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Preparing For The Fight Ahead By Learning From Dr. King

Tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The day we all celebrate the man who led the civil rights movement and pushed for equality between blacks and whites. He fought against discrimination, injustice, and against poverty. He fought for voting rights, for unions, and for all working people.

The things he fought for and against may seem very different but in truth, they are all connected.

How could blacks in the South effect change in Washington without the ability to vote? How could they make their voices heard on issues facing this country without the ability to vote?

What was the plan to combat poverty? By giving them the chance to form unions and bargain for better wages. How could they ensure pay equity between blacks and whites? Through strong labor agreements that ensured, regardless of the color of their skin, all workers were paid equally for doing the same job.

It is all connected and Dr. King understood better than anyone else.

Now, we have a President-Elect and a Congress that wants to take us back to the 1950s. Together they are working to roll back voting rights, making it harder for people to vote, specifically low-income people of color.

They want to roll back workers rights, making it harder for them to form unions. They push anti-union legislation to repeal workers rights to collectively bargain for wages and benefits. They continue to oppose raising the minimum wage, forcing millions of Americans to work two or three jobs just to survive.

They want to undue all of the progress we have made since Dr. King.

In a few days our nation will inaugurate President Trump, who was whole-heartedly supported by white nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan. The same people that Dr. King fought against before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

President-elect Trump wants to re-establish legal discrimination but not solely on the color of their skin but by the religion they choose to believe in because it is different than theirs.

Trump campaigned on the idea of creating a Muslim registry to identify all of the Muslims living in the United States, regardless of their citizenship.   Hitler did the same thing to the Jews in Europe before putting them into concentration camps. Our own government did the same thing to the Japanese-Americans, before placing them in camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

These nationalist hate groups want to do the same thing to the Muslims. History shows us that it all began with a registry.

We are in for some very dark days ahead. The attacks on workers have already begun. The attacks on people of color are still ongoing and getting worse as Trump’s administration takes shape.

As Dr. King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Some of you have seen this hatred before. Some of you may even have the scars to prove it. George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

We must learn from the past, from the teachings of Dr. King and other civil rights activists.

Using the tools that Dr. King showed us over a half-century ago we will stand together, arm-in-arm and refused to be moved. We will fight, together as one, against the hatred and discrimination that is coming down the road.

As Dr. King said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

The Media Are Not The Only Ones Who Believe Trump Should Release His Taxes And Divest From His Company

By now, you have probably already heard about the train wreck that was President-Elect Trump’s first press conference as the President-Elect and his first press conference since July of last year as a nominee.

During the press conference a few key issues were supposed to be resolved mainly dealing with the President-Elect’s business and his potential conflicts of interest.

Trump has continued to say that the President cannot have conflicts of interest and that he will do whatever is necessary to resolve any potential conflicts that stem from his business. Part of the problem is that we do not even know what those conflicts are because we have not seen his tax returns to see what investments he holds or has direct dealings with that could be impacted by decisions made by the federal government.

Trump announced that his sons would be taking over the family business while he is President but will not be divesting from the company in any way.

“President-elect Trump’s planned arrangement with the Trump Organization falls far short of what’s necessary to avoid conflicts of interest and Emoluments Clause violations that will dog his administration and severely undermine the public’s faith in government,” said Common Cause Vice President for Policy & Litigation Paul S. Ryan. “Common Cause has called on President-elect Trump to divest from the Trump Organization and put his wealth into a blind trust managed independently from him. Instead, he’s decided to retain full ownership of the Trump Organization and have two of his sons run it—no divestment and no independence.”

“These are the same two sons who recently had their name attached to an inauguration fundraiser that promised access to their father for those willing to pay $1 million dollars. The event was cancelled but the precedent was troubling,” Ryan continued.

Common Cause describes themselves as “a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.”

“It is clear from President-Elect Trump’s statement and answers today that he will not fully separate himself from his business transactions and potential conflicts of interest. He also has no intention of disclosing his financial interests, as past presidents have done. His response to these legitimate questions was simply ‘trust me.’ Our democracy and the American people deserve better,” said NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.

Shea-Porter has cosponsored legislation to hold President-Elect Trump accountable and to investigate the Russian interference in the U.S. elections to remedy this dangerous situation. H.R. 371, the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, and H.R. 356, which would establish a bipartisan commission on the Russian interference in our elections, will protect our democracy and ensure that the President-Elect cannot enrich himself and his family while conducting the official business of the United States. Congresswoman Shea-Porter has also cosponsored H.J.Res. 26, which would deny Congressional consent for President-Elect Trump to accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title of any kind from a foreign leader or government.

“The legislation I have cosponsored would apply the ethical standards, norms, and precedents that have been developed over decades to our incoming administration, which refuses to follow them. I urge Speaker Ryan to put these measures to a vote and pass them with the urgency these critical issues demand,” continued Shea-Porter.

“The American public must now demand complete transparency of the Trump Organization and President-elect Trump’s finances. Such transparency is America’s only hope for protecting itself against conflicts of interest and Emoluments Clause violations—and holding President-elect Trump accountable for his promises to avoid conflicts and violations of the constitution,” Ryan added.

During the campaign Trump confirmed he would release his taxes after the election however now that he is the President-Elect he is stating that it is only the media who wants to see his tax returns.   This is simply not true.

Paul S. Ryan stated that Common Cause’s 700,000 members are also demanding to see his tax returns.

“The President-elect must take additional steps immediately to safeguard the integrity of the office of the President. To begin with, Trump must release his taxes and quit hiding the facts and the potential conflicts from the American people. At today’s press conference, when asked to release his tax returns, the President-elect rejected the request and claimed that the ‘only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.’ Common Cause’s more than 700,000 members and supporters care about the President-elect’s tax returns and additional financial disclosure. We demand it.”

What exactly is he hiding by not releasing his taxes? Is he hiding the fact that he has failed to pay anything in taxes for the last few years due to loopholes in our tax laws? Is he hiding the fact that he and his company have been doing business with foreign governments that are currently under sanction from the US Government? Is he hiding the fact that he will gain massive amounts of wealth from simple policy changes he can make as President?

We do not know because he is hiding it all from us.

It is time to come clean and do what he promised to do: release his taxes, fully divest from his company and put all of his assets in a blind trust.

New Hampshire Gets its First All-Democratic, All-Female Congressional Delegation Today

Washington, D.C. – Today, as the 115th United States Congress convenes, New Hampshire has reason to celebrate as its first all-Democratic, all-female congressional delegation takes office.

“New Hampshire voters are in capable, experienced hands with this history-making delegation. Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Annie Kuster, and Carol Shea-Porter will be the strong, steady leaders we need in uncertain times, and they will fight hard for New Hampshire families,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley.

In particular, Senator Maggie Hassan makes history as only the second woman in American history to serve as both Governor and U.S. Senator for her state. The first was her colleague and New Hampshire’s own Jeanne Shaheen.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) extended her congratulations to Senator Maggie Hassan, who was sworn in as New Hampshire’s junior senator this afternoon. Senators Shaheen and Hassan are the only women to serve as both Governors and U.S. Senators. As is tradition for the senior senator, Senator Shaheen escorted Senator Hassan to the Senate floor for her swearing-in, which was conducted by Vice President Joe Biden.

“I offer my congratulations to Senator Hassan, who has served New Hampshire with distinction as Governor and state senator, and I look forward to working with her every day in the U.S. Senate on behalf of the Granite State,” said Senator Shaheen. “I also want to recognize Congresswomen Kuster and Shea-Porter, who make up the other half of Team New Hampshire. Today is truly an historic day as the first all-female, all-Democrat delegation gets to work. The 115th Congress has many important issues to address, and we will be fierce advocates day in and day out for the best interests of New Hampshire and the United States.”

 

 

Leo W Gerard — Coming Soon: American Made Battle Of The Heavyweights

Screenshot from CNN Video

Screenshot from CNN Video

Virtually every time President-elect Donald Trump performs in cities across America on his thank you tour, he mentions, to grand applause, his preference for Made in America.

He describes his plan to create jobs with a federal infrastructure spending project – that is improvements to the likes of crumbling roads, bridges, waterlines and airports – and then says, “We will have two simple rules when it comes to this massive rebuilding effort. Buy American and hire American.”

That American-job-creating, buy-American thing is supported by 71 percent of the American public. But it is a smack in the face to GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who just made it clear in the Water Resources Development Act that he’s fine with creating slave-wage iron-and-steel-making jobs in China with U.S. tax dollars so long as a few fat-cat iron-and-steel importers make a profit on the deal.

So, clearly, there’s a battle brewing between the President-elect and the Speaker of the House. This is the President-elect who has repeatedly promised the working class men and women who elected him that he’d support Buy American provisions in federal law to create jobs for them. And it’s a GOP Speaker who wants to ship taxpayer-financed work overseas and let the working class wait a couple more decades to just possibly feel a tiny pinch of trickle down from the largess of filthy rich iron and steel importers. This, also, is a clash between a New York real estate titan who won the presidency and a Wisconsin lawmaker who lost the vice presidency.

2016-12-18-1482079928-207486-comingsoonpix.jpg

By advocating night after night for American Made, President-elect Trump essentially warned Ryan not to strip the Buy-American provisions out of the Water Resources Development Act. But Ryan did it anyway early in December when he got the act from the Senate.

The act contained strong, permanent Buy America language when the Senate sent it over. These provisions are significant because they use tax dollars to create 33 percent more U.S. factory jobs, something that is, again, important to voters, 68 percent of whom told The Mellman Group  & North Star Opinion Research in November in a national survey conducted for the Alliance for American Manufacturing that they were worried that the country had lost too many manufacturing jobs.

In addition, and President-elect Trump knows this from the response he gets at his rallies, Buy American policies are very popular. Seventy-four percent of voters say large infrastructure projects financed by taxpayer money should be constructed with American-made materials and American workers. And those who voted for President-elect Trump agree more strongly – 79 percent of them say American-made should be given preference over the lowest bidder.

This is a very big deal to iron and steel producers and workers in the United States. Far too many mills are closed or partially shuttered because of unfairly traded imports, and more than 16,000 steelworkers across this country have been laid off over the past year.

China is the main culprit, but there are others. China produces so much steel now that it has managed to inundate the world with more steel than anyone needs. It is dumping steel on the world market at such low prices that no one can compete. As a result, producers from places as far flung as Mexico, the U.S., Canada, India, the U.K. and Spain are shutting down and throwing workers out of their jobs.

China props up that excess steelmaking capacity with methods that are illegal under the terms of the agreements it entered into to gain access to the World Trade Organization and Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with the United States. If steel is sold domestically, a country can provide steel firms with subsidies like exemptions from utility payments and taxes, interest-free loans and free land.

But those free market-warping subsidies violate international trade agreements when the steel is exported. That’s what China is doing. And it’s killing American steel companies and American jobs.

When Ryan eliminated the permanent Buy American provision in the Water Bill, essentially saying it’s fine to import illegally subsidized Chinese iron and steel for taxpayer-financed water projects, he was also saying it is fine to bankrupt American steel companies and destroy American jobs.

If the United States is reduced to buying steel from China to build its military tanks and armor, that’s okay with Ryan, as long as he maintains a great relationship with the lobbyists for the foreign steelmakers. They pushed him hard to drop the Buy American provision through Squire Patton Boggs, a Washington, D.C. lobby and law firm employing Ryan’s predecessor Speaker John Boehner and numerous former top GOP aides.

He got hit with a Tweetstorm after he chose Chinese jobs over American jobs, though. Buy American supporters and members of the Congressional Steel Caucus began pointing out on Twitter just how good #BuyAmerica is for American jobs and the economy and cited @realDonaldTrump, the President-elect’s Twitter handle on every Tweet, which means his account was alerted.

This, for example, came from Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown:

.@RealDonaldTrump: Tell @SpeakerRyan to put #BuyAmerica back in Water bill. American tax dollars for American jobs.”

And Steelworkers wrote protests on Ryan’s Facebook page and hundreds called Ryan and his anti-American-made Congressional crew.

Ryan responded. Sort of. He restored one-year Buy American language to the bill. Nothing like the permanent provisions achieved in other federal laws, but it does keep the jobs for 12 months and the issue alive until President-elect Trump can take on Ryan mano-a-mano on Buy American after the inauguration.

Ryan has made clear his anti-American preference, so this will be a royal rumble. But the Speaker should beware. The last time the President-elect stepped into the ring with a heavyweight, it was with the ring’s owner, World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon. And the former professional wrestler McMahon left bald and defeated.

Trump Nominates Climate Denier And Anti-EPA Advocate To Lead The EPA

Image by Gromit702 CC

Image by Gromit702 CC

Last week, President Elect Trump continued his Cabinet appointments with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the hen house,” League of Conservation Voters’ president Gene Karpinski said in a statement. “Time and again, he has fought to pad the profits of Big Polluters at the expense of public health. He’s sued the EPA over commonsense safeguards like the Clean Water Rule and Clean Power Plan and sent letters to federal officials that were written almost entirely by the oil and gas industry. And like fellow Oklahoman senator Inhofe, Pruitt is an outright climate denier who has ignored settled science for political points.”

During his time as Attorney General, Pruitt has attacked the EPA and challenged them directly in court on behalf of the oil and gas industry.

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the EPA and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, the head of the Environmental Working Group, in a statement.

“We need an Environmental Protection Agency Administrator who protects our environmental laws, is guided by science when crafting and implementing policy, puts public health ahead of dirty energy special interests, and has the qualifications necessary to safeguard the American public from climate change,” said Environment America’s Executive Director, Margie Alt. “President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt meets none of those criteria.” 

“Scott Pruitt is a main party to several lawsuits against the very agency he would be in charge of.  He denies the science of climate change and he has numerous close ties to polluters.  Americans need an EPA administrator who will fight to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the planet we love. Scott Pruitt fails on all these accounts,” Alt added. 

“The EPA has the enormous responsibility of protecting our environment and keeping Americans safe and healthy,” said Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz in a statement. “Its administrator should share those goals, but Scott Pruitt’s record has shown us that he does not. While the EPA is tasked with protecting our people and our environment from the impacts of climate change, he denies the science behind it. And while the agency has worked to keep our air and water clean and safe, Scott Pruitt has worked to undermine the very rules that protect those resources.”

“Climate change is a direct threat to New Hampshire’s environment, economy and way of life,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “As New Hampshire continues to combat carbon emissions and provide clean, safe drinking water, we need a reliable partner in the EPA to achieve these goals. Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s environmental record is extremely concerning and his appointment would signal a capitulation to polluters. We owe it to future generations to build on the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and I will not support any nominee that is intent on rolling back this progress.”

As one of nine Northeastern states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), New Hampshire has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector by nearly 50 percent since 2008. New Hampshire is on track to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon reduction goals 10 years ahead of schedule. RGGI was the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The threat of global warming is real.  A recently released report by the Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission, estimates that the New Hampshire Seacoast will experience sea-level rise due to climate change of between a half-foot and two feet by 2050. By 2100, the report estimates sea-level rise of one-and-a-half feet to over 6 feet.

We need a EPA Administrator who will directly address the growing problem of Climate Change before it is too late.  Unfortunately Trump has nominated a climate-denier who rejects the 97% of climate scientist who agree that Climate Change is real and that we have sped up the process.

Trump Nominates Fast Food CEO As Sec of Labor And House Labor Committe Chair Implies Unions Are Obsolete

Image by Chris Potter ccpixs.com

Image by Chris Potter ccpixs.com

As if this incoming train-wreck we call President-Elect Trump is not bad enough two more horrible things happened last night.

First, Trump is considering the head of a fast food chain as his new Secretary of Labor.

Second, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the newly elected chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce said we don’t need unions anymore.

The Hill is reporting that President-Elect Trump is considering Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor.

Puzder is a CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carls Jr / Hardees) and is an outspoken opponent of President Obama’s changes to the overtime rule, “claiming it will force employers to offset costs by making cuts elsewhere.”

“In an op-ed that ran in Forbes in May, Puzder said the rule adds to the ‘extensive regulatory maze the Obama Administration has imposed on employers.’”

As the head of a multi-national fast food chain with over 20,000 employees Puzder has also used his position to advocate against raising the minimum wage. He has threatened to fire workers and replace them with automated kiosks if the government increases the minimum wage. A threat that many fast food corporations have been using to counter the Fight for $15 movement.

Puzder will say anything to protect CKE’s profits that rose by 30% last year and his $4.4 million dollar compensation package.

According to PayScale.com the average fast food worker makes between $7.24 and $9.92 per hour. This means that Andrew Puzder makes more in one day ($17.250) that the average Carls Jr. worker make in a year.

Coincidentally, 52% of full-time workers who make between $7.42 and $9.91 must rely on some type of government assistance to survive. People like Savino, who works 72 hours a week, at a Brooklyn grocery store and still doesn’t make enough to get by.

“Sometimes things are so bad that I have to decide—should I pay rent this month, or should I eat?” said Savino.

“When employers pay wages so low that working people have to turn to public assistance to make ends meet, they’re effectively receiving a subsidy from taxpayers,” said EPI economic analyst David Cooper. “Policies that raise wages would free up resources that could then be used to strengthen anti-poverty programs or make investments in any number of other policy priorities. The simplest way we can do this is by raising the federal minimum wage.”

Within the next few months we could have a new Secretary of Labor who opposes raising the minimum wage and we could have a Labor Committee chair that says unions are obsolete.

Representative Virginia Foxx told Reuters “Organized labor has ‘sort of lost its reason for being’ and one of her committee’s top priorities will be to roll back a slew of Obama administration labor initiatives.”

“At the top of her agenda is the U.S. Labor Department rule that would extend mandatory overtime pay to more than 4 million workers” wrote Robert Iafolla for Reuters.

What a strange coincidence, that is exactly what the potential Sec. of Labor wants to do as well.

