Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The superdelegates are not supposed to be democratic

There is considerable consternation on the part of Bernie Sanders supporters. When Bernie sweeps a few states with landslides, the press ignores him. When he fills stadiums, they ignore him. When they sponsor debates, they do everything they can to marginalize him as a candidate. And now we learn, that even the superdelegates have expressed their opinion that Hilary Clinton is the better candidate.

USUncut has a fascinating piece about a voter who confronted a superdelegate in Alaska. The voter's name is Levi Younger, a recent political science graduate. He had the good fortune to confront an Alaskan superdelegate, Kim Metcalfe on Facebook. Metcalf is a retired union official and has spent many years in Democratic Party committees helping to represent Alaska in the Democratic Party.

The conversation between the two was, I'm sure, intended to be private. Younger supports Bernie Sanders and confronted Metcalfe on her plans to vote for Hilary Clinton, even though Sanders won the Alaska primary by 80% of the vote. Doesn't seem too Democratic, does it? The entire conversation took place on Facebook and has been posted at USUncut for all to see.

Metcalfe says that she's voting her conscience as a superdelegate, voting for who she believes is the best person for the job. She denies any financial or political motive for voting for Clinton over Sanders but she does say that if Sanders is the nominee, she will vote for him.

The superdelegates vote last. After all the primaries are done, they meet at the convention and vote. After all of the pledged delegates have been counted, then if there is not enough of a margin to declare a victory by one side or another, the superdelegates can weigh in. At the moment, the vast majority of superdelegates have pledged their support for Hilary Clinton. But they can change their mind at the convention. They are not bound by the outcomes of their respective primaries in their home states. They vote as they wish without regard to their constituencies.

They can try and kibitz all they want for Hilary. The tide is changing and it's not looking so good for her. Seth Abramson at the Huffington Post has been making very good predictions about this election and has noticed something the press has not: voter sentiment is turning against Hilary Clinton. The landslides in the last few states, and for at least the last month show that Hilary is losing ground and will continue to do so for the remainder of the election.

Abramson has noticed what is perhaps the most colossal reporting failure in the last decade. We saw it in the upset in Michigan. We saw it in the almost complete lack of polling in the last 7 contests as of today. Abramson has noted that the press is reporting the primaries for the Democrats as if it is still March 1st, when it's now the end of the month. But he doesn't say that this failure to report is intentional. I do. I see this hole in reporting as an intentional, yet surreptitious aid to Clinton to keep her campaign sputtering along to the end.

Superdelegates were invented to keep grassroots activists from organizing enough support to win the nomination. At least that's what Debbie Wasserman Schultz has said. They are intended to allow the elites of the party to lend their experience and wisdom to the decision making process, to ensure that the party doesn't go into the weeds as far as they are concerned.

The problem is that the superdelegates belie the intent and purpose of the Democratic Party. If the purpose of the Democratic Party is to represent their constituency, the people, and I mean, "The Little People", superdelegates aren't doing their job by voting against the primary outcome of their state.

Levi Younger is a young voter who has just witnessed this. He has a degree with a major in political science. Seeing firsthand how cavalier superdelegates can be, I suspect not only will he be motivated to get more involved in the Democratic Party, he's probably got his sights on eliminating the superdelegates altogether.

Removing the superdelegates from the convention will free up time for the candidates to listen to their constituents. The reason for that is simple: with superdelegates in play, each candidate is going to spend time making phone calls to sway superdelegates their way. That means that for every minute they are trying to woo some party bigwig, they are not listening to and provide a voice for the people they represent.

Many of these superdelegates are sitting in office now. In the Congress, in statehouses and in governors mansions. We would do well to note their votes this year and vote to remove them if they fail to heed the voice of their states, respectively. For if they aren't listening to their constituents now, in this nomination contest, we have to wonder if they ever did.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Big money in politics isn't shy about blocking community broadband

One of the things that I've noticed about politics is that the terms of discourse tend to be grand and general. So on the point of big money in politics, I'd like to demonstrate how it affects people in a very personal way, down to their lifestyle.

Just about everyone needs broadband to function in the internet age. We use it to pay our bills, keep up with the news and watch content of our choosing. We use it to keep in touch with the government and watch what they do. For most of us, this is easy.

But in many neighborhoods around the country, getting fast, reasonably priced internet access is a struggle. Unfortunately, this struggle has nothing to do with the market, for there is plenty of demand. The struggle is caused primarily by incumbent service providers that do not want to provide service.

So when the people in such a community decide that they should create their own community network when local incumbent providers fail to meet demand, they are shut down by the state government for seeking something called "local control". I know. I live in Utah, the first state to pass model legislation built to do just that. That legislation was designed to prevent the rise of UTOPIA from competing against private internet providers, Centurylink and Comcast.

Community Broadband Networks has this story from Tennessee and you can read it here. In a nutshell, people are getting tired of going to McDs or the library for the wifi to do their homework. They are getting tired of going to a friend's house in Chattanooga to get a decent connection. They are tired of having no service at all. Yet, they have a government that is not responding to their needs. They have a government that is responding to the needs of very wealthy corporations.

Chattanooga, Tennessee has a world class community broadband network that is the envy of the neighboring counties in that state. If would be the envy of the rest of the United States if more people knew about it. It is run by the Electric Power Board (EPB) and provides gigabit access to the internet at the low, low rate of $70 a month. For those who want it, they are offering 10Gb/s for $299 a month. No one else can touch them on pricing, service and availability in their service area.

Local incumbents could do the same thing, but that might have an impact on their ability to finance the jet-set lifestyle of their respective CEOs and members of their boards of directors.

So a grassroots effort was born to fashion a bill at the state level to give local control to communities to decide for themselves whether or not to build their own network. Such a bill would also allow the EPB to extend their service area to neighboring counties so that they could get service where there was only poor service or none. Many of the residents of the state of Tennessee have poor or zero service from companies like ATT. Yet, ATT financed the defeat of legislation that would allow communities in Tennessee to build their own networks.

This is what big money in politics looks like at the local level. A community would like to make their lives better, but some very large corporation with headquarters back east don't like it when a city or town tries to do that without their help, for that would impact the bottom line. So they wine, dine and finance the campaigns of people in power who can blunt the ability of those same cities and towns from making their own lives better.

Now scale this up to the national level. This kind of behavior on the part of very wealthy interests prevents us from properly financing initiatives for universal health care, highway and road maintenance, social security, elections and even the post office. Big money in politics prevents us from creating public banking services as an alternative to private banks after they crashed the economy. When wealth is so concentrated as it is here in the US, a very small minority is telling everyone else how to live. Suddenly, we're not entitled to a public option. Not even for internet access.

The first step to getting a government responsive to the rest of us is to enact and enforce campaign finance reform and an anti-corruption laws that have real teeth. We want to send elected representatives to prison when they take money for political favors. We want to send people to elective office that promise to take no corporate money, and to be dependent on the people alone. Maybe then, we can have candidate debate with constructive action to get the work of the people done.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Push polling, but in an entirely different context

There is an interesting political strategy I learned about recently, called "push polling". Push polling is a polling technique designed not to get an opinion. The goal is to change the opinion held by the recipient of the poll. It's usually done by phone because the voice can be used to set the tone of the conversation much better than an online poll or one conducted by email.

