Quick Take: SCOTUS Needs a Democratic Senate

Share this article
Tumblr

Hillary Clinton looked like a president last night.  Trump tried the undermine her with small-minded schoolyard taunts, but Clinton elevated the debate.  There are two keys left to a Clinton victory: (1) avoiding any minefields or rhetorical gaffes & (2) making sure people entitled to vote on election day are permitted to vote on election day.  I will be in Pittsburgh on Election Day to do my small part make sure the latter happens.

Hopefully fears of attempts at voter intimidation are overblown, but it’s not hard to imagine Trump’s white male open carrying base stalking election precincts to prevent or discourage anyone perceived to be a Clinton voter from voting, particularly minority voters.  We need to be prepared to contact local authorities, the Clinton campaign and civil rights organizations.

Assuming Clinton wins, the key to a progressive future lies in overcoming Senator John McCain’s promise to obstruct and prevent a new Justice for four years.  That would mean a total of 5 years the GOP Senate failing to execute its Constitutional duty.

So much of what progressives care about has been blocked or thwarted by retrograde conservative members of the highest Court: immigration reform, part of health care reform, campaign finance reform, voting rights, gun reform, reproductive rights, clean air regulations, and rights to bring class actions against major corporations.

Even marriage equality could be reversed if Justice Kennedy (a conservative) were to step down and a Republican president were to replace him 4 years from now.

It looks like a long shot for Democrats to win a heavily gerrymandered House, but the Senate is a likely win if we get our voters out, contribute and campaign.  And a Democratic Senate, while likely to maintain the filibuster, would be able to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court Justices just as it limited the filibuster for lower court federal judges under Harry Reid.  Enough Republicans would take that concern seriously that it is highly likely that either Judge Garland or a Clinton appointee would be confirmed should Democrats win the Senate three weeks from now.

Electing Secretary Clinton will yield major results over the next four years, but electing a Democratic Senate will yield a Supreme Court that will result in less climate change, cleaner elections, immigrants who are out of the shadows, safer streets and more consumer and civil rights for decades to come.

Share this article
Tumblr

Why so Touchy?

Share this article
Tumblr

James O’Keefe, a convict who has doctored and falsified videos in the past, is back in the news.  CNN ran with a video he produced that shows Democratic organizers suggesting wearing a Planned Parenthood t-shirt or saying something to provoke Trump voters into violence that could be captured on camera.  Clinton’s campaign fired the one organizer who made statements on tape and the tape has not been verified.

This will have no effect on Clinton for 3 reasons.  First, O’Keefe’s reputation is as low as it gets when it comes to reliability and veracity.  Second, the offending organizer has been fired, sending a clear message to anyone trying to provoke Trump voters.  And third — and this is unfortunately the case — we’ve seen enough Trump voters behaving badly to know that they both engage in and encourage violence (much like their candidate).

If I am easily provoked into engaging in violence, that’s on me.  A Trump voter could show up on my doorstep wearing a Trump t-shirt and a “Hillary for Prison” sticker on his forehead and that would not give me the right to knock him out, much less shove him or threaten him in any way.  If the people with whom you walk are the kind of people who can be provoked into violence by a Planned Parenthood t-shirt, that says more about your people than the protester.

Compare Clinton’s firing of the organizer to Trump’s reaction to seeing his supporters commit assault and battery on black protesters: he said he’d pay their legal bills.  One response is presidential.  The other is thuggery.

In fact, the tactic of exposing the true colors of the other side by carefully choosing the manner in which one protests has long-been part of the civil rights movement.  I don’t like the language used on the portion of the O’Keefe tape I heard, but I dislike the violent and threatening rhetoric from Donald Trump a lot more.

Share this article
Tumblr

What’s Good for Democrats Might be Good for Republicans

Share this article
Tumblr

There is great danger in complacency.  If you think this race is over, think again.  I have no doubt that armed Trump Trolls will be loose in parts of the country on Election Day.  They are not a demo that believes in democratic values and we will need every single vote to overcome them.