Foxx is also targeting the NLRB decision on “joint employment.” This is the rule that “could make it easier for unions and regulators to hold companies accountable for the employment practices of staffing agencies, contractors and franchisees with which they partner. That issue has been most prominently in play in a case involving McDonald’s Corp over whether it, as well as its franchisees, can be held liable in complaints about the violation of employee rights,” Iafolla explained.

The change to the “joint employment” rule is to stem the growing trend of hiring workers as “independent contractors” to avoid having to pay any benefits or be held responsible for any labor or safety violations. This would also hold corporations accountable for the actions of their franchisees.

Together, Puzder and Foxx will put a massive target on the backs of working people. They want to undo all of the progress we have made in the fights to raise the minimum wage and expand workers rights.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together to push back against this anti-worker agenda. We must fight back against the oligarchs that President-Elect Trump is filling his Cabinet with. We cannot sit idly by while the super-wealthy reap all the rewards from our hard work. We need to keep organizing and redouble our efforts in the Fight for $15.

We are all in this together.

We still are the 99% and we must make our voices heard.

AFL-CIO Decries Trump’s Cabinet Selections

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Cabinet Nominations

Richard_TrumkaAfter the election, we made clear that we would hold Donald Trump accountable to the promises he made to working people throughout the campaign.

His initial nominations fundamentally threaten these promises.  Taken together, the appointments push President-elect Trump away from the values and issues that working class voters said were most important to them. 

As a candidate, President-elect Trump railed against Wall Street greed and the failure of big banks to invest in America, yet his nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is a billionaire who got rich by foreclosing on the homes of hard-working American families. Mnuchin will take us back to the risky, unregulated financial speculation that benefits his Wall Street friends, leaves consumers vulnerable and risks another financial crisis.

President-elect Trump promised to protect Social Security and Medicare, yet his nominee for HHS Secretary, Rep. Tom Price, wants to privatize and undermine these essential programs and take health care coverage away from millions of Americans.  

During the campaign, President-elect Trump complained that our kids aren’t learning, yet his nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, has spent her career undermining our public education system at the expense of students and teachers alike. She is a billionaire lobbyist, who has used her family’s wealth to steer public funds to private schools.  

Finally, President-elect Trump talked about a ‘New Deal’ for communities of color, yet Senator Jeff Sessions, his nominee for Attorney General, has a history of racially charged comments and a record of crushing civil liberties, including the right to vote. He is the opposite of what the American people want in their chief legal officer.

These decisions by President-elect Trump are deeply inconsistent with the pledges he made in the campaign.  Donald Trump the candidate claimed he would rein in the power of Wall Street traders, protect Social Security and Medicare and ensure all kids have great schools.  But his cabinet choices send a dangerous signal about how President-elect Trump will conduct his presidency. We urge the president-elect to stop stacking his administration with billionaire insiders who do not share the core American values he campaigned on.

That ‘Rigged’ System Made Donald Trump President-Elect

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump said the election was “rigged’ in favor of Hillary Clinton.

The “rigged” system made him president-elect.

Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump did. But she came up short where it counted: in the electoral college.

Billionaire Trump should thank the nation’s founders–well-heeled and powerful white men–for creating the electoral college. Their aim was to make sure that only guys like them could be president. 

Barack Obama snapped the string of white presidents. It’s back together with Trump.

Most of the nation’s founders –especially Alexander Hamilton–didn’t believe ordinary citizens could govern themselves. They made no bones about it.

Trump, a rich New Yorker like Hamilton, chose not to model his campaign after the founder, who became the country’s first treasury secretary.

Instead, the ex-reality TV star, emulated 19th-century circus showman P.T. Barnum who supposedly said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” 

Trump donned baseball caps and claimed to champion working stiffs.

He railed against outsourcing. He demonized trade deals like NAFTA and TPP.  Yet Trump has made money hand-over-fist selling a line of duds manufactured in Bangladesh, Honduras, China and other cheap labor countries, according to The Washington Post.

The big beneficiaries of his tax plan are rich people, says NPR.

Trump likes anti-union “right to work laws.” He has battled tooth-and-nail to keep his Las Vegas hotel workers from unionizing. On the minimum wage, he’s flip-flopped more times than a hooked Kentucky Lake bass in the bottom of a johnboat.

Yet Trump collected votes in 49 percent of union households, according to CNN exit polls.

On other hand, ultra-elitist Hamilton was openly contemptuous of ordinary citizens.

“The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right,” according to Hamilton. Thus, they had to be checked by wise and experienced “landholders, merchants and men of the learned professions.”

Hamilton favored the electoral college–and a king elected for life.

