Tag: Social Security

Obama’s legacy: a failed Democratic Party and President Donald Trump

With the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, leaving office in a little over a month, I’ll take this opportunity to talk about Obama’s legacy, which has become a major talking point among Democrats.

First off, I want to mention an op-ed that Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) wrote about her thoughts about Obama’s legacy for the Madison, Wisconsin-based The Cap Times earlier this month. Usually, I strongly agree with someone like Sargent, who is a staunch progressive who realizes that opposing Republicans and their destructive policies is only half the battle for progressives. In fact, Sargent is one of the few elected officials in the entire country that I have a strongly favorable opinion of, and one has to remember that I live in a different state than Sargent does. However, I have a much more negative view of Obama’s legacy than Representative Sargent does.

President Obama did not get a whole lot of domestic policy legislation enacted in his eight years in office, largely because Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress for six of Obama’s eight years in office. When Obama did have political allies in Congress who were in a position to enact legislation, much of it was legislation that was largely or effectively corporate welfare for private-sector businesses (such as the Affordable Care Act and the automobile industry bailout) that, despite being effectively government handouts to large corporations, did benefit many Americans. In fact, I have personally benefited from the Affordable Care Act. Obama’s attempts to work with Republicans typically failed miserably, because the Republican Party of today is completely unwilling to work with anyone who is a Democrat.

While President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize not long after being elected to the White House, Obama was no champion of peace in the White House. Obama’s only major foreign policy success as president was his ordering of SEAL Team 6 to take out Osama bin Laden (which succeeded). The rest of Obama’s foreign policy record was largely underwhelming and, in many ways, a continuation of the post-9/11 George W. Bush foreign policy in the Middle East.

One of President Obama’s biggest failures was his attempt to cut Social Security benefits, which was rejected, largely because progressives strongly opposed it. Another major Obama failure is the Democratic Party: Since Obama was sworn into office, Democrats have lost hundreds of state legislative seats, dozens of state executive offices, and dozens of seats in both houses of Congress. Yet another Obama failure was the FBI under Obama’s leadership: James Comey, who was appointed FBI director by Obama, used his office to influence people to vote for Donald Trump in this year’s presidential election.

In some cases, left-wing victories under President Obama’s leadership came from unexpected places. Many of the major LGBT rights victories, such as key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) being struck down and marriage equality becoming law of the land, were because of rulings by a right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court. The LGBT community used the justice system to win justice.

Now, America is probably a weaker country than it ever has been since the Declaration of Independence was signed, although it’s mostly not President Obama’s fault. However, Obama’s pursuit of free-trade deals and Social Security cuts opened the door for a far-right demagogue by the name of Donald Trump to win the White House. I strongly fear that Trump will, some way or another, undo pretty much all of the positive aspects of Obama’s legacy and destroy this country in so many ways. If the Democrats haven’t gone the way of the Whigs by 2020, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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ENDORSEMENT: Susie Lee for 4th Congressional District of Nevada

As Democratic voters in the 4th Congressional District of Nevada go to the polls today, I’ll take this opportunity to encourage voters in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, which includes the northern part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, to vote for Susie Lee in the Democratic congressional primary.

While Bernie Sanders has been busy trying to sell former gangster and convicted car thief Lucy Flores to progressives, the truth of the matter is that a majority of general election voters in the 4th Congressional District aren’t going to vote for someone with a felony record. People simply don’t like being represented in Congress by criminals, so a vote for Lucy Flores is effectively a vote for Crescent Hardy, who is nothing more than a right-wing rubber stamp for right-wing Republicans like Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. I’m saying this as someone who voted for Bernie in the Illinois primary.

While there are a total of eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, only three of them have a realistic shot of winning the nomination: Lee, Flores, and Ruben Kihuen. Of those three, only Susie Lee is actually a current resident of the 4th Congressional District of Nevada. On the issues, Lee supports building an interstate highway between Las Vegas and Reno (currently, one has to drive through either California or Utah in order to drive between Las Vegas and Reno without having to drive over mostly two-lane roads), and Lee also supports protecting Social Security and Medicare.

ENDORSEMENT: Donna Edwards for U.S. Senate in Maryland

I proudly and unapologetically endorse Donna Edwards for the open U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)!

Donna is a strong champion of progressive values on a wide array of issues. Donna fought to protect Social Security benefits by taking on President Obama and corporate Democrats in Congress when they tried to cut Social Security benefits, and she’s strongly opposed Republican-backed efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Additionally, Donna is a staunch opponent of big-money politics, and supports amending the U.S. Constitution to repeal disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC. Furthermore, Donna strongly supports common-sense measures designed to end gun violence in America. Also, Donna is strongly pro-choice and pro-equal pay.

