Saturday, September 24, 2016

It's time to end the monopoly on debates and the duopoly of political power

I've been watching the debate on the debates, in the news, the opinion pages, and social media. People who want to open the debates want to let Gary Johnson and Jill Stein into the debates. People who want to keep them closed say that they haven't demonstrated enough support to be entitled to the debates.

One of the first justifications for shutting Johnson and Stein out of the debates that I saw in the opinion column and social media is this: they don't attract enough coverage to warrant an invitation to the debates. Why should they be able to use the debates to get free exposure that a national debate would provide?

Oh, I don't know. How about this? The press has a legitimate public duty to inform the public of who is running and what their policy positions are. More to the point, for decades, the press, aka "mainstream media", have been serving the two major parties, almost exclusively. There have been debates for third party candidates without the two main party candidates for years. Who knew? The press doesn't want you to know. God knows they don't want to put third party candidates on the same stage with their two darling candidates, Clinton and Trump, on national TV. Why not?

Because third party candidates owe nothing to the status quo. They seek real, substantive change, not incremental change that is promoted by the establishment candidates. Bernie Sanders is an independent and he was and still is promoting real substantive change. He ran for president as a Democrat because he knew that the press would ignore him as an independent. But even while running as a Democrat, the press did everything they could to make sure he had no chance of success.

The same treatment is being deployed against Stein and Johnson. Both are seeking substantive change. Both are seen as a threat to the status quo. So both get very little coverage in the press. Whatever Clinton wants to put out there, it gets covered. If Donald Trump burps without saying "excuse me", you know it will be in the Washington Post the next day.

The press is serving up distractions and justifications daily to avoid talking about third party candidates. From yet another drone strike in a foreign country to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's divorce, the press is working very hard to distract us from any possible alternatives to the two party system we have now.

Some of you may recall that hopeful moment before the conclusion of the primaries, when it looked like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were actually going to debate together, without Clinton. It looked pretty serious and then Trump changed his mind and backed out. He said it would be "inappropriate" to debate Sanders at that time. I'd say that he was worried that Bernie would get more exposure than Trump (and Clinton) thought he deserved. Sanders was being treated as a third party candidate.

Same goes for Clinton. She passed on the final debate with Sanders before the last primaries including California and the press gave her a pass. That was an enormous insult to all Bernie Sanders supporters that should not soon be forgotten. Fearful of allowing Sanders to get additional exposure, she backed out just before the biggest primary. No apologies, no regrets. And now she's expecting that all Sanders supporters will just fall right in line to support her.

Sorry, Lady Krakatoa. No amount of your legendary rage will ever convince the millions of people going Green or waiting for Sanders to return to the race if you should drop out, to vote for you.

Despite the historic unpopularity of both nominees, the Commission on the Presidential Debates (CPD) maintains that their rules are fair. Check out this article on Politico, one of many, that toe the establishment line that the rules are fair. But they never mention that the press has been diligent in blocking third party coverage for decades. They never mention that "the press", "the mainstream media", or whatever you want to call it, is owned by 6 parent corporations who give large sums of money gleefully to support Republicans and Democrats while shutting everyone else out.

They do note that the CPD is a private organization that is unaccountable to the public. What? No Congressional oversight? No oversight whatsoever? Not as far as I can tell. The 15% polling average over 5 polls before the first debate is entirely arbitrary. The CPD gets to pick and choose which polls to use. Of course, they're only going to use polls by the largest media outlets, still owned by those 6 parent corporations. Can you see how ridiculous the lock-in is? This is what we are fighting if we want substantive change for the better.

This kind of behavior is systemic. It is evidence that the old guard is supremely reluctant to accept change for as long as they have the power to keep things as they are. But there is hope. It's not evident now, mostly because the press has been really quiet about it. Remember, the establishment press corp is made up of salt and pepper haired men and women who color their hair to look young on camera. They are wealthy, they have kids in college or are just starting their careers. They don't to upend the cart for their kids. They don't really care about other, middle class or poor kids.

But those other kids are growing up. They're starting to notice that their prospects are bleak. They voted for Bernie Sanders in droves. They gave landslide support to Sanders over Clinton. They hate Trump and Clinton. And now they're looking at Stein as a much preferred alternative to Clinton with nary a thought for Trump. But they're not represented in the polls. Here's some useful evidence of that lack of respect for the millennials:

See the column, 18-34? See how they're N/A? Seriously? That is from a CNN poll. CNN is part of that vast media network owned by 6 parent corporations. CNN would just love to see Clinton elected. They would rather show an empty podium at a Trump rally than cut over to coverage of Bernie Sanders at one of his massive rallies. Sure, they gave a town hall event for Jill Stein a few weeks ago. Crumbs for her and for the millennials who support her now that Sanders has dropped out.

Those millennials may have been ignored this time, but in 2020, they're going to have something to say about what happened this year. They're 80+ million strong and they're the largest voting demographic.

Here's a video of a woman who left the Democratic Party after 17 years. In simple terms, she betrays the lie that has been doffed on us by the Democrats and Republicans. She shows that the 2 party system we have now is designed to give us no other place to go. That's what the current presidential election feels like to me. I feel like I'm supposed to be cornered into voting for Clinton. But I'm not. I do have a choice and I don't have to vote for Trump or Clinton. That's because I'm informed of my choices.

She also points out that voting Democrat or Republican will always lead us back to the same place we are now. She says that even if Sanders had won, in 4-8 years, we'd be back to where we are now with no alternative in sight. Finally, she nails the point that has been missing from the debate over the political duocracy for a long, long time: breaking the two party system will not only expand our choices, but it will help to keep the dominant parties in check and accountable.

With just two parties, its easy for both parties to collude to keep the status quo, to keep anyone not approved by the oligarchy out. If you don't think that Democrats and Republicans ever collude, check out this video of Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan. Here we see them chatting at a conservative venue about the budget and that they will work together to get the cuts that conservatives want. As you can see from the video, Clinton and Ryan are not thinking about anyone but the 1%.

This is why we need to end the monopoly on debates. This is why we need to break the two party system. The two party system offers no real choice for independents who are not registered with either dominant party. That's 43% of American voters. Even long time supporters of either party are unhappy with the choices this year. The two party system has given us two of the most unpopular candidates in history because they truly believe that we have no other place to go.

The best way to answer that kind of attitude is to vote for someone else. I'm voting for Jill Stein and every other Green Party and/or Berniecrat that I can vote for. That is my response to an attempt to corner me into voting for Clinton.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Speed it up, Mrs. Clinton. You have an election to win for 132 very wealthy people.

Hillary Clinton's health is now front and center in the news. First came pictures of her receiving physical support while going up stairs and even just standing behind a podium while giving a speech. Then came video of her coughing fits. But the last clue came in the form of a video depicting Hillary as she was leaving a 9/11 memorial ceremony. In that event, Hillary was stepping off of a curb and into a van. As she approached the van, her knees buckled and she could not get back up without assistance.

Her collapse after the 9/11 memorial event is just one of the most visible signs of her deteriorating health and we've been getting hints for a long time. Here's another one. During the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email account on a private domain on a private server hosted in the basement of her own home, investigators noted:

“Clinton did not recall receiving any emails she thought should not be on an unclassified system.”

Seriously? Those are the words of the FBI after interviewing the former Secretary of State, one of the most powerful women in the world. Either she's talking more like she's been coached by a lawyer or she really can't recall how she directed her staff to send classified information to her through an unsecured channel. Global Research did a very interesting analysis of the FBI's investigation and came to the conclusion that the FBI is feigning incompetence.

So let's give Hillary the benefit of the doubt. If she truly can't recall what she was doing, then it's possible that she is suffering from the lingering effects of a fall she sustained in 2012. Wikileaks has released an email proving that Hillary Clinton has suffered from a Right Transverse Sinus Thrombosis, the medical term for a blood clot near the brain. Hillary Clinton also suffered another such clot in 1998, and there is reason to believe that these are not the only incidents of blood clots in her life.

What are the symptoms and consequences of a right transverse sinus thrombosis? Here are the top symptoms from Johns Hopkins Medicine:
  • Impaired speech
  • Difficulty moving parts of the body
  • Problems with vision
  • Headache
  • Increased fluid pressure inside the skull
  • Pressure on nerves
  • Brain injury
  • Developmental delay
  • Death
This condition might go a long way to explain Hillary Clinton's inability to recall specific facts and events concerning her email server. This condition may also explain why she couldn't figure out what the "(c)" on the emails meant. Perhaps some latent form of dementia could explain her explosive anger as First Lady. Check out the accounts of her legendary rage here. After reading a few of those accounts myself, I'd say that Trump has nothing on Lady Krakatoa. How does she lose the inhibition to the point where she feels free to chew out cabinet members as First Lady? God only knows what she will do as president.

As I watched this story unfold between the health issues and the email scandal, I could not help but recall Ronald Reagan and his testimony on the Iran-Contra scandal. His testimony revealed "startling gaps" in his memory of his time as president. In one deposition, Reagan used phrases like "I don't know", and "I can't recall", 88 times. Almost a decade later, we learned that Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

An article published in the New York Times last year, Parsing Ronald Reagan’s Words for Early Signs of Alzheimer’s, suggests that Ronald Reagan may have seen the onset of Alzheimer's disease early in his presidency. Whether someone else knew about his health condition or it was a happy coincidence for someone like former Secretary of the Treasury Don Regan is not yet known. But we do know that Don Regan actually told Ronald Reagan to "speed it up" during a speech at the New York Stock Exchange.

I've done some research for key phrases in that speech and near as I can tell, Ronald Reagan gave that speech on March 28th, 1985. That date would be early in his second term as president. If that analysis of Reagan's speech patterns cited by the New York Times is any indication, people close to Reagan during his time as president were aware that his mental capacity was diminishing due to dementia.

Will we have to wait that long to discover the same thing with Hillary Clinton? Consider also that after she collapsed at the 9/11 memorial, she did not go to an emergency room. Instead she went to her daughter's apartment and was treated there by her own private medical team. While I can respect her desire for privacy, this kind of behavior seems a bit extreme.

After reviewing the evidence that I've found so far, I'm left with an either/or proposition. If Hillary Clinton truly can't remember important facts about her use of a private email server/account/domain, it seems fair to wonder what else she can't remember. It would also be a fair question to ask, if she has a problem with her memory, would that make her vulnerable to outside influences? Enforcing logic on a series of decisions made as president would require a reliable memory. The narrative we're getting from the press is that gaps in her memory are nothing to be concerned about.

That narrative might be plausible except for one thing. One of her IT guys, Bryan Pagliano, invoked the 5th Amendment more than 125 times during a deposition for a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Keep in mind that there are no criminal penalties for violation of the FOIA, only the Privacy Act.

So I don't know what their story is, but I can make a few educated guesses. Is Clinton losing her mind? If so, shouldn't we know about it? If not, shouldn't she go to jail? Either way, she's probably not qualified to be president just on the basis of very poor judgement alone. Either way, she's easy to compromise through blackmail or direct influence. Take your pick.

Hillary Clinton is losing steam in her campaign and we know this because she lost a lead of better than 11 points in polling averages over Donald Trump since March of this year. She now has a bit more than a 1% polling lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average. I doubt very much she will recover her lead unless Trump does something else to set his campaign on fire. Alas, relative to Hillary's campaign, his campaign seems to be fire retardant, but we can't fault him for trying. Hillary Clinton is on track to losing an election to someone who is quite possibly the worst GOP candidate ever set upon the United States. That might not be so bad if he were not a former entertainer.

Sidenote: I do not support Trump or Clinton. I'm voting for Jill Stein, so don't go throwing false equivalents at me, either. A vote for Jill Stein is just a vote for Jill Stein, nothing more. If you want to say that a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Trump, that's your business, not mine.

I think that Reagan was such a great puppet for the elites that they want to do it again. Ruling a nation by proxy seems to be all the rage these days. How do we know this is happening? According to professor and activist Larry Lessig (video), in 2012, just 132 very wealthy people provided 60% of all of the superPAC funding. That's about $1.38 billion those same people were able to toss into the race. They are the relevant funders. They are the people who see Reagan 2.0 in Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How Hillary Clinton has been playing tit for tat with the Russians

There's an interesting back story regarding this obsession with the Russians of late. Who has this obsession with the Russians? The DNC and the Clinton campaign. What is the story? The DNC and the Clinton campaign have been caught colluding in the primary elections of this year. How were they caught? A man or a group of people who used the pseudonym, "Guccifer 2.0" hacked into the office network of the Democratic National Committee, gathered up compromising documents and released them.

Who exactly is Guccifer 2.0? Here is the Wikipedia page:
"Guccifer 2.0" is a hacker (or hackers) who hacked into the Democratic National Committee computer network and then leaked its emails to both the newspaper The Hill[1][2] and the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]
WikiLeaks has not revealed its source. However, some cybersecurity experts and firms have speculated, including CrowdStrike, Fidelis Cybersecurity, Mandiant, SecureWorks, ThreatConnect, and the editor for Ars Technica,[10] that the leak was part of a series of cyberattacks on the DNC committed by two Russian intelligence groups.[11][12][13][14][15] U.S. intelligence agencies agree, concluding with "high confidence" that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the DNC.[10] The Russian government said it had no involvement in the theft.[16] Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that there was no proof that Russia was behind the attack.[17]
It is worth noting how the DNC and the Clinton campaign have been playing this situation for diversion. Numerous alternative media pundits and social media participants have zeroed in on one simple point: What is important here is not that the Russians were involved and even capable of hacking the DNC. What is important here is the content of the documents released, not who got them and released them. You won't see questions directed to this issue like this in the mainstream media. They don't fit their narrative or their agenda.

In other words, while the mainstream media, the DNC and the Clinton campaign have deflected attention away from the content of the documents that were leaked and released, they did not explain themselves and their motives for what was revealed in the documents. Pay to play for a post as ambassador? Who cares!?! The Russians hacked us! Collusion between the DNC and the press and Hillary Clinton's campaign in support of Hillary Clinton at the expense of Bernie Sanders? Who cares!?! The Russians hacked us! Hillary has serious health problems? Who cares!?! The Russians hacked us!

The question that comes to mind then is why the Russians? Why not the Chinese, long considered to be a far greater adversary than any other in cyber-espionage? The Chinese have been painted as capable and adept cyber warriors, but today it's the Russians.

I think Naked Capitalism, a website dedicated to documenting the corruption in our capitalist economy, has offered a seemingly unrelated clue. After reading this article, John Helmer: Did Hillary Clinton Take Money From Russia Oligarch Oleg Deripaska for a Favor in the General Motors-Opel Deal?, I think a fair assessment is that we are not getting the whole truth from the mainstream media, the Clinton Campaign or the DNC. From the article, originally published at Dances With Bears:
When Hillary Clinton  was US Secretary of State in 2009, she proved she could lie to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel; keep secret her hostility towards Russia even in her secret staff emails; and take money in her back pocket for an $8 billion deal between the US, Germany and Russia recommended by her subordinates. The record, recently revealed in US investigations of Clinton’s emails and donations to the Clinton Foundation, shows why the Kremlin assessment of Clinton is hostile and blunt – Clinton invites and takes bribes, but can’t be relied on to keep her bargains.
I believe that this story adds context that is missing from the mainstream narrative. The mainstream narrative is that the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign are the victims of a concerted effort to hack their computer networks and point to the Russians as the villain. The story of the attempted merger between a German car company and a Russian car company, and how it was scuttled, may explain why they protest so much.

What is also interesting to note is that everyone was on board with the merger except the United States. The German labor unions, and the German and Russian governments were all ready to get the deal done. John Helmer considers in his article, the possibility that Clinton scuttled the deal to break a pattern of transactions so that she could plausibly say that she is not engaged in any pay to play scheme. She would like us to believe that she would not let the money influence her decisions. But the documents released so far, paint a very clear pattern of pay to play.

This is what I think about whenever I see Clinton accusing Trump of collusion with the Russian hackers and their government. This is what I think about when I see Clinton supporters working so tirelessly to paint Trump in the most unfavorable light while refusing to answer relevant questions concerning the leaks from the DNC. This is what I think about when I see people that I admire, including Larry Lessig and Bernie Sanders, imploring me to vote for Clinton, while implying that a vote for Jill Stein is a protest vote. I still admire them, I just disagree with them on this point.

I will not be casting a protest vote when I vote for Jill Stein this fall. I am voting for an alternative to the contempt that the elite class hold for me and the middle class that I belong to, and the poor. Their brazen acts of corruption are evidence of that contempt.

If somehow, Hillary Clinton is sidelined and replaced by Bernie Sanders, I will vote for him, no doubt. I believe that my vote is better served when cast for Bernie or Jill, as the case may be, and every Berniecrat that I can vote for. I will never vote for Hillary and I will make sure my kids (and any other kids in my family who will listen) are aware of this part of of our history.

Bernie's campaign was and is not about electing him as president, though that would be a nice bonus if he were to ascend to the White House. It is about starting a revolution where all Americans get involved in politics to shine a light on the contempt that the elite hold for the rest of us. My vote for Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders, and the Berniecrats (link to complete list) is just one effort of many that I will make to answer that contempt by replacing the self-serving and contemptuous with people who truly want to serve the people of this nation.

I don't have to ask, "If not now, when?", because the answer is now.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Circling the wagons at the DNC, again

The word is out that Hilary Clinton has caught pneumonia. This is a perfect explanation for her coughing fits of late on the campaign trail. I know what it's like, I've had walking pneumonia myself.

But this story doesn't explain the way she collapsed while entering a van on Sunday, September 11th. More than a few accounts of Clinton's health history have expressed concern that her stumbles to the van have more to do with a head injury she sustained a few years ago than pneumonia or overheating as her PR team would like us to believe.

Here is an analysis from Gary Byrne, a former Secret Service agent who served on her security detail when she was First Lady:
So what did we hear after? At first it was that she overheated and dehydrated. Now it’s pneumonia. Before, videos of her similar spastic bizarre movement were blamed on allergies and other excuses. Clearly, the totality of her prior blood clots and deep vein thrombosis, along with her concussion and related broken elbow, tell a different story.
Here’s what was very disturbing to me: after the medical episode, she went to her daughter’s apartment and not to an Emergency Room. Secret Service procedure for each detail dictates that everyone knows which hospital to go to depending on the event - heart failure, gunshot, you name it. It is very revealing that, whatever is wrong with her, she is being treated by her own private medical specialists in secret and, judging by the ballet-like reaction by her detail, they have dealt with this before. 
The Washington Post is reporting that that she may not recover from pneumonia until late October. That would effectively end a campaign for anyone else, but not Hillary. Still, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that "Kaine [is] 'ready to become president' if necessary, says former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland". In the LA Times article, Kaine is reported to have dismissed Clinton's health issues and thinks that the campaign will be back on track soon.

Across the pond, The Guardian is reporting that "Voters doubt Clinton's pneumonia explanation, poll shows". Hillary Clinton is one of the most distrusted politicians to run for president and that YouGov poll is telling. Given what we know now, I think it's highly plausible that pneumonia is not the only cause for concern with regard to Clinton's health and a poll of voters seems to agree. I wonder which story they will finally settle on.

In the past few days, numerous articles have appeared to run through the question of what will happen if Hillary Clinton drops out. Sanders activists have expressed fervent hopes that if Hillary drops out of the race, that Sanders could and would resume his campaign. They are citing chapter and verse of the DNC rules. They understand that when Sanders declared Clinton as the nominee, he suspended the rules and kept all of his delegates. They have also pointed out that if Hillary drops out, the DNC must reinstate the candidate with the next highest count of delegates. That person would be Bernie Sanders.

Analysis has been carried out to contemplate what would happen if Hillary won in November, but she could not, for some reason, make it to the inauguration. Then the duty would fall to Tim Kaine, vice presidential running mate with Hillary. There has been some speculation that Joe Biden would be inserted into the campaign if Hillary were to drop out. I don't see how Biden could suddenly jump in and run since, as far as I know, he's not registered in any state to run for president and all the deadlines have passed for this year. I'm sure there would be vigorous resistance if the DNC were to try to pull that off.

In the mainstream press, it's anybody but Sanders. In the alternative press, it's Sanders if Hillary's campaign should somehow...expire. One thing I do know for sure is that if Hillary decided to drop out, with Sanders to re-enter the campaign, he would almost certainly trounce Trump in November given his broad popularity. Whether or not he would actually run under such a circumstance is still a great unknown.

There is a clear undertow in polling for Clinton, too, even in a 4-way race, as shown by Real Clear Politics:

This is just one more drop in a long, inexorable slide over the last few months. There was a bit of a bump after the coronation, but as usual, Clinton cannot sustain a lead. When she falls behind, she won't recover, not even against someone who is quite possibly the worst Republican candidate ever.

If Clinton loses, don't blame me. I voted for Sanders in the primaries. If Sanders does not re-emerge, I will be voting for Jill Stein. I can't think of a better plan at the moment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Jill Stein is a great alternative to the anger issues in Clinton and Trump

I don't use Apple products, but I'm a big fan of the design aesthetics of Apple. I love the simple designs of their iPhone, iPad and laptop computers. Steve Jobs led the effort to revive Apple into the powerhouse company that they are today. He was responsible for bringing that design aesthetic to Apple.

The reason I don't use Apple products is the insanely jealous way that Steve Jobs sued other companies in his belief that they had copied his products. He sued Samsung for copying them. I believe that he sued Google by proxie when Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle sued Google over Android. Steve Jobs claimed that Android was a ripoff of iOS on phones and tablets. He even claimed a right to the shape of a tablet, rectangular with rounded corners in a design patent.

Steve Jobs was also intensely angry at the developers of Android. I've seen numerous accounts of his anger at Google and Samsung. While Steve Jobs may have been a great designer, industrialist and even a great man, his anger took him in the form of cancer at the young age of 56.

I can recall that on more that one occasion, Hillary Clinton claimed that Donald Trump does not have the temperament to be president (video). I bring this up not as someone who supports Trump, because I don't. Trump has his own anger issues, too. I bring this up because I see now that Hillary Clinton has her own anger issues to deal with. Her anger is so vile, that how that anger affects her health are now becoming publicly apparent and difficult to hide.

I have seen numerous accounts from former Secret Service agents who have had to protect Mrs. Clinton. In every account I have read, Hillary Clinton is revealed to be an angry scold who cusses like a sailor. Her hate for the men who protected her while she was First Lady seems to run deep and red.

So it is with interest that I find this article, "I Protected Hillary Clinton In The Secret Service - Here's Why Her 'Fainting' Video Really Scares Me", by Gary Byrne. Byrne is a former Secret Service Agent who actually served to protect Hillary Clinton.

In his article, he provides excellent analysis of a video now in wide circulation. The video he presents, shows how after a 9/11 memorial service, Hillary is physically unable to negotiate a short walk to a waiting van. In his analysis, he notes how Hillary is unable to support her own weight on the way to the van. He notes how Hillary was not standing on her own while waiting, she was leaning against a ballard, a metal column used to stop large vehicles. He notes also that Hillary's feet were dragged across the ground and they left one of her shoes there in their haste to leave.

He praises the team for their very well orchestrated efforts to protect Hillary and shield her from view of cameras like the one that caught the video. He notes that their efforts were so well orchestrated that they must have seen this kind of behavior before. He knows how hard it can be to serve and protect.

Here is the nugget of the story:
When I protected her, I witnessed her irate behavior and, frankly, I don’t think anyone can operate with such uncontrollable fits of anger and not have it take a toll on a person’s health—I think that’s exactly what has resulted. I can’t help but feel sorry for her detail, because I know from personal experience that they will bear the burden for as long as their mental and physical resilience will tolerate. I bet that night they got berated for letting this “leak,” but it has nothing to do with their performance and everything to do with her character.
Given what I know now of Hillary, I do not believe that even she has the temperament to be president. I agree with Mr. Byrne's assessment and I believe that years of her life spent in anger and resentment are taking their toll. I do not say this to encourage you or anyone else to vote for Trump. Trump has anger issues as well. Trump is a loose cannon who says whatever he thinks, despite what he might have been told by his handlers. Between them, whatever they say about each other, I regard their words as theater and nothing more. Both kettles are calling each other black.

Jill Stein is the presidential candidate for the Green Party. I've seen her speak, read her writing and have read the Green Party platform. I see no evidence of anger in Jill Stein. To the contrary, what I have seen in her is someone who answers questions calmly and concisely, with no pretense. She doesn't have the power to offer any pretense. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both have that kind of power.

I want to vote for someone I can trust. I want to vote for someone who offers no ulterior motives. I want to vote for someone who can respond to a difficult situation while keeping anger in check. I wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders, but he's not available at the moment. I don't see any of the qualities I want in a president when I look at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. So I look to Jill Stein as the only plausible alternative. Yes, I've considered the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, but he's a former Republican who actually supports the TPP. So he's out as far as I'm concerned.

I believe that both major candidates have anger issues that pose certain risks if they were to find their way into the White House. That's why I'm voting for Jill Stein for president.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Replace Clinton's Third Way of corporate taxation with a progressive solution

A few years ago, I wrote Corporate Compensation Tax, On a Curve, just as a thought experiment to see how best to tax C-class executives of a corporation. The idea was to tax C-class compensation based on a multiple of the lowest paid workers receiving the minimum wage. It would look something like this:
All limited liability entities are required to pay a marginal tax on all non-hourly employees and executives within the organization. The rate structure is based on the measure of the federal minimum wage in multiples. Here is a simple schedule for the tax rates, where x is the minimum wage:
It seemed like an interesting concept at the time, but I realized after writing it that enforcing that kind of tax policy could get complicated in a hurry. This is part of the problem with our tax system now. The rules are so complex that in order to take advantage of every deduction, you need a team of lawyers and accountants to do it. Guess who can afford that team.

So it is with interest that I read this article, The (Bill) Clinton Team’s Secret Meeting on CEO Compensation, at Naked Capitalism. What I learned is that when Bill Clinton was president, they were looking at ways to retain a tax deduction for C-class compensation without being too obvious about it. What they decided upon was a simple provision. C-class compensation would remain tax deductible after the first $1 million, so long as it is in the form of stock options. Here is a brief excerpt from their article:
Naked Capitalism readers are familiar with the fact that CEO compensation exploded starting in the 90s, and that this explosion was related to a shift towards companies providing compensation in the form of stock options.  A major cause of the shift was Bill Clinton’s 1993 move to make executive comp deductible from corporate income taxes only when given as stock options.
Let’s say that one more time:  a small change in tax law, spearheaded by Bill Clinton, provided the initial impetus for the runaway rise in CEO comp, itself plausibly a significant driver of our own era’s lopsided distribution of economic gains.
It was a tiny change in tax law that few people notice, but it had a huge effect on CEO compensation. That change in tax law would explain the emphasis on stock price in the following years. Most public corporations now have a laser focus on stock price because that is the path to apparently unlimited income. This would also explain the inexorable push to increase capital investments (automation, robots, computers) at the expense of labor. Capital investments tend to raise the value of the stock, not the cost of labor and that has created a conflict between capital and labor.

The Clinton Administration passed a simple provision that was easy to enforce, yet still allowed C-Class compensation to grow to stratospheric levels, all at the expense of labor. Given the past inclinations of the Clintons, particularly with respect to their blind deference to corporate money, we can be sure to see more of the same should Hillary Clinton win the election come November. Whenever I hear Clinton claim to be progressive, I have stuff like this in the back of my mind.

The mainstream media has given due notice of the tax avoidance schemes of the largest corporations but only because there was demand for tax avoidance to be exposed. Public scrutiny of $2 trillion in offshore money held by our largest corporations, inversions, and other methods of tax avoidance have incensed progressives. Yet few people really understand that both Democrats and Republicans have abandoned the middle class and the poor for the big money of large corporations like Apple, Comcast, Monsanto, United Health Care and Pfizer (just to name a few).

The largest corporations own large portfolios of intellectual property often held by subsidiaries offshore. They have parked huge sums of money offshore to avoid taxation and they engage in the shady practice of inversions when no one is looking. At the same time, corporate profits are at historical highs along with astronomical CEO pay and stock options. Back in January of this year, economist Dean Baker took notice of the enormous efforts directed to tax avoidance and has offered a simple plan to resolve the issue in his article, A Progressive Way to End Corporate Taxes. Here it is, in a nutshell:
Suppose that, instead of taxing corporate profits, we required companies to turn over an amount of stock, in the form of nonvoting shares, to the government. We can fight over the percentage later (we’d want to match what we ideally get from corporate income taxes now, so presumably between 17 and 35 percent). But first we can focus on the principle.
The shares would be nontransferable, except in the case of mergers or buyouts, but they otherwise would be treated just like any other shares. If the company paid a dividend to its other stockholders, then it would pay the same per share dividend to the government. If it bought back 10 percent of its shares, then it would buy back 10 percent of the government’s shares at the same price. In the event of a takeover, the buyer would have to pay the same per-share price to the government as it did to the holders of other shares.
This plan strikes me as genius. It's a simple plan that makes it nearly impossible for corporations to evade their taxes. It requires collateral to be held by the government in order to ensure that taxes are paid. Under the plan the government would own a part of every corporation, yet have no controlling interest in it. When dividends are paid, the government gets a cut. When shares are sold, the government gets a cut. When the company is sold, the government still gets a cut, even if the company undergoes an inversion.

Best of all, the plan removes a big chunk of the bureaucracy build into our tax system. Then big business can focus again on making services and products people want to buy rather than finding creative ways to escape the system. Once big business can resume their focus on making products that people want, then perhaps there might be enough demand for people to buy them. Big business might even see enough money saved from Baker's plan to consider paying their employees more to boost demand.

Would Hillary Clinton adopt such a plan? Well, she's a lawyer and she likes laws that leave enough wiggle room for enterprising attorney. She'd want the biggest donors to be able to make arguments in administrative hearings at the IRS or in court to allow corporations to defeat corporation taxation or lessen their burden. We already know where Donald Trump would stand on such a plan. He would not allow government to own a piece of every corporation, even if they were nonvoting shares and even if that meant the end to the overhead costs of tax avoidance.

There is another reason this plan makes sense. Incorporating a business is a privilege. It is a license to do what would otherwise be "illegal". Succession of control is a privilege that allows an organization to be immortal. Limited liability is privilege as most people are personally liable for the acts of their business, but corporations are only liable for the value of their stock. Claiming a domicile in a mailbox in the Cayman Islands while doing business in the United States is a privilege. Ordinary people live where they work.

Baker's plan doesn't deal with corporate money in politics, but it can end the mind games played by corporations as far as tax policy goes. Baker's plan would remove incentives for corporations to influence tax policy by removing all the loopholes and creating one simple tax.

Most interestingly, Baker's plan creates a powerful incentive to put the money into the business, not the dividends or CEO compensation. Think about how uncomfortable it might be for a C-class executive to know that if his company changes control through a sale, the buyer must pay the government for the shares held by the government. Every time a dividend is paid, the government gets the same dividend on shares held. Every time someone sells a stock option, the government is going to get a cut of that sale.There will be no way out, yet at the same time, corporations will find relief that they don't have to pay a team of lawyers to be creative about taxes.

I don't see any way that Clinton or Trump would support Baker's plan. But, the Green Party might be amenable to it. Given their stance on economic justice in their party platform, I think they would be willing to support such a simple idea. One of the goals of the Green Party is to simplify the tax code, make it more progressive and make it more transparent. I think that Baker's plan would fit right in with the Green Party.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The subtle disenfranchisement of millennials

CNN is leaving millennials out of the polls. At least, that's the story touted by the Independent Voter Network (IVN). I saw this story in a post on Google+ and decided to do some research on it to see how valid it is.

In case you hadn't noticed, the millenials are now the largest voting demographic in the country, yet in a recent CNN poll, they are cited as "N/A". In fact, according IVN, millennials are "N/A" in every poll by CNN in 2016.

CNN isn't the only media outlet to under-represent millennials, the others are just more subtle. Just to be sure, I reviewed three polls to check out their supporting documents for the headlines. Each supporting document is complete with the actual questions used, the demographic breakdown, and the  results.

I reviewed CNN, NBC and The Economist/YouGov and found a fairly consistent pattern: millennials are not proportionately represented by the polls. They are under-represented or not represented at all. Each of the polls I reviewed included 4-way polls between Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson (Libertarian), and Jill Stein (Green Party). You can find them all at Real Clear Politics, just as I did. Each link below for a poll will lead to an article for the poll results and if you look closely, you will find a link at the bottom of the article for methodology. That's the source document and that is the one we should be looking at.

The Economist/YouGov poll shows the following breakdown:

In the above example, we see that the Under 30 set is 34% of the 45-64 set. They are even less than the 65+ set, yet Millennials are still the largest demographic in the nation.

Now let's have a look at the NBC News Poll:

Here again, we see that millennials are under-represented, but not nearly so much as in the YouGov poll. There were 1284 Respondents ages 18-34, which is roughly on par with the next group up, 35-44. But as the age goes up, the response rate goes up and we see that Millennials are outnumbered in the poll.

Then there is the CNN poll. As noted above, this is the one that got me interested in this topic in the first place. In the CNN poll, the millennials are showing up as "N/A". If you've recently emptied your nest, these are probably your kids. Now check out the demographics for the CNN/ORC International Poll -- September 1 to 4, 2016:

Notice how in this poll, voters aged 18-34 are just not there? Did they even try to contact the millennials? Based on the other polls, I don't think so. But there are more than a few memes pointing this out and they are making inferences of foul play on the part of the pollsters. The inference is fairly easy to draw, too. Older people are more likely to show support for Trump or Clinton just because older people tend to favor traditional parties like Republicans and Democrats. So the mainstream media will give greater weight and preference to older people to support their narrative that Clinton has greater support than all other candidates.

It is tempting to infer that mainstream media is keeping away from millennials because of their broad support for Bernie Sanders when he was still running in the primaries. I've made that inference myself and I believe that there is some truth to it. Mainstream media is very likely cherry picking on their polls, but I think there is more to it than that.

Milliennials are busy dealing with an economy that is hostile to them. They are either in college or been to college and they see that their job prospects are not that hot. They may be working 2 or more jobs just to pay the bills and the debts from college. If I were a member of the elite 0.05%, I'd want those kids to stay busy so that they don't have time for polls, so that they don't have an interest in politics.

Try this. Go a city council meeting and see who's sitting in the council seats. Are they young or old? I've done this and I saw that most of them were in the 40's and 50's. They've already set up their lives the way they wanted and they're looking at retirement. They now have time for political engagement. If there are any young people on your city council, they may become career politicians, but you can be sure that the elite don't want young people engaged in politics.

Older people tend to answer the phone for polls. I do and I'm an older person. I answer every poll that comes in for one simple reason: someone is paying good money for the poll and I'm probably paying indirectly for that poll. I answer the call to make sure my voice is heard. Some people are irritated with polling. I'm not. I'm happy to answer those questions because every little bit helps. In the last political poll I was called for, I made it clear that I'm a Sanders supporter.

I am still a Sanders supporter. I disagree with his decision to campaign for Hillary Clinton, but I agree with his policy positions. Now that Sanders is out, Jill is in. I'm voting for Jill Stein for the simple reason that I agree with the Green Party and their policy positions. I will participate in polls asking about her because I want to see her on the debate stage with Trump, Clinton and Johnson.

Millennials are the generation of change and they want change. Their voice is being stifled by the older generation because the older generation thinks they know better. It's almost as if the older generation, now entrenched in the mainstream media, has the following message for millennials: "Pipe down, kids! We know what we're doing and we want Clinton. When you get older you can have what you want. When you show up at the polls to vote, you can have what you want. But right now, we have the power and there's nothing you can do about it." Well, they did show up at the polls. In record numbers. Did they get what they wanted? I don't think so.

I went to a Sanders rally in Utah and I saw that the majority of the people there were millennials. They were there because they were hungry for change. Bernie Sanders enjoyed very high support among Millennials, yet somehow, as the largest demographic, they did not get their choice nominated at the Democratic National Convention.

If the mainstream media continues to claim that Hillary Clinton enjoys broad support among voters, even Democrats, then perhaps they could explain this: On September 5th, Bernie Sanders held a rally for Hillary Clinton and only 300 people showed up in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The last census for Lebanon indicated a population of 13,000 people, but only 300 people showed up? I guess they were the relevant funders in that town.

Compare that to a rally Bernie Sanders held in Iowa, in January, early in the primaries. That town had a population of 8,000 people and 2200 people crammed into an auditorium to see him back then.

There is something seriously wrong with a leading candidate from a major party who can't draw big crowds. She's not drawing millennials, for sure. She's not drawing much of anyone to her rallies, except maybe the relevant funders, and I don't think that even Bernie Sanders can save her.

When the mainstream media leaves the millennials out, or tries to shortchange them in the polls, it's a subtle form of disenfranchisement. It's an abdication of their duty to inform the public about the candidates running for president.

The mainstream media is aware that in order to get on the debate stage, candidates from any party must show 15% or better in an average of five polls before the debates. The mainstream media also knows that 3rd party candidates will never even see the debate stage if they ignore third party candidates and their biggest supporters, the millennials.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

I still want better judgment with the next president

Several months ago, I happened upon a very interesting article on the email scandal instigated by Hillary Clinton. "Do I Really Need to Worry About Hillary’s Emails? Yes. She Will Be Indicted. (Full Form)" is probably the most complete 3rd party analysis of the travails of Hillary Clinton with respect to her stint as Secretary of State. After reading it, I became fairly convinced that she was going to be indicted.

We know now that she was not indicted. The FBI punted and said that no reasonable attorney would pursue charges against Clinton, despite mountains of evidence against her. They made a purely political decision, despite protests to the contrary on the part of Obama and the major media. In social media, I saw it over and over again, "The Clintons have been investigated for 30 years and no one has ever been able to touch them". That's the argument for "leaving them alone" that is always trotted out by Clinton supporters.

Now we see that Congress, having been frustrated by a Justice Department subject to political pressure from above, is seeking other remedies. Although they cannot pursue a criminal indictment as the judicial branch could have done, they can seek impeachment in an effort to disqualify Hillary Clinton from office. They can do this even though Clinton is out of office now, and they can seek impeachment for the abuse of the public trust she exhibited so well during her tenure as Secretary of State. The National Review of all places, has some compelling arguments for the same.

Some of you may wonder why I bring this up. I'm a Sanders supporter, but I'm using Republican talking points? I'm an independent and I really don't care which side of the spectrum I get my news and sources. If they can be corroborated by a respected source, then so be it. I know something of the National Review. I know that it was founded by William F. Buckley in 1955. I watched Buckley on PBS with my dad when I was a kid. I'm not a conservative, but I respected the way he expressed his opinions. I respect The National Review, even if I disagree with them on many if not all of their policy positions, but on the matter of impeachment, I agree. The article that I read and cite above is very well written and it is, in my estimation, right about this issue.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that Hillary's judgement is even worse than I thought. Check out this headline from The Guardian in the UK: Hillary Clinton email investigation: FBI notes reveal laptop and thumb drive missing.  Here's are a couple of gems from the article:
The unnamed person “told the FBI that, after the transfer was complete, he deleted the emails from the archive laptop but did not wipe the laptop. The laptop was then put in the mail, only to go missing. [Redacted] told the FBI that she never received the laptop from [redacted]; however, she advised that Clinton’s staff was moving offices at the time, and it would have been easy for the package to get lost during the transition period.
Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, and Hanley “indicated the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device”, the documents state. “Cooper did recall two instances where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”
So they created an email archive of the deleted emails, this creates a file on disk. The file was copied to at least one USB drive and then the USB device was lost, never to be seen again. The laptop was sent in the mail and lost. If you think that deleting the file was the end of it on the laptop, think again.

If you work in IT as I do, you know that deleting a file doesn't actually remove the file. It marks the blocks used by the file as empty space to write over again. The odds that another application will write over exactly the same space on the drive are slim if not remote. A competent data recovery technician could recover the file with software ready made for the task available for free on the internet.

Then the laptop was lost in the mail. They actually sent the laptop to someone in the mail and the laptop was not recovered at the destination address. Seriously? They didn't even use registered mail with return receipt required? How about UPS or FedEx? The USB drive contained the archive in full, unencrypted view for all to see. I would not be surprised to find out that someone who knew what to do with it at the expense of Clinton or national security, found it.

The second paragraph cited above is just unbelievable, stating that once Clinton made a transition to a new device, the old device was conveniently forgotten and no one could remember where it went. This is not a very organized group here. In most large corporations, *everything* is tracked. You use a Blackberry provided by your company for work? It goes in a database and you're held accountable if you lose the thing. Your IT department installed software to brick the phone if it is lost or stolen. Clinton did none of this.

The entire story, as it continues to unfold, is a comedy of errors featuring a woman in a mad quest for privacy while living in the glare of public life. It is hard to believe that the person most likely to be president next January managed to lose an unencrypted archive of her emails on a laptop and a USB drive. Yes, you could say that these are the mistakes of the her staff. So what? "Respondeat superior", is Latin for, "let the master answer". No matter what her staff does, it's all on Hillary Clinton.

"But,'re saying things that could get Donald Trump elected!", is what I sometimes read in response to my posts. Seems like every week, there is a new gaffe by Trump. Seriously, he's very creative, but I think he's an entertainer. Every time that guy opens his mouth, puts his foot in it and pulls the trigger, I remind myself that he's an entertainer. He was the host of his Apprentice shows for years and during that time, he was an entertainer.

I think Trump is still an entertainer and I take nothing of what he says seriously. Donald Trump doesn't need to be president. He could lose and he'd still be set for life with his numerous enterprises, fame and fortune. When he's done "running for president", he'll hide out in a tropical paradise for a month and go back to work like nothing happened. He might even write a book about all of it. But as far as I can tell, Donald Trump doesn't even want to be president.

Hillary Clinton simply doesn't have the judgement to be president and I want no part of her quest for the highest office in our still great country. I won't vote for her, will never vote for her and see a perfectly suitable alternative: Jill Stein from the Green Party.

Side note: Yes, I do know that when Bernie Sanders called Hillary Clinton the winner of the nomination process at the Democratic National Convention in July, he suspended the rules and still has his delegates. There have been murmurs on the internet to the effect that if Hillary Clinton is somehow disqualified, that Sanders could just resume his campaign. I know, pure fantasy, but I would love, love, love to see something like that happen. If Hillary is impeached, she will be disqualified from office. But alas, that is still a very faint hope that I hold in the back of my heart.

I've seen the criticism of Jill, over and over. So here me out. Jill doesn't reek of corruption like Clinton does. Yes, you could say it just looks bad for Clinton, but Clinton is very, very smart, and she knows how Washington works. She has something we call, "confidence". I don't want someone with "confidence" as president. Hillary knows how to hide stuff and has the determination to hide stuff. she has developed alliances that compromise her ability to function as a president working for the people.

Jill has none of that. The Green Party has a clearly set platform, that is all about making the world a better place. She doesn't have "confidence" like Clinton does. As someone who has never held a high public office, Jill Stein would approach the levers of power with caution. She would be leery of engaging the US in another war, or launching a drone, or signing a trade agreement that would compromise the sovereignty of the United States. I would much rather see someone in office who takes a cautious view of her power and what she can do with it than to say, "we came, we saw, he died", with a laugh the way Hillary Clinton has done.

This is why I'm still voting for Jill Stein for president. She doesn't have to be better than Clinton at working the levers of power, she only has to be competent, cautious and free of the corrupting influence of money in politics. That's good enough for me.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

If a guaranteed obscene income works for the wealthy, then a guaranteed basic income will work for all

74% of the income of the wealthy is rents, dividends and royalties. Once wealth reaches a certain point, its growth is unrelenting, and we could even say it's guaranteed. It's protected by government in the form of sanctioned monopolies like patents and copyrights. It's protected by laws that give every advantage to the wealthy, complete with a maintenance program called, "the revolving door".

Thomas Piketty, in his book, Capital In the 21st Century, uses centuries of data to show that capital will always outperform labor. Most of the working capital in the world is owned by the wealthy. The rest of us, well, we have to work for our money. But in creating capital, the wealthy have created a system of guaranteed income for themselves while shutting out the rest of us.

I think that this is a point often missed in debates on guaranteed income and income inequality. The wealth bestowed upon a famous actor for great work in movies is a case in point. I see names like Matt Damon, Kevin Spacey and Kevin Bacon in the movies. I've seen and read their commentary about the art of acting. I read in Stage West that Kevin Bacon did not work for 5 years before getting signed on to Mystic River, directed by Clinton Eastwood. All of them derive royalty income from their films after the work is done. So they get some downtime.

They've all earned multi-million dollar contracts for their work, too. A plausible investment scenario looks like this. A wealthy actor (or anyone else with the money) can park $10 million in a Vanguard 500 Index Admiral Shares account with a reasonable expectation of about 5% a year, or, $500,000 a year. In the last year, the rate of return was 12%, for the last 5 years, it was 14%. That is a great rate of return. Since inception, this Vanguard investment account has averaged 5%. That means, if someone of means wanted to retire and just live well, without working, he could reasonably expect $400,000 after paying 20% in federal taxes with a $10 million investment. Or he could just let it compound with interest. That's not just basic income. That's extravagant income.

Now multiply that same scenario many times over for billionaires. Does a light go on in your head? It did in mine when I first realized that this could happen and is happening right now. All the time.

There is a lot of talk in the news about basic income that you won't see in mainstream media. You have to hunt for it to find it. You can find it in groups in social media. A search for basic income in Facebook, Google+ or even in your search engine of choice will yield plenty of results.

But here's the nugget, if you read nothing else. Those returns on investment noted above, they come from the work of the people at the bottom. This is what skimming looks like. That's money that could be returned to the people in the form of wages. That is what it looks like when wages are not keeping up with productivity.

Dean Baker (I know, I talk about him a lot on this blog, but he's my favorite economist) has been prodigious in his documentation of the divergence of wages from productivity and the cause of the same. He's even marked the point in time where there started to be a divergence between wages and productivity. He's got most of it in a free book you can download called, "The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive". The point of his book is to show that the current conditions are not the result of a free market. They are the result of government imposed socialism, in reverse.

The neoliberals that are in power today will spout day and night about the virtues of the free market. But what they won't tell you, like Dean Baker will, is that they like to write funny rules about income distribution. They like to write rules that make income go up, not down. They write the rules that create income inequality, but they don't like publicity about it.

Who are the neoliberals? President Obama is a neoliberal. Bill and Hillary Clinton are neoliberals. Every Republican in Congress is a neoliberal. Most Democrats in Congress are neoliberals.  What is a neoliberal? The word is a term of art, a fancy word for conservative. You can read the Wikipedia page on it here.

There are more than a few economists who understand what is going on. One of them is Joe Stiglitz. He's running a campaign to rewrite the rules so that everyone can enjoy the economic gains from productivity. I think his work is laudable, but as Hillary Clinton's top economic adviser, I think it's too easy for the neoliberals to game the system. I think it's time for a very simple rule that's easy to follow.

Blow out all the welfare, social security and other transfer programs that have complicated rules with complicated bureaucracies and replace with them a basic income guaranteed. This is income guaranteed regardless of your income. I like to think of as a sort of social dividend. This basic income guaranteed has already been tried and true in small experiments around the world and the list and size of the experiments is growing continually. A great resource on news about basic income can be found in Scott Santens and his Basic Income page at Medium.

A basic income guaranteed means that no matter how the wealthy try to write the rules, they still must give to the people that do the work. No longer can the gains in productivity due to technology be separated from the labor that does the work. The wealthy already have a guaranteed income. It's time to guarantee income for the rest of us so that we can enjoy life, too.