Category Archives: Poverty

Van Jones Says Democrats and Progressives need to work on Winning and Not Take Anything for Granted.

Van Jones

CNN commentator and author Van Jones said that for Democrats and Progressives to win elections, they cannot just sit and wait for the people to follow them because the masses agree with them on the issues or because most agree that President Trump is unfit to serve. Instead, they need to speak out and make their views known and remain continually persistent and vigilant for the causes they believe in.

He spoke at the Fifth Annual Lecture Series on Delivering Democracy at the Fourteenth Street Pilgrim Rest Baptist church in Phoenix.

Jones said that Democrats and Progressives also can not take any group for granted. The poor white person in Appalachia wants the same life for their kids like the poor black person in the projects. People who believe in God also believe in helping the needy and oppressed. Democrats and Progressives would be wise to reconnect with these groups they have forgotten. If Democrats and Progressives can do all of these things (and it should not be a heavy lift), Progressives and Democrats will have a lot to celebrate after the next few election cycles as long as they remember that they can never stop being proactive and fight to move the country forward.

The lecture was sponsored by the Arizona State University Center for Race and Democracy and hosted by the congregation of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Ministries. Jones is a community and environmental activist, and former White House Aide to President Obama, and he offered his views on bringing different races, classes, and the religious and secular worlds in our country together.

At a packed Church hall, the congregants gathered for the fifth year to hear Van Jones’ views on Race and Democracy. Many still remembered the contributions of their late Pastor, Bishop Alexis Thomas, and progressive (both secular and religious) activists from organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, East Valley NACCP, The Pat Tillman’s Veterans Center, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Red for Ed, and Outlawing Dirty Money (an irony because one of the sponsors of the event is APS)

After an excellent performance by the church choir and music group, the event started with the pivotal question, broadcast on a video “What is Democracy?” Following several varying answers from respondents on the video, the key message is that Democracy is the “responsibility of the people” to maintain.

Dr. Stanlie James, the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Community Engagement, echoed this sentiment by relaying the current issues our countries citizens’ face such as the incident with two African American patrons at a Philadelphia Starbucks (Mr. Jones would later ask in his presentation why the police did not arrest the person that made the erroneous/false complaint) or the rising mortality rate of African American Mothers in a “First World Country.” Calling the Center on Race and Democracy “an oasis in the desert” where these issues can be discussed, she cited support from the Obamas as proof that this center is doing good works.

After being introduced to the welcoming attendees, Mr. Jones immediately captured the audiences’ attention after first remarking “I have a microphone but there is no Trump supporter to my left and right.” He later brought the audience to laughter by saying “I am a follower of Obama and her husband.”

After praising the life of the late Pastor Thomas, Jones recounted his experiences with its moments of highs and lows, commenting how the late musician Prince helped him recover after being forced out of his position in the Obama White House in 2009. Jones would later comment that “progress is not linear” and that there are numerous times when progress moves two steps forward, one step back before moving forward again.

Jones then described the double standards of class discrimination and perception still inherent in our society telling the audience that while a law student at Yale, he saw how the college students were kindly treated with on-campus detox facilities for their illegal drug abuse while police officers routinely arrested people in the housing projects off campus for the same behavior.

After describing his life’s work as a Community and Environmental organizer (including his 18-month meteoric journey from working on prison reform to getting a job in the White House under President Obama), Jones turned to two themes: bringing people together and working harder to win.

Through his work around the country as an organizer and as a commentator on CNN, Jones said that Democrats and Progressives have, unintentionally, left hard-pressed white people out of the great social fabric the Progressive Movement has woven with the new rights and opportunities bestowed to minorities and the L.G.B.T. community.

Saying that redemption should be offered to everyone, Jones added that along with leaving out the white working class, the secular wing of the Progressive Movement snubbing the religious wing of the movement (a wing that has historically proven its credentials in the labor and civil rights movements), created opportunities for President Trump to gain support from some of the people that voted twice for President Obama. According to Jones, Democrats and Progressives need to work hard to reassure these groups that they are not forgotten and they are always welcome.

The other theme that Jones touched on was the need for Democrats and Progressives to work hard to win. Jones noted that Democrats and Progressives took for granted that the issues were on their side and that the voters would naturally gravitate to them in all elections.

Jones also faulted the Democrats for surmising that Donald Trump was such a “fool” that they did not have to work hard in areas that Democrats have won in the Electoral College over the last 20 years. Unfortunately for the Democrats, that attitude is what caused them to lose in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections and in 2016 even though Hillary Clinton was the popular vote winner. Jones maintained that Progressives and Democrats will not win if they do not work hard at winning.

 

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the ‘zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,’ announces his retirement

I must admit that I am conflicted about today’s news.

Part of me wants to do my happy dance over the GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, House Speaker Paul Ryan, announcing that he will not seek reelection. This guy has been the media’s biggest darling and intellectual fraud of the past two decades.

But by quitting he deprives me of the sweet joy of seeing him defeated and humiliated, as he was in 2012 as the vice presidential nominee of Willard “Mittens” Romney. Vice President Joe Biden destroyed him in the VP debate. I want the catharsis of seeing Ryan defeated and humiliated because this insufferable asshole so richly deserves it. Good riddance.

On an eventful day such as this, it is time to check in with one of Paul Ryan’s harshest critics with which to celebrate, Charles Pierce at Esquire. Paul Ryan Will Retire as the Biggest Fake in American Politics:

It’s probably too much to hope that Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, will dedicate his retirement to public service the way that his immediate predecessor has.

