Tag: free trade

Mike Pence, who signed religious discrimination into law in Indiana, will likely be Trump’s running mate

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Indiana Governor Mike Pence is likely to be picked by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to be Trump’s vice-presidential running mate. This has not been confirmed by Trump himself; Trump intends to officially announce his VP pick sometime tomorrow.

For those of you who have heard of Pence, and for those of you who have not heard of Pence, he’s not worth any pence, and he’s a right-wing bigot with a track record of enshrining bigotry into Indiana state law.

Pence is most infamous for signing into law Indiana’s religious discrimination bill, which allows ordinary Hoosiers to discriminate against people who aren’t like them by, for example, allowing businesses and businesspeople to refuse to serve people because of the religious beliefs of the business owners. That is a law primarily designed to discriminate against Indiana’s LGBT community, and Pence made himself and Indiana a national embarrassment by signing the religious discrimination bill into law.

When it comes to working-class Americans, Pence is solidly against working-class Americans every step against the way. Pence repealed Indiana’s common construction wage law, which was Indiana’s version of a prevailing wage law for state-funded construction projects, and Pence also supports President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed international trade agreement between the U.S. and countries like Vietnam, a country that killed tens of thousands of American troops in a war the U.S. should have never been involved in, and a country where workers are paid far less than the U.S. federal minimum wage. It’s no wonder why the White House is actually praising Pence, despite the fact that Pence is likely to be the running mate of perhaps the single most bigoted presidential candidate to win a major-party presidential nomination.

Advertisements

ENDORSEMENT: Zephyr Teachout for 19th Congressional District of New York

I proudly endorse Zephyr Rain Teachout for the Democratic nomination in the 19th Congressional District of New York.

My endorsement of Zephyr is not based on the fact that she has the coolest name in American politics (she certainly does) or because of the cool outfits she wears in parades across her congressional district (see here and here), it’s because she’s an absolutely awesome person. If elected to Congress, nobody, and I mean nobody, will be a stronger and more effective advocate for removing the undue influence of big money in American politics than Zephyr. Zephyr is one of only two congressional candidates in the entire country that I’m aware of (the other being 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin candidate Sarah Lloyd) who has openly talked about how free-trade deals have hurt farmers and rural America. Zephyr is the only congressional candidate that I’m aware of who has talked about how large companies have locked away technologies that can be used by small businesses. Zephyr understands that climate change is real, and that real solutions are needed to curb or reverse global warming.

Zephyr has the Working Families Party line and faces Will Yandik in the Democratic primary, and the winner of the primary will face Republican opposition from the winner of a contested primary between John Faso (who has the Conservative, Independence, and Reform Party lines), Andrew Heaney, and Bob Bishop. I strongly encourage New York Democrats to vote for Zephyr Teachout on June 28. You can view Zephyr’s campaign website here, and she’s also on Twitter and Facebook.

Obama Administration bullying, and even bribing, businesses to stop criticizing TPP

The Obama Administration is doing everything possible to silence businesses and business leaders who oppose free-trade giveaways like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In at least one documented instance (sources here, herehere, and below), the Obama Administration offered serious consideration for a Defense Department contract to a company if the company would quit publicly criticizing the TPP:

Scan0001
Email courtesy of Fight for the Future

New Balance, which manufacturers some of their sneakers in the United States, was offered serious consideration for a Defense Department contract to manufacture athletic shoes for members of the U.S. Armed Forces if New Balance executives shut up about how TPP would force companies like New Balance to compete with companies that manufacture in countries like Vietnam, whose minimum wage is the equivalent of 65¢/hour. Prior to being offered consideration for the contract, New Balance officials had been critical of TPP, but they backed off of their criticism of the TPP once the Defense Department considered them for a contract. Now, New Balance officials are renewing their fight against the TPP after they alleged that the Pentagon is intentionally delaying the purchase of shoes from New Balance.

If this is even remotely true, then this represents the kind of corrupt, Chicago-style machine politics that has no place anywhere in America.

ENDORSEMENT: Sarah Lloyd for 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin

There aren’t too many Democrats who champion both rural America and progressive values. However, for Sarah Lloyd, championing rural America and progressive values is a way of life for her.

Now, Lloyd is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin. I proudly endorse Sarah Lloyd and her campaign.

As a dairy farmer, Lloyd understands how free trade deals like President Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would severely hurt Wisconsin’s dairy industry, as she has personally experienced how free-trade deals that are currently in effect have hurt the dairy-farming industry in Wisconsin.

Rural America is, by far, the constituency that the Democratic Party has systematically ignored more than any other constituency. You don’t hear Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders talk about rural issues all that often, and big-city political power brokers that form the vast majority of the Democratic establishment are more concerned about getting their cronies elected than anything else. Don’t even ask for Republicans like Glenn Grothman to do anything to help family farmers and rural communities, as they’re more concerned about spewing bigotry and hate towards anyone who isn’t like them.

The Democratic congressional primary in the 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin is August 9. Should Lloyd win the Democratic nomination, she will be on the November 8 general election ballot in the 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin.

You can read more about Sarah Lloyd and her congressional campaign here.

NRA-supporting DINO Ron Kind finally gets a primary challenger

For the first time in a very long time, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of the 3rd Congressional District of Wisconsin is facing credible opposition within his own party. That’s because Myron Buchholz, a retired history teacher from the Eau Claire area, is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 3rd District of Wisconsin.

Very little is known about Buchholz, outside of the fact that he is politically aligned with Bernie Sanders and considers himself to be answering Bernie’s call for ordinary Americans to take back our country from big-money special interests. No information is available as to whether or not Bernie actually recruited Buchholz to run against Kind (I highly doubt that is the case).

Ron Kind, on the other hand, is well to the ideological right of Hillary Clinton on many political issues, including guns, where Kind has taken money from the NRA and received their endorsement in 2010. On gun issues, Kind has voted for, among other things, allowing guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. On other issues, Kind has voted the corporate Democratic line, including supporting President Obama’s free trade deals that have shipped Wisconsin and American jobs overseas.

I strongly encourage Democrats of the 3td Congressional District of Wisconsin to take a serious look at Myron Buchholz.

The State of the American Worker

On this Labor Day, the 122nd Labor Day commemorated as a federal holiday, the state of the American worker is not good.

Over the past few decades, the American worker has had to deal with stagnant wages that haven’t kept up with inflation or increasing productivity, free trade policies that have cost America millions of jobs, union-busting efforts at all levels of government, a lack of true workplace equality, and increasingly rampant income inequality.

The wages of the American worker have been stagnant, while prices of goods and services have risen, and the productivity of the American worker has risen. Simply put, the amount that workers are paid in this country hasn’t kept up with the costs of providing for their families or their own productivity. I support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and indexing the minimum wage to productivity, in order to set a minimum wage that values work, instead of valuing a low-wage economy.

The “global trading regime”, as anti-worker U.S. Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin once described free trade policies, has resulted in the loss of millions of American jobs to foreign countries over the past few decades. Free trade agreements like NAFTA and other free trade policies like Most Favored Nation status for China have resulted in American companies moving jobs to countries like Mexico and China, so that those companies can pay workers low wages. I support repealing free-trade policies and restoring the constitutional ability of the federal government, as outlined in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, to unilaterally set tariffs and other U.S. international trade policies.

Over the past few decades, politicians, most of them Republicans, have tried, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to bust unions and weaken the power of the American worker. Some of the more notable examples of this include the busting of the air traffic controllers’ union by then-President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stripping collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin public employees four and a half years ago. I strongly support the existence of labor unions and the right of unionized workers to collectively bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. However, the right-wing wage theft agenda also includes other measures to weaken the power of the American worker, such as repealing prevailing wage laws. I strongly support prevailing wage laws and other laws designed to protect the American worker.