Anyway, Clinton became the fifth White House hopeful to win the popular vote but not the election. The last such loser was Al Gore in 2000. Besides Clinton and Gore, the other presidential candidates who won the popular vote and lost the election, were Andrew Jackson (1824), Samuel J. Tilden (1876) and Grover Cleveland (1888). Coincidentally, they were all Democrats.

Meanwhile, everybody who helped draft the constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 was from the colonial aristocracy; many were slaveholders.  Yet there were proposals to elect the president by popular vote (of white men), historian Howard Zinn pointed out in a 2000 interview with Democracy Now.

Every proposal was shot down. Hamilton and many other founders feared an “excess of democracy.” They argued that “people who are intelligent, people who are educated…important people in the community” ought to control the government, explained Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to the Present. In other words, only the elite counted.

The electoral college remains a relic from a period in our history when only white men of property could seek office and vote. They ran businesses, industries and everything else of importance in society.

Elitism was evident even in supposedly egalitarian (for whites) frontier states like Kentucky.

In addition to sanctioning slavery, the Bluegrass State’s first constitution, written in 1792, created a system in which electors chose the governor and state senators, according to A New History of Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison and James C. Klotter. The 1799 constitution tossed out the electors, the historian added. (Kentucky remained a slave state until the 13th Amendment ended slavery in 1865.) 

The electoral college has, though the years, survived multiple moves to get rid of it. At least 700 amendments have been proposed to modify or abolish it; no other attempt at constitutional reform has been greater, according to Fair Vote, “a non-partisan, 501(c)(3)h non-profit organization that seeks to make democracy fair, functional, and more representative.”

Fair Vote favors repeal.

Trying to deep-sixing the electoral college through a constitutional amendment isn’t likely to work, The Baltimore Sun editorialized. “It would require either a two-thirds vote of both chambers of Congress or a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures just to propose such an amendment, and then it would need to be approved by three-fourths of the states.”

The editorial pointed to a different path. “Ten states plus Washington, D.C., have enacted legislation that could lead to a system that leaves the Electoral College intact but ensures that it deliver the presidency to the popular vote winner. This national compact stipulates that as soon as states comprising a majority of the Electoral College — 270 votes — sign on, each will award its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Constitution allows states to allocate their electors as they choose — the winner-take-all system is not in the Constitution, and Maine and Nebraska have already abandoned it, choosing to split their electoral votes based on who wins in each congressional district.”

So far, only Democratic-majority legislatures have endorsed the plan, starting with deep blue Maryland, which Clinton carried.”…Yes, we endorsed the idea then, not just now that the candidate we supported, Hillary Clinton, has won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College,” the Sun editorial said.

“But the idea has gotten some traction in places like Oklahoma, a state so red that no presidential candidate pays it any attention, and in some swing states, including Colorado and Nevada. The 11 jurisdictions that have signed on total 165 electoral votes, nearly two-thirds of the necessary total.”

With the Republicans flipping the House of Representatives, the Kentucky General Assembly is redder and more reactionary than ever. Hogs will fly before GOP lawmakers agree to scuttle a system that made their man the next president.  

The Sun isn’t sanguine about red states hopping on the anti-electoral college bandwagon.  

‘Notwithstanding the fact that President-elect Donald Trump called the Electoral College ‘a disaster for democracy’ in a 2012 election night tweet (he evidently thought at the time that Mitt Romney would win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College, though he wound up losing both), we don’t expect Republicans to take up the cause until one of their nominees suffers the fate of Ms. Clinton and Al Gore. It’s only a matter of time. Had John Kerry convinced 59,301 George W. Bush voters in Ohio to support him instead, he would have taken the presidency in 2004 despite losing the popular vote by 3 million.”

Nonetheless, the paper said the electoral college “is no way to pick a president, and we can fix it. A petition on change.org calling for members of the Electoral College to vote for Ms. Clinton rather than Mr. Trump got more than 2 million signatures in under 36 hours, but if people really want change, they should lobby their state legislators to support the Electoral College compact.”

A MoveOn.org petition calls for the abolition of the electoral college. “Voters currently living and voting in a ‘red’ or ‘blue’ state are disenfranchised, because their vote doesn’t matter. Eliminating the electoral college means: no ‘swing’ states getting all the attention and all the campaign stops and all the empty campaign promises. The electoral members are selected by the two main political parties, Republican and Democrat, disenfranchising all other voters, independent, Libertarian, etc. End it now.”

I put my cyber John Hancock on the petition. You can, too, here.  

The NH Labor News Take On New Hampshire’s Candidates For 2016

The election is only days away and I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about who I think you should vote for and why.

President:

Hillary Clinton

Hillary is highly qualified to be President having spent years in politics. She is a smart woman and a smart politician, both of which are needed to get things done in Washington. She also supports; raising the minimum wage, opposes the TPP, supports a workers right to organize and collectively bargain, supports women’s rights and the right to make their own healthcare decisions, wants to make college more affordable while allowing those with student loans to refinance them to a lower rate, and she has laid out a massive infrastructure plan to put millions of people to work rebuilding roads, bridges, electricity lines, internet availability and more.

Her opponent, Donald Trump, has no political experience outside of buying politicians to protect his wealth. Basically he opposes everything above and is in my opinion, completely unstable. I fear that a Trump Presidency would throw us into another world war that would end with Trump launching nuclear weapons and completely destroying everyone on the planet.

There are third party options but I am not a fan of them either.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, supports the idea that we do not need things like drivers licenses, environmental regulations on corporations, and thinks we should eliminate the minimum wage completely because you know “free market” and stuff.

Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, is a very liberal progressive. Her campaign mirrors many of the ideas supported by Senator Bernie Sanders in the Presidential primary. She has a built her campaign on jobs and protecting the environment. The biggest difference between Sanders and Stein is the years of elected experience Sanders has. She lacks any real elected experience and many say she is weak on foreign policy. Since Sanders lost the primary, Sanders and Clinton have worked together to adopt many of the policies that Sanders and Stein were pushing in the primary. Because of the collaboration between Sanders and Clinton on policy issues, I think Clinton is the better choice over Stein.

New Hampshire Governor:

Colin Van Ostern

The Governor of New Hampshire is a very important and powerful position in our state and we must elect the right person for the job. Van Ostern has strong business and political experience and is uncompromising on his values. He has been an outspoken advocate for expanding the state’s Medicaid program and protecting the 50,000 people currently receiving healthcare through the program. He also supports a higher minimum wage and opposes anti-worker laws like the so-called Right to Work bill.

Van Ostern was also instrumental in ending the FairPoint communication strike that lasted for months. He blocked a proposed state contract with FairPoint until the strike was resolved and that was enough to get FairPoint to sit back down with workers and settle their dispute.

Van Ostern has continually voted in support of Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decision. He voted against defunding the program and with Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, continued to push the issue until another vote was held to restore their funding. Unlike Chris Sununu, Van Ostern held fast to his principles to support Planned Parenthood when Republicans like Sununu were spreading lies and attacking Planned Parenthood over a misleading and false videotape.

Chris Sununu comes from a political family, the New Hampshire version of the Bush family, so it is only natural that he is trying to move up the ladder. He claims to be an environmental engineer but does not believe man has any impact on climate change. Reports also came out that Sununu might not have ever had a license as a professional engineer in NH. He was also gifted the CEO position at Waterville Valley after his family purchased the ski resort. Waterville Valley has continued to fall in ski resort rankings and continues to loose visitors every year. This is not the type of leadership we want in the corner office.

US Senate:

Maggie Hassan

Hassan has been a strong leader as Governor of New Hampshire for the last four years. She worked with the Republican controlled legislature to expand Medicaid.  Though she was blocked by Senate Republicans she pushed for higher minimum wage law and stronger protections for working people.

Kelly Ayotte is a bought and paid for politician who is only out for herself.  She voted 90% of the time with her campaign donors, the Koch Brothers.  She opposes increasing the minimum wage, she wants to repeal a woman’s right to choose, blocked those with high student debt from being able to refinance their loans.  She has also been sitting for over 100 days now without holding any meetings or hearings on the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Ayotte is just one example of why nothing is moving in Washington. She voted down party lines and has continued to block President Obama at every turn resulting in years of gridlock.  It is time for Ayotte to go.

The First Congressional District:

Carol Shea-Porter

There is no doubt in my mind that we should reelect Carol Shea-Porter to represent us in Washington. She is a proven fighter for working people and a protector of our planet. She supports expanding Social Security, lowering college tuition costs, higher minimum wage, and was in Congress when the Affordable Care Act was passed so she will continue to support and expand on the ACA.

Her honesty and integrity knows no bounds. In a race with a “Damned liar” and a “Lying carpetbagger from NY,” honesty is a vital part of this election. Congressman Guinta was caught breaking FEC regulations even after he lied about it for years. Shawn O’Connor is simply trying to buy his way into Congress and has lobbed some nasty false accusations at Shea-Porter before he left the Democratic Party to run as an Independent who will caucus with “whoever is in power.”

The Second Congressional District:

Congresswoman Annie Kuster

For four years Congresswoman Annie Kuster has represented the Second District in Washington and she should continue to do so for at least another two years. She is a strong advocate for workers and women’s rights. As a part of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Kuster has continued to fight for our Veterans, ensuring they get all that was promised to them and helping to fight the chronic problem of PTSD that is plaguing many of our Veterans.

As for her opponent, Jim Lawrence, his is your run of the mill TEA Party anti-government Republican. He is the typical smaller government politician who puts corporations above working people. In a recent debate Lawrence opposed a Congressional inquiry to the pharmaceutical industries involvement in the current heroin and opioid epidemic. 

Local Races:

Bottom UpLastly, there are over 400 House races, 24 Senate races and 5 Executive Council races so I cannot possibly tell you about each of them. I implore you to look at the candidates and see what they are saying. These races will have the most impact on your daily life in the next two years and beyond.

Look at where these candidates stand on the issues that matter to working people: Minimum Wage, healthcare and the Medicaid Expansion, expanding rail service, Right to Work, supporting a women’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, and protecting our environment.

To ensure that these local races are not forgotten, I recommend that you do what I am going to do and vote from the bottom up. 

Do your research and then get out and vote.

Lying Carpetbagger From NY, Shawn O’Connor, Gets Backing Of Right-Wing Super PAC

‘Independent’ Candidate For New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, Shawn O’Connor, Gets Advertising Mailer Sent Out
By Peter T. Paul’s NH Priorities PAC

O’Connor also released a new ad that lies about Shea-Porter taking money from a “sponsor of terrorism”

As the election draws to a close, some candidates are slinging the mud as fact as their little hands can muster.  Shawn O’Connor, the millionaire carpetbagger from New York who now lives in Bedford has hit a new low.

Early this week, O’Connor released a new TV ad that said, “Shea-Porter has taken $140,000 from a lobbying organization that supports Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism which funds ISIS.” The ad claims that, J Street, a progressive pro-Israel group is actually a pro-Iranian group and a sponsor of terrorism.

The people over at the Daily Kos were quick to debunk this lie and shed a little more light on the subject.

“…Last year, back when he was still a Democrat, O’Connor traveled to J Street’s offices in D.C. and sought the group’s endorsement! For him to turn around now and tell rank lies about an organization whose support he tried to earn is truly craven.”

Then yesterday people in the first district started to receive mail from the Peter T Paul’s NH Priorities PAC in support of O’Connor, highlighting O’Connor’s endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders campaign for President.  It should be noted that the Bernie Sanders for President steering committee openly endorsed Carol Shea-Porter for Congress.

 

oconnor-adoconnor-ad-2If you do not know much about Peter T Paul and his political involvements, we talked about him in a recent post entitled: Business Economist And Industry Shill Now Chair Of Health Economics At UNH.

Paul founded Headlands Mortgage known for creating and selling “Alt-A” mortgages that many attributed to the financial collapse in 2007.

Headlands Mortgage, which he founded in 1986, called them Alt-A loans: Alternative “high-quality” loans. The California-based company examined the worth of the home and the down payment, the amount of cash in the bank, and the credit history, but was looser on income verification,” wrote Bob Sanders of the NH Business Review.

Paul created a Super PAC to support his friend and former UNH Business School Dean, Dan Innis in his run for Congress in 2014.

Mother Jones reported, “Paul created a super-PAC, New Hampshire Priorities PAC, and financed it with $562,000.

Now it appears that Peter T Paul is helping his fellow Wall Street buddy buy a seat in Congress, after his last candidate failed to beat Guinta in a primary.

filingMake no mistake, the NH Priorities PAC is not a progressive organization and though the mailer was sent out in support of O’Connor, they do not support any of Bernie Sanders progressive ideas like taxing Wall Street or increasing the Minimum Wage.  Peter T Paul helped institute Joseph Sabia, a well know shill for the restaurant industry who writes economic reports about the ill effects of raising the minimum wage, into a high powered position at the Peter T Paul school of Business and Economics at UNH.

Look deeper, this ad is not really to support O’Connor who is barely breaking double-digits in statewide polling, but to attack Carol Shea-Porter.  If they can trick enough people into believing that O’Connor is a pro-Bernie progressive they might be able to steal just enough votes from Shea-Porter to allow the real candidate they want to win, Republican Frank Guinta.

Do not be fooled into thinking that a Right-Wing super PAC whose founder opposes increasing the minimum wage and has made a fortune of the suffering of millions of Americans in the mortgage crisis supports Shawn O’Connor.  They will stop at nothing in their attempt to stop the true progressive in this race, Carol Shea-Porter, from winning her seat back.


UPDATE:

Since the original posting of this article, Shawn O’Connor has disavowed any connection to the flyers, which is cute because you cannot take back the mail that has already been delivered.

WMUR’s John Distaso tweeted this:

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