164-3 Politics

Voting for Bernie

by Bob Roman
Chicago DSA has taken a few calls about voting for Bernie Sanders delegates. In Illinois, primary election voters will vote for the person they desire to be nominated for President. They will also vote for the delegates to the national convention. Nominally, the delegates are the ones who make the decision, so the callers were confused. There are more Bernie candidate delegates on the ballot than there are to be voted for. Who to vote for?


The Poverty of Neoclassical Economic Analysis

At Dollars & Sense, Ron Baiman begins:

When I first got wind of the denunciation of Prof. Gerald Friedman’s Bernienomics impact estimates by prominent liberal Economists two questions came immediately to mind. Who were these liberal economists and what were their objections? A little googling around got me the first answer in a jiffy. The liberal economists were the four former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama: Alan Kreuger, Austan Goolsbee, Christina Romer, and Laura D’Andrea Tyson. It took more time and more work to establish the second answer. According to their three paragraph letter, they: “are concerned to see the Sanders campaign citing extreme claims by Gerald Friedman” (Italics mine) that Bernienomics could have: “huge beneficial impacts on growth rates, income and employment” because these “exceed even the most grandiose predictions by Republicans about the impact of their tax cut proposals” and “no credible economic research supports economic impacts of these magnitudes”.


Investor-State Dispute Settlement

At Public Citizen’s Eyes on Trade, Lise Johnson notes:

I refer to ISDS as an experiment because, although it is commonly noted that there are 3,000 investment treaties around the world and, therefore, that the ISDS mechanism is nothing new, the first investment treaty with ISDS was actually not concluded until the late 1960s. Investment treaties with ISDS were not widely negotiated until the 1990s, and ISDS claims only really emerged in earnest in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Thus, we really only have roughly 15 years of experience with this mechanism. ISDS is still a new area of law. An experiment.

I note that ISDS is a failed experiment because it does not appear to have achieved three of the commonly stated objectives of the mechanism. It has not led to increased investment flows, nor to a set of predictable international legal rights for investors, nor to an increase in the rule of law in host countries.


Oh, incidentally, your editor notes that we (that is, the U.S. government, but you and I will be paying) are being sued for $15 billion for blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. At the Washington Post, Todd Tucker has an informed opinion suggesting the U.S. might lose. The Council of Canadians has issued an 8 page briefing paper using the Keystone XL case illustrating what is wrong with the ISDS process, CLICK HERE. (PDF)

Illinois Green Party

The IL GP held a Presidential Preference vote this month. Dr. Jill Stein won 87% of the votes cast. The 23 member Illinois delegation to the Green Party national convention will be apportioned thus: Dr. Jill Stein, 20 delegates; Bill Kreml, 1 delegate; Uncommitted, 2 delegates. The Illinois Green Party will be having its convention on March 5 at University Center, 525 S. State in Chicago. For more information, CLICK HERE.


164-3 DSA News

Campaigning for Bernie

Over the past two weeks, Chicago DSA, both as an organization and as individuals, continues to be actively promoting Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Sanders 95th Chicago
Leafleting at 95th Street. Photo: GOPDSA

On February 17, Chicago DSA blitzed the 95th Street “L” stop in the morning rush, handing out over a thousand flyers, mostly a DSA piece structured around Cornel West’s endorsement of Sanders.

On Saturday, February 27, Chicago DSA participated in the #March4Bernie2, once again bringing along our banner. About a dozen members hung-out by the banner during the rally but people, members and non-members and erstwhile members, kept coming and going. This time the event marched up Michigan Avenue to the Water Tower park, with a stop at the Tribune Tower. This time the march gained brief news mentions apart from the traffic reports.

We also had a few “Beers for Bernie” election return watching events that, with apologies, were rather hard to locate if you didn’t already know the individuals involved.

As individuals, DSA members have been active in phone banking at the Sanders campaign offices in the south Loop and in Evanston. Peg Strobel hosted a “Women for Bernie” meet-up in Oak Park. Brian Swoveland is among those organizing a fundraising concert, Enter the Sandman, on March 4th. And those are just the things your editor has heard about.

Talkin’ Socialism

Episode 61 The Rauner Agenda
Recorded February 6, 2016. Bunnie Johnson (Shop Steward and Executive Board member for AFSCME Local 2858, and a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services) and Fran Tobin (Coordinator, Alliance for Community Services) in conversation with Chicago DSA’s Bob Roman. What happens when the State pretends there is no money? What happens to Human Services when the government is run “like a business”? Welcome to the new barbarity.

Download to listen later [right click]:
MP3 (30.5 MB) or OGG VORBIS (24.4 MB) (31:47)
or add to your playlist using STITCHER or iTunes.

Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner

Save the date: the 2016 Dinner will be on Friday evening, May 20. It looks like we’ll have Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza as our featured speaker. If money is an issue, keep in mind that Chicago DSA members get a break on tickets.

DSA in the News

Bill Resnick continues his conversation with DSA’s Maria Svart, this time about socialism and climate change, on KBOO’s “Old Mole Variety Hour”. At public radio WOSU, Marilyn Smith deconstructs democratic socialism by interviewing a few sources, including a member of DSA. KATU interviewed Maria Svart about socialism and Sanders. Diane Jones’ “Off the Cuff” commentary on KLPW used DSA to explain democratic socialism: It’s evil, of course. U.S. Bureau Chief for Singapore’s The Straits Times, Jeremy Au Yong, attempts to explain Sanders and democratic socialism using DSA as one of his sources. Clark Mindock at International Business Times made a superficial attempt at defining Sander’s ideology — well, he got our name wrong.

MSNBC interviewed Frances Fox Piven about Bernie Sanders, mentioning her affiliation with DSA. Piven also gave a talk on the Sanders campaign in the context of poor people’s movements, covered by Steve Ahlquist at Progessive Charleston.

Edward Martin and Mateo Pimentel began a five part series, “Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialism, and The Other America“, part II of which identifies Sanders as a “DSA socialist” at Dissident Voice. Peter Dreier examines Gloria Steinem’s support for Hillary Clinton, mentioning DSA, at Dissent. At the Associated Press’s Trail Translator, Nancy Benac uses quotes from DSA’s David Duhalde to help define Bernie Sander’s socialism.

The Orange Leader reported on two Vidor Lamar University students selected for political internships, including DSA in the bio of one of them.

Agatha Kereere covered an Oakland, California, Women for Bernie Meet-Up, including Barbara Ruffner “of the Democratic Socialists of America” as one of the speakers at Oakland North. Emma Alberici’s coverage of the results of the Iowa caucuses at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation included one scene featuring a lot of DSA Bernie Sanders t-shirts and buttons and interviews with unidentified DSA members. Anna Giaritelli at Washington Examiner covered DC’s MarchforBernie2, quoting DSA’s Coleson Breen and listing DSA as among the organizers. The U.K. version of International Business Times had a story by Tom Mendelsohn about the South Carolina primary, mentioning DSA’s Cornel West campaigning for Sanders.

J.T. Kim at Union College’s Concordiensis mentioned DSA, sorta, in connection with an upcoming campus visit by Cornel West. Likewise, Telesur covered a Cornel West tweet re: Hillary Clinton, mentioning his DSA membership.

Voting for Bernie

by Bob Roman

Chicago DSA has taken a few calls about voting for Bernie Sanders delegates. In Illinois, primary election voters will vote for the person they desire to be nominated for President. They will also vote for the delegates to the national convention. Nominally, the delegates are the ones who make the decision, so the callers were confused. There are more Bernie candidate delegates on the ballot than there are to be voted for. Who to vote for?

It turns out this is probably true for about two thirds of the Illinois Congressional Districts: more Bernie candidate delegates than spots to fill. I don’t know why but it seems to be deliberate. Each delegate on the ballot must be approved by the campaign they’re supporting. Without approval, they would be dropped from the ballot. The people on the ballot are those for whom Bernie supporters circulated petitions, minus one or two in several Districts.

