Sunday, December 18, 2016

Neighbors

This was originally written in the Winter of 2015. This winter, as we await the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States, think about our neighbors far and wide, and about families like Ahmed's, and so many others that Trump, in his rhetoric has demeaned and marginalized. Think about the America you want to be a part of, and then determine to make it so.
Winter 2016, Kennewick, Washington
I stepped out the front door of our new home to get some groceries from the car. We’d just moved in and I was stocking up. A young boy hurried over from across the street and said, “Welcome to the neighborhood!”

“Well, thank you,” I said, surprised by this kid’s enthusiastic welcome.
“How do you like it here?” he asked. He was a slender kid, with black hair, dark eyes, and an infectious smile.

“We just got here,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“It’s a nice neighborhood,” he said, and turning to look across the street said, “We live right over there.”

I ran into the kid a lot after that. He played with a boy that lived next door to us -- football, baseball, soccer, hockey -- and all in the front yard and the street. The tennis ball with which they played baseball invariably ended up in my yard and after I’d fetched it a few times, they invited me to play “home run derby” with them. I was assigned pitching duties.

Thanks to the kid, I got to know his family a bit -- father, mother, a younger brother, and three younger sisters. Nice people. Good neighbors.

The family moved after a year or so -- not far, but far enough so that my baseball career was over. The next time I saw the boy he had walked over to see his friend and stopped by my house to say hello. He asked after my wife and son.
“Fine,” I said, and asked after his family.
They were all good.

He was wearing his soccer uniform. I asked him how he was doing on the high school soccer team and he told me he wasn’t playing because he was experiencing bad back pain. I asked him if he’d hurt himself. He said no. “They don’t know what’s causing it.”

It turned out the boy had childhood leukemia. He required an aggressive regime of chemotherapy, targeted drugs, and radiation at a hospital in another city, three hours away. He spent a prolonged stay in the hospital for treatment, and to avoid infection. After his release, his father drove him back to the hospital every week for two-day treatments. The father’s contracting business was put on hold.

I went over to the family’s new house several times during this period to check on the boy. He’d lost his hair. He had no appetite. He’d lost weight. He looked pale. And he asked me, “How are things in the neighborhood? How’s your wife? How’s your son?”

The boy is 16 now. His hair has grown back. He’s gained weight. He’s playing soccer again. He still has to be taken to the clinic every month for maintenance chemotherapy. This will go on for two years.

The family is doing well. The father is working full time again. They just had their sixth child -- another boy. They are strong in their faith. It sustains them -- “Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”

Ahmed is happy. He just got his learner’s permit. He told me he wants to be a doctor. “I want to cure cancer,” he said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stages of Grief -- Where the Hell Am I?



The five stages of grief according to popular psychological theory are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I was in denial while watching the election returns November 8th. I haven't watched the news since, except out of the corner of my eye when my wife is watching The Today Show, or The View. I'm not watching the parody news I used to enjoy, like The Daily Show, or the late night shows, like Stephen Colbert. What is there to laugh about?

It makes me sick to see Donald Trump strutting around, giving the thumbs up gesture, a smug expression on his puffy, orange face. He's a confidence man, and he's pulled off the biggest con in the history of American politics. Sixty million, five hundred and twenty-six thousand, eight hundred and fifty-two American voters fell for it. So, what, I'm angry? God damned right I'm angry.

It's easy to label Trump voters as bigots, racists, fearful xenophobics, "America first" nationalists -- certainly many are, but many are undereducated people who find themselves in relatively low-paying jobs, with no hope for clawing their way up to a better life. These people worked in America's factories, and steel mills, deep down in the coal mines, in textiles, basic housewares, furniture, and paper products -- all low-proficiency factory positions.

Cheaper cross-border labor, the shift to cheaper natural gas, and automation put many of these people out of work. Donald Trump started by offering to re-educate these people at his "Trump University." He's being taken to court for that con job.

When will the dupes who voted for Trump realize they've been taken for the gullible fools "The Donald" saw them as. Am I bargaining now, e.g., "You relatively reasonable Trump voters please learn your lessons and don't vote for a 2nd term for the odious asshole." Is that where I am? Bargaining?

I don't think I'm totally there yet. I'm still angry. I'm angry at the run-of-the-mill republicans, who voted for Trump because they're ideologues -- they could give a shit about Trump being unqualified to lead the Nation either by knowledge, experience, character, or temperament. He was a Republican and that was enough. In my region of Washington State, Benton County, 47, 194 people voted for Donald Trump -- almost 59% of my neighbors. Who the fuck are these people?!

Yes, and I'm angry at the liberal-left "BernieCrats" who demonstrated their annoyance at Bernie not getting the Democratic nomination by voting for a 3rd Party candidate, mostly Jill Stein. Stein was pretty questionable as a presidential prospect, but voting for her was a nice way to show their pique.

And I'm angry at the so-called "millennials," some of whom were just young in terms of voting, who came out to Bernie rallies and cheered wildly for free everything, only to skip voting, go back to college, or their dead-end job, and accumulate more debt.
The stages of grief, like Maslow's Need Hierarchy, are not mutually exclusive. My depression has definitely invaded my angry space. What've I got to be depressed about; I'm relatively well-off, good back-up insurance thanks to my military service, too old to worry about living until global warming causes the water wars -- why worry, be happy!

My problem is that I care too much about everybody else, and about future generations, which hopefully will include my great grandkids. Let me correct that just a bit; I don't give a fuck about the very wealthy that will benefit the most from the tax cuts Trump has promised, or the Wall Street traders, who are drooling over the prospects of a Dodd-Frank rollback, or the Religious Right, who look forward to burning the heathens, like me, at the stake. Yes, that's how little they care about global warming -- they will burn us, because it's a good lesson, and GOD will take care of the environment.

I'm depressed because many of the poor schmucks who voted for Trump really need help. Reneging on trade deals, falling back into an isolationist trade posture, will make everyone poorer.

And often these same people depend most on reproductive care, the kind Planned Parenthood provides, and we know how republicans feel about PPH. They hate it for selling those "baby parts!" And they hate PBS and NPR for reporting facts about PPH not selling "baby parts," and not condemning PPH for the GODLESS heathens that they are -- to the stakes!

I'm depressed because Donald Trump called out a particular religion and filled his already racist supporters with targeted hate. I know Muslim-Americans. I like them. They are no more prone to terrorism that the White Supremacists who support Trump -- less so, in fact. And of course, Trump started with Mexicans and he doesn't differentiate between Mexican-Americans and Mexicans, or Hispanics, or Latinos -- they're all drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, "and I assume some are good people." God, Donald Trump is just such an asshole!

See how easy it is to fall back into the angry stage. I have much more to say about why I'm depressed, but I have to stop this diatribe, because it's making me angrier. I need to move through depression into acceptance.

Yeah, fuck that! I'm going stay angry and depressed until Donald Trump is back in his own made-for-TV realty and not America's.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crow for Thanksgiving

I spent some time over the weekend researching recipes for cooking crow, which I’ll be having for Thanksgiving. I’ll share what I find with media journalists and pundits, who like me, were outspoken in our belief that Americans would never elect a person like Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States of America — that “shining city on a hill.”

In an earlier post (and in the Tri-City Herald), I discussed how Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders launched insurgent campaigns against the major parties, and why Trump won and Sanders lost. Essentially, the Republican Party was more ‘democratic’ than the Democratic Party.

As a result, I opined that the GOP was stuck with a candidate they didn’t really want; a candidate whose chances of winning were “slim to none,” and, as Jeff Greenfield wrote in Politico Magazine, “whose temperament and character might put a dangerous, unfit person into the Oval Office.”

I also said, “there’s a very good chance the GOP may lose the Senate,” and concluded by saying that, “What happens to the Republican Party after the election depends on what the Republican Party leadership does now.”
What happened instead is history. Trump won.

Hillary supporters are consoling themselves with the fact that she won the popular vote. If this were a popularity contest, Hillary would win the title of the least disliked candidate.

Not only did Trump become President-Elect, but Republicans retained control of the Senate and the House, and gained another “trifecta” — a situation where one party holds the governorship, and majorities in both state legislative houses. Republicans now have 25 trifectas, while Democrats have only 6.

The map of America is glaringly red. This does not bode well for those seeking an end to, or even a rollback of restrictive voting rights laws, nor to the gerrymandering that disenfranchises voters of a particular “persuasion” (i.e., minorities). Furthermore, when President Trump pushes through his SCOTUS nominee(s), relief from a court that already gutted the Voting Rights Act will be unlikely.

So instead of the Republican Party reexamining what it did wrong to end up with a candidate like Donald Trump, they’ll congratulate themselves on how democratic they were in allowing an open nominating process that resulted in nominating a “man of the people.”

Meanwhile, democrats will spend the next six weeks wailing about how unfair the Electoral College is. Then the DNC will begin strategy sessions on how they can emulate the RNC and obstruct Trump and the Republican Congress at every opportunity. At the same time, they’ll be asking their supporters to sign President Obama’s “Thank You Card,” while simultaneously dunning them for contributions to the cause — whatever that is.

I may be eating crow this Thanksgiving, but I’ll still have something to be thankful for — the end of this election.

Sing a song of six pence,
a pocketful of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds
baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
the birds began to sing.
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
to set before the king?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No point crying over spilled milk

by Jon Phillips
Opinions on the future -- 12 quick points

1. No point crying over spilled milk.

2. Democrats should agree that Hillary is done running for President and be vocal about that. The fact that much of the case against her is innuendo and 20 years of Republican stink bomb attacks is now irrelevant. She's damaged politically and too old to run again. Let her go. The party should start vetting new champions for 4 years hence.

3. Democrats should prepare for a tough 4 years and that means developing a coherent strategy to block damaging appointments and legislation -- including the Supreme Court. The future character of the nation depends on the balance in the Supreme Court and the lower courts. The GOP has succeeded in making politics into an ugly game of stalemate, so I don't see much value in going along to get along. Sometimes, gridlock and stalemate are preferable to alternatives. Remove it from your mind that Republicans will somehow turn over a new leaf of civility and compromise in government. The GOP has multiple personality disorder. Don your brass knuckles until they emerge from this madness.

4. Democrats should do their best to take back the Senate as soon as possible and attrit the GOP margin in the House -- aim at the next midterm if possible on the Senate and flip the House in the next 3 cycles. Refocus on State races to blunt gerrymandering in the States. Keep banging the climate change drum every time there're disastrous weather events.

5. Propose and support reform of electoral processes that include top two runoffs to prevent small third party spoilers from wreaking the popular agenda.

6. I think we can count on comedians to thrash Donald continuously. He's continuous material. He could put political satirist writers out of business. Provoke him and he falls apart. People will tire of his adolescent fraternity boy drama very quickly.


7. Put serious thought into development of policy proposals to resolve the fundamentals that supported his grass roots (other than bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia which are unacceptable and corrosive to the national pluralistic spirit). Basically, how to move back toward a strong and growing middle class. I suggest big transformative infrastructure that's domestic skilled labor heavy. Press toward "fair trade," emphasize social policy strongly tilted to building lower and center middle class economic positions. Defend Obamacare by continuously and vocally proposing practical reforms while blocking repeal. Affordable medical care is essential to regrow the middle class.

8. Do our best to prevent any march to war -- authoritarians love to distract a public by starting a war. It's what keeps many of them in power. This is an enormous danger since foreign and military policy are the principal powers of the President. Maintain lots of track 2 engagement that is forward looking with overseas partners to maintain relationships as well as possible. Keep his finger off the trigger (conventional and nuclear -- heaven forbid).

9. Work to pull more centrist Republicans into the center and even into Democratic Party. There are lots of newly disaffected and there will be even more as Donald's unseemly underbelly is increasingly revealed in the near future.

10. Figure out new strategies to pull more women's votes. From Romney to Trump only 2% changed sides. Romney was a polite gentleman though traditional Mormon. Donald was a groper. Why are women insensitive to such a radical difference. It suggests that between 40 and 45% of college-educated white women don't care so long as it's a white dominant male.
Edison National Election Poll
11. In short, hope for the best, but prepare for continuous political battle. The nation and the world is depending on us to prevent Donald from driving the country and world off a cliff. I realize that he won't know any better, but now we have to try and limit the damage of ignorants.

12. There's no point crying over spilled milk, but we should get out the mops and clean it up.

_______________________________
Jon Phillips is a Senior Nuclear Technology Expert at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Director, Sustainable Nuclear Power Initiative at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The opinions expressed here are his own.

President Obama's Post 2016 Election Comments


THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Yesterday, before votes were tallied, I shot a video that some of you may have seen in which I said to the American people: Regardless of which side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning.

And that is one bit of prognosticating that actually came true. The sun is up. And I know everybody had a long night. I did, as well. I had a chance to talk to President-elect Trump last night -- about 3:30 in the morning, I think it was -- to congratulate him on winning the election. And I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our presidencies

Now, it is no secret that the President-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember, eight years ago, President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush’s team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running. And one thing you realize quickly in this job is that the presidency, and the vice presidency, is bigger than any of us.

So I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the President-elect -- because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.

I also had a chance last night to speak with Secretary Clinton, and I just had a chance to hear her remarks. I could not be prouder of her. She has lived an extraordinary life of public service. She was a great First Lady. She was an outstanding senator for the state of New York. And she could not have been a better Secretary of State. I'm proud of her. A lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and nomination was historic and sends a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve at the highest levels of politics. And I am absolutely confident that she and President Clinton will continue to do great work for people here in the United States and all around the world.

Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That's what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That's what the country needs -- a sense of unity; a sense of inclusion; a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law; and a respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition, and I certainly hope that’s how his presidency has a chance to begin.

I also told my team today to keep their heads up, because the remarkable work that they have done day in, day out -- often without a lot of fanfare, often without a lot of attention -- work in agencies, work in obscure areas of policy that make government run better and make it more responsive, and make it more efficient, and make it more service-friendly so that it's actually helping more people -- that remarkable work has left the next President with a stronger, better country than the one that existed eight years ago.

So win or lose in this election, that was always our mission. That was our mission from day one. And everyone on my team should be extraordinarily proud of everything that they have done, and so should all the Americans that I’ve had a chance to meet all across this country who do the hard work of building on that progress every single day. Teachers in schools, doctors in the ER clinic, small businesses putting their all into starting something up, making sure they're treating their employees well. All the important work that's done by moms and dads and families and congregations in every state. The work of perfecting this union.

So this was a long and hard-fought campaign. A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so. But that's the nature of campaigns. That's the nature of democracy. It is hard, and sometimes contentious and noisy, and it's not always inspiring.

But to the young people who got into politics for the first time, and may be disappointed by the results, I just want you to know, you have to stay encouraged. Don’t get cynical. Don’t ever think you can’t make a difference. As Secretary Clinton said this morning, fighting for what is right is worth it.
Sometimes you lose an argument. Sometimes you lose an election. The path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back. And that's okay. I’ve lost elections before. Joe hasn't. (Laughter.) But you know.

(The Vice President blesses himself.) (Laughter.)

So I've been sort of --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Remember, you beat me badly. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: That’s the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right. And then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time.

The point, though, is, is that we all go forward, with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens -- because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That's how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That's how we've expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.

And that's why I'm confident that this incredible journey that we're on as Americans will go on. And I am looking forward to doing everything that I can to make sure that the next President is successful in that. I have said before, I think of this job as being a relay runner -- you take the baton, you run your best race, and hopefully, by the time you hand it off you're a little further ahead, you've made a little progress. And I can say that we've done that, and I want to make sure that handoff is well-executed, because ultimately we're all on the same team.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Goodbye to the Climate

by Robert N Stavens
The International New York Times
Smog trapped in the valley of Sandy, Utah. Credit George Frey/Bloomberg
Donald J. Trump once tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.” Twitter messages may not be clear signs of likely public policies, but Mr. Trump followed up during the campaign with his “America First Energy Plan,” which would rescind all of President Obama’s actions on climate change.

The plan includes canceling United States participation in the Paris climate agreement and stopping all American funding of United Nations climate change programs. It also includes abandoning the Clean Power Plan, a mainstay of the Obama administration’s approach to achieving its emissions reduction target for carbon dioxide under the Paris agreement.

What should we make of such campaign promises? Taking Mr. Trump at his word, he will surely seek to pull the country out of the Paris pact. But because the agreement has already come into force, under the rules, any party must wait three years before requesting to withdraw, followed by a one-year notice period.

Those rules would seem to be mere technicalities. The incoming Trump administration simply can disregard America’s pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26 to 28 percent below the 2005 level by 2025. That is bad enough. But the big worry is what other key countries, including the world’s largest emitter, China, as well as India and Brazil, will do if the United States reneges on its pledge. The result could be that the Paris agreement unravels, taking it from the 97 percent of global emissions currently covered by the pact to little more than the European Union’s 10 percent share.

In addition, Mr. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency probably will stop work on regulations of methane emissions (a very potent greenhouse gas) from existing oil and gas operations. Undoing complex existing regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan, will be more difficult, but a reconstituted Supreme Court will probably help President Trump when that plan inevitably comes before the court.

Also, the new president will most likely ask that the Keystone XL pipeline permit application be renewed — and facilitate other oil and gas pipelines around the country.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump promised to “bring back” the coal industry by cutting environmental regulations. That may not be so easy. The decline of that industry and related employment has been caused by technological changes in mining, and competition from low-priced natural gas for electricity generation, not by environmental regulations. At the same time, Mr. Trump has pledged to promote fracking for oil and gas, but that would make natural gas even more economically attractive, and accelerate the elimination of coal-sector jobs.

If he lives up to his campaign rhetoric, Mr. Trump may indeed be able to reverse course on climate change policy, increasing the threat to our planet, and in the process destroy much of the Obama legacy in this important realm. This will make the states even more important players on this critical issue.

Robert N. Stavins is a professor at Harvard, where he directs the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Take Back the Senate -- Pennsylvania

Democrat Katie McGinty
Democrats have won the state consistently in recent presidential races and Clinton is leading Trump, but the race between Democrat Katie McGinty, a former environmental adviser to Vice President Al Gore, and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey remains one of the tightest. McGinty is endorsed by the New York Times.

As chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the 1990s, she helped organize the Clinton administration’s successful counterattack against efforts by the Republican Congress to undermine the nation’s basic environmental laws. Later, as Pennsylvania‘s environmental chief, she helped push the state toward greater use of cleaner energy sources like wind and solar, not only as a way to combat climate change but as a source of new jobs in an aging rust-belt economy.


If you'd like to donate to her campaign and help her GOTV, click here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Insurgencies in the 2016 Presidential Election

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders launched insurgent political campaigns against their respective political parties; Trump against the RNC and Sanders against the DNC. Trump won, and Bernie lost. Trump won because, quite simply, the rules of the Republican Party were "democratic." Bernie lost because the rules of the Democratic Party were not.

Now in both cases, one could argue that the reason things are where they are is more nuanced than that. Okay, but understand this; the GOP and the Democratic Party are non-governmental organizations. They write the rules for how nominees for offices up and down the ticket are chosen. If you don't like those rules, tough. Get involved in party politics and change them. Otherwise, you'll have to live by them.

Bernie Sanders' Failed Insurgency

Bernie Sanders, an independent, launched a bid to grab the Democratic Party by the throat and choke the moderate out of it. Sanders called for economic policies specifically targeted at reducing the gap between the top 1% and the other  99% of Americans -- expand social security, make public college tuition free, provide paid family and medical leave and universal health care, increase the minimum wage, implement a youth jobs program, and, with all the money that's left over, institute a trillion dollar program to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure. Sanders had ways to pay for all of this. They all amounted to essentially the same thing -- tax the rich. So, in political terms, Bernie was trying to hijack the Democratic Party and make it a Social Democratic Party.

Conservatives and even moderate democrats, immediately saw Bernie Sanders' objective for what it was -- a redistribution of wealth. Duh! How does one reduce the gap between really, really rich people, and all the rest of us? You take the land from the rich landowners and you parcel it out to poor farmers. Then you watch as your country goes broke and your people go hungry. Hey, it's politics -- hyperbole is de rigueur. In any case, this is the conservative worldview.

There were a lot of young people who resonated with Bernie Sanders' messianic message and his passion, and his powdery snow hair. The problem was, they hadn't really participated in party politics before "feeling the Bern." Because they hadn't 'infiltrated' the party, their revolution was doomed from the beginning. Had they been in leadership positions in the DNC, they could've eliminated or at least reduced the number of superdelegates. Because, as the Pew Research Center has said, " superdelegates are the embodiment of the institutional Democratic Party – everyone from former presidents, congressional leaders and big-money fundraisers to mayors, labor leaders and longtime local party functionaries." These party faithful didn't want an outsider taking over 'their' party and because they'd prepared for just such a contingency, they were able to prevent it.
The Democratic Party's Superdelegates

Donald J Trump's Successful Insurgency

The GOP has many fewer superdelegates than the Democrats -- 250 or 7% vs the Democratic Party's 713 or 15%. In the Republican Party, the only people who get superdelegate status are the three members of each state's national party. The more important distinction, however, as Seth Millstein has pointed out, is that Republican superdelegates do not have the freedom to vote for whichever candidate they please. The RNC ruled in 2015 that their superdelegates must vote for the candidate that their state voted for. In effect, the GOP is more democratic than the Democratic Party. Is this a good thing?

If the GOP had convened in Cleveland with as many superdelegates as the Democratic Party had, and if the rules permitted them to vote their conscience, and assuming they had such, would Donald Trump have emerged as the Republican Nominee? Hopefully, not.

As Jeff Greenfield wrote,

There are some circumstances where the “will of the voters”—often the will of a plurality of voters—may well put the party on the road to a massive political defeat. Further, it may result in the nomination of a candidate who violates the most fundamental beliefs of that party. Or whose temperament and character might put a dangerous, unfit person into the Oval Office. Under those circumstances, the existence of a bloc of superdelegates means the presence of an “emergency brake,” a last chance to avoid disaster. And while it may be “undemocratic” in the narrowest sense of that term, our political system is replete with “undemocratic” elements that have served us very well.

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight now forecasts the chances of Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election as 12.5%. The same poll forecasts that the GOP has a 72% chance of losing the Senate. What happens to the Republican Party after the election depends on what the Republican Party leadership does now. Republicans cannot have their party and let Trump eat it, too.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate must stop fighting this pusillanimous, rearguard action, and launch a frontal attack against the Trump insurgency. If they don't decisively distance themselves now from 'The Donald,' the Grand Old Party will go the way of the 'Know-Nothings,' a fate they will justly deserve. What the American people won't deserve is what may replace the GOP -- a neo-fascist amalgamation of all the worst elements of Donald Trump's constituency.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Nature Hates a Vacuum

Donald Trump's candidacy gave people on the right wing permission to say things they were sometimes hesitant to express because they were clearly expressions of racism and bigotry. Republicans enabled Trump and his supporters by labeling common decency, and even truth, "political correctness."

As the campaign continued into the election year, nationalists, white supremacists, and other previously fringe elements of the Republican Party -- many of whom had in the past not voted -- emerged as a vocal block of support for Trump. These were the people Trump was speaking of when he said he could "shoot someone on 5th Ave" and not lose any voters. They are the people about whom Hillary Clinton said, "...to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables."

These are the same people who are now lashing out in the most virulent, hateful posts on social media after the release of the tapes of Trump's bragging about groping women. The fallout and cascade of Republican defections from Trump have these people, who felt their world view had been validated by Trump's nomination and campaign, furious. Cued by Trump and his campaign staff, they are rehashing all the unfounded allegations, muck, and conspiracy theories that have followed the Clintons during their entire political career. A presidential campaign that was already nasty, has become truly disgusting.

Trump apologized for what he said, claimed it was "just locker room talk," called it a "distraction," said Bill Clinton had done far worse, and vowed to stay in the race. He ended by saying, "See you at the debate on Sunday." We did see him at the debate. He was everything we could've expected, and worse -- what a way to end a Sunday. I'll have more to say about this in a separate post.
What concerns me now is what happens to the "deplorables" when Trump is roundly defeated in the General Election. Will they sink quietly into the swamp from which they arose, will they organize and become a significant faction of the Republican Party, or form a neofascist Nationalist Party, or will they germinate to a dangerous domestic terrorist cell determined to create the kind of chaos from which a new "strong man" might emerge to lead them to power?

As Donald Trump vows retaliation against lawmakers who withdraw their support from his campaign, senior Republican party leaders privately acknowledged that they now fear losing control of both houses of Congress. Many left-leaning Americans might welcome the demise of the Republican Party, but be careful what you wish for. Nature hates a vacuum -- witness the Middle East.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hurricanes and Global Warming

Global warming has already doubled the risk of Hurricane Katrina-magnitude storm surges in the U.S., according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It estimates that for every 1.8°F increase in global average surface temperatures, there could be a two-fold to seven-fold increase in the risk of Katrina-magnitude surge events. Hurricane Matthew will test that prediction.
Waves driven by Hurricane Matthew pounding a fishing pier on Thursday in Pompano Beach, Fla. 
Credit Gaston De Cardenas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Hurricane Matthew is churning close to Florida’s east coast after it weakened slightly overnight to a Category 3 storm.  While it is still uncertain whether it will make landfall, the hurricane has already dumped torrential rain and left more than 300,000 Florida residents without power. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting up to 15 inches of rain in some areas and storm surges up to 11 feet from Florida to South Carolina.
More than 339 people have died in Haiti as a result of the hurricane, which has been the longest-lived Category 4-5 hurricane in the eastern Caribbean on record. The number of major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin has doubled since the 1970s -- fueled by warmer waters.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Mark Twain is credited with popularizing the saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” I wonder under what category of lies Twain would lump Donald Trump's lies. I imagine he'd have to come up with a whole new "genre" to accommodate Trump's epic litany of fabrications, frauds, fakery, and phantasmagoria.

Republicans have been surprisingly successful painting Hillary Clinton as “a liar,” while turning a blind eye to their candidate’s bizarre travels through fantasy land. I've asked myself, "Why?" and I've decided it's because no one really expects Donald Trump to tell the truth. Apparently Trump equates being truthful with being "political correct," and we know well what he thinks about political correctness.

Let’s be honest, for a change, Hillary Clinton has lied. But to paraphrase Yogi Berra, half the lies they tell about Clinton lying aren’t true. Where she has bent the truth, she’s admitted it; awkwardly perhaps, e.g., “I short-circuited,” but she’s come clean. Not Donald Trump. He lies and then doubles down, belittling whoever has the temerity to challenge him.

What’s worse, Donald Trump lies to bamboozle, to swindle, to cheat. Often, the people he’s victimized are society’s most vulnerable — people down on their luck striving to get ahead, small businessmen working 80-hour weeks to build an enterprise.

Donald Trump is one of those people the writer Jose’ N Harris was talking about when he wrote, “Those who lie, twist life so that it looks tasty to the lazy, brilliant to the ignorant, and powerful to the weak.”

A week or so ago, Hillary Clinton said one "could be grossly generalistic" and put half of Donald Trump’s supporters in a “basket of deplorables,” people driven by “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic" sentiments. She later walked that back a little -- maybe it wasn't half.

At the risk of being politically incorrect myself, I say it could be at least half if we add the lazy, ignorant, and weak-kneed people who make up another large segment of what is certainly a deplorable "basket" of the American voting public.

Donald Trump is a horrible person, and is grossly unqualified to be president. He is, as former Defense Secretary Bob Gates recently said, “willfully ignorant about the rest of the world, about our military and its capabilities, and about government itself.” But what's truly distressing to me is that so many Americans support him. I thought we were collectively better than that. Where the hell have I been all these years?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Donald Trump's "Rubble" Remark Just the Latest Insult to America's Military

Joint Chiefs of Staff
According to coverage by the the Washington Post and other news outlets, Donald Trump shrugged at a past comment that he knew more about the Islamic State than America’s generals, disparaged those generals by saying they'd been “reduced to rubble,” suggested that his plan to defeat the Islamic State — long something he said was a secret — would instead be formulated with help from top generals and, ultimately, casually indicated that he might just fire most of the generals anyway.

The men Donald Trump disparages are among the military's finest, with more medals between them than could fit on Donald Trump's entire pudgy body. This after Trump said that John McCain was no hero because he'd been captured. "I like people who weren't captured," the man said who took four deferments for college, and then another "medical deferment" (for bad feet) upon graduation.

After the DNC Convention, Trump attacked the father and mother of an American-Muslim army captain who died in a car bombing in 2004 in Iraq as he tried to save his troops. The father had the termerity to criticize Trump during a speech at the convention.

Trump's bragged about how much he loves veterans; so much that he skipped the RNC convention to run a fund raiser for vets. He said he raised almost $6 million, but it then turned out he didn't give it to the veterans' charitable organizations -- not until the media found out he'd stiffed the vets and called him out on it.

Finally, Donald Trump's coments about using torture on terrorist suspects, and murdering the families of terrorists -- both war crimes -- absolutely and without equivocation, disqualify him to serve as president.

I'm a retired U.S. Air Force officer. If I were still in the military and Donald Trump were elected president, I would resign my commission and leave the service. I would never, ever accept Donald Trump as my Commander-in-Chief.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Clinton Foundation in Context

The feigned outrage over the Clinton Foundation by republican operatives, now given rude voice by Donald Trump, is the height of hypocrisy, but most people won’t realize this.

“Never heard of it.” This was a response I got all too often as I went door-to-door as a volunteer collecting signatures for I-735, a grassroots movement to make Washington the 18th state to ask Congress to overturn Citizens United. It was disheartening to learn that so many people knew so little about something so important.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the 2010 Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission (FEC), gave corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited sums to call for the election or defeat of individual candidates. It’s the “corporations are people, too” decision, as Mitt Romney referred to it in his 2012 bid for the Presidency.

Citizens United overturned decades of campaign finance law, most particularly the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) aka, the McCain-Feingold Act. The hotly-debated decision threw open the floodgates on campaign spending and opened a Pandora’s Box of other challenges to campaign financing based on Citizens United arguments.

Ostensibly, it is still illegal for corporations or labor unions to give money directly to candidates for federal office. The court said that because these funds were not being spent “in coordination” with a campaign, they “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” The absurd naivety of this statement has been hilariously parodied by Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. Former FEC Chairman, Trevor Potter, appearing with Colbert helped demonstrate how current campaign laws spawned PACs, and Super PACs and “social welfare organizations,” designed to circumvent this remaining restriction, and to hide their donors from public scrutiny.

If I asked you which of our two major political parties was behind the campaign finance law challenges that led to this wild west of election financing, my guess is that you’d answer, “the Republican Party,” and you’d be right. Google the names ‘James Bopp,’ and ‘Shuan McCutcheon’ for background.
Bopp
McCutcheon
What’s ironic is that the Clinton Foundation, much maligned by republicans, is a 501(c)(3), i.e., a non-profit charitable organization. As such, it is not permitted to engage in political activity, endorse or oppose political candidates, or donate money or time to political campaigns. There’s no evidence that the Clinton Foundation does this, despite all the fulminating.

On the other hand, 501(c)(4) organizations, the so-called “social welfare organizations,” like the Koch Brothers ‘Americas for Prosperity,’ can do all of the above. And they do. And they do not disclose their donors. The Clinton Foundation does.

If you want to clean up the current mess we call campaign financing, a good place to start would be a “Yes” vote on I-735. Google it.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Grifters and Third Party Runs for the Presidency

by Jon Phillips*

No third Party candidate has ever won a US POTUS election except George Washington (he ran as a non-partisan Independent and won by a massive landslide as the Greatest Hero of the new Nation -- his opponent may have voted for him.

A so-called realignment election has only occurred once in history when the Republican (GOP) came into existence in 1856. The GOP supplanted the withering Whig Party, but lost the general election to the Democrats. In the next cycle, Lincoln was elected as the first Republican President and the Whig Party vanished into history. Nearly immediately, the Civil War began in response to Lincoln's progressive platform. Republicans were progressive and Democrats were conservative from 1856 to roughly 1930.

Then the great swap began that reversed the Party' positions, completing during the Civil Rights era in the 1960s. A second realignment election almost occurred in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt, running as a "Progressive Party" candidate, challenged Big Bill Taft (R) and Woodrow Wilson (D). Although he beat Taft soundly, Wilson still won the election by plurality putting an unpopular President in the White House (he became more popular thereafter). The new "Bull Moose" or "Progressive" Party faded away quickly after the defeat and estrangement of Roosevelt from the GOP. The GOP bounced back and remains to this day.

Some context about that fractious 1912 race, that entirely split the Republicans, is quite instructive given today's circumstances. Theodore Roosevelt was arguably the most popular POTUS in US history, other than George Washington up to that point (and likely to this day).

Roosevelt bolted the GOP after feeling disenfranchised by his own Party's nominating process (there was rampant corruption in the nomination process a century ago that would make electioneering hijinks today look like a microbe). When he won every open primary voting State and lost every closed caucus State, TR declared that the GOP was corrupted and trying to steal the nomination. It was rather blatant given the lack of transparency in the caucuses back then -- his defeat of Taft demonstrated that the nomination process was entirely corrupted, it was not a conspiracy theory.

Recall that a mere 4 years earlier, TR had voluntarily not run for a third consecutive term as a matter of principle -- he had campaigned for Taft but felt his policies were betrayed during Taft's Administration. TR ran as an Independent and crushed Taft -- the second time a third Party candidate displaced one of the main Party nominees from the top two. Woodrow Wilson won by plurality and the Democrats took the WH.

The historical lesson is that even the second most popular politician in American history, tested as a two-term President, a Vice President, Governor of NY State, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Political Appointee to the Civil Service Commission (under both Parties), President of the NYC Police Commissioners, promoter of the "Muckrakers," Dakota cowboy and ranch owner, writer of a huge pile of scientific literature on natural history and military history and strategy (a scholar), war hero (he quit his political career to join the military when the Spanish American War broke out -- he led the famed "Rough Riders" Calvary Unit composed of many cowboys that he knew from the Dakotas), a brilliant orator, adventurer and explorer.

Even this person, who was a household name, an American legend in his own time, could not win a third Party run, even though he survived an assassination attempt while on the campaign trail. He was shot at point blank range in the chest, but his folded up stump speech and eye glasses case slowed the bullet down enough to keep it from puncturing his lung. The press went wild. America's hero has taken a bullet in the chest and simply stood back up and said, "Strong as a bull moose," and walked off stage. Now that's Presidential behavior! The history reads like some astonishing novel -- like the basis of a Greek myth.

So... what's the probability that largely unknowns have any chance of getting more than a few percent of the vote? ZERO! I know that's a tough history lesson to accept, but unfortunately, it's entirely true so don't fall for it. Have personal fortitude to accept reality and understand that third party voting for a President is what "useful fools" do in our electoral process.

If you look closely, what third party candidates do today is what they did back then. They put unpopular people in the WH by splitting popular sentiment. It's not hard to find examples since the list is reasonably long. This is particularly true when the margin of popular sentiment is less than 5%.

A glaring recent example is that Al Gore wasn't beaten by Dubya Bush, he was beaten by idealists (useful fools) who "voted their conscience" when they voted for Ralph Nader -- a left wing challenger. Nader picked up 2% and that was enough to put Dubya over the top. Dubya lost the national popular vote, but his contested win in Florida by a little over 100 votes, gave him Florida's winner take all Electoral College vote, and he won the Presidency.

The man was a fool and created a foreign policy disaster that killed thousands of Americans, wounded tens of thousands, and exploded the deficit by simultaneously expanding entitlement benefits (for a GOP constituency) and starting two wars (one unjustified), while massively cutting taxes. He destroyed our reputation overseas and it's taken 8 years to make headway against all the damage he did to our foreign policy. Trump is ten times the fool that Dubya was and entirely unqualified to be President having never held any elected office. He's a crooked realtor for God's sake!

The right wing media spin and smear machine (both sides have one) is simultaneously promoting a two-pronged approach: 1) a false equivalence campaign, linked to 2) encouraging undecideds to either not vote, or to vote third party. Why?

Donald Trump is an obvious disaster and a clear and present danger to the country, but culture warriors and right wing (vs center right) conservatives would rather the country take that risk (falsely believing they can control Trump's idiotic behavior) than risk Hillary making court appointments that could have decades of impact on their anti-progressive agenda. They're also trying to limit or destroy any coattails Hillary may have down-ballot in the event that she wins. They hate the Donald, but he's their narcissistic dangerous idiot since they nominated him. What to do?

Well...hmmm. Hillary has this amazing superpower of projecting unlikability (whatever that is) and elitism on TV. It's like some kind of intrinsic property that seems to ooze from her pores. Her impressive resume seems unable to paint over it -- it just keeps seeping through. The right wing spin meisters figure they can hold show trials and witch hunts, at taxpayer expense if possible, even though they have always ended in smoke but never fire, and then they can blow that smoke up the public's arshole by combining it with consistent messaging using words like "liar, liar, pantsuit and cankles on fire!" Heck, they've got a long lead on this since they've been pursing this strategy since the 90's (and before).
They've got her type cast like an old-time Hollywood actress. They've worked with diligence to turn Hillary's media persona into the Jungian archetypes of the "devil" and the "trickster" rather than the "wise old woman" or "hero", and her lack of "photogenics" and so-called "shrill voice" play right into their strategy. Let's be fair, her voice isn't really shrill, she's an alto and it's quite strong, rather than soprano and wispy. The real issue is that she's assertive and she tends to speak in active voice using imperatives, like men in leadership typically do -- this is a challenge to misogynists who don't like women who make demands and presume to be "uppity".

Then all they have to do to exploit this "dislike" campaign they've been fertilizing with BS for decades, is to constantly compare her to the Donald as somehow basically being equal choices: both are "horrible" or "bad and worse", depending on the audience. This is the false equivalence campaign that they're executing this with amazingly powerful effectiveness and coordination. They've leveraged TV and media messaging into millions of people parroting this like robots. They've even dispatched additional FOX News-like "fembots" as spokespersons to try and blunt expected losses among women, while boosting the misogynistic voters, who get turned on by the sight of dangerous and dominant "beauties" (sort of a lite-weight version of bikini-clad super models with machine guns).

How does this help their cause? Well, the Donald is loved only by a minority (sizable, which is scary) of potential voters with a statistical center that's populist, bigoted, anti-establishment, under educated, angry, white, male, older, can be motivated by flimsy culture war arguments, can overlook blatant lying and exaggeration when done by orange men with terrible hair and small hands, like to watch dominatrix films in private -- fill in other ugly descriptors here. In a big country, that's a lot of people that are very energized by fear, hate and anger, but far from enough to win the general election. Those voters won't abandon Trump no matter what outrageous thing he says. Like he said, "I love the uneducated" and "I could shoot someone on 5th Ave and not lose support." Given his cult following, how is the GOP to make up the deficit? Two ways...

First, encourage discouraged people not to vote. Second, encourage other discouraged people to vote third party. Trump "owns" his base (this is a unique sort of right-wing populist base, not the traditional GOP base). Hillary's base is broad and fractious and is much less tightly bound to their nominee (Hillary's personality cult is incredibly small and Donald's is comparably "Yuuuge" -- that's all he's really got in those tiny grasping orange hands). The media based spin and smear campaign being executed by the right, as described above, is partly aimed at the centrists and leftists in Hillary's base, in addition to maintaining the right wing base by "identifying their common enemy" through the process of "branding" that I described above. Discouraging people from voting by saying that both candidates are horrible or bad and worse, removes more voters from Hillary than from Trump (he benefits) since her base is less tightly bound to her.

Encouraging third party voting benefits Trump as well. Why? Because the only two very modestly visible third party runs include the Green Party (the decidedly leftist party of Ralph Nader) and a Libertarian ticket that is sort of center right with a few liberal elements in the social agenda. Any vote for the Green Party is one less vote for Hillary (this is obvious since they're a left wing challenge, just like Nader was to Al Gore when Nader helped the Republicans secure the Presidency by trimming the Democrat's polls from the left).

More of the votes for the center right Libertarians remove votes from Hillary because she's making a huge effort to "capture the middle" and because of their few liberal positions. Moreover, many of the people in the middle are former or disenfranchised establishment Republicans (that have been relabeled RINOs by the new populist "Freedom Caucus") who can't yet bring themselves to jump ship and vote for their traditional "enemy." This also slightly helps or is at worst neutral for Trump -- several polls have been performed that demonstrate this effect in the range of a couple percent or so.

It's sad, but this is both deeply cynical AND true AND nothing new. That there has been no reform of the electoral process to require top two runoffs in the absence of a popular simple majority for a single candidate (50%+ for a single candidate) is clear evidence that both of the main Parties are happy to game elections this way and like to keep the option open to overturn popular national sentiment through third party challenges that split the popular side. This is a power game the main Parties regularly play and the country suffers for it.

Third Parties should have sufficient ethics to see this game is being played and to constantly call for electoral reform so that they're not "being used" to spoil their own stated agendas. If it looks like they cannot get near the top of the ballot, they ought to bow out and lend their votes to the party with nearest interest (this is why coalition parliamentary government has some advantages). I figure they must be highly ideological, ambitious or an intentional foil to continue forward under current circumstances.

Theodore Roosevelt made the reasonable wager that if anyone could overturn main party dominance, it would be the most popular and well-loved president up to that point (not including George Washington, who was atypical). Even he was wrong and that lesson has already been painfully learned, historically speaking. Unfortunately, the voting public has a statistically significant portion that seems incapable of learning from history and they get used and the country gets abused over and over by flimflam artists in both Parties.

Just say "we won't be fooled again!" hold your nose if you must, and vote for Hillary Clinton. The only way to fix the right wing is to send them packing in a big and undeniable way.
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Jon Phillips is a Senior Nuclear Technology Expert at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Director, Sustainable Nuclear Power Initiative at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The opinions expressed here are his own.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

DEA Smokes Cannabis -- in the Perjorative Sense

After nearly a century of “reefer-madness”-inspired paternalistic federal obstructionism, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s announcement that it won’t reschedule cannabis should come as no surprise. Predictably, the agency announced plans on Thursday to make research easier by ending the federal government’s monopoly on research-grade marijuana production.

The DEA, Federal Drug Administration, and Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) — “The Triad” — acknowledge cannabis contains constituents that, when used independently, or synergistically, can provide significant therapeutic benefits. However, they contend that a plant-based medicine of variable chemical composition that can be smoked (but, doesn’t have to be), can’t be medicine. (Millions of patients and their physicians, of course, disagree.)

Read the full article by Jeremy Kossen here.

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.
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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