Category Archives: Bernie Sanders

California Carrying The Democrats

California’s Dianne Feinstein 

Watching the pundits and other news oriented shows it becomes apparent that California politicians are carrying much of the weight for the Democratic Party.   There is always, of course, political maneuvering behind the scenes and away from the cameras, but that’s not what shapes public opinion.  It’s what happens out in front of the cameras that causes most people to remember and react, and out there in the limelight, in the heat of the moment, Californians like Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinsten and Adam Schiff, are shining stars.   I’m not including Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer on the list, because for the most part they have been out of sight, apparently playing duck and cover somewhere,  and are nothing close to the firebrands the Dems currently need to lead them out of the patch of tangled weeds they’re in.

Dianne Feinstein, is turning out to be the party’s iron lady, leaving her spot on the Senate Intelligence Committee for only days after a brief absence to have a pacemaker implanted.  This might be unremarkable except that Feinstein is 83.

A few others, like Al Franken of Minnesota, pop up now and then, only to disappear for weeks or months at a time, and that’s not what’s needed right now.   What’s needed are talking heads that are available to go on camera even when it’s inconvenient, like over this current holiday weekend, to continue holding the Trump Administration’s feet to the fires of Russiagate, Trump’s taxes, North Korea, diversionary bombings and all the other unacceptable issues of this erratic presidency.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are tireless warriors for the left, but  beyond them mostly it’s the Californians who are picking up the slack for a Democratic Party that needs to be making a lot more noise.   The country needs at least two viable parties.  Three or four would be even better.  Unfortunately the idea of a proportional government has not yet caught on in the U.S., leaving millions of Americans left out and feeling alienated from the process.

In the meantime,  California rocks.    If the party can just come up with some way to bring the progressive heat of the California sun together with the more moderate climes of the Middle West and elsewhere – then they’ll really have something.

Disappearing Democratic Leadership

Where are the leaders of the Democratic Party, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi? Why are they out of sight and out of mind at what can only be described as a critical political juncture, with a new and erratic President who changes his mind every ten to fifteen minutes dropping 59 Tomahawks on Syria, the mother of all bombs on Afghanistan (why are we still there?) and sending a naval strike group to the Sea of Japan to deal with a crazy boy-man dictator who is threatening nuclear warfare on the Korean Peninsula and possibly beyond?   Is a nuclear showdown with an unstable personality really a good idea?

Is there no longer an issue about the Constitutional mandate that only Congress shall have the power to make war?   Shouldn’t somebody other than House Members Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters of California be making significant noise about this?   Not to mention Trump’s “deportation force,” and unending news about the Trump campaign’s connections to the Russians which continues to break almost daily.

Meantime our fearless leader is in Florida playing golf and presumably eating cake.  Again.  It’s what he does.   He goes to Florida each and every weekend to play golf.  He’s there even now, with a strike force sitting in the Sea of Japan, and a potential nuclear standoff in the works.

Does he understand the possible consequences of his actions?

This is insane and unacceptable as government jobs go unfilled and America’s credibility vanishes.  Making it all the more frightening is the fact that the only positive feedback Trump gets is when he bombs somebody.   In an almost childlike fashion he appears to feed off of approval, leading to the danger that he will resort to making war simply to get another pat on the head and maybe a bump in his approval rating.

Someone has got to start holding Trump to task for what is becoming a pattern of incompetent and irrational behavior. Following the Clinton/Waserman Schultz/Brazile debacle, I had hoped the Democratic party would hand the reigns of party power over to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom had a solid base skewing towards younger folks, which is what the party needed for the future.   It needed to be energized.

Instead of moving forward the Party opted to basically run in place,  going with the old guard.  And even now, its leadership is doing what it did during the Obama Administration, remaining silent and out of sight, like little church mice, rather than doing their jobs as the loyal opposition while special interest groups on the far, far-left, threaten to tear the party to pieces, denying it any chance of picking up support from the massive political center which it so badly needs.

Where is the Democratic leadership?   Where have they gone and what the hell are they doing?     Activists should be congratulated for showing up to march and register their opinions at local meetings. The grass roots folks are getting it done.  But where are Pelosi and Schumer?   Are they even in this fight, or have they given up and gone home?  They need to get loud, proud, angry and take the point with the media in this fight or get out of the way and let others take the lead focusing not on scattered splinter groups on the far-left but on the broad base of support they need from the middle.   If not, they just might blow the whole show in 2018.

If folks in those far-left splinter groups want any representation at all they are going to have to step back, take a breath, and know they’ll be better represented in the future by Democrats than Republicans, regardless of their need to feel empowered in the moment.    The choice is between a more centrist Democratic Party in power or no Democratic Party at all.   Either way, somebody will have to take the lead.

The Case For Hillary

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Early voting is underway here in Maryland.   This is much to the State’s credit, although I wish they would get rid of their stupid closed primary so I could go back to being the independent I was for most of my adult life.

