Thursday, May 05, 2016

Superdelegates can be bought, your desired bias included

Remember when Obama imposed a ban on contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees? The Washington Post seems to have remembered. They note with interest, that in February of this year, that ban was removed. The DNC justifies this move "because Congress had eliminated about $20 million in federal funding for the quadrennial party gatherings."

I had no idea that the Federal Government had made such a large contribution to the convention gatherings. I guess that's one of the perks of being a major party in America.

As the ban was lifted, lobbyists became emboldened to show their influence in the nomination process. In Colorado, a cadre of superdelegates have mobilized to prevent the realization of a single payer health plan at the behest of their benefactors. It has been long apparent that superdelegates favor Clinton by an overwhelming margin of 522 to 39, with more than 300 superdelegates pledging loyalty to Clinton before even the first vote was cast. Now we are starting to learn that many of the superdelegates are in fact lobbyists.

This is how bad they want it. They are willing to pose as "unbiased" delegates, unfettered by the outcomes of the primaries in their respective states. They can vote however they want to at the convention in July. But they are pledging their loyalty now, to let all of us know that Hillary Clinton is inevitable.

When confronted about their loyalties to Clinton, even in the face of a landslide against her, some superdelegates have held fast to say that they still think that Clinton is the better candidate. As you can imagine, some people are justifiably outraged in their disagreement with those superdelegates.

If you think that all of this stinks of pay-to-play, you might be right. One superdelegate has been convicted and sentenced to a long term in prison for accepting money for political favors. His name is Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly and political confidante to Mrs. Clinton. History reveals that he was one of the people who encouraged Hillary Clinton to run for elected office early on.

That Hillary Victory Fund (HVF) seems to pop up everywhere. These same lobbyists are making contributions to the HVF as well. They have found influence through a political action committee built for the purpose of electing Hillary for president.

That same Hillary Victory Fund helped Hillary purchase the loyalty of 33 state democratic parties at bargain basement prices. Of $60 million raised, only about 1% was returned to the states respectively, to support local candidates. This might well explain why more than 300 superdelegates declared their loyalty to Clinton before the first vote in New Hampshire was cast. I wonder if any of them will have a change of heart given how the money hasn't come back yet.

This is the problem with creating a class of delegates who don't have to listen to the voters. They are free to accept outside influence. They are free to tip the scales their way, conflict of interest be damned.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Closed primary elections are not supposed to be democratic

I'm old enough to remember how we used to laugh at the Russians. Their communist economy led to long lines of people waiting for really basic stuff. You know, like toilet paper, tomatoes and gas. They were inept and corrupt, but we were supposed to be better than that.

I guess after watching the primaries in New York and Arizona - and a few other places, I'm not laughing at the Russians of lore anymore. If you want to buy something in America, there are no lines to buy them. But if you want to vote in a primary election, plan on taking the day off. Heck, plan on camping overnight in line to exercise your glorious right to nomination.

I'm sure that the world is laughing at us right about now. They see the long lines, the confusing voter information sources, the sudden changes in schedule, and the unscheduled polling place cuts and closures. They must be puzzled by the closed primary systems, the fights over voter registration and the irresponsibility of some election officials. Can we truly call America a democracy anymore?

Not if you listen to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She says that if it were up to her, independents would not be allowed to vote in party primaries. I know, that's about as smug as an election official can be - a public election official for a private political party. Oh, did you say the party is private? Where is the bouncer? I didn't see him at the door. Here is the quote (I've tried to find the video, but it's not that easy to find):
"I believe that the party's nominee should be chosen — this is Debbie Wasserman Schultz's opinion — that the party's nominee should be chosen by members of the party," the DNC chief said in an interview with "MSNBC Live" Monday.
This is from the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, the same committee that has been doing just about everything in their power to make it easier for Hillary Clinton to win the nomination for the Democratic party as candidate for president. This is the same woman who says that superdelegates are in place to ensure that elitists are still relevant in primary elections. Here's another quote:

"Unpledged delegates [superdelegates] exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists."

