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As has been so often the way in American history, black women triggered the Montgomery bus boycott, did the work, and started what snowballed into national recognition of real civil rights problems, and the need for national action.

real art of the deal

The Montgomery bus boycott was not driven by an abstract philosophical desire for human equality. Black women who were forced to labor for white masters, and forced to ride the bus, because their employers were too busy, too self-important and too uncaring to provide them with transportation, simply needed to be able to rest as they rode. Similarly, when Dolores Huerta first proclaimed "Si, se peuda" she was not announcing an intention to reverse centuries of "gringos" exploiting and oppressing "beaners." Rather, she and other United Farm Workers organizers sought basic decent working conditions and fair pay for the, backbreaking work they did, under oppressive circumstances.

Starting in January, the new Congress brings us a new generation of women of color, elected on the timeless theme that women of color can be relied upon to fix what white men of power and narrow vision have screwed up.

Starting in January, the new Congress brings us a new generation of women of color, elected on the timeless theme that women of color can be relied upon to fix what white men of power and narrow vision have screwed up.

We are being encouraged by various interest groups to find fault with their efforts. Even people who share goals with them will criticize their tactics and behaviors. It will be helpful to recall that the Montgomery bus boycott lasted more than a year, with many people calling it wrong-headed, communistic, anti-business, anti-American, and the ever popular "bad for the people it claimed to benefit."

Similarly, the "grape workers' strike" and grape boycott were condemned as "bad for" the very farmworkers it was designed to benefit. We were told that the striking farmworkers were foreigners, communists, ungrateful for the work U.S. plantations were giving them. They only wanted a union because they were, like the 19th century slave farmworkers, lazy, shiftless and in desperate need of the disciplined work habits enforced on them by benevolent plantation owners.

The Farm Workers' efforts continued for years before they achieved basic goals, and for decades as they worked to move beyond simply pay increases toward basic decency in housing, field sanitation and the recognition that their children were entitled to basic education and medical care, as all children should be entitled. They started with focused goals, and moved on to more expansive goals as they achieved initial successes. Much as the bus boycotters moved on to lunch counters and school doorways, after refusing to ride segregated busses.

Since the '50s and '60s, we have been well trained by advertising media to strive for instant gratification. Smoke the right cigarette, drink the right drinks and we will be popular tomorrow. Think not of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease decades down the road. We want gratification now! Our political leaders and parties promise the impossible, and expect us to be both complacent and angry when Chinese currency manipulation isn't ended on the first day of a new administration. Or when the Mexican government, made up entirely of foreigners—Mexicans who have had a history of obsequiesceness toward U.S. military might—refuses to pay for a "wall".

OR, when Nancy Pelosi doesn't instantly change her long established, pragmatic political views and effective habits, just because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants her to.

Long before the Donald plagiarized it for his book title, it was widely understood that politics is "the art of the deal." As the new generation of women steps up in Congress, we must hope that they worked hard to get into political office so that they could practice the art of the deal.

Part of the deal-making process is knowing what one wants at the end of the deal. Another part is figuring out what will motivate the other parties to join a negotiation. Finding agreement to at least compromise on issues requires knowing what is important to others in a negotiation.

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Happily, there are areas of agreement that Republicans have made very clear, not just in the years since they took control of Congress, but for decades. Ronald Reagan, no liberal, made attacking Pentagon waste an important issue. He wanted to do away with $8,000 hammers and $25,000 coffee makers. Democrats should want similar things and should embrace Republican calls for increased oversight of spending.

The Donald has informed the nation that his "best of the best" advisors and investigators have shown him that there is at least $5.7 BILLION dollars of fat in the Pentagon budget that can be tapped into to pay for his memorial wall. This comes after years of Pentagon resistance to every call for any sort of audit of Pentagon spending.

Clearly, this is an area for agreement between Democratic and Republican congressfolks. The Constitution requires that all spending bills originate in the House. So an essential House function is to analyze how spending is being done, and how it can be done more efficiently. Again, we hit a Republican theme. Republicans are always calling for (but rarely delivering) greater efficiency in government operations and spending.

Now that the Republican's most honorable, most trusted leader has told us that he has found $5.7 BILLION in Pentagon fat, Democrats should offer to join all Republicans in thanking the president, and then investigating to see if there is more fat to be trimmed.

Building on this Republican theme, the Democrats who have been trusted by the voters with the responsibility of looking for the greater efficiencies that Republicans never looked for, should be providing more oversight of how all federal spending is done. Instead of costly post hoc investigations, Democrats should look at where money gets lost in processing, and enact spending bills that are designed to prevent things like school funds from getting wasted on "expenses" that help only contractors and suppliers. And on healthcare funds that don't underwrite Big Pharma, and protect drug companies from competition.

The new Democratic Congress should embrace the Republican verbiage about wanting more business competition and free markets. Right now, government grants pay for billions of dollars of research into new medicines and other treatments. Taxpayers' dollars are lavished on universities and on drug companies to discover new treatments for, and ways of looking at cancer and a variety of "orphan diseases."

tom hall

Spending this money is good. Medical research always pays benefits in terms of improved public health. A healthy population is more productive, enjoys life more, and imposes less financial drain on society.

But capitalism tells us that he who invests should reap the benefits of the investments. OK, let's embrace that concept. Since the taxpayers put up the research money, taxpayers should get a commensurate share of the vast profits that are now delivered to private Big Pharma corporations and their university researchers. The new Congress should be requiring that research spending is accounted, and that where tax dollars are involved, the tax payers should get their capitalist share of profits from the research they paid for.

The emotional pull of "payback" is strong. The desire to do harm to those who have done harm to the majority is understandable. But this is one of those areas where the Bible got it right. Jesus said to do good to those who wrong you.

In the case of Big Pharma, or of local politicians who have raked off a share from school dollars and infrastructure spending, doing good for the taxpayers will also do good for the miscreants. Let them share in the benefits of improved oversight and more efficient spending.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall