This past week our society suffered the latest in what has now become one of America’s most distinctive peculiarities — the periodic mass shootings of children in schools. There is certainly no question that this repeating tragedy distinguishes our United States from all other developed nations.
Yes, I know that other advanced countries have had incidents where a deranged shooter has killed a crowd of innocents. But those events have been few and far between. (The last time there was a shooting massacre in a school in Great Britain was 22 years ago. – The time between last week’s Parkland shooting and a prior U.S. school shooting was 3 months!)
Our United States is one of the most developed civilizations in history. And yet, our democracy can’t ensure that our children feel safe from being murdered in their classrooms. Every American should view this fact as unacceptable. But it seems that the level of enthusiasm for exploring ways to curb these recurring slaughters varies considerably between our citizenry and our lawmakers.
The only new bright spot in this grim scenario has been the inspiring reaction of the students of Parkland High School and their young peers nationwide. These students are stating their position on gun violence using language that adults in power have been afraid to use. Words like, “gun control” and “Shame on you, NRA.”
Their language is clear eyed. Demanding specific action. It is logical as well as passionate and spoken in some cases as the first-hand knowledge of a victim. They are calling out the Congressional hypocrites who are only willing to offer “thoughts and prayers” but no substantive legislative action. Of course the students are already getting push back from the NRA and their right-wing lackeys. Michael Medved characterized spokesperson Emma Gonzalez as a hysterical teenage girl. And fellow student David Hamm has been described as a coached Democratic “plant.”
I thought that after Sandy Hook, the direct contact of grieving parents with members of Congress would turn the tide. I was proven naïve. But maybe, just maybe, these intelligent, articulate kids with their youthful energy and honest sincerity will be the ones who finally force some responsible action from U.S. legislators and the White House. Continue reading Warning Signs
This week, the Trump Administration revealed their 2019 budget. If there was still any doubt about the priorities of the Trump regime and the Republican Party in general, this budget makes it very clear what they value – and the people and issues they hold in low regard.
Back in 2016 during his campaign, candidate Trump declared himself the champion of Americans who have felt abused or ignored by the federal government. Then as soon as Trump entered the White House he assembled a bizarre collection of advisors with personal interests that actually opposed their departments’ missions. It didn’t take long to see that his campaign promises were going to be quickly reinterpreted.
Even so, this week’s budget presentation is the first broad declaration of how the reactionaries presently in charge of our nation’s policies want to re-shape America’s future.
Ironically, the same people who obstructed President Obama’s every economic initiative claiming concern for the debt it would create, now have no concerns about adding billions more in debt after just recently decreasing established revenue streams. Last year’s big “tax reform” gave nearly 50% of the tax cuts to Americans in the top 1% income bracket and created $1.5 trillion in national debt over the next ten years.
The single biggest increase in the Trump budget is for Department of Defense spending. It will be up $74 billion to a total of $686 billion – More money for everything the Pentagon wants. We now spend more than the next 8 nations combined. (But won’t this year’s parade past the White House be exciting!)
And how do we make up for the billions in tax savings given to the very rich and another huge reward to the military-industrial complex? We cut spending in areas that are “unimportant” to Trump and his legislators.
Here are a few examples of those Republican cuts: Continue reading The Trump Budget
Last night the NTDO Executive Committee held its monthly meeting. The main topic was the details for the upcoming New Trier Democrats Election Year Kickoff rally. It will be held on Sunday, February 18. We have reserved a large meeting room at the Wilmette Recreation Center at 3000 Glenview Road, just west of Skokie Blvd. Every Democrat or Independent who is fed up with the Bruce Rauner’s failed agenda and Donald Trump’s destructive initiatives is urged to show up.
The rally will present the priorities of the New Trier Democratic Organization from now until Election Day, November 6. You’ll get reports from the endorsed candidates on their ongoing campaigns – what they’re experiencing on the campaign trail, the issues that they are emphasizing, the responses they are receiving. You will hear about what’s at stake in the judicial and MWRD races. You will learn the role our organization of volunteers will play in helping those candidates achieve victory. And more specifically, the role you can play in this critically important effort.
Now, you might think that every Democrat running for office this year is sure to win. So, is a rally like this one, so early in the year, really necessary? After all, an ever-growing number of Americans have concluded that President Trump’s election was a terrible mistake. (Actually the majority never wanted him in the White House in the first place.) And as for Governor Rauner, the majority of Illinois voters have been badly disappointed by his ineptitude in office.
There’s also growing discord within the Republican Party. The ethical and philosophical boundaries being crossed by some Republicans have greatly upset their more conventional (or should I say “more honest” or “more sane”) Republican brothers and sisters. The ignorance and bigotry displayed by Governor Rauner’s Primary opponent has to be a divisive embarrassment to at least some Illinois Republicans. Then there is Republican Congressman Nunes, looking increasingly foolish and reckless as he ignores congressional ethics and security protocol with his Trump sycophancy.
And who can ignore the sole Republican candidatefor Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. He’s an avowed Nazi and Holocaust denier. He’s run for office as a Republican in the past. (Does this mean he’s an example of the Republican Party’s “big tent” approach?)