But back on topic.  I think two outcomes are possible in the presidential election.   One, is that Hillary will win by a huge margin.   The other, is that she won’t.  Either way, what we are witnessing appears to be the  politics of desperation.   A shoot-from-the-hip kind of non-fact-based rhetoric, that turned Donald Trump’s buffoonery into a serious threat.    If the polls are to be believed, a great many people are now desperate enough to elect a man whose campaign began as a kind of political joke.   A sideshow to the real race that eventually turned reality on its head as millions of Americans, living on the edge and feeling abandoned, gave up on the “business as usual” politics represented by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, thrusting the nation into the politics of desperation.

Why desperation?   That’s easy.

In October of 2014, Christopher Inghram wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled, “Child poverty in the U.S. is the worst in the developed world.”   In his story Inghram reports that “The United States ranks near the bottom of the pack of wealthy nations on a measure of child poverty, according to a new report from UNICEF. Nearly one third of U.S. children live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income in 2008 – about $31,000 annually.  In the richest nation in the world, one in three kids live in poverty. “

You need more?  Okay, here it is.   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, things are improving, but we still have a big problem with 43.1 million Americans living in poverty in 2015.  That’s 3.5 million fewer than 2014.   It’s an improvement, but still an outrageous number condering the United States is the seventh richest country in the world.

No matter what misinformed, disinformed or just plain deluded individuals might shout out at rallies, we are not number one.   Based upon data from the IMF we are number seven, Behind Qatar, Singapore and Norway among others, all of whom appear to be unaffected by the much publicized evils of socialism the right continues to promise will be the end of  us all.   Not really.   That’s disinformation.  For some of the wealthiest countries on earth, a little Socialism is a very good thing.   It’s working very well.  Not Communism.   Take a deep breath, try and calm down before you start shouting.  What many countries have is Socialism in conjunction with free enterprise.  It works, no matter what Ayn Rand and her Neocon fear peddlers might tell you.

Believe it or not, Mr. Ripley, in most of the developed world, there are people who think others who are sick or infirm or broken and  bloody, deserve healthcare, even if they can’t afford to pay for it.  It’s called advanced human civilization.    Beyond that, and amazing as it might seem, keeping people healthy is far more cost-effective than letting them fall terribly ill and then paying to sustain their illness for months or maybe even years.  What a shock.

It was along those same lines, undoubtedly in consort with a fact-based investigation, thatBarack Obama began promoting a public option as part of the ACA.   That’s the “Affordable Care Act,” or what some call “Obamacare.”  He wanted a form of national healthcare that would actually compete with the private health insurance industry, but had to give up on it lest his entire health reform package might be shot down by legislators bought off by lobbyists for the healthcare industrial complex.    And so, again according to the Census Bureau, 29-million Americans remain uninsured, while the cost of private health insurance continues to rise.

At the same time, as Bernie Sanders loved to point out before his campaign was sideswiped and run off the road by the Clinton machine assisted by a less than impartial DNC,  “America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.”   Another factoid Bernie loved to hammer home was that, “There is something profoundly wrong when 58 percent of all new income since the Wall Street crash has gone to the top one percent.” 

Yes there is, and Bernie got it, but Bernie, unfortunately, is no longer in the race, leaving us with Hillary and Donald Trump.

I don’t care for Hillary Clinton, what with her ties to Wall Street and big corporate money.   But I will vote for her.   With Hillary, at least we know what we’ll be getting.    At least she has given some indication of who she is – a centrist Republican in Democrat’s clothing.   With Mr. Trump, there is no certainty as to what he might try and wose yet,  do,  as president, other than continue to objectify and belittle women while making outrageous statements containing little or no fact as he launches childish ad hominem Twitter attacks and threatens lawsuits against anyone who questions his opinions as master of the universe.   Except for people he likes, like Vladimir Putin, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor, Chris Chrisite, who is currently under investigation in connection with the “Bridgegate” scandal.

Mrs. Clinton, is clearly far from perfect.  My biggest concern is whether she will be able to poke her head out from inside the beltway bubble that encapsulates so many in D.C., preventing them from seeing the deperation that exists in a world with no connection to the toney eateries of Georgetown.   A desperation that has convinced millions that it will be a good idea to let Mr. Trump blow up the existing broken government rather than giving Hillary a shot at trying to fix it.

For me, the risk of voting for the political fantasyland of Donald Trump, is far too great.   I’ll be voting for Hillary in the hope that she can permanently shake off the Neoliberal persona that had firmly taken hold of her before Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders came along pulling her back to the traditional ranks of real Democrats, providing hope to so many of the hopeless.   Like millions of students, being crushed by student-loan debt and homeowners facing foreclosure by corrupt bankers.   A wealthy nation being smashed by income inequality with a neo-feudal system ignoring those in need while people like Donald Trump promise to give even more tax-cuts to the wealthy, perpetuating the practice of “trickle down Reagonomics” which has failed the nation’s common good so miserably.

With Hillary, at least we know what we’ll be getting.    At least there is hope for her to continue along a less Neoliberal path.  Hope that she will be further persuaded by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that there is a better way.    With Mr. Trump one fears that we will all eventually see fiction turn to fact,  with millions of us relegated to being litle more than steet urchins standing out  in the cold with our outstretched hands pleading on behalf of our empty bellies, “Please Sir, I want some more.”  

Beware Of Those Who Tell You Trump Can’t Win

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Beware the pronouncement that Donald Trump hasn’t a chance in November, and that his defeat will leave the Republican Party in ruins from which it might not be able to recover.  Conservative mouthpiece David Frum made this assertion on Fareed Zakaria’s show this morning.   For most on the left it probably sounds pretty good, but there’s inherent danger in what he’s saying.   A danger that goes beyond the question of whether it would be good or bad for the Republican Party to suffer an irreversible loss.

The danger, is that so many will feel Trump cannot possibly win the election, that millions will feel it’s not necessary to vote.  That initial problem, coupled with Sander’s supporters who feel angry and betrayed and who therefore also will not go to the polls, might provide Trump with the momentum he needs to win.

Sander’s supporters who feel betrayed by Bernie’s endorsement of HRC need to think about this as do those who are contemplating casting a vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party.  They need to remember the race in 2000, when Ralph Nader’s candidacy on the Green Party ticket helped split the vote  leading to the defeat Al Gore and giving the election to George W. Bush.

Young people who are thinking about staying home on election day because they believe Hillary is a shoe-in need to reconsider their positions.   Bernie supporters who are saying they will not vote, or that they will switch their vote to the Green Party, really need to think this through, particularly those saddled with college loan debt.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, being ousted from her leadership position at the DNC would be a good move for the Democratic Party, particularly in light of HRC’s VP pick.  Tim Kaine, who most of us never heard of,  looks more like a moderate Republican than a Democrat.   For many of us, he’s another bitter pill to swallow from a campaign that looked more Republican than Democrat before Bernie Sanders forced Hillary’s move to the left.   Wasserman Schultz, should have been kicked to the curb months ago when it was revealed that the DNC was making campaign financing deals with the HRC campaign ostensibly to provide more “downstream” funding to Dem candidates,  refusing to give the Sander’s campaign access to a DNC list of Dem voters and scheduling debates to keep Sanders away from the limelight.  Only now, after WikiLeaks released emails indicating that the DNC was actively discussing ways to torpedo the Sander’s campaign,  is the leadership of Wasserman Schultz being seriously threatened.

The email thing gets really interesting if you consider a report in June, in the Washington Post, to the effect that the Russians hacked into the DNC’s computer system.    Some are speculating that the emails WikiLeaks released were provided by the Russians, who (again speculation) are doing all they can to support the candidacy of Donald Trump, who has been speaking out in favor of  Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, and  against traditional U.S. support for NATO.

This goes beyond being nothing more than a conspiracy theory nutjob assertion when you consider past affiliations of Trump advisor Paul Manafort.  According to Buzzfeed, “Manafort may be best known for managing the 2010 campaign of Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian politician whose ouster as president prompted a Russian invasion of the country. He has, according to court documents, managed tens of millions of dollars for Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch denied entry to the U.S. reportedly for ties to organized crime, but so close to Vladimir Putin that top Russian officials fought (unsuccessfully) to get him a visa.  Gary Schmitt, a former Reagan Administration official now at the American Enterprise Institute, said he believed Manafort’s ties merit extra scrutiny.”

The fact that Wasserman Schultz has apparently been stripped of some of her duties at the convention (CNN is reporting that the “DNC Chair wil not preside daily over convention”),  is an indicator of Sander’s impact on the party.  It’s a hopeful sign for progressives.   However, you can be sure that any chaos at the top of the DNC will be used by the Trump campaign.   They will tout it as another sign that the system was rigged in Hillary’s favor and that Bernie didn’t have a chance as they again urge Bernie’s supporters to vote for Trump or possibly Jill Stein.  Either way, Trump wins.

Voting for Clinton/Kaine won’t be easy for some of us, but it must be done.  Not voting for Hillary Clinton or voting for Jill Stein,  will, in a very real sense  be the same as casting a vote for  Donald Trump.

 

Bernie Sanders – Let’s Go A Little Crazy

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Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.   When are you gonna give it up?  How long will you hold out before conceding to the Clinton political machine?  Or do you know something the rest of us don’t?

Let’s go a little crazy.

Suppose there is something out there on Hillary, something really, really bad, like the Donald’s latest assertion that she used her office while Scretary of State to enrich her family and then hid the evidence away on her home server.   You know, the mysterious emails she deleted and can’t get back.   Something that would be a dealbreaker and Bernie, acting on real information or just a hunch is waiting for it to surface while the Trumpster hides out in Scotland, for reasons no one can really understand.

I’ve been a Bernie supporter from the start.    Don’t care for Hillary and I will not vote for Trump.   So allow me my little fantasy.   Maybe Bernie knows something we don’t?   It’s crazy, I know, but so was the idea that Donald Trump might one day be the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

Don’t count anything out.   Not here in “the land of the weird.”*

 

*with thanks to hst

The System Rolls Over, Groans And Goes Back To Sleep

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Forgive me while I show my disgust with the President,  the Associated Press, the entire cadre of phony progressives and all who are pretenders to the thrones of both journalism and progressive politics, as they now turn their focus to pulling the Democratic party back together again, convincing Bernie Sanders to go away and behave himself, joining the mainstream club or being forced to face the possibility of being indicted by the jabbering mob for handing the election to Donald J. Trump.   Or worse yet, to be accused of not supporting the first woman candidate for president, regardless of her “baggage.”

From the beginning the Bernie Sanders campaign was an interesting aberration but we all know that he never had a chance.   That’s what they kept telling us.  Not a chance.  Not when millions of new and mostly younger voters joined his push to restore progressive politics to the Democratic Party which had been turned into a clubby bunch of centrist Republicans posing as Democrats.   Not when Hillary Clinton hijacked much of his platform and claimed it for herself, possibly one of the cleverest lies of any politician in any time while pundits and reporters alike moved her campaign along – buying into her gameplan by telling us that numbers don’t lie and that the election was a done deal dictated by DNC-approved “superdelegates.”  Even before it was.

A post-primary analysis in the San Francisco Chronicle makes the interesting point that Sanders was let down by young and poor voters in California, a state that might have offered him one last best chance at a true challenge to Hillary Clinton.   It’s an interesting proposition, but you must also wonder how things would have gone had the media been less of a cheerleader for Mrs. Clinton all along.   From the very beginning, the mainstream treated the Sander’s canididacy as a joke, even when it became clear that he was picking up serious support, the Clinton-biased media continued to blather on that “The Sanders candidacy is interesting, but we all know he really doesn’t stand a chance…”   No, he didn’t, not with that kind of bias being fed to the electorate day after day from a crowd of political insiders with no concept of the changes taking place away from their insulated and well-healed orbit.   What chance did Sanders have with MSNBC becoming the “Hillary Channel?”

The cherry atop this hot smudge sundae of bluster and bias came the day before the California primary when the once venerable Associated Press announced to the world that they had contacted enough superdelegates to determine that Sanders was officially done.    A new poltical meme that was dutifully picked up and spread like a rash throughout the corporate media, delighted that what they had been saying all along was finally coming to pass.   It must be true, if it was coming from the mighty AP, giving so many California voters no reason whatsoever to go to the polls.   If it was over, it was over, so why bother?

This wasn’t some pundit or small town paper or blogger speaking out, this was the mighty Associated Press.  What giant of journalism at the AP decided it would be a good idea to officially invalidate the California primary?

How sad for the press and for America.   But never mind any of that. So much more important to now join together in one massive effort to defeat Donald Trump, no matter the cost.  Time to forget the past and come together to insure our future regardless of the process.   It will all be forgotten soon anyway as we move on with more of the same old, same old and the old man from Vermont and his crazy egalitarian ideas become nothing more than a distant bump on the political highway.

Oh, California! – A Morning After Poem

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Oh, California!

By Ron Olsen

The Surfliner pulled out in the early morning haze

Rattling down the tracks

No looking back now

Hillary dressed like the palace guard

Wearing a white tent

Smiling far too broadly

A cheshire cat that swallowed a server

That ate the dove

That gobbled up a relationship with greed

Secrets impossible to keep

Smiling ear to ear

Supported by superdelegates

And a system rigged from the top

An unimpartial media

Telling us all along

Bernie had no chance

Sooner or later

You too will believe

As they peat and repeat

Endlessly bellowing

Bernie can’t win

Bernie’s a joke

Bernie’s a Socialist

The only straight-shooter out there

Who

In the end

Was betrayed by even the free-thinkers

And radical freaks in California

Who turned their backs for a woman

No matter the price

Or didn’t know they had to ask for a special ballot

Confusion breeding success for the lady candidate

And her husband’s Foundation

Depriving the country

Of one last chance

At throwing the money changers

Away from the temple doors

You did it sunny Cal

No calling it back now

As media mavens gush

With satisfaction and self-congratulation

Oh, California!

Liberal, righteous, progressive California!

Proving they were right all along

Bernie never had a chance

Even when he did

The old Vermont steamer

Slammed by a wall

Of conspiracy and collusion

Intended and unintended alike

Leaving those on the inside

Insulated from any real accountability

As the nation returns to business as usual

And the political hacks blather on

About all the baggage she carries

Needing safari bearers

Hauling it on their broken backs

The train now just a dot

In the distant

California sun

Donald J. Trump – The Bigger Question For America

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One of the more brilliant minds of this or any century, Stephen Hawking, is now adding his name to the list of those concerned that Donald J. Trump, actually could be elected President of the United States.    Ths is the same uber-genius (Hawking, not Trump) who wrote his thesis on “Properties of Expanding Universes,” while winning nearly every award in his fields of study.  He’s a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who has now turned his intellect to the task of analyzing the Trump candidacy,  saying Donald Trump “…is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines demagogue as “A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.”

Professor Hawking has spoken.   We all need to listen.

Others, mostly on the liberal side, are voicing the same fear,  wondering out loud if this won’t make the United States look even more stupid than we appeard after electing (well, sort of electing) George W. Bush, not once, but twice.  Which it will.  We will be the nation which not only has the biggest prison population in the world as it continues treating addiction as a criminal rather than a medical problem, while economically punishing kids for going to college and rejecting universal healthcare and refusing to adequately care for its elderly – we will also be the country that elected a reality show host with no clearly defined policies.   Well, there are policies, but they change from one minute to the next.   Many of them have no basis in reality whatsoever, just a demagogic appeal to the very worst of human nature as Trump takes millions of Americans down into the muck and mire of his ongoing ignorance and prejudice-based authoritarian attack against anyone who would dare issue a fact-based argument.

If Trump is elected, the civilized world will think we’re an uninformed or perhaps just an ignorant bunch of boobs.   Which begs the question of how low is our lowest common denominator?   And how was this allowed to happen?

My personal view is that we are faced by a combination of the continued dumbing down of America joined at the hip with a mass media gone largely mad, putting profits so far ahead of journalism that for millions of Americans the truth has been lost somewhere between Kenya and thousands of imaginary Mexican rapists streaming across the border into Arizona.

The fact that  millions of young people are buying neither Trump’s demagogury nor Hillary Clinton’s “business as usual” pitch, but are instead supporting Bernie Sanders, gives me hope that the push toward stupidity was stopped or at least slowed, somewhere between the X and Y generations.

The fear of Trump is not limited to genius cosmologists and liberals.   He’s doing a pretty good job of scaring the hell out of maistream Republicans as well.  Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has now hesitantly accepted Trump as his candidate, with obvious reservations.   There was no formal endorsement from Ryan, just the announcment that he will be voting for Trump.   As the leader of his party, he really has no choice.  Other prominent Republicans are not backing Trump, including Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.    Republican strategist and stalwart, Mary Matlin, has left the party for a Libertarian ticket.   Former Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, says he won’t vote for Trump.   The list goes on.

How did we get here,  and will thinking individuals be left thanking the founders when the electoral college proves to be our last line of defense against demagoguery?

Monster Fire Burns Over 35-Million Acres

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A piece in the Guardian this morning puts the Canadian wildfire storming across northern Alberta at 355,000 hectares. Say what? I had no idea what a hectare is, so I looked it up. A hectare is equal to 100 acres.

The fire, which continues to burn out of control is now so big that fire officials apparently aren’t even bothering with acres. If they were, they’d be reporting that the fire has now eaten up 35-million 500-thousand acres of land, which is flat out incredible. Have we ever even had a fire this big in North America since humanoids took an upright form?   Can this possibly be correct?

Considering the size of this fire, if this information is correct and my calculator is working, why aren’t we seeing and hearing more about it on the news?

First the networks and our honorable pundits report that Bernie Sander’s supporters went nuts for no good reason at the Democratic convention in Nevada, neglecting to mention that the state’s Demo leaders changed the delegate allocation rules just prior to the convention tilting the rules in Hillary’s favor.  Et tu, Rachel?   Say it isn’t so!   And now they’re giving short shrift to the biggest wildifre in memory.

It’s a difficult choice deciding which is worse, the scope of the fire or the negligence being exhibited by some American news outlets that have all but abdicated their responsibility to educate and enlighten the American people.

I know Donald Trump is a ratings getter, but come on guys. This is one monster fire. There are bound to be consequences for all of us, including Mr. Trump,  even if much of the land it’s burning isn’t populated.  There’s no carbon tax on Mother Nature and really no good excuse for slanting your coverage in favor of one candidate over another.   Unless corporate has dictated that profits trump the need to know.

Matlin Quits The Republicans

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Prominent Republican strategist Mary Matlin, is quitting the Republican Party.   She’s jumping ship and declaring herself to be a Libertarian.   What’s next?   Dogs and cats sleeping together?   Frogs falling from the sky?

Another goodie is the new poll that shows people aren’t voting for Hilary or Trump because they like Hillary or Trump.   No, they are voting for Hillary because they hate Trump and for Trump because they can’t stand Hillary.    A majority likes Bernie Sanders, but he can’t get nominated because so many Americans can’t vote in states with closed primaries and the Democratic Party has rigged their primary system with phony balloney “superdelegates”  who can defy the will of the majority.

They’ve taken what we’re used to, voting for the lesser of two evils, and kicked it up onto a whole new level of insanity.   The owner of an auto repair shop here in Bel Air expressed his frustration by posting the following on a sign outside his shop, “This is the craziest election ever, Rep or Dem.” 

Whatever happens, it’s important to maintain your sense of humor.   Don’t let the crazies suck you in.

Which leads us to the question of why Democrats should even bother going to the polls?   It’s a valid question, answerable with the academic response that not going to the polls will be like voting for Donald Trump, even if you can’t stand Hillary Clinton.

So go.  To thine own self be untrue and vote for Queen Hillary, the next American royal family member in line to the throne of the Goddess Columbia.

Take away the superdelegates and open all the primaries and Bernie would probably be in the lead.  But he’s not, giving us the very real possibility that Donald Trump has a shot at being President of the United States.  Oh no?   Look out your window.   Those are real frogs falling from the sky.

 

Bernie Sanders, Hunter Thompson And The Second Wave

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Without getting all maudlin about it, the runup to the conventions has finally gotten to me.   Yes, Trump will in all liklihood be the Republican candidate, and yes, Hillary will in all probability be the Neo-Liberal Democratic candidate, another right-of-center Republican posing as a progressive until she gets in and then it’ll be the same old, same old.  Back to Wall Street friendly business as usual, continuing the devastation of America’s middle class as secret trade deals move forward and giant corporations continue scooping up the profits with even less regulation and accountability and the Clinton Foundation grows fat and happy with donations pouring in from every corner of the planet as the politicos sell their souls while carping about the need for greater transparency.

Or maybe she’ll fool us all, turning her back on all that money she took from the big bankers and the favors accepted from the corporatocracy that helped her get elected.   Maybe once elected, she’ll come down on the side of the common folk and not the rich and powerful.  Maybe she’ll deliver on her platform, so much of which she stole from Bernie Sanders, and deliver for Main Street instead of Wall Street.  Ya, right.  Maybe the  leopard will change its spots.

Sure, an unexpected turn of events could lead to Bernie getting the nod, but at this point it feels as though the Sander’s campaign will go to the convention ready for a fight only to be confronted by what we already know, that the fix is in and the process is headed for an inevitible result – a symbolic fight over super delegates to make it look good for the common folk, even while a decision was made months ago.  It’s Hillary’s turn.

It feels like we’ve been here before.  Like the Millenials are being given the same treatment they gave us Boomers.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote that George McGovern and Jimmy Carter were both beset by the same flaw.   They were both too honest for American politics.    Or perhaps for politics period.   It could be that Bernie Sanders has that very same problem.

Bill O’Reilly doesn’t.   Last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he repeated a bit of misinformation those on the right love to keep passing along even though it’s incorrect, that Sweden, one of their much-hated examples of Social Democracy gone wrong, has “one of the highest suicide rates in the world.”   That’s not true.  According to the World Health Organization, Sweden is ranked 58th in the world.   The U.S., is ranked 50th.  So we’re even worse off, here in our bastion of free market Capitalism.    But it’s not only that.     A recent poll shows Scandinavians, with the security their social democracies provide, to be among the happiest people in the world.

Thompson’s gone now, and there’s no one of his peculiar intellectual bent to provide us with a proper gonzo perspective on the bad craziness that has the country by the throat.   Sometimes it takes someone like Thompson, with an exaggerated sense of reality, to pull us back into seeing the truth.   And now, even without him, what’s happening feels like somehow it’s all happened before.   There’s something vaguely familiar.  Just as we thought we might reach out and own it, a righteous resolution is once again being snatched away.

A passage from Thompson’s book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” comes to mind.   It struck me the first time I read it and it feels appropriate now, more than 40 years later, tying what was to what is, and maybe leaving us hoping for more than we can possibly have.   Just like before.  Stripped of idealism and facing the cold, emotionless face of reality.  The politics of power.  Like staring into the eyes of a shark.  Is that something Thompson wrote?  I’m really not sure.   But it’s a good line.

Here was the doctor’s take on it, back in 71.

“And that, I think, was the handle-that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil.   Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that.  Our energy would simply prevail.  There was no point in fighting – on our side or theirs.  We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”  -HST, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”

In A World Of Contrast, Rome Feels The Bern

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Awoke this morning to news that Bernie Sanders had been granted a meeting with Pope Francis. It was only five minutes in the foyer of the hotel on the Vatican grounds, but it was nontheless, a meeting with the Pope.

Sanders left for the Vatican conference on social justice just prior to the primary vote in New York, even though it’s unlcear whether his meeting with Pope Francis will have any impact on his campaign for the presidency.

Brooklyn born Bernie Sanders, is the first Jewish American to win a presidential primary.   New York City, has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel.   Polls indicate that New York’s Jewish population is supporting Hillary Clinton and not Sanders.

While Sanders was in Rome, speaking at an international conference on human rights and economic justice, Hillary Clinton was in San Francisco, hangin’ with movie stars.   Tickets were going for $353,400 to sit at the head table with George and Amal Clooney.  Sander’s supporters protested outside.

After his meeting with Sanders, the Pope flew to the Greek island of Lesbos, to meet with Syrian refugees.   He returned to the Vatican with three refugee families in his plane,  6 adults and 6 children who were bombed out of their homes.

A Rose By Any Other Name?

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With an estimated 27,000 showing up for a Sander’s rally in NYC last night, healthcare activist, Dr. Paul Song, undoubtedly in the heat of the moment, made a comment regarding the need to get rid of “corporate Democratic whores.”   He later tweeted out an apology, saying it was “insensitive.”    Sanders later tweeted out his reaction to the remark, calling it “inappropriate and insensitive.”

This morning,  some Clinton supporters, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, were blaming Bernie Sanders personally for the comment.

Such is politics.   With the debate coming up tonight, you can be sure Clinton supporters will continue blasting Sanders for saying something he did not say, or for not blunting the moment at one of the high points in his campaign by repeating something that should not have been said by apologizing for someone else’s words.

It’s not like he pulled a Donald Trump and reinforced what should have been an unspeakable statement from someone else’s mouth.

It was an “insensitive” thing to say.  However, anyone who has gone to “opensecrets.org” to take a look at who is funding members of the House and Senate already knows that the statement contains more than a grain of truth, which could be precisely why McCaskill and others are so upset.

Dr. Paul Song, struck a nerve.   So did Joe Scarborough on his MSNBC show this morning when he pointed out that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have visited Verizon in New York.   Bernie, was there just recently to visit with striking workers on the picket line.  Hillary, was there in May of 2013, when Verizon executives paid her $225,000 to give a speech.

Mr. Sanders Goes To The Vatican

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Growing so weary of lame attacks on Bernie Sanders from HRC supporters, some of whom (MSNBC, CNN, etc) continue lashing out at Sanders from behind their shiny reportorial shields of objectivity, although this should no longer be a problem for some writers at the New York Times, now that their paper has endorsed Clinton.

Progressive giant Thom Hartmann,  is apparently so terrified at the thought of a Republican in the White House that he refuses to take a position supporting Sanders over Clinton, even though he has given an open platform to Sen. Sanders on his tv show for years and the issue is far from being settled at the Democratic Nat’l Convention, which is where it should be settled.  Until then, Sanders supporters should be able to openly support Bernie Sanders and say what they will about their problems with Ms. Clinton.

Hartmann, cloaks his lack of open support for Sanders, as an unwillingness to attack either candidate.  Come on, Thom.   It’s six of one and a half-dozen of the other.  It’s okay and perhaps even politically healthy to get off the fence in the runup to the convention.  Supporting one candidate or another during the primary fight is a far, far different thing from switching party loyalty while voting in the general election.   What you are now doing,  refusing to reveal your real opinions with regard to HRC while your Bernie Bear sits there in the background is confusing, counfounding and counterintuitive.   Or maybe you think that’s not what you’re doing?  Could be, but then I can’t be sure because your position on all of this has left me terribly confused, saddled with a nagging certainty that you have huge problems with HRC that you simply will not reveal.  At the very least, if you are going to continue refusing to talk about it, then get rid of the Bernie Bear.

I was once told, “there’s nothing worse than a guilty liberal.”  Whomever told me that might have been right, although I think that on balance greed-obsessed conservatives tend to be a whole lot worse.   I don’t think Hartmann feels guilty.   I think he’s probably too terrified to talk and is leading other’s away from attacking Secretary Clinton, which would help Bernie Sanders.   See how that could be a problem for Bernie?

The Sanders nay-sayers are probably right.   Bernie, never really had a chance.   He should just get out of the way and let HRC stomp ahead to her inevitable victory,  promoting gender-neutral fashion for women while turning the White House over to yet another right-of-center Republican in Democrat’s clothing.   So sorry for being less than politically correct.   There are enough metaphors in there for everybody.   I just happen to appreciate fashion.   If you have a problem with that, then write your own damn blog.

I am so weary of it all that I am nearly ready to yield to the Sander’s nay-sayers, even with the call from the Vatican, inviting Bernie to  an international conference just four days before the New York primary.    But make no mistake, the invitation, as the political insider nay-sayers continue saying, did not come from the Pope.   It came from the Vatican.

One wonders how many of these lists of invitees are finalized without first letting the Holy Father take a look?   Not that an invitation to one candidate for the presidency and not another would have any significance, so it would obviously be wrong to draw any conclusions about the Pope having any positive thoughts about Bernie Sanders.   Oh God no!   Not that!  As the nay-sayers say, Sanders has not been invited for a private audience.   At least not that they know of.   And they seem to know everything.    And they keep talking about it.   Repeatedly.  As in over and over again, ad nauseam.

See, the problem folks is that the filter is gone.   You know, the news filter.   Remember?   Long, long ago, in a land not so far away, there were news operations that would determine the truth of something before putting it on their air.    It was a wonderful system of straight-ahead journalism that labeled opinion as opinion, and fact as fact, giving all the common folk the ability to sort things out for theselves based upon facts rather than opinion presented as facts.

Not to fret though, we do still have the New York Times, even if some of its writers have taken leave of their senses.   Paul Krugman, was such an interesting writer before becoming a Clinton surrogate.

I subscribe to the Times.  I just wish they hadn’t endorsed HRC.   Suppose they had to, as she’s their homie.   Just wish the mainstream media had given Bernie half a chance.   Just half, not even a whole.   Makes me wonder if it’s really over, like the nay-sayers keep saying it is.  Or if that’s just what they want and that maybe Bernie will return from the Vatican and come close to New York’s favorite daughter on the 19th, and then maybe move by her when confronted by the unpredictable shorelines, nightlife and high chaparral of California, giving him a real shot at the candidacy?

Naw.   That’ll never happen.   Not in a country that elected Thomas Dewey, rejected George McGovern and then put an intellectual giant and political genius like George W. Bush in office not once but twice.  Never.  Never happen.    So it’s only normal, or new normal perhaps, for our mass media outlets to downplay or ignore completely, an invitation to a candidate for president from the Vatican.  If, of course, that candidate happens to be Bernie Sanders.   Now if Hillary had been invited.   Oh my!   Now that would have been something, wouldn’t it?

Just What Exactly Did Bernie Sanders Win?

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Awoke this morning to the news that Bernie Sanders had swept Washington State, Hawaii and Alaska, giving him the “momentum” to carry forth into Wisconsin, California and New York.  “Momentum” seems to be the big word now, among those who continue to fight the other big word, which of course is the “inevitability” of a Clinton win in the Democratic primaries and caucases.   Which, as I chimed in on yesterday, are an unholy mess for anyone who tries to actually understand the process, be it “open” or “closed.”

Don’t think so?  Try and find a list of the states that have proportional primaries or caucases compared to those which feature winner take all contests.  I did.   After three or  four searches I gave up.   I think the three states Bernie won yesterday are all proportional, but I’m not sure, because none of the news outlets seems to know.   If they do know, they aren’t reporting it, which is strange, since this should be a key part of their political reportage.

Could it be that some of the political insiders on tv assume their viewers don’t need to be educated and enlightened?   Isn’t that a dangerous assumption?   Aren’t assumptions generally dangerous?

It shouldn’t be this  difficult to figure out how one party or the other chooses its candidate for President of the United States.  But it is.  It’s a mess, and maybe the party leaders want to leave it as clouded and messy as possible because all the confusion makes it easier to rig the system.  You know, changing the rules at the last minute, as the Republicans are threatening to do in their effort to stop Donald Trump.

If you didn’t major in political science and think you understand our primaries and caucases, then good for you.   You are undoubtedly one of the few who does.  And maybe a little delusional.  Oh no?   Ask the next five people you bump into whether the state they reside in has a proportional or winnner take all contest.   I suspect you’ll be lucky to find anybody who has even a clue as to what you’re talking about.

One of the reasons Americans don’t vote in the primaries could be because the system is so fouled up that almost no one can understand it.   It’s a condition of American politics that screams out for stronger federal intervention, with one easy to understand system of primaries for all the states, giving the power to the people and not a relative handful of party apparatchiks who gather behind closed doors laying plans to game the system in favor of one candidate or another.

A system that’s next to impossible for average folks to understand sort of undercuts the sincerity of the candidates and their party leaders, doesn’t it?

Gonna watch the Sunday morning shows now.   Maybe somebody will straighten this all out for me, but I doubt it.   Once they get in front of that interactive map and start comparing Clinton to Carter and Trump to daddy Bush and Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon,  with red states and blue states and sqiggly lines and numbers everywhere, my mind starts to wander.  The process of getting someone elected to a national office in the U.S. shouldn’t be this difficult to understand.

Hillary Clinton’s new slogan is “Fighting For Us.”   If she really wants to make a difference, she should fight to change the system into something we can all understand.   But first she’ll have to get the money out of politics.  Which is Bernie’s whole bag.

Candidates who are mostly happy with leaving the system as it is, aren’t really willing to fight for “us” at all.   Consider Hillary Clinton, raking in millions (by one account as much as $15 million to her superpac) in support from Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry and other big business concerns,  not to mention $675,000 in speaker’s fees from Goldman Sachs, while Bernie Sanders relies on small individual donors.  Imagine that.    Do you really think the billionaires and millionaires on Wall Street are pouring all that money into Clinton’s campaign beause they believe she will fight to level the economic playing field for middle America, that she will fight for “us?”

Add:  CNN just reported on the percentages Sanders won yesterday, meaning, all three contests were proportional.   As of this morning, the delegate count, according to the Guardian newspaper, is Clinton 1243 and Sanders with 975.   That’s with half the states yet to be counted and excluding Democratic Party “superdelegates.”  Which is another problem.

Excluding the supedelegates, counting only real delegates who are being sent to the convention by the will of the people rather than efforts by party leaders to rig the system, Bernie trails HRC by just 265 delegates.    In just four states, all of which have yet to be counted, Maryland, New York, California and Pennsylvania, 1006 delegates are still up for grabs.

And some pundits continue to say the race is all but over for Sanders?    MSNBC, is about to take that same tac this morning, interviewing Clinton on the topic of what she’s learned in her battle with Donald Trump.   As though the race has been decided and Bernie should pack up his posters and go home.  A better topic would be Bernie’s uphill battle against media bias.