Acreage Holdings (“Acreage”) (www.acreageholdings.com), one of the nation’s largest, multi-state actively-managed cannabis corporations, announced the appointments of former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner and former Governor of the State of Massachusetts Bill Weld to its Board of Advisors.

Instead, he’s going back to Janesville to be the Dad he’s always wanted to be, home to his 5,786-foot Georgian mansion on Courthouse Hill, and its 13 rooms, six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, the little house on the Wisconsin prairie that Ryan was able to afford because he married money, the one that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Paul Ryan has somehow amassed a fortune of between four and seven million dollars without holding any job except “Congressman” for the past 20 years.

Continue reading

Rio Nuevo Extension to 2035 Moves through #AZLeg

AC Marriott in Tucson

The new AC Marriott in downtown Tucson was built with a Rio Nuevo sales tax deal.

Backers of the Rio Nuevo Tax Increment Financing District have been intensely lobbying the Arizona Legislature for months in hopes of extending the life of Rio Nuevo beyond its current end date of 2025.

Reps. Mark Finchem and Todd Clodfelter have proposed HB2456 which would extend Rio Nuevo to 2035. In its current form, Rio Nuevo and development in the downtown district are controlled by the Arizona Legislature. The Rio Nuevo Board is appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and all Rio Nuevo deals are approved by those three.

What’s wrong with this picture? The people of Tucson created Rio Nuevo with our vote back in 1999, but under the control of the Legislature, the people have no voice in Rio Nuevo and no say in what is built in our city’s core. That’s a problem. Our town does not belong to the Arizona Legislature. Where is our local control?

Last week the Arizona Daily Star published my guest commentary on Rio Nuevo: Is It Time for the Sun to Set on Rio Nuevo? The article gives some historical background on Rio Nuevo and raises questions about the financing behind the deals. At the end are some suggestions.

Continue reading

Medicare is Not an “Entitlement.” It’s an “Earned Benefit.”

Social Security and Medicare

The GOP likes to portray Social Security and Medicare as undeserved handouts.

As I read about the current GOP attacks on Social Security and Medicare, they are referred to as “entitlements.” This clever word choice by Republicans suggests that the programs are welfare — a free handout to undeserving, lazy people.

What you call something makes a big difference. It’s a way to frame the discussion so that it leads to a pre-determined outcome.

Social Security and Medicare are “earned benefits.” I have paid into both programs every day of my working life. Anybody who has made it to age 65 has paid taxes to support both programs. I have worked for 50 years and resent the notion that these programs are freebies or giveaways.

Attack on Social Security

Social Security was enacted in 1935, when the lifetime savings of millions of people had been wiped out. It supports 59 million Americans over age 66. Social security is not going broke — it is projected to deliver full guaranteed benefits until at least 2037.

Well into the 1950s, Republicans tried to repeal Social Security. They continue to attack this earned benefit in Trump’s 2018 budget proposal by cutting Social Security by $72 billion. This includes explicit cuts to Supplemental Security Income programs and Social Security Disability Insurance programs, both managed by the Social Security Administration.
Continue reading

Smoke ’em If You Got ’em: #AZLeg Considers 15 Marijuana Bills

medical marijuanaFive Arizona Legislators have proposed 15 different bills to regulate … or deregulate… the use of cannabis in Arizona, and there could be more.

Senator David Farnsworth and Rep. Vince Leach want more regulation of small businesses in the cannabis industry and increased law enforcement against citizens who use a plant that never killed anyone. (The specter of the Nanny State rises again in the text of these regulation bills.)

Reps. Mark Cadenas and Pamela Powers Hannley (me) want decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and want to make medical marijuana cards more affordable.

Senator Sonny Borrelli is bringing back industrial hemp bill, which passed with flying colors in 2017, only to be vetoed by Governor Ducey.

Two of Leach’s bills will be heard in committee this week– HB2064 in Commerce and HB2067 in Health. Details on all 15 below.

Continue reading

Poor children are pawns to be used by Paul Ryan in shutdown politics

Evil GOP bastard House Speaker Paul Ryan has a plan to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday. He intends to use poor children covered under the CHIP program as pawns and to attach the long-delayed CHIP program renewal — something which should have already been approved as a stand alone bill — to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to entice enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill and kick the can down the road again into February.

POLITICO reports, House Republicans coalesce behind plan to avert shutdown:

House Republicans on Tuesday night appeared to coalesce around a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown Friday — even as conservatives threatened to oppose it and a bitter fight continued over the fate of more than 700,000 Dreamers.

Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled a plan at a House GOP Conference meeting to fund the government through Feb. 16, and numerous rank-and-file members quickly endorsed it despite their frustration with another short-term patch. To further sweeten the pot, the Wisconsin Republican’s bill also includes a delay of several Obamacare taxes and a six-year extension of a popular health care program for children.

“It’s a good strategic position because not only does it offer CHIP [funding] for six years … but you also have a medical device tax delay as well as the Cadillac tax delay,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.), referring to some of the taxes that would be delayed. “I think it puts Democrats in a very difficult position of having to vote against that in the House or in the Senate.”

House GOP leaders will whip the bill Wednesday before a possible Thursday vote. If the funding measure passes the House, senior Republican sources in both chambers expect the measure to clear the Senate.

House GOP leaders, however, still have some work to do: House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said many of his conservative members oppose the plan, dismissing the tax delays as a “gimmick” that won’t necessarily help leaders find 218 votes for passage.

After the GOP Conference meeting, the House Freedom Caucus met and did not take a position on the stopgap bill. But Meadows expressed skepticism leadership’s plan would pass in its current form with just Republican votes.

Based on the number of ‘no’ and undecided votes, there is not enough votes for a Republican-only bill,” he said.

Continue reading