Conservatives Forced To Pull Back Tax Cut Ploy, Rishi Sunak Gets To Smile And Say ‘Told You’

Well, well, well…….

Faced with a growing political rebellion after days of economic chaos, Britain’s truly not-ready-for-prime-time-prime minister of less than a month has reversed course and now says she is abandoning a signature plan to cut taxes for the country’s highest earners. You know, the same stew she was pushing during her cheesy campaign for the office when economists were saying her plans were just plain silly.  Her now dramatic reversal comes just hours after this weekend when Liz Truss was slinging rhetoric like hotcakes at breakfast for the hungry conservative hordes.   Her radical economic agenda has met the resounding rebuke of the markets and mature pols. She is a national fool. All in less than 30 days.

Earlier this year I stood with Rishi Sunak in his bid to become the next prime minister of Britain.  In my post about his credentials for the job, I wrote “Add into the mix this person does not wish to fall into the consequences of a cheap theatrical tax cut pledge knowing such action will further harm the British economy. He should know, being a former Chancellor of the Exchequer.’

He is a conservative grounded in reality, which means he speaks candidly to the fire-eaters in his party. He stated his path would be as a frank prime minister—a gentle (or not) reminder that what preceded was a continuous liar—and that he would not be one who offered “comforting fairy tales”.

Conservatives fall, like they often do, like a pack of raccoons for the one who promises things that glitter.  What is playing out across the pond is simply too precious not to watch play out. Who could have guessed at this outcome…..? Hmm…was it Sunak?

I wrote the following in July.

Sunak has the very life story that Tories require if they are to make inroads into the diverse British society.  Born to Indian parents who had left East Africa, attended excellent schools, and rose to a high position in the government showcases the fact all are welcome in the nation.  And can lead the country.

Conservative leadership need not be grounded in the harsh racism and stale models of the past.

We see, again, what happens when they do.

Speaker Robin Vos Should Want To Do As He Stated, “Guarantee Public Faith In Elections”, Could Be a Win-Win

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was most willing to appropriate more than a million dollars to a former Supreme Court justice so to ferret out alleged nefarious and illegal voting behavior following the defeat of Donald Trump in the state’s 2020 presidential election. Rather than admitting the Republican Party had a seriously flawed candidate, Vos stood by as Michael Gableman threatened to jail the mayors of major Wisconsin cities such as Madison, Green Bay, and Racine if they didn’t comply with subpoenas to sit for private interviews as part of the investigation. Following the August endorsement of Vos’s primary opponent by Gableman, the Speaker terminated the contract to further spend taxpayer’s dollars on an investigation that had no serious purpose.

What was widely reported in the state, and in national political columns was that this summer while the investigation was underway Vos stated he had taken a phone call from Donald Trump, who told the Speaker of his desire to see the results of the 2020 balloting overturned.  It comes as no surprise that the January 6th committee follows such developments as that phone conversation, and is attuned to the developments which are aimed at undermining our democratic institutions and eroding the faith of the citizenry in our electoral process.  Therefore, the committee is, of course, mighty interested in Vos’ testimony and information he can add to the larger understanding of a seditious conspiracy plotted by Donald Trump, and aided by a number of close aids and confidants.

After the anticipated legal protection that Vos grabbed for after the panel handed him a subpoena, the panel canceled Monday’s deposition deadline, but noted their desire to have his compliance and know the matter is pending upon the ruling from a judge.  This reluctance from Vos, however, to honestly testifying is troubling for two reasons.

First, the desire of the Committee is straightforward. They simply requested in their subpoena for Vos to give a deposition about his call with Trump and the surrounding circumstances. The fact is our democracy came under violent attack on Jan. 6th. Many attempts at undoing the election outcome, though impossible to achieve, have been made in the months following as Trump furthers an absurd theory in several states.  Wisconsin was one of those playgrounds which have used tax dollars, and as such, there is a need to know what pressures were placed on the Speaker by Trump to thwart the will of the voters.

Secondly, if Vos is true to his words and intentions then he would very much desire a full accounting of what occurred with the Trump phone call.  During the period following the 2020 election, he stated Wisconsin needs to “look forward” to guarantee public faith in elections. He said he believes “half of the state or more,” thinks there were “serious problems with the way the election was conducted”.  I can state that equal numbers of our fellow Wisconsinites are much concerned about the shape of our democracy and worry about the fate of our political and electoral processes.

As such, Vos would well serve our state by being forthcoming to the Jan. 6th Committee about his stated desire of securing the public faith in our elections….while at the same time giving a boost to our overall democracy. It could be a win-win.

Treating Migrants Humanely On National Radar Following Ron DeSantis’ Racist Actions

Racist tactics by conservatives have always been ugly

We know what plays to approval on Fox News in the evening hours when profoundly ridiculous notions and racist attitudes are presented. We also know those same views will meet strong disagreement and rejection from large swaths of the nation that is not wedded to the absurd network. What makes the FOX crowds giddy does not translate well to the nation as a whole. A case in point would be the plain mean-spirited abuse of migrants at the hands of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

This was underscored when a new poll from Reuters-Ipsos was published Friday which showed that only a third of Americans think it’s appropriate for Republican governors to fly or bus migrants to other states. Half of the Republicans polled and only 1 in 6 Democrats said it was something in which they could agree. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats say they opposed the practice. Forty-five percent–including 63 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans–said state leaders transporting migrants were committing illegal migrant trafficking.

The poll is reflective of the mood in the nation following the awful news of flying migrants thousands of miles across the country to Martha’s Vineyard.  The island off Massachusetts only has 17,000 year-round residents, and as we know from news reports this spring has housing problems for their workers who arrive during the warm months as tourists roam about.  Making a purely partisan point with the lives of migrants was unseeingly, and immoral.

It is truly troubling that some Republican pols are comfortable with the use and manipulation of people–vulnerable migrants—for the single purpose of scoring points with white voters who willingly watch FOX News. That network does not present migrants as human beings fleeing dreadful conditions in their homelands or that they seek to work hard or will find many businesses in every sector in each state wishing to hire them.  (Jobs, it needs noting, those same white FOX News viewers will not fill.)

I noted on my Twitter feed a slice from history that made a strong point about this situation.  The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library posted a tweet comparing the DeSantis racism with the “reverse Freedom Rides” that occurred in the 1960s in our nation. 

“To embarrass Northern liberals and humiliate Black people, southern White Citizens Councils started their so-called ‘Reverse Freedom Rides,’ giving Black people one-way tickets to northern cities with false promises of jobs, housing, and better lives”.

Americans know racism when they see it, and the strong rebuke of DeSantis that was registered across the nation has made one point most clear. Stop using migrants as political pawns.

Why Does GOP Accept Candidates That Tell Bold-Face Lies?

Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, is at it again with his inability to be forthright.  Let me put that another.  He simply seems unable to be truthful.  Well, let me phrase that even more directly.  He lies. 

The latest collision with the truth by one of the four most absurd and horrible senate candidates the Republican Party has put forth for the 2022 mid-term elections concerns money that was supposedly donated to charities. (The other three states with dreadful GOP senate nominees are in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.)

Walker, a former football star, pledged that 15 percent of profits would go to charities, a promise the company said was part of its corporate charter.” For years, Mr. Walker’s company named four specific charities as beneficiaries of those donations, including the Boy Scouts of America and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.But there is scant evidence that Mr. Walker’s giving matched those promises. When The New York Times contacted those four charities, one declined to comment and the other three said they had no record or recollection of any gifts from the company in the last decade.

While human nature at times allows for fabrications and embellishments, and on a campaign trail when talking is a non-stop task, it is not hard to fathom how stretching of the truth might occur.  ‘I was an early supporter of that legislation or ‘You will always find me riding in a car made in America’.   But when it comes to Walker he seems to fail at telling the truth at every turn about the big events in his life when talking.

Walker, who is facing Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, in his first bid for public office, has been dogged by repeated instances in which he was found to have given misleading or outright false details about his life story. He falsely claimed to have graduated “in the top 1 percent” of his class at the University of Georgia, when in fact he had not graduated at all: He left the university after his junior year to play professional football. He also said he had “worked in law enforcement” when he had not.

His candidacy was never taken seriously by any politico, as there is no intellectual substance to Walker. Zero. Zilch. None.  It was almost as if the GOP needed a court jester and Walker was more than happy to play the role of national dupe.  Trump was won over because Walker said something nice about him and the followers of the cult leader said, ‘Well, sure, let’s make him a nominee for the senate!’  The bar is so very low for much of the modern Republican Party. Walker is proof of that fact.

I strongly suspect most Georgians want a credible and honest senator who has not had their brain punched about on a football field for many a year. I just know voters believe that a candidate should be able to honestly recall if he graduated from college.  Or how many illegitimate children call him ‘the one who sends the checks’.

