Women: if you want to be a strong civic leader, attend Ready to Run

Ready to Run 2016Ready to Run is a bipartisan campaign and civic leadership training for women held in states across the country and here in New Jersey, it’s an initiative of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). The information and networking are first class, so attend if you can.

Ready to Run
Fri & Sat 18-19 March 2016
Douglass Student Center
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ

Get more information and register at cawp.rutgers.edu/ReadytoRun. If you need a partial scholarship, look for the link to apply – the earlier, the better as limited funds are available and awards are made on a rolling basis.

Anonymous endorses Bernie Sanders, gives 10 good reasons to support him

Anonymous HopeOn Daily Kos, VL Baker shares Anonymous’ letter, which sets forth their Ten Reasons That Will Convince You That Bernie Sanders Deserves Your Vote

December 23rd, 2015 | by CoNN

It’s time to celebrate a candidate who deserves the spotlight, more so than other candidates from either side of the left-right false divide.

Here are 10 reasons why Bernie Sanders deserves more coverage from the mainstream media and, ultimately, your vote:

1) He supports a new Glass Steagall act – hell he even detailed 5 reasons explaining why it’s important; passed over 80 years ago, it had prevented commercial banks from participating in investment banking. It was repealed in 1999, and banks used this new-found ability  to plunder the savings of their depositors by making extremely risky “investments” for their own profit. This is the primary reason for the 2008 financial crisis, and the reason why the big banks had to be bailed out by taxpayers.  Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to reinstate Glass-Steagall while Trump wants regulations on Wall Street to be weakened.

2) He wants to break up the big banks; no more of this “too big to fail” nonsense- he also voted against the bailout of Wall Street. Hillary, on the other hand, receives money and support from Wall Street. She has also voted multiple times for the bailout despite “evolving” on the issue. Trump wants to maintain the size of the big banks. He also wanted to bail out the banks.

3) Sanders opposed NAFTA and the TPP: two “trade” agreements, the first causing the loss of up to a million jobs in America and the second a formerly-top-secret agreement which would hand sweeping powers to corporations. Hillary was for the TPP and supported it a dozen times- only recently has she “evolved” on the matter. Trump hates the TPP too… but only because he thinks China would somehow benefit from it.

4) For his entire political career Sanders has stood against the for-profit prison industrial complex and the practice of over-criminalization. This issue has had Clinton “evolving” towards prison reform since… a few months back… but before entering her higher form, she lobbied in 1994 for a crime law that had increased prison funding and sentences. Trump wants to “get a lot tougher” on crime, despite police killings being the highest in two decades and despite the fact that violent crime is also down.

5) Sanders voted against the Iraq War, and is against a war with Russia. Clinton voted for the Iraq War- she also has a neoconservative war-mongering foreign policy. Most Republican candidates, besides Rand Paul, do not seem averse to war. Trump’s claim that he opposed Iraq’s invasion at the time it was debated is baseless, though he too is against conflict with Russia; China’s his whipping boy.

6) Sanders voted twice against the Patriot Act, which allowed widespread mass surveillance to be used against the American public. Hillary voted for it twice and Trump is all for reauthorizing it.

7) Sanders doesn’t degrade racial and religious minorities, nor does he inflame the majority- he comes right out and tells us that the elite are to blame. He said this at a rally: “they’re always playing one group against another. Rich got richer — everybody else was fighting each other. Our job is to build a nation in which we all stand together”. Hillary has an “abysmal” racial justice record and Trump… well, he’s said enough about that topic to fill a phone book.

8)  Sanders wants to decriminalize the use of marijuana. Clinton is against decriminalizing it and Trump seems to favor legalizing it for medical uses.

9) Bernie refuses to take money from the super rich…  or the corporations. Hillary receives money from everyone who has it- bankers, corporations… she doesn’t discriminate. Trump is already one of the super rich and admitted that he has manipulated the system for his own benefit.

10) The corporate mainstream media hates Bernie and censors him, attempting to make it look like he endorses HillaryTrump gets WAY more mainstream coverage than Bernie despite both polling similarly. If you want to choose someone who wasn’t handpicked for you, then Bernie is your best best.

Bonus!) Whenever someone tries to come up with a top ten list NOT to vote for Bernie… it comes out convincing MORE people to vote for him- just read those top comments. On the other hand, one of the most popular search result for the top ten reasons TO vote for Trump is satirical.

In 2012, Time called Anonymous one of the “100 most influential people” in the world.

Hat tip to Steve Sterling of Flemington for sharing this post.

The Clintons took in $3B from US & foreign donors in 4 decades. How much of them was sold?

Clinton Donor Network
Source: Washington Post article banner

This illuminating, interactive report by Washington Post writers Matea Gold, Tom Hamburger and Anu Narayanswamy looks at the relationships the Clintons have built and how legislation they have backed – and not backed – may tie in with those relationships.

This project is an effort to identify every known donor who contributed to support Bill and Hillary Clinton over their four decades in public life … (It)reveals how Bill and Hillary Clinton have methodically cultivated donors over 40 years, from Little Rock to Washington and then across the globe…

As an astute individual pointed out, these donors aren’t stupid and they all expect something in return for what they’ve given.

Note that small money donations were not counted in the Clinton’s $3 billion total as those donors aren’t identified by name in campaign finance reports.

I’d like to point out that Hillary’s strongest opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has a completely different track record of relationships and donations: he’s clearly not a Big Money panderer. Sanders’ voting record also proves his belief in true democracy: which is governance of the people by the people. And, he’s been the high scorer in both Dem Debates so far.

I like to point out that money doesn’t elect candidates – votes do. We’ll find out if the adage I love proves true in the Bernie-Hillary face-off coming next spring.

Bernie Sanders campaign resources & activities for POC & allies in NNJ

Bernie Sanders 2016This is a list of Bernie Sanders campaign activities and organizing tools for People of Color and allies in northern New Jersey (NNJ). It will be updated as resources and information become available. Please post your own addition as a comment and I’ll move entries to the main list as appropriate.

The Bernie Sanders for President is a decentralized campaign at this point. This means we should take a DIY approach and support each other’s activities locally. The national office has only a handful of paid staff dealing with people around the country, formulating the campaign strategy, pushing out messaging and physically supporting Sanders’s appearances.

If you would like to do some campaigning or campaign coordination in NNJ: you are welcome to support me, another organizer, or you can become an organizer in your own right. Contact me or indicate your interest in a comment and I’ll share whatever knowledge and information I can. I’m sure other organizers will do the same. We all want to win this thing.

Bernie Campaigning in North Jersey

Campaign Resources and Tools

National Campaign Office Resources

Other Bernie Organizers & Campaign Groups

North Jersey for Bernie Sanders
Millenials Rise for Bernie Sanders (They post lots of shareable flyers and other materials.)

Christie’s dismal record on union/labor rights just got worse

Christie, sweeney, bookerChristie has assaulted vulnerable New Jersey residents and labor rights all the years of his governorship. Next City shares the low-down on what Christie’s gotten away with, and how he’s done it.

Take public education: having promised when he was campaigning to take care of New Jersey’s teachers, after getting into office Christie proceeded to systematically destroy public ed, along with teachers’ and students lives and the bloodshed is far from over. Newark and Camden have been among the communities hardest hit.

Christie has now taken his assault to an entirely new level by wrangling a court victory for his refusal to fund state pensions. It seems clear that Christie wants to make sure that union workers – whose organizations finance Democratic candidate’s campaigns – won’t have comfortable lives or enough money to wage battle.

New Jersey Law Journal writes:

A divided New Jersey Supreme Court ruled June 9 that Gov. Chris Christie is not bound by a 2011 pension reform law that he championed and trumpeted as a highlight of his administration … The ruling, authored by Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, is a clear win for Christie, who will not be required to repay nearly $2.5 billion that he diverted from the pension system the last two years in order to balance the state’s budgets.

So, who is fighting GOP darling Christie? Civil rights groups are taking a bold stand against him for education, worker’s rights and the environment, aren’t they? Well, not exactly. Justice is why it seemed to be such a stunning betrayal of what the NAACP stands for when the New Jersey NAACP President secretly invited Chris Christie to keynote at the 2015 convention luncheon. Some members were appalled, citing damage Christie has caused to people of color in the Garden State. Daniel Hardwick of Camden told the Star-Ledger:

He’s abolished our school district. He’s disenfranchised 77,000 people of color. We no longer can vote for our school board, like all the other cities … So, Chris Christie? As keynote speaker? Everything he’s done is completely contrary to what our organization has fought for.

Christie’s traveling companion the day of the convention lunch was none other than New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat. If you have asked yourself why Dems never take a stand against the harm Christie dishes out, the friendly relationship between these two gentlemen and between Dem Sen. Cory Booker and Christie, might be the answers you’ve been seeking. The friendship should cool now that Christie has shown the breadth of his considerable backside to Sweeney and union members over pension benefits … but will it? The GOP doesn’t rely on union votes to elect its candidates, but the Dems sure do. It seems high time for New Jersey’s Dem politicians to wake up and smell the coffee.

In a different article, New Jersey Law Journal’s Michael Booth shares Sweeney’s reaction to the NJ Supreme Court ruling (emphasis mine),

…Democrats who backed the (pension) reform law received criticism from the public-sector unions, who believed that their interests had been sacrificed for political gain.

But if immediate reaction to the ruling is any indication, Christie’s invitation to the Democratic leadership and the unions to resume pension reform talks might prove to be wishful thinking.

The cooperation of Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, was vital in reaching the 2011 agreement. But at a press conference held after the court’s ruling was released, he made it clear he was not open to further negotiations with Christie.

“I listen to the governor say come back to the table,” Sweeney said. “Who in their right mind would come back to a table and negotiate with someone that didn’t keep the first part of the deal?”

We can only pray that Sweeney’s state of mental health remains intact and that he has finally decided to advocate for the wellbeing and rights of the people who elected him.

