Stand With Maxine Waters

diary at Daily Kos makes the case for Representative Maxine Waters of California as the Democratic standard bearer. It’s a good case; she is a tough, smart, fearless advocate who has not spent her 30 years in Congress going along to get along, but has been a fighter for progressive politics even in the most hostile environments, and even when it meant going up against her own party.

There is one aspect of the diary that could have been stronger, however. The diarist includes a lengthy bullet list of admirable actions and votes by Waters, introducing it with, “Where does she stand on the full spectrum of progressive issues? See for yourself.”

But upon examination, the list turns out to be somewhat thin on core progressive economic issues, such as trade, Wall Street regulation before the mortgage meltdown, union organizing, and minimum wage; as well as on foreign policy. So, I thought I’d take a look and see how she stacked up on a somewhat fuller full spectrum of progressive issues. And it turns out she’s awesome!

Maxine Waters:

  • Voted against NAFTA
  • Voted against Glass-Steagall repeal (Gramm-Leach-Blilley)
  • Led a the first Congressional delegation to visit Cuba, in 1999
  • Voted against CAFTA
  • Co-sponsored Single Payer Medicare for All bill
  • Voted against War in Iraq
  • Voted against the Financial Services Act of 1998 (I’d never actually heard of this bill before I started digging; I just know that the name “Financial Services Act of 1998” scares the fertilizer out of me.)
  • Co-sponsored the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007
  • Voted Yes on Withdrawing from WTO
  • Founded the Congressional Out of Iraq Caucus
  • Voted against Most Favored Nation Status for China
  • 100% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO
  • Voted against the Bankruptcy Bill of 2005
  • Voted against Fast Track Authority
  • 0% lifetime rating from the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute

Representative Waters has developed a national following recently, emerging Bernie-like from decades of left-wing obscurity to become a prominent leader in the party in this era of the anti-Trump resistance. It is a role to which she is brilliantly suited. Maxine Waters is a fighter, and exactly the kind of strong economic progressive that supporters of Bernie Sanders should rally behind. I want to be in her fox hole, and a lot of people agree.

But it’s worth noting that this standing up as the principled resistance is nothing new to Waters. She was the resistance in the 1990s, when standing up for a pro-worker, single-payer, anti-“free trade,” anti-“financial modernization” platform was not nearly as welcome in the Democratic Party as it is in 2017. Maxine Waters is a principled progressive from way back. And she can do this.

I’m in.

We Are Winning This Thing

The Hill has an interesting piece today, Democrats Welcome Bernie Takeover. The thrust of the piece is that Democrats who were skeptical of welcoming Sanders into the party and were critical of him last year are coming around and recognizing the value he brings as the Democrats’ chief spokesman, despite the fact that HE’S NOT. EVEN. A DEMOCRAT.

This question of Sanders’ formal party registration is interesting. It is, indeed, very unusual for someone who is not a member of a party to be in that party’s leadership; but the political situation in this country is such that it makes perfect sense for the Democrats to put a bird on it.

Since the Clinton administration, two somewhat contradictory trends have redefined American politics. On the one had, registration for the two major parties has declined while independent/unenrolled/no party registrations have increased. Somewhat counter-intuitively, this formal detachment from the parties has been matched by growing partisan polarization in voting patterns. There are far fewer swing voters than there used to be, while there are far more voters who always vote for one party, or whose decision is between voting for that party or not voting at all. What that means is that we have a large body of voters who have an policy or ideological or cultural affinity with one party’s candidates and officials, but who do not feel a strong attachment to the party itself.

In a situation like that, it is manifestly in the interest of each party to encourage unaffiliated people who generally agree with them to operate within a broad coalition of partisans and independent leaners. The elevation of Sanders to a position of party leadership, the Sanders-Tom Perez unity tour, and other efforts that display Sanders fighting on the side of the Democrats, and the Democratic Party welcoming him as a core member of the team, demonstrate some important things to those Dem-leaning independents. They show that someone they greatly respect for his independence and distance from the party establishment is all-in with working closely with Democrats to oppose Trump and promote progressive politics, and that the party itself is seeking to make amends for the bad blood generated among Sanders supporters by the corrupt DWS chairmanship.

Bernie Sanders can lead millions of people into allying with the Democratic Party as voters and activists, especially among the growing segment of independent voters, but only if they let him. So far, signs are good that cooler heads are prevailing, and angry Clintonite dead-enders, like the former DNC official quoted at the end of the Hill article, are not succeeding in their efforts to serve as gatekeepers against Bernie Sanders his political revolution.

Polling Shows Democrats’ Opinion on Military Action Not Driven by President’s Party

Brian Beutler at the New Republic reports on a Washington Post poll about Donald Trump’s recent airstrike on a Syrian air base in response to last week’s deadly sarin attack, and notes something interesting:

When President Obama was contemplating missile strikes in Syria four years ago, in the aftermath of a deadly chemical weapons attack, very few people thought it was a good idea. Just 38 percent of Democrats and a bare 22 percent of Republicans supported the idea.
Today, most Democrats are similarly apprehensive. Only 37 percent back President Trump’s weekend bombing campaign. Republicans, by contrast, have had a near-total change of heart. The same Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that 86 percent of Republicans support the strikes, suggesting that a huge number of them based their decision on the proxy of who happened to be president at the time.

Beutler focuses on the difference between Democrats and Republicans in his piece, and focuses his analysis on how the results disprove the lazy “Both Sides” analysis of American politics that is so popular in the national political media. I was struck by how the results disprove a different lazy bit of political analysis: the claim that Democrats changed their foreign policy views, refusing to criticize President Obama for action that drew protest under President Bush.

The evidence for this claim was always weak, always based on some “You just know they woulda…” language. You just know that Democrats would have been widely critical of George Bush if he’d had a drone program, you just know that Democrats would have criticized George Bush if he’d surged troops into Afghanistan, etc. The problem being, the claim of inconsistency is either entirely speculative (there were few drone strikes under George Bush because the technology was not yet mature), or refuted by the facts (Democrats broadly supported George Bush’s decision to go into Afghanistan in 2001, supported it throughout Bush’s presidency) or both (Democrats came to oppose both drone strikes and the Afghan War during Obama’s presidency).

And here, in today’s poll, we have as close to a valid laboratory experiment as you are likely to find in politics. The situations faced by Obama and Trump are nearly identical, and the level of support from Democrats is nearly identical. As people who were paying attention, and not straining to discern Democratic hypocrisy could have predicted, Democratic support has not budged.

Damn Hippies!

The utopian leftists over at the Police Executive Research Forum – a national police training and policy shop – have weighed in on sanctuary cities, municipalities that limit police cooperation with federal immigration enforcement in order to promote more effective and positive local policing. Apparently, decades of collective experience in police top management in cities across America has caused them all to go soft in in the head and turn into Jerry Garcia, because PERF is all in on such policies.

PERF’s Chuck Wexler, who really doesn’t have enough hair to put any flowers in:

Police chiefs know that today’s unreported domestic violence or sexual assault or robbery can become tomorrow’s reported homicide. This is a special concern in immigrant communities, where many people fear that cooperating with the police may lead to scrutiny and even deportation. It’s why cities have adopted policies like the one in Los Angeles, and it’s why police departments have invested considerable time and resources to build trust and cooperation with all of their communities, including their immigrant communities. They know that when people step forward because they trust their local police, communities are safer.

It’s worth reading the whole thing, especially the examples Wexler offers to show what happens when unauthorized immigrants trust the local police. His thoughts about the utility of the term “sanctuary city” make some sense, too.

Police departments like those in Lowell, Boston, and Dallas have invested considerable effort for years to develop positive relationships between the police and immigrant communities as part of their community policing strategies. For a quarter century, Republican and Democratic presidential administrations and Departments of Justice have been allies of this effort, providing grants and training for cities and otherwise promoting community policing reforms. But now, that alliance has been betrayed. Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda threatens to destroy the progress those local police have made. The  Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has been told to take the gloves off, resulting in a  string of abuses nationwide. In turn, people in immigrant communities are increasingly afraid to call the police:

According to crime statistics, 2017 has seen a 25 percent drop in the number of sexual assaults reported to the LAPD by Latinos. There has also been a 10 percent decrease in the number of domestic violence cases reported to the police. Sheriff Beck also explained that similar decreases were not seen among other ethnic groups. This led the police chief to the conclusion that there is a “strong correlation” between the decrease of reported crimes and the climate of fear within the Hispanic community.

If you think there were 25% fewer Latinas sexually assaulted in Los Angeles compared to last year, you fail at understanding crime statistics. People in immigrant communities – not just undocumented immigrants themselves, but their neighbors too – are becoming increasingly unwilling to summon the police even in cases of serious crime. Sexual assaults that aren’t reported mean assailants continue to victimize people. But instead of listening to police chiefs on the subject of public safety, President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have decided to try to dragoon local police into the ranks of their federal “Deportation Force:”

Sec. 8. Federal-State Agreements. It is the policy of the executive branch to empower State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer in the interior of the United States to the maximum extent permitted by law.

(a) In furtherance of this policy, the Secretary shall immediately take appropriate action to engage with the Governors of the States, as well as local officials, for the purpose of preparing to enter into agreements under section 287(g) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1357(g)).

(b) To the extent permitted by law and with the consent of State or local officials, as appropriate, the Secretary shall take appropriate action, through agreements under section 287(g) of the INA, or otherwise, to authorize State and local law enforcement officials, as the Secretary determines are qualified and appropriate, to perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States under the direction and the supervision of the Secretary. Such authorization shall be in addition to, rather than in place of, Federal performance of these duties.

And, incredibly, to threaten municipalities to choose not to throw away their trust in the neighborhoods with the loss of federal law-enforcement funding:

In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.

Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant politics are an immediate threat to Lowell’s community police. I.C.E. will tear down the house that Ed Davis built, and stand in the rubble gloating, for no better reason than because “illegal is illegal.” If we don’t get this right – and that very well might mean forgoing some federal money – we could end up right back in the days of people throwing bottles at police cars.

People who support Trump like to idolize police officers, in much the same way that people who supported Bush’s Iraq War liked to idolize people in the military – meaning, they like to say some pugnacious words about how wonderful they are, and then send them out to fail. We need federal policies that actually support the LPD’s efforts, and all we’re getting are threats.

And that, much more than a new appreciation for the merits of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, explains why PERF is sounding the alarm about Trump’s reckless and intrusive deportation campaign.

How Do You Write “Bernie Would Have Won” in Cyrillic?

1. The Russian government was backing Donald Trump as far back as the Republican primaries in 2015, planting negative stories about Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush at key moments in the race.

2. The Russian government, which was angling for a Trump win while the primaries were still happening, sat on the DNC and Podesta emails until Clinton had won the nomination, only releasing them through Wikileaks once there was no chance they would prevent her from being the Democratic nominee.

There are two obvious conclusions one can draw from this.

First, Putin was not just anti-Clinton, as the FBI initially thought, but pro-Trump. If they were motivated by a desire to stop Hillary Clinton, they could have tried to sandbag her in the primaries, but they didn’t.

Second, Sanders was the better candidate to face Trump. The Russian intel agencies that proved themselves so effective at manipulating American electoral politics wanted their boy to face Clinton and not Sanders.

At this point, the universe of people who don’t think Sanders would have been a stronger general election candidate consists only of people who thought that the Deplorables comment was brilliant multi-dimensional chess that helped Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The Four Percenters: Bernie Derangement Syndrome is the New “Kill the Bill.”

Back in the 2009/2010 era, someone reading liberal blogs could be forgiven for thinking that the Democratic Party was sharply divided over whether to pass the Affordable Care Act. In reality, Obamacare was overwhelmingly popular among Democrats, with large majorities of them across the ideological spectrum, including left-wing single-payer advocates who had criticisms of the package, strongly supporting its passage. But that was not how it looked in the liberal blogosphere. “Kill the Bill” progressives were greatly overrepresented online.

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders is the most popular figure in the Democratic Party. A whopping four percent of Democratic respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Sanders. He has become the most prominent voice of the anti-Trump opposition, and the most sought-after endorsement among Democratic candidates. But online, leftover hostility from the 2016 primary from Clinton supporters is surprisingly common. Once again, a reader without outside knowledge could conclude that Sanders was a divisive figure in the party. In my experience, the most angry anti-Sanders voices come from the most left-leaning Clinton devotees – which is to say, the people who needed to violate their own ideological and policy principles the most in order to take her side.

Bernie Derangement Syndrome is self-loathing turned outward. It’s victims are few in number and at war with themselves. Don’t sweat the Four Percenters.

The Cawley Stadium Site

You know, if Lowell’s Board of Parks were to lift the open-space restrictions on the lots near Cawley Stadium to allow the Cawley Option for the new Lowell High School to go forward in the decision-making process, and the City ultimately decided to keep Lowell High downtown, that would produce an excellent opportunity to address a serious issue that has been plaguing Lowell for decades: the severe imbalance among neighborhoods in the location of affordable housing units.

Occasionally, the Planning Board is tasked with reviewing a proposed change to the zoning map. Almost always, this is at the behest of some developer or property owner who wants to build something that is not allowed under current zoning. Every time, the process involves the applicant showing the plans for the wonderful project he intends to build. The Chairman then has to explain to the assembled multitudes that a zoning change is not a project permit, and that changing the zoning wouldn’t mean that the applicant can only build the project presented at the meeting. The owner of a rezoned parcel would have the right to develop all sorts of buildings and uses that are allowed under the proposed zoning. The initial intent behind the request to rezone provides no guarantee that the project as presented will be built.

And so, every time this happens, we have an applicant and a public who came to talk about what they think about the project, while the Board discusses the merits of this residential zone vs. that commercial zone, keeping in mind the full range of possibilities that are allowed under both.

It might be wise for the Board of Parks and the City Council to think in similar terms here. The removal of the Article 97 restrictions is not a choice between open space and a new high school. It’s a choice between open space and ???.