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Home country: USA
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Member since: Mon Apr 28, 2014, 07:28 PM
Number of posts: 14,219

About Me

Counselor, economist and public servant.

Journal Archives

Cory Booker - I thought for a long time about where to post this. Yes, it is about Cory

Booker, but it is about something he's been working on for years, well before his presidential run.

I saw a piece earlier today on MSNBC highlighting the effort, and it is something you all need to know about, because it has true bipartisan support, and could dramatically improve the lives of many, many people, particularly people of color.

The Dems support it because it is morally right and saves money. Republicans support it because it saves money - they don't care much about morality.

So, here's the article. You can read it yourself, and I sincerely ask you to make a quick call and/or send an email to your US Senators and Representative in support of this legislation. It is past due, and if we light up the proverbial switchboard, we can really accomplish something nice this year!

So, please, I urge you to act for this excellent purpose. We say we are for leveling the playing field and getting rid of institutional racism, and we are! But here's a real-life chance to make a change that does that!

Cory Booker aims to give aging prisoners 'a second look': The Democratic presidential candidate is unveiling new legislation to take prison reform another step forward.


William Underwood, 65 years years old, is one inmate who wasn't eligible for release under the First Step Act. He has been in federal prison for 30 years, convicted of conspiracy, racketeering and non-violent drug-related crimes. Although it was his first felony conviction, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole under mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Booker, who first met Underwood in 2016, says he's a prime example of the kind prisoner who should be eligible for release. He points to Underwood's age, the time he's already served and his record of good behavior as as reasons why more reforms are needed, noting that even the prison guards have said Underwood doesn’t belong there.

The bill would also give people who have served more than ten years an opportunity to petition the court for release. And for prisoners over the age of 50, they would be offered the presumption of release, which means the the judge would have to show that the inmate should remain behind bars because they are a threat to society.

The measure likely faces an uphill battle in part because it would shift the burden onto the judicial system to make the case that a prisoner should remain locked up.

Now, it has some problems, like how there isn't an exclusion for certain crimes, which is why it faces an uphill battle. But if you don't like that, maybe suggest to the staffer you speak to that your person could add an amendment excluding those crimes you don't think should be considered under the law.

But this is a good thing, good policy. We've known for YEARS that people of color are disproportionately affected by the justice system, and here's a piece of good policy that could release people who should never have been sentenced as harshly as they were. Like this Underwood.

Thanks for listening!

And, by the way, I could easily support Booker if he ends up being our candidate.

No, it actually isn't. The concept is called conflation, and what it looks like

on the ground is that there are two separate issues.

First, the Obamas are waiting until the primary is over, or at least well underway to endorse any one of the candidates.

Second, Biden is under criticism for playing up how he successfully worked with these segregationists, and subsequently apologized.




But, by putting them together, the reporter and editor of the for-profit news media outlet can make it 'seem' more 'interesting' i.e. controversial, by writing the headline so it implies a causal relationship between the two separate events. Because to me, the headline seems engineered to imply that a) Biden made the comments, b) Michelle Obama heard the comments, c) Michelle Obama was offended by the comments, d) Michelle said she was specifically going to withhold endorsement from Joe Biden BECAUSE of the comment.

Then, of course, when you read the article, you see it doesn't say that at all.

Pardon me for being curious, but surely you've noticed this penchant for creating faux 'controversy' in headlines before? I mean, all you have to do is look at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and you can see this in action. I will remind you also that our major media outlets are all, every single one, owned by for-profit publicly held corporations. Remember that the primary mission of ANY emission from ANY of these stations is to either keep revenue stable or increase revenue, because increased revenue is the fiduciary responsibility of the CEO - to keep shareholder profits up regardless of the welfare of workers, consumers or the environment.

That's just how it is, blue.

Now, your motive here seems to be to take a poke at Biden supporters based on this misleading headline and generate lots of back and forth responses, but the problem is those back and forth responses are based on the fallacy of conflation. There are plenty of things all of the candidates need to answer for during this primary season, and it seems to me that you do not need to use a misleading headline that conflates two separate issues to do so.

If you wanted to make a credible criticism of Biden, there are certainly enough factual things out there, votes, support for bills, etc. to do that without this particular article. That is my point.

Well trade is a very complicated subject and your second sentence seems to imply that because

I may disagree with you about trade issues, I'm somehow flawed, or worse, in the Trump camp. I actually do resent that, not because it isn't true, which it isn't - I'm most definitely NOT in the Trump camp, but because I have seen many of your posts on here and they are much more thoughtful than this one is. So...I'm answering you now because I felt you deserve a thoughtful answer.

Trade is complicated. There are three major players - workers, businesses and government. And, yes, there are pros and cons to free trade as an economic concept. If you think it through, you'll also hit on some moral conundrums that go with it as well, particularly if you believe, like most billionaires and CEOs seem to, that we live in a zero sum world and that for me to win, you must lose.

I won't belabor those recognized pros and cons out of respect for you, because your post to me suggests you are aware of them.

Instead, lets merely explore the types of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), and see why having these provisions in a trade agreement can be good or bad. Or both.

Clearly, the main 'pro' around having ISDS provisions in place is that they protect companies that invest in operations in a foreign country from losing that investment to nationalization or other corruption. That is a good thing, at least on its face.

But what happens when we take the concept too far, as the TPP did? In the TPP, a company based in say, Seattle, could sue the city, the state of Washington and the federal government for loss of profits due to the imposition of regulations. Now, you know as well as I that there are some of these suits in court now. One example that comes to mind is the oil companies suing the US government for loss of profits over the Keystone Pipeline.

So, to be truly effective, an agreement must have benefits for all the stakeholders, and protections for all the stakeholders. Unfortunately, by the nature of these ISDS agreements, protections for the environment as a stakeholder simply is not included.

Now, stakeholders in any trade agreement are a country's people, workers in affected industries, consumers of product, shareholders and the environment. Right now, in this business climate, the pendulum has simply swung too far toward the primacy of the shareholder over all else, and it is materially hurting workers, consumers and the planet we live on.

Eliminate that doctrine by expanding fiduciary responsibility of C-Suite officers to recognize the interests of these four stakeholders as coequal would go a long way toward rectifying many of the seemingly intractable problems that beset us.

The proverbial bottom line here is that yes, we do need trade agreements, and yes, these agreements need ISDS provisions because there is corruption all over the earth, and a business expanding into an area in good faith needs those protections, PROVIDED that expanding business also must, by virtue of the way those ISDS provisions are (should be) written, protect the interests of the other stakeholders too.

In my opinion, the ISDS provisions in the TPP did not do this, thus I opposed the TPP based on that. Be mindful of the secrecy that surrounded the entire thing - members of Congress being allowed to go into a room alone, not take notes and simply read the thing was very strange to me. The 'fast tracking' of Senate approval was problematic. And the lack of any kind of open debate was problematic.

So you see, you cannot really just assume, as you did, that because I disagree with X must mean I agree with Y. That is a fallacy in logic and you are better than that. It is better to say, in a mathematical sense that I agree with X(business) + X(community governance) + X(workers) + X(consumers) + X(environment), but not merely X(business). And, since the TPP was written primarily by corporate attorneys deliberately trying to be obtuse - I know because I read it on wikileaks - to my mind other stakeholders were NOT considered as they should have been.

But again, please do not put words in my mouth or try in the heat of argument to impose some position that has nothing to do with my actual thinking on the matter.

The primacy of the shareholder doctrine, and our desperate need to expand fiduciary responsibility of CEOs in publicly held corporations is why I'm supporting Warren. This is the root cause of most of our problems. It really is, and in August 2018, she introduced legislation called the 'Accountable Capitalism Act.' She 'gets' it. I like Warren a lot.

And, you know, none of the candidates are perfect, including Warren. But Trump is a monster. Now, for a time, our primary race was pretty good in terms of not ripping each others' guts out. Now, just in the space of a few days, that has changed. Not good. The people on here have positions along a continuum between progressive left (social democrat) and centrist (like Eisenhower Republicans - if you read Ike's brilliant 1963 essay titled, "Why I'm a Republican," you will see what I mean).

I loved Obama and still do, but he was a centrist. I supported Bernie in 2016 but voted for Clinton when Bernie lost the primaries. That was a bitter battle on here, too. Now, we have a whole bunch of younger, fresher candidates that look a whole lot more like the American people, and they are elevating the dialog. People are talking about healthcare and the environment now, and our job is to advance arguments so people actually understand that medicare for all won't make private insurance illegal. Or my favorite - it will 'rip away the employer coverage you love,' when the truth is actually that what you will have will be better than what you did have. But that's a different debate.

Hopefully this clarifies my positions on the ISDS provisions in TPP and on ISDS provisions in general.

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