The sun has just come up on yet another Sunday! Welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee my look at the political news stories you've seen (or missed) along with my commentary. It's what I get to do as the sun rises. Grab a cup and let's go!
Hate and Discontent
I've been around a bit. I've had to listen to many presidents talk about things I was not in agreement with. Kennedy and Cuba, Johnson and Vietnam, Nixon and Vietnam...the list gets pretty long. But, never have we...or I...had to deal with the personal attacks and corporate attacks on Americans that spew from the keyboard of the current occupant of the White House. The vicious attacks are coming from what can only be described as a petulant child...but one that is supposed to be above this trash. He may be your president he is not mine. I am ashamed.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board didn't hold back. The paper ripped "45" as the "most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office". The editorial was in response to a tweet where "45" referred to Rep. Elijah Cummings' (D-MD) 7th congressional district as a "rat and rodent infested mess."
In a scathing column, the editors of one of the country's oldest newspapers wrote that "45" had more power to affect immediate change in Baltimore than Cummings does.
And then the Baltimore Sun unloaded:
"[W]e would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are 'good people' among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post."
"Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one."
I could not have said it better.
All the talk is about the booming economy and that Wall Street has never seen such days of glory. How much stock do you own? How many thousands of shares of Facebook or Ford Motor Company are in your portfolio? That's what I thought. Sure you "may" have a 401k which is a nifty tax option for some companies and the value of that has increased. But, it has increased for years. The dirty secret of the Wall Street Boom is stock buy-backs. Companies are buying back their own stock and increasing the value and the market goes up.
Want proof? According to Federal Reserve data compiled by Goldman Sachs, over the past nine years, corporations have put more money into their own stocks—an astonishing $3.8 trillion—than every other type of investor (individuals, mutual funds, pension funds, foreign investors) combined.
Craig Menear is the chairman and CEO of Home Depot. On a conference call with investors in February 2018, he and his team mentioned their “plan to repurchase approximately $4 billion of outstanding shares during the year.” That day, he sold nearly 114,000 shares, netting $18 million. The following day, he was granted 38,689 new shares and promptly unloaded over 24,000 shares for a profit of $4.5 million. Though Menear’s stated compensation in SEC filings was $11.4 million for 2018, stock sales helped him earn an additional $30 million for the year. Menear pocketed $41.4 million.
By contrast, the median worker pay at Home Depot is $23,000 a year.
Now, how many CEO's does Home Depot have? One. How many workers does Home Depot have? 400,000 and my bet is they...more than Mr. Menear...are responsible for of the U.S. economy than is he.
Which brings me to this: Last week I went to church. I've not been to church in a very, very long time. Synagogue yes...church...not so much. I went to the closing session of the Disciples of Christ annual convention to hear Rev. Dr. William Barber II preach about rising poverty in the United States and the moral obligation of the people of faith to reverse the trend.
According to Dr. Barber there are 140 million Americans or 43% of the population living in poverty struggling to live paycheck to paycheck. They are spending close to 50% of their income on housing which leaves precious little for transportation, child care, health insurance prescription drugs and food.
Let that sink in.
And it's getting worse.
Meanwhile the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania continues to brag about the "tax cut" he rammed through in 2017 that went stright to the pockets of the wealthy, enabled corporations to buy-back their own stock and sent the deficit further into the red.
Here is a link to the Poor People's Campaign - A National Call for a Moral Revival and they now have chapters in 43 states. Find yours.
Here is a very brief interview with Steve Roach Knight the Director of Communications for the Poor People's Campaign. By the way...I was the only media person that covered the rally on the west side of the Iowa Statehouse this past Wednesday. Nobody else it seems...cared. Click the link below for this brief conversation.
It is done. RAGBRAI 2019 is in the books and my Bride made it back...safely. For that I am grateful. I'm also grateful that this year was not as deadly as in past years. Georgie tells me, however, that every day of the event there are ambulance sirens screaming along the route. Scary my friends.
Yesterday I made it back from my work in Mason City just in time to person a booth for the Polk County Democrats at the Italian-American Heritage Festival in Des Moines. We had a good turnout. But, I want to share with you a conversation I had with a well known Republican who stopped by the booth.
Mike Carver is a long time Urbandale City Councilman. We have been cordal over the years and I have appreciated his service to his community. Mike came over to the booth yesterday and said, "So this is the Democrat booth? I am so tired of all the complaints the Democrats have. I'm really tired of it."
Now is not the time to play nice and I did not. Here is my portion of that exchange:
"Mike, I know how you feel. I'm tired too. I am tired of the voter suppression you and your party support. I am tired of the massive tax breaks to already wealthy companies your party supports while thousands in Urbandale live paycheck to paycheck. I am tired of this governor who just gave an 8.6% raise to the private, for-profit insurance companies that fails to deliver service to the over 500,000 Iowans on Medicaid and/or fail to pay for the services delivered. I am tired of having my tax dollars spent to cover the costs of settlements over sexual and discriminatory practices that involve members of your party."
I think he was a bit stunned. Democrats don't talk like that...but we should. We should be telling truth to power each opportunity we have. No more timid, nice cocktail chatter.
In closing I asked Mr. Carver if he had received an 8.6% raise in his social security check. He said, "I don't know." and walked away.
I wish Mr. Carver a good retirement from his service on the Urbandale City Council. Judging by the candidates running for three open seats there I suspect there will be a change in direction in that community coming soon...very soon.
Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday!