Thursday, December 8, 2016

The On-Ramp Analogy

I was sitting in traffic not too long ago listening to talk radio when I thought of an analogy for the economy and why trickle-down economics just don't work.  I thought this analogy was simple to understand and relatable to everyone - especially those who have been stuck in traffic.

I call it "The On-Ramp Analogy."

Imagine the economy as a highway and all the cars are citizens going to work.  Everyone is moving at an even pace and things are running smoothly.

Some of the cars are impatient.  They contain business owners and they believe there is an incentive for them to get to work quicker then everyone else so that they can run their companies better and make more jobs. 

As the business owners changing lanes so they can speed up and get to the front of the on-ramp they cause a chain reaction.  All the cars behind them start hitting their brakes causing following traffic to come to a stop. 

As more and more business owners see the benefits of the on-ramp incentive they all begin to change lanes.  This not only causes delays in their original on-ramp lane but as they change lanes it causes oncoming traffic to also slow or stop, the end result being that once smoothly running highway is now a see of gridlocked cars. 

The bosses made it to work on time.  They even had extra time to spare and picked up breakfast or coffee for their friends.  As for those who were in traffic, they were blamed for the business' performance as well as their own tardiness...

It's that simple.

Next time you are in traffic and you are sitting at an on-ramp pay close attention.  You may notice that it seems cars are moving at a decent pace at the front of the line.  Not too fast but not too slow.

Then take a look down the line and the lanes beside it.  You may start to notice cars cutting in or getting out of line to move to a better spot.

Now look behind you.  Notice the standstill down the highway?

Congratulations.  You just experienced trickle-down economics at the automotive level...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Donald Doesn't Know About Anti-Union Laws

Donald took to twitter to attack the United Steelworkers 1999 for not protecting jobs of Indiana workers.

He attacked their job representing workers and called for them to reduce dues.

"Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers," he wrote. "Reduce dues," he continued an hour later.

The problem with his tweets is not that the president-elect has nothing better to do with his time than attack individuals and organizations on Twitter but that he demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of, well, everything, but in this particular case he shows just how little he knows about organized labor and the laws that govern them, and in this situation that would be Indiana state law.

You see, Indiana is a "right-to-work" state.  While that phrase makes it sound like finding and keeping a job is a god-given right that all can enjoy in a nurturing environment, Trump's tweets actually highlight the problems with such laws.

"Terrible job representing workers?"

The Indiana law actually prohibits a union from mandating non-members pay fees to the union representing them, which leads to the second tweet - What does it matter if they reduce dues or not when the state legislature and supreme court prevents them from collecting from those they represent?  While it may make a nice soundbite and rally call it is laws like these that weaken unions and drive down wages, benefits, and living standards for all workers - those same workers that believed Trump was going to make America great again and bring back their jobs.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mike Pence Is Perhaps The Most Dangerous Vice Presidential Candidate Ever.

The headline says it.  Mike Pence is perhaps the most dangerous vice presidential candidate ever - even more so than Sarah Palin or Dick Cheney.  When Palin was selected as the GOP vice presidential candidate back in 2008 the "heartbeat away" argument was a very convincing argument.  She was clearly inept, as demonstrated by her speeches and interviews, governorship, and debate performance (anyone remember her claim that the Constitution provided the role of vice president with much "authority" and "flexibility," especially in regards to Congress?).  Thankfully she was corrected by Biden in that debate but it appears Republicans have seemed to ignore that little civic lesson offered by the now vice president of almost 8 years, Joe Biden:

Biden: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that. 
And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit. 
The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.  
Fast forward to 2016 and what we are seeing is a party that has rapidly degraded.  Both Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, and his running mate, Mike Pence advocate the suspension of the Constitution and the abandonment of international law and treaties.

For instance, Trump had stated in his first debate that stop-and-frisk was legal (despite being ruled unconstitutional) and that a "very against-police judge" was to blame, and that seemingly made the unconstitutional assertion "wrong."  Trump than continued to defend the illegal action and endorsed its continued use.

This is troubling, especially when coupled with things Pence said (or did not say) during the vice presidential debate.  Most importantly, look at his defense of stop-and-frisk, barring Syrian refugees, and last but not least, personal faith and abortion.

"You just heard Senator Kaine reject stop-and-frisk" Pence admonished, proceeding to try and paint Kaine as out-of-touch with "families that live in our inner cities that are besieged by crime," a hark back to Trump's assertion that Black and Hispanic inner city dwellers are "living in hell" and that by simply walking down the street you will get shot.

In regards to Syrian refugees, a matter that Pence has recently been batted down by federal courts (and by conservative Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush appointees nonetheless) because it utilized discrimination against a certain population because of "nightmare speculation", Pence insisted that he should have the authority to suspend a legal program unilaterally based solely on a hunch, despite the federal government having precedence over the matter. When Kaine stated that "Donald Trump said keep them out if they're Muslim" Pence interjected with an "absolutely false" despite this is perhaps one of the easiest lie to debunk.

This leads to the question regarding personal faith and governance (isn't lying a sin?), which Pence used to attack Clinton on abortion rights, defend the Hyde amendment, and gloss over the fact Donald Trump stated that women who have an abortion would receive "some form of punishment" by stating that Trump "is not a polished politician."  While he refuted the claim that punishment would be doled out, he left it as just a comment that was not clearly articulated by the presidential candidate.

Now take into consideration his acts as governor and a representative, such as signing a bill that mandates funerals for fetuses of miscarriages and abortion, a bill that bans abortions for genetic defects, grant money to organizations that lie about abortion to promote child birth, and redefine rape to prevent coverage

Just look at the "feticide" case of Purvi Patel in Indiana, where a woman was charged, convicted, and sentenced for a miscarriage because a religious doctor deemed her miscarriage a self-induced abortion, notifying police for her arrest while in the hospital.  While some of the charges were reduced or thrown out, there was remaining debate as to the validity of the state's assertions and use of discredited tests to prove child neglect against the fetus.

While a horrible situation, just take into consideration a combination of Trump and Pence's statements, in which they have asserted that their policies and beliefs are right and the actions they have taken (or promise to take) to enact such policies, even when such policies have already been deemed unconstitutional.

Discrimination against a particular religious or ethnic group?  Why not?  The FBI have stated there is no way of knowing if a refugee is really a terrorist.

Stop-and-frisk in predominantly minority inner-city communities?  Why not?  They believe it to work, even though it was already ruled unconstitutional.

Legislate religious beliefs? Absolutely!

And while we are at it, let's take a look at some of the fear-mongering Trump has used in his own performances, namely his strategy (or lack thereof) against ISIL.  As Kaine mentioned, "Donald Trump doesn't have a plan. He said, "I have a secret plan," and then he said, "Um, I know more than all the generals about ISIL." And then he said, "I'm going to call the generals to help me figure out a plan." And finally he said, "I'm going to fire all the generals."

Who does that remind you of?

Nixon had a "secret plan" to end Vietnam, much like Trump's "secret plan" against ISIL.  Does the contempt against politicians and journalists sound familiar?

So secret plans, outright lies, and a preference to ignore constitutionally established rights paints a pretty dangerous picture.  And since there were reports that Trump's son offered to make Kasich the "most powerful" vice president ever by giving him control over domestic and foreign policy, this basically makes Trump and Pence the most dangerous team out there to ever run to lead the United States of America.

And since this website had previously endorsed Bernie Sanders, let this serve as a warning to all the #BernieOrBust and #JillNotHill folks - Bernie is on board with Clinton for big reason - strategy.  You cannot advance a progressive agenda if you have a presidential candidate who will appoint at least one conservative supreme court justice (who will tilt the balance of the courts to the right for decades) and who will have an impact on our lives currently.  I have seen comments dismissing the impact one president or one justice can have, but just consider the countless legislative attacks Republicans have made against things ranging from campaign finance and voter identification and procedures to abortion.  While the courts did occasionally rule in favor of things like gay marriage or the government mandate for healthcare, that was by a slim margin.  They have thrown everything against the wall to see what sticks and considering that not only has there been the longest vacancy on the supreme court in history, but there are also countless judicial emergencies across this nation as Republicans obstruct nominations in hopes of a Trump win in November.  Prospects of the GOP retaining the Senate look good so if Trump and Pence are victorious, the Republicans will no doubt fill those judgeships with conservative judges, and I don't think they will be as restrained in regards to setting the Senate rules.     

So basically, do not be so ignorant and blinded by your ideology and hand Trump a victory.  You will screw yourself over in the long run, but than again, that is par for the course for Democrats and liberals.  Republicans know how to play the long game.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Clinton Campaign Colluding With State Parties

It has recently been uncovered by local newspapers that Colorado's state Democratic party miscounted caucus election results shorting Bernie Sanders delegates. This wasn't the real controversy though. What was alarming was that the state party alerted the Clinton campaign five weeks ago but not the Bernie Sanders campaign and neither came forward until confronted by journalists.

What makes this matter even more interesting was that similar events took place in Nevada during the state convention when members of the credentials committee were communicating with the Clinton campaign but not the Sanders campaign causing a revolt with both sides levying accusations of cheating with Clinton supporters attempting to trespass and arrest members who sought neutral workings within the party.

There is also reports of Clinton campaign or supporter misconduct involving the Iowa caucuses and the party's refusal to do a recount and Bill Clinton's disregard for electioneering laws and the establishment's blind eye towards his actions and you have a pattern of collusion between Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic party.

While some superdelegates and media outlets are waking up now that Trump is beginning to falter and Clinton's coronation does not appear to be as certain now, these actions are rather troublesome and probably do more to bolster Sanders' claims and invigorate his supporters than aNY speech the candidate may give. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Post-Democratic Debate Analysis - Bernie Stays On Message, Offers More Depth/Hillary Tries New Tactics

Thursday night saw the Democratic side hold their sixth debate, featuring former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  This was the second debate featuring just the two, as other contender Martin O'Malley dropped out of the race following his poor showing during Iowa's caucuses.  This debate featured a shift in tactics for Clinton.  Her previous attacks against Sanders proved unsuccessful in slowing his momentum.  In the past Clinton has framed herself as the defender of President Obama's legacy and attacked Sanders as being unrealistic, even levying such odd attacks as claiming he had a very pro-gun background and collected money from Wall Street (which by her own admission is not a bad thing).  Clinton had even brought out the surrogates with her daughter and husband going on the attack making claims like Bernie attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (which was categorically untrue).

Here are a few of the observations The Midnight Review has made from last night's debate:

"I think that the best analysis that I've seen based on Senator Sanders plans is that it would probably increase the size of the federal government by about 40%, but what is most concerning to me is that in looking at the plans -- let's take healthcare for example."

Clinton made the argument that Bernie Sanders' plans would increase the size of the federal government by about 40% but what exactly does that mean?  She claims every progressive economist believes his plan is bad but she fails to make mention of a single one.  Sanders doesn't either but he rarely name drops like his opponent but her claim is completely untrue.  Democratic socialist economist and professor Gerald Friedman, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, found median income would be $82,200 by 2026, far higher than the Congressional Budget Office's $59,300.  He had also predicted poverty would drop to a record low of 6% and the unemployment rate would fall to 3.8%.  

While other economists believe Friedman to be overly optimistic, there have been 170 top economists who recently backed Sanders' plan -a far cry of the zero Clinton claimed in her debate.  Sanders, instead of defending his policies should have at least mentioned this fact. 

There is also question about what exactly these supposed increases mean.  Is Clinton trying to say public sector employment would rise (thus contributing to lower unemployment numbers)?  Is she simply looking at the price tag?  

Clinton's attack is odd for another reason - it sounds as if the current Republican field drafted this response.  Clinton is worried about growing the government?  Not only that, Clinton has repeatedly stated in her responses that she shares the same goal as Bernie and would like to achieve these great progressive policies over time, so in actuality, when she attacks Bernie for trying to grow the government she is also calling her own policy positions into question.

"I can only say that we both share the goal of universal health care coverage. You know, before it was called Obamacare, it was called Hillarycare. And I took on the drug companies and I took on the insurance companies to try to get us universal health care coverage."

This point ties into the previous one - if she shares the same goals as Bernie, why is she attacking the costs associated with them?

Not only that, Clinton tries to tie Hillarycare to Obamacare by insisting they are the same thing.  She rolled out this rhetoric in recent weeks and it may make a great soundbite.  This line may be intended to try and sway Bernie's younger voters who are not familiar with Hillary's role in healthcare reform in the 90s into thinking that Hillary invented Obamacare but one would have to look at her actions after Hillarycare failed.  First of all, Hillarycare was not a predecessor of the president's plan.  His was more similar to policies pushed by conservative organization The Heritage Foundation and like Mitt Romney's plan he implemented in Massachussetts while her plan had gone farther, but it seems she has given up on the plan for universal health that she pushed even during her run for president in 2008 in exchange for incrementalism.  Her current approach capitulates to the idea that voters will remain apathetic and Republicans will still control a significant percentage of the government - hardly the kind of optimistic go-get'um rhetoric one would expect from the potential leader of the party.  

"You're referring to a Super PAC that we don't coordinate with, that was set up to support President Obama, that has now decided that they want to support me. They are the ones who should respond to any questions."

This response by Hillary was really cold and she quickly pivoted to ground currently held by Bernie Sanders.  She started touting her donations (which are still dwarfed by Sanders' by almost double).  

"I'm very proud of the fact that we have more than 750 thousand donors, and the vast majority of them are giving small contributions," Clinton said.

This is nothing when compared to his contributors but her defense still shows that she still has not come up with an effective response.  Similar to her flustered deflection of why Goldman Sachs paid her what they did for her speeches, Clinton wanted to throw this question away as soon as it was asked and placed all responsibility with that of the Super PAC and went on to do her Bernie Sanders impersonation as best as she could.

"I think that is the real key here. We both have a lot of small donors. I think that sets us apart from a lot of what's happening right now on the Republican side."

In her response she shifted focus to the Super PAC, pretended to be a person representing the people just like Bernie Sanders, and then directed people to look at Republicans, who she insinuates are the real benefactors of such organizations and billionaires. 

This ties into another point Clinton tried to make throughout the debate - she is the reason behind all of Obama's accomplishments.

"As we all remember, Senator Obama, when he ran against me, was against the war in Iraq. And yet when he won, he turned to me, trusting my judgment, my experience, to become secretary of state...

I think it's important to look at what the most important counterterrorism judgment of the first four years of the Obama administration was, and that was the very difficult decision as to whether or not to advise the president to go after bin Laden.

I looked at the evidence. I looked at the intelligence. I got the briefings. I recommended that the president go forward. It was a hard choice... I'm proud that I gave him that advice."  

This was obviously Clinton pushing back on the Sanders comments regarding the difference between experience and judgement and she delivered it with an all-familiar response - that she was behind a lot of the major policy achievements of the Obama administration, thus making her the standard bearer for his legacy and the one true choice to defend it from Republicans.  Just look at her comparing Hillarycare and Obamacare or taking credit for the Iran talks under current Secretary of State John Kerry ("I put together the coalition that imposed the sanctions on Iran that got us to the negotiating table to put a lid on their nuclear weapons program").

Overall, Clinton tried to not only tie her campaign to the president, who still remains popular within his own party, but she actually tried to take credit for many of his signature achievements.  

This ties in well with what was perhaps Sanders' best foreign policy comments to date - the Henry Kissinger exchange.

"You know, I listen to a wide variety of voices that have expertise in various areas. I think it is fair to say, whatever the complaints that you want to make about him are, that with respect to China, one of the most challenging relationships we have, his opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America. So if we want to pick and choose -- and I certainly do -- people I listen to, people I don't listen to, people I listen to for certain areas, then I think we have to be fair and look at the entire world, because it's a big, complicated world out there."

