Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The apparent death of neoliberalism, a democratic socialist and the dumbest idea in the world

I had the good fortune to get some reading in today and I'd like to share with you what I found. First, I would like to treat you to this article in Forbes, about "the dumbest idea in the world". Steve Denning has written a very good analysis of how we got here, to this place of unbelievably bad inequality (video). To Denning, it comes down to stockholder share value:
What is this strange idea? In the 1970s, the largest enterprises—the publicly owned corporations—began adopting a notion that even Jack Welch has called “the dumbest idea in the world.” In an effort to offset declining performance and profits due to increased competition, these companies embraced the notion that the very purpose of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value as reflected in the current stock price. The focus of these firms turned inward towards singlemindedly extracting value for the company’s shareholders, ahead of delivering value to customers. Executives were compensated in stock so that they would focus on the goal of increasing the stock price.
Denning's article points out that in the late 1970s, there was a divergence between productivity and wages. For some reason, wages stopped rising with productivity. Denning believes that this focus on share prices of corporations trading in securities markets around the world, but particularly in America, has been the "smoking gun" that is killing the middle class. Enterprise had started to forget their mission to create customers, not bankrupt them.

I find his article interesting for a number of reasons. The article details very nicely and accurately what has happened in the last century of the American economy. His article brings together a nice collection of facts and figures, as well as changes in how American businesses worked, as well. Better, much of what he says corresponds well with the writings of an economist who happened to see the collapse of the housing bubble far in advance of the economic crisis that arose from it.

That economist is Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic Policy Research. In his book, "The End of Loser Liberalism" (free PDF download), he traces out essentially the same history as Denning. However, where they really differ is on motivation. While Denning pins the blame squarely the misguided desire to elevate stock value above all else, Baker pins the blame on the simple struggle between labor and capital. The takeaway from Baker's book is that the rules have been rewritten to favor capital over labor at the expense of the economy in general.

Baker and and Denning are in good company with another economist, Thomas Piketty. In his book, Capital in the 21st Century, Piketty shows that over long periods of time, capital tends to outperform labor. In this context, we can see that the struggle between capital and labor is easily won by capital, particularly without adequate restraint. While Baker notes in his book the central elements of the struggle and what can be done to strike a balance between the two, Piketty simply says for at least the last 200 years, capital has won that struggle.

And now, as we see the the aftermath of a serious decline in the fortunes of the middle class, we are coming to a point where the wealthiest people in the world can no longer be supported at the current rate of wealth transfer from poor to rich. It is simply unsustainable. The economy grows when the money in that economy circulates among the greatest number of people, not the other way around.

At this juncture, we see Bernie Sanders welcomed with open arms by a middle class weary of the deceits put upon them by neoliberal politicians like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and every Republican president that has held the White House since Kennedy. At least Eisenhower could see what was coming and fought hard for the middle class. We've been sold on the idea that if we let rich people have more of the money they take from our labor, that we'd see a better standard of living.

But that's not what happened, and you can say all the nice things you want about Ronald Reagan, but he didn't just get the ball rolling, he sent it plunging down the north slope of Mount Everest and skied down the other side. Maybe he had good intentions, maybe not. I say for him and many others like him, "Sincere delusion is the cloak of avarice." Sincerely deluded people believe in lies, and they use those delusions, a sort of denial, as justification for their avarice.

Denning, Baker and Piketty all recognize that this system of economics only works if you're already at the top. They all recognize that a change is necessary. But they also recognize that an enormous amount of effort will be required to make the changes needed to make capitalism work for all of us. Capitalism used to work for all of us, once. Anybody older than 60 knows this. Anybody younger than 60 has never seen it really work for everyone.

Bernie Sanders is 74 years old. He can remember an economy that worked for everyone. He came along at the right time to set the stage for the change we need. Not only has he energized a massive voting block capable of putting him in the White House (under the right conditions), he has motivated 12,000 people (at last count) to consider running for office.