A leading question is one where the recipient is pointed in the direction of the desired answer. Push polling is a poll with a series of questions leading the recipient to answer the questions in a certain way so as to reinforce a political agenda. Instead of asking questions that seek an unbiased opinion, the questions lead one to think and change their mind. It's very subtle and there are some very interesting articles on the subject that any search engine can find.

I've been the recipient of a push poll. The poll was designed to turn my opinion against the candidate of my choice. Once I saw what was happening, I doubled down on my answers and made sure that the caller knew that I knew what was happening. Back then, I didn't know what it was called, but I did know what was happening. I let the caller know in no uncertain terms that I was not going to change my mind. Click!

Polling can be used in another way to reinforce opinion or outcomes in an election. For months now, we've been treated to polls showing that Hilary Clinton has the lead in support from potential voters, over Bernie Sanders. For awhile, this seemed to have held true. But then some people started to notice a divergence from the polls to the outcomes. 

The divergence was not subtle. In his article, Poll-Defying Pattern Predicts Sanders Victory, Jonathan Greenburg at the Huffington Post has noticed some very interesting trends in polling. Greenburg has identified huge discrepancies in polling vs the outcome of at least 4 elections. See the chart below:


In one state, Minnesota, the divergence from the outcome predicted by the poll was 57%. That is one giant yawning chasm of error on the part of the mainstream press. In those four contests, the average divergence was 35% and Sanders was the winner.

In Utah and Idaho, Sanders won by 79% of the vote. Yet, no major news outlet did any polling to predict the outcome. They did go out of their way to poll Arizona though. Check out the list at RealClearPolitics.com (RCP). I scoured their list of polls and only found one poll on Clinton vs Sanders and that poll had Sanders up by 8%, and that was only for Utah. The discrepancy was 51%. The news outlet that actually polled Utah was the Deseret News, a local news source.

There were no polls for Idaho.

This would seem like a fluke, but then there was a vote held March 26th in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. Washington is a big state, but alas, there were no polls on that state at RCP. Perhaps that's because Sanders won Washington in a landslide with 72% of the vote. Sanders won Hawaii with 70% of the vote. He won Alaska with 81% of the vote.

There were no polls for any of those three states at RCP. If you know of one from anywhere else, I'd like to see it. I'd guess that they are polling states that favor Sanders, but they're not publishing the results. 

Washington is a giant among those states. With more than 100 delegates at stake, why were no polls published to predict the outcome? It has a population of 7 million, more than the 6 million in Arizona, but no one felt any obligation to conduct a poll in Washington and publish it? 

It would appear then, that the mainstream media is attempting to use the polls to set and support their narrative: Clinton is the inevitable nominee. 

This is push polling, to the extreme. The mainstream media seems only willing to publish polls where Clinton is the likely winner or at least has a chance of winning. I guess this is what we can expect when 90% of the media is owned by 6 parent corporations. I wonder if we can predict a Sanders landslide in a state that has had no polls published before the vote.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The myth of superiority

There is no such thing as a superior person. There is only the complementary person. From a personal perspective, I don't even think of myself as superior to anyone else. I think of myself as complementary to others.

For example, my wife Alice and I are a team. She has skills that I can never master. I have skills that she can never master. Our talents, skills and abilities complement each other to form a team. We have built a home and then had children. Our job now is to give our children a better life than we had. To make the planet a better place than when we found it - or at least to leave it in approximately the same state of health as when we found it.

I think the same way about work. I'm no better than anyone else and vice versa. Our skills and talents complement each other and we use that to get the job done.

In the grand scheme of things, this is how humans are built. We are not built for superiority. We are built to complement each other. This is how we survive as a species.

So when I see Donald Trump (and many others) making racist statements I see a man who is making a vast assumption. To think that somehow, another race is inferior to one's own race, is to be unwilling to notice one's dependence on that other race for their inferior position in life.

I know, that probably doesn't read well, so let me see if I can explain. A sizable fraction of the white population in the United States has been thinking, claiming and acting as if they are superior to other races, particularly African Americans. In order to maintain this superiority, these white supremacists have erected laws, mores and customs to ensure that they remain in a superior position.

They have subjected African Americans to life without education, or if they are going to get an education, it will be in a public school with less funding than schools that might service the children of white supremacists. These same white supremacists have subjected African Americans to discrimination in the market by systematically denying African Americans access to jobs that they may be qualified for, but are given to other whites on the basis of color first, then abilities. These same white supremacists have devised a schools to prison pipeline to ensure that blacks represent a majority in prisons, even though they are a minority in the general population. And while these blacks are in prison, they are performing what is essentially free labor for businesses owned by people with white skin.

This game of systematic disadvantage for others has been in process for centuries. It is passed down from generation to generation with zero empirical evidence to support any contention of superiority.

But this game of superiority rests on a logical fallacy. You cannot claim superiority while at the same time, erecting barriers to prevent people of color from proving themselves equal. You cannot claim superiority while being dependent upon the exclusion or slavery of the person you deem to be inferior. You cannot claim superiority to another person if you depend on that person to perform work for you or your cohorts, for less than fair market value. You cannot claim superiority due to a religious belief, or even something your daddy told you when you were a kid if there is no evidence to support your contention.

Any perception of superiority by one person over another person or group of persons is at best, an illusion. A humble man recognizes his dependence upon the whole of the world. A deeply flawed man assumes that his wealth derives from his superiority over everyone else. This is because he cannot see his dependence upon others as a weakness. For if he does, he will have to admit that from everyone else, he has accrued wealth without work. He may have to acknowledge that he may have deceived everyone else into believe that his work is worth more than another without adequate scrutiny to be sure.

There is simply no superior human being. We are all dependent in some way upon each other. Once we admit that, life gets much easier. We don't have to be so hard on "the others" because we recognize that holding another man down doesn't improve the lot of anyone.

The myth of superiority has led those who believe they are superior to others to go to great lengths to prove it. They have erected barriers to the market for those they see as inferior people, but do not wish to talk about those barriers. They have passed laws for their own benefit, but that put the so-called inferior people at a disadvantage. They have erected a system of communication to perpetuate this myth. We call it "Mainstream Media".

There is no way to claim superiority over anyone without first taking an inventory of all the ways we are dependent upon each other. To find true peace, we all must find out for ourselves, how we can best complement the skills, experienced and abilities that others around have to offer. Then we must act on that information to be of service to others and to make their lives better.

True peace comes from making the lives of others better, without worrying about your own. That is how we survive as a species, and that is probably the only way we're going to continue as a species. I just can't think of a better way to live.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Robots won't make CEOs more productive

Over the span of Bernie Sanders campaign, there has been an interesting response to his call for a $15 minimum wage. Of course, Sanders isn't the only one to call for such an increase and some cities are actively working on raising their local minimum wage to $15. The response from conservatives has been this:


Apparently, some people think that raising the minimum wage would only accelerate the pace of automation in the fast food industry. Someone seems to be forgetting that if robots replace people, there won't be any customers to buy what you're selling. Who's forgetting that? I think that might be the CEOs and their complement of friends in their respective boards of directors.

Yet few will counter with the problem of CEO pay that is not directly connected to CEO productivity. You could say that CEO pay has become unhinged. Economist Dean Baker notes in his book, "The End of Loser Liberalism", that somewhere around the late 1970s, a policy decision was made to disconnect wages from productivity. This is reflected by a longstanding reluctance on the part of Congress to raise the Federal Minimum Wage. 

