As Hillary Clinton, continues the book tour for her latest memoir, “What Happened”, Democrats are on a manic and self indulgent quest to explain their recent losses but all of their explanations are centered on the personal failings of Hillary Clinton. While Clinton, may have made errors, I believe that the party should look beyond Hillary for explanations of its demise. The classic trope against Democrats is that they are socialists, hellbent on enabling the lazy with the promise of free stuff. It is this reputation of the Democrats as soviet Santa’s that has damaged their appeal. Democrats strangely play into this idea by using language like “free healthcare” or “free college” which from a policy standpoint is legislative gibberish. Democrats have fallen into the trap of framing their own issues with the verbiage of the right wing in opposition to them. Using the term free in reference to any Democratic policy is dishonest when it is done by Republicans but it is incomprehensibly foolish when Democrats borrow the terms.
Using the term free sounds impractical and unbelievable. It smacks of a profligate and unsustainable form of pandering that is doomed to failure. It is also not representative of the true nuance that makes democratic policies effective and workable. Democrats don’t want to give anyone Free Stuff. Democrats have simply recognized that most Americans spend nearly one-third of their income on taxes. Democrats believe that if Americans are going to pay such a large portion of their individual income to the government, they should actually get something for their money. The Republicans offer a competing philosophy which holds that Americans should only expect a strong national defense from their government. Democrats should expose this notion as a fools bargain. One third of your individual income is outrageously excessive to simply maintain an army that we hope we never use. The GOP’s tendency to deride those who demand quality services from the government they finance is an exposed Achilles heel. It turns the concept of government itself into a political Ponzi-scheme. Its a fraudulent philosophy that demands that citizens pay membership fees to our literal country club without expecting any benefits. Democrats, on the other-hand believe that America is like Costco and taxpayers are simply paying a membership fee that gives them access to services purchased in bulk. For close to a third of your income, you should expect a strong national defense, 21st century infrastructure like hyper-loops and nationwide internet, roads and bridges for self driving cars, smaller-high quality schools with well paid teachers and healthcare. Democrats simply believe that Americans pay so much in taxes that their children should not need to go into massive debt to attend public universities. None of this is free and no one, including Democrats should use language suggesting that it should be free. Democrats must stop falling into the trap of affirming these notions.
Democrats should also combat the notion that they support big government handouts to those in our society that are allergic to hard work. This is a characterization of social safety nets from Republicans who often feel entitled to public aide in their own hour of need but bristle at the obligation to help others in the same fashion. However, this mischaracterization is enabled by a Democratic party that fails to explain why social safety nets are a justifiable service of the government. Democrats believe in social safety nets because Americans pay their taxes, in good times and in bad times. The government should likewise support it’s citizens when they fall on hard-times. If a family suffers from a downturn in the economy, their children should not stop receiving meals at schools. Over an individual’s lifetime, he or she will pay into the community’s coffers, often for services they will never use. For instance, Bostonians will pay taxes that will benefit Houstonians in the aftermath of a disaster. The meager welfare we offer, is a return on taxes paid over a life-time if an individual finds themselves in need. It is not simply a handout. Social Security is likewise a savings of personal wages. And after a life-time of paying the taxes that fought our wars, financed our infrastructure, and paid for public schools, American youth can and should provide the elderly with healthcare. The Democratic Party is not offering anything for free. Democrats simply believe that you should actually get something out of the taxes you pay. The alternative Republican philosophy, that citizens should not ask anything of their government, makes the American Taxpayer a sucker.
At a rally last night in Iowa, Donald Trump made headlines by declaring that he would not want poor people serving in his cabinet. “I love all people. Rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?” Trump declared. Trump boasted that he appointed Gary Cohen, a former Goldman Sachs President, as an economic adviser. Trump has drawn criticism for assembling a cabinet that consists of multiple billionaires and wealthy donors that seem to lack expertise in their assigned areas. The Cohen remarks are notable because Trump and his supporters once attacked Ted Cruz for his ties to Goldman Sachs. During their contentious primary, Trump attacked Cruz, saying “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him [Ted Cruz]. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.” The barrage of Goldman Sachs attacks from Trump led to the heckling of Cruz by Trump supporters. We have posted one of the incidents during which Cruz was harassed about his wife’s ties to Goldman Sachs.
