My-Linh Thai for 41st LD State Rep Position 2!

My-Linh Thai has earned sole endorsements from the 41st District Democrats, King County Democrats, The Seattle Times, NARAL Pro-Choice WA, Children’s Campaign Fund, WA Education Association, WA State Labor Council, OneAmerica Votes, FUSE Washington, Win With Women PAC, etc. Also endorsed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. And more sole endorsements – Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Lt Governor Cyrus Habib, WA Sup’t Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, 41st District State Senator Lisa Wellman, King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, and many local elected officials and supporters around our region.

My-Linh Thai for 41st LD State House position 1: many endorsements

See https://www.my-linhthai.com/

Please vote for My-Linh Thai for 41st District State Representative, position 2.

Her “Democratic” opponent is funded by many of the same corporate interests that backed Republicans in recent elections.  Hence the numerous fliers they’ve been sending out.

Fake Dem Wendy Weiker getting help from Phillips 66, Master Builders, charter school proponents, and other corporate entities

Residents of the 41st LD are getting lots of fliers in their mail in support of fake Democrat Wendy Weiker.  Weiker is running for the state House against My-Linh Thai, who is the current president of the Bellevue School Board  and is the candidate endorsed by the 41st LD Dems and by most Democrats.

Citizens for Progress Enterprise Washington, 1603 116th Ave NE Suite 120, Bellevue 98004 sent out the ad below. It says the top 5 contributors are : Enterprise WA’s jobs PAC, Phillips 66, WA Assoc of Realtors PAC, WA Hospitality Assoc PAC, Master Builders Assoc of King & Snohomish County Affordable Housing Council.

Ad for fake Dem Wendy Weiker, funded by corporate PAC Citizens for Progress Enterprise Washington

If you do a search on Washington State’s Public Disclosure Commission for Enterprise WA’s Jobs PAC you see that its top contributors are:

Weiker is also being supported by the pro-charter schools Stand For Children PAC, which is funded by Bill Gates and other rich people. (If you do a search of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website, for Stand for Children, the source of the money is obfuscated. In 2017 $1,000,000 came from Stand for Children Portland, Inc.)  Stand for Children sent out at least one mailer for Weiker.

Stand for Children (pro-charter schools) PAC's ad for fake Dem Wendy Weiker

Another fake Dem is Rodney Tom, who flipped control of the State Senate to the Republicans in 2012. See this resolution.

In fact, Progress Enterprise WA, who is supporting Wendy Weiker, also supports Rodney Tom, and last year they supported the Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund who ran and lost against Manka Dhingra in the 45TH LD Senate race.  Prior to that they supported Republican Lisa Wellman. The Seattle Times reports in Running as a Democrat for the state Senate, Rodney Tom attracts help from Republican-leaning groups:

As of Monday, Republican-leaning groups have spent roughly $193,000 on ads in support of Tom.

Of that, $186,000 comes from a political-action committee called Citizens for Progress Enterprise Washington, with the balance coming from the Mainstream Republicans of Washington.

Citizens for Progress Enterprise Washington was one of the biggest players in last year’s 45th District special Senate election, which became the most expensive legislative race in state history.

In that race, the group spent more than $1 million in favor of Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund, or against Manka Dhingra, the Democratic candidate who prevailed.

Fireplaces burning in the summer when it’s 90 degrees!

Yesterday in downtown Bellevue, I attended the Bellevue Arts Festival and popped into Lincoln Square South and other stores to cool off. I looked into the classy Hotel W and saw that they were running gas-powered fireplaces:

This is despite the fact that it was about 90 degrees outside.

I see other buildings in downtown Bellevue doing the same thing.

I suppose they do it for the mood. But what a waste!

Socialism, even democratic socialism, is quite different from progressivism

Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist. So does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, defeating incumbent Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley in a major upset victory.

The odd thing is: are they really democratic socialists? Do they even know what democratic socialism is?

There is evidence that they aren’t and don’t.

Noam Chomsky and Cornel West say that Sanders is a social democrat, not a democratic socialist.   They call him a New Dealer. See Bernie Sanders is NEITHER a Socialist nor a Democratic Socialist and What does Sanders mean by ‘democratic socialism’?.

(Chomsky points out that Dwight Eisenhower — who said that anyone who questioned the New Deal doesn’t belong in the political system — would be called a raging leftist in the current extreme political climate.)

Professor Frances Fox Piven, the honorary chairperson of the official Democratic Socialists of America coalition, says Sanders “does not quite meet the definition of the term,” calling him a New Deal Democrat. Source: What does Sanders mean by ‘democratic socialism’?.

Marian Tupy, of the libertarian Cato Institute, writes in The Atlantic: “Bernie Sanders is not a socialist, but a social democrat.”
Bernie Is Not a Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist: Scandinavia is, by one measure, a freer market than the United States. Tupy writes:

Considering the negative connotations of “socialism” in America, it is a bit of a puzzle why Sanders insists on using that word. It would be much less contentious and more correct if he gave his worldview its proper name: not “democratic socialism,” which implies socialism brought about through a vote, but social democracy.

I wholeheartedly agree.

A New Yorker article on Ocasio-Cortez suggests that she calls herself a democratic socialist not because of any deep ideological commitment. Her self-appellation has “less to do with theory or ideology than with the simple fact that she kept seeing members at rallies for every cause she cares about, from the Hurricane Maria rescue effort to Black Lives Matter. She defines her politics as a struggle for ‘social, economic, and racial dignity.'”

That doesn’t sound like socialism to me.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, distorted with embossing via gimp

According to Wikipedia:

Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production[1] with an emphasis on self-management and/or democratic management of economic institutions within market socialism or decentralized and participatory planned economy.[2] Democratic socialists hold that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the democratic values of liberty, equality and solidarity; and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society. Democratic socialism can be supportive of either revolutionary or reformist politics as a means to establish socialism.[3]

So, democratic socialism is still a form of socialism. Adherents want social ownership of the means of production.  Such ideology is out of the mainstream in America, and adherents are susceptible to criticism and ridicule.

This NPR article paints a mostly radical (i.e., accurate) picture of democratic socialism: What You Need To Know About The Democratic Socialists Of America.

This webpage What is Democratic Socialism Q & A by the (Young) Democratic Socialists of America has clear explanations of what they believe.

Most progressives are social democrats: they are not completely opposed to private wealth and corporations. They just want private wealth to be adequately taxed, regulated, and counter-balanced by a robust social safety net, for the sake of the common good.   Think FDR, Robert Kennedy, and Dennis Kucinich, not Eugene Debs.   Think the mixed Nordic model, not democratic socialism.

Social democracy is apparently the goal of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, and, I’m sure it’s the goal of most of the millions of followers of Sanders.

Words matter.

Some supporters of democratic socialism describe it in a way that makes it seem compatible with private ownership and capitalism. For example, I saw this meme image on facebook:

Description of Democratic Socialism that makes it look compatible with capitalism

From what have gathered, the description in the image above is inaccurate. The image describes social democracy.  Democratic socialism is opposed to private ownership.

I have no problem with people who are really socialists calling themselves socialists. I do have a problem with sloppy language that can harm the Left.

For heaven’s sake, and for the sake of the progressive movement, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez should call themselves what they are: social democrats!

 

Fake news about “global cooling”

Right wing websites have been promoting fake, or at least deceptive, news about alleged global cooling.

The explanation is that 2016 was the hottest year on record. As the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports (https://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20180118/):

Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2017 ranked as the second warmest since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA.

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, globally averaged temperatures in 2017 were 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.90 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. That is second only to global temperatures in 2016.

So, the fact that things have cooled off a bit from the record highs of 2016 doesn’t mean there’s a significant trend of global cooling.  The temperatures since then are still unusually high.

Global Warming Trend from NASAGlobal Warming Trend
This map shows Earth’s average global temperature from 2013 to 2017, as compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980, according to an analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Yellows, oranges, and reds show regions warmer than the baseline. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Scientific Visualization Studio) Source: NASA.

Adam Smith Town Hall of July 8, 2018

U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D, 9th CD, Washington) spoke for two hours today to constituents on Mercer Island.

During most of the two hours Smith bashed Trump, in response to constituents’ questions. The audience seemed supportive of that. There were no conservatives offering a forceful alternative view.

Smith said that as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he was able to view some of the evidence about Russian meddling in the election. Smith said: yes, the Trump campaign colluded with Russians (Manafort, etc), and, yes, Trump tried to squash the investigations, obstructing justice. But he says that it will be very hard to get 67 senators to agree to impeachment. And with Trump appointing Supreme Court justices, we can’t expect the Supreme Court to come to the rescue.

Smith spoke eloquently of Trump’s danger to America.

Smith said that he speaks often with Defense Secretary James Mattis, who is one of the few remaining voices of sanity and realism left in the White House. Every morning Mattis asks his driver if he’s been fired yet. If not, he goes to work.

In the video below Smith criticizes Trump for phoning Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on passing a constitutional amendment that stripped his opposition of basic rights.  “All around the world you see this creeping towards authoritarianism in our foreign policy.” We are backing away from international treaties and cooperation.  Some people say we should laugh at some of Trump’s more ridiculous pronouncements (such that we people should stand up straight when Trump talks). Smith sarcastically responded:  “You know fascism just never stops being funny.”

Smith said Americans want lower taxes, a balanced budget, and no cuts to spending.  (Impossible!) The Republicans’ simple, oft-repeated message is:  government and taxes are bad.  Since they can’t directly cut government spending, they just keep cutting taxes and raising the deficits. When no money is left, they will demand cuts to Social Security and Medicare (even though we have pre-paid for these programs out of our paychecks). Smith has sponsored bills to raise the cap on Social Security, so that the rich pay their fair share and so that Social Security can remain solvent for the long term.

If you want to see life without government, said Smith, go to Honduras, where there are no taxes and no functioning government. There is lots of crime, little education, and little productive economic activity.

Smith called for reversal of the Bush and Trump/Ryan tax cuts.

Smith spent a long time criticizing Trump’s racist immigration policies.  He said that crime rates among immigrants are lower than among U.S. citizens, and economic studies show that they help the economy.  Trump’s racist and divisive rhetoric is based on lies.    Yes, we need secure borders. No, we needn’t treat all immigrants like criminals, especially ones who have lived here for most of their lives.

Immigration from the south has mostly come to a halt — another reason Trump’s anti-immigration policies are amiss.

One rude constituent, who was reading the Financial Times while Smith was speaking, blamed inequality on over-population. He claimed that he could prove mathematically that inequality arises when there is over-population — which is why immigration is bad.  That theory was so outlandish that nobody seemed to take it seriously.

Smith spoke a lot about our overly permissive gun laws.  Republicans think that more guns would make us safer.  It’s simply not true. He told several stories of guns being used to kill people in families, And  he told of a certain politician who came to a town hall and placed his gun on the table to make a point (“See. I can defend myself.”) Smith pointed out that someone in the audience could have quickly drawn a gun and shot the politician dead before he’d have been able to grab the gun.   The Second Amendment mentions “well-regulated militia.”   We don’t allow individuals to own nuclear weapons, tanks, or machine guns. Nor should they be able to own rapid-fire, high capacity weapons.

Smith said that many gun-rights advocates say that citizens need weapons to defend themselves against the government.  I laughed out loud.  Smith said, “Don’t laugh.”  There are people who really believe that, despite the fact that the U.S. Army would easily destroy any individuals.

Smith said that the GOP health care plan can be summarized in two words:  stop Obamacare.  Trump is dismantling Obamacare by allowing insurance companies to stop covering pre-existing conditions.     Smith says we need universal health care, whether based on single-payer (like Medicare) or on some other system. Every other major industrial nation in the world has been able to do this, at lower cost than us.

Several times Smith said that to reverse inequality a first step is to get guaranteed health care for all.

Smith criticized the private prison industry, which are guaranteed occupants and which encourage detention.

A woman made an impassioned speech asking Smith to support a House bill in defense of Palestinians children allegedly being mistreated by Israel. During the speech, another woman held up  a banner and turned around, and another person videotaped.  Smith listened politely and said this is the first time he’d heard of the bill and he would ask some others and consider it.

When it was my turn to ask a question, I started by saying I agree with most everything Smith said, and I thanked him for becoming more progressive over the years. (Smith is now a member of the Progressive Caucus. I would like to imagine that I was instrumental in his joining the caucus.  At a fund-raiser for Smith in Bellevue a couple of years ago, he gave a speech in which he mentioned the word “progressive” several times. When it was time for questions, I shot up my hand and said, “You kept saying ‘progressive.’ Will you join the Progressive Caucus?”)  But, I said, I support his progressive opponent, Sarah Smith, on one issue:  he should have voted against the obscenely expensive defense bill, which will cost the U.S. between $610 billion and $719 billion (depending on how you measure it). I said that the U.S. has troops in 150 countries and military bases in 70  countries.  We spend more than the next 20 or 30 countries combined. The military sucks up over half of the discretionary budget. There’s too much secrecy, and it’s a major cause of deficits. I mentioned Eisenhower’s phrase “military-industrial complex.”

Smith defended his vote for the budget by saying that he needs to be bipartisan. He’s the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Thanks to that  position, he was able to insert some progressive measures in the bill (on LGBT rights and on the risks of climate change, about which the military is cognizant).  He said that the GOP has enough votes to pass a budget without Dems’ help, but the Republicans realize they might not always be in the majority, and it’s best to work together when they can.

Smith also said that the Defense Department will finally be audited, though he joked that he’ll believe it when he sees it.

“If I were chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the defense bill would be a lot more progressive.”

He said that he thinks the defense budget was $50 billion too high.

[Another attendee says that what Smith said was that if were Chair the defense budget would be 50 billion less. That’s not my recollection, but the message is almost the same.]

Someone asked Smith which of his opponents he’d run against in November: his anti-war opponent from the left, Sarah Smith, or his Republican challenger? Adam Smith said that he really doesn’t care; he’s confident enough that he’s the better candidate.

But I sense that he’d prefer the Republican, and that he is more scared of the rising tide of anti-war progressivism and socialism than by the Republicans. After the town hall, as we walked out, Smith looked pretty tired. Can’t blame him.

Adam Smith won the endorsement of a huge number of Democratic organizations and lefty advocacy groups.  Sarah Smith, who is young and inexperienced, has gotten the endorsement of very few groups.

At one point in the town hall, Smith said that when he was knocking on doors as a campaigner, he got more flack (criticism) from angry progressive than from angry conservatives. Progressives can be dogmatic ideologues, he implied. They were dissatisfied with the partial accomplishments of Obama (ACA, regulation of Wall Street, saving the economy, LGBT rights) and were angry about unmet hopes.

A Democrat will beat Trump in 2020 only if the left can unite, he said.

Each time the Democrats had gotten control of Congress, in 2010 and once before in the 1990s, the Democrats blew their chances by becoming a circular firing squad, and the Republicans roared back stronger than before.   Smith called for pragmatism, saying politics is a numbers game.  Often politicians need to compromise on their principles to remain in power.

Don’t call regressives conservatives

My pet peeve of the moment:
I keep hearing progressives (including Amy Goodman today) refer to right-wing extremists as “conservatives.” Please people! There is nothing conservative about these far-right extremists who are working to destroy US public norms & institutions. It’s like calling anti-choice people “pro-life.” They are no such thing. Words matter! Do not accept the language of our adversaries! #ConservativeMyAss #wordsmatter