the field on Twitter. For his part, Gravel approves of the shitposting, he’s just asked that the teens refrain from using curse words.
Signature Policy: According to the teens, the chief animating issue of Gravel 2020 is a bold promise to “end all wars.” According to Gravel himself, the reason he agreed to run was to advance awareness about his passion for direct democracy. Gravel is writing a book that lays out an argument for a “Legislature of the People” that would empower individual citizens to make and vote on laws. (Gravel believes such a system could be implemented via a Constitutional amendment.)
Signature Apology: In May, Gravel dismissed fellow 2020 candidate Buttigieg, saying he “really doesn’t say anything more than the fact that he’s gay, and that energizes the gay community.” In a statement posted to Twitter the next day, Gravel apologized, voicing support for “queer liberty,” while nonetheless ramping up his attacks on Mayor Pete, blasting Buttigieg’s decision to work for the consulting firm McKinsey, declaring: “A Buttigieg presidency unequivocally threatens the well-being of people the world over who are subject to America’s imperialist whims. He supports drone strikes, concealing war crimes, and growing our military-industrial complex. There is simply too much life at stake to entertain the deadly ambitions of this McKinsey cypher.”
RS Coverage: The Teens Have Officially Convinced Mike Gravel to Run for President

2020 Campaign Graveyard

Here lie the presidential ambitions of fallen Democratic contenders

Richard Ojeda
Dropped out: 
1/25/19, after 79 days
Parting Words: 
“When I was a kid in grade school, my teachers always said that anyone could grow up and become president. Unfortunately, what I’m starting to realize is that unless you have wealth, influence and power, it’s not gonna happen.”
Last Wish: 
“Whoever does win the presidency needs to be somebody who is willing to check Big Pharma.”

Eric Swalwell
Dropped Out: 
7/8/19, after 91 days
Parting Words: 
“Weaknesses will be flushed out and a leader will emerge.”
Last Wish: 
That the eventual nominee supports an assault weapons ban and buyback

Love our rankings? Disagree with a passion? Tell us what we got right — or wrong — on Twitter: @RSPolitics. This leaderboard is updated regularly.


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Only 7 Candidates Have Qualified for the Next Democratic Debate

While 20 presidential candidates debated this past week, far fewer are assured the chance of doing so again in September.

CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times


So you made it through the second set of Democratic debates. Congratulations! Ready to talk about the next ones?

The Democratic National Committee has set stricter criteria for the third set of debates, which will be held on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13 in Houston. If 10 or fewer candidates qualify, the debate will take place on only one night.

[The race is fluid, and other things we learned from the July Democratic debates.]

Candidates will need to have 130,000 unique donors and register at least 2 percent support in four polls. They have until Aug. 28 to reach those benchmarks.

These criteria could easily halve the field: The first two sets of debates included 20 of the 24 candidates, but a New York Times analysis of polls and donor numbers shows that only 10 to 12 candidates are likely to make the third round.

[When will the Democratic field start to shrink?]

Seven candidates have already met both qualification thresholds and are guaranteed a spot on stage. They are:

  • Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

  • Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey

  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

  • Senator Kamala Harris of California

  • Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas

  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

Three other candidates are very close: The former housing secretary Julián Castro and the entrepreneur Andrew Yang have surpassed 130,000 donations and each have three of the four qualifying polls they need, while Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has met the polling threshold and has about 120,000 donors.

Beyond them, only three candidates have even a single qualifying poll to their name: the impeachment activist Tom Steyer (2 polls), Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii (1) and former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado (1).

We asked all three of their campaigns to provide donor numbers so we could assess where they stood. Ms. Gabbard had just under 114,000 donors as of Wednesday night. A spokesman for Mr. Steyer said he was “on track to collect the required number of donors to make the September debate stage” but did not give a number. Mr. Hickenlooper’s campaign did not respond, but Politico reported a month ago that he had only 13,000 donors.

The other 11 candidates in the race have no qualifying polls to their name, and they all went into this week’s debates seeking a viral moment that would attract new donors and lift them, even briefly, in the polls.

The qualification rules do not require enduring support. Even a small post-debate surge could push a 1 percent candidate up to 2 percent in the small handful of polls he or she needs.

But for those who have not qualified, the Aug. 28 deadline is an existential threat. Candidates like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York or Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington could be washed out of the race if they don’t get momentum from this week’s debates. And if you’re wondering whether they’re anxious, the answer is yes.

Ms. Gabbard’s campaign calculated at one point that she needed a new donor every minute to reach 130,000 by the Aug. 28 deadline, so if you go to her website, a timer next to the donation button begins counting down 60 seconds. Then the text changes.

“🙁 Oh no!” it says. “The time expired and you didn’t donate!”


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Partial victory for the environment and the people against trump’s destruction of environmental efforts

by scenefromtheleft

It goes without saying that the turmp administration is a disgrace to the country.  In no other area is this more obvious than with the envirnment.  trump has led the effort to destroy the gains for conservation and the health of the nation’s people by appointing people to the EPA and other agencies that are radically opposed to the very efforts the agencies are supposed to govern for the people.

Under the rubric of ‘deregulation’, they are in effect waging war against the envirnment by allowing massive additional oil drilling in former national parks, along with other reversals.  The Obama administration has managed to get a measure thought that would require automobile manufactorers to build vehicles with a gas milage of 54.5 (mpg) by 2025.  Of course trump, in his “wisdom” pulled back on that decision and moved the goal down to 37 mpg by 2026.

However, the bright spot is that California and 13 other states refused to allow that to take effect in their states and created a situation where the automobile companies would have to either adhere to Obama Era standards or double their manufacturing efforts by meeting different standards for different states.  For California and those 13 states, they would have to tool a factory to produce cars with mileage of 54.5 mpg.  For the rest of the nation, they could go as low as 37 mpg.

The point being that the 37 mpg would not be allowed in those 14 or so states.  So, four car companies reached a very good compromise.   They negotiated with California and ther other envirnmentally concerned states.  Now, they have agreed to reach the level of 51 mpg by 2026 in order to only have to have one group of factories.

Those companies are Volkswagon  of America, Ford, Honda and BMW.  I congratulate those four companies for doing what is right and well help lower the amount of pollution in addition to hopefully bringing down the expense to the consumer.  The more important part of that is the gains to the envirnment.    You see, I still have this dream of having clean air and water at some point before the planet becomes uninhabitable for humans.

I would hope that those engaged in the manufacture of electric cars would continue their research and that in the near future, we can move to clean renewal fuel instead of being beholden to the oil industry and their position of ownership of our national discourse.  It is not too much to state that currently, they own many of those in high office.

Do I think this agreement is enough?  Of course not!! But like a previous article I wrote thanking the people of Nashville for standing up to ICE agents in their attempt to remove a family from their midst, it is reason for hope…and we need all the hope we can get in this horrible times.

Perhaps this agreement will force some of the other car companies to either join or give up sales in those 14 states, especially California.  Once again, California stands as a bulwark against bad federal governance.  Thanks, California!!!  But also thanks to Obama for starting this move in the right direction to begin with!!!!!


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The Golden State Warriors Revolutionized the NBA. Now They Plan to Keep the Dynasty Dream Alive

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 114-111 in game two of the NBA Western Conference Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 16, 2019 in Oakland, California.
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images

When Stephen Curry ran off a DeMarcus Cousins screen in the closing seconds of Game 6 of the NBA Finals last Thursday night, caught a Draymond Green pass, and launched a shot that could have won the game for Golden State — and extend the series to a deciding Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto — Warriors coach Steve Kerr felt certain he’d be working on Father’s Day. “I always think every shot Steph takes is going in,” says Kerr. But Curry’s shot, which was expertly contested by Toronto power forward Serge Ibaka, bounced off the back of the rim, effectively ending Golden State’s hopes for a three-peat. Kerr, Curry and Green, the three men who, minus Klay Thompson (who left the game early with a freakish and unfortunate ACL injury) were most responsible for Golden State’s run of near unprecedented excellence over the past five years, converged near the sideline, and reacted to this stunning turn of events in the most Golden State Warriors way possible.

They smiled.

For years, the Warriors have had more fun winning big games and world championships than any other sports team on the planet. Since he took over as coach of the team in 2014, Kerr has touted the benefits of taking a joyous approach to basketball. The effervescent Curry, who revels in the success of both his own impossible shooting streaks and those of his teammates, has served as the embodiment of this happy-go-lucky approach. Those smiles, sheepish and secure, speak to the team’s continued adherence to the Warrior way, even in the face of defeat.


We lost two Hall of Famers — Durant and Thompson — to injuries in back-to-back games in these finals. Still, the best shooter in NBA history had a chance to keep us alive. He missed, but it’s just a basketball game. What the hell are you going to do?

If the Raptors brought Golden State’s era of excellence to a close on June 13 — the Warriors were the first team since the 1960s Boston Celtics to reach five straight Finals — it sure didn’t feel like it. The atmosphere at Oracle Arena, the 53-year-old spherical structure that sits in an Oakland parking lot off the interstate, next to a drab baseball/football stadium that hosts the A’s and Raiders (for now), was far from funereal. Kerr and Co. grinned. The Warriors coaches kicked back one last time, over Modelos, at Oracle; Kerr told his staff there wasn’t one person in that room he doesn’t love seeing everyday. As the Raptors chugged champagne, Curry joined his family and friends in the stands to take some final pictures in the old barn. Next season, the Warriors are departing for their new digs in San Francisco: the $1.4 billion Chase Center. Curry had a drink in hand.

If the Warriors were just putting off fretting about their uncertain future, could anyone blame them? Sure, Golden State still has plenty going for it. A flashy new building can help attract free agents, and Curry is still Curry. An impossible string of bad luck descended upon the franchise in the these Finals, and the undermanned team was still just one shot away from forcing a game seven.

Still, nervous days await. Durant, who fortified the Warriors dynasty when he signed with the team in the summer of 2016 (after the Warriors had already set the all-time record for regular season wins), may leave in free agency. But his torn Achilles clouds his future, and it’s unclear whether he’ll stay in San Francisco or bolt to, say, New York, out of Curry’s shadow. Golden State will likely re-sign Thompson, but the shooting guard’s knee injury will cost him at least a chunk of next season. Meanwhile, LeBron James just found a new running mate: the Los Angeles Lakers finally traded for Anthony Davis, a top echelon NBA talent, potentially mowing the path to another Western Conference championship squarely though Southern California.

Even if this incarnation of the Warriors is done lifting championship trophies, however, the franchise’s legacy should never be forgotten. Golden State is arguably the most consequential sports team of this decade. The Warriors have revolutionized pro basketball, as teams around the league have tried to emulate Golden State’s reliance on aesthetically pleasing ball-sharing and home run shots from the three-point range. It’s no coincidence that, in these Finals, the selfless Raptors seemed to be beating Golden State at their own game.

Beyond basketball, the Warriors found a singular voice willing to take on social issues outside of sports. Curry and Kerr have been outspoken critics of President Trump, and the Warriors were one of the first teams to contemplate skipping the customary White House visit to celebrate a championship (Trump later rescinded the invitation). Green has argued that the word “owner” be culled from the sports vernacular, given its connotations to slavery. Kerr has spoken out on several issues, like gun control (Kerr’s father, the former president of the American University in Beruit, was assassinated outside of his school office in 1984). After a mass shooter killed 12 people in Virginia Beach on May 31, Kerr wore a “Vote For Our Lives” t-shirt to a press conference before Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

“To me, [the Warriors] speak not just to the modern NBA, but to the unique place that sports can have in society,” says NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “And it’s not just the spirit they bring to the game on the floor. But I think the spirit they bring as citizens, and to their participation in their community. They are to a man involved in basketball programs and other educational programs in the Bay Area. They speak out on important societal and political issues, when they have a point of view. That goes obviously for their coach as well … They are multi-dimensional people who are redefining what an athlete is in society.”