So while some people bemoan the possibility that fast food workers will be out of a job if we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, few have taken any notice that the real reason for automation might be to help finance out of control executive compensation. Few would guess that CEO compensation is a matter between friends. But it is.

Economists have rightly noted that incomes in the top 1% have gone up much faster than for the rest of the country. While the top 1% saw their incomes double since 1979, the rest of us saw stagnant or falling incomes, despite productivity gains. Economist Dean Baker has put together a nice chart to show how productivity has increased over the last 30 years relative to the previous 30 years.



What we see is that since wages have been decoupled from productivity, productivity has gone down. This isn't a small decline, it's actually very significant. Now lets look at executive compensation during the same periods:


You can find the original chart here, at the Economic Policy Institute's Website.

What do we see? We see that as executive compensation went astronomical, productivity actually went down. Way down. When productivity goes down, things get expensive. Unless of course, your team of MBAs figure out a way to make things you sell in China, Vietnam and Thailand. One might think that CEO's are managers and that when the productivity of the people they manage goes down, so does their compensation, right? Well, not in America. We're different.

I don't know about you, but I'm more worried about CEOs than robots when it comes to my job. Their income isn't based on their productivity. It's based on their ability to influence public policy

Study after study has shown that low voter turnout correlates with inequality. The only way to change public policy is to get engaged. Read. Write. Vote.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It's time to include closed primaries and caucuses as forms of voter suppression

Here are the poll results for Idaho, Utah and Arizona:

State:                         Clinton                       Sanders

Arizona                        57%                            39%   (could change with pending provisional ballots)

Idaho                            21%                            78%

Utah                             19%                            79%


As some of you may know, Arizona is a Red State that has implemented voter suppression laws. The primary in Arizona seems like a good example of what voter suppression looks like. Now to be fair, Sanders won in Kansas, another state with voter suppression laws. But Kansas didn't get in the news the same way Arizona did.

Most of the trouble is in Maricopa County, the biggest county in Arizona and home to Phoenix. USUncut has documented 5 examples of voter suppression in that state. The most glaring example is how the state cut funding for polling stations. While every other county had one polling station per 2500 people, Maricopa had one polling station for every 25,000 people. The Sanders campaign and the DNC are investigating this as there is potential for additional damage come November.

In addition to the lack of polling stations, many people were denied the right to vote in Arizona because they were not identified in voter registration records as Democrats. That's because Arizona has a closed primary election. Note here that Republicans did not report the same problems.

Many people waited more than 4 hours in line only to find that they were not registered as a Democrat. Polling places handed out provisional ballots to be cast for those who were denied and complain about it, but it is not clear if these votes will count. Apparently, even lifelong Democrats were told they were not eligible to vote. From another article covering the same event, by USUncut:
“We’ve been getting calls all day from lifelong Democrats who have been registered as independents,” Enrique Gutierrez, communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party, told US Uncut. “One woman even said she’d been registered as a Libertarian.”
Perhaps now is the time to expand what we consider as voter suppression: the closed primary and caucus. In closed primaries and caucuses, the independent voter is left out. Independents now make up more than 45% of the US electorate and are a bigger demographic than either major party alone. You know, it's a sad state of affairs when 45% of eligible voters believe that the two major parties do not represent their interests.

While researching this article, I came upon this meme:


The reason Sanders won by such overwhelming margins in Utah and Idaho is because the Democrats allowed open primaries in those states. They didn't require people to exchange party registration for a vote. The Democratic Party of Utah clearly shows a sense of pride on their website in allowing any registered voter, regardless of affiliation, to vote in their open caucus.

The Independent Voter Project has amassed a wealth of information regarding open primaries and why the two dominant parties may want to keep them closed. Voter turnout in recent elections have been at all time lows, and when voter turnout is low, elections become less competitive. Requiring open primaries in all states for all elections, regardless of who funds the election, is the best way to keep elections competitive.

Closed primaries and caucuses are a form of voter suppression. Once we accept that fact, its easier to move on and fix it by opening all primary elections. it's time for independent voters to reclaim their right of nomination.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Democratic elite are learning a lesson from Einstein and independent voters

The Democratic Party is experiencing something that they haven't quite seen before, the rise of a powerful insurgent candidate that has garnered an enormous base of support. Bernie Sanders is considered an outsider to the Democratic elite and has been relatively independent from the Democratic Party. (I'd write about the Republicans with their Trump candidate, but they're not learning the lesson.)

Bernie Sanders is the insurgency on the left - the far left. He's an independent Senator from Vermont that decided now is a good time to run as a Democrat. He understands that many states have closed primaries and that he would not be able to survive an election without becoming a Democrat to run. Yet he is showing the Democrats that he has the support to win.

He's filling stadiums to capacity at his rallies, but you won't see that on the news. He's been raising more money than Hilary Clinton for two months. As the race for the White House moves beyond "the firewall" in the South, the demographics change and they're not looking so great for Clinton. Still, the press would have us believe that she's a shoe-in.

Einstein is often credited with the following definition: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Many voters are seeing this in Clinton. They see NAFTA, a hallmark of the Bill Clinton administration, and other free trade agreements that took their jobs. They see her "We'll take what we can get from the Republicans" legislative strategy being passed on us as leadership. They see her zeal for regime change. They see Clinton taking us down roads we've already seen, all at the behest of her very well financed benefactors. Many of the people who see these problems with Clinton are independent voters.

Einstein also said that, "Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them." Where Sanders has expressed rather original thinking on the problems of social welfare, foreign policy and economics, Clinton seeks the high road by saying we'll build on what we have. Sometimes she says what he says. Yet, she'd rather not have another debate about the work that Obama has already done. She is implying that Sanders would like to start over, something he has never said he wanted to do.

We know that Sanders is an independent candidate at heart. But we also know that he's been saying the same thing over and over again for more than 30 years, with few of the very powerful in the Democratic Party willing to listen to him. Already, there is a chorus of Democratic Senators giving a gentle suggestion that he step aside and let Clinton take it from here.

But what the Democrats and the Republicans are unwilling to discuss is that independent voters make up a 45% majority in this country. They are now greater than either major party alone, and they are not easily swayed by the usual rhetoric from the old guard. We've tried Trickle Down Economics and we've found ourselves in a bubble economy where every bubble eventually bursts. We've tried regime change and found ourselves mired in war after war. We have continued to use oil, gas and coal, only to see the oceans rising and our shorelines receding.

Independent voters think from outside the Democratic Party, but they are willing to vote for a Democrat if he (or she) is willing to think with some independence. Sanders represents that candidate. Voters want someone new, who is not so beholden to the money. Ironically, there is a fair number of voters willing to switch to Trump if Hilary wins the nomination. They see some parity between Sanders and Trump in their policy views, something different that establishment politicians are not offering.

30% of Sanders supporters say they will not vote for Clinton. 45% of the country is self-identified as independent. Clinton has done most of the winning up to this point. She has the popular vote so far. But there are some who say that as the votes move west, the road gets rougher for Clinton. Some are reminding us of how Clinton conceded the nomination to Obama in June of 2008. These are the same people who refuse to go quietly.

Why should Sanders quit when he's filling stadiums and raising more money than his rival? Because Clinton very much feels entitled to be president, and her vast, deep network of political allies feel powerless to stop Sanders. They've ignored him in the press, but the internet goes around them like damage. They would rather show us an empty stage at a Trump event than to show us Sanders talking to a stadium filled to capacity in Seattle. This is how the press betrays the country they are supposed to serve. But I guess that what we can expect when 90% of major media is owned by 6 parent companies. The free help provided by politicians and the major media belie the strength of the Clinton candidacy.

The establishment media and politicians are expecting us to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. She just might win the nomination, but the polls say that she's not going to win the independent votes. It well may be that the independent voters have become the teacher for the Democratic Party. Hopefully, the Democrats are listening.

Monday, March 21, 2016

If Sanders is elected, the revolving door will be replaced by a political revolution

Take a walk with me to consider what a Sanders cabinet might look like. I know, he hasn't won the nomination or the election yet. But most of the polls going forward show Sanders seeing strong support outside of the South, and have already accounted for Clinton's so-called "Southern Firewall". That firewall was about as effective at stopping Sanders as walls of fire have been at stopping Evil Knievel. Sanders still has a very chance of securing the delegates needed for the nomination.

When Sanders chooses his nominees, are they going to be people that could pass a confirmation in the Senate? Depends on what the Senate will look like if Sanders wins. If Sanders wins, the odds are very good that the Senate will look different than it does today (88% of the seats in Congress are up for election and the Senate has a few seats in the air, too). If Congress swings his way, he'd be more likely to appoint people who were not looking for a job in the industries they will regulate if confirmed. His cabinet might actually be interested in regulated the industries they oversee.

Imagine a Treasury department that is run by someone who really wants to regulate. Now, imagine a Justice Department that would actually pursue prosecution of bankers responsible for the collapse of the housing bubble. What would life be like if the head of the Department of Agriculture thought it would be better to level the playing field for organically grown food?

If there is anything more terrifying to the 1% about Bernie Sanders, it is the prospect of a federal government actually doing the people's bidding. Imagine this from the perspective of people who are used to buying government offices for their own benefit. What are they supposed to make of a man that doesn't take corporate money? They might find themselves on the business end of an agency that actually wants to regulate rather than just take money or delayed offers of employment to look the other way. Let's consider a few possibilities then, shall we?

Bill Clinton, George Bush and President Obama all nominated people very close to Wall Street to run the Treasury. Hilary Clinton seems to be making plans to nominate a hedge fund manager as Secretary of the Treasury. In contrast, Sanders is an unknown quantity since he's taken no money from Wall Street. He's very like to nominate someone who would be willing to make referrals to the Department of Justice for prosecution. You know, like for robo-signing foreclosures, lying about the value of mortgage backed securities and for buying influence in the Treasury.

Barack Obama has stacked the FDA with shills from Monsanto and other biotechnology companies. Hilary Clinton has close ties to Monsanto, too. With even brighter contrast, Bernie Sanders represents the state of Vermont, a state that has passed a law requiring genetically modified food to be labeled in Vermont with the support of Bernie Sanders. Do you think Sanders will nominate a C-class executive from Monsanto, DuPont or ADM to head the FDA? I doubt it. He's going to find someone who actually wants to regulate the industry.

Then there is the Just-Us Department. Wall Street (along with a few bad citizens) have found their way into a few offices there under Bush, Obama and Bill Clinton's administration. They have pretty much shut down any investigation into the collapse of the housing bubble, and they're hoping Clinton is elected to finally bury any further investigations.

Sanders would rename the agency as the "Department of Justice", you know, for the sake of tradition. And since he's not taking any corporate money, he has no obligation to nominate someone who is looking for a job in Wall Street or in some multinational firm selling tobacco to teenagers in Asia. Sanders might even nominate someone with the chutzpah to actually prosecute white collar crime and make it stick.

"But Congress will never confirm a nomination from Sanders", you say? Sanders is well known for his ability to create bi-partisan coalitions to get amendments passed. He isn't called "The Amendment King" for nothing. He could very well find the votes he needs to get his nominees confirmed. If there is any roadblocking, he knows Congress well enough to show how the money is influencing their votes.

He is also aware that liberals aren't the only political faction that would love to do to our banks what Iceland did to theirs. In case you missed the news about Iceland the way the mainstream media did, there is an interesting story to read if you find the time. Instead of saving the banks, the government of Iceland let the banks fail, prosecuted the looters and then put them in prison. Now they're enjoying a well-deserved recovery. What other faction would love to do that? 

The Tea Party. Now most of you may be thinking that the Tea Party is nothing but a bunch of conservative wackos. Well, there are more than a few in the Tea Party, no doubt. But if you were reading the news carefully during the Occupy Wall Street protests, you might have noticed that the Tea Party was none too happy about the bailouts, too.

There is a significant faction in Congress that self-identifies as "Tea Party". They have a constituency that isn't just about cutting social security. They want to to put the bankers in jail, too. Sanders as president is so familiar with Congress that he'd be in a perfect position to out the Tea Party members of Congress that would not like to see a few hedge fund managers and banking executives in orange suits. 

Any Tea Party member who refuses to confirm a nominee for the Treasury or Justice Department, a nominee that is more than willing to prosecute and put someone behind bars, is going to have to explain that to their constituents back home. That could get a might bit discomforting.

This is one of the reasons why being an independent matters so much. An independent can be "bi-partisan" and succeed in meeting his objectives where partisans would fail. An independent can show the nation where there is common ground without losing face, while at the same time undermining his detractors. You just can't get that from anyone in the GOP clown car (which is a lot less crowded now) or from Hilary Clinton.

Sanders doesn't take corporate money. That means he doesn't have to worry about biting the hand that feeds him, unless that hand belongs to the people. You can dislike him for being a "Democratic Socialist", but at least you will know what motivates him and why. If you know that about Sanders, you know a lot more about him than any of his opponents in this race. That is probably the most terrifying thing about Sanders of all - to the 1%. I mean, the 0.05% that financed the bulk of the SuperPACs for this election.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Independent voters need open primaries in every state

I am an independent voter. I have in the past registered as a Democrat, Republican and even Libertarian, thinking that I needed to register as such to vote in primary elections. As good fortune prevails, the Democrats have open primaries here in Utah. They actually just recently changed to a caucus system for both parties for determining presidential preference, but they will still have another primary election in June. So I can now turn back to a registered independent voter if I want to.

I don't subscribe to every belief of every party. To a varying extent, I find policy positions that I agree with in each party (and I include more than just the two dominant parties here). But I lean much more towards liberal than conservative. I take what works for me and I leave the rest. There isn't much that I agree with in the Republican party, but I suspect that I might some policy position they have that I agree with if I look hard enough. I just happen to agree with the Democrats more.

Going further down the list in terms of party membership, I like the Green Party, and the Pirate Party. There are even a few policy positions I like from the Libertarian Party, but I'm not beholden to any of them. I'm an independent voter.

I believe that primary elections, being taxpayer funded, should be open to any and all. In fact, I don't think that election financing is the deciding factor as to whether a primary election should be open or not. Primaries should be open because they determine who gets to run for public office. Anyone should be able to vote in a primary election, not just a registered Democrat or Republican. For a caucus, anyone should be able to vote in the Democratic or Republican caucus as they choose.

When I was a Libertarian, the dominance of the two party system we have here was a major source of consternation among my peers. The two dominant parties have forced most of us to trade our right to vote for membership in one of the two major parties. But they have done more than that. They have hijacked the right of nomination. When I was a Libertarian, I was often met with the suggestion that I needed to work within the system. "The Libertarians will never win. Why not just work through one of the two major parties instead?"

The Independent Voter Project has documented how the dominant parties have not only stolen the right of nomination, they have disenfranchise millions of American voters. They estimate that 45% of Americans are independent voters. Those voters hold no allegiance to any party because they find that no single political party represents their interests. They prefer to vote for the candidate rather than the party.

Senator Bernie Sanders has represented Vermont in the US Congress for decades as an independent. I believe that his success as a legislator rests on his status as an independent member of Congress. There is another phrase we can use to substitute for for the word independent that the two dominant parties do not want to hear: "non-partisan". Bernie Sanders is known as the Amendment King in Congress precisely because he's independent.

Sanders has been roundly criticized and accused of hijacking the Democratic Party contest for nomination as candidate for president. Critics say that he's not supporting or helping other Democrats and that he shouldn't get any support from the DNC since he appears to be a Democrat in name only.

Sanders is doing exactly what people have been telling the Libertarians to do. He's working with the system we have to get elected as president. The system, by design, disenfranchises independent voters in closed primaries. The only way that Sanders has any hope of reaching registered Democrats and independent voters is by running as a Democrat. Anyone who criticizes Sanders for his actions is not willing to discuss the disenfranchisement of the independent voter and does not have clean hands.

19 of 50 states have open primaries and caucuses. The rest of the states have, in a not so subtle way, told independent voters to register as Democrat or Republican or they can't vote in the primaries. Primary voting is the exercise of the right of nomination. The right of nomination is just as important as the right to vote in the general election.

A review of The Independent Voter project reveals some interesting statistics:

  • 45% of American voters are self-identified as "independent"
  • Typical voter turnout for a primary election is less than 5% to represent the entire state
  • Voter turnout is at all time lows
So when someone talks about "political capital" from the previous election, they are talking as someone who was elected to office by a minority of voters. The partisan politics of closed primaries for private parties financed by public tax dollars has been a major contributing factor to the decline in voter participation. This is by design. The antidote to this electoral poison is to give the independent voter a voice in all elections, not just the general election.

You shouldn't have to register with a political party in order to exercise the right of nomination. Especially if you think that the two major parties do not represent your interests.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How candidates finance their campaigns determines my level of trust in them

The headlines say it all. "Hilary slams door on Bernie" and "The Democratic primary is going to be a long, tough slog. And that’s just fine." The press seems to be telling us that Hilary is winning by design. The press is breathless in their urgency to declare Clinton the winner. Really, they just want Sanders to quit already.

I watched both Hilary and Sanders give their speeches after the elections. Hilary thinks she's already bagged the election. Exuding confidence from the results of March 15th, Clinton assured us that she would work hard to break down the barriers for everyone. She would work hard to ensure that no student emerges from college buried in debt. She assured us that every woman would finally see equal pay for equal work. All to rousing applause.

Sanders did what we can expect him to do. He talked for an hour on all of the same issues he's been talking about for 30 years. The rigged economy, health care costs and a corrupt campaign finance system. Anyone who has watched Sanders for even a few months knows what to expect from Sanders in a post election speech.

While the press was telling us to suck it up and vote for Clinton to keep Trump out of the White House, Sanders supporters were digging up and presenting evidence in social media to show that over the long haul to the nomination, Clinton is not the inevitable nominee. The more I watched her speech, the more I could not help but notice parallels in her language and posture to the leaders running the show in the movie, "The Hunger Games" and the sequels. It's all too scripted for Hilary.

Here we have a woman who is under investigation by the FBI. She's tried 2 times to win the White House and failed. She's running on a campaign of equality and justice for all, when her history clearly suggests otherwise. But it's more than just her history. 

In her speech, she tells us that her campaign has received more than 950,000 individual donations of less than $100. But what she won't talk about in her speeches is the haul she has taken from special interests. $13 million from pharmaceuticals says there will be no meaningful health care reform under her watch. $15 million from Wall Street says that there will be no meaningful economic reform. You should see who is lining up to be Secretary of Treasury if she's elected. Wall Street just doesn't want to let go of the Treasury.

As of January, Sanders has received more than 3 million donations averaging about $27 each. He is beholden to no special interests. And he's raising record sums of money in a grass roots effort to win the White House. He's even surpassed the record set by Obama in 2008 before Obama went on to defeat Clinton.

I can listen to Hilary and I can see what appears to be genuine body language and words that suggest sincerity. But I look at the money behind her and how she played the State Department, and I just find it hard to believe her, to trust her.

I know where Sanders gets his money. I don't have to worry that he's beholden to some SuperPAC that has an ulterior motive. I believe in him because the people who give to him are not expecting a personal favor. I believe in him because he's the only candidate that has stated without equivocation on live national TV in a debate, no less, that nothing is going to change until we change the corrupt campaign finance system we have now.

Where the candidates get their money defines their motives and interests. Take a look at both of them and the difference is easy to see. One is taking money from very wealthy, entrenched interests. The other is not. Which one would you choose to represent you? 

Monday, March 14, 2016

How the Windows Tax supports the Clinton campaign

Microsoft is in the news, but just barely with their patent aggression against Linux. They have signed yet another pair of patent deals shrouded in non-disclosure agreements to prevent people from really understanding what the cost of the patent system means to them.

Microsoft is the company that makes Windows the computer operating system everyone knows about. 90% of the desktop market uses Windows. You use it, I use it. I use it at work but I don't use it at home - we only run Linux in this house. Most governments, businesses and pretty much everybody else has to use Windows. Microsoft enjoys a monopoly in the personal computing business that many entrepreneurs dream of, but few will ever realize.

Microsoft claims to be an innovator, yet, they've copied many ideas from Apple, Unix and Linux. They've even copied desktop ideas from the Gnome Project. At the same time, they are using patents they've acquired based on other people's hard work and innovation and they are using their patents to impose a tax on Linux.

Despite widespread use, few people know about Linux. That is because Linux doesn't really have a marketing presence in personal computing. At least not like Windows has. Microsoft is a master at marketing their product. Everyone in the developed world knows what Windows is and what to use it for. Most assume that they use Windows because that is how the free market works. But nothing could be further from the truth.

How do you use Linux? You might not even know if you use Linux. But most people use Linux every day. Linux runs the web. The majority of web servers run Linux. That WiFi router in your house? It uses Linux, too. If you use an Android phone or tablet, you're using Linux. More than a million Android phones are activated every day. No matter where you turn, from your smart watch to the fastest computers in the world, to Google, you're using Linux. IBM and Google have both converted their fleet of desktop computers to Linux. They don't want to pay the Windows tax.

By the way, if you want a Linux desktop, you can get one. You can check out System76 and get a computer built for use with Linux. Or you can buy a Google Chromebook. It runs Linux, but the operating system runs in the cloud. All applications connect to Google, but you'll be running Linux. And if you want, Google offers tools to help you back up the image on the Chromebook, and then you can install Ubuntu Linux or Fedora Linux, if you want to. Google doesn't really care what you use, as long as you want to us Google Search.

In contrast, Microsoft wants you to use Windows and to use Bing for search. And they will use every law they can find to get you to do it, too. That's why Microsoft loves patents.

