Saturday, January 30, 2016

Americans Trust Democrats More Than Republicans

A new Pew Research Center survey finds the American people trust Democrats more than Republicans 41 percent 31 percent.

The Pew Research Center’s annual survey of policy and priorities found that Democrats led Republicans on a wide range of character issues. Democrats had a 25 point lead (52%-27%) on being more willing to work with the other party. Democrats held a 20 point (52%-32%) advantage on the question of who is concerned with the needs of people like me. By a margin of 54%-35%, Republicans were found to be the more extreme party in their positions. Respondents also thought the Republican Party was more influenced by lobbyists than the Democratic Party (47%-30%), but the most telling question was who do people trust to govern ethically and honestly.

By a margin of 41%-31% those surveyed believed that Democrats govern in a more ethical and honest way than Republicans. This question goes to the heart of why Democrats continue to win elections. A majority of voters don’t trust the Republican Party. They don’t think Republicans will be honest with them. Some of these feelings are no doubt left over from the dishonest Bush administration, but much of the distrust comes from the way Republicans have chosen to govern.

Republicans have been fundamentally dishonest with the American people. After they took control of the House in 2010, John Boehner said the Republican agenda was all about jobs. He and his caucus then spent years on dozens of attempts to repeal the ACA. Boehner’s Republican House majority hasn’t proposed or passed a single jobs bill. However, they have voted to cut food stamps, energy assistance, aid for veterans, food for senior citizens, unemployment benefits, and almost every other aid program for the poor and middle class that you can think of.

While cutting programs for the poor and middle class, Republicans have aggressively pushed an agenda of tax cuts and benefits for corporations and the wealthy. This survey reveals that the American people are paying attention to what Republicans have been up to. Republicans can’t disguise their plans to cut taxes for the wealthy as a jobs bill, and expect no one to notice what they are really up to.

Republicans have shown repeatedly during the Obama presidency that they don’t care about the problems of average Americans. Democrats have taken up the mantle of fighting for everyone that the Republican agenda is harming, and people appear to be appreciating it.

The Republican Party is in shambles because they are accurately viewed by most Americans as the uncaring party of the rich. Republicans can pay lip service to the middle class and claim they care about poverty, but they aren’t fooling anyone.

The GOP in the 2016 election cycle is increasingly revealing itself as the party of the wealthy few focused on winning elections on message of fear and hate.

Understanding Donald Trump and The GOP

Friday, January 29, 2016

Students: Texas Photo ID Not Requied For Mail Ballots

I hope young Texans old enough to vote, in their late teens and twenties, have registered to vote and will vote in the 2016 primary election. The voter registration deadline is Monday, February 1, 2016.

But even holding their Voter Registration Certificate, many young Texans may not be able to vote, because they don't have a driver's license, concealed handgun license or passport. They may not be able to vote because Texas' SB14 voter ID law remains in effect, as of the date of this article, pending further action by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Many college dorm resident students attending college in a city or state away from their home don't have a car or a driver's license - or their birth certificate.

But students attending college in a city or state away from home can request a vote-by-mail ballot from their parent's home county elections office, if the student is registered to vote in their home county -- and did not re-register in the county where they attend college. No ID is required to request and vote a mail ballot from your home county.  Application for a Ballot by Mail - click here.

Any registered Texas voter who is 65 years or older or disabled, or who will be out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting may request and vote a mail mail ballot. If you are eligible to vote by mail - request your mail ballot today! The last day to submit mail ballot application is Friday, February 19, 2016 - received at the county elections office, not just postmarked. 

To check your registration status in a Texas county - click here. If you find you are not registered, you can find the Voter's Registration application by clicking here. For specific information about voting in Texas, click here.

Many other citizens, including women and the elderly, also find they face just extraordinary complications in obtaining their Texas driver license, or other ID card. To get a government-issued ID, the state requires a certified copy of your birth certificate, from your state of birth. Many find they don't have an official state certified birth certificate, This group includes many African-Americans in their mid-fifties and older who were delivered by midwife in an era when many hospitals did not admit nonwhite mothers. It also includes unofficial adoptions of children given to relatives or other families to raise. Others may have had their birth and marriage records destroyed by tornado, hurricane, fire or flood.

The Texas Department of Public Safety women often challenge women on their "true identity" because 90% change their names on marriage to their husband's surname, which is different from their birth certificate surname.

Many Americans don't understand why some voters don't have a driver's license or other photo ID. A Rasmussen Reports poll in mid-2015 found support for photo ID laws at 76 percent.  Democrats often accuse Republicans of attempting to keep minorities from the polls with the photo requirement, but even the Democratic Party faithful see approve of voter I.D. requirement.

Rasmussen found 58 percent of Democrats believe a government-issued ID must be shown to be able to vote. The poll also found 92 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party support photo ID laws. Most do believe non-eligible (non-citizens) voting is a significant problem; Only 37 percent of all voters think it is more common for eligible voters to be prevented from voting because they lack a photo ID, than it is for non-eligible voters to vote.
Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID:
  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport
With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.
Read more at: Texas Voter Registration and I.D. Requirements For 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BlogTalkUSA: Eyes Wide Open / DemBlogTalk - 01/26/2016

On our Tuesday evening program this week, my co-host Rheana Nevitt Piegols and I first talked with Kenneth Sanders, who is the African America Outreach Director for Senator Bernie Sanders' Texas campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Kenneth gave us his perspective on why so many volunteers across Texas are flocking to work for the Sanders campaign.

In the next program segment, Rheana and I talk with Celia Morgan, President of Texas Young Democrats and Vice-Chair of the Young Democrats of America Labor Caucus.

Our other guests Tuesday evening for a round table discussion on how Young Democrats across Texas and American are engaging in the political process were Collin County Texas Young Democrats President, Kevin Numerick, and CCYD's founder and past President Michael Messer, who is running for Collin County Justice of Peace.

These three young Democrats - actually, four, counting Rheana - engaged in a smart and insightful discussion on politics in Texas and America today. (starting at the 31 min mark on the podcast.) You don't want to miss listening to this week's podcast.

Click to listen to our podcast:

Listen or download - MP3

Who Is Senate Berie Sanders

Watch count down of the Top 10 Reasons Why Bernie Sanders May Actually Become President.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CNN Iowa Democratic Town Hall - Jan 25, 2016

With only one week to go before the Iowa caucuses, the three remaining Democratic candidates for President took the stage at Drake University in Des Moines on CNN Monday night for a Town Hall discussion moderated by CNN New Day program anchor Chris Cuomo. Cuomo asked former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to answer a series of questions.

In the closing two comments of Martin O’Malley’s appearance on the latest Democratic Town Hall event, Martin O’Malley, not so inconspicuously, urged his Iowa contingent to back Bernie Sanders if they do not reach the 15% needed under caucus rules to cast a vote for O’Malley. Specifically he said,
“America’s looking for a new leader… We can not be this fed up with our gridlocked dysfunctional national politics and think that a resort to old ideologies or old names (ie. Clinton) is going to lead us forward… America needs new leadership and I need the O’Malley supporters out there on caucus night to hold strong and move forward like Iowa does.” Forward is not referring the status quo and old ideologies attached to the Clinton name.

He continues during his next and final question with his implied support of Sanders by saying, “Time and time again in the history of the state of Iowa, Iowa has found a way to sort the the noise and sort through the national polls and lift up a new leader for our country… That is what you did eight years ago when you lifted up Barrack Obama (over Clinton) to lead our country forward and we need to build upon his good work and continue to move forward. … I’m not here to praise you Iowa, I’m here to challenge you. Lift up a new leader. Because you can change the course of this presidential race. (From Clinton to Sanders) You can shift this dynamic on caucus night. … There is nothing so divided about our national politics that it can not be healed with a renewed faith in each other and new leadership… But I think it important, in order to move our country forward, that once again Iowa lift up a new leader. …”

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Texas Voter Registration and I.D. Requirements For 2016

by Michael Handley

Pursuant to Texas state election law, new Voter Registration Certificates are mailed to all "Active Status" registered voters in December of odd numbered years. “Suspense Status” voters do not receive a new certificate.

New blue color certificates were printed by the election registrar office of each Texas county and mailed between November 15th and December 5th. Voters whose renewal certificates are returned to the registrar as undelivered will be placed in "suspense" by January 2, 2016, following the mailing.

The certificates are valid for two years beginning January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2017.

Certificates must list jurisdictional numbers for seven designated territorial units: Congressional & State Legislative Districts, County Commissioners’, Justice of the Peace precincts and the City and School District precincts, if defined. In addition to the aforementioned, counties may include 3 additional districts for a total of ten jurisdiction.

