June 21, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 185

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Big Idea for Reforming American Governance: The mounting crisis in U.S. long-term eldercare and our proposal for a universal public eldercare provider system funded by estate/inheritance taxes on the wealthy. People: Bill, Rachel, and Nate Produced: June 21st, 2017.

Episode 185 (52 min):
AFD 185

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Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

Allow Yourselves The Politics of No Course But The Good One

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I know things look really bleak and hopeless right now. But give me a few minutes – forgive me if you’ve heard the spiel already, but many of you are newer to me – to paint a different picture about the road ahead if we fight for it and keep our hope burning as we surge forward.

This alternative picture is about building a movement to articulate a bold, collective vision for our society. This is a vision where government is a force for good at every level. Where government represents all of us, not just some of us. Where government works to achieve three simple words: “Justice for all.”

That’s not just a slogan. That’s not a meaningless phrase. It’s the most profound notion in the lexicon of American politics.

Justice is a fascinating word, if you think about it, in the way it carries positives and negatives in a single word. It means fair treatment and restitution for mistreatment, but it also means appropriate and proportionate punishment where deserved.

But the whole phrase taken together is a statement of principles, of values, and of society’s highest aspiration: Justice for all.

But I’m asking all of us in this campaign to dare to dream a little bit bigger about the meaning of justice. I’m asking all of us to lay out big ideas that can reform and transform our small corner of American governance on a fundamental level.

We are committing to the proposition that every branch or level of government affects every other branch or level of government, and touches the lives of all our people. Our elections – and our action between elections in the streets and in the halls of power – are the way we choose how this impact on people’s lives plays out.

Despite the devastating last gasp unfolding at the presidency and Congress and state governments right now, there is a sea change occurring in this country all the same.

There are movements for climate justice, for racial justice, for economic justice. There is a movement for clean and responsive government – a government that is neither our enemy, nor beholden to powerful individuals.

These new movements are led predominantly by young people, but they are supported by people from all ages and walks of life.

These movements are why still have a fighting chance today. It’s why we’re going to win in the end and in our lifetime. We are a new generation for justice.

Nothing, I should stress, is automatic or guaranteed. This is not “the secret,” where visualization alone will deliver us our bright future. But it does help focus the mind and it does help dig in our last line behind which we shall not voluntarily retreat.

We can see justice in our lifetimes, only if we fight for it every day. And we know that, although it may be the hardest work we ever undertake, we have no other choice but to do just that.

Often, when I’m talking about the action required to stop climate change, I point out that it doesn’t matter if you think that action is too ambitious. The reality of the level of carbon emissions already in the atmosphere dictates that we have no other choice. You can’t compromise with 410 parts per million. You just have to do what has to be done. There is no course of action but the course that will actually fix this.

That attitude frames my approach to society and politics on the whole. Once you understand the stakes and the urgency and once you understand the body count associated with inaction or insufficient action, there is no alternative. So let me be plain:

Everyone deserves the right to a clean and healthy environment. Everyone deserves the right to healthcare. Everyone deserves the right to affordable quality food. Everyone deserves the right to housing. Everyone deserves the right to public pre-school, public K-12 education, and public higher education. Everyone deserves the right not to be condemned to a life of poverty. Everyone deserves the right not to be discriminated against because of their identity or their ability. Everyone deserves a democracy that cannot be bought by the wealthy. Everyone deserves the right to a living wage. Everyone deserves the right to organize for collective bargaining. Everyone deserves the right to break the cycle of incarceration. Everyone deserves the right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.

These things are universal human rights, and we can achieve them in my lifetime.

That’s not naive idealism but rather, they are morally required. We can and will make this a reality, because I know our society cannot afford not to make this a reality. Just as we cannot afford to compromise with the atmospheric carbon.

Every single level of government and every person in our government must fight for these principles every single day until we as a society are lifting up every person equally. Because our government is not “We The People,” until not one person is left behind by the promise of “justice for all.”

But we have to light this fire now. We have to send a signal that a new era is dawning, and that we are proud of and uncompromising in our bedrock, collective principles that can transcend and repair in solidarity the past errors and abuses and horrors.

This is a struggle once again, in the words of the Mayflower Compact, “to covenant and combine ourselves together – into a civil body politic – for our better ordering and preservation.”

Feb 1, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 167

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Reactions to the first week of the Trump Administration and the emerging protests. People: Bill and Jonathan. Produced: Feb 1st, 2017.

Episode 167 (55 min):
AFD 167

Discussion Points:

– Who’s calling the shots inside the White House?
– What are the opportunities in the emerging street protests against the Trump Administration’s overreaches?

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Jan 4, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 164

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: What Democratic cities can do and why Republican legislatures want to stop them; progressive state federalism. People: Bill, Rachel, and Jonathan. Produced: Jan 2nd, 2017.

Episode 164 (58 min):
AFD 164

Discussion Points:

– How Republican state legislatures are trying to ban economic and social reforms by Democratic cities
– How Democratic activists in cities and states might be able to keep making progress despite Trump and Congress

Related reading:

International Committee of @bcnencomu “America needs a network of rebel cities to stand up to Trump”
American Prospect: “Blue Cities, Red States: As cities have moved left and states have moved right, the conflicts between them have escalated.”
The Nation: “Why Are Rhode Island Democrats Blocking Minimum-Wage Increases?”
The Globalist: “Spain Urgently Needs Consolidation”

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Op-Ed | Trump’s Foreign Soulmates

Alexei Bayer and Bill Humphrey for The Globalist: “Look at commodities-export strongmen like Chavez and Putin if you want to understand Trump.”

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Foreigners see Donald Trump as one of those outlandish characters the New World periodically produces and then thrusts upon the international stage.

It is, however, far more than a bewildering one-man show. The rise of Trump underscores that we are witnessing a split of the United States of America into two distinct nations.

It is, perhaps, a return to form for a country that has often split politically (and once militarily) between its economically developed regions and its farm- or mineral-driven regions.

One of those two nations remains closer to the image that America has projected toward the outside world for nearly two centuries – an industrialized, highly innovative nation and a modern society that is open, liberal, tolerant and democratic.

The other America is once again displaying the characteristics of a commodity-exporting nation, as it did for much of U.S. history.

Poor role models worldwide

It is therefore only logical that — in order to understand Trump and above all the folks who cast their votes for him – it is fitting to look at other modern commodity-export-dependent nations, such as oil-rich Russia, Venezuela and so on.

Commodity exporting nations are a mess everywhere – from Algeria and Azerbaijan to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

They live off the distribution of free-flowing revenues which require a strong state. Friends and family of those who control the distribution obviously get a lot more. These nations tend to be ruled by charismatic strongmen who safeguard the interests of their cronies while feeding nationalist rhetoric to the masses.

Naturally, the masses hate immigrants and outsiders, because they represent additional mouths to be fed by crumbs from the strongman’s table. They are full of disdain for neighbors who aren’t fortunate enough to have natural resources in their soil.

Commodity exporters don’t need representative democracy, appointing their leaders by popular acclaim and very often for life. Read more

A 2015 advance: Tribal prosecution of non-native abusers

This story is from March 2015, but it just came across my radar today:

Two years after Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, Native American tribes can finally take advantage of one of the law’s most significant updates: a provision that allows tribal courts to investigate and prosecute non-Native men who abuse Native women on reservations.

Starting Saturday, tribes can claim jurisdiction over non-Native men who commit crimes of domestic violence, dating violence or who violate a protection order against a victim who lives on tribal land. Until now, that jurisdiction has fallen to federal or state law enforcement, who are often hours away from reservations and lack the resources to respond. The result has effectively allowed non-Native abusers immunity from punishment.

 
During the preceding two years, several tribal governments worked through a pilot program with the Federal government to develop the rules and guidelines necessary to handle the complexity of sovereign arrest and prosecution of U.S. citizens by non-U.S. tribal governments and non-U.S. tribal law enforcement.

This new power will be critical to halting rampant non-native abuse and assaults of native women.

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What if the threat of debt is political, not fiscal?

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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“The Effort to Divert Class War Into Generational War: Lessons On Economics You Won’t Get from Jeff Bezos” – Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dean Baker on Friday:

Lesson Three: Our Children Will Only be Hurt by the Debt Because the Washington Post and Other Elite Types Will Use it As An Excuse to Cut Necessary Spending

Okay twenty somethings, how do you know about our massive debt? Yeah, it’s more than $18 trillion, can you feel it?

You surely can’t feel it from its economic impact. Interest rates in the economy are at their lowest level in more than half a century. Thirty year mortgage rates are hovering near four percent. They were generally in the six percent range back at the end of the 1990s when we were running budget surpluses and making plans to pay off the debt. Interest rates on car loans, student loan debt, and credit card debt are correspondingly lower today.

How about the raging inflation caused by the debt? Well, the Federal Reserve Board has been working hard to raise the inflation rate back towards its 2.0 percent target.

What about the enormous amount of money that has to be diverted from other spending to meet the interest burden? Current interest costs, net of payments from the Federal Reserve Board, come to less than one percent of GDP. By comparison, the interest burden was more than three percent of GDP in the early 1990s. (That’s what lower interest rates will do.) If a twenty something claims that they can feel the economic impact of the debt, it is time for some serious drug testing.

Now there is clearly a political impact. The Washington Post, and other Very Serious People, has hyped the debt endlessly. They have raised fears over the debt to prevent spending that would both help boost the economy back to full employment and meet our needs in areas like education, infrastructure, research and development, and addressing global warming. The damage done by the Very Serious People’s scare stories about the deficit is in fact a very big deal. But it is a bit over the top to blame this one on the older generation as an age group, even if most of the Very Serious People gang is older.