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Attorney in Texas

Attorney in Texas's Journal
Attorney in Texas's Journal
July 31, 2016

Defending GMOs on grounds that they are not poisonous is like defending manufacturers who exploit

child labor overseas on grounds that the products are indistinguishable from ethically assembled products.

Regardless of whether GMOs are not poison, it is a business practice that seeks to monopolize agribusiness and it recklessly destroys independent farms; here's some interesting reading:

Genetically Modified Crops: Why Cultivation Matters

Induced Nuisance: Holding Patent Owners Liable for GMO Cross-Contamination

Life is Better in the Land Down Under: Australian Treatment of GM Contamination and Why It Should Be Followed in the United States

I prefer non-GMO products for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not the GMOs are poison; I avoid GMOs for ethical reasons, just like I avoid Chick-fil-A, Coors beer, products of apartheid, Walmart, unfairly traded coffee, and conflict diamonds for ethical reasons.

Why are so many progressives opposed to allowing consumers to have information to use as their basis to choose products?

I'm not a vegan, but I certainly have no beef (ha, a pun) with labeling that allows vegans to follow their preferences when choosing food products. Regardless of whether you share my preference to avoid GMOs because I disapprove of the business model that creates them, why can't we agree that I should be entitled to the information necessary for me to exercise my own consumer preference when spending my own money?
July 26, 2016

Embrace Code Pink, Bernie or Bust, Jill Stein and any others who position Hillary-Kaine as centrists

Republicans want to paint Hillary as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal (or socialist).

Hillary could either respond "damn right" or she could respond "you're wrong, my views are mainstream American values."

Had Hillary chosen Warren as her running mate, we might conclude that Hillary had chosen the "damn right" path, but Hillary's choice of Kaine tells us that Hillary is reaching out to the center.

If you want to be perceived as a centrist, you need people who oppose you on your right (the whole Republican Party) and your left (Code Pink and Green Party, etc.). Now that Warren and Sanders are 100% behind Hillary, the Republicans would have more success labeling Hillary as "out of the mainstream" if there was no one pushing back at Hillary from her left.

This is the ideal situation: Hillary has opponents who say she's too far to the right but they are only a small 3% to 5% segment of the vote. Don't just accept this; embrace it because this is a part of the definition of "mainstream."

LBJ had a small group of opponents on his left, Carter had a small group of opponents on his left, Bill had a small group of opponents on his left, Obama had a small group of opponents on his left, and they all did just fine. We live in a democracy. We should foresee and accept that our system of government -- the best system yet invented by the human mind -- will and must encompass a broad range of opinions and competing visions for the role of our government.

We cannot claim to represent the mainstream in one breath and -- in the very next breath -- express outrage and surprise that there are some to our left whose views are outside of our mainstream vision.

Embrace the fact that Hillary has chosen a position where she sits in the center with some few on her left and many others on her right.

July 24, 2016

Love or loather her, you must foresee Wasserman-Schultz gaveling the convention will be a disaster!

You don't need a ouija board to forecast that there will be a shitstorm if she Debbie Wasserman-Schultz gavels in the convention.

I might choose to not to start off the convention that way if it were my choice, but it isn't my choice.

Whether you love Wasserman-Schultz or loathe her, we are all going to hate the FauxNews gloating when our convention starts off with an epic demonstration of disunity which will make the Ted Cruz speech and the "vote your conscience" floor fight last week seem like a drum circle playing Kumbaya around the campfire.

July 24, 2016

3 upsides to the DNC email leak: (1) Sanders was tight, (2) Discipline was swift, and (3) Tim Canova

gets a moment in the spotlight.

Sanders has reacted with incredible message control on the question of leaked DNC emails. He has refused every media outlet's efforts to bait him into blaming the Democratic Party or the Clinton campaign, and -- every time -- he has been emphatic in his unwavering support for Clinton. This is discipline. This is putting our progressive goals ahead of personal regrets. This is how a movement which is bigger than any single individual candidate pushes forward.

Instead of letting this wound fester and serve as a distraction throughout the convention, our party's self-policing was swift and just. This is how a healthy party deals with an error. Contrast how the Democratic Party addressed this problem in comparison to how the Republican Party mismanaged Milania's plagiarism scandal.

Finally, if this results in Tim Canova getting a second look by some, that is a real silver lining. Tim excites like few other candidates in America today, and having him on the ballot in November will boost Democratic turnout in battleground Florida!

Tim on Reversing Income and Wealth Inequality:

"For the past three decades, I have been speaking out against the growing inequality in income and wealth in the United States – while serving as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill in the 1980s, while practicing law in the 1990s, and as a legal scholar ever since. In fact, the distribution of wealth and income is now more top-heavy than anytime since the Gilded Age of the 1890s and the Roaring 1920s. Incredibly, the top one-tenth of one percent now owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. And almost 60 percent of all new income since the 2008 financial crash has gone to the top 1 percent. We are now in a New Gilded Age."

Tim on Universal Health Care and Medicare for All:
"The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a monumental achievement. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama signed into law the most important health care reform since Johnson’s Great Society. Through the ACA, millions of Americans have gained access to health insurance that was previously too expensive or otherwise unattainable. It is because of the ACA that insurers can no longer deny coverage because of preexisting conditions, drop policy holders when they get sick, or issue policies with lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits. Simply put, the ACA was a transformational piece of legislation, but I know we can do better. The United States remains the only major developed country that does not provide universal health care to all its citizens. Generations of American leaders – Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, among others - have tried to guarantee health care to all Americans, without success. Despite the reforms of the ACA, tens of millions of Americans still do not have health insurance. Millions more are underinsured, cannot afford high priced deductibles and co-payments, or are forced to declare bankruptcy because they simply cannot afford to pay their medical bills. This should not happen in a fair and just America. I firmly believe that health care is a universal human right and it is because of this that I want to improve upon the Affordable Care Act, by moving to a “Medicare for all” single-payer health care system that would guarantee every citizen health care as a basic right. ... Currently, many seniors struggle to afford the prescriptions medicines they need. That is why when I am elected to Congress I plan on working to create legislation that will allow the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients. ... Expanding universal health coverage to all Americans would give us all the peace of mind to know that getting sick will not lead to bankruptcy. We will no longer have to choose between a better job or better health care coverage."

Tim on Tax Policy:

"tax cuts for the wealthy {are} nothing more than “voodoo economics” – as even George H.W. Bush candidly recognized while running in the presidential primary against Ronald Reagan over 30 years ago. Rather than mysteriously “trickle-down” to ordinary working folks, tax cut savings for the very wealthy are more likely to flow out of the U.S. to off-shore tax havens. Unfortunately, proponents of ever-more tax cuts for the wealthy never learned the lesson of history. The trickle-down tax cuts of the 1920s culminated in the Great Depression. Likewise, the Bush tax cuts of the early 2000s culminate in our own Great Recession, the adverse consequences of which are still with us today. Presently, the top bracket has a marginal income tax rate of 39.6 percent, far below the marginal tax rates that prevailed from the 1940s to 1980s, a period when the U.S. enjoyed not just a much more equitable distribution of income and wealth, but also far higher economic growth rates, rising real wages, and stronger labor markets. ... For more than the past 100 years, since the start of the modern tax code in 1913, our country has implemented what is known as a progressive federal income tax, meaning that tax rates get progressively higher as taxable income increases, with a larger percentage of income being paid by high-income groups, a lower percentage of income paid by middle-income groups, and an even lower percentage of income being paid by low-income groups. Cutting top tax rates for the wealthiest families reduces the progressive nature of our federal tax code, and undermines the concept of “ability to pay” and the goal of inherent fairness upon which our system of taxation is supposed to be based. ... I believe there should be more tax brackets at the high end of the income distribution scale, with higher marginal tax rates imposed on those making millions and billions of dollars a year. Otherwise, the tax burden falls too harshly on working families, the middle class, and small- and medium-sized business owners, even those trying to make their first million. We should also put an end to “corporate inversions” and other loopholes that allow corporations and wealthy individuals move their money into offshore tax havens, while taking advantage of federal subsidies and access to the largest consumer market in the world."

Tim on Ending the War on Drugs:

"As an activist and a law professor, I have been involved in the grassroots movement to decriminalize drugs. The goal should be to let adults make their own decisions as long as they are not harming themselves and others, let the States and their voters decide their own drug policies, and treat drug abuse as a public health issue, rather than burdening our criminal justice system. ... In Florida, I supported the 2014 medical marijuana referendum that garnered about 58 percent of the vote state-wide, falling just short of the required 60 percent mark. My opponent, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is a drug warrior who opposed the medical marijuana referendum. ... Certain industries have a special interest in keeping marijuana illegal - for example, the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, both of which view recreational and medicinal use of marijuana as a competitive threat; and the private prison industry, which profits from warehousing people in jails, including for marijuana possession. Not surprisingly, having taken in lots of campaign donations from the alcohol, pharmaceutical, and private prison industries and their political action committees (PACs), Debbie Wasserman Schultz opposes medical marijuana and supports privatized prisons and mass incarceration. Unlike my opponent, I do not take any contributions from these special interests, or from any corporate interests at all. ... An entire private prison industry has arisen that lobbies for harsh drug wars with severe sentencing. The drug war institutionalizes racial, generational, and economic injustice, by disproportionately punishing people of color, young people, and people with lower incomes at far greater rates than the population as a whole. For instance, although surveys show that illicit drug use is no higher among people of color, African-American men are arrested at many times the rate of white men on drug charges in the U.S., and at even higher rates in Florida. ... More than half a million people are languishing behind bars on drug charges in the U.S., breaking up and often irreparably destroying families. ... In Florida and some other states, those convicted of non-violent drug felonies are barred for life from voting, even after they have served their sentences, regardless of whether they are responsibly employed, paying taxes, and raising families. In 2001, I helped spearhead the grassroots lobbying campaign that overturned New Mexico’s felon disenfranchisement law, and worked successfully with a Republican governor to do so. Unfortunately, Florida leads the country in felon disenfranchisement. ... Public opinion surveys show that people across the country, and particularly in South Florida, want to end this misguided drug war. Unfortunately, powerful industries continue to lobby for the drug war – including the same pharmaceutical, alcohol, and private prison companies from which my opponent readily takes large amounts of money. It is time to take corporate money out of politics, end the drug war, and provide legal and healthy alternatives for everyone. ... We don’t need more prisons. We need more jobs and more educational opportunities as alternatives to drug dealing and chronic drug use. And for those who are caught in the grip of the disease of drug addiction, rather than warehouse them in prisons as punishment, we need more treatment programs to provide a better means to help them recover."

Tim on Financial Regulation:

"Financial deregulation has resulted in more income inequality. Big Wall Street banks have been allowed to impose all sorts of fees on low-income customers. They charge high interest rates on predatory and subprime loans. They pay near zero interest to bank customers on their deposits. My opponent, after taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks, has co-sponsored a bill to prevent the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFTP) from regulating payday loans and addressing racial discrimination in car loans. This reverses the progress made by President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren in significant parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 - the Obama administration’s main legislative response to the 2008 financial collapse. ... I have spent my entire career opposing financial deregulation for the big banks, and calling for regulation of lending standards. I warned against watering down and then abolishing the Glass-Steagall Act firewalls that had separated commercial banking from investment banking and risky securities markets for decades. And I support breaking up these huge financial institutions that have become too big to fail, too big to jail, and too big to manage."

Tim on Trade Agreements:

"As a law professor, scholar and activist, I opposed ... trade policies, including NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China, and China’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) ... that resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in Florida. ... I do not take corporate money, period. And I opposed fast-tracking the TPP and I oppose the TPP."
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?

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