Thursday, May 31, 2018

Kids and jobs are reasons why the 2018 election is 'Code Red'

code red
n.
1. A condition of heightened alertness or preparedness, especially to guard against imminent danger.
2. A warning of or signal indicating imminent danger.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.)

The “iminent danger” is the possibility of two more years of Donald J. Trump as president king.

Thomas Friedman just hit the panic button in his New York Times op-ed Sounding Code Red: Electing the Trump Resistance.

With the primary season winding down and the midterms soon upon us, it’s time to point out that this election is not about what you may think it’s about. It is not a choice between the particular basket of policies offered by the candidates for House or Senate in your district or state — policies like gun control, right to choose, free trade or fiscal discipline. No, what this election is about is your first chance since 2016 to vote against Donald Trump.

As far as I am concerned, that’s the only choice on the ballot. It’s a choice between letting Trump retain control of all the key levers of political power for two more years, or not.

If I were writing the choice on a ballot, it would read: “Are you in favor of electing a majority of Democrats in the House and/or Senate to put a check on Trump’s power — when his own party demonstrably will not? Or are you in favor of shaking the dice for another two years of unfettered control of the House, the Senate and the White House by a man who wants to ignore Russia’s interference in our election; a man whose first thought every morning is, ‘What’s good for me, and can I get away with it?’; a man who shows no compunction about smearing any person or government institution that stands in his way; and a man who is backed by a party where the only members who’ll call him out are those retiring or dying?”

If your answer is the former, then it can only happen by voting for the Democrat in your local House or Senate race.

To Friedman, nothing else even comes close to getting Democrats elected to Congress in November.

Because what we’ve learned since 2016 is that the worst Democrat on the ballot for the House or Senate is preferable to the best Republican, because the best Republicans have consistently refused to take a moral stand against Trump’s undermining of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Civil Service, the basic norms of our public life and the integrity of our elections.

These Republicans have made the craven choice to stand with Trump as long as he delivers the policies they like on tax cuts, gun control, fossil fuels, abortion and immigration, even though many privately detest him.

It is up to the Democrats to say and do the opposite: To understand that as long as Trump is president, he’s unlikely to sign any legislation a Democratic majority in Congress would pass — but that’s not their job for the next two years. Their job is to protect America from Trump’s worst impulses.

Their job is to get hold of at least one lever of power — the House or the Senate — in order to oust the most corrupt Republican lawmakers who lead key committees, to properly oversee the most reckless cabinet secretaries, like Scott Pruitt, and to protect the F.B.I., the Justice Department and Robert Mueller from Trump’s intimidation.

Friedman is not exactly a raving liberal. He discloses his conservative side:

I don’t write this easily. On many non-social, non-environmental issues, I’m not a card-carrying Democrat. I favor free trade, fiscal discipline, pro-business regulations, a democracy-expanding foreign policy, and I have an aversion to identity politics.

But all of that is on hold for me now, because something more fundamental is at stake: It’s not what we do — it’s who we are, how we talk to one another, what we model to the world, how we respect our institutions and just how warped our society and government can get in only a few years from a president who lies every day, peddles conspiracy theories from the bully pulpit of the White House and dares to call our F.B.I. and Justice Department a “criminal deep state” for doing their job.

So that’s why I have only one thought for this election: Get power. Get a lever of power that can curb Trump. Run for the House or the Senate as a Democrat; register to vote as a Democrat; help someone else register to vote as a Democrat; send money to a Democrat; canvass for a Democrat; drive someone to the polls to vote for a Democrat.

Democrats are never going to win the news cycle from Trump. He’s an attention-grabbing genius. But they can, and must, out-organize him, out-run him, out-register him and out-vote him.

Nothing else matters now.

In the end, I don’t want to see Trump impeached, unless there is overwhelming evidence. I want to see, and I want the world to see, a majority of Americans vote to curtail his power for the next two years — not to push a specific agenda over his but because they want to protect America, its ideals and institutions, from him — until our next presidential election gives us a chance to end this cancer and to birth a new G.O.P. that promotes the best instincts of conservatives, not the worst, so Americans can again have two decent choices.

Again, this is Code Red: American democracy is truly threatened today — by the man sitting in the Oval Office and the lawmakers giving him a free pass.

