Posted tagged ‘Ben Cardin’

08.12.17 Chris Van Hollen: thy name is political cowardice

August 12, 2017

Sorry, Dear Reader, but I’m not about to let go of my outrage over Ben Cardin’s bill to criminalize free speech (S.270).

I have now written three times to Senator Van Hollen via his official campaign website. I have now written three times to his foreign affairs legislative assistant, Afreen Akhter. I have not received a single reply; though I was cc-ed on a reply Ms. Akhter sent to someone else:

Senator Van Hollen has not co-sponsored this legislation. He does not support restrictions on free speech and is reviewing the legislation in light of those concerns.

And here is what I sent to her today:

Ms. Akhter:

During the Reagan years, Act Up responded to the administration’s inaction on AIDS with this slogan: “Silence = Death.”

S.720 is not a matter of life or death, but Chris Van Hollen’s silence regarding our fundamental civil liberties is tantamount to endorsing Ben Cardin’s bill. I played a key role in helping Chris get elected to Congress the first time, something he thanked me for thereafter. I did not work for his election so that I could hear “has not co-sponsored this legislation” as an excuse for silence — this is political cowardice at its worst.

Will you present my views to the Senator? Will he stand up for he First Amendment and explicitly oppose S.270?

I would appreciate the courtesy of a direct reply.

— Keith Berner

Please stand with me in persistent support for civil liberties: please let Van Hollen and the rest of the Maryland congressional delegation* know how you feel.

*These Democrats are shameful cosponsors of Cardin’s pernicious bill:

  • Anthony Brown (MD-4)
  • John Delaney (MD-6), who is now running for president in 2020 (suppress giggles here)
  • Steny Hoyer (MD-5)
  • Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)
  • John Sarbanes (MD-3)

©2017 Keith Berner

08.03.17 Ben Cardin: still wrong; Chris Van Hollen: still silent

August 3, 2017

Per my post a few days ago, I wrote to Senator Ben Cardin (MD) in opposition to his bill criminalizing political speech he disagrees with. I heard back from his office today. Here is his note (my reply appears below that):

Thank you for sharing your comments on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, S. 720. I appreciate your engagement regarding this piece of legislation, particularly your concerns over its potential impact on your constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights.

I understand that the American Civil Liberties Union released a letter that may have caused your, and other Marylanders’ concerns over the impact of S. 720 on civil liberties. I want you to know that I would not support legislation that would infringe upon those freedoms, and I welcome the opportunity to engage with you regarding some of the misunderstandings about the bill.

S. 720 seeks to amend the Export Administration Act (EAA), a 40-year-old law that prohibits U.S. persons from complying with unsanctioned foreign boycotts imposed by foreign countries. The prohibitions of the EAA have been consistently upheld as constitutionally sound. The new legislation amends the EAA to extend its existing prohibitions to unsanctioned foreign boycotts imposed by international governmental organizations, such as United Nations agencies or the European Union.

I want to highlight that this bill does not limit the rights of American citizens or organizations to express their views on Israeli or American foreign policy; nor does it limit the rights of American citizens or businesses from engaging in boycott activity of their own accord. I hope you will read my response to the ACLU, which is attached with this letter for your review. As I state in that letter and repeat to you now in this correspondence, I welcome healthy dialogue with constituents regarding the purpose and importance of this legislation, and I sincerely hope that this letter has addressed your concerns.

Thank you again for reaching out to me to share your thoughts on S. 720. Please do not hesitate to follow up with me should you have any additional questions or concerns regarding this bill, or any other matter of importance to you.

My reply:

Your assurances re my free-speech rights are empty until/unless I see further advice from the ACLU on this matter. The fact is that you once before prominently demonstrated your prioritization of Likud’s interests over US interests, when you opposed the Iran nuclear deal two years ago. You burned your credibility on matters touching on Israel at that time.

