Monthly Archives: November 2013

Bernie Sanders: Why I Might Run in 2016

By Josh Eidelson, Salon, 27 November 13

Bernie Sanders tells Salon it “remains to be seen” if Clinton “will be a forceful advocate for working families”

This month Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, the Senate’s only self-described socialist, made a tour of four Southern states that stoked talk of a presidential run. In an interview this week with Salon, Sanders set forth his thinking about why he might take that plunge, and offered assessments of contenders Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. He also blasted Wal-Mart’s business model, Republicans’ healthcare tactics, and a level of inequality that he warned has brought America to the cusp of oligarchy. A condensed version of our conversation follows.

How significant is the Senate’s move to change the filibuster for nominations last week? And does this bring us closer to curbing the filibuster for nominations also?

It is a significant step forward in attempting to end the dysfunctionality of the United States Senate. I would go further. And I believe that when we are faced with unprecedented Republican obstruction, that it would make a lot of sense to go to majority vote for legislation as well. I also believe that we have to protect the rights of minorities, and I think minorities – minority or any other member of the Senate – should have as much time as he or she needs to voice opposition, stand up, filibuster, do their thing. So I believe in the concept of the talking filibuster.

But I think what we have got to end is the situation right now where the Senate is basically dysfunctional, and where the major issues facing this country are not being discussed, and are certainly … not being voted on.

What’s your view of the Upton bill that passed the House, and the bill proposed by Sen. Landrieu in the Senate on the Affordable Care Act?

I’m not sympathetic. Clearly, my own view is that [at] a time when our nation spends almost twice as much as any other country on healthcare, and we have so many people who will continue to be uninsured under the Affordable Care Act, we need to move toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system. The Affordable Care Act is a modest proposal – it does some good things, it is much too complicated, and it doesn’t get to the root of the problems of America’s healthcare. Clearly, the rollout in terms of the website has been a disaster. That has got to be rectified.

But I would hope that we can move forward as quickly as possible in getting people into the Affordable Care Act, making sure that people get Medicaid, and get the system moving….

continue reading at Salon

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Filed under Progressive movement, US President

5 Dem candidates for governor at Temple Nov. 23

I watched the whole forum and you can find the video here. Pay attention to the note “Video starts at 18 minutes”: you have to move the timer ahead.

Interesting format, with a strongly pro-union and pro-teacher audience and two community members setting up each of four themes before the candidates spoke.

See a detailed write-up in Brittany Foster and Keegan Gibson, “Dems Jockey for Liberal Votes at Philly Forum,” Politics PA, 11/23/13.

Here’s what I’d add:

Ladies in red, guys in dark suits–I guess it’s always that way on the campaign trail.

I thought Schwartz was being extra careful not to give juicy quotes to the other side on specific issues that might be contentious in other settings; but she did ably promote pre-school education, Social Security, and health care for children (CHIP). She has been working on education for a long time (see her campaign site).

McCord seemed rather worked-up at times, despite landing some good points, like prevailing wage protecting employment and the benefits of sick leave (restaurant workers coughing on your food: ugh!). Health care should not be about politics: right! He ended on a good note about human dignity, social justice, and efficiency coinciding in expanding Medicaid. He’s a strong speaker but I wish he’d put more detail on issues on his web site.

I wouldn’t agree with commenter Dominic to give Wolf a low grade; he made some good points, like about the boy who read 3+ books a week finding his school had no librarian any more. Wolf, as a businessman, had the standing to say businesses would work better with a PA health exchange. He was surprised to get some applause for his PhD from MIT. Yes, maybe a bit wonkish. Good info on his web site.

I found Hanger clear and forceful on some cutting edge issues: against “privatization of public education,” for marijuana reform (“stop the mad incarceration” that affects African-Americans 5 times more than whites), for single-payer health care (“health care is a human right”–including mental health care and addiction treatment), for the state guaranteeing private company employees’ pensions, expanding Medicaid, alternative energy, and education as a way to expand jobs. The real reason the privatizers attack public ed is to attack unions–that sure struck a chord with the audience. Well said by commenter Jan: “mix of substance and passion.” Huge amounts of info including a regular blog, on his site.

McGinty cited the Phila girl who tragically died because her asthma attack came on a day the school had no nurse… as a result of the Corbett cutbacks. Yes, we need smaller classes. Yes, green energy creates jobs… union jobs with good benefits, as she said, and decent-paying jobs don’t cost jobs. Jobs with PA money should go to Pennsylvanians, not migrant gas workers. I thought she spoke well. Her web site: good, but less developed than some of the others.

Most of the five made the predictable points about stopping inadequate charter schools and underperforming cyber schools from depleting public funds meant for public education; they supported unions, full-day kindergarten, a proper funding formula for school districts, expanding Medicare, and raising the minimum wage. Any would be a great improvement over the incumbent. I don’t recall same-sex marriage coming up, but I think they all agree with it.

Right, they didn’t attack each other. Why should they when there is so much to attack in the way the job is being done right now?

Personal qualities are part of it: voters need to examine not only the issues but also which candidate has the inner strength and public manner to confront the Corbett legacy and his allies, of whom some will doubtless still be around in Harrisburg when his successor takes office in January, 2015.

As the excellent moderator Dr. Tyler said at the beginning, “this is definitely one of the most important elections that we will ever face.” Let’s all pay attention every day between now and November 5, 2014!

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Filed under Nathaniel Smith

The filibuster and majority rule

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 11/21/13

Well, at last the Democratic Senators showed some gumption (to use the polite term).

It’s not just about politics but about whether the government can function. The Senate sets its procedures and it can change them if they don’t work any more. They should have done this years ago. The filibuster isn’t sacred (for those who think that the constitution is, the filibuster isn’t there).

Or, the Dem senators could have offered a deal: the Senate would continue to require a 60% majority if the House did the same. Let’s see… 435 representatives X 60% = 261. The House currently has 232 R’s and 200 D’s (3 seats are vacant for now). What do you think about that grand bargain, Mr. Boehner? Ah, I didn’t think so.

So: the president wins the election, and he gets to appoint judges, cabinet officials, and other officials, that’s just the way it is. If we don’t believe in majority rule (with the obvious defenses of various sorts of minorities’ civil rights), our whole constitution may as well shut down.

Elected officials are there to make decisions. If a Senate majority votes to confirm a federal judge who turns out to be a total loser, it will be held against them (and their votes to confirm some of the current Supreme Court justices ought to be)–not on party lines, but on grounds of unsuitability for the office.

There are plenty of checks and balances built into our tripartite government without adding in a supermajority anywhere to gum up the system.

And finally: if we do believe in majority rule, we should abolish that absurd anti-majoritarian 18th-century relic, the Electoral College.

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Filed under Nathaniel Smith, US Senate

Ideological Disaster

Tea Party : Reality

from “Ideological Disaster – An Analysis (20 October 2013)” by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses

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Filed under Lawrence Davidson, Right Wing, Uncategorized