Beyond that, it’s not just about winning.  Margin matters.  We need Hillary Clinton to win by the greatest margin possible to save us from the next bigoted demagogue and to save the Republican Party from itself.  If Trump loses big, Republicans will have the chance to come back in four years with a wrongheaded, but less existentially dangerous candidate.

If we ever have to suffer under another Republican president, let it be a George H.W. Bush or, better yet, and Eisenhower.  Let’s be done with Trumps and Cheneys forever.

 

Share this article
Tumblr

Assange’s Infomercial

Share this article
Tumblr

Julian Assange has been under asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for too long and may be losing his grip.  His organization, WikiLeaks has suppressed information harmful to Russian financial interests in Syria while attacking Hillary Clinton, the DNC and even Bill Maher.  Meanwhile, the organization has done nothing to attack Trump, while Assange has threatened to reveal information he alleges would damage the Clinton campaign.

After much hype regarding Assange’s assertion that he would release information harmful to Clinton this morning at 3am, Assange engaged in a long infomercial for WikiLeaks (now celebrating its 10 year anniversary).  As one who is sympathetic to the notion that a lot of information is over-classified, that WikiLeaks has done some good work in the past, and that whistleblowers are vital to democracy, I have gone light on criticizing Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks in the past.

If it turns out that Snowden or WikiLeaks has ever compromised the safety of innocent people, I will be the first to attack them for irresponsibility.  In fairness, we have no evidence of that yet.

But there can be another problem with organizations like WikiLeaks.  If Assange (who has not denied that WikiLeaks received the hacked DNC e-mails from Russian hackers) is protecting Russia, cooperating with Russian hackers and carrying out his personal agenda of influencing American elections in order to act on a personal grudge against Hillary Clinton (he has been open about his hostility toward Clinton), we have a problem.

In carrying out Assange’s personal agenda, WikiLeaks is in great danger transforming from an imperfect truth-telling group of crusaders for government transparency into a pr0-Russian threat to both American cyber-security and democracy.  WikiLeaks has already helped Trump in this election.  If it helps elect him, Assange should get on with it and change his asylum venue to the RNC.  They’d love to have him.

Share this article
Tumblr

Dim Shady

Share this article
Tumblr

It is offensive and wrong that Donald Trump probably paid no income taxes for the vast majority of the last three decade.  The latest revelation shows that he probably paid no taxes for 18 years, starting in 1995.  We know from his casino license applications that he paid nothing for some years during the 1980s.  We also know that Trump is perfectly capable of clearing this up by releasing his taxes and that, even if his unsubstantiated claim that he is currently under audit is true, an audit in no way prohibits him from releasing his tax returns.  Nor is it enough to suggest that no lawyer would recommend such an act.  Presidential candidates routinely sacrifice privacy in order to run so that the voters have the information they need to make a decision by election day.

But while Trump’s tax dodging is offensive, a couple of points have been lost in the coverage.

First, $916 million is a huge some of money.  If raw bigotry is the predatory centerpiece of Trump’s campaign, business acumen is the wolf’s sheep costume.  Trump supposedly has run an “amazing company” and has had “huge” success.  Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie have made the counterintuitive argument that these losses show him to be a “genius”, but it takes a pretty dim bulb to squander $900+ million.

If Trump can lose over $916 million in a year, suffer 6 bankruptcies, and repeatedly commit fraud during his business career, he can’t make anyone with at least toadstool-level intelligence accept the “business acumen” argument to support the notion that he should lead the world’s largest economy.  Couple this with the fact that Trump would’ve been better off taking the money he received from his father and investing it in an S&P Index Fund rather than managing it himself and it becomes clear that Trump has squandered more wealth than he has made.  A dim bulb shorts out when it’s underwater.

Had he been self-made in the traditional sense, Trump could argue that his brand and showmanship brought him the success his obvious lack of business sense didn’t.  Instead, his father co-signed every business loan in Trump’s early years, gave him $14 million to start with, set up a trust fund when Donald was a child that paid him 1/4 million per year, and provided him with a rolodex full of business and legal connections built over 4 decades in real estate.  And of course, although Trump did not earn an MBA from Wharton as he implies (he has an undergraduate degree in economics from Penn), all Donald’s education and living expenses were covered by dad from birth to early adulthood.  There is nothing wrong with accepting opportunities from one’s parents, but don’t turn around and act like you are self-made rich when you were born rich.