I will oppose your reelection and will continue to engage with Chris Van Hollen, Jamie Raskin, and other elected officials to defeat completely your misguided attempt to legislate your personal views on Israel and speech.

PS. I am Jewish and see you as a clear threat not only to my American civil liberties, but also to my ability to separate my ethnic identity from the horrific policies of the Israeli state.

In other news, Chris Van Hollen’s office still has no position to report, but this time his staff did give me the direct email address of his foreign affairs legislative assistant – please join me in writing to her: afreen_akhter@vanhollen.senate.gov.

I spoke again with Jamie Raskin today and he confirmed his opposition to S.270 and that he would produce a public statement on it before Congress returns from recess in September.

Finally, in a move that shows the lie in Ben Cardin’s email today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) has withdrawn her cosponsorship of Cardin’s bill due to the ACLU’s analysis.

©2018 Keith Berner

07.31.17 Democrats seek to criminalize free speech (with friends like Ben Cardin, who needs enemies?)

July 31, 2017

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin introduced S.270, the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” on March 23. It attracted little attention until the past couple of weeks.

This blog post is not about where you or I might stand on Israel. I have written plenty on that topic, including how Jewish-American politicians contribute to anti-Semitism through their support for the country.

Rather, I’m writing about free speech, a right enshrined in the First Amendment and a fundamental underpinning of US democracy (indeed of democracy itself). That is the issue at hand here: S.270’s purpose is to criminalize (with shockingly severe penalties) my right to hold political opinions that the bill’s many sponsors happen to disagree with.

As I wrote to Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8) last week:

Principled opposition to this bill is something quite apart from one’s particular views on Israel.  If you believe in civil liberties, you support them. Our fundamental freedoms should never be sacrificed to the interests of another country (any other country). Once that principle is agreed to, you can have whatever debate you need to about Israel.

Just in case you’re a fan of the ACLU, here’s what they have to say about this pernicious bill: How the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Threatens First Amendment Rights.

Take another look now at the S.270 link and that of HR.1697, the House’s equivalent. There are 46 cosponsors in the Senate and 249 in the house. That is, half of our elected officials are ready to toss aside the First Amendment because they think servitude to Likud and settlers is worth it.

We have become sadly accustomed to GOP assaults on democracy, particularly in the form of voter suppression, but not to exclude theft of Supreme Court appointments and more. But note this: 14 of those cosponsors in the Senate and 71 of them in the House are Democrats, including such “liberal” luminaries as Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand* (NY), Ron Wyden (OR), and Maria Cantwell (WA).

It gets worse, Maryland voters, as our own Hall of Shame is well populated. Apart from Cardin, here they are:

  • Anthony Brown (MD-4)
  • John Delaney (MD-6), who is now running for president in 2020 (suppress giggles here)
  • Steny Hoyer (MD-5)
  • Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)
  • John Sarbanes (MD-3)

Out of Maryland’s seven Democratic members of the House, only Elijah Cummings (MD-7) and Raskin are not trying to undermine our constitution.

I called Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s and Jamie Raskin’s offices last week to find out where they stand on Cardin’s bill. Both told me that the members were “still considering it.” Here’s what I sent to Van Hollen:

I’m not sure how much study one would need to determine that a piece of legislation like this elevates another country’s temporal interests over our fundamental civil liberties.

I called Van Hollen’s office again today and was told exactly the same thing as last week. It is apparent that Chris Van Hollen is ducking his responsibility to stand up for the First Amendment. This goes beyond political cowardice – since his reelection to the Senate is damn near guaranteed for life. In fact, I can think of no explanation for it at all. I urge you to write him and call him (202-224-4654) to get him to do the right thing.

Because I have a personal relationship with Raskin, I called him directly last Friday and was gratified to hear him denounce the measure unequivocally. When I told him that his staff didn’t know his position, he said he would take care of that promptly and issue a written statement. When I called back today, his staff still didn’t know his stand and had not seen a statement. I urge you to write him and call him (202-225-5341) to get him on the public record.

We learned two years ago, when Ben Cardin and Chuck Schumer were two of only three Democrats to oppose the Iran nuclear deal, that they will always prioritize Likud’s interests over American interests. This is a soft form of treason, in my book, and neither of these men deserves to be in elected office. (They are entitled to their opinions — no one is entitled to be an elected official.) What amazes me this go ‘round is how many additional Democrats are willing to swear allegiance to Benjamin Netanyahu instead of to the Constitution of the United States of America. Please remember this in 2018.

*Kirsten Gillibrand seemed like such a hero in the winter when she led Dems in the number of Trump appointments she voted against. Oh well.

©2017 Keith Berner

08.26.15 Maryland’s Senators Silent on Iran Deal

August 26, 2015

Here is my open letter to Senator Ben Cardin. I will be sending a similar letter to Barbara Mikulski. Maryland Democrats should be outraged that both of our senators appear to be in thrall to Likud and AIPAC. Express your views to Cardin (202-224-4524) and  Mikulski (202-224-4654) or by visiting their websites. Though this should hardly matter on the substance of the issue, Cardin is Jewish and Mikulski is not. Just the same, the latter has been known to consistently take the AIPAC line on Israel.

Dear Senator Cardin:

I read in yesterday’s New York Times, that you are undecided on the nuclear deal with Iran.

Your fence-sitting is disturbing, because the logic in favor of the agreement is an absolute no-brainer: whether or not you love the details or the way Obama and Kerry negotiated, the horse has left the barn. The sanctions regime is dead, dead, dead.

If you liked the George W. Bush administration’s cowboy unilateralism, you’ll love US foreign policy after Congress kills the agreement with Iran. The US would be on its own internationally (with Israel is its sole ally). Not only will usual suspects, like Russia and China, rush to do business with Iran, but so will Europe. In fact, the rush is already on. And without any international sanctions regime, the only remaining leverage the United States (and Israel) will have will be military.

If you oppose this agreement, do you have a plan for recovering US influence and prestige afterwards? Do you relish a unilateral war that will cost enormous blood and treasure and only briefly delay Iran’s nuclear progress?

The question is not whether this negotiated agreement is perfect (by definition, no negotiated agreements are), but rather, what is the alternative? I have yet to hear a rational one from the belligerent right.

We know why the GOP is lockstep opposed to the agreement. First, there is the party’s long history of opposition to negotiations and arms control in principle (see this Times article reminding us of right-wing opposition to even Reagan’s and Eisenhower’s talks with the Soviets). And there’s the fact that anything and everything Obama does sends the GOP into paroxysms of feigned rage.

We know why Israel is opposed: it is in thrall to the racist, hegemonic regime it elected. That regime is, sadly, behaving contrary to Israel’s own interests, but is blind to this fact, as is the aggressively right-wing pro-Israel lobby in this country (led by AIPAC).

I cannot fathom why any Democrat – regardless of creed – would be in opposition. I am embarrassed that the only Democrats in stated opposition are Jewish (Schumer of NY) or count on Jewish votes (Menendez of New Jersey and Schumer).

I am a Jewish American. I use that formulation, since – in an irony of English-language construction – it is the second element of that phrase that is dominant. That is, I am American more than I am Jewish.

Are you? If you are, then your equivocation is uncalled for. You must prioritize US interests over Israel’s (notwithstanding Israel’s current inability to recognize what its true interests are).

Ben Cardin: You face a choice. Are you going to be a Democrat representing Maryland or a Likudnik representing Israel? Maryland Democrats can wait no longer for you to make up your mind and do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Keith Berner

©2015 Keith Berner

04.26.15 Heather Mizeur: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

April 26, 2015

Almost all politicians are ambitious. At least in the back of their minds, they ponder their route to the White House or – at least – the next higher available seat. There is nothing wrong with this per se, except when a line is crossed and the politician’s priority is serving oneself, rather than a greater cause or “the people.”

Heather Mizeur is just such a politician. As a staffer in Sen. John Kerry’s office, she moved to Takoma Park, MD in the early aughts, at least in part because it was an easy place for a progressive to launch a political career. In many city wards, one needs only a couple hundred votes to win and you don’t even have to quit your day job to make one-evening-per week city council meetings.

Having won her seat, Mizeur promptly lost interest in it half-way through her two-year term. Her attendance rate at council meetings tanked and part-way through that second year, she resigned. Her ostensible reason was that she and her wife had found their “dream house” in another Takoma Park ward. In fact, Mizeur was done with city council: she considered her political bona fides sufficiently established for her to turn her attention to the national Democratic Party (running Kerry’s 2004 Maryland campaign and winning a seat on the Democratic National Committee). She also began plotting her run for the Maryland House of Delegates from District 20 and won that seat in 2006.

I heard no complaints about Mizeur during her first four-year term as D20 delegate. But, after that, Mizeur again lost interest in her current job. By 2012, neighbors to that “dream house” started reporting that weeks or months would pass without any sign of activity there. (She was already spending all her time at her new dream house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.) Legislative insiders said that it also became increasingly difficult to get Mizeur to show up for D20 events and activities, whether in Annapolis or closer to her dark and lonely Takoma Park house.

Mizeur’s eyes were on the next prize: the governorship! Notwithstanding having served only a term-and-a-half as a backbencher and having no record of having run any enterprise larger than her one-staff delegate’s office (and the MD part of Kerry’s awful 2004 campaign), Mizeur considered herself fit to run the state. Shortly after declaring for governor, the candidate announced to a Washington Post reporter that if she didn’t win the race, she would be “done with politics.” Yeah, right. Mizeur came in a distant third in the June 2014 Democratic primary against two lousy alternatives.

Fast forward to last week, when Mizeur had someone post a good-bye letter to Takoma Park community listservs. (It seems that Mizeur had been absent from Takoma Park for so long that she no longer belonged to any of the listservs herself.) Here is the text of her letter:

Dear Neighbors,

It is with mixed emotions that Deborah and I share with you the news that we are putting our house in Takoma Park up for sale this week. We have made the difficult decision to move to the Eastern Shore full-time where our work to create an organic herbal medicine farm to support Deborah’s clinical practice is in full swing in Kent County.

This was not an easy decision for us. We love this community deeply. We have always described Takoma Park as a utopia for progressive activists and change agents and one of the best places on Earth to live. We have never felt more loved and embraced by any other community.

Following the Governor’s race and years of sacrifice by Deborah to fully support my political work as a City Councilmember and State Delegate, it is my turn to give back to her. The work on the farm is as incredibly rich and satisfying as it is demanding. We simply need to be there all the time, especially during this start-up phase.

And so while we are bursting with excitement and enthusiasm about this next adventure in our lives, we have a heavy heart to leave a home and a community that we love so dearly. We take comfort knowing that we will be visiting often and that friendships know no distance.

Thank you, Takoma Park, for the lovely memories, the charismatic passion you display, and the opportunity you have given me to serve. I look forward to our pathways crossing again real soon. This is not goodbye.

All the best,

Heather (and Deborah) Mizeur

Here is my response to the listservs:

No surprise here. Mizeur never cared about TkPk – she moved here to jump-start her political career by running for a city council seat and then serving only until it became inconvenient (not even a full term). Then as our District 20 delegate, she stopped showing up in our district as soon as she became interested in running for governor.

We need political leaders who share Mizeur’s progressive agenda, but we also need them to be genuine and truly committed to the constituents they serve. Mizeur’s pursuit of grandeur rendered our little corner of the world insignificant to her. As for her open letter, it is artificial and self-serving, as so many of Mizeur’s public announcements  have been.

Perhaps Mizeur will indeed miss Takoma Park. Takoma Park won’t miss her.

Keith Berner

Mizeur closed her letter by saying “this is not goodbye.” Vis-à-vis Takoma Park, her remark is completely disingenuous. She is done with Takoma Park for good, since we no longer serve any purpose for her.

But is this limelight-craving politician done with politics? Is she really fulfilling her promise to that Post reporter to pick up her marbles and ride off into the sunset if she didn’t land in the governor’s mansion?

C’mon! It’s sweet that Heather is giving Deborah a chance to do her thing. But Mizeur has proven how easily she gets bored. It wont be long before she gives up herb farming for her next political run. Sadly for Mizeur, though, her new district on the Eastern Shore sends Republicans to Congress. And, since Maryland will have two young(ish), energetic Democratic senators (assuming Chris Van Hollen wins Barbara Mikulski’s seat and Ben Cardin doesn’t get abducted by aliens), that door will be closed, too.

So, look for Mizeur to abandon her “dream farm” for greener pastures: a state with a winnable House or Senate seat. At that point, she will indeed pay Takoma Park another visit, hat in hand.

 ©2015 Keith Berner

10.18.12 Biennial Election Guide for Takoma Park & Montgomery County, MD

October 18, 2012

President of the United States

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the entire Republican Party are evil. There. We’re done with that topic and nothing more needs to be said about it.

Some feel betrayed by Barack Obama. They wonder where the progressive they thought they had met in 2008 has gone, along with that uplifting vision of hope and change. He never was the great dreamy progressive many believed him to be. Apart from his opposition to the Iraq War, Obama is a center-right guy. Like most of the Democratic Party establishment, he is fully committed to the welfare of Wall Street. Further, he is the worst civil liberties president in American history. Sure, he banned torture. But otherwise, his policies on military tribunals and imprisonment without trial are expanded from those he inherited from W, as is his commitment to spying on Americans at work, at home, on the road, on the internet, everywhere.

He is also an utter, unmitigated failure as a political leader. It took him nearly three years in office to figure out what the rest of us knew by March 2009: that the GOP was determined to ruin the country, if that’s what it took to drive him from office and impose their plutocratic, theocratic state. He ceded to Congress complete control over his key initiative: health care. In the process, single payer was destroyed and any reform at all came perilously close to the brink. His public dithering and inability to articulate a vision led to the horrendous 2010 GOP takeover – not just of Congress, but of statehouses coast-to-coast.

Then there was that debate two weeks ago: the epitome of fecklessness. With his opponent on the ropes, Barack Obama’s lack of engagement or willingness to fight for anything allowed the GOP to spring back to life. Will Romney actually win? We don’t yet know. But we do know that a competent leader would never have given him a chance. And Obama is just not a competent leader. (Ok, the second debate was better. But still!)

Jill Stein is the Green Party’s candidate for president. I know almost nothing about her personally; though, I do know that the Green Party well represents my values. That’s beside the point, because she is not going to win significant numbers of votes and a vote for her is only about protesting. If I were in Ohio, say, or Virginia, I would bite my cheeks and vote for Obama. Because Obama is a sure landslide winner in Maryland, though, I have the luxury of casting a protest vote against his pro-corporate, anti-civil liberties policies and complete spinelessness. And that is what I shall do by voting for Jill Stein.

Having said this, I call on you lefties to be firm and vocal with your friends and family in swing states: there is a HUGE difference between a bad Democrat and any Republican, when it comes to the courts. There is no place for Naderism, when the president controls lifetime appointments, not only to the Supreme Court, but all federal courts. The extreme right wing has taken over the judiciary in much of the country. Only a Democratic president will be able to slow the bleeding. No matter how bad Obama is, anyone who is not a right-wing nut job and lives in a swing state must vote for him!

US Senator

Ben Cardin has been surprisingly progressive. One great example is his vote against a defense authorization bill that contained provisions increasing the federal assault on civil liberties. Barbara Mikulski (when will she retire?!) voted for it. I can’t think of any good reason to oppose Cardin’s reelection.

