On Getting People to Vote, Fred Snowflack has some words of wisdom.

Fred Snowflack is a wise old owl.  A career journalist of the old school, card carrier of the Society of Professional Journalists, an exceptional editor, and the type of old-fashioned liberal that every small community once benefitted from -- be it town or neighborhood.  His traditional liberalism, long out of fashion today, was tuned to Professor Karl Polanyi's warning that... "Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation.  Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed."

We are fortunate that Mr. Snowflack still has a venue for his writing.  The balanced opinions he once offered in the pages of Gannett publications like the Daily Record are now available on InsiderNJ.com.  Yesterday's column by Snowflack, was evidence (if any was needed) that he has lost none of his abilities to get to the heart of something and touch it with a needle.  Writing about the Women's March rally in Morristown over the weekend, he offered this insight:

" Are we seeing a Democratic version of the Tea Party?


That thought crossed my mind last weekend as I covered the Women’s March in Morristown and read about similar marches all over the country.

I came across one quote in particular from a Bergen County woman who attended the march in Manhattan. She said that until the election of Donald Trump as president, she and her circle of friends spent much of their TV time watching “reality shows.”  Now, they watch news programs, or if you prefer, “real reality shows.”

This is important for politics now and going forward. 

Follow politics for a while and you quickly realize that a key to winning elections is not convincing those who disagree with you to come over to your side. That’s unlikely to happen, especially in these very polarizing times.

The key is to somehow get those who agree with you to actually vote.

This is critical at a time when voter turnout is considered good if it reaches 50 percent. The more “non-voters” you can energize, the better it is for you.

His full column is here:  https://www.insidernj.com/anti-trump-political-movement-search-name-catchy-tea-party/

Wow!  Now there is a man who gets it! 

The key to winning elections is to motivate people who generally don't vote, but who would consider voting for your party. 

That's contrary to the mantra coming from some GOP types -- like defeated gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno.  They claim that only a "moderate" can win statewide.  This is, of course, simply an opinion and an opinion that ignores the fact that the only Republican who has won statewide in the last twenty years has been Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment, and opposed to Same-Sex Marriage.

This unreason is widespread and it gets even worse.  Indeed, in the case of the Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO), the claim is made that only a "moderate" can win in a congressional district that voted for Donald Trump

In these very partisan times, merely having an "R" next to your name -- leave out supporting Donald Trump or Chris Christie -- is enough to preclude any significant support from voters who self-identify as Pro-Choice on Abortion, Pro-Gun Control, and Pro-LGBT.  If these are your first tier issues, what floats your boat, you are not voting Republican in 2018.  Period.

Despite this, there is a full court press to mint Republican candidates who intentionally suppress key parts of the GOP base.  Like the BCRO's Pro-Abortion John McCann.  In elections that increasingly depend on identifying and turning out anyone who will even consider voting Republican, this is a disastrous trend. 

Of course, these left-of-center Republicans tend to be popular with the dregs of the GOP's Whitman-era glitterati --  cocktail-party liberals and crony capitalists who still think they run the NJGOP -- and who are increasingly uncomfortable in the knowledge that they make up just a thimbleful of actual Republican voters. 

Unfortunately for them, most voters are not looking to transfer more wealth and power to the one-percent, while infantilizing various "groups" deemed worthy of protection. 

Working class Republican voters and working class Democrat voters are really not that different.  They care about being able to have the means to life.  They want jobs, the opportunity to start a small business; to be free from the worry of foreclosure; an education system that balances costs with results; a safety net that hasn't all been spent before they need it, and a justice system that looks on them a free citizens and that keeps safe the places where they live, work, and shop. 

The needs of working people are pretty straightforward.  If it were an ice cream shop it would be plain vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  Of course, the oligarchs of the Democrat Party can't provide that -- so they advertise a dozen flavors other than vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry -- while the "My Party Too" Whitman Republicans have placed out a sign that says, "Closed for business, we've run out of ideas."