Jordon Chariton at MSNBC correctly notes that what Sanders has started (and he is just getting started) is far bigger than getting into the White House, and I believe he's right. I think that the White House, as a goal, is ancillary to the thrust of the Sanders campaign. Even if he loses the Democratic nomination, millions of people will be watching and listening where he points to and who he talks about. He will have greater power whether he wins or loses. If he wins, he's in the White House and he will not just "take what we can get" from the Republicans like Bill and Hillary Clinton did in the 1990s. He will honestly fight to implement a progressive legislative agenda from the White House, or not.

Even if he remains in the Senate, he can focus millions of eyes and the brains behind them, to hold Clinton accountable at every attempt to go "moderate" (a nice name for neoliberal). He can spend a long, long time still in the Senate. Strom Thurmond lived to be 100 while a Senator. Sanders could probably match that.

Sanders will be at the convention. He will get a prime time speaking slot. He will have an impact on the platform, like it or not. He may run as an independent, Green Party or Democrat. Who knows? He wrote yet another great article imploring the Democrats to wake up. He plays a long game, so I think the following meme will give us a fair indication of what to expect in the coming years:

Bernie or Bust.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

We're here because the Democratic elites believe we have nowhere else to go

Hardly a day goes by that I fail to read an article about some galling thing done by the elite Democratic Party bosses. Voter suppression, flipping registration, cutting polling places, taking money for voter purges and changing the rules at the convention in Nevada without a legitimate vote. I could go on and on, but it should be noted that these are desperate times for a party give no voice to the truly liberal among us.

Then I find myself corresponding with someone else about the perceived arrogance of the Democratic Party. I said, "The Impunity Party" might be a better name for them.

Then we saw how Bernie Sanders submitted more than 40 names for standing committee appointments. DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz appointed three of them. She also appointed two men who were vehemently opposed to Bernie Sanders. She appointed them to plum positions as chairmen to two important committees, just to twist the knife.

This long string of abuses can only be performed by a political party that believes it can act with impunity. Clearly there is no long term thinking in their actions. We know now after the primaries, that Bernie Sanders gathered at least 12 million votes. We also know that a growing fraction of them will refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. At last count it was something close to 45% of those voters who now refuse to vote for Hillary. I am one of them. I will not vote for the candidate of impunity.

Notice how Hillary's attempts to reach out to Sanders supporters is very likely to fail. Why? "He brings a lot of passion, but hasn't gotten me to move on any policies." Sanders carries the vote with young people by wide margins because they know that she's really a neoliberal, someone who calls herself a liberal, but acts more like a Republican. Don't believe me?

Check out this article at Common Dreams. Here we see the true narrative of the Democratic Party. Once the defender of the working class, defender of the New Deal, the Democratic Party has become addicted to big money in politics. Once hooked on that big money, ideology and any sense of fairness seems to have left the Democratic Party. But this year, this election, its all about making history, it's all about electing the first woman president of the United States. Character doesn't matter as long as Hillary Clinton is immortalized as the first American woman president. Listening to their campaign, it would seem that sexism isn't cool, but if you support Hillary Clinton, that's OK.

Neoliberalism gave us the crime bill of 1994. It gave us the Telecommunications Act of 1996. it gave us the repeal of Glass-Steagall. It traded political support from the working class for the support of the financial class. It gave us NAFTA and a host of other "free trade" agreements that have injured the working class, stagnated wages and enriched an already wealthy cohort willing to make more donations to keep big money in politics.

True liberals are now awake to this change. That's why 1.5 million people have shown up to the rallies hosted by Bernie Sanders. That's why Sanders is polling 43% of Democrats and 70% of independents, potentially the largest voting block ever assembled in America.

The Democratic elite seem to think they've got this all locked up. They seem to believe that we have nowhere else to go. But we do.

Imagine a scenario where Bernie Sanders, having failed to acquire the nomination, walks off to run as an independent with 12 million votes. There is a very real possibility that as an independent, he could win the election in November. He could even run on the Green Party ticket and could still win. Consider that a majority of voters elected to opt out of the European Union in the UK, the "Brexit", something that no one else believed was possible, this year. No one believed that could happen. Well, it's entirely possible that we will have a choice of something other than the lesser of two evils when we go to the polls in November.

Whether Bernie wins the nomination by indictment of Hillary, running as an independent or 3rd party, however he might win, it's a truly terrifying prospect for the people who fund "the establishment". That's why all of the "irregularities" have favored Clinton. That's why Bernie is the only one flipping counties in California after it became clear that the provisional ballots must be counted for election officials to save face. That's why the press has been so breathlessly aggressive in anointing Hillary as "the presumptive nominee". "The Establishment" would so dearly love to avoid any chance that Bernie could win.

But with 30% of Americans identifying as Democrat and 26% identifying as Republican, both parties have conveniently left out 43% of Americans who can't bring themselves to identify with either one. That kind of disconnect is the best way to explain why "the presumptive nominee" for both parties have historically low approval ratings. They both have the lowest net favorable ratings in history as pointed out by Gallup:
"For his part, Sanders continues to argue that he is the better choice to face Trump in the fall. Sanders' net favorable rating among the American public is now at +9, better than either Clinton's (-17) or Trump's (-31). However, it is likely that if Sanders were to become the Democratic nominee and in turn face much more intense media scrutiny and attacks from Trump and other Republicans, his favorable rating would become less positive."
The spread between Sanders and Clinton is 26 points? And she's still the nominee? I doubt very much that everything after the word "However" would even come to pass. There is simply very little negative to work with when attacking Bernie Sanders.

Even if Clinton or Trump should become president, Sanders has sparked a movement of people to get into politics. At last count, more than 12,000 people have signed up to run for office after hearing Bernie Sanders' call for people to get involved in politics. I signed up myself. You can, too, if you want to.

Bernie Sanders is just one man. Imagine 12,000 like him, running for office, taking no big money contributions and winning a few. Even if 1% make it to office, there will be a discernible change in politics. That could make for a very interesting mid-term election in 2018.

More immediately, we also see that Real Clear Politics is now maintaining a 4-way polling average between Clinton, Trump, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. Gary Johnson in particular is polling at historical highs for 3rd party candidates around 10% in at least one poll. Jill Stein is moving up fast, as well. We could very well see one or both of them in the November debates. All they have to do is hit 15% in 5 nationwide polls.

Stein is similar in many respects to Bernie Sanders in terms of policy positions. For many people who are Bernie or Bust, Stein could see a very significant bump in the polls if Sanders should somehow concede the election to Clinton. And she would have no compunction about bringing up Hillary's history during a nationwide debate.

Liberals do have somewhere to go besides the Democratic Party. As some have said, "I'm leaving the Democratic Party, and I'm taking the kids". After this election, that is what many, many people will do if Sanders does not get the nomination. Heck, I think they will leave even if he does.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Serious interest in third parties is taking root

For the past few days, I have been thinking about what happened in Nevada and sort of debating someone on Twitter about the Sanders Campaign. I can see it in their words, this sort of smugness. "Look, he knew the rules going in." As if somehow, Clinton supporters are playing fair. But as this article by John Larits so carefully documents, they are not.

What happened in Nevada is that decisions were made without a quorum, without discussion and rules were adopted without a proper vote. They changed the rules without authority at the Nevada Democratic Convention to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning there. I got started thinking about this issue because of another article I read that seems to be making the rounds.

That article is a very personal account about how one delegate in Iowa shared her own story after reading about the 64 delegates who were de-certified at the Nevada Democratic Convention. That same woman was de-certified prior to entry for an Iowa Democratic Convention based on the fact that she's a registered Republican. She is a lifelong Democrat who, while signing in to the convention, finds that she's registered as a Republican. This issue was never brought up at any other party events she attended, but at the state convention, she's nailed? She is certain that someone has messed with her registration just prior to the convention in Iowa. And she's not the only one. I've read other stories like that from people in other states, too.

Contrast this with the GOP. We never heard any stories about people having to correct their registration records after being denied entry to their state convention. Where there were closed primaries, we heard zero, and I mean absolutely no stories of people finding out that they were registered as Democrat at the polling place. GOP voters simply did not have to vote by provisional ballots due to their registration status. Curiously, it hardly even dawns on Clinton supporters that although these conditions worked great to stymie the Sanders campaign, those same conditions can do wonders for GOP candidates for president and Congress.

This may be evidence of election fraud, but it's evidence of something far worse. It's evidence of a political party that has become disconnected from the base. Delegates are people who pay close attention to the motions of their party. They show up an important party functions and participate in votes on the direction of the party in the future. These are people who are loyal to the party, and yet they are being turned away for supporting Bernie Sanders. What happened in Nevada, and probably a few other states, is an attempt to manufacture consent for Clinton as the nominee.

From the national perspective, I see that both major parties are selecting awful candidates for the nominees, often over intense protests. Even if Trump didn't win the nomination, and there's still a chance he won't, the GOP is looking at someone like Cruz, Kasich or Rubio as the nominee. For the Democrats, we have a choice between Hillary Clinton, someone who is under active criminal investigation and Bernie Sanders, someone with no evidence of scandal. Yet the party bosses would dearly love for the rest of rest to get in line and vote for her.

But there is now clear evidence in the polls of a disconnect between the two dominant parties and the people. 43% of Americans identify as independent voters. In a recent Gallup poll, 26% of voters identified as GOP, while 30% identified as Democrat. That is a yawning disconnect between the majority of the people and the two major parties.

What we see happening in each major party is one act of desperation after another to cling to the power they have now. But now we see that Real Clear Politics is maintaining averages of 4-way polls between Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein from the Green Party and Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party. Johnson is averaging 7%. Stein is at 4.9%.

We could be seeing third party candidates rise to the national debates for president. According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, in order for a candidate to be considered eligible for that debate, he or she "must have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination." Both Stein and Johnson have been rising rapidly in the polls. It is entirely probable that one or both of them will get on the stage for a debate with Trump and Clinton.

The first debate isn't going to happen until September, so there is time for a great deal of movement between now and then. The FBI could finally get their act together and refer Hillary Clinton for indictment for violations of the Espionage Act or even on corruption charges for her pay-to-play family foundation. Then Bernie could be the nominee. Bernie could run as an independent and walk away with a good chunk of votes that Hillary needs to beat Trump. Trump could be replaced by someone else at the GOP convention. Bernie could run on the Green Party ticket.

The point is, the two dominant parties are running out of gas. They have reached the last chance Texaco and they're losing the confidence of the voters, so much so, that third parties are gaining traction. This election season could very well spell the eventual demise of both the GOP and the Democratic Party as the power brokers in American politics. For many Americans, that might be how they spell relief.

The mood in social media is undeniable. The people know when they've been played. I've had enough interactions with Clinton supporters to see their smugness, and am only quietly outraged when I see it. How does anyone even justify a vote for someone who is under criminal investigation? How does someone justify a vote for Clinton out of fear for Donald Trump, a man who is starting to look more and more like controlled opposition?

The mainstream media is feeding us a reason every day to vote for Hillary because Trump is so dangerous. If Trump is so dangerous, could someone please explain to me why the wheels are falling off of his campaign? Does he even have a campaign?

Americans can see this for what it is. Bread and circuses. But through it all, I see Bernie still standing at the end. Even if he doesn't win, he got the ball rolling. Now its up to us to roll it over the Democrats and Republicans to remind them they still work for the rest of us. It doesn't matter to me how Bernie eventually runs. I will still vote for him however he appears on the ballot.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The terms of debate do not include profanity, at least, not for me

I enjoy political discourse on the internet, and to those of you who have seen me on Google+, Facebook and Twitter, this is no secret. I've had many debates and expect to continue those debates. In any debate, I follow a simple set of rules for the debate. I've enumerated them here in the recent past. There, I point out a few strategies that I employ to do my part to keep the debate fair and clean.

I got a great response to that post and one person in particular, who shall remain nameless, expressed gratitude for my discipline to not go on offense. She indicated that when she gets angry, she uses profanity and obscenities to make her point. I can empathize, as on more than a few occasions, I've been tempted to go there. But I don't. Here, I want to share with you why I don't go there.

