According to provisional Arizona U.S. senate election results from the Associated Press, Republican Martha McSally got 49.3% of the vote, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema got 48.4% and Green candidate Angela Green got 2.2%–more than twice the difference between the two major candidates. Socialist Currents warned about a possible Green Party spoiler effect in ten races, including this one, three days before the election. Green announced she was withdrawing from the race on Nov. 1, when a vast number of votes had already been cast. According to the Washington Post, it was too late to remove her name from the ballot. CBS News’ Fin Gomez reports that “Arizona’s tight Senate race likely will not be called until later this week, since there are over 1 million outstanding early voting ballots that still must be counted.”
April 28, 2000. I’m sitting in the lobby of the Gatwick Airport Hilton having a cup of coffee with colleagues. It’s early morning— it would be early afternoon back in my hometown of Pittsburgh. A co-worker walks over to me and says, “you need to call home right now”. I looked puzzled. She continued, “someone just shot up your synagogue. I just saw it on CNN”. What she heard was very much true. A white supremacist named Richard Baumhammers had gone on a shooting spree, driving to various locations around the city and killing people— a Jew, an African-American, two Indian-Americans, and two Vietnamese-Americans. On his very methodical and mapped out tour, he took time to stop at our little shul in the Borough of Carnegie and shoot out all the plate glass windows in the building entrance. No one was in the shul at that time of day. (Note: I prefer to use the Yiddish word “shul” instead of “synagogue”)
I have always held an opinion that this kind of crime was not really predictable or preventable (Baumhammers used a hand gun and had no prior interactions with police). To me they were like lightning striking. These horrific events were random in nature, occurring at various places around the country at various intervals. They’re horrific when they visit your doorstep, but you have no choice but to deal with it and move on. I subsequently argued against locking down the shul during services or having an armed guard. I’ve never wanted to live in a cage or avoid public life out of fear. After all, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. But. But. But. In just the past week we’ve had pipe bombs sent to 14 people including two former presidents, two African-Americans were murdered for no other reason than they were black, and 11 Jews were murdered here in Pittsburgh at Tree of Life Congregation. (Tree of Life is in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, not in my borough). White nationalist violence now clearly has a green light from President Trump and the Republican Party is solidly behind him. I’m afraid the violence is just getting started. Because the Tree of Life shooting occurred just two days ago, I don’t have a coherent message about what I expect in the future (other than more building security). But here are some thoughts that were going through my head this weekend.
- The shooter, Robert Bowers, didn’t just pick Tree of Life at random. He got the name from HIAS’ list of congregations participating in a special program to welcome and assist refugees. In one of his online postings, Bowers actually thanked HIAS for giving him a list of targets. HIAS is an old organization that does noble work. Living nearby to me are a young couple with a small child who are Syrian Kurd refugees. They are grateful to be here in America. I am a donor to HIAS and will continue to be.
2. Leaders of our neighboring Muslim community reached out to me immediately after the shooting. I value their friendship and camaraderie. Pittsburgh Muslims and Jews have a mutually supportive relationship. That might seem strange to some, but there are a lot of white supremacists in Western Pennsylvania. Jews and Muslims have learned to look after each other. Watch this clip to the end.
Leader of Islamic Center of Pittsburgh announces Muslim community has raised more than $70,000 for synagogue attack victims and their families.
"We just want to know what you need … If it's people outside your next service protecting you, let us know. We'll be there." pic.twitter.com/DGKCXILS5p
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 29, 2018
3. Too many Jews are under the impression they are white. Can we just stop that please? Just stop. If you know your history, then you know that “whiteness” was invented by the klan to establish the white power structure that we still live with today. Jews are not included, no matter how white your skin may appear. Robert Bowers obviously doesn’t think you’re white; that should be a clue.
Robert Bowers reposted THIS:
Volker Zorn @NEW_ORDER PRO
8 days ago
The cleverest & most successful maneuver made by the Jews in their war against #WhitePeople was to persuade the mass of ordinary Americans that pro-Whites are their enemies, that Jews are their true friends.
— Ricka #Resists (@Ricka168) October 27, 2018
4. Trump says he’s coming to Pittsburgh. I’m not sure that a white nationalist president will be welcome at a Jewish funeral. And Israeli PM Netanyahu says he’s sending Naftali Bennett to Pittsburgh as an outreach. I don’t think Israeli Trumpsters are any more welcome than Trump himself. But we’ll see.
5. The Tree of Life shooting reminded us that if you see news reports like, “active shooter. officers down. suspect under arrest.”, that means the shooter is white. Brown or black people do not survive shooting a police officer.
In peace and solidarity.
Jeff Ballinger says money in politics is a problem
Of course, “single payer,” repeal the tax-cut and improve education – here’s what sets me apart from the field:
I think Congress has to debate the issue of Afghanistan, it is not enough to have the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction issuing 200-page reports every six months. When I was there for a year, I was willing to go toe-to-toe with our ambassador and tell him we needed to build up the mining industry. We have been helping that Ministry of Mines for 17 years, spending tens of millions of dollars and still no mining law has been enacted. So, if you want to have a mining business you have no legal framework to work within. They need to stop the smuggling to develop “regular” mining jobs and collect the revenue.
My biggest problem with American foreign policy has to do with money in politics. I believe that there’s no other issue that can explain the following: one year ago, 60 percent of House Democrats voted for a defense budget $50 billion more than Donald Trump proposed. The only explanation for such a vote is to curry favor with defense contractors; until we get money out of politics we really cannot reform the Department of Defense, the way it needs to be reformed.
Recently, Rep. Jim McGovern spoke very boldly about how we need to deal with Pentagon waste, fraud and abuse; nothing like that is going to happen as long as the defense contractors have friends on both sides of the aisle. So I really think this is the major problem: money in politics.
I pledge to be vocal in defense of workers: Right here in our district, the technology of a local wind turbine company was stolen by its biggest customer, SINOVEL. This was in 2011 and they lost 700 jobs. We just won this case in January; the Department of Justice worked on it for 7 years. It’s historic because it is the first criminal “intellectual property theft” case ever won against a Chinese company in a U.S. Federal Court. What makes me angry is that no Democrat from the House Energy and Commerce Committee said, “Let’s call the CEO and some workers down to Washington for a press briefing to put heat on the Trump administration to get the full $800 million in damages the court found.” Partly because of their dissolute posture, AMSC agreed to a settlement of just pennies on the dollar: $57 million! Whether I win or lose in this race, I pledge to fight for restitution for those cheated workers.
We have a lot of good laws, they are just not enforced very well. And look at the Internal Revenue Service. We keep cutting the staff there while every $.45 you spend on the IRS yields $100 in revenue. Enforcement is also important in the North Korea context: We are actually stopping ships using satellite technology. This means that we are stopping ships that are offloading goods – transferring to other ships while at sea; this deals a devastating blow to sanctions-busting. This is what got Kim Jung Un to the bargaining table – stopping the flow of luxury goods that keep his generals loyal.
The Department of Justice needs to establish a Corporate Crime Database and Annual Report (first introduced in the 112th Congress). Prominent among the crimes to watch and report on are: union-busting – often a form of psychological persecution of union supporters and, also, the refusal of bosses to bargain, even after workers win bargaining rights. Both are addressed in the new ″Workplace Democracy Act,″ recently introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Social Democrats,USA proudly endorses the candidacy of Jeff Ballinger, our former Executive Director, in the September 4th Democratic Primary in Massachusett’s 3rd Congressional District.
Jeff grew up seeing mistreatment of workers by companies that raked in profits. He decided early on to fight for the little guy. Starting with voter registration in college, he became a national student coordinator for a boycott of an unfair clothing manufacturer.
Jeff joined the Textile Workers Union of America and assisted on the real-world “Norma Rae” campaign. He attended New York School of Law at night with a focus on international and human rights, graduating in 1983.
Jeff founded and ran the non-profit Press for Change that helped force Indonesia’s strongman, Suharto, to nearly triple the country’s minimum wage, from 86 cents per day to $2.46.
Jeff knows the global nature of our economic problems at home and is ready to take on the corruption of big money in politics. Unbeholden to special interests, he will focus on the interests of regular people in the district.
Champion For Labor
Jeff helped support the birth of the Polish labor union, Solidarnosc and changed the face of Europe. He brought teacher-union leaders from the West Bank to meet with Paul Tsongas in his Senate office, in a quest for peace in the Middle East. Jeff became deeply involved in labor movements – here and globally – with the goal to end exploitation of the workers who make our clothes, electronics, appliances, and so much more.
The most moving experience Jeff had was going door to door on the gritty West side of Indianapolis to register voters. Time and again he heard African-Americans tell him how it was the first time they registered to vote since coming North in the 1950s.
Jeff has appeared as an expert commentator on global political economy issues on NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and CNN. He has appeared in documentaries by Japan’s NTK, UK’s Channel Four and ARTE (French/German). His writing has been published in Harper’s, NY Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, Dissent, Brown Economic Review and Los Angeles Times.
His Vision and Plan
Here is a heartbreaking headline that pretty much sums up why I chose to run: “Money Pouring into Massachusetts for a Key Race.” My number one issue will be changing the word “money” to “activist.” We can do this partly through public financing of campaigns but principally by getting both parties to stop seeking contributions from banks and insurance companies and Wall Street.
Before unions were seriously weakened, labor provided the Democrats with most of the help they needed to compete with Republicans. We need a Corporate Crime Database at the Department of Justice with an emphasis on psychological persecution often used to thwart union organizing campaigns. It’s no coincidence that the defeat of Labor Law Reform in 1977 began an ever-widening wealth gap in America.
Along with the increase in corporate control of politics in D.C. came virtual impunity for crimes against workers, consumers and the environment. There’s been almost no Democratic pushback against four decades of Republican anti-government and anti-regulation rhetoric.
As a life-long activist and organizer, I feel uniquely qualified to draw attention to this issue and, indeed, lead the fight! We need workers and unions back fully on board with the Democratic Party and I will fight to make this a reality.
MONEY IN POLITICS
Corporate contributions to political campaigns have been an unmitigated disaster for our party and America. Corporate influence drove the enactment of unfettered free trade policies like NAFTA, thereby alienating workers and their unions further from the party which used to represent the Left in American politics. This party is now virtually indistinguishable from the party traditionally dependent on contributions from banks, insurance companies and Wall Street firms. Public financing of campaigns is an essential element of getting money out of politics. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School has done a deep dive into the issue of public financing of campaigns. I recommend their work highly.
Additionally, my biggest problem with American foreign policy has to do with money in politics. I believe that there’s no other issue that can explain the following: one year ago, 60% of House Democrats voted for a defense budget $50 billion more than Donald Trump proposed. The only explanation for such a vote is to curry favor with defense contractors; until we get money out of politics we really cannot reform the Department of Defense, the way it needs to be reformed.
We need to rebuild union power by reversing years of anti-union policies – first by reestablishing the National Labor Relations Board’s Division of Economic Research. Our workplaces and the very nature of work itself is changing so rapidly that unions need to get reliable information about organizing targets and new opportunities for growth.
Secondly, the Department of Justice needs to establish a Corporate Crime Database and Annual Report (first introduced in the 112th Congress). Prominent among the crimes to watch and repot on are: union-busting – often a form of psychological persecution of union supporters and, also, the refusal of bosses to bargain, even after workers win bargaining rights. Both are addressed in the new ‘‘Workplace Democracy Act,’’ recently introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
We also need to revive the Division of Economic Research of the NLRB (shut down during the Red Scare); our new workplaces and often-precarious employment relations need to be studied with an eye toward leveling the playing field for workers in addressing management prerogatives. Much can be done to increase skills-training for low-income youths, but we need to define what types of resource training to provide.
There are over 40 million under-insured Americans and almost 30 more with no health insurance at all. The expansion of Medicare must not be prevented by lobbyists from the Medical and Insurance industries. Medicare for all would create enough bargaining power to lower drug prices and many other costs in the medical care system.
America has the most expensive and one of the least-efficient medical care delivery systems in the world. We need to eliminate health insurance companies who do nothing but add complexity to the system while making some of the highest executive salaries of any industry. Additional reforms will also be necessary to avoid corporate subsidies on a massive scale.
As the chief rule-of-law officer for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni Province 2012-13, I had a significant economic development portfolio. When we turned our attention to Afghanistan’s mineral development possibilities, I took a careful look into the province’s two promising “lithium brine” salt lakes. (Afghanistan was dubbed “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” by the Pentagon in 2009.) After checking with the US Geological Survey, I discovered that the northern lake in our province was an important “wetland preserve”. After months of back-and-forth with an Afghan PhD student working at the USGS, I made certain that this was an important factor in our “mineral resources exploitation” report.
Our country suffers greatly from a bitterly divisive issue. When we need to come together and make progress on many fronts we are being pulled apart. We need legislation that extends temporary protective status and also addresses the need to get the DACA people settled in.
It should be noted that we are suffering an immigration crisis mainly because nothing was done for almost two decades. The unauthorized population grew and neither party addressed the issue. There have been numerous “path to citizenship” bills introduced with bipartisan support under both of the last two Democratic & Republican administrations. What happened to stop their passage? They were killed by lobbyists for corporate interests that benefit from people living in the shadows. These migrant workers can be paid lower wages, bosses don’t have to worry about workers organizing, and there is virtual impunity from prosecution for employers. We must come together to overcome the special interests and fix this now.
Weatherization = Climate Action + Jobs
This is an urgent issue and there is abundant “low-hanging fruit.” Hundreds of rich institutions in the Northeast and Upper Midwest (many pay no taxes, but that’s another issue) should be required to do detailed energy audits and remediation plans. Cornell University is a very positive example.
We must address income inequality
President Donald Trump has crowed that the U.S. economy has never been so strong – never in such great shape, “and jobs are flooding back.” Yet, there’s nothing on the horizon that suggests a reversal of 30+ years of growing income inequality. We must address this now.
Congress needs to debate the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
I’ve lived 11 years in Muslim-majority countries. I was in Ghazni for 10 months in 2013 – side-by-side with our troops. When John Kerry, then Secretary of State, visited Afghanistan, I told him about the murderous Haqqani network operating in our province; they’re worse than the Taliban because they corrupt local officials and warlords. Smuggling is rife – partly because after a decade and tens of millions of dollars to the Mines Ministry, there is still no mining law!
Notes from the Administrator:
Over the past months you may have noticed some appearance problems at our blog-site. These were caused by software incompatibilities with the widgets. Today I changed WordPress themes in order to fix those problems. Everything other than the look should be the same. All previous blog posts, comments, media, and site contents are retained. If you run into any problems, please let me know.
I came across this pictue that I thought was interesting. It shows our torch logo as it originally appeared. This is a flyer for the Social Democratic Party in Peekskill, New York in 1900. Compare it to our current logo on our home page.
And finally, a reminder that Subscribe and Unsubscribe functions are User-Controlled on our home page in the right hand column.