Grotesque Behavior From Ron DeSantis Towards Immigrants

Over the recent past, we have witnessed more than our share of truly awful partisan moments. We saw a disabled journalist mocked, Gold Star families maligned, a POW with lifetime injuries ridiculed, and the Memorial Wall at the CIA demeaned.  While it would be wrong to think the reasons for our national disgust could not grow, we could be excused for not thinking it would be as grotesque as it turned out to be this week.

Using a pot of money, $12 million in public funds, Florida moved some immigrants to another state. The aim of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is not to aid, comfort, or assist people who have come to our nation seeking a better life, but rather to pump up his name and harsh brand of conservatism for a national bid for the presidency.  If seeking to embarrass officials in other states by abusing men, women, and children who are at the mercy of our nation now what constitutes ‘leadership’ in the modern GOP, well, Lord, help us all.

This week the shameless display of flying about 50 immigrant Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts set the bar for deplorable behavior at the lowest level yet. There was no notice given to state or local officials or equally important to aid organizations who could have helped to support these people.  It was reported the immigrants were picked up in Texas where they had been staying and then flown through Florida.  The funding for this despicable treatment of people was from a ‘slush fund’ in Florida, money not appropriated for the purpose to act with recklessness or with a desire to harm others.  Yet, DeSantis was doing exactly that very thing.

Not to be outdone for wretched behavior, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also sent busloads of people to cities around the country. But come Sunday these self-righteous men will bask themselves in evangelical fervor and pretend to have a slice of decency in their lives.  But what they really have demonstrated outside of church is the absence of Christian values.  No one uses vulnerable human beings as political pawns.  It is grotesque.   

People come to this nation for economic and safety reasons. The fact is there will be much stress and upheavals in Mexico and Central American countries in the years to come. Some of it will be created by climate change and while there are those who will pretend that is not a ‘real concern’, it is in fact, already contributing to immigration. Reports from places such as the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) underscore weather changes are happening as drought becomes prevalent. As such, challenges with farming mean people are leaving. Add in drugs and the misery they cause in these counties, and factor in natural disasters, and failed governmental leadership and it is no wonder people flee in an attempt for something better.  You and I would do the same.

There remains a duty for politicians to craft a reasonable immigration bill that will afford our nation’s border security.  That has long been a point this blog has made clear.  One of the reasons that such legislation is not forthcoming or sent to the president’s desk is that we do not have common-sense redistricting. During the past decade, 70% of the Republican members of the House had less than 10% Hispanic voter base in their districts which means there was nothing required of those members to act.  They felt no pressure to work for the higher national interests or do the heavy lifting required when it comes to immigration reform. 

Some Republicans are, in fact, the reason two all-encompassing bills failed to be enacted.  For the record, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 passed in the Senate on May 25, 2006, on a 62-36 vote. The bill included provisions to strengthen border security with fencing, vehicle barriers, surveillance technology, and more personnel; a new temporary worker visa category; and a path to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally if they met specific criteria.  Then-President George W. Bush commended the Senate “for passing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform” and said he looked forward to working with both chambers. But the bill was never taken up by the House.

Then in 2013, a bill backed by Democrats and 14 Republicans, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act passed the Senate on a 68-32 vote on June 27, 2013. It rotted in the GOP House. In 2018 Dreamers were being held hostage by the GOP congress. 

Republicans have shown they will not ante up to pass meaningful immigration policy but will harm and abuse others to make for partisan tensions. The horrible behavior of DeSantis along with his band of aping followers this week underscores the need for good immigration policy to trump loud boorish partisanship.

Thanks To DDoSecrets For Alerting Madison About Former Alder Gary Halverson’s Oath Keepers’ Membership

Late Wednesday alderperson Gary Halverson finally did the right thing for his fellow alders along with the entire community by resigning from the Madison City Council.  Since it was reported earlier this month that he had been a member of the highly disreputable and dangerous Oath Keepers for about four months in 2020 there has been growing pressure for his exit from government.

When it was first reported that Halverson had ‘somehow just joined up’ with a right-wing anti-government organization because he was duped by not properly vetting it, alerted many people that his lack of candor was on full display.  No one who only has a surface awareness of the news along with the topics of the day could not be aware of the name Oath Keepers or the extremist views they hold and the threats they make on our democracy. As a neighbor remarked when this was talked about on our lawn, what does it tell us about Halverson’s intellect if he really was incapable of knowing just the rudimentary facts about the Oath Keepers?  If that is to be believed, then he was way over his head with the wide array of issues being juggled in city budget deliberations!

