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Benny

I have no clue if the bull horn helps him or not, but at least he’s doing it.

Benny

Another photo op.

wi65

I suprised his handlers let him go, they have their work cut out for them to keep him from falling. Part of his overall medical issues from my understanding.

Benny

Benny

Benny

Benny

Benny

Not enough for the pokey though, very likely.

I might add: all wealth advisors and real estate moguls need to be put on notice.

Paul ADK

It’s a start. Corporate capital punishment works for me. It really should have happened decades ago. Remember, he’s still facing 91 felony counts in 4 different criminal cases. It’s crazy that he still has the support he has, but that’s what the right wing in America is, right? Crazy.

wi65

The Reichwing as i call it.

Benny

wi65

Wisconsin’s Trickle-Down Jerkonomics
Robin Vos, speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, has a longstanding commitment to smashmouth politics. The state is worse off for it.

IN 2006 AND 2007, I served on a Wisconsin Legislative Council Special Committee chaired by Rep. Robin Vos. Its purpose was to study whether to change the state’s rules regarding the expungement of criminal convictions. I was there in my role as president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, a group that advocates for government transparency, including for criminal records. Among the dozen other “stakeholders” were lawmakers, privacy advocates, criminal defense attorneys, and prosecutors.

After three long meetings over a period of several months, assisted by considerable staff support, the committee’s members struck upon a plan to let most first-time misdemeanor offenders avoid criminal convictions if they fulfill certain conditions, while retaining public access to underlying records. (Under existing rules, a very small number of convicted persons get to have their court records hidden while their criminal convictions remain and must still be disclosed when, say, they apply for jobs.)

Vos, during the committee’s third meeting, asked whether this ability to avoid a conviction would be available to people who fight the charges against them and are found guilty anyway. He thought it shouldn’t. A roll call vote was taken in which most committee members thought it should.

“We’re all done,” Vos announced. “Thank you for your service.” A number of people laughed. But Vos, it turned out, wasn’t kidding.

After a bit more discussion and another vote against one of his ideas, Vos adjourned the committee, never to reconvene. I sent him an email urging him to put forth a version of the plan that he could support, since his points of disagreement were minor, but he did not respond. The committee ended up making no recommendations. The work of its members was for naught. The thousands of people who could have been helped by the proposed changes were not. And it was all because Robin Vos didn’t get his way, immediately and completely.

THE PRICKLY REPUBLICAN who represents a safely red district in Racine County was elected in 2004 and became speaker of the Assembly in 2013. A decade later, he’s still there—the most prominent Republican in state government and, as countless episodes attest, kind of a jerk. Robin Vos engages in smashmouth politics because he enjoys smashing mouths.

In July 2019, Vos made headlines for refusing to allow a paralyzed Democratic state lawmaker to attend meetings remotely. Vos said granting the accommodation would be “disrespectful” to those who attend in person. Esquire said Vos was “being a colossal dick for no good reason at all.” In 2015, he tried to eviscerate the state’s open records law, largely exempting lawmakers from its provisions. In December 2018, he joined other Republicans in curbing the powers of the governor and attorney general, after Democrats were elected to these positions and before they took office, despite overwhelming opposition among Wisconsinites to this power grab.

In mid-2021, prodded by a scolding from Donald Trump, Vos tapped former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to look into allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. The probe was laughably inept, turned up no evidence of significant fraud, and has to date cost state taxpayers around $2.5 million. (The price tag continues to rise in part because Vos keeps fighting judicial rulings related to the case.)

In the end, Vos fired Gableman after he endorsed Vos’s primary opponent, who nearly won. Vos, with good reason, called Gableman “an embarrassment to the state.” It was one of those look-who’s-talking moments.

IN RECENT YEARS, as all this was happening, Vos and his fellow Republicans have had a lock on the state legislature, thanks to extreme gerrymandering. They currently enjoy a 22-11 supermajority in the Senate and 64-35 edge in the Assembly even though the people of the state are about equally divided politically.

But the recent swearing in of elected Justice Janet Protasiewicz has put liberals in the majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the first time in decades. Fresh challenges to the state’s redistricting maps have been filed with the court, which could strike them down as unconstitutional in advance of the 2024 elections.

This has sent Vos into a tizzy. He’s threatened to impeach Protasiewicz unless she recuses herself from hearing these cases because, while running for the court, she referred to the maps, correctly, as “rigged.”

The blowback to Vos’s impeachment threat has been astonishing. New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote that it shows “breathtaking contempt” for the will of the voters and cements the reputation of the state’s Republican party as “the most openly authoritarian in the country.” The Wisconsin Democratic Party has been running ads portraying impeachment as an effort to undo the results of an election that Protasiewicz won by 11 points. And news outlets have reported that the conservative justices, who have themselves regularly participated in cases despite much more glaring conflicts, have expressly rejected any rule that would require Protasiewicz to recuse herself.

Scads of letters to the editor have appeared in local papers opposing the move. The moderate Wisconsin State Journal, in an editorial, said Vos’s “intimidating talk of taking her down is wildly irresponsible, undemocratic, and comes off as desperate.”

Vos, in a spirit reminiscent of Senator Tommy Tuberville or Representative Matt Gaetz, remains obstinate. Rather than give up on the idea of impeachment, which even some of his fellow Republicans have expressed qualms about, Vos has tasked a panel of three former state Supreme Court justices to study its possibility in secret, promptly drawing a complaint alleging a violation of the state’s open meetings law. The only panelist whose identity is known is David Prosser, who served on the court from 1998 to 2016.

Prosser, who before his 18 years on the bench served 18 years as a Republican lawmaker, including a stint as Assembly speaker, contributed money to the campaign of Protasiewicz’s conservative rival. As a member of the court, he not only refused to recuse himself from a case involving a law that he helped pass, but ended up writing the majority opinion upholding it. Meanwhile, current members of the court, including Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, have refused to recuse themselves from hearing cases involving major donors to their campaigns.

Vos has also attempted to perform an end-run around a Supreme Court review of legislative redistricting by hastily pushing through a bill that would relegate the process to nonpartisan staff. While the proposal was similar to one that Tony Evers, the state’s Democratic governor, has touted for years, it was deemed dead on arrival by Democrats including Evers, who noted that it would still allow legislative Republicans to control the result.

“Wisconsinites deserve a redistricting process that’s free of partisanship and interference from politicians, and it’s never been clearer that today’s legislature cannot be trusted with that important responsibility,” Evers said. Among the reasons for this distrust, Evers elaborated, was GOP lawmakers’ tendency to “bully, threaten, or fire on a whim anyone who happens to disagree with them.”

As if to underscore the shady foundations of its proposed reform, the Assembly voted to pass the bill on September 14, less than 48 hours after Vos first brought it up, with no public hearing and no effort to consult with state groups that have been working on the redistricting issue for years. On the same day, the state Senate voted to fire Wisconsin’s top election official, Meagan Wolfe, despite being told by the state’s attorney general, Josh Kaul, that it had no authority to do so. (Kaul has since filed a lawsuit against state GOP leaders that would reaffirm Wolfe’s role on the commission.)

Wolfe, who has a target on her back because of lunatic MAGA conspiracy theories, remains in her position as administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission pending court review. But some Republicans in the legislature are now proposing to impeach her. It’s not clear whether Vos will support this effort, but there is little doubt that he inspired it.

ELSEWHERE, THE WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE’S Republican majority is showing no signs of moderating its extremism. On September 19, a day after Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin resumed performing abortions following a judge’s ruling that the state’s 1849 law did not prohibit them as was previously thought, a state Senate committee met to ponder a bill to tighten the state’s remaining rules. It would prohibit any state or local employee “from providing abortion services, promoting or encouraging abortion services, making abortion referrals, or training others or receiving training in performing abortions while acting within the scope of his or her employment.”

Wisconsin law already forbids the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions; the proposed bill would go further in barring public employees, including those at state-run hospitals, from even talking about abortion services while on the job. State Sen. Kelda Roys, a Madison Democrat, called it “blatantly unconstitutional,” saying the goal was “to silence and intimidate people” and create a “climate of fear.”

Vos, for his part, reacted to news of Planned Parenthood’s decision by vowing to “pray tonight for all the unborn children who will no longer have the opportunity to be born because of the decisions that politicians are making.”

(Vos’s prayers stop the moment the kid is out of the womb and need public assistance for one reason or another)

It would be nice, though of course improbable, for Vos to also offer a prayer for the state of Wisconsin, which has become a perpetual stew of bitter contention, largely due to the my-way-or-the-highway style of politics he helped advance. The rifts that were deliberately created by former Republican Governor Scott “divide and conquer” Walker have remained yawningly large.

Vos, it seems, likes it this way. Last week, he announced that, unless the University of Wisconsin System shuts down its programs to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, which he tried and failed to achieve via the state budget, he will seek to block 6 percent pay raises over two years for the state’s 41,000 university employees.

“I don’t think that they deserve to have any more resources until they accomplish the goal” of eliminating DEI in the state’s universities, he told the news outlet WisPolitics.

This is vintage Vos—peevish, petulant, reflexively retributive. It is governance by temper tantrum, which is to say, it handily symbolizes the state GOP’s response to any challenge to its antidemocratic consolidation of power.

Vos, and the moron senator from Wi are as bad as the the morons that Orl have to deal with in Fla.

jcitybone

https://x.com/ddayen/status/1706829555917537640?s=20

Bottom line is this:
WGA was asking for an additional $429 million/year. AMPTP offered $86 million/year. The final agreement is $233 million/year. The writers got about 42.8% of the initial ask.

jcitybone

https://x.com/SenSanders/status/1706776209718227316?s=20

Sen. Menendez should resign. If he doesn’t, a Senate Ethics Committee investigation must go forward immediately.

jcitybone

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/27/us/politics/trump-fraud-ruling.html

Nearly every aspect of Donald J. Trump’s life and career has been under scrutiny from the justice system over the past several years, leaving him under criminal indictment in four jurisdictions and being held to account in a civil case for what a jury found to be sexual abuse that he committed decades ago.

But a ruling on Tuesday by a New York State judge that Mr. Trump had committed fraud by inflating the value of his real estate holdings went to the heart of the identity that made him a national figure and launched his political career.

By effectively branding him a cheat, the decision in the civil proceeding by Justice Arthur F. Engoron undermined Mr. Trump’s relentlessly promoted narrative of himself as a master of the business world, the persona that he used to enmesh himself in the fabric of popular culture and that eventually gave him the stature and resources to reach the White House.

The ruling was the latest remarkable development to test the resilience of Mr. Trump’s appeal as he seeks to win election again despite the weight of evidence against him in cases spanning his years as a New York developer, his 2016 campaign, his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss and his handling of national security secrets after leaving office.

The federal case accusing him of plotting to retain power despite his defeat at the polls three years ago paints him as a threat to democracy, as does a similar prosecution in Georgia. The classified documents case portrays him as willing to obstruct justice to cover up a reckless disregard for the laws that govern the handling of such documents. A New York prosecution stemming from hush-money payments to a porn star in the closing stages of the 2016 election sets out evidence of the kind of political skulduggery he professes to want to eradicate from Washington.

So far none of those cases has discernibly hurt Mr. Trump’s campaign in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, which polls suggest he is leading by large margins. In fact, polls show the indictments have consolidated his support among Republicans. The prosecutions have helped his fund-raising.

Whether the effect of Justice Engoron’s ruling is any different remains to be seen. But his finding imperils both Mr. Trump’s public image and his business empire. The former president now faces not only the prospect of having to pay $250 million in damages, but he could also lose properties like Trump Tower that are inextricably linked to his brand.

wi65

Losing money= prestige will hurt Cult-45 more than any jail sentence.That would be a bonus at this point…

Benny

Julia Rock, The Lever

Justices Have Financial Interest In Major Tax Case

Two Supreme Court justices own shares of companies that could see tens of billions of dollars in tax relief from the outcome of a case that the high court will rule on next term. While the justices have not recused themselves from the case and their financial interests don’t explicitly violate existing judicial ethics laws, progressives and court watchdogs are demanding their recusal.

According to a review of public company documents and judicial financial disclosures, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito together own shares in 19 companies that could see combined tax relief of more than $30 billion if the court issues a broad ruling in the Moore v. United States tax case and strikes down a one-time corporate tax imposed in 2017.

“In Moore, the Roberts Court could decide with the stroke of a pen to simultaneously forgive big business decades of tax dues in the billions; increase the federal deficit; jeopardize future public revenue and essential social programs; aggravate the disadvantages facing domestic, taxpaying competitors; escalate these multinational companies’ already sizeable after-tax profits; and further enrich their shareholders,” notes a new report from the Roosevelt Institute and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which conducted the analysis of Roberts and Alito’s financial interests in the case.

The high court did not respond to a request for comment.

The Moore case is a challenge to a provision in the 2017 GOP tax law that imposed a levy on the deferred foreign earnings of some corporations, and on individuals with substantial stakes in those corporations. The so-called “mandatory repatriation tax” was supposed to raise $340 billion in revenue, helping offset the bill’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

The petitioners, plus the conservative and Democrat-aligned groups backing them, are challenging the tax’s impact on individual shareholders, with the broader goal of winning a ruling that preemptively blocks Congress from imposing a wealth tax. But the court’s decision could also provide $271 billion in tax relief to nearly 400 multinational corporations, according to the new report.

Ethics laws written by Congress require justices to recuse themselves when they have a financial interest (such as owning stock) in companies that are parties to the case.

Alito and Roberts have recused themselves from more than 200 cases combined over the past five years, and in many cases they appeared to recuse themselves due to financial conflicts created by their stock holdings (although justices typically do not give reasons for recusal). They are the only two justices to own individual stocks.

All of the other seven justices own shares of passive investment funds that track the stock market, which have high exposure to the companies that were hit by the mandatory repatriation tax; the companies most affected by that tax, including Apple, Microsoft, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Google, sit at the top of the Fortune 500.

But none of those companies are party to the Moore case, brought by two individuals in Washington state, meaning judicial ethics laws don’t explicitly require the justices to recuse themselves.

Congress should reconsider the fact that current recusal laws don’t directly apply to situations like this one, said Gabe Roth, executive director of the judicial reform nonprofit Fix the Court.

“A goal of federal recusal laws is to ensure that you are not profiting from your judicial decision making,” said Roth. “In this case, it appears very likely that some justices might be doing exactly that.”

“It’s Hard To Tell Where The Roberts Court Would Draw The Line”
The Moore v. United States case challenges a tax that was imposed on corporations and on individual shareholders of those corporations. But the case is primarily focused on the levy imposed on individuals — because its broader aim is winning a Supreme Court ruling that blocks Congress from imposing a wealth tax, recently proposed by Democrats in various forms to tax the assets of the ultrarich.

The levy was largely uncontroversial when Republicans passed their broader tax bill in 2017, with the support of major corporate lobbying groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But the mandatory repatriation tax’s application to a small number of individual shareholders spurred the legal challenge.

The couple that brought the case, Charles and Kathleen Moore of Washington state, argue that taxing individuals on corporate income that had not yet been distributed to them as dividends is unconstitutional. Their arguments are aimed at preventing Congress from taxing “unrealized” income in the form of a wealth tax.

The Moores, and the conservative legal movement boosting them, are challenging the aspect of the tax that impacted individuals, not the overall corporate income tax.

“A victory for the Moores — under existing doctrine — would not affect the tax liability of Apple, Microsoft, or any of the other corporations mentioned in the report,” Daniel Hemel, New York University Law professor and corporate tax expert, told The Lever.

But the authors of the new report argue that the Supreme Court could still strike down the entire tax.

“As we know with this court, they haven’t been immune to taking broader and more activist approaches to their cases,” said report co-author Niko Lusiani of the Roosevelt Institute. “It’s hard to tell where the Roberts Court would draw the line in this case.”

Benny

Brilliant UAW Internet Ad to discourage workers from attending the con-man’s rally today.

wi65

Knowing Cult-45 he’ll have his fanbase carry pro union/UAW signs to that rally.

Benny

Automakers’ Electric Vehicle Lie

The United Auto Workers are entering their third week of the first-ever simultaneous strike against the three big automakers, and for the first time, a sitting US president, Joe Biden, joined them on the picket line. Executives at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis are pushing back on worker demands by invoking the climate crisis. They say it is impossible to give workers what they want while also making a swift transition to manufacturing electric vehicles.

On September 14, Ford’s CEO Jim Farley said that the union’s demands — higher wages, better hours, an end to tiered employment, and guaranteed job security in a green energy transition — could send the company into bankruptcy. Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, said that the union’s demands are “unrealistic” and would make GM less competitive. Major outlets have echoed these claims, even arguing that the UAW’s strike will harm the environment by stalling EV production.

But these corporate arguments are undercut by the fact that these companies have authorized billions in stock buybacks, special dividends, and executive compensation. The automakers could have invested that money into worker compensation and electric vehicles, but instead steered it toward stockholders.

We’re building a reader-supported investigative news outlet that holds accountable the people and corporations manipulating the levers of power. Can you spare a few dollars to help?

People with experience in government seem to be on their side. In 2009, Steve Rattner, President Barack Obama’s former “Car Czar” and the original negotiator of the post-2008 GM bankruptcy deal, helped force the UAW to accept $11 billion in cuts to wages and benefits. Now, Rattner claims that workers’ demands are overly audacious and could cause Democrats to lose the next presidential election.

Simultaneously, corporate media has focused on how the strike could harm American consumers, while ignoring the fact that autoworkers cannot even afford to purchase the very cars that they build. Perhaps the most complex challenge to the union’s demands however, is the critique that the UAW — most of whose members support a move toward electric vehicles — will ultimately harm the environment.

Shawn Fain, the union’s reformist new president has endorsed Biden’s plan to increase electric vehicle production, but insists that any government-backed transition to electric vehicles protects union jobs by mandating contracts for projects that receive government funding. At least 100 environmental groups have supported this demand.

The Big Three have long been obstacles to a green transition. By the 1960s, scientists at the major automakers knew that carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons produced in car exhaust contributed to climate change. And in the 1980s, instead of investing in new technology, GM began authorizing stock buybacks and special dividends and tying CEO compensation to stock performance.

But in the 1990s, GM still had a chance to lead the industry’s turn to electric vehicles. By 1996, GM had thousands of electric cars on the roads, which they literally crushed three years later after backhand dealing from the fossil-fuel industry relaxed government mandates to build EVs, and allowed automakers to give up on the project.

As GM spent more on buybacks, the company shrank. In 1986, GM employed nearly 900,000 people. Today, it employs 167,000.

GM and other auto manufacturers are making the same mistake again. During the pandemic, profits at the Big Three spiked by 65 percent, as they used the supply-chain shortage to raise prices. Instead of reinvesting these profits in EV technology or workers — with the exception of mild boosts in profit-sharing — the companies authorized $5 billion in buybacks in 2022, a 1,500 percent increase from the year prior.

In February of this year, Ford announced a record $2.6 billion special dividend on top of its typical quarterly dividend of about $600 million. All told, Ford has spent over $4.3 billion on dividends since November of last year. Stellantis has issued about $4.1 billion in dividends this year, while GM is set to distribute half a billion in dividends to its shareholders.

Union workers hardly benefit from buybacks and excessive dividends. At the Big Three automakers, CEO salaries have gone up by 40 percent in the four years since the last UAW contract. Ford CEO James Farley received nearly $21 million in total compensation in 2022, a 21 percent increase over the $17.4 million then-CEO Jim Hackett received in 2019. Farley’s package last year included $15.1 million in stock awards.

Similarly, GM’s CEO Barra makes $29 million a year — 362 times her company’s median employee salary. In an interview with CNN, Barra explained that 92 percent of her compensation is “performance based,” meaning that much of her pay is determined by the company’s stock value. In “pay package” arrangements, executives are paid in stock, or equity, but are only allowed to cash that stock when its value reaches a certain threshold.

“Money Is Being Wasted”
When companies buy back their stocks, it removes shares from the market, increasing the value of the shares that people already hold. It’s particularly beneficial for share sellers, like private-equity and hedge-fund managers, who can sell those shares at a profit.

The US government considered these stock buybacks a form of “market manipulation” like insider trading until 1982, when President Ronald Reagan’s administration legalized them as part of his deregulatory, free-market “Reagan Revolution.”