Which brings me to the second element underrepresented in the coverage of The Donald’s finances: the IRS audits.  A few points to set the stage: (1) Trump has never substantiated that he is actually under audit; (2) Trump has repeatedly claimed that a lot of other rich people he knows never get audited; (3) Trump claims he gets audited every year; (4) Trump also claims that he has controlled politicians with cash donations for years; and (5) Trump has been a Democrat, an independent and a Republican.

What does all this mean?  If Trump is under audit every year, it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s rich or and it’s not because the IRS is acting in a partisan way (he has been audited regardless of his party affiliation and the party of the administration holding The White House and despite having donated money to both parties).  So WHAT is he doing to trigger an audit every year?  He’s never been convicted of tax fraud, but has he paid penalties for violating tax laws?

Anyone who has ever consulted a CPA about his or her taxes knows that there are deductions and claims that can trigger an audit, but that relatively few people get audited in a given year.  Anyone getting audited every year is probably doing something shady and Trump’s dealings with the Russians, the mafia, the porn industry and the multitudes of people he’s ripped off over the years indicate that he’s as shady as they come.

Share this article
Tumblr

It’s Simple Math

Share this article
Tumblr

Only one President.  Only two choices for that position.  If you vote for a third choice, one who  cannot win, then the choice to which you most object will win.

And lest you fall for performance art pundits who seem to think that voting is some act of moral purification by which you lay your soul bare to the Lord, a vote for Johnson or Stein is a vote for Trump.  And a vote for Trump is immoral.  You are diluting your power in relation to Trump by failing to vote for the only candidate who can beat him.

The charlatans of false equivalence claiming that Hillary is just as bad as The Donald might want to consider what a difference a Supreme Court Justice makes.  The next Supreme Court appointment will determine whether we can overturn Citizens’ United and get big money out of politics.  It will determine whether immigration reform survives or whether undocumented law-abiding citizens must continue to live in the shadows.

It will determine whether regulations to cut greenhouse gases and international agreements to combat climate change survive.  If Trump gets to make that appointment, such efforts as well as efforts to reduce gun violence, revive The Voting Rights Act, and allow shareholders to reign in corporate greed die too.

And if Trump gets a second appointment to replace Justice Kennedy, same-sex marriage me also die too, at least in states that would not otherwise recognize such unions.

In other words, former Bernie supporters, liberals, greens, millennials who don’t remember the 2000 election, a vote for Johnson or Stein or a non-vote kills your future.  After the election, if Hillary disappoints, you came close enough in the last primary to win the next one (she knows that, by the way). But before you vote for Johnson (who you know by gaffe after gaffe and his opposition to clean energy and health care does not share your views) or Stein (who has never been elected to anything above the town level and is a walking public health threat with her shakiness to vaccines), know that they do not really represent your views given that you know neither is capable of being president.

A vote for either would not be an act of conscience.  It would be a vote for a national suicide attempt.

Share this article
Tumblr

The Siberian Candidate

Share this article
Tumblr

Here’s what we know:

  • Russian state actors hacked the DNC
  • Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort worked for several strongmen, including the now-deposed Ukranian strongman who was backed by Putin
  • Trump has effectively disavowed NATO, which strengthen’s Putin’s hand in Eastern Europe
  • Trump has repeatedly publicly praised Putin
  • Years ago, Trump moved The Miss Universe Pageant to Russia
  • Putin has a history of interfering in other nations’ elections
  • Julian Assange of Wikileaks has admitted he timed the release of the DNC e-mails to maximize damage to Hillary Clinton
  • Trump has encouraged the Russians to further hack the United States to benefit his campaign against Clinton
  • Trump has met with Russian oligarchs regarding real estate developments
  • Trump has said both that he has never met Putin and that he got along well with Putin
  • Trump recently denied having business interests in Russia, but his sons Donald Jr. and Eric have directly contradicted him in the past
  • In violation of the practice of all presidential nominees from both major parties since 1972, Donald Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns
  • Intelligence and diplomatic officials have expressed shock at Trump’s disavowal of NATO and his encouragement of Russian espionage

It appears quite possible that Donald Trump as President would put Mr. Putin in a very strong position to influence US security.  Trump could provide partial reassurance to the public were he to release years of tax returns, but he’s not likely to do that.  Given his intransigence and the risk of Russian influence over him, entrusting Trump with the presidency is unthinkable.

