Judiciary is Conspicuously Missing from WhiteHouse.gov as Being Part of the Federal Government

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As of 10:20 PM EST on January 29th, on the tenth day of the Trump administration — the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government is conspicuously absent from WhiteHouse.gov

According to the Way Back Machine on the InterWebs, the Obama Administration had The Judicial Branch of  the Federal Government on its website. While this could have been an oversight, rather than a deliberate political move, like the status of LGBT Americas, Climate Change, Health Care, and Civil Rights, I believe this is a deliberate attempt to delegitimize the Courts, which are the last vestiges in the way of one party fascist rule (in addition to the rights guaranteed us by the Constitution, which must be enforced each and every day by WE THE PEOPLE), and the basic decency and goodness of the American People and our communities.

It takes a long time for the Courts to change over. As you may know, the Supreme Court has had a right wing tilt for a generation or two, but the lower courts have turnover at a much faster pace. While an obstructionist GOP often blocked President Obama’s nominees to the Federal courts – he was able to appoint a total of 329 federal judges, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer and Justice Kagan.

This legacy of judicial appointments also includes 55 Courts of Appeals judges, 268 judges to the District courts, and a couple dozen more to specialty courts under Article III  (International Trade), Article I (Federal Claims, Tax Courts, Veterans Claims, Military Commission Review, Armed Forces), and Article IV Territorial courts.

This eight year legacy of judicial appointments, the day-to-day bureaucracy, and the majority of the American people stand in the way of significant parts of the Trump Agenda. We’ve already seen constant attempts to delegitimize the media (although they do a pretty good job doing that on their own), and I believe we’ll see more and more of this as long as District court judges stay executive orders, rule legislation unconstitutional, etc. This “battle of the Federal Government branches” mathematically can only last eight years, or even fewer than that.

Why? Because if we allow one party rule under this President and his administration for that length of time, the judges appointed will be far more favorable to executive orders like the one that swept across the nation this weekend.

This has been a dispatch from Publius – a Public Citizen of the “Sons and Daughters of Liberty” – writing from the island where Lady Liberty welcomes new Americans to the land of opportunity, holding a torch, which will burn a little less brightly if WE THE PEOPLE – do not do our duty in the years to come.

Industrial, Light, and “Neoliberal Magic”

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This photo incapsulates better than words can — the failure of neoliberalism as a political governing philosophy in the United States of America. If the Democratic Party is to survive, it must reject both neoliberalism and neoconservativism and leave it in the dustbin of history. Maybe I just don’t believe in the “magic” enough, but hear me out.

This is a dispatch from Publius – a Public Citizen of the “Sons and Daughters of Liberty” – writing from the heart of neoliberalism outside of Davos, Switzerland – New York, NY.

December 10, 2010. That’s the day in spirit I became an independent progressive in a way. This was also the day that Senator Bernie Sanders (VT-I) filibustered for 8 and 1/2 hours over the extension of the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans. While I am proud of the grace, example, and leadership of President Barack Obama– after all, #44 was dealt a tough hand — I have ever since been a “true” progressive, have preferred more independent thinking, and definitely reject the premise of the “Neoliberal magic.”

What is neoliberalism? Allow Bernie Sanders to walk you through the difference between being a liberal and being a progressive in a recent post-election interview with Sarah Silverman.

“I prefer to be called a progressive….many of us, we are liberal with pride on issues combating sexism, racism, and homophobia, on that we are liberal. But you have many ‘liberals’ who are not progressive when it comes to taking on Wall Street or fighting for a trade policy that works for American workers. So I think what progressivism is about is accepting all of the fights that liberals have engaged in, to create a diverse society, a non-racist society, but at the same time, what a Progressive stands for is understanding that this country, in many respects, is moving toward an oligarchic form of society, and that you have a handful of billionaires who can control our economic and political life, and if you are not prepared to engage in that struggle, well, I don’t think you are doing serious politics.”        ~ Bernie Sanders

In the days after the 2016 Presidential Election I read Thomas Frank nonstop. I was not the only one. The book is called “Listen, Liberal” and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to make sense of what has happened to the Democratic Party. The subtitle of Frank’s new book is Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

I have been asking myself that for weeks as well. But deep down, I already knew what had happened. After all, this website exists for a reason. We have complained nonstop on our podcasts dating back to 2015 that the Democratic Party is on a b-line toward irrelevance for a reason.

As I stated on Facebook to instigate a robust discussion: there is quite simply no reason for the current version of the Democratic Party to keep existing. It needs to be reformed. It needs a new and fresh direction. It needs new leadership. And it needs to follow the will of its members. The problem with that is, there are no “members” of the Democratic Party. There has been a discussion and a lot of blame toward the DFL in Minnesota this past cycle but truthfully, the DFL is one of the best state parties out there. However, in many other state parties and certainly in the national party, it is a very elitist process, funded and ran by very, very rich people. Some of them are so rich they can blow away what is a lifetime of money on some fine wine in Cannes, France (see the picture above). An extreme example perhaps, but an example that is very true in the city where I reside–New York City. I’m not inherently against anyone for any reason other than their actions or lack thereof.

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Simply put, I share Bernie’s concern about so few people controlling the political and economic destiny and future of this nation. Power concentrated is power corrupted. The Democratic Party has time and again, sold out its members, and has an aloof party leadership within the party and in public elected office that refuses to give up any power or have their authority called into question. I would argue a decades-long trend for both parties has been toward authoritarianism. It’s definitely true on the Republican side, but I believe it is true on the Democratic side as well. Otherwise, the Patriot Act and other erosions of the 4th Amendment may have been reconsidered at some point. If it is not being in bed with Wall Street, there is being in bed with the West Coast version of it–Silicon Valley. The Democratic Party cannot keep being the party of the liberal “elite.”

The American People have spoken and their attitude seems to be that the Republic of Dukes and Earls has failed the country. The ruling classes have failed the country. Globalism is in retreat, rightly or wrongly.

I strongly believe that President Obama left the office and country in a far better position than he inherited it, but it is also fair to say that the world is far more dangerous place than it was eight years ago.

Simply put — the Neoliberalism and Neoconservative two party policy consensus that Agreeing Loudly contributor Carson Starkey loved to rail on these past four to five years–has failed the country. The ruling generation and the ruling elite, who make no mistake about it, are still very much in charge, have mostly lost all moral authority to lead.

So where do we go from here? Read Thomas Frank. Branch out from there.

Agreeing Loudly intends to keep endorsing candidates. We will continue to  recommend and advocate for a better way forward.

We are also committed to effectively fighting the good fight and resisting President Trump and the GOP’s desire to erode and finish off social insurance programs, privatize, deregulate, pursue austerity and belt-tightening, continue ill-suited free trade agreements, continue a disrespect for the First Amendment of the Constitution and fundamental democratic norms and traditions of this country.

This last sentence will be the subject of the next article — a Letter to President Trump.

 

Farewell Barry, and Thank You.

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Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the United States

New York, NY — The other night before going to bed I watched the Netflix original “Barry.” The film was a slice-of-life moment during Barack Obama’s years at Columbia undergrad in New York City.

Last night, I was barnstorming NYC going from protests to anti-inauguration networking events and fundraisers and meeting many people I have never met before. Like so many conversations with friends and complete strangers since November 8th, my faith in the basic decency of the American people was reinforced yet again. I don’t blame soon-to-be (and likely is as you read this) former President Barack Obama for believing in that same basic decency.

Six weeks ago, I had a dream I was a White House aide, serving at the pleasure of the President. It was the series finale of “West Wing: Obama Edition.” I was summoned into the Oval Office, not unlike Charlie Young often was for Jed Bartlet: “what would you have done differently, Troy?”

“Permission to speak freely Mr. President?”

“Granted”, replied the President, on his last night of service after eight years in office.

