Friday Talking Points -- Fighting or Following?

Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 7:12 AM

That'south news in a sort of "man bites dog" (or, at the very least, "rabid attack dog refuses to bite") sort of way. In fact, the biggest news from the Republican side this week was Paul Ryan definitively refusing to be the Republican nominee this year.

Believe it or not, it was a fairly noiseless week on the Republican campaign trail. That'south news in a sort of "man bites dog" (or, at the very least, "rabid attack dog refuses to bite") sort of way. In fact, the biggest news from the Republican side this week was Paul Ryan definitively refusing to be the Republican nominee this year. Ryan delivered a speech (called "Shermanesque" by every political reporter in existence) which essentially said: "Man, you couldn't pay me to be the GOP nominee this year -- number thanks, but I'll look you all shining and early for the two thousand twenty contest!" This is a bright move indeed for Ryan, since it's looking more and more love Republicans don't stand a snowball'south chance in Hell of winning the White House this specific year. So we're ignoring all the "but that'south what he said about the speakership" tease articles, and we're taking Ryan at his word. Number how, number way is Ryan going to be the nominee this year.

Ryan'south got sufficient problems right presently as it is, since he hasn't really gotten anything done in the House this year. Just love John Boehner before him, the Tea Party extremist faction is holding everything hostage and gumming up the works. Ryan truly wanted to live up to his billing as the "one man who could unify the party" (see: his election as Speaker of the House), but so distant he's falling distant short. Ryan swore that his House would be different, and that Republicans would start actually passing bills that laid out their plans for the future so the public could view the specifics (with awe, of course). So far, that hasn't happened. There'south a PR crisis that needs some action, but Ryan is heading back to the drawing board even though time is of the essence. Today, Ryan just missed a huge deadline for passing a budget framework bill. This isn't even squabbling about the details, this is just the overview which sets how much will be spent -- and the Tea Party has presently torpedoed Ryan'south efforts to obtain something (anything!) passed before the deadline.

Excellent thing it didn't close the government down again, because Ryan is proving that the problem wasn't in fact John Boehner, but instead the "get number prisoners" faction of the Republican Party itself. Since this is a largely unsolvable problem, we don't expect Ryan will be able to create excellent on any of his grand promises to prove to be the "party of ideas." Maybe the Democratic optimists are right and this will only assistance them retake the House this year, who knows?

The only other presidential campaign news this week from the GOP side was Ted Cruz being rudely ignored at an appearance in NY (the video is hilarious), and both Cruz and John Kasich making the rounds of late-night television. Donald Trump was beautiful noiseless all week, but then he really can afford to be because he'south about to dominate the NY primary next Tuesday.

The Democrats had a somewhat livelier week, with a handy Verizon strike to connect in. Bernie Sanders spoke to the crowd, and later Hillary Clinton showed up on a picket line as well. Solidarity!

Bernie had a excellent week on the hustings, pulling in a whopping 27.000 people to a rally in WA Square Park, and chalking up his first Senate endorsement to boot. But the week was capped off by the final Democratic debate, held in Brooklyn. We jotted down some click reactions to this latest night, and today the prevailing conventional inside-the-Beltway thinking seems to indicate that people thought Hillary won the early piece of the debate, while Bernie closed stronger. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

We thought that while both candidates looked a lot sharper than they'd in earlier debates (both see fully capable latest night of taking on the Republicans, to keep this another way), Hillary Clinton showed a disconcerting fondness for following rather than leading. In multiple answers, Hillary was essentially saying: "If Democrats in Congress consent to do that, then I'll sign it." This is a mighty inactive approach to the presidency, particularly for someone currently using "Fighting for us" as a campaign slogan. Does "Fighting for us" imply she'll arrive in after the battle'south won and obtain a bow? Maybe her slogan should be: "You lead, I'll chase right along afterwards," perhaps? As we said, this was disconcerting, and we're going to address the issue further in the talking points.

Speaking of fighting for us, there are some people out there getting arrested this week to protest the shocking lack of voting rights protections in America right now, and the scourge of money in politics. They may not have gained much mainstream media coverage, but Democracy Spring is indeed out there fighting for everyone'south rights, and they deserve applause (and a lot more media attention) for doing so.

Former Surgeon Common Joycelyn Elders deserves at minimum an Honorable Mention this week, for being a founder of a new organization: Doctors For Cannabis Regulation. This is a grouping of more than fifty doctors, including "faculty members at some of the nation'south leading medical schools," which will fight for the legalization of marijuana -- both medical and recreational. As the news article explains:

The group -- which is announcing its formation Monday, below the title Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) -- is endorsing the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, a crack from the position of the American Medical Association, the largest organization of doctors in the country. DFCR argues that the prohibition and criminalization of marijuana utilize does more damage to the public than good. Citing hundreds of thousands of annual marijuana arrests, racial and economic disparities in marijuana enforcement, and the role of prohibition in keeping marijuana prices high and profitable to violent drug dealers, the physicians declare that creating a valid and regulated marijuana market is the best way to ensure public safety, combat the unlawful drug trade and roll back the negative consequences of strict enforcement policies on disadvantaged communities.

The new grouping will connect others who have realized that the all War On Weed is presently and has always been counterproductive and destructive, such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization made up of criminal justice professionals who have seen the horrible effects of the War On Weed in their careers. We're not sure that having a former Surgeon Common call for outright legalization is a tipping point in any way, but it certainly shows that at minimum some doctors out there are getting tired of blindly accepting propaganda over science.

However, there was one Democrat who was even more impressive latest week, which has earned him the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. LA Gov John Bel Edwards (who recently beat out diaper-enthusiast David Vitter for the top spot in the state), made a bold stand in the ongoing battle over legislation preserving the right of citizens to discriminate in the marketplace. Here'south the story:

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday signed an executive order extending protection to state employees and contractors against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It also bans state agencies from discriminating in the services they provide.

"While this executive order respects the religious beliefs of our people, it also signals to the rest of the country that discrimination isn't a LA value, but rather, that LA is a state that's respectful and inclusive of everyone around us," he said in what may have been an oblique reference to other Southern states such as Tennessee, MS and N Carolina.

That'south beautiful impressive (and progressive) for any state in the South. It'south also reassuring for those who were initially distrustful of Edwards, since he doesn't precisely consent with all of the progressive agenda. But in this instance, he certainly stood up for nondiscrimination and he did the right thing in a very timely manner. While other states contemplate following the path of N Carolina, they're closely watching the reaction (nearly universal disapproval) from the business community and from other states. Some governors have vetoed similar measures after watching the backlash NC instantly received. So one Southern Gov standing up and emotional his state in precisely the opposite direction was precisely what was needed right about now. Because it was only an executive order, it's limited, but the legislature can always exact that in due time. Rather than waiting for that to happen, Edwards went right ahead and did what he personally could do.

For his bold action, John Bel Edwards is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week. We'd also love to declare that we sincerely hope that all of the conventions, concerts, and other tourist business which is turning far from NC at the moment would immediately announce that they're relocating all their economic benefits to Louisiana, instead. Because that'd send a clear signal to any other state contemplating such laws: Doing so will cost you, big time.

[Congratulate LA Gov John Bel Edwards on his official state contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

The Democratic National Committee had what they considered a brilliant map for some Str theater on Equal Pay Day -- sell lemonade exterior a Metro Sta and charge men $1.00 and women seventy-nine cents, to obtain people to focus on wage disparity. What might've been a excellent idea, however, turned into a minor fiasco. They forgot to obtain a permit, they set up following to a stand selling Krispy Kreme donuts, and it was a freezing morning. So they left after an hour, after having sold a grand total of twenty cups of lemonade. A snarky WA Post article concluded that the only thing achieved was: "inadvertently confirming the oft-leveled charge by Republicans that Democrats wouldn't even know how to work a lemonade stand."

Ouch. But their hearts were in the right place, so we just can't look giving them a snarky award for their efforts. Instead, we're going to give the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week -- for the second time in a row -- to Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Latest week, DiFi won for co-chairing a phony hearing on marijuana, where only the "Lock them all up!" side was allowed to speak. This week, DiFi wins another MDDOTW for co-sponsoring a piece of legislation that'd create it mandatory for all information companies to unlock any consumer'south data whenever the government wished. This is her response to Apple, a company located within Feinstein'south residence state. Feinstein, predictably, jumped straight to "The terrorists are going to murder us all!" in defending her proposed bill:

The bill we've drafted would simply allow that, if a Ct of law issues an order to render technical assistance or allow decrypted data, the company or individual would be required to do so. Today, terrorists and criminals are increasingly using encryption to foil law enforcement efforts, even in the face of a Ct order. We necessity powerful encryption to defend personal data, but we also necessity to know when terrorists are plotting to kill Americans.

Recollect way back when Dianne Feinstein was shocked that the C. I. A. was spying on members of her own task force? Boy, those were the days. Feinstein is selective in her outrage, saving it only for people she personally knows, apparently. For the rest of us, her motto has long been: "Huge Brother loves you!" (or something awfully near to that). This week'south bill is in fact the latest in a long line of actions DiFi has taken in powerful support of letting the N. S. A. beautiful much do whatever it feels love with any data below the sun. Except her employees' data, of course.

Thankfully, at minimum one Democrat (Ron Wyden of Oregon) has already denounced Feinstein'south bill, stating unequivocally: "It makes Americans less safe," and: "If this risky anti-encryption legislation reaches the Senate floor, I'll filibuster it. Period." In fact, we're going to just go ahead and award Wyden an Honorable Mention this week for doing so, while we hand DiFi her second Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week in a row.

[Contact Senator Dianne Feinstein on her Senate contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]

Volume three hundred eighty-seven (four/fifteen/sixteen)

The first three of these are just regular garden-variety talking points this week. The latest four, however, are all directed at Hillary Clinton.

There'south a reason for this, and the reason is that Clinton is still quite likely to be the Democratic nominee, and she's presently laid out what it'll get for her to enact a truly progressive agenda: Congress is going to have to lead. She admitted this at minimum twice in the debate latest night, once on scrapping the cap on earnings for Social Security withholding and once on the "Fight For $15" issue. In both cases, she admitted that she'd indeed "follow" on the issue by signing bills that made it to her desk -- but that she'd number intention of actually leading on either issue.

To be charitable, you could call this an echo of F. D. R.'south (possibly fictional) line: "I consent with you, presently go out and create me do it." What it means, though, is that even with a President Hillary Clinton and a Democratic Senate, the genuine thrust for bold progressive changes may have to arrive from other Democrats. So we've constructed four talking points for other Democrats to immediately start using, in the hopes that when the time comes, Hillary will indeed chase their lead. If others are going to have to do the heavy lifting, here are some talking points that will help.

Paying the price

We still think this is a great idea.

"I'd encourage all those businesses and corporations and tourists who are presently reconsidering spending their dollars in NC to consider instead coming to Louisiana. Instead of enshrining bigotry in law, LA is emotional in precisely the opposite direction. I'd hope that any socially-conscious business would get note, and immediately announce plans for expansion within Louisiana, emotional their conventions from NC to the Pelican State, and rescheduling their tourist events to bring all of their economic benefits to a state that truly cares about equality. I hear New Orleans is a kind space to have a convention, and a grand space to visit!"

Paul Ryan flailing and failing

The media hasn't really noticed this one, but it'south so embarrassing it'south worth bringing up.

"I look that Paul Ryan is number more able to convince his House Republicans to obtain anything done than John Boehner was. Ryan had a large fanfare of announcing he was going to prove to the country that Republicans had solid ideas for a better future, and that he'd be doing this by actually putting budget bills on the floor for Republicans to vote on. This would prove, by the two thousand sixteen election, that Republicans were capable of presenting solid plans. He even promised an Obamacare replacement. But not only is that as non-existent as ever, today Ryan missed his first large budget deadline. Instead of passing the overall spending bill, the Tea Partiers once again proved to be the tail wagging the House Republican dog. Number ponder Ryan announced this week that he wasn't interested in being nominated president -- he can't even handle the work he'south currently got!"

Fighting voter suppression

Finally, an issue that all Democrats (even both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns) can united behind.

"The Democratic Party and the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are all suing the state of AZ over the disgraceful fiasco of latest month'south primary election. In Maricopa County, voters had to wait in lines for up to five hours, because the Republican county official responsible for elections decided to slice the no of polling places by an astounding eighty-five percent from two thousand eight. The reduction in polling places was most notable in areas with destitute and minority residents. Generally Republicans are a bit more subtle about their efforts to suppress voter turnout, but this really is as blatant as it gets. Hopefully this lawsuit will imply that by November, we'll look a lot fewer problems in Maricopa County on election day. This isn't the only example of Republicans trying to suppress the vote in this election cycle, but it certainly was the worst."

Scrap the cap!

And presently we move on to the progressive portion of the program. I explained the "scrap the cap" idea a long time ago (with charts!) -- the Social Security tax is the most regressive in the all tax code. It taxes all earnings up to a certain quantity (roughly $120.000), and then all income over that quantity isn't taxed. Even Bernie Sanders hasn't totally gotten on board the "scrap the cap" bandwagon, as his map would still leave an indefensible "donut hole" so that people making between $120.000 and $250.000 would get a large tax crack for number obvious reason. Hillary Clinton wouldn't even admit to supporting the idea latest night (she was flat-out against it, back in two thousand-eighth). It'south time to move past all of this waffling and just create it a flat tax for everyone. Yes, a flat tax is regressive. But nowhere near as regressive as the way it stands now.

"To fix Social Security once and for all, and to allow a hike in benefits, there is one ordinary solution. Gather Social Security taxes on every dollar that every worker earns. Period. Right now, every firefighter, every teacher, every nurse, and every cop on the beat who makes less than $120.000 a year pays a flat 6.2 % into Social Security. But someone who makes $150.000 is paying less than five percent. It gets worse as the incomes skyrocket, too -- at $250.000 you're paying less than three percent, and at $750.000 less than a single percent. Someone making five million bucks a year pays less than one-tenth of one percent into Social Security. Just by scrapping this cap altogether, sufficient money would be generated to convince Social Security'south solvency for seventy-five years and even authorize for more generous benefits to be paid out. The time has come. Scrap the cap."


Hillary Clinton has been noticeably averse to even mentioning the word "marijuana." She'south not alone in this -- plenty of Democrats are timidly waiting on the sidelines to look what happens next. But presently that Bernie Sanders has become the only major presidential candidate to ever address the issue specifically, the time for standing on the sidelines is over.

"In the latest debate of the primary season, Bernie Sanders said the following, and I quote: We've got to have the guts to rethink the so-called 'War on Drugs.' Too many lives have been destroyed because people have possessed marijuana -- millions. Which is why I believe we should obtain marijuana out of the federal controlled substance act. Unquote. Bernie'south right. Marijuana activists have been fighting tough for decades to get marijuana reclassified on the controlled substance schedules. But with four states already having legalized recreational marijuana -- and possibly many more to come, this election cycle -- it's presently time to hand over federal marijuana control to the same dept that handles alcohol and tobacco. It'south the only thing that makes any sense anymore. Marijuana should be descheduled, not just rescheduled. Every sane person can look this is the direction the country is headed. The federal government has stuck its head in the sand for distant too long. Times are a-changing. Federal law should also change, to reflect this new reality."

Continue Obama'south sentencing reform

Bernie was right about this latest night, too, when he pointed out that this actually is an achievable goal.

"President Obama is to be commended for taking the lead on sentencing reform. A new report shows that 26.000 federal drug offenders have gotten reduced sentences below Obama'south new policy. This effort needs to be continued below the following president, and we necessity to examine all the laws passed in the War On Drugs hysteria of a few decades ago, in order to modify the most excessive. Most Democrats presently know the War On Drugs 'lock them all up' mentality causes more damage than it helps, and Republicans are getting on board because they look the massive amounts of money which can be saved with more attentive policies. This is a scarce area of agreement, so Democrats necessity to thrust the issue tough after the election, to force the following president to continue Obama's efforts."

$15 -- period.

This one was the most painfully obvious last night.

"The movement to create a living wage for all American workers everywhere isn't called 'Fight for $12, or maybe better if we can obtain it somehow.' It's called 'Fight for $15' for a reason. America has to finish the insane policy of mandating a minimum wage which nearly requires the worker to be supplemented by food stamps in order to eat. This is nothing brief of corporate welfare, because it shifts these costs from the corporations to the taxpayers. Nobody working full-time should be eligible for benefits, because their salary should be high sufficient to live on. Period. This means fifteen bucks and hour, and nothing less. If this is the minimum wage across America, it'll create an absolutely level playing field because number business anywhere will be able to obtain far with paying less. We necessity to fight for a living wage for all. We necessity to accept nothing less, and Congress needs to create that crystal clear to the following president. Fifteen dollars and hour. Period."

Chris Weigant blogs at:

Chase Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints. com

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