Monday, May 30, 2016

H is for Hypocrisy on the email scandal

As a short preface to this article, I want to make something very clear. I do not hate Hillary Clinton. I don't even hate people in general. I may not like what someone does, but I don't hate them. With Hillary Clinton, I see her as a human being, just like myself. We both have positive and negative attributes, we both have strengths and frailties. Hillary Clinton may very well be charming and sincere as a human being, but I don't really know her. I only know what she presents to the press. Since I can't really know her, I can only infer her character from what the press reports of her. But I most certainly do not hate her, I just don't like the things that she does.

I've been reading up on different accounts of Hillary's email scandal, now coming close to full boil. In recent days, the Inspector General for the State Department issued a report on their review of the matter and found that Hillary had no authorization to run her own private email server. This is distinct from using a private email account, say from Gmail. At least with Gmail, there is a third party arbiter to verify the records. With a private server, we have no way of knowing for sure what was deleted and what was returned to the Department of State.

Further, had Hillary taken the time to ask, any request for the arrangements she made for her email would have been roundly rejected. She never asked and never even activated the account provided to her by her employer. The report confirms that Hillary and her campaign have been lying for a year about whether or not her email setup was even allowed by the State Department.

I have also found several sources suggesting that Hillary was not comfortable with desktop computers for email. I find this ironic since desktop computers have been part of American life since at least 1989, that's when I bought my first desktop computer. There are numerous excuses for Hillary for how she setup her email, but very little initiative on her part to work with the State Department and set it up properly. In fact, the State Department bent over backwards to accommodate her.

Based on my reading of the history surrounding Hillary's behavior, it would seem to me that the objective paramount to Hillary's behavior is due to her desire to keep her emails out of the reach of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, as well as out of the reach of the prying eyes of Republican members of Congress. This might not have been an issue at all if a Freedom of Information Act request did not, after exhausting appeals within the agency, go to court, pressing for her emails. Judicial Watch, a conservative organization, has done us all a favor by bringing this issue to light.

I find the entire situation ironic since Hillary Clinton voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and voted to extend it again in 2006. Here is a woman so obsessed with privacy that even while working as head of a department of the US government, and being trusted with state secrets, she was willing to break the law, several of them, in order to have her privacy. She seems to think that one set of rules applies to her, but everyone else gets the surveillance.

She witnessed firsthand how Congress investigated her husband in the 1990s. She saw hearing after hearing into her husband's affairs (no pun intended), and I'm sure she saw the strenuous objections made by the Clinton Administration to requests for documents concerning Mr. Clinton from Congress and from ordinary citizens with their FOIA requests. During the 1990s, I made more than 300 requests under the Sunshine laws of the federal government and a few state governments. The Clinton era was a great time to be making FOIA requests as the Clinton administration tended to err on the side of disclosure.

The bottom line is that Hillary didn't want her "records", her emails, to be subject to any request under the Sunshine laws of the United States. She didn't want her correspondence to be subject to review by anyone else. This was why she ran all of her official email through her own private server at home. I find it hard to believe that a woman who even knows about setting up a private email server would be uncomfortable using a desktop for email.

Well, Hillary, I got news for you. The Patriot Act you voted for, with many other Republicans, has subjected everyone else to a loss of privacy that has had a chilling effect on the freedom of expression in this great country. I watched in horror as my favorite blog,, was shutdown just because of your action, your vote, all in the name of national security. Read here, how Pamela Jones, the woman who started, learned that all of her emails were being collected by the NSA. See how she felt as if someone had broken into her home and went through all of her underwear.

Yes, that's on you, Hillary. Note also, that your opponent, Bernie Sanders voted against the Patriot Act 3 times. Even he could see the perilous path of complete and total surveillance. Seems kind of ironic since he's a "socialist". Your votes on the Patriot Act make you out to be more like a Republican than a Democrat. At best, and I'm being charitable here, you're just another conservative Democrat.

Bernie's votes against the Patriot Act are just one of the reasons why I support him. He sees war as a last resort. He understands that he works for us, not the other way around. He is dependent upon the people alone for his campaign funding. Bernie Sanders' campaign serves as a reminder, a clarion call to all others, that we don't have to go begging for money from the wealthiest among us to ensure election and re-election.

We're not asking for very much from Hillary Clinton. If she had wanted privacy, she would have stayed out of public life. She cannot expect the rest of us to have any empathy for her with her votes for the Patriot Act. She knew what she was getting into when she signed up for the job, yet she insisted on violating the terms of the agreement between her and the people she served. She violated the terms of the non-disclosure agreement that she signed before starting work as Secretary of State. Yes, Hillary Clinton supporters, you really do need to worry about those emails.

I cannot, in good conscience, vote for Hillary Clinton, a woman who does not honor the contracts she signs. In contrast, Bernie Sanders has honored his commitments, and has consistently showed up for the middle class, time and time again.

Holding the office of President of the United States is more than just sitting in a plush chair behind a pretty desk. The person holding the office of the president must also honor the words he speaks and the contracts she signs. If you can't honor a simple NDA, don't even bother applying for the job.

I know that when I vote for Bernie Sanders, I'm voting for a man of his word. I would vote for a woman who honored her words and her contracts. It is unfortunate that Hillary Clinton is not one of them. This is one of the defining differences between Bernie and Hillary and one of the reasons why I support Bernie until the very last ballot is cast.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Judging by DNC standing committee appointments, uniting the party is not a priority

Last month, I read about how the Clinton campaign plans to disqualify Sanders and unify the party later. That plan hasn't panned out. In fact, if anyone is going to be disqualified, the smart money is on Clinton to be disqualified for gross negligence as Secretary of State. Too bad we have to wait for a Clinton supporter in the person of the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch to get off her duff and prosecute Clinton. She will never forget how she was appointed by Bill Clinton now, will she?

To the chagrin and fury of Clinton supporters, Sanders is still in the race, biding his time at rallies all over California while drawing huge crowds. There's plenty to see on Facebook and Google Plus now for anyone who wants to look. Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Francisco and Los Angeles is coming up. It's hard to look at those videos and pics and not think that there is a landslide of potential energy waiting for June 7th.

Polling indicates that Sanders has closed the gap in California and nationally, he beats Trump where Clinton loses or is tied. All of the comfortable leads that Clinton had are either in a tie or upside down for her.

If the Clinton team are sincere about unifying the party, perhaps that is only because they know they need Sanders supporters to win it. Sorry, but most Sanders supporters are running a hard line against Clinton. I know I am. It was only 33% a few months ago. I think that the sentiment is far worse now that anyone had imagined it might be. One poll I found suggested that 90% or better would not vote for Clinton under any circumstance.

The entire argument for Sanders supporters to vote for Clinton is one based on fear: fear of Trump as president. Although fear can be a motivating force for action, honey works much better. Is the DNC, acting on behalf of Clinton, offering any honey? Judging by the latest convention news, not much, really. According to USUncut and numerous other sources, the DNC has only appointed 3 out of 45 names provided by Bernie Sanders. See below:
Under the party’s rules, the DNC chair has the power to appoint 25 at-large executive committee members to each committee. Out of the 45 names Sen. Sanders submitted, Wasserman Schultz only appointed three, none of whom are serving on the rules committee, which is arguably the most important.
Seriously? Just 3 of 45 from Sanders received committee seats? Then to add insult to injury, they appointed Barney Frank and Governor Dan Malloy to chair key committees for the convention, both of whom are openly hostile to Sanders. An attorney for Sanders has even written a letter to request that they be removed from their positions. That request was rejected in a hurry.

