Sunday, November 25, 2018

Climate Change Is Real. The Hoax Sits in the White House

Contradiction? Who's to say.

The federal government released a report based on the judgement of 13 agencies that unequivocally warned of the dangers, both economic and biological, of the coming present global warming crisis. The report was mandated by Congress and points out in stark detail why we need to address climate change, carbon dioxide, and everything else that is contributing to major changes in the United States and the world. It hands the Democrats a potent line of attack for the next election, and should make every American stand up and realize the danger we face.

Then, of course, there's the guy in the White House. You know, the guy who says it's all a Chinese hoax meant to destroy the US economy. The guy who has issued several executive orders that will enable the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries to pollute more, destroy sensitive ecosystems, and foul the air and water in the name and a misplaced, OK, warped, sense of history.

Yes, it's true that the United States grew wealthy on US Steel and Exxon and Dow Chemical, but those days are over and gone and killing more people who mine and work around dangerous materials will not bring it back. Neither will fouling the air and water, but that seems to be the policy of choice among the sycophants who worry about the latest tweet or the mercurial nature of the man who holds the future of the country in his small hands.

Yes, I am worried too.

At least with the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives we can have an honest debate about the role and influence of actual science, rather than some warped accounting of the world that has no basis in rational thought. The White House thought it could bury this report in the frenzy of  the holiday shopping season. It cannot, nor can it hide the facts that undergird the research.

A president whose approval ratings have never seen the sunlight that shines above 50% will have a tremendously difficult time running on a platform of denial and pollution.

He certainly has his fans.

The rest of us are in the majority.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, November 18, 2018

We Spoke. Now It's Up to the Constitution

Do you get the idea that Donald Trump started reading the United States Constitution, got to "We," decided it didn't apply to him, and never went back to it? Of course, that assumes that you are giving him the benefit of actually starting to read the document. Or read.

Appointing an Attorney General without the consent of the Senate seems to me to be outside the realm of the president's duties. Never mind that the person he appointed, Matthew G. Whitaker, doesn't understand the sometimes fragile system of checks and balances upon which our government rests, having said that the judiciary is supposed to be the weakest branch. He also doesn't like it when the Supreme Court weighs in on the legality of laws. I suppose he thinks that's his job.

Of course, the real reason Mr. Whitaker was chosen was to try and shut down the Robert Mueller investigation into whether the president obstructed justice when he fired James Comey as FBI Director. I know that the press and the president are fixated on Russian interference in the election and the extent to which the Trump campaign played along, or worse, but the real issue is the obstruction. And the president knows that, which I think is why he keeps focusing on collusion.

Then there's the tale of Jim Acosta, the CNN reporter the president threw out of the press pool for asking too many difficult questions. Does anybody remember due process rights? (Does anybody remember laughter?) At least the hated federal judiciary is reading the constitution and ordered the White House to restore Mr. Acosta's press credentials.

And the elections? Immediately reaching into his vocabulary bag and finding the phrase, "voter fraud," (the only other words in that bag are witch, hunt, collusion, not, fair, I, me, I, me, and I) to describe the achingly close results in Florida and Georgia, demonstrates that the president has no real respect for the electoral system, nor can he even be respectful, call for a calm, judicious process, and work on a winning issue, such as repairing railroads and airports.

Clearly, the non-stop confrontational attitude is wearing thin as the other results of the election prove. The Democrats are poised to win more than 40 seats that Republicans held in the House, and it's possible that the Senate will be just as close as it was before. The president and his advisers will now need to answer for their actions in front of less friendly legislators. They'll put up a fight, but they'll also show how disdainful they are about the law.

In any event, the next two years will be difficult ones for the president unless he decides that he needs to get something done and works with the Democrats. If not, he will have a difficult time convincing people that he needs a Republican majority in order to succeed.

We've been there. And all we got was chaos.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, November 11, 2018

After the Elections: Moving Forward

Not bad. Could have been a little better, and will be if Florida and/or Georgia recounts change those races, but overall, a good result on Tuesday.

And yet, when all is counted, it looks like maybe 48% of eligible voters went to the polls. That's terrible. Here we are, the world's greatest democracy and we can't even muster a majority of voters exercising their precious right. I honestly have no patience for people who complain or say they want to make this country better, or are seriously upset at the people who are already serving in office, yet do not bother to register, vote and make their voices heard. It's our duty and our responsibility as citizens.

Moving on.

