Where does Trump stand on violent anti-Semitism?

Small “d” democracy

By Mark Lurinsky

In the wake of the horrendous shooting attack in the synagogue near San Diego, California, on the last day of Passover, we have to consider whether President Donald Trump is capable of leading our country in any meaningful way to combat an upsurge in anti-Semitic violence. Trump’s response to the shooting, in which an avowed white nationalist wielding an AR-type assault rifle killed one woman and injured the Poway synagogue’s rabbi and a young girl, was to do three things: He tweeted the usual “thoughts and prayers” to those affected. He assured the injured Rabbi Goldstein that “I have a son-in-law who’s Jewish, a daughter that’s Jewish ….” And he stated, “I love Israel.”

But what else do we need to know in order to see the bigger picture?

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NJ Voting Security at Risk

Dear BWNJ Activists,

As you may be aware, our current voting machines have no "paper trail".  The Sequoia AVC Advantage Machines are 1980 vintage computer technology and produce no record of each ballot.

The good news is that all the counties are about to buy new machines since our current machines are aging out. The bad news is that there is no transparency to this purchase.

Right now, it seems that most counties are favoring a machine that will print a 3" wide 'receipt' of the voters’ choices as marked by the voter on a touch screen.  This receipt will be used for audits of each election, and any recounts. This is an improvement, to be sure, and as voting activists, we welcome the addition of a paper trail.

However, this is not the system recommended by security experts.  The machines that print a voter 'receipt' can be hacked, and half of voters, in a trial at a real polling place, did not check the paper receipt, while the half that did, checked theirs’ for an average of 3.9 seconds on an 18-contest ballot.  (See summary of the study here)  In addition, this system is more expensive. 

The system recommended by security experts is a hand-marked paper ballot counted by an optical scanner at the polling place. The hand-marked ballots are kept in a tamper proof box for later auditing and they are the ballot of record.

This is an area where local level political activism can make a difference.

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Medicare for...How Many? The spectrum of Democratic healthcare bills

By Andrew Sprung
Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, has a message for elected officials and candidates. While healthcare policy debates often revolve around expanding coverage to the uninsured, 90% of the country is insured -- and most voters are concerned primarily with the high cost of care:

it’s the candidates who can connect their plans and messages to voters’ worries about out of pocket costs who will reach beyond the activists in their base. And the candidates aren’t speaking to that much, at least so far.   

That claim is based mainly on Kaiser polling, which finds that 48 percent of voters worry about paying their health care bills, and half of people who are sick have trouble paying their medical bills.

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The Jury’s Back Now: William Barr, Health Care, And The Rule Of Law

Small “d” democracy

By Mark Lurinsky

Earlier in the year I wrote a post on why we shouldn’t expect particularly good things from William Barr as attorney general -- while allowing that “the jury is still out.”

It looks like that jury is back now, and it’s not good. 

No, I’m not talking about Barr’s role as the gatekeeper to the Mueller report.  I’m referring to the attorney general’s complete public silence when in late March the Justice Department’s lawyers, following President Trump, sent a letter to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stating that DOJ fully supports a recent district court ruling striking down the Affordable Care Act in all respects -- and intends to file a brief with that position in the pending appeal.

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BlueWaveNJ Condemns Trump Administration's Renewed Drive To Void the ACA; Applauds House Bill to Strengthen the Law

The Trump administration's recent shift to full support of a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican attorneys general and governors seeking to have the entire Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional is a legal absurdity and a wantonly cruel and reckless policy decision. The plaintiffs argue, and the Trump administration now agrees, that the entire ACA became unconstitutional when Congress reduced the individual mandate penalty to zero in late 2017, because the Supreme Court in 2012 held that the mandate was Constitutional only as an exercise of Congress's taxing power. That is rank sophistry rejected by attorneys and legal scholars across the political spectrum -- suggesting in effect that the Republican Congress repealed the ACA by accident when it zeroed out the mandate penalty as part of the tax package passed in December 2017 after failing in multiple attempts to repeal the law's core programs earlier that year.

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Medicare For All (who want or need it)

Medicare for All (who want or need it): A path for presidential candidates?

By Andrew Sprung

Commitment to "Medicare for All" or something like has become something of a litmus test for Democratic candidates. There are real perils for a candidate, however, in committing to transitioning the U.S. to a single payer healthcare system in one leap. *

The tax hikes would be double-digit in a tax-averse country. Some 156 million Americans are insured through employers, and while out-of-pocket costs in employer coverage have been rising swiftly, tens of millions are wary of losing the plans they have. In Kaiser Family Foundation polling, support for "Medicare for All" collapses, from 56% in favor to 37%, when people are asked if they would support a program that raises taxes or eliminates private health insurance companies. In contrast, creating "a federal program similar to Medicare open to anyone" that would allow people to keep their current coverage is supported by 74%.

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Setting The Bar(r) too low

Small “d” democracy

Setting the Bar(r) Too Low

As I pen this blog, William Barr has just been confirmed as the second attorney general of the Trump/Pence administration, on a mainly party line Senate vote, just as most of Trump’s other judiciary and Department of Justice appointments have been.

There are a couple of arguments why, despite what we already know about Mr. Barr (and what we don’t know), a long-time corporate lawyer and former attorney general for President George H. W. Bush, even liberals and progressives might be tempted to acquiesce in this action.

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February Update

DC Trip to meet with NJ's Congressional Delegation

BlueWaveNJ went to Washington D.C. on Jan. 29 to meet with the members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to discuss our national agenda as well as listen to their priorities. In addition to the members of our health care, environment, economic security and election reform committees, we also had a number of young people on the bus concerned about college affordability and the staggering level of student debt they and their friends have accumulated. 

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BlueWaveNJ Goes To Washington

BlueWaveNJ went to Washington D.C. on Jan. 29 to meet with the members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to discuss our national agenda as well as listen to their priorities. In addition to the members of our health care, environment, economic security and election reform committees, we also had a number of young people on the bus concerned about college affordability and the staggering level of student debt they and their friends have accumulated. In each of our meetings, we gave the representative and staff a list of BlueWaveNJ’s 2019 national priorities and thanked for their support of progressive legislation. In particular, we thanked our entire house delegation for co-sponsoring the symbolic, but extremely important, For the People Act (H.R. 1) which tackles money in politics, ethics, voting rights and non-partisan redistricting, and for co-sponsoring the Bipartisan Background Check bill (H.R. 8), as well as their multiple actions to force a reopening of our federal agencies after President Trump’s unprecedented 35-day shutdown. During an extremely busy day, we met with 11 NJ members and their staff, including our two senators and 9 members of the House of Representatives.

One of the takeaways from the visit is how fortunate we are to have such a large number of thoughtful, knowledgeable and progressive Democrats. We were impressed with the quality of leadership as well as their willingness to meet and exchange ideas. Despite limited time, we were able to have a number of substantive conversations on the issues. A brief overview of each meeting is below.

If you have particular questions or would like a more in depth summary of a particular meeting, feel free to contact us at [email protected]

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Dems on Offense for Democracy

Perhaps you wouldn’t know it with all the turmoil surrounding Donald Trump’s government shutdown, but congressional Democrats are quietly going on the offensive to strengthen our democracy.

On the third day of the new Congress, Representative John Sarbanes of Maryland and Speaker Pelosi introduced H.R.1, the “For the People Act of 2019”, “to expand Americans' access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.”

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