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Showing posts with label BS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BS. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Face Book Politics

Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
04.29.2017

Last year I argued with a lot of my friends on Face Book. We argued a great deal during the primaries. We argued about Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, old BS, and HRC.
I was, and am a Hillary supporter, the nation lost out on a good leader when we failed to elect her.
I love to argue, I have an instinct for it, maybe an addiction. I find certain things in politics very hard to resist. I think it is a character flaw.
Ultimately, I had to result in a program of self-censorship. In an argument I can be aggressive uncompromising, this largely stems from my conviction that I am right (I am not giving that up). It also comes from my desire to cut back all the noise, to go for the close when I am in that argumentative mode.
As I have said, I have a character flaw, I love to argue. I like to win. I believe I am right, and I can sometimes be impatient.
These are all good reasons not to argue with people that I genuinely like, on Face Book.
Sometimes I cannot resist.
I waded into an argument yesterday. A friend of mine posted a link to an article by Harvard Professor, Dr. Cornell West.
Dr. West has been arguing for progressive thinkers and voters to abandon the Democratic Party. The basis for this is his interest in social justice. He believes that the Democratic party cannot cure itself of its racism, homophobia, militarism, or its alignment with big, banks, big agra, big oil, all of which perpetuate grave injustices on the people, but more importantly on those who are the most marginalized already.
While Dr. West sees the problem for it is, the Democratic Party, like the majority of Americans, is deeply tied to economic forces, those fears, those corrupting social issues, those matters of identity politics. He is right about that, but he is wrong, and absolutely wrong about the prescription.
My response to this post was simply to say that Cornell West is an idiot. That was not very nice, but it is true. When he, or anyone speaks about dividing the political power of the Democratic party, of abandoning it, they is being idiotic.
I quickly edited my response to remove the incendiary language. My edited comment read, Cornell West doesn’t know what he is talking about.” This is true. Cornell West, who has legitimate roots as an activist, who is a brilliant writer, public speaker, public intellectual, he is also someone who stopped living in the real world some decades ago. Because he is disconnected from the world, he finds himself, like Noam Chomsky trying to solve problems from his office in the ivory tower at Harvard square.
His answer to the real problems of social injustice have become, “take an ideologically pure position and make a lot of noise.” When the real solution has to be, “change public policy.”
The social injustices that beset the poor and the marginalized, are matters of law, and public policy. We cannot bring justice without changing law and policy. To make those kinds of changes, we need to win elections. We need to elect people to public office, at every level of government who will do the right thing. Put the bills on the floor, bring them up for a vote, and pass them into law.
I understand if people want to take umbrage with democratic lawmakers, and policy shapers, for being sellouts, and not being good at their jobs. Those individuals are a fraction of the party, the party is tens of millions of people, slightly larger than half of the electorate, spread throughout the nation.
When Dr, West argues that we should abandon the Democratic Party, he is saying, abandon those people. Stop working with them. The very people he purports to want to help.
Politics is a game of compromise, and compromise never satisfies anyone. Politics should be informed by idealism, but cannot be held hostage to it. Advancing public policy requires political legislative victories, and that requires victories at the ballot box. We on the left need to stay together, work together, collaborate and compromise if we are to have any hope getting control of the ship again.
Dr, West, Noam Chomsky, people like my friend who I argued with yesterday, they look right past this point. They want to draw power away from the place where it is most heavily concentrated, rather than add to it. They want to divide and diffuse it, because they believe that being right, is more important than doing right.

That is a shame.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chasing the Dragon - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

05.21.2016

Chasing the Dragon

Have you ever heard an addict talk about their addiction; heard them talk about “chasing the dragon,” talk about the way in which they got hooked on whatever it is that they got hooked on: whisky, cocaine, heroin…the adulation of a crowd, or a feeling of righteousness, how they got hooked because they kept looking for the experience that was as the blissful, as fulsome, as perfect as the first time they ever used.

They were chasing the dragon.

The expression comes from Arthurian legend. Old King Pelinore, was most famously on this quest. He was a king in his own right, and a knight of the Round Table. He was the father of Elaine; wife of Sir Lancelot, mother of Sir Galahad. He was something of a laughing stock; because he was always leaving court to go on the quest for what most of his peers believed was an imaginary beast.
He was chasing the dragon.

Pelinore was pure of heart. Lancelot beheld the Holy Grail while he was staying at his castle, where sanity returned to him and he wedded Elaine, and conceived their child Galahad, who fulfilled the quest for the grail together with Sir Percival, and Sir Bores.

The other knights would often tease Pelinore, and making up stories about having seen the beast. He would immediately get up and go to find it. Some, like Percival, and Sir Palomides (The Saracen), joined him on the quest. Like Pelinore, they were believers, and it did not matter to them what they risked, what they gave up; in terms of prestige, reputation, standing, and wealth. What mattered to them was the quest itself, it was the proper role for the knight, when he was not serving his king at war, to be on the quest for justice, and peace, for truth, and goodness, for beauty’s sake, for love.