Possibly it has something to do with the Democratic National Committee encouraging the representation of previously under-represented constituencies, something they’ve been doing since 1992. The Illinois Democratic Party uses a formula based on the turnout in the previous primaries. Thus the delegation, as a whole, should include 60 African Americans, 17 Hispanics, 1 Native American, 9 Asian / Pacific Islander, 10 LGBT, 6 disabled. Shortfalls in any category can be made up in the at-large delegates. The total number of District level delegates (and the Illinois delegation as a whole) needs to be equally divided between men and women.

It turns out there are several classes of delegate to the Convention.

There are the delegates elected in each Congressional District. 102 of the 181 total delegates from Illinois are District level delegates. The important thing to remember is: For Illinois Democrats, this primary is a binding preferential election. That is: It’s binding because the elected Sanders and Clinton delegates are obliged to vote for their candidate. It’s preferential because the delegates elected from each District is proportional to the popular vote in that District for each Presidential nominee candidate, unless that candidate gets less than 15% of the vote. Those don’t count.

So your most important vote is at the top of the ballot: Vote for Bernie. I suspect it would be unwise to skip voting for the delegates, but it becomes somewhat less important just which of the delegate candidates you vote for. This year the process is a bit less complicated as there is no election for District level alternate delegates, though there will be for Republicans.

Another class of delegates are the Pledged and Unpledged Party Leaders. The Unpledged total 25 and the Pledged total 20. The Unpledged are basically Illinois’ Congressional Delegation, Democratic National Committee members, Senator Durbin, President Obama, and others. The Pledged subcategory includes people drawn from State government, county and municipal officials, and party officials from those levels. The selection of the Pledged group takes place after the primary, in May, by the elected District level delegates and will reflect the state-wide vote. Candidates receiving less than 15% are not considered. This is another reason why the top of the ballot is your most important vote.

Unpledged, incidentally, does not mean uncommitted. It just means those delegates can change their minds at any time.

And then there are 34 At-Large delegates, apportioned by the statewide vote for Presidential nominee. Once again there’s a 15% threshold of the statewide vote to receive delegates, and these at large delegates are selected at the same meeting where the Pledged Party Leaders are chosen. 13 at-large alternates will also be selected. Once again, your preference at the top of the ballot is important.

The Illinois Democratic Party is taking applications for these positions through 5 PM on April 11. You will, however, need the approval of the Sanders campaign.

For more of the gory details of this process, see the Illinois Democratic Party 2016 Delegate Selection Plan and the Illinois State Board of Elections 2016 Candidate’s Guide. This is a very nice selection process for a Convention that, since the 1980s, has become nothing better than an overpriced, boring info-mercial for an already victorious nominee and a Platform that is forgotten even before the event is over.

Remember: Vote for Bernie. And the delegates, too, but don’t sweat the selection.

164-2 Democratic Socialism

Rosa Lives

Who was Rosa Luxemburg? Chicago DSA’s Alec Hudson interviews Paul Buhle, editor of the recently published graphic biography Red Rosa by Kate Evans. The article begins:

Rosa Luxemburg is an anomaly for the Marxist left. A revolutionary leader whose thought has been embraced by Marxist-Leninists, anarchists, and even anticommunist social democrats, her influence on political thought has increased in the era after the Cold War. Born in Zamość to a middle-class Jewish family, she rose through the ranks of the burgeoning social-democratic movement in Germany.


164-2 Politics

How Might Jesus Vote?

by Bill Barclay

Jesus of Nazareth said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).

Let’s think about this for a minute. It is a statement about inequality. After all, one is only rich or poor, in material goods, by comparison to others. Jesus’ statement is one of the most stinging criticisms of huge inequality in a very few words that I know of. And it is not alone in the Good Book. According to a friend of mine, there are over 2000 verses in the Bible about our responsibility to those who have less, who are hurt by inequality.


What Would Sanders Do?

What would be the consequences of a Bernie Sanders victory? At the Center for Popular Economics, Gerald Friedman examines the dynamic effects of Sanders’ economic program HERE.

Brother Bernie Is Better

At Politico, Cornel West begins:

The future of American democracy depends on our response to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. And that legacy is not just about defending civil rights; it’s also about fighting to fix our rigged economy, which yields grotesque wealth inequality; our narcissistic culture, which unleashes obscene greed; our market-driven media, which thrives on xenophobic entertainment; and our militaristic prowess, which promotes hawkish policies around the world. The fundamental aim of black voters — and any voters with a deep moral concern for our public interest and common good — should be to put a smile on Martin’s face from the grave.


Oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership

by Tom Broderick

There are plenty of reasons to oppose passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the TPP will facilitate large corporations in closing down jobs in the United States and off-shoring them to countries with lower labor costs and/or fewer regulations. This will result in more income inequality in the U.S. and greater corporate power globally.


The Decline of Labor

At Talking Points Memo, Rich Yeselson observes:

With the brief exception of the late 1930s followed by the anomalous period of the Second World War when the government needed the active support of unions to maximize military production, labor has never had a juridical and statist presumption that it should institutionally survive, let alone flourish. For much of its history, and to this very day, the courts, business, and conservative media and politicians have sought to diminish labor’s power, if not crush it outright. With the exception of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (which opponents immediately sought to undermine and whose legal fate was unresolved for two years), there has never been a statist framework in the US that explicitly sought to ensure labor’s institutional viability across the branches of the federal government and state governments. And without that statist presumption, unions had to confront what historian Nelson Lichtenstein has labeled a special form of “American exceptionalism”: “the hostility managers have shown toward both the regulatory state and virtually all forms of worker representation.” Lichtenstein goes onto note that the absence in the U.S. of “self regulation or cartelization” found in Europe and parts of Asia. Decentralized “competitive disorder” made non-rationalized wage and benefit increases imposed by firm-by-firm unionization (rather than the sectorial model of collective bargaining found in Europe in which the extra cost burdens of unionization was socialized across economic sectors) a great threat to companies and triggered a particularly vicious, sometimes violent, response. The brief period of labor’s zenith did not diminish the desire of its enemies to undermine it—on the contrary, it was a persistent provocation: a reminder of the power business had lost and wished to regain. Thus when, via the decline in manufacturing and a corresponding loss of political influence, unions weakened in the 1970s, the business class seized that moment and, by the construction of politically and intellectually influential think tanks and a massive increase in their congressional lobbying, counter-mobilized to crush them. It only took a decade or so of labor’s increased vulnerability to prove how wrong Eisenhower’s benign notion was that “only a handful of unreconstructed reactionaries” wished to bust American unions. In fact, the entire business class of the United States, large and small companies alike, wished to bust American unions and when, given a chance to do so, seized it.


Scalia No More

Corey Robin, who has a focus on American conservatism, has a lot to say about the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

If you want to understand how Donald Trump became the soul of the Republican Party, you need look no further than Antonin Scalia. Scalia is the id, ego, and super-ego of modern conservatism. He was as outrageous in his rhetoric (his unvarying response to any challenge to Bush v. Gore was “Get over it!”) as he was cruel in his comportment. Sandra Day O’Connor was the frequent object of his taunts. Hardly an opinion of hers would go by without Scalia calling it — and by implication, her — stupid. “Oh, that’s just Nino,” she’d sigh helplessly in response. Even Clarence Thomas was forced to note drily, “He loves killing unarmed animals.” He was a pig and a thug. (Sunstein, by contrast, believes “he was a great man, and a deeply good one.”) And he was obsessed, as his dissent in PGA Tour v. Casey Martin shows, with winners and losers. They were the alpha and omega of his social vision. He was the Donald Trump of the Supreme Court.


164-2 DSA News

Greater Oak Park DSA

Ferrara Pan fair hiring demonstration
GOPDSA members and others at Ferrara Pan demonstration

GOP DSA joined Black Workers Matter in an action at Ferrara Pan to demand that (i) the company cease their discriminatory hiring practices and (ii) raise wages. Click HERE and HERE for more information.

On January 31, GOP DSA hosted a “Beers for Bernie” event at the Friendly Tap in Berwyn. About three dozen people attended, mostly not the usual suspects, to explore just what “democratic socialism” and the Sanders campaign is all about. It was politics accompanied by music from Chicago ex-pat singer-song writer Linda Boyle.

DSA in the News

A survey of campaign spending by Kenneth P. Vogel at Politico earned DSA a mention.

At the University of Maine, Sarah Allisot discussed socialism and mentions DSA in an essay posted at The Maine Campus. On the other hand, maybe it was Reuben Dendinger who wrote the essay, posted at the Bangor Daily News. Jaime Metzger enlisted DSA in arguing Bernie Sanders’ socialism ain’t your granddad’s socialism at Odyssey. Bernie Sanders isn’t a socialist, protests Therin Showalter at Indiana Daily Student, but quotes Joseph Schwartz and DSA to define the terms. Jeffrey Isaac presented a primer on Sanders and socialism at the New School’s Public Seminar, mentioning DSA.

Danny Duncan Collum mentions DSA when discussing “Should Christians Be Socialists?” at Sojourners.

Dan La Botz covered a New York March for Bernie with a mention of DSA at New Politics. Michael Romain’s account of the Bernie Sanders campaign in Oak Park, Illinois, began by featuring DSA at a local demonstration at the Wednesday Journal.

Elizabeth Bruenig crowned “democratic socialism” the winner of the 2016 elections, featuring DSA deputy director David Duhalde at The New Republic. On the other hand, some socialists are hoping Sanders will lose. Bill Scher mentioned DSA in his discussion of the two camps in a well-informed report at Politico. Mentioning DSA in passing, Gary Leupp continues that discussion in an essay in equal parts devoted to Bernie Sanders, socialism, and… Cornel West, posted at Counterpunch. Once again at Counterpunch, DSA pops up in an essay by William Blum about socialism and Sanders. Maria Svart joined Bill Resnick at Oregon’s KBOO Old Mole Variety Hour to discuss DSA and why “democratic socialism” is no longer an electoral kiss of death.

Jason Schulman mentions DSA in passing in an essay on the nature of political “parties” in the U.S. at New Politics.

Dan Majors outlines an analysis of Sanders’ economic plan by professor Gerald Friedman, mentioning DSA in connection with Friedman, at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Dave Anderson touted an upcoming DSA meeting in a discussion of the documentary This Changes Everything at Boulder Weekly.

DSA was used as an identifier for an interviewee in an article by Olivia Slagle regarding a demonstration advocating raising the minimum wage at The Daily Tarheel.

DSA National Political Committee Statements

on Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire Primary Victory;

on Gloria Steinem.

Oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership

by Tom Broderick

There are plenty of reasons to oppose passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the TPP will facilitate large corporations in closing down jobs in the United States and off-shoring them to countries with lower labor costs and/or fewer regulations. This will result in more income inequality in the U.S. and greater corporate power globally.

The TPP will increase the importation of food into the U.S. while decreasing safety inspection. The governments of the other eleven countries included in the agreement would be allowed to declare the food safety inspection process of their countries the equivalent of ours. These eleven other countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Nothing personal, but I’d feel safer if food inspection was carried out by U.S. trained food inspectors responsible to our populace.

Large pharmaceutical corporations will be granted new monopoly rights and patent extensions to keep lower cost generic drugs off the market. This will lead to higher priced medicines needed to save lives.

Our federal government has a “Buy American” policy that calls for U.S. tax dollars to be spent, where possible, at U.S. based companies that produce goods or provide services. This means that we are investing in the people of the United States, simply a smart practice. The TPP calls for an end to this, and that is a recipe for an economic system that grossly favors return on corporate investment over the common good.

Big investment firms want to roll back Wall Street reforms that seek to impose regulations on large banks. These Wall Street banksters want to be able to engage in high risk gambling that puts Main Street in jeopardy. Why wouldn’t they? Being too big to fail means everyday tax payers will be expected to bail them out again.

Perhaps the most insidious provision is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Foreign corporations will be able to by-pass our judicial system and directly sue the U.S. government before tribunals overseen by private/corporate lawyers acting as judge and jury. The tribunals could compel our government to hand over tax dollars to corporations claiming loss of revenue due to regulations that cover issues ranging from a clean environment to public health to public interest policies.

According to Global Trade Watch, the TPP would “newly empower more than 1,000 additional corporations in TPP countries, which own more than 9,200 additional subsidiaries in the United States, to launch investor-state cases against the U.S. government.” Such cases would never appear before our judicial system.

Falsely called a trade agreement, of the thirty chapters in the TPP, only six deal with traditional trade issues like tariffs and duties The agreement was crafted behind closed doors with the assistance of 500 “official” U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests. The public and our elected officials were kept in the dark. The TPP can only be enacted by our elected Congressional Representatives. We can stop this corporate power grab with public pressure.

Below are the names and local phone numbers of the U.S. Representatives from Illinois. Find your representative, call their office and tell whoever answers the phone that you want to speak to someone about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Tell that person that you oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership and want your Congress person to represent your voice when and if the vote comes to the floor.

Rep. Bobby Rush, Democrat, 1st Congressional District, Chicago office: 773 224 6500.

Rep. Robin Kelly, Democrat, 2nd CD, Matteson office: 708 679 0078.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, Democrat, 3rd CD, Chicago office: 773 948 6223.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Democrat, 4th CD, Chicago office: 773 342 0774.

Rep. Mike Quigley(1), Democrat, 5th CD, Chicago office: 773 267 5926.

Rep. Peter J. Roskam, Republican, 6th CD, West Chicago office: 630 232 0006.

Rep. Danny K. Davis, Democrat, 7th CD, Chicago office: 773 533 7520.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth(2), Democrat, 8th CD, Schaumburg office: 847 413 1959.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Democrat, 9th CD, Chicago office: 773 506 7100.

Rep. Bob Dold, Republican, 10th CD, Lincolnshire office: 847 793 8400.

Rep. Bill Foster, Democrat, 11th CD, Aurora office: 630 585 7672.

Rep. Mike Bost, Republican, 12th CD, Carbondale office: 618 457 5787.

Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican, 13th CD, Champaign office: 217 403 4690.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, Republican, 14th CD, Compton Hills office: 630 584 2734.

Rep. John Shimkus, Republican, 15th CD, Danville office, 217 446 0664.

Rep. Adam Kinziner, Republican, 16th CD, Ottawa office: 815 431 9271.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, Democrat, 17th CD, Peoria office: 309 966 1813.

Rep. Darin Lahood, Republican, 18th CD, Peoria office: 309 671 7027.

Also call your two U.S. Senators. Follow the same steps as outlined when calling your Representative.

Sen. Richard Durbin, Democrat, Chicago office: 312 353 4952.

Sen. Mark Kirk, Republican, Chicago office: 312 886 3506.

If you don’t know who your Representative is, CLICK HERE.

(1) Rep. Mike Quigley is the only Illinois Democrat to vote in support of Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track), which was a procedural vote to allow only an up or down vote on the TPP. He joined all the Illinois Republicans with his vote. He also supports passage of the TPP. And for what it’s worth, his father was a union worker whom he credits for helping put Mike through college. Good wages?

(2) Rep. Tammy Duckworth is running for the U.S. Senate. If successful in the primary, she will face Sen. Mark Kirk. When talking with Rep. Duckworth’s office, mention that you’d like her to vote against the TPP whether she is in the House or the Senate. And perhaps wish her well in her Senate race.