Next Democratic Nominee For President Needs to Be a Mayor

Posted on November 16, 2016

Here are a couple to quick steps to return the Democratic Party to power. First put the Electoral College out of business through the already partially passed interstate compact. Secondly, we need to work on the Gerrymandering that dilutes the power of urban voters.

It’s a simple fact that in the last election according to political theorist Benjamin Barber:

there is still one major institution they overwhelmingly control: cities. Of the 20 biggest US cities, only Fort Worth (Texas), San Diego (California), and Jacksonville (Florida) have Republican mayors. Across the whole US, the more densely inhabited the area was in the 2016 presidential election, the more likely it was to vote Democrat.

What’s more, Barber goes on to say:

“the one institution today that still works, where government functions, where trust levels are double the levels of other institutions,”

He makes a compelling case in his book, If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.

If Democratic politics is centered in the Polis, maybe it’s time we need a re-think of all party institutions and re-center the focus there.

How different would things have been if Sec. Clinton had focused on the the economy and needs of our cities? How different can it be going forward if we look to America’s mayors and actually find the best of the best to run in 2016?

Mayor of San Antonio, Ivy Taylor

Mayor of San Antonio, Ivy Taylor

New Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner

New Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner

Mayor of New York, Bill di Blasio

Mayor of New York, Bill di Blasio

The Democratic Establishment Has Failed: No, We Don’t Have to Cooperate

Posted on November 10, 2016

Democracy does not demand that you cooperate with the victor, especially when the victor wins through a negative feedback loop of racism, misogyny and xenophobia powered by the mainstream media and the Clinton team’s own tactics. In fact Democracy demands we resist anti-democratic, authoritarian, and fascist impulses of the incoming regime. Democracy demands we dismantle the archaic electoral college that has thwarted the people’s will and erased their votes 40% of the time in the 21st century.

Democracy and the Democratic demands that we don’t become Vichy Democrats.

How Clinton’s Own Negative Ads and No Focused Positive Message Sunk the Clinton Campaign

Posted on November 10, 2016

We kept hearing it every day, Michelle Obama’s refrain from her DNC Speech where she said, “When they go low, we go high.” Unfortunately for the country that refrain was never really true. When the history written about the election of 2016 it will be the salient fact that Hillary Clinton’s campaign spent an overwhelming percentage of their resources trying to define Trump’s character through negative ads.

The ads in and of themselves were not bad. If anything, they were highly effective… trained targeted and polled precisely. The campaign was clearly able to define Trump as unfit for the presidency. What the Clinton campaign should have known and anticipate were the coordinated efforts by the Trump campaign, the RNC, and various PACs to depress voter turnout among key democratic demographics. The only way Trump could eke out a victory was to depress the democratic vote and vastly raise the red vote out of rural America. Trump and co. can pat themselves on the back for mission accomplished. At the end of the day fewer Americans voted in any election since 2004 and 2000. Something like 45.6% of all registered voters sat it out. The question is, why. The Trump campaign’s operation was only part of keeping the turnout low. The other support came from the Clinton campaign itself.

Even if true, week after week of negative message caused a large part of the electorate to disengage. Hacking and FBI meddling magnified the negativity even further. However, at the end of the day, it was the hundreds of millions that were spent on anti-Trump ads that did in the Clinton campaign. Extra noise in a cacophonous and poisonous environment drove voters away. This left the hardened-core of each party to vote and those who were voting who basically didn’t give a damn about Trump’s character.

But why, in the end, didn’t Trump’s character matter to them? His clear focus on core issues kept them aboard no matter what.

The Clinton campaign learned absolutely no lessons from Bernie Sanders and his supporters. They had a platform and policies that were Progressive, but little else. A prime example was her VP choice. In the end, it was absolutely clear Kaine gave Clinton no boost at all. Hell, she even came close to losing his home state of Virginia. He served only as an empty vessel for whatever her campaign poured in. While not a bad human being, he added nothing to the ticket. She missed a huge opportunity in that choice to send a message to the party base about the core issues that she supports. There were plenty of popular progressive (hell, would even Sanders have said, no?) What her team never did was distill those issues such as income inequality, healthcare, equal rights, civil rights, and education into a clear focused message (not just pages and policyspeak). Her team did not understand the difference between policy on paper, or a website and a message. Check my website is not a message. Meanwhile Trump was busy projecting core message (not policy specifics), Clinton was attacking character almost exclusively and rarely even talked about policy, never delivering a forceful progressive agenda.

The Clinton campaign helped suppress the vote. Time to own it and learn the lesson. The message is absolutely and always as important as the messenger.


Things Lost in the Trump Fire

Posted on November 09, 2016

As a guide to my friends and family, I am have compiled a list of things lost in the 2016 election. Feel free to add to the horror in your own mind. This list is only complete as my sleep deprived mind can manage at the moment.

1. Supreme Court for a Generation (20-25yrs. folks).
2. Affordable Care Act- gone in the few months and replaced with TrumpNoCare. Try to make those payments now! Oh, that’s if you can even get insurance due to pre-existing conditions.
3. Social Security- they can do anything they want to this folks…
4. Medicare- ditto, anything they want… even eliminate.
5. Right to Choose- banned, or partially banned by throwing it back to the States.
6. Civil Rights- Voting Rights Act was already gutted. If you are a minority in America, you have just been rendered a second-class citizen again. We are about to erase the legal progress back to about 1960.
7. LGBT rights- going, going, gone.
8. Civil Liberties- Trump already talked about gutting the 1st Amendment. 4th Amendment has been under assault already for a generation. The 2nd only exists for these people.
9. Economy- remember the last time there was significant protectionism and tariffs in this country? It’s a good thing you don’t because it was prelude to the crash in 1929.
10. Foreign Affairs- Well Raytheon and the Defense contractors will be booming. I guess we can all apply there once the economy tanks.
11. College Financial Aid- loans and grants gutted, hello tax credits (which will do no good if you are poor).
12. Immigration- Illegals removed starting with those currently in detention. Executive orders will be reversed. Border militarized… hundreds of thousands of families with US citizen children will be torn apart full stop.
13. Global Warming Crisis- What crisis! Drill baby, drill…

This is the list if everything goes nicely. Not only that, Trump and the Republicans will work to push through this agenda immediately. Refer back to the kitchen sink approach used by George W. Bush ca. 2001 on… An everything all the time approach leaves a fractured opposition to any single component of their project. Trump and many of his people are authoritarians… even fascists. That’s the scariest part the main stream media never talked about. Welcome to America’s first authoritarian regime. The resistance starts today.


In Memoriam

Posted on July 08, 2016

This is for those officers who gave their lives protecting people and the people’s right to peacefully assemble in the City of Dallas. Love will always defeat violence in the end. Police are not the enemy, racism is… Police are very often under-paid, over-worked and work constantly under the stress of possible gun violence.

Racism and guns… racism and guns… how many times do we have to learn that lesson in blood?

Words Have Weight

Posted on March 10, 2016

Here I am sitting in my office heading into yet another Spring Break thinking about how I can explain to my students that words have weight, have importance, have gravity…

I met Habiba when she was a young student with the American University of Sharjah.  At the time, I was teaching writing and served as a faculty advisor for the student newspaper.  As a communications major focusing on journalism, Habiba was very interested in learning the basics of her craft.  However, it wasn’t just that.  She took to heart the things we read about democracy, civil society,  and globalization.  Eventually, she made her way to Editor of the student newspaper, where she continued to find her voice and first began putting words into practice.  After graduation, like so many students, she took job with a local newspaper in Dubai, the Gulf News.  When the Arab Spring hit Egypt hard in 2012, Habiba became more and more swept up in events back in her home country and she returned to her home country to join and report about the ongoing protests.  She was killed in the Rabba massacre during the Egyptian military overthrow of President Morsi.

Another Spring has come and when I see the flowers blooming, I also think of Habiba’s smile.  That flower was always there on her face.  She was just one of those people.  So, when you stop and think of words (of writing), remember their importance.  Just remember, words can carry the weight of freedom written large across a smiling Spring sky.


Where is Kenya’s Potholes and Police Candidate?

Posted on February 20, 2013

As it appears that I will be hanging out in Kenya during the elections, I have decided to begin a series of posts with my thoughts on and ideas about what is going-on during this year’s Presidential elections.

One thing I have discovered recently is just how long-running Kenya’s big issues are.  I am currently finishing reading the book Lost Lion of Empire by Edward Paice.   The book tells the improbable story of one of the British pioneers of Kenya, Ewart Grogan.  While his story is fascinating, the biggest things that struck me are how the problems of Colonial period are still the biggest problems in Kenya today:

  • ineffective, if not incompetent governance
  • corruption at all levels
  • ongoing fighting over the unequal distribution of land and resources
  • the politics of ethnic division
  • lack of proper policing and security

All of the above problems only served to concentrate even more power in the hands of the elites during the Colonial period– a fact that Grogan took advantage off.  Today, it is still the wealthy and political classes that take advantage of those factors.

Today, when I look at all the candidates, all all see are huge (largely meaningless manifestos) replete with images of high-speed trains and skyscrapers.  With the word JOBS written all over the country in BOLD print, you have to be sure that somewhere on election day there will be some poor soul on election day that gets to the ballot and asks, “Where is JOBS? I don’t see his name here on the ballot.”  And you know what, that simple person will actually be right.  The programs on offer only serve to reinforce those key problems that have plagued Kenya.

That’s the negative.  What I see (hey, we Americans are optimists) is that there is a huge opening for someone who can offer real-world solutions… not pie in the sky.

What am I talking about?  It’s quite simple… begin with things that are doable.  I think there is a huge opening for a candidate who can forcefully layout a clear plan to do some easy things that would make a huge difference.  As a modest proposal, just let me present two.

  1. Clean-up Kenya’s roads.  Eliminate potholes and insure that proper infrastructure is in-place for Kenya’s transportation needs.  The economic (and even job) knock-on effects will be profound and long-lasting.  The President that eliminates Kenya’s potholes and traffic jams will become a hero!
  2. Fix the police and security.  It’s not rocket science.  Hire the right people and the right amount for the size of the population.  This also includes being active, if not proactive when a crisis occurs like the Tana Delta.  Where has Kibaki and the military been on this issue?  AWOL mostly… severe threats to law and order have to be met with police and military force in a decisive manner.  For example, why hasn’t there been a declaration and enforcement of martial law in the Tana region.  Security threats to the state should not be swept under the table.  While the Tana conflict IS about resources, it is also about a rise of religious extremism and  separatism in Kenya’s coastal communities.  Facts like those cannot be ignored and those people posing direct threats to the state need to face the consequences of their actions.

Fixing just those two things will bring a big boost to Kenya’s economy and whoever pursues such a policy would easily win a second term.

Why am I sure it will never happen?  The people who benefit are the people of the country, not the elites… there you go.


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In Europe, Banks Get Bailed Out and Countries Get Austerity

Posted on May 22, 2012

While everyone’s attention was elsewhere, last Fall EU members bailed-out Dexia bank. This bank, on paper, is worth more than the GDP of Greece. Apparently, that makes it somehow more deserving. For Dexia, it is business as usual and billions of Euros to stay afloat (this is in addition to what the bank received in the 2008 bailouts):

The bailout plan for Dexia came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed Europe’s crisis-hit banks needed to be recapitalised.

Dexia also secured state guarantees of up to 90bn euros to secure borrowing over the next 10 years. Belgium will provide 60.5% of these guarantees, France 36.5% and Luxembourg 3%, the bank said in a statement…

Meanwhile, Greece was being forced into austerity:

Euro zone finance ministers agreed a 130-billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue for Greece on Tuesday to avert an imminent chaotic default after forcing Athens to commit to unpopular cuts and private bondholders to take bigger losses.

The complex deal wrought in overnight negotiations buys time to stabilize the 17-nation currency bloc and strengthen its financial firewalls, but it leaves deep doubts about Greece’s ability to recover and avoid default in the longer term.

After 13 hours of talks, ministers finalized measures to cut Athens’ debt to 120.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, a fraction above the target, securing a second rescue in less than two years in time for a major bond repayment due in March…

During the 2008 crisis, Dexia borrowed nearly $60 billion from the US Federal reserve to stay afloat:

Since Dexia had a New York banking office they were eligible for various bailouts from the US Federal Reserve. At its peak Dexia had borrowed $58.5 billion…

Additionally, it wasn’t just ‘simple’ banking losses due to the downturn. A big percentage of their problem (read idiocy) was because they gave a pile of money to Bernie Madoff:

According to the financial services provider Bloomberg Dexia lost €78 million through the Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff…

Did Dexia deserve a second bailout after not doing the most basic due diligence?

Apparently, austerity is for countries, not the profligate and idiotic banks who created the mess.

Why am I not shocked?


I am cross-posting this from DU.

Wounded Veterans of Iraq: the True Legacy of War

Posted on December 15, 2011

Thank God for the advancement of medicine. One of the clear results that can be seen from the Iraq war is that the trauma treatment received by the wounded far exceeds the capabilities of the past. While America mourns the 4,400+ dead soldiers from the Iraq war, it important to think about the 30,000 soldiers who were wounded during the conflict. The sad reality, however, hits home when you realize a large percentage of that 30,000 would have been the deceased of past wars. While the critical care the military gives has saved lives, many veterans are coming home in numbers far sicker and more debilitated than from previous wars.

Here is just one veteran’s story:

Davis suffered wounds to his stomach, chest, shoulders and hips. Someone rolled him up in a blanket to staunch the bleeding.
Davis was taken to an air base where medics worked on him, then to a hospital in Germany where he had three surgeries. He was then flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where he underwent more surgery and began a long battle for recovery, which he continues to fight today, five years later, in Gautier.
Davis, now 29, is classified as 90 percent disabled. He’s applied for jobs, but had no luck. He said he gets the strong feeling employers don’t want to hire him because of his disabilities. He’s trying to get his classification upped to 100 percent.
Davis still has physical problems — pain, intestinal problems, a shoulder that doesn’t allow him to do much lifting.
But he said his biggest problem is the nightmares, lack of sleep and short-term memory loss for which doctors can’t seem to find the right medication. He’s dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a common malady among returning soldiers…

Read more:

And that’s just the physical toll. The psychological toll among the million+ soldiers who served in Iraq has been reported to be nearly 30% by some estimates.

While America may be leaving Iraq. In this holiday season, we need to remember that the war is a gift that keeps on giving. The war isn’t over. Just ask the veterans who are suffering the most.


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