Donna’s opposition in the Democratic primary is Chris Van Hollen, a political crony of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer who supported Obama’s plan to cut Social Security benefits. One of Van Hollen’s supporters is Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., the Maryland state senate president. Miller said that he thought that Van Hollen was “born to the job” of being a U.S. Senator:

Rep. Donna F. Edwards wants her supporters to know that one of the most powerful Democrats in Maryland backs her opponent in the state’s Democratic Senate primary. In particular, she wants them to know that Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. thinks Rep. Chris Van Hollen was “born to the job.”

“Born to the job?” she wrote Tuesday in a fundraising email. “The fact is, our country’s systems and institutions have largely been led by people who have always looked like that senior elected official, not like me. . . . I don’t believe anyone in this country was born to anything.”

The fact of the matter is that nobody in this country is born to any kind of job, and anyone who thinks that anyone is born to a political office of any kind doesn’t believe in democracy.

Donna marches to the beat of her own drum and fights for progressive values on many important issues, even if it means taking on the leadership of her own party. That’s the kind of strong leadership that Maryland needs and deserves. You can learn more about Donna’s campaign to become Maryland’s next U.S. Senator here.

“Democrat” who is completely opposed to Social Security receives two votes in midnight New Hampshire voting

While the New Hampshire polls don’t officially close until 7 P.M. EST/6 P.M. CST, three precincts in the northern part of New Hampshire voted at midnight EST, are closed, and have reported results. In those three precincts, a very unusual candidate has received two votes (7.14%) out of a total of 28 cast and counted so far in the Democratic presidential primary:

“Stewart” is Mark Stewart Greenstein, a minor candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination who holds very right-wing views on many political issues.

Just to give you one example of how right-wing of a “Democrat” Greenstein is, he’s completely opposed to the existence of Social Security. This is in sharp contrast with both major Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who both support expanding Social Security, a program that has benefited millions of Americans since being created as part of the New Deal in the 1930’s. Additionally, Greenstein has, according to at least one report, attended campaign events for Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

Regarding potential explanations as to how someone like Greenstein managed to receive two votes in a Democratic primary in New Hampshire, it’s likely not an issue regarding two voters mistakenly marking the box adjacent to the name of the candidate immediately above or below the name of the candidate they actually wanted to vote for. That’s because there are three names between Greenstein and that of Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders’s name is the ninth candidate listed on Democratic primary ballots. The Democratic ballot that I’m citing as my source is an absentee ballot that was issued in Marlborough, New Hampshire, and candidate order on ballots may vary from one precinct to another, but I’m not sure of that.

The thought of someone like Greenstein possibly receiving delegates to the Democratic National Convention is absolutely frightening.

Wisconsin Democratic chairperson candidate Jason Rae employed by firm founded by individual that provided money to Koch-funded organizations

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have made edits to the blog post and title to accurately reflect Nation Consulting founder Thad Nation’s use of a 501(c)(4) organization to give money to right-wing organizations and Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairperson candidate Jason Rae’s employment by Nation Consulting.

I’ve found information that proves that Thad Nation, Wisconsin Democratic chairperson candidate Jason Rae’s boss at Nation Consulting, has provided money to at least seven right-wing organizations, including at least four that are funded either directly or indirectly by the Koch Brothers. Nation himself was listed in a 2012 IRS 990 filing as the principal officer of Coalition for the New Economy (CftNE), a 501(c)4 organization that opposes government-run broadband internet services in areas where private-sector firms currently provide broadband internet service. CftNE has also given money to at least several right-wing political groups that have actively opposed Democratic and liberal political candidates, have actively supported Republican and conservative political candidates, and/or have advocated for far-right policies that would have a negative impact on America. Here’s the organizations that CftNE has given money to, according to page 17 of the 2012 IRS filing by that organization:

  • $15,000 for “general support” to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a right-wing anti-tax organization that has, among other things, effectively supported allowing the U.S. federal government to default on the national debt. NTU has received a total of $32,500 from the Koch Family Foundations from 1998 to 2008, including $5,000 from Charles Koch’s own foundation in 2008.
  • $5,000 for “general support” to the Center for Individual Freedom (CIF), a right-wing organization that spent $1.9 million in television advertising in an attempt to help Republicans win U.S. House races that were seriously contested by both major parties in the 2012 elections. CIF spent a slightly larger amount of money on a similar effort in the 2010 elections.
  • $5,000 for “general support” to Americans for Prosperity (AfP), a far-right political organization founded by the Koch Brothers themselves. In Wisconsin, AfP spent $866,000 in ads designed to help Scott Walker win the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial race and approximately $2.9 million in ads in opposition to the 2012 recall effort against Walker that was strongly supported by Wisconsin progressives.
  • $10,000 for “general support” to FreedomWorks, a far-right organization that has, among other things, ran several anti-union campaigns in states like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and supported far-right extremist Chris McDaniel, who, among other things, blamed rap music for many of our country’s problems, in his unsuccessful 2014 Republican primary challenge to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
  • $5,000 for “general support” to Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), a right-wing organization that was founded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and, among other things, opposes taxation and supports privatizing Social Security. IPI has received $35,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is identified by the Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch as one of the four Koch Family Foundations. IPI is the only one of the organizations listed in the CftNE filing that is a 501(c)(3) organization; all of the others are listed as 501(c)(4) organizations.
  • $15,000 for “general support” to the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), a right-wing organization that has, among other things, attacked the federal government over the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two of the largest cable television providers in the country.
  • $14,740 for “general support” to the 60 Plus Association (60 Plus), a right-wing organization funded by Koch Brothers-funded organizations like Freedom Parners and American Encore as part of a complex web of Koch Brothers-funded organizations. In Wisconsin, 60 Plus ran this advertisement attacking now-Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin for supporting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), federal legislation that provided millions of Americans with health insurance.

That’s a total of $69,740 that Thad Nation has, through CftNE, provided to right-wing organizations that have supported Republicans like Scott Walker, ran smear campaigns against Democrats like Tammy Baldwin, and have supported far-right policies that would make America a much worse place to live. Thad Nation is also the same person who employs Jason Rae as a senior associate at Nation Consulting, and Rae is running for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. If Rae is elected DPW Chair, it would be at least an apparent conflict of interest for someone like Rae to be the head of a state-level Democratic organization if he were to remain employed at Nation Consulting, because the founder of that organization was the head of a 501(c)(4) organization that gave money to groups that support Republicans and their destructive far-right agenda.

Let me finish this post by saying two things about Rae and his supporters. One, Rae’s supporters are some of the most vile people I’ve ever interacted with online. Two, Rae completely lacks the temperament to be in a Democratic Party leadership position of any kind.

Republican control of the U.S. Senate would be absolutely frightening

With the possibility of Republicans winning control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the first two years of George W. Bush’s second term in the White House looming over the November 4 elections, I want to remind everybody how frightening Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate and retaining control of the U.S. House is.

Should Republicans win control of the Senate and retain control of the House, Republicans will probably pass a sweeping, Wisconsin-style far-right agenda, including legislation like:

  • Passing a nationwide right-to-work-for-less bill, allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without paying union dues for collective bargaining (if not completely banning labor unions altogether)
  • Passing restrictions on abortion, contraception, and other women’s health procedures, up to and including attempting to propose a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion, contraception, and many other women’s health procedures
  • Repealing the federal Voting Rights Act, making it easier for states to implement voter suppression schemes
  • Repealing the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, allowing many forms of racial discrimination
  • Eliminating Pell grants and other programs that help people pay for college, making it harder for young people to go to college
  • Completely repealing the Affordable Care Act, taking away health insurance from millions of Americans who were recently uninsured
  • Eliminating regulations on banks and other financial institutions, making it easier for them to engage in risky practices that were the primary cause of the Great Recession
  • Allowing mining and drilling in National Parks and other federally-protected lands, destroying the value of our country’s natural wonders and hurting the tourism industry
  • Handing out tax cuts and other tax breaks to wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests, resulting in a bigger federal budget deficit and national debt (if not implementing a full-blown regressive taxation scheme by completely repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax, shifting the tax burden to poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans)
  • Completely repealing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs, leaving millions of seniors without a source of income and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance
  • Eliminating all federal campaign finance restrictions, making it even easier for wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests to buy federal elections and have an even bigger undue influence over federal politicians
  • Repealing the federal minimum wage, putting millions of working Americans into poverty and driving millions more into even deeper poverty
  • Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and federal environmental regulations, allowing corporations to pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink
  • Repealing federal laws mandating equal pay for equal work, allowing employers to discriminate against women by paying men more than women

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the right-wing legislation that a fully Republican-controlled Congress could pass. Don’t think for one second that people like Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins would oppose some or most of the far-right agenda just because they represent states/constituencies that usually vote for Democratic presidential candidates. The Ted Cruz-types in the Republican Party are going to demand that they pass as much far-right legislation as possible, and the so-called “moderates” in the GOP would go along with them every time and rubber stamp everything they do.

Should Republicans win control of the Senate, they will be hell bent on turning America into a third-world country. The only thing that would stop them from doing is President Barack Obama, who would likely veto nearly everything the Republicans pass. If you don’t want Republicans passing a destructive far-right agenda, go vote against the Republican bastards on November 4.