The American workplace is still far from equal. Working women are, on average, still paid considerably less than working men, and unemployment rates for black and Hispanic workers are still considerably higher than those for white workers. Even worse, many employers are still discriminating in their hiring practices based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and, believe it or not, military service. I strongly support strengthening equal pay for equal work laws and prohibiting all forms of workplace discrimination.

Over the past few decades, income inequality has become one of the most serious issues facing our country. The top 1% of income-earners in this country now control nearly half of the nation’s wealth, while the middle class is being destroyed, and more and more people are entering the ranks of the poor. Government policies like tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate welfare for large corporations and major sports teams are major reasons why income inequality has become a serious issues in this country. I support raising the federal income tax rate on those who make over one billion dollars per year to 70% and eliminating federal income taxes on those who make less than $25,000 per year.

Because of the weakening of labor unions, corporate greed, and government policies that bust unions and encourage corporate greed, the state of the American worker is not good. However, enacting more progressive policies when it comes to the minimum wage, workers’ rights, international trade, workplace equality, and wealth distribution, we can rebuild America’s middle class, lift millions of Americans out of poverty, and make the American worker better off!

My thoughts on Donald Trump’s unorthodox appeal to Republican voters

Donald Trump is not your typical Republican presidential candidate. He has a very unorthodox appeal to Republican primary and caucus voters, an unorthodox appeal that has helped him take the lead in race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to recent national, Iowa, and New Hampshire opinion polls of Republican voters.

Here’s some of my thoughts (these are entirely my thoughts, because, unlike Jeb Bush, I actually am my own man) on Trump’s unorthodox appeal to Republican voters:

  • Trump says what he thinks – Not too many politicians in this country speak their mind, but Trump does. Trump has made a habit of speaking his mind, both before his presidential run and as a presidential candidate, and the right-wing corporate media in this country gives him a ton of attention. The fact that he is wealthy enough to, if he had to, self-fund an entire presidential campaign (his net worth is probably somewhere in the low-to-mid ten figures, although Trump himself publicly inflates his net worth for his own ends) gives him even more of an incentive to speak his mind.
  • Trump has a giant ego – While someone with as huge of an ego as Trump wouldn’t stand much of a chance of winning a Democratic primary or caucus, being overly egotistical, which Trump is, does play well with the Republican caucus/primary electorate. To put that another way, Republicans admire jerks like Trump.
  • Trump’s overt racism and sexism plays well with Republicans – Racism and sexism is not a negative with the Republican crowd…in fact, they admire bigots like Trump. Trump’s racist remarks, such as his anti-immigration tirades, as well as his sexist remarks, such as claiming that Megyn Kelly of FOX News questioned him at a Republican debate because she was on her period, play well with Republicans.
  • Trump has an unusual appeal to working-class voters – For someone who is extremely wealthy and a real estate magnate, Trump actually has an ability to appeal to working-class voters who are open to the idea of voting for a Republican presidential candidate. The kind of working-class voters who are open to supporting someone like Trump are mostly white racists who view foreigners and ethnic minorities as taking their jobs away and have not just resentment, but racist resentment, towards foreigners and ethnic minorities. Trump’s tirades against Mexico, China, lenient U.S. trade policies, and immigration play very well with this crowd of voters.

While I do agree with Trump on a few issues, such as his opposition to Common Core State Standards and criticism of U.S. trade policies that are far too lenient towards our largest trading partners and have cost America thousands of jobs, I’d never consider voting for Trump. While, admittedly, I’d be seen by many as a poor, left-wing version of Trump if I ever for public office, Trump is way too much of a blowhard, egomaniac, bully, and bigot for me to consider voting for him. Also, if Trump were to self-fund most or all of his presidential campaign, that’s just as much of an undue influence on the political system as politicians being bought off by wealthy campaign donors.

Regarding whether or not I think Trump can win a general election for president, I think that he’d defeat Hillary Clinton, but lose to Bernie Sanders. Although Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are not one and the same by any stretch of the imagination, Clinton can be compared to Romney in a way: She’s perceived as out of touch with ordinary people and part of the political elite, which is what cost Romney the 2012 presidential election. On the other hand, Sanders can appeal to the kind of persuadable working-class voters that Trump would need to win, in that Sanders is a stronger opponent of free-trade policies than Trump is and comes across as more presidential than Trump does.