Why this is so was the subject of a study conducted by Princeton University.  Take the time to listen to this video.  It could be an eye-opener:

Instead of trying to stand-out and apart from the "usual" Republican through the tired and ultimately unconvincing trope of "a different kind of Republican" when it comes to abortion and LGBT rights, the next generation of Republican candidates could act boldly and stand out as pledged to ending modern slavery.  If you need to know how bad it is, just read the newspapers.  Just last week, the Star-Ledger ran this...

"Authorities say a teenage girl found walking along Interstate 295 in Mercer County last week was a victim of human trafficking and had escaped from a motel, where she was forced into prostitution...

An investigation led to the arrests of Ashley Gardener, 29, and her partner, Breon Mickens, 26, both of Trenton.

Mickens and Gardener had transported the teenager to multiple hotels against her will and forced her to engage in prostitution, police said. 

Gardener allegedly forced the victim to engage in sexual activity with multiple men and allegedly collected the money paid by the clients. She also placed sexually suggestive ads on Backpage.com with photos of herself and the victim, police said.

The ads offered adult entertainment and listed a phone number police say belonged to Gardener."

Or you can listen to Ashton Kutcher's testimony before Congress...

According to the U.S. Justice Department, as many as 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year.  The Internet is the vehicle for 76 percent of the transactions for sex with underage girls. 

The average victim is between 11 and 14 years old.  These victims come from all walks of life -- from every race, social, and economic background.

The problem is made worse by America's fluid borders.  According to the United Nations (UNICEF), 2 million children are trafficked in the global prostitution trade. The U.S. State Department reports that from 600,000 to 800,000 people (mainly women and children) are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for slave labor and prostitution.

Human Trafficking has surpassed the sale of illegal arms and is set to surpass the illegal sale of drugs.  The FBI reports that human trafficking is on the rise in all 50 states and represents a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. 

New Jersey is a "hub for human trafficking," according to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.  In September, 14 people were arrested in a child-porn and human trafficking operation in Monmouth County.  In October , the FBI announced that it had uncovered and arrested 42 child sex traffickers in New Jersey.  The Star-Ledger reported that the 42 were arrested on charges that included sex trafficking, child exploitation and prostitution.  A total of 84 children were rescued during the operation.  At the beginning of December, 79 suspects were arrested on a host of charges that included sexual assault, using the Internet to send inappropriate images to children, and child pornography. 

And with schools requiring young students to have access to the Internet, it is no longer about the parent.  The government-run education system supplants the parents and requires the child to be connected to the Internet.  For many children, it's like requiring them to walk to and from school on a dangerous, traffic-filled highway.

There was legislation in Trenton to addresses this growing criminal enterprise aimed at our children.  It was a bill championed by Republican State Senator Steve Oroho, and it attracted substantial bi-partisan support.  Despite having enough legislators committed to passing this legislation -- either as co-sponsors or supporters -- the Democrats who run both chambers of the Legislature killed it.

They listened to objections from the porn industry, who have adopted a "no questions asked" attitude on where their profits come from.  Porn is legal and the corporations who profit from it and their allies are the enablers of human trafficking.

This state legislation has companion bills in nearly every state and in the United States Congress.  Republicans could be its champion.  Instead of taking on the self-defeating label of "Pro-Choice on Abortion Republican", Republicans could be the face of the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act and offer a constitutional way to prevent predators from using the Internet to sexually exploit children.  Republicans could be leaders in championing the technology to defeat child sex traffickers.

Yes, we know it is outside the Whitman-era, "My Party Too" box.  But think about it.

There is no "moral obligation" to root for Phil Murphy

Yes, we know that it sounds "cute" for a Republican to claim that he wishes the new Democrat Governor success and then to lay out a list of Republican options for the Governor to take to "help" him achieve that success.  It sounds cute until you consider how it undermines confidence in the claims politicians and political parties make during the course of their campaigns.

Was it all just bullshit?  Were the claims made and the warnings given regarding the clearly articulated policies of Phil Murphy just so many lies paid for and distributed by the Republican Party and its candidates?  Or do Republicans sincerely believe that those major policy pronouncements that fell from Phil Murphy's lips were all lies to his own constituencies and that he has no intention of pursuing any of them?

