Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Are Democrats positioning for holding the middle or for losing again?

On April 15, 2020, I revisited the question I posed On April 30, 2019.

I can say, without equivocation, that I have NOT abandoned hope but I have changed my mind over the course of the last year regarding the candidacy of Joe Biden. 
Rather, I now believe that the "revolution" pursued by Sen. Bernie Sanders has pretty much been victorious. At least as Biden's campaign stands on the issues and approaches to addressing the needs of Americans. It is now time to eradicate the "Orange Menace" that has hijacked the American federal government. This can be done.


This post is a follow up on the questions Bob Lord posed and on why unseen forces are pushing Biden on us so aggressively.

On The Damage Report earlier today, Emma Vigeland argued that positioning the Democratic presidential nominee to be a "moderate" rather than a Progressive populist is not a winning strategy.

"Electable" is a fuzzy concept. But Vigeland's view (she doesn't use that word here) makes more sense than nominating a moderate with nebulous notions of holding the center.

"The Washington speak is that, 'It has to be a moderate.' Well that didn't work out last time. It has to be a populist. It has to be someone who really convinces the American public that they are going to change their lives for the better... the middle is not moderate. The middle is populist and that's what these pollsters and these pundits have to get through their heads."

Have any of our readers per chance had the opportunity to read J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy? Vance describes a family and a culture where it doesn't matter what the "leading economic indicators" might be for the American economy.

From Goodreads,
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class [note: this problem and this culture is not exclusive to poor whites] Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
I read the book shortly after Trump took office. Vance only tells the story of his family, not people of color. But can anyone say that poor white people are the only ones with the problems Vance described? MY point is that Joe Biden is not likely to address the urgent problems of poor white Americans. Or of anyone else. However, he might put nicer labels on the elites that exercise the power in our country.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Does Trump make you even consider absurdities?

From Politifact regarding one of the presider-in-chief's most recent lies:
"The baby is born," Trump said. "The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby."
From Esquire.com and Charles P. Pierce:
On Saturday, El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago had another one of his irregularly scheduled public episodes in front of people in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He bragged about his magnificent economic achievements to an audience in America's Dairyland, despite the fact that Wisconsin's dairy farms have begun to blow away in a strong breeze. Everybody cheered because MAGA.

There's not much commentary I can add to this except to quote 18th-Century French philosopher Voltaire.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Who is suggesting that Biden is the only "electable" Democratic presidential candidate? And WHY?

WHY are "they" (currently unseen actors/forces) pushing that question and issue now, instead of after a nominee has been chosen?

Were you paying attention in 2015 and 2016?

We now know that Russian bots and the Internet Research Agency (Indictment) (Mueller Report, Volume 1, starting on Page 174) were behind massive social media subterfuge dividing Democrats all across the US during the 2016 election season.

Now, we are seeing on Facebook and Twitter (and perhaps other social media) a crescendo of peer pressure tactics posing 1) that former Vice-President Joe Biden is the only "electable" candidate; and 2) demanding those who disagree vote for him WHEN he wins the nomination.

First, it is FAR from a certainty that Biden will win the nomination. Second, the question on voting for whomever is nominated will not be ripe until there is a nominee.

The definition of ripeness I reference is a legal definition. But this is not a court case. Nevertheless, the meaning is parallel to this situation. What I'm suggesting is that to push an unripe question is tantamount to a shiny object. A diversion. A misdirection play.
This misdirection football play works exceptionally well in youth football. In youth football deceptive plays are your best chance for success.
Basically, in football, if the defense thinks the offense is going to run a certain play, if they guessed correctly the defense is more likely to keep the offense from moving the ball or scoring a touchdown. That works in politics too. Since the offense wants Biden to win the nomination, it's going to do its best to get you (the defense in this situation) to look for a different play.

Heaven forbid we are STILL as naive today as we were in 2016. Yes, I include myself in that. In 2016, prior to the Democratic Convention, I adamantly advocated for Bernie Sanders' nomination. Thereafter, however, because of insight from the great Italian political philosopher Machiavelli, I tried to tell people of the importance of voting for Secretary Clinton.

Maurizio Viroli's book, How to Choose a Leader, set forth Machiavelli's sound reasoning for voting for the "lesser of evils."

But up until the convention, I had harsh words for Mrs. Clinton. Of course, the Democratic "establishment," notably the Democratic National Committee knowingly put its thumb on the scale for her.

Now history is rhyming. It's not Hillary Clinton. This time it's Joe Biden. I'm not going to write an essay on all the reasons that it would be less than advantageous to nominate him. But I am trying to bring attention this early in the game to the fact that unseen forces are already at work to suppress every other candidate and suppress advocacy for every other candidate.

Joe Biden is not a lock for the nomination. Please don't engage on any social media platform in ways that will be divisive. If you want to advocate for Biden, make a case for him. But don't mock those who disagree with you. Don't try to shame them for wanting any other candidate. And for God's sake, don't try to BS anyone into thinking he's the only possible electable candidate. That is just not true.

Why is Biden not necessarily electable? Because no political scientist, sociologist, economist or any other scientist can even come up with a rational or quantifiable way to define the term.

Use of that term or expression for now might make it "code." An expression that means something other than the traditionally accepted dictionary definition. In this case, hoodwinking Democratic primary voters into thinking because Biden [might be] the only "electable" candidate, there's no point in putting any work or thought into evaluating or even paying any attention to any of the other candidates.

In fifteen months, I might have a different assessment of Biden's candidacy. But not now.

When there is a nominee, we'll Rise UP with ONE Voice.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Trump's connection to Putin is deeper than you previously thought

                                             photo credit: The Atlantic

We know (you do know don't you) that Trump acts like he's joined at the hip with the Russia dictator. From The Atlantic (How the Kremlin Shapes the Trump-Putin Relationship),
Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia did not occur in 2016, according to a memo written by Attorney General William Barr late last month. But fundamental questions remain: Why do so many of Trump’s positions bewilderingly align with Putin’s, including chastising U.S. spies, dismissing NATO as “obsolete,” and questioning the value of the European Union? What explains Trump’s affinity [affection] for Putin, and the extensive secrecy that has shrouded their interactions since 2017? Why has the White House made it so easy for the Kremlin to shape the narrative around Trump and Putin’s encounters, often to Moscow’s advantage?
It may take Congressional investigations as follow up to the Mueller Report to flesh out the particulars. But it's grossly apparent that, as Atlanta Journal Constitution political cartoonist Mike Luckovich recently portrayed,

By the way, you may have heard that Trump has kept a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf by his bedside. This story in Business Insider quotes Trump about the book and where he got it. Notably, the book was

Hitler was one of history's most prolific orators, building a genocidal Nazi regime with speeches that bewitched audiences.
"He learned how to become a charismatic speaker, and people, for whatever reason, became enamored with him," Professor Bruce Loebs, who has taught a class called the Rhetoric of Hitler and Churchill for the past 46 years at Idaho State University, told Business Insider earlier this year.
In another Business Insider story (also from 2015), Amanda Macias says of Hitler,
In more than 5,000 persuasive speeches, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler bewitched his audiences and promised them that his empire would reign for a thousand years.
That explains how Trump has developed a cult following that he has succeeded in bewitching. But it doesn't account for Putin's fascination with Trump.

I digress.

Perhaps all I have is circumstantial evidence, but I'll share a bit of it with you briefly anyway. In September 2015, the Hudson Institute published a story about Putin's Philosopher.
In the last days of April, Russian television aired a 150-minute documentary [apparently entirely in Russian without subtitles or translation] about Vladimir Putin’s decade and a half as the leader of Russia. Shown around the anniversary of his first inauguration (May 7, 2000), the movie offered a blunt message: in the 15 years of Putin’s rule, he had saved Russia from the forces of destruction, both internal—Chechnya and the oligarchs—and external—insidious Western influence. He, the movie repeatedly reinforced, is the only thing holding the country together.
According to the film, moreover, Putin is not just a political savior: his leadership has also been important for the spiritual revival of Russia and its people. Fully six minutes of the movie were dedicated to a recounting of his work to repatriate the remains of White Russian [not a cocktail and not about the color of his skin] philosopher Ivan Ilyin.

“Politics is the art of identifying and neutralizing the enemy.”

—Ivan Ilyin, 1948

A number of Ilyin's works (including those written after the German defeat in 1945) advocated fascism.[9] Ilyin saw Hitler as a defender of civilization from Bolshevism and approved the way Hitler had, in his view, derived his antisemitism from the ideology of the Russian Whites. [see also The Road to Unfreedom, By Timothy Snyder, p 20]
From Wikipedia's article on Fascism,
Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.
Does any of that paragraph on Fascism sound at all like what Trump has been doing to our country since he first took office?

Again, this is Vladimir Putin's underlying philosophy. By the way, it has enabled him to turn Russia into a massive kleptocracy.

My synthesis of all of this is that the primary purpose of Trump's presidency thus far has been to weaken (destroy) American institutions, including but NOT limited to the federal government.

Yale historian Timothy Snyder also explains in The Road to Unfreedom (Page 27),
A fascist presents institutions and laws as the corrupt barriers between leader and folk that must be circumvented or destroyed.
The most blatant indications by Trump of his intent to weaken American institutions has been installing cabinet ministers over federal agencies who have taken it upon themselves to demolish agency rules designed to protect everyday Americans from the plunder we face at the hands of corporate exploitation.

I could go on and on. The frequent campaign rallies to exploit and "rouse the rabble"; labeling ultranationalists (neo-Nazis), "very fine people"; daring his followers to commit violent acts against anyone who disagrees with/opposes Trump; demonizing immigrants. Do you need more evidence that Trump leans heavily Fascist?

You now know where Putin gets his Fascist/Authoritarian ideology and you know that's what Trump is all about.

Can there be any alternative for saving our democratic republic than to impeach Trump? I don't think so. However, Blogger Teri Kanefield suggests being thoughtful (not just Congress) about advocating for it.

We do NOT know exactly how it will play out. Trump has sown a lot of seeds of violence over the last four years (starting when he first held campaign rallies before the 2016 election).

We do NOT know what will happen if Congress declines to impeach, just as we don't know what will happen throughout the country if they do impeach. The one thing we know with the most confidence is that the president deserves to be thrown out of office.

We do know that Trump himself declared that "I'm FUCKED." Two years ago, that is. But now he's putting on his best blustery face to declare that he's not afraid of impeachment. Conventional wisdom would suggest he is scared.