It appears that elite Democrats really do not want Sanders to have any influence on how the Democratic Party will move forward from the date of the convention. I guess they feel like Sanders has crashed their party.

Sanders is proving the corruption of the system. He had to run as a Democrat to even get notice from the press. He had to run as a Democrat because the two major political parties have a monopoly on political power. The entire Democratic primary process is stacked to favor conservative Democrats. We call them "centrist" now, but that's because the electoral process in general has forced the whole country to accept conservative choices. Why else would red states in the deep south hold their primaries first?

The problem is that Democratic elites actually think they need to kiss ass with wealthy people, get their money and use it to get elected and re-elected. Not because they really need it, Sanders has proven that they don't. It's because they believe that if Democrats don't do it, Republicans will. It's peer pressure, plain and simple. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the biggest plank in Bernie Sanders' platform is to get big money out of politics.

That one simple idea, to get big money out of politics, is why I support Bernie Sanders. I agree with Sanders on many of the other issues, and some not so much. But he beat the money primary and still he is now poised to win California. If he wins California, it's going to be hard for the unpledged delegates, the superdelegates, to vote en masse for Hillary and be able to justify it. Remember, they haven't actually voted yet. Superdelegates don't get to vote until the convention.

Would they want to alienate millions of voters who could cost Clinton the election? I don't think so. If elite Democrats are serious about unifying the party, they had better give Sanders more appointments on the standing committees before the convention. That's just a start.

Sanders supporters? They see the headwinds and they've got other plans if the nomination eludes Sanders himself. Even if he wins, Sanders supporters are already working on a Brand New Congress. Sanders can't prosecute a peaceful revolution alone. He has said it over and over again: he needs everybody's help. He has also informed us that he's nobody's savior.

Sanders just wants to be a catalyst for meaningful positive change in this country. For his children, grandchildren and their children. Just like the rest of us.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

I want to vote for someone for president who can think things through

So, Donald Trump bailed out on a debate with Bernie Sanders. So did Hillary. Both of them are obviously scared to debate him. Perhaps they feel that they don't need any additional exposure to potential weaknesses since they've got their nominations sewn up, right?

Their willingness to break commitments to others is troubling. It's not just their willingness to break commitments that is bothersome. That's a personal problem that both of them will have to deal and probably already have had to many times.

Their lack of commitment to something as simple as a public debate shows us that neither Trump nor Clinton fully comprehend what their level of commitment means to the voters. Their lack of commitment shows that they're not really thinking things through before making a commitment.

I would love to see either one of them debate Bernie Sanders before the June 7th primaries. Sanders is ready and willing to show up for it. Hillary has said that a candidate should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere because, you know, debating is part of running for office. She chastised Obama for not being willing to debate her in 2008 and is now eating those words.

Trump had been in talks with the Sanders team for the last few days to set up a debate. For a day or so, it looked like it was going to happen. First it was "just a joke". Then Trump started talking about real money. Someone committed $1 million. Then another committed $10 million. Then a few more committed $20 million for the debate. Then Trump got cold feet.

First Trump said, "Debating with Sanders would be inappropriate." Then he said, to paraphrase, "I don't debate with candidates who don't win", reported the Washington Post. This after Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that the Democrats have rigged the primaries against him. In the same Washington Post article, they go on to help readers reconcile their feelings about Hillary Clinton's email scandal by quoting her at length.

Hillary says that if she could do it over she would. Well, she didn't. She admits that it was a mistake. What she doesn't admit is that for anyone else, her behavior would mean an immediate dismissal and very likely, prosecution. She would like it to be over so that she can focus on Donald Trump as if Bernie Sanders' campaign is dead. The email scandal is not over. Far from it. Sanders is crisscrossing California like there is no tomorrow and we can all see the polling gap narrowing to less than the margin of error between them. Her nomination is no longer a sure thing.

When Hillary Clinton set up her private email server in her basement at her home, did she think things through? Given the current criminal investigation into her use of a private email address and server, we can safely say the answer is no. When she voted for the Iraq War, did she think things through? Given the disastrous results, no.

Sanders led the opposition against the Iraq War and saw the same information she did. Even if there might have been cause for war, Sanders has been clear that war would have been a last resort. Sanders had already thought it through and made his concerns known: what happens in the vacuum created when Saddam Hussein is gone? Anyone who voted for that war wasn't thinking it through.

Clinton and Trump have both demonstrated some unpredictable behavior around commitments. Trump bobs and weaves. Clinton tries to be predictable, but she seems to think that she owes nothing to the American people after backing out of a debate she promised she'd do. Neither one of them show the patience to think things through as president. They have no compunction about being inconsiderate to Bernie Sanders and his supporters. How about the people they know?

During his time in Congress, Sanders has shown the patience and willingness to think things through. If he can't figure it out, he asks for help. As the Amendment King in Congress, he's demonstrated his commitment and willingness to work with others. From day one of his campaign, he has said over and over that he can't make the changes many of us want alone. He needs help from all of us.

This willingness to think things through is the defining difference between Sanders, Trump and Clinton. This is why I still support Sanders for president.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is in the air

A few days ago, Bernie Sanders appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show when he suggested that he should have a debate with Donald Trump. Sanders had actually written a letter to Trump challenging him to a debate after Hillary Clinton shined him on for a debate she already agreed to do. Kimmel read that letter on the air. Twitter followers learned later that Donald Trump does indeed want to debate Bernie Sanders and, Sanders says, "Game on!"

Trump and Sanders have both said that they want to have their debate in the biggest stadium they can find in California. That would be the Los Angeles Coliseum with a capacity to seat 93,000 and the Rose Bowl is not that far behind with seating for 92,000. Both of them are in the biggest city in California. I have a feeling at least one of them is available before the June 7th primary.

Donald Trump has already set one condition: he would like at least $10 million be donated to a cause that supports women's health. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur has already offered $1 million. Others are bound to chip in. The debate is almost certainly on between the contestants. All that needs to be done is to round up the money and book it.

I can't imagine a more ideal situation for Bernie Sanders. He's behind in pledged delegates, but not really that far behind. Clinton can't clinch the nomination with pledged delegates and we can forget the unpledged superdelegates. They don't vote until the convention. The math at this point guarantees a contested convention. A debate with Trump, without Clinton, might find the superdelegates more favorable to Sanders than Clinton.

It's clear that Clinton didn't see this one coming. She reneged on a debate with Bernie Sanders in May in California, something they both agreed upon earlier this year. She figured that she had this thing all sewn up and didn't need another debate, huh? Now she could be shut out of the first debate between a Democratic and Republican candidate for president for this election. To hold such a debate before the primaries are over is unprecedented. I have to wonder if Debbie Wasserman Schultz has the chutzpah to say that a debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is "unsanctioned" and is not allowed. Could she find some obscure rule that precludes this debate?

It probably won't matter to Clinton. Now she's facing the fire from the State Department with their report from the Inspector General, a report that states clearly that Clinton never sought any authorization to use a private email account and server. They add that even if she had asked, her request would have been rejected. This despite her campaign telling us for a year that she followed all the rules. Truth be told, she never even asked. I wonder how her supporters feel.

For Hillary, reneging on a promised debate with Bernie Sanders is probably the greatest miscalculation she has made in this campaign so far. There is no way they could have seen a debate between Sanders and Trump coming - all before the end of the primaries. But to me, and probably many others, it makes total sense. If Trump wants to hobble Hillary's campaign, his timing is perfect. Elite Democrats can fume all they want about how Bernie shouldn't be having this debate, but should be working to bring the party together (behind Clinton). Sanders and Trump have nothing to lose in a debate without Clinton. It's nothing but free publicity for both of them.

We know this is awkward for Clinton. How about the networks? They're going to make boatloads of money selling ads to air during the debate. Yes, they'd have to swallow all that free publicity for Bernie Sanders and they won't like that one bit. Still, a Sanders/Trump debate is expected to pull in huge ratings. To the networks, The $10-15 million Donald wants to donate is chump change because they're going to make far more from advertising than that. Yes, they have to choose a moderator, debate rules, and a venue. But these are smart people with great campaign managers. If they want it to happen, they will make it happen.

Have a seat and grab some popcorn, America. This election just got far more interesting than anyone expected.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

With every rigged election comes a conservative victory

While reviewing the social media the other day, someone made an interesting claim to the effect that "Hillary Clinton isn't hosting any voter registration drives in California", probably on the assumption that new voters tend to side with Bernie Sanders in primary elections. I did some searching on that and could find no stories to suggest that she was.

But, according to the Breitbart Report, Univision, the Hispanic television network, was acting as a "thinly disguised SuperPAC" for Hillary Clinton when they launched a voter registration drive in February, their report is based on another report from the Washington Post. So far, it just looks like organizations that have supported Hillary Clinton are running voter registration drives if at all. With Univision involved, and one of their biggest markets in California, I'd say they've been pretty busy in that state.

In many of the primary elections to date, we've seen an increase in voter registration, and in California, the increase is unprecedented with better than 500,000 new registrants, mostly Democratic. No one is saying that they know what this means, but there is a good chance that we'll see an uptick in the voter turnout come June 7th. There is also a good chance that Debbie Wasserman Schultz will find a way to throw another wrench into the works for Bernie Sanders.

Already, a lawsuit has been filed by Sanders supporters with a request to keep voter registration open until election day. Sanders supporters know that he will do better when turnout is high and they're betting big on California to turn the nomination contest around. The reason for the lawsuit is that in numerous states, hundreds of thousands of voters were removed from the polls just in time for the election - all without prior notice. Many people have also reported that their party preference has been changed without notice to preclude them from voting in the primaries. There are now ongoing investigations in Arizona and New York because their elections were not above suspicion. New York presents an interesting case because it looks like the woman who purged 126,000 voters from the rolls appears to have taken a bribe to do it.

Mathematician Richard Charmin has been working the numbers on election fraud. He uses a simple concept: review unadjusted exit polls and compare them to election results. He has written this article to examine election fraud from 1988 to 2008 and the pattern is clear. Election results have been consistently rigged against Democrats in favor of Republicans. Note that we use exit polls (now a rigorous, scientific endeavor) to ensure fair elections in developing countries. But for the remaining primary contests, we might not see any exit polls. I guess the game is up.

This is in addition to gerrymandered districts that the courts have been slowly reigning in. Just ask Texas and North Carolina.

The long term effect of all of this election rigging is a consistently more conservative Congress over time. Note that the majority of statehouses and governors offices are now run by Republicans and even conservative Democrats (we'd call them centrist now, but by 1970s standards, they'd be conservative). The effect overall is to drag the entire nation to the right, so far to the right that even Hillary Clinton, a conservative Democrat by any measure - c'mon, she loves Henry Kissinger! - is portrayed as a progressive.

This long and continual drag to the right has been the clarion call and the bane of the Sanders campaign. Conservatives have backed laws that allowed for enormous voter purges. Conservative voter ID laws have allowed the disenfranchisement of millions of voters. They have drawn gerrymandered districts. The same rules that have helped conservatives have also helped Clinton in the primaries, but they won't save her in November.

The conservative drag on the country has given us two presidential candidates that only Wall Street could love - everyone else no so much. That same drag on the country gives voice to conservatives where they might not have a voice. That's because they're in the minority. We know this because in the debate on inequality, they are seriously overwhelmed by the opposition. It's just that the opposition - that's the rest of us - don't know how bad it really is. But with widespread disfranchisement of the liberal electorate through closed primaries, voter purges, gerrymandered districts, and hacked voting machines, America has been remade into a more conservative nation than it really is.

Without a subtle, consistent, hardly ever reported pattern of voter suppression and election fraud, there is no way that we'd see Republican majorities in so many statehouses and in Congress. Not only do we get more conservative Republicans - the moderate Republican became extinct around 2003 - we get more conservative Democrats. You know, like the Goldwater Girl, Hillary Clinton.

We need safe, convenient and secure elections that are fair and that are verified by exit polls just like in developing countries. We need a voter registration system that cannot be tampered with by running a single query to a database that can also change a large number of records at once. We need blockchain record keeping for our votes and our registration. We need to make all of our primaries open so that the independent voters, now 43% of the electorate, who doesn't feel that any major party represents him or her, can have a voice in the nomination process.

Bernie Sanders represents that independent voter. He represents that liberal Democrat that was purged from the voter rolls in New York. He represents the voter working 2 or 3 jobs and can't afford to wait 4 or 5 hours just to vote. He represents all of the people who will not vote for Trump or Hillary. We all want to be heard. This is what the revolution unfolding before us is all about.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The hypocrisy of American democracy and the presumed Democratic nominee

I came across this meme just this morning:

You would think that in this modern day and age of smart phones, cloud computing, that we wouldn't have to check. But irregularities at elections across the country have forced many people to re-register to be sure they are registered to vote. They shouldn't have to check on this over and over to be sure they can vote for their candidate of choice.

This uncertainty about voting rights is a result of an apparent effort to suppress the vote for Bernie Sanders. All such efforts belie the strength of Hillary Clinton as a candidate and are an affront to everything we stand for as a democracy.

There are numerous articles popping up like this one, that describe a systematic effort to disenfranchise voters that are likely to support Bernie Sanders. Here some of the highlights:
  • There are no notable groups of Hillary Clinton supporters complaining of missing registration records or changed party preferences.
  • Election results have demonstrated statistically significant deviations from exit polling results and suggest a clear pattern of rigging in the Democratic primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton. We use exit polling verify if elections are fair in developing countries, and apparently, we need to use it here, too.
  • Most significant, there are no reports of Republicans who have had their party preferences changed, no reports of missing voter records or purges, and last but not least, nearly perfect matches between election results and exit polling results. If you're a Republican, you would not have had any problems voting.
Here is the irony and hypocrisy. Some very powerful Americans, people like Hillary Clinton and her supporters, pride themselves on invading...I mean, assisting, other countries to establish democracy around the world. They like to give that effort a euphemistic name, like "regime change", to make the process more palatable, easier to sell to the voters. The Iraq War is a great example of regime change, and was sold as an attempt to build a democratic nation through a long and very expensive war. Hillary Clinton voted for that war. Bernie Sanders did not.

There are technological solutions that can be put in place to prevent election fraud from happening, but the political will simply isn't there yet to make the changes. If we want to make those changes, we need to act and act quickly to secure the right to vote, or our republic will be lost.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The blind spot of the Clinton Campaign: a lack of conviction behind the message

The other night, I was watching CNN to see the caption, "Clinton loses polling advantage over Trump". This was startling for a couple of reasons. First, CNN's parent company, Time-Warner has been a big contributor to Hillary Clinton's campaign. Second, this is Anderson Cooper's 360 show. Instead of talking about a plane crash for 24/7, he's talking with a panel about how Hillary Clinton is losing her polling lead to Trump.

It's hard to say exactly why this is happening, but I'd guess there are many reasons. I'd say that the biggest reason is that we have witnessed the best prepared candidate for the Democratic primaries in history being unable to vanquish her last opponent from the primary race. With every setback to the Sanders campaign, we see renewed determination to make sure he gets to the convention.

Plenty of ink has been spilled to show that despite her enormous advantage over Sanders, Hillary pissed away a 60 point lead in national polling to a virtual tie in Kentucky and a loss in Oregon. Seth Abramson at the the Huffington Post wrote a long essay about how even if Sanders loses the nomination, he has already won the debate. He is right to say that this election is more than just about electing Sanders as president. This election is all about the fate of the middle class.

Where Hillary Clinton pays lip service to the middle class, Sanders means every word of what he says. Abramson says that Clinton has stolen much of Sanders message to win the election. She has adopted most if not all of his platform to appease Sanders supporters, to "bring them back into the fold".

But Sanders supporters are right not to trust her, given her enormous backing from commercial interests and her long history of "we'll take what we can get from the Republicans" leadership. We are right to think that much of what she says will not make it to her desk as president by her own initiative.

In 2008, Obama was right about her. "She will say anything and change nothing". He would still be right about her if he said the same thing today. There are numerous reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. In fact, someone has put together 150 reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Most of those reasons relate to money she's received from special interests intent on receiving special treatment. Obama knows this well. He received substantial funding from the banking industry and the result is that not a single executive from the banks has been prosecuted after the financial crisis from 2008.

Clinton seems to think that with her extensive and deep political network, a compliant major media, national name recognition, more than 300 superdelegates who expressed loyalty to her before even the first vote was cast and overwhelming funding, that she should prevail. She has had everything going for her to win the primaries, and yet, Sanders is still there. But she still doesn't see what is missing from her campaign to finish the job.

Now Trump is starting to overtake her in some national polls. She's meeting enormous resistance in places like the Nevada Democratic Convention. And no, there was no violence at the convention. One reporter who wasn't even there, relied upon another reporter with some very poor reporting, and that compliant major media network ran with it as if all hell broke loose. Even NPR moderated their message.

The Clinton campaign would love to see Sanders bow out now before their own campaign unravels. But all Sanders supporters need to do is to maintain their support of Sanders until the last ballot is cast at the convention. We need to keep holding the fire to the feet of Clinton and her allies. The message to both campaigns is simple. You can have the best campaign, the best political network and the best funding that money can buy. But if we don't trust you enough to follow through on your promises, we'll vote for someone else. Sanders really gets this. Clinton has no clue.

Now we see that Clinton has declared the primary race over with more than a month and a half to go to the convention. She must know something the rest of us don't because there are still 6 state primaries to go, including California. It's almost as if she's trying to will her way to victory, regardless of the reality of the situation.

That unwillingness to even acknowledge Sanders and his supporters is the blind spot in the entire Clinton campaign and that is why I will never vote for Clinton. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton both deserve to lose the primary in both of their respective races for the way they have conducted themselves during this campaign.

It is now time for the superdelegates to do their job and voice support for and vote for the better candidate. Where Sanders polls at an average of better than 13 points against Trump, Clinton is averaging around 6 points lead. Sanders is the candidate that has consistently polled better than Trump by double digits throughout this campaign season. He is the candidate that was consistently and continues to be foiled by major media from the beginning. The candidate that suffered voter suppression in favor of Clinton. The candidate who really means it when he says he wants to save the middle class.

But none of that really matters to Clinton or Debbie Wasserman Schultz because Sanders doesn't fit their agenda. Unfortunately, without any conviction behind her words, Clinton will not be able to convince the people that matter the most, the rest of us, that she's the right person for the job.

There is no better candidate than Bernie Sanders to beat Donald Trump. This is not a game and this sure as hell isn't a coronation for Hillary. It's not her turn to be president and it never has been. This is a contest to decide who should hold the most powerful political office in the world. Maybe the third time is the charm to finally get that message through to Clinton and her campaign.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hillary Clinton's social class essentialism

It is astonishing to see what lengths the Democratic elite are taking to ensure that their precious candidate, Hillary Clinton, will secure the nomination. They have engaged in many of the same tactics that Republicans have used in the past and more to discourage Bernie Sanders supporters. From the Nevada Convention where chairwoman fled after denying a recount and a vote, to the voter purges in New York (video), it is hard for me to believe that I am being asked to support Hillary Clinton.

But Bernie reminds us that even if he doesn't win the nomination, the revolution must go on all the way down the ballot. The revolution is not carried out by one man, though it can be fomented largely by one man. No, as Bernie says, he's not a savior. He's a man who saw that the time is right for change and decided to run for president.

If Hillary wins, she will not be greeted by throngs of supporters as her motorcade trundles towards the White House on Inauguration Day. No, the street will be lined with protesters like we saw with George W. Bush in 2001. They will hurl expletives and wave their signs at someone who demonstrates, probably better than anyone I can think of, what social class essentialism looks like.

Hillary Clinton, and many of her elite supporters are sincerely deluded by their own social class essentialism. They believe that because they have the power, they are right. They have the power because they are backed by fantastically wealthy corporations. They have the power to change the rules at will. They have the power to disenfranchise their opponents at will. They have the power to control the narrative in the mainstream media. Hillary can still pretend to be proud of her victory after all the help she got from elite Democrats and perhaps a few Republicans to get the nomination, if she should prevail.

But they don't have the power to change our minds. No, we will not vote for Hillary. No, we will not get in line. No, we will not go quietly. Sanders supporters will be there, at the convention, some are talking more than a million strong. More than a million have attended rallies for Bernie. It is entirely possible that more than a million will show up at the convention, ready to make their voices heard.

What exactly is social class essentialism? Slate has a very nice article on the subject. In a nutshell, it is the observation that rich people think that they're different than everyone else. They're above everyone else due to their social status and money. They have a sense of entitlement that is beyond their own sense of reproach. Naturally, there are exceptions. But study after study has borne out one simple trend: wealthy people think that a different set of rules applies to them.

Hillary Clinton is wealthy. With a personal net worth estimated to be somewhere around $31 million (Bill is worth $80 million), she is well insulated from the rest of us. Multiple houses, chauffeurs, fine dining with personal chefs, world class vacations and the finest health care money can buy, she has it all. That wealth can buy insulation from the consequences of her decisions.