I can understand the motivation behind closing the primaries - political parties want self-determination. 45% of the voters are now independent voters and the major parties are understandably concerned. They would like those independent voters to choose sides. They also know that the two major parties have a solid lock on the election process, and can exclude other parties at will.

But they are not willing to admit, at least on camera, that neither major party represents at least 45% of the voters. That is greater than both major parties combined.

Some are making the argument that primaries should be open because they are paid for with taxes. I think that is a reasonable argument, but it's not the nexus of the debate. The nexus of the debate is what the primary election is for.

Primary elections are held to provide people with the right of nomination for people running for election to a public office. To draw a distinction, the proper place for a closed election is for party officials, like chair and for delegates. I'm fine with that and you may be, too. But when it comes to representation in a public office, the primary election should remain open.

The reason primaries should be open is that the right of nomination belongs to us all. Especially when there is no effective alternative to the two major parties. More to the point, that nomination process is to select candidates who are fit to run for an office that represents all of us.

Open primaries prevent any one party from asserting a monopoly on power by allowing outsiders to weigh in on their nomination choices. Primary elections should be open to all even if they are paid for by the party running them. Why? Because whoever they nominate will eventually represent us all. It doesn't matter which party, if the nomination process is for public office, the primary is open.

In this election cycle, we have seen what is probably the worst one can reasonably expect in a primary contest. It is especially irksome to see that someone who has identified as an independent have to resort to running as a Democrat just to get noticed by the press. Ah, the press. That not so free press that is so unwilling to report on third party candidates for public office. That no so free press is also willing to give free coverage to those they deign to be fit for office while ignoring all the rest.

There are Hillary Clinton supporters who say that they are supremely frustrated with Bernie Sanders. They say that he should drop out so that Hillary can pivot to the general election, as if the primaries are over. Did I say that? I meant to say that Hillary supporters want her to be able to devote her remaining resources to the defense of the Democratic bid for the White House. These same Democrats appear then, to be unmoved by the frustration of independent voters.

They fail to see that Bernie ran as a Democrat precisely because of the duopoly of power held by the two major parties. They appear to lack empathy for their independently minded neighbors who do not find any representation in either major party. Those Democrats who want Bernie to drop out, do not have clean hands. Bernie is not the problem. He is a symptom of a much bigger problem.

With 45% of voters identifying as independents, it's reasonable to question the relevance, and even the legitimacy of the Democrats and Republicans. If the Democrats and Republicans do not represent almost half of the country, who exactly do they represent? I don't know, but they sure as hell are not entitled to closed primaries. Given the latest antics in the primaries, it's clear that both parties need adult supervision.

All primary elections should be open, for the right of nomination is almost as important as the right to vote. We need open primaries so that we can nominate someone worth voting for. Open primaries are a requirement in a functioning democracy, for with them, we have one more way to be sure that the political parties in power will listen to all of us.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A twist in the narrative on fundraising for Clinton and Sanders

A few weeks ago, Margot Kidder published an amazing article showing how Hillary Clinton bought the loyalty of state Democratic Parties in 33 states long before the primaries even started. She showed us all how the money was bundled and funneled. She followed the money from the state parties to the DNC and back to the candidates. Kidder even provides a handy table at the bottom of her article with details.

$60 million was raised by the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund and the state Democratic parties involved. But now it seems, most of the money never actually went back to the state parties. Only 1% of the money ever made it back to the state Democratic parties.

It would appear then that the story of how Clinton is a "true Democrat" by supporting state and Congressional campaigns through fundraising is partially a myth. What the Politico article shows us is that Clinton was using a sort of money-laundering scheme to get around the contribution caps imposed by the McCutcheon ruling, a ruling that limits how much her big donors can make to directly to her campaign. By funneling money through the state Democratic parties and sending the money back to the DNC, and then to her campaign, she could take in far more money from big donors.

This tells us something else about Hillary Clinton. She's getting tapped out with her big sponsors. Oh, they still have plenty of money, but now they're off limits. She must now pursue other donors to finance her campaign directly. Unless she could get around the limits on funding, she might not have enough funding to prevail against the GOP nominee, whoever that may be. As we have seen, her campaign is willing to do whatever it takes to get around those limits, appearances of impropriety notwithstanding.

This is the problem with depending on big donors. There aren't enough to go around, and the reason we have limits on campaign contributions is to prevent any one donor from gaining too much influence on one candidate.

Bernie Sanders doesn't have this problem. With a very large donor base, he can go to them over and over again for funding. He's already received 7 million contributions from his supporters. They can afford to give $27 here and there.

An article on The Hill would have us believe that the fall in fundraising for Sanders has something to do with a lack of hope that he will win. I think we're all taking a breather. Sanders went from $44 in March to about $26 million in April. Hillary took in approximately the same amount. But no one is saying that the drop in funding for Hillary means she's going to end her campaign.

If Margot Kidder was right and the scheme was used to buy influence in the form of superdelegates, then those superdelegates might be having a change of heart. Right about now. State Democratic parties are now unhappy that they're not getting their money back for local campaigns. Could that change the superdelegate math? Possibly.

Sanders is helping a few Democrats and he's letting them keep all the money they raise with his help. Try telling that to people who don't think he's a true Democrat.

Despite all the talk about quitting, Sanders is going all the way to convention. Even if he loses, he's sort of won. He will have a chance to help hammer out planks in the Democratic platform. He will bring the force of millions of voters to bear on Clinton to ensure that she live up to her changing words. Remember, she's a lawyer and we want to make sure she's explicit about her intentions.

In any event, I'm still very hopeful that Sanders will win. And if he doesn't, well, a peaceful revolution has already begun.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Why does Bernie Sanders have overwhelming support among young people?

Common Dreams has just published an interesting article on the current state of the election. In it, I found a most interesting passage regarding Bernie Sanders' campaign for president:
Polling director John Della Volpe told the Washington Post on Monday. "He's not moving a party to the left. He's moving a generation to the left," adding, "Whether or not he's winning or losing, it's really that he's impacting the way in which a generation—the largest generation in the history of America—thinks about politics."
This corroborates with another observation at The Intercept rather well:
"Top GOP Pollster: Young Americans Are Terrifyingly Liberal"
According to new polling by right-wing political consultant Frank Luntz, Americans 18 to 26 are extremely liberal — so liberal that “the hostility of young Americans to the underpinnings of the American economy and the American government” should “frighten every business and political leader” and “excite activists for Sanders and, to a lesser degree, Clinton activists.”
Young people are beginning to notice that they've been screwed over big time by the Baby Boomers and they're not happy about it. They're having trouble paying for college education. They're being screwed over by trade schools that take their money and fail to find them jobs. They can't buy a house to make into a home when they're saddled with so much debt. They find themselves victims of the selfishness of the generations that preceded them, mostly Baby Boomers and that other one, "The Greatest Generation".

Somehow, we went from caring for each other during the Great Depression, to working with each other for our mutual prosperity from 1944 to 1980, to "keep your hands offa my stack, Jack". We have come full circle and we are still recovering from the Great Recession. That Great Recession was the result of a monumental generation of selfishness. All of the prosperity gained by America since 1980 came at the expense of the next generation and most of it went to the top 1%.

We now stand at a time when birthrates are near all time lows. We also stand at a time when voter turnout is near all time lows. We are starting to get it that income inequality is inextricably linked to our participation in politics. If we as a nation fail to participate in politics, we will we be ruled by our inferiors. The top 1% get it and they show up at the polls.

By their hand, they have given us a society laboring under constant surveillance. They have given us a body of public policy that has detached compensation from productivity, across the board. They have entangled us in two very costly wars and neglected our infrastructure. And they have sought to privatize social welfare programs for their own personal gain. All this while allowing industry to foul the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.

If they had not done all that, we would not have Bernie Sanders and a political revolution spreading across the nation. Even if Bernie does not win the Democratic nomination, it is now too late. The emperor has no clothes and now, we are all free to admit it. We are free to admit that selfishness is not an economical or biological prerogative and that it will not sustain the human race.

Bernie polls well with you people because they too have begun to notice that selfishness is not an attribute for biological success. They would like to reclaim their seat at the table and remove themselves from the menu. I can only hope that they succeed.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hillary Clinton's insubordination disqualifies her from the presidency

The single most important reason not to elect Hillary Clinton for president is that she has committed insubordination on the job as Secretary of State. As a result of her insubordination, she will almost certainly be indicted for violating numerous federal laws relating to her handling of classified information in her emails and on her email server.

This blog post today relies up another blog post by Chetan Hebbale. Judging by his credentials, he's a scientist and has a very strong interest in genetics. OK, he's not a lawyer. But he knows enough to get an abridged version of a 24,000 word blog post on this subject published at the Georgia Political Review.

His article, "Do I Really Need to Worry About Hillary’s Emails? Yes. She Will Be Indicted. (Full Form)", explains in detail how we learned that she was using her own email server to handle official communications during her tenure as Secretary of State. Hillary has said that she didn't know she was passing classified information through her own email account through an unsecured, unencrypted server and messaging system. The record shows that she passed classified information to many people who did not hold a clearance to see that information. She also transported that server containing classified information to a company for maintenance and hosting, and the people in that company did not have clearance.

It is clear that Hillary has no intention of harming the United States. But that is not what the law focuses on. The law is only concerned about the information and the security of the same. Which law are we talking about? The law within and governed by her non-disclosure agreement. Under that law, it doesn't matter if she knew she was passing classified information to others without clearance. The law only cares if she did pass that information.

A few words about the author of the blog post upon which this post relies: Chetan Hebbale is not some right-wing fringe blogger:
"Despite being a mostly liberal Democrat and a Hillary admirer, I’ve come to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton and her aides not only violated numerous federal criminal statutes, but may have conducted a cover up to hide incriminating evidence – the likes of which forced Richard Nixon to resign as President."
I will leave all the gory details to you to read in his articles and focus instead on the issue of insubordination. Hillary Clinton was approached more than once about the use of her own email on her own phone and was offered a government email account and phone at no cost to her. She declined all assistance more than once and insisted on using her own email account and server. The rules and regulations permit her to use her own device and email account, so long as the information being passed was not classified. She was given an email account to use which she never activated and never used, so if she was going to send or receive any classified information it wasn't through authorized channels.

Upon entering office as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton signed an employment agreement, passed a background check and signed a Non-disclosure agreement. These are standard operating procedures for high level government positions, and many, many businesses. If an ordinary employee had done what she did, she would almost certainly have been terminated the moment any leaks were exposed.

If she were in the armed services, this would be insubordination, quite literally, and she would be ejected from the military or court-marshaled. You know how it is, "loose lips lose ships". Hilary is asking us to elect her as Commander In Chief, despite her willingness to insubordinate her superiors - and the people.

Here is another way to look at insubordination. The people elect representatives. Those representatives pass laws and delegate authority to agency heads in the executive branch to execute and enforce those laws. Hillary Clinton was an agency head for 4 years and decided that at least one law didn't apply to her.

Everyone is expected to adhere to those laws or face penalties prescribed by those laws. Even the president. The president is the chief executive and has a duty to enforce those laws. When he appoints someone to office, and Congress confirms that appointment, the president has a reasonable expectation that the laws of this nation will be carried out by his subordinates.

When Hillary uses her own email server and address to transmit classified information rather than the one provided to her at government expense, that is insubordination. Not just to the president, but also to the people. As a result of her indiscretions, she will be referred for indictment. But whether or not she will be prosecuted is a political decision that only Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney General can make.

During all that time, certain people knew what was going on and asked Hillary to correct and she refused. She was a cabinet level officer of the US government and few others could command her to correct the situation. Hillary seems to believe that she operates under a separate set of rules from everyone else. As an ordinary employee, she would have been terminated long ago. But as the former first lady, she gets a pass? Really?

When I vote to elect someone to the office of President of The United States, I expect that person to follow the laws just like everyone else. To do anything else is insubordination of the will of The People.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Blackmail doesn't work in presidential primaries. Just ask Hilary Clinton

Whew. For a minute there, I thought I was going to have to troll for Trump. I was feeling dejected at the prospect of having to hold my nose and vote for Clinton. The mainstream media is trying to tell us that Bernie is throwing in the towel, that he's laying off staff and giving up. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was also seeing comments in social media from people who seem to have done their research to show that Bernie has no chance to win the nomination. But then I saw something else. Someone had done the math again to show that the odds of Hillary showing up at the convention with the delegates she needs to win the nomination are slim to remote. I had seen that before several times but this time, what I saw is that Hillary needs to win, at best, 70% of the remaining delegates. The math says that even if Hillary wins California with 60% of the vote, she will still have to get 80% of the remaining delegates.

There is no way she's going to do that. It gets better. She may have more than 500 superdelegates in tow due to her ability to buy them, but those superdelegates are going to have to swallow their pride (and their campaign money) when they see tens of thousands of Bernie supporters descend upon the convention in July. Where are the marches for Hillary? Do we see any streets filling up for Hillary? Any stadiums? I didn't think so.

Wait a minute. What about those 520 superdelegates that have expressed support for Clinton now? Sanders has only 39, so she should win by now. No, they don't actually vote until the convention, so they don't count.

What we've been seeing is a sort of blackmail in this primary election. The implied message is, "Look, I'm Hillary Clinton and I deserve to win this election. I earned it and you can't take it away from me. I know, I haven't always followed through on my word. Yes, I betrayed you with NAFTA by running strategy sessions in Congress to get it ratified, I betrayed you by my support of the repeal of Glass-Steagall signed by my husband, my support for a lousy crime bill in 1994, my vote for the Iraq War and my tacit support of Wall Street. I know it looks bad, but really, I'm here for you. Oh, you don't like me? Vote for me, or you get the Trump!"

This blackmail was never more clearly explained than by the following meme:

The only job Trump has is to make Hillary Clinton seem more palatable. That's it.

Why would Trump want to be president? He's a businessman with a job that is far easier than being president. Businessmen don't have to make everyone happy. They only have to make money. The president? He has to find a way to keep the country running and that means making everyone happy if he can. The president has to make decisions that he might lose sleep over for weeks even months.

The businessman? He takes a vacation on an atoll in the South Pacific when he wants to chill. Trump doesn't really want to be president. That is the hardest job in the world, but it does come with great perks. Running a business is like having your own personal bank if you do it right. I think he'd rather be counting his money than the votes he might need to get some bill passed.

The mainstream media would have us believe that Sanders is ready to give up. He's not. Not even close. He does the math, too. He knows that Clinton isn't going to net the delegates she needs to secure the nomination before the convention. You need to know it, too. The odds are slim to remote that she can pull it off. Unless maybe, there are a few election officials willing to tilt the table, you know, like they did in Massachusetts. Then there might be a problem for Bernie.

After New York let someone go for purging the voter rolls before the election and Arizona made very deep cuts in polling places, all eyes are on the election process and infrastructure now. You want to tilt the table for Hillary? be prepared for scrutiny from us, from the DOJ, from your attorney general, maybe even the UN.

There will be a contested convention. There is simply no other option given the math. Hillary knows this or she would not be offering an olive branch to Sanders supporters. She must be really, really worried about the Bernie or Bust voters.

So don't give up hope, Bernie supporters. Bernie has nothing to lose by going all the way to the convention. The more he campaigns, the more his message gets out. That's all he has to do. We The People will do the rest.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's hard to claim you have a mandate when your voters think elections are rigged

As the election wears on, we're going to be hearing stronger and stronger calls for Bernie Sanders to stand down. Bernie offers no signs of stopping, of standing down. Bernie is in it to win it and he is committed to showing up at the convention. He has legions of supporters who believe in him and that will continue to support him even if he does eventually lose.

There is a credible threat from the Bernie or Bust crowd that they will walk away and the Clinton team is truly frightened of the prospect that they will. I can see it in the way they debate in social media: "Oh, you're going to write him in? Then you're voting for Trump, you big dummy." Their condescension is beyond the pale. But their fear is palpable. The number of Bernie or Bust voters is about 33% of Sanders supporters, or, roughly 41% of Democrat voters as of last November, and that number is likely to be bigger now. That's not even talking about the huge contingent of independent voters who will not vote for her, either.

There is still hope for Bernie supporters and a lot can happen between now and June.

Now there is a new poll out that says that half of Americans think that the election is rigged. Think about that. Half of Americans believe that their votes are not being counted fairly. That's about the same number of voters who believe that neither major political party truly represents them. Who needs to listen to them when you can spend a third of your time dialing for dollars with the who's who of American wealth?

There is at least one mathematician, Richard Charmin, who has presented very strong evidence of election rigging. He points to the exit polls in Massachusetts where the raw data show that the results of the exit polls are being adjusted to match the election results. Here is some of the logic behind that assertion:
Clinton led the adjusted exit poll (1406 respondents) by 50.3-48.7%,  a near-exact match to the 1.4% RECORDED vote margin.  But her 50.3% share was IMPOSSIBLE.  The proof is self-explanatory: How could Clinton gain 114 respondents and Sanders just 7 among the final 109 exit poll respondents?
Clinton won  by 51-49% on electronic voting machines from ES&S, Diebold and Dominion.  Sanders won 68  hand-counted precincts by 58-41%.   He won 250 of 351 jurisdictions and had at least 58% in 110.  
The odds against that kind of result are remote at best. Yet, we are relying upon exit polling to show if the official tally is right. What they are doing is adjusting the exit polling data to make it conform to the election results. That's not exactly scientific, but that's what they're doing as standard operating procedure.

We have also seen live election reporting that actually shows Sanders numbers going down as the night wore on:

Isn't that statistically impossible? I think so. Notice that this is not an error. In the first image, we see Sanders winning handily with 16% reporting. Later, with 39% reporting, he's lost a third of his votes.

These aren't the only examples. There are numerous studies of election fraud throughout modern American history. But this is the first election I've seen where it's really starting to get notice in social media. Blockchain voting, your time has come.

We know that we can solve the problem of election fraud with available, off the shelf technology, but the political will must be there, and it has to start with small jurisdictions and work its way up. Small jurisdictions are the low hanging fruit of change.

If Hilary wins, and based on current trends she's on track to win, she's going to have a really hard time claiming a mandate of any kind. 45% of the voters in this country now identify themselves as independent. That's more voters than all the voters who are registered with both major parties. Neither party truly represents America anymore.

If the story of election fraud takes hold in the national discourse on the election, convincing Americans that Clinton truly represent their interests becomes orders of magnitude harder for her.

If your party doesn't really represent America anymore, rigging elections is probably the only thing left to do to stay relevant. Sure, the elite figure that Americans will forget what happened. They will if they have to work 2-3 jobs just to make a living. They can't even participate in the rule making process that allows for close primaries, electronic voting that has little to zero oversight and rampant disenfranchisement campaigns whenever it suits the elite to purge the voter rolls.

Staying relevant with rigged elections doesn't give you a mandate. It gives you an oligarchy.