Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

There you have it. Democrat Doug Jones has ever so narrowly beaten Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump's Great Perv Hope, Judge Roy Moore, in the Alabama Senate race. But, the Alabama race has distilled, for all to see, what it means to be a member of the Republican Party in 2017. Some Republicans would try to sucker you into believing that the votes and predilections of Alabama republicans don't reflect the votes and predilections of Republicans as a whole, but let's get real. The national offices of the Republican Party not only sent Roy Moore their money, they sent the hopes of their highest profile politicians, and they even sent their president; a president with his own issues when it comes to sexual assault and pedophilia to put their names on the line in support of their guy. Meanwhile at FOX "News," they've done a 180 and are blaming Moore, not for his stalking young girls but for just (vaguely) being "a bad candidate". One loon on Laura Ingraham's nightly circus show stressed that Jone's win in no way means that people might start to look toward democrats in the 2018 elections. She called Alabama "an outlier," as if a Democrat winning in Alabama for the first time in decades meant nothing. She assured FOX viewers that republicans everywhere still loved the wonderful Donald Trump. Then it was, immediately back to attacking Robert Mueller. Election? What election?

It's not just that the message of the Republican Party is now "Assault my wife. Prey on my kids. Do whatever it takes to take away my healthcare, my Social Security, ruin the lives of 'gays,' and raise my taxes." Republicans aren't running away from this message. They are campaigning on it.

Should any of this be surprising? No. It's just that they are now more arrogant and confident in their message than ever before. This is the Age Of Trump. Please keep in mind that Alabama had already elected an openly racist and homophobic senator named Jeff Sessions who was once deemed too racist for a federal court appointment but was, just this year, unanimously approved, by all republican senators, to be the Attorney General of the United States. They voted for him four times. That's four six year terms. To my knowledge, no one has accused Sessions of being a pedophile, but, it's safe to say that, in voting for Sessions four times, the people of Alabama pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable (to them at least) to the point where supporting someone who stalks teenagers right into their classrooms was inevitable.

With Roy Moore, Alabama republicans spoke loud and clear and voted to have their state remain 47th in education, 47th in healthcare, and 45th in the economy. They voted against Doug Jones, a conservative Democrat, but a man who dared to prosecute their beloved KKK when they bombed a black church and killed four young girls. They voted for a man who said things were better when we had slavery. They voted for a man, who like Trump, supports Putin. They voted for a man who said that 9/11 was a punishment from God for sodomy. Some of them did it in the name of "protecting babies;" in the name of Republican Jesus, from being educated, being healthy, and having economic opportunities, I suppose; not to mention to turn them over to pedophiles at the malls. "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come to me." That's your Republican Jesus. That's your Republican Party.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Catholic Church Begs Mimi Walters And Ed Royce For Compassion


Earlier today, we looked at how Trump and Ryan are leading a war against Jesus' message to mankind. It looks like every Catholic pastor in CA-39 and CA-45 (mostly Orange County) is concerned about the same thing-- except they're focusing on Republican members of Congress Ed Royce and Mimi Walters, both lockstep rubber-stamps for Trump and Ryan. The Orange County Register piece over the weekend was devastating. All the pastors signed a letter to Walters and a letter to Royce about DREAMers-- and the letters were followed by Sunday sermons along the same lines. The sermons will be ongoing throughout Advent.
The bishops of the Diocese of Orange are calling on their clergy and parishioners to pray for the young undocumented immigrants, and to advocate for them with their elected leaders.

Catholic leaders see an urgency in finding a permanent solution to the plight of young people brought to the country illegally as children. Their temporary legal status through President Obama’s DACA program is being phased out under the Trump administration.

Led by bishops in Orange County, San Bernardino and the San Gabriel region, 26 pastors urged Walters (R-Laguna Beach) and Royce (R-Fullerton)-- both Catholics-- “to actively support” passage of legislation that would allow the children to have a path to citizenship.

“It is essential to move beyond general statements of support,” read the Dec. 1 open letter, signed by the pastors and Rev. Kevin Vann, bishop of Orange, Gerald Barnes, bishop of San Bernardino, and David O’Connell, auxiliary bishop in the San Gabriel region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The letter requests a meeting with the Republican leaders. It is the first time in recent memory that bishops and all pastors of an Orange County congressional district have called on legislators for action.

“It’s a somewhat unique letter,” said Greg Walgenbach, director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Diocese of Orange.

Walters, who has expressed sympathy toward DACA recipients, has seen an uptick in rallies calling for her to support one of the bills floating in Congress on the issue. Her vote is considered by some a key Republican swing vote.

Earlier this week, Walters signed a letter calling on Congress to pass legislation before the end of the year to protect those under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“I appreciate the passion that some members of the church have shown on this issue, and I share their urgency,” Walters said in an e-mail Friday to the Southern California News Group. “Caring for all of God’s children is at the core of our Catholic faith.

“DACA recipients enrich our community and are building their American dream,” she said. “That is why I signed a letter this week calling on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that would allow DACA recipients to remain the United States, and continue their great contributions to Orange County.”

Royce could not be reached for comment Friday. He has previously said he supports legal residency but opposes including a path to citizenship.

Royce has been a target for years of immigrant-rights advocates, who regularly rally outside his Brea office. In 2013, some 1,500 Catholics prayed outside his closed office for the congressman to “have a change of heart” and support undocumented immigrants seeking citizenship.

As Catholics gather this month to celebrate the Christmas season, Orange County’s top bishops are calling on their pastors and congregants to pray for DACA youth and other immigrants.

A second letter, sent to parishes Friday, includes an Advent prayer which in part says: “Grant, O Lord, unto the leaders of the United States the wisdom and teachable spirit to recognize the good gifts that we receive from DACA youth and other immigrant Dreamers, the conviction to respect their life and dignity, and the courage to pass legislation to protect their stay here and offer a path to eventual citizenship.”

The same letter asks Catholics to contact their representatives, and includes a sample message. That letter was shared on the website of a national Catholic nonprofit that advocates for low-income immigrants and is headed by Bishop Vann.

Katie Porter is one of the two progressives taking on Mimi Walters. Katie told us "It's been three months since Donald Trump announced he would end protections for Dreamers and my Republican opponent Mimi Walters has continued to do nothing but offer empty platitudes. It's unacceptable. I have spent my career fighting for people who don’t have a voice in our system, and I intend to do the same in Congress by standing up for immigrant families. We must pass a clean Dream Act Now."

Goal Thermometer The other excellent progressive Democratic candidate running for the seat Mimi Walters is occupying is Kia Hamadanchy. Just a few hours ago he told us that "Right here in California’s 45th district, we have DREAMers who are doing nothing but chasing the American Dream-- whether it is as a student at UC Irvine or as an employee of a small business or tech startup. Mimi Walter’s inaction on behalf of her constituents has been so terrible that it took urging from every Catholic leader in the district to get her moving. That’s not leadership. It’s time for a Representative in CA-45 who actually cares about the people here and will really fight to protect our DREAMers."

