Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published by Darin Gilley

The non-stop drumbeat of news about the Trump campaign and Putin’s Russia accelerates the context is easy to forget. An in-depth examination of the history and current events provides a unique perspective for those wanting to know more. One of the authors is David Remnick, the current editor of The New Yorker, and has appeared on several television and radio shows discussing this piece. Decide for yourself if this is the standard on the subject and enjoy Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War…

“Free societies are often split because people have their own views, and that’s what former Soviet and current Russian intelligence tries to take advantage of,” Oleg Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general, who has lived in the United States since 1995, said. “The goal is to deepen the splits.” Such a strategy is especially valuable when a country like Russia, which is considerably weaker than it was at the height of the Soviet era, is waging a geopolitical struggle with a stronger entity.Holding Nose

In early January, two weeks before the Inauguration, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, released a declassified report concluding that Putin had ordered an influence campaign to harm Clinton’s election prospects, fortify Donald Trump’s, and “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.” The declassified report provides more assertion than evidence. Intelligence officers say that this was necessary to protect their information-gathering methods.

Critics of the report have repeatedly noted that intelligence agencies, in the months before the Iraq War, endorsed faulty assessments concerning weapons of mass destruction. But the intelligence community was deeply divided over the actual extent of Iraq’s weapons development; the question of Russia’s responsibility for cyberattacks in the 2016 election has produced no such tumult. Seventeen federal intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia was responsible for the hacking.

In testimony before the Senate, Clapper described an unprecedented Russian effort to interfere in the U.S. electoral process. The operation involved hacking Democrats’ e-mails, publicizing the stolen contents through WikiLeaks, and manipulating social media to spread “fake news” and pro-Trump messages.

This week’s Democratic Radio:

Fred Harris
Fred Harris, sometimes called the godfather of populism, says progressives need to build a farm team now that we’ve lost a whole generation of younger people who should have been in Congress by now.on-air

Vinnie Rotondaro
Donald Trump preyed on people’s physical, as well as economic pain, to get elected, but Vinnie Rotondaro says the president won’t take away their distress. “He’s just another pill – a temporary high.”

Ben Wikler
Bill Press interviews Ben Wikler, the Washington director of Move-on.org

Jim Hightower
Wall Street Plowboys.

As The Donald proposes a massive increase to our military budget, which is already larger than the next ten nations combined, at the expense of other federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency this is a good time to see how things have changed. Popular Science does just that in this look back in This is what America looked like before the EPA…

From 1971 to 1977 the nascent agency, in an act of prescience, enlisted the services of freelance photographers to help us remember. These photographers captured images of America’s environmental problems before we’d cleaned them up. In 2011, the US National Archives digitized more than 15,000 pictures from the series “Documerica”. Here are some of the most compelling.Landscape
If you like these images, please read our series on the EPA past and present. It begins here.

The Missouri Supreme Court just cleared the way for the minimum wage in St. Louis to rise to $11 an hour in 2018. The GOP and business groups had fought, as usual, against a wage increase. Back in 2006, these same groups fought tooth and nail against a referendum I was proud to work for that indexed the minimum wage statewide. Voracious, greedy tigers don’t change their stripes.

Huffington Post has the story on this victory for STL workers in Missouri Supreme Court Upholds St. Louis’ $11 Minimum Wage…

The Missouri Supreme Court gave low-wage workers in St. Louis a raise on Tuesday.

The five-judge panel issued a ruling upholding St. Louis’ minimum wage ordinance, saying it did not conflict with Missouri state law as business groups had argued. The decision means the city’s wage floor will soon rise to $10 per hour and then $11 in 2018.dollar-sign

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, a Democrat, tweeted that the ruling meant “higher wages for low wage workers,” adding that the city would give employers a “short but reasonable” grace period to get in line with the law.

The ruling is expected to make a significant difference to the lowest-paid workers in St. Louis. The Missouri state minimum wage is just $7.70, over $2 less than the city’s.

Let’s go back a few days for this editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on how Mr. Blow-it-Up Governor Greitens almost melted down in an editorial meeting when asked about certain issues. The Gov. has also gone out of his way to avoid a free exchange with all forms of media. Is he hiding something? Find out in Governor Eric Greitens cannot or will not answer questions…

For a former Navy SEAL commander, Greitens oddly seems to be running from something. Or he believes he’s above accountability. Some reporters say they have been rebuffed or ignored even when they sought him out for favorable stories.Wimpy

During his campaign for governor, Greitens was interviewed by the Post-Dispatch editorial board. Asked about his support for controversial stop-and-frisk policies for police officers, he grabbed his forehead and said the questions were “making my head hurt.” Inquiries about campaign finance reform and looming state budget problems? He dismissed such questions as topics voters didn’t care about.

The result of this cartoonish interplay is that Greitens leaves far too many questions unanswered. We’ll keep a running list, and reporters should begin listing their own in their stories.

For starters:

• Who gave you a nearly $2 million campaign donation in a way that shields their identity?

• Why keep donor identities secret?

• How much money did you receive for your inaugural celebration and who gave it to you?

• Can we see your tax returns?

• Why won’t you talk to the news media?

Our western neighbor has been the leading example of right-wing state level economics. This has been complete with promises of job growth, limits on worker and consumer rights, tax cuts for the richest Kansans, and promises of freedom – lots of freedom. Well as the song says “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” Losing is what all this right-wing economics is doing to Kansans.

Mother Jones has the story with Why Kansas” Fiscal Implosion Is Bad News For Trump…

But instead of the miracle growth that Brownback promised, the tax cuts have left a widening crater in the state budget. State economic growth has lagged behind the national pace, and job growth has stagnated. Lawmakers have been left scrambling each year to pass unpleasant spending cuts when tax revenue comes in below expected levels, leading to contentious fights in the legislature and state courts over reduced public school funding. When the state legislature convened last month, it faced a $320 million budget shortfall that needed to be closed before the end of the current fiscal year in June—and a projected additional $500 million shortfall for the next fiscal year.Brownback Kansas

After more moderate Republicans joined the GOP-dominated legislature following last November’s election, the party has appeared more willing to concede defeat and ditch Brownback’s tax experiment. Last week, the state House and Senate passed a bill that would generate more than $1 billion by eradicating most of Brownback’s reforms. It would raise personal income tax rates (though still not as high as the pre-Brownback rates) and end the loophole that has allowed 330,000 business owners—including subsidiaries of Wichita-based Koch Industries—to avoid paying income taxes.

The fate of that bill is still in doubt. Brownback vetoed the measure on Wednesday morning, after explaining, “I am vetoing it because the legislature failed to fulfill my request that they find savings and efficiencies before asking the people of Kansas for more taxes.” But the House quickly fought back, voting 85-40 to override the veto. But late Wednesday afternoon, the Senate fell three votes short of the the two-thirds majority necessary to pass the law without Brownback’s approval, leaving the fate of the state’s tax system uncertain.

So what’s all of this got to do with Trump? Brownback’s failures could complicate national tax-reform efforts, which have been high on the Trump administration’s agenda. “Lowering the overall tax burden on American business is big league,” Trump told airline executives earlier this month. “That’s coming along very well. We’re way ahead of schedule, I believe. And we’re going to announce something I would say over the next two or three weeks that will be phenomenal in terms of tax.”

Like many of Trump’s policy plans, his tax agenda remains largely a mystery. But the proposal he outlined during the presidential campaign shared many features with Brownback’s experiment.

The era of Republican donor Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary begins with some studies that bring her outlook into question. The New York Times lays it out in Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins…

The first results came in late 2015. Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading.School vouchers

The next results came a few months later, in February, when researchers published a major study of Louisiana’s voucher program. Students in the program were predominantly black and from low-income families, and they came from public schools that had received poor ratings from the state department of education, based on test scores. For private schools receiving more applicants than they could enroll, the law required that they admit students via lottery, which allowed the researchers to compare lottery winners with those who stayed in public school.

They found large negative results in both reading and math. Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.

Bowling Green Massacre

Greitens rtw

The Trump Truth-0-Meter has leg coverings all over the country smoking like a tobacco executive. Can anyone figure fact from fiction? How do we know?

The Progressive offers this book review of Deciding What’s True, The Rise of Political Fact-Checking in American Journalism.

The value of credible fact-checking outlets, even if they are not infallible, is greatly magnified by the advent of fake news. When a sizable share of the population believes things that are demonstrably untrue, that presents an existential crisis in American democracy. fake news

It is time for an intervention, conducted by citizens armed with truthful information and schooled in how to make discerning judgments about the news they consume, before they pass it on.

The widespread disregard for what is verifiable shocks even the purveyors of fake news. The number-one fake news story of 2016, attracting more than two million Facebook shares, was a report on a fake news site (using the name ABC News) that President Obama had banned the Pledge of Allegiance in schools nationwide. In a post-election interview with The Washington Post, the site’s proprietor, Paul Horner, lamented the gullibility of those who have helped make him rich.

“Honestly, people are definitely dumber,” Horner said. “They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore. I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary.”

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