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors dunks the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on April 4, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors dunks the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on April 4, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Yong Teck Lim—Getty Images

During the 2013-2014 season, then-Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson invited his childhood friend from New York City, ex-NBA point guard and current TNT studio analyst Kenny Smith, to address his team. Jackson told Smith that his starting backcourt, of Curry and Thompson, was the best in the world. When Smith got in front of the players, Jackson announced that they’d be visiting the White House on a regular basis. The Warriors were coming off a season in which they won a single playoff series: an opening round defeat of the Denver Nuggets, the franchise’s second series win in the prior 19 years. “And I looked around the room and I’m like, no way,” says Smith. “No way! I said it in my mind. No way, man. Come on, Mark. They were so unproven.”

Jackson was on to something, though he wouldn’t see his vision through: after clashing with others in the organization, Jackson — a former ESPN analyst who had never been a head coach before getting the Warriors job — was let go after that season, which ended in a first round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. To replace Jackson, the Warriors reached out to Kerr, a TNT broadcaster with no previous head coaching experience.

“Imagine the conversations we were having,” says Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts, who worked with Kerr in Phoenix, where Welts was president when Kerr was general manager from 2007-2010. “Ok, so, let’s play this out from the public’s perspective, if we make this change. So in Mark Jackson, you hire a coach who got you to the playoffs, who was a former player and broadcaster who had never coached a game before. So you’re going to part ways with Mark, and then you’re going to go out and hire a former player who’s a broadcaster who’s never coached a game before. People may see that as a little illogical. Seems like if you didn’t think that was working, why are you doing this back over again, right?”

“But those of us who knew Steve, had no idea, I guess, what kind of a coach he would be,” Welts continues. “But we had an idea of exactly who he was as a human being, and how he approached life. And how this genuine, what you see is what you get, self-deprecating way dealing with other human beings was just his DNA. I think everyone believed that could translate tremendously into what an NBA coach has to be. It’s not about him. It’s never about him. He only has one way of accepting praise, and that’s to deflect it to others. I defy you to find a moment in his life when that hasn’t been the way that he’s operated. And he always looks to build everyone he works with up. And build their confidence and have their backs. I experienced it, being in an organization with him. Just imagining how that would translate into an NBA locker room seemed like a pretty cool formula. It’s real. It’s not like something he learned in business school. It’s who he is.”

After getting the Warriors job, Kerr visited Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll — fresh off a 43-8 obliteration of Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII — at his team’s training camp. “He didn’t really know how he wanted to run his program,” says Carroll. “So he was just listening. He hung for a few days. He was so humble about it. Here he is coaching in the NBA, and he’s sitting here watching our walkthroughs and our practices. He was just wide open and receptive and taking notes and grabbing things and talking to people.” After the visit, Kerr came up with four principles to define the Golden State culture: joy, mindfulness, compassion, and competition. He waited a few months to unveil them to the team, however: he wanted to win their trust before hitting them with stuff that can be construed as motivational mumbo-jumbo.

When he finally did talk about joy, Curry skipped around the court afterwards, saying something along the lines of “look, coach, I have joy! I have joy!” The mocking counted as a breakthrough.