Clinton's response was very Donald Trump or Sarah Palin-like (think newspaper question).  She basically said that she listens to lots of people on lots of things because the world is very complicated.  This led to Bernie's triumphant history lesson in which he basically summed up his foreign policy reasoning by describing the actions and subsequent chain of events that stemmed from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger under President Richard Nixon, which drew parallels to the events that immediately followed the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the vote for war.  He also was able to tie in foreign policy to his central domestic policy message by pointing to the consequences of Kissinger's opening up of China.  

Some people may have thought Bernie's response was out-dated by referencing Kissinger and that this would go over his Millennial supporters' heads but as anyone could see, this reference would play well with the older supporters of Clinton while younger, more tech-savvy Bernie backers would easily research and understand the references made by Sanders (as is evidenced by the fact that "Kissinger" is now trending online).

"I certainly agree with FDR for all the reasons Senator Sanders said. And I agree about the role that he played both in war and in peace on the economy and defeating fascism around the world. I would choose Nelson Mandela for his generosity of heart, his understanding of the need for reconciliation."

This quote is especially interesting because it highlights Clinton's racial pandering.  While Bernie gave thoughtful responses, Clinton responded with a "What he said" and added a "Nelson Mandela," but she didn't elaborate, instead giving some generic mention of generosity and forgiveness.  Never mind the fact that Mandela, like Bernie Sanders, was a democratic socialist, Clinton's campaign has been full of race cards designed to help her out in the upcoming South Carolina primary.  This may be why she has consistently brought up the water crisis in Flint, Michigan seemingly out of nowhere and why her campaign has seemed to try and minimize their tie in Iowa and loss in New Hampshire (and potential loss in Nevada) by throwing out racial statistics like claiming "it's still a state that is 80 percent white voters."  This line is designed to paint Bernie as the white people's candidate and Clinton as the candidate for all.

And here is perhaps the most telling quote about what a Clinton presidency might be:

"You don't go tell Muslim nations you want them to be part of a coalition when you have a leading candidate for president of the United States who insults their religion."

Hillary Clinton will have a term of inaction because of Republican opposition, and to think she could get anything done with a congress that has held more hearings on a manufactured controversy like Benghazi (which centers around their belief Clinton ordered the special forces to stand down so that four American embassy workers and diplomats could be killed by terrorists) is just laughable.  Clinton says in this quote that she would not even engage the Middle East so long as Republicans continue with their anti-Islamic rhetoric, and since she has already conceded that if she wins the presidency Democrats will still be relegated to a minority party in both chambers of congress, she acknowledges that her only achievement would be being the first female president of the United States.  Her incremental approach sounds great when debating someone like Bernie Sanders but had Obama assumed the presidency with such an approach, healthcare reform probably would have never happened, as well as any of Obama's other signature achievements - the same ones Clinton is now taking credit for.

Basically, Clinton, while very experienced, intelligent, and hard working, is no visionary, and her current strategy on achieving progressive goals using an incremental method would just lead to a strengthening of the conservatives on the right, much like what we witnessed during the 90s.

Bernie on the other hand stayed on message, expanding on his overall message and definitely showed his policy chops by attacking Clinton's judgement by referencing the actions of Henry Kissinger.  He still needs to work on his rebuttals.  While Clinton has surely done hours of debate prep combing through Bernie's record and testing lines of attack, Bernie typically pivots to his overall narrative of income inequality and class struggle.  He could add a little more teeth to his performances if he went after Clinton, like that time Clinton said she would not be influenced by money, opening the door for Bernie to reference that time she flip-flopped on that bankruptcy bill. 

Clinton always performs well but seems to be trying to find a line of attack that works.  Her speaking style has also fluctuated, ranging from compassionate to forced outrage.  She is essentially rolling the dice each time she speaks hoping to find a winner.  Bernie is consistent.  Sometimes too consistent, but always on point.