Here is what Code Red means for you in this election. If you stay home because the Democratic candidate for US Senate is not progressive enough for you, then you cast a vote for Trump-enabler Martha McSally. If you stay home because your favored CD2 candidate did not win the primary, then you cast a vote for bankruptcy queen Lea Marquez-Peterson. If you vote “green” instead of Democratic, then you have wasted your vote and effectively cast your vote for Republicans who are aligned with Trump. We need to Dump Trump. Period. And that means defeating those who are now, or aspire to become, courtiers in thrall to Trump, the would-be king.

Now let me nominate the two reasons mentioned in my title.

Displaced workers need a “jobs guarantee”

Why? The AZBlueMeanie this morning posted about Economic disruption and a federal ‘jobs guarantee’. He did a very thorough job of laying out the possibilities and advantages and he chronicled previous attempts to pass such legislation and future prospects. You can read about all that but here I focus on the current rationale for doing something PDQ and point you to some possibilities being floated by Democratic lawmakers.

Hundreds of thousands, even millions, of workers are about to lose their jobs courtesy of automation. To be concrete, a few years ago several high-end restaurants were built on one of the concourses in the Minneapolis airport. At each seat there was installed the equivalent of a tablet that contained the entire menu and beverage listing. To place my order, I just made the selections as I would using an App on my iPad. After using the tablet to pay via credit card, my meal arrived promptly. No waiter. No waitress. Just the tablet. Multiply my experience by a hundred other diners and (swoosh!) there went a handful of wait-staff jobs.

The Blue Meanie reports on some of his discoveries.

In Indianapolis, about 338,000 people are at high risk of automation taking their jobs, according to a new report. In Phoenix, the number is 650,000. In both cases, that’s 35% of the workforce. In northeastern Ohio, about 40,000 workers are at high risk.

By the numbers in Indianapolis and Phoenix:

As a group, restaurant workers — food service workers, waiters and cooks will lose the most jobs, followed by retail sales people and cashiers. Their average salary is about $32,000 a year (compared with about $67,000 for 300 low-risk occupations).

Among those at highest risk: Cashiers have a 97% risk of losing their job to automation; and office workers like secretaries and administrative assistants at 96%. Food servers in Indianapolis are at 94%.

Among the lowest risk: Registered nurses have less than a 50% chance of being automated out of their job.

Women are disproportionately affected in both cities:

They are 58% of the workers in high-risk fields in Phoenix and 55% in Indianapolis.

They dominate the food and retail industries, office work and cashiers.

The Blue Meanie cites Matthew Yglesias at vox.com on possible solutions.

The idea, which exists in different forms, is that the government ought to accept responsibility for ensuring that everyone who wants to work can get a job — directly hired by the public sector if necessary.

The idea dates back at least to French socialist Louis Blanc’s mid–19th-century plan to establish “national workshops” to guarantee employment to the poor. Franklin Roosevelt in his 1944 State of the Union address spoke of establishing “the right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation,” and the concept is enshrined in the United Nations’ universal declaration of human rights. And now Democrats are increasingly talking about bringing the idea back.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) broadly endorsed the concept of government-sponsored jobs for all who need them in March, Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) unveiled a specific plan for a jobs guarantee pilot program last week, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who managed to get through an entire 2016 primary campaign full of ambitious policy proposals without a jobs guarantee, now says he’s preparing to unveil a plan for one soon.

The Blue Meanie concludes:

Economists at least are exploring ways to address the economic disruption of the information age. Our politicians need to begin to address these issues in a thoughtful and serious manner. Tariffs to protect romanticized old industries, or punishing the poor with work requirements in order to receive federal assistance when they have few prospects of gainful employment in some areas of the country are not thoughtful and serious answers. They are merely punitive.

Do you think that Trump and his aligned members of Congress will buy into massive intervention in the next two years? While Trumpists try to buck the long-term decline in coal, the workers are left with promises but no guarantees.

The horror of Trump’s immigration policies

Trump’s immigration policies are my nomination for the second reason why we must vote Democratic in order to Get Power. The Intercept published a report on the Hidden Horrors of “Zero Tolerance” - Mass Trials and Children Taken from Their Parents.