Ribbing, in fact, became an essential part of the Golden State program. In his upcoming memoir, The Sixth Man, Warriors forward Andre Iguodala recalls a team-building exercise in which players were asked to recall the moments in a game during which they felt the highest. “When Klay’s turn came, we all assumed he was going to say that his highest moment was the the day he scored 37 points in a quarter against Sacramento,” Iguodala writes. “I mean, that was an NBA record! But he didn’t. Instead he said, ‘My best moment was one night I caught a pass and I was like fifty feet from the basket and I was about to shoot it. And all of a sudden, I hear Andre being like, ‘What the fuck, Klay? You’re fifty feet out.’ And I thought about it for a second and shot it anyway. It went in, and I was like, ‘Yeah, Andre, fuck you.’ We all had a good laugh about that. I was like, ‘Wow, really dog? That was your best moment?’”

The loose environment persisted even after the Warriors blew a 3-1 NBA Finals lead to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. That summer, former Cavs and LA Lakers head coach Mike Brown joined Kerr’s staff as an assistant. He recalls attending a summer league practice in Las Vegas soon after he took the Warriors job. “The next thing I know, the freaking music comes on,” says Brown. “And it’s like blasting. Ok, ok, maybe they’re going to play some music I guess while they’re getting dressed. So they get dressed, they start warming up and the music’s still on. Dead serious, in my mind I’m like, ‘what the fuck is going on?’” He turned to his son Cameron, who was in college at the time. “I’m like, ‘do you believe this shit? They’re starting practice and they’ve got this music playing?’” The tunes blasted for most of the session. “I think I listened to more music that practice than I did the whole month before I got to summer league,” says Brown. “I was floored. I didn’t know who to talk to.”

The Warriors have brought in a sleep researcher and a Navy SEAL psychologist to work with the team. They’ve incorporated machine learning into scouting reports. “We’re not afraid to try anything,” says assistant general manager Kirk Lacob. Experts like psychologist Dachter Keltner, co-founder of the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center — which “studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well being and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society” — have become informal advisers to the franchise. “Andre Iguodala read my book on power, and he had a critique that I didn’t take on race enough,” says Keltner, author of The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence. “He was right.”

In an April 2016 New York Times Magazine profile, Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob received his fair share of ridicule around the NBA for saying “we’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things.” Some saw Golden State’s 2016 Finals loss, after the Warriors finished the regular season with a 73-9 record, the best of all time, as a proper comeuppance. During an interview in an Oracle Arena back room before Game 6 of the Finals, I asked Lacob if he regretted that comment. He said he wishes he didn’t say it.

But does he believe it?

Lacob smiles. “I’ll let others be the judge,” he responds.

Well, the results — three titles in four years at the time, three titles in five years now, but still — speak for themselves.

“You said just that,” Lacob responds. “I didn’t say it.”

“I mean, look, I’m a confident guy,” Lacob says. “I do believe in a lot of the things that we practice and do. I believe in the strategy that we have. I believe in our management team, which I think is the best in the business. I believe in the culture of our players which is built around Steph Curry — he’s a unique individual person, never mind basketball player. And so you know I meant it in a bit of hyperbole. I didn’t mean it to put down other teams. So if you ask me the question do I believe it? Yes. But I say that not to put down other teams. I didn’t mean it to come out that way.”

“By the way, all my friends in the business world, they were like, ‘great article!’” says Lacob. “‘Great story!’ And all the sports guys were like, ‘what an egomaniac.’ So you learn from that.”

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with Klay Thompson #11 after Thompson made the clinching basket with four second left of their game against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 8, 2019 in Oakland, California.

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with Klay Thompson #11 after Thompson made the clinching basket with four second left of their game against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 8, 2019 in Oakland, California.
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images

Kerr will sometimes start his practices talking about current events rather than the day’s game plan. Welts keeps a “Steve Kerr For President” sticker on his corner office door. “I think our country is in a really unstable place right now,” Kerr says in an interview in his Oracle Arena office the day before Game 6 of the Finals. “I think it’s important for citizens to speak out.” A 2003 letter from legendary UCLA coach John Wooden hangs on Kerr’s wall. “It has always pleased me to see the game played without excessive showmanship and with exemplary conduct both on and off the court,” Wooden wrote in neat cursive. “And you are in that same category along with David Robinson, Tim Duncan, John Stockton, Jerry West and, of course, many others.”

So what’s his message these days? According to Kerr, nothing less than the fate of the republic is at risk. “I think there are so many issues that are just being washed over right now,” says Kerr. “Our administration and the erosion of our checks and balances, and having so many people being complicit — it’s literally the beginning stages of our democracy crumbling if our checks and balances don’t stand up. What that leads to, you look at President Trump’s policies, we’re going backwards on energy stuff. We face this global warming disaster in the next few decades where stuff is already happening climate-wise. In California we deal with wildfires, used to be pretty much September and October, now it can be year-round. Hurricanes, flooding, you look at the flooding in the Midwest. We have this President and a Republican Senate who are complicit and going backwards in terms of the benefit of our welfare and our children’s welfare. Deficit climbing higher then ever that our kids will inherit. The insanity of it all … These patterns are forming that historically have been corrosive towards democracy and towards human advancement. And everything that Trump is doing right now, we need to be doing the exact opposite. And that’s really scary.”

Kerr’s response to fans who feel he needs to just stick to sports: “I don’t have one. I don’t care.”

Not even 48 hours earlier, Kerr watched in disbelief from the sideline in Toronto as Durant, who rehabbed for five weeks in order to make his return to the playoffs from a calf injury, went down in Game 5, this time with a torn Achilles. Durant had scored 11 points, on 3-3 shooting from long range, during his 12 minutes on the floor. “My initial thought was he re-injured the calf,” says Kerr. “That was our concern going in. I thought, oh God, poor guy, he re-injured the calf, he’s done for the series. He’s playing so well, we look like ourselves. So now he’s gotta do another six weeks of rehab. So there goes the rest of the series. But he’ll be fine.”

At halftime, Kerr heard that Durant may have actually torn his Achilles. His mood immediately darkened. “It’s like ‘oh, holy shit,’” says Kerr. “This is a totally different deal. Something we hadn’t anticipated at all. Had we thought there was any chance his Achilles would be injured, we wouldn’t have thrown him out there. So a combination of devastation for him, and for our team, and dread for the way it all unfolded. It’s just one of those things. You gather all the information you can, you check all the boxes, and you try to make the best decision. And then you do, then this happens, like, my God. Ugh. So I feel partly responsible, even though our process was sound. And it’s a reminder that there are no guarantees in the medical world. You can never be sure of anything.” Kerr, who’s had to miss games over the years due to unexpected complications from back surgery, would know.

Kerr admits to feeling some guilt about Durant’s injury. “Absolutely, even though I felt good about the process,” Kerr says. “Because it was a collaborative process. It included our team doctors, even outside doctors, second opinions. Everybody cleared him to play. And nobody thought that the Achilles was vulnerable. Obviously, we don’t make any decisions medically on our own. We’re not doctors. So we gathered all the information we could and collaboratively made that decision. But after the fact, it’s like, I should have just told him he’s not playing.”

“It’s too late,” says Kerr. “But I wish I could go back. I’d do that.”

Halftime at Game 5 was a somber scene. “Every guy was going up and shaking his hand,” says Kerr. “Just I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” The Warriors, on the strength of three three-pointers by Curry and Thompson down the stretch, managed to eke out a 106-105 win to keep the series alive, but Thompson’s freakish injury in Game 6 was too much to overcome. Thompson had 30 points in Game 6, but landed awkwardly on a dunk attempt near the end of the third quarter. The Warriors hung tight in the final quarter, but Curry’s last-ditch attempt to send the series to a deciding seventh game ended with those bemused grins.

“What I’ve witnessed as their coach over the last five years is just an incredible combination of talent and character and commitment to each other,” Kerr says. “This just doesn’t happen. A group of guys like this doesn’t come around together and do what they did over the last five years.”

Stephen Curry #30 and the Golden State Warriors celebrate after receiving their 2017-2018 Championship rings prior to their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at ORACLE Arena on October 16, 2018 in Oakland, California.

Stephen Curry #30 and the Golden State Warriors celebrate after receiving their 2017-2018 Championship rings prior to their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at ORACLE Arena on October 16, 2018 in Oakland, California.
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images

Now the scene shifts from Oakland to San Francisco. The team’s move has rankled many people in the East Bay. Mildred Taylor, an Oakland resident who’s been an usher at Oracle Arena for the past 22 years, said the finality of the move finally struck her the day before Game 6, the last Warriors game at Oracle. “I felt a feeling of rejection,” says Taylor. Bill Benson, a BART train operator who lives in San Leandro, just south of Oakland, believes San Francisco will price out fans such as himself. “This is where the Warriors belong,” Benson says at halftime of Game 4 at Oracle. “Oakland needs these guys. The new arena is going to have a lot of techies. The blue collar guy is not going to be going to the Chase Center.”

“People, they are angry,” Oakland City Council President Larry Reid tells TIME. “But the anger is overshadowed by the joy that the Warriors have brought to the city.” In a TV interview the morning of Game 6, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf shared her mixed emotions. “As an Oakland native, even during the times when I could never have afforded a ticket to one of those games, just driving by the 880 and knowing that our Golden State Warriors played in Oakland, were our team, just gave me such a sense of pride,” Schaaf told KTVU. “And it is, it’s sad. It’s sad that they’re leaving Oakland. I feel like this team in particular has that Oakland ethos, that grit, that grind, that hustle and that humility, that teamwork. And I just hope when the team moves to San Francisco, they keep a little bit of that Oakland in them.”

Welts emphasizes that the Warriors aren’t abandoning Oakland. The team’s foundation will be headquartered in the city, and the team’s current office space will also house Oakland non-profits that provide services like college and career counseling and health and wellness programs for underprivileged kids. The practice court will host camps and clinics. “We’re leaving a building,” says Welts. “We’re not leaving a city.”

What’s the owner’s message to the people of Oakland? “I’m not nostalgic like a lot of people,” says Joe Lacob, who bought the team in 2010. “I understand why they are. This team’s been here for a long, long time and they consider it something that makes them proud to be in the community. But I also know that a lot of fans, actually the reality is live all over the Bay Area. Half of them are on the West Bay. Half of them are on the East Bay. And in fact, they come from Monterey, and from Marin, and all over the Bay Area. We have fans everywhere. I have been coming here since the 80s, and I live on the peninsula. Along with many other of my friends.

“For nine years I’ve been commuting,” adds Lacob, who lives in Atherton, a Silicon Valley enclave. “It’s been a brutal commute. It took me two hours today. I guess my point to you is, I do feel for those that feel it’s a sense of loss for the community, they have a sense of pride certainly for having this team. I understand that. I feel compassion for it. But life has to move on. And you know we built a new arena, which the great news is, BART really does generally go through the East Bay and connect into the city. And you can go right to the front door of this arena.”

“It seems to me the advantages that we already had are magnified,” says Welts. “Right? The advantage of being in the Bay Area. If you’re a twenty-something person in touch with where the world is going, this is a really good place to be. Because the companies that you care most about, and who are charting the future of the world, are located right here. And because you’re a basketball player in the NBA, you have unlimited access to those people and those companies. We already have that. We already have three banners hanging over five years. And now you have facilities that I think are the best available anywhere. The main underlying business reason for this is to set the financial foundation for the team for decades to come. Here we have the environmental advantage. And I think we now have the economic wherewithal to know we’re going to be able to compete for free agents, and the best player talent, to try to win some more championships.”

The Bay Area pitches begin this summer. The future of a now-storied franchise, and all of basketball, is at stake.

— with reporting by Katy Steinmetz/Oakland


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