“Well Mr. President, I would have….pursued something big and grand first, but it would not have been health care reform. At least not if it is going to be the Heritage Foundation’s plan from the early-90s. I would have pursued a carbon tax, put a down payment on a 21st century green economy infrastructure, bailed out homeowners and people instead of big banks, and then given everything that I had to get the world to succeed at Copenhagen in ’09, the “true last best hope” to stem the tide and roll back the worst effects of climate change the world had. Out of those successes I would have then taken the political capital to try and pass single payer healthcare before the 2010 midterms.”

Perhaps we’ll all learn just like Barack that these things are just out of our grasp. Not possible within this political system. But I still have to believe, and hope. 

What I will always remember about the Obama years is something I can be reminded of every day in the friends and company that I keep. I think Time magazine summed it up years ago best…

The Obama victory was not so much about his generation — but the kids two generations behind him, the college kids and recent graduates, blissfully color-blind, who spent patient months as organizers out in the most rural counties… They reminded me, in classic, solipsistic boomer fashion, of my own generation of the remarkable political activists who went down to Mississippi to register black voters and marched against another war, and came to politics in the Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy campaigns of 1968. That generation’s — my generation’s — passion gave us the propulsion to quickly move to the center of political life and the media. The end of their time — our time — in the driver’s seat may have begun in Iowa.

Whether or not Barack Obama goes on to win the nomination — and let’s not forget in the afterglow that this is truly an open question — his field army will endure and, because of their immense skill, they will bend the political process to their will in years to come. And years from now, when they meet in the corridors of power or academia or at the inevitable reunions, they’ll look at each other and smile, and they won’t even have to say the words: We did something amazing back in Iowa, on January 3, 2008, didn’t we?

– Joe Klein, Time Magazine

And this is the central Obama legacy. His policy legacy will very much be in doubt going forward — but the number of talented and inspiring young people that were brought into politics at a time when cynicism was high is what I truly believe will be the lasting legacy of the Obama years. I met so many great people helping get Barack Obama elected President and so many friendships were forged and strengthened.

Allan Branstiter. 

Pat Meacham.

Jered Weber.

Justin Norris.

Carson Starkey.

The list could go on, but I wanted to highlight these five friends and colleagues.

Allan Branstiter and I met in Fargo at an Obama event. He is an Iraq War vet, and in 2007 I revered Iraq War vets (I still do). I had always opposed the war but looked up to each and every veteran I knew. Allan made an immediate impact on me. On some level I must have made an impression on him because he asked me to help him out on his state senate campaign in North Dakota. He was nominated by the Dem-NPL. He said, “you have more connections than I do and I’ll need all the help I can get.” What Allan did not know at the time was that I probably barely had any more connections than he did.

Pat Meacham I have known for years but as you’ll see from the photo below — we spent some time in Iowa together in 2007 and 2010 campaigning and those photos below with then-Senator Obama and Michelle are hanging up at the Lakeside Tavern in Detroit Lakes, MN if you ever are strolling through that part of the country. It’s a wonderful place where I worked as a summer job during college. A lot of my work ethic was built at that place working double shifts with Pat, cooking and talking…dreaming about a better future.

Jered Weber was the only person who agreed to come down to Iowa with me in late ’07/’08 for the caucus because I had an almost fanatical belief that if Senator Obama won Iowa — he would become President. Jered and I struck up an immediate friendship over the campaign, our love of Star Wars, and being raised in small town America.

Justin Norris liked two candidates in the 2008 Democratic field a lot. Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Justin was the first politically involved person I met at Minnesota State and his encyclopedia-esque knowledge about U.S. History and Politics made me remark upon firs meeting him: “jeez, you’re a genius!” His response I will never forget — “nope, I’m just well read.”

I never knew Carson Starkey until my own Army deployment. He was finishing up undergrad while I was overseas. I saw him as basically doing “my story in reverse” and felt compelled to reach out to this humorist that was so dedicated to satire and sarcasm that he made Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert seem tame. If anyone is ever strolling through St. Paul, MN I highly recommend getting to know the Earl of Payne-Phalen.

What is the common thread that brought us together? Or the ties that bind? The Obama campaign and Presidency.

 

Four times I met the to-be President. Four times. Not gloating. But it happened. It turns out that in the end, I’m not much into hero worship. Barack Obama is no hero to me, and I’m no hero to anyone. The only heroes I’ve ever contemplated are the service members of the United States Armed Forces who gave the “last full measure of devotion.” Something tells me that even they would disagree that they are heroes.

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In addition to all the amazing and inspiring future leaders and public citizens I’ve met throughout the Obama years, I will also remember the words.

“Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope” are how I will partly remember the Obama years and my role as an American citizen in them.

“Dreams from My Father” is ironically titled you could say, and is a journey a young Barack “Barry” Obama was on that was shaped more by the absence of a Father than anything else. The Obama campaign, like a few things before it, and many things since, gave me a purpose and family away from my own wonderful, but dysfunctional and imperfect family. It brought me back from youthful alienation and into the community of people. Got me away from thinking about just myself. I gave up my pursuit of happiness, because even Thomas Jefferson is not right about everything, and I embarked on a pursuit of joy, which is a far more fulfilling pursuit.

“The Audacity of Hope” was a remarkable journey as well. Where I met amazing people and experienced a Presidential campaign that brought me to three different states, thousands of conversations with people I otherwise would not have met, got me addicted to the “politics of joy”, and impacted my life in ways I’m still pulling together. In the end, Barack was right. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” all along. Not in an egotistical way, but in a democratic way. In the only way a democracy and a civil society can be made more perfect, or truly whole again. With a little help from your friends, asking a little bit more out of yourself, and walking amongst others in a spirit of solidarity, embarking on life’s journey, side by side.

 

Goodbye Barry, and Thank You for serving and inspiring us all to be better citizens.

Episode 45: Agreeing Loudly Goes to Iowa

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On this month’s episode of Agreeing Loudly Coast to Coast, we interview Agreeing Loudly’s first endorsee, prospective Iowa Democratic Party state chair Kurt Meyer. We also take a moment to reflect on President Obama’s final address as president as we look towards the future of the progressive movement.

Are you ready to move forward? Tune into this month’s episode to get started! You can also download it.

AL.com endorses Kurt Meyer for Iowa Democratic Party Chair

557a1c904bb17-imageOver the past month Kurt Meyer has been able to share his vision of the Iowa Democratic Party under his future leadership with his fellow Iowa Democrats. By and large, Agreeing Loudly is millennial, and we are progressive Democrats.

AL.com co-founder Pat Meacham is a former Iowa House Caucus staffer and said he “couldn’t be happier to give my wholehearted support to my friend and mentor.” Kurt understands and embraces Meacham’s 3-M’s of political campaigning – Message, Money and Machine and how each one will move the IDP and Iowa forward.

He understands that without a simple, forward-thinking message that reaches all 99 counties – you have no message at all. Since we met him nearly a decade ago, Kurt has preached a message of collaboration, inclusion and introspection. He has been an honest voice promoting Iowa politics and the First-in-the-Nation Caucus with some of the biggest media outlets in the country – New York Times, NPR and on MSNBC.

Furthermore, Meyer believes in the political machine. No, not the Tammany Hall version of yesteryear – but the vision of recruiting and training activists and potential candidates year-round, not just every two years. The idea of IDP field staffers living, working and engaging citizens in areas across the state every year not just when their local candidate is “targeted” by the party bosses – is innovative and refreshing. The Iowa Democratic Party needs to start building relationships again from Ottumwa to St. Ansgar and everywhere between – just like Kurt has by helping found the Tri-County Democrats in northern Iowa.

Kurt has a history of successfully raising money both in the political realm and in the private sector with multi-million dollar fund development. After the 2014 cycle, he headed an ad-hoc group that suggested ways the IDP fundraising could be expanded. Without successful fundraising he understands the other 2-M’s will not be successful.

Kurt Meyer is not running for IDP Chair to boost future personal political endeavors, he is not running as an insider, he is not running as a legacy candidate – he is running to be IDP Chair because as he says “I am proud, passionate, progressive Democrat from the marrow of my soul to the core of my being,” and progressive Democrats know that he’d be pretty good at the job too.