Tag: speech

Donald Trump: The ultimate anti-globalization hypocrite

As I write this blog post, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is, with the aid of a teleprompter, giving a major speech outlining his anti-globalization views and his economic agenda.

While Trump talks a big game about how globalization is a threat to America, and the truth of the matter is that globalization is a threat to America, Trump is a total hypocrite when it comes to globalization. Here’s one example of Trump’s anti-globalization hypocrisy:

Donald Trump blasts companies like Ford and Apple for manufacturing products outside the United States. He even threatened to stop eating Oreo cookies after he learned some production was moving to Mexico.

But Trump does the same thing. Many of his products are made outside the United States. Most Donald J. Trump ties are made in China. Some Donald J. Trump suits are also made in China.

Donald J. Trump signature men’s dress shirts are made in China, Bangladesh or “imported,” meaning they were made abroad.

Yes, you read that correctly…Donald Trump, who gained political fame by railing against countries like China and Mexico stealing U.S. manufacturing jobs, has his name emblazoned on clothing manufactured in countries like China and Bangladesh!

Donald Trump isn’t the solution to America’s globalization problem. He’s part of the problem, and he’s a total hypocrite about it.

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Illinois needs an income tax increase

Yesterday, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner stood inside the Illinois State Capitol and falsely accused Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly of holding public education hostage for being unable to pass a state budget against Rauner’s veto threats.

The truth of the matter is that Rauner is the one holding Illinois hostage.

Bruce Rauner has repeatedly refused to support raising Illinois’s income tax in order to pay for essential and important state government services, such as transportation and public education. Instead, Rauner has repeatedly demanded so-called “reforms” designed to drive down the wages of working Illinoisans in exchange for a state budget. That is hostage politics.

The truth of the matter is that Illinois needs an income tax increase, as well as eliminating corporate tax breaks and loopholes, plus cuts in wasteful spending like corporate welfare, to put the state back on a path to fiscal responsibility. Bruce Rauner just doesn’t get it.

Joe Biden goes to Switzerland to smear Bernie Sanders

Speaking before a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (basically an international meeting of the wealthy elite), Vice President Joe Biden slammed socialism in a speech:

Vice President Joe Biden disparaged socialism while addressing the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday, as his own political party finds itself with a self-described “democratic socialist” leading in some state polls.

“We need — not just in my country, but in other countries — a more progressive tax code. Not confiscatory policy, not socialism, a tax code,” Biden said. “Everybody pays proportionally a fair share. This is not meant to penalize everybody.”

While the vice president has denied any kind of implicit attack on Bernie Sanders, that was clearly a tongue-in-cheek diss of Bernie, whether the vice president wants to admit it or not. Quite frankly, I welcome the absurd red-baiting attacks against Bernie, since they know that Bernie isn’t beholden to the failed Obama-Clinton establishment or big-money special interests, and that Bernie is a serious threat to win the presidency.

I’m not a socialist myself, but I strongly believe that Bernie has some great ideas to make America a better place to live, such as universal health care, guaranteed paid leave, and free public college, among many others.

Vice President Biden is so scared of Bernie, he has to go to Switzerland to attack him!

Right-wing extremists are the biggest threat to America

It’s become inherently clear to me that right-wing extremists are the biggest threat to America today.

Last night, President Barack Obama gave a rare speech from the Oval Office about ISIS, national security, gun control, and the recent San Bernardino shooting. In his speech, Obama said that letting the right define America’s fight against ISIS and other Islamic fundamentalist terror groups as a fight between America and Islam is exactly what ISIS wants. He’s right.

Republicans running for president, such as Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, as well as Republican elected officials and right-wing blowhards, support launching a full-scale war against ISIS, spying on American Muslims, and other extreme measures. The truth of the matter is that those type of measures would do little more than play into the ISIS narrative that America is at war with Islam, thus emboldening ISIS and leading to U.S. involvement in yet another long, drawn-out war in the Middle East. Furthermore, Republican and NRA opposition to efforts to ban those on U.S. no-fly lists encourages terrorists to buy guns in order to carry out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

It’s not Islamic fundamentalists that pose the biggest threat to America today. It’s our own country’s right-wing extremists, who want to aid and abet ISIS and other similar terror groups.

Republicans and corporate media launch racist attack against Wisconsin Democratic Chair Martha Laning for having occassionally interesting personality

Daniel Bice, a “watchdog” columnist for the far-right Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote this racist hit piece attacking Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Chairwoman Martha Laning, who is a white woman from near Sheboygan, for trying to emulate the accent of DPW First Vice-Chairman David Bowen, who is a black man from Milwaukee. Laning’s remarks were recorded by a right-wing tracker at a local Democratic Party meeting in Door County, Wisconsin earlier this year.