 

 

Share this article
Tumblr

Senator Sanders and Progressives Know: We Must Win

Share this article
Tumblr

For anyone arguing that there is no difference between the two major parties, let’s remember that Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren, Sen. Brown, Sen. Franken, Leader Pelosi, Rep. Lewis, Rep. Clyburn, and many activists, academics, mayors and state officials are transforming the Democratic Party before our eyes.  Leaving now  would lead to the Nader 2000 effect: a Trump victory, immediate failure on all issues progressives care about and a long-term failure on any issue that would go before a Trump-Scalia style Supreme Court.

Sanders has won immediate victories:

  • The most progressive platform in Democratic history
  • Proof that small-dollar donations matter
  • Raising issues that no one could have raised so effectively
  • Bringing new voters to the polls
  • The roll call vote affirming that Sanders has a major role in the party
  • Newfound stature for Congressional progressives
  • A model for progressive candidates all the way down to the local level
  • The resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the DNC
  • A reduction of super-delegates by 2/3rd, down to ONLY people actually elected to office
  • Agreements with Secretary Clinton on debt free college, the minimum wage and a public health option

Senator Sanders called on progressives to unite behind Hillary Clinton because he knows she is on the his side of the issues, including climate change, worker rights, reproductive rights, gun reform, infrastructure, education, LGBT rights, Dodd-Frank, the CFPB, Obamacare, prison reform, immigration reform, equal pay for equal work, and the TPP.

But there is something more going on.  President Bill Clinton appointed Justices Ginsberg and Breyer to the Supreme Court.  The Court is now locked 4-4.  If Clinton wins, it is likely that Republicans will confirm Judge Garland, a moderate, to replace the extremely conservative late Justice Antonin Scalia.  To have any chance to succeed on campaign finance reform, gun reform, immigration reform, certain aspects of health care, and equal protection for all under the law, we need a balanced Court.  Trump will appoint a Scalia clone if he gets the chance.  Assuming Justices will retire to coincide with a term of a president they like (as they always do), another Scalia will prevent progress on a myriad of issues critical to the progressive movement.

Beyond that, electing Trump, a racist, misogynist, xenophobic bigot would validate every shot he has taken at Hispanic, African, Native female, Jewish, and Muslim-American citizens as well as the undocumented.  Validating that culture will eviscerate a generation’s worth of cultural progress.  His bigotry is antithetical to democracy, peace and justice.  Hillary Clinton is committed to equal rights under the law and equality in our culture.  She has never said the kinds of things Trump repeats almost daily.

We. Must. Win.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this article
Tumblr

The Greatest Threat to the US is Trump’s Republican Party

Share this article
Tumblr

They lie about Benghazi.  Multiple Republican House Committees and all other investigations have found no fault in anything Secretary of State Clinton did regarding Benghazi.

They lie about e-mails.  No reasonable prosecutor would bring charges, according to a Republican FBI Director who served in the most recent Bush Administration.

They lie a about economics, ignore climate change, promote coal, and the Iran Deal.  They’re bigoted against black people, Hispanic people, women and the LGBT community.  They promote violence against protestors, massive budget busting tax cuts for the rich, defaulting on the national debt, starting a trade war, letting Wall Street run wild, the NRA’s death-cult agenda and shedding the NATO Alliance.

The Republican Party has never sunk so low.  If it takes the White House and holds the Congress, America’s greatness will be gone and some of the lasting damage to the climate, the culture and the rule of law will be beyond repair.

After this week, it is obvious that the Republican Party is a mortal threat to the United States’ economy, environment and security.

Share this article
Tumblr

No Exaggerating the Threat

Share this article
Tumblr

So when’s the book burning?  Right.  You have to own books to burn them.

This is the most bigoted, retrograde, fascist, authoritarian, anti-intellectual, backward-thinking Republican Party in history.  It’s endless: Rudy looking seriously deranged, Melania delivering a plagiarized speech with nothing in it to show a warm side of Trump he does not have, Trumps kids lauding him without delivering anything to really give you a sense of who he is, an insane mob shouting “lock her up” despite the fact that a Republican partisan FBI head and multiple Republican House Committees gave them nothing to chew on but a criticism over e-mail security practices likewise carried out by previous Republican White House and State Department staff and officials, an elderly grieving woman manipulated into believing things about Secretary Clinton she did not believe when she first spoke of losing her son and who has been contradicted by every all but one of the Benghazi victims’ family members who would speak on the record.

No policy statements.  An empty hall during both Joni Ernst’s speech on Monday night and by 8pm last night.  The Colorado delegation’s revolt and walkout.  B-level soap opera stars, racists, sexists, C-level celebrities almost as desperate for attention as Donald Trump.  Congressional leaders cowardly caving to Trump while some conservatives of stronger character either reject Trump or at least stay away from what Senator Ben Sasse called a “dumpster fire.”  (I give credit to Sasse, Governor Kasich, Romney, both Presidents Bush, Jeb!, Senator Graham, Senator Flake, Governor Haley, Bill Kristol, Glenn Beck, and George Will for at least having the guts to stand up to fascism when they see it).

I have never said this about a candidate or a party before, but Trump and the 2016 Republicans are a clear and present danger to the future of the United States.  If Trump wins, the likelihood of another Great Depression will increase substantially, the world will no longer look to the US for leadership, the deficit will climb beyond control, violence against both police and innocent suspects will increase, terror will increase, inequality will reach unsustainable levels, bigotry will be socially acceptable and the Supreme Court will become his fascist legacy.  In short, the chance for a restoration of the peace and prosperity of the 1990s, the last chance for solving the threat of climate change and the pivotal rejection of bigotry this country needs for all people to be full citizens (the disabled, black people, Hispanic people, women and LGBT people) will be lost for a generation.

No one will take this sitting down.  If we lose this election, some will still fight Trump and the Republicans.  But the fight will be for delaying climate change, not solving it.  The fight will be to reduce poverty, not solve it.  The fight will be to repair the bigotry’s society-wide wounds, not to end crush bigotry itself.   The fight for health care for all will be lost for generations and Iran will have no incentive to refrain from building a nuclear program – unless there’s a war, an incredibly more likely scenario under Trump.  And the Supreme Court will be the same institution that stole an election and opened the floodgates for the worst among us (like Trump) to legally bribe America into oblivion.

Realizing that, some will leave the fight and move to friendlier, more progressive countries (New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Denmark and many more nations would be far more livable than Trump’s America).  But America would be diminished, regardless of how many progressives are left to fight for American ideals of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom, justice, equality and tolerance.

Compare that to Clinton’s America circa 2017: we’d have rejected bigotry, lies, climate denial, inhumane cuts to the social safety net and nuclear brinksmanship.  We’d have a Supreme Court with a new moderate swing Justice Garland instead of an Alito clone.  We might have a new Congress committed to progressive ideals.  And we’d have a President fighting for economic justice, against Wall Street corruption, for a higher minimum wage, against polluters, for a public health care option, for debt-free college for middle class and poor kids, for a lower deficit (Trump’s tax plan increases it by $9.5 trillion over 10 years), for immigration reform, for prison reform, for union rights and for an America respected around the world rather than resented and resisted.  If you think this sounds pie in the sky, compare the party platforms and the candidates’ policy positions.

Sometimes differences are clearer than the media let on.  Watching the GOP Convention has been oddly educational – Trump and his ilk really are as awful as the most partisan progressives have said.  You cannot exaggerate this threat.

Share this article
Tumblr