Fri, Apr

The Mexicanization of the United States

EDITOR’S PICK--The neoliberal ideology that is the engine of corporate capitalism spews its poison around the globe. Constitutions are rewritten by judicial fiat in a mockery of democracy. Laws and regulations that impede corporate exploitation are abolished. Corporations orchestrate legally sanctioned tax boycotts. Free-trade deals destroy small farmers and businesses along with labor unions and government agencies designed to protect the public from contaminated air, water and food and from usurious creditors and lenders.

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Dear Caitlyn: Stop. Please. Stop.

TRANSITION POLITICS--Dear Caitlyn: Much as I'm reluctant to further any infighting within the transgender and gender nonconforming community, I also have a responsibility to speak truth to power. Your visibility has gone from mildly annoying, to problematic, to atrocious, to outright detrimental, and so I ask you, politely: 

Stop trying to help though the media and public appearances. Please. Stop. 

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Is the Mussolini Model Driving the Trump Movement?

GELFAND’S WORLD--Americans are justly puzzled at the behavior of Donald Trump and his crowds of followers. Episodes of people being expelled from Trump rallies just for looking or dressing differently are common. References to violence, or at least threats of violence, appear with regularity.

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“You’re Scum. Your Time Will Come.”: Trump Supporters Shove Out Young Black Protester

GUEST COMMENTARY--Apologies to those of you understandably all Trumped out. But Holy Mother of God, this shall not pass. At a snarling, jabbing, invective-laden "rally" in Louisville, a mob of Trump supporters - following The Donald's vicious lead - jostled and heaved a black college student out of the building, calling her "nigger" and "cunt" as she passed. 

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Erin Andrews Case: Courtroom Explodes with Victim-Blaming Bull**t

EDITOR’S PICK--It all began with a college football game, a well-known, talented female sportscaster and a costly lapse of judgment on the part of the Nashville Marriott staff. You see, none of the emotional and psychological wounds that Erin Andrews has suffered over the past 80 or so months had to have happened. All she did was check into a generic chain hotel for a work event. 

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Why It’s Time to Legalize Drugs

EDITOR’S PICK--In my experience, good public policy is best shaped by the dispassionate analysis of what in practice has worked, or not. Policy based on common assumptions and popular sentiments can become a recipe for mistaken prescriptions and misguided interventions.

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How Race Could Affect the Race

NEW DEMOGRAPHY-Until now, the presidential campaign has largely been dominated by issues of class, driving the improbable rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. But as we head toward Super Tuesday – which will focus largely on Southern states – racial issues may assume greater importance. 

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California Politics: Kamala Clobbers Loretta

CALBUZZ--Kamala Harris simply crushed U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez at the California Democratic Party state convention over the weekend: the state Attorney General had a bigger, fancier, livelier reception for delegates; more energized and organized volunteers; an infinitely more polished and compelling speech to the general assembly, and a landslide 78% vote for the CDP’s endorsement for the U.S. Senate.

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NYT Poll: Nearly 20% of Trump’s Supporters Disapprove of Lincoln Freeing the Slaves … 17% Not Sure

REPORT--Here are some other euphemisms for "racism" the Times used: ""deeply rooted racial attitudes," "explicit appeals to ethnocentrism." Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The New York Times took a dive into whether Donald Trump's supporters are unusually racist — or, in the newspaper's delicate phrasing, "responsive to religious, social and racial intolerance." And they came up with a stunning statistic: Nearly one in five Trump supporters didn't approve of freeing slaves in the Confederacy.

A YouGov/Economist poll in January asked respondents if they approved or disapproved of "the executive order that freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government."  

That executive order is better known as the Emancipation Proclamation. Thirteen percent of respondents — and "nearly 20 percent of Trump supporters," the Times reports, compared with 5 percent of Marco Rubio's — said they disapproved of it.

It gets even worse. An additional 17 percent of respondents said they weren't sure.

Before asking about slavery, YouGov first asked two broader poll questions about executive orders: Do you approve of them, and do you think they're constitutional? Then they asked about specific presidential actions, including freeing the slaves, desegregating the military, interning Japanese Americans during World War II, and deferring deportation for some unauthorized immigrants.

Framing the question this way is a reminder that one of Lincoln's greatest acts, and a turning point in American history, was also a controversial exercise of presidential power. And it's stunning how many people can't bring themselves to say they approve of it.

(Libby Nelson is education reporter at Vox.com … where this piece originated.)


Is Trump the Schwarzenegger Sequel?

TRUTHDIG--In a May 2011 Newsweek column, the late film critic Roger Ebert exposed the bottom line behind Hollywood’s unquenchable appetite for remakes and sequels. “No movie executive has ever been fired for greenlighting a sequel,” he wrote. “Once a brand has been established in the marketplace, it makes sound business sense to repeat the formula. … [N]othing is harder to get financed than an original idea, or easier than a retread.”

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Shocking GOP Poll?: Most Democrats Prefer Socialism to Capitalism

POLITICS--Lending credence to the momentum behind Bernie Sanders' grassroots campaign, a poll (pdf) released on Monday finds that Democratic primary voters prefer socialism to capitalism by a wide margin. Nearly two-thirds of those polled also believed that socialism has a beneficial impact on society.

The right-wing group American Action Network, funded by a Super PAC that supports House Republicans, conducted the poll. The conservative organization, among others, feigned surprise regarding its findings:

One might argue that the poll was intended to underscore how, as one conservative Super PAC official noted, far left Democratic voters have moved.

The poll was careful to avoid mention of the current election—and the candidate who is running as a "democratic socialist"—focusing instead on the differences between ideologies. "Which of the following statements do you agree with most?" the poll question was phrased, and went on to define the two systems. 

People who support free market capitalism, the poll told respondents, "say it's not the government's job to pick winners and losers and that government intervention only leads to inefficiency. They say that capitalism produces the greatest amount of personal and economic freedom" and the best outcome for society, "even if some people are left behind because they can't compete."

The poll stated that people who support socialism, on the other hand, believe that "corporations have too much control and that the capitalist system is set to favor the rich and powerful," and the government should "take a larger role in managing the economy to make sure that every individual has equal access to basic necessities and public goods, even if that means that some people have to transfer their wealth to others."

In response, 40 percent of those polled said they preferred socialism while only 25 percent chose capitalism. The preference for socialism held true for all demographic groups.

A new poll finds that most Democratic voters prefer socialism over capitalism. (Image: AAN/OnMessage Inc.)

By significant margins, a majority of poll respondents also supported a public, government-run healthcare system, free tuition at public colleges and universities, and more government regulation of private corporations.

While Bernie Sanders was not specifically mentioned, his running for president on a platform of democratic socialism prompted the poll, Politico reported. “Now you finally have someone who’s running for president — not just running, but doing very well, is very competitive, may very well be the nominee — who calls himself a socialist,” said Mike Shields, a veteran GOP operative and former Republican National Committee chief of staff. “So we thought it would be worth going past the leadership of the party to see what the primary electorate itself thinks."

The overarching concept of democratic socialism and such issues as free tuition for public universities and a single-payer healthcare system have defined Sanders' campaign. The senator's swift ascent among Democratic voters further supports the poll's findings, and such results also point to the potential for Sanders' momentum to build ahead of Super Tuesday.

(Nika Knight writes for the excellent Common Dreams  … where this report was first posted.)


Scalia’s Constitution Interpretation: Makes Case for Choosing his Successor Now

AT LENGTH-Antonin Scalia wasn’t dead for more than 24 hours before the political rancor in Washington D.C. started up in the press. Of course, there were praises from both conservatives and liberals regarding his 30 years of service on the U.S. Supreme Court. Scalia was described as the intellectual anchor of the conservative court majority, which subscribes to an originalist and textualist view of the U.S. Constitution. He and Justice Anthony Kennedy are also the last of President Ronald Reagan’s legacy appointments to the Supreme Court. 

The political uproar was launched initially by U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY), challenging whether President Barack Obama should rightly appoint a replacement justice to the court before he is termed out of office 11 months from now -- essentially a lame duck nomination by the president. 

McConnell and the rest of the Republican Party are just aghast that Obama will exercise his constitutional duty and send to the Senate a judicial nominee that could turn the 5-4 conservative majority into a more liberal one -- a majority that could continue for the next three decades. 

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” said McConnell in a released statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” 

I doubt that Scalia would support such an objection from beyond the grave. 

You see, Scalia’s mark on the law comes from his originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, which basically argues that the meaning of the Constitution and its amendments are and should remain fixed and unchanging over time. 

This interpretation is contrary to the school of thought that the Constitution is a “living” document that evolves over time. 

Textualism on the other hand is a theory of the interpretation of law, holding that a legal text’s ordinary meaning should govern its interpretation, as opposed to inquiries into non-textual sources such as the intention of the legislature in passing the law. 

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (March 8, 1841-March 6, 1935,) although not a textualist himself, well-captured the philosophy, when he said: 

We ask, not what this man meant, but what those words would mean in the mouth of a normal speaker of English, using them in the circumstances in which they were used… We do not inquire what the legislature meant; we ask only what the statutes mean. 

In other words, make sure that what is written means what you think it means and don’t expect anyone to understand your intention for writing a law unless it’s clearly in the law. 

However, I’m drifting off my main point here trying to explain the peculiarity of Scalia’s legal position. He probably would have argued that Obama has the absolute right and duty to nominate his replacement on the Supreme Court, as written in the Constitution, and that the U.S. Senate has the right to review and confirm it. 

So let the battle begin. 

Why any of this matters and what the death of Scalia really means comes at the end of Reagan’s legacy -- a legacy that began when he was California’s governor during the Vietnam War and college campuses were erupting in protests and uprisings. 

Reagan’s influence stretches from the crackdown on University of California demonstrations to the Iran-Contra scandal to the trickle-down economics theory, to his wife Nancy’s popular, if not delusional, “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign. All have had a lasting negative effect over the past 30 to 40 years. 

To this day, we still can’t say that the war on drugs is over, or who won. 

Some argue, and I agree, that Reagan was one of least prepared persons to sit in the Oval Office over the course of the last 100 years and to some extent we’re still paying for it. 

Conservatives like to defend Reagan as a model of fiscal conservatism: he is clearly one of the leaders of debt creation in terms of total increase in “federal debt to GDP.” Looking at U.S. presidents in the post-World War II era, Republican presidents during terms have contributed far more to the debt load of the nation than Democrats. 

Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush all added to the federal debt significantly on a percent-of-GDP basis. 

On the Democratic side, only Obama -- who inherited the worst financial crisis in this era from his predecessor -- also ranks high in terms of contributing to the federal debt. 

Antonin Scalia’s death -- as he was a significant actor in the Reagan era -- turns the page to a new chapter of American politics. It is one that pivots away from the Cold War politics and conservatism of my parents’ generation to one in which someone like Bernie Sanders, an avowed democratic-socialist, might actually have a shot at the Oval Office without people crying out that “the sky is falling.” 

America has changed culturally since the time Reagan was in office and we are only now beginning to realize what this means politically.


(James Preston Allen is the Publisher of Random Lengths News, the Los Angeles Harbor Area's only independent newspaper. He is also a guest columnist for the California Courts Monitor and is the author of "Silence Is Not Democracy - Don't listen to that man with the white cap - he might say something that you agree with!" He was elected to the presidency of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council in 2014 and has been engaged in the civic affairs of CD 15 for more than 35 years. More of Allen … and other views and news at: randomlengthsnews.com )  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.


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