Category: Politics

ENDORSEMENT: Randy Bryce for the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin

I proudly endorse ironworker, U.S. Army veteran, and cancer survivor Randy Bryce for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, which is currently held by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. Normally, when I endorse a political candidate, I mention the candidate’s background and/or political ideology, as well as criticize his or her political opponents. However, I’m simply going to share this web video from the Bryce campaign instead, since it’s one of the best web videos I’ve ever seen a campaign for public office in the United States produce:

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Why Nancy Pelosi won’t step down, at least for now

Yesterday, Democrats lost the 6th Congressional District of Georgia special election runoff, with far-right Republican candidate Karen Handel defeating Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff by slightly less than 10,000 votes in an election where both major parties spent millions of dollars of money. On the same day, Democrats also lost the 5th Congressional District of South Carolina special election, with far-right Republican candidate Ralph Norman defeating Democratic candidate Archie Parnell by slightly more than 2,800 votes, even though Democrats didn’t invest a lot of resources into Parnell’s campaign. In other words, Democrats lost by a higher raw vote margin (not percentage-wise) when they actually invested the full resources of groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the U.S. House Democrats’ fundraising arm, than when they didn’t do so.

Already, a lot of people on the left, and even at least one Democratic U.S. House member, Kathleen Rice of New York, who voted for Tim Ryan over Pelosi in the House Democratic leadership race earlier this year (which Pelosi won), are calling for Pelosi to give up the position of House Minority Leader. Jackie Kucinich, the Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast, said this on Twitter about calls for Pelosi to step down:

Regarding Kucinich’s first point, it is more correct to say that Democrats had an opportunity to replace Pelosi, but decided not to. As I mentioned before, Pelosi defeated Tim Ryan earlier this year to retain the leadership of the House Democratic Caucus.

Regarding Kucinich’s second point, such an internal anti-Pelosi coalition within the House Democratic Caucus, if one were to form, would mostly overlap with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which, although home of some of the most progressive Democratic members of Congress, doesn’t consider removing Pelosi from the House Dems’ leadership to be of any priority, at least for now.

Any movement to force Democrats in either house of Congress to change their campaign strategies or force party leaders like Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to step aside would almost certainly come from outside of Congress and the Beltway, and almost certainly from the anti-establishment left. In fact, Republicans on the right fringe of their party (i.e., the Tea Party movement) have had past success going this route, forcing a group of Republican members of Congress to successfully push for the ouster of then-House Speaker John Boehner in 2015 over perceived apostasies of parts of the far-right agenda. However, unlike the GOP circa 2015, when they controlled both houses of Congress, Democrats are currently completely out of power at the federal level, and forcing Pelosi to step aside would not do anything whatsoever to address serious underlying problems with Democratic campaign strategies, one of which is the bizarre email strategy that a lot of Democratic campaigns, and, most infamously, the DCCC itself, have used. The Democratic email strategy comes across as a bizarre form of mind control of Democratic voters and donors. The second problem is a lack of any kind of a coordinated campaign platform for Democrats running in U.S. House and U.S. Senate races in 2018, which would probably be similar to the British Labour Party’s manifesto from the British House of Commons elections earlier this year.

Tom Perriello is a fighter for Virginia. Period.

Today, Virginians will go to the polls to vote on major-party nominees for Governor of Virginia and other state offices. The most intriguing race on the Virginia ballot today is the Democratic primary for governor, in which Lieutenant Governor Ralph Shearer Northam is seeking a promotion against Thomas Stuart Price “Tom” Perriello, a former U.S. Representative and U.S. State Department official.

At first glance, the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary might seem to an internet observer of Virginia politics, such as me, like a rerun of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, where Hillary Clinton easily won the Virginia primary against Bernie Sanders. However, Ralph Northam is no Hillary Clinton, and Tom Perriello is no Bernie Sanders.

Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine, wrote this primer piece about the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary, and here is how he described the candidates:

Likewise, the contest isn’t a race between a liberal or a moderate, or between heterodoxy and orthodoxy. Both (Ralph) Northam and (Tom) Perriello have blemishes on their records that render them imperfect avatars of the progressive movement. Northam backed George W. Bush for president in 2004, and Perriello voted for an anti-abortion amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Both have apologized for their respective apostasy. Both, if elected, would be among the most liberal governors in the state’s history, having campaigned on free community college, a $15 minimum wage, and extensive job training.

Where they differ is in their larger view of where the state’s problems lie. Northam roots Virginia’s ills in gridlock and bills himself as the candidate best able to break that gridlock. “The politics of getting things done in Richmond can be very complicated, and it takes someone who has spent the time to know the issues and develop the relationships with key members of both parties to make progress,” said the lieutenant governor in a Washington Post interview.

Perriello, however, takes a broader view, seeking to change a political culture that is beholden to corporate interests and monopolistic power. “We have a crazy system in Virginia, where we allow unlimited corporate contributions,” said Perriello in a March interview with the American Prospect magazine (full disclosure: (Bouie) worked there from 2010 to 2013). “In an era of deep partisanship in Richmond, the only truly bipartisan consensus is taking money from Dominion Power.” Perriello has positioned himself against entrenched interests and for the small towns, rural enclaves, and inner cities that encompass the state’s landscape. It’s a variation on the populism of Bernie’s campaign, one that captures the spirit of Sanders’ appeal even if it doesn’t match the particulars.

(added context mine)

Again, you do see common themes of the 2016 presidential primaries/caucuses at play, but one thing that Perriello has done that Sanders completely failed at was actually trying to win over a diverse coalition of Democratic voters, which is necessary in Virginia, since a significant majority of Virginia Democratic primary voters are female and people of color are typically around one-third of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate and could be as much as 40% of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate this year. Very early on in his campaign, and unusually for a candidate who has also tried to win over white rural voters, Perriello wrote a Medium post about the strong correlation between income inequality and racial inequality in Virginia. Even if you are, like me, not from Virginia, I strongly recommend reading Perriello’s post, because it’s an important lesson for progressive outreach to people of color.

I encourage Virginia voters who have not already cast an absentee ballot to vote in the Democratic primary for Tom Perriello today!

Puerto Rico statehood could give the U.S. more trouble than anything else

Tomorrow, Puerto Ricans will go to the polls to vote on whether Puerto Rico should continue with an undemocratic status quo regarding Puerto Rico’s political status, become a sovereign country independent from the United States, or become a U.S. state. While statehood is likely to get the most votes by far, Puerto Rican statehood would cause the U.S. more trouble than anything, and it has absolutely nothing to do with race or language.

Long story short, the Puerto Rican independence movement isn’t going to go away, even if Puerto Ricans choose statehood in a landslide. I worry that Puerto Rico, if it were to become a state, would become the U.S.’s version of Quebec politically. Quebec is a Canadian province with a significant independence movement, with a pro-Quebec independence party, often playing a potential spoiler role in Canadian parliamentary elections (and, for a period in the mid-1990’s, was the official opposition party in the Canadian House of Commons). If Puerto Rico were to become a U.S. state, it would be apportioned, if I’m not mistaken, 5 U.S. House seats (and, because Puerto Rico were to be able to vote in U.S. presidential elections if it were to become a state, 7 electoral college votes), although I’m not sure of the actual apportionment math. However, the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico would likely run their own candidate in the first U.S. presidential election following statehood, with the pro-independence candidate receiving enough votes that would otherwise go to the Democratic presidential candidate to potentially allow President Donald Trump, whose approval rating in Puerto Rico is probably extremely low, to win Puerto Rico’s electoral votes with a small plurality of the Puerto Rican popular vote, and, in a close election, Puerto Rico’s electoral votes could decide the entire presidential election. It would be an embarrassment to America for a separatist movement to potentially wield the balance of power in a U.S. presidential election.

While Puerto Ricans will vote on their political future tomorrow, the U.S. Congress will have the final say on any actual measure to grant Puerto Rico either statehood or independence. While the current status quo in Puerto Rico is completely unacceptable, Puerto Rican statehood is not worth the risk of a second Trump term in the White House. It would be best if Congress passed a Puerto Rican independence bill and granted Puerto Rico full independence from the United States, regardless of the outcome of the Puerto Rican referendum tomorrow, and I support all non-violent efforts with the ultimate goal of full independence for the Puerto Rican people.

