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Political involvement should be a requirement for citizenship
Updated: 22 hours 11 min ago

Today I told my white buddy he is complicit

Tue, 2018-02-20 02:52

I got an email from a white buddy of mine that said the next he saw me at Starbucks; he had a political scoop for me in our very conservative town. I am not at liberty to release any of that information yet. This friend is gay, and it was clear he wanted to get something else off of his chest.

Out of left field, he started.

"White people don't get," my friend said. "They don't get it because they have not lived through it."

First of all, I am not from the school of thought that one has to live it to empathize with it. While I would no longer attempt to mansplain anything to women after summarily schooled on the multitudes of reasons why it's wrong, I can "feel" their pain.  Having gone through hardships of many kinds, they are not hard to comprehend. But I think concerning oneself with more than self, is a good starting point.

My friend has been with his partner, a black man, for over 36 years. He recounted the two of them shopping at department stores together. He always got service while his partner, now husband thanks to the change in the laws, got surveilled. He recounted jogging in Kansas and having cops stop just them requesting I.D.s. He told various driving-while-black stories while driving with his husband. And of course, my friend's husband has told him quite a few, one recently where he got stopped under the pretense of speeding.

After listening to several stories, it was time for my friend to leave. I commended him for the honest chat. I go above and beyond to create a personal comfort level where folks know I will not be judgmental.

"You know you are complicit, right?" I asked. "You should be doing short videos detailing your husband travails. The message is more effective someone who looks like you than like me."

My friend pointed out that before recently retiring, his company prohibited him from political speech. That frame of mind is still there. So even as some prominent corporations attempt to be more inclusive, they chain their employees to their proprietary platforms.

I suggested that my friend talks with his husband about playing a more active role in helping many white people see through his eyes. He said he would. It is hard to stand alone, and that is likely a reason otherwise good white people don't use their privilege in the opportune moments to defend the underprivileged. If one builds a network of active like-minded folks in the effort, that point becomes moot.

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Black & brown people joining 2nd Amendment Movement may save America

Mon, 2018-02-19 12:36

When black and brown people talk about open carry and the 2nd Amendment, they do so knowing that for that right they are not afforded the same privilege when found with a gun legal or otherwise. Philando Castile comes to mind, a young black man legally carrying a gun, murdered by a Minnesota, police officer. As what is more the norm, the justice system acquitted the officer. There are two distinct reactions to people carrying guns from both cops and citizens.

There's an irrational fear of armed people of color even as most of the encounters with armed killers that murder random people are not people of color. Kali Holloway wrote an article at Alternate with a provocative title, "Want to See Gun Control Enacted? Support a Movement to Arm Black Folks en Masse," that should give everyone pause. The article is much more in-depth than the title suggests. So you should read it in its entirety.

Halloway first details the long-lasting issues that were selectively framed by race to get a change that otherwise would not have happened.

Ending mass shootings might seem like a hopeless cause in light of all this, but that kind of thinking ignores the historic infallibility of racism to move American political mountains. The shift in the public face of poverty from white to black helped take us from the New Deal to the destruction of the welfare state; conversely, as drug addiction has gone from being an "inner city" (read: black) to a "suburban" (read: white) problem, the state has transformed from carceral to compassionate. A movement—both visible and vocal—to arm black Americans en masse would fire up GOP political will toward gun control, and probably at speeds currently unimaginable. Second Amendment hardliners often engage in bad-faith references to America’s racist gun control history at convenient moments, namely when trying convince wary black folks, who statistically are overwhelmingly pro-gun control, to join the chorus calling for unfettered gun access. There are too many reasons to question their sudden commitment to anti-racism in those moments. That said, there is historic precedence for the mere idea of black gun possession leading directly to white American efforts at gun control.

Halloway then points out the many time government installed different levels of gun control when "the others" were arming themselves.

These policies even predate this country’s official nationhood. The Splinter’s Daniel Rivero points to the “first gun control law,” passed in Virginia in 1640, which “explicitly banned black people from owning guns, even if they were not slaves.” The 1857 Dred Scott decision prohibited blacks from becoming American citizens, in part because citizenship would confer the right “to keep and carry arms...inevitably producing discontent and insubordination...and endangering the peace and safety of the State.” Post-Civil War “Black Codes” were adopted throughout much the South, making gun ownership by freed blacks illegal. The Atlantic notes that to “enforce the gun ban, white men riding in posses began terrorizing black communities....The most infamous of these disarmament posses, of course, was the Ku Klux Klan.”

Martin Luther King, who received endless death threats and was the target of a house bombing in 1956, applied for an open carry permit, but was denied by Montgomery, Alabama’s racist police force. When the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in accordance with California law, began openly carrying weapons to patrol Oakland’s neighborhoods, the state legislature quickly crafted, and Gov. Ronald Reagan quickly signed, the 1967 Mulford Act ending public carry. On the heels of race riots, Congress Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, followed by the Gun Control Act of 1968, which Georgetown historian Adam Winkler notes included a provision to restrict “‘Saturday Night Specials’—the cheap, easily available guns often used by [black] youth.” The legislation was the first federal gun law in nearly three decades, and proved lawmakers would rather institute widespread gun control measures than potentially have a widely armed black populace.

Russia exploited America's long-lived racism. They likely put the worst president America has ever had by using that weakness against us. In a somewhat conniving manner just maybe black and brown people at large can save the country from the carnage by arming themselves in a very public way and start asserting their 2nd Amendment rights as vociferous as those Right Wingers who think the privilege is only theirs if not in law, in practice.

Politics Done Right is covering this issue at 3:00 PM Central. Hope some will call in at (646) 716-5812, or have a healthy discussion on Facebook Live.

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Sea Level Rise in Ghana

Mon, 2018-02-19 11:12

by Arturo Jacobo, Social Media Intern at LA Center for Urban Resilience (CURes)

As much as people may try to deny it, climate change will continue to affect our ecosystems and livelihoods if we do not take the necessary steps to reduce our harm on the world. What I have found is that the discussion regarding climate change rarely involves the devastation that countries outside of North America and Europe have and will experience due to sea level rises and unpredictable changes in weather pattern.

One of the countries experiencing coastal damage due to climate change is Ghana in West Africa. According to an article published by Foreign Policy, the coastal fishing town of Fuvemeh, Ghana, is being devastated by rising sea levels and erosion. Such occurrences not only have environmental effects but economic ones as well. The destruction of homes and schools by rising sea levels has already altered people’s lives and interrupted the fishing economy. The issue of climate change isn’t just regarding the rise of global temperatures; it throws entire systems off balance. The rising sea levels have made certain coastal areas dangerous places to live in due to the unpredictable nature of the sea and weather. Furthermore, when an entire town’s economy is essentially disrupted by a man-made occurrence like global warming, there should be more pressure and haste to generate solutions to the greater problem. This is just one of many instances throughout the world where rising sea levels have completely changed physical and economic landscapes.

We have seen this here in the United States this past year with Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Additionally, major economic hubs in West Africa, such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Accra, Ghana are coastal cities that can be affected rising sea levels. There must be a global concern about climate change and focus must also be centered on communities that do not receive ample attention when impacted by such effects.

Los Angeles has also been affected by climate change from rising temperatures to diminishing rainfall. The climate and landscape of this city have changed and will continue to if we choose complacency over solutions. CURes works with communities throughout Los Angeles to increase consciousness of the urban ecosystems we live in as well as the threats that climate change poses to these ecosystems. Furthermore, CURes is involved with the Mediterranean City Climate Change Consortium (MC-4), aiming to promote urban resilience, political and social awareness of climate change danger, and solutions to future problems Los Angeles might face as a result of climate change. By working directly with communities, CURes is able to implement change and promote education more directly. Grassroots organizations and research centers play a critical role in the efforts against climate change and will continue to lead this effort through the direct work that they do.

This article was first published at CURes.

Arturo Jacobo is the Center for Urban Resilience (CURes) Social Media Intern. He is a native of San Diego, CA and a sophomore majoring in Urban Studies with a minor in International Relations. He intends to attend law school after graduating from Loyola Marymount University (LMU). He is a very socio-economically-politically aware and engaged millennial, a needed attribute to get the country back on track.

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Democrats provide answers to these types of problems, your’re unbeatable

Mon, 2018-02-19 01:00

Wednesday was a productive morning. I completed some research and was feeling accomplished. Then two stories hit me as I left Starbucks on my way to my political program.

First, word came down that once more a murderer gunned down many students at a high school. This time it was in Florida. I was disappointed with my initial reaction. It was kind of, ‘There we go again. Next story.”

Second, NPR featured a story about the difficulty teachers are having a hard time purchasing a home in Denver. Did you know Denver was the second least affordable city for teachers because of real estate prices?

The Florida massacre will be well covered I am sure. It is likely to follow the same lame coverage where the excitement is rampant for three to five days. People scream for gun control. And then America loses its attention span for a few weeks until the next massacre. Even as these events are graphic and painful, sadly, enough people are not dying to make most in the nation at one time feel it is an existential problem for them. Our national level of empathy is still very lacking.

The story about the teachers is not just a Denver story. It is a national story. Folks in my country of origin, revere teachers. I find it appalling that we disregard and disrespect teachers as we do in the United States. In my opinion, educating is the most important profession in the country, as educators are the ones who maintain the continuum of knowledge over time.

The NPR story revealed the following.

Denver’s rocketing housing prices have made it the second least affordable city in the country for teachers. Based on average salaries, only about one percent of teachers here can afford to buy a home. ...

A tidal wave lies ahead for DSST and other Denver schools, where teacher salaries are in the $40,00 to $60,000 range. More than 70 percent of DSST teachers are under 35-years-old.

A survey in 2017 found 30 percent of staff wants to buy a home within three to five years. In order to make that happen, DSST launched a pilot project and invited Landed to Denver to speak with their teachers. ...

A San Francisco-based company called Landed, a self-styled “social mission real estate brokerage,” has an approach that has helped an estimated 200 California teachers develop a plan to get into a home (25 of which completed purchase of a home).

Here’s how it works: homebuyers put up 10 percent of the down payment. Landed puts up the other half.

"It is not a loan – it is a shared investment,” Landed’s Emily Eshman tells the teachers.

She explains that there are no monthly payments on the down payment support. If the home goes up in value when it’s sold or refinanced, Landed gets 25 percent of the appreciation. If the value goes down, Landed assumes 25 percent of the loss.

The big advantage to these educators is that if they can come up with 20 percent of the down payment, there is no mortgage insurance, which saves about $200 to $350 each month says Eshman. A 20 percent down payment also lowers monthly mortgages payments compared to a 10 percent down payment.

Landed sounds like a benevolent company helping teachers, But the entire enterprise exposes metastasizing cancer of various types within our economic system.

First, teachers are underpaid. Educators work more than just their hours in class. I watch them at as I blog in Starbucks grading papers and preparing lessons. Sometimes they come in in groups with their kids, and as one listen in to their conversation, it is evident it is a stressful job not only with pay but the constant fear of when some eruption with guns or parents are likely to occur.

The second is the fraud that is our economic system. We are led to believe that the market magically adjusts to reality. Capitalism is supposed to provide the most efficient manner to allocate resources. Society, regions need teachers. If an area cannot efficiently deliver the services, food, and shelter for all the professions that make that society viable, then it is a failure.

Landed corrupts the reality of the failure of the economic system by extracting even more from the have-nots. They've created a business that generates a financial instrument that makes overpriced real estate affordable and profiting by taking a cut of the appreciation. The companies existence promotes higher prices because homes that would go unsold requiring a price fall are now sold.

There are over 3.6 million Teachers and over 1.3 million college professors in the United States of America. That is a significant constituency that can tip elections in close races. While educators lean Democratic, a significant percentage are not. Given the reality of educators, their home is the Democratic Party.

But here is a more important reality we all must sell. The vast majority of Americans should be Democrats based solely on their needs and wants. But how do we make that clear? Many economic issues are not framed in a manner the average Americans can understand. Many are led to believe that things are just the way they are and immutable. Americans need an advocate who mitigates the systemic economic issues that put the masses at a disadvantage. The Democratic Party must make it their priority by using real stories where the economy is harming people in real time and provide a roadmap to solving the problem.

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Unstable Stock Market a Warning for the housing market: Treat Your House Like a Home

Sun, 2018-02-18 14:37

by Chris Winters

Remember last week when the stock market dropped more than 10 percent over a matter of days and suddenly everyone was looking for signs that the bubble had popped?

After the breaking of the domestic abuse scandal in the White House, the release of President Trump’s draconian budget proposal, the latest school massacre and, in a rare bit of good news, the public display of international cooperation that is the Olympic Games, it’s easy to forget that we all had a panic attack over the market just 12 days ago.

It’s also true that the major stock indexes have largely recovered from that drop, and are significantly higher than they were a year ago.

So, false alarm?

Not exactly. If you’re inclined to fret about bubbles, consider instead the housing market.

Most of us invest in stocks only indirectly, through our retirement accounts. We’ve come to expect uncertainty and instability in the stock market. We’ve witnessed the ups and downs, even if we don’t invest. But housing is where many of us invest right where we live.

And that’s the problem.

Houses are where most Americans keep their accumulated wealth—about $7 trillion nationwide, according to the Urban Institute. Yet, the housing market is showing behavior more akin to the stock market.

Houses evoke nostalgia for us as Americans: stately homes on Main Street, U.S.A., populated by longtime residents who join bowling leagues and the Rotary Club. And there’s an element of truth to that picture, in that the rise of the 30-year mortgage in post-Depression America created a sense of security in lending: So long as you made your monthly payment, your home was yours, and there was an expectation that eventually you’d pay it off and own the house outright before you retired.

A lot has changed. We’ve become a highly mobile society that facilitates and even encourages us to move to a new city for school, work, marriage, or retirement. The ease with which we can get mortgages compared to other countries—facilitated by standardization and monetization of mortgages by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among other factors—has contributed to that mobility. Not only is it feasible to pick up and move across the country, homeowners have reasonable expectations that they’ll continue to be homeowners in their new location.

That trend has continued into the 21st century. Especially in the hot markets of the West Coast and the urban Northeast corridor, homes have become an investment commodity. There has been an increase of investor-ownership, an aftereffect of the 2006 housing crash in some cases. In that case, a high rate of foreclosures—about 860,000 nationwide in 2008 alone—left a lot of housing stock in the hands of banks.

In some depressed areas of the country, that hasn’t happened. Areas that suffered high foreclosure rates during the Great Recession, including Phoenix, Las Vegas and Detroit, wound up with large numbers of vacant houses. Rather than sell off those houses, the banks rented out a fair amount of them (there is now a higher than normal rate of single-family home rentals), and others were left vacant until the market could recover enough to allow them to be sold.

2016 study by the Joint Center For Housing Studies at Harvard University indicated that for both cities like Detroit that didn’t experience as big a housing bubble as other areas and boom markets like Las Vegas that collapsed catastrophically, housing prices 10 years later are still underwater: values in 32 out of the largest 100 cities are still 15 percent below their pre-crash peaks.

In cities with strong economic growth, such as those on the West Coast, housing prices now exceed those from the pre-crash era, leading to extremes in both sale prices and rents. According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the average price of residential housing went up 6.4 percent from November 2016-November 2017. The changes in the 20 largest metropolitan areas vary significantly, however, with prices in Las Vegas going up just 1.1 percent year over year, while at the same time they shot up 12.7 percent in the Seattle area, a region that already has the fourth-most-expensive real estate in the nation.

Meanwhile, the rental market continues to tighten, reaching a national vacancy rate of 6.9 percent in 2016, the lowest since 1986, which puts upward pressure on rents.

All this leaves average would-be homeowners and renters in a position of competing for houses that continue to become more expensive. And it’s a reflection of the same rich-get-richer-while-poor-get-poorer economic polarization we see elsewhere in the U.S. economy. And the problem is only likely to get worse, thanks to a convergence of stagnant wages, a shortage of affordable housing, population outpacing housing inventory, and a lack of political will to take steps to curb investor-ownership and other speculation in the housing market.

“Safe as houses,” that 19th-century phrase that used to connote the house as a slow but sure place to put your money, has been replaced by the agent’s mantra: “Location, location, location.” With a 12.7 percent rate of annual return, who wouldn’t want to invest?

Treating houses like tradable commodities to be bought and sold for short-term profits is a stock market game, played by investors and banks with billions at their disposal. It’s also the game of small-time house flippers akin to the amateur day-traders of the tech boom, foreign investors, and even new forms of speculative behavior that call to mind the crafty financial instruments like credit default swaps that inflicted so much damage 10 years ago.

Individual homeowners and renters, those who just wish for a safe place in which to live and grow old and a community to belong to, are at the bottom of the pile, with little control other than to refuse to succumb to market mania. That much at least is a step toward putting home back in our houses.

Chris Winters wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Chris is a senior editor at YES! He covers economics and politics.

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Bill Gates: Trump tax bill is bad. People like me should pay much more (VIDEO)

Sun, 2018-02-18 12:46

Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest persons in the world is not happy with Donald Trump and his Republican cohort's tax law. And he wasn't kind as he described the act.

Bill Gates challenges Donald Trump's new tax law

Bill Gates: Trump tax bill is bad. People like me should pay much more (VIDEO) -

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) February 18, 2018

Bill Gates is very soft-spoken, but the billionaires' commentary carries a lot of weight in the American psyche as they tend to revere the wealthy.

"Do you think in that context," Fareed Zacharia asked. "The the last tax bill made sense where the benefits of the bill disproportionately went to people like you?"

"Your basic point is correct," Bill Gates responded. "It was not a progressive tax bill. It was a regressive tax bill. People who are wealthier tended to get dramatically more benefits than the middle class or those who are poor. And so it runs counter to the general trend you'd like to see where the safety net is getting stronger and those at the top are paying higher taxes.

"You'd be okay with paying higher taxes," Fareed interjected.

"I need to pay higher taxes," Gates continued. "I've paid in absolute, more taxes over 10 billion than anyone else. But, you know, the government should require the people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes."

Bill Gates shows what responsibility looks like in his interview. While I don't agree with some of his educational activities and do not believe in our form of capitalism, if more of the wealthy mitigated the aberration within capitalism with redistributive taxes, it would make lives much better for millions.

A few weeks ago Ali Velshi called out Donald Trump, and the Republican lies about the tax bill like most journalists should have been doing. He gave an irrefutable analysis of the law that points out the fraud that it is on the middle-class and the poor. Every one should watch it and make sure it gets wide distribution. The Republicans are doing a great job of marketing the tax cut scam as a success.

It is imperative that the downfall that will hit the economy, the loss of health care coverage, the skyrocketing cost of individual health insurance, and employer health insurance, and the expected interest rate hikes are attributed directly to the Trump tax cut scam and all the draconian Republican policies. Absent this the marketing juggernaut of the Koch Brothers and other GOP benefactors will create a plausible narrative Americans will buy; and then, goodbye Blue Wave or even maybe the Blue Ripple.

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Robert Reich: The Meaning of America

Sat, 2018-02-17 16:24

When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?

Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.

Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.

Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders.

Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty.

But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law.

We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.”

That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the “last best hope” for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world’s “tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. “This land is your land, this land is my land,” sang Guthrie. “Let America be America again,” pleaded Hughes: “The land that never has been yet – /And yet must be – the land where every man is free. / The land that’s mind – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.”

That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy – not inundate it with big money, or allow one party or candidate to suppress votes from rivals, or permit a foreign power to intrude on our elections.

It spawned a patriotism that once required all of us take on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – paying taxes in full rather than seeking loopholes or squirreling money away in foreign tax shelters, serving in the armed forces or volunteering in our communities rather than relying on others to do the work.

These ideals compelled us to join together for the common good – not pander to bigotry or divisiveness, or fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions.

The idea of a common good was once widely understood and accepted in America. After all, the U.S. Constitution was designed for “We the people” seeking to “promote the general welfare” – not for “me the narcissist seeking as much wealth and power as possible.”

Yet the common good seems to have disappeared. The phrase is rarely uttered today, not even by commencement speakers and politicians.

There’s growing evidence of its loss – in CEOs who gouge their customers and loot their corporations; Wall Street bankers who defraud their investors; athletes involved in doping scandals; doctors who do unnecessary procedures to collect fatter fees; and film producers and publicists who choose not to see that a powerful movie mogul they depend on is sexually harassing and abusing women.

We see its loss in politicians who take donations from wealthy donors and corporations and then enact laws their patrons want, or shutter the government when they don’t get the partisan results they seek.

And in a president of the United States who has repeatedly lied about important issues, refuses to put his financial holdings into a blind trust and personally profits from his office, and foments racial and ethnic conflict.

This unbridled selfishness, this contempt for the public, this win-at-any-cost mentality, is eroding America.

Without binding notions about right and wrong, only the most unscrupulous get ahead. When it’s all about winning, only the most unprincipled succeed. This is not a society. It’s not even a civilization, because there’s no civility at its core.

If we’re losing our national identity it’s not because we now come in more colors, practice more religions, and speak more languages than we once did.

It is because we are forgetting the real meaning of America – the ideals on which our nation was built. We are losing our sense of the common good.

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We’d have strict gun control if Progressives created similarly clear narratives like this (VIDEO)

Sat, 2018-02-17 15:26

Yesterday I was going to cover the shootings in Florida on Politics Done Right with a show centralized on righteous indignation. I featured instead someone who had a more measured approach which believes there is a better way to get to sensible gun control.

I invited Coffee Party USA former president Debilyn Molineaux and instead of addressing the gun control question directly, she postulated that if one instead solved ancillary issues, it could render gun control moot. While Debilyn is likely correct that solving people's problems -- boredom, abuse, molestation, lack of self-worth, -- would inhibit those who have access to guns from using them as their antidote, the problem is now.

More moderate approach to gun control?

We all know the ultimate solution because it is in effect in countries like the United Kingdom where these events don't occur. Limit access to guns, period. Australia instituted buyback programs and gun control after having liberal gun policies. They've not had a mass killing event since.

But Americans are under the grips of politicians who are controlled by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Most Americans want stricter sensible gun control. The problem is that to most it's not existential, so they are not revolting in the streets.

If messaging were better I think we would accomplish two things. First, it would show Americans that there is a better way that is not hypothetical given examples of countries without the problem and nations that solved their mass shooting problems. And second, many Americans would activate and put the fear of the masses in the psyche of even the politicians in hock to the NRA. We would have empowered the masses with a consistent message.

I recall an episode of The West Wing where President Bartlett did just that to shoot down the nonsense emanating from an Evangelical Host. It was not only epic, but it shows the effectiveness of a tightly constructed narrative. Check it out here.

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Why Are More Cities Divesting From Big Oil? It’s Moral—and Practical

Fri, 2018-02-16 12:14

Direct divestments and lawsuits that began on the West Coast are spreading, with New York the latest city to pull its funding out of big oil and coal.

In January, New York City announced that it would both divest its $189 billion pension fund from fossil fuel companies and sue the world’s five biggest oil companies for their contributions to catastrophic climate change. The city plans to move the $5 billion it now invests in fossil fuel companies into other investments within the next five years. The lawsuit, in turn, cites climate change-caused damage, such as flooding and erosion and future threats, and asks BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell to pay for it.