Democrats garnered more overall votes for both the House and Senate races nationally, which is good news for the party and the country. Midterm elections have traditionally been excuses for the left to be ignorant and stay home while the angry right takes over the Congress and statehouses. I hope this happens no more. And I also hope that, especially in New Jersey, these same voters come out next year when we elect the state legislature and senate, offices that have far more power over our day-to-day existence than federal representatives and senators. Traditionally, only about 25% of voters turn out for those elections. Then they have the temerity to complain about property taxes, school funding, the state of the beaches, and transportation. Again; no patience.

There was a great deal of discussion about what this past election means. There were a number of Democratic Socialists and other far left candidates who won elections, but the real story is that the party is (and must) moving towards the center. This is how the process usually works. The American people are not ready to support Medicare for all or free college tuition or a more liberal immigration policy.


These ideas will eventually become part of mainstream discussion in the same way that far right policies that seemed fringe 30 years ago have now become mainstream, such as anti-environmental and pro-business deregulation, and tax cuts that funneled billion of dollars to those who were already wealthy.

But for now, Democrats have to return to the issues that they have traditionally championed; a fairer tax system, being more responsive to the middle and working classes, affordable health care and housing, protecting the rights of all people to vote, to gain a livable wage, and to protect children from exploitation and poverty, not to mention a fairer immigration system. If the Democrats focus on these issues, which most exit polls said were voters' key concerns, then the party can regain voters who defected to the Republicans in 2016 and build a base of support for future national and state elections.

The party also needs to stay away from talk of impeachment or appearing to be burying the administration under a blizzard of subpoenas in order to satisfy the far left flank that sees the president as illegitimate. Make sure that any actions are defensible, reasonable, pointed, and specific. Fight fire with fire, not a flamethrower. Present an argument for people who should be voting for Democrats to do so. Getting caught up in the minute-to-minute rantings of the president will not show the broader population that it is a party that will get things they want done.

Even with Congressional majorities and the White House, the Republicans were still only able to pass one major piece of legislation, which was a tax cut that didn't help them a bit on election day, and neither did an economy that continues to create jobs. That's extraordinary and it demonstrates the extent to which the president's rantings have muddied, diluted, and just plain blocked what should have been a winning issue. Democrats can build a better tax cut and an economic program that helps the majority of Americans who earn a paycheck but are still struggling.

Let's rebuild the trust with the American people, fight the groups that espouse hatred and bile, and show that we can truly be a model for the rest of the world.

It starts now.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Change Is In Our Hands: Vote!

Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules.

Political rules?

My choice in the New Jersey Senate race is either the incumbent, Democrat Bob Menendez, or the Republican challenger, Bob Hugin.

Senator Menendez was charged with all sorts of nasty political-insider-corruption-fraud-bad-bad-things, when through the process, and it all resulted in a mistrial. Meanwhile, he's been an effective Senator and has been a terrific friend to teachers and public education in general. He's also fought hard to get the current administration in Washington to commit some money to rebuild the transportation infrastructure in New Jersey, which has been in terrible shape for years.

Bob Hugin is a businessman and a Republican. If he wins, whatever centrism that exists in his agenda will be swallowed Jonah-like by Mitch McConnell and the ultra-right-wing Know-Nothings who currently run the Senate. And that's not to mention that he will be obligated to support the most odious, malodorous politician in, well, ever, that being the president of the country who never met a fact he could ignore or turn into a falsehood.

Politics has always attracted people with, shall we say, malleable ethics, but under President Trump, the rules are gone. He has no moral standing, and neither does the Republican Party that supports him while he attempts to trash the constitution and make a mockery of the inclusive values that we've tried to practice as a nation. He has nothing but fear and the now-scary title of Commander-In-Chief, which means that he can order soldiers to the border to possibly shoot women and children if they make the mistake of...throwing a rock.

At this point, it is imperative that we as a country put the brakes on Republican one-party rule, as the Republicans did to Democrats in 2010. The House presents the best opportunity for that, because I think the Senate will remain Republican, which has to make the right very happy since they can continue to pack the courts with young judges who think that meaningful constitutional interpretation means living in 1789. In fact, I think the main Republican strategy since the beginning for October is to save the Senate, which explains the president's continued screeds against immigrants and the media, even when he should be taking a more measured tone in the aftermath of pipe bombs and antisemitic attacks.

And don't forget that the only meaningful legislation the Republicans have passed is a giant, whopping tax break for the wealthy that has exploded the deficit so completely, it makes the Reagan deficit seem like a rounding error.

Make sure you vote on Tuesday, and in the interests of returning some balance to the country, please vote Democratic. Just think of what two more years of Republican rule will mean for this country.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest