Saturday, July 30, 2016

Editorial: Dems Move Toward Unity

If Republicans were hoping that the Democratic National Convention would outdo the dumpster fire that was Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention, they were bound to be disappointed.

The first day of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia had a rocky start as Bernie Sanders was booed by his own supporters when he asked them to support Clinton. “We have got to defeat Donald Trump, and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine,” Sanders told his delegates in a meeting before the start of the convention. “Brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters, this is the real world that we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue. Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstones of his campaign. Throughout this campaign he has insulted Mexicans and Latinos, he has insulted Muslims, he has insulted women and African Americans.”

After the convention was gaveled to order Monday evening, the crowd was roused by Sen. Cory Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren boosting the presumptive nominee.

Finally, closing out the night, Sanders gave a full-throated endorsement of Clinton. Some “Bernie-or-Bust”ers still made noise in the background, but the rest of the crowd roared as Bernie noted that Hillary agrees with him that if someone in this country works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. “She understands that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she is determined to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants,’ he said.

Donald Trump, in contrast, “does not support raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – a starvation wage. While Donald Trump believes in huge tax breaks for billionaires, he believes that states should actually have the right to lower the minimum wage below $7.25. What an outrage!”

Clinton also supports overturning the Citizens United decision which allows the wealthiest people in America to buy elections, he noted. “Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United and end the movement toward oligarchy that we are seeing in this country. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect our environment.”

He added, “If you don’t believe that this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.”

Sanders and Clinton have agreed on a proposal to guarantee tuition-free college education for most students, action on climate change, moving toward universal health care, with a public option in their health care exchange and providing access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers.

The Democratic platform also calls for breaking up the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. It also calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “We’ve got to make sure that the TPP does not get to the floor of Congress in the lame duck session,” he added.

“Our job now is to see that strong Democratic platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, by a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do all that I can to make that happen.”

Many Sanders supporters still haven’t accepted that Bernie has lost, but a Pew poll in June found that 85% of Sanders backers will support Clinton, while just 9% said they’ll back Trump. That’s a lot quicker reconciliation than Democrats saw after the 2008 primary, when 22% of Clinton backers said in a June 2008 Washington Post/ABC News poll they’d vote for John McCain instead of Barack Obama. By October 2008, 14% of Clinton supporters still planned to vote for McCain.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., was a solid choice for Clinton’s running mate. Some progressives were hoping for a more left-wing choice: perhaps Elizabeth Warren or even Sanders. But Sanders was going nowhere and, with the Senate majority likely to be close, other popular choices, such as Warren, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, would have been replaced by a Republican. Virginia has a Democratic governor to name Kaine’s replacement.

Kaine grew up in Kansas City and graduated from the University of Missouri, then earned a law degree from Harvard. Moving to Richmond, Va., he specialized in fair housing law and represented clients who were discriminated against on the basis of race or disability. He served two terms as mayor of Richmond before being elected lieutenant governor in 2001 and governor in 2005. Since he was elected to the Senate in 2012, he has been considered a center-left mainstream Democrat. The liberal group Americans for Democratic Action gave him a 90% score for 2014, slightly better than the Democratic average of 87%. He has a lifetime score with the AFL-CIO of 96%. The main concerns of progressives with Kaine are his support for free-trade agreements, as he voted to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his personal opposition, as a Catholic, to abortion. But Kaine reportedly has reversed his support for the TPP, committing to Clinton that he would oppose the free trade bill in line with her opposition to the trade deal. Planned Parenthood noted that despite his personal views, he has maintained a 100% pro-choice voting record in the Senate. And his fluency in Spanish will help the ticket appeal to a crucial demographic.

Hillary Clinton can close the deal if she can convince working-class whites that she cares about their economic troubles. Republicans had a night during their convention where they promised to outline their plans to “Make America Work Again,” but Dave Johnson of Campaign for America’s Future noted that it was “all about tax cuts for the rich and corporations, deregulation of oil and coal companies (and other paying corporate clients) and austerity cuts in the things government does to make people’s lives better.”

There was nothing about how to actually make America “work again,” Johnson noted.

When President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 the country was losing 850,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate was 7.8% and topped out at 9.8% in September 2009. But Democrats controlled the House and Senate and broke a Republican filibuster to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known as the “stimulus.” Since then the economy has seen six and a half years of job growth, the unemployment rate has dropped below 5%, despite Republican obstruction of other attempts to stimulate the economy and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. Many people are still working part-time and/or at minimum-wage jobs and median household income has dropped from $55,313 in 2008 to $53,657 in 2014. But the stagnation in wages is due largely to the movement of manufacturing jobs overseas and a 40-year decline in the power of labor unions to force industry to increase wages and benefits to keep up with increases in productivity. Trump, who has offshored his own manufacturing of his clothing lines to China and Mexico, would do nothing to correct that

If Republicans really want to make America work again, Americans for Tax Fairness say, Congress should make US corporations pay the $700 billion they owe in taxes on their $2.4 trillion in profits stashed offshore.

“That kind of revenue would help us invest in our country’s future – creating economic opportunity for all of us and millions of good-paying jobs by improving schools, making college affordable, rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges, building a green energy economy, researching new medical cures and so much more!” — JMC

From The Progressive Populist, August 15, 2016

Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links
About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2016 The Progressive PopulistPO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652

Selections from the August 15, 2016 issue

COVER/David Dayen
The nightmare of college debt

Dems move toward unity


You can’t fix stupid

RURAL ROUTES/Margot McMillen p. 5
Don’t wait to vote for the perfect candidate

‘Berniecrats’ keep revolution going by running for office;
GOP platform breaks Trump’s ‘no cuts’ pledge on Social Security, Medicare;
Va. court blocks felon voting order, gov readies pen;
Trump ordered to pay $300K legal fees for stiffing paint store;
Who's up in the Senate if Dems take over? ...

Loving America means finding fault with it

‘Open carry’s’ theater of the absurd

Is Ohio’s biggest online school too big to fail?

Hillary can win big

Trump’s choice of Pence reaches out to donor class, undermines trade criticism

Hillary Clinton and the Obama legacy

Trump’s trade, tax theories are seriously flawed

HEALTH CARE/Joan Retsinas  
Mentally ill: The dialectic of crisis, solution, crisis

Trump takes the doubt out of voting

Brexitology 101

Don’t blame the robots

Brexit: One-way ticket to ‘Atlanticism’?

BOOK REVIEW/Heath Seggel
We’ve come a long way ... maybe

BOOK REVIEW/Seth Sandronsky
The myth of Paul Ryan

Tribes: the black community can help heal white police

MOVIES/Ed Rampell 
‘Zero Days’ takes on 21st century combat

Law & Order & Fire & EMT

nd more ...

Monday, July 25, 2016

15 reasons to vote against Donald Trump, which means voting for only candidate who can beat him, HRC

By Marc Jampole

I really just wanted to write a tidy little list cataloguing 10 reasons to vote against Donald Trump, by which I mean vote for the only other viable candidate, Hillary Clinton. I wanted 10 reasons, each of which would in and of itself disqualify Trump or would be enough to make the reasonable person vote against him. My bar was high—and yet I still couldn’t winnow my list down to any fewer than 15 reasons that Donald Trump is completely unqualified to be president and would be a disaster if elected.

Ordering the list was a challenge. The Letterman approach of going from least to most important doesn’t apply because so many of Trump’s past actions, expressed beliefs and character traits are so odious and inappropriate in the leader of any country, let alone the world’s oldest democracy.

