It should’ve been President Sanders

While the result of the presidential election is upsetting to me on grounds of many of my personal beliefs – namely, that anthropogenic climate change is an existential threat to humanity, that everyone should be allowed to live the life they want with whoever they love, that a country as wealthy as the United States should guarantee its citizens healthcare as a human right, among others – I’m pleased because it was a triumph for democracy.

The reason the Republicans won is that even though almost every establishment figure was wary of Trump, when the results of their primary came in, Republicans did the right thing for democracy and accepted it, however reluctantly or reservedly. Contrastingly, the Democrats impeded Sanders at every step of the way, preemptively blaming him for Clinton’s loss, threatening him, slandering him, and otherwise fudging their primary to the favor of Clinton. Is it any surprise then that it resulted in a candidate that no one wanted. Before you demonize me and profess your passion for Clinton, consider that Trump didn’t win so much as Clinton lost. Look at the voter turnout of 2008, 2012, and 2016, and you’ll see that it shows that Republicans had a typical showing, and that no Democrats came to the polls. Even if some people are passionate about Clinton, the Democratic primary still failed to pick a popular candidate because establishment politicians forced their candidate through with super delegates, manipulation of the media, and threats, and these people are the ones responsible for letting Trump win.

If Democrats continue to blame third-party candidates, “Bernie-bros”, the FBI, Russians, WikiLeaks, whoever, for the failing of their top-down chosen candidate to garner popular support, they’ll continue to lose elections. If Democrats continue to retort to Republicans concerns about terrorism and immigration with “that’s racist”, they’re not going to convince voters as much as they’re going to silence them, because even if it’s true it’s an unpersuasive argument. This will only distort the polls, fail to convince people, and the Democrats will continue to lose election. If the Democrats continue to garner “right side of history” support using identity politics, they’ll alienate rural and suburban people who vote on economic and foreign policy issues, and they’ll continue to lose elections. Before you label me or any Trump voter a racist, which is the type of moralizing blame-shifting that’s losing Democrats elections, consider that the Rust Belt and Bible Belt voters chose Obama, an anti-establishment populist Democratic, twice over a white conservative establishment figure. Those people aren’t white supremacists, they’re the backbone of our country, and if Democrats continue to treat democracy with contempt, it won’t matter that the Democrats automatically get 55 delegates from California, they’ll continue to lose elections.

I’m pleased with the result of the election despite being upset with the winner because Democrats deserved to lose for their blatant disregard for the will of the people, the only legitimate source of power.

Who needs jesters with kings like these?

Jill Stein posted this to her Facebook a couple days ago:

We need to begin having honest conversations about the oppressive tactics corporate comedians continue to do towards already-marginalized groups of people.

And had this to add on her campaign website:

Oliver’s staff actually called our campaign before the program to ask for clarification on Jill’s platform – especially on the main part of his rant, cancelling student debt.

Despite this stab at due diligence (of the sort comedians undertake) … Oliver got it woefully, intentionally wrong. Gosh, it was almost as if they weren’t interested in the truth. It’s almost as if they just wanted to do a hatchet job…

Of course Oliver isn’t interested in the truth: he’s interested in making people laugh and in keeping his job. His show is a little better than some of his competitors because HBO doesn’t have to answer to advertisers, but it is owned by a company that answers to advertisers and lobbies the government. Of course corporate media forwards the goals of corporate media: it’s impossible for any sufficiently large corporation to pursue goals outside of growth and profit, because every decision is scrutinized by understandably penny-conscious shareholders. Oliver is a consumer-facing, front-line product from a Time/Warner company, and he fits into some larger strategy they have for growth and profit. To expect otherwise from a comedy show is misguided.

And this is the real problem. These comedy shows, like The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight, lampoon the news, and in doing so, replace the news for people that prefer to actually enjoy their television experience. I think the problems Stein should really be pointing out is that Oliver gets to market himself as news without needing to uphold journalistic standards, like supplements get to pose as medicine without upholding standards of safety and efficacy, and that the news has become so intolerable with the 24 hours news cycle that it’s difficult for me to believe anyone voluntary watches it (Their ratings must be falsely inflated by TVs in airports whose remote control has been misplaced.)

I’m considering voting for Stein come election day, Oliver’s piece made me laugh heartily, and it made no change to my convictions. When you decide to watch controversial, political, or lewd comedy, it’s just stupid to get offended when you, your ideology, or your identity is made fun. What did you expect? That only things you dislike would be mocked? To try to suppress this would be an affront to free speech, one of our most important freedoms. Not only is this stupid, but you cede power to the comedian when you do this, and you’ll often make the joke funnier for the target audience. If you want an example of how to handle being made fun of, and it’s uncomfortable for me to praise a group I have so many problems with, look no further than how the Mormon Church handled “The Book of Mormon”:

The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.

Let me rephrase that for you Jill Stein:

Jon Oliver may attempt to entertain viewers for an 20 minutes or so, but the ideology of the Green Party is designed to benefit the general population of the United States, unlike the corporatist duopoly.

Vote your conscience

If you’re a liberal and you oppose the TPP, this is the worst election cycle. If you vote for Hillary Clinton, you’ll likely be voting for TPP. If the issue is important enough to sway you away from the Democrats, you’re voting for Donald Trump, who apart from having some objectionable soundbites, is not at all liberal. Despite Bernie Sanders significant victories in changing the Democratic platform, Hillary Clinton is still at best a moderate corporatist verging on being indistinguishable from the moderate right. As evidence, consider what the Kochs think about this election:

Representatives of Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who helped to bankroll the rise of the tea party, warned the brothers could sit out the presidential campaign entirely — or even back Hillary Clinton.

When I express these concerns to fellow liberals, there’s this narrative that leftists need to “bite the bullet” and vote for Clinton in fear of a Trump presidency. Here’s RMS’s take on this attitude:

As happens every four years, plutcratist democrats are saying that we have to vote for their Republican-in-Democrat’s-clothing or else a worse Republican will win.

If we listen to them, we will never get anything better than plutocratists.

I encourage everyone to vote as though everyone was going to vote the way you do. Vote for the candidate you want to win, not the candidate everyone tells you to vote for, for any reason, including “your vote for a third-party is a vote for the major party candidate you oppose” (which is simply false), “he/she is the worst because of [scandal]!” (mostly propaganda), and “I agree with you, but you have to be practical” (there’s nothing wrong with being idealistic).

“Paul Ryan” and the Trump fail

Paul Krugman on Paul Ryan:

Actually existing Ryan has always been a con man — someone playing the part of Serious, Honest Conservative, but never doing a very good job of it. His budgets were always fraudulent in obvious ways, full of trillion-dollar magic asterisks and spectacular evasions. But he has consistently been portrayed in news reports and analysis as an earnest policy wonk. Why?

Krugman thinks that the reason he’s portrayed as honest comes from within the Republican strategy, but I’d argue that more blame lies with the news agencies themselves. Corporate news are corporations too, and they want to policies that are equitable to them and their affiliates and subsidiaries. So they portray politicians that are sympathetic to them in similarly sympathetic light.

As much as I loathe Trump’s public lies, racism, sexism, and casual fascism, his sentiment towards the Republican establishment is well placed, and because of their years of deceiving the people with wedge issues, they deserve every bit of the mess he made of their primary and legitimacy.

Atlanta Mayor’s column ripping Sanders drafted by lobbyist

From stretching campaign finance rules, to stretching campaigning near voting booth rules, to clinching super delegates in states lost by well over double digits, the Clinton campaign has really been disappointing me. And now there’s this:

A few days before the Georgia primary, influential Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed published a column on praising Hillary Clinton and ripping her opponent, Bernie Sanders. Reed attacked Sanders as being out of step with Democrats on gun policy, and accused him of elevating a “one-issue platform” that ignores the plight of the “single mother riding two buses to her second job.”

But emails released from Reed’s office indicate that the column, which pilloried Sanders as out of touch with the poor, was primarily written by a corporate lobbyist, and was edited by Correct the Record, one of several pro-Clinton Super PACs.

Clinton’s politics is more of the same, and right now is not bad for some people, especially the wealthy, moreso the politically wealthy. But her moral barometer is clearly broken, and her campaign is one the most unimaginative in modern Democratic history (which I don’t understand because she’s been planing this for decades!). The reason, in my opinion, for this level of desperation is that the Democratic establishment know that Sanders’ message is resonating with people, and that scares them, because $27 a person is a lot less than $2,700 (for people) or unlimited amounts (to SuperPACs).

What happens next will test the character for all of us

Elizabeth Warren via Facebook:

Donald Trump is now the leader of the Republican Party. It’s real – he is one step away from the White House. Here’s what else is real:

Trump has built his campaign on racism, sexism, and xenophobia. There’s more enthusiasm for him among leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.

He incites supporters to violence, praises Putin, and, according to a columnist who recently interviewed him, is “cool with being called an authoritarian” and doesn’t mind associations with history’s worst dictators.

He attacks veterans like John McCain who were captured and puts our servicemembers at risk by cheerleading illegal torture. In a world with ISIS militants and leaders like North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un conducting nuclear tests, he surrounds himself with a foreign policy team that has been called a “collection of charlatans,” and puts out contradictory and nonsensical national security ideas one expert recently called “incoherent” and “truly bizarre.”

What happens next will test the character for all of us – Republican, Democrat, and Independent. It will determine whether we move forward as one nation or splinter at the hands of one man’s narcissism and divisiveness. I know which side I’m on, and I’m going to fight my heart out to make sure Donald Trump’s toxic stew of hatred and insecurity never reaches the White House.

Well said.

Bernie’s “bad end”

The Democratic capital-D primary is not a democratic lowercase-D process – it’s not supposed to represent the will of the people, it’s supposed to represent the will of Democrats. Consider Paul Krugman on Bernie Sanders’ tone following the commitment of superdelegates:

This is really depressing: Sanders claiming that there will be a contested convention, and suggesting that the nomination fight was rigged. Can someone tell Bernie that he’s in the process of blowing his own chance for a positive legacy?

It’s not depressing, it’s just half true. Bernie Sanders would have won New York in a general election, and if it was against Donald Trump it would have been by wider margins than Trump v. Clinton.

The pitch that Sanders has for superdelegates of the party is not “join me to represent the will of the Democratic capital-D voters”, it’s “join me if you want to win.”

Stand with Verizon employees against CEO greed

I happened to be walking past the Verizon location in Brooklyn, where I saw the CWA striking. Their signs read “Build FiOS, Lower Executive Pay.” One of the reasons I like Bernie Sanders is his support for the CWA:

Verizon wants to take American jobs – call center jobs – out of this country and bring them abroad where people will be paid pennies an hour. That is unacceptable.


United Electrical Workers endorse Sanders

Bernie Sanders has received the endorsement of over 100 national and local unions representing well over a million people, including a 35,000 person unanimous endorsement from the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. That’s amazing. In response, he had this to say:

During my 25 years in Congress, I have been proud to stand side by side with the UE fighting to increase the minimum wage to a living wage; to guarantee health care to every man, woman and child as a right; to make it easier for workers to join unions; to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure; to transform our nation’s energy system; and against disastrous trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and normalized trade with China which have destroyed millions of decent-paying jobs in America.

This is a concise elucidation of why I voted for Bernie Sanders in the NY primary. I’m glad he’s polling increasingly well against Hillary in California, but unfortunately I don’t think Pennsylvania and Maryland favor Sanders.

Big money and Sanders’ viability

My criticisms of Hillary Clinton as president is that I don’t think her interests are aligned with the people, and relatedly, she’s continually shown herself to be a war hawk. Here’s Trevor Timm from the Guardian on this point:

[I]t would be difficult not to worry about at least the potential for a conflict of interest, when weapons manufacturers and Saudi Arabia were making donations to the Clinton Foundation while their weapons deals were approved by the State Department, oil companies were doing the same before the State Department approved the oil sands pipeline project, and other fossil fuels donated at around the same time the secretary was advocating increased fracking abroad.

There’s a narrative that this paranoia borders McCarthyism that substitutes communism with money, because even Sanders in the NY debate couldn’t name a single action that Clinton took that was influenced by her donations. I don’t buy it. When I pay for something, like a hosting service or a hot meal or rent, I expect a return on investment. There’s no way that Clinton’s donors, some of the most profitable organizations on Earth, are giving her money out of the goodness of their heart, the notion is ludicrous.

And that’s why I’m glad Sanders has a plan. Here’s his campaign manager explaining Sanders’ pitch to Democrats:

And in November, you know, only about a quarter of the population is Democrats. If you can’t create a coalition with independent voters, you can’t win the White House. You can’t win the Senate. You can’t bring additional people into the House.

So this is what has to be built in November. It has to be Democrats along with independents to defeat the Republicans. And Bernie Sanders is the candidate who can do that.


Mitt Romney on Donald Trump

In a surprisingly honest speech delivered to the University of Utah, Mitt Romney muses on the present presidential candidate race. The whole thing warrants reading, here’s a particularly prescient snippet:

For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics, trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term “crony capitalism.” It disgusts the American people and causes them to lose faith in our political process.

A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president. But a Trump nomination enables her victory. The audio and video of the infamous Tapper-Trump exchange on the Ku Klux Klan will play a hundred thousand times on cable and who knows how many million times on social media.

I’m glad the Republican establishment knows that Trump stands no real chance in the general election against a vetted careerist like Clinton. When Romney ran, I supported and voted for Obama, but given the present political circus, a Romney candidacy would be a welcome sanity.

The reason that the current crop of candidates besides Trump are so weak is that they’re playing his game, on his terms. No one can “out Donald the Donald”, because he’s been slinging insults and schmoozing audiences his whole life. Even with Romney’s speech, all it takes for The Donald to deflect it is to say something to the effect of, “Who? Romney? What that loser is telling me how to win?”

The Republican establishment has fallen prey to Rule 19 of the Internet:

The more you hate it, the stronger it gets.