You MUST be registered to vote in the county in which you currently reside, and have a currently dated government issued photo I.D., to vote in any Texas election. You must be registered, or have mailed your registration application to be postmarked, no later than midnight of the thirtieth day before the election date. And, as of the date of this article, you are still required to present photo I.D. at the polling place to vote in person. The last day to register to vote in any election is the 30th day before Election Day..
NOTE: On August 10, 2016, US District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi issued an order prescribing what Texas voters need to bring to the polls when they vote in person. The new procedures remain in effect until further Court notice.

New Procedures for Voting in Person All citizens wishing to vote must still be on the official list of registered voters. For the November 8th election, the deadline to register is October 11th.
Voters may still use one of seven (7) forms of photo ID, listed below. IDs may be expired up to four years. (Previously IDs could be expired no more than 60 days.)
  • Driver license
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate (EIC)
  • Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
  • Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
  • US military identification card containing the person's photograph
  • US citizenship certificate containing the person's photograph
  • US passport
ADDITIONALLY, new procedures ordered by Judge Ramos allow registered voters who have not been able to obtain one of the photo ID's listed above to complete and sign a form and present one of the following documents to vote a regular ballot:
  • Valid voter registration certificate (card)
  • Certified birth certificate
  • Current utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Any other government document with the individual's name and address
  • *The one-page form is called the "Voter's Declaration of Reasonable Impediment or Difficulty"
The Judge also ordered:
  • Election officials cannot question a voter about the use of an ID type
  • Poll watchers may never question a voter about Voter ID issues
  • The ID address does not have to match the voter registration address. It was also made clear that the ID address does not have to match the voter registration address.
Judge Ramos' order followed a July 2016 decision by the full US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling the existing Texas Voter ID requirements had a discriminatory effect and directed Judge Ramos to arrive at an interim solution. She will continue to consider the subject of discriminatory intent.
Every registered Texas voter should have received their new 2016-17 blue Voter Registration Card (VRC) by the first part of January 2016, or within thirty days after you submitted your registration application. If you asked to register to vote while updating your driver's license with the Texas DPS, and you never received a VRC, your registration application may not have been processed.

If you have not received a new VRC, you may NOT be properly registered to vote. You should immediately check your registration status and take action to properly register, if you find you are not registered to vote in the county where you reside.

To check your Collin Co. registration status - click here. To check your registration status in another Texas county - click here. If you find you are not registered to vote, you can find the Voter's Registration application for Collin Co. by clicking here or any county by clicking here. For specific information about voting in Texas, click here to find the Secretary of State’s pamphlet on Texas Voting.

Friday, January 22, 2016

43rd Anniversary Of Roe v. Wade

On the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Roe v. Wade decision—which affirmed a woman’s right to abortion — the Center for American Progress released a column and an infographic examining how decades of state abortion restrictions have prevented many women from fully accessing the right to abortion granted to them in Roe.

Forty-three years after Roe, the absence of women’s access to the full range of legal reproductive health care services can still literally be a matter of life and death.

In March 2015, the Supreme Court will hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a case challenging Texas’ H.B. 2 — a law that placed dramatic restrictions on state abortion clinics and currently threatens to reduce the number of abortion clinics in the state from 50 to 10 or fewer. Since H.B. 2 was passed in 2013, more than 130,000 and up to 240,000 women report having attempted to self-terminate a pregnancy without consulting a medical professional. These staggering figures prompted some Texas lawmakers to protest the bill on the floor of the state Legislature by holding coat hangers—a chilling symbol of pre-Roe at-home abortions that often left women maimed, infertile, or dead.

Primaries: Texas Starts Third After Iowa, New Hampshire

Texas primary early voting starts third on Feb 16th, after the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1st and New Hampshire Primary on Feb. 9th. Heavy media coverage of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire Primary leading into the start of Texas early voting will drive election interest among Texas voters of both parties. That media attention will prime the turnout pump for the first week of Texas early voting.

Media coverage of Nevada's caucuses on Saturday Feb 20th, half way through the Texas early voting period, will keep Texas early voting interest high. During the last week of Texas early voting, media coverage leading into South Carolina's Saturday, Feb 27th primary will also keep interest high.

And heavy media coverage of South Carolina's Saturday primary results during the Sunday and Monday before Super Tuesday will drive election day turnout interest among Texas voters and voters in the other Super Tuesday state.