Halverson is not dumb, however.  He is rather quite smart.  That is why I was most concerned and truly taken aback when a non-profit operation, Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), released a stash of information about the membership of government and military members of the Oath Keepers. With Halverson’s name listed!  This information is most beneficial as it allows further insight into the array of tenacles this far-right group has in the nation.  As we have known for many years law enforcement has been keeping their antenna tuned to the far-right based on information they gather, along with the illegal behavior they undertake, such as with the Jan. 6th insurrection.

Members of the council and others across this city have not been reticent about calling out Halverson and demanding his resignation.  That is because the vileness the Oath Keepers have loudly and openly espoused was not enough to deter a member of our city council from signing up. This blog has been continually speaking about the need to adhere to our democratic principles and foundations. What played out since 2015 when Donald Trump conned the Republican Party has been a clarion call for the rest of us who care about the country. We know anti-government extremists must be kept in check.  Furthermore, we know from just watching the headlines since January 2017 why such elements must not hold elected office as it can create a dangerous opportunity for them to use their power to advance their ideology in ways that can dramatically affect their constituents and undermine democracy.

I applaud and thank DDoSecrets for research and data that alert the citizenry to the information that we need so to do our part in helping to secure democracy.  We can not take our freedoms for granted. Founding Father John Adams comes to mind for his steely resolve about our nation and his words below make the case about the Halverson matter.

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right…and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.”

Madison had every right to know about the membership of a city alder in the Oath Keepers. Our citizens had every right to demand the resignation of someone who was in an organization that runs counter to the democratic ideals of our nation and the people.

Let’s Talk About Need For Immigrant Labor

As we observe and celebrate Labor Day I felt a tilt in another direction might be needed as we head into a robust campaign season that leads up to the mid-term elections. We often hear a variety of misplaced complaints and false gripes about immigrants ‘taking jobs’ or somehow living on ‘the taxpayer’s dime’. But the facts and data do not support such rhetoric.

Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin was born in Moscow, CEO of Google Sundar Pichai in Tamil Nadu, and Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft, in Hyderabad. The biological father of the late Steve Jobs was a Syrian who moved to America. Half of all the American startups that are worth more than $1 billion were founded by migrants. Many of the engineers at tech firms were born abroad, too. In Cupertino, a posh suburb in Silicon Valley, half the population is foreign-born.

In 2012, I posted a question on this blog that I would have asked at the first presidential debate that year. It dealt with a topic that has frustrated me for a very long time, one of those big-themed issues that our country really needs to deal with. It is one that still resonates, especially considering the Dreamers are still left in limbo today.

“Mr. President, Mr. Romney. Between 1980 and 1998 Chinese and Indian immigrants founded a quarter of all Silicon start-ups. In addition, a quarter of all technology and engineering start-ups between 1995 and 2005 were founded by immigrants. In the 2010 Fortune 500 more than 40% of the companies were started by immigrants. The U.S. is the most popular destination for foreign students, many of whom wish to stay after they graduate, but can not due to not being able to get work visas. At a time when advanced science and technology degrees are in high demand globally what will you do to allow for more skilled workers to stay here, and how would you explain to low-wage and unemployed people in America tonight the importance of allowing more international graduates with advanced skills to call America home?”

The bottom line is the current skepticism that has existed for decades has deadlocked prospects for immigration reform, even though no one is particularly happy with the status quo. Against that trend, we should be looking at immigration as a creative force in our economic favor. Allowing in more immigrants, skilled and unskilled, wouldn’t just create jobs. It could increase tax revenue, help finance Social Security, bring new home buyers, and improve the business environment. Every business sector in every state needs workers!

The data speaks as to why this is true. In fact, the participation rate for men peaked at 87.4% in October 1949 and has been dropping steadily ever since. It now stands at 67.7%. (Sept. 2021 data.) Just as the data shows that a worker shortage has been underway in the United States for a long time, so too does the data show that there have been, at times, united efforts to resolve the immigration issue and assist with worker-related shortages.

For the record, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 passed in the Senate on May 25, 2006, with a 62-36 vote. The bill included provisions to strengthen border security with fencing, vehicle barriers, surveillance technology, and more personnel; a new temporary worker visa category; and a path to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally if they met specific criteria.  President George W. Bush commended the Senate “for passing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform” and said he looked forward to working with both chambers.

But the bill was never taken up by the Republicans in the House.

Then, in 2013 a bill backed by Democrats and 14 Republicans, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act passed the Senate on a 68-32 vote on June 27, 2013. But it too rotted in the GOP-controlled House. In 2015 even The Wall Street Journal took one of the false arguments against immigration head-on.

A Guatemalan picking strawberries in Washington state doesn’t mean a native-born worker has lost a job. The increasingly integrated North American markets are not zero sum, and the most likely result of the U.S. immigration standstill is moving factories, businesses and farms overseas where labor is cheaper. Or some services will simply vanish in the U.S. as too costly to sustain.

For the Republican Party to remain viable as a national party they need to get their attitudes and policies in alignment with the country when it comes to immigration reform.  As of today many within the GOP still seem unwilling and unable to get to the place where policy changes can occur which will benefit immigrants, the country, and their party. Economics speaks to the necessity of such a move, humanity demands it.

President Biden Addresses “Battle For The Soul Of Nation”

It was a national address from a President of the United States that the citizenry needed not only to hear but to heed.  While the three main networks did not air the speech the gravitas of the message from Philadelphia was one that echoed from the Founding Fathers about political passions that are not tempered with reason and dangerous autocratic behavior not bridled by citizens.

President Biden spoke from Independence Hall Thursday evening to give a stern warning to the nation about our national democratic values being flagrantly assaulted and undermined by forces of extremism who kneel to Donald Trump. Biden did not mix words when he stated the issue that we face.  This is, he told us, a “battle for the soul of this nation.”

The message is one that the majority of this nation has been aware of since the years when Trump sat in the Oval Office and especially since the end of Election Day in November 2020.  We watched with dread and revulsion as the seditious actions played out at our nation’s Capital on January 6th and since then as Trump deliberately and aggressively has poked and stoked his followers who are easily led to the point they will even aid in the undermining of our nation.   Those followers are willing to add their voices as election deniers and some even have lowered themselves to the point they now call for violence to be unleashed in this country.

So it is readily understood with the facts we have seen play out that Biden was correct when stating Thursday that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

The others in the nation who have embraced reading and understanding our national story could connect and agree with the historical truth when Biden talked about the “extraordinary experiment of self-government” represented by the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, saying that “history tells us a blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.” The Federalist Papers which were taught in high school, and more deeply studied in college alerted many Americans to the dangers the Founders urged us to avoid.

I have advocated for years our nation required a president to undertake the role, though some might think it old-fashioned, of a leader who will stand on the stage and preach the values of democracy.  The efforts of reducing and outright removing liberal democracy around the world have been underway for decades. Autocrats prattle about how democracy is not the way for nations to grow and prosper. Actions from Hungary to Brazil have left many worldwide rightly concerned about the condition of democracy. China has challenged democratic tendencies in places like Hong Kong, while we know all too well that Russia will do anything for wistful memories of an empire.  That battle for democracy is also taking place in the United States.  Right in front of eyes.  The seriousness of the matter makes headlines daily as democracy versus dictatorship, freedom versus authoritarianism plays and we must be engaged as citizens to defend the core ideals handed to us by the Founders.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned several examples of possible dangerous behavior to democracy and placed solutions to them within the Constitution. But they simply could not have fathomed the degree of partisanship and even outright sedition and treason currently running through some parts of the Republican Party. Partisanship is so deep and corrosive that it would harm the nation itself.

It is truly concerning for the politics of our time, and for the very nature of democracy itself, that a rather staggering number of Trump’s most vociferous, foul, and unbalanced followers are proving to be violent and hostile. Conservatives have willingly traded away their credibility by allowing the Republican Party to be hijacked by Trump. Today, no actual conservative party policy idea can surface as the saturation of crazy has dominated every aspect of the GOP. There is no oxygen in the room to talk about ideas as there is a past election outcome to excoriate.

So, it was most appropriate, in fact necessary, that Biden called out last evening the vilest of the Trump base who have seized hold of one of America’s two great political parties.  That element celebrates the violent mob that stormed the Capitol in hopes of overturning an election.  That is what the weak-minded in the nation have opted to do with the ideals and hopes of our Founding Fathers.   As I watched the 24-minute speech it dawned on me how remarkable this moment in our history is, as first, a president has never needed to call out the opposing party for their desire to strangle democracy. But secondly, there has never been a time in the 45 years (since age 15) of my reading American history where that was required. Biden stated it precisely as our nation needed to hear it. “You can’t love your country only when you win”.