Sam Jammal is the one non-multimillionaire running for the Orange County seat occupied by Ed Joyce. Recently Frank Schaeffer went to meet him and made this clip [below] about the race and about Sam-- a very different kind of person than Ed Royce. This morning Sam addressed the GOP's DREAMers problem. "DACA really comes down to what's right and what is wrong. It's a moral question. The right thing to do is give young people-- who only know this country and are doing everything right-- the chance at the American Dream. The wrong thing to do is fall in line with Trump and hardline anti-immigrant voices. Once again Ed is on the wrong side of the issue. Instead of focusing on what we can do to integrate immigrants and build up communities, he prefers to divide families and work against young people who are doing everything right, but have a President and politics seeking to do them wrong. Ed just doesn't share our values here in the 39th. We believe in the American Dream and are a welcoming community."

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Battle For The Democratic Party: After the Unity Reform Commission-- A Guest Post By Norman Solomon


Sunday night we took a look at the work of the DNC's Unity Reform Commission. Norman Solomon, a co-author of the 2016 Autopsy, wrote a postscript for us and asked me to share it with DWT readers this evening. This is especially important for those of us working to defeat Trump and his brand of fascism with a Bernie/Elizabeth Warren presidential ticket in 2020.

With the Democratic Party’s “Unity Reform Commission” now history, major political forces are entering a new stage of contention over the future of the party. Seven months after the commission’s first meeting-- and nine months after Hillary Clinton backer Tom Perez won a close election over Bernie Sanders supporter Keith Ellison to become chair of the Democratic National Committee-- the battle lines are coming into focus for next year.

The commission’s final meeting adjourned on Saturday after a few steps toward democratizing the party had won approval-- due to the grassroots strength of progressives. But the recommendations from the commission will go to the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which was one of the DNC decision-making bodies that Perez subjected to a purge two months ago. Now, in the words of Jim Zogby (who was removed from the Executive Committee by Perez), “There are virtually no Bernie supporters on the Rules and Bylaws Committee.”

When the latest Unity Reform Commission meeting got underway, Perez talked a lot about unity. But kicking Sanders supporters off of key DNC committees is the ugly underside of an ongoing dual discourse. (Are we supposed to believe Perez’s soothing words or our own eyes?) And party unity behind a failed approach-- internally undemocratic and politically hitched to corporate wagons-- would hardly be auspicious.

“Emerging sectors of the electorate are compelling the Democratic Party to come to terms with adamant grassroots rejection of economic injustice, institutionalized racism, gender inequality, environmental destruction and corporate domination,” says the recent report “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” (which I co-authored). The report adds: “Siding with the people who constitute the base isn’t truly possible when party leaders seem to be afraid of them.”

DNC Chairman Perez and allied power brokers keep showing that they’re afraid of the party’s progressive base. No amount of appealing rhetoric changes that reality.

“We pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all,” the Democratic National Committee proclaimed anew at the start of this month, touting the commission meeting as “open to the public.” Yet the DNC delayed and obscured information about the meeting, never replying to those who filled out an online RSVP form-- thus leaving them in the dark about the times of the meeting. In short, the DNC went out of its way to suppress public turnout rather than facilitate it.

One member of the task force that wrote the Autopsy, Karen Bernal, is the chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. After traveling across the country and sitting in the sparse audience during the first day of the Unity Reform Commission meeting, she took the liberty of speaking up as the second day got underway. Bernal provided a firm rebuke of the DNC’s efforts to suppress public attendance.

“For all of the talk about wanting to improve and reform and make this party more transparent, the exact opposite has happened,” Bernal told the commission. (Her intervention, which lasted a little more than two minutes, aired in full on C-SPAN.)

On Sunday, a mass email from Zogby via Our Revolution summed up: “We are fighting for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice. The Democratic Party needs everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, country of origin, language, or socioeconomic status, to be deeply involved in order to change the course of this country.”

For those reasons, he added, “we are calling for an end to superdelegates, open primaries and caucuses, same-day registration, and more transparent, fair, and accountable leadership at the helm of the DNC.”

Overall, the commission approved some recommendations that were partial victories for progressives. Among the most notable: It called for reducing the number of notoriously undemocratic superdelegates to the national convention from 712 to about 300, while the only democratic number would be zero. It somewhat improved transparency for often-dubious DNC contracts with high-paid consultants and vendors, while defeating sensible amendments by commission member Nomiki Konst-- who spoke with notable clarity about the need to clamp down on financial conflicts of interest among DNC decision-makers.

The eight Sanders appointees-- Konst, Zogby, Larry Cohen, Lucy Flores, Jane Kleeb, Gus Newport, Nina Turner and Jeff Weaver-- put up a good fight as members of the Unity Reform Commission. They were outnumbered, and on key issues were often outvoted, by the 13 who’d been selected by Clinton or Perez. Next year, the odds to overcome will be much worse.

With the purged Rules and Bylaws Committee now overwhelmingly stacked against progressives, only massive pressure from the grassroots will be able to sustain momentum toward a democratic Democratic Party. Meanwhile, corporate forces will do all they can to prevent the Democratic Party from living up to its first name.

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Did Franken Make A Mistake By Resigning? Some Want Him To Reconsider, Including Republicans


The Democratic Party-- or at least the DCCC-- loves to recruit so-called "ex"-Republicans to run for Congress. Normal Democrats know better than to listen to a Republican about Democratic Party strategy... at least most of the time. That excerpt from Arne Carlson is worth considering though, even if he was Minnesota's Republican governor from 1991 through the end of 1998. He endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and two years later endorsed independent Tom Homer for governor and Democrat Tim Walz for Congress. He was purged by the GOP and prohibited from participating in party events for 2 years. Oh, yeah... and last year he endorsed Hillary against Señor Trumpanzee. So when he says we should all "sober up," maybe we do need to listen. I hope Franken does, but I can't imagine he would.

Bruce Bartlett used to be a Republican too. In fact he worked for Ron Paul and Jack Kemp and was a Reagan domestic policy adviser and a Treasury official under the first Bush. He attacked the second Bush and his policies frequently and quit the Republican party 10 years ago. Yesterday he did an OpEd for the New York Daily News, Toughen up, Democrats: Why the party will live to regret its hasty purge of Al Franken. "It will be recorded," he wrote, "that he was pushed out by his own party even as a man guilty of more serious sexual misconduct sits in the Oval Office and Senate Republicans prepare to welcome sexual predator Roy Moore with open arms."
This division between the two parties isn't just about morality or hypocrisy; it's about having a fundamentally different view of the world.

Democrats are idealists while Republicans are realists. Of course this isn't true in all cases; Republicans idealistically claim to love liberty, worship the Constitution as James Madison wrote it, and assert that sacred principles guide their policies rather than crass pandering to their contributors and primary voters, which is really the case.

But they know they are lying and it's all for show.

By contrast, Democrats seldom ever climb down from Mount Olympus to engage in political hand-to-hand combat. They whine and wring their hands about the dirty tricks Republicans constantly play on them, but on the rare occasions when they have some political leverage, they seldom use it effectively.

In the end, Democrats are constrained by responsibility while Republicans will do whatever it takes to win at all cost. It's not a fair fight.

This is not a new problem. All democratic governments that respect individual rights, permit free speech and assembly, and are responsive to the will of the people expressed in free elections are vulnerable to ruthless enemies from within, who use democratic freedoms to undermine and destroy those very freedoms.

It's worth remembering that Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany quite openly and legally, as were other dictators and strongmen around the world.

It is hard for small-D democrats to respond to internal threats without believing they are sacrificing their core principles in the process. Sometimes a foolish consistency makes those who support liberal values balk at actions clearly needed because they necessarily involve illiberal policies.

Not funny, kids
Going to war is the most obvious example, and great Democratic presidents like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and, yes, Lyndon Johnson struggled with the inherent contradiction between their ideals and their actions.

Republicans, of course, have no such qualms. They are like the ancient followers of Manichaeism who saw everything as black and white, dark and light, good and evil. There was never any gray, no nuances to confuse issues. There was one path and it had to be followed.

The Republican attitude succeeds in part because it is easy to understand. Most people have neither the time nor the expertise to study an issue well enough to have an informed opinion. They depend on political parties to sort through the issues for them and tell them what to think.

It's like following a movie reviewer. If over the years you have found that you enjoyed and hated the same movies, you are inclined to trust her judgment. So too with parties. When the acquisition of information is costly, it is reasonable to economize.

The problem is that unscrupulous people or those with poor judgment sometimes get control of your party and lead otherwise good and honest people down the wrong path.

That has happened to the Republican Party, my former party and also the former party of a growing number of my friends from the days when I worked for Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

...While obviously Republicans deserve primary blame for the disgusting state of their party and have principal responsibility for fixing it, Democrats are not without blame.

In many cases they have offered poor opposition to Republican policies, put up bad candidates in winnable elections, fallen back on time-worn slogans rather than finding creative new ways to advance their agenda, failed to create organizations and institutions to counter the Republican echo chamber, turned their attention too quickly to new issues and given Republicans a second shot instead of finishing the job, and permitted their ideals to overwhelm political common sense.

The Franken problem is a perfect example. Over the last two months, ever since the New York Times broke the story of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's sick sexual behavior, a number of stories have detailed indefensible sexual behavior by many others in the entertainment industry and politics. Many more will follow.

Franken, a longtime professional comedian, straddled both worlds and was an obvious target for those in the media and Republican dirty tricksters like Roger Stone to dig up dirt on. Sadly, they found incidents that could perhaps have been defended or overcome in the pre-Weinstein era, but were indefensible in today's political environment.

I am not going to defend Franken's actions, and of course I agree that sexual misconduct must be punished. But it doesn't follow that forcing Franken to fall on his sword was the right way to handle his situation.

As many others including Cathy Young here in The News have pointed out, Franken was essentially tried, convicted and sentenced without any semblance of due process. There was no investigation. The charges against him, some of which were anonymous and some of which he denies strongly, were simply accepted at face value.

This is not only wrong but politically stupid. Democrats now have no defense against completely bogus charges ginned up by nefarious right-wing characters such as James O'Keefe, who has already tried once to manufacture a phony sex scandal.

Moreover, the political situation in Minnesota is such that Franken's departure has now put his seat in jeopardy. It may well go to a Republican next year, according to political analyst and Minnesota native Norm Ornstein.

Democrats are convinced that they have seized the high ground and this will hold them in good stead when they oppose seating Roy Moore, should he win his Alabama Senate seat.

Maybe so, but they may also lose the support of reasonable people who believe Franken was railroaded and made the victim of obsessive Democratic identity politics. Conservatives like Fox's Laura Ingraham and Newt Gingrich are already reaching out to such people by defending the liberal Franken.

Many Democrats insist that Franken's treatment is demanded by having to do the right thing regardless of the cost. But as MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell eloquently pointed out last Thursday, where were these principled Democrats when New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez went to trial for corruption?

Surely the evidence required to bring him to trial exceeded the threshold of the hearsay and anonymous charges that got Franken thrown under a bus. The only difference, it seems, is that a Democrat will name Franken's replacement while a Republican would have named Menendez's.

A competent political party would at least have tried to get something in return for Franken's sacrifice. For example, Democrats could have used the occasion to call attention to Donald Trump's admitted sexual indiscretions or those of other Republicans such as Representatives Joe Barton, Trent Franks, and Blake Farenthold.

Franken made glancing mention of Trump and Moore in the floor speech announcing his retirement.

But for the most part, Democrats decided instead to adopt a policy of unilateral disarmament, making Republicans pay no price for their hypocrisy in continuing to defend Trump and Moore.

During the Cold War, Democratic Presidents understood that even if you are willing to disarm unilaterally, you should still try to get something in return. But for Democrats today, virtue-signaling is its own reward.

I know Democrats think they will be rewarded-- perhaps not instantly, but over time, including in 2018-- by voters for their principled stand against sexual harassment.

I don't buy it. Trump's "Access Hollywood" tape, in which he bragged about groping women against their will, was known to virtually all voters before the election, and it didn't seem to have any impact except on people who had already decided to vote against him.

I think Democrats need to toughen up if they hope to win in the Trump era. Yet many Democrats seem to think that being tough requires being mean, underhanded and unethical.

I often joke that Democrats are the class nerds while Republicans are the school bullies. Maybe in the long run, the nerds will become the rich software developers while the bullies are doing manual labor, but in the short-run, the bully is winning.

The nerds must study the martial arts if they hope to win.

Republican success today is built on a foundation they have built since the 1970s, financed by right-wing billionaires such as Charles and David Koch, Robert Mercer and Rupert Murdoch.

They are systematic, and they are ruthless. They created institutes, organizations and media outlets that relentlessly promote their agenda and give well-paid employment to professional right-wingers.

Democrats and progressives depend on the universities, the mainstream media and ineffectual organizations like the AARP, which went AWOL during the recent tax fight.

The Republican strategy can be copied without sacrificing progressive principles to create a more powerful, effective and aggressive opposition to GOP efforts to restrict abortion rights, slash programs that aid mothers and children, despoil the environment, gut consumer protections and take other actions that hurt women just as sexual harassment does.

In my opinion, sacrificing the best and brightest of the Democratic Party in a vain hope that some uncommitted voters will care and reward them looks like another losing strategy.
I was hoping he'd suggest that opportunist Kirsten Gillibrand resign instead. That would stop this insanity fast enough-- but, let's face it, the insanity is still needed to move our sicke society along in the right direction towards killing off extreme patriarchy once and for all.

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Bernie Sanders Vs... Artur Davis: Guaranteed Jobs


Right-wing Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis was originally put into office with AIPAC money after his predecessor, Earl Hilliard, got a little too uppity for about the Palestinians. He represented a super blue Alabama district from 2003 'til 2011 when he ran for governor and was badly defeated in the primary, even in the bluest parts of his own district. He went from being a coddled DCCC creep who was the poster child for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party to switching to the Republican Party and moving to Virginia. He became a rabid GOP attack dog against Democrats and a Romney surrogate. More recently he ran-- and was defeated again-- for mayor of Montgomery, garnering just 27% of tiger vote. He tried to rejoin the Democratic Party and was rejected.

Over the weekend he predicted Doug Jones would lose to Roy Moore today. "It’s very difficult to appeal to white and blacks at the same time," he said. "I’ve been there, it’s a hard thing to do." Davis never had the faintest clue how to speak to working families effectively, regardless of skin color. Even before he officially joined the Republican Party, he was, heart-and-soul, a clueless Republican shill for corporate interests and a pitiful "Uncle Tom" for his entire pathetic tenure in politics.

Recently Bernie economic advisor Stephanie Kelton recommended I read a post by a colleague and former student of hers, Pavlina Tcherneva, Why Bernie Sanders Should Add a Job Guarantee to His Policy Agenda, written in the summer of 2015. Pavlina is now chair of the Economics Department at Bard College and it would have been very useful for Artur Davis to have studied economic under with her or Stephanie. "Discussions of the 'politically possible' always remind me of a favorite quote: 'Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.' Bernie Sanders’ issues page reads like a list of everything we’ve been told is not politically possible. And yet he’s getting record breaking support, precisely because people are tired of being told that something cannot be done-- that it is impossible to get money out of politics, or that tackling inequality and racial injustice is unrealistic, or that securing a living wage is a political nonstarter. Bernie has unapologetically rejected sclerotic visions of what is 'politically possible'.  And now he should add the Job Guarantee (JG) to his list of issues [see video above]. Indeed, he already has the key ingredients-- a bold proposal to eliminate unemployment by creating 13 million decent-paying jobs, a living wage, and a federally-funded youth job guarantee, which Sandy Darity correctly called a stepping stone (a pilot program) to a blanket job guarantee for all.
The Job Guarantee’s time has come.
It secures a basic human right
It tackles at least three key sources of “economic violence and injustice”-- unemployment, precarious work, and poverty wages
It is good for families, the economy, the environment, and our communities
She then outlined some basic facts we all need to know about the Job Guarantee, the first being that it is not some unpredictable big government expansion. But it's an employment stabilization program that offers prevention as much as a cure. It "tackles all the vile consequences of mass unemployment (on private sector spending and expectations, and on people and communities).  The JG is also good for the private sector and ensures more stable and plentiful private sector employment, because it guarantees that domestic demand never collapses as much as it does today with mass unemployment. It's based on the idea that if unemployment is like a virus that spreads through the economy if nothing is done to check it and "the best 'cure' for someone who wants a job-- is a job, not a handout." It's always important to remember this:
Every unemployed person today puts another one out of work, but the Job Guarantee reverses the process: employing one person creates work for another.
"The JG," she wrote, "will always be there to provide voluntary employment for a pool of people (small relative to today’s unemployment numbers)-- who have difficulty finding private sector jobs or have been rendered ‘unnecessary’ by private firms.  It’s one thing to support a family on an unemployment insurance check, and a whole different thing to replace lost private sector income with a living wage income from the JG in a job that does something useful (more below). In this sense, the livelihood of those participants is not disrupted as much as with unemployment, and does not cause the large ripple effect of layoffs through the economy we see today due to collapsing demand. In other words, it is easier to prevent the development of mass unemployment, than to eliminate it once it has developed."

Job Guarantee, she wrote, breaks the vicious cycle at the bottom of the income distribution since "people from different social stations experience different employment situations-- the highly-skilled and highly-educated face virtually no unemployment, or relatively short stretches of joblessness. They are hired first and fired last. But even when they are unemployed, their safety net is much stronger because of more generous employment benefits, severance packages, savings and other sources of wealth. But for those at the bottom of the income distribution, life is very different-- precarious income and employment, longer periods of unemployment, shorter job tenure, and fewer prospects for accumulating wealth or building a nest egg. The vicious employment cycle is fired first-hired last. The JG by design captures those who are most vulnerable." So what it does is change the economic odds for poor and middle class families:
Imagine two candidates applying for a job: one has 9 months of experience in a JG soil renewal of reforestation project and the other-- 9 months of unemployment. Which applicant would the prospective employer hire? Chances are-- the one with the job. And indeed, research shows that, employers consider 9 months of unemployment to be the same as 4 years of lost work experience.

JG changes these odds. It gives people a chance for better life by providing a choice to work in a meaningful public service project-- something welfare checks are not able to do.
It also addresses income inequality and drives a stake through current power interests by guaranteeing access to a living-wage job and lifting incomes for the most vulnerable families in the economy-- a key step to reversing income inequality in the US. The threat of unemployment at the bottom of the income distribution is considerably weakened, she explained. "The JG redefines what kind of work is 'useful'-- public stewardship, environmental renewal and sustainability, community development and, importantly, investment in people, are recognized as important and valuable tasks, worthy of public support" while establishing "a standard for a decent pay package. It’s like the minimum wage, only better-- everyone gets it and more (what good is the minimum wage to an unemployed person?). Private firms must match that minimum standard and pay extra when they need to hire those workers. It's "the next step in completing the Roosevelt revolution" as well as "the missing piece from the social safety-net." In advanced economies, basic needs are generally solved by direct means:
When the problem is retirement income insecurity-- we provide retirement income (e.g., social security).
When the problem is food insecurity-- we provide food.
When the problem is homelessness – we provide housing.
But when the problem is joblessness, we do not provide employment. We provide a handout, a training program, a college loan-- everything but an actual job. The Job Guarantee institutes an important component of the overall safety-net: a job safety-net.
She makes the point that "The task before us is to provide a decent job at decent pay for everyone who wants one. Many progressives seem to think that conventional public works are better suited as countercyclical stabilizers or job creation policies... [but] we either need to replace the Tappan Zee bridge or not. A high-speed rail system is either a good idea or not. Rain or shine, recession or expansion, the work has to be done. These projects cannot fluctuate because they are essential, strategic, and capital-intensive. They are much needed programs, but they are not cycle-stabilizing policies. And they cannot guarantee an employment opportunity to the last person who hasn’t found a decent paying job, but wants one. Only the Job Guarantee can. But low capital intensity projects are in great shortage, can vary with the mood swings of the economy, and are not make-work.
The private sector is simply not in the business of satisfying unmet basic needs or providing employment for everyone. But once most basic needs are met, will there be enough work for the JG participants to do? I’m convinced, yes. As Warren Mosler says, “There is no limit to the ways we can serve one another.”

My worry is that even if we mobilized everyone who wanted to work in a private and public initiative, there would still not be enough manpower to do all the things that we sorely need-- especially concerning the environment.

Take the Hudson Valley for example where I live and work. The Hudson River and local parks and preserves are struggling with several invasive species (water chestnut and zebra mussel), fundamentally altering the ecology of the estuary and the natural habitat of the Valley. And while my community and friends, volunteers and non-profits, have been hard at work preserving and restoring the the Valley, one crucial thing is missing: large-scale funding and many, many more helping hands.

Learning to identify the invasive plants and removing them is mostly done by community members and school groups on volunteer basis. Other area projects include eel and herring monitoring, building hiking trails, cleaning parks, removing trash-- all low-cost, tow-tech, and high-labor-intensity tasks that bring many environmental and social benefits. And they literally only require gloves, fishing nets, and rakes. The work is flexible and year-round.

And this is just one example that that can provide jobs to thousands of unemployed people from the entire Hudson Valley on ongoing basis for decades to come.

The neighboring city of Newburgh–once the jewel of modern technological achievement was the first electrified city in the United States, showcasing the glory that electrification would bring the nation and the world. (Electrification–the offspring of private ingenuity brought to our doorsteps courtesy of large scale government investment). Today Newburgh’s housing stock-- a rare collection of historical architecture-- is crumbling and needs to be restored and preserved. After years of neglect and severe austerity, the city is slowly turning a corner mostly because of impressive community revitalization efforts. But unemployment remains a pressing problem. What is needed? Large-scale funding and many, many more helping hands.

Most communities throughout the US can benefit from countless ongoing public service, environmental, after-school and care projects. And the unemployed need the restoration of their human worth.

As Bernie Sanders’ himself put it in his 2011 8-hour Senate floor speech:
Human beings want to be productive… They want to be a part of something. They want to go to work, earn a paycheck, bring it home. You feel good about that.

Do you know what it does to somebody’s sense of human worth when suddenly you find yourself at home …[and] you can’t go out and earn a living. It destroys people… That’s what unemployment is about.
Good intensions rarely stand in the way of good economic policies-- but lack of conviction and political will do. When it comes to the Job Guarantee, we can also use a bit of imagination.

Sanders is already changing the conversation about what is politically possible. Adding the Job Guarantee to his issues will solidify his unapologetically bold and sorely needed progressive agenda.
Believe me, Artur Davis never tried addressing black and white voters in this way-- which is why he's a classic failed and pointless politician remember, if at all, as a distance disaster in the lives of his constituents.

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Merry Christmas? Trump Is Going To War Against Jesus... But In A Very Real And Profound Way


Has Donald Trump ever gone to Church with an open mind and open heart? You probably know in your own heart the answer. When Jesus said "And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels... He was talking about the hungry and thirsty, the homeless, naked, sick, and imprisoned, right? Proverbs 14:31: "He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him." Trump wants you to vote for Roy Moore today. He says it's to pass his agenda. Ask yourself if that agenda is that agenda Jesus-friendly. Doesn't it sometimes feel to you that those most consistent in ignoring, disrespecting or even trampling Jesus' message to mankind are the very same people who make the loudest outward displays of religiosity (and are the most likely to vote for Moore in Alabama today)?

So what's that agenda Trump says Moore will help him pass? Yesterday, Politico explained that Trump "is eyeing changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs" in a report: Trump's plan to target the federal safety net. Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP Congress are his enablers and disciples.
The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are hoping to make the most sweeping changes to federal safety net programs in a generation, using legislation and executive actions to target recipients of food stamps, Medicaid and housing benefits.

The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs.

In the meantime, the Trump administration has already begun making policy shifts that could have major ramifications.

Federal health officials are encouraging states to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults on Medicaid-- a major philosophical shift that would treat the program as welfare, rather than health insurance.

The Agriculture Department said last week that it would soon give states greater control over the food stamp program, potentially opening the door to drug testing or stricter work requirements on recipients of the $70 billion program long targeted by fiscal conservatives.

Another initial move has already backfired-- the Veterans Affairs Department announced it would redirect hundreds of millions of dollars from a program for homeless veterans to local VA centers, but it reversed course after fierce blowback from advocates.

While candidate Donald Trump pledged to protect some safety net programs, conservatives have long wanted to devolve control of social programs to the states and impose stricter work and drug testing rules. Now that they control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Republicans believe they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul those programs, which they have long argued are wasteful, are too easily exploited and promote dependency.

“People are taking advantage of the system and then other people aren't receiving what they really need to live, and we think it is very unfair to them,” Trump said in October.

The president is expected to sign the welfare executive order as soon as January, according to multiple administration officials, with an eye toward making changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs, not just traditional welfare payments.

...Defenders of the safety net programs, meanwhile, fear the effort could rob Americans-- including many Trump voters-- of a vital lifeline.

“It would be a recipe for massively exacerbating poverty and inequality in America in violation of all of Trump’s campaign promises,” said Rebecca Vallas, managing director of the Center for American Progress’ poverty program.

“The poor are under attack,” said National Community Reinvestment Coalition President John Taylor, who accused Republicans of “rigging the system” for the top 1 or 2 percent at the expense of the middle class and poor.

“Most Americans, if they really understood what was going on, would not support it,” he said.

Although the effort to reshape the country's welfare system is all but guaranteed to produce powerful political backlash, it appears to have broad backing from conservative congressional Republicans, who are already coordinating with the White House on a legislative agenda to complement expected executive actions.

White House Domestic Policy Council staff, who are working closely with congressional Republicans on legislation, are slated to meet this week with House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee staff.

The exact provisions of the pending bill are unknown, but a conservative group closely aligned with lawmakers said Republicans intend to pass broadly focused legislation.

...Ryan spokesman Doug Andres declined to offer more details, adding that Republicans would discuss the issue at their January retreat.

In recent days, Ryan said he hopes to embark on entitlement and welfare reform next year. He has said entitlement reform-- an overhaul of programs like Medicare and Medicaid that has been his priority since his days as Budget chairman-- is essential for tackling the debt, which is set to surge by $1 trillion under the Republican tax reform bill, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

“We have a welfare system that’s basically trapping people in poverty and effectively paying people not to work, and we’ve got to work on that,” he said in a recent radio interview.

Democrats immediately pounced on Ryan’s comments. “Paul Ryan just admitted that after providing $1 trillion in tax breaks to the top 1% and large corporations, Republicans will try to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and help for the most vulnerable Americans,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote on Twitter.

It is unclear whether Republicans will take aim at Medicare given Trump’s campaign promise not to touch it. Trump also promised not to cut Medicaid or Social Security, the latter of which is trickier for lawmakers to change because of procedural rules designed to protect the program.

If Republicans steer clear of Medicare, they say they will need to cut deeper into programs like food stamps and Medicaid. Despite Trump’s campaign vow on Medicaid, the GOP already placed the health insurance program for the poor on the chopping block earlier this year as part of its failed push to repeal Obamacare, proposing to siphon nearly $800 billion from the program over a decade.
But at least owners of private jets will get a tax break on their planes' maintenance costs. And the children of billionaires won't have to pay their fair share of taxes on their lucky inheritances of money largely gotten from cheating and criminal activities.

Jenny Marshall is running for a Piedmont district in North Carolina where bigoted congresswoman Virginia Foxx keeps her life completely clear of Jesus' message  but made millions of dollars as a Chirstmas tree farmer. "It is amazing to me," Jenny told us, "that those on the right are willing to ignore the pleas of the least of those among us. To strip programs that feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, provide medical care to the sick plus a whole host of other ways that keep people from literally dying is unconscionable. I have always said that we will fund what we value. It is blatantly obvious that the GOP do not care for the ones that need help the most. They only care about their special interest donors and the wealthy elite. It is time that we get our priorities straight and put people into office that will actually do what is in the best interest of the people first."

Frank Schaeffer knows the "religious" right better than any man alive. Today he told us to get this through our heads: "The Trump GOP loves rich donors and literally hates Jesus. Merry Christmas! Headlines read like Old Testament quotes denouncing the rich robbing the poor and announcing God’s wrath. Ironic that white evangelical voters gave us Trump and his 'Healthcare for Kids Traded for Billionaire Tax Cuts' headlines. So… this Christmas do NOT watch It’s A Wonderful Life again! It’ll only make you sad that there used to be ideals in this country. To borrow from the movie: Potter the hardhearted banker won. George Bailey is dead and so are his kids who had no healthcare after the Trump/GOP-Potter cut it to line the pockets of the rich. White evangelical voters’ favorite pagan woman-abusing molester/groper son Trump just banned the spirit of Christmas past, present and future in a way Dickens could not even imagine. Trump and his GOP are the new instigators of today’s updated Massacre of the Innocents-- the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Within 24 hours of tonight's meme being posted, we should know where Alabama stands. Will they vote for Roy Moore to, once again, endorse racism, homophobia and other indecency; this time while adding their support for child molestation, or, will they vote for Doug Jones, a decent man who prosecuted those who killed four young girls in a church bombing in Birmingham? Judging from the past, even the very, very recent past, I suspect that many Alabama voters despise Doug Jones for that very fact. One need only look at the voter suppression tactics that have been codified into law by the state's republican dominated legislature.

I know that a Senator Roy Moore probably wouldn't be the first accused pedophile in the U.S. Senate, but he may be the first one to be banned from a public shopping mall for being a clear and present danger to young girls. He's been open about his proclivities since the day he telephoned a local high school looking for a date. Today's Christians support that kind of thing. To them, when they say "Let us pray," it's spelled "Let us prey." They are all for protecting babies in the womb, but, once a little girl can walk... well, she's on her own and fair game.

A severely mentally ill president who reportedly has his own history of the same tendencies has repeatedly urged Alabama to send Moore to the nation's capitol. No one wants to be the only out in public pedophile in town. Virtually his whole party, from Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Ryan on down have embraced Moore and all of the disease he stands for. If, in the likely event that the Devil wins this round, I will feel sick and worried for those young women in the congressional page program. I will await the irony of one of them, armed with a Republican-approved concealed carry permit and a gun, violently defending herself on the steps of the Capitol Building. After all, the Lord works in mysterious ways, doesn't she?

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Otis Redding Died Yesterday, 50 Years Ago, Age 26... 26--Hard To Believe


I took my job as chairman of the Student Activities Board at my college, Stony Brook, very seriously. I did all I could to offer the students the best concert and lecture series anywhere in America. We had historic concerts by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, the Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, Ravi Shankar, Smokey Robinson, The Byrds, Tim Buckley, Big Brother, The Dead, The Temptations and in 1967-- in between the release of King & Queen with Carla Thomas and his tragic death, at 26 years old, in a plane crash in bad weather-- Otis Redding. That tragic plane crash was on December 10 50 years and one day ago.

Sunday morning Jonathan Gould commemorated the day with a brief retrospective and memorial for the New Yorker. Gould wrote that Redding was "the most charismatic and beloved soul singer of his generation, the male counterpart to Aretha Franklin, whom he had recently endowed with the hit song Respect. In the preceding year, on the strength of his triumphant tours of Britain, France, and Scandinavia, his appearances at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, and his domineering performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Redding had pushed beyond the commercial constraints of the so-called 'Chitlin’ Circuit' of ghetto theatres and Southern night clubs. He was determined to become the first African-American artist to connect with the burgeoning audience for album rock that had transformed the world of popular music since the arrival of the Beatles in America, in 1964." The concert at Stony Brook was part of that determination-- his and mine.
Redding’s success with this new, ostensibly hip, predominantly white audience had brought him to a turning point in his career. Thrilled with the results of a throat surgery that left his voice stronger and suppler than ever before, he resolved to scale back his relentless schedule of live performances in order to place a greater emphasis on recording, songwriting, and production. In the weeks before his death, he had written and recorded a spate of ambitious new songs. One of these, the contemplative ballad (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, became his self-written epitaph when it was released as a single, in January of 1968. A sombre overture to the year of the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert Kennedy, and the election of Richard Nixon as President, the song went on to become the first posthumous No. 1 record in the history of the Billboard charts, selling more than two million copies and earning Redding the unequivocal “crossover” hit he had sought since his début on the Memphis-based label Stax, in 1962. To this day, according to the performance-rights organization BMI, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” remains one of the most frequently played (and streamed) recordings in the annals of American music.

In an age of pop culture replete with African-American superstars like Michael Jackson, Prince, Usher, Bruno Mars, Kanye West, and Jay-Z, it is hard for modern audiences to appreciate how revolutionary the self-presentations of soul singers like Otis Redding were when they first came on the scene. Prior to the mid-fifties, it had simply been taboo for a black man to perform in an overtly sexualized manner in front of a white audience in America. (Female black entertainers, by contrast, had been all but required to do so.) In the South, especially, the social psychology of the Jim Crow regime was founded on a paranoid fantasy of interracial rape that was institutionalized by the press and popular culture in the malignant stereotype of the “black brute,” which explicitly sexualized the threat posed by black men to white women and white supremacy. Born in Georgia in 1941, the same year as Emmett Till, Otis Redding grew up in a world where any “suggestive” behavior by a black male in the presence of whites was potentially suicidal.

In 2007, forty years on, a panel of artists, critics, and music-business professionals assembled by Rolling Stone ranked Otis Redding eighth on a list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” This placed him in a constellation of talent that included his contemporaries Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown, who together represented the greatest generation of church-bred African-American singers in the history of popular music. What distinguished Redding in this august company was the heartbreaking brevity of his career. In his five short years as a professional entertainer, his incomparable voice and vocal persona established him as soul music’s foremost apostle of devotion, a singer who implored his listeners to “try a little tenderness” with a ferocity that defied the meaning of the word. His singular combination of strength and sensitivity, dignity and self-discipline, made him the musical embodiment of the “soul force” that Martin Luther King, Jr., extolled in his epic “I Have a Dream” speech as the African-American counterweight to generations of racist oppression. In the way he looked and the way he sang and the way he led his tragically unfinished life, this princely son of Georgia sharecroppers was a one-man repudiation of the depraved doctrine of “white supremacy,” whose dark vestiges still contaminate our world.
Jim Morrison, Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding were all kids when they died, each soon after I had gotten to know them, fell in love with their music and eagerly shared it with my fellow students. I buried the horror-- of that, of the assassinations, of the brutal war against Vietnam-- in drugs and then left the country for over 6 years to try to discover who I was and why this was all going on around me. I'm still working on it. But I sure do hope Otis and the rest are singing for Jesus in Heaven today.

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Tomorrow Is Election Day In Alabama. Would Moore Be The Most Vile Man Ever Elected To The Senate? We Already Have the Most Vile President


Tomorrow is election day in Alabama. I'm rooting for Doug Jones. He doesn't just seem better than Roy Moore-- now there's a low bar-- but better than Jon Ossoff too. I bought into Ossoff, contributed some monet to him personally and Blue America endorsed him and raised him some money. So I was pretty disappointed as the race proceeded from when I first talked to him and the guy who persuaded me he was a progressive came increasingly under the sway of Beltway money-men, consultants and strategists who persuaded him to change his tone and going in a less progressive direction-- away from the energy and more towards the conventionally safe ground the DCCC always gravitates to in red districts: Republican-lite. It sickened me that Ossoff raised and spent $29,544,195 (to Karen Handel's $6,163,039), while the DCCC spent another $5,065,390 on him (and Pelosi's House Majority PAC threw in $650,571). In all, outside groups spent around $8 million bolstering Ossoff and outside Republican groups spent over $18 bolstering Handel. Handel beat him 134,799 (51.8%) to 48.2%-- in line with Trump's 48.3% to 46.8% winnower Hillary a few months earlier. Handel did about 3 and a half points better than Trump had and Ossoff, despite all that money, did about a point and a half worse than Hillary (who didn't campaign in GA-06 at all. He was a weak candidate. And Jones, down in Alabama is better-- and far more authentic.

Alabama's senior senator, Republican Richard Shelby, won't be having a very collegial relationship with Roy Moore if Moore wins tomorrow. On State of the Union yesterday, Shelby told Jake Tapper that he voted already-- but not for Moore. "We call it a tipping point. I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip-- when it got to the 14-year-old's story, that was enough for me. I said I can't vote for Roy Moore." He added that if Moore is elected, the Senate "will have to seat him, and we'll see what happens after that... The Senate has to look at who's fit to serve in the Senate."

Still, Jones very well may win tomorrow. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Moore at 49.1% and Jones at 45.3%, too close to call. The only one of the 7 most recent polls Jones was ahead in was from the Washington Post November 30 that showed Jones leading 50-47%. All the others show Jones winning by between 3 and 7%. But... you know how in normal states, people are often embarrassed to say they plan to vote for a Republican and often lie to pollsters? In Alabama it may be the opposite: people are embarrassed to say they'll vote for a Democrat and lie to the pollsters. We'll see; Republicans could be embarrassed-- should be embarrassed-- to admit they're voting for a child molester.

As of September 22, the last FEC reporting deadline, Jones had spent $9,034,232 and still had $2,543,090 in his campaign warchest and the child molester had spent $4,455,952 and had $636,046 left. Over $7 million has been spent against Moore (mostly by Luther Strange allies in the primary) and $1,529,978 had been spent opposing Jones. A ton of right-wing money has poured into the race in the form of independent expenditures in the last 10 days and we have no figures on that yet.

But if you look on the Blue America Senate endorsement page, you won't find a slot for Jones. We reached out to him the day he announced but he never got back. We reached out a week later and a week after that. People from his campaign even told me at one point they'd get us on the phone together. It never happened. And even though nearly everything I've read about Jones indicated he would be a good candidate, without an interview, I couldn't ask Blue America donors, who expect a degree of vetting, to contribute their money to him (instead of, say, to Tammy Baldwin's reelection campaign or even Beto O'Rourke's race against Ted Cruz). So, like I said, I'm rooting for Jones tomorrow and I'll probably pray for him when I wake up at 4am. But... I didn't contribute my own money, we didn't endorse him and I never asked Blue America donors to send him any money.

That said, I was pretty surprised when I read a critique of Jones from a North Alabama DSA member: Doug Jones is a Terrible Candidate. The DSA member seems to think Jones is not much more than the lesser evil compared to, in her words, the candidate who "is a wretched, disgusting, pedophilic rapist who deserves absolutely no place in any leadership position." Then the big "but." She wrote that "The problem with Doug Jones is revealed not when you point out what he hasn’t done that Roy Moore has, but rather when you look at what Doug Jones says he plans to do, or, as is often the case, not do. At a time when the already abysmal American healthcare system is at threat of being outright gutted by congress, Doug Jones has repeatedly shied away from supporting Bernie Sanders’s Medicare For All plan, and has not backed single-payer healthcare (an immensely popular policy proposal) despite the fact that his very own website states that he believes “Health care is a right, not a privilege limited to the wealthy and those with jobs that provide coverage.” Jones has also shied away from dedicating himself to supporting a $15 livable wage, again, despite the fact that his own website says that he “strongly support[s] ensuring working Alabamians receive a living wage for their hard work.” And, in a time when the college debt crisis is racking up in the trillions of dollars, he has not endorsed any sort of tuition-free college education program, despite--  and I know this is getting tiresome--  his own website stating that “Providing a quality education to all children is the key to a long-term thriving economy.”
[L]ooking at Doug Jones’s campaign website is an enlightening look into the extent of his tiptoeing mediocrity. Clicking the “Priorities” section immediately greets you with a phrase that thrusts into your face Jones’s nauseating fetishization of respectability politics: “Bring integrity back to Washington.” Moving on from the meaningless blurb that is that sentiment is the “Economy” section of this page which starts out with the very telling phrase “Small businesses are truly the backbone of the American economy.” This, despite the fact that workers, not businesses, are the backbone of any economy, and that American workers are continually laboring longer and harder for less and less pay while the capitalists who own these businesses are making more and more, is what Doug Jones feels is most important to state first in his campaign website’s “Economy” section.

Going back to respectability politics; Doug Jones loves it. A lot. It is difficult to hear Jones speak for more than thirty seconds without him mentioning “bipartisanship” or “reaching across the aisle.” Jones cares so much about respecting the “other side of the issues” that his campaign put out an ad that described the Civil War as “two sides believing so strongly in their cause that they were willing to die for it”, and citing the example of a Confederate and a Union General coming together as a virtuous act that should be encouraged. One must think hard about what exactly Jones is willing to compromise on if he sees shaking hands with a General who fought for the preservation of chattel slavery as even a possibility.

The Civil War ad is not the Jones campaign’s only advertising misstep. In a move that garnered some national headlines, the Jones campaign decided it appropriate to mail out fliers that read “Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?” with the picture of a black man underneath. Being that it was a flier that was clearly indicative of some racialized thinking of its creator, there was justified backlash to it--  many calling blatantly racist.

It would seem as if the Democratic Party of Alabama decided to back not only one of the most mediocre and uninspiring candidates possible in a time of strong populist sentiments, but also a candidate who is too racially insensitive to run ads that don’t glowingly reference Civil War “compromise” or spit directly in the face of the black community.

Come election day, Alabamians will have the sacred honor of participating in the democratic process by voting for either a child rapist or a weak-kneed white blob in a suit to go work on Capitol Hill for some unknown corporate donor. Personally, I can’t say that I will be taking part.
OK, since she brought up "sacred," I'll definitely pray when I wake up tomorrow morning and ask Jesus to grant Alex the wisdom to do the right thing and vote to help the guy who prosecuted the KKK terrorists get into the Senate instead of the deranged Trumpist who would be working to harm her every single day in every single way. But... a nice new poll from, of all places, Fox News. This looks like a very wide margin-- and is at odds with all the other polls we've looked at. Fingers crossed! We'll see how accurate they were mañana, won't we?

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Why Aren't More Democrats Using Anti-Monopoly Arguments In Their Congressional Campaigns?


"Democrats don’t know how to use this rhetoric politically, since they haven’t really paid attention to the politics of commerce for decades. They are starting to learn."
-Matt Stoller
Obviously, Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and a few progressives in the House like Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) are very involved with the anti-trust movement. And Blue America has endorsed a handful of candidates who are campaigning on anti-trust issues, particularly former Obama Administration employees Lillian Salerno (D-TX) and Austin Frerick (D-IA). But I'm not getting a sense that monopolies are part of the Democratic Party national discussion-- certainly not the way healthcare, Putin-Gate and #MeToo are. Yesterday, The Hill, of all places, published a good look at the recent efforts Warren and some other Democrats are making to put monopoly issues back on the front burner. "Democrats," wrote Ali Breland, "aren’t just taking aim at the behemoth deals themselves: they’re looking at the specific government policies that permit them. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Wednesday directly attacked the Chicago school of economics-- the principles that have significantly influenced how federal regulators evaluate mergers. Warren and other Democrats say that these principles allow and, in some cases, encourage larger mergers, which they believe threaten competition and potentially hurt the public as well."
Democrats’ criticism comes amid a new wave of mega-mergers in 2017, which Wall Street expects to continue into 2018. Over the past year, companies including AT&T and Time Warner, CVS and Aetna and Monsanto and Bayer have pursued multibillion-dollar mergers. Overall, billion-dollar plus mergers are up from a year ago.

The debate could have impacts on how mergers are treated down the road. Disputes over merger policy have already played a part in a controversy over how to handle AT&T’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

In her Wednesday speech, Warren said that adopting such laissez-faire frameworks for enforcing antitrust means government tools meant to increase competition in markets are “gathering dust.”

“With the growth of Chicago school economics in the 1970s and 1980s … instead of blocking mergers that posed significant threats to competition, [antitrust enforcers] signed off on settlement agreements that allowed bad mergers if the companies promised to take actions later on that were supposedly designed to protect competition,” she said.

The Chicago school of economics, named after the University of Chicago whose faculty, including economist Milton Friedman, were largely responsible for its intellectual underpinnings, preaches aggressively free market capitalism and an aversion to regulation.

Warren’s complaint lies with how the Chicago school, and contemporary federal antitrust policy in the government treats vertical mergers-- deals between two companies that aren’t direct competitors, like Amazon’s recent $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods or AT&T’s now-contested merger with Time Warner.

Generally, vertical mergers don’t cause problems within the Chicago school ideology of economics-- or, as a consequence, with the Justice Department. When antitrust regulators raise concerns, a merger can still be allowed after companies agree to government stipulations meant protect competition.

Warren isn’t the only Democratic lawmaker scrutinizing the ideological underpinnings of antitrust law.

“I think the Chicago school has basically made consumer welfare the litmus test, the gold standard of antitrust policy,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) who co-chairs the House Antitrust Caucus and represents Silicon Valley, told The Hill on Wednesday.

Khanna argued that antitrust policy should factor in the overall impact of consolidation on the public, including how a merger would affect product quality and price.

“What we need to do is go back to our roots and that means considering the impact of mergers and economic concentration have on wages, job and communities,” he said.

Former Treasury economist Austin Frerick, running in Iowa's third district, is as outspoken about this as Elizabeth Warren. I can't wait to see the two of them working together on the issue! "This anti-monoploy message," he told us today, "only connects with Americans if you actually name corporations, because otherwise folks just think of that board game that takes forever to play. But it is risky to name names. You can't put a bigger target on your back then when you say a merger shouldn't happen or a company should be broken up. Since August, I've not only opposed the Monsanto-Bayer merger, but I've also called for Monsanto to be broken up. No one else in my primary of 7 has come out to join me in opposing this merger. Heck, after my announcement, Monsanto donated $5,000 to the Republican opponent David Young and $2,700 through their Iowa lobbyist to Democrat Theresa Greenfield in my primary. I've called on both to return that money and oppose this merger, but it's been over a month and neither have done so."

Goal ThermometerHawaii Rep. Kaniela Ing is Majority Policy Leader in the state legislature and a candidate for Congress. He's been the tip off the spear for progressive legislation in his state and it's no surprise that he's leading on anti-trust issues as well. This morning he told us how he sees it:
It's a shame that we're still talking about austerity economics in America, let alone needing to argue against it in our political discourse. The anti-community, anti-human Chicago-school way of thinking has already obliterated economies across the globe.

The truth is most American economists know better-- that we need to defend against concentrated market power in order to save capitalism. As for the others, I suggest following the money.

The dangers of monopolization goes beyond price controls. Here's an example:

Monsanto, a chemical company, is already among a handful of multi-national corporations that control America's seed supply. This allows them to create varieties of crops that best respond to Monsanto's patented pesticides, force farmers to use them, and ultimately sell more chemicals. Meanwhile farmers and consumers lose options and inevitably pay more. Now, Monsanto wants to merge with Bayer, the drug company. Are we really going to allow a single corporation to have market power over medicine and (when unregulated) sickness-causing chemicals at the same time?

When austerity politicians say there's no such thing as a free lunch, Democrats should respond there's no such thing as a free-market. We know that systems concentrate and funnel power and wealth upward, and it's up to our elected leaders to shift it back to the working and middle-class people who drive our economy. Democrats must lead the way to save capitalism from itself.
The Guardian ran Elizabeth Warren's Wednesday speech at the Open Markets Institute as an OpEd, Three ways to remake the American economy for all. "The central question America faces today is this: who does our government work for? Does it work only for giant corporations, for the rich and the powerful? Or does it work for everyone? This isn’t hard to understand. Americans don’t need to review the complexities of the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index to get what’s going on in this country. Folks at the top are getting more and more and everyone else is left to fight over the scraps. Powerful interests have invested eye-popping amounts of cash into making sure it stays that way-- tilting the playing field against small businesses, against entrepreneurs, against innovators, against workers, and against just about everyone else. To keep us distracted, those in power tell lies built on fear-- fear of people who look different than we do or worship differently than we do or come from a different nationality. All the while, those powerful interests have been locking down their control over our economic system. Strong, healthy markets are the key to a strong, healthy America. But today, in every corner of our economy, big, powerful corporations are killing off competition. Airlines, banking, healthcare, pharma, agriculture, telecom and tech-- in industry after industry, monopolies, duopolies, and oligopolies are calling all of the shots-- exerting alarming control over markets. The results are devastating."

This is why we love her. This is why the country so desperately needs a Sander-Warren partnership in 2020.
When those giants kill off competition, prices go up, quality goes down, and jobs are eliminated. But that’s not all. Massive consolidation means the big guys can lock out smaller, newer competitors. It means the big guys can crush innovation. It means the big guys can muzzle ideas they don’t like and voices they don’t like. Studies show that consolidation even contributes to driving down wages and driving up income inequality.

Concentrated market power also translates into concentrated political power-- the kind of power that can capture our government. And that’s exactly what’s happening, as President Trump and the Republicans in Congress bow to the power and influence of these industrial giants and financial titans.

Donald Trump used to talk about the danger of monopoly. But that talk has pretty much disappeared now that he is president. Once he took the oath, he began stacking his administration with a who’s who of former lobbyists, Wall Street insiders, and corporate executives committed to tilting the scales even further in favor of their powerful friends and against everybody else. And just days ago, the Republican Congress handed out a giant tax giveaway to Wall Street corporations and the super-rich, leaving working families and college students to pick up the tab.

To rebuild an economy that works for everyone, not just the big guys, it is critical to reduce concentrated power in our markets. The federal government has the tools to do it; Congress handed antitrust enforcers those tools over a century ago. But those tools have been sitting on the shelf for decades, gathering dust.

Antitrust enforcers placed those tools on the shelf when they adopted Chicago School principles that narrowed the scope of antitrust laws; they moved away from the goal of protecting competition. It’s time to demand that antitrust enforcers pick up those tools, dust them off, and start enforcing the law again. Let’s talk about how.
Here's where she outlines the 3 steps. If you have the time, read the entire explanations. I wish I had a video of the speech, but these are the 3 steps:

• Step one: block mergers that choke off competition

• Step two: it’s time to crack down on anti-competitive conduct

• Step three: get all government agencies in the game

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