As the reality of the Democratic loss in Georgia’s Special Election sets in, the party is clumsily working through the stages of grief. After the traumatic defeat, Democrats were largely in denial that the party was, in any way responsible for the loss of Jon Ossoff. In the immediate aftermath of the defeat, party loyalists argued that the seat was a long-shot anyway and ruled that Jon Ossoff’s loss was due to the triumph of local politics. Since the early phase of denial, the Democrats have sped through the remaining four stages, moving beyond acceptance and into a newly invented phase. BLAME! The loss of Ossoff must be the sole responsibility of some poor, unpopular soul. A consensus is forming that former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should be the unfortunately-condemned spirit. The argument is largely being pitched by the same cast of ambitious characters that attempted an earlier coup against the former speaker but that does not mean that their claim does not have merit. Ohio Representative Tim Ryan charges that Pelosi is so reviled on the right that she was a weight around Jon Ossoff’s neck. His sedition prone followers see Pelosi as a nationwide bad luck charm. Republicans merely mention her name, tie Democratic candidates to the San Francisco elite and cruise to victory. Such is the hate for Nancy Pelosi. However, this conclusion represents two of the defeatist tendencies of the Democratic Party. In the recent past the Democrats have tended towards both overly simplistic explanations for their failures and a tendency to be cowed in the face of fierce opposers. The introspection averse powers in the party refuse to consider the more complex questions like perhaps Jon Ossoff needed to stand firm on a posture for or against President Trump. This question would require a deep dive into strategy and a level of rigorous reconsideration to which some of the party’s simpler minds are unaccustomed. Perhaps Jon Ossoff simply failed to define himself in terms of policy and principles which means that party officials would need to pour over his media campaigns and audit successful messaging and failed themes. But that would be hard. It is much simpler to see a single woman in San Francisco as all that ails the party. Instead of re-assessing the party’s approach to organizing and campaigning which would require an invasive autopsy, these Democrats would rather believe that all they need to do to find a path back to victory is replace a single hated party figure. It’s that simple. The Democrats love easy answers and that refusal to consider the complexity of their current quandary is condemning the party to a fatal repetition of errors. The consequences of this refusal to analyse is that Democrats haven’t even asked themselves how Nancy Pelosi became the hated figure that she is today. Nancy Pelosi is one of the most successful House Speakers in American history. She ushered through complex healthcare reform, in the face of historic opposition to the nation’s first African American President. Her mastery of strategy bested every legislative foe in her path and for that she became the focus of right wing anger. Any effective Democratic leader would likely be targeted with the same messaging that has decimated Pelosi’s national reputation. Replacing Nancy Pelosi is a solution that is temporary, lasting only as long as it will take for the conservative phalanx of talk radio, fox news and Breitbart websites to create a narrative about the next Democratic leader. Instead of an in-depth discussion on how Democrats can defeat the message machine of the right wing, some Democrats would rather exile one of their own, and bend to the will of their opponents. And this tendency to bow to those that oppose you explains a great deal about Democratic losses. Kick a stallion and it will buck back, bash the mule and it simply accepts the beating. Getting rid of Nancy Pelosi will not fix the party’s popularity problem. Tim Ryan, the leader of the current mutiny claimed in an interview with CNN that one of his Republican colleagues informed him that Pelosi was hurting the Democratic cause and the congressman sees nothing ironic or ignorant about taking political advice from his opponents. This timidity and gullibility in Democrats is just as responsible for Democratic failure as Pelosi’s reputation.
On Friday, President Donald Trump will travel to Miami to announce a major shift in U.S. policy. The President will end Obama-era policies that have allowed Americans to liberally travel to the island of Cuba. In an attempt to correct a policy the Obama administration deemed a 55 year failure, President Obama began communicating with the leadership of Cuba through Pope Francis. The result of the back channel has been a rebirth in Cuban commerce as Americans have flocked to the island, filling it’s once empty hotels. Many of those hotels however, are operated under the direction of the Cuban Military which is also benefiting from the boost in tourism. While the primary beneficiaries of new commerce have been the Cuban people, the Trump administration wants to end any commerce that might benefit the military. In Miami, President Trump will announce that the Cuban administration under President Raul Castro has failed to make pivotal reforms in human rights. He will declare that the Obama policy has been a catastrophic failure and he will reinstate travel restrictions that will halt much of the recent tourism to the island-nation. Americans and American businesses will be forbidden from supporting entities affiliated with the military which will effectively end the new tourism. The change in policy is opposed by business leaders and human rights groups. Embassies in both nations will remain open in the hopes that future communications will lead to reform on the island and improve the relationship between both current administrations.
The Russian military is reporting that it may have killed the enigmatic leader of ISIS. The international terrorist group has risen as a world scourge under the captaincy of a religious leader named Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. As the leader of ISIS, Al-Baghdadi declared himself to be the ruler of the global Islamic community. By declaring himself to be the “Caliph” or Pope of all Muslim’s worldwide, Al-Baghdadi was able to attract militant Islamic fighters from all over the world. The Russian Defense Ministry is reporting that on May 28, the Russian Air-force struck a gathering in the Syrian city of Raqqa, potentially killing the Islamic State leader. The Russian statement however, seems tentative suggesting that the Russians themselves may have doubts about the success of the strike. Sources suggest that the Russians may have been acting independently, without the coordination of the U.S. backed Kurdish forces on the ground. The Russians may have only learned about Baghdadi’s presence at the gathering after the strike. Their ability to confirm his death is therefore limited.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time that rumors have swirled about the death of Baghdadi. In 2015, the Iraqi Military hit a convoy ushering the Islamic State leader and reports of his demise were circulated. In January (2017), a U.S. led strike in northern Iraq’s Al-Ba’aj injured Baghdadi, leading to more reports of his death. After several brushes with death, coalition forces are once again hoping that the mastermind of the most destructive terrorist organization in history has finally met justice.