Now, even with a worldwide de facto monopoly on personal computing, Microsoft is attempting to forestall the rise of a competitor in the desktop, smart phone and tablet spaces, Linux. Linux is a free operating system. Free to use, free to copy and free to give to anyone you want to give it to. You are even free to modify the source code as long as you share the code when you distribute it. This is how Linux distributions like Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora work. They share their ideas freely and allow others to use them. You can even download DVD images that let you test the operating system on your computer to see if it will run there. This is what allows Linux to innovate around Microsoft, at a rate much faster than Microsoft can keep up with.

How is Microsoft attempting to hinder Linux? Patents. Microsoft is widely acknowledged to have accumulated one of the largest collection of patents on software in the world. They are using those patents to go after every Android phone maker, every desktop manufacturer and any distribution maker that tries to sell hardware with Linux on it. Like Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux.

Microsoft is claiming intellectual property they own to be in Linux. Yet, they don't make Linux. Microsoft is attempting an enormous gambit - to own Linux so that we have no other choice but to use Windows or pay a tax to Microsoft when we use Linux.

This is part of establishment politics. This Windows Tax is something that most politicians are not willing to discuss. Most people don't see it as a tax because it's voluntary. You can use a computer or you don't have to. It's up to you. But to participate in civic life and business these days, you need a computer. And you need an operating system to run it. If Microsoft manages to impose a tax on Linux, then there is no escape from paying Microsoft something, even if you don't want to pay them for a free operating system.

Patents impose huge costs upon consumers. For example, Microsoft makes more than $1 billion a year from patent royalties on Android. This increases the cost of the phone we want to buy and provides no clear benefit to the public. Why should Microsoft reap huge financial benefits from something they don't own or build? Because that is their business model.

Who supports this sort of behavior? Let's follow the money. Microsoft has been somewhat behind the scenes as one of the top donors to the Clinton Foundation. They made their donation to the foundation while Hilary Clinton was Secretary of State. They have no doubt noticed that countries that made contributions to the Clinton Foundation got arms deals while Hilary was Secretary of State. So it would seem that Microsoft is expecting support through trade agreements like the TPP and the TTIP in return for their generous donations.

Microsoft has also worked to help Hilary win the vote in Iowa. They have donated computing services to assure an accurate count of the vote. Nevermind that most voting machines already use Windows.

So when you go to the polls, remember that when Hilary Clinton accepts money from Microsoft, either through her foundation or directly to her campaign, you know what the expectation is. That expectation is to help Microsoft collect the Windows tax on all things running Linux.

Fortunately, we have an alternative. We can vote for Bernie Sanders instead. He takes no corporate money and only accepts small contributions from anyone. He knows that corporations are not people. As someone who has taken no money from Microsoft, I am confident that Sanders will not try perpetuate the Windows tax.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hypocrisy gets real for Hilary Clinton in Florida debate

I took my time watching the Democratic Debate hosted by Univision on Wednesday night. I couldn't watch it live, so I watched it on YouTube (watch the video here).

They asked questions of Clinton that no one in any debate has asked so far. To be fair, they brought one or two questions out of history for Sanders, too. They made up questions on the fly. Compared to American mainstream media, there weren't many softball questions for the candidates in this debate.

The moderators mostly spoke in Spanish as would be expected for a Hispanic audience, but they asked their questions in English. The debate was held in Miami, Florida two days before this post. I just want to highlight 3 very interesting incidents from the debate in this post and encourage you to watch the debate, too. I will tell you right now that most of this post is about Clinton since Sanders did what I would expect him to do: link the oligarchy America has become to establishment politics.

First, there was the question of indictment. Moderator Jorge Ramos flat out asked Hilary if she would drop out of the race if she was indicted. She was not amused. But this is a question that no other moderator in any other debate has posed (as far as I know). Hilary did not want to lend any legitimacy to the question and refused to even answer it. This to me, is an arrogant reaction, as if she's sure she won't be indicted. Maybe she knows that the investigation has already been scuttled or will be delayed long enough for her to proceed to the nomination. If so, that would be news to the rest of us.

Paired with the question of indictment, Ramos asked Clinton who gave her permission to run her own email server for official government business. Hilary said that people in a previous administration have done the same thing. Oh, you mean like the Bush Administration? Hilary really didn't think that she needed permission from anyone to run her own email server to pass communications in her capacity as Secretary of State. Her point is that since people in the Bush administration had done the same thing, it's okay for her to do it, too. In this debate, isn't she trying to distinguish herself from the Republicans? At all? Who cares about laws and regulations, right?

Then there was an exchange regarding her support for interventionism in Latin America, a region the audience is deeply sympathetic to as a place of origin. Common Dreams and The Intercept both have very thought-provoking analyses of the exchange here, but suffice it to say, that while Clinton was nitpicking Sanders' record on his votes concerning Latin America, Sanders blasted Clinton for her support of regime change there. Considering Clinton's support of a few select despots around the world, it's hard to see her taking the high road here.

The final incident I want to note is the closing remarks. At the end of Clinton's remarks she got some rousing applause. She is followed by Sanders and at the end of his closing remarks, he got a standing ovation by a large majority of the room. But that's not the biggest surprise. The biggest surprise was watching Clinton laugh nervously as she looked on.

To me, that nervous laughter captures the essence of who Hilary Clinton has become: a candidate attempting to co-opt the support of a political revolution, with very little success. Considering the crowds that Sanders has been drawing in Florida, nervous laughter is probably all she can muster in Florida.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A thought experiment about Trump: When the jackass becomes the joker for the GOP

There are two interesting side shows developing in the GOP primary contest. First, there is Bret Baier saying that D.C. Republican elites are talking about supporting Hilary to stop Trump. There is a palpable sense of panic among GOP elite that Trump could actually secure the nomination. This is the best they can do in response to Trump after he exposed the GOP base as a racist, misogynistic, war-happy and xenophobic culture.

Then there is a poll in Michigan revealing that 9% of GOP voters will vote for Hilary to stop Trump from winning. Trump is after all, inspiring record turnouts for those who may want to vote for Trump. But there are just not enough Trump opponents to defeat him. There are clear signs within the Grand Ol' Party of a sense of resignation that Trump is going to win the nomination. Note also that there is a real concern that Democrat turnout has been lower, but so far, most of what we've seen is in Red States. Perhaps that is the impact of stricter voter ID laws passed by conservative legislatures in recent years.

These two incidents seem to be part of an unrelenting trend that shows how truly awful it is for many in the GOP to have Trump leading the delegate count. They wish dearly for him to go away, quietly. The fact that anyone at all would think of voting for Hilary over Trump as a member of the GOP is truly an awe-inspiring phenomenon to watch. Given the almost visceral animosity that many in the GOP have for Clinton, any suggestion of voting for Clinton is clearly an act of desperation.

Some are declaring Trump to be just desserts for a party that has pandered to the hard right, and the racists in their fold. The GOP has created an environment that is ripe for a man like Trump to run for president. They have tried to be covert about it, but Trump has blown their cover to smithereens.

Deep in the subtext of political discourse, I see something else that few have talked about. Mind you, that the following is almost pure speculation, but I think it's plausible. I've been thinking about it for some time now and have been hedging on whether this idea may be true or not. I will say it right now, so that you don't even have to take me seriously when I say that Trump is running as a foil to ensure that Hilary wins the presidency.

There. I said it.

Go back now, to the wedding that Bill and Hilary Clinton attended for Trump. Here's the article from Politifact establishing that they really did attend Trump's wedding in 2005. And here's the picture:


Notice the body language. They are physically close and Bill Clinton has his hand on Trump's shoulder. That is not an act of deference to a billionaire. They really are friends in that picture. At least they appear to be, for if that is a lie, they did a great acting job.

I'm not the only one going down this path. Check out this article at the very conservative Washington Times. There you can read a slow walk down the path to seeing Donald Trump as a Clinton plant in the GOP. Bombastic, surreal and supremely alienating to key demographics like Latinos and African Americans, Trump seems to be doing a fantastic job of humiliating the establishment GOP. I honestly can't think of anyone better suited to do this job. That same article also notes that sometimes, Donald sounds more like a liberal and mentions that Donald Trump has made significant contributions to Democrats, too.

For her part, Hilary Clinton denies that she was ever friends with Trump. But she seems careful on her wording and does not mention her husband Bill. She's a lawyer, so her wording is very circumspect. Not only have Bill Clinton and Trump been friends, Trump has made generous donations to the Clinton Foundation and to Hilary's campaign. And it turns out that Bill Clinton made the suggestion to Trump to run for president. That story appears to be confirmed by this article in the Washington Post. Why on earth would he ever do that?

So how could this actually play out? The GOP convention is July 18-21 this year. The Democratic convention is July 25-28th. If Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination, he could play nice until the Democrats wrap up their nomination. If Clinton wins, Trump could set his campaign on fire again just as he has done before and find a way to hand the election to Clinton. 

If Sanders clinches the nomination, Trump could continue his campaign as before, and they could both run a hard campaign for the independent voters. Independent voters are now the largest voting block, bigger than either major parties. Trump and Sanders both poll very well with independents compared to their establishment counterparts. This is a rather sore point for Hilary Clinton as she is not polling well with independents compared to Sanders. The Bitchy Pundit notes with alacrity that Clinton fares better in closed primaries than with open primaries. That is where the independents come in and that is how Sanders is likely to win the nomination.

Sanders has been polling rather decisively well against Trump compared to Clinton. The RealClearPolitics poll average shows Sanders v Trump +10%, compared to Clinton at +6%.

Considering the way that Trump has embarrassed the GOP establishment, it is hardly a stretch to see him find a way to hand the election to Clinton to finish the job - if he wanted to.

That is the end of my thought experiment. I'm not saying Trump will actually hand the election to Clinton. I'm simply offering the suggestion that he might.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

In this Democratic primary, H is for (sports) Handicapping

Hilary Clinton is probably the most handicapped candidate for president this election cycle. Well, Trump is also handicapped, and probably more so, but in an entirely different sense of the term. When I say "handicapped" in this context I mean something similar to equalizing the chances of winning in sports:
Handicapping, in sport and games, is the practice of assigning advantage through scoring compensation or other advantage given to different contestants to equalize the chances of winning. The word also applies to the various methods by which the advantage is calculated.
The above text comes from Wikipedia in an entry to describe the practice of handicapping in sports. In this article, I wish to draw an analogy of the same concept but in the context of the political contest between Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton.

First, lets look at this contest in the larger context. Hilary Clinton had an enormous advantage to start. She is highly regarded for her name recognition. Most voters in America knew who she was before she announced her intention to run for president this election cycle. She is the wife of former president Bill Clinton, has helped to run the Clinton Foundation for 40 odd years, served as senator for New York and as Secretary of State under president Barack Obama. To sum it up, she has an ideal position to run for the highest office in the land.

When Sanders entered the race, he was polling at about 3% and had very little national name recognition. He has served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, represented Vermont as a member of the House and the Senate in the United States Congress and has won 14 elections in all. He has held some form of elective office for more than 30 years.

And yet, Hilary has been handicapped by more than a few powerful and influential entities to improve her odds of winning while Sanders received virtually no institutional assistance in his bid for president. Now let's look at the ways Hilary has been handicapped, and what I mean by that is, let's look at the advantages given to her above and beyond what she had when she entered the race.

1. The debate schedule. According to Wikipedia, the Democratic National Committee announced on May 5, 2015 that there would only be 6 debates during the primary season. This is contrast to the 26 debates and forums for the 2008 primary season and it is a huge cut for which the DNC was roundly criticized. The move was widely seen as effort by the DNC to create an advantage for Hilary Clinton.

Not only did the DNC cut the number of debates, the remaining debates were scheduled on days when viewership would be unusually low. Opponents to Hilary Clinton criticized the debate schedule for their timing around holidays and weekends, periods that are ordinarily associated with low ratings. In addition to the short schedule and terrible timing, the DNC restricted candidates from accepting invitations to other debates not sanctioned by the DNC. Any candidate that appeared in an unsanctioned debate would not be invited to any future DNC sanctioned debates.

It was only after intense pressure from outside the DNC that party leadership finally relented and added 4 more debates to the schedule.

2. Free airtime and ink. Hilary Clinton has received far more free air time and ink than Bernie Sanders. In fact, of all the candidates, Sanders seemed at the outset to be almost completely ignored by major media. To a large extent, he still is. If anyone were looking for a liberal media bias, it isn't apparent in coverage of this election.

A common meme promoted and shared by Bernie Sanders supporters would be a picture of a stadium filled to capacity with the caption: "The revolution will not be televised." This is a reference to what is perceived to be a very well orchestrated blackout of the Sanders campaign. While Clinton and Trump are treated to "all you can eat" air time in national news television, Sanders barely gets a mention.

It might be easy to dismiss this perception as paranoia, but there is actually a large body of data to support the contention of a media blackout of the Sanders campaign. Decisiondata.org has done a rather thorough job of reviewing the available data in the text from closed captioned television shows. By analyzing the television coverage of this race for media mentions of candidate names they can determine who is getting the most mentions on TV. But that is just the start.

Decisiondata.org analyzed the correspondence between media mentions and searches on Google. Here are some of the numbers as raw data:

Candidate                               Google Searches                              Mainstream Press Mentions
                                               (Jun-Present)                                    (Jun-Present)

Clinton                                         9,235,231                                            87,737
Sanders                                     21,536,032                                           29,525

To put the numbers differently, Hilary Clinton is getting 10 times the media mentions per Google search that Sanders is getting. Even Trump is getting 5 times the media mentions per Google search than Sanders is getting. Hilary tops them all.

The major media have researchers who can crunch these numbers and come up with the same results. If the major media is looking to generate ratings, they could use this analysis to air stories that correspond to the interest that people are showing by their searches on Google. Better ratings means more revenue. Apparently, higher ratings aren't that important this election cycle.

3. The myth of inevitability propounded by the media. Story after story I see in the major media talks about the early victories of Clinton in the primaries as if that's it. Sanders might as well pack it in and go home. They point to the delegate count and say, "Look, Clinton has 1121 delegates and Sanders only has 479 (as of tonight). Maybe he should call it quits."

But those numbers stand only if you include the superdelegates, you know, the most undemocratic feature of the Democratic Party. Hilary has 458 pledged superdelegates and Sanders has only 22. The superdelegates don't really count until they actually vote at the convention in July anyway. Take out the superdelegates and the path to the nomination is not so daunting. The total delegates won in the primaries by Clinton and Sanders (as of tonight) are 651 and 454, respectively. That means that Clinton's lead consists of 195 delegates out of a total of 4763.

That lead is tiny compared to the total field of delegates and there are still 32 states to go. Yet, the mainstream media is almost breathless in their urgency to declare the winner. More than a few pundits have the galling arrogance to suggest that Sanders should "drop out" or "get in line" so that he'll get a shot at a post in a Clinton administration. Yeah, right.

These same pundits are conveniently omitting two facts. First, the superdelegates only make up 15% of the total delegates. But the other one, and this is the kicker, is that if the popular vote goes with Sanders so do the superdelegates. Say, isn't that what happened in 2008 for Obama? That was even after they pledged support to Clinton - once they saw the popular vote, they had to give weight to the that support from ordinary people like you and me, lest they alienate their base. God knows they don't want to do that.

But they would love to be able to do that without losing the general election. Really, they do. Check out this quote from the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (video on same interview here):
"Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don't have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists."
The purpose of the superdelegates, at least in her mind, is that they wouldn't want a grass roots activist to get in there and spoil the party. One other thing you might not know about Debbie Wasserman Schultz: she was co-chair of Hilary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.

For more on how the DNC under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz has handicapped Hilary's campaign, go here.

4. Arrogance? Clinton? Aw, just ignore that FBI investigation! I mean, at least wait until she's president. Then she can shut it down and pretend like nothing happened.

The press and the Obama administration are giving Hilary a pass on the email scandal that is brewing beneath her campaign. Clinton supporters would like us to just ignore it for awhile. The Obama administration would like to ignore it because they're going to look a wee bit embarrassed for even letting a secretary of State pass classified documents and information through a private email server.

The FBI has the server and as far as they can tell, they say there is no sign of hacking by outsiders. But what they don't say is there is no need to hack it because email is sent in plain text. Just point a packet sniffer at it and collect packets 24/7. Then reconstruct it later to get at all that wonderful confidential information.

This is really the height of arrogance by Clinton. She knows that the Obama administration could apply pressure to Attorney General Loretta Lynch to avoid a grand jury or even the smell of an interview by the FBI. We wouldn't want to stigmatize Clinton's campaign with something like that. And we can't just ask her to drop the campaign because there is so much riding on it (Wall Street can't wait to get their hands on the Treasury department). If we indict before the election, it looks like we're partisan. If we stonewall or delay the investigation, it still looks like we're being partisan.

Besides, there is a certain legal doctrine that some in the Obama Administration would really like us to forget about if Clinton is indicted: respondeat superior - "let the master answer" (I just love how that sounds). Hilary said that she didn't know that she was sending classified documents through her server. I guess she never asked the guy who set it up. Or maybe she's taking a page from the Reagan playbook, and instead of saying she "can't remember", she's saying she didn't know. Well, she won't have to ask how that happened because the DOJ has just granted the guy who built her email server with immunity in exchange for testimony. Cute.

Doesn't this all seem rather ironic considering the way they've been pursuing Edward Snowden? Granted, she didn't stuff DVDs full of classified information and share it with select media outlets. But it's not like she told her boss what she was doing, either. So Clinton gets a pass on her handling of classified information from the press and her former boss all because someone at the top insists that she's the most electable candidate.

So if Hilary is the presumptive nominee, and she's such a great candidate, why is she getting handicapped with a few choice advantages? Does she really need all that help to beat Sanders? I guess so.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

The great Millenial divide

Today is a major primary day. It might not be as big as the 15th of March, but it's still big. If you listen to major media and the polls, it would be easy to believe the narrative that Sanders will lose. Remember that the major media are on the side of Clinton. They seem to believe that their interests are served by sending Clinton to the White House. The major media seem to have little taste for Sanders. With 6 parent companies owning 90% of TV, radio and newspapers, we can see why.

One thing that gives me hope for the Sanders campaign is the evidence of support. I did a search for pictures of Clinton and Sanders rallies. The most striking difference in the pictures is this:


What we see above is the largest crowd I could find in a Clinton rally. That is the only one I could find that shows anything close to the true size of her rally. Now look at the picture below of Sanders:


Notice the size of the crowd. This crowd isn't an anomaly, this is typical. As I did my search, I noticed that most of the pictures of Hilary set against a crowd are fairly close. In other words, the frame is much tighter to prevent us from seeing the actual size of the crowd. With Sanders, there are tons of pictures like the one above, where we see that he's filling stadiums for his rallies. There is enormous support for Sanders at his rallies.

As USUncut points out, Hilary has been having a very hard time keeping up enthusiasm for her campaign. That lack of enthusiasm is evidenced by the smaller crowds and the strategic picture taking on the part of the media. the major media want to show you a picture of Clinton filling a stadium, but they can't.

There is an intergenerational divide that must also be acknowledged. Sanders is not our only hope. Judging by those crowds, there will be more. Over the past few months, I've seen many memes in social media pointing out that the outcome of the election depends on whether or not the Millenials will come out to vote. The major media are just now catching up (perhaps with some reluctance) to social media in acknowledging that the Millenials are the largest voting demographic in the country. This is the year that they overtake the Boomers.

Who are the Millenials? Pew Research identifies the Millenials as anyone between the ages of 18-34 in 2015. They are distinct from the Baby Boomers and the GenX'ers. Baby Boomers are 51-69 years of age in 2015. GenX is anyone between 35-50 in 2015. The GenX'ers will surpass the Boomers in 2028 according to Pew Research projections.

As Millenials come of age, vote and rise to power, there will be a wave of citizens who understand that accumulating money at the expense of the next generation is not creating or even conserving wealth. They understand that other countries (like Norway, Finland and Denmark) have figured this out, but that we're slow to do so. They're not happy with how their parents and grandparents have left them dangling in the wind. The succeeding generations will have to sort this out or perish. It is their only hope.

If you have money and use that money to discourage my vote, to reduce the value of my vote or to institute laws that make it harder for me to vote, that says more about your character than about mine.

If you use money to buy laws, then what you are saying is that your financial network, your financial resources and your demands by fiat are what determine the merits of the laws you seek to impose upon the rest of us. If my vote and/or my capacity to vote is reduced in any way, if you silence me, then there really is no debate at all.

This isn't just happening to black people. This is happening to the next generation of people. And the next one. They know they've been screwed. Unless they're planning on moving to some other country, they must know that their only way out is to vote and institute a government that works for everyone. The Millenials have become the largest voting demographic so unless they show up, the older generations, with their conservative ways, are going to retain their way of doing things, as if that's better than a new way of thinking.

There is a reason we have elections and politics. That reason is so that new blood can have a chance to assess how the older generations have ruled and to change it if need be. If you disenfranchise the younger generations, you tie their hands and prevent them from deciding their own fate. This is an unintended consequence of newer voter restrictions that have been put in place around the country.

There are some who say that from a policy standpoint, Clinton and Sanders are not that much different from each other and that either one would be far better than anyone in the GOP clown car. I agree with the latter and disagree with former proposition. I think there is a big difference in policy objectives between what has been stated so far by Clinton and by Sanders. But I also agree that either one would be better than any GOP candidate for office, I just think that Clinton is lot more conservative than Sanders. It would be nice if she didn't have an ongoing criminal investigation, too.

Clinton won all the Red States in the south so far and will continue to win them because she is more conservative than Sanders. When the Blue states start voting, then we will see if the Millenials will come out to vote. Of course, there is nothing wrong in helping to get the vote out, though. If you want to help, try phonebanking. It works.