CONFIRMED: Hillary Clinton was actively involved with developing TPP before she was against parts of it

Since launching her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has voiced opposition to parts of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade agreement that, if fully implemented, would undermine American sovereignty and result in thousands of American jobs being moved overseas.

However, Hillary Clinton wasn’t simply for the TPP before she was against parts of it; she was heavily involved in developing the TPP before she was against parts of it. To prove this point, International Business Times, a business news website, linked to seven leaked diplomatic cables from September 2009 to February 2010 in their report about the U.S. State Department’s role in developing TPP under Hillary Clinton. These cables outline the then-Hillary Clinton-led U.S. State Department’s involvement in developing the TPP with other countries that would be parties to the TPP if fully implemented.

In chronological order according to the timestamp on each cable, here are the cables outlining how Hillary Clinton’s U.S. State Department was involved with the development of the TPP:

  • September 18, 2009 – New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser “expressed his firm belief that the U.S. Administration would move forward on expanding multilateral trade when the timing is right”.
  • September 30, 2009 – Then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg “was interested in moving beyond” the current bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam. Additionally, Then-Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister (now-Vietnamese Foreign Minister) Pham Binh Minh complained that the U.S. was “too protective” regarding international trade.
  • November 27, 2009 – Then-U.S. Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats visited Japan on November 16 and 17, 2009, and his visit was viewed by Japanese officials as “a strong sign of the importance the United States attaches to the U.S.-Japan economic relationship”. However, Japan was “not ready to join a broad regional trade agreement due to sensitivities over agriculture” at the time.
  • December 22, 2009 – Then-U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak hosted a dinner for representatives of would-be TPP member countries, and said representatives “inquired about the goals and objectives of the United States at the upcoming Melbourne (Australia) meeting March 15-19, including the shape and content of the agreement to make it a 21st century agreement, timing, and rules for new members”. Michalak was only mentioned by last name at the very end of the diplomatic cable and was never mentioned by first name in any part of the cable.
  • January 6, 2010 – Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand requested “an additional officer in the Political/Economic Section” for, among other purposes, “allow the Economics Officer to focus on preparations for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations”.
  • January 28, 2010 – Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia advised Then-U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, who was referred to as an ambassador in the cable, on strategies for convincing Malaysia to join the TPP, including advising Marantis to “highlight the priority the Administration is giving to the Trans Pacific Partnership initiative, and the role that the TPP will play in promoting economic competitiveness and trade opportunities in the region”.
  • February 19, 2010 – Then-U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frankie Reed engaged with New Zealand officials “on a wide range of topics including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)”, and Mark Sinclair, New Zealand’s chief negotiator for the TPP, stated that the New Zealand government “views the TPP as a platform for future trade integration in the Asia Pacific (region)”.

The Deputy Secretary of State, Undersecretary of State, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassadors, and U.S. Embassies are all part of the U.S. State Department, both when Hillary Clinton was the head of the State Department, as well as today.

If you needed proof that Hillary Clinton’s recent opposition to parts of the TPP is purely political expediency, there it is. Her U.S. State Department has played a key role in developing the TPP, and that’s something that, as much as she wants to, she can’t deny.

Bernie Sanders draws massive crowd to Madison, Wisconsin rally, lays out progressive vision for America

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America’s future in front of a roaring capacity crowd at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (also called the Alliant Energy Center) in Madison, Wisconsin last night.

Here’s a couple of photos of the crowd at the event:

Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie's appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie’s appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Bernie Sanders Madison WI Rally Crowd Doug Cvetkovich
Massive crowd at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin during Bernie Sanders speech. Sanders is standing at the podium on the stage at the bottom left of the picture. (photo courtesy of Doug Cvetkovich)

I’m going to share a video of Bernie’s speech from the YouTube channel Bernie2016.tv (which is not directly affiliated with the Sanders campaign), but I want to make two notes before I do so: First, I’ve set the video to start playing at around the 42:20 mark, which is about 20 seconds or so before Nichols takes the stage to introduce Sanders. Second, several technical glitches occur during the video, most notably the first part of Nichols’s introduction not having any audio at all and an audio echoing issue occurring in at least one segment of Sanders’s speech.

Here’s the video of Bernie’s speech:

Bernie did a masterful job outlining a progressive vision for America. In his speech, Bernie called for reducing income inequality in America, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, expanding workers’ rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, getting big money out of politics, ensuring that women are paid the same as men for the same amount and type of work, reforming the criminal justice system, opposing free trade deals, providing high-quality education to Americans without burdening them with student debt, raising the minimum wage, and enacting many other progressive policies. Bernie energized a large crowd in Wisconsin’s second-largest city, and I think he can win the general election for president.

According to arena officials and Sanders campaign staffers, the attendance was 9,600, although I’ve seen reports on social media that so many people tried to show up at the 10,231-seat arena, some people had to be turned away from the event because the venue couldn’t handle any more people than the stated capacity. Sanders was introduced at the event by John Nichols, a progressive political author and columnist for The Nation magazine. Nichols mentioned during his introduction of Sanders that Ed Garvey, the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Wisconsin and the founder of the annual Fighting Bob Fest progressive gathering, Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), and Wisconsin State Representatives Terese Berceau and Melissa Sargent (both D-Madison), were present at the event. Of those four, Sargent livetweeted Sanders’s speech, in which Sanders talked about issues like money in politics, climate change, education, higher education, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, income inequality, poverty, criminal justice reform, the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, breaking up “too big to fail” banks, and international trade. Here’s every one of Sargent’s tweets about Sanders’s speech in Madison:

Note that there is an apparent typo in one of Sargent’s tweets (the one she sent at 8:05 P.M. about Sanders talking about how climate change affects our future; Sargent likely meant to type “We must leave this planet in a condition that is habitable for our children”); other than that, Sargent did an absolutely fantastic job paraphrasing Sanders’s speech and livetweeting the key points that Sanders made. Please also note that Sargent has, to my knowledge, not formally endorsed a presidential candidate.

It is perfectly fitting that Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America in the hometown of Wisconsin progressive legend Fighting Bob La Follette.

ENDORSEMENT: Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin

It’s official…the old Russ Feingold that Wisconsinites have known and remembered for decades is back and running for a seat in the United States Senate.

Initially, I was skeptical of whether or not the old Feingold, known for his crusades for progressive, pro-middle class, and pro-good government ideals, as well as creative campaign ads, would return. Well, HE’S BAAAAAAAAAAACK!!! Feingold is sharply criticizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade agreement that is a key part of President Obama’s plan to destroy American sovereignty and kill the American economy. Oh, and Feingold is posting some cool web videos, which feature him meeting with ordinary Wisconsinites, to his Facebook page. You can view a couple of his web videos here and here.

While I would have zero problem with a competitive Democratic primary in the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, don’t hold your breath for one. In the unlikely event that one or more Democratic primary challenger(s) enter the race, I will consider pulling my endorsement of Feingold and endorsing a primary challenger to him, although it would require a near-perfect candidate for me to endorse a primary challenger to Feingold. I’m not a fan of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsing Feingold despite the fact that it’s over a year until the congressional and state legislative primaries in Wisconsin.

Judging by what I’ve seen on social media, Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and the Wisconsin GOP apparently think they’re running against failed gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke for some odd reason. Johnson and his far-right Republican allies have tried to paint Feingold as a political insider, a label that easily stuck to Burke, but doesn’t fit Feingold at all. Of course, the only reason the Republicans are trying to paint Feingold as a political insider is because Johnson has a track record of voting against the interests of Wisconsinites, making political attacks against college students, protecting sex abusers, and just plain being dumb.

For Bernie Sanders to be President of the United States and Russ Feingold to be back in the Senate would be a delight, to put it mildly.