They were chasing the dragon, the questing beast.

Senator Sanders is chasing the dragon now. Is he a goodly knight; like Pelinore, Percival, and Palomides? Or is Bernie Sanders a junkie, just looking for his next fix?

Does he actually want to advance the progressive agenda, or does he want one more big rally to take him to the edge?

I do not know the answer to this question.

I suspect that BS does not know the answer to this question either. I do wish that everyone who is following him, ardently supporting his candidacy; I do wish they would answer this question for themselves.

All of the quest knights shared certain qualities in common; humility, grace, and peace they also possessed a strength in direct proportion to their faith, and purity. When they were true they could not be defeated, and of that there was no doubt.

One thing I know from my experience with addicts, is that when they do not get what they want, they become angry, bitter, resentful. They begin to blame everyone and everything around them for their failures. They risk more and more, until they lose everything, destroy their relationships and are left bereft.

BS is chasing the dragon, and he seems increasingly delusional. He risks squandering all of the good will he has amassed from his colleagues; for being on his quest and fighting the good fight. He has succeeded in moving the focus of the democratic primary significantly toward the issues that he is most passionate about. I believe that the democratic party is grateful for this, and grateful for the energy he has brought to his campaign. Even though it was not enough to give him a victory, and even though his prospects were always statistically improbable.


Is he the same progressive idealist today that he was a year ago when he started his campaign? Is he a Pelinore or a Percival motivated by purity of heart, or has he lost his mind like Lancelot, junked out for something he could never have?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bernie Sanders is Lying to You - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

05.014.2016

Bernie Sanders is Lying to You

Have you heard of Senator Bernie Sanders?

Bernie Sanders is running for the nomination of the Democratic Party; running to be its candidate for President of the United States in 2016.

Have you heard of Bernie? Have you heard that he is an ethical person? Do you believe it? Why?
BS has raised two hundred million dollars in his bid for the nomination, he has squandered it. He has about twenty million in cash on hand.

Where did the money go?

He spent it all on rallies, where he trashed the reputation of his opponent; creating a lot of media buzz, but it was all a fa├žade. He was losing the election virtually every step of the way, and he would not admit it.

Did you know that BS is not a Democrat?

He is running for the nomination of the Democratic Party, even though he only joined the party in 2015, and he does not wear the label well; Democrat, he shuns it, calling himself a Democratic Socialist (whatever that is) instead.

He joined the Democratic Party for the sake of formality, he could not run for its nomination without doing that. It was a lie. BS is not a Democrat, he is not helping the Democratic Party with the broader aspects of the election in 2016, he is not helping to raise money for other candidates, like his opponent; Secretary Clinton does. His membership in the party is a self-serving canard, a farce. It may be worse; a bait a switch.  

BS pretends that he is doing something noble by raising money form small donors (then wasting it). He asserts that Hillary Clinton is corrupt (in some way) because she takes large donations, and has a “Super Pac” that does so on her behalf. He says that that if Hillary takes large donations for her campaign, or if a “Super-Pac” does, this makes her and them beholden to an “evil power,” the evil of “special interests”. This is a ruse. He cannot cite any proof of this. He just wants you to believe it.

The best kind of lie has a certain logic to it, it makes a kind of “philosophical” sense. BS is good at it, he has been doing it a long time.

Is taking money from millions of people in small increments, and being beholden to none of them, better than taking money from large donors and groups who would expect you to be in some kind of dialog with them? BS would have you believe this, and it is another BS lie.

BS would have you think his campaign is about you, that it is about social justice…for you, but in reality it is about him, it is about his vanity, his projection of righteous indignation, his idealism. It is about Feeling the Bern. His campaign is about him, just as his slogan suggests.

In leveling this criticism, I am not suggesting that HRC is not vain, or that she does not possess any number of character flaws (she is a politician just like him), nevertheless her slogan is simply: Hillary for America, and there is the tell.

BS is lying to you when he claims to have the momentum in the race, with his narrow constituency of middle-class white people giving him victories in what are for the most part red and rural states.

BS is lying, and asking you to deny the candidate with the real power in the race; the power of millions of more votes, hundreds of more delegates, a half dozen more contests won. He wants to deny the legitimacy of her victory, and usurp her candidacy instead.

BS is lying when he suggests that a theoretical lead in some demographic polls of the general election, polls which show him doing better against Trump than HRC does; he is lying when he suggests that this is a sufficient rationale to overturn the will of the voters in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. BS is lying to you.

BS is lying to you. He is playing to your fears. He is pretending to be a problem solver, and pretending to be a team player, while at the same time threatening the unity of the Democratic party, and the hopes of the progressive movement.

He would have you believe that a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour, a proposal which his opponent has made, is a betrayal of the progressive movement; because it does not go far enough. He is lying to you when he says that she does not support a $15 minimum wage, when in fact she does, she support those legislative moves in cities and states where they have taken place. He is lying to you.

BS is lying to you when he talks about a revolution. He does not have the votes to win the Democratic nomination (and he knows it); never mind the notion that he would have a mandate to reshape the American government, its industries and economy. There is no revolution, the BS revolution is a vanity play.

