Navigation
More About This Website

On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

------------------------------------

Trump & The Mob

http-//www.politico.com#13C5A6C

------------------------------

"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

----------------------------

Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

---------------------

Half of the US Is Broke

------------------------

The myth of the Christian country

----------------------

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

-------------------------

A Just Peace

-----------------------

SIP contract online

--------------------------------------

Middle East friendship chart

--------------------------------------

Corporations enriching shareholders

--------------------------------------

- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

-------------------------

Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

------------------------


-----------------------------

"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 


Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ

------------------------------

  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 


Every Fascist Needs an Enabler. Donald Trump Will Have Mike Pence.


Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 

------------------------------

SB 1533 passes!  

http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=10863

-----------------------------

Housing Needs in Oregon 

-----------------------------

 

---------------------------

"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

________________

Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

----------------------

Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

-----------------------

Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!


  • "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild


  • Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  


Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   


Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 



"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Thursday
Jul272017

THE AGE OF UNREASON

     "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."  - William Butler Yeats

    

     Since the election of 2016 connecting to the news on NPR, reading newspapers, social media and watching CNN and the NewsHour et al became a test of one's ability to digest "fake news" from the halls of Trumpism.  After being on election/media overload during the campaign when the results sunk in I hit the "turn off" button for many weeks after the electionl  Even now when I get e-mail screaming about Trump from the Left, I'm deleting the constant assault on my psyche. Enough! Thank God it's baseball season so I can tune it out by watching the Mariner chase a utopian wild card.   

     But the age of unreason has descended upon us from DC and from the so-called heartland.  When will people learn they have unleashed a chaos spewing demon on the body politic which will not make America Great Again but do the opposite - along with shattering decades of international rules of conduct that have kept the world safe from a nuclear confrontation and our global economy reasonably stable despite the ravages of the Great Recession brought to us by some of the Wall Street crowd who surround The Donald. As The Donald threatens to tear up domestic regulations and international aggrements he sows seeds of fear.     

     During the 2016 campaign I opined that "working class authoritarianism" was on the march in the USA under the banner and personage of Donald Trump.  I saw this coming a year before the election and said so in an op ed piece in our local newspaper. Trumpism fed into a rich vein of racism, anti-immigrant phobia, sexism and most importantly of all opposition to a woman's right of choice which Hillary Clinton with all of her own personal baggage became the pinata for her opponents and a mainstream media engaged in a feeding frenzy.  

     But I never, never imagined Trump would win the election - in the era of Obama such was inconceivable and I was not alone - most pundits and polls gave one confidence Trump was a flash in the pan and would ultimately be rejected by his party and if he got the GOP nomination would be resoundingly defeated by Hillary Clinton, which of course he was if one only counts the popular vote.  But that's not how the game is played in the USA is it?  Our system is based on archaic rules of the 18th century codified to protect White Southern privilege and in the modern age aided by techniques of massive voter intimidation.  

     But make no mistake about it the election of Donald Trump ultimately must be "owned" by voters in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Republicans who wanted to win so badly looked they the other way while voting for Trump who they knew was unfit to be the President of the United State. Sadly they were joined by some Democrats - Bernie supporters and women also casting the winning dice. And of course 43 million eligible voters just couldn't find the time to vote just feeling my vote doesn't count. For this latter group many of whom are at risk of losing their health care - how do they feel now? 

     Now Trump wants to ban transgender people from the US military - how an you ban over 6000 people now serving in our military?  George Takei of Star Trek fame and an outspoken critic of Trump tweeted shortly after Trump's decision came down.

     "History shall record that you are not only the stupidest, most incompetent president ever, but also the cruelest and pettiest,"

     The GOP leadership in the Senate is trying to end Obamacare as we know it but in so doing is faced with chaos in its ranks. Trump also wants to cancel the Iran agreement - the net result will be to allow the Iranians to arm themselves with nukes as we enter Trump's Brave New World Order. And earlier this week Trump turned a Boy Scout jamboree into a Hitler Youth-like media event spewing his grievances against members of his own administration and party.   

     Members of Congress who have been threatened by Trump to run candidates against them it they don't line up with America's der fuhrer better wake up and realize his bullying will be focused on them not some helpless immigrant, Muslim, gay, woman or transgender person.  They could be next on Trump's "Your Fired" list. Trump's temperament and leadership style are that of a would-be dictator.  The last I checked, the election did not terminate The Constitution - or did it?  

     We are a nation divided but the majority of the nation are not with Trumpism but oppose it and fear it.  Yes even in ultra Left Portlandia there are Trump supporters willing to march in support of The Donald.  Sadly, there are a minority on the Left especially local anarchists who are willing to take the bait by the Trumpsters and make a public spectacle of themselves in front of the local cops and drooling media ('it must bleed to lead') while discrediting local progressives.   

     Enough of such paranoia and incivility it just plays into Trump's hands and makes him a hero to his lumpen proletarian base. We should ignore Trump protesters while organizing Marches on city hall, the state capital and more marches on Washington!  We should be about creating a coalition of progressives across the nation not railing at every tweet from Trump or his minions. That again just feeds the beast. Members of Congress can take the fight to the Hill. 

     Progressives should organize not agonize.  There is no point in engaging with Trump's base.  It's a waste of time and energy.  I've tried and they are hopeless.  The point is not to engage them but to crush them at the polls in 2018/2020.  

     Now back to the M's and other distractions from the noise out of Washington DC...   

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jul182017

A LESSON TO LEARN ON THE DAY TRUMPISM IMPLODED!  

"Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society" 

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

     Attending a meeting focused on increasing affordable housing, early childhood education and workforce training in Washington County, Oregon's most affluent county, we were trying to define the goal of such efforts - apparently it's not enough to show we have thousands of county residents in need.  One person said we should focus on getting people to "self-sufficiency."

     On the face of it this seems a logical way of phrasing the goal.  But the more I thought about it, the more troubled I became with the concept of "self-sufficiency."  As I said, this implies the fault of being in poverty is a person's fault - the blaming the victim syndrome - not a defect in our socio-economic system. 

     Thinking more about it - who is really "self-sufficient?"  Certainly not corporations which depend on tax breaks and other subsidies, nor the super rich who depend on lobbyists, lawyers and accountants to 'game the system' to their benefit. 

     And when I reflect on my own life experience - I had the fortune of having people at my back - helping me succeed in life.  Nobody does it alone - but the Horatio Alger myth is deep in the American psyche of the autonomous individual - even among those who serve the most vulnerable in our society. 

     So I came up with the phrase that our goal should be to "help people succeed in life."   

     Isn't that what good parents do?  Isn't that what good teachers do?  Isn't that what good ministers do?  The problem in American society unlike Canadian society - corporate America and high income folks - don't feel any obligation to use their resources to support a social safety net that gives everyone a shot at the "American Dream." 

     And now we have a Potus who is committed to "Making America Great Again" without a roadmap.  

     There is something seriously wrong with this picture!  

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/canada-america-taxes/533847/

      On the day that Trumpcare imploded, I read this article on why Canada succeeds.  It's quite simple, Canadians are willing to pay taxes to support programs that benefit all Canadians not merely the top 10%.  They've not drunk the kool aide of supply side economics- aka no new taxes - from the Reagan era - "Laffer" economics nor the bombast from the buffoon who occupies with Oval Office now.    

 
www.theatlantic.com
Most of the country understands that when it comes to government, you pay for what you get.
Saturday
Jul152017

THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE

     Editor's Note:  Op Ed columnist for the NYTimes David Brooks suggests that the Trump DNA is programmed for "moral obliviousness" the consequences of which has put the administration into a political tailspin unlike any in modern American history, in my opinion.  While Brooks isn't convinced this will lead to impeachment, I wouldn't bet the farm on such a conclusion.   

     As with Nixon a time will come when the GOP leadership has had enough of the odor of corruption and will decide a Pence in the hand is better than a Trump in the bush.  If the repeal and replace of Obamacare set for a vote next week doesn't pass - then the day of reckoning will be come sooner than later.  After all politicians calculate their odds not on policy but on their own personal risks. 

     Clearly The Donald has become a poison pill which the GOP cannot stand for the rest of his term.  When their fate is tied to his diminishing returns, they will find the "courage" to turn on him with a Pence in hand.  The loss of the moral authority to govern will erode their futures and as well as The Donald's.  Add to this is ineptness of Team Trump and one imagines his GOP mates jumping ship!

------------------------------------------

David Brooks, NYTimes

     Donald Trump’s grandfather Friedrich emigrated to the United States when he was 16, in 1885. He ventured west to seek his riches and finally settled in Seattle, where he opened a restaurant that, according to family historian Gwenda Blair, likely included a section for a bordello.

     Gold fever hit the Pacific Northwest, and Grandfather Trump moved up to Bennett, British Columbia.

     RAD:  The Canadian connection - eh?  

     It was a fast, raucous, money-grabbing atmosphere and Trump opened the Arctic Hotel, which had a bar, a restaurant and, according to an advertisement in the Dec. 9, 1899, edition of The Bennett Sun newspaper, “private boxes for ladies and parties.” Each box apparently came equipped with a bed and a scale to weigh the gold dust that was used to pay for the services offered in it.

     RAD:  Moral turpidude seems baked into the Trump DNA.....

     Friedrich returned to Germany, married and was sent back to the U.S. by German authorities (he hadn’t fulfilled his military service requirement) and amassed a modest fortune.

     RAD:  Another draft dodger? My oh my...  

     Frederick, Donald’s father, began building middle-class housing. Profiles describe an intense, success-obsessed man who worked seven days a week and encouraged those around him to be killers in their field. “He didn’t like wimps,” his nephew told Philip Weiss of The Times. “He thought competition made you sharper.”

     He cared deeply about appearances. “Freddy was always very neat, a Beau Brummell,” Sam LeFrak told Weiss. “He had a mustache, and that mustache was always right, perfect.” He was also remorseless. In an interview with Michael D’Antonio, Donald Trump described his father as “very tough” and “very difficult” and someone who “would never let anything go.”

     RAD:  Like father like son!  

     Biographies describe a man intent on making his fortune and not afraid of skating near the edge to do so. At one point, according to Politico, federal investigators found that Frederick used various accounting measures to collect an extra $15 million in rent (in today’s dollars) from a government housing program, on top of paying himself a large “architect’s fee.” 

     RAD:  Slum lord living off of government money!  Sounds familiar!

     He was hauled before investigating committees on at least two occasions, apparently was arrested at a K.K.K. rally in Queens (though it’s not clear he was a member), got involved in a slush fund scandal with Robert Wagner and faced discrimination allegations.

     DB:  I repeat this history because I don’t think moral obliviousness is built in a day. It takes generations to hammer ethical considerations out of a person’s mind and to replace them entirely with the ruthless logic of winning and losing; to take the normal human yearning to be good and replace it with a single-minded desire for material conquest; to take the normal human instinct for kindness and replace it with a law-of-the-jungle mentality.

     It took a few generations of the House of Trump, in other words, to produce Donald Jr.

     The Donald Trump Jr. we see through the Russia scandal story is not malevolent: He seems to be simply oblivious to the idea that ethical concerns could possibly play a role in everyday life. When the Russian government offer came across his email, there doesn’t seem to have been a flicker of concern. Instead, he replied with that tone of simple bro glee that we remember from other scandals.

     “Can you smell money?!?!?!?!” Jack Abramoff emailed a co-conspirator during his lobbying and casino fraud shenanigans. That’s the same tone as Don Jr.’s “I love it” when offered a chance to conspire with a hostile power. A person capable of this instant joy and enthusiasm isn’t overcoming any internal ethical hurdles. It’s just a greedy boy grabbing sweets.

     Once the scandal broke you would think Don Jr. would have some awareness that there were ethical stakes involved. You’d think there would be some sense of embarrassment at having been caught lying so blatantly.

     But in his interview with Sean Hannity he appeared incapable of even entertaining any moral consideration. “That’s what we do in business,” the younger Trump said. “If there’s information out there, you want it.” As William Saletan pointed out in Slate, Don Jr. doesn’t seem to possess the internal qualities necessary to consider the possibility that he could have done anything wrong.

     RAD:  "That's what we do..."    We've heard that line from The Donald too, time and again!  Like father, like son...  

     That to me is the central takeaway of this week’s revelations. It’s not that the Russia scandal may bring down the administration. It’s that over the past few generations the Trump family has built an enveloping culture that is beyond good and evil.

     The Trumps have an ethic of loyalty to one another. “They can’t stand that we are extremely close and will ALWAYS support each other,” Eric Trump tweeted this week. But beyond that there is no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code. There is just naked capitalism.

     RAD:  The Trumps operate like a Mafia family - with which they have done buinsess with....   So why are we surprised?  

     Successful business people, like successful politicians, are very ambitious, but they generally have some complementary moral code that checks their greed and channels their drive. The House of Trump has sprayed an insecticide on any possible complementary code, and so they are continually trampling basic decency. Their scandals may not build to anything impeachable, but the scandals will never end. 

     RAD:  Like I said moral scandals often lead to political scandals.  And wasn't it Gerald Ford who said back in the day that an impeachable offense is anything a majority of the House think it is.  Now what the Senate does is another kettle of fish...   But the stench is rising...     

 

Monday
Jul032017

HAPPY 4th - THE CASE FOR A NEW REVOLUTION...  

A NEW AMERICAN REVOLUTION:

     Too many Americans see the 4th of July as a time to enjoy a baseball game, a family picnic, or exploding firecrackers not as a time for reflection. 

     We forget that our nation was born out of acts of repression and violence.  While most of us feel the "good guys" won, they forget the toll was accepting slavery, the attempted eradication of Native Americans and the acceptance of the role of women as second class chattel. We've come a long way since 1776 mostly for the good but not without great sacrifices from every generation since then. 

     And we face a new evil, the rise of home grown authoritarianism -

     In the age of Trumpism - the new authoritarianism - we need a rebirth of the American Dream not one framed by the idea of "what's good for corporate America, is good for Americans" but one framed by a new humanism that does not calculte your work or lack thereof as the measure of what it means to be human.
     Our humanity is how we treat others, especially the most vulnerable of us - children, the poor, the other.  The measure of our value is the bigness of our heart not the size of our wallet.
     The philosopher Henry Giroux offers an alternative vision of what needs to be done but I find it long on critical analysis and short on next steps.  But his conclusion gives us the glimpse of what progressives need to work for - a guaranteed national income not connected to work but as a fundamental human right.

www.salon.com
Fighting back against the right's politics of exclusion can be a path toward rebuilding American democracy

     When a coal miner in West Virginia, a logger in Oregon, or a Detroit auto worker loses their job - they and their family should be sheltered from the crushing reality of what it means to be without a paycheck. 
     Trump can promise coal miners jobs but those jobs will not return anymore than the logging jobs in Oregon have returned.  We have a very different economy that no amount of tweeting from the Oval Office can change.  
     If we solve this problem along with going to a single payer health care system - then people can focus on what's really important - reinventing themselves by going back to school, raising their kids, helping in their community.  

     On this basis Red and Blue voters should be united - that nobody deserves to be economically marginalized - by losing a job, their health care and/or their home.  This concept has had bi-partisan support since the McGovern/Nixon election campaign in 1972 but it got little attention due to the Watergate scandal.  


     We don't have to reinvent the wheel.  We simply have to decide whether we invest in Americans or machines.  Let's begin by realizing we are not defined by our "work."   I'm a husband, a father, a grandfather, a once professor now unpaid pundit, blogger and citizen activist. I'm also reading books for pleasure again - what a concept.  
     Since leaving the workforce in 2009 I've reinvented myself many times in ways I never imagined. I also used to play bogey golf.  But I could do none of these things without the safety net of a pension plan I paid into for over 40 years, social security and a savings account. 
     Most Americans living paycheck to paycheck or by piling up credit card debt don't have that luxury today.  A guaranteed national income plus single payer health care will shelter millions American against the brutal facts of an economy that regards them as 'expendable'. Only then will they have the "luxury" to determine what they really want to do when they grow up!   

------------------------------------------

     For more on this topic - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/we-cant-afford-not-to-provide-a-new-social-safety-net


Wednesday
Jun282017

THE SECRET BEHIND LATEST DEMOCRATIC LOSSES

     Editor's Note:  The key the winning elections is knowing how to count the votes.  This turns out to be more complicated than one might think as Hedrick Smith dissects recent off-year congressional races.  Elections are as much about design as turnout.  

Hedrick Smith

June 26, 2017

     Washington – The key takeaway from the super-heated battle for Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, where Republican veteran Karen Handel beat Democratic neophyte Jon Ossoff, is that partisan gerrymandering is king. It swings elections more powerfully and reliably than a flood of MegaMoney.

     Democrats and their supposedly “independent” Super-PACS turned this special election into the most expensive House race in U.S. political history. Flexing their financial muscle, Democrats poured a war chest of $39.2 million into the race, heavily outspending the still potent $24.8 million on the Republican side. But all that Democratic money went for naught. But why?

 

Republicans Karen Handel (R-GA) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) boosted to victory in special elections by gerrymandered districts.

     As they poked through the ashes of defeat, disgruntled Democrats blamed their previously youth-hero candidate, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff for too thin a resume or for not residing inside his election district. Or they sniped at late-breaking TV images of the shooting of Congressional Republicans by a Democratic malcontent. Or they carped that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and her “San Francisco values” had undercut Ossoff in  among tradition-minded Georgia voters.

     But the pundits forgot the fundamentals – that Georgia’s sixth district had been engineered by the Republican Party’s gerrymander map-makers in 2001 and again in 2011 to guarantee victory for Republican candidates and defeat for Democrats.

How Red Map Has Given Republicans “A Lock”

     Amidst the finger-pointing and handwringing, political soothsayers ignored the obvious – that for four solid decades, Georgia’s sixth congressional district has been red, solid red, pure red, steadily red, loyally red, predictably red. In politics, that is called “a lock” – a safe political monopoly that has worked for the GOP in that district for 21 straight congressional elections.

     That lock was most recently the bounty of RedMap, the GOP’s stunningly successful campaign to capture control of as many state governments as possible in the 2010 elections. By picking up 675 legislative seats nationwide in 2010, Republicans won vital leverage in the wake of the 2010 census, when congressional seats were reapportioned and election district lines had to be redrawn.

     The RedMap sweep enabled Republicans to stack the mapping of election districts in the GOP’s favor in a string of states from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida. Democrats did it, too in Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts, but in far fewer states than Republicans.

     RedMap has paid off handsomely. It helped Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives in 2012 with a 33-seat majority even though Democratic candidates won 1.5 million more votes nationwide than Republicans. “Republicans derive a net benefit of at least 16-17 congressional seats in the current Congress” from partisan gerrymandering, says a new study from the nonpartisan Brennan Institute at New York University law school.

RedMap – Firewall vs. The Democrats

     What’s more, RedMap is the gift that keeps on giving. The sophisticated computer software used by the Republican mapmakers enabled the GOP to carve the boundaries of election districts with such precision that those GOP-drawn district maps now provide a firewall for Republican candidates in 2017 and beyond.

     Not just in Georgia, where Handel beat Ossoff, but next door in South Carolina where Republican Ralph Norman defeated Democrat Archie Parnell, by 51% to 47% in that state’s fifth district. Go back a decade and Democrats used to win that district easily, because they had drawn the maps in 2001.

     But when the 2010 census gave South Carolina one new House seat and the election maps were redrawn, the Republican legislature made sure that the fifth district was solidly Republican and and made it =easy for their man Mike Mulvaney to romp to victories in three elections. And last week, despite a strong challenge by Parnell, a pro-business Democrat with a Goldman Sachs pedigree, once again South Carolina’s fifth district worked like a charm as ”safe” Republican.

What Lured Democrats to Hope

     In Georgia, Democrats were lured into discounting the political laws of gravity by two electoral anomalies. In 2016, President Trump had only narrowly carried that district and since then, Trump had gone so far off the rails that they were tempted to believe that the highly educated district voters would punish any Republican candidate for Trump’s political sins. And second, Ossoff took everyone by surprise by finishing first among a bipartisan field of 18 candidates in the first April primary with 48% of the vote.

Democrats Jon Ossoff of Georgia, left, + Archie Parnell of South Carolina (right) faced uphill battles from the get go in districts gerrymandered by GOP.

     But in the runoff two months later, when both parties had time to mobilize their legions, turnout shot up from 193,000 to nearly 260,000. Ossoff was stuck at 48% of the vote. ”When turnout starts going up that high, and people start coming out of the woodwork to vote, it moves back to the (natural) alignment of the district,” commented Atlanta-based pollster Robert Cahaly.

     Natural alignment in Georgia’s sixth district, as in many other states, means gerrymandered alignment – stacked the way the majority party drew election district maps, picking reliable majorities of their own voters to keep themselves in power. 

The Historic pattern – Democratic for 134 years, Republican for 38

     Gerrymandering has a long history in American politics, dating back to 1812 and Democratic Governor Eldridge Gerry of Massachusetts. In Georgia, The Atlanta Constitution reported recently, Democrats created a lock on the sixth district in 1844 and dominated it for 134 years, except for a brief period during post-Civil War Reconstruction.

     But ever since 1978, when Newt Gingrich, then an upstart college professor, broke the Democratic lock by winning an open seat election, the Republicans have had their own monopoly in this district. Gingrich had one close-call election in 1990. But otherwise, he won a string of victories with majorities of 55% to 71%. In the last seven elections, former Rep. Tom Price always won with at least a 60% majority.

     Against that big built-in Republican tilt in Georgia and South Carolina, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Archie Parnell did strikingly well, but had little chance of winning. Democrats, now headed toward the 2018 mid-term elections and beyond, will once again face a slew of tough uphill battles against built-in Republican gerrymander advantages in at least 100 congressional districts.

     The partisan locks by both parties have triggered political rebellions among voters. In more than a dozen states, blatant party power politics have provoked grass roots reform movements seeking a more authentic choice for voters by turning over the job of drawing district lines to independent bipartisan commissions.

     Some Democratic voters in Wisconsin and Republican voters in Maryland have gone to court, challenging partisan gerrymandering as unconstitutional. In Wisconsin, a three-judge federal panel has  sided with the voters, finding that the majority party has diluted the value of their votes and outlawing partisan gerrymandering. In an uproar, Wisconsin’s Republican leadership has appealed and so partisan gerrymandering will go on trial before the Supreme Court this fall, with the potential for a wholesale upheaval in the landscape of American politics.