This playbook was written on the West Coast. In September, San Francisco and Oakland filed separate lawsuits against the same five oil companies seeking payment for the construction of new seawalls and other infrastructure required to protect the cities from rising sea levels. Marin and San Mateo counties, and the city of Imperial Beach in San Diego County, sued dozens of fossil fuel firms, making similar arguments.

These actions are accelerating under the Trump administration’s multipronged effort to undercut environmental protections and boost fossil fuel production and use, which would exacerbate climate change. States, cities, and the people retain considerable power to effectively challenge the administration’s reckless quest to pump more and more greenhouse gas into the rapidly warming atmosphere.

They’re using that power: Direct divestment programs and lawsuits are products of people power—activists organizing in coalitions of aligned interest groups and working with like-minded elected officials—and they are not the only tools available to us.

Activists around the world are effectively pressuring the fossil fuel industry by taking on the financial institutions that make pollution possible. In Europe and elsewhere, financial institutions and insurers are already disentangling from the fossil fuel industry. In Australia, for example, energy company Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, once slated to be the biggest coal mine in the world, is now imperiled after lenders around the world have ruled out participation. European insurance companies, including Axa, Zurich Insurance Group, and Munich Re, are planning to stop insuring new coal investments.

In North America, the divestment movement is led by Indigenous activist groups like Mazaska Talks and their allies. Inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux and their powerful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), grassroots groups across the country sprang up last year to carry on the work of Standing Rock by targeting the banks that finance extreme fossil fuel infrastructure.

In Oakland, Defenders of Mother Earth-Huichin, an Indigenous-led coalition bearing the Ohlone name for the surrounding parts of the East Bay, successfully got amendments to local law enacted that require any financial institution seeking to provide banking services to the city to disclose whether it finances DAPL or other projects that violate Indigenous sovereignty. The changes also include required disclosures about financing of other fossil fuel infrastructure, and private prisons and detention centers. Allied groups in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle have won similar victories targeting the banks that back dangerously polluting fossil fuel projects, causing the banks to incur reputational damage and lose valuable municipal contracts.

The lawsuits brought by New York and others accuse the oil companies of creating a “public nuisance,” the same tactic used by states in the 1990s to successfully extract significant settlements from tobacco companies. In these cases against Big Oil, the cities and counties contend that the oil companies created and contributed to global warming-induced sea level rise, and therefore should pay for the costs those cities have incurred and will continue to incur as they put adaptation measures in place.

These measures are extensive and costly; in San Francisco, short-term upgrades to the city’s seawall are expected to cost more than $500 million, with long-term upgrades estimated to exceed $5 billion. Plans to protect the city’s sewer system from sea level rise and associated shoreline erosion are estimated to cost an added $350 million. In Oakland, improvements to the dike protecting Oakland International Airport are estimated to cost $55 million.

Likewise, the complaint filed by New York draws on the city’s detailed work on adaptation, including a $20 billion program to establish climate resiliency design guidelines for municipal infrastructure, and the Raised Shorelines Program, which will elevate shorelines to protect low-lying areas and is expected to cost $100 million for just the first nine out of 91 sites identified. New York City also is taking the oil companies to task for their contribution to rising global temperatures, which the city is fighting with public health initiatives such as Cool Neighborhoods NYC, a $100 million program to keep communities safe during periods of extreme heat.

Fossil fuel companies have been banned from Oakland’s investment portfolio since 2014, and the city council has also called on CalPERS, which manages $326.4 billion in investments for state employees, and Oakland’s public employee pension funds to divest. Across the Bay, theSan Francisco Defund DAPL Coalition has been pushing officials to divest the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) from its $559 million in fossil fuel investments. The city’s board of supervisors has repeatedly called on the pension fund to divest, and the late Mayor Ed Lee called for divestment in one of his last public statements before his sudden death in December 2017. In late January, the SFERS’s board, spurred by grassroots energy and sustained pressure from the city, voted to begin a phased divestment of the fund’s “riskiest dirtiest fossil fuel assets.”

The global financial and insurance industries are starting to recognize that fossil fuel investments don’t make moral or economic sense. The next step is to make this reality clear in the United States. The lawsuits brought by New York City, San Francisco, Oakland, and others signal to bank shareholders and management that fossil fuel firms bring with them significant litigation risks. Public divestment from these companies shows that public pension fund managers in the heart of Wall Street are now recognizing them as bad investments, dragged down by “stranded assets” in the form of fossil fuel reserves that cannot be tapped without causing catastrophic climate change. New York City’s controller, Scott Stringer, cited the stranded assets argument in defending his decision, saying that “it would be irresponsible of us as fiduciaries” to avoid considering divestment.

Indeed, Stringer also noted that Bank of America’s own analysts have predicted that global oil demand will peak by 2030, even as the bank is still financing DAPL and Keystone XL. Divesting our personal and public wealth from the banks that enable the fossil fuel industry, combined with direct divestment and lawsuits, can help bring pressure on banks to stop funding risky, money-losing fossil fuel projects. Climate change leaders in every community should use these tactics and every tool available to make these risks clear.

Sylvia Chi wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Sylvia is an attorney and member of Defenders of Mother Earth-Huichin, an indigenous-led, Oakland-based grassroots coalition following the call from Standing Rock to divest from banks that fund the extractive fossil fuel industry.

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Indivisible Houston questions County Court on damning Hurricane Harvey report (VIDEO)

Thu, 2018-02-15 01:18

Response: “Thank you for your service.”

Indivisible Houston President Daniel J. Cohen challenged the Harris County Commissioners Court during public comments Tuesday about the details of an article published by ProPublica and Texas Tribune detailing comprehensive failure by the county to properly prepare for Hurricane Harvey. The report discussed the lack of preparation of Harris County employees in spite of a recovery plan; a demonstrable lack of understanding from at least one member of the court in spite of his decision to vote to implement it; and attempts by county media staff to spin a response to reporters in regards to failure to produce a list of shelters prior to the storm in spite of that resource being part of the originally designed yet forgotten plan.

“Gentlemen: this is above politics,” said Cohen.

“Plenty of Harris County residents have addressed the court on Harvey. Plenty of students in this county are still homeless and struggling to keep up with their school work in spite of their hardships. They eat off grills. They sleep in tents. Black mold consumes their homes. They’re not back on their feet. This week, several of us are still working to help get wardrobes in order for survivors of the flood and will continue to do so for as long as we have to.

It’s time to acknowledge mistakes, huge, hurricane-sized mistakes with county management so we can fix them. This is a matter of public accountability.”

Indivisible Houston President Daniel Cohen at Commissioner's Court

Read the full statement below.


Egberto Willies
(281) 826-6979

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Trump & the Republicans are on the rise and we warned about it

Wed, 2018-02-14 12:32

Every time I warned about Republicans poised to make a comeback many said I was either a pessimist, a person unable to read the real sentiment of the country, or I was creating disagreement among Democrats. No. I feared that Democrats thought they were going to coast to victory. I knew that unseen to most, the dollars of the plutocracy was at work distributing false narratives directly to Americans while circumventing the noise on cable news.

These guys operate in churches, community events, and many other local venues. I see it first-hand here in my very Conservative community, Kingwood, Texas. So while the Democratic Party Establishment continue to operate like a closed cabal unable to change with the times, a party, the Republican Party, with terrible policies can continue to construct wins.

I wrote the piece “Democrats: Pulling defeat out of a sure win. No Blue Wave unless ...”

If Democrats are to revive the possibility of a Blue Wave, the time is running out as Republicans are framing a better message even if built on lies. They are even out messaging Democrats on the current shutdown of a government that they control totally.

I got a lot of flak for that piece. I followed it up with "Are Democrats once again pulling defeat from what should be a sure victory?" I pointed out that,

The Right Wing is in control of this county not because they support values most Americans want but the semblance of what Americans think they need, a semblance strength.

It does not take a lot of money to get a message and the proper narrative to the masses. So that isn’t the problem. It takes vision. Democrats should leverage independent media, alternative media, social media, and other avenues to reach people. But they don’t. They are stuck with the same high price consultants that have lost elections state by state and federally.

Anyone watching network TV likely saw ads promoting the successes of the tax cut scam. The likely saw ads of Trump’s economic successes even though they pale next to Obama’s. Active engagement and repetition of these narratives are seeds and fertilizer that blossom at election time. And we are living with one side who are much better political farmers than the other.

Well, one of the leading Democratic Super PACs is sounding the alarm. McClatchy reports the following.

A leading Democratic group — Priorities USA — is warning party leaders they could squander a strong political climate in 2018 if they don't start to emphasize pocketbook issues over loose and unfocused critiques of Donald Trump. According to internal polling by the super PAC, President Trump's approval rating climbed to 44 percent in the first week of February, compared to 53 percent who disapprove. That mirrors Trump's improving position in public polls.

In November, the same survey found his approval rating at 40 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. The group’s survey also showed the Democratic Party’s generic ballot advantage had shrunk, with 46 percent preferring Democrats to 42 percent for Republicans.

The memo says that a broad range of metrics show the political climate is still favorable for Democrats. But it also makes an unambiguous diagnosis for Trump’s recent rise: Democrats this year have stopped focusing on economic and health care issues, topics that demonstrably hurt his approval during his first year in office.

Priorities’ polling found that while people in November readily mentioned Trump’s health care and tax reform measures, by February they were instead more cognizant of his tweets. Democrats, the memo said, must “not allow themselves to be sidetracked and distracted by Trump’s latest tweets.”

“While still on track for a successful November, the extent of Democratic gains will be blunted if Democrats do not reengage more aggressively in speaking to the economic and health care priorities of voters,” it said.

There is still time to win back Americans to ensure a blue wave. It will require dumping the Democratic way of doing business and learning how to effect benign political guerrilla tactics. Check out my post titled "Two CNN stories that show how the 2018 blue wave could turn into a ripple."

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Beware of candidates as they are not created equally irrespective of party

Tue, 2018-02-13 19:04

It is essential that before you support any candidate, you are well aware of the platform they are running on before you give them your time or support. A pleasant sounding candidate can be a danger. My Politics Done Right show is now a daily show. I have the show's door wide open for progressive politicians to give them exposure.

I found the following message in the Politics Done Right inbox from Vince Duncan.

Vince Duncan For US Congress Congressional District 18 Houston Texas I can be reached at 713.252.2436.

Apparently, Duncan is running as an Independent in Texas Congressional District 18. This district is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's district.

Of course, before I contact any candidate I do my due diligence. Here are three things I found shocking from this candidate's website.

  1. He seems to support the Harris County Shared Responsibility Act which asks renters to pay a tax because they supposedly get services that homeowners pay for.
  2. He said he actively campaigned against H.E.R.O. In other words, a black man supporting discrimination.
  3. He supports the elimination of the Affordable Care Act Individual Mandate.

I replied to him directly and succinctly.

(1) A black man supporting discrimination and willing to misrepresent HERO.
(2) A man making renters scapegoats for a flawed tax system. Renters rent covers taxes paid by the property owner and as such pay taxes. You are asking them to pay twice.

I am speechless that you would want to come on a progressive show. I will do my best to point out why politicians who support the policies that you do are never elected. The policies are patently evil.

PS: Your support for the elimination of the individual mandate shows a complete misunderstanding of insurance. For-profit basic health insurance is evil. Not having everyone who is able in the system until the scourge is eradicated is fiscally irresponsible.

I would never give anyone with views that hurt people materially or otherwise a platform on Politics Done Right.


Mr. Duncan has since responded.

We definitely have a difference Of Political Opinions. In our Democracy expressing differences is Politically very very Healthy. And please keep in mind that it's up to the Voters to accept or Reject the Political Platform. My Political Opinions are available for discussion for people Capable of carrying out a Conversation. It was Recommended that I contact you... Whatever your Platform or Political Stance you maintain I Respect That it's Yours. Given that you are Opposed to your Audience deciding for Themselves then there is No Need For Future Communication.

I replied to him as follows.

You miss the point. You can call into my show and say as you please at any time you choose. It is open to anyone. That is the kind of show I have. My invited guests/politicians, however, are different. I have an agenda and I do not hide it. Given the disaster that policies like many shown at your site are inflicting on this country, I do not provide any further platform when it is the same platform pushed by the plutocracy. Have a nice day.

Many are but tools of the plutocracy as they buy into policies that continue to promote income and wealth inequality ultimately. It is hard to believe Mr. Duncan does not understand the implications of double taxing renters, eliminating the Individual Mandate, and supporting discrimination. I will play no part in it.

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Republicans Are Losing Their Ability To Withstand A Democratic Wave.

Tue, 2018-02-13 15:48

By Dartagnan

Democrats are gradually but unmistakably chipping away at the artificial advantages the Republican Party rigged for itself to protect itself from the votes of the majority of the American people. From the New York Times, via

Slowly but surely, the considerable structural advantages — like incumbency, geography and gerrymandering — that give the Republicans a chance to survive a so-called wave election are fading, giving Democrats a clearer path to a House majority in November.

Republicans formerly accustomed to the formidable protection racket of incumbency and gerrymandering have suddenly found the idea of spending more time with their families strangely appealing in the face of Trump-enraged Democrats who, in the words of Ted Cruz, “would crawl over broken glass” to vote this November. In addition to the overall offensiveness of Trump himself, recent court decisions invalidating or curbing the GOP’s partisan gerrymanders in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania have contributed to these sentiments:

[F]our court rulings have softened or even torn up Republican gerrymanders in four big states: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and most recently Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court struck down the congressional map last month.

The decisions in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia have already cost the Republicans a net of three House seats while generally eroding their position elsewhere in those states, giving Democrats better opportunities in 2018.


It’s too early to have a good idea of how much Republicans might lose in Pennsylvania, but it is reasonable to expect that the new map will cost the party at least one seat and erode its position in several others.

Raw fury directed at Trump and his Republican enablers in the Congress has also resulted in an unusually high number of quality Democratic recruits in traditionally Republican, predominantly white working class districts:

The Republican incumbency advantage has diminished in another way: Democratic recruitment and fund-raising. A strong Democratic recruit — like a military veteran or an elected official — can cut into that advantage, especially with strong fund-raising numbers.

California is looking particularly perilous for Republicans this November, as it mirrors the trend of Republican incumbents nationally that are either jumping ship or finding themselves outspent--by a lot:

More than 40 House Republican incumbents were outraised in the final quarter of 2017 by one — or several — of their Democratic opponents, according to the latest round of fundraising numbers. And of that group, more than a dozen had less cash on hand than their Democratic challengers...[.]

Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who’s cruised to reelection since the late 1980s, is facing two well-funded Democrats. Harley Rouda, a businessman, and Hans Keirstead, a stem-cell researcher, topped Rohrabacher in fundraising last quarter, while Rouda now holds a cash-on-hand advantage over the congressman. Rohrabacher’s traditionally Republican district in Orange County narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The Democratic “bench” is less deep in some of the wealthier, more highly educated Republican districts, but this disadvantage is being compensated for by donations coming from the people that live in those Districts who are appalled by Trump and eager to make a statement in whatever way they can:

[T]he Democrats don’t have much of a bench at all in many of the well-educated but traditionally Republican districts where Mr. Trump struggled the most. Here it’s the Democratic fund-raising that is most impressive. Last quarter, 134 Democrats in 83 districts raised at least $100,000 in individual contributions. Those successes have been disproportionately concentrated in well-educated areas.

This seems to be shaping up as an election that will be swayed by most educated people in the country. As opposed to the last one.

Conor Lamb is running for Congress in a Special election to be held on March 13th for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, against a Republican named Rick Saccone. Republicans nationally are terrified of what a Democratic victory in this District could portend for November.

If there was any time to donate money to Mr. Lamb’s campaign, this would be it.

Original article at DailyKos

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Consensual sex is key to happiness and good health, science says

Tue, 2018-02-13 13:15

Shervin Assari, University of Michigan

As we approach Valentine’s Day, it’s nice to celebrate love and, one the best parts about it, sex. As a doctor and epidemiologist who studies sex, I bring good news for Valentine’s Day. It’s not just that sex is fun – it’s also good for your physical and mental health.

Some of my research is focused on how men and women differ in the links between sexuality, mental and physical health, and relationship quality. In this article, I write from my findings and that of others on how sex is important to our love, mental health, relations and survival. At the end, I suggest a solution for individuals who are avoiding sex for a common reason – chronic disease.

Good sex makes us happy

Good sex is an inseparable part of our well-being and happiness. Those of us who engage in more sex report better quality of life. Sexual intercourse is linked to high satisfaction across life domains. In one of my studies on 551 married patients with heart disease, individuals who had a higher frequency of sexual intercourse reported higher marital quality, marital consensus, marital coherence, marital affection expression and overall marital satisfaction. These results are replicated in multiple studies.

In a study by another team, partners who both experienced orgasm during sex were considerably happier. These findings are shown inside and outside of the United States.

Sex keeps us alive

Although early initiation of sex such as during adolescence is a risk factor for mortality, having a sound sexual life in adulthood is linked to low mortality. In a seven-year follow-up study of men 17 years old or older, erectile dysfunction and having no sexual activity at baseline predicted increased mortality over time. Similar findings were shown in younger men. This is probably because more physically healthy individuals are sexually active.

No sex and forced sex makes us depressed

There is a two-way road between bad sex and depression. Depression is also a reason for bad sex, particularly for women. And, men who are depressed are more likely to sexually abuse their partners.

And it’s important to note, in the wake of continuing news of sexual assault and abuse, that forced sex in intimate relations make people depressed, paranoid, jealous, and ruins relationships. Couples who experience unwanted sex have a higher risk for experiencing other types of abuse, as bad habits tend to cluster.

Sex different for men and women?

Men and women differ in the degree to which their sexual act is attached to their physical, emotional, and relational well-being. Various reasons play a role among both genders, but for women, sexual function is heavily influenced by mental health and relationship quality.

Research suggests that a good sex life is important to good health.
Yulia Grigoryeva/

By contrast, for men sexual health reflects physical health. This is also intuitive as the most common sexual disorders are due to problems with desire and erection for women and men, respectively.

Reasons for avoiding sex

As I explained in another article in The Conversation, sexual avoidance for those who have a partner or are in a relationship happens for a long list of reasons, including pain, medications, depression and chronic disease. Common diseases such as heart disease interfere with sex by causing fear and anxiety of sexual intercourse.

Aging should not be considered as a sexless age. Studies have shown that older adults acquire skills and strategies that can buffer age-related declines in their sexual life, particularly when they are in a positive relationship. This is called seniors’ sexual wisdom.

Back on track

Because people avoid sex for a variety of reasons, there is no single answer for those who want to become sexually active again. For many men, physical health problems are barriers. If they suffer from erectile dysfunction, they can seek medical help for that.

If fear of sex in the presence of chronic disease is a problem, there can be medical help for that as well. For many women, common barriers are relational dissatisfaction and mental health. For both men and women, the first step is to talk about their sexual life with their physician, counselor or therapist.

At least half of all medical visits do not cover any discussion about sexual life of patients. Embarrassment and lack of time are among the most common barrier. So make sure you make time to talk to your doctor or health care provider.

Neither the doctor nor the patient should wait for the other person to start a dialogue about their sexual concerns. The “don’t tell, don’t ask” does not take us anywhere. The solution is “do tell, do ask.”

Shervin Assari, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health, University of Michigan

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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How Likely Is It that the Democrats Will Take Back Congress?

Tue, 2018-02-13 12:07

by Ronald L. Feinman

Ronald L. Feinman is the author of Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015). A paperback edition is now available.

As America looks ahead to November 2018 and the midterm congressional elections, the issue arises as to what effect President Donald Trump will have on the outcome.

Normally the President’s party loses seats and sometimes control of one or both houses of Congress. In the House of Representatives, since Woodrow Wilson’s first midterm election in 1914, the party in power has lost seats. The only exceptions: in 1934, when Franklin D. Roosevelt saw a gain of 9 seats in the lower chamber; in 1998, when Bill Clinton, in his second midterm saw a gain of 5 seats; and in 2002, when George W. Bush saw a gain of 8 seats.

These three exceptions can be explained as a vote of confidence in the New Deal of FDR two years in; a reaction of voters against the Clinton impeachment effort by Republicans, as polls clearly indicated opposition to such efforts with the economy flourishing; and the response of voters to September 11, 2001, at the strongest point of unity around George W. Bush in a national crisis, before the bottom fell out following the quagmire wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the US Senate there have been more exceptions to the rule. Counting from Woodrow Wilson’s first midterm election, which marked the beginning of Senate elections by popular vote, we find that in 1914 the incumbent party had a four seat gain; in 1934, FDR saw a nine seat gain; in 1962 John Kennedy saw a 2 seat gain (which followed the Cuban Missile Crisis); in 1970 Richard Nixon got a one seat gain; in 2002, George W. Bush saw a 2 seat gain. (Both Reagan (in 1982) and Clinton (in 1998) saw neither gains nor losses.)

Now that the history is delineated, it is time to consider the likelihood of what might happen nine months from now, with an economy seemingly strong and a President (Donald Trump) with historically low public opinion ratings, the lowest since such polls were conducted in the time of FDR onward.

As this author writes this essay, the stock market suffered the worst loss in two years, and at the same time, the President’s public opinion rating moved up to the high 30s, at least in one poll taken before the stock market slide. Trying to project where the economy and the polls will go in the next nine months is a real gamble, with the certainty that if the stock market continues to falter, as it did in the last week of January going into the first few days of February, that would be terrible news for Trump and his party, and would certainly undermine any temporary gain in public opinion polls. But these are intangibles that cannot be measured nine months out in a definite direction, so instead we must look at the facts, not the “alternative facts” that the right wing media, such as Fox News Channel and Breitbart, utilize.

The facts are that the Republican Party in Congress has had a disastrous performance in the 115th Congress, arguably the worst in all of modern American history, if not all the years of congressional history. The failure to accomplish their legislative agenda, other than the tax cut that dramatically gives massive benefits to the wealthy over average Americans, is likely to come back and bite them in a major way. As people realize that the small cut in taxes will not be enough to make their lives better, and that the social safety net of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is endangered, as well as labor and environmental protections, not to mention the measures weakening support for education and health care, there is likely to be a massive angry reaction. As the government goes increasingly into debt to pay for the GOP tax cuts to the wealthy (the cuts will add over a trillion dollars to the national debt), the major argument of the Republican Party against the Democratic opposition will be squandered.

It’s possible a deal will be reached to protect the Dreamers (immigrants brought to the US as children); 85-90 percent already want to give them the right to remain in America. But the danger of a potential nuclear war with either North Korea or Iran, and the growing threat of a stronger China and a resurgent Russia, are likely to worry many Americans, and the refusal of the Trump Presidency to pay attention to global warming and trade agreements will add to the alarm.

Furthermore, Trump has set out to pack the federal court system through the selection of ideologically extreme right wing judges, often totally incompetent or lacking in experience, to the circuit and district courts, thereby skewing future generations of justice, which will affect us for decades.

His push for dramatic cuts in regulations in all areas of the economy is a warning sign of the undermining of consumer, labor, environmental, educational, and health and safety regulations that have become our heritage under Republican and Democratic Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama.

His behavior and erratic actions are bound to antagonize millions, as is the GOP’s active coddling of his breach of norms: his power grabbing, attacks on the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the intelligence agencies, the judiciary, and the free press. Civil liberties and civil rights are under attack, and the odds are heavy, despite attempts at the suppression of minority voting groups and gerrymandered districts, that we will see greater numbers of young people, women, racial and ethnic minorities, and suburban voters coming out in droves, alarmed by what has been happening.

The Robert Mueller investigation will go on, and any further indictments or other actions of the Special Counsel on the various potential charges against Donald Trump, family members, and Trump cabinet and staff, could lead to a constitutional crisis, which if one goes by the experience of Richard Nixon four and a half decades ago, should galvanize much of the nation against the president. It might force desperate Republicans, finally, to act against the abuses of the Trump administration.

Also, many Republicans in Congress, more than 30 at this point, have decided not to run for reelection, including committee chairmen, who have chosen to retire or run for a different office, as they see the handwriting on the wall, and expect a major loss of seats. The Republicans who are running for reelection have particular problems in five states—New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois, and California—where five of nine in New York, four out of five in New Jersey, four out of seven in both Virginia and Illinois, and eight out of fourteen in California, are vulnerable. (Many are from districts won by Hillary Clinton.)

So one can definitely expect a “Blue” wave in the House of Representatives, with 24 seats needed to gain a Democratic majority, but the likelihood of gaining 40 or more seats in the lower chamber. Looking at House of Representatives history since 1914, we learn that the shift of more than 40 seats is unexceptional. It happened in 1914, 1922, 1930, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1958, 1966, 1974, 1994, and 2010, a total 11 times out of a total of 26 midterm elections.

The US Senate is another matter, and it will be difficult for the Democrats to gain the two seats needed for a majority. The overwhelming majority of senators who happen to be up for re-election are Democrats (twenty-four plus two independents, Bernie Sanders and Angus King). The Republicans only have to defend 8 seats. Democrats have a chance to switch Arizona and Nevada and possibly Texas and Nebraska. But the Democrats have to protect seats in ten states that Trump won: Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, North Dakota, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. That’s a tall order. Historically, since 1914, the party in the White House has lost an average of four seats, which, if it occurs, would be a miracle in 2018. However, the party in the White House has lost more than 8 seats a total of 7 times in the past century, as high as 11 in 1946, 13 in 1958, and 9 in 2014, so it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the Republicans could lose up to four seats.

At this point, nine months before the election, the greatest likelihood is a Democratic gain of 40 or more seats and control of the House of Representatives, and a gain of one or two seats for the Democrats in the Senate, meaning either control by 51-49, or a 50/50 split Senate, which would give control to the GOP (Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote). This means continued tumult and chaos in the halls of Congress as well as the White House, but possible impeachment moves in the House with a Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It would no doubt spell the end of the rightwing revolution Trump’s election seemed to signal.

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The Fabricator hear’s Mueller’s foot steps

Tue, 2018-02-13 01:07

Donald Trump lies more often without consequence than anyone to ever grace his position. Being a frequent liar, however, doesn't make him a good one.

As fabrication has proved to be his primary function in the White House, that's sad. It's a massive waste of entrepreneurial talent.

Let's see. Trump said dozens of times on the campaign trail that his campaign team had no interaction with the Russians.

In fact, at least 12 Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign and transition. CNN reports 19 face-to-face meetings with Kremlin-linked individuals and 51 assorted communications.

To what degree you might give this man the benefit of the doubt, 51 is considerably more than none.

Trump has said he never met George Papadopoulos, indicted for lying to the FBI about interacting with the Russians. That's not even a good lie, per a widely circulated photo.

And Papadopoulos, who first spilled the beans to an Aussie diplomat about Russian-stolen "dirt" on Hillary, was far more than the "coffee boy" Team Trump claims.

He helped write Trump's first foreign policy speech. He served as point person for a presidential meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

"No collusion"? Papadopoulos knows. And he is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

This takes us back to Trump, the great liar who isn't very good at it. He says he wants to talk to Mueller. His attorneys say, "Oh, God, no."

Says "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough: "His own lawyers think he's too stupid and too much of a liar to stand up to the heat."

For good reason. Trump constructed a lie to explain the firing of James Comey. Trump constructed a lie to explain the Trump Tower meeting between a Russian delegation and Trump's son, son-in-law and others – you know, the meeting convened to discuss adoption, surely something near and dear to Don Jr.'s and Jared Kushner's hearts.

This lying stuff can be contagious. Now even supposed straight-arrow John Kelly is caught with his tongue in the door jamb.

Kelly wants us to believe that only last week did he become aware of abuse allegations against just-ousted Trump aide Rob Porter, and, that as soon as he knew, Porter was out the door.

That could not possibly be true. The FBI learned about the claims in the process of doing his security clearance. Surely, this information penetrated the consciousness of Mr. Conscience in the Trump White House.

Oh, and on the issue of lies and security clearances, Kushner has yet to answer to why, in obtaining his security clearance, he initially failed to list 100 calls or meetings with foreign officials from more than 20 countries. (Later he added an addendum to his applications.)

This all goes back to a culture of deceit. And the principal and most heinous deceit pertains to Russia's attack on our country's elections system as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.

Trump has shrugged and winked and nodded as we have heard story after story about what Russia did to undermine our elections system, from fake posts in social media, to stealing and publishing embarrassing emails from the Democratic Party, to literally worming its way into state elections systems.

Trump and his acolytes want us to believe that the president is being set up by a biased criminal justice system. That's a joke.

That justice system is trying to investigate the crime of the century, one by which a hostile foreign power helped a man who got fewer votes than his opponent ascend to the White House.

Yes, this is the person who claimed he'd won by a landslide, that 3 million votes had been cast illegally, that illegal voters had been trucked across state lines to defeat him.

He entered lying and never stopped. For the everyday citizen, keeping track of the falsehoods is impossible. Good journalism helps, though. And at least one person, Mueller, has been keeping score.

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Rep. Beto O’Rourke Town Hall in Houston, TX Greenspoint

Mon, 2018-02-12 01:26

Congressman Beto O'Rourke visited Greenspoint area of Houston, Texas on February 10th. Given the size of the crowd on a rainy and muggy Saturday, this man likely has a chance. There were even independents and Republicans who showed up.

Community activist Keshia Thomas, the woman whose photograph in 1996 saving a KKK member from a mob, was Life Magazine Picture of the year, organized the event. Keshia had north of 500 people in the hastily arranged town hall. She had six days to put it all together. She announced it on Politics Done Right with Egberto Willies and was off to the races.

Before the event started, I gave Beto a short interview as he had to get started quickly to make a subsequent activity.

Beto O'Rourke Interview


Keshia Thomas introduces Congressman Beto O'Rourke

Beto O'Rourke gives his remarks

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee lays high praises on Beto O'Rourke

The Dean of the State House Senfronia Thomas: We are not going back

There was a Q&A period where attendees posed various questions. Two specific issues challenged O'Rourke on a philosophical level that he handled well and without hesitation. Those each merited their posts. One of the attendees asked O'Rourke about his definition of Universal care. He answered it in more detail than he did in the interview I gave him earlier. A DACA supporter and a DACA recipient, a few questions later, challenged Beto on his vote for the 2-year budget that did not have any relief for the DACA folk.

The town hall was well organized and well attended. If Beto O'Rourke continues to draw those kinds of crowds, it is clear he just may be the next Senator from Texas.


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Racism & Prejudice: It’s so damn exhausting but can make one stronger

Mon, 2018-02-12 01:00

I had five jobs in the five years I worked in corporate America, and I can relay a story in each one where I felt race played a factor. I left corporate America and had had my business for the last 29 years or so. I can also recount so many stories that made that enterprise more difficult than it had to be.