Laning was trying to do a half-ass impression of Bowen’s accent at a Door County (WI) Democratic Party meeting while talking about her attendance at a President Obama event in La Crosse earlier this year, and Bowen was not offended by it at all, saying that “there is nothing wrong about our Democratic Party embracing diversity.” If Bowen isn’t offended by Laning trying to do a half-ass emulation of his accent, then I’m not offended by it.

Apparently, having an occasionally quirky personality is a political crime in the eyes of Wisconsin Republicans. I don’t have a problem at all with politicians having interesting or occasionally interesting personalities, in fact, I’m more likely to personally like a politician whose personality is quirky or occasionally quirky than a politician with a very boring personality. Given that Tommy Thompson, a longtime Wisconsin Republican politician who was elected four times to the governor’s mansion, was notorious for having an unusual personality, I find it hypocritical that Wisconsin Republicans would bash Laning for having a quirky personality.

Although I endorsed Laning in the DPW Chair’s race earlier this year, let me make it clear that I’ve not been impressed by Laning’s performance as chair. Since Laning was elected to be the head of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, she’s tried to sabotage Russ Feingold’s U.S. Senate campaign with controversial remarks about his last name, and she’s a staunch supporter of Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. However, Laning has been somewhat better as chair than, for example, how Jason Rae, who got the second-most votes in the DPW Chair’s race earlier this year, would have been as chair had he been elected. As noted by an unnamed person who posts under the Data, Facts, and Logic moniker at Cognitive Dissidence, Rae once tried to claim that he understood the challenges that black people in Wisconsin face because he’s a gay white guy while speaking to a predominantly-black audience during his campaign.

The bottom line is that this attack by Republicans and the corporate media against Martha Laning for having an occasionally quirky personality is racist and absolutely disgusting. I believe that Daniel Bice, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and the Republican Party of Wisconsin owe Martha Laning, David Bowen, and the people of Wisconsin an apology.

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.

The Metro-East doesn’t like Bruce Rauner’s destructive political agenda

The people of Belleville, Illinois, located in the heart of St. Clair County in the Metro-East region of Illinois (the Illinois portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area), are certainly no fans of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s destructive political agenda.

Rauner held a campaign event made an appearance in Belleville to promote his agenda of screwing hard-working Illinoisans over by, among other things, repealing our state’s prevailing wage law, making it harder for people to sue businesses that wronged them, and cutting funding to government services that many Illinoisans rely on. This drew many hard-working Illinoisans to Rauner’s event in Belleville, where they protested him and his destructive agenda.

Rauner has made it clear that he is willing to hold our state’s budget hostage and buy off politicians to get his way. Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly need to hold firm against Rauner’s agenda by not caving to Rauner’s demands. Illinoisans from every corner of this state are waking up and realizing how terrible the Rauner agenda would be for themselves and their fellow Illinoisans.

Mike Huckabee spews anti-transgender bigotry and brags about wanting to creep out showering girls

As reported by Vox’s German Lopez, the far-right website World Net Daily uncovered controversial remarks by Former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, in which Huckabee spewed anti-transgender bigotry and bragged about wanting to creep out showering girls:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee perpetuated one of the most pervasive myths about transgender people at a convention earlier this year, suggesting that men can abuse trans-friendly laws for voyeurism in women’s bathrooms.

“Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE,” Huckabee said in a video resurfaced on YouTube over the weekend by World Net Daily, according to a report by BuzzFeed’s Megan Apper and Andrew Kaczynski. “I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.'”

Regardless of whether or not Huckabee was joking, I did not find what Huckabee said one bit funny.

First off, Huckabee repeated a common canard that bigots will use to oppose equal rights for transgender people. They believe enacting laws and ordinances prohibiting discrimination against transgender people would lead to men claiming to be women so that they can creep out, or even sexually assault, women in women’s public bathrooms. That’s an absolutely false claim, as, in states where transgender people enjoy legally-protected rights, there has been not one documented instance of sexual assault or voyeurism that has been attributed to laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people.

Secondly, for Huckabee to claim that he wanted to claim that he’s a woman in order to creep out girls showering in a high school locker room is absolutely disgusting. Huckabee is, in effect, condoning bathroom voyeurism by men against women, which is flatly inappropriate. Huckabee shouldn’t be anywhere near the White House with that kind of attitude towards girls and women.