FEDERAL MAGISTRATE JUDGE Ronald G. Morgan is in his 60s, with a bright-pink face and a crisp, friendly manner — though lately he has been making disconcerting little mistakes in court. He has spent eight years on the bench in Brownsville, a small Texas city on the U.S.-Mexico border. Morgan knows how to run a court smoothly, but during a morning session I attended in early May, he announced that he’d just dealt with 35 defendants — all at one time — when the actual number was 40. And after the proceedings, he forgot to pronounce their guilt. Marshals had already led them out, so Morgan sheepishly had to call the 40 defendants back to the courtroom to correct his error. These days, he seems distracted and troubled.

That is understandable. In late April, magistrates’ courts in Brownsville suddenly turned into “zero tolerance” factories for criminalizing migrants, many of whom have no prior criminal record. Many are from murderously violent countries in Central America and have fled to the U.S. seeking asylum, and they often arrive with children in tow. It used to be rare to charge migrants seeking asylum with crimes. If they did so, they were put into detention with their children while they pursued their claims. Or they were released with supervision — along with their children. The best interests of the children were considered paramount, and those interests including keeping families together.

But now, in federal courts like Morgan’s, not only are parents are finding themselves charged with the crime of “illegal entry,” but the government is breaking up families, sending children to detention centers, often hundreds of miles from their mothers and fathers, or to distant foster homes.

Another parent who appeared in Morgan’s court was from a Central American country that provides no meaningful protection to women and children who are victims of homicidal domestic violence. She asked for her identity to be concealed, because she fears retaliation by the U.S. government. We will call her Delia. Before fleeing her country, she was for years beaten up, cut, assaulted with guns, and threatened with death by her partner. He also threatened to kill their young child. When she hid in another city, he found her and dragged her home.

Delia said she fled her country weeks ago and went on the road to Mexico, eventually crossing the Rio Grande with her child on an inner tube. She saw three Border Patrol agents watching her and floated in their direction, so she could turn herself in.

Delia said that when she arrived later that night at the hielera — the Border Patrol processing office — she told the officers that she and her child needed asylum. She described the beatings and assaults and death threats. “Oh, come on!” she said the officers snickered. “You and everyone else with that old story!”

“You’re going to be deported,” she remembers them telling her. “And your child will stay here.” The next morning, the child was taken. Delia fell on her knees during the removal, wailing and begging not to be separated. Officials looked on indifferently, she said, as her child screamed incessantly.

For more, you can read The Intercept report … and weep.

And, as far as reasons go, this is scratching the surface. Interference in the Russia investigation. Attacks on our law enforcement institutions. Corrupt business practices of the Trump dynasty. The intentional dismantling and destruction of essential government services. Actions against womens’ reproductive rights. It goes on and on and on.

Whoever makes it out of the primaries, if they are a Democrat you vote for them. Friedman is right. It’s the only way we are going to stop the clear and present danger to our democracy posed by King Trump and his GOPlins.

P. S.

This morning Bob Lord posted on The Democratic Dilemma in Blog for Arizona. What it takes to win elections as a Democrat makes hard-core progressives puke. In the short run, the argument goes, we pick up congressional seats. But in the long we compromise our progressive principles. I get that. For the clearest example of such a candidate I offer Kyrsten Sinema (AZ CD9 Rep. now running for US Senate) profiled by opensecrets.org.

Here is the heart of Lord’s case.

Should one of the two strategy camps prevail? I hope so, eventually. I’m a believer in the progressive approach. But I favor it not because I dismiss the old school approach entirely. Rather, I think the old school approach is beneficial only in the short-term. Yes, in any given election, it can work. But there’s a trade-off. If a progressive candidate runs and inspires a bunch of new voters, but loses, there’s still a lasting benefit. I was inspired at age 16 by George McGovern, and here I am, as an aging boomer, still progressive in my views. If an old school candidate runs and wins the votes of just enough “swing-voters” to eke out a win, far fewer new voters are inspired and the immediate benefit, an additional House or Senate seat, likely will be lost in the future.

And here is the essential question for 2018. Would you rather have Sinema or McSally in the Senate? One votes with Trump about half the time. The other votes with Trump close to all the time. You will get one of them. Choose.

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