But even with all that Republican chaos, if we assume easy victories for Democrats in November we would be making a big mistake. There are important races that could be lost. Here’s the cold truth about mid-term election years. A huge number of potential voters always stay home. The percentage of eligible voters who participate in mid-term voting is disgracefully low. Continue reading The Big Kickoff
Last night Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States (what a disturbing thing to type) gave his first State of the Union Address to Congress, to the American public and to the world.
Immediately after the speech, and again this morning, Republican spokespersons, Fox network sycophants and still-loyal Trump supporters gave his remarks high praise. In fact, if you missed the actual speech and had only their praise to go by you might believe you missed the powerful rhetoric of a Churchill, the inspiring humanity of a Martin Luther King and the collaborative good nature of a Mr. Rogers.
Today, observers with a more neutral stance expressed disappointment in the things Trump’s words failed to include. They felt his speech had little real substance. It lacked any honest clarity. Although he repeatedly made grandiose claims and promises, his words included few specifics. It was mostly just more campaign rhetoric. There were few solid plans presented, virtually no measurable goals.
But in my opinion, Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address did a magnificent job summing up the state of our union today. I don’t mean that his words alone did that job. It was the entire event that summed up our union’s present state in crystal clear terms.
Hearing our nation’s President confidently assert exaggerations, half- truths and outright lies really did expose a huge problem our union now must deal with every day. Watching every Republican in Trump’s audience nod their heads in agreement or wildly applaud his words, no matter how untrue, counterproductive or petty, exposed another dangerous weakness in the state of our United States.
And seeing virtually every Democrat in the hall, all “the loyal opposition,” sit sullenly silent, almost motionless through most of Trump’s address, clearly filled with disdain and distrust (though well deserved), bared one more failing in our union’s present state that must be repaired. Continue reading The State of Our Union
Last Saturday, I was one of the 300,000 people who gathered in Grant Park to express our strong objection to the misogynistic, retrogressive, cold-hearted and just plain foolish policies of our fearless leader Donald Trump and all his Congressional and White House enablers. (Do none of those people possess any ethical principles? History will not treat them kindly.)
On my el ride into Chicago I was surrounded by NTDO friends and new acquaintances equipped with hand-made signs expressing their views on the Trump regime. As you might imagine, I found all of those folks to be especially intelligent and patriotic Americans. — I’m joking, but actually it is true.
We’d gotten a late start from Linden Street. We were still in Wilmette when the speeches in Grant Park began. Even so, as we walked from the subway stop down Jackson Blvd. to the park, the sidewalk filled with more sign carriers headed to the gathering. The sunny weather added to the upbeat mood that I think we all felt. There was a positive purpose to what we were doing.
We found a spot somewhere in the middle of Columbus Drive, blocks south of the rally’s stage. However, there was a large screen and loudspeaker set up in the distance so we were able to see and hear a bit of what was presented — when signage didn’t block the view or hovering helicopters didn’t drown out the sound. But really, the stage presentations were not why we were there. The speakers were saying inspiring things, but we were already inspired.
We knew we were part of an assemblage of 300,000 people, all joined in a common cause to turn things around for our nation. It was a visual statement made to our government’s leaders and to the world that was too big to be ignored. And we were just a fraction of what was going on across America. Continue reading 300,000 Marched. What’s Next?
On Sunday, the New Trier Dems held their Endorsement Session for the March Democratic Primary. As expected, the large field of impressive candidates vying to win a place on the November Mid-term ballot drew what felt like a record crowd of NTD members. They filled the Winnetka Community House’s largest conference room and with few exceptions stayed in their seats through a full afternoon of presentations and endorsement votes.
Most of us can remember more than one election in the past when we were faced with choosing the “least offensive” candidate. That was far from the case on Sunday. Personally, I can’t remember any past endorsement meeting that featured so many attractive candidates competing in so many consequential primary races. With only a few exceptions, the candidates’ presentations – their noteworthy backgrounds, their solid qualifications, their personal principles and public priorities – made the task of choosing which one to personally endorse a tough, but pleasant, challenge. (In one case, the Attorney General contest, we actually weren’t able to reach a 60% consensus – a bit more on that is explained in the endorsement list below.)
How did we Democrats end up with a primary contest so rich with admirable candidates? I think we can thank the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump for some of it. Soon after the flukey election of that dangerously unqualified and demonstrably ignorant man to our nation’s highest office new faces began appearing in political contests at every level of government. And these service-minded Americans are not going to disengage any time soon. I’m optimistic that they will be an important part of American politics far into the future.
And here in Illinois, our present political scene offered opportunities that attracted more than the usual number of candidates in certain races. Bruce Rauner’s disastrous run as Governor can be ended in November, and six Democrats are competing for the chance to end it. The announcement by our popular Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, that she won’t seek reelection has attracted eight candidates for that office. And the decision of State Rep. Laura Fine to run for the State Senate seat being vacated by Senator Daniel Biss as he runs for the Governorship, opened a Primary contest that has attracted five aspirants to be the next State Rep. for our 17th House District. Continue reading The NTDO Endorsements
Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in New Trier Dems Endorsement Meeting! We had an energizing afternoon of grassroots politics and civic participation. We were very happy to welcome many new members as well as many familiar faces and friends.
A special thank you to all of our volunteers who made this event a success, and to all the candidates who took time out of their busy schedules to speak to our membership!
For New Trier Dems’ membership to endorse, a candidate had to receive at least 60% of the votes of all members present. Congratulations to all of the candidates who received our endorsement!
Here are our endorsements in the contested races for the March 2018 Democratic Primary: Continue reading New Trier Dems’ Endorsements For The March 2018 Democratic Primary
Last Sunday, was a day full of motivation and inspiration for a lot of us progressive political junkies. The experience started in the afternoon at J.P.’s Pizza and Grill in Wilmette and its momentum didn’t let up until after 10:00 Sunday night way out in Los Angeles.
At 1pm Sunday, a number of New Trier Dems and friends gathered near 4th and Linden for Committeeman Dean Maragos’ annual “Thank You Pizza Party.” It was, as usual, a lively event. The place was packed with veteran grassroots volunteers as well as enthusiastic newcomers to NTD activism. The conversations began as soon as you entered the door and only ceased, temporarily, when Dean introduced the office holders and candidates who then spoke to the crowd.
First up was our U.S. Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky, whose comments immediately fired up everyone. Jan has spent years in Washington working with office holders and activists of every sort from every part of our country. She has been involved for decades in the fight for equal treatment for every American citizen. Her participation in history-changing movements dates back to the ’60’s.
So what are her observations on how things stand today? She said she believes the mobilization of women (and many supportive men) that began with the Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration is now “bigger than the Tea Party ever was.” And it continues “undiminished.” The Weinstein scandal, the “Me too” movement, the “Time’s up” ultimatum have just added momentum to what began that day. She said the energy and activity she’s seeing now is “bigger than the Tea Party, bigger than the civil rights movement, bigger than the Vietnam protests.” – That’s big! Continue reading Inspiring Women
Welcome to 2018 – and wasn’t last year interesting? Virtually from start to finish, 2017 gave us daily reasons to fear for the future of our country.
Okay, I know there have been years in our nation’s past that have been more urgently perilous than the one we just lived through. But still it felt very unhealthy having a Senate ruled by a man only beholden to big donors and corporate interests, a House led by a man who worships the egoisitc philosophy of Ayn Rand and a White House occupied by a man who is not only psychologically damaged in countless ways but also just plain dumb.
And as the year progressed their arrogance grew. It was like dealing with a bully who keeps doing whatever they want to, no matter how wrong, despite your objections. They’ll give you a challenging look, thrust out their chin (a problem for Mitch McConnell) and say, “What’re you gonna do about it!”
And what can you say?
“Hey, Congress! You have a responsibility to make sure millions of Americans aren’t sick or dying because they can’t get healthcare.” – “Oh yeah? Who says so?”
“You know when a U.S. President nominates a person to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat they traditionally get a hearing in Congress.” – “Nah. I don’t think so.”
“It’s wrong for you to finance lower taxes for America’s wealthiest few by taking away funds that help Americans most in need.” — “Talk to the hand!”
Continue reading So What’re You Gonna Do About It?
This morning, I woke up in a better mood than I expected I would just 24 hours earlier. Last night’s election victory of Alabama’s Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones meant that I’d have at least one less demoralizing political situation to live with in 2018. Of course I know in the coming months the Trump Administration and Trump’s Republican Congress will be working hard to supply plenty more of those dispiriting moments. The shameless use of fear mongering, bigotry, tribalism and lies in the pursuit of wealth and power is never an inspiring scenario.
For example, today it was announced that House and Senate Republicans have (at least initially) agreed on a tax “reform” package. This news immediately pushed the Alabama election loss of GOP candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore out of the spotlight. Now, and over the next few days we’ll be watching Trump, McConnell, Ryan, and their wealthy cronies push through new tax policies that will make the richest Americans even more rich at the expense of programs targeted to help American’s who are most in need. – That sounds like reform… right?
Nevertheless, we really should take a moment to savor the Alabama outcome. We could have had a member of the U.S. Senate who was not only totally unqualified but had long shown himself to be not only completely contemptuous of our legal system but quite possibly nuts. Instead, our Congress now has a new Senator who soon after taking office as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama quickly showed his courage. He successfully prosecuted the remaining two Ku Klux Klan perpetrators of the Birmingham Church bombing that killed four little girls 35 years earlier.
Doug Jones’ victory last night also seems to have shown that the most recent iteration of the Democratic National Committee is capable of taking effective action for its candidates using tactics sensitive to each candidate’s local situation. The DNC put their financial and human resources heavily behind Jones while wisely keeping out of the spotlight. They avoided making big pronouncements from their East Coast headquarters – a posture that would surely have energized die hard Alabama Republicans. Instead, the DNC stayed in the background supporting phone banking, robo-calls, local organizing, door-to-door canvassing, all the stuff necessary for a win. Let’s hope this “new” DNC retains the tactical sensitivity they showed in Alabama in the many contests ahead. It’s a sensitivity I wish they’d shown more of in 2016. Continue reading A Good Morning