Christie wants to use leftover campaign funds to pay for Bridgegate defense

Christie's Bridgegate

Christie's BridgegateYou would think that a person in Christie’s situation would learn from past mistakes, but I guess after you’ve fallen a certain distance from grace self-correction becomes impossible. Christie’s camp is once again making the law all about our governor’s wishes instead of about legal precedent, common decency, responsibility to constituents or logic.

This time, Christie wants to use leftover campaign funds to pay legal bills for the Bridgegate defense. No matter that the Christie-Booker team went after Sharpe James for doing exactly the same thing:

A state court in 2012 ruled that Sharpe James, the former Newark mayor, violated the law by spending $94,004 in campaign funds to fight fraud charges. The judge ordered James to repay the money, along with a $30,000 fine.

Daily Kos author Mets102 points out the silver lining in this cloud of woe’s raining heavily down on Christie’s increasingly rag-tag parade: “I guess Christie’s one solace is that his numbers can’t bottom out below zero.”

Political Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune – 01/07/2014

Obama Cares. Romney is just clueless.

Christie thanks Obama for his help

Christie thanks Obama for his helpA pretty odd report by CBS News tries to show Obama in a bad light, but since there’s no legitimate criticism to report, the article ends up grudgingly praising the President’s stewardship of the nation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction. CBS points out that President Obama will shine if he simply takes good care of the nation in these difficult days – which Obama will of course do consummately well, because he’s an excellent manager and he cares – and laments that Romney as the non-encumbent can’t do much to counterbalance that.

Meanwhile, MSNBC reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has the good grace to publicly express gratitute for Pres. Obama’s help with Sandy’s “devastation” and quotes Christie saying:

“… working with President Obama on securing resources for the state has been great… The president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit,” Christie said. “He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything, and he absolutely means it. It’s been very good working with the president and his administration. It’s been wonderful.”

President Obama and the governor spoke three times on Monday, Christie stated. “He asked me what I needed. I said if he could expedite the Major Disaster Declaration without all the normal FEMA mumbo-jumbo. He got right on it,” added Christie. “I got a call from FEMA at 2am… and then this morning I understand he signed the Major Disaster Declaration for New Jersey.”

Obama is able to extend help to New Jersey because he has been rebuilding FEMA since Dubya Bush almost gutted the program during his presidency. In 2005, Eric Holdeman defended FEMA in a Washington Post opinion piece:

…the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina … makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country’s premier agency for dealing with such events – FEMA – is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security.

Yet, despite the distress felt by so many today in the wake of Sandy’s impact and the overwhelming public gratitude of high-profile GOP darling Chris Christie, Romney refuses to back off the position that FEMA should be dismantled once and for all. Forbes is one of the growing number of organizations that has become displeased with Romney’s policies and is making no bones about saying so. Romney says that funding FEMA is irresponsible because the expense will leave future generations saddled with government debt. Forbes responds:

While it’s swell that Governor Romney is concerned about the future of our kids, at this very moment —as the densely populated Northeastern section of the USA is experiencing a catastrophic disaster at a result of Hurricane Sandy—I can tell you that millions of people in the line of this extraordinary and unprecedented storm are also very much concerned for their children. However, these folks do not have the luxury today of worrying about the future of their kids. The concern these people are experiencing is today..right now…immediate…and very, very real.

For these people, the need for FEMA is neither political nor abstract.

Social Hierarchy Pyramid
The Few exploit the Many
It’s become obvious that when Romney promotes the idea of small government, he’s talking about a federal government that’s too small to stop bad-ass rich guys like him from robbing the middle and working classes and destroying the land, and is also too small to help average Americans out when disaster strikes. Equally obvious: conservatives who did not sign up to support the social extremism that Romney and Ryan represent are increasingly distancing themselves from that message. In a telling recent vote of no-confidence, the Mormon-owned Salt Lake Tribune endorsed Obama, offering scathing criticism to Romney, who is a brother Mormon:

In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.

Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.

Trump thumbs his nose at average AmericansOn the other side of the political spectrum, Donald Trump’s Tower windows are apparently too high for him to see that millions of people reeling from Sandy’s punishment have no time or patience for his silly pre-election attack on Obama. Trump sent out a Tweet today extending the deadline on his offer to donate $5 million to charity if Obama “shows” Trump his school transcripts and passport. Trump missed the memo that the FBI, CIA and Secret Service already checked all of that out for America. Sagely, our President hasn’t honored this selfish inanity with a response.

So, you might ask, what about Kimi – what’s her position in all of this? Well, I’m pretty happy today: my family was blessed with the good fortune of having lights and heat right through the storm. We weren’t directly affected by flooding and the prediction I made came true. I told a friend just before Sandy hit, “Wouldn’t it be excellent if the Obama signs remained standing during the storm while all of the Romney signs got swept away?” and this is exactly what happened – look!

Obama sign rises above Sandy's stormwater
Obama yard sign rises above Sandy’s stormwater (the Romney signs washed away)