Oh, by the way, I strongly encourage people to read this article about how to talk about transgender people properly.

The Progressive Response to the State of the State of Illinois Address

Earlier today, Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of our state that we instinctively know as Illinois, outlined his plan to drive down wages, infringe on the rights of Illinois workers, and destroy an already weak Illinois economy.

Prior to giving his State of the State address, Rauner went around the state using PowerPoint slides to publicly bash our state’s public employees, whine about public employees being, in his view, overpaid, spread lies about worker’s rights and public employee pay, and blame public employees for our state’s fiscal problems. Additionally, it was reported yesterday that Rauner strongly hinted that he wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights for our state’s public employees. Given that Rauner has given his top administration officials pay raises and appointed a $100,000/year chief of staff to his wife despite the fact that his wife has no official duties whatsoever, for Rauner to give his cronies pay raises while wanting to drive down public employee salaries is blatantly hypocritical.

In his State of the State address, Rauner called for gutting our state’s workers’ compensation system, lowering property taxes while our state and local governments have billions of dollars in unpaid bills, allowing local governments and/or voters to bust unions at the local level, prohibiting project labor agreements, eliminating prevailing wage laws, and privatizing public education to benefit his political cronies. Rauner did have a few good ideas that he talked about in his address to the people of Illinois, such as banning trial lawyer donations to judicial campaigns, merging the offices of state comptroller and state treasurer, and increasing funding for early childhood education.

While there is no disputing the fact that our state is in a fiscal mess for a large number of reasons, the primary reason why our state is in such a fiscal mess is because the wealthiest Illinoisans, such as Rauner himself, don’t pay enough state income taxes thanks to an ridiculous provision in the Illinois Constitution that prohibits the General Assembly from passing legislation to tax the incomes of wealthier Illinoisans at a higher rate than the incomes of poorer Illinoisans. The flat tax requirement in the Illinois Constitution prohibits our state from raising the revenues that would be needed to pay off our state’s unpaid bills and put our state on solid financial footing. I would strongly support a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution to allow the General Assembly to levy a progressive state income tax in order to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Illinoisans, cut income taxes for the poorest Illinoisans, and put our state’s finances back on track. Additionally, I would strongly support eliminating all tax breaks for businesses, such as the ridiculous tax break that Sears and CME Group received a few years ago, as this would also bring in more revenue to the state that can be used to pay off unpaid bills.

Regarding public employee pensions, another reason why our state is in a fiscal mess, I would strongly support a pension reform proposal that would phase out the current public employee pension systems in our state, but still allow public employees who have paid into the current pension systems to still receive the benefits they’ve earned once they retire, and require all new state and local elected officials, appointed officials, and hired public employees who receive a full-time salary but had not previously paid anything into the current public employee pension systems in our state to pay into a newly-created public employee pension system that is designed to be fully-funded and provide our state’s future elected officials, political appointees, and public employees with a steady retirement income once they retire. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose any pension reform proposal that cuts benefits for those who have currently paid into the pension systems, creates a 401(k) system for public employees, and/or turns an existing pension system into a 401(k) system.

Regarding cutting spending, I would support an audit of the entire state government and every single county, township, city, town, village, and other type of local government entity in our state in order to find actual wasteful spending and propose common-sense solutions to cut actual wasteful spending and help save the state money in both the short term and the long term. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose cuts to public education, social services, and other government services that reduce the quality of service by our state and local government agencies.

Regarding strengthening our state’s economy, I strongly support raising the state minimum wage here in Illinois to $15/hour and indexing automatic, annual minimum wage increases to productivity. Additionally, I strongly support creating a North Dakota-style economic development bank here in Illinois to issue and/our guarantee loans to factories, farms, small businesses, and other types of businesses that have to be repaid in full with interest. These two proposals would lift thousands of Illinoisans out of poverty, establish a minimum wage that values work, and help entrepreneurs start up new businesses and create jobs without pocketing government benefits to simply pad profits. Busting unions and driving down wages is something I strongly oppose because those policies would do absolutely nothing to strengthen our state’s economy or empower Illinoisans.