A great example of how Hillary thinks that a different set of rules applies to her is her email scandal, soon to come to full boil. She was assigned an email address to use upon her first day of work for her business email as Secretary of State. Never activated that email. She signed a Non-disclosure agreement (NDA), that requires her to follow certain rules about government information. She didn't. She may not disclose classified information to people who may not see it. She did. She may not transport classified information off of secured networks. She did.

Experts in the field are pretty sure she was negligent with her handling of classified information on her watch. Despite what the news says about lack of intent on her part, proof of negligence does not require proof of intent.

Hillary Clinton felt so entitled, that she bought her own email server and begged the authorities to let her bring her own phone into secure sites while everyone else had to check their phones at the door. She did not even want to view her own email on a government terminal like everyone else had to do. Remember, she is above it all.

There is a very clear path to indictment in front her, something that she is studiously ignoring. The investigation is anything but routine and some observers say that an indictment is all but certain. Do you really need to worry about her emails, dear Hillary supporter? Yes, you do. She will be indicted. It's not a matter of if, but when. Some say that the decision makers on indictment (who happen to be Republican) are waiting until after she wins her nomination, you know, so that we will be stuck with her.

When I see her giving speeches about the rest of us, about how she intends to unite the party, I am mindful of her sense of entitlement. When I see her talking about breaking down barriers for the rest of us, I am thinking about her insistence that she be able to use her own Blackberry phone at the State Department. I am thinking about her support of NAFTA, the 1994 crime bill and private prisons. I am thinking about her support of welfare reform, her stances on immigration and how her husband Bill, helped the Republicans reach 5 legislative goals in the 1990s.

So while she is hosting dinners for the maximum contribution one person can make directly to her campaign ($2700 per plate), Alice Walton is sneaking in $350,000 through the Hillary Victory Fund. George Clooney is hosting dinners to bring in more. She can rub elbows with all of them. Does it make her happy? I honestly don't know. Will that win her the election? Probably not.

She is the opposite in many respects, to Bernie Sanders. He flies coach in the tiny seats like the rest of us. When he announced his campaign, he drove his own car to the podium to speak. While he is packing stadiums, Hillary has had to shut down a few rallies due to protests.

Yet, the Democratic elite insist she is he better candidate. They are sincerely deluded to believe that Hillary is the better candidate, despite most polls showing that Sanders beats Trump by double digits, double the spread of Hillary Clinton.

Yes, Hillary, you may win the nomination, but you will not win our hearts. The revolution will go on without you, if it must. Stay in your bubble, feel secure, and know that all those people shouting at you are not your people. Those people out there will just get busy with the work of a peaceful revolution for radical change. A change for the better.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Clinton, WalMart, NAFTA and the trade deficit

For some time now, I've been thinking of the relationship between Hillary Clinton, WalMart and NAFTA. All of this plays a part in why we have a $560 billion a year trade deficit. In my review of the documentation over the years, I see essentially the same story being told now as it was then. Hillary's ties to WalMart, though helpful in Arkansas, may prove to be an Achilles Heel for her.

Even if she didn't have an email scandal brewing (the other heel) I think that the entire affair with WalMart belies her progressive posture in politics. My searches show that the majority of articles concerning this topic are on conservative sites and have conservative talking points. To the critics who suggest that I shouldn't be using conservative talking points, note that if Hillary can't sustain that criticism now, she won't sustain it in debates with Donald Trump if she wins the nomination.

Besides, my point is not that Hillary isn't conservative enough. It's that she's not working to make the markets progressive enough. I find it somewhat ironic that I'd be using conservative talking points to show that Hillary is not all that progressive. Here is a case in point from the Washington Times:
A 2007 New York Times article found Mrs. Clinton failed to advance union causes during her time on the company’s board, and a 2008 ABC News review of videotapes from Wal-Mart meetings found that “Clinton remained silent as the world’s largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.”
Mr. Clinton defended Mrs. Clinton’s Wal-Mart seat, telling ABC News that they “lived in a state that had a very weak labor movement She knew there was no way to change that, not with it headquartered in Arkansas.”
Granted, The Washington Times is a right-wing outlet. But they do have a point in bringing this up. She was nominated and appointed to the board of directors for WalMart because she's a woman. She claimed to work hard to advance union causes, but she could not move the culture to support her.

If she has always been a progressive, then she might be hard pressed to explain why she worked the trenches in Congress, organizing and running strategy meetings to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement we now know as NAFTA. I recall the acrimony of the debates well, but at the time, I was not aware of her work in getting that agreement ratified. Now that I know, I find it hard to trust Mrs. Clinton on the issue of trade.

Her work only set the stage for the next assault on the working class: the Asian financial crisis in 1997. During that time, Asian currencies were losing value due to rather poor economic policies. To resolve that crisis, The largest Asian governments sought relief from the International Monetary Fund and the United States. One of the terms for relief was a requirement that Asian banks held greater reserves. The reserve currency of choice was the dollar.

As Asian countries accumulated reserves of the dollar to support their currencies, a curious thing happened. Their currencies became weaker relative to the dollar, encouraging exports, and lo and behold, dramatically raised the US trade deficit. Much of this was engineered by Robert Rubin, then Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration, as noted by Economist Dean Baker, here, here and here. Rubin managed to amass $110 million for his efforts, but so far, hasn't thanked the middle class for their support.

What does all this have do with Hillary Clinton now? WalMart would like to keep the gravy train rolling. Last December, Alice Walton, one of the richest women in the world, donated $353,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund. She also donated $25,000 to the Ready for Hillary Fund. What exactly do they want? A strong dollar.

Keeping the dollar strong means that WalMart can continue to bring in cheap imports and keep those manufacturing jobs overseas with lower labor costs, lower overhead, and far less union power. They don't seem to mind a trade deficit that blows a $560 billion hole in the economy. That's a lot of economic pressure to keep wages down, and that only means profits for WalMart. But every time we make a purchase at WalMart, we are increasing our own tax burden. That's because WalMart pays so little, that their employees must apply for government benefits to supplement their income. I guess that's the part where Hillary plays a progressive.

If Hillary Clinton is truly the progressive she claims to be, her history belies her progressive posture. Given her history and her ties to WalMart, there is little reason to believe she will ever change course. Given the choice between Hillary and Bernie, I think I'd rather see a more transparent candidate in the White House.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Open Data: The Freedom of Information Act, on steroids

Techdirt has a great little article on how open data in New York found about $1.7 million in parking tickets that were issued to cars parked legally. That's great money if you can find it. As the article notes, the findings by an analyst working with a database of parking tickets were communicated to the city. That led to policy changes at the policy department and the city. 

When citizens have access to data to show how agencies make decisions in response to current policy or policy changes, we can see how our government works over time. We can find patterns of behavior on the part of people who work in the government, people who work for all us. We can see if current public policy works or if it doesn't. And if public policy doesn't work, we can change the policy.

I'm a big fan of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act, as well as their analogs at the state level. I've filed more than 300 requests for documents myself at both state and federal levels. You can learn a lot about how government works when you ask for the documents they create to do their work.

FOIA is great if you want to learn about one particular issue or one particular person. It is common for people to send personal requests - requests for their own records. Other requests include documents about how a law is enforced, how agency decisions are made, and records of the decision making process. But one thing you with FOIA can't do is ask an agency to compile records in a format like a database.

Open data laws make that possible. Open data laws require agencies to make certain sets of information available to all of us. Free for the asking. These are databases cleaned of any personally identifying information, but provide enough information to tell us how an agency carries out its work.

While it is easy to bemoan the ability of the government to watch us, they still work for us, and if we're careful, we can still tell the government how to do its job. Open data laws are proof that it's still possible. Databases are sort of a double-edged sword. But once you have one in hand, it's only a matter of putting that database through a few queries to see if any patterns emerge.

There are entire websites and organizations (like this one) dedicated to collecting and curating collections of databases retrieved through open data laws. The United States government has an overarching policy of making data available to anyone who wants to see how they are doing their job. The result of that policy is, the home of open data for the federal government. Granted, the public data available doesn't have any personally identifying information, nor should it, but with it, we can get a high level view of how they are doing their jobs.

Voting is just one aspect of being a citizen.  We vote to decide who writes the laws and who cuts the checks. We engage in rulemaking processes when an agency proposes regulations to interpret and enforce the laws. We determine if a law is good or bad when we go to court, when we sit in a jury, or sue for redress of grievances.

When we get open data from our governments at all levels, we get the results of our actions and are in a better position to make the government responsive to all of us. Even if we may believe that the government only listens to 1% of us, when used effectively, open data makes the government more responsive to all of us.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bernie can't do it alone - so an army of candidates are running for Congress to help

Bernie Sanders has done something no other politician in recent memory has done: he beat the money primary. Instead of holding lofty fundraisers with wealthy patrons, instead of dialing for dollars for up to two thirds of his time in Congress, he came to us for help. He's filling stadiums and parks with his rallies. He's set up a website to accept campaign contributions from ordinary people like you and me. How much has he raised?

Just 0.02% of his money came from sources other than regular folks like you and I. His average contribution is about $27. He's raised 182 million without a single $2700-a-plate fundraiser. Without a single corporate bundler. The only people who've got his ear are the rest of us.

Now lets look at Hillary Clinton:

For Hillary, 30% of her funding comes from SuperPACs and 70% comes from the rest of us. That's respectable. But I have a fair amount of confidence that those other groups have a far greater influence on her decision making than the 70% of the contributions she's received otherwise. Nearly $80 million of that money comes from large financial interests.

I'm not saying that she's evil in doing this. I say that she's doing this because she believes she has to. Like many high level Democrats, she believes that she needs the corporate money because the Republicans are going to take it if she doesn't. It doesn't have to be that way. Here are a few candidates to prove it.

Tim Canova is one of them. He's running against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida and he's set to announce that he's expecting to have raised $1 million by this weekend for his campaign in the House. Wasserman Schultz complains that he's raised more money from out of state than in the state. But Canova counters that he's raise more in-state money thanWasserman Schultz. He's doing it all on small donations.

Zephyr Teachout wrote a book on corruption. She's running for a seat in New York and she's doing well, very well. Here's her bio at Wikipedia:
She is a tenured Associate Professor of Law at Fordham Law School and previously a Visiting Professor of Law at Duke University and a lecturer at the University of Vermont.
Teachout is an antitrust and media expert who served as the Director of Internet Organizing for the 2004 Howard Dean presidential campaign. She cofounded A New Way Forward, an organization built to break up big banks,[8] and was involved with Occupy Wall Street.[9] Teachout was also the first national director of the Sunlight Foundation.
She is also featured at as a candidate dedicated to fighting corruption, public funding of campaigns and doesn't take big money from SuperPACs. She's already raised more than a half million from small contributions alone and if elected, will be one more member of Congress who will not be dialing for dollars.

There's a veritable army for Bernie growing among the ranks of candidates running for Congress. Along with Zephyr Teachout, we have Lucy Flores in Nevada, John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and of course, Tim Canova. Even more can be found here, on the leaders page in the website. More than 36 candidates are running for Congress with the intent of breaking the grip of corruption upon the members of Congress.

The fight against corruption is growing. We're living in it and we can see the results. From fracking to neglected infrastructure to medical bankruptcies and Wall Street bailouts. The tide against corruption is growing. It is up to us to push the wave of corruption fighting candidates onto Congress and our statehouses. I will leave you with one relevant quote to sum it up:
What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it…  --Judge Learned Hand

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Circling the wagons at the convention

Seth Abramson at the Huffington Post has made some interesting observations of the planning process for the Democratic National convention:
1. The press is counting the superdelegates, despite being told numerous times by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other DNC officials, they don't count until the convention in July.
2. Clinton courted hundreds of superdelegates long before even the first primary was held to secure their loyalty.
3. The press is calling Sanders' determination to stay in the race until the end of the convention, until the last vote is cast, "awkward". As if somehow, he should bow out now, before the biggest prize is awarded, California.
4. Clinton and Wasserman Schultz are already stacking committees to keep Sanders and his delegates silent on the Democratic Party platform. Remember, they want to keep the changes incremental so as not to upset the relevant funders.
The Clinton team can hardly wait to declare Clinton the winner of the Democratic primary race, winning in a fairly undemocratic way, despite a few notable facts:
1. It is now very unlikely for either Clinton or Sanders to come up with the majority of pledged delegates before the convention.
2. It is now a near certainty that the convention will be contested.
3. It is estimated that 33% of Sanders supporters will not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances.
4. 45% of American voters are independent and they support Sanders in the polling by clear majorities.

The press is now openly gloating about how much fun it will be to witness the coronation of Clinton. They are telling us that it's OK to declare the winner a month and a half before the convention. They are telling us that it's OK stack the committees to exclude Sanders delegates from the rules making process.

I know, most of us haven't figured out that the convention isn't just for electing nominees for president, it's also for modifying the rules of the Democratic National Party. Apparently, there are some big changes in store for us, and the Sanders crowd probably isn't going to like being shut out of the process.

See, the Hillary camp and their supporters have displayed vitriolic anger at the Sanders campaign. They would really, really like us to sit down and shut up. I guess they want us to stay home in November. Is that what you want? Are you sure about that?

Many of us can write in Sanders. if not, we can vote for Jill Stein in the Green Party. Clinton supporters keep telling us a vote for anyone but Clinton is a vote for Trump. No, it's not. If I vote for someone besides Clinton, and I don't vote for Trump, my vote is not for Trump. I will cast my for vote for someone I want. Believe me, I don't think my vote will be wasted. Besides, there are many in the Clinton camp who really don't think they need me. You know, like Hillary Clinton.

Given the way Clinton is now 'pivoting" towards the general election, she doesn't seem to think she needs voters that support Sanders. She's going to woo Republicans and accept money from big GOP donors, Republicans who want to stop Trump. A million here and a million there, pretty soon, you're talking about real money. But not a word about Sanders, mind you. She's courting Republicans who don't want Trump, independent voters be damned.

The press has played a big part in this. They gave Trump 10 times the coverage that they gave Sanders. They gave Clinton far more coverage than Sanders, too. But now, finally, he's showing up on the Sunday morning talk shows. So sorry, we had to cover Trump and Clinton first. But now you can't say we didn't give you free press time like we did with the others. At least now we can work with the Clinton camp to say that she won already. Now go be quiet and paint.

Even RealClearPolitics is so certain that Clinton will win the nomination, they have an electoral map showing how she will beat Trump. So far, it's 227 for Clinton, 143 for Trump with 168 toss ups. Hillary doesn't fare well in battlehground states or with independents, so it's still theoretically possible for Trump to win. 143 plus 168 is 311. 168 electoral delegates is a big chunk of uncertainty for Clinton. I wonder why Politico didn't put up a map for Sanders against Trump.

Oh, I think I know why. In national polling, Sanders is polling on average, 13 points ahead of Trump. Clinton is polling only 6 points ahead of Trump. Isn't that getting down close to to the margin of error? This trend has been going on for months, but that doesn't fit the narrative the press wants to give us. I guess we're not supposed to notice that.

I've seen bullies on the internet with regard to my support for Sanders. They tell me I haven't done my research. They tell me that Clinton has already won. They tell me that they'd vote for Sanders if he won. That's not the point for me.

The point is, Clinton represents a brand of politics I no longer want in America. I'm tired of the pay-for-play. I'm tired of living under one set of rules while people like Clinton live under another. I'm tired of playing find the ball with you guys. If can still support her after all the research, be my guest. I won't have it. Any of it. I want Sanders for president.

If Trump wins the White House because millions of Sanders supporters voted for someone else, it's not on us. It will be because the DNC was not listening to us. We were listening. We did our research. We came to the conclusion that Sanders is the better candidate. The single biggest reason why? He defied the money primary. While other members of Congress were spending up to two thirds of their time dialing for dollars, Sanders was working for us. All of us.

That is why I want him in the White House. Go on, circle your wagons, Clinton fans. Just remember that Clinton is part of that dialing for dollars club. You know who's got her ear and it's not you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The double standard that is Hillary Clinton

At least one person has accused me of using Republican talking points as subject matter of my blog. I don't discriminate. I use whatever I can find, check the facts and put it here. It doesn't matter if the article is about Hillary or Bernie. The point is, if Hillary can't provide an adequate response to criticism from within and without, she's not going to make it in the general election.

I do have a bias and I'm definitely supporting Bernie Sanders. All the way to the convention. I believe that he's the best candidate to run against Trump. I also believe that the media is holding Hillary to a different standard than with Bernie. I also believe that Hillary and more than a few of her supporters feel somewhat entitled to a different standard, a lower bar.

Here is where I got the idea about the double standard being held against both candidates, Hillary and Bernie. First there is the email scandal that is still unfolding. Yes, I know. You may have read the article in the Washington Post that says she's going to be exonerated. Do a search for "Hillary exonerated". Go incognito if you're using Chrome to avoid the filter bubble. If she were truly going to be exonerated or had been already, that would have been plastered everywhere for all of us to see. So far, I just see a few links, many of them stale, suggesting that she will in the end be exonerated.

WaPo's article is probably misinformation, at best, wishful thinking. Here's an article that really digs deep into the issue and provides ample evidence that Hillary Clinton is very likely to be indicted for her handling of government information. While Waldman's article in the Washington Post talks about intent, some of the laws that Hillary could have violated have nothing to do with intent. Rather, they only concern negligence. Negligence comes without intent and intent need not be proven.

Now here's the double standard, according to retired Army Col. Larry Mrozinski, who served almost four years as a ­senior military adviser and security manager in the State Department under both Clinton and Condoleezza Rice:
Anybody else would have already lost their security clearance and be subjected to an espionage investigation,” Mrozinski added. “But apparently a different standard exists for Mrs. Clinton."
Somehow, Clinton got a pass for not following protocol, for failing to take every opportunity afforded to her to correct the problems or even prevent them. This is a person who was determined to use her own private email server, domain and email account for all official business, even when she was offered a chance to use a secured email account provided to her by the government. Apparently, she was partly motivated by a desire to avoid scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act, a law which is part of the controversy.

Vice President Joe Biden has noted that Hillary Clinton is a little green to the debate on inequality. According to The Hill:
"I think that Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real. And he has credibility on that," Biden said Monday in an interview with CNN. 
Asked about the fact Hillary has spoken about the issue too, Biden replied, "It's relatively new for Hillary to talk about that."
So Hillary would have us believe that she's on board with the fight over income inequality? Not if you ask the State of Delaware. In case you didn't know, the wealthy love incorporating in the State of Delaware for their very corporate friendly courts and laws. We might even be surprised to learn Clinton and Trump both have companies incorporated in Delaware, a made-in-America tax haven.

Clinton created this entity just a few days after stepping down as Secretary of State. When the Guardian researched that story with the Clinton camp, here is what they learned:
A spokesman for Clinton said: “ZFS was set up when Secretary Clinton left the State Department as an entity to manage her book and speaking income. No federal, state, or local taxes were saved by the Clintons as a result of this structure.”
If you didn't save any money in taxes, why bother? Oh, I get it. Privacy. Just like with her personal email server. Would she get a pass as president? Probably not.

There is one last example that doesn't pertain to Clinton personally. This one actually pertains to how her campaign is handling information and coordinating such handling with a state Democratic Party. Turns out that there was a counting error in Colorado. We know that Bernie won Colorado, but there was a controversy over the number of votes he won. The Denver Post broke the news, but the Clinton campaign knew about the error days before the Sanders Campaign learned about it. In fact, the Sanders campaign learned about it from the Denver Post, not the Colorado Democratic Party:
Bernie Sanders won one more delegate in Colorado than first projected after the Colorado Democratic Party admitted this week that it misreported the March 1 caucus results from 10 precinct locations.
The party discovered the discrepancy a week after the caucus but did not correct the public record.
Hillary Clinton's campaign discussed the error with state party officials last week, but the Sanders campaign apparently didn't realize the issue until being informed Monday evening by The Denver Post.
How long would state party officials have withheld that information from the Sanders campaign without some prodding from the Denver Post? Why is Clinton getting preferential treatment? I thought she was the presumptive nominee, but apparently, she needed a little help from the Colorado Democratic Party to figure this out.

It's time we held both candidates to the same high standard for the entire race. I wonder if Clinton can handle that. I know Sanders can.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Clueless politician vs polished entertainer vs man in need of a comb

On more than one occasion, Hillary has said she's not a natural politician. OK, let's take her at her word. I've watched her in the debates and yes, I can see that most of what she says seems to be scripted. She seems to have a difficult time improvising on stage. This is a common problem for many people who do not spend much time on stage. But this is Hillary Clinton, married to the ultimate politician, has seen a few election debates herself and claims to be the better candidate than either Trump or Sanders.

Let's imagine how a debate between Hillary and Trump will go. Whenever Hillary tries to be serious about nearly any issue, Trump is going to take whatever she says and turn it into a farce and point it right back at her. You want to talk about corruption? You're Crooked Hillary. You want to talk about gun control? You sold boatloads of arms to foreign governments with despotic leaders. You want to talk about health care? You took millions from the health care industry before you flipped your position on single payer health care. You want talk about reigning in the big banks? You took millions from the big banks and you're planning on hiring someone from Wall Street to run the Treasury. So, how did things go with the interview with the FBI? Did you finally put that email thing to bed?

For every major policy issue, Hillary is weak and so is Trump. Hillary may know her issues, but she can be seen as corruptible on a majority of them. Trump's position on many issues has been, "I'll figure it out when I get in office." But where he does have a position, no one can say that he's been corrupted by money on the issues. He has all the money he needs, he doesn't need a payoff, so no one can entice him with a bribe...I mean...a campaign contribution.

This difference in character between Hillary and Trump is compounded by one other problem for Hillary. Trump is an entertainer, and he knows how to improvise on stage and make it stick. He did that to every GOP challenger from day one. He has defeated 16 challengers before rising to spot number one. He vanquished them all with his wit because he's an entertainer. Trump has mastered the art of improvisation with negative attacks and uses them well on stage.

I took improvisation classes for years. Remember that show, "Who's line is it, anyway?" I did that for years on stage with other people who were aspiring actors. I didn't want to be an actor, I just did it because it was fun. I laughed, and I made people laugh. I even got to the point where I could play straight and let someone else nail the punchline and knock it out of the park. I learned to improvise on stage, and I tell you, if you have not done it, do it. Take an improv class. You will be stronger and happier for it.

My improvisation instructor told us something that I will never forget. Improvisation is the foundation skill of all acting skills. If you know how to improvise, you know how to act. You figure it out on the fly and roll with everything that happens on stage. Trump is an entertainer. He lives for the thrill of rolling with it on stage, on camera, whatever. He knows how to exploit weaknesses on stage. This is just something he happens to do very well. He knows how to own the stage with Hillary and he will if he ever faces her in a debate.

Not so much with Bernie Sanders. Sanders has done a very good job of keeping his reputation clean by not accepting big money and letting that money compromise his values. He knows how to improvise. A well known example is how he handled it when a small bird landed on his podium during a rally. He used it to great effect and his audience loved his response. Sanders has a sense of humor that Clinton finds elusive.

Now Sanders has something that Clinton doesn't have, the skill of improvisation on stage, and a clean reputation. Sanders can spar with Trump in so many ways. He can take a joke and run it into the ground and go right back to the issues. Remember, Sanders is running a campaign on issues, not gossip, insults and innuendo. Trump can be as funny as he wants, Sanders will keep returning to the issues. Sanders could almost ignore everything that Trump has to say and still win a debate. Clinton will be on defense the entire debate.

This is the point that Sanders supporters wish to make to Clinton supporters. If we go with Clinton, we're going to be on defense, all the time. If we go with Sanders, there's nothing to defend except our position on the issues. There's not much to attack in his character.

Even if Clinton wins the nomination, she's going into the fall election season with a pending FBI investigation on her hands, or worse, an indictment. Given her polling, she might reduce the turnout and help to send the same clowns back to Congress only to face a crowd that will stop at nothing to find a way to impeach her later on, if she should win the election. She seems to fare well when turnouts are low, but that only helps Republicans in Congress.

Sanders is not under investigation by the FBI. He's not worried about an indictment. Sanders is known as the Amendment King in Congress. He knows how to reach out across the aisle to get things done. Just ask John McCain about their work on funding veterans health care. He'll tell you.

I want to see Sanders at the convention, doing what he does best. He's a savvy negotiator, so even if he doesn't get the nomination - and there is still a chance that he might - he will find a way to make his mark on the party platform for the election. No matter what happens, the revolution has already begun. Now it's up to the Democratic Party to decide if they want to be a part of it or not.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

When blue turns red - Why I will never vote for Hillary Clinton

I can't figure Hillary Clinton out. On the one hand, she sends an olive branch to the Sanders supporters after winning a few more primaries. Then she makes a very overt move to court Bush donors, you know, the same idiots who gave us the Iraq War. I guess there is a really good reason they called her "Goldwater Girl".

All this squirming on Hillary's part only confirms my conviction: I will never vote for Hillary Clinton. I would rather not see another dynasty. We had that with the Bushes and look what that got us. A great recession, two wars, and a giant bailout for people who didn't need one.

Obama did his best to unwind the mess left by George W. Bush and he's made some great progress despite a Congress digging their heels against him. But at least with Obama, his wife is acting more like a first lady than the next president. His family doesn't seem nearly as involved in politics as Chelsea is. It would have been nice to see a few prosecutions in the aftermath of all those bailouts. But he did take money from financial interests during his campaigns.

There are some who say that the money will not influence Hillary Clinton as president. We saw how all that money influenced Obama not to prosecute any of the big banks. They were too big to fail. So Clinton is different? I don't think so.

Her husband signed a crime bill in the 1990's that led to mass incarceration of Americans. The companies that run private prisons still keep on giving. Her husband signed the law that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, and big finance kept on giving to her campaign until scrutiny turned her way. Her husband signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, leading to the greatest media consolidation America has ever witnessed. Big media is one of the largest contributors to her campaign, and they keep on giving. Why? So that they can control the narrative. You know, the one that says Sanders can't win.

It's all about the money, honey. Sanders is not taking any of that dosh. He's not dialing for dollars with large corporate interests intent on making a pay for play bill go their way. He's out there, listening to us. Filling stadiums with people like us. He's taken in 6.5 million donations, averaging $27 each. His achievements are unmatched by any other candidate.

Sanders is polling at 61% in California. He's polling at 72% in Oregon. He won a major upset in the state of Indiana, just like he did in Michigan. Yet, the press continues to ask him if he will drop out. He is the only remaining candidate with a net positive rating among voters. Hilary and Trump are both setting new records for negative net favorability. But somehow, they are both winning their respective primaries. Is that how democracy is supposed to work?

If Hillary wins, I will see her election with about as much legitimacy as George W. Bush. With all the irregularities surrounding states like Arizona and New York, how exit polling isn't even close to the actual votes in some states, how hand counted votes don't match up to the electronic results - I could go on. But you get the idea. I honestly don't see how she could be proud of her wins in any way.

Bernie is polling by double digits above Trump in every poll. Hillary is close to the margin of error.

Hillary is still under investigation by the FBI and she's going to be sitting in a deposition soon. If she is somehow exonerated before the election is over, and Trump wins, what are the odds that Trump would resurrect the investigation? I'd say they're pretty good. Hillary must know something about that investigation that the rest of us don't. Maybe she's counting on leniency if she wins the nomination. There are some who say that the FBI will wait until after she wins the nomination so that we're "stuck" with her. Then they'll make their referral for indictment.

For anyone who poo poos any chance that she'll be indicted, take a look at this, and reconsider her prospects. It's long but it's well worth the read.

I have done my research and have come to the conclusion that there is really no way that I'd vote for her. If Trump wins, well, we'll survive four years of Trump. He's doesn't have the stomach for war like Hillary does. He'll rile the liberal base and keep them motivated and energized. Clinton? She'll play Democrat while taking what she can get from the Republicans with her pragmatic leadership. Who will be the wiser?

If we get Trump for president, it's not our fault. The blame falls squarely on the Democratic National Committee for failing to heed to the will of the people. The DNC may think they can get by without the independent voters, but Bernie Sanders is rather confident that they cannot. I agree with him. I'm an independent voter.

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.