Thoughts on Trump’s Paris Accord exit from an isolationist redneck in a coal town in Illinois

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally published at DailyKos, and this blog post has been republished to The Progressive Midwestern by its original author.


Given the fact that I am a staunch isolationist when it comes to foreign policy, as well as the fact that I live in Westville, Illinois, which, while there hasn’t been large-scale coal mining around here in many years, was originally built up around coal mining, you may be surprised to find that I’m actually opposed to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Even though I firmly believe that Trump just won re-election in 2020 (unless the planet becomes uninhabitable before November 2020, that is) with his decision, there are a large number of reasons why I fundamentally disagree with Trump on his decision to pull the U.S. out of the primary instrument of international law to combat global warming. There are four reasons why I believe that Trump will politically benefit from his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement:

  • Many Americans either believe that global warming isn’t occurring and/or believe that global warming is not caused by human activity.
  • Many Americans have a negative view of the concept of international law and don’t like the idea of the U.S. being told by other countries what to do.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save the U.S. coal industry.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save automobile racing in the United States.

I’ll counter each of those arguments in this article.

Global warming is legitimately occurring, and human activity is causing global warming

The above headline contains two indisputable facts. I don’t need to explain further.

No country can address climate change by itself

Normally, I’m staunchly opposed to multilateral international agreements of any kind, and of course I, like many Americans, revere popular sovereignty, our country’s independence, and the U.S. Constitution’s status as the Supreme Law of the Land within the jurisdiction of the United States. However, climate change is an issue that affects all of Earth, not just the U.S. or any other single country. A well-implemented agreement between as many countries as possible is necessary to reduce the rate of, if not halt or reverse, global warming. The Paris agreement is similar to the U.S. Constitution in a way: it’s a legal framework. The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land that establishes the U.S. federal government’s form of government, but is not every single federal law applicable to the United States. The Paris agreement is a framework for a global strategy to combat global warming, but it’s up to sovereign and non-sovereign governments around the world to, if they have the power(s) to do so, implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their jurisdiction in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

Coal isn’t coming back

There hasn’t been a large amount of coal mining activity in the area around my hometown for many, many years. In fact, a coal-fired power plant northwest of my hometown closed permanently several years ago. There are other, cleaner ways of generating electricity than via coal. The decline of coal in the U.S. is due to, among other factors, technological advances leaving fewer and fewer viable and necessary uses for coal, not due to international law or environmental regulations. Instead of pulling out of the Paris agreement, the federal government should create an economic development bank to provide loans to new businesses operating in economically-depressed areas, such as rural America and former mining and manufacturing areas. Coal isn’t coming back, and Trump is trying to destroy the planet to save a dying industry, which simply won’t work for anybody.

It’s not a threat to automobile racing

NASCAR’s fan base might be 80-90% Republican, but I’m a big fan of NASCAR despite being very progressive politically. I’m not as big of a fan of other forms of automobile racing, although I do watch at least one IndyCar race and at least one Formula One race per year on television. The Paris climate agreement wouldn’t hurt automobile racing. If automobile racing were threatened by the Paris accord, Monaco, a tiny European country which hosts the most important Formula One race on that form of auto racing’s calendar each year, wouldn’t have signed the Paris agreement (they did).

Wisconsin GOP state legislator Isthmuswashes Democratic state legislator

It’s another odd-numbered year, so there’s another state budget debate in Wisconsin. However, this time, the Republicans aren’t just pulling out the “Madison liberal!!!” card to attack Democratic legislators who are from the Madison area; they’re using Wisconsin’s second-largest city to attack Democrats who live far from Madison:

Wisconsin State Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican, accused Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland, a Democrat, of using “Madison math” in regards to her opposition to a University of Wisconsin budget measure. There’s two problems with that.

First, Shankland’s opposition to the measure is based on the fact that the GOP is trying to enact a budget measure that would leave Wisconsin’s public university system in a budget mess:

I might be a lifelong Illinoisan, but I know that Stevens Point is pretty far away from Madison. As a matter of fact, I’m going to coin a new word to describe what Tiffany did to Shankland: Isthmuswashing. Isthmuswashing is the act of claiming or implying that someone is from Madison, Wisconsin, when he or she is actually not from Madison, Wisconsin.

Is this the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration?

We are just a couple of days short of being five months into what is supposed to be a four-year term of Donald Trump being President of the United States, but developments in the last few days or so are indicating that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

The biggest recent news is the announcement that former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed the special prosecutor in the case regarding the Trump presidential campaign’s ties to Russia:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals     associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

Additionally, there are other developments that have indicated to me that this could be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration:

  • An audio tape (transcript here) in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bragged about Russian President Vladimir Putin paying Trump and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)…Republicans have tried to claim that McCarthy was merely joking, but it’s certainly suspicious when Republicans claim that Putin is paying some of their own, and it’s not 100% clear if they were being serious or not.
  • Vice President Mike Pence has already set up a leadership PAC to support Republican political efforts…this is the first time a sitting VPOTUS has ever done this.
  • Democratic members of Congress are openly mentioning the prospect of impeaching Trump.
  • It has been reported that disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others with close ties to Trump had 18 contacts with the Russians that were not previously disclosed.

There’s certainly evidence that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

ENDORSEMENT: Bob Daiber for Governor of Illinois

I don’t think that this is the most ethical thing to do for me, since I’m currently serving a two-year term as an election judge in Vermilion County, but I proudly endorse the candidacy of Bob Daiber for the Democratic nomination for the office of Governor of Illinois, and, if Daiber is on the primary ballot next year, I will vote for him without hesitation. If I am asked to serve as a poll worker for next year’s bicentennial primary, I will carry out my duties in an ethical manner in which everyone who is eligible to vote will be able to vote in the primary of the major political party of their choice and for the candidates of their choice.

In the bizarro world of Illinois politics, only one candidate can beat both the Mike Madigan machine and Bruce Rauner’s oversized checkbook, and that is Bob Daiber. Daiber is a farmer and education official from Madison County, located in the Metro-East region of Southern Illinois. My endorsement of Daiber comes as POLITICO is reporting that Chicago power brokers like Mike Madigan and Rahm Emanuel, who are barely popular enough in Chicago to keep getting re-elected there and are absolutely despised downstate, are trying to bully Chris Kennedy out of the gubernatorial race and crown fellow ultra-wealthy person J.B. Pritzker as the establishment candidate in the gubernatorial primary:

…when Kennedy finally announced a bid for governor in February, comparisons to Camelot abounded. He took the early lead in polling and drew an almost immediate endorsement of a coalition of county chairmen in Southern Illinois.

Now, three months later, Kennedy has fallen out of favor with key labor groups and powerful forces within the Democratic establishment. And he’s facing a roadblock that’s unfamiliar to his family: pressure to drop out of the race.

There’s mounting evidence that powerful Democratic players in the state — from House Speaker Michael Madigan to Mayor Rahm Emanuel — are steering unions, interest groups or politicians to throw their support behind billionaire J.B. Pritzker, the brother of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

J.B. Pritzker’s political strategy is basically play the insiders game, run a bunch of TV ads paid for, at least in part, by his massive wealth, and hope that enough Illinoisans believe him to win both a major-party primary and the general election. That’s only a winning strategy if your name is Bruce Rauner. Just a couple of days ago, it was reported that Prizker deliberately let a very large house fall into a state of disrepair so that he could pay a lot less in property taxes! Illinois doesn’t need someone like Pritzker running the executive branch of the state government, and Rauner would defeat Pritzker in a landslide if he were nominated for governor.

If the Democratic primary for governor of Illinois is going to be a battle between the Chicago political elite, which is now behind J.B. Pritzker, and the rest of Illinois, than there’s only one candidate who is well-suited to such a campaign, and it’s Bob Daiber. Chris Kennedy comes from a large political family and is very wealthy himself, so he’s not well-suited to run the kind of anti-establishment campaign that Democrats need to regain the governorship. Daniel Biss has tried to cut public employee pensions in Illinois, so he’s no progressive.

On two of the biggest issues facing Illinoisans today (abortion and workers’ rights), Bob Daiber supports reproductive rights and supports workers’ rights. You’re not going to outwork, out-progressive, out-downstate, or out-Illinois someone like Bob Daiber.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Stealthing is rape

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a description of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.


Stealthing is RapeI fully understand that this story isn’t going to get a ton of attention anywhere because of the U.S. House vote on taking health insurance away from millions of Americans earlier today, but, as reported by the Madison-based Wisconsin State Journal’s Molly Beck, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly has proposed legislation that would criminalize nonconsentual condom removal during sexual intercourse, which is also known as “stealthing”, in the State of Wisconsin:

As far as I know, no state has a law on the books explicitly defining stealthing as rape or explicitly criminalizing stealthing, and there’s not a lot of statistics about stealthing available. That doesn’t change the fact that stealthing is rape. If one sexual partner requests that another sexual partner use a condom during sexual intercourse between the two sexual partners, and then one sexual partner removes the condom and continues intercourse without using the condom without the other sexual partner consenting to sexual intercourse without use of the condom, that is rape.

Melissa Sargent, the Wisconsin legislator who proposed the anti-stealthing bill in her state, is one of the best advocates for women holding elected office anywhere in the country. Even though Sargent is a very progressive Democrat in a state whose government is controlled by very conservative Republicans, Sargent has had success when it comes to getting legislation designed to protect women enacted. A notable example of Sargent’s work when it comes to protecting women is Sargent’s successful 2015 push to make upskirting a felony in Wisconsin.

I encourage elected officials in all U.S. jurisdictions to criminalize stealthing, because stealthing is rape.

Three Democratic candidates for Governor of Illinois who I won’t vote for in Democratic primary

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am currently serving a two-year term as an election judge in Vermilion County, Illinois, with the last currently-scheduled election of my term being the Spring 2018 primaries. This blog post is purely my opinion about a race that will be on the Democratic primary ballot in an election in which I may be called to serve as a poll worker, and is not, in any way, connected to my election judge duties.


I’m not going to publicly endorse a candidate in the 2018 bicentennial election for Governor of Illinois, although I will be a voter in the 2018 bicentennial Illinois Democratic primary, and there are three candidates who I will not be voting for in the primary, unless, of course, they end up being the only three candidates on the primary ballot.

J.B. Pritzker is probably the only Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial primary in Illinois who could probably outspend Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in the general election, but there’s a very possible chance that Pritzker won’t make it to the general election. One main reason why Pritzker could have trouble winning the Democratic nomination is that, in 2012, Pritzker publicly refused to support then-President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign well into the Republican primary campaign season that year. Even worse, Pritzker outright said that he wasn’t 100% supportive of the Democratic Party, and signaled that he was open to supporting far-right Republicans.

Christopher G. Kennedy is a member of the Kennedy political family, and he’s also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor here in Illinois. However, CGK had the gall to appear at a campaign event in downstate Illinois and proceed to support a major education funding proposal that would give Chicago-area politicians more control over downstate school districts:

Kennedy said he is opposed to funding kindergarten through high school public schools through property taxes.

“We need to get rid of that system. It’s a terrible system,” he said. “Every other state in the United States has figured that out. They pay for their schools at the state level and not through local property taxes and they have much better outcomes.”

Removing local control from K-12 education funding in Illinois would put all non-federal funding of public schools in the hands of a state government dominated by Chicago-area politicians. Needless to say, downstaters are not going to like CGK’s idea to put decisions regarding funding their community’s public schools in the hands of a Chicagoland-dominated state legislature.

Another candidate running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is Daniel Biss, a mathematician-turned-state senator serving the Evanston area in Cook County. Biss’s claim to political fame was supporting Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the unconstitutional state law that was designed to cut state public employee pension benefits in Illinois. While Illinois has a major pension funding crisis, SB1 was such a blatant violation of the Illinois Constitution’s provision prohibiting cutting earned pension benefits, even right-wing Republican state supreme court justices like Rita Garman ruled that SB1 was unconstitutional.

The other two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination that I’m aware of are Ameya Pawar, a Chicago City Council member, and Bob Daiber, a farmer and regional school superintendent from Madison County. I’m not going to tell anyone which of those two I’m going to vote for, but I’ve already made up my mind.