Regarding campaign finance, ethics, and government reform, while a federal constitutional amendment to repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped Rauner and his cronies buy the last gubernatorial election would be required to allow Illinois to enact meaningful campaign finance reform, I strongly support eliminating the conflicts of interest that are currently allowed by our state’s campaign finance system, such as a couple of conflicts of interest that Rauner mentioned, prohibiting unions from donating to candidates for public office that they’d have to collectively bargain with if said candidates are elected and prohibiting trial lawyers from donating to judicial candidates, and one that Rauner did not mention because he’s effectively opposed to it, prohibiting business owners and managers from donating to candidates for public office that could use the public office in question to directly benefit said business owners and managers if elected. Additionally, I would support setting the maximum campaign contribution for a statewide office here in Illinois at $250 and enacting even lower limits for state legislative and local offices. Additionally, I strongly support implementing a pair of public campaign finance systems, one for judicial elections and one for other non-federal elections. The judicial public campaign finance system would prohibit judicial candidates from receiving campaign contributions from other people and/or funding their own campaigns, require that all judicial candidates receive a set amount of campaign funds from the state, and require that judicial candidates receive the same amount of campaign funds from the state that their opponents receive. The public campaign finance system for other offices would allow candidates for those offices to receive $4 of state funding for every $1 they receive in contributions and/or self-fund their campaigns with. Additionally, I would support enacting what I like to call the Bruce Rauner Rule, which would outright prohibit candidates for statewide office here in Illinois from donating or loaning more than $100,000 of their own wealth to their campaign, and set even lower self-funding limits for other offices. On term limits, I would support limiting the offices of governor and lieutenant governor to one elected term, limiting the other state executive offices to two elected terms, limiting state senators to five elected terms, and limiting state representatives to eight elected terms, and anything stricter than that would receive my opposition. Some other government reform ideas I support include allowing Illinois voters to recall all non-federal elected officials, converting the Illinois General Assembly into an unicameral legislature with at least 177 members via a state constitutional amendment, and amending the Illinois Constitution to establish a truly non-partisan redistricting process for congressional and state legislative districts.

Regarding reforming the criminal justice system, I strongly support legalizing, taxing, and regulating recreational marijuana, which would reduce the incarceration rate in our state and provide our state with much-needed tax revenue. Additionally, I’m open to various ideas to reform the criminal justice system in order to make our prison system more about rehabilitating convicted criminals instead of simply punishing them and make our criminal justice system more fair. For example, one idea that I strongly support would be requiring independent investigations of deaths that occur in the hands of state and local police here in Illinois.

Regarding education, I strongly oppose implementing school voucher programs here in Illinois, expanding charter schools, or any other school privatization scheme. I strongly support repealing Common Core State Standards and replacing them well-rounded, developmentally appropriate K-12 academic standards developed by the state and are held accountable by measures other than assessments and standardized tests. Additionally, I strongly support getting rid of the emphasis on career preparation in K-12 education, since I believe that career preparation should be the responsibility of higher education institutions, not the K-12 system. Also, I strongly support increasing funding for public schools in our state and making our state’s K-12 school funding system fairer to poorer school districts.

Illinoisans are worth more than speeches, political buzzwords, and PowerPoint presentations about driving down wages, busting unions, and making our state’s economy even weaker than it currently is, and Illinoisans are certainly worth more than Bruce Rauner’s far-right policies to drive down wages, bust unions, and destroy our state’s economy. It’s time for Illinoisans to push for progressive policies to protect workers’ rights, strengthen our state’s economy, put more money into the pockets of poor and working-class Illinoisans, provide a world-class education system for our state’s K-12 and college students, and provide for a more perfect Illinois.

FOX News defends President Obama and slams Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Netanyahu using Congress as a campaign prop

Two weeks before the Israeli Knesset (Israel’s unicameral national legislature) elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak before the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives after being invited to do so by House Speaker John Boehner.

Netanyahu using the U.S. House as a prop for his party (Likud) in its re-election efforts is viewed so unfavorably here in the United States, even FOX News, a right-wing propaganda cable channel that masquerades as a cable news channel, is defending President Barack Obama, who is usually hated by on-air and off-air figures at FOX News, and slamming Netanyahu, who is usually well-liked by on-air and off-air figures at FOX News. Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace, who both host shows that are either aired on FOX News or produced by FOX News for the over-the-air FOX Network, blasted Netanyahu for using our country’s Congress as a political prop, with Smith quoting former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk:

You can read more about the growing backlash against the scheduled Netanyahu congressional speech from unexpected places here and here.

Over his long political career, Benjamin Netanyahu has shown zero respect for American sovereignty and institutions. We are not going to be a puppet state for Netanyahu’s Israel, we are not going to let Netanyahu run roughshod over the American people, and, most importantly, I am calling for Democratic U.S. House members to turn their backs to Netanyahu if and when he speaks before the House, even if it means getting expelled from the House.