Bernie Sanders is not the man for the job, but his ego will not let him stop.

He is lying to himself, and he is asking you to believe it.

  
   




Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bernie for VP? - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

05.07.2016

Bernie for VP?

Senator Sanders has not suspended his campaign. He pretends that he has the momentum to overtake Secretary Clinton’s lead in the delegate count; in the remaining contests. Bernie makes these pretenses even though he loses ground even as he chalks up wins, like the win he posted in Indiana last week.

Bernie Sanders Suggests that he will arrive at the convention with the hearts and the minds of the Democratic Party behind him. He makes this suggestion even though Hillary Clinton has won more statewide contests, has won more votes, has won more pledged delegates, and has more support among the so-called “super-delegates” the free agents of the Democratic Party; the roughly five hundred delegates who are selected from among the parties elected officials and other party officials. To overcome Hillary’s lead among both pledged and “super” delegates, Bernie would have to earn 101% of the remaining delegates before the convention; an impossibility.

Bernie’s plan, the plan of the BS campaign, is to come to the convention floor and make an argument for electability, not based on the votes he has earned, the states he has won, the support he has garnered from his colleagues, but based on some demographic polling from organizations like Gallop, and Rueters, etc…

I understand the desire to not give up, to keep fighting until the fighting is done, I cannot fault BS for this, but I do take his denial of the present realities as evidence for the claim that I have been making all along, that BS is just another ordinary politician, who cares more for his own ego than he does about the future of the progressive movement. BS stands by while his supporters attack his opponent, he refuses to ameliorate the situation. He effectively endorses the criticism of HRC, that she is corrupt, that she is no better than a Republican; by doing nothing he fuels it. That is wrong.

I support the desire of the BS campaign to compete until the convention, and use the support he has earned to shape the rules, and influence the platform, the is the appropriate place for the idealism he championed to be channeled. It would be disingenuous and disastrous for him to come to the convention still fighting and vilifying HRC.

The latest news from the campaign is that Bernie has intimated that he would consider a place on the ticket with Hillary as her Vice President. I am wondering if his followers and supporters like that idea?

Would it be a good idea? Would Bernie be a good soldier in a Hillary administration? If Bernie is willing to serve under Hillary, what does this say about him, and her? Dos it suggest perhaps, that all of the critique he has issued about her fund raising and her speeches, that it was all a smoke screen and political nonsense? If Bernie is willing to come on board, to participate in that organization, he must not really be opposed to it.

Does Bernie think he would enter Hillary’s administration as her VP, and then perhaps force her to some higher moral standard than she would otherwise adhere to? Is that where he now sees his path to power?

Money may be the root of all evil, though to put the saying in it proper context, it is not money itself but the love it that feeds the evil in the human heart. But it is power that corrupts, or to put it more accurately, it is power that attracts the corruptible.

Is this where the BS campaign is now, on the precipice of real power, with that power nearly in its grasp. It tilts toward the corrupt, it is willing to ally itself with its opponent for some purpose, either to be co-opted by her, or perhaps to undermine her?


I find the whole thing troubling, and I would sooner leave his idealism in the Senate, or elevate it to the Supreme Court, than I would have it anywhere near the HRC administration which I hope will be governing the country come January.   

Saturday, April 16, 2016

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

04.16.2016

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

As I have been watching the campaign this week, the campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party for president; I have been reminded of the chorus from the classic Rolling Stones song.

You can’t always get what you want…But you get what you need

The message coming from the Sander’s campaign is that they will not stop. They will carry through; into the convention. They are not going to suspend, and they may not put forward any effort to bring the support they have garnered among their young and independent minded voters, into the fold of the Democratic Party.

It remains a mathematical possibility for BS to win, but it is virtually certain that he will lose to HRC, and I think this is a good thing. The comportment of the Sander’s campaign, over the last couple of weeks, has been atrocious; rude, divisive.

BS is losing to HRC by significant margins in every measure; by millions of votes, by hundreds of pledged delegates, by virtually all of the super delegates, whose votes could sway the election one way or the other.

Now with his impending loss in New York, BS has begun to put forward the notion that he will carry out a fight for the nomination on the convention floor, regardless of the fact that he will have earned fewer votes, and earned fewer pledged delegates. He is going to try to sway enough of the super delegates to join his “movement” in order to thwart HRC from becoming the nominee. Even though it is clear that democratic voters prefer her to him.

BS does not want to hear that. He has in recent days put forward the notion that the victories of the Clinton campaign in the “Deep South” are irrelevant on account of the fact that they are “Red States” and much more conservative than the states he has won.

I disagree, but there is more than just my opinion v. the opinion of BS in this question. I would suggest that states like; Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, all of which gave victories to BS, these states are not less conservative than Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama etc.. They are all red states; “Deep Red.” That is my opinion, but what is fact is this: of the states that have already held their primaries and caucuses, of those states that voted for President Obama twice; in 2008, and 2012, HRC has won the majority of votes in those states, by a million or more.
Senator Sanders has great ideas, and sound values. He is good on the stump, but he is a terrible candidate, and would be a worse president.

It was shameful for his campaign to give their stage to a supporter who called Secretary Clinton a “corporate whore.” I was ashamed of BS all last week when he mocked HRC repeatedly in his speeches, claiming that she was “getting nervous.” Over and over again, BS himself used this line; “Hillary is getting nervous…she is getting nervous.” When in reality there was no indication of that at all. But HRC is a woman right? And that is what women do right? Women get nervous in the face of a strong man…right?

Wrong! Bernie Sanders does not make Hillary Clinton nervous at all.

BS does not have the appropriate command of the facts, or the temperament to be president.
His lack of policy details was made evident in the past couple of weeks through the interviews he gave, which clearly demonstrate that he has not thought through the practical realities of his dreams. I am not saying that he could not command those facts, I am merely saying that he has not yet bothered to pay the kind of attention to those details, which his ambitions demand. And that is not a formula for success, either on the campaign trail or in the White House.

In the debate this week he showed his poor temperament. While he condemned his supporter who called Hillary a whore, he continued to suggest that she was in fact for sale, and yet when pressed on the specifics he could not rise to the occasion and give any details. His responses were sarcastic, sophomoric, and unworthy of a person seeking the office which he aspires to. He was smug, and chuckling when the issue of gun violence was brought up in the debate. Again, a performance unworthy of the office he aspires to.

The missteps, and miscalculations that BS made on the campaign trail this week were too many to enumerate here. Let me just say this to any of you who may be inclined to support him. I am with you, insofar as I want many, most of the things he wants for our country, but Senator Sanders is not the person to take us there, Secretary Clinton is.


You can’t always get the candidate you want…but if we hold together in solidarity on the left, we will get the candidate we need. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Momentum is Not a Rationale for Governing - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

04.09.2016

Momentum is Not a Rationale for Governing

I have been hearing this argument since January, but over the last couple of weeks it has gotten increasingly more passionate. The argument has two prongs, and it is this:

Bernie Sanders has the momentum
Bernie Sanders leads the republicans by wider margins than Hillary Clinton in the survey polls
Bernie Sanders can win
Vote for Bernie Sanders

This is not a policy discussion. This is not a debate about substantive issues, this is BS.

Momentum:

BS has legitimate energy and enthusiasm behind his political campaign, there is no denying that. So does HRC. Over the course of the campaign they have each had moments where they were surging and winning contests by large percentages.

If you were to look at a single segment of the race, and focus only on a single upswing for a given candidate you could make that argument with equal validity for either one.

If you were to look at the arc of momentum over the whole race (up until now, this could change over future contests), you have would have to conclude that the inertia belongs to HRC. The enthusiasm of the voters for her candidacy has yielded more statewide victories, the support of more pledged delegates, and 2.5 million more votes.

The momentum in the campaign belongs to HRC (at the moment), regardless of the fact that her numbers appear to be in a trough at this time. She will likely peak again very soon. The inertia is hers, and the BS campaign appears to less and less of a movement that stands on its own and more of thing that simply drags at HRC campaign’s numbers.

Demographic Polls:

For several weeks I have heard BS on the stump touting the fact that he leads all of the republican candidates in the demographic polls. Based on this he says that you should nominate him.

HRC beats the republican candidates as well, also by wide margins (though they are smaller).

While this kind of data is important, and it is important for campaigns to track; at this moment in the race it is not in the slightest way an argument for electability. This is a bait and switch. The polls will change, all reputable pollsters agree. The margins of both candidates over their republican opponents will shrink, at times it may disappear completely, or hover around the margin of error. That is normal in a campaign cycle.

These arguments are never arguments for electability, they can only be arguments for or against the probability of victory; probabilities which are always in flux.

Furthermore, this is the exact same argument as Donald Trump makes in his speeches, and it is unworthy of a serious politician. BS should stop.

This is the case:

Both Senator Sanders, and Secretary Clinton can win. They both have great momentum. Bernie has fantastic rallies, Hillary has earned more votes than any candidate in the race (from either party). The enthusiasm of their supporters looks different from one to the other, but it is real. In the end, whoever wins will need the support of the other

I hope that whoever is nominated by the democratic party will get your vote. Either of them would be better than any of the republicans, just as the Democratic Party agenda is better for the America people than the Republican Party agenda.


Let us quit talk about momentum, and wave frequency. Let us start talking public policy and get down to meaning full discussion of how we are going to pull this off.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mythology, Fundamentalism, Politics - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

04.02.2016

Mythology, Fundamentalism, Politics

I was watching Senator Sanders speak last week. He was holding a rally in Portland Oregon, ahead of the caucuses there, which he won by a wide margin. As he was speaking a small bird landed on the stage, and then, a few moments later alighted on the podium.

The crowd went wild.

I have to say I found it amusing. I enjoyed the spectacle myself. It was an inside joke playing itself out on the national stage. It was as if mother nature herself was colluding with the Sanders campaign, as if the spirit of Portland was endorsing the candidacy of BS, as surely as the citizen of Portland would days later; in overwhelming numbers.

The crowd went wild.

People in the audience behind BS, were gazing into the heavens, hands coming together in prayer. It looked to me as if they expected the sky to crack open and the booming voice of God to announce 
God’s favor for BS.

Of course that did not happen.

Nevertheless, the mythmakers proceeded to tell the story as if that is exactly what happened. A sign was given in Portland. A bird joined BS at the Podium. God was pleased with Birdie…I mean Bernie Sanders.

I found myself feeling resentful.

It is not that I did not appreciate the joke; the symbolism, the unexpected, unplanned for, unasked for moment, the delighted look on the face of BS. It was great. However, the charm of the moment was immediately lost, as the sanders campaign and its supporters began to put forward this moment of happy fortune as a rational for his candidacy.

Human beings have a latent susceptibility to the power of myth.

I do not believe that the incident with the bird convinced anyone to support BS who otherwise were not in his camp, but the quasi-mystical packaging of the event (after the fact) validated their support in a way that I can only characterize as anti-rational.

Those of us whose political affiliation falls on the left wing of the political spectrum are not used to having the label of fundamentalist attached to us. Fundamentalist thought processes are a dominant feature of right wing conservativism. However, no ideological system is immune to it. The entry point to fundamentalist thinking is the rejection of the rational, and the embrace of magical.

The first casualty of fundamentalist thought is truth, the second is community.

Fundamentalists retreat from discourse with their opponents. Adversaries become enemies, heroes become villains, angels become demons, gods become devils. In that nexus of mythological/fundamentalist thought, the stakes of the context get magnified beyond their actual dimensions. They take on cosmic proportions. A regular campaign for the presidency, which happens every four years; becomes a “revolution,” the stakes become “our entire future,” what is at risk is “our way of life.” The hotter the rhetoric gets the more divorced from reality it becomes.

The fundamentalist denies the obvious flaws of the candidates, or belief systems they support, and imagine flaws that do not exist in those they oppose, as creationists do, or flat Earthers do, or climate deniers do.

Genuine political discourse is impossible in that environment.

Last week I listened while Susan Sarandon; actress, activist, movie star, told MSNBC that there was no way she would support Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination. She said she would support the Republican, even if it was Donald Trump. She expressed the belief that this would “bring on the revolution” that much sooner. Her sentiment was that the Republicans, and especially Trump, would be such a disaster for the country that the revolutionary forces that support BS would then be able to rise from the ashes and usher in a new era.

Sarandon does not speak for the Sanders campaign. She is merely a supporter, but a vocal one, and it is fair to say that her sentiments represent a wide swath of the feelings of the BS supporters.
What is clear to me is that Sarandon is caught up in that mythological space, she views the campaign a revolution (which it is not nor could it be), she sees herself as a revolutionary hero; as such she must see the HRC campaign as the enemy, she would rather imperil the country in order to open up the possibility of a future victory than accept the loss that will likely be handed to them when this nomination is over.

Sarandon is not alone. These feelings are being blasted across the country; reflected, echoed repeated thousands of times a day dividing the far left from the middle, dividing democrats and liberal progressives from one another.

I saw a meme posted by a friend of mine, a supporter of BS featuring HRC as the Wicked Witch of the West, green face and all, threatening to kill Bernie Sanders “and his little bird too,” as if BS was as innocent and plucky as the hero Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, which is ironic because in reality, his revolutionary promises, as empty as they are, make him more like the man behind the curtain; just a dude with a penchant for casting illusions.

I implore all people of good conscience to pull back from this form of extreme and dangerous thinking. It may seem funny, but it is not a joke. A successful democratic administration following that of Barrack Obama has the potential to change the direction of the country (not to remake it) for generations to come. If Obama is followed by a Republican, the gains we have made will be lost. But if there is a disaster, another economic collapse, war; the wealthy like Susan Saradon will be just fine, the American people will suffer, and the response to social/economic chaos is never an embrace of radical change, but is always a retreat toward conservativism.

Here are some facts that the supporters of BS should contend with:

HRC has won more states than BS; by one.

HRC has won more pledged (earned) delegates than BS; by two hundred-sixty three.

HRC has been given more support by “super-delegates” than BS; by four hundred-thirty eight.

HRC has won more votes than BS by; more than two and a half million.


There has been a lot of talk among the supporters of BS that HRC has the election rigged, that the fix is in, that the process is undemocratic. But the facts are these, HRC has simply won more support, more people have voted for her, and among the people who have voted for her, there is greater diversity, ethnic, geographic, and cultural diversity.   

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Berning it Down - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

03.19.2016

Berning it Down

There was a subtle shift in the Sander’s campaign this week; as he continues in his quest for Democratic Party’s nomination for President. I found it troubling, and a little bit amusing, but mostly worrisome, and befuddling.

BS lost every contest on Tuesday. His campaign spent a lot of resources, and they believed they would win at least one of the contests, if not two, and they were hopeful that they could make it three.
In two of the contests; Missouri and Illinois the margin was razor thin; virtually tied, but he lost. HRC won Ohio by a by a larger margin, but it was still relatively close. However, she blew the Sander’s campaign out of the water in North Carolina and Florida.

HRC expanded her lead in the contest for delegates in a significant way, I am speaking of pledged delegates, votes that are committed to HRC.

The Clinton campaign holds a commanding lead; something like 95% of the un-pledged, “super-delegates.” Making her path to victory almost guaranteed. BS has complained bitterly about this through the contest so far; stating over and over again that if HRC only wins because of the votes of super-delegates her victory would be un-democratic and illegitimate.

This line of reason has been vociferously echoed by the BS supporters all over the Web and throughout social-media. Only now, now that his path to victory has become extremely dubious; BS has begun to suggest that he might continue his campaign all the way to the convention even if he arrives there without a majority of pledged delegates, and try to convince the super-delegates to make him the nominee anyway; in what his campaign has already called an un-democratic and illegitimate way.

I am amused by this because it speaks directly against the holier than thou, I am not a regular politician image that the BS campaign has successfully foisted on the public imagination. The amusement can only go so far because such a path risks fracturing the democratic party just at the point when it needs to be unified.

This troubles me because it is a concrete foreshadowing of what I have been asking my friends, who are BS supporters to think about; my estimation that BS would gladly tear down the party jut for a chance to win an argument. That is the kind of guy he seems to be.

Mind you, I am not saying he would tear down the party just to win an argument; he would tear it down just for a chance to win, and jeopardize any possibility of advancing the progressive agenda that he claims to care so much about.

People, who are fans of BS have made a lot of noise about the notion that the Senator is untouched by political corruption. I challenge that notion on the basis that, people can be greedy for other things than money. Human beings are corrupted by their desires, and as the Buddha says, desire is the cause of all suffering. Desire causes suffering both from within and without. Our own desires cause us to suffer, and the desires of others inflict suffering on those around them.

Most people desire mundane things, material things; they are greedy for wealth, privilege, power. Some people however, have more intractable desires, more difficult for us to understand, not as easy to put our finger on, like; purity, righteousness, rightness. I contend that we have more to fear from those who crave these things than we do the other.

I ask you to think about this in the coming weeks as the BS campaign continues its rhetoric about the super-delegates, condemning HRC out of one side of their mouths for stacking the deck with these pledges at the outset of the contest, and out of the other side of their mouths giving us their strategy to capitalize on the same. While threatening to Bern down the party in the process.

      

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Voting for Hillary Part IV - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

02.27.2016

Voting for Hillary Part IV

As a supporter of Hillary (HRC), I can tell you that it was gratifying to watch the results come in from yesterday primary in South Carolina. Even though I am not anticipating it, I hope my DFL friends who are planning to caucus on Tuesday I hope we can show the same good sense. I am going to be up at Jefferson Elementary Tuesday night, March 1st; making the case.

I support HRC, it is not that I don’t think Senator Sanders (BS), has good ideas; I do. I share his ideals, but I think, as many of you have heard me say, that HRC has a much better chance of advancing the progressive agenda than BS does.

This is why I think HRC will get more traction for her agenda than BS will be able to do:

The republican establishment has been playing a long con, for the past eight years, by refusing to cooperate with Obama. They thought they could keep both social policy, and economic progress stagnant, and that this would do enough damage to the democratic brand that America would abandon both President Obama and his allies in congress. President Obama was able to get some things done, like the ACA, in the first two years, when the democratic party had control of both chambers of congress. However, in 2010 the democrats lost the House of Representatives, and the obstruction set in, and the long con began.

This gamesmanship did not work out quite the way they planned, President Obama was reelected, but the republicans did gain control of the Senate, and so they doubled down on their strategy for his second term; thinking that if things were held at a standstill the election this year, in 2016, would be viewed as a referendum on the Democratic Party and they would be able to sweep in. It was a big gamble, and the results of the 2014 election indicated that it might be working, the republicans strengthened their hand that year, and yet the con is not complete, and the risks are still risky, because the big money behind the Republican Party establishment, wants more than anything to make money. They want 4% or 5% economic growth, not 1% or 2%. They want the prime lending rate at 1% or 2% not 0%, or 0.25% which it is now.

The way I see the last eight years is that those interests basically accepted the notion of having a weak U.S. economy, one in which they were still making money, still performing better than the rest of the world (by just sitting on their capitol), with the hope that at the end of it they would have both houses of congress, the executive branch, and the Supreme Court all wrapped up. That is the con, but it did not quite work.

The economy performed better than expected. The stock market performed better than expected, the rest of the world did much worse than expected. At the moment, the U.S. economy is benefitting from the global slow down. The recent slowdown in China only benefits us, it hurts the stock market short term, it generated some uncertainty and instability, but it will help us in the longer term, because investment dollars will move away from those markets, into ours due to the long term stability that the United States provides. Furthermore, beyond those economic considerations, that long con that the republican establishment played forced the establishment to coddle the most rightwing elements of their party, and now establishment has been completely undermined by their ideological clowns, and they are on the verge losing control of it to an upstart named Donald Trump.

Here is the deal, those republican economic interests are not going to triple down on that bet. They will not play the con any longer if their gambit does not pay off. Those economic interests who are sitting on (as much or more than) two-trillion dollars in capitol, are going to free up that capitol, and return to investing it in the U.S., in our work force, in technology, in industry and in infrastructure development. Securing that capital investment, cooperatively (not by coercion), is the key to economic development and prosperity in American for the next several decades. But they will only play ball, if they have someone in office that will play ball with them. HRC will work with them.

For many of my friends, the fact that HRC will work with these interest groups is reason enough not to support her. I respect that, but I contend that it is short sighted. We want that capital investment in America, we can get to it much faster if we deal with them, than we can if the plan is to change the tax structure first, and take it from them. HRC will be able to make a deal in the short term, but only if they get some concessions. HRC will be able to cut an infrastructure deal, BS will not. This is true regarding the rest of their proposed agendas; HRC will be able to make deals and get some things done and BS will not. I am not going to put forward a long list of what HRC will be able to do that BS won’t, because that one example (on infrastructure) summarizes my argument and my point of view, and I think you can extrapolate my rationale from there.

I am certain that if Hillary puts out a reasonable plan for growth and the Republican leadership refuses to play ball, there will be some party switching, republicans will defect, and the leadership will get some marching orders from those economic interest groups; they will be told to play ball, those economic powers do not want another four or eight years of weak growth.


BS however, he will not get that consideration, because he either will not compromise, or he will not compromise enough. The strength of his idealism, will become his ideological weakness, he will not compromise enough. His idealism will have him come off looking like the crazy person at the bargaining table, and they will drive him out as a failure in four years, while at the same time holding on to the other channels of power. The republicans will triple down on their bet then, and the great con game will continue.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Voting for Hillary Part III – HRC v BS II - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

02.20.2016

Voting for Hillary Part III – HRC v BS II

A couple of days ago I made a comment on the Face Book page of a friend of mine. I said something to the effect of this:

“If Senator Sanders wins the Presidency (and I think he could do it if he wins the nomination of the Democratic Party), it will set back the progressive agenda by a generation.”

This may seem counterintuitive to most people who read it, because Senator Sanders (BS) is clearly the most ardent, and idealistic spokesperson for the progressive agenda in our public life at this time (with the possible exception of Senator Elizabeth Warren).

Why is that the case, why would the torch-bearer of the progressive movement, be the biggest threat to the cause of progressivism?  

This is complicated, and I ask you to allow the whole argument play out in order to arrive at its conclusion.

Therefore, let us talk about the candidates, and what they would bring to the table if they were President. What are the expectations attaching to each of them

I think I think Secretary Clinton (HRC) will be a least as effective as President Obama in advancing the progressive agenda. Many idealistic progressives will scoff at this; many of the most active liberals I know think that President Obama has accomplished very little in terms of genuine progressivism, and so this claim is not convincing to them. Those people complain that the Affordable Care Act was a giveaway to the insurance agencies, that our armed forces are still far too involved in conflicts around the world, they complain about the rate at which immigrants are being deported, they complain about the sequester, and so on. While they complain the apologists for 

President Obama, of which I am one, will tell you that he got what he was able to get while negotiating with Congress; Congress which actually controls the legislative agenda.
President Obama barely passed the Affordable Care Act, at a time when his party controlled both chambers of congress, when he had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. At the same time President Obama could not even close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, which he ran on as a first order of business for his administration. Why was it so difficult to get the one thing done, and impossible to do the other? It is because every little thing that the president wants to do are reduced to negotiating points to be made with hostile actors; hostile Republicans and intractable Democrats alike. A president cannot even rely on members of their own party to support their agenda; if those members discern even a tiny bit of political peril in it for them.

In the current political climate, while Republicans control both chambers of Congress, making some advances on the progressive agenda would be great, even small ones, but holding the line on what has been achieved over the past eight years is even more important. No backsliding!

When we Democratic voters, we liberal progressives are dreaming about raising the minimum wage, universal health care, strengthening unions, breaking up big banks, overturning Citizens United, subsidizing college tuition, major increases in domestic spending, protecting voting rights; we must bear in mind, that roughly half of the electorate will be voting for the other side. The other side already controls the Senate, already controls the House of Representatives, controls the majority of state legislative assemblies, and the majority of gubernatorial chairs throughout the country. The other side wants no minimum wage, no regulation of banking, health care provided through the free market, no right to organize unions, Citizens United affirmed, and the rights of corporations expanded, no support for higher education, and all domestic infrastructure spending made piecemeal through block grants, given to the sates and along to the private sector, they want all of that and the sharp curtailment of voting rights. Throw into the mix their long standing desire to privatize social security, to keep burning fossil fuels, and to ramp up the war footing of the Nation.  

Holding the line will, if that is all we are able to do, that will be a victory for the next President. I believe HRC can do that, and I believe she can do more. I believe she can build on the legacy of President Obama. HRC will able to hold the line precisely because her rhetoric is not calling for revolution. While some may criticize her for setting the bar too low, I believe she is setting the bar realistically. This is vital, because the most important thing about keeping the agenda moving forward is too not lose the support of the base. If you promise what you cannot deliver, they will become disillusioned and fall away. This happened to President Obama, people have written books about how he has “betrayed” the progressive agenda, and it happened to President Jimmy Carter, whose legacy should be a cautionary note for how we can view a possible BS administration.

Because the agenda that HRC has put forward is as tempered as it is, ordinary people on both sides of the political spectrum, everyone in the much maligned-muddy-middle, all of those supposed moderates, they can understand it, and because they understand it, they won’t feel threatened by it, they can support it, even in the face of opposition. Some people on the left might want more progressivism, some on the right might want more conservativism, but when one side or the other wins an election they get the mandate to expand their cause. The majority of Americans understand this, but they do not want, and they do not expect to gyrate wildly from poll to poll, they expect a moderate expansion of the franchise from the margins at the middle.

The majority knows who to hold at fault when the government gets shut down, if one side is being moderate, and the other side is acting from the demands of their ideals. If a BS administration threatens to veto a budget because it lacks some provision he has demanded from the furthest reaches of his idealism, BS will get the blame, and not congress.

Listen to me; progress is progress, even if it is gradual, and incremental.

This is not exciting. I realize that, but it is the truth, and I hope you can realize this too.

This is exactly how we would view it if the conservative side gets a victory. If the republicans win and decide to try and implement a legislative agenda that looks like the most ideal version of their conservative torch-bearers; deport eleven million people, build a giant wall on the border with Mexico, go to war again in Iraq, and in Syria, ban Muslims from entering the country, undermine the separation of church and state etc, etc, etc…we would expect our democrats to muster whatever power they had to block everything. That is what will happen if progressives try to do the same, they will block everything (only the conservatives hold more cards right now).

Here is what will happen in a BS administration. He will either compromise severely, thereby disillusioning his voters (I don't think this is likely), causing them to fall away. Or he will stick to his idealism, and he won't even get democrats to work with him. A BS administration will be a laughing stock either way, and it will ruin the cause of progressivism for at least a couple of decades; ala Jimmy Carter.

I have not heard BS say this himself, but I have heard Tad Devine, his campaign manager say it. He has admitted that the endeavor the BS campaign is engaged in is going to take a generation to develop. He is an experienced operator, and it is obviously true. They know that they have not only to win the presidency, and hold it, but that they also have to win a majority in congress, and keep it for at least one or two cycles. If liberal progressives are going to have a lasting chance, and the BS revolution succeed, they need to control congress in 2020 when the entire legislative map is up for redistricting. Unless they can do that; liberal progressives will continue to be at a significant disadvantage, and the BS revolution, even if he wins the presidency, will never materialize.

BS does not talk this way on the stump, but his more candid spokespeople do. They are talking behind the scenes about the realities of gradualism, the necessity of incrementalism, in this way they are indistinguishable from HRC. There is a difference however; HRC is leveling with people, and BS is trying to get people caught up in his romantic revolution.

HRC’s approach asks people up-front to sign on for the long haul, wherein progress (no matter how small) will be hailed for what it is progress. BS is asking people to “Feel the Bern,” to light the match, but as we all know the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

What will happen to all of that passion when the cold water gets thrown on it. Will people be writing books about how BS betrayed the progressive movement? I don’t think so, BS is not the type to compromise, at least not on the big things. He will stand his ground, and the ground will fall out from under him, progressives may not blame him for standing his ground while giving voice to their ideals, but as the ground falls out from under him; because he is unable to compromise, it will fall out from under the progressive movement as well; creating the opportunity for a nearly completely discredited conservative movement to come roaring back

Remember Jimmy Carter; arguably one of the smartest, most rationale, most authentic, and most sincere of our modern presidents. He did not lack for good ideas, he behaved like a leader and put those ideas forward, but his inability to accomplish those goals turned his legacy into a subject of ridicule. I am not saying that his administration deserves the ridicule, but they suffered under it anyway, and continue to suffer from that ridicule thirty-six years later. The failures of the Carter administration set the stage for the so-called Reagan Revolution. A BS administration threatens to set that stage again.  

It was under President Reagan that the nation began to move to the rightwing in a way that has been; anti-intellectual, anti-science, religiously fundamental, ahistorical and absolutely irrational. We risk that happening again, unless we are able to demonstrate in an irrefutable way that the leadership of Democratic presidents, championing liberal ideal, while implementing progressive policies is the key stability for the nation; and that will set the stage for economic growth, economic justice, and prosperity for all.

I believe that HRC can do this, and I have no faith that BS can. I believe this because Hillary speaks directly, and honestly to these points, while Bernie continues to dream the revolutionary dream.


More to follow…