Why Should I Care Who the DA Is?

It's another NYC primary post, and while I could research every city council race in the city, I really don't have that kind of time, so this one goes out to my friend's in Brooklyn who are going to be faced with a crowded slate of candidates for District Attorney, may not know which one to pick, and want my personal (non-political, non job related) opinion.

As you may know, in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

Wait, sorry, that's the opening to Law and Order, which I've been watching non-stop for 3 months.

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What Ted Cruz Can Learn From Queens, New York

I used to work in communities that had been destroyed following Hurricane Sandy, and had the privilege of meeting some of the most resilient and generous people New York has to offer. Following Hurricane Harvey, my friends from the Rockaways and Howard Beach sprang into action, setting up places where people could donate hygiene products, socks and other essentials, providing lists where people could donate money, and sharing their knowledge and experiences with those affected by the flooding.

What people in Queens know is that hurricanes are not political, and disasters are a time for the nation to come together and rebuild. If everyone thought like my friends in Queens, there wouldn’t be any need for debate about government funding in response to disasters. But unfortunately, even though our President hails from the same borough, there’s very little of the Queens solidarity in Washington.

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Another Brick in The Wall

It's hard to tell what is and isn't a policy directive now that President Trump is in charge. But his recent threat to shut down the government unless Congress appropriates money for the border wall seems like a serious one. In order to do this, Senate and House Republicans will have to unite their caucus to not only pass a spending bill, but raise the federal debt ceiling in order to make those spending bills possible.

I'm a seasoned political blogger, and I've already gone over what happens in a government shut down, and what the debt limit is. Everything old is new again and all that jazz, if you will.

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Unhappy Families

As others have observed, keeping up with political commentary in the Age of Trump is a challenge. I work on blog posts, only to have their relevance wiped out before I finish my edits. Some weeks, nuanced political happenings are overshadowed by tweets that carry no actual policy directives. Sometimes, the President brings us to the brink of a possible nuclear war. It's hard to figure out what line to walk.

But I started this blog primarily to explain Congress, and that's what I will continue to do, even if this may be our last week on earth. Since the healthcare bill failed spectacularly only several weeks ago, President Trump has expressed frustration with Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Majority Leader's inability to bring key legislation to his desk.

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Profiles in Courage

In 11th grade, my history teacher told us about Edmund G. Ross, who was the deciding vote against Andrew Johnson's impeachment in 1868. He was the last of seven Republican Senators to break with their party, and establish the precedent that you can't impeach someone just because you don't agree with their policies. My history teacher said that when Ross cast his vote, he felt like he was looking into the coffin of his political career.

And it was true. Ross was voted out of office the next chance his constituents got. He later moved to New Mexico to die (and serve as the governor), as many disgraced politicians do.

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B is for Budget

It's no secret how I feel about dramatic and poorly thought out cuts to government spending. The government subsidizes a wide variety of necessary programs that are often cut because most Americans do not ever feel the impact of the spending. Because if you've never been hungry or homeless, $122 million dollars for emergency shelter and food, may sound like a waste.

Until you consider that $122 million dollars is for, among other things, people who are without shelter due to natural disasters and other events completely outside of anyone's control. We've all seen enough hurricanes, floods, fires, and other severe weather events. If you have lost your home in a forest fire, that $122 million won't be a waste to you anymore. But unfortunately, some people will realize the necessary of this Emergency Food and Shelter Board Program too late.

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See You In Court

On principle, I do not follow *shudder* President Trump on Twitter, but even I didn't miss his SEE YOU IN COURT tweet that he published after his discriminatory Muslim ban was blocked by a federal court in California, after it was halted by a judge in Washington. While this tweet showed a surprising grasp of the judicial system for a man who may think Fredrick Douglass is still alive, the whole case raised some questions for me. Why did one federal judge in Washington, and later a circuit court in California, have the power to block a ruling across the nation?

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What's REALLY Going On?

First, it's been awhile for a blog update, and that's because I've been working on Call Them In, an email reminder service that makes it easy to call your Senators and make your voice heard on progressive legislation. We do the research, find the Senators and write the scripts, all you need to do is make the call. Please sign up to stay informed with what's happening in Washington and how you can make a difference. Now without further ado, the news!

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Safe, Legal and Accessible

The only reason I write about abortion as much as I do, is because it keeps coming up in the news. Believe me, I would love if we all accepted that Roe v. Wade was a settled issue and states stopped passing things that threatened access to safe and legal abortion. But that's not the world we live in, and it's not the world we've lived in for many years.

This week, Ohio made the news when the state legislature passed both a 20-week abortion ban, and a bill that banned abortion after a fetus had a detectable heartbeat, which is around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. Governor Kasich vetoed the heartbeat bill, but signed the 20-week ban into law

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Reconciling With Defeat

The most challenging blog posts to write are the ones about political processes that I know nothing about. Having to admit there is something I do not know always creates a hurdle to actually sitting down and writing a piece, which was the case with this post.

Since the election, my friend Maya and I have been developing a project to encourage, among other things, the protection of Obamacare. We were informed by someone that our strategy may not work for Obamacare, since it was likely to be repealed through a process called reconciliation. Cue me furiously Googling to find out what exactly reconciliation is and how it can relate to Obamacare.

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Concrete Steps

There has been a lot of articles about how people can get involved following the election of Donald Trump. I've seen a lot of articles with very good advice, and I am not going to try to sum it all up, or present a new take. This is just my opinion, as one political blogger. I hope it helps direct you into some action you may want to take.

Every single Congressperson is up for reelection in 2018, so no matter where you live, there’s work to be done. You can sign up to volunteer with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and work for Democrats in your hometown. If you feel Representative reflects your values, help them continue to do that work. If they have a primary challenger who you think would better reflect their values, volunteer for that challenger. If your Representative made one mistake, but is otherwise in line with your views, think hard before you sit out the 2018 midterms.

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"Let It Be Pure and Bright"

"Great emergencies awaken generous traits which have lain dormant half a life. If there is a spark of true nobility in you, now is the occasion to let it shine...Do what is more difficult & brave. Reform! It is not proof of highest goodness never to have done wrong, but it is proof of it, sometimes in ones career, to pause & ponder, to recognize the evil, to turn resolutely against it...Once in awhile there comes a crisis which renders miracles feasible. The great tidal wave of sorrow which has rolled over the country has swept you loose from your old moorings & set you on a mountaintop, alone.”

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Judging Me, Judging You*

Thankfully, we're inching ever closer to Election Day, and the most common question I've been asked, right after "is it over yet?" is "what's the deal with judicial elections? How do I know who to vote for?"

This is a hard question, because it is often challenging to figure out what a judge thinks about issues you care about. Sure, you can look at your past rulings, but those are not always readily available, and quite frankly, none of us have the time to make sense of legal transcripts and briefs. And how do you know what someone thinks if they're running to be a judge, and haven't ever served before?

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The Mustache of Justice

The back of Representative Henry Waxman's book, The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works has quotes from people talking not about the book, but about Henry Waxman. There are quotes describing Waxman as "a famed tightwad with a righteous streak," "the mustache of justice" and "the best argument against term limits."

All true points, if I do say so myself. With Trump's recent talk of "draining the swamp" of government by imposing Congressional term limits, I thought it would be fun to use Representative Waxman as a case study against term limits. And when I say fun, I mean fun for me, the undisputed Number One Fan of former Los Angeles Congressman Henry Waxman.

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A Post About Nothing

This past week, in-between maligning Bill Clinton's past transgressions and simultaneously downplaying his own, Donald Trump talked about how the election in November is probably rigged. To hear Trump tell it, Saturday Night Live is creating hit pieces to rig the election, Hillary Clinton is using performance enhancing drugs during the debate, and the women who have accused him of sexual harassment and assault are part of a grand conspiracy.

With this claim, Trump appears to be tapping into a widely held fear among Republicans, as only one third of Republicans believe their votes in this election will be counted fairly. And while Governor Pence, Trump's running mate, has committed to accepting the results of the election, whatever they are, many Trump supporters and Trump himself, have not let up.

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And I Ran, Iran So Far Away

There is much to be said about the recent Vice Presidential debate. I could talk about the near-constant cross-talk and interruptions coming from both candidates. I could talk about the lack of discussion on both candidates records. I could talk about the largest HIV outbreak in Indiana's history that happened under Governor Pence. I could talk about the line-item veto (again) and why no one will ever balance the Federal budget, but there's honestly only so many times I can write about that.

But I won't talk about those things. Those would be far too interesting for this blog. Instead, I'm going talk about an obscure political maneuver that is being blown out of proportion by many politicians, as is my way.

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Three Times Now

I was really trying not to write a post about throwing your vote away by voting third party. I know that posts like that can come off as patronizing, and I do strongly believe that it is better to vote for a third party candidate than not vote at all. I told myself that I would be content writing about why those two candidates were just fundamentally unqualified to be president, instead of doing a post on why voting for a third party can ruin an election.

But Jill Stein and Gary Johnson have been so annoying that I feel compelled. What can I say, they brought this on themselves.

It's impossible to talk about third party spoilers without talking about Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate for president in 2000. For those too young to remember, George Bush won the state of Florida by 537 votes, giving him the electoral votes to win the presidency. Now, yes, there were Democrats who voted for Bush. And yes, if Gore had carried his home state of Tennessee, the Florida loss would not have been as much of a problem. And yes, Nader wasn't the only third party candidate running.

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The Dannemeyer Bill Count

Once in a generation there comes along a rumor so ridiculous, it doesn't even feel worth addressing. And for a long time, the "Clinton Body Count" list has been that rumor for me. I didn't think anyone actually believed it, but articles keep popping up, and I keep seeing references to all the people who Hillary and Bill Clinton have allegedly killed or had killed.

And so the time has come to put this rumor to rest as best I can.

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Sick Presidents, Dude

With Hillary Clinton falling victim to pneumonia, in a move to show how human and relatable she is to voters, people in the media have been highlighting the many other ailments that Presidents have suffered. And whenever we talk about Presidential ailments, William Henry Harrison (who died in 30 days) is always one of the first people to be discussed.

Traditional wisdom holds that Harrison gave a long speech on inauguration day, refused to wear a hat on a cold day, contracted pneumonia and died only a month into his term. A cautionary tale used by every mother who wants her kid to wear a hat outside. And hey, even Harrison's physician said he died of "pneumonia of the lower lobe of the right lung, complicated by congestion of the liver."

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Another Primary?!

Until someone corrected me on Facebook, I thought the New York State primary election was Tuesday the 6th, instead of Tuesday the 13th of September, because I am only human. This was embarrassing to me, because for all I tout the importance of state and local elections, this is my second time getting confused by them.

Back in June, I tried to go vote for my Congressman (Representative Hakeem Jefferies, currently one of the Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People, and a truly beautiful soul) only to find out he was running unopposed. I arrived at the school polling site to find it closed, and had to call 311 and the Board of Elections to find out that Congressman Jefferies didn't have a primary challenger!

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