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Attorney in Texas

Attorney in Texas's Journal
Attorney in Texas's Journal
July 23, 2016

Hillary should beat Trump like Johnson beat Goldwater in '64. Goldwater was a Republican outsider

distrusted by many in his own party, and Johnson was a stay-the-course Democratic establishment candidate trying to build on the legacy of the previous Democratic President.

The good news is Johnson won handily (and so should Hillary).

The more worrisome aspect of the analogy is that Kennedy-Johnson were the agents of change at a time when the nation desperately wanted the change that Kennedy outlined and Johnson brought to fruition, but then Johnson's inclination toward foreign intervention brought his tenure in office to a premature end when the populist wing of the Democratic Party would not unite around him.

Likewise, Obama was the agent of change when elected, but he accomplished his agenda in the first two years of his first term and has been playing defense since then; now, Hillary is the defender of Obama's status quo and Trump is the agent of change at a time when the nation desperately wants change again.

Hillary defeats Trump like Johnson beat Goldwater, but she needs to be the agent for further change which the people want to avoid Johnson's fate in the long run.

The country is no longer divided on ideological lines (both Melania and Ivanka Trump's speeches could have been {or were} given at a Democratic convention, and both got wild applause with traditionally progressive lines). The country (the globe, really) is dividing on populist versus establishment/elitist lines. The powerful right-wing machine will define us on the wrong side of that line if we let them.

July 23, 2016

I have historically voted for 95% Democrat, and I will vote 95% for Democrats this election.

When I have not voted for Democrats in past elections, it was because I was dissatisfied with the individual Democratic candidate for specific reasons and voted for a third-party candidate rather than supporting a candidate I do not believe in (usually I vote for the Green Party candidate under such circumstances; this has been a protest vote rather than a vote where I anticipated the candidate I voted for would have any chance of winning).

This election, I support all the down ballot Democrats (financially, with my volunteer efforts, by helping run some local campaigns, and by my vote).

I think winning back Democratic Party control over the Senate is the most important task this election cycle.

With regard to other people's votes in battleground states, I recommend 100% Democratic Party unity.

With regard to my personal vote in Texas (a non-battleground state), I have not made up my mind, but it is unlikely I will vote for Clinton-Kaine.

While it is possible (but unlikely) I will vote Clinton-Kaine, I will certainly not vote Trump-Pence and loudly disagree with anyone who supports Trump-Pence notwithstanding their quibbles with Clinton-Kaine.

I may (or may not) vote for the Green Party at the top of the ticket and straight Democratic on the rest of the ballot, and I think attacking the Green Party is counterproductive and harmful to the Democratic Party's agenda, and I would defend the platform of the Green Party where it overlaps with the Democratic Party platform. I do not think it is likely the Green Party will even achieve 5% of the vote, but I do think it is worthwhile to show that there is a voting block to the left of Clinton-Kaine so long as this demonstration of progressive voting power is concentrated in non-battleground states.

I think Trump's pathway to the White House is narrow and unlikely, but -- with that said -- I think that pathway entails framing the election as a choice between populist change versus elitist status quo so I would advocate that Clinton neutralize this effort to frame the election in this manner by adopting more progressive populist positions. I am disappointed with the Clinton campaign's efforts so far in this regard, and I would encourage the campaign to try harder to avoid reinforcing the effort to paint Clinton-Kaine as anti-populist (elitist and above the rules) and pro-status-quo (satisfied with the current situation and resistant to change).

My question is whether Democratic Underground is an appropriate forum for someone who

* supports 95% Democrats historically and during this election
* will vote based on conscience at the top of the ticket (an idea Clinton has endorsed)
* may (but probably will not) vote for Clinton-Kaine
* advocates 100% Democratic Party unity in battleground states
* may (or possibly may not) vote Green Party for president but will vote Democratic in all other races
* advocates that disparaging the Green Party platform is counterproductive to Democratic values
* advocates Clinton's best strategy to winning is promoting more progressive populist positions

Should I stay or should I go?
June 12, 2016

Advice to Hillary in advance of her meeting with Sanders on Tuesday

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I was happy to hear you are meeting with Senator Sanders on Tuesday.

I offer you three suggestions for that meetring:

1. Ask Sanders for his help in New Hampshire, Colorado, and Wisconsin

New Hampshire, Colorado, and Wisconsin are three of the most important states this election cycle. They are three key swing states in the presidential election and also three states with tight races critical to re-taking control of the Senate. The Sanders organization is much stronger than the Clinton organization in New Hampshire, Colorado, and Wisconsin; don't be too proud to ask for Sanders' help in these key states (and other states, too, but these three states are the most critical in terms of bringing Sanders' strengths to the table in critical battlegrounds).