For every list item, I merely scratch the surface of Trump’s offenses. For example, if I included every lie Trump has ever told in public, it would make a book comprising thousands of pages.
  1. He is an extreme narcissist whose lack of self-control, overweening self-regard and belief that all things revolve around his own needs makes him dangerously close to sociopathic, if not already over the line. There is no telling when Trump could have a breakdown or in a momentary pique of grandiosity and or anger do something that would hurt the country, such as attack a country or insult an ally.
  2. He lies in virtually every statement.  Where to begin? As of the end of June, 123 out 158 Trump statements checked by PolitiFact were mostly false, false and “pants on fire” false. His “Law and Order” campaign is based on the triple lie that violent crime, police killings and domestic terrorism are up, when they are all down. His most disgusting lie was when he said in an early debate that he knew someone whose child became autistic after being vaccinated; imagine if benighted parents used Trump’s false anecdote as the reason not to vaccinate their children. Trump also has a well-documented history of lying in his past business dealings, too, such as when he promised New Jersey regulatory authorities he wouldn’t float junk bonds to finance a casino, but then did it anyway.
  3. He failed at the businesses that have an application to governing. Trump failed miserably at his original two businesses, real estate development and casinos, in the process sending four separate enterprises into bankruptcy. Both these businesses can prepare someone to govern. Of business less relevant to running a large bureaucracy, he was a successful television performer and his business as a brand marketer has had mixed results. One analysis found that if Trump had passively invested his inheritance in the stock market he would have twice his current worth as estimated by Forbes magazine, which makes him a complete flopper. 
  4. He is a racist. That can be no doubt that Donald Trump behaves in the way racists behave and says what racists say. His many comments about Mexicans and Muslims take the structure and use the language of racists. As Nicholas Kristoff detailed in a recent New York Times piece, Trump has a long history of racist behavior. The Nixon Administration (!!) sued the Trumps’ real estate firm twice for discriminating against blacks in renting apartments while Donald was president of the company. One casino worker reported that when the Trumps came to visit, the managers would hide all the black employees so Trump wouldn’t know they had any. The man is on record as saying that it’s not their fault that blacks are lazy, because “laziness is a trait in blacks.” Then there was the malicious birther campaign and his reluctance to distance himself from white supremacy groups. Disgusting!
  5. He is unknowledgeable about issues and doesn’t want to learn. Trump has said on a number of occasions that he is smarter than experts who have studied an issue for years. His narcissism is so great that he not only believes that he’s the smartest person around, he doesn’t think he has anything to learn from anyone else. Some of his most outrageously ignorant statements have been that there is no drought in California that he could make Mexico pay for a wall separating the two countries and that he would keep first-strike use of nuclear weapons on the table.
  6. He is a misogynist. To quote an article in the Daily Beast, “Donald Trump’s hateful musings about women and his boastful claims of sexual dominance should be reason alone to drive him from polite society and certainly to blockade him from the West Wing.” For one thing, he seems to judge women on looks alone, and his definition of good looks involves a narrow, fashion- and surgery-enhanced look that has for about 70 years communicated a woman’s subservience to and possession by men. He invariably comments on a woman’s looks when discussing her competence.
  7. He does not carry himself with the dignity of office. His frequent insults, his vulgar language, his tendency to go off script and to fly off the handle, his inability to hide his emotions, his reduction of all issues to winning and losing, his uncontrollable desire to rub it in when he gets the best of someone, his many exaggerations all make him an inappropriate candidate—a bull in a China shop of foreign relations which his immature and coarse behavior will quickly shatter.
  8. He is not trustworthy, as is proven by the 3,500 lawsuits he and his company are involved in, most having to do with his non-payment to vendors, many small business, for services rendered to Trump’s family or companies.
  9. He wants to bring back waterboarding and other torture. Like many of his major policy proscriptions, his love of torture is based on either misinformation or lies.  All independent studies show torture doesn’t work, but even if it did, it is against U.S. and international law and the morality shared by all major religions.
  10. He wants to lower taxes on the wealthy. That’s right. The Donald talks a good populist game about the impact of trade and the decline of manufacturing, but like all Republicans, his actual policies tend to help the wealthy and to reinforce the trend of growing inequality of wealth and income in the United States, starting with lowering taxes on rich folk even more than their already historically low levels.
  11. His election will enable Republicans to pack the Supreme Court with rightwing activists. Anthony Scalia would be delighted if he had taken a look at the list of people Trump said he would consider for the Supreme Court. It’s a litany of rightwingers just chomping at the bit to extend the rights of corporations, expand gun rights, end Obamacare, reduce voting rights and criminalize abortion.
  12. The Republican platform. If Trump weren’t bad enough the platform he is running on is the most regressive, rightwing set of ideals and legislative goals in at least 100 years. Some platform planks include privatizing both Medicare and Social Security; ending gay marriage; allowing parents to put their LGBTQ children through “conversion” therapy; including Bible study in public education; declaring coal is a clean fuel and encouraging the use of coal; lowering taxes on the wealthy; and opposing a woman’s right to have an abortion.
  13. His election puts Mike Pence one heartbeat away from the presidency. To a progressive, liberal or centrist, Mike Pence is a disaster—an almost clone of Ted Cruz when it comes to fringe social, economic and foreign policies. Except he may be more unhinged than Cruz, if that is possible. He was the only Republican to vote against the bank bailout. In 1998, he said that smoking doesn’t kill people. As governor, he signed a law that makes it easier for businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. He signed a law now under appeal that bans women from having abortions because the fetus has a disability like Down syndrome. He has a 22% rating from the National Association of Colored People and a 7% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union. In other words, Pence is another uneducated small-town moralist scared of diversity and wanting to impose his stilted male-centric morality on all other people.
  14. He could be in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. There have been hints of a Trump-Putin axis for months. Trump has often displayed open admiration for Putin’s strongman tactics. Trump stated that he wouldn’t necessarily come to the defense of NATO allies. His campaign manager used to work for Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a Putin puppet. In a recent column, Paul Krugman points out that Trump has extensive if “murky” involvement with Russian businesses and wealthy Russian individuals that may have ties to Putin. We have already had two presidential candidates—both Republican—make promises to foreign countries to help them win elections. In the first case, Nixon had the South Vietnamese government boycott the Paris negotiations to end the war until after the 1968 election. In the second, Reagan promised Iran arms if it didn’t release the hostages until after the 1980 election. Have Trump and Putin hammered out a similar deal? 
  15. Hillary Clinton is a competent, honest, experienced and trustworthy candidate in the tradition of other left-leaning centrists like FDR and LBJ.  Hillary’s competence and caring positions should make reason #15 the strongest on the entire list, but I recognize that Hillary is a hard sell to many after 25 years of unwithering false attacks by Republicans, often financed by the money of billionaires like Richard Scaife Mellon and the Koch brothers. Subsequent columns after the Democratic Convention ends will make what I think will be a very convincing case for Hillary.