Tag Archive: Democrats

By pressuring Senator Al Franken to resign, Democrats defeat themselves

U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota

Following increasing pressure by Congressional Democrats over allegations of sexual impropriety, U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota announced his resignation yesterday. Democratic pressure put only or primarily on Franken (as well as Democratic U.S. House Rep. John Conyers) to resign is a politically grave mistake. At a critical time in history for America, the Democrats are now in a circular firing squad, setting themselves up for defeats of their own making.

Now is not too soon to talk about gun violence

The Knotted Gun

The shootings by Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas on Sunday night were the deadliest in modern U.S. history. 59 people are now dead, with over 500 injured. And yet, on Monday, Trump White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked if Donald Trump was now discussing whether new gun laws are needed, replied that “it would be premature for us to discuss policy” so soon after the killings. Sanders’ reply is similar to what many conservatives and the National Rifle Association say when confronted with mass shootings of civilians involving semiautomatic or, in this case, automatic, weapons. They are wrong for a couple of major reasons:

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that middle-aged drivers might pay more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have fewer claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.

Can Hurricanes Harvey and Irma bring Democrats together?

Citizens cleaning up in Sebring, FL after Hurricane Irma

During the recent disastrous Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, one thing has stood out: Americans came together to help each other in life and death situations, both on the ground and through generous donations to those in need. In most cases, those providing such help didn’t know the people they were helping, much less their political persuasions. Compared to such inspirational American spirit, the current intra-party squabbling on the Democratic side, colloquially between the “Bernie people” and the “Hillary people,” seems to pale. Perhaps, therefore, this is a good opportunity for both sides in the squabble to have a reset, and to focus on what’s really most important.

The Democrats and the power of Why

Democratic Scrabble

Much has been written about the Democratic Party’s new economic theme which it unveiled in July. This new theme is called “A Better Deal.” Unfortunately, a lot of the feedback for the Democrats over their new messaging has been negative. Much of the criticism centers around the fact that “A Better Deal” is not an organic, positive slogan or underlying message, but rather a comparison to Donald Trump and the Republicans. Indeed, the terminology plays off of Trump’s first and most famous book, “The Art of the Deal,” as well as Trump’s frequent use of the word “deal” in both business and political situations. There is a reason why we came up with Messaging Maxim #8: Don’t use the other side’s labels. Doing so is like playing on the other team’s field, with the other team’s rules. It gives your opponents an advantage and has an air of “me too” desperation. Why couldn’t the Democrats come up with their own, more original and inspiring theme?

The solution may lie in what’s called “the Power of Why.”

How to talk to your Republican friends about Donald Trump

Donald Trump: If it does not fit, you must quit

There’s no sport in bashing Donald Trump nowadays. At least once a week, and sometimes once per day, Trump does or says something so shocking, insensitive or stupid that we just can’t believe it. The most recent shocker was Trump’s impromptu press conference days after the tragic pro-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that included a terrorist attack, where Trump blamed “many sides,” and said there were “fine people” on the pro-Nazi side. Eventually, we come to expect more such behavior from Trump.

It’s therefore easy for Donald Trump’s critics to bond with one another and trade attacks on Trump. But what if you have friends who are Republicans and Trump supporters? What can you say to them without wrecking the friendship? I have come up with the following statement that just might do the trick, and maybe even make your friends think twice about their support for Trump:

Democrats finally come up with a positive theme

President Franklin Roosevelt, who called his agenda the “Fair Deal”

This week, Democratic Party leaders finally revealed their positive unifying agenda for America. On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the second highest-ranking elected Democrat, published an op-ed in the Washington Post. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Democrat, published his op-ed in the New York Times. The Democrats are calling their plan “A Better Deal.”  According to Schumer’s op-ed:

Democrats will show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people — and that we stand for three simple things. First, we’re going to increase people’s pay. Second, we’re going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we’re going to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.

Republicans shockingly partisan at Sally Yates Russia hearing

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Republicans in Congress perhaps exceeded even their own partisan reputation at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” The hearing featured Sally Yates, who was Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration until she was fired on January 30 of this year. Also appearing at the hearing was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Each of these witnesses has decades of experience serving in the government under presidents of both parties, and both have knowledge about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. For example, both witnesses know about Michael Flynn, a campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor under Donald Trump for just a few weeks, until February 13. Flynn, a principal subject of the hearing, was fired after the Washington Post reported that he lied about his telephone calls with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, where the two discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election that had just taken place. Yates testified at yesterday’s hearing that, in January of this year, she had urgent meetings and calls with Trump White House attorneys about Flynn, and that she recommended that action be taken regarding Flynn, because he was causing Vice President Mike Pence to lie to the American people about Flynn’s discussions with the Russians, and because Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia over his lies.

However, many of the Republican Senators on the panel did not seem to want to know about Russian involvement in our election. Instead, they criticized the “leaks” that led to the disclosure of Flynn’s activities, as well as the “unmasking” of Flynn. Part of what is shocking about the Republicans’ behavior at the hearing is that, had Flynn not been identified, he might still be National Security Advisor and would still be, as Yates explained, compromised by Russia.

Guns versus terror

Statue of Liberty with gun

Statue of Liberty with gun

In the ongoing war between the political right and left to control the national dialogue, the latest battle involves conservatives talking about terror and liberals talking about guns. We saw this on display during last Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, as the news headlines reported that “Terror takes center stage during Republican debate.” Likewise, terrorism but also gun safety law solutions took center stage at last Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate, as the ABC News moderators asked questions seemingly ripped from the Republican book of talking points.

Terrorist terminology: what to call our enemies

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece -- not our enemy

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece — not our enemy

In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the long-running debate about what to call our terrorist enemies has been renewed. This language battle also has strong political overtones.

Those on the right seem to have no problem using broad terms, which can discredit the entire religion of Islam. Their current preferred terminology is “radical Islam.” For example, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says “we are at war with radical Islam.” Likewise, fellow candidate Lindsey Graham says that “the whole world is a battlefield and radical Islam is everywhere.” Graham even said, after last January’s Charlie Hebdo attack in France, that “we’re in a religious war.”