Let them eat cake

White House apparatchik/ consiglieri/ mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway doesn’t think Trump’s famous economic “carnage” is bad enough to throw a Medicaid lifeline to the working poor.

Sounding as out-of-touch and cruel as Marie Antoinette, Conway appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and said that jobless Medicaid recipients should just go out and get a job. “If they are able-bodied and they want to work, then they’ll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do.”

Yeah, you lazy slackers. Why didn’t you think of that? Go get a job with her benefits.

For a political party that has so aggressively courted the poor white vote, this is a slap in the face to the very people who tipped the election in Trump’s favor. Of course, the working poor includes both Trump and non-Trump voters alike, and millions of minorities, but very few get medical and retirement benefits. Just ask Walmart workers who quality for food stamps and Medicaid because they work for unlivable wages. Kellyanne Conway’s suggestion would be laughable if it were not so callous.

Conway, who once ran a SuperPAC for billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and recently bought an $8 million mansion in suburban Washington D.C., spins steer manure for a living. But she doesn’t even have to believe it. For every lie she tells Conway is paid handsomely. And the medical benefits are great.

* * *

Now certainly the Democratic Party is guilty of turning its back on American workers. But out in the woodshed Democrats are taking a much more savage beating than the GOP, which is now doing the cruelest damage to the working class. And yet Trump & Company continue to receive applause for “promises kept” from this base.

It may take four years for Trump voters to realize the severity of their mistake — some people only learn things the hard way. But when American voters finally realize what the GOP has done to them, and to whom Trump’s promises were actually made, they’re not going to like Marie Antoinette and her boss at all.

Slow learners

Today in Science: Politicians may have human DNA

Since January 20th we’ve lived in a very different country, one where raw power is everything, character is nothing, and concern for others is seen only when cameras are rolling. But yesterday I saw some quiet, unrehearsed kindness. I saw a politician being a mensch. It surprised me. And then it surprised me that I’d been surprised. It made me see how cynical I’ve become. In some things I’m a pretty slow learner. But yesterday I realized that politics is not only local but has to be personal.

I had occasion to be in District Court yesterday where I ran into my state representative, Chris Markey, whose politics I have slammed previously. Mr. Markey had stopped and was patiently helping several confused people find their courtrooms, including someone I was there to assist.

Since Inauguration Day it’s been all too easy to lose sight of the fact that most of our politicians — even those we find most frustrating — are basically decent men and women. Like Chris Markey, like most of the Democrats with whom I have political differences, each is more than merely his office, each is not simply an agenda. For each, their politics are formed by values I may not fully understand or ultimately accept— but this is all the more reason to listen with respect and seek out opportunities to talk.

So, Chris, let’s talk.

Carrier Jobs off to Mexico after all

I am not the only slow learner in America. That honor also belongs to Trump voters.

Donald Trump made a big show of saying he’d crack down on US-bound Mexican criminals by building a big, beautiful wall. But this was always a one-way street for gringos. Mexico-bound corporate crooks don’t get a protectionist wall but receive instead big, beautiful tax breaks. Trump and Pence claimed they’d save thousands of Indiana jobs at the Carrier subsidiary of defense contractor United Technologies Corporation (UTC). But in typical Trumpian fashion, the real number turned out to be closer to 700. And now, in spite of millions of dollars of corporate incentives, Carrier is chopping 600 of those jobs anyway. Off to Mexico! Adios, ladrones!

Eventually reality will slowly dawn on Trump’s supporters. Instead of Making America Great Again, the Billionaire-in-Chief is actually presiding over the complete opposite. The Ford Focus assembly line is off to China. Saudi Arabia just took control of America’s largest refinery. And, as for the 33,000 coal mining jobs Trump claims he created, well, it turns out the number is actually about 1,000. Where is Trump’s infrastructure plan? Where are the real jobs? Even Trump’s most vehement supporters have got to eventually start asking some tough questions. Lincoln was right: You can fool some of the people some of the time…

And if Mr. Bigshot Deal Maker had really wanted to save the Carrier jobs, one option might have been to make United Technologies an offer they couldn’t refuse — to hold defense contracts hostage to American jobs. But that’s not how it works in Trumplandia. UTC will get even greater corporate welfare thanks to the biggest military budget since the Big Bang. And unemployed Carrier workers — many of them Trump voters — will get to pay triple premiums for the worst healthcare in the Western world. That is, if they don’t have any preexisting conditions.

And that’s how it really works in Trump’s Great New America.

An unpleasant surprise

Dartmouth voters live in a pretty blue corner of a pretty blue state. With the ICE crackdown Trump unleashed on immigrants, many of us appealed to our state representatives only to discover they were not as blue as we thought. In fact, some are a surprising shade of red. And nobody likes an unpleasant surprise.


Dear Dartmouth Voters,

Many of us have expressed concern about Rep. Chris Markey’s poor record of voting for progressive causes. He recently added his support to the Massachusetts Family Leave Act, which may have been in response to recent lobbying by constituents. And for that we thank you, Rep. Markey!

But this presents us with a great opportunity to keep the pressure on by calling (1) to thank him for his support of the Family Leave Act, (2) to urge him to support H.3033, Tony Cabral’s bill, which in effect prevents Sheriff Hodgson from using his staff to assist ICE, and (3) to ask Rep. Markey to support more than a dozen other pieces of progressive legislation which to date he has failed to co-sponsor and seems unlikely to vote for:

https://scorecard.progressivemass.com/my-legislators/02748

Rep. Markey’s State House phone number is 617-722-2020 and his email address is Christopher.Markey@mahouse.gov.

Let’s keep the pressure on! Dartmouth needs a stronger ally in the State House.

Regards,

Bettina Borders, Kate Fentress, David Ehrens, Sue Perry, Lisa Lemieux

Election Night

Georgia Special Election

Last night Jon Ossoff lost the Georgia 6th Congressional District special election to Good ol’ Gal Karen Handel. There was, predictably, some crying and finger-pointing but it was generally acknowledged that Democrats need to find a winning strategy. A piece in Washington Monthly advised Dems to stop chasing Romney voters, pointing out just how wrong Chuck Schumer was when he said: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

A McClatchy piece and an article in TPM both reminded readers that Ossoff’s upscale district is nevertheless in the Heart of Dixie and Ossoff’s centrist Democratic “supporters, even when combined with politically moderate independents, couldn’t outnumber Republican partisans.” Demographics, not progressives, and not the DNC, are what defeated Ossoff. However, the loss does not signify the impotence or the end of the Democratic Party. But we seem to be missing opportunities to reach out with an honest economic message to people who might actually be receptive.

Make China Great Again

Donald Trump hasn’t said much about Ford’s plans to move its Ford Focus assembly to China although he will almost certainly blame the move on insufficient tax breaks for billionaires. But will the Billionaire-in-Chief slap huge tariffs on Ford when they begin re-importing the cars? …. Don’t hold your breath.

Make Saudi Arabia Great Again

Another American reversal-of-fortune has occurred on Donald Trump’s watch: Saudi Arabia just assumed total control of America’s largest refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. When asked how the purchase squared with Trump’s protectionist promises, Saudi ARAMCO CEO Amin Nasser smiled and sounded grateful for ARAMCO’s cozy relationship with the administration: “We don’t like to see any kind of protectionist measures…” It’s doubtful that the Saudi billionaires will ever see any.

The Family Business

Speaking of Saudi Arabia, this is a country with no Emoluments Clause. For that matter there aren’t many legal protections for anyone in what is essentially a family-owned business (slash nation) governed by a dictatorship and greased by nepotism. No wonder Trump loves the Saudis so much. Today the Saudi king announced a big shakeup, replacing most of what in a democracy would be cabinet or portfolio members with — what else — members of the Saudi royal family. The dictator also named his 31 year-old son to be the new heir. I thought this was the sort of thing that really disturbs us when Syria and North Korea do it… but guess not. We should probably count our blessings that Trump has run out of children and in-laws to stick in the White House.

U.S. War Crimes

You can’t wage war nonstop for three decades and not kill civilians. The U.S. has killed more than half a million since 9/11 but now it turns out that the US is also responsible for half of all civilian casualties since 2010.

Who are the real terrorists?

ACHA Mystery Meat

You remember it sliding off your lunch tray. They said it was a Sloppy Joe but it could have just as easily been the dead raccoon you saw from the school bus window that morning. Sometimes there was a drumstick shaped thing that might have once been attached to a species of fowl, but it was confusing because there were also pieces of ham and beef gristle attached like Frankenstein’s forehead.

I’m talking about Mystery Meat.

But I’m also talking about the GOP’s new healthcare plan, the ACHA. Trumpcare. Because in both cases nobody really knows for sure what’s in the unsavory concoction.

Mitch McConnell seems intent on forcing a vote on the ACHA by June 30th, though there is still no written draft to examine.

No Democrats have been invited to discuss the bill’s provisions. The Congressional Budget Office has had no opportunity to score the legislation. There will be no committee hearings, and no public input will be allowed. No one has any idea what’s in the GOP’s vat of salmonella and they are deeply shamed by the ACHA. They fear letting the public know how bad it really is.

Like a magician’s trick, this secret bill will be unveiled just moments before a vote. More secret even than the Patriot Act, Congress will be caught totally off guard, will have no time to study it or get feedback from constituents. The Senate majority intends to force this noxious sludge down Americans’ throats by using a process called “reconciliation” — allowing the ACHA (Trumpcare) to be passed by 51 votes instead of the customary 60.

But with grit, testicles (and ovaries), Democrats could slow down the adoption of this gurgling, sulphurous roadkill stew by using Senate rules to object to “unanimous consent” requests, also proposing and arguing for a stream of amendments to the bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated his willingness to pursue this tougher strategy to press for scrutiny of the legislation:

“Republicans are drafting this bill in secret because they’re ashamed of it, plain and simple. These are merely the first steps we’re prepared to take in order to shine a light on this shameful Trumpcare bill and reveal to the public the GOP’s true intentions: to give the uber-wealthy a tax break while making middle class Americans pay more for less health care coverage. If Republicans won’t relent and debate their health care bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate.”

And I hope he means it. Please call your senators and tell them to stay strong, have another coffee, and argue into the wee hours to fight this heinous attempt to betray the public.

Americans deserve to know exactly what’s in the mystery meat they’re being told they have to swallow.

Massachusetts Family Leave Act

Update 6/19/2017:
I would like to thank state Rep. Christopher Markey for adding his support to this important bill.

What happens when someone in your family is sick and needs you to take care of them? For many families, caring for mom is a labor of love. But it can also mean a crippling loss of income.

According to the Coalition for Social Justice, nearly 40% of Massachusetts workers (1.2 million) are excluded from job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because they work for companies with fewer than 50 employees. And 87% of Massachusetts employees have no access to paid leave at all becasue the FMLA’s unpaid leave is not a financially viable option, particularly for low-income and single parent households.

You can take your sick mom into your house, but only if you can earn enough money to keep the house.

A joint bill in the Massachusetts legislature wants to fix that. The state’s Family Leave Act was filed again this year by its original sponsors:

“An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program”

Two bills, MA Senate Bill S.1048 by Sen. Karen E. Spilka and House Bill H.2172 by Rep. Kenneth I. Gordon, replace previous versions of Senate and House bills, S.1008 and H.1718.

You can find a nice writeup with more details on the Family Leave Act on the Coalition’s website:

http://coalitionforsocialjustice.org/index.php/paid-family-medical-leave

Here on the Massachusetts SouthCoast, Senator Mark. Montigny has co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill, and Reps. Christopher Markey (Dartmouth), Antonio Cabral (New Bedford), Gerard Cassidy (Brockton), Julian Cyr (Cape), Michelle DuBois (Brockton), Dylan Fernandes (Falmouth), Carole Fiola (Fall River), Patricia Haddad (Somerset), Paul Heroux (Attleboro), Robert Koczera (New Bedford), Marc Pacheco (Taunton), Paul Schmid (Westport), Alan Silvia (Fall River). William Straus (Mattapoisett), and Walter Timilty (Bridgewater) have co-sponsored the House version of the Family Leave Act.

Wherever you reside in the state, your representative needs to hear how important this bill is.