Thursday, July 28, 2016

Climate Change -- Democratic vs Republican Perspective

Two massive fires in California forced thousands of evacuations over the weekend and continue to rage into Monday. (Photo: AP)
Democrats describe climate change as a “real and urgent threat,” and they call for setting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. “Climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and defeatists in Congress to start listening to science,” and government officials must take any steps they can to reduce pollution, the platform says. It calls for the country to generate half of its electricity from clean sources in the next decade and for cleaner transportation fuels, more public transit and a tax code that creates incentives for renewable energy. The platform also beats back suggestions that protecting the environment would be bad for business. “Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs,” it says.

Republicans say “climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue,” as Democrats have labeled it. They oppose international accords like the agreement crafted in Paris last year that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow the climb in global temperatures.
The platform also blasts President Obama’s “clean power plan,” which would cut emissions by shifting away from coal-powered power plants. The initiative has been put on hold by the Supreme Court; Republicans vow to do away with it entirely. They also pointedly describe coal as a “clean” energy resource, a description environmentalists have roundly rejected.
____________________________________
http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-democrats-republicans-platforms-20160727-snap-htmlstory.html

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Election for Washington’s Fourth Congressional District

 By Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell
Tri-City Herald, Sunday July 24, 2016

Voters won’t have to dig deep to find the differences between the three leading candidates running to represent Washington’s Fourth Congressional District. The freshman incumbent, Dan Newhouse, 61, is a Sunnyside farmer and Republican who favors limited government, a balanced budget and strong national security. He is challenged by a fellow Republican, Clint Didier, 57, an Ephrata farmer who leans further to the right, and by Doug McKinley, 53, a Richland lawyer running as a Democrat on a mission to restore the middle class.The race also includes Republican Glenn Jakeman of Yakima and Democrat Jake Malan of Pasco. Jakeman is a retired electrician. Malan has not been available for interviews since filing for election.

In 2014, Newhouse very narrowly defeated Didier, a former NFL player, in the race to succeed Richard “Doc” Hastings in the House of Representatives. With one term behind him, Newhouse has a voting record. Didier is attacking it.

Didier said he filed for a rematch to ensure Newhouse didn’t run unopposed. That was before the three other candidates entered the race.

Newhouse is not the conservative voters supported in 2014, Didier said during a recent candidate forum organized by the League of Women Voters and the Latino Coalition. He singled out Newhouse’s December “yes” vote on the federal budget bill, aka the “omnibus bill,” which funds a wide range of federal activities

“He says he’s a conservative, but he voted for the omnibus bill,” Didier said, saying it funded Planned Parenthood, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), supported sanctuary cities and shifted money from Social Security to Social Security Disability.

The Omnibus Bill is actually 12 separate appropriation bills passed in a single move. The arrangement forces representatives to support some programs in order to fund others.

Newhouse counters that Didier’s criticism is unfounded.

“None of that was in the Omnibus Bill,” he said

Newhouse and Didier agree on one point — both want to eliminate “omnibus” bills in favor of streamlined legislation that doesn’t force lawmakers to take the good and the bad. Newhouse said the bill did fund issues important to Washington, including Hanford cleanup.
“I worked really hard to get those funding levels. I couldn’t very well convince people we needed that money in Hanford and then turn around and vote against it,” he said

Didier insists the bill funds a liberal agenda that includes welcoming Syrian refugees

Newhouse and Didier agree on one point — both want to eliminate “omnibus” bills in favor of streamlined legislation that doesn’t force lawmakers to take the good and the bad.

“We’ve got to get away from these omnibus bills,” Didier said.

The top issues

Income inequality is the leading threat to America's Middle Class -- Doug McKinley

McKinley wants Congress to take on income inequality, which he called the leading threat to the American middle class. He and his opponents agree on issues such as economic stability, but they differ on the causes and solutions, he said.

“People are witnessing the same events and they’re giving two or three separate explanations for it,” McKinley said.

“We’re seeing a lot of what used to be family wage jobs ending, and the replacement jobs are much lower pay.”

McKinley wants to compel U.S. corporations to devote a greater share of their earnings to employee salaries, which he said will lift many of America’s working poor out of poverty and off public benefit systems. “The economic data show these companies are earning plenty of money and could pay a higher wage,” he said.

McKinley opposes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call to deport 11 million illegal immigrants as unreasonable, and a humanitarian catastrophe that would hurt agriculture. He prefers a higher federal minimum wage, and for the House to pass the 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, which has already cleared the U.S. Senate.


"The climate is what God wants it to be because this is God’s earth." -- Clint Didier

Didier said he’s focused on border security, sovereignty and reigning in a federal bureaucracy and tax burden that is strangling America. He cites the What’s Upstream campaign as an example of the government antagonizing agriculture. The federal Environmental Protection Agency, through a grant to a nonprofit, funded the Washington-based campaign to encourage the state’s residents to advocate for clean water regulations. The campaign used stock imagery to imply dairy farmers allow cows to wade into streams. “It’s an all-out assault,” Didier said.

Didier supports Second Amendment gun rights and said that climate change is real, but not caused by humans. “The climate is what God wants it to be because this is God’s earth,” he said during the candidate’s forum.

"I have a concrete record that you can look at" -- Dan Newhouse

 Newhouse was one of 145 members of the House who demanded the EPA account for the use of federal funds for advocacy work.
He also favors a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants. He agrees that the climate is changing, but disagrees that humans are causing it.
Newhouse continues to be alarmed by the growth in the size and scope of the federal government, he said. He supported increased spending on security. More recently, he’s seen an increase in interest in violence targeting police.
Newhouse said the tone and tenor of the 2016 primary campaign is similar to the 2014 campaign, except that he didn’t have a voting record then.
He stands behind his voting record and said he continues to advocate to reign in the growth of the federal government, to pass a balanced budget amendment, to enhance national security and keep fighting to fund Hanford

Newhouse supported two measures through the reconciliation process that sent bills to the president, he said. One would have prevented federal funding for abortion and the other would have gutted the Affordable Care Act. Both were vetoed.
He said the Social Security fund transfer was in a separate bill that he opposed.
“I have a concrete record that you can look it. It’s important that people are critical of it are accurate in the criticisms they make,” he said.
In the online voter’s guide, Jakeman indicated his top priorities are state’s rights, border control, balancing the budget and eliminating some outdated programs.
In the online voters’ guide, Malan indicated his top priorities including supporting the Bill of Rights, state sovereignty, fair trade rather than free trade and restoring military strength.

What’s next

The top two finishers in the Aug. 2 primary will advance to the Nov. 8 general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Newhouse’s re-election bid is endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Rifle Association, among others.
McKinley has been endorsed by the Benton County Democrats, Franklin County Democrats, Yakima County Democrats and the Eighth and 16th Legislative District Democrats.
Didier said he is not actively seeking endorsements, though he expects to announce several shortly

All ballots must be returned or postmarked by Aug. 2.


Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/article91550872.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The NRA is Rallying its Members

The NRA is rallying its members to vote against Clinton and Kaine, because both favor sensible gun control measures. Something the NRA has fought no matter what. As long as they can continue to hold the Republican-led congress hostage, they will get their way. And their members are single issue voters.

What's going to motivate your vote; narrowing the wealth/income gap, strengthening Dodd-Frank, getting big money and dark money out of politics, reducing student debt, filling vacancies in the Federal and Supreme Courts, women's rights, LGTB+ rights, climate change -- any number of things, probably. Some of you may decide your vote on the basis of your anger over what you see as an unfair Democratic nominee selection process.

In the meantime, NRA members are going to vote for the candidates that get their "A" Grade on the issue of the 2nd Amendment. The NRA and their members know what motivates them, and it isn't any of your progressive values, and it isn't dead or wounded Americans. They don't give two hoots in hell about your values or your hurt feelings. They care about their guns.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Did Donald Trump Really Say This?

Donald Trump has said some outrageous things in his campaigning for the Republican nomination for President. Most of what he says is false. Much of what he says is insulting, crass, obnoxious, and just plain silly. Here are some of the silly things Trump may or may not have said. Without looking them up, see if you can correctly identify the things he actually said (from the things he didn’t say, but sound like what he might have said).

Addressing the threat stemming from South China Sea dispute.

(1) “I will build a wall across the straits or whatever and I’ll get China to pay for it. I’ve done business with the Chinese. They love me.”

On the alarming growth of antibiotic resistant superbugs.

(2) “I will make the greatest antibiotics you’ve ever seen. And they will be cheap. So cheap.”

On the nuclear deal with Iran.

(3) "I’ve studied this issue in great detail — I would say actually greater by far than anybody else. Believe me. Oh, believe me. I would dismantle this disastrous deal.”

On religious intolerance.

(4) “I think Islam hates us. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us.”

On being presidential.

(5) “At some point I’m going to be so presidential. Being presidential is easy. It’s so easy.”

On the Middle East.

(6) “I could negotiate peace in the Middle East — very few other people could.”

On divisiveness in America.

(7) “I know this observation doesn’t make any of us sound very good, but let’s face the fact that it’s possible that even your best friend wants to steal your spouse and your money.”

On foreign relations.

(8) “The Japanese bow because they don’t want to shake hands. You put out your hand, they stand back and bow. They’re afraid of germs.”

On diplomacy.

(9) “You hear lots of people say that a great deal is when both sides win. That is a bunch of crap. In a great deal you win— not the other side.”

On who his foreign policy advisor would be.

(10) “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain, and I've said a lot of things.”

Bonus -- On his Nevada primary victory.

“We won with the poorly educated! I love the poorly educated!”

Monday, July 11, 2016

Benton-Franklin League of Women Voters Candidate Forum for WA 4th Congressional District


Recap of League of Women Voters (LWV) Candidate Forum
2016 WA 4th Congressional District

Candidates in attendance were Clint Didier, Republican, and Doug McKinley, Democrat

Incumbent Dan Newhouse had State Senator Sharon Brown read his statement in which he lamented the size of government and promoted the Republican-led “Balanced Budget Amendment,” which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has lambasted (see http://www.cbpp.org/research/a-constitutional-balanced-budget-amendment-threatens-great-economic-damage). Newhouse’s statement ended with a laundry list of his endorsements, including most recently, the Washington State Farm Bureau.

The other candidates who filed, John Malan and Glenn Jakeman, did not respond to LWV contact attempts.


This is an inexact on-the-fly transcript of the comments made by the candidates. Watch the video for the more accurate presentation of what the candidates said.

Opening Statements

Clint Didier opened by claiming that Dan Newhouse gets “failing grades” from conservative organizations, such as the Heritage Action for America (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Action) and the “Freedom Foundation.” He claimed Newhouse received a 57% rating. He also criticized Newhouse for voting for the 2015 bipartisan omnibus budget bill (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/democratic-support-for-omnibus-growing-216931). Didier said the bill “funded everything I’m against, and claimed it “stole $150 billion from Social Security” and diverted it to Disability Insurance, “where the biggest disability is they can’t speak English” (https://www.ssa.gov/legislation/legis_bulletin_110315.html).

Doug McKinley started by saying that he agreed with “Clint” that Newhouse wasn’t fulfilling the promises he made in running for office, and agrees that there are serious problems in America that must be addressed. He said he believes our differences are in what the solutions are to those problems.

What’s Causing Climate Change and what should be done about it?

Clint Didier said that the “earth’s climate has always changed,” that volcanos cause more emissions than man, and that, “the ice cap has grown.” He said he worked on his farm in past years when it was 117(?) and it’s not that hot now. He claimed that people who are promoting climate change legislation are doing so to “get power.” He ended by saying “the climate is what God wants it to be.”

Doug McKinley said that said that in as much as he isn’t a climate scientist, he depends on the experts for his information on what’s happening and why. He said the “experts overwhelmingly point to human caused CO2 emissions as the cause of global warming.” He said that the few scientists who deny this are funded by the fossil fuel industry. He said “we are driving temperature up and there will be consequences.”

Do you favor Immigration Reform?

Clint Didier said we must first “secure the borders.” He said we are “over inundating” America with immigrants. Asked if he would support a path to citizenship he said, illegal immigrants would have to “pay a fine — there should be a penalty for coming illegally — get in line, learn English, take the test, and become a citizen.”

Doug McKinley pointed out that a bill had been passed by the House (Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015), but that the legislation wasn’t going to solve the problem (see DHS statement on the bill https://www.dhs.gov/news/2015/01/22/statement-secretary-jeh-c-johnson-concerning-hr-399-secure-our-border-first-act-2015). He said the so-called “Gang of 8” immigration reform bill was a more comprehensive attempt to address the issue (the bill didn’t pass for various reasons http://www.factcheck.org/2015/12/did-cruz-support-legalization/). McKinley spoke to the benefits immigrants bring to our region, especially in ag, and spoke with feeling about the people — good, hard-working people.

Would you favor stronger gun laws?

Doug McKinley said he would support background checks across the board, so that people couldn’t buy guns on the Internet or in gun shows, or on the street. He would support laws preventing guns from being sold to people on the terrorist watch list, in addition to not selling guns to felons.

Clint Didier said “Our government sold guns to Mexican criminals during ‘Fast and Furious’ that turned up in attack on [Paris] France” (this was a viral right-wing conspiracy Internet story). Didier said gun ownership is a 2nd Amendment right, not to be infringed. He said “Thomas Jefferson said that our 2nd Amendment right to bear is to protect us from a tyrannical government (Jefferson never said this). Didier said it’s already against the law for felons to own guns.

What’s your position on the U.S. economy, and the role of the Federal Reserve?

Clint Didier said, “I’d eliminate the Federal Reserve and put us back on the gold standard.” He lamented that the Fed’s influence keeps going up. He said the federal government spends too much and doesn’t do us any good. He said, “I farm 1100 acres and have to struggle to make ends meet because of the $.71 gas tax” (state gas tax is 62.9c/gal, but is scheduled to rise by 7c to fund infrastructure repair http://dor.wa.gov/content/findtaxesandrates/othertaxes/tax_mvfuel.aspx).

Doug McKinley said the federal government built the dams and irrigation infrastructure that makes our multi-billion dollar agriculture industry possible. He said the way to fix the budget deficit is to “restore the Middle Class.” He said all the income and wealth is going to the top 1% and prosperity must be shared. He said wages have stagnated since the 1980s.

Do you support the TPP?

Doug McKinley said we have a global economy and trade agreements are a necessary part of it. Washington's economy, especially agriculture, depends on trade. “If you don’t write the rules, someone else will,” he said.

Clint Didier said, the federal government didn’t build the dam, people built the dam and some of them are buried under them. He said, “No, I don’t support these trade agreements.” He said, “They result in less jobs.” He said “China is a currency manipulator.” He said, “We have the cleanest coal plants in the world. Think about the resource we’re shipping away. China has no concern about the environment.”

If nothing is done about it, Social Security benefits will have to be reduced in 2037. A number of suggestions have been made, … What would you do about that?

Clint Didier said, “They stole Social Security money to pay for disability. I’d support having people create their own retirement plan. Tax free.”

Doug Mckinley said he supports the suggestions [mentioned by the moderator], and added that we can also help stabilize Social Security by raising wages.

How would deal with the issue of student debt?

Doug McKinley said he favors free public university/college education up to incomes of $125K.

Clint Didier said we should “reevaluate colleges.” He said, “Professors are making too much money and filling students’ minds with mush.” He said students should have to pay their debts. He said “Colleges should be held responsible for jobs not being there when students graduate.

What is your position on our foreign policy and military deployments?

Clint Didier said, Thomas Jefferson warned us about foreign entanglements. “We are the friends of liberty everywhere, but guardians of ours alone” (this is a favorite saying of conservatives, but I find no evidence it was said by Jefferson). Didier then went on to decry transgender bathroom laws.

Doug McKinley said that our military intervention in the Middle East hasn’t been successful, and said drone strikes that kill civilians are causing a backlash. He said ISIS is not a state, and it does not represent Muslims or the Islamic religion. He said, “We should not allow ISIS to control the narrative.”

What are your priority issues?

Doug McKinley (https://www.facebook.com/vote4mckinley/) said: raising income at all levels of middle class, and comprehensive immigration reform. He said our problems are non-partisan. It’s the prosed solutions that have become partisan.

Clint Didier “My opponent is playing the game” (I don’t know if was referring to McKinley or Newhouse). He said, “We got to united and take our country back.” He urged people to go to his website, clintforcongress.org, and pointed out that someone had stolen his domain name containing Didier, so he had to change it to Clint. He also urged people to listen to his 0830 broadcast on ACN, and donate to his Washington Patriots PAC (http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00571687/992702/).

Monday, July 4, 2016

An Open Letter to Christine Flowers

Regarding: "Swallowing My Pride and Standing Up for Life and Voting for Trump"

You claim you, “cannot put Hillary Clinton in a position to shape the Supreme Court,” and offered your apologia by essentially admitting that you’re unable to refrain from bigotry, and unable to accept that women have as much right to their body as the NRA has to its guns.

You lament that everything piled up for you; same sex marriage, individuals becoming what sex they come to accept they are, and the bearded lady peeing next to you in the “Ladies’ Room.”

The straw that broke your backtrack on voting for Donald Trump was the Supreme Court overturning Texas’s HB2, “Close the Clinics” abortion law. HB2 was a blatant attempt to shutdown access to abortion and it succeeded. In the two years the law has been in effect, abortion clinics have gone from 41 to some 18 operating clinics. If SCOTUS had let the law stand, it is likely that only 9 or even fewer clinics would be available to Texas’s roughly 5 million reproductive age women.


 HB2 has resulted in women seeking the procedure to wait longer, pay more, leave their county (well over a third of women live in counties without abortion clinics) and drive long distances to over crowded clinics. This after having to navigate Texas’s already onerous requirements to be granted “permission” for an abortion. These requirements include state-directed “counseling,” an ultrasound, and description of the fetus by the provider, among other things.

Second-trimester abortions have become more common because of the need to meet these requirements and to wait for an appointment. And according to Texas law, an abortion may be performed at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization only if the woman’s life is endangered, her physical health is severely compromised or the pregnancy is “medically futile.”

All of these procedural impediments, which you term, “inconveniences,” are not only a denial of women’s rights under the Constitution, they are an attack on the authority of the Supreme Court in granting these rights to women under Roe vs Wade.

You, Ms Flowers, are clearly more interested in espousing your anti-abortion agenda than protecting the integrity of our constitutional system. I can forgive you for that — abortion is antithetical to your faith. What I can not forgive you is using your opposition to abortion as a reason to vote for a man whose many grievous faults include his advocacy of torture and extrajudicial killing, his demeaning of and intolerance for ethnic and religious minorities, and a misogyny so ingrained that he spontaneously refers to women in the most degrading terms. Putting such a man in a position to “shape the Supreme Court,” let alone lead this great nation, is unthinkable.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Breakfast with Bill

SagePort Grille on Columbia Park Drive in Richland, Washington
I had breakfast at the SagePort Grille with my friend Bill (not his real name) this morning. We meet for breakfast once every week or two, usually here, but sometimes at the Village Bistro (formerly Deli), occasionally at IHOP, once at Country Gentleman. We vary our breakfast destination because I believe in diversity and wealth distribution, and because he thinks it's better in avoiding ambushes.

I had the Huevos Rancheros; two corn tortillas, covered with refried beans, two poached eggs, covered with salsa and cheese. My friend had bacon and eggs over medium, with hash-browns and sourdough toast.

We talked a little about our various maladies; his rotator cuff injury, my ruptured disk, then segued smoothly into politics.

"So I suppose you're not playing any golf," Bill said.

"Nope. Can't twist my back that violently."

"So what are you doing all day, trying to get the democrats organized?"

Bill got a sour expression on his face when he said "democrats." Probably put too much salt on his eggs, I thought.

"I'm writing letters to the editor, and keeping up my blog," I said.

"About what?" Bill said, frowning.

"About electing democrats," I said.

"Don't you have anything better to do," he said, pushing his plate away, and starting on his toast.

"I suppose you're voting for Donald Trump," I said.

Bill wrinkled his nose and shook his head. "That jerk," he said. "You know Hillary Clinton is corrupt," he added, tearing a bite out his toast like it was Hillary's ear.

"How so?" I said.

"How so,?!" Bill said, his voice rising, which is already loud, because we're both hearing impaired, or as Bill would say, 'deaf as doornails.'

"In what way is she corrupt?" I said.

I was having Bill on in a way, because I've heard all this before, and not just from him, but  from others, who have been convinced by the long-running Republican propaganda campaign that Hillary Clinton is a liar and corrupt. I wrote about this in an earlier blog titled 'Swiftboating Hillary Clinton.' As I wrote then, Swiftboating is a coordinated smear campaign waged on uncorroborated allegations so damning and ostensibly widespread that the public is disinclined to give the target the benefit of the doubt.

Certainly my friend, Bill, is so inclined -- to not be inclined that is. He knows in his bones that Hillary Clinton is corrupt. Hey, all that bone pain can't be just age-related arthritis.

"So, you don't think Clinton accepting millions of dollars for giving a talk to Goldman Sachs is corrupting?" Bill said.

"Well, it was actually less than one million dollars, for three speeches, after she'd already left office, and no, I don't think you can assume there was any quid pro quo involved."

Bill cocked his head to the side and smirked. "Will you at least admit that it's a conflict of interest?" He said.

"I'll admit that you perceive it as a conflict of interest," I said. "And a lot of Americans feel the same way, including me. But the fact is, the Supreme Court has ruled that buying political influence is just free speech by other means."

"So you think it's all right to bribe government officials?" Bill said.

"I didn't say that. And you have no evidence of a bribe. And as I said, Clinton was not in office."

A waitress came over with a pot of coffee and topped off my cup.

"You're not our gal," Bill said to the waitress.

"Here I am," another waitress said, topping off Bill's cup with the decaf he'd ordered.

Bill looked at the two waitresses and said, "I don't know if I can handle two of you. I'm not as young as I used to be."

Bill watched the waitresses leave our table, and then turning back to me said, "Bill and Hillary Clinton are ethically challenged."

"Well, I'll give you Bill," I said.

"She stayed with him," Bill said.

"I thought you evangelicals opposed divorce," I said.

"We'd make an exception for that sleaze-ball," he said. "Anyway, there's always some scandal coming out about the two of them."

"That's true," I said. "But they tend to be the same so-called scandals resurfacing at different times in the guise of new revelations. When nothing is ever proved, they germinate into conspiracy theories."

"Where there's smoke..." Bill said.

"Yeah, where there's smoke, there's a smoke machine, and it's called the RNC." I pushed away my half finished Huevos and took a gulp of coffee.

"You understand that Hillary Clinton has been convicted of nothing, right?," I said. "Nada. Not even an indictment."

"She'll be indicted over her emails," Bill said.

"Not likely," I said. "Other government officials, like Colin Powell, used personal email for government business. Condoleezza Rice staffers used personal email. As in the case of Hillary Clinton, those emails were later classified. You can't convict someone of, quote-unquote, mishandling classified information that wasn't classified at the time."

"Well, she used bad judgment," Bill said.

"Granted," I said.

Bill and I, despite having different tastes in breakfast, always manage to find common ground.