US Congress District 8

Chris Van Hollen is the only progressive in the congressional Democratic leadership. We should be proud to be represented by Van Hollen and try to get him over 80%, if we can!

Judges and Board of Education

I have no opinion of my own in these races. State Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20) tells me that all the judges are fine and had nice things to say about Rebecca Smondrowski for Board of Education, District 2. (The fact that Smondrowski’s opponent, Fred Evans, has tied himself to Doug Duncan – MoCo’s own Prince of Darkness –hardly endears him to me.)

State Question 1 – PG County Judges

Yes. I have no well formed opinion on this, but it seems reasonable that any judge in the state should be eligible to practice law in the state and be a member in good standing of the Bar. If there are good reasons to oppose this, please send them my way.

State Question 2 – Baltimore Country Judges

Yes.

State Question 3 – Suspension and Removal of Elected Officials

Yes. This provision would remove elected officials from their jobs as soon as they are convicted of a serious crime. This would prevent a recurrence of the Leslie Johnson fiasco, where she was convicted of corruption, but stayed in office as a PG County Councilmember – able to vote and collect her salary – while she deliberately stalled having her conviction finalized.

State Question 4 – “The Dream Act”

Yes. This provision allows undocumented immigrants who live in Maryland to attend college at in-state tuition rates. This is a no brainer: why wouldn’t the state want all of its residents to become educated, productive members of society? The only justification for opposing this measure is sheer bigotry.

State Question 5 – “The Gerrymander”

No? (It actually hardly matters – stick with me, dear reader, to find out why.)

Repeat after me: Just because Democrats came up with it, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing! The Maryland Democratic Party machine has shamed itself and our state by creating monstrosities of our (US) congressional district maps.* The most outrageous shape is District 3, connected in several spots by little more than highways as it meanders through every part of the state except the Eastern Shore. (Poor Eastern Shore!)

What are the Democrats up to? Just the same game as the GOP plays everywhere it has control. The Dems saw a chance to knock out one of the state’s two GOP members of Congress (Roscoe Bartlett, District 6) and just couldn’t help themselves. Oh yeah, they also saw a chance to make a principled stand in favor of nepotism, by creating that awful 3rd District as a permanently safe seat for John Sarbanes, son of the former senator.

So, am I calling for Democrats to disarm when, after all, everyone else is doing it? In short, yes. Sometimes, (small-d) democracy is more important than winning. If doing the right thing means that Bartlett gets to serve another term and Sarbanes has to fight harder for his seat, so be it.

What is the right policy? Nonpartisan redistricting commissions that produce districts based on both natural and human borders, as well as history. Sadly, as long as Maryland remains a one-party state, this just won’t see the light of day. Bosses don’t like power dilution.

Martin O’Malley’s and Ike Leggett’s cheerleading for the gerrymander will make it very hard for me to support their future campaigns. (O’Malley is rumored to be considering a run for US president in 2016. I would only support Leggett if he were the only alternative to Mean Mr. Duncan.)

County councilman Phil Andrews (D-1), a former director of Maryland Common Cause, is providing great leadership on this issue, speaking out forcefully in the media against the gerrymander. Andrews plans to run for county executive in 2014. I hope he’ll prove to be a compelling alternative to politics as usual.

Now, here’s the sad news (and the crux of the story). The very Democrats who brought us this nonsense are now secretly hoping we vote against it. Why? Because all that will happen is that they’ll get a brand-new chance to gerrymander, this time with brand-new 2012 voting data! (To clarify: if the redistricting proposal loses, the 2012 election results will still stand and the job of creating new maps will go back to the same people who drew these abominations. Then, the new abominations will be used in 2014, pending an inevitable court challenge.)

Bottom line: if you vote yes, you are endorsing gerrymandering; if you vote no, you are helping the gerrymanderers.

I’ll vote no out of principle and just seethe silently about the Democratic forces of evil who run our state. I suppose there is one very tiny hope in voting no: that enough constituents will pressure enough party machine-heads to create better maps next time. Then again, pigs might sprout wings and sing arias.

*These districts are for Maryland’s members in the US Congress. Districts for all Maryland state bodies and offices are not at issue.

State Question 6 – Marriage Rights for All

Yes. You don’t need me to convince you that bigotry is always wrong.

State Question 7 – Gambling Expansion

No. Gambling is regressive taxation: state-sponsored theft from the poor in order to excuse the rich from paying their fair share. Further, gambling doesn’t produce the financial payoffs its zealots always claim. Look at what happened after Maryland voters first approved gambling. Almost nothing. No windfall for education. No budget surpluses. It was all a bunch of lies.

Further (#2), don’t believe the propaganda about gambling proceeds being dedicated to some cause (like education) you support. The fact is that the Maryland General Assembly — if given the chance to use gambling money for education — will go ahead and fund education exactly where it was before and then use the money they take out of the education budget for something you are not quite so committed to. Finally, so many social ills are caused by gambling (increased crime and destitute families, to name two) that a significant portion of whatever money does not end up lining the gambling industry’s filthy pockets will end up paying to redress them.

County Question A – Hiring Preference for People with Disabilities

Yes. Seems like the right thing to do.

County Question B – Reducing Police Union Control over Operations

Yes. Here’s one where you have to be determined not to let ingrained ideology or union propaganda confuse you. This is not about cutting back on the unions’ ability to bargain over compensation, benefits, and major issues of work safety. Rather, it’s about eliminating the unions’ power to stop every single management initiative regarding daily operations. Say the police chief thinks it’s a good idea that every police car be equipped with a snow shovel. No, says the union — not until you give us “x” (whatever “x” might turn out to be). This isn’t about collective bargaining. It’s about preventing union-powered blackmail.

You lefties and lifelong labor activists need to get off your ideological high horses and deal with reality. Just as with Democrats, just because a union says they want something does not make it ipso facto good. I believe, in fact, that overreach by public employee unions feeds directly into the agenda of the hard-right corporate elite, because it turns public opinion against all labor. If we stand up to labor when they are wrong, we will be serving not only the broader interest, but also the long-term interest of the unions themselves.

downloadable PDF of this guide

©2012 Keith Berner

07.23.10 Forward (in Maryland & Australia)

July 23, 2010

In yesterday’s Washington Post, columnist E. J. Dionne wrote about the Australian Labor Party’s campaign for an August election and how it informs the US Democrats’ messaging. He quoted Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s statement opening the campaign: “This election will revolve around a clear choice: whether we want Australia to move forward or back.”

The forward-or-back choice ought to be a winner for Democrats stateside, as in “do you really want to put back in office the cabal that got us into this rotten mess?!”

And, indeed, that was the overriding theme of the Democratic rally held on the front lawn of Maryland State Delegate (D-20) Heather Mizeur in Takoma Park on the Fourth of July.  Governor Martin O’Malley reminded the adoring crowd of horrors suffered by Marylanders under former governor and current opponent Robert Ehrlich.  Then Senator Ben Cardin led everyone in chanting “forward, not back!”

The timing is uncanny: the Australian campaign launched in July 17, two weeks after the rally in Takoma Park.  I think the Aussie Labor Party ought to be paying Maryland Dems a commission!

But seriously, it seems amazing that O’Malley could be running only a couple of points ahead of Ehrlich in this supposedly solid blue state.  Then I remember my own lack of enthusiasm about this governor, who supports the Maryland’s own highway to nowhere, the ICC (a huge boondoggle and environmental catastrophe) and promotes giveaways to the wealthy in support of religious schools (the infamous BOAST bill, which – fortunately — went down to defeat).

Forward, indeed.  I just wish there were more to be excited about in making this obvious, necessary choice.

©2010 Keith Berner