Iowa precinct caucuses will allocate 46 pledged delegates on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016.  The byzantine rules of Iowa Democratic Party caucuses give outsider presidential candidates a chance at legitimacy — or sudden irrelevance. Unlike Republican caucus rules, where all votes are counted equally, Democratic Party caucus-goers gather in groups for each candidate during a 30-minute alignment period. If a candidate's group count does not reach 15 percent of the total attendance count, its members must realign with a different candidate to be counted for delegate apportioning.

The complicated Democratic caucus rules are tilted toward normalizing the strength of candidates, especially in two and three person races. Only the number of delegates awarded in each of Iowa's 1,681 precincts will be published on caucus night. (video right documents a 2008 caucus.

No official record of the each candidate’s share of total caucus vote counts, which usually mirrors polling data, will be published. Candidates can easily tie in the precinct delegate count allocation, even if one candidate has far more support inside the caucus room. Whether the Sanders campaign or Clinton campaign is more successful at getting out caucus voters, they're relative delegate count reported by the precincts — individually and collectively — may in fact look more like a draw than a win.

No Texas Two-Step For 2016 Super Tuesday Primary

Seven years after Barack Obama earned the majority of Texas' presidential delegates, despite losing the primary vote count to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008, the Democratic National Committee put an end to the Texas "two-step" of primary vote and then "caucus" to allocate presidential delegates the Democratic National Convention. The DNC said the Texas two-step "had the potential to confuse voters" for the 2016 primary. Under DNC rules the process must be either all caucus or all polling place votes.

The 2016 "Super Tuesday" Texas primary will allocate the largest slate of delegates up for grabs on that election date for Democratic presidential contenders vying for the party’s nomination. With Bernie Sanders increasingly looking like a primary contender against Hillary Clinton, the DNC did not want repeat of the 2008 delegate allocation controversies caused by the two-step process.

Pledged Texas delegates will be allocated to each 2016 Presidential candidate based solely on the number of ballots cast for each candidate in March 1, 2016 Democratic Primary election. Presidential candidates must receive at least 15% of the vote in a Texas Senatorial District to receive a district delegate and must receive at least 15% statewide to receive at-large delegates. Texas is the big post Iowa and New Hampshire prize on Super Tuesday with Texas Democrats selecting 252 delegates, including 30 pledged super delegates, for largest single delegate count of any state up to and including the other super Tuesday states.

The Democratic National Committee long ago adopted a rule specifying presidential delegates must be allocated based solely on the count of primary ballots cast for each candidate. The Texas two-step has been grandfathered by DNC waiver for every presidential election cycle since the DNC adopted that presidential delegate allocation rule.

At its June 26th meeting in Washington, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee unanimously rejected the Texas Democratic Party's 2016 primary two-step waiver request. Texas was long the lone remaining state to have continually been granted a waiver to allocate delegates through a two-step primary and precinct convention "caucus" process. Texas Democratic Primary voters WILL NOT return to precinct "caucus" conventions after the polls close on Primary Election Day.  Election Day precinct "caucus" conventions are a thing of the past.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Privatization Ruining Our Education System

Profit-seeking in the banking and health care industries has victimized Americans. Now it’s beginning to happen in education, with our children as the products.

There are good reasons – powerful reasons – to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality. At the very least we need the good sense to slow it down while we examine the evidence about charters and vouchers.

Charter Schools Have Not Improved Education

The recently updated CREDO study at Stanford revealed that while charters have made progress since 2009, their performance is about the same as that of public schools. The differences are, in the words of the National Education Policy Center, “so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial.” Furthermore, the four-year improvement demonstrated by charters may have been due to the closing of schools that underperformed in the earlier study, and also by a variety of means to discourage the attendance of lower-performing students.

Texas charters had a much lower graduation rate in 2012 than traditional schools.

Read the full story at Salon: 4 ways privatization is ruining our education system

The Democrats' Tunnel Vision

By now even a narcoleptic could recite the GOP's parody of Democrats. The party of "big government." Champions of "class warfare" programmed to "tax and spend" other people's money. An amalgam of interest groups divorced from the national interest. Practitioners of "identity politics" bent only on getting to 51 percent. Enemies of the "job creators." Enablers of listless bureaucrats and their shiftless dependents. Spineless hand-wringers with no respect for our past or faith in our future.

A lot of this is political bilge, a shameless inversion of the GOP's divisive politics and intellectual vacuity. In debate all three Democratic candidates are specific, informed and grounded in a reality largely absent from the Republican contest. But all too often, and particularly on the stump, Democrats themselves can verge on self-parody, purveyors of programs bereft of a larger vision.

According to public opinion expert Peter Hart, the great majority of Americans want a new course after the Obama years, and by two to one believe that America is headed in the wrong direction.  Bilious as it is, Donald Trump's pledge to "make America great again" touches something deeper than just resentment or nostalgia -- a desire for national renewal which, at its best, could inspire a more transcendent politics, transforming widespread angst about our future into a shared and positive mission.

All too often Democrats who speak of pragmatism rather than with vision fail to transcend.

Read the full article published at HuffingtonPost 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The 4th Democratic Debate - January 17 2016

Sunday's Democratic debate, hosted by NBC, was the party's second-most watched this election cycle, with about 10.2 million viewers tuning into the channel, according to the network.

While NBC's ratings beat out the last two Democratic debates it isn't even close to the first Democratic debate hosted by CNN, which brought in 15.3 million viewers. ABC had about 7.8 million viewers and CBS had about 8.5 million viewers opposite the debate on NBC.

The uptick in audience share last night, over the last two DNC debates, could be the result of the last two debates were also held on Saturdays, which typically see lower ratings than Sundays. The third debate on the Saturday before Christmas day on ABC attracted only 6.71 million viewers. The second debate attracted 8.5 million viewers on a mid-November Saturday when two Iowa university football teams matched off. And interest may have increased with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) closing the polling gap with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire, which has resulted in Clinton going on the attack against Sanders by pointing out their differences on health care and gun control. 

The Republican debates have all lacked what the Democratic debates have. This was another substantive debate among the Democrats, devoid of the histrionics, name-calling, and fact-free pronouncements that are pro forma in the Republican presidential debate shows. The Democratic candidates disagree on how to achieve certain policy goals, but they all agree on those big goals. Democrats have a real vision for the country. There isn’t a battle for the direction of the party happening on the Democratic side.

Any of three Democratic candidates would make a better president than any of the dozen Republicans running for the White House. Democrats demonstrated their competence and ability to govern during the NBC debate. Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley have the policies that are missing on the Republican side. While Republicans fight the culture wars and rage against the nation’s changing demographics, Democrats are speaking to the real problems of ordinary Americans.

Case in point -- When Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were asked if they saw any scenario where ground forces could be used to combat ISIS. Former Sec. Clinton said, “absolutely not.” Sanders blasted Republicans for not learning the lessons of Iraq, and he said that using ground forces to combat ISIS would lead to perpetual war and be a complete disaster. Sanders said that ISIS won’t be destroyed with American troops in perpetual warfare. Martin O’Malley said that he believed that President Obama was doing the right thing. O’Malley said that he appreciates that Democrats don’t use the term boot on the ground.
But that's not to say the fourth Democratic debate was all kumbaya. Clinton and Sanders presented different visions on their approach to governing – big ideas verses pragmatism. While Sanders urged his audience to “think big,” Clinton repeatedly cautioned thinking big is not pragmatic.
  • Associated Press: “Their heated rhetoric highlighted the central question fueling the increasingly competitive primary race: Will the Sanders passion beat out the Clinton practicality?”
  • ABC’s Rick Klein: The debate re-framed the race as “a battle pitting the party’s head against its heart.
Watch the full debate video:

Fact checkers of the last Democratic Debate found that nearly all of the major claims made by the candidates were actually true.

Iran's Crude Oil Flowing To World Markets And U.S. Debt Bubble

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, Saturday issued a report confirming Iran's compliance with the July 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five world powers. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano released the following statement via the IAEA:
Today, I released a report confirming that Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The report was submitted to the IAEA Board of Governors and to the United Nations Security Council. ... full statement ...
After the IAEA issued the report confirming Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, Secretary of State John Kerry signed a waiver lifting Congressional enacted sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program. At the same time, President Barack Obama issued a new executive order to lift sanctions that were enacted under his authority, and the U.N. and EU moved to provide sanctions relief to Iran.

With sanctions lifted, the Iranian oil minister has said his country will immediately begin selling as much of its crude oil onto the world energy market as it can produce to generate cash the country badly needs to help its economy recover from years of sanctions. Unfortunately, Iran rejoins the world energy market just as the world energy market slumps into a deep price depression. 

Sanctions background

Thursday, January 14, 2016

BlogTalkUSA: Eyes Wide Open / DemBlogTalk - 01/12/2016

On our Tuesday evening program this week, my co-host Rheana Nevitt Piegols and I talked about President Obama's last State of the Union address. (Program was pre-recorded before the SOTU Address.)

We also talk about the state of mind of those who criticize President Obama's, his assessments, his proposals, and his vision for the future, despite the facts and realities he referenced and has spoken about in prior SOTU addresses.

To wrap up the program, we discuss new polling data on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as it relates the Democratic Party caucus and primary schedule in February.

Click to listen to our podcast:

Listen or download - MP3

Clinton Says Bernie Sanders Would Take Health Care From Millions

Over the last few weeks Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been hitting fast-rising rival Bernie Sanders over his longtime advocacy for single-payer health care. That's a system in which everybody, or almost everybody, gets insurance directly from a government-run "Medicare for all" program.

The Clinton campaign's assault on Bernie Sanders over health care got more intense this week as Hillary Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, made the claim Sanders intends to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid -- and "strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance."
But in 2008, Clinton decried the notion that a fellow Democrat would attack another for proposing universal coverage. Health care was also a major issue in the 2008 Democratic primaries. At the time, Clinton supported an individual mandate requiring everyone buy a commercial health insurance policy or pay a fine, as was eventually enacted in the Affordable Care Act, otherwise know as Obamacare. Then Preisdential candidate Barack Obama did not at the time support the individual private insurance mandate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

SC Gov. Nikki Haley’s 2016 GOP State of the Union Response

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was tapped by the Republican Party to deliver its response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address. Haley's message was clearly intended to convince voters seven years under the thumb of  a Democratic president has been seven years too many. Haley directed explicit criticisms of the president, saying:
Barack Obama's election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that.

Unfortunately, the President's record has often fallen far short of his soaring words.

As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We're feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities.
The South Carolina governor followed up her opening shot at Pres. Obama by savaging his foreign policy and highlighting Republican priorities on immigration, taxes, education, and the Second Amendment.

Haley's alternate state of the union was a clear attempt to disparage the Democrat in White House to reconstitute conservative governing ideology as good governance, as Republicans have done since Pres. Bush moved out of the White House.

During his State of the Union address last night, President Obama seemed eager to tout the nation’s economic gains. “The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world,” he said, before rattling off key statistics, including rapid job growth and the strength of the American auto industry. “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction,” the president added.
The Great Recession legacy Pres. George Bush and his Republican controlled congress left to the United States after eight years in office the nation's longest, and by most measures worst economic recession since the Great Depression between December 2007 and June 2009. The follow discussion reviews the course of the economy following that recession against the background of how deep a hole the recession created – and how much deeper that hole would have been without the financial stabilization and fiscal stimulus policies enacted by Pres. Obama in early 2009.

Hillary Clinton’s Polling Trend Not Her Friend

Several polls out this week show Hillary Clinton trailing (to various degrees) in New Hampshire, and now, also falling behind in Iowa in the January Quinnipiac University poll taken after New Year's Day and completing Jan. 10th.

In a mid-November Quinnipiac University poll, Clinton had the support of 51 percent of likely Iowa caucus attendees to Sanders' 42 percent, for a 9 point lead. Quinnipiac last polled Iowa in December, at which point Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders by 11 points. That poll was completed Dec. 13.  The Iowa poll out on January 12, 2016 showed a five-point 49 percent to 44 percent advantage — for Sanders. That's a 16-point swing over the course of a month. This also wasn't the only poll to show Sanders with a lead. A survey from American Research Group this week has him up three points.

So what happened to Clinton? Well, part of it is that her favorability slipped. Among all voters, she dropped seven points in the head-to-head matchup (Sanders gained nine), but the percentage of people viewing her favorably fell from 81 to 74. Among groups that have preferred Sanders (like men), Sanders's lead increased.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pres. Barack Obama Delivers His Last State of the Union Address

When President Obama took office in January 2009 after 8 years of Pres. Bush's administration, America was experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Job losses were mounting by 800,000 jobs per month, people were loosing their homes and life savings, and tens of thousands of U.S troops were deployed in Iraq and Afganistan. Seven years later, our businesses have created 14.1 million new jobs over the past 70 months. America has reformed its health care system, reinvented its energy sector, and brought home more than 160,000 troops.

President Obama used his final State of the Union address to reflect on his presidency and accomplishments, and the work yet to be accomplished.
About 31.3 million people watched President Obama deliver his last State of the Union address on network and cable television Tuesday — the smallest audience recorded since ratings company Nielsen started keeping track in 1993. The ratings count the 12 networks that carried the address live: ABC, Al Jazeera America, Azteca, CBS, CNN, FOX, FOX Business Network, FOX News Channel, Galavision, MSNBC, NBC and NBC Universo. Spanish-language Univision also carried the speech on tape delay. These TV ratings numbers do not include other ways people follow the State of the Union address on streaming video sites like YouTube and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This year, the White House added Amazon video and Snapchat to the mix. Nielsen said 9.8 million people saw one or more of the 2.6 million tweets sent in the United States about the speech. The Twitter audience peaked at 30,600 tweets-per-minute immediately after the president's speech.

Watch the video of President Barack Obama delivering his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress in Washington on January 12, 2016.

VP Joe Biden Praises Bernie Sanders

Vice President Joe Biden has nothing but glowing praise for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Biden, who contemplated a run for the presidency but decided to opt out, said of Sanders:
“Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real. And he has credibility on it. And that is the absolute enormous concentration of wealth of a small group of people, with a middle class now being left out.”

Biden was referring to Sanders’ consistent record of speaking out on and pushing initiatives about income inequality throughout his career. Sanders has made the issue a central theme of his campaign. Biden also believes the issue of income inequality is of vital importance to the country.
Biden said: “There used to be a basic bargain. If you contributed to the profitability of an enterprise, you share in that profit, and that’s been broken. Productivity is up and wages are stagnant.”

Biden continued, commenting on Hillary Clinton, "It's relatively new for Hillary to talk about that," acknowledging that Clinton has "come forward with some really thoughtful approaches to deal with the issue" of income inequality. Hillary's focus has been other things up to now, and that's been Bernie's -- no one questions Bernie's authenticity on those issues,"

Government Isn't The Solution, It's The Problem, When Run By GOP Conservatives

President Ronald Reagan in his first Inaugural Address proclaimed: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”  Conservative humorist P. J. O'Rourke often quips, "The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it." Here is another example of the absolute truth of O'Rourke's quip.

If you watch Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program you know she has devoted a great deal of time to reporting about "emergency managers" appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Flint, Michigan water crisis, created by that city's emergency manager. If you haven’t heard Rachel's reporting on this on this scandal, it’s important to get up to speed.

2016 Iowa Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum

The Iowa Brown & Black U.S. Presidential candidate Forum was founded in 1984 by Co-Chairs former Iowa State Representative Wayne W. Ford and Mary E. Dominguez Campos. Rep. Ford is the Founder and Executive Director of Urban Dreams, a United Way agency located in Des Moines, Iowa. Ms. Campos is a prominent member of the Des Moines Latino community. It is recognized as the oldest non-partisan forum for Presidential candidates in the nation addressing issues of concern to the minority community. It is the fourth oldest, established forum for presidential candidates in the nation.

On Monday, January 11th, Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders took this year's Forum stage to discuss where they stand on the issues that matter to young, diverse America. Including: social justice, immigration, education, health care, and the economy. The Forum was moderated by FUSION anchors Jorge Ramos and Alicia Menendez as well as FUSION contributor Akilah Hughes and New York Magazine Writer-at-Large Rembert Browne. watch the video now.

Monday, January 11, 2016

DNC Chair Wasserman-Schultz Blames Voters for Failures of Democratic Party

Rarely do politicians appear to go out of their way to alienate their core constituencies. It is even more rare that they do so in the course of an election cycle in which they play a critical role, and in which turnout will be key to winning. Nonetheless, that is exactly what Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) did, in what was an otherwise very brief interview published by the New York Times Magazine on January 6.

It’s a doozy. Wasserman Schultz is also chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and ostensibly working to elect more Dems in 2016. Yet in a few short paragraphs, she insulted an entire demographic of female voters, made misleading statements about medical marijuana and the heroin epidemic, and suggested that drug addiction was not a problem “in the suburbs.”

