Tuesday, August 28, 2018

GOP ↔️ Racism

Over at SplinterNews, Hamilton Nolan argues that the GOP is "existentially racist."
The Republican Party exists primarily to enable rich people to get richer. Its most powerful tool for drawing public support to this niche cause is racism. Indeed, research shows it.
In the American system, money can directly purchase political power. Wealthy people and business interests have used money to purchase an entire political party. (And much of the other party, too, but at least that’s a mixed bag.) The entities who fund the Republican Party do so as an investment. And that investment pays off in the form of tax cuts and deregulation. You’ll notice that tax cuts are the only thing this inept Republican Congress actually managed to achieve so far.  
Because “cut taxes on multimillionaires” is not a strong “populist” message, the Republican Party uses religion and patriotic flag-waving and culture wars to attract votes, out of necessity. But what works better than anything for this purpose? Racism. It is well understood and widely accepted that the shift among Southern voters from the Democratic to Republican Party occurred largely as a result of direct racist appeals by the Republicans, spurred by the civil rights movement. For the Republicans, civil rights were simply an opportunity to capture racist voters. And it worked. [...]  
Anyone who rejects racism cannot in good conscience be a member of the Republican Party. It’s that simple. If you are a Republican who believes racism is evil, either vote Democratic, vote for a third party, or don’t vote. 

Conservative "freedom" means power, that is all

Commenter ifanyinterest nails it:

Conservatives don't want freedom. They want power. Freedom for those at the top is power over everyone else. Freedom for those at the bottom is a threat to power at the top.
"Freedom" for the GOP means taking out the government's ability to balance out the needs of the many against the needs of the few. Who cares if clean air regulations save literally thousands of lives? They cost shareholders money. Privatize the gains from polluting, but shove the cost onto the public.
In this case, regulation means putting the thumb on the scale to ensure that Facebook and Google become vehicles for conservative propaganda. It's never been about freedom. It's always been about power and control.
"States rights" = the freedom to oppress black people. It was about protecting slavery and then Jim Crow. "States rights" advocate Scalia still argued for the government's right to regulate marijuana. "States rights" has always been about protecting the power of old white conservatives. It was never a real ideology. It was always about power over others.
"The right to bear arms" = the right for white people to bear arms. Ronald Reagan and the Republican-controlled legislature in California repealed open-carry? Why? Because the Black Panthers carried openly. "Stand your ground" often doesn't apply to black people.
The TEA Party was created by Big Tobacco. The entire "get government off our backs" movement was funded by major corporations fighting deregulation. The TEA Party, which supposedly cared about the federal deficit, has gone entirely silent as Donald Trump blows up the deficit. It existed entirely to hamstring The Democratic Party's ability to control federal spending. They didn't want "freedom" from government healthcare. They wanted "freedom" for one of "their" guys to decide the budget, to work it so they get enormous subsidies in the form of unpaid tax cuts.
"Tough on crime" = "tough on poverty". Crimes associated with having none, such as property crimes, are responded to with the full force of the police state. SWAT teams are called out 50,000 times a year, often to serve warrants. Property crime account for $14 billion in losses each year. Wage theft accounts for $50 billion. Meanwhile, the agencies in charge of enforcing wage theft, protecting consumers, and policing corporations are gutted.
It's never been about freedom. It's always been about power. Power to tell women what to do with their bodies. Power for Christians to tell others how to worship. Power for wealthy businesses to pollute, cheat, and steal with impunity. Power to do whatever you want to black people--structural racism allows for poor whites to still have absolute power over others, so that they can buy into a system that has no constraints on power for those with money. The modern GOP is a fucking sham. It's about giving the powerful more power, and it spends literally billions of dollars a year to try and convince people otherwise, because it's a fundamentally untenable moral position. It's cancer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ANOTHER another updated history of RCV in Maine

Courtesy again of the energetic Diane Russell:

  • First, I introduced bill after bill in the Legislature to create a Ranked Choice Voting election system. They told me it couldn't be done.
  • Then, we launched a citizen's initiative. I was stripped of my committee position for doing so.
  • Next, the people of Maine voted YES at the ballot box to get ourselves some better politicians.
  • Then, the Legislature voted to REPEAL the people's law because they liked the politicians we had.
  • So, we launched a People's Veto to stop the repeal. They laughed at us because, "it's impossible."
  • We collected 80,000+ signatures in 88 days in subfreezing winter weather to get on the ballot (AGAIN, but who's counting?) and force implementation for the June 12th primary.
  • The State would STILL not implement the law. So we sued. And won.
  • Then the Senate GOP (and some Democrats) voted to sue to STOP implementation of Ranked Choice Voting.
  • Last night, the Maine State Supreme Court ruled in FAVOR of implementing RCV in June, meaning the People won!
This is really good news. I've already noticed an unusual amount of civility among our 8 Dems vying for governor, because if you want to be someone's 2nd or 3rd choice you can't run the risk of trashing their 1st. Also: this a huge boost for the campaign of Zak Ringelstein, the awesome Democrat running for the seat now held by Angus King. If the People come through again for RCV on June 12, we can vote for the best candidate without fear of the spoiler effect. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Framing: gun control vs. gun safety

I told her that if the NRA required competency training to own a gun, safety training to carry concealed, and advocated actually treating guns like we do cars, including requiring insurance, I would gladly support it and become a member. 
This is, in my opinion, an opportunity to emphatically change the left position from the intrusive sounding "gun control” to the much more palatable “gun safety,” which is more conducive to getting legislation we want passed if liberals retake any part of the government in 2018 and 2020. We should take that divers license analogy and run with it. Literally.

Friday, February 16, 2018

RCV explained

Courtesy of Diane Russell:
A Brief History...
  • On November 8, 2016, we passed Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) at the ballot box.
  • On October 23, 2017, the Legislature passed a law to delay and repeal RCV.
  • On February 2, 2018, we submitted 80,000 signatures (72,000+ valid) to stop the repeal. According to the Maine Constitution, upon "filing," we blocked that law from taking effect, paving the way for an RCV election during the June primaries. At the same time, Maine people will be voting on the question of whether to restore RCV. (Hint: vote YES)
The final certification on the validity of the People's Veto signatures will not come back from the Secretary of State until late this month. However, I designed and personally oversaw every step of the compliance process and am fully confident we will be on the ballot in June.
We did not file this lawsuit lightly. However, since filing our signatures, there have been many statements by leaders that have genuinely confused Maine voters and brought uncertainty to the coming election. This lawsuit asks the courts to clarify the plan for the June primaries. Politicians and the Secretary of State have had since November 2016 to implement this and have not done so.What happens in the Primary if we win the court case?
If we win - and I believe the constitution is on our side - Maine voters will be voting in a Ranked Choice Voting primary where they can vote for multiple candidates in order of preference. At the same time, they will be asked whether they wish to vote for RCV itself.
People's Veto is FULLY ConstitutionalThe Supreme Court gave an advisory opinion at the request of the Legislature. It does not have the weight of a formal ruling, but we have decided to have that debate another day. The People's Veto restores ONLY the parts of law that are fully constitutional, including gubernatorial and state house primaries, federal (US House + US Senate) primaries, and federal general elections (US House + US Senate). We left intact the delay and repeal of the general election for governor and state house, which we will fight for in the future.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

In case you were wondering

If you were wondering how Trump plans to pay for his tax cuts for billionaires and corporations, now you know: with $1.8 trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The "Two Santa Clauses" long con

Thom Hartmann explains how the GOP has been punishing Democrats for 40 years:
  1. When in power, spend like a drunken sailor. Also cut taxes. Give people stuff you can't afford to pay for, and slip them money while you're at it. 
  2. When out of power, howl about deficits. Make the Democrats cut spending and raise taxes. Deficits are the worst thing ever!!!
  3. Get re-elected. Rinse and repeat.
It all started with Jude Wanniski, who proposed his evil Two Santa Clauses strategy in 1974:
Democrats, he said, had been able to be "Santa Clauses" by giving people things from the largesse of the federal government. From food stamps to new schools to sending a man to the moon, the people loved the “toys” the Democrats brought every year.
Republicans could do that, too, the theory went – spending could actually increase without negative repurcussions. Plus, Republicans could be double Santa Clauses by cutting people's taxes!
For working people it would only be a small token – a few hundred dollars a year on average – but would be heavily marketed. And for the rich, which wasn’t to be discussed in public, it would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts.
The rich, Reagan, Bush, and Trump told us, would then use that money to import or build more stuff to market, thus stimulating the economy and making average working people richer. (And, of course, they’d pass some of that money back to the GOP, like the Kochs giving Paul Ryan $500,000.00 right after he passed the last tax cut that gave them billions.)
There was no way, Wanniski said, that the Democrats could ever win again. They'd be forced into the role of Santa-killers by raising taxes, or anti-Santas by cutting spending. Either one would lose them elections.
Why am we just learning about this?

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Disgusted? Share.

from the good people at Ultra Violet.

More links

Ballotpedia - election information.
Vote411.org - get personalized voting information.
Register to Vote plus resources about voting.
RealClearPolitics - stay updated with the latest polls from the most comprehensive poll data aggregator on the web.
Daily Kos Elections - providing detailed and comprehensive daily election updates with a daily Live Digest blog.
Running for Office
If you want to run for office, start with this comprehensive resource guide from Slate. The only major resource this guide leaves out is Run for Something, which supports millennials running for down-ballot office.
Job Boards
JobsThatAreLeft and WellStone Jobs - two Google groups with great job postings.
Democratic Gain - join the largest network of progressive political professionals and associations.
Democratic Party Organizations
Democratic National Committee - the formal governing body for the United States Democratic Party.
Democratic Party Info for All 50 States - get involved by donating, volunteering/interning, or running for office!
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee- the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee - the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the Senate.
Democratic Governors Association - supporting the elections of Democratic gubernatorial candidates.
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee - supporting the elections of to Democratic state legislative candidates.
National Democratic Redistricting Committee - working closely with the Democratic party on comprehensive redistricting reform; endorsed by President Obama.
Grassroots Organizations
Indivisible - get involved with the nation's largest progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda.
Swing Left - find your closest Swing District and sign up to support a progressive win there in 2018.
Flippable - building a data-driven, people-powered movement to flip states blue and restore our democracy.
Emily's List and She Should Run - two great organizations dedicated to recruiting and supporting female candidates up and down the ballot across the country.
Sister District Project - pairing volunteers from blue districts with red district projects to maximize impact for volunteers across the nation.
It Starts Today - for only 4.88 dollars a month, you can help fund every single Democratic House of Representative candidate's campaign.
Spread the Vote and VoteRiders - two organizations dedicated to fighting voter suppression laws and providing voters with the necessary voter ID.
Tech for Campaigns - connecting world-class tech talent with progressive & centrist candidates for local, state, and national office.
Contacting your Representatives
IssueVoter.org - receive alerts before bills pass in Congress, send your opinion directly to your rep, and track your rep’s votes and bill outcomes.
Call to Action - enter your address to find your Congressional Representative and call them.
Resistbot - text “RESIST” to 50409 and I’ll find out who represents you in Congress and deliver your message to them in under 2 minutes.
5 Calls - make five calls a day to resist Trump.
Town Hall Project - directory of town halls with members of congress.
Other Issues
GoFCCYourself.com - tell the FCC to protect net neutrality. Use Battle for the Net to contact your representatives.
American Civil Liberties Union - take action and defend our rights against the Trump administration!
Healthcare Now - find a local single-payer advocacy group and get involved!
Sierra Club - take action against the Trump administration to protect our environment!

Nuts & Bolts guidebook

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

What to do and where to go

Courtesy of the Good News Roundup over at Daily Kos, these are great links for connecting with other local activists, finding useful actions, and organizing events:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Deserving Poor: Ammo for next wingnut encounter

From Laura Clawson:
A child raised in the bottom fifth of the income scale through much of the southern United States has around a 5 percent chance of rising to the top fifth—4 percent in Atlanta and 4.3 percent in Charlotte—while a low-income child has a 9.6 percent chance of rising in Los Angeles and 11.2 percent in San Francisco. Do Republicans think poor kids in California are just twice as likely to be hardworking as poor kids in Georgia and North Carolina? Or might there be something else going on?
Unfortunately I can already hear the response, which will involve blah people. Still, these are useful statistics to have at hand.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Greedy, sadistic, or both?

Two pieces came to my attention yesterday. Matt Taibbi's July examination of price-fixing by the rating agencies:
"Lord help our fucking scam . . . this has to be the stupidest place I have worked at," writes one Standard & Poor's executive. "As you know, I had difficulties explaining 'HOW' we got to those numbers since there is no science behind it," confesses a high-ranking S&P analyst. "If we are just going to make it up in order to rate deals, then quants [quantitative analysts] are of precious little value," complains another senior S&P man. "Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of card[s] falters," ruminates one more. [...]
40 percent of the world's wealth was wiped out in the aftermath of the mortgage bubble, according to some estimates. 2008 was to the American economy what 9/11 was to national security. Yet while 9/11 prompted the U.S. government to tear up half the Constitution in the name of public safety, after 2008, authorities went in the other direction. If you can imagine a post-9/11 scenario where there were no metal detectors at airports and people could walk on carrying chain saws and meat cleavers, you get a rough idea of what was done to reform the ratings process.
And Charles Simic on the sadistic bastards of the GOP:
Bettering the lives of anyone but the wealthy, as we know, has ceased to be a concern of the Republican Party. But millions of Americans are on the brink of buying affordable health insurance and freeing themselves from a worry that makes their lives utter misery; the concerted effort backed by some of the richest men in this country to deprive them of that chance may be without precedent for sheer malice. Indifference to the plight and suffering of human beings of one class or another by some segment of the population is a universal phenomenon, but spending millions of dollars to deepen the misery of one’s fellow citizens and enlisting members of one political party to help you do so is downright vile. It must be motivated as much by sadism as by the political calculation that if these uninsured were to get insurance, they would give the Democratic Party a governing majority simply out of gratitude for letting them see a doctor.
These are not precisely the same behaviors but they are definitely connected.

UPDATE: Michael Tomasky calls the GOP stance on the ACA "indisputably the most strenuous effort at policy sabotage we’ve ever seen in the modern history of this country."
Republicans did not do this to Social Security. Majorities of Republicans voted in favor of Social Security. About half of Republicans also voted for Medicare. A group of senators sought to defund the Vietnam War, but that group was bipartisan. No, there’s never been an effort quite like this. It’s truly astonishing to step back and think about it. The great uniting cause of the Republican Party of the Obama era, the one thing they’re spent more time and energy on than any other, is preventing uninsured Americans from obtaining insurance.