We do not know at what point Trump might resign in lieu of impeachment. Nor do we know whether VP Pence would offer him a blanket pardon which might make it easier to decide to resign.

We do not know whether legal and other Constitutional institutions have been sufficiently degraded to the extent he might try to declare himself permanent dictator. Those, seemingly outrageous options could become possible.

So advocate for impeachment (I will) because that is the Constitutional remedy for the crises we currently face. But be prepared for unexpected outcomes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Let me tell you a story about why I now believe Donald Trump will be impeached

The Forty-Fifth President of the United States will be successfully impeached in the People's House. The probability that he will be lawfully ousted from office by conviction from two-thirds of the members of the United States Senate is NOT zero.

Beside the fact that I can "feel it in my bones" and can easily envision it at this point in history, it's not just in my imagination.

Less than a week ago, a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigative report, was publicly released by current Attorney General Bill Barr. For several weeks, since the report was delivered to Barr in the first place, we've known that Barr would supervise the redaction of portions of the report. Those redactions are meant, for example, to protect investigations that had been handed off to other prosecutors (such as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York).

During the interim, pundits have speculated that the redacted version, when released, would be so cleansed that it would even protect Trump. But that's not how it played out.

Yes, Bill Barr did and does his best to protect Trump by speaking of the plethora of the revelations in the document in dismissive and euphemistic ways. The result of which is to embolden the person I now refer to as the criminal maniac who presides over the federal government. The criminal maniac will undoubtedly turn up the volume on his blustery rants on video and on Twitter.

Notwithstanding Barr's interpretations of Trump's behavior/conduct as completely innocuous, the AG has not succeeded in tamping down the popular consternation over Trump's shockingly unlawful conduct.

Then there's the other major player in this drama: Madam Speaker (Pelosi). Broadcast and print news reports have consistently led Americans to believe that the House will NOT impeach the criminal maniac. Until Tuesday (April 23), that is.

On Monday evening, Pelosi held a conference call (oh the wonders of telecommunication technology) with the 235 members of the House Majority.

Over the weekend, and with reports as late as Monday evening, everyone talking about the plans of House leadership could only go so far as to emphasize that we are not yet to the point where impeachment can be seriously considered.

Yet the Mueller Report laid out in exquisite detail a "road map" for Congress to finish the investigation, draw up Articles of Impeachment, and send it over to the Senate for trial.

Now let's go to the tape. Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed Congressman David Cicillini (D-RI) on the video below. Cicillini sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Please listen to the conversation. Lawrence and the Congressman will explain what developed next.

Take note that the testimony and other evidence in the Mueller Report came overwhelmingly from current or former members of Trump's own team, i.e. Republicans. Any fears Congressional (Democratic) leadership may have about stoking even more heightened polarization for the 2020 election season will be assuaged by consistent reporting of that fact.

Further, AZBlueMeanie over at Blog for Arizona this afternoon spelled out how the criminal maniac's conduct this week echoes that of Nixon as it was memorialized in the third Article of Impeachment that the late Republican president would have faced had he not resigned.

While it's not proof of what will take place over the following weeks, the message suggests impeachment is inevitable.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Truth must be the bedrock of our Judicial system - Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

20 or so years ago, Rob Portman, then a Republican Member of the House of Representatives, now Ohio's junior senator declared that "truth must be the bedrock of our judicial system."

Then Representative Fred Upton, Republican from Michigan asked "Obstruction of Justice... What kind of message do we send to America, if we set a lower standard for the highest public official in this land?

South Dakota's John Thune declared on the House floor, that "lying to the American people is a betrayal of trust."

These statements were about the conduct of Bill Clinton. They had caught him lying in personal affairs that mattered largely to his wife and family and to Monica Lewinski.

Those same claims made today condemn a man who has betrayed the American people by weakening institutions established years ago -- by both Democrats and Republicans -- that have been the bedrock of our safety nets for citizens and protections for the air we breathe and water we drink.

The melodrama that has played out since the election in November 2016 has been besought with the intentional weakening of ALL of the institutions of the American federal government. Doing so is the formula for weakened people who would then cry out for authoritarian strong men to rescue the country.

We cannot allow that path to be taken any further by the Trump administration.

Congress must act. And as the advertisement at the top of this page points out, Republicans in Congress and the Senate are key to whether the presider-in-chief will be held to account and only allowed to operate according to law.

First steps have been deployed, in the form of subpoenas issued by key committee chairs in the House. Testimony must be taken in Congress to fill in the blanks left on the Mueller roadmap.

In the summer, a consensus list of Articles of Impeachment must be drafted, approved by the House and sent to the Senate for the trial.

Madam Speaker, time is wasting. Let's get this show on the road.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bob Lord asks, Are Dems posturing to hold the Center or are they Abandoning Hope in 2020?

The Arizona Eagletarian has confidence in Nancy Pelosi's strong leadership in Congress. She's got a damn tough job, holding together a caucus with very divergent views and plenty of gumption. But Madam Speaker's rhetoric aims to position the Party to "hold the Center." Despite the necessity to hold the line with her caucus, is that really the vision we want to project to the national electorate for the year 2020?

Please consider what Phoenix tax attorney, blogger and Democratic activist Bob Lord has to say on the subject.
Holding the Center, or Abandoning Hope?
Trump's re-election would be an unmitigated disaster, but so would squandering the opportunity to establish a bold plan for America's future
At times in recent months, Speaker Pelosi has shined. Her handling of Trump’s shutdown was beyond skillful. So give credit where credit is due.
But what is she thinking when she insists Democrats must “hold the center”?
In 2020, Democratic candidates will face Donald Trump and a batch of Republican Senate and House candidates pledging to support him. Every contest in 2020 will be a referendum on Trump. As was the 2018 mid-term election. As were the 2017 elections in New Jersey and Virginia.
So I wonder: Where is the so-called center, that section of the electorate that will struggle to decide whether or not to support Trump and his Congressional stooges? How large and how significant will that center be? Will winning the votes of that group be the difference between winning and losing, or only the difference between winning big and winning bigger, or winning small and winning smaller?
The conventional wisdom is that “holding the center” always is crucial to winning. But that conventional wisdom is based on a premise that is not always correct, namely, that the group that is up for grabs — the perceived center — is needed to cobble together a majority. Some portion of that squishy group, the logic goes, must be wooed in order to supplement the group a candidate already has in the bag (and can, you know, take for granted).
Sometimes, however, the group that’s in the bag — at least for a candidate who doesn’t take it for granted — constitutes a majority by itself, with no augmentation from the squishy center. “Center” in this context is a misnomer. It’s really a reference to the voters whose allegiance is up for grabs. It often includes the center of the political spectrum, but not always. In bright blue and bright red Congressional districts, for example, the up for grabs vote almost never occupies the political center. The so-called swing states in presidential elections are those states, perhaps a dozen, where the up for grabs is perceived to include the political center. In the other three dozen or so states, not so much.
Consider what happens when a state shifts from swing state to safe for one side or the other. In those states, the up for grabs vote ceases to occupy the political center. Missouri is an example. It was the bellwether state in presidential elections just a few decades ago. Now, it’s not even in the mix, no matter how the up for grabs vote goes. Claire McCaskill likely won the up for grabs Missouri vote in 2018, probably by an overwhelming margin. Still, she got her clock cleaned on election day.
The composition of the up for grabs vote is by no means static. It can change even in the midst of the election cycle. But there are limits. In a so-called safe election, the up for grabs vote will occupy the political center, giving the underdog a chance, only when the candidate of the favored political party is especially flawed. Think Alabama 2017, or Missouri or Indiana 2012. Conversely, if the candidate of the favored party is not sufficiently flawed, the political center is not up for grabs. Think Texas 2018, where a flawed, but not Roy Moore level flawed, Ted Cruz beat rock-star Beto O’Rourke. If O’Rourke didn’t win more than 90% of the up for grabs vote in 2018 my name’s not Bob Lord. But it didn’t matter. The political center just wasn’t up for grabs.
The up for grabs vote may vary significantly as a percentage of the electorate. One byproduct of political polarization in America is a skinny-ing down of the up for grabs vote.
Securing the allegiance of the up for grabs vote — holding the center, as they say — is not without political cost. Appealing to squishy voters means appearing a bit squishy yourself. Those voters perceived to be in the bag are not entirely in the bag. Which means appealing to the “center” has a cost in base turnout. The psychology of this is maddening to the pragmatic crowd, but it’s also reality.
So what does it mean to believe that “holding the center” is the path to victory in 2020?
It means that the group of voters considering votes for Trump and his Congressional stooges is sufficiently large that it occupies the political center in enough states and Congressional districts that wooing them is the clearest path to victory.
There are many, in addition to Speaker Pelosi, who believe that is the reality in which we live: The Morning Joe crowd, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer, Amy Klobuchar, and Joe Biden to name just a few.
I’m not saying that group is wrong.
But how depressing, how absolutely unhopeful, is it, if they’re correct? It would mean the best possible political mandate the Democratic Party could cobble together in 2020 would be for a vision that appeals to voters who have not yet entirely rejected Donald Trump. Reflect on that a bit. That’s a group who believe separating kids from their parents and locking them in cages isn’t all that bad. It’s a group not all that troubled by the obstruction of justice. It’s a group to whom a President who regularly engages in race-baiting and who encourages violence towards a member of Congress is not disqualifying.
And it would mean that there never ever will be a moment when the Democratic Party can put forth a bold vision for America’s future, a vision that includes confronting climate change, economic injustice, structural racism, mass incarceration, and American imperialism head-on, with the same spirit that we confronted the Great Depression, Nazi Germany, and Jim Crow just a few generations ago. Because if Americans won’t choose that vision over the vision for America embodied in Donald Trump, they’re never going to choose it.
John F. Kennedy famously declared, “In the Chinese language, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters, one representing danger and the other, opportunity.
Kennedy’s words were never truer than they are today. The 2020 election truly presents a crisis for America. The danger associated with Trump’s re-election is both real and unthinkable. In my mind, that would mean game over for America.
But I believe there is a second danger: Stopping Trump and his acolytes in a way that makes insurmountable the enormous challenges we face as a nation, including one challenge, climate change, upon which our success in meeting the survival of mankind hangs in the balance.
In other words, we face the danger of squandering a once in a lifetime opportunity, best articulated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in this short video. [video embedded in this Arizona Eagletarian post about the power of stories]
Most humans instinctively are risk averse. Establishment Democratic Party political leaders certainly are. When faced with the double-edged sword of crisis, the risk averse focus on avoiding danger. That’s fine, if passing on the opportunity is an acceptable price to pay.
I just don’t think this is one of those times.
There are leaders — Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, AOC and others — urging us not to be paralyzed by the danger associated with the crisis that is Trump, but to seize the opportunity associated with that crisis, an opportunity that likely never will present itself again in the foreseeable future and an opportunity America, and the planet, can’t afford to let pass.
There are other leaders who are fearful, understandably so, that too bold an agenda will drive voters into the arms of Trump.
Truth is, we all share that fear, at least a little.
But we can’t let ourselves be blinded by it. And to follow leaders who are blinded by fear is to be blinded by fear ourselves.
Damn the danger. Seize opportunity. Win the future.

To a large degree, I discount Pelosi's statements that the House will not move forward to impeach Trump. That impeachment is part and parcel of the need to move America forward with bold new vision.

Two metaphors come to mind. Consider them, please.

First, the power of the industrial revolution in the early 19th Century came from steam. The steam locomotive disrupted life in many ways.

Now, we must get the kettle boiling to move an unmovable Congress. It can be done. It will be done.

Second, Pelosi right now, on this central issue for America, is in the position of the Hoover Dam preventing the flow of water down the Colorado River valley. Anger at her from the electorate won't get her to do anything but shore up the dam to resist the mounting pressure.

Do you see what I see? The rains and the snows have fallen behind the dam for the last two years. When the redacted Mueller Report was released last week, winter gave way to spring and with it temperatures hastened the melt which now quickens the rising river. Soon, the water will breach the dam.

Feel free to contact your Congressional representatives to assert your desire for the criminal maniac presiding over the federal government to finally be held accountable to the rule of law and the people of the United States.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Cathi Herrod's Legerdemain about the Equal Rights Amendment

The ERA, in wording of passed by both chambers of the US Congress on March 22, 1972):
Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
Legerdemain is defined as:
1. sleight of hand.
2. trickery; deception.
3. any artful trick.
Herrod, who's art is exerting power over the (anachronistic, or outdated) institution of the Arizona Legislature, tricked (and tricks) those who believe her drivel, into once again depriving women in our state of their personal sovereignty.

Herrod recently sent out this press release:
Arizona House Defeats Ratification of the ERA
Statement by Cathi Herrod, President [Center for Arizona Policy, a Dominionist (i.e. fake Christian) organization]
Once again, state legislators pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) tried, but failed, to set aside House rules and bring the proposed ratification to the floor.
In a 31-29 party-line vote with Republicans voting against the procedural motion and Democrats voting for, the House failed to move forward on a vote on the ERA. Proponents trotted out the same old tired arguments about equal pay and equality, while denying the ERA really is about abortion.
On March 13, 2019, the same day the Arizona Senate declined to push forward on the ERA, the National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice America sent out a fundraising email stating:“With its ratification, the ERA would reinforce the constitutional right to an abortion.”
The National Organization for Women (NOW) has stated “an ERA – properly interpreted – could negate the hundreds of laws that have been passed restricting access to abortion care. . .”
The close call shows what we are up against this legislative session and what we can expect next year, given the current composition of the state legislature.
The desperate move to slip abortion into the U.S. Constitution and the sudden embrace of radical abortion laws in New York, Virginia, and other states tells us something. They are clear indicators that abortion activists fear the tide is turning toward life.
To learn more about today’s actions, check out my tweets during the debate and our Fact Sheet on the reasons to oppose the ERA.

From Herrod's fact sheet:
1. The ERA is completely unnecessary:
a. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in the U.S. Constitution already provide equal protection under the law for women.
b. Countless federal, state, and local laws already prohibit sex discrimination.
c. Federal laws — the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — and Arizona’s Equal Wages law already prohibit pay discrimination based on sex. If the ERA is ratified, Congress could potentially pass laws requiring equal pay, but it has already done so many times.
2. The ERA could enshrine the right to an abortion in the U.S. Constitution
However, what she artfully declines to explain to her readers is that because those statutory protections are NOT enshrined in the Constitution, not only are they not honored in the course of human events, but they are challenged vigorously and frequently both in courts and in federal and state lawmaking venues. Consider also that any protection the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide to women run up against a wall that prevents self-determination on matters that can dramatically change (especially) a young woman's life.

In other words, 

And Herrod desperately wants to prevent women's rights to personal sovereignty from being enshrined in the US Constitution.
So, what the hell is personal sovereignty?

Besides being a crucial concept underlying society world wide today, it completely and legitimately reframes debate over a woman's right to make her own decisions (aka self-determination) in EVERY area of her life.

No longer is the debate over whether Joe and Mary (or Cathi and Michael Herrod) in your local church, synagogue or mosque deciding the rights of a fetus, which is not yet able to perceive the world around it. Instead, it's ALL about this,
The word "sovereign" means to be in supreme authority over someone or something, and to be extremely effective and powerful. Therefore, it is usually applied to gods, royalty and governments. We speak of kings and queens as sovereigns (even when they are figureheads), and of the sovereign rights of nations and States.
Personal sovereignty, then, would imply the intrinsic authority and power of an individual to determine his or her own direction and destiny. If that sounds suspiciously like free will, it's because personal sovereignty and free will are the same thing.
You're a voter, right? Should the law of the land allow free will for all women in America? Or should it allow Cathi Herrod to surreptitiously usurp that free will based on her whims?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Never underestimate the power of STORIES: like this one from the future with #AOC

I wish I was smart enough as a young man to major in history and/or literature as an undergraduate after military service.

As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says, we can't be what we can't see in our mind's eye. Please enjoy Alexandria's message from the future.

Retrospectively, A TEDxTalk published today on YouTube brilliantly illuminates how stories are vehicles for sowing ideas and inspiration across societies and across time. Alex MacDonald, senior economic advisor at NASA, in the (linked) video tells a story about stories. In particular, how one of the most advanced technological achievements of the modern era (space travel) has its roots in stories first told centuries ago.

Why put MacDonald and his TEDxTalk in the same post as that of AOC? Because MacDonald's story powerfully illustrates how stories do just what he says they do, sow ideas and inspiration across societies and across time.

The Green New Deal is an inspired idea. AOC tells the kind of story that I envision will begin to move mountains of humankind to inspired solutions.

Imagine it!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Federal Clean Water Act (DE)regulation, or How far will Trump administration go to destroy your sources of clean water?

Last week, Arizona House Democrats wrote to the administrator of the (federal) Environmental Protection Agency. Here's the letter:

April 9, 2019
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center, Office of Water Docket
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NWWashington, DC 20460Submitted via email to OW-Docket@epa.gov

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149 Revised Definition of Waters of the United States
Dear Administrator Wheeler:
As state legislators from an arid state, we understand all too well that water is our life blood and that protecting it is critical to our state’s economic well-being, as well as continuing to sustain people, plants, and animals into the future. That is why we are deeply disturbed by this proposed rule’s attack on one of our most basic and important environmental laws -- the Clean Water Act. Passed by Congress nearly 50 years ago at a time when rivers in our country were extremely polluted and some were even burning and our drinking water sources were questionable, this law has helped to clean up and protect waters throughout the United States, including in our home state of Arizona.
The interpretation of what is considered “Waters of the United States” as contained in this draft rule would remove Clean Water Act protections, including pollution safeguards and limits on dredging and filling, from nearly all of the water bodies in Arizona where many of our streams are ephemeral. It is equally concerning that Arizona’s precious cienegas, which do not have a “continuous surface connection” to larger waters, would be unprotected by the Clean Water Act.
Waters such as the Verde and Salt Rivers help provide drinking water for millions of people and need the Clean Water Act protections to limit pollutants and dredging and filling that can contribute to flooding and sedimentation. Likewise, the springs and streams that feed them need those protections as does a river such as the San Pedro, which is threatened by development, needs the strong protections the Clean Water Act provides, limiting the filling of washes that help feed the river. Without the Clean Water Act, there is little in state law to protect these critical waters.
This proposed rule is not scientifically, legally, or fiscally sound. It is just common sense to know that our waters are connected and that keeping smaller water bodies clean in turn helps protect the larger ones and all who live downstream. Streams and wetlands absorb water and help to filter it, keeping our drinking water supplies safe while providing flood protection.
If Arizona’s waters lose their Clean Water Act protections, the consequences would be harmful.
  • Industrial facilities such as mines or factory farms could discharge chemical waste or toxic pesticides into unprotected streams without concern of federal consequences.
  • Developers would likely no longer need to obtain permits prior to paving over or building on wetlands and washes, which in turn means a loss of habitat for plants and animals and potential increased flooding downstream.
  • Water treatment plants might be able discharge partially treated sewage into streams without adhering to water quality standards, which would mean even more issues for the Nogales Wash and the Santa Cruz River.
The Clean Water Act has served our country and our state well, plus there is still a lot more work to do to ensure that everyone has clean water, water that is fishable and swimmable.
We ask that you rescind this proposed rule and stop ignoring the science, the law, and the strong public support for the Clean Water Act.
You must and you can do better for us and for all Americans.

Kristen Engel, LD10
Mitzi Epstein, LD18
Rosanna Gabaldón, LD2
Charlene Fernandez, LD4, House Minority Leader
Randall Friese MD, LD9, Assistant Minority Leader
Reginald Bolding Jr., LD27, Minority Co-Whip
Athena Salman, LD26, Minority Co-Whip
Isela Blanc, LD26
Diego Rodriguez, LD27
Daniel Hernandez, LD2
Jennifer Jermaine, LD18
Richard C. Andrade, LD29
Jennifer Pawlik, LD17
Dr. Gerae Paten, LD13
Pamela Powers Hannley, LD9
Raquel Terán, LD30
Jennifer Longdon, LD24
Amish Shah MD, LD24
Diego Espinoza, LD19
Lorenzo Sierra, LD19
Alma Hernandez, LD3
Kelli Butler, LD28
Arlando Teller, LD7
Domingo De Grazia, LD10
Myron Tsosie, LD7
César Chávez, LD29
Andres Cano, LD3
Aaron Lieberman, LD28
Robert Meza, LD30

Saturday, April 13, 2019

When will America collapse? Our best hope to avoid it is Investigative Journalism and more History Majors.

From Yale historian Timothy Snyder's book The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America:
History as a discipline began as a confrontation with war propaganda. In the first history book, The Peloponnesian Wars, Thucydides was careful to make a distinction between leaders’ accounts of their actions and the real reasons for their decisions. In our time, as rising inequality elevates political fiction, investigative journalism becomes the more precious. Its renaissance began during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as courageous reporters filed stories from dangerous locations. In Russia and Ukraine, journalistic initiatives clustered around the problems of kleptocracy and corruption, and then reporters trained in these subjects covered the war. 
What has already happened in Russia is what might [is already happening] happen in America and Europe: the stabilization of massive inequality, the displacement of policy by propaganda, the shift from the politics of inevitability to the politics of eternity.
Snyder, Timothy. The Road to Unfreedom (p. 10). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition. [published April 2016, fully two years ago]

In America, we are ALREADY seeing full scale development in our country of corruption and a kleptocracy seemingly trying to rival that in the Russian Federation. From The Atlantic (March 2019 issue):
For two years, in the early 1990s, Richard Palmer served as the CIA station chief in the United States’ Moscow embassy. The events unfolding around him—the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia—were so chaotic, so traumatic and exhilarating, that they mostly eluded clearheaded analysis. But from all the intelligence that washed over his desk, Palmer acquired a crystalline understanding of the deeper narrative of those times.
Much of the rest of the world wanted to shout for joy about the trajectory of history, and how it pointed in the direction of free markets and liberal democracy. Palmer’s account of events in Russia, however, was pure bummer. In the fall of 1999, he testified before a congressional committee to disabuse members of Congress of their optimism and to warn them of what was to come.
American officialdom, Palmer believed, had badly misjudged Russia. Washington had placed its faith in the new regime’s elites; it took them at their word when they professed their commitment to democratic capitalism. But Palmer had seen up close how the world’s growing interconnectedness—and global finance in particular—could be deployed for ill. During the Cold War, the KGB had developed an expert understanding of the banking byways of the West, and spymasters had become adept at dispensing cash to agents abroad. That proficiency facilitated the amassing of new fortunes. In the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. It was one of history’s greatest heists.
Kal Penn, very recently narrated a very poignant eight part series on Amazon Prime entitled This Giant Beast Which is the Global Economy. Except it's not really about the global economy. It's primarily about massive scale money laundering, corruption and the entrenchment of inequality so deep into globalization that it may take revolution to get out of it. In other words, it's really about the global growth of kleptocracy.

I repeat part of the quote from Snyder's book, "In our time, as rising inequality elevates political fiction, investigative journalism becomes the more precious."

Just as Greta Thunberg is raising the alarm to call attention to the urgency of the Climate Crisis, Snyder has raised the alarm to warn that we are already on The Road to Unfreedom. It seems reasonably urgent. Would we be well advised to embrace that urgency?

America has been disrupted.
However, I also believe that we are living in times where disruption is not only being caused by technology or by innovation but also by society and political decision-making, which eventually has an impact on economic decision-making. The two most recent examples are the tariffs being imposed by leading economies on imports from other leading economies (for example, the tariffs war between the US and the EU) and the immigration issue.
History majors in university studies are crucial to obtain, grasp and maintain perspective on current events and politics. Embrace rational perspectives that are most obtainable from historians... like Timothy Snyder. Seek out books, articles and video talks made by credible historians.

As Snyder also spells out in the embedded video above, in our social media consumption, perhaps we could post more investigative stories. I applaud local investigative journalists like Craig Harris and Robert Anglen.

You can also look to (and support) non-profit investigative news websites like ProPublica, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (which did the research and published the Panama Papers)*

(Civic) Apathy is curable. The cure is empowerment. My view is that empowerment is all about taking responsibility for your citizenship wherever you live.

* The Panama Papers documentary feature movie is available to view on Hulu, Amazon Prime and any cable/satellite provider that carries the EPIX channel.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Teri Kanefield: "Libertarians: Destroyers of Democracy"

Rarely am I floored by something I find (to read). Teri Kanefield's blog -- specifically her April 7, 2019 post -- astounds me because it strikes at the deepest root of what is wrong with the Trump administration. By that, I mean what he has been doing by installing cabinet ministers since first seizing power on January 20, 2017. Kanefield also posts her writings as a series of posts on Twitter.
Libertarian Peter Thiel said, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”
I’m surprised it took Thiel—an intelligent Stanford Law grad—so long to figure out that freedom (as defined by libertarians) isn’t compatible with democracy. [...]
Libertarianism, according to David Boaz, means “the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force.” 
It has been obvious from Day One of the Trump administration that he intends to rend in pieces the fabric of our society, including and, especially the Social Contract and the safety net protections of FDR's New Deal.
The Social Contract is a major source, for example, of the doctrine of popular sovereignty. Almost all modern states claim to be “people’s states.” Public deliberation, mass demonstrations, voting, plebiscites, all rituals for arousing a popular will are as necessary to authoritarian states as to liberal ones. It is generally accepted that The Social Contract exposes a doctrine that is valid.
Arizona Eagletarian readers likely are familiar with the name Kanefield. Joe Kanefield (now Chief of Staff for AZ Attorney General Brnovich) has been co-counsel for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission since 2011. Teri (I understand is related to Joe) wrote a biography of Ruth Bader Ginsberg that was reviewed on this blog in 2016.
Libertarians view government regulations and the agencies that promulgate them as a form of force.
Let’s pin this down on specifics. Does individual liberty mean I can build a factory and dump toxins into the air and water? Can I trade stocks on inside information? Can I sell my luxury condos to Russian oligarchs and hide the source of the money? Can I chop down all the redwoods and sell the lumber?
I suggest that libertarians don’t mind Trump’s law breaking because he’s breaking the laws they don’t think should exist.
Libertarians love property rights — but who decides who owns what? Like, who gets to own all the redwoods?
Does ownership go to whoever grabs first?
Let’s say 20 libertarians move to an island and set up a Libertarian Utopia. How do they decide who owns what? Do they divide the island into 20 parts? What if I end up owning the only source of fresh water. Free market means I can charge whatever I want, right? So I live like royalty and the others do my work. Libertarian utopia?

Think about that for a moment... or two... or a whole lot more. What do you think the underlying motive for all the things Ryan Zinke did as Secretary of the Interior?

... by libertarian logic, we shouldn’t have any. Here’s what they overlook: The Constitution grants the federal government power to create laws that provide for “the common welfare.”
We have federal agencies and lots of laws because they promote the common welfare. And about those taxes libertarians don’t like: Industry can’t function without infrastructure like highways. Who is going to pay for it?
It seems to me that privatize means “whoever grabs first gets.” [...]
Boaz tells us America was founded on the precepts of individual liberty.
We can stop right there.
The nation was founded on the institution of slavery. And taking land from native people (whoever grabs gets). Boaz, like most libertarians, loves quoting Thomas Jefferson. When Jefferson said beautiful things about liberty, he didn’t mean for everyone. He meant white men.
Libertarians overlook the fact that there were two rival factions at the founding of the nation, the Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians.
Hamilton was anti-slavery and in favor of a strong central government. Jefferson thought individual liberty meant the freedom to own slaves.
The view of the Confederacy was that it was fighting for liberty—defending the Southern “way of life.”
When the Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional in 1954, libertarians denounced the decision as federal overreach. They also oppose affirmative action.
Nancy MacLean enraged libertarians by arguing that libertarianism is based in racism. [...]
When asked why the libertarian party consisted largely of white men, Boaz said, “another way to put that would be well-educated people.”
Maybe that’s because of coverture laws and hundreds of years of a few white men grabbing everything?
One theory is that libertarians align with autocrats, segregationists, and white supremacists because they share a common enemy: liberal democracy and the liberal establishment.
Libertarians particularly hate it when governments bail out industries. They also like to talk about “creative destruction,” whereby innovation replaces outdated products or processes and essentially destroys them.
They seem to apply “creative destruction” to letting entire industries or banks fail. Let them fail! A new better thing will arise from the ashes Here’s the problem: If a bank or major industry fails, it will inflict pain and suffering on large numbers of people.
Imagine what would happen if a major bank fails. Large numbers of people would lose everything and fall into poverty. If major industries fail, the people who suffer could number in the millions.
This brings us to one of many problems with libertarianism: They’re fine with widespread suffering.
A colleague once told me that he resented the fact that his tax dollars paid for legal representation for the poor. I immediately imagined what it would be like if (once more) only the wealthy could afford lawyers.
Innocent poor would go to jail in even larger numbers than today. Lower income families and communities would be ripped apart, plunging them into poverty (you can’t support a family from jail). The poor communities would get poorer. Children would grow up troubled without adequate education.
It would get easier to prey on the uneducated.
Libertarians, like other Trump supporters, view the American government as illegitimate. That’s why they love it when Trump attacks free press, dismantles regulatory agencies, attacks rule of law—and even lies and cheats.
It’s creative destruction. A desire to dismantle a government they believe is illegitimate is why they pretend to believe all of Trump’s lies. The lies are destructive. Destroy it all!
They think a libertarian utopia will rise from the ashes.
If the libertarians manage to get rid of the New Deal, all federal agencies, and the federal income tax on the ground that they’re all unconstitutional — there’d be chaos. Entire industries would be thrown into bedlam. There’d be widespread suffering and pain.
We do NOT have to imagine. All we have to do is search the history of America in the 1920s and 1930s.
But they’re okay with that, as long as the government that taxes them and limits their “individual liberty” is gone. Democracy can’t exist if the income inequality is too extreme. If that happens we have oligarchy. The way to get there is destroy every government program. [...]
People need to stop thinking of all Trump’s supporters as uneducated & gullible.
Many libertarians are wealthy, powerful, & highly educated and good with propaganda.
Put another way, libertarians are the “sado” part of “sadopopulism” Fortunately, libertarians are a minority. They know if enough people vote, they’re doomed.
This may be why Thiel bemoans women (& minorities) voting.
If we get organized and stay focused, we can out vote them. But don’t expect libertarians to care about Trump’s lying & destructive lawbreaking.
Your outrage probably just amuses them.
This is why meme posting on Facebook is not productive. It doesn't convince the gullible who eat up Trump's demagogic rhetoric. It just amuses the Oligarchy/Plutocrats.

Back in the 1990s, Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Browne appeared live in-studio on a local radio talk show in Phoenix. I called in and was able to ask him where in Libertarian doctrine were egalitarian principles protected. He was stumped and couldn't answer.

Now I understand why.

Follow Teri Kanefield's blog at http://TeriKanefield-blog.com.