All of this stock manipulation comes at the cost of investments that ensure a company’s ability to exist in the long term, like on workers, innovation, and manufacturing capacity. Bill Lazonick, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, was particularly critical of automakers participating in the buyback trend.

“There’s absolutely no way a company like General Motors, given the competition in the industry and the need for the EV transition, should be doing these buybacks.”

From pharmaceutical manufacturers and major tech giants to petrochemical companies, corporations across the economy have hollowed out their own companies to pay shareholders. In an analysis, Lazonick found that between 2012 and 2021, the 474 corporations included in the S&P 500 Index funneled $5.7 trillion into stock buybacks, or 55 percent of their combined net income. They also paid $4.2 trillion to shareholders as dividends, another 41 percent of their net income.

In 2022, these companies set records for stock buybacks, spending more than $923 billion in total. That’s nearly a trillion dollars that companies could have invested in workers or more sustainable production — instead, they enriched Wall Street.

It’s especially troubling for companies in critical industries to be spending their capital on buybacks when they could be investing in capacity. Progressive lawmakers pointed out that the fledgling American semiconductor industry spent $250 billion on buybacks between 2011 and 2020, rather than on research and development, even though this technology plays a critical role in the nation’s renewable energy transition.

“It’s vast amounts of money that could be reinvested in the economy, and certainly in climate solutions,” Lazonick said. “Anybody who’s concerned about this should be looking at this and understanding how that money is being wasted, how their priorities are all lost.”

“This Is An Inflection Point”
Labor organizations and climate activists share a common goal: a new economy that pays workers fairly and doesn’t destroy the earth. Both groups realize that an equitable economy is a path both to empowering workers and protecting the climate. They understand that predatory wealth extraction like stock buybacks are obstacles. Trevor Dolan, the industry and workforce policy lead at climate advocacy group Evergreen Action, explained: “Climate groups stand in solidarity with workers, because this is an inflection point in the green energy transition.”

A major energy transition could mean millions of new jobs. Experts estimate that it would require a $275 trillion investment by 2050 to fully transform our economy. Dolan noted that the UAW fight is one of the first major opportunities to prioritize equitable economic development in the renewable economy: “The UAW sees the energy transition. They just want their fair share. They stand in solidarity with us, too.”

Climate activists, who marched across New York City last week, are demanding that fair labor stipulations be included in the Green New Deal. Unions are fighting for a seat at the table as the government considers projects to revamp the electrical grid, expand renewable energy production, and build adaptive climate infrastructure. “This is the first major confrontation in the transition to a green economy between workers and the billionaire class, but it won’t be the last,” said Dolan.

Corporations are trying to pit workers and the environmental movement against each other, but the billions in stock buybacks shows that there is money both for workers and investing in a green future.

jcitybone

Bernie picking ABBA as one of his favorite musical artists is something I wouldn’t have predicted.

https://captimes.com/news/bernie-sanders-values-policy-and-action-over-age/article_7c3e04ab-192d-5492-8b4a-7fa62ca22a9f.html

Ever since his two — albeit unsuccessful — bids for president in 2016 and 2020, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has become known as an icon of progressive politics. From campaigns built without Super PAC funding to taking on fossil fuel companies and big pharma, Sanders has made waves in Washington and pushed the Democratic Party further left.

Although Sanders will not participate in the upcoming 2024 presidential race, the New England senator has some ideas of what Democrats need to do to maintain power in Washington.

Politics reporter Erin McGroarty spoke with Sanders during his recent visit to Madison for this year’s Cap Times Ideas Fest.

One of the most interesting things about your following is that a lot of your biggest supporters are of a predominantly younger generation — millennials, Gen Z. What do you think it is about your approach to policy areas like climate change, health care, workers’ rights, that attracts these younger voters?

It’s certainly true that we do very well among them. But, I think if you were to talk to my campaign managers and people higher up on our campaign, they will tell you that never once did we sit down and say, “All right, how are we going to reach young people?”

I think what young people appreciate is political figures being honest with them. They can sense bullshit a mile away. It’s true, it’s really true. Young people have a sense of what’s going on.

I remember once at a rally, at the end of the rally I was walking what they called a rope line where you go and shake hands and some young guy said to me, “You know what I like about you? You treat us as intelligent human beings.”

When I give speeches, they are 45 minutes, an hour, trying to be honest, trying to explain how I see the world and where we have to go forward. I think people appreciate that. So yes, young people are interested in issues dealing with, you know, racial justice and sexism and homophobia and all that stuff. But I think they’re more interested in hearing political leaders level with them and tell the truth.

Recently, Sen. Mitt Romney said he felt like it was time for both Republicans and Democrats to hand the reins over to younger leadership. What are your thoughts on that and what advice do you have for young folks who might be interested in getting into politics?

I don’t pay too much attention to what Sen. Romney has to say and all due respect, he’s on my committee, we look at the world very differently. Obviously I have a little bit of self interest in this discussion, but the media talks about age, age, age. And I know people like (51-year-old Republican presidential candidate) Nikki Haley go heavy on the issue.

The issue is not age, the issue is what you believe. You’re a young person, right? If you did not believe in the reality of climate change, if you were racist and sexist, should I say, “Isn’t it wonderful? We have a lovely young lady involved in politics. Isn’t that tremendous?”

And, in fact, we do have in the Republican Party in the House, a lot of young people who are total reactionaries. I think age is a factor, but I think what is most important is what you stand for. This issue of age really hides the fundamental question: What do candidates actually stand for and believe?

I am delighted that in the House, for example, we have elected literally dozens of young progressives. But, I like them and support them and helped them get elected not because they are young but because they are progressives. What does that mean? It means they’re going to take on the fossil fuel industry. It means they’re going to stand up for workers and take on corporate interests. It means that they know that our health care system is broken. It means they’re going to stand with children and demand universal child care. So, to me what’s important is not age but what your views are on the important issues facing America.

Now there’s an important election coming up. One in which you are a voter and observer, not a participant this time. What do you think President Joe Biden needs to do to make sure he can win?

He needs to make it crystal clear in the strongest possible way that he stands with the working class of this country. He’s going to join a picket line with UAW and I think that’s a good start.

For too many years, Democrats have been rather ambivalent about their attitudes of the working class of this country. And I think that ambivalence in many cases — or worse, turning their backs on the needs of workers — has allowed people like Donald Trump to get a foothold and a strong foothold within the working class community.

So I think what the president has got to say is, “I understand that 60% of workers in America are living paycheck to paycheck. We are making progress. We need to do more. I understand that a million people are sleeping out on the streets. We’ve got to deal with housing. I understand that our child care system is a disaster. I understand that we have a corrupt political system that allows billionaires to buy elections.”

In other words, be proud of what he has accomplished, and he has accomplished a lot. But at the same time, acknowledge the reality that we are living in an economy today, which is doing phenomenally well for the people on top while the average American worker is hurting. Today, weekly wages for the average American worker in real inflation-accounted-for dollars is lower than it was 50 years ago. What do you think about that? I think the essence of his campaign should be, “We are making progress. We are beginning to take on the pharmaceutical industry. We’ve made some progress, but we’ve got a long way to go.” I think it needs to lay out the kind of progressive agenda that will benefit the working class of this country.

What’s a recent book you’ve read that you would recommend?

I just finished “Poverty, By America” by Matthew Desmond. Very good.

What’s a song or artist that you’ve listened to a lot this summer?

Well I don’t listen to a lot of your young people music. I like people like Linda Ronstadt, ABBA, the Temptations. My musical taste was formed during the ’60s.

You’re here in the Dairy State. What’s your favorite kind of cheese?

Cabot extra sharp cheddar (from Cabot Creamery in Vermont). I always say Wisconsin should be very proud to have the second best cheddar cheese in America.

jcitybone

Benny

I would imagine it’s more like this, since Bernie likes to dance occasionally. When the Bennys were staying at timeshare a few years ago, they gave us tickets to a community theater for a performance of “Momma Mia” and the best part was the end when most of the audience (boomers) stood up and started dancing a little in place to this song.

Paul ADK

As opposed to the Cabot cheese that’s made here, in New York?

No matter, when it comes to local cheese, McCadam is better, anyway. Adirondack Reserve Wicked Sharp cheddar rules!