2. Give Sanders what he wants in terms of platform and party rules/leadership reform

The first step in fixing a problem is identifying and acknowledging the problem. Sanders won 22 states (the same number the Clinton campaign won in the 2008 primary you described as incredibly close), and you are not universally trusted by young Democrats, progressive Democrats, and liberal independents who lean Democratic. Nobody likes the anti-democratic superdelegate scheme, and the DNC is widely seen as biased. Adopting the progressive platform and DNC reforms that Sanders seeks would do much to reinforce the fractures in that trustworthiness among progressives, and it would help you distance yourself from perception that you are a status quo candidate basically offering a third Obama term in an election cycle where the voters crave change. You need only see the polling that two-thirds of Americans believe we are on the wrong track to know that you ought to embrace change where you can, and embracing much-needed change within the party would be a concrete demonstration that you can be more than a status quo candidate.

3. Seek Sanders' input on a running mate

Your first leadership test will be whether you can unite the party. Your choice of a running mate can further fracture the party (as Gore's choice of Lieberman did) or you can unite the party. No matter who you choose, it makes sense to solicit the advice of the candidate preferred by about 46% of Democrats. Your choice could put us on the Gore-Lieberman path or on a pathway to unity and a victory by a large margin.

Good luck.
June 3, 2016

What does the Supreme Court of the United States say about GMOs?

From the Supreme Court of the United States opinion in Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms:

Emphasizing “the undisputed concentration of alfalfa seed farms,” the District Court found that those farmers had “established a ‘reasonable probability’ that their organic and conventional alfalfa crops will be infected with the engineered gene” if RRA is completely deregulated. App. to Pet. for Cert. 50a. A substantial risk of gene flow injures respondents in several ways. For example, respondents represent that, in order to continue marketing their product to consumers who wish to buy non-genetically-engineered alfalfa, respondents would have to conduct testing to find out whether and to what extent their crops have been contaminated. See, e.g., Record, Doc. 62, p. 5 (Declaration of Phillip Geertson in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment) (hereinafter Geertson Declaration) (“Due to the high potential for contamination, I will need to test my crops for the presence of genetically engineered alfalfa seed. This testing will be a new cost to my seed business and we will have to raise our seed prices to cover these costs, making our prices less competitive”); id., Doc. 57, p. 4 (Declaration of Patrick Trask in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment) (“To ensure that my seeds are pure, I will need to test my crops and obtain certification that my seeds are free of genetically engineered alfalfa”); see also Record, Doc. 55, p. 2 (“There is zero tolerance for contaminated seed in the organic market”). Respondents also allege that the risk of gene flow will cause them to take certain measures to minimize the likelihood of potential contamination and to ensure an adequate supply of non-genetically-engineered alfalfa. See, e.g., Geertson Declaration 3 (noting the “increased cost of alfalfa breeding due to potential for genetic contamination”); id., at 6 (“Due to the threat of contamination, I have begun contracting with growers outside of the United States to ensure that I can supply genetically pure, conventional alfalfa seed. Finding new growers has already resulted in increased administrative costs at my seed business”).Such harms, which respondents will suffer even if their crops are not actually infected with the Roundup ready gene, are sufficiently concrete to satisfy the injury-in-fact prong of the constitutional standing analysis.

Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 561 U.S. 139, 153-56, 130 S. Ct. 2743, 2754-56, 177 L. Ed. 2d 461 (2010).

If someone wants to have a bullshit argument about whether GMOs are safe to eat, that's fine, but why does anyone dispute that GMOs are horrible for independent farmers?

Why does anyone dispute that consumers have the right to know if the product they are buying is putting independent farmers into bankruptcy?

If we don't have the right to know if the crap for sale at the supermarket contains GMOs, do we also lose the right to know if wedding rings have conflict diamonds, if coffee is fair-trade, if pasta is gluten-free, if chickens are free-range, if beef is grass-fed (or confined in a crate and fed milk until it is slaughtered as a calf as sold as veal)?

Under what market system would we want to hide this information from consumers?
June 1, 2016

Sanders has already won most of the West and North states; will he also carry most Central states?

West Coast: Sanders (at least 4 out of 5 states on the Pacific)

Alaska - Sanders
California -???
Hawaii - Sanders
Oregon - Sanders
Washington - Sanders

North: Sanders (at least 8 out of 14 remaining states on the northern border)

Idaho - Sanders
Illinois - Hillary
Indiana - Sanders
Maine - Sanders
Michigan - Sanders
Minnesota - Sanders
Montana - ???
New Hampshire - Sanders
New York - Hillary
North Dakota - ???
Ohio - Hillary
Pennsylvania - Hillary
Vermont - Sanders
Wisconsin - Sanders

South: Hillary (give her credit, she swept the 13 states of the Old South)

North Carolina
South Carolina

Central: Sanders (leads Hillary 8 to 7 out of 18 states with 3 decided next week)

Arizona - Hillary
Colorado - Sanders
Connecticut - Hillary
Delaware - Hillary
Iowa - Hilary
Kansas - Sanders
Maryland - Hillary
Massachusetts - Hillary
Nebraska - Sanders
Nevada - Hillary
New Jersey - ???
New Mexico - ???
Oklahoma - Sanders
Rhode Island - Sanders
South Dakota - ???
Utah - Sanders
West Virginia - Sanders
Wyoming - Sanders

May 31, 2016

What are the ticket, the platform, and the convention theme calculated to win back the Senate?

We don't need control of the House or the Senate to deregulate Wall Street and the rest of the financial and banking sector, to cripple domestic labor by one-sided foreign trade agreements, to boost fossil fuel extraction, to expand the role of private prisons in our justice system, or to create boondoggles for the pharmaceutical industry.

To accomplish Democratic goals, however, we will need to take back the Senate.

There will be a number of close races where we will have an excellent of winning if we can inspire our voters to show up at the polls:

Ayotte vs. Hassan in New Hampshire
Johnson vs. Feingold in Wisconsin
Bennet vs. Glenn in Colorado
Kirk vs. Duckworth in Illinois
Portman vs. Strickland in Ohio

Democrats lose close contests when voter turnout is down, but win close contests when voter turnout is up.

The decisions about the ticket, the party platform, and the convention should be calculated to increase voter turnout among our base in November. Otherwise, we lose.

Ask yourself -

what ticket would increase enthusiasm and voter turnout in November?
what could we do with our party platform to increase enthusiasm and voter turnout in November?
what could we do at the convention to increase enthusiasm and voter turnout in November?
May 27, 2016

Reuters: "Trump, Sanders explore staging unusual presidential debate" (Hillary - it's not too late!)

Before linking and excerpting the article, I want to point out that the Sanders-Trump debate is not set in stone yet and if Hillary simply un-reneges on the agreed upon debate schedule with Sanders, the other debate can be cancelled and Hillary can reap the following benefits:

* she gets primetime access to a huge audience for free
* she has a perfectly timed platform to give her general election message
* she gets a chance to show herself more centrist than Sanders
* she avoids the Trump-Sanders debate that makes her look scared to debate

link to Trump, Sanders explore staging unusual presidential debate; excerpt:

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders on Thursday explored staging an unconventional U.S. presidential debate that would sideline Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and create a television spectacle that could attract huge ratings.

The two men - a billionaire and a democratic socialist - expressed interest in a one-on-one encounter in California even though Republican and Democratic presidential candidates traditionally do not debate each other until the parties have selected their nominees.

"I'd love to debate Bernie," Trump told reporters in North Dakota, after he secured enough delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. "I think it would get very high ratings. It would be in a big arena."... Trump said a debate with Sanders could raise up to $15 million for charity.

"I'd love to debate Bernie, but they'll have to pay a lot of money for it," he said.

Hillary, you are missing a huge opportunity here! Find the smartest person in the room, and ask her: "Am I better off using the previously agreed California debate with Sanders to promote my own general election themes or am I better off reneging on that agreement and letting Trump take my spot in that debate?"
May 26, 2016

Here is a link to a simple easy-to-follow discussion of the Freedom of Information Act:

http://www.foia.gov/about.html; here's a brief excerpt:

Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.
President Obama and the Department of Justice have directed agencies to apply a presumption of openness in responding to FOIA requests. The Department of Justice, in its 2009 FOIA Guidelines, emphasized that the President has called on agencies to work in a spirit of cooperation with FOIA requesters. The Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice oversees agency compliance with these directives and encourages all agencies to fully comply with both the letter and the spirit of the FOIA.

If that's too complicated, there are videos at the link.

If you set up a private email server and take your communications created as public employee drawing a public salary out of the public sector, you are holding yourself above the law.

This is what the more-than-three-dozen civil lawsuits against the State Department are about. In an effort to get out ahead of the FBI's criminal recommendation, the State Department basically confessed to Hillary's civil violations.

The FBI's criminal report is yet to come. It will be worse than the State Department's report.

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