Now that I am older and much less arrogant, I can admit that what probably got me in the door in corporate America was affirmative action though I would balk anytime anyone insinuated that reality.

I was unqualified for the first job I got, given the posted specifications. They were looking for someone with at least a Masters in Computer Science. I had a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and minored in computer-aided engineering. But I did write a Fortran program to simulate the controlled positioning of an ARCO drilling ship. The Vice-President of the division called me into his office, shut the door, and said, “Pat likes you. I don’t know why. She’s hiring you. But I want to tell you if it does not work out in six months, you are out of here. And I don’t want to hear a damn thing about Affirmative Action.” That was my entry into corporate America. I finished the six-month project in two months.

At my third company, I was called back three times, if you include the visit where they made me the offer. It was as if they did not believe my resume and the interview proper. At that same company, I made a software modification that solved a problem they thought would require a complete hardware redesign. When it was time to explain to the customer the solution and the reason we could deliver way ahead of schedule, I was told to tell another engineer all that I did because “my time was too valuable to be in that meeting.” When the other engineer was unable to answer all the questions related to exceptions in the software, they finally called me in to answer questions to a somewhat shocked set of customer engineers.

My fifth company siphoned me from the fourth one because of a particular skill set I learned specifically for the space station project. They hired me with a title below the previous job claiming they had a strict experience level associated with titles. I accepted it because the pay was higher than the previous one. Later a secretary would tell me in confidence that a new hire was less experienced, had a more senior title, and made more than I did. I did not have to wait too long as the corrective action was almost immediate.

Getting loans in the early 90’s was not difficult. A good friend of mine, who happens to be white, started a phone card company, and I formed a software company. Both had sales. Both of us wanted to borrow forty thousand dollars. Neither of us had collateral. We went to the same bank. He was invited in to talk to the VP. He got the loan. The VP told me that without collateral it was a waste of time to fill out the application. I built my company on high-interest credit card loans. My friend got a low-interest loan he never paid back as he blew most of his cash on cocaine.

After getting my business up and running, I went back to the same bank and told them they were going to give me a $40,000 loan (one I did not need at the time).  The VP smirked and told me what I had to do. I FedExed the information that I stayed up all night completing a large three-ring binder. They approved the loan within days. But they refused to fund it until after Tax Day, April 15th. They held the money for over a month. Any ideas why?

This week the Harris County Our Revolution endorsed several candidates. Several weeks ago, it asked candidates to submit questionnaires. They denied an invite to two very progressive women who passed their Medicare for All litmus test; one was a woman of color, the other one white. But they invited their two counterparts who were white men. One did not support Medicare for all. The other was utterly unqualified for the job when measured against his opponent. The action gave immediate credence to a Bernie Bro faction of the Our Revolution movement.

I was a Bernie Sanders delegate in Philadelphia. I still support Bernie and what he represents. But the action by this Our Revolution group is a black eye to the movement. I complained to a few in the leadership profusely. Both women resubmitted their questionnaires. The white female candidate who is opposed by the white man that does not support Medicare for all got the endorsement. The woman of color still did not get an invite, and they went with the lesser qualified candidate. Thus far, every progressive group endorsing in the race have gone for the woman of color because she is the most qualified.

I cherry-picked my personal stories, but I have scores of them, and that is not hyperbole. It is the same story in different forms for many. I wrote a piece a few years ago to express the reality and adaptation many of us live through titled “I was Trayvon Martin the day I came to America” that provides a window. Jon Stewart did a piece a few years ago where he was able to relate an experience not foreign to most people of color. He got it.

Quick story. So we live in New York City, a Liberal bastion. Recently we sent a correspondent and a producer to a building in this Liberal bastion where we were going to tape an interview. The producer, White, dressed in only what could be described as homeless elf attire and a pretty strong five o'clock from the previous week shadow, strode confidently into the building preceding our humble correspondent, a gentleman of color dressed resplendidly in a tailored suit. Who do you think was stopped? Let me give you a hint. The Black guy. And that shit happens all the times, all of it.  Race is there and it is a constant. You are, tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.”

Some will hear these stories and try to find an excuse for each. But when you live it, it is exhausting. It is even more tiring when the data, in the aggregate, proves a reality many, attempt to deny on a micro level. In my case, racism and prejudice have made me much stronger with an armor of steel. But for too many, it stunts their growth. It cripples their possibilities.


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DACA recipient & supporter unload on Beto O’Rourke, likely Ted Cruz opponent (VIDEO)

Sun, 2018-02-11 17:29

A DACA supporter challenged Congressman Beto O'Rourke, and a DACA recipient unloaded on him at a town hall in the Greenspoint area of Houston Texas. O'Rourke is running for Senate and will be Ted Cruz's likely opponent.

Beto O'Rourke's vote on DACA challenged

Beto O'Rourke seemed prepared to take the heat for the vote he made that kept the government open at the expense of DACA.

The first woman that stood up was not a DACA recipient. She said she supported the program and did not understand O'Rourke's vote. She made it clear she was neither a Democrat or a Republican. She personalized it by noting she had neighbors that were beneficiaries of the program.

Another woman who is a DACA recipient confronted Beto as well. She admonished O'Rourke for supporting the budget deal that left out the program. She said that it was clear that recipients wanted a no vote and he did not oblige.

O'Rourke explained that there was too much in the bill for disaster relief and other programs that made it near impossible for him to vote against the bill. He said that the shutdown was unlikely to work and as such was not the right thing to do in his mind.

He promised that he would continue the fight. The DACA recipient did not seem convinced. He asked her to watch what he does going forward. He told both women that he agreed with them coming and saying their piece.

Beto handled himself well. I am from the school of thought that at some time Democrats have to be willing like the Republicans have, to burn the house down lest they will always fail at tough legislation. I explained in the past why I thought they should have done it with this bill. But I respect other opinions.

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AT LAST: Texas Republican tears into his party on schools and taxes

Sun, 2018-02-11 15:28

This Texas Republican County Judge needs a medal for what he said recently. Moreover, he said he would continue articulating this message. He even called out one of the wealthy guys that pretty much bought Republicans state politicians.

A local democratic politician dropped an article on my wall today, and I just could not believe it.

County Judge Glen Whitley of Hurst decided to tell the truth and made several points that not only every Texan but every Republican around the country. You see, they read from the same playbook. They are decimating their states from within that will become evident, many times, way after those who caused the damage are no longer there.

Here are the most critical points.

  • Property taxes in Texas are high because every year the state pays less every year of its share for public education. Then the Austin politicians blame local politicians for higher taxes.
  • Whitley said some state senators and representatives endanger our future by opposing needed local toll road projects and useful business incentives. For the record, I am against toll roads as a form of funding. After all, given that the infrastructure will be paid for no matter what, toll roads are more expensive because a cut of the funds goes to shareholders as opposed to building even more projects with profits.
  • He called out by name, Tim Dunn, a wealthy oilman and Christian school owner who owns state senators and congresspeople.
  • Republicans in Austin are for local control in name only.
  • He pointed out that lack of investment in infrastructure by the legislature, highways, etc., will stunt growth.
  • He pointed out that Austin Republicans raised taxes in a very dubious manner. They passed it off to the local politicians and said it in writing. "Property values and the estimates of local tax collections on which they are based shall be increased by 7.04 percent for tax year 2017 and by 6.77 percent in tax year 2018.” People in the room according to the article were incredulous.

The judge says he still considers himself a good Republican. Additionally, he said, many in the party are quiet but think like him. He said he would be giving this message to more suburban groups. This Republican deserves a medal.

It always amazes me that more Democrats don't point out the contrast in policies and their effects over and over again; ad-nauseam. Republicans lie about the result of their policies over and over again and because there isn't similar fervor from the other side, the lies morph into truths for many Americans. This Bill Maher skit should be on every Democrat's tongue.

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