Bill O’Reilly’s protege, Jesse Watters is under-fire for sexual comments he made during a recent segment of “THE FIVE”, a popular show in Fox’s Prime-time line-up. O’Reilly himself was dismissed from his lucrative perch at Fox News for sexually harassing his co-workers with comments like “Hot Chocolate” and allegedly tying on-air-time for guest spots to a willingness to provide him with sexual favors. During Tuesday’s episode of “The Five”, the Fox News panel discussed Ivanka Trump’s recent appearance at a Women’s forum that featured Germany’s Angela Merkel. Trump was booed at the forum when she suggested that her father was a great defender of families and women’s issues. While Jesse Watters initially seemed to be defending Ivanka Trump, his comments soon turned toward vulgarity. At the conclusion of his laudatory remarks, Watters added that he “liked the way she [Ivanka Trump] was speaking into that microphone”. The comments were immediately interpreted as sexual and Watters demeanor on camera seemed to confirm this impression. Watters responded to the eruption on twitter by denying that the comments possessed any overt sexual intent and added that he was actually praising the smooth intonation in Ivanka Trump’s speaking voice. The consensus on twitter did not accept the Fox host’s claim of innocence. Determine for yourself with the video and leave comments below.
Some people never seem to learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately for our country, Vice President Mike Pence appears to be one of those stubborn personalities. On Thursday, Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote that cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides health services to women which range from HIV screenings to counseling for family planning. But this isn’t the first time Mike Pence has cut Planned Parenthood’s funding and you would have thought Mr. Pence learned his lesson from his last bite at Eden’s apple. As the Governor of Indiana, Pence similarly shuttered the doors on Planned Parenthood clinics throughout his state and the result was a massive HIV outbreak. Scott County is one of the poorest counties in Indiana. Health studies ranked Scott County as the most unhealthy county out of all 92 counties in the state. Prior to Pence’s pursuit of the deceptively appealing goal of gutting Planned Parenthood funding, there was only one HIV testing center in the entire county. When Pence shuttered the facility, there wouldn’t be any testing available in the county for another two years. The result was an explosion of 20 new HIV cases per week in a community with a population of less than 20,000 people. A mushroom cloud of HIV infections swept across one of Indiana’s poorest communities and was directly linked to Pence’s decision to place the long sought after goal of attacking a political enemy, above common sense and intelligent health policy.
The obsession with cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding finds its justification for eliminating the group’s vital services, in the war against abortion services offered by Planned Parenthood. The saddest of ironies in this cautionary tale is that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Scott County didn’t provide abortion services. As the Vice-President and the GOP prepare to cut even more funding for drug treatment programs, they risk turning the entire country into Scott County. Some people never learn from their mistakes.
THE MINDY PROJECT — “While I Was Sleeping” Episode 402 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: John Fleenor/NBC)
Is Cory Booker running for President? We could read the tea-leaves in all of his impassioned Instagram posts; We could place his populist speeches under a micro-scope; Orrrr We could speculate wildly and with very little reason, that Cory Booker is Dating Mindy Kaling. The universally loved star of the Mindy Project is apparently also LOVED by Cory Booker himself. The two interacted on social media and after a few smooth texts from Booker, made plans to meet in the real world.
The interaction began when Booker expressed that his heart was broken by Kaling when she told an insulting joke involving his beloved city of Newark, New Jersey. The two exchanged declarations of mutual love, Booker then asked for a date and ultimately offered to send a car for Kaling (instead of letting her take the PATH Train system).
In the world of campaigns, this is literal Electoral Gold! The famous love stories of politicians have been pillars in the election efforts of every successful Presidential contender in history. Mindy Kaling is a magnetic starlet with an approachable disposition and penchant for social justice. Stump speeches by the would be “First Lady” would be both epic and electric. Mindy is also a trained actress and her phenomenal sense of humor and excellent comedic timing would be excellent attributes in the rigorous campaigning required during Presidential elections. Are we getting carried away and over analyzing harmless flirting on Twitter? OFCOURSE We Are! It is still fun to consider the possibilities.
Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the American Healthcare Act. Despite, holding both Houses of Congress and the White House, the Republicans are expected to vote down their own bill. The reform will cost 24 million Americans their healthcare. It slashes Medicaid and will raise premiums on all but the young and healthy. After 7 years of opposing Obamacare, the Republicans have managed to write a bill that fails to satisfy any of the ideological metrics that Republicans have used to assault Obamacare. Most prognosticators are certain that the AHCA will fail in a fantastic display of legislative pyrotechnics. TrumpCare, if you ask Paul Ryan or RyanCare, if you ask the Whitehouse, is so unpopular that the Whitehouse and Speaker of the House have publicly jousted regarding which Nom De Plume will go on the bill, with neither side desirous of having the dishonor. As the Republicans tempt fate and court decimation in the midterm elections, where are the Democrats? An article in The Politico offers an answer. “The Democrats New Obamacare Strategy: Get Out of The Way”. As a legislative strategy, this is largely the right approach. Democrats should not try to stall republican attempts to vote on a bill that reveals how their party has abdicated its core principles and were perhaps never sincere in their criticism of Obamacare. However, “Get Out of The Way” also seems to be the ethos of the national party. In an epic failure to capitalize, Democrats nationally have not used the disastrous AHCA as a mobilizing tool. Together, with the equally reviled Trump-Budget, the Democrats could easily assemble the ultimate Megazord to fight the GOP in the midterms. And yet, the Democrats have not begun to lay the foundation for an effective mid-term effort. The Democrats should have already hired new organizers and deployed them in the backyards of rural Republican districts. Organizing wins’ elections but Organizing isn’t about phone-calls or door to door. The foundation of Organizing is about building relationships and as Republicans turn their backs on the voters that elected them by offering policies that gut the programs those voters depend on, Democrats have an unprecedented opportunity to build new relationships with rural voters. As these rural Republican voters are forced to confront the reality that they need government programs just as much as the inner cities Republicans often lampoon, the Democrats have a chance to expose the core Republican obsession with the gutting of government programs as fundamentally flawed. Never before have Democrats had such an obvious opportunity to bring about a fundamental collapse of Republican orthodoxy by laying siege to the foundations and overly simplistic principles of the GOP. As rural Republican voters suddenly realize that they are just as dependent on government funding as liberal bastions and minority communities, Democrats have a real chance to batter the intellectual pillars that have buttressed conservative thought since the era of William F. Buckley. And what are Democrats doing instead: They are Getting Out of The Way. Democrats should have been using this time to reconstitute their army of Organizers and begin deploying them to the rural communities that roundly rejected their message in the last election. They can now show those voters the true cost of Republican cuts and argue forcefully for the power of government to improve their lives. The Dems should be giving Organizers the time it takes to build bonds with these new prospective voters who often hail from regions where being a Democrat is socially synonymous with being a communist. Democrats cannot afford to implement the “tried and failed” strategy of waiting until shortly before the mid-term or the Presidential election to deploy Organizers in the hope of making gains in communities that have believed for generations that being a Democrat is akin to being a traitor. The achilles heel of the Democratic Party is a lack of a sustained presence in these communities that nurtures and builds relationships with these votes. For the first time in a long time, these voters have eyes and ears to hear the message of the Democratic Party. The Democrats cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
The country does great when you have a meritocracy like in this country. The right guy gets to the top. We don’t have that now. Right now our corporate leaders are not the right guy… They’re the guy that was the president of the fraternity, knows how to get along, and then starts believing he’s a genius which he’s not
Carl Icahn, President Elect Donald Trump’s new Special Adviser for Regulatory Reform once spoke favorably of Obamacare, President Obama’s signature reform. Icahn’s appointment as an adviser has been taken as a sign that the Trump administration will curb the growth of regulations that conservatives perceive as an onerous expansion of government power. However, two years ago Icahn gave a wide ranging interview with Fox News during which he defied the conventions of traditional left and right politics and more interestingly he spoke positively about Obamacare: “I think that Obama had to do something like that. I don’t think it’s that bad. I’m no expert on it, but I don’t think businesses should be a medical provider.” Icahn contradicted the claim of right-leaning business leaders that Obamacare was a job killer by saying: “I’d like to understand what their saying”. He further stated that executives citing the healthcare law for losses were simply making excuses for their bad earnings. The Billionaire investor even suggested that on the economy the President could have done more “in terms of investing”, which contradicts the American Right’s position on the role of government and it’s claim that President Obama interfered excessively in the economy. Obamacare has been a key benchmark on the ideological spectrum demarcating the left and right, defining American politics. While Icahn’s pronouncements regarding healthcare reform, C.E.O pay (well beyond that of the average worker), golden parachute severance packages, the Nationalizing of Banks that are too big to fail, Glass-Steagall and the Volcker rule would seem to land him squarely on the American Left, it remains to be seen if he will represent that perspective as a matter of regulation and a member of the Trump administration.