In the distant past, I tried my hand at standup comedy. I recorded many events on audio, and even did one video. You can find that video here. One thing you'll notice about that video is that there is no profanity, obscenity or vulgarity. I have a supreme reluctance to engage in that kind of talk under any circumstances. This is true of me especially on stage as a speaker or comedian.

To get to that place of doing standup comedy, I took a class from a comedian. I had been taking improvisation classes for years and later in those years, he was offering standup comedy classes. So I paid the fees and started to attend. I learned many very interesting lessons, but the one lesson I learned that I never forgot comes from a discussion about f-bombs and the s-word.

What I learned is that profanity is a crutch for comedians. It is a tool that can be used to shock people into laughing. Comedians who make a habit of using profanity tend to find it hard to get on the Tonight Show, so my teacher advised against it. I had a natural reluctance to be profane, so I had no problem with it.

I carry that same lesson into my philosophy about debate. Profanity doesn't make the point in debate. Yes, there are studies that show that people who use profanity tend to be more intelligent, but to me, profanity is not a sign of intelligence. It is a sign of weakness. Yes, if I hit my thumb with a hammer, I may use the f-bomb as an exclamation. I may even use it in company with people who are comfortable with the term. I did construction for 10 years, so I'm no stranger to it. But I don't use it offensively. Profanity is deeply offensive and you can never take it back. It can in some cases destroy relationships.

There is another aspect to this point about profanity that I'd like to share with you. Profanity is deeply disrespectful and eviscerates peace in the mind body and soul. For some people, a great deal of time must pass before they can regain a peaceful state after exposure to profanity. When introduced into debate, profanity reduces debate to a pissing match. Lots of crude language with little imagination or useful ideas.

All of us want peace. We engage in debate over politics, religion and science because no one has a corner on great ideas. We talk together because we know that working together, we can solve problems together better than alone. Profanity is a huge barrier to working together. People who use profanity intend to win an argument. I don't believe there is any such thing as winning an argument, especially with profanity.

When I engage in debate, I only hope to promote peace with what I believe to be better ideas and holding people accountable when they act poorly. I don't engage in debate to win it, for this would leave no peace in the mind of the loser. I engage in debate to promote peace.

I know that to have peace, I must be peaceful. There is no place for profanity in a peaceful mind. So when I use my words in print, on the internet, between myself and anyone in my life, I follow one simple principle. Err on the side of peace.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The symptoms of an election where the corrupting influence of money is ignored

What I like about Bernie Sanders is that he has clearly identified the primary issue: the corrupting influence of money in politics. By eschewing big money donors, Sanders has, in many respects, made himself dependent upon the people alone. This is the single most important reason I like Bernie.

If he who pays the piper calls the tune, I know that millions of Americans are calling the tune. They are not asking for a special favor for one person, one company or even one industry. They are not asking for free stuff. They are simply asking for a better distribution of tax dollars so that everyone benefits. They are asking for a system of government that is more concerned with the general welfare of the citizens rather than just top 0.05%.

The way I look at it is like this. When people pay money to a politician, expecting something in return, they are asking for law or public policy which has a predictable effect. In other words, they can predict who will benefit from the change in policy. I read somewhere, a long time ago, that a good law is one where we cannot predict which specific individuals will benefit from the law.

A special interest, making a contribution to a candidate in or seeking a position of power, is seeking a change in policy that will benefit that interest and that interest alone. If that contribution is large enough, it can be a corrupting influence because now the person pulling the levers is only interested in benefiting the person that paid him rather than the merits of the change in public policy as requested.

But what happens when millions of people make a contribution to a candidate, asking for changes in public policy that benefit the broader population rather than a special interest? You get people like Bernie Sanders. Notice that Sanders does not promote special interest legislation. He's not making speeches for enormous sums of money for one particular industry. His speeches are public, not private. By keeping his speeches public, he is maintaining transparency between himself and his constituents.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton has made many private speeches to very wealthy contributors, each for an enormous sum of money. Seriously, is any speech worth $200,000 or more? Only if you expect something in return. That kind of money has a corrupting influence on politicians. We know it, Bernie knows it and yet, the press is rather silent on the issue, and I mean the mainstream media.

I know, that's a long digression to get to the point, but we'll get there. Hillary is under investigation by the FBI, but there are people who are hedging on what kind of investigation that could be. I've said that it's a criminal investigation only to be criticized for doing so. The FBI didn't say it's a criminal investigation, but some will say only the person they're investigating knows if it's a criminal investigation. They say that the FBI will let you know if you're under criminal investigation.

Well, Hillary isn't saying one way or another. She will neither confirm nor deny that she has been contacted by the FBI. Only she knows and if she's not definite about it, then we know she can't say with certainty that she's not under criminal investigation without lying. Yet she still presses on for the Democratic nomination. There was a time in America, where even the smell of an investigation would force normal people to drop out and wait until the smoke clears. Hillary is willing to put the Democratic Party in peril by pursuing her campaign while under investigation by the FBI.

I read in the news that Bryan Pagliano gave testimony for this investigation. He invoked his rights under the 5th Amendment 125 times. The 5th amendment says that no person shall be compelled to testify against himself. No person shall be forced to make statements that could be used against him in a court of law. 125 times. Why is this important?

Bryan Pagliano is the man who set up and managed Hillary's personal email server. At first he set it up without encryption, then he set it for encrypted communications. He moved it from Hillary's home to a hosting provider in a secured building. If there was classified information on that server, and there's a pretty good chance there was, he and Hillary are toast. If you want to learn more about it, have a read here of 24,000 words of details. Also note that no one can seem to find any trace of communications between Pagliano and Hillary Clinton that is from the time that she was Secretary of State.

Pagliano was hired by Hillary Clinton to set up the email server for her, with a private domain, that she used during her time as Secretary of State for all of her email correspondence. All of it. Now he's invoking the 5th Amendment in response to questions in deposition for a lawsuit over records requested by Judicial Watch. This is a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. It is not a criminal case, yet he's invoking the 5th amendment.

I can't think of a better clue that shows that the FBI is engaged in a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton and her private email server. If the man who set up her server is pleading the 5th Amendment, and he didn't even write the emails sent through that server, he knows something that most of us do not. He's been counseled by lawyers on how to respond. He had an index card with a carefully worded statement that was written by lawyers.

Bernie Sanders has none of this going on. Why not? Because he doesn't take money from or represent special interests. He just wants to make the country a better place for all of us. He does not represent a few lucky people sitting on private monopolies and piles of money who make large contributions to politicians with the expressed interest of increasing the size of that pile of money.

What I love about Bernie is that he's not conceding anything. He's still holding rallies, still raising money and still campaigning. He's doing what I would expect of someone who will keep going until the last delegate vote is cast at the convention. He has taken the steps needed to be above the corrupting influence of money and that sets him apart from many, many other politicians, including Hillary Clinton.

The corrupting influence of money should be the central issue of this campaign season, but it's not. Not if you read and watch what the mainstream media is presenting to us. Instead, we're being treated to newsreels about how dangerous Donald Trump will be for the country. The mainstream media is already trying to pivot to the general election, demonizing Trump (believe me, demonizing him is justified), but failing to focus on the issue at hand, the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Even Trump calls her "Crooked Hillary", though he hardly has hands clean enough to do so. But he's willing to do it. His campaign is basically broke, he's not even self-financing his campaign. I'd say he's quietly setting his campaign on fire and that's going to make for an incendiary Republican National Convention. There is a real controversy about the existence of any campaign at all. Seems mighty convenient for Hillary, doesn't it?

Every time I hear or see the press talking about how terrible Trump is or could be as president, I just roll my eyes. They are totally playing to Hillary's favor. Yet, there is a chance that Hillary could be referred for indictment by the FBI. Will that happen before or after the convention? Who wants to find out? I would rather find out with Sanders as the Democratic nominee, wouldn't you?

Don't mind the mainstream media. They'd rather have us forget all of this and line up behind Hillary.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The hidden Clinton bias in mainstream reporting works mostly by omission

To Bernie Sanders supporters, this article will come as no surprise. Dear Berners, I will not be offended if you roll your eyes on this one. But for others, especially Clinton supporters, take heed what is happening. If you think you can get Bernie Sanders supporters to line up behind your cherished Hillary Clinton, read this and think again.

The corrupting influence of money is what Hillary Clinton represents to us, the men and women who stand by Bernie Sanders. Take note now, that the mainstream media is complicit in this corruption by failing to report certain relevant facts about this election, another facet of what we see and oppose in Hillary Clinton.

I happened upon this article from the Washington Post, Rep. Chaka Fattah convicted in racketeering case, byline dated 2016-06-21. From the looks of it, it's just another case of a high-level politician finding a way sell access for money and going to the big house for doing so. But as I read through the article, I kept thinking to myself that I'd seen that name before. Fattah, Fattah...Where did I see it?

I don't remember where I saw his name before, but I know where to look. Here, Wikipedia has a fine list of Superdelegates with their declared voting intentions. They don't vote until July 25th, but the mainstream media has been polling them day and night for their intentions, so they can only declare what they plan to do. Fattah is a superdelegate who has openly stated that he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. Isn't it nice to know that a convict will be voting for Hillary Clinton?

Perhaps the Washington Post didn't feel that that connection was a relevant aspect of the story. Neither did Politico. Neither did CNN. Not even NPR felt compelled to point that out. And I'm shocked, shocked, shocked! that FOX News failed to note that connection. I only have so much time to survey the field, but I suspect that if you go to any mainstream media site, you will not find a single major source of news reporting that Chakah Fattah is a Clinton supporting superdelegate who just happens to be going to prison soon.

I find Fattah's conviction ironic in the sense that he supports someone who has a well documented history of corruption. The irony goes deeper when I read those articles reporting his conviction to learn that he had been sold out by peers and subordinates who got also caught. They were able to get leniency for ratting out their friend for a lighter sentence, with what is known as a plea bargain. A plea bargain is a sort of a bribe to get perps to talk, yet another form of corruption.

I wrote this article not give you a survey of the bias in the media, but to show you how subtle the bias is in mainstream media. I believe that the vast majority of that bias in this primary season is by acts of omission. Bernie has been filling stadiums for his rallies, but did the mainstream media give any of them live coverage? They'd rather cover an empty chair at a Trump rally. When Sanders is still flipping counties in California as they count the remaining ballots, the press focuses on how dangerous Trump is. They dismiss any possibility that Clinton will be indicted for her private email server for espionage or racketeering, while focusing on the mounting pressure for Sanders to drop out. Who exactly wants Sanders to drop out and make nice?

You have to dig a little deeper to get to media sources that make the connection between the convict, Chakka Fattah, and his superdelegate status and his plans to vote for Clinton. You'd have to go to places like the Washington Free Beacon, and The Blaze (Associated Press), which wrote about the same story and referenced the former source, the Washington Free Beacon. Yet, every other organization that carried the story dropped the connection of Fattah as a Clinton-supporting superdelegate. They might be forgiven, except that the headline the Beacon ran with was as follows:

"Clinton Superdelegate Chaka Fattah Found Guilty on Corruption Charges"

It is now clear that most mainstream news organizations felt compelled to report the story to keep up with competing media sources. Yet they could not bring themselves to mention that all too important connection to Clinton's army of superdelegates. Curiously, all of those superdelegates who are known to be planning to vote for Clinton made their decision long before the first primary elections were held.

It is also well known that most of the top media organizations have made significant contributions to SuperPACs and PACs that support Hillary Clinton. This is the power of money in politics. Mainstream media is personified by Hillary Clinton and 90% of mainstream media is controlled by 6 parent corporations. They own a virtual monopoly, and if they have interlocking directorates where board members sit on multiple boards of directors for those 6 companies, then they have a monopoly.

For Bernie Sanders supporters, the overarching issue is to get the corrupting influence of money out of politics. This is why the fact that Chakkah Fattah is a superdelegate who supports Hillary Clinton is relevant to the story of his conviction. But mainstream media would like for us to believe that the corrupting influence of money is not the most important issue. To them, what is important is electing Clinton to defeat the evil Mr. Trump and electing Hillary Clinton as the first woman president in American history.

To know the story of American politics, we only need to follow the money. To restore our democracy, one person, one vote, we need to remove the money from politics. To make that narrative a mainstream media narrative, we must become the media. That's why I sit here most days writing about it and sharing about it. That's why I make time every day to share stories about people who support Bernie Sanders and Sanders himself. I support Bernie Sanders because he has made himself dependent upon the people and the people alone. Remember, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

If Donald Trump is controlled opposition, Clinton couldn't have picked a better opponent

So many months ago, I noticed something interesting about Donald Trump. He just doesn't fit as a man to run for president. He's a billionaire and could pretty much do whatever he wants. Even in the last speech I saw him give, he said, "I didn't have to do this, but I wanted to give back to a country that has been so great for me and my family." He openly admits in his victory speech that he doesn't have to run for president.

After reviewing his policy positions and statements, often in agreement with Bernie Sanders, I just found it so odd that he's running for president. So I wrote, The quandary that is Donald J. Trump, my first article to seriously question his quest for the White House. I wrote that article back in September of 2015. Even then, I was able to find one sitting Congressman who was suspicious:
For example, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), has this to say about Trump:
"I think there's a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate," Curbelo said, as quoted by The Miami Herald. "Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons' foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious."
I wrote about the same issue in, "A thought experiment about Trump: When the jackass becomes the joker for the GOP", predicting that, after nearly destroying the GOP, Trump would carefully set his campaign on fire, just to not make it look like he's throwing the election to Hillary. A look at the recent campaign filings show that he's being clobbered by Clinton in fundraising. He plays well to the voter base, but I doubt establishment donors are very happy with him.

His campaign is going broke. He's not raising money for Congress let alone president. The press is becoming quite unrelenting in their criticism of Trump and they glorify Clinton, warts and all. Check out this screenshot I took this morning while searching for news on Trump:

And then there's this: A libertarian candidate is polling very well by historical standards in a 3-way race between Trump, Clinton and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president. Real Clear Politics has him polling at 9% nationally. He's doing what Richard Boddie did to B-1 Bob Dornana in the 1990s. He is splitting the conservative vote for the Republican Party. That is a huge chunk of the voter base that Trump needs to win.

And of course, Trump continues to put his foot in his mouth and pull the trigger. There are times when he's coherent and even presidential. But I keep thinking that he's an entertainer as well as a businessman. It is hard to be good at so many things, and it's very hard to be a politician running for president. If he's a serious candidate for president, I don't see how he can have enough hours in a day to run his business, be an entertainer (well, he's not hosting reality TV much anymore, unless we're talking about his campaign) and campaigning.

With the exception of Bernie Sanders, I see this entire election as sort of a farce. The press is making Trump out to be this sort of enemy that we're all supposed to oppose, but we're only supposed to do it behind Hillary Clinton. The propaganda news rolls of WWII come to mind here. I guess the sinker for me is this: Bill Clinton and Donald Trump talked politics about 3 weeks before Trump announced his candidacy. Question is, did Bill Clinton encourage him to run?

I believe that suspicion is brewing among the elite Republicans, too. Delegates are starting to line up opposition to Trump at the convention. More than a few delegates don't see him as a viable candidate for this election and I suspect that he may be replaced at the last minute to avoid a complete disaster for their party. Perhaps their "Anybody but Trump" campaign is a clue. After watching Trump out the Republican base as misogynistic, racist and homophobic as well as xenophobic, I can't help but have a quiet laugh to myself that he's played the GOP so well and so, so hard.

This isn't to say that Democrats are going to walk right into the White House. There is still Bernie Sanders preparing for a contested convention. He has not conceded and, as I hope, he may not have to. If Trump is truly controlled opposition, we'll know it if the GOP manages to change the nominee at their convention. They could bring out someone who could beat Clinton and that would be that.

I don't think it's impossible for the GOP to do this. John Kasich and Marco Rubio actually polled fairly well against Clinton, certainly better than Trump. If they do that, Democrats may need Sanders to run, after all.