David Morris

Here’s What We Can Learn from the 150 Ballot Initiatives Just Decided by Voters Across the Country

The midterm elections are over. We know who our representatives will be and hope they justify our faith in them. But the 2018 elections also gave us a glimpse into what voters might do if they voted on policies rather than representatives.

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How to Save the Internet

In late October, Ajit Pai, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, proudly announced, “We’ve been energetic in advancing the public interest…over the past nine months, the Commission has voted on 63 items at our monthly meetings, compared to 103 in the preceding three years.” It now surpasses 70.  

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The Cruel Exploitation of Farmworkers Continues Unabated - Only Organizing Can Turn It Around

Florida produces 90 percent of our winter tomatoes. The Immokalee region in southwestern Florida grows one-third of all U.S. tomatoes.

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There Is One Effective Way of Protecting Communities From Gentrification

About 15 years ago, the half-century flight from America’s cities came to an end. A growing number of cities began see a growing in-migration, often of people with higher incomes. Rising real estate prices spurred land speculation and new developments, threatening existing neighborhoods with displacement and reducing affordable housing.

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Will Retailers Switch to a Price Tag System That Screws Customers at Every Opportunity?

In the beginning there were no fixed prices. Every transaction involved a negotiation between buyer and seller. Then in 1861, as Guardian reporter Tim Adams informs us, Philadelphia retailer John Wanamaker introduced price tags, along with the slogan, “If everyone was equal before God, then everyone would be equal before price.” Wanamaker’s stated intent was to establish “new, fair and most agreeable relations between the buyer and the seller.”

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It's Time to Take America's Billionaire Class Head On

Combatting defeatism may be our single most important psychological objective in the wake of the election. We need to revive the spirit embodied in Barack Obama’s vague but hopeful campaign slogan in 2008, “Yes We Can.” At the federal level this is a time to expose, to educate and to resist. But at the state and local level we can act proactively to fashion strategies that both embrace progressive values and directly benefit those who mistakenly voted for Donald Trump as an economic savior. This is the first in a series of pieces focusing on what can be done.

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3 Groundbreaking Progressive Initiatives That Are Under the Radar This Election

On November 8, citizens in 35 states vote on 163 ballot initiatives covering a wide range of subjects (e.g. marijuana, minimum wage, taxes, gun control). To my mind, initiatives in three states stand out as having a potentially broad national impact: California on reducing drug prices, South Dakota on revamping its political system and New Mexico on the inequitable use of bail. 

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We Are Living in the Golden Age of Defense Waste and Corruption; Trump Will Make It Much Worse

In October 2015, when he was a very, very long shot for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump the businessman promised to make the military “much stronger than it is right now” without increasing military spending. “But you know what?” he declared, “We can do it for less.”

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How the GOP Gamed the Voting System to Dominate and Why Elections Are an Anti-Democratic Mess

Two months to elections and counting. Americans will be voting for the entire House, a third of the Senate and the president, as well as all members of state legislative lower houses and usually half of their state senators.

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The Next President Will Likely Appoint 4 Supreme Court Justices: Which President Do You Want Picking Them?

Many progressives disagree with Hillary Clinton on a number of issues, in some cases intensely. But there is one overarching reason we should be vigorously supporting her election: The future of the Supreme Court is at stake.

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Sanders Supporters: Check Out This Amazing Piece of American History for a Path You Might Take

On June 14, North Dakotans voted to overrule their government’s decision to allow corporate ownership of farms. That they had the power to do so was a result of a political revolution that occurred almost exactly a century before, a revolution that may hold lessons for those like Bernie Sanders’ supporters who seek to establish a bottom-up political movement in the face of hostile political parties today.

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What's the Best Move Bernie Sanders Can Make Right Now to Strengthen the Progressive Movement?

What should Bernie do? That seems to be the question of the month. Permit me to weigh in.

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The Dems Are Having a Real Debate on Substance and the Takeaway: Bernie's Vision vs Hillary's Pragmatism

Win or lose, Bernie Sanders has made this Democratic primary the most substantive in my lifetime. Not that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is devoid of ideas; she has some thoughtful ones. But the boldness of Sanders’ proposals is what has driven this historic and instructive debate.  

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Our Democracy Under Serious Attack: We Owe It to Ourselves and Our History to Defend Against the 21st-Century Money Powers

The founding fathers minced no words about their distrust of the masses. Our first president, John Adams warned, “Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy.” Our second president, John Adams, insisted, "Democracy is nothing more than mob rule.” Our third president, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution declared, "Democracy is the most vile form of government.”

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What Downton Abbey Tells Us About Obamacare

As the acclaimed PBS series "Downton Abbey" unspools its final episodes, some fans have criticized the producers' decision to devote so much time to a debate about the future of Downton’s Cottage Hospital. The show makes the issue mostly personal with delightfully snippy exchanges between Violet, Dowager Duchess of Grantham, who speaks for a way of life that is passing, and her cousin Isobel, widow and daughter of physicians and trained as a nurse during WWI, who is the voice of modernity. But underneath the repartee lies a serious and persistent issue: what should be the relationship of the community to the emerging age of a high-tech, highly capitalized and highly specialized medical system?

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The Two Big Political Mistakes of Obama's Presidency

Early this year President Obama spoke before the Cleveland Club. After the speech, seventh-grader Alura Winfrey inquired, “If you could go back to the first day of your first term what advice would you give yourself?” Obama reflected for a moment and then blithely explained he would have worked harder to sell his economic policies.  

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3 Ways New Yorkers Scored Impressive Victories Against Corporate Power and Govt. Overreach

New York makes it hard for citizens to influence policy. They cannot put an issue on the state ballot no matter how many signatures they gather. Although the state constitution has a home rule provision, cities and counties lack authority to undertake some of the most basic initiatives. Even mighty New York City, with over 8 million people, must go hat in hand to Albany to request permission to reduce city speed limits, install red light cameras, open its courts at night, or raise taxes other than those imposed on property. Which makes it even more impressive that in the past few years initiatives from the bottom up have won two and a half significant victories in the face of vigorous opposition from giant corporations and ongoing hostility from state government. (I explain below why I list a partial victory.)

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Texas Does Away With Democracy

In Texas liberty trumps democracy. The Texas Supreme Court itself says so. In a recent decision, three of the five Justice majority bluntly declared. “(O)ur federal and state charters are not, contrary to popular belief, about ‘democracy’.” They are about “liberty’s primacy”.

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How the Government Created a Justice System That Props Up the Corporatocracy

In the last 20 years the Supreme Court has created a parallel judicial system to resolve disputes involving corporations—a system effectively run by the corporations themselves.

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Will Pope Francis Have the Courage to Finally Break With the Church’s Anti-Woman Stance?

More than 1600 years ago, in the waning days of the Roman Empire, Augustine Aurelius, Bishop of Hippo declared himself a sex addict. His classical 13 book treatise Confessions of St. Augustine, one of the foundational texts of Catholicism was written “to remind myself of my past foulnesses and carnal corruptions”. Augustine was the first theologian to equate sex with sin.

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Words Matter: What the Language We Use Tells Us About Our Current Political Landscape

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.” 

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David Brooks' Pro-Oligarch Worldview

The catalyst for a recent column by David Brooks was a speech delivered by his New York Times colleague Anand Giridharadas at the Aspen Action Forum. (Giridharadas writes the Letter from America column for Global Edition of the Times) Giridharadas questioned the “Aspen Consensus” that the wealthy and powerful, the benefactors of the Aspen Institute, could be asked to “do more good” but not to “do less harm”. He challenged his well-to-do, well-intentioned audience not to settle for making “an unjust and unpalatable system a little more digestible” and confront the “underlying system” that has created massive inequality and injustice. In short, he bluntly urged his audience to be “traitors to our class.”

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Buying America: The Many Astounding Ways You Can Express Your Values with Your Pocket Book

“Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act,” Pope Francis announced early this year. How can we spend our money as if our values matter?

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The Ghost of Thatcherism Stalks the Greeks

In its policies toward Greece, the "Troika" — a new shorthand for the combined will of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — has actively and enthusiastically embraced Maggie Thatcher’s social and political philosophy, memorably captured in her chilling assertion, “There is no such thing as society.” That philosophy has found its fullest and most concrete exposition in a 2014 “competition assessment” of Greece made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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Messing With Our Food Quality: More Evidence of Obama's Disinformation on the TPP

On May 8th at Nike’s headquarters, President Obama denounced opponents of the hotly contested Trans-Pacific Partnership as ill informed. “(C)ritics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation….They’re making this stuff up.  This is just not true.  No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”

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Obamacare Opponents Learn the Hard Way When They Faced Their Own Medical Issues

During a 2011 CNN/Tea Party Express Republican debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer famously asked prominent libertarian Rep. Ron Paul a “hypothetical question” about the soon-to-be-operational Obamacare: What should be done when a 30-year-old man decides not to buy health insurance and then requires significant medical intervention he cannot afford? Paul predictably responded that he should “assume responsibility for himself…That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks.”

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Hey Michelle and Barack: Walmart and Amazon Are the Problem, Not the Solution

The Obamas are proving singularly inept at choosing appropriate venues to highlight their initiatives. In June 2011 Michelle invited giant retailers, including Walmart, to the White House to launch her effort to persuade the country’s largest retailers to move into inner city “food deserts.” She later visited a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri to applaud its corporate expansion into urban areas. 

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Amid the NCAA Sweet Sixteen Fanfare Is a Hostility Towards State Schools

When television cameras zoomed in on Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in the middle of the Kansas-Wichita State NCAA basketball game a thunderous chorus of boos broke out.  Viewers gained a rare glimpse of the politics behind March Madness. The announcers pointedly ignored the boos.

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Can One Union Save the Slumping U.S. Postal Service?

Let’s begin with the bad news. The U.S. Post Office, the oldest, most respected and ubiquitous of all public institutions is fast disappearing. In recent years management has shuttered half the nation's mail processing plants and put 10 percent of all local post offices up for sale. A third of all post offices, most of them in rural areas, have had their hours slashed. Hundreds of full time, highly experienced postmasters knowledgeable about the people and the communities they serve have been dumped unceremoniously, often replaced by part timers. Ever larger portions of traditional post office operations--- trucking, mail processing and mail handling-- have been privatized. Close to 200,000 middle class jobs have disappeared.

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Inside the Major Political Fight for Broadband Internet That's Brewing Across America

On February 28th the Federal Communications Commission issued two decisions.  One concerned net neutrality, the other municipal broadband.  The first garnered by far the most attention, as it should.  Net neutrality affects everyone and establishes a fundamental new principle for Internet access.

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Texas Conservatives Run Roughshod Over Towns Who Vote to Ban Plastic Bags

Who decides? Conservative Republicans in Texas are split on the issue. Darren Hodges, a Tea Party councilman in the West Texas city of Fort Stockton, fiercely defends his town’s recent decision to ban plastic bags. City officials have a “God-given right” to make that decision he tells the New York Times.

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