In Order to form a more perfect Union

As we can tell by the terrible choices that President Trump has made even just recently, it is obvious just how little he understands economics, business, social norms, international diplomacy, and anything else that has to do with being a chief executive of any organization. The question must be asked, should he be fired? And that begs the question, would Hillary Clinton have done better?

If your metric is can she perform the duties of the President of the United States without exposing her own incompetence at nearly all the same measurements that Trump has exposed? The answer is yes, of course. For many that is sufficient. And she most certainly has an understanding of social norms, there would not be any 5 am rambling nonsensical tweets to entertain and frighten us. Hillary Clinton is much too disciplined and calculating for that. Again, for many that is sufficient. And after close to a year, can we say that Donald Trump’s presidency has failed at moving the country to a more egalitarian and productive society? Absolutely. And if Hillary Clinton had won, is there any chance she would have succeeded with those goals? Legislatively, not a prayer of any success. We have already seen how the Republicans react to a mostly moderate black man’s agenda, is there any evidence that a woman would be treated any better? None.

In the international arena, her past history as Secretary of State gives us a glimpse into how she would run international policy. Simply put, her policy would align a lot closer to the McCain / Graham view than Trump’s. Of course, Trump runs US foreign policy almost exactly like Rufus T Firefly ran Freedonia’s foreign policy; no comfort there. Economic policy which is a large piece of what happens in a country includes fiscal policy, tax policy, government management of how the economy operates including the government funding of education, health care, retirement, banking, infrastructure development, anti-trust enforcement, environmental issues, public spaces, and many more. Clinton would have made appointments to head the agencies that manage all these areas that are much more appropriate than the appointments made by Trump. There are two caveats to this observation, Clinton would not get the best people available to head these agencies due to inevitable Republican obstructionism, and her favored appointments would all, to a person, represent neo-liberal economic policy. In other words the same policy initiated under Reagan, slightly made more compassionate under Bill Clinton so that Democrats could adopt it and so on. The history of neo-liberal economics is a slide that over it’s nearly 40 year lifespan has expanded the wealth of large corporations, very rich individuals, and created ever wider income inequality. Clinton, during her campaign never disavowed her allegiance to the continuation of neo-liberal economics. Trump, is most certainly worse. His appointments are almost entirely unqualified for their positions, often they are the antithesis of the selection that should be made. Trump too, has not disavowed an allegiance to neo-liberal economics. In continuing a failed economic explanation and putting incompetent persons in charge, he has exposed the weaknesses of the policy, himself, and Republicans.

If you have read along this far, then permit me to point out the reasons I did not vote for Clinton (or Trump for that matter) since all the items I listed above were essentially expected before the election. I feel this is important because as I have listed Clinton would have been a better President based on optics. But not based on the impact of her policy choices, except of course, in the area of understanding social norms and utilizing rhetoric considered appropriate for a President. In order to reverse the decline of American shared wealth I cannot abide a President that will not run on a platform that continues the neo-liberal economy and also supports the neo-con international agenda. No matter who, no matter what the optics, it is a continuous slide downhill with history’s dustbin at the bottom of the slide.

Here are a few things the Democrats have done since Trump’s election that convinces me even more that unconsciously America made the only choice it had available to save itself from the dustbin.

Once Trump was elected the Democrats called themselves “The Resistance” implying that the party and it’s followers would actively do anything legally allowed to prevent Trump (and by extension, the Republicans) from implementing their agenda. Recall, it was the Democrats that ran all of their campaigns as a plebiscite on Trump and the Republicans, essentially in place of advocating any full throated policy, and never addressing the concerns of a large portion of their presumed base – Progressives.

The Democrats in their role as “The Resistance” rolled over and allowed Trump to put in place people clearly not qualified for their job. The Democrats allowed Trump and the Republicans to expand military spending after publicly stating how much they distrusted Trump’s foreign policy. The Democrats failed to back candidates that ran against Republicans in special elections that would not swear allegiance to neo-liberal economics. Democrats stood mute and voted no on a bill for tax reform that was not ready for a vote. It had hand scribbled notes on the margins, there was not enough time for anyone to read the bill before deciding their vote, voting no instead of abstain was capitulation and allowed Republicans to claim victory while demeaning the tradition of deliberation and debate on critical policy. Democratic leadership has stated that impeachment is currently off the table, a statement a Congressperson should never utter. Impeachment is a tool that the founders gave to Congress so that a President cannot overstep his bounds or prove incapable of performing the job of president, as defined solely by Congress. After the election, Democrats chose not to challenge vote totals in very close states. Utter capitulation. There is no resistance from the establishment Democrats, and there is no sign that any is forthcoming.

I could go further and discuss how Democrats took Progressive voters for granted. Instead I will wrap up this rant.

What we have now is a President who is supporting idiotic international agendas and a few sane ones too. His economic agenda is everything the Republicans have dreamed about, since daddy Bush’s lips were found to be lying lips. But the Republicans have been clamoring for these policies, insisting it will jump start our economy, and Trump insisted he alone could shut down our enemies (real or perceived). I guess we will find out about the economic policy. It is obvious that the Democrats half assed economic policy was not doing anything for us, let’s see what Republican economic policy does. Sliding down into a dustbin at a slower speed is not going to help anyone.

This is democracy. A flawed system on its best days. On its worst days, all the parts fail and we end up with candidates unworthy of representing us. The election of 2016 was possibly the worst day in American history, but it did not happen without cause. Both candidates for president and nearly most candidates for office across the country were the result of years of political malfeasance and willful neglect of two of the Constitution’s guiding principles as stated in the preamble. To provide for the General Welfare and to create a more perfect Union. When only the admonition followed is to provide for safety and ignore all the other is to force all of us into fearing for our safety, worried about our own welfare, and ready to rip up the very document that asks us to strive for perfection – a plea to keep making improvements from our founders who knew their document was anything but perfect.

Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” We have an opportunity to refresh the tree with metaphorical blood, and that can only happen if we stop allowing establishment politics, Democrats and Republicans, to define the limits of our choices. Part of the American experiment has failed. I contend that failure is attributable to our two party “system” and we should dismantle it, impeach Trump on grounds of incompetence and force other politicians to resign that are not capable of doing their job according to the Constitution’s “Mission Statement”.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”

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United We Stand – Divided We Get Trampled

So many, many people are upset. Some are Democrats, probably most Democrats. but Republicans are as well, but probably not most. Last of all, every single person that does not pledge allegiance to either the Democrats or the Republicans are upset. Of course they are upset that in an era with a reported low unemployment rate, jobs are scarce, for those with jobs their pay is barely keeping up with inflation. They are upset because we are at war all over the world, and once a month we hear about a soldier or two being killed in a country that many Americans never heard of. They are upset because every week another mass shooting takes place, or an unarmed black youth is gunned down by the police. They are upset because on the news all they hear about is how horrible the President is, and so they believe it. But they are also upset that their health insurance rates are skyrocketing, the Russians have taken over our elections, and oil is being spilled in our oceans and in our water supplies.

Anger and frustration is expressed by every single American. Sure, some of these things anger different people. Perhaps you don’t believe Russia is controlling our elections, but instead you are angry that our election vote counts are unreliable and unaudited. Our anger at the status quo exposes the common line of thinking that we are a nation divided. We are not divided. We may not all be angry about the exact same things, but we are all angry that the status quo is not working for the American people. We are united on this fundamental issue. We are united in the knowledge that most of what see and hear on the TV news and opinion shows only tells us half the story, and nobody reads more than one newspaper – if that, radio is over flowing with sports talk and heavily biased opinion, and who can tell what is true on social media. But on all that mishegas we are united.

This is what happens when resume trumps truth. We saw that in our last Presidential election. With only two candidates that we could choose from with the knowledge that one of them would win, their main credential for the job was their resume. Republicans refused to look into the basis of Donald Trump’s boasts of accomplishments, which in hindsight it seems impossible that he personally accomplished anything. Democrats took the list of jobs that Hillary Clinton did within government service and never dug very deep into her accomplishments. Resume trumped truth. (pun so very intended)

But here we are on the verge of losing unfettered access to the web’s cornucopia of information and entertainment, implementing tax reform that will accelerate all the wrong things and as a result it will not bring back a strong and large middle class or create pathways for the poor to improve their lot, starting a potential nuclear war with a second-rate nation in a real world reenactment of the Marx Brother’s “Duck Soup”. This all, to be blunt, is caused by the complete takeover by a single party. Democrats abdicated their participation in choosing to follow the republicans lead in both domestic and foreign policy. All they do to separate themselves from Republicans is a more tolerant social policy. And even that has withered into a shadow of what it needs to be. But even then, it is sufficient to keep Republican voters hating on all Democrats. Take away the labels, and we become united.

When someone tells you how divisive Donald Trump is, or that the nation is divided, remember that we, the people, are united. We want prosperity and we want peace. We may have disagreements about what to fix and how to fix it, but we agree that fixes are necessary; the rest is called democracy.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – A Story About Ranked Choice Voting

Consider the times you have gone to the voting booth and the feeling of dread that you have sensed for the previous couple of months leading up to the election makes you wonder why you even bother. For many the dread of picking between two evils, or at best voting against the worse choice, is justification to stay home, and not bother.
But on top of the lack of candidates that even closely resemble your values, there is the election process itself. Republicans claim there are millions and millions of people voting illegally, and they usually vote for