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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Internal Democratic Struggles Are So Unproductive

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 07/27/17 14:49

by Dave Mindeman

I find it enormously frustrating that Democratic activists and candidates seem to focus their ire in the wrong places. I agree with their view. I want to make the same changes. I will work to make that happen. But we have to work in the areas that can actually make a difference.

For example. Regarding Citizens United. Democrats talk loud and long about this Supreme Court decision being wrong. It is drowning our elections in corporate money and the vast majority of that money supports Republicans.

Yet, the term "Wall Street Democrats" is popping up much too often. Sure, there are Democratic candidates who take Wall Street money. It is not ideal but funding a campaign has to have money, at least until we can fix this.

And where will the fix come from? Well, since the Supreme Court has ruled that money is "free speech" and corporations are "people", the only sure way to fix it is with a Constitutional amendment. And that means electing people who will support that concept. When a Democrat raises a lot of money, the tendency is to dismiss that person as not on our side. I disagree. If they manage to get elected and have made a pledge to us, we can hold them accountable.

Of course, the question becomes...why not support a candidate who will not take big money - a candidate who will run a"grass roots" campaign? Well, the only person who managed to make that work was Bernie Sanders... and even at that he was out of money by the end of the primary season...and he still lost. And to my mind, Bernie was unique in that regard. Candidates that he has been willing to support have not gotten the same monetary support and have not been winning.

Money is critical for winning any race. Even more so in Congressional and other Federal campaigns. I don't like it, but I refuse to accept the idea that Democratic candidates who raise a competitive amount of money are not really with us. The ugly reality is that raising money is the only way to a campaign's true viability. And outside money can crush us, even then.

But let's get back to the real fix. A Constitutional amendment needs to get 2/3rds of both Houses and 2/3rds of the state legislatures.

Since Republicans control both Houses and 30+ states, this doesn't look realistic right now.

But we have to look at a longer range plan. A plan that requires legislative focus and electoral action. Winning is the important thing. And if winning NOW requires monetary investments from wherever we can get it, then so be it. We make the pledge to the goal and find a way to get there - and that means holding any Democrat that can get elected accountable to any pledge they make regarding money in politics.

We cannot do this by internal bickering and semantic language. We need to find a way to win...period.

It is discouraging to me that Democrats, faced with the Trump problem and Republican domination, still think it is necessary to rehash the 2016 divisions and label our own candidates in negative ways.

It is frustrating. It is self destructive. And I, for one, am tired of it.

Don't fight each other. The enemy for 2018 is very, very clear.

Get to work.
comments (2) permalink

We Hear From Jared

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 07/24/17 16:25

by Dave Mindeman

Jared Kushner finally spoke. He made a statement on the White House lawn but didn't take any questions. But there was one small part of that statement that seemed very curious....

I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.

That sounded very much like the precise kind of language a lawyer would be consulted about.

The word "relied" stands out like a big red flag. It seems to allow for the idea that Kushner got Russian funding - but he seems to be arguing that it wasn't a basic block of his finances.

But it leaves this open for a lot of speculation. Kushner met with a Russian money launderer - that much we know. But how involved or not involved he was financially with them remains a mystery.

The questions surrounding Trump's and his family's finances are becoming a much bigger question - and the President is getting much more sensitive around talk of his tax returns.

The are becoming a key to the mystery of Russia and I can't imagine that Robert Muller is not already looking at all of it.

Kushner does not look or talk like the political power broker that Trump seems to think he is. I cannot even imagine him as some kind of negotiator between Abbas and Netanyahu - but he is deeply involved in this administration and its sordid affairs. And we can only hope that what has been buried will be brought out into the open.

Jared Kushner is more careful about what he says than his father-in-law (who isn't), but I would guess that Jared's lawyers are worried and his word parsing is intentional.
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Are Officer Involved Shootings Exacerbated By Public Gun Access?

Category: Guns
Posted: 07/21/17 13:09

by Dave Mindeman

This chart shows the number of individuals killed by police officers year by year...


As you look at it, consider this:

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) -- officially, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act -- is a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a United States federal law that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms it defined as assault weapons, as well as certain ammunition magazines it defined as "large capacity." The ten-year ban was passed by the U.S. Congress on September 13, 1994, following a close 52-48 vote in the Senate, and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton the same day. The ban only applied to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment, and it expired on September 13, 2004, in accordance with its sunset provision.

It is hard not to notice the graph. In 1994, there begins to be a precipitous drop in officer involved fatalities. Conversely, in 2004, there is an upward climb in these incidents. In the 10 years in-between which correspond to the tenure of the ban, the graph tends to hold in a range pattern.

Is this just a coincidence?

The job of being a police officer is a very difficult one. And we expect them to be making fast paced life threatening decisions at any moment.

But what about outside influences? What have gun laws in the United States done with the police officer's state of mind?

The prevalence and easy accesibility of guns, forces police officers to assume that anyone they encounter is armed. And with the demise of the assault weapons ban, they may have to assume that they are out gunned in many respects. And arguably have to act faster and with potentially more force.

Couple that with racial bias or rookie officers or hair trigger responses and you have a lot of the ingredients for tragedy.

Too many times we have had to discuss officer involved fatalities. Way too many. And it is time that we have a serious discussion about ALL the factors involved.

Race is obviously a key. Police Chief Jane Harteau first statement on the recent police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk was that "it should not have happened." Very true. But no such statement came from law enforcement on the death of Philando Castile. Which arguably also should not have happened. It seems difficult for police officials to maintain an even depiction of an officer shooting when different races are involved. The police are more willing to admit wrongdoing when a white person is shot and apparently afraid of the racial explanations and implications when a black person is killed.

That should not be.

But let's address the other elephant. Guns. Too many damn guns. It is tragically ironic that this Australian women died at the hands of a gun in the United States. This probably would not have happened in her home country of Australia. The Australian government dealt with their gun issue. They restricted access and got rid of the numbers. This is something that could never happen in the US, but we can, at least, look for common sense ideas that can reduce the outrageous prevalence of firearms in America.

Police officers have to assume that guns are everywhere. And they are. The first action an officer takes is often to draw their weapon. That was not always the norm. In the past, many would have time to assess the situation critically before feeling threatened. But now, the threat level is immediate. And guns are the cause.

The above chart does not definitively prove any kind of relationship involving the assault weapons ban. But it should at least open the conversation.

Frankly, we have to do something about all of this...and soon.
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