The interview has caused a firestorm among progressive groups and advocates, including CREDO Action, which has launched a petition calling on her to resign. Wasserman Schultz calls herself a progressive, but that appears more an effort to ally herself notionally with a growing political movement than a reflection of her actual politics, positions, or actions.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Primary Challenger For DNC Chair Wasserman-Schultz

Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), the controversial chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has a progressive primary challenger in her bid for re-election in Florida’s 23rd Congressional district. Tim Canova, a little-known liberal economist and law professor, announcedThursday that he would challenge Wasserman-Schultz, who has aroused the ire of progressives for her perceived supplication to corporate interests, outdated policy beliefs, and mishandling of the primary election season.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

U.S. Was Hit With Seriously High Temperatures In 2015

2015 was the second hottest on record in the United States since data collection began in 1895, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday. Last year was also the 19th consecutive time that average temperatures in the U.S. exceeded the 20th century average.

Everyone born after 1996 has only known warmer than normal temperatures. NOAA also reported that December was record warm for the contiguous United States, with temperatures at 6°F above average. Twenty-nine states had their warmest December on record, while no state was record cold.

Mounting evidence behind man-made climate change doesn’t mean that skeptics are backing down, however.

Read the rest of the story at Think Progress: U.S. Was Hit With Seriously High Temperatures In 2015

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Best Economic Plan For The 99 Percent

The Democratic presidential campaign – unlike the Republican circus – has actually produced a debate in which each candidate’s economic agenda has gotten better and more populist. But as you can see at, there are also big differences.

Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders agree that America’s long period of stagnant wages and growing inequality has been due to chronic slow growth and high unemployment. InClinton’s words, “getting closer to full employment is crucial to raising wages.” Both are committed to some amount of increased public spending on infrastructure and investments in “green industries.” But the differences between the two candidates on public investment are a matter of scale.

Clinton wants $275 billion more in infrastructure investment over the next five years.

Sanders would increase the public investments in jobs-creating infrastructure by $1 trillion over the same five-year period – creating one million new jobs, while helping to retool the U.S. economy to reduce carbon emissions.

Limited Taxes, Limited Ambitions

Thursday, January 7, 2016

BlogTalkUSA: Eyes Wide Open / DemBlogTalk - 01/05/2016

On our Tuesday evening program, my co-host Rheana Nevitt Piegols and I talked about gun safety, among other topics.

Each year: More than 100,000 people in America (all ages) are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, or by police intervention.

31,537 people die from gun violence: 11,583 people murdered; 18,783 self inflicted; and 584 accidental shootings.

71,386 people survive gun injuries: 51,249 people intentionally assaulted by gun owners; 3,627 people survive at tempted suicide; and 15,815 people are shot accidentally.

Click to listen to our podcast:

Listen or download - MP3

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains why "The gun lobby's con game will come to an end.." As Dionne writes, "... Something important happened in the East Room when Obama offered a series of constrained but useful steps toward limiting the carnage on our streets, in our schools and houses of worship and movie theaters. He made clear that the era of cowering before the gun lobby and apologizing, trimming, hedging and equivocating is over...Bullies are intimidating until someone calls their bluff. By ruling out any reasonable steps toward containing the killing in our nation and by offering ever more preposterous arguments, the gun worshipers are setting themselves up for wholesale defeat. It will take time. But it will happen."

At ABC News Gary Langer has "Views on Gun Control: A Polling Summary."

From Pew Research Center, via Greg Sargent

gun chart.jpg

Sen. Bernie Sanders On Wall Street And Banking Reform

If you’ve seen the Adam McKay's film “The Big Short,” you know it was the greed of Wall Street traders and bankers, combined with the lack of regulatory control, that produced the 2008 economic crisis. You also know that nothing has changed. Congress still has not enacted the kind of financial reforms needed to prevent the next 2008-like financial crash and, even more disturbing, most of the banks are now bigger than they were before the 2008 crash. As noted by the Washington Post, “three of the four largest financial institutions are nearly 80 percent larger” than they were in 2008.

At Town Hall in New York City, Bernie Sanders delivered a major policy speech declaring that he will "break up any banks that are too big to fail and that big bankers will not be too big to jail."


Politico: Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday offered some strong praise for Bernie Sanders Wall Street speech.

Huffington Post: Hillary Clinton's Campaign Response to Sanders' Wall Street Reform Proposals.

Sanders'Speech text as prepared for delivery: