Wednesday, July 26, 2017

MORNING PETE: Can the Democratic Party save itself and, in so doing, save our country?

I just read the most encouraging/discouraging op-ed piece in the today's NYT, entitled 
The Real Civil War in the Democratic Party, written by Lee Drutman, author of a report done for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, entitled Political Divisions in 2016 and Beyond: Tensions Between and Within the Two Parties.
I found it to be encouraging because, I thought it identified ways that the Democratic Party could change that would save it and, possibly our country. 
I found it to be discouraging because I am skeptical that the corporatist Clintonite Democrats who still rule the party will allow these needed changes to take place.
I recommend that you, at least, read the NYT piece and, if you're so inclined, you might want to read some or all of the much longer report, which includes a cogent analysis of both political parties and the hazards they (and our country) face.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

MORNING PETE: Reading Frederick Douglass's "The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro"

Therese and I just returned from the Worcester, VT 4th of July celebrations, which included a community reading of one of Frederick Douglass's most famous orations, The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro, a speech he delivered in Rochester, New York on July 5, 1852 and which is being read in 30 communities across Vermont over the first two weeks of this July, sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council and a number of other civic organizations.

It was a moving and sobering experience reading this prescient speech aloud with dozens of white Vermonters. The most famous lines of this speech are, as follows:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
If you haven't read or heard the speech read, here are some links that you might want to consult:
1. The text of the complete speech (we read a version that was shortened for commemorative readings like the one we did.)
2. A video of Morgan Freeman reading a short segment of the speech
3. Dear white people: Frederick Douglass explains the Trump resistance in "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? an essay by Chauncey DeVega (Includes a video of Trump famously appearing to think Frederick Douglass was still alive.)

Monday, July 3, 2017

MORNING PETE: Let them know we are watching the damage they are doing to the American people and will hold them accountable

...please, please do NOT let this sideshow [Trump's temper tantrums over the Russian investigation] distract you from the far more important damage being done by the Republicans in Congress and in local governments to our country ...
Now, let me add to this a plea to also be vigilant about the damage being done to the country by Trump's cabinet and other high-level appointees, particularly Scott Pruitt, Trump's dangerously effective head of the EPA and Jeff Sessions, Trump's heartless Attorney General. 

And let them all know (by phone, email, snail mail, and contributions to organizations fighting these actions in court and in congress) that we are watching everything they're doing and will hold them accountable at the ballot box and in the courts.

In order to track the damage these Trump appointees (as well as congress) are doing on a daily basis, I strongly recommend that you check in on Moyers & Company's thoroughly-researched, unbearably-revealing daily column While He Was Tweeting which is 
tracking the rule changes, rollbacks, executive orders, agency moves and the legislation that are underway as the president, his team (and often, the media) are distracted by the five ongoing Russia investigations and the various legal cases surrounding the Trump administration. 
As Moyers & Company adds,
Those are important, too — but we wanted to create a special series that looks at the changes being wrought in Washington that will affect us all, perhaps for decades.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

MORNING PETE: This is no time to let up on stopping TrumpCare

Although it seems to be getting clearer to all that the current TrumpCare/RyanCare/McConnellCare bills are not going to pass in their current forms, don't underestimate the deviousness of the congressional leadership or the cluelessness of Trump to come up with some kind of bill that will repeal the ACA and/or weaken it to the point where it will die and/or replace it with a "compromise" that will fool many voters into believing that it will preserve their health insurance and, so, get just enough Republican (and probably even some Democratic) votes to pass.
So here's a suggested action: send the story below (and any others like it that you come across), which movingly illustrates the potential human cost of repealing the ACA to the staffers of every person in congress (with a special note to your own congresspersons), urging them to read the article(s) and consult their consciences before repealing the ACA and replacing it with a substitute that do irreparable harm to the most vulnerable in our society.

Supplemental benefits for millions of recipients, many of them disabled, would be at risk under Republican proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

MORNING PETE: Think Global and National, Act Local

A number of people have asked me whether and, if so, when I’d get back to my Morning Pete Postings. So, let me answer that question and, in doing so, explain why I’ve been pretty silent since mid-March when we left for a month long trip to China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Basically, over the past 2 months, I’ve been absorbed with time-consuming personal & family affairs and local political activity. The former, sometimes referred to as “life interferes,” is what prevents many people from devoting much time to the latter. It is also one of the main reasons that so few Americans vote or attend local meetings or have the time to devote to really understanding issues that may affect them.

For the working-poor, especially people who are struggling to get a college degree and/or job certification while supporting a family, this is especially true.  Yet, it is a fact that too many Republican politicians refuse to acknowledge and that too many populist Trump supporters have been blinded to by their fears of their own vulnerability to the myriad demands of life.

Here in Vermont, we are fortunate to have elected representatives (Senators Sanders and Leahy, Representative Welch, and a legislature both houses of which are controlled by Democrats and Progressives) who, by and large, are concerned with the well-being of the most vulnerable in our state. Even our Republican Governor and a number of other elected Republican officials (especially at the local town level) are moderates on most such issues .

Nevertheless, there is much that could be improved in Vermont, and because our state is so small, we have a unique opportunity to affect change here relatively quickly and, in doing so, perhaps act as an inspiration to people in other states.

Thus, over the past several months, my wife (Therese Mageau) and I have been directly involved in a number of actions with several different, but closely coordinated Vermont organizations, including Rights and Democracy (RAD), a Vermont and New Hampshire-based, multi-issue, grassroots organization, “building a political movement, based on the values of our communities.” Through RAD, we have been involved in the following activities:
  • Migrant Justice, marching 13 miles from the State House in Montpelier to Ben & Jerry's Headquarters for “Milk with Dignity,” a campaign being led by Vermont-based Migrant Justice, to hold Ben & Jerry’s accountable to implement the ground-breaking agreement they previously signed, requiring their suppliers to provide a living wage and humane living and work conditions for their dairy workers. The goal is that implementation of this agreement may, in turn, serve as a model for other migrant workers around the country in a wide range of agricultural sectors.
  • Health Care, supporting the Vermont Workers’ Center, Planned Parenthood, and Vermont Health Care for All in pressing for a single-payer health care system in Vermont, while at the same time opposing the national Republican effort to deprive tens of millions of the most vulnerable in our country to the right to have adequate health care.
  • Racial Justice, working with Vermont-based Justice for All to to address issues of systemic and institutional racism in Vermont with a specific focus on bias-free policing in Vermont through implementation of the recently signed bill (H. 308) establishing a Racial Justice Oversight Board. This may seem odd to anyone who knows that Vermont has a relatively small, non-white population, but, in fact, Vermont has one of the highest per-capita rates of police stops, arrests and incarceration of non-whites in the country.
  • Economic Justice, working as part of a broad-coalition of organizations, pressing for $15 minimum wage along with paid family and medical leave legislation, mobilizing against “Right to Work” union-busting legislation, and preventing worker misclassification (e.g., Walmart et al classifying people as part-time or outside contractors in order to avoid paying for benefits, unemployment taxes, and disability insurance).
  • Environmental Justice, a RAD initiative to develop “an open, democratic approach to creating sustainable, livable communities that give residents a greater say in determining their future.” In Vermont and New Hampshire, we are already experiencing the divisiveness of wind generator and solar farm installations by corporate energy companies, pitting neighbor against neighbor, while the large energy companies reap the profits.
  • Criminal Justice Reform, another RAD initiative, “to engage in political campaigns against elected DAs who send people to prison rather than utilizing community reparation and rehabilitation.” This, again, may serve as an inspiration to other states around our country, which has the highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world.

All politics is local.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


To all my Trump-hating, Trump-fearing friends: Look, I know how satisfying, delicious, and yes, even entertaining it is to see Trump getting what he deserves. 

BUT, please, please do NOT let this sideshow distract you from the far more important damage being done by the Republicans in Congress and in local governments to our country and tens of millions of people--- women, poor people, immigrants (including those who are here completely legally), people of color, Muslims and people who might "look like" Muslims, the middle-class, consumers, union members, pensioners, people on fixed incomes, and, of course, all of us who live in this country and around the world. 

Please put your time, energy, and emotions into real and effective efforts to address these clear and present dangers: 

If they are on the right side of an issues, thank them for all they're doing and urge them on to do more; if they're on the wrong side, tell them we're watching and will hold them accountable at the ballot box.

That means the DNC, DCCC and all the other Ds, as well as their disguises as ANTI-REPUBLICAN or ANTI-TRUMP NEWS FLASHES or PETITIONS or INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATES (including ones you might really like such as Elizabeth Warren or Al Franken who aren't even running now) or SUBGROUPS or phony POLLS), telling them to STOP asking you for MONEY, MONEY, MONEY and instead SHOW US IN WORDS AND DEEDS how they're going to:
- stop what the Republicans are doing
- back strong progressive candidates
- and get rid of the centrist cronies whose actions have brought us President Trump, a Republican majority in the Senate, continued lopsided majority in the House, and additional losses at all levels of state and local government. 


As Republicans plan to vote on a health care bill that they won’t even allow the public to see, one that reportedly will take away pre-existing condition protections for tens…

Finally, just so you understand how distracting the focus on Trump is: 

... about all the damage being done by Republicans at any and all levels of government. However many articles may be out there (and I doubt there are many) are being totally buried by TRUMP articles in the search engines of the web. 


Friday, May 5, 2017

MORNING PETE: Why the Republicans are Trying to Pass a Health Care bill that is Opposed by Almost Everyone

My wife, Therese Mageau, posted this question on her Facebook Page:

Someone please explain to me: Exactly "who" were the Republicans trying to please by passing this health care bill? If hospitals, consumer groups, doctors, AND insurers are against it, who is for it? 

She got two very informative answers. (See below.)

The House’s passage of the bill led to an outcry from the health care industry and consumer groups, which found an uncommon ally in some insurers.

From her Facebook Friend, Tom deBoor

Their base. They feared getting primaried from the right and/or that their base would not turn out for an election (2018) where they know the Democratic base will be energized. Also, because of other laws, they needed to pass it not only for the tax cuts it includes but so they can add much larger tax cuts (for their real base). Some may be counting on the Senate to block it (that worked well for the Dems who voted for the carbon tax in 2009) but likely the calculations are even more cynical than that. They include: 
(1) That although 61 percent of Americans currently believe Republicans own health care, hundreds of millions of dollars of dark money + the right wing media machine will be able to convince a majority that any bad things that happen are a result of Obamacare and they need time to fix it and/or the Democrats blocked them from passing all the measures needed to fix it (if their bill fails the Senate, you can also count on them to do everything they can to sabotage Obamacare, as they've been doing since the day it passed).
(2) That the bad effects won't really kick in enough in time to affect the 2018 elections, and may not kick in enough to determine 2020 either.
(3) The trillion dollar tax cut (read bribe) that passing this makes possible will make most of us so happy (directly or indirectly) that we'll decide we don't really give a s*** about the 24 million kicked off health insurance, most of them rural working class Trump zombies who will vote for them anyway, persuaded that somehow their pain is the Dems fault, since that's what they want to believe anyway. Scratch the surface of most Americans these days, and you'll find the struggles they've gone through have made them rather hard and mean, and more than a few believe that people who get sick or who don't have insurance have only themselves to blame. Of course they want pre-existing condition support to protect *themselves* of course, and the Republican bill promises that's still in place, with what sounds like a lot of money ($140 billion) to make it so. They'll only find out it's a mirage when they actually need those protections, at which point they'll just be part of the 20 million that the much larger happy healthy population doesn't give a s*** about. For all of the above reasons, Dems who assume this won't pass the Senate or that if it does, Republicans have signed their death warrant, are foolish. The only way to give the lie to the arguments above is to get out there and stay out there from now through 2018 and beyond. The only thing people find more persuasive than a right wing TV ad (they've got the best of Madison Avenue; we've got the mailroom) and right wing media is a human face in front of them that they know.

From her Facebook Friend, Joy Herr-Cardillo
Two reasons: tax cuts to billionaires and they needed a political win.

The monstrosity that is the American Health Care Act…