If you want to give people a reason to give up voting -- if you want to suppress turnout into an even deeper gutter than it already is -- then pursue the line that it is all an illusion that doesn't matter in the end.  You'll do it.  You'll get them to give up on voting altogether. 

Look, either the two parties mean what they say at election time, or it is all just a pantomime put together for the entertainment of the media and the manipulation of the electorate.  Is it all one big corrupt filthy gang at the end -- are all those Trump voters right? 

Certainly, both parties are broadly the same when it comes to their embrace of globalism and crony capitalism.  Both will not hesitate to employ government to pick economic winners and losers.  Both work against the interests of the working class -- in support of products made with modern day slavery, suppressing American job creation or exporting American jobs, and growing the gray economy through an immigration system that makes it difficult to come here legally but easy to do so illegally.  Looking at the chumminess of the parties when it comes to fashioning lobbying firms, or law firms, or consulting businesses -- they certainly do appear to be in each other's pocket.  So are they really less competitors than cooperators in the goal of picking the taxpayers' pockets?

One needs only to gaze upon a creature like John McCann -- the very embodiment of this corrupt culture -- who the Bergen Record newspaper reported was "the right hand man" of the Democrat county sheriff as he was launching his supposedly "Republican" campaign for Congress.  The MC McCann chose for his kick-off was the liberal daughter of a former Democrat Assemblyman -- part of a bi-partisan "show-us-the-money" political family that lives up the bunghole of Democrat Loretta Weinberg and company. 

And yet, the differences between the political parties are real enough for many.  Guys like Steve Lonegan know that what the Republican Party stands for is supposed to be in marked contrast to the policies pushed by Democrats like Phil Murphy.  So do legislators like Mike Doherty and Steve Oroho.  Where Mike Doherty is a big picture conservative -- coming up with big plays like the Fair School Funding Act -- Steve Oroho is a transactional conservative who moves the ball forward, negotiating a phase out of the Estate Tax, turning a property tax hike into property tax relief, shaving 43% off a user tax increase while winning a series of tax cuts in exchange for supporting the remaining 57%. 

These Republicans understand that Democrat Phil Murphy means to turn all New Jersey into a sanctuary state.  They know he means to and are resolved to oppose him in that.  They know that Murphy meant it when he said he wanted to raise taxes by $1.3 billion.  They have done the math and know that his promises add up to $8.5 billion in new spending.  They know that Murphy's policies will grow the burden of government, suppress the economy, kill jobs, drive away capital, undermine the social safety net, and make us less safe.  They know and they will oppose him every step of the way -- watchful for the moment when they can force a compromise, negotiate something to the advantage of taxpayers and job creators. 

Despite its outward coarseness, the Christie era was marked by an aggressive bi-partisanship achieved by party bosses who control political "families."  This era is ending as it began, with a rich globalist Wall Streeter holding the ultimate power. 

That Chris Christie was as conservative a governor as he was had more to do with his first primary and his subsequent quest for the White House, than with any personal philosophical leanings.  Now the dam will break and the ruinous legislation -- ruinous for anyone who is working (or trying to) and trying to keep out of foreclosure -- will flow forward.  Now is the time for opposition.

The inequitable way in which the state's political establishment (through its failsafe, the unelected judiciary) misuses the revenue from the income tax, should unite both Right and Left in opposition to seeing the working poor being made to subsidize rich corporations and wealthy professionals in cities like Hoboken and Jersey City.  The corrupt political establishment that has relegated New Jersey into the last place to start a business now has a "face" in the venial, corrupt form of corporate globalist Phil Murphy.  Murphy's cash-for-favors background and his history as a Wall Street and foreign banker make him a perfect foil.

An intelligent, well-read opposition will know what to do with Phil Murphy.  There is a real opportunity to put together a non-traditional coalition to meet Murphy's loose and weakly calculated policies with policies that work.  But it will need to employ the language of opposition. 

No less than Ralph Nader has pointed the way forward, in his 2014 book, "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State." Dismantle... not partner with.  We need to employ the language of opposition to block corporate globalist Murphy and to put forward popular policies that he will be forced to accept.

Identity politics kills Labor (and Labor is the hope of the world)

There was a spike in working class representation for a few decades after the Second World War, but since the end of the 1970's, that representation has declined and we are now back to where we were when the robber barons ran things.  In the wake of this, income inequality has turned into a gulf and working class wages have plummeted. 

Of course, America no longer has political debates that center around economic class.  That would be "class warfare" and we wouldn't want to be accused of that, would we?  Instead, the Establishment and its mainstream media stoke culture wars based on who you have sex with and race wars proclaiming that one group's lives matter more than the rest.  Why?  Because it takes the 99 percenters' focus away from what really matters:  jobs, taxes, crony capitalism, poverty, hunger, homelessness, education, debt, honest government, and the lack of democracy. 

Not so long ago, the Labor movement was at the center of Western culture.  In post-WWII America, Labor built the broad middle class -- negotiating a private safety net of secure employment and a growing, living wage, that turned paycheck-to-paycheck workers into consumers with disposable income.  The rise of identity politics saw that smashed to pieces -- with wages driven down and credit card debt replacing disposable income.

Does who we elect matter?  Would the election of more blue-collar workers arrest the death spiral of America's working class?  Or would the juvenile narcissism of identity politics -- fueled by billionaires' checkbooks -- continue to crowd out any broad-based relief for the poor and oppressed?

Duke University's Nick Carnes has studied some of these issues.  His book, White-Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policy Making, should be read by every policy maker in America.  You can buy the book here:


The link above is for convenience only, we recommend that you purchase your copy from an independent bookseller in your community.

Trump/Sanders and the two Americas

Look at these two graphs.  They illustrate the two Americas.

The first shows the ratio between employee compensation to gross domestic product in the United States.  It is at its lowest point in history.

The second shows corporate profits.  They are at an all time high.

These graphs mark the end of America's social contract, according to economist Steen Jakobsen.  The agreement between the ruled and the rulers is broken and marks the rise of heretofore "fringe" candidates like populist Donald Trump and socialist Bernie Sanders.

This may be why new polling shows little taste for such measures as increasing the charitable deduction on taxes paid by wealthy individuals and corporations.  In a time when clearly the rich keep getting richer, voters have become skeptical of letting those rich direct how their potential tax dollars are spent instead of leaving it up to "democratically" elected legislative bodies.  New research by writers such as Jeremy Beer and others suggests why this is so -- and we will be examining Beer's findings in depth next week -- but for now, just consider this passage:

"Even though it sits on $42 billion in resources, and despite the fact that homelessness is one of its strategic areas of concern, the Gates Foundation will not provide direct assistance to any of the displaced people sleeping outside its $500 million Seattle headquarters... modern philanthropy is more concerned with problem solving than with people, more invested in 'high modernist ideology' than in particular human beings... contemporary philanthropy seems more enamored of generic anthropos than of the flesh-and-blood poor we encounter face-to-face. Indeed, twenty-first century philanthropy seems allergic to charity."

Many have noticed the deeply undemocratic, narcissistic nature of the twenty-first century rich.  They worship at the altar of a high church peculiar to themselves.  Charity becomes a form of self-worship. 

The celebrity Bono, reportedly worth $600 million, is a world-class tax avoidance artist who off-shores his business enterprises to avoid paying taxes while he operates a charity, called the One Campaign, that lobbies governments to use the tax money of working people to do what Bono wants done.  Meanwhile Bono links his for-profit musical tours with One Campaign initiatives and derives free positive publicity that translates into increased sales.  The One Campaign has been criticized for "using only 1.2% of their funds for charitable causes."  in response, the One Campaign admitted that it "does not provide programs on the ground but instead is an advocacy campaign for their funding."

They left out that they also make Washington, DC insiders rich with consulting fees.  One such insider is Sue McCue, the Rutgers University Governor who runs the Democrat Party SuperPAC that is responsible for collecting the heads of GOP Assemblywomen Donna Simons, Caroline Casagrande, and Mary Pat Angelini; and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi. 

The One Campaign's latest initiative was the Electrify Africa Act, signed into law by President Obama on February 8, 2016.  Money from the One Campaign created an Astroturf  campaign that collected 360,000 names in support of the Act and a twitter-based lobbying effort aimed at Congress.  One Republican opponent of the legislation noted:  "American taxpayers spend more than $40 billion per year on foreign aid... Given America's out-of-control deficits and accumulated debt that threatened our economic future, I cannot justify American taxpayers building power plants and transmission lines in Africa with money we do not have, will have to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back."

It was also attacked from the Left, with one prominent critic writing in the Huffington Post that "the Electrify Africa Act has merely demonstrated that Congressmen neither know much about nor have a plan for Africa's energy industries."

Increasingly, average Americans are noticing how rich corporations devalue the democratic process and how their corporate charitable arms are just an extension of their public relations lobbying.  For example, the elected Legislature of the State of Georgia recently passed legislation designed to protect "religious freedom."  In response, some unelected but very rich Hollywood types protested what the elected Legislature had done.  Hollywood was joined by Big Business, in what has become an almost annual ritual (Arizona, Indiana...) to threaten and bully a Governor and convince average Americans that corporate money is more powerful than citizens' votes.  Reporting on the Georgia Governor's veto of a bill he had formerly supported, the Associated Press wrote: 

"Within days of its passage, Coca-Cola and other big-name Georgia companies joined prominent Hollywood figures urging Deal to reject the proposal. The Walt Disney Co., Marvel Studios and Salesforce.com threatened to take their business elsewhere. The NFL said it would be a factor in choosing whether Atlanta hosts the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl."

Until last year, this same NFL called itself a tax-exempt non-profit organization and used its charity status as an excuse to get taxpayers to build its stadiums.  If anyone wants to know why people give up and quit voting, this sorry episode is it.

But something has happened and it shows itself in more ways than just Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  People are done putting up with it.  As Mike Griffin of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board said, "We're not going to quit.  We definitely don't want to have Gov. Deal listening to Wall Street and Hollywood over the citizens of the state of Georgia who expect him to support religious liberty."

A conservative Baptist attacking Wall Street?  Looks like the old Republican coalition is starting to break up.  When it does, we can't imagine who is going to support all those business tax breaks.

The GOP donor class vs. working-class Republicans

Two stories from this month's The Week illustrate the battle brewing within the Republican Party between its numerically tiny donor class and the much larger voting block for whom good jobs and traditional values matter.  The battle has its roots in the 1980 presidential election when the GOP, with a ticket led by Ronald Reagan, made a deal to get the votes of social conservatives and the working class (those Reagan Democrats we heard so much about).  The deal went like this:  Give us your votes and we will maintain the traditional values of society and work that make for a genuine safety net. 

Now it's a generation later and the rich who fund the GOP have never had it so good.  But instead of keeping their deal, they used their new profits to undermine traditional values -- supporting groups like Planned Parenthood and underwriting campaigns to overturn traditional marriage.  Economically, they have lied and lied again about doing anything on illegal immigration, because it helps to force down the price of labor and they want cheap labor.  They don't mind that the family wage has been replaced by the two-income necessity.  They look on American workers as a commodity -- not as citizens who have a share in the governance of the nation.  They shout them down with campaign cash, while exporting their jobs overseas -- screwing the very people they count on to wear a uniform and defend them, just to make a fast buck.

To add insult to these injuries, many Chamber of Commerce Republicans have made the ultimate fashion statement and have crossed over to the Democrats, whose donor class is now at least as rich and insulated as the GOP's.   Social conservatives and the working class are beginning to understand that they got screwed on the deal.  What's next is anyone's guess, but don't be surprised if their opposition to things like a millionaires' tax turns to support -- and why would they support a gas tax hike on commuting workers just to please a Chamber of Commerce that consistently screws them?

By-the-way, is there a Republican politician anywhere in America who can hope to win an election without support from social conservatives and the working class?  Without the muscles of this electorate, the GOP -- for all its money -- really is just a numerically weak and tiny group. 

We spoke with a conservative activist who made this prediction:  "Over the next few years, every state party is going to have a fight between its rich, wannabe cosmopolitan Whigs and the blue-collar traditionalists who count for a big hunk of the Republican Party's electoral base.  It will come down to how you take your coffee.  The always fashion-conscious Whigs hang at expensive coffee houses and some have even adopted the cult of the coffee enema.  The traditionalists, we like average joe and we'll continue to sip ours, thank you very much." 

Both columns are the work of journalist Michael Brendan Doherty of the U.S. edition of The Week news magazine.  So here is his take on the showdown brewing between the patricians and the plebs:

The conservative movement has a lot of ideas for improving the life of a typical coke-sniffer in Westport, Connecticut. Let's call that man Jeffrey.

The movement wants to lower Jeffrey's capital gains taxes. It also wants to lower corporate taxation, which intersects with his interests at several points. It wants to free up dollars marked for Social Security so they can be handed, temporarily, to Jeffrey's fund-manager in-law, who works in nearby Darien. The movement has sometimes proposed giving Jeffrey a voucher to offset some of the cost of sending his daughter to school at Simon's Rock. If his household income falls below $400,000, Marco Rubio would give him a generous tax credit for each of his offspring. The movement also constantly hectors universities and media outlets to consider ideological diversity. Jeffrey reads these agitations and thinks of his libertarian-leaning daughter.

And, if Jeffrey gives some money to conservative causes, figures in the movement will at least pretend to cheerfully listen to him as he says that the problem with Republicans is all these religious wackos and their pro-life nonsense. That stuff bothers his daughter. Privately, many of them would like to take Jeffrey's advice.

The conservative movement has next to zero ideas for improving the life of the typical opioid dependent who lives in Garbutt, New York, outside of Rochester. Let's call him Mike.

Maybe they will make a child tax credit refundable against payroll taxes for Mike. He could get a voucher for a private school, but there aren't many around and he can't make up the difference in tuition costs anyway. In truth, the conservative movement has more ideas for making Mike's life more desperate, like cutting off the Social Security Disability check he's been shamefacedly receiving. It's fibromyalgia fraud, probably. Movement spokesmen might consent to a relaxation of laws against gambling near Mike's congressional district, so that Mike can get a job dealing at a blackjack table. More likely Mike ends up on the wrong side of the table, losing a portion of the SSD check to Sheldon Adelson. Finally, the movement's favorite presidential candidate would like to put American armed forces ahead of a Sunni army outside of Homs, Syria, to fight Bashar al-Assad, ISIS, and al Nusra simultaneously. Russia too, if they don't respect a no-fly zone. Mike's daughter will be among the first round of American women to get a draft card. Mike reads this news and thinks, "Your momma wears combat boots" used to be an insult.

If the conservative movement has any advice for Mike, it's to move out of Garbutt and maybe "learn computers." Any investments he made in himself previously are for naught. People rooted in their hometowns? That sentimentalism is for effete readers of Edmund Burke. Join the hyper-mobile world.

Continue reading:  http://theweek.com/articles/603701/how-conservative-elites-disdain-workingclass-republicans

And for the second column:

I recently suggested that the Republican Party, and the conservative movement, offer next to nothing to working-class Trump supporters. There are no obvious conservative policies that will generate the sort of growth needed to raise the standard of living for these working-class voters. Instead, the GOP's Powers That Be make a great show of obedience and deference to the center-right donor class, even when that donor class' preferred policies — endless war, unlimited immigration, and slashing tax burdens on the wealthy — have almost no relation to conservative ideas or even popular opinion.

Continue reading:  http://theweek.com/articles/605312/conservatives-have-failed-donald-trumps-supporters