Suspended Animation

Donald Trump is leaving the country in a state of suspended animation with conservative and liberal forces evenly matched.

The next big test is the election of two Senators in Georgia. Republican control was eroded on election day and Mitch McConnell currently has 50 Senators supporting him. If even one Republican is elected in Peachtree State, he will remain in power and able to stifle big initiative by President-elect Biden.

If by some stroke of good fortune, the Democrat take both seats, they will control the Senate.

Politics has changed. The Democratic candidates in Georgia are a politician who personifies suburban distaste for Republicans and the minister from the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King used to preach. Democratic hopes in this deep South state rest on the election of a Black and a Jew. Political change is staring us in the face.

The bad news is that on Nov 3 the Democrats had fewer votes for the Senate than the combined votes that went to Republicans but no Republican reached 50% hence the January 5th run off.

The Democratic candidates are Jon Ossoff who has run for Congress in suburban Atlanta almost flipping a Republican District, and the Rev Dr. Raphael Warnock. He had the most votes on Nov 3rd, but he was running against two Republicans. Their combined total was 636,633 more votes than the minister received.

The Republicans have the advantage, nothing is certain because this has been a year of massive turnouts. Politics is changing.

In 2016, Donald Trump’s 2.09 M votes easily topped Hillary in Georgia. This year the President’s total jumped 18% to 2.47M nonetheless Biden did way better than Clinton. His support surged 32% to 2,474,507. In four years, he added 596,544 votes, making him the victor by 12,670.

This is the puzzle rattling President Trump; how could he dramatically increase his vote and still lose. To no one’s surprise he shouts robbery. Compounding the agony, the Republicans stopped Democrats from controlling new areas when election boundaries are drawn up after the census is completed. The number of Democratic and Republican state legislature is unchanged. Another sign of the stalemate between liberal and conservative forces.

This surge in Republican support has made Donald Trump flounder when asked to concede. His explanation for the Biden victory is the Democrats cheated. But in fact 2020 is a historic election where more people voted than ever in history.

To explain Biden’s victory by a shift in suburban votes is false news. This election had the biggest turnout ever. A majority of whites voted for Trump. Democracy Now TV anchor, and Rutgers University Professor Juan Gonzalez reports that exit polls showed that even 58% of white woman voted for Trump.

A Republican shift to Democrats or gaining a new white suburban constituency does not explain Biden’s win. The added Latinx, Black, native American tribes and Asian votes pushed Biden over the top. Gonzalez argues “in an election which saw historic turnout, people of color — and especially Latinos — had an unprecedented increase in voting.” More people voted than ever before. More Republicans voted, more Democrats voted and the Democrat often did not get a majority of the white vote. Other voting groups put the Democrats over the top.

Gonzalez states flatly,for the first time in U.S. history Latinos’ turnout appears to have reached comparable levels to the rates for white and Black Americans. 20.6 million Latinos went to the polls in this election.

It marks a turning point for Latinx voters. 64% of the 32 million eligible Hispanic voters’ showed up the polls. In previous election cycles Gonzales said, “the turnout had been routinely below 50%. In raw numbers, 8 million more Latinos voted this year than in 2016. That’s a 63% increase over the last presidential elections.”

Yet this good news is obscured by stories in the Times in LA and New York. These two newspapers described Latino support as disappointing because Latinx support in South Florida helped Trump win the Sunshine States.

An acerbic Chuck Rojas, Bernie Sanders Latino specialist, asked the LA Times why discuss Latinos “underperforming.” when in fact “Joe Biden won Latinos in Florida statewide, while losing white people,” It is white people who should be the focus said Rocha, “That’s who we should be talking about.” Democrats are deluded if they forget whites supported Trump, while the other groups backed Biden.

 When all the votes are counted Latinx votes are Democratic and a key to victories in close states like Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia.

In Arizona, Trump’s popular support soared 34% from 2016. His vote rose from 1.25M to 1.66 M in 2020, but he still lost; Biden’s total climbed 44% to 1.67M for a narrow victory.

Florida’s Cuban and Venezuelan refugees from Latin American socialism may back Republicans, but when all the votes were counted Rocha said Florida Latin voters back the Democrats. In other States the Spanish-speaking also backed Democrats.  But not exclusively, Republicans won a decent share of Black and Spanish-speaking voters.

“Black men on the other hand have been inching away from the Democrats in recent elections,” reports NY Times Columnist Charles M Blow.  They “continued that drift in this election. In 2008, 5 percent of Black men voted for John McCain; in 2012, 11 percent voted for Mitt Romney; in 2016, 13 percent voted for Trump; and, this year 18 percent voted for Trump.” Vivid proof of this trend occurred in Utah where a Black Republican beat a Democrat member of Congress.

Democrats lost the house seat to a former NFL football star. Burgess Owens a strong defender of Trump who flipped Utah’s 4th Congressional District back to Republican, one of at least nine seat the GOP gained in this election.

This growing Republican strength may increase Black bargaining power with Republicans

The Republicans hold 50 seats in the Senate, the Democrats need two more seat to create a tie which would give Vice-President Kamala Harris’s a vote giving Democrats a majority by the thinnest of margins.

This electoral stalemate appears to handcuff Joe Biden. He should go to Georgia and explain to the voters he needs two Democratic Senators if he is to do his job. But the totals in November are discouraging. Biden could put his prestige on the line and then lose. He may light no path that bring voters back to the polls in large numbers and then his prestige takes a substantial hit.

Unhappily, a divided congress will also harm Biden’s prestige. It will make him look weak and frustrated as his plans are thwarted or watered down.

Going to Georgia would require that Biden blame Republicans for failures in the first term. It would require an excited and pugnacious leader, unfortunately Biden is pledged to work with Republicans. It didn’t work for Obama, the Republicans stifled change and then won the election with Trump, perhaps they have learned a lesson.

A Democratic Senate Will Neutralize A Conservative Supreme Court

The Vice-President debate like the others was stifled by foolish time limits. Sound bites are rarely educational but can be illuminating. Vice-President Mike Pence offers a calming and soothing defense of Donald Trump that reaches out to independents. Many Republican pols in my opinion wish the former Indiana Governor were the Party leader, yet another reason to mock The Donald.

The time limits impede any understanding of who is the most thoughtful person. Sound bites limits us to impressions, not the in-depth exploration of issues for example, whether slavery should expand the issue that fueled the Lincoln Douglas debate.
Senator Kamala Harris exchanged barbs about Covid-19 policies backing Biden’s plan, but Pence refused to answer this $64 question: what should Indiana do if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?
He had no answer to questions that have animated the GOP for decades. Democrats, they sneer, are baby killers who would permit abortion up to the moment of birth as Pence falsely insinuated. But he turned mealy mouthed when asked what policies would the Republicans pursue.
Should Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed and overturn this decision, Pence’s hesitation reveals that Republicans fret about this new reality. Woman living on low incomes, often oppose abortion, particularly people of color. They mutter abortion kills our children. What they want is money to make parenthood possible. If Pence’s party insists women carry their pregnancy to term will they also provide for the welfare of the child? Surely a tough question for Republicans. A Conservative takeover of the Court does not muzzle the Democratic Party where women’s right to choose is orthodoxy enforced by primary voters.
Perhaps Indiana will adopt laws enhancing women’s rights. Republican women get abortions and understand they are better off with that as an option. Overthrowing Roe creates political battles state by state; don’t assume the bad guys win (and remember the Roe protections are thin, Republicans already marginalize reproductive medicine in many states especially if offered by Planned Parenthood -improvement is possible.)
Should the Conservatives dump the Affordable Care Act, Biden’s promise to improve the law is muted. Once more, Medicare for all is on the agenda. Perhaps a Democratic Congress will create national health insurance insisting that procedures like giving drugs to users, reproductive justice for women, and medical supervision of prisons are national responsibilities.
Judges influence Congress they don’t control it. Writing the laws is superior to interpreting them. Packing the Court may be politically impossible, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt proved that the Supreme Court bends if the public votes against their decision. He lost the Court packing fight but won the war. After that, the Supreme Court turned liberal.
Barrett’s confirmation will not be a crushing blow, it is more properly a defeat. Current polls suggest Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress next year making a Conservative Court more a hinderance than a strait jacket.
A 6-3 majority of the Court has conceded that discriminating against the LGBT community is discrimination based on sex and the laws protecting women protect this community. Conservative draw a sharp distinction between laws and the constitution. They dislike using Constitutional rights, but like to interpret laws strictly. In all probability a Democratic Congress will extend these gains. Perhaps it will lead to a 5-4 majority on the Court sustaining these rights. The Democrats will back the queer community just as they fight for women’s rights.
A Biden landslide will sidetrack the Republicans and leave Democrats to sort out what policies should govern the nation. The next Congress will not roll over and let the Supreme Court cripple our liberties. It will look to enhance the progress made in recent decades. The most important task is voting Democrats into office. Popular enthusiasm is high. Come November 3, the sun may shine on the U.S.A.

Don’t Pick a Fight With The Chinese


Condemning China for Tik Tok makes the United States look like a fool. The rest of the world chuckles at this phobic behavior.
China came out of WWII like gang busters. Hardly perfect, it tried and failed at many things, think the cultural revolution, or having villages forge iron. The policies were abandoned. The Chinese Government replaced disruptive mistakes with new policies. This is a resilient government, and just like the United States it has made huge mistakes. Nonetheless the giant lumbers on led by the People’s Communist Party.
Even after dramatic challenges like the Tiananmen Square massacre.
And yes, it’s population zoomed from 583 million in 1953 to 1,394 Billion in 2019, the largest in the world. Feeding, housing, educating, and providing medical care to this many people is an awesome task and the Chinese are doing it.
They play with the big guys. They were our allies in the war against fascism and then turned around and fought a land war successfully defending their North Korean buffer zone from United Nations (read American Soldiers) forces. China was a smaller country, newly united and barely five years after the grueling war with Japan, the Chinese reds fought the United States to a draw. The resulting ceasefire still persists.
This is the case for caution when it comes to picking a fight with China. It is a mistake to think that this competitor will be swatted down; or to assume the worst that a China as powerful as the United States will only be a threat. Surely, the preferable response is amicable relations. A President aspiring to be a statesman who creates a durable friendship would have proud boasting rights. It would be a lifetime achievement.
China is building a public works project of world historic significance. The Silk Road is an overland route between China and Europe. It avoids conflict with U.S. sea power while extending China’s world reach; China’s spending enormous sums on the Belt and Road initiative; it would be smart to find opportunities for U.S. contractors. China might not welcome this competition. A conflict where the U.S. wants to help, and China become the bad guy by trying to keep us out is a conflict that Washington might win.
From the alarm over Tik Tock to arresting a senior Chinese executive of Huawei Technologies, the United States has shown it can harm Chinese companies, but the harm to the Chinese government is dubious. Our dependence on China continues; American hospitals sent airplanes to bring back personal protective gear for American caregivers to protect them from Covid-19.
By elevating tensions, the U.S. loses its ability to help the people of Hong Kong as China assumes direct control over the City, nor can we intervene to help religious minorities in Xinjiang. In fact, hostile acts have reduced U.S. influence in China.
Friendship doesn’t preclude sharp disagreement, but it does mean you can’t seize corporate executives or create fairy tales about Americans who use Chinese digital toys endangering American security.
The Chinese are building an alternative to U.S. power. A challenge that is no reason to rattle sabers. What would have happened if the British had tried to sit on Washington after its victory in the Civil War? Britain would inherit a sea of trouble and the U.S. would have continued to grow. Instead British business made money in the U.S. and then during World War One, the Government received economic aid which enabled a victory.

Biden Challenges GOP Prejudices

Kamala Harris’s mother is from India, her father Jamaica. She challenges Republican prejudices against immigrants just as much as her biracial ancestry clashes with their desire for white supremacy. Joe Biden has thrown red meat at Republican core supporters who whooped and hollered when Trump called Mexicans’ rapists.

This display of courage by Joe Biden calls into question the belief that Obama’s Vice-President is too old for the job. At a gut levels he knows how to fight. There is nothing feeble about choosing the California Senator who will be a target for Trump’s antipathy.
Although he is old at 74 the President has no fear of contradiction. He says Biden is too “sleepy” for the job and that Harris is too “nasty.” The Senator has a sharp tongue raising the President always high level of anxiety, but he will vent his hostility on her. Republicans are likely to say she will be running the country with her left ideas. But it is improbable that the charges of socialism will work, Bernie Sanders isn’t running.

By all accounts Harris is eager to engage in this battle.

Biden has no plans for a passive presidency. Time and again he says what he will do will depend on who is in Congress. Translation, the more Democrats the more far reaching the reforms. This is a promise Biden can keep. He has spent a career in the Senate and working through them will come easily.

Biden campaigned against Medicare for All, but Covid 19 proved that American medical care can’t mobilize when facing a sudden increase in disease. Biden’s reforms will be in the name of the public option, but here is hoping he will challenge Republican prejudice against government assistance.

Biden Goes After GOP Prejudices.

Kamala Harris’s mother is from India, her father Jamaica. She challenges Republican prejudices against immigrants just as much as her biracial ancestry clashes with their desire for white supremacy. Joe Biden has thrown red meat at Republican core supporters who whooped and hollered when Trump called Mexicans’ rapists.

This display of courage by Joe Biden calls into question the belief that Obama’s Vice-President is too old for the job. At a gut levels he knows how to fight. There is nothing feeble about choosing the California Senator who will be a target for Trump’s antipathy.

Although he is old at 74 the President has no fear of contradiction. He says Biden is too “sleepy” for the job and that Harris is too “nasty.” The Senator has a sharp tongue raising the President always high level of anxiety, but he will vent his hostility on her. Republicans are likely to say she will be running the country with her left ideas. But it is improbable that the charges of socialism will work, Bernie Sanders isn’t running.

By all accounts Harris is eager to engage in this battle.

Biden has no plans for a passive presidency. Time and again he says what he will do will depend on who is in Congress. Translation, the more Democrats the more far reaching the reforms. This is a promise Biden can keep. He has spent a career in the Senate and working through them will come easily.

Biden campaigned against Medicare for All, but Covid 19 proved that American medical care can’t organize or mobile a sudden increase in disease. Biden’s reforms will be in the name of the public option, but here is hoping he will challenge Republican prejudice against government assistance.

Holyoke Mayor Victim of Homophobic Attack.

The effort to turn the 31-year-old Mayor of Holyoke Massachusetts into a sex predator fell flat Monday when an LGBTQ political group reiterated its support.

The Victory Fund’s continued their endorsement of Alex and called on the media to “avoid reinforcing tired homophobic tropes or sensationalizing this story because of Alex’s sexual orientation.”

In their statement, they reiterated that “Alex” has been “open” about his relationships with other men ‘including students enrolled at local universities” he met using “dating apps, and reminded the public “there are no allegations of non-consent or of anyone underage.”

They joined commentators like Krystal Ball of the Hill-TV, Ryan Grim of the Intercept and Matt Taibi. whose stories often appear in Rolling Stone, in calling the scandal a political hit, designed to help Richie Neal-the powerful Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee who is in a fight for his political life. He faces a primary challenge from Alex Morse who became Mayor of the Western Massachusetts City at age 22 after graduating from Brown University. He has been reelected 4 times.

Neal, 71, is a Washington power was first elected in 1988 and proudly calls himself the “Dean of the “New England Congressional Delegation.”

Morse is another young progressive taking on the Democratic establishment in a heated primary on September first.

The Victory Fund debunked the accusations that were  “released one week before the first debate and three weeks before the primary.” They labeled the charges of sexual harassment “vague and anonymous” that are “timed with the political calendar.” It is one week before the first debate and three weeks before the September political primary. The accusers are doing a “disservice to voters who want a progressive member of Congress.”

The controversy started on August 7th when the Daily Collegian release a letter

No gay group at the University of Massachusetts filed a complaint. It was made by the College Democrats of Massachusetts and then released anonymously to the student news paper the Daily Collegian saying Morse used “his position of power for romantic or sexual gain.” These contacts occurred most frequently on Tinder and Grindr. 

The University of Massachusetts immediately opened an investigation in a statement that was often substantively supportive of the mayor. The University made it clear that existence of different power relationship make the relationships “inherently problematic” but not prohibited. No faculty member may have sexual contact with a student he teaches, otherwise the policy protects the free choices of students and faculty. No one has accused Morse of dating people he taught.

Morse taught at the University between 2014 and 2019 and the statement makes it clear they had no complaints on file about the Mayor.

The story quickly went national and the local chapter of the Sunrise movement rescinded its endorsement, but the national chapter merely suspended their support. Sunrise National condemned “the homophobia that we have seen laden in the discourse we have seen play out since these allegations surfaced and praised Alex for participating in “processes” with students that will repair “harm”.”

Only 3 out of 13 Mt Holyoke Council members called on the Mayor to withdraw. A move he defiantly rejected.

According to the Boston Globe one student who had a sexual encounter with Morse found out afterward that Morse is a mayor and university lecturer.  This information made him “uncomfortable.” Taibi noted this recitation of events is the opposite of using his position for sexual “gain.”

Everyone supporting the Mayor quickly noted the 31-year-old Mayor is close in age to College students.

A heavy turnout is predicted on September First where the main event is Joe Kennedy’s campaign to oust the incumbent Senator Ed Markey, a sponsor of the Green New Deal.

Face Masks for All

Bernie Sanders is displaying his savvy political instincts and moving the United States in a good direction.

His proposal “Face Masks for All” giving everybody 3 reusable masks- is a masterstroke. The Government buys them, the post office delivers them. The nation gets the message use these without the hostility and law enforcement threats.

Trump’s learning disabilities cripple his understanding the policies that to stop the virus: shutting down the economy creates social distance therefore subsidies should replace the lost income. In that manner the hardships of social distancing become tolerable. A feisty spirit that we are all in this together becomes possible.

Trump foolishly lent the prestige of his office to dividing the nation over the use of face masks. Stifling the outrage that says wearing a face mask is a necessary project.

A sequence of events around the Roger Stone pardon have a surprisingly positive ring. Stone appeared in public with a chic black face mask reading “Free Roger Stone.” Softly, but clearly this archdeacon in the political operators church reminded conservatives that face masks are no socialist plot.

Of equal importance, the black mask was vaguely menacing satisfying Trump’s fear of empathy. You could wear it and be virile.

 Shortly after that Trump wore a face mask in public. Anybody who thought Trump was becoming rational were quickly disabused when he suggested postponing the election adding to the evidence that his favorite government is dictatorship with him in charge.

Now Bernie is urging Congress to say please wear the masks and we will help you do it. Even with a vaccine next year, it will still be 2022 before masks become optional. Creating a consensus around this habit is desirable.

That process is now underway and hopefully will be part of the final deal for the new subsidy package.

A mask is no more a restriction on liberty than insisting persons cover their genital in public or people wear seat belts. It is an opportunity for showing off just like any other clothing which was exactly Roger Stone’s point.

Bernie’s proposal is a chance for our political system to make lemonade. We need examples like this because the vaccine will create tensions with the anti-vaxxers. Fashioning an agreement will be difficult finding a way out of the face mask dilemma would be a good precedent.

With his Masks for All proposal Bernie is showing how medicine with no out of pocket expenses can make governing easier and popular.

Surprise Win for Black Lives Matters

Leave it to the President to draw the battle lines in black and white. Black Lives Matter versus Trump’s frightening twitter promise to “assume control.” He added, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you.”

Stop the police killings, permit the police killings, the President’s choices are simpleminded, even preposterous. Governments promote domestic tranquility and should not satisfy a fantasy about obey or be killed. Fanning the flames of conflict is beyond the pale, but within days, panicked Democratic mayors and governors had put the police in riot gear. Looting mattered more than the deaths of black people. Trump repudiated the protestors chief goal-making black lives matter.

A NY Times columnist with a growing reputation concluded the “militaristic posture” made matters worse. It provoked and increased the likelihood demonstrators would go off the rails and start breaking things. Jamall Borrell reminded us attacking protesters “does more to inflame and agitate, than it does to calm the situation.” Unasked was the question rattling thinking observers did the President see this conflict as a positive feature or a defect? The President was looking for trouble and Democratic political leaders looked trapped.

The reign of error never happened. The provocation failed. The left won a stunning victory with demonstrators winning the battle for public opinion. Mayors threw in the towel cancelling curfews; politicians adopted the Black Lives Matter program. Including the most basic one, demanding the U.S. cut spending on police and prisons so schools, health and social services can expand. A radical change in Democratic party policy is possible.

New York State overturned a 40-year-old policy of secrecy that was dear to police unions. Democrats voted for the public against labor; it’s the kind of change that makes everyone ask is this a new era with new rules? Police officers’ disciplinary records will become public record.

When an incident grabs the public’s attention, we can learn is this a first offense or one of a string. Everyone is betting the police like the Catholic Church kept bad actors on the job long after their faults are apparent.

This result is unexpected and may herald a reformed Democratic Party. When the looting started, politicians feared the protestors message would be stifled. In the media, criminal Blacks would replace outraged Blacks. The misbehavior of a few would overshadow the disciplined protests. In a grievous error, curfews were imposed. During this Presidential election year Democratic leaders declared their voters to be criminals if they were on the streets after 8 PM. An order, that the protestors would disobey, and the resulting conflict could split the Democratic Party making Trump’s reelection possible.

The police like the President were aggressive. They didn’t shoot looters; they shot pepper spray, tear gas and other projectiles justified because the weapons injure but are not lethal. A witless distinction devised by those who enforce a might makes right discipline. Pepper spray is neither reasonable nor an act of mercy when applied to peaceful demonstrators.The police turned into morons for Trump.

The crowds shouting “no justice, no peace” or walking hands held high chanting “don’t shoot” were on the TV screen and social media. These demonstrations of people from all races were huge and tracked Bernie Sanders supporters. They might not have voted, but they turned up when it mattered after the killing of an unarmed man. 140 cities had them. The local had gone national. George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis could have been a local City story, but thanks to the organizing of Black Lives Matter, the nation recognized police departments murder black people. Eric Garner Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray Breonna Taylor, and Laquan McDonald to name just a few. We know the names, because of Black Lives Matter. The slogan makes the rights and the wrongs of the issue crystal clear. And it persuades people of all races. It is a slogan about identity politics that makes our common humanity most important.

Imposing curfews and putting police into riot gear could have been a catastrophic error especially by Democratic politicians. They were accepting the cynical view right or wrong mattered less than the supposed political truth Democrats must be against looters. The media’s penchant for “if it bleeds, it leads stories” meant disorder would be the story. Burnt vehicles and stolen merchandise must be protected by batons and projectiles. Damn the constitutional rights of a multi-racial coalition calling for a stop to police killings.

A political coalition that wants unity must vigorously support black lives matter. Political allies must protect their partners from assassination; that is asking the barest minimum. Black white and brown must stop their local police departments from battering their citizens. By giving into Donald Trump, Democrats were on the verge of a crisis that could cost them the election.

The popularity of Black Lives Mattered was generally recognized. At the end of May the Sunday Times published an article about Citibank and other giant corporations hitch hiking on the popularity of the Black Lives Matter slogan.

Retired Marine General James Mattis dissed the President. The former Secretary of Defense’s words were measured but their meaning biting. He had the telling advantage of being right. The man, who Donald Trump appointed Secretary of Defense, ignored his old boss the President directing his advice to the American people-don’t be fooled by this looting nonsense.

The unity of “civil society” is not threatened by marauding youth, the General wrote in The Atlantic but by this President who undermines unity. His policies can be squelched if “civil society” unites and uses its resources to tell the truth. This unity will stop Donald Trump who seeks to divide Americans, and the damage to the United States from his actions is way more serious than an outbreak of property damage.

General Mattis’s warning graced the front page of newspaper and was a teaser for TV news casts across the nation. It was saturation coverage and journalism “We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers,” he advised. “The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values.

“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the constitution,” Mattis wrote. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens – much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

The General is crystal clear: if you follow Trump’s advice to exaggerate the dangers of looters in order to justify the claim that an insurrection existed disunity would follow. The popular storm could conceivably paralyze government.

This is high stakes politics. Siding with the President could be disastrous. The armed force would be called upon “to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.” This would tear a gap in the fabric of society creating conflict with Americans over what is plainly a matter of conscience. “The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values.” The protestors deserve respect.

The path to civic unity, the General insisted, lay with supporting black lives matters. An opinion that gained added weight because the military and the left of the Democratic Party are traditional opponents. The left wants to raid the Military Industrial Complex budget to build schools, hospitals and housing. The General insisted look at the big picture, that’s Donald Trump, first he must go.

The effect was immediate during the day cable tv commentators paid new attention to the lawful protesters. The crackdown wasn’t inflaming the streets, inciting riots or turning the demonstrators into bad guys.

Instead the police brandishing shields and firing pepper spray became the lawless element. They arrested thousands who stood with arms upraised chanting don’t shoot. District attorneys refused to prosecute the cases “in the interests of justice.”

The police are humiliated; their traditional political power sidelined. The crowd control methods from the 1960s became the police riots of 2020. They confronted criticism with violence; their commitment to law and democracy was feeble at best.

It’s a stunning victory for the left. They immediately turned this new strength into hardball demanding police budgets be cut and school budgets improved. A historic demand of the left without advanced warning became a political reality-on everyone’s agenda. This demand was picking up some real political support. Public Health officials were quick to remind their media outlets their budgets have been cut even though police manhandle mental patients daily under conditions that make human rights advocates squirm.

The demand has legs because tax collections by local governments has plummeted during the covid-19 lock down. These governments must cut budgets. The police make a perfect target.

In one of its most public and heated controversies Democratic Party unity was preserved. Fatal conflicts between the Sanders Democrats and those claiming the mantle of pragmatic realists was averted. Events minimized an initial decision to align with the President unleashing get tough policies. In the end the blame fell on the police.

What remains concerning is why the Democratic leadership got stampeded into making a traditional law and order response. Why did it take a disaffected member of the Trump team to remind the media, the public and the Democrats that Donald Trump must go is the problem? The streets were speaking the truth; the protestors were calling on America’s conscience to honor its own ideals.

It is on this basis that General Mattis and presumably the leaders of the Atlantic posted the reminder that unity is the responsibility of everybody in society and only then can we be assured of defeating Trump. Clearly understood was that meant shutdown police killings. Undoubted most thought government should have done that decades ago.

Clearly one wing of the pragmatic Democrats understands that unity means one sides supports the other side on important issues. The next matter deserving discussion is what do we do this revitalized power to demonstrate and set the agenda. That is a subject worth its own discussion.

 

 

Democrats Should Adopt Bernie’s Menu

Senator Bernie Sanders set the table, and it is up to the Democrats to taste the feast.

Bernie dreams of a generous future festooned with goodies: pre-paid medical care financed by taxes; tuition-free public colleges and with it lower college tuitions from competing private universities. Dramatic increases in the minimum wage to $15 as opposed to the small bumps Democrats currently back.

The difference is political: a bump to $15 demonstrates the benefit of voting Democratic, small bumps are anonymous, make minor differences in people’s lives and get attributed to “government” not the party. The big bump invites voters to join the Democrats and that is Bernie’s style.

Dining with Bernie includes workers’ benefits required by law.  Sick pay is mandatory and staying home to care for a sick child comes with a pay. It could be part of a Democratic legislative program giving all workers the benefits that strong unions provide workers. This is a norm in Europe.

Bernie’s elderly guests would get higher social security payments. This benefit could start a national program of income security that means workers don’t have to accept harsh working conditions. They can tell their boss treat us right or we will walk. Current neo-liberal policies are designed to accomplish the opposite forcing people to work to avoid starvation and homelessness.

Creating a grim future discourages political participation but fosters anger. This anger often feeds Republican hostility to immigrants and other groups. Bernie loves anger if it unites “working families.”

The big meal in Bernie’s feast is a rosy future. Climate change makes a sustainable economy highly desirable. It’s a sharp contrast with Republicans funding an army to fight space wars. Democrats would hire workers to build green housing, and work on public works protecting communities from flooding. The Senator’s path to full employment has government-funded jobs building resilient communities. It’s an exciting positive future. It would be foolish for Democrats to ignore the political power of campaigning for an environmentally friendly path to economic growth.

Bernie pulled out of the Presidential sweep stakes after doing a last favor for the Democratic Party. The Wisconsin election was also a general election. For example, a conservative State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly was being challenged by Democrat Jill Karofsky. A constitutional amendment seeking to increase the influence of crime victims is supported by Republicans and vigorously opposed by the Civil Liberties Union.

By staying in the race, Bernie insured that Democrats would show up even if only by absentee ballots.

The Democrats must avoid a trap. They are mindlessly rejecting Bernie’s idea in phobic reaction. They should be incorporating them into their presentations and transforming them. They represent a plausible and generous future.

The most dangerous trap is mindlessly rejecting Medicare for all. The news that ten to twenty million workers are unemployed because of covid-19 shattered the case for the Affordable Care Act. Private insurance terminates when a worker loses a job. Even if the insurance continues the co-payments can wreak havoc with a family income. It is no way to win friends or votes.

The notion that hospitals should stay within a budget goes out the window when the world-wide demand drives up the prices of everything. A Georgia hospital network found a supplier in Mexico charging $7 each for N95 facemasks, which usually cost 58 cents a piece.

The present system has each hospital and the Feds competing for supplies. A competition that drives up prices. A national health system minimizes such problems.

Democrats again have an opportunity to offer voters health insurance with no out of pocket expenses. They should relish this prospect, but most of them ran away fearing they will be punished for tax increases rather than praised for making healthcare a right.

There is no reason to damn Bernie’s proposals as unrealistic. The health care system needs to take control of its costs and mustn’t be at the mercy of its suppliers. Democrats can prosper if they eat at Bernie’s table.

 

Families of state prisoners plead with Cuomo to relieve crowded conditions and stop the spread of the Covid-91 virus.

Pressure is mounting on Governor Andrew Cuomo to actively protect state prisoners from the Covid-19 virus.

Practicing social distancing behind bars, where people line up for everything from showers to meals, and most conversation take place on a face-to-face basis is difficult, if not impossible.

191 persons joined a virtual news conference on March 30th-a startling large number. Parents and friends reported that the individuals locked up in state prisons were terrified.

A conclusion buttressed by a New York Times front page story on the same day Prisoners ‘Terrified’ as Coronavirus Spreads Behind Bars.”  The article warned the virus is taking its toll in prisons across the Country.

Failure to act, will turn “New York Prisons into death camps,” warned Jose Saldana the Director of Release Aging People from Prison the group that organized the news conference. Mr. Saldana was released from NYS prison in January 2018 after 38 years and four Parole Board denials.

His warning was reinforced by a letter signed by public health experts on Friday the 27th urging President Trump to commute sentences for the “medically vulnerable population including persons suffering from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer.”

Conditions in prisons are often compared to cruise ships or nursing homes that have become epidemic hot spots. “These people are housed cheek-by-jowl, they share toilets, showers, and sinks; they wash their bedsheets and clothes infrequently; and often lack access to basic personal hygiene items. Adequate medical care is hard to provide, even without COVID-19” the experts wrote in their letter.

Michelle Lynn spoke up at the news conference on behalf of her father Robert Lynn who is 73 and has been in prison for 37 years. His petition for clemency was filed in 2016; He could go home tomorrow if the Governor agreed.

Saying the virus forced his hand three days earlier, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom “commuted sentences of 21 California prison inmates — including 10 convicted of homicides— and granted pardons to five others” reported the Sacramento Bee.

New York City experienced a rapid rate of increase in Covid-19 cases Robert Cohen said at the new conference. The danger called for “immediate action” explained Cohen, a member of the New York City Board of Correction, and 12% of the City jail population was released.

According to David George, the media contact for Release Aging People, the Governor has been asked at new conferences about protecting state prisoners and said the matter is under consideration, but no decision had been reached.