Saturday, February 8, 2020

Current State of the Presidential 2020 Contest

I feel there is a real path to the nomination for Sanders, who is almost certainly too far left for the general electorate. But thwart him with process and we alienate our future base. If Bloomberg comes in and takes it away from him the Berniecrats, who hate billionaires as it is, will, I suspect, be unforgiving and a lot of them will sit it out. See Michelle Goldberg's view in the New York Times.

There’s no doubt Biden’s lost a couple of steps. He’s a good man, knows every leader in the world on a first name basis, has worlds of experience and is progressive enough. But his ability to contend with Trump has to be seriously questioned. He’s not inspiring a lot of confidence. He’ll likely not do so well in NH. He should do well in NV and should win SC big. If he’s weak in those also, his campaign will evaporate. 

Warren is my personal favorite. I don’t see her in the top echelon in any polls anymore though. Klobuchar is looking better all the time but is unlikely to win the nomination. She could be a good running mate. Steyer, Yang, are going nowhere. The rest like Bennet, Patrick, can’t even qualify for the debate stage, are becoming jokes and should drop out.

That leaves Buttigieg. He’s running strong now, has put all his eggs in IO and NH and is strong there. He polls weak in the rest of the country though as of yet. But a win in NH could give him momentum, on top of his strong showing in Iowa. Pete is very smart and well spoken, a Rhodes Scholar. He has the veteran resume Trump doesn’t. He’s really good at throwing out platitudes in ways that relate well to millennials. If Biden implodes Pete might become the moderate alternative to Bernie. Blacks are famously skeptical of him, though, and of course he’s gay, has no high level experience past the city level and is only 38.

So that’s how I’m seeing the race. So how do we beat Trump? With Trump, youth, minorities and women. Theoretically he’s beatable. There’s almost no middle ground in this election. People love him or hate him. It’s going to be a turnout election. After 2016 there’s been great energy on the Democratic side. In 2017 they blew out the GOP in Virginia, gaining 50 seats and flipping the state legislature. In 2018 Dems flipped 40 congressional seats, including 4 in PA, 2 in Michigan, a couple in WI, FL, NC, the critical swing states Dems must win. Since 2016 Dems have gained 7 governorships, 40 House seats and over 300 state legislative seats. How? Running on health care, gun safety, and decency. Women and minorities find Trump repugnant. That’s not surprising; he’s done everything he can to insult them. Clinton won women by 13; current polling finds Trump losing them by 32, no typo. 

The economy, incumbency, Republican voter suppression, and all Trump’s brilliance at reaching the rural and working class white voter, especially men, and the configuration of the electoral college all work in Trump’s favor and still make him the favorite, in my view. But he’s potentially beatable if we can hold our voters together and get them out to vote, regardless of who our nominee is, if the process is seen as fair and our losing candidates all endorse and fight for the nominee. At any rate, that’s got to be the strategy and that’s the outline of our best hope to unseat the evil one, in my view.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Historians' Statement Endorsing Impeachment of President Trump.

I here reprint the American historians' statement supporting impeachment. It was written and is being circulated by Sean Willentz at Princeton. It currently has some 750 historian signatories. Here is the source.
President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally-mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government. So have his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine that, if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, impeachment was designed to deal with “the misconduct of public men” which involves “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Collectively, the President’s offenses, including his dereliction in protecting the integrity of the 2020 election from Russian disinformation and renewed interference, arouse once again the Framers’ most profound fears that powerful members of government would become, in Hamilton’s words, “the mercenary instruments of foreign corruption.”
It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.
Hamilton understood, as he wrote in 1792, that the republic remained vulnerable to the rise of an unscrupulous demagogue, “unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents…despotic in his ordinary demeanour.” That demagogue, Hamilton said, could easily enough manage “to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day.” Such a figure, Hamilton wrote, would “throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”
President Trump’s actions committed both before and during the House investigations fit Hamilton’s description and manifest utter and deliberate scorn for the rule of law and “repeated injuries” to constitutional democracy. That disregard continues and it constitutes a clear and present danger to the Constitution. We therefore strongly urge the House of Representatives to impeach the President.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Impeachment Poll Today

An ABC/Washington Post poll, a survey with a strong reputation for accuracy, was released today. It showed 49% in favor of impeachment and removal and 47% opposed. The same poll in July was 37% in favor and 59% against, so there has been movement. In my view, that number will have to go up to at least 60% for conviction in the US Senate to have any real chance of success. We’ll see how effective the televised, open hearings to come are in moving opinion more. There’s no question the Dems need to go ahead with this, given the blatant criminality and betrayal that’s been revealed. Still, I’d say the smart betting money currently would be about 80-20 that Trump isn’t convicted in the Senate.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Court Gives Trump Dictatorial Powers

In this morning's news comes word that the US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, has ruled that the Trump administration can transfer $2.5 billion from the Defense Department budget to use to build a portion of the border wall they have been pushing. This comes despite Congress's specific and intentional refusal to appropriate funds for this project, despite strong Administration efforts to ram it through, including the longest government shutdown in American history.

Article One, Section One of the US Constitution states:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Article One, Section Nine of the US Constitution states:

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law...

So, all legislative (lawmaking) powers belong to congress. And no money can be spent without a law authorizing it. Yet in this instance the Executive Branch is being allowed to do just that, to spend money without a congressional appropriation. How are we not a dictatorship if the president is allowed to, of his own individual will, usurp a power of congress and spend money for purposes not appropriated by congress? This decision, reached solely on the strength of the Republican-appointed majority on the court, and overturning lower federal court decisions, is an incredible dereliction by the Supreme Court. What need is there of a congress at all if the executive can create laws on his own and assume jurisdiction over its constitutionally designated powers? We still have the trappings of a representative, constitutional republic, but with this decision and precedent, how are we different from a dictatorship?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What to Do About Trump's Open Racism

So now Trump's racism is so obvious and blatant that it can no longer be explained away as something else. Telling nonwhite American citizens, even those born here, to "go back where they came from" is about as obviously racist as it gets. 

Like many, I have felt that over time, bigotry in America has gotten better. The overt segregation that still existed and the common and openly racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments and attitudes I heard in my youth had undeniably subsided. I still think there is less of these attitudes now than then, but not as much less as I thought. 

And Trump has given permission for those holding these views to come back into the open. We have to stand now as always against these tropes and push them back into the sewers where they belong. Otherwise we will devolve back into an openly discriminatory state and society and possibly descend into fascism itself. Many politicians have very little spine to stand for principle when the political winds start to blow in the direction of evil. 

That is why we who believe in the common humanity and equality of all people must do what we can to establish that the majority do not favor exclusion and racism, and that those politicians who foster or enable them will not prosper on Election Day. That's really the only message a lot of them take to heart.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

FEC: Why Aren't You Enforcing the Law?

I sent this email to the Federal Elections Commission yesterday. I will let you know if I receive a response.

Dear FEC: 

It was quite refreshing to see reports of FEC Chair Weintraub's tweeted statement inspired by the president's response to George Stephanopolous regarding the president's willingness to receive information from foreign sources. She wrote in part, 

"Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election."

The chairperson also made it clear that violators risked facing federal investigation (and presumably federal prosecution) for so doing, and that all such contacts should be reported to the FBI. 

While this is welcome, it stretches credibility to expect her words to be borne out. There were clear and well-publicized incidents of such violations, about which the commission has apparently taken no action. I refer to the meeting at Trump Tower in June, 2016 at which Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, among others, met with known Russian nationals for the expressed purpose as shown in Trump Jr.'s emails, of receiving derogatory information about candidate Trump's principal opponent, which was something of value from a foreign source. During the campaign, candidate Trump, at public campaign appearances, openly called upon Russia to release damaging information about his opponent. This was clearly an effort to solicit something of value from a foreign source. During the campaign, candidate Trump, at public campaign appearances, openly called upon Russia to release damaging information about his opponent. This was clearly an effort to solicit something of value from a foreign source.

As a citizen, I would like to know whether the chairwoman's words have any real meaning and whether charges are soon to be forthcoming about these obvious violations of the laws she referred to.

Steve Natoli
San Diego, California

Sunday, June 9, 2019

"Beneath a Scarlet Sky" is a Must Read!

I've just finished a book that was such a great read I'm compelled to share it with you. "Beneath a Scarlet Sky" by Mark Sullivan is the can't-put-it-down story of the life of a teenage Italian boy who risked his life resisting the German occupation of his country in World War II. It's been a number one best seller, so get yourself a real or an e-copy and see what the buzz is all about.

Based on the true story of Giuseppi (Pino) Lella, "Scarlet Sky" is a real page turner. Sullivan spent years interviewing Lella, who is still alive, other survivors, and poring through archives to authenticate this breathtaking saga. Lella guides Jews over the Alps to Switzerland and safety, and even becomes the personal driver of a Nazi major general, passing along crucial secrets to the Allied high command.

Replete with narrow escapes, inspiring triumphs and tragic loss, and set within the scope of world-shaking events, in terms of how it affected me this is one of the great books I've ever read. It affirms that one person can make a difference for the good against great odds, and preserves the memory of many who deserve to be remembered, quite a few of whom gave their lives opposing one of the greatest evils the world has ever seen.

While reading the book I thought often about what a tremendous movie it would make. I've checked and found that the movie rights have been acquired by Pascal Pictures, with actor Tom Holland slated to play Pino Lella. I can't wait to see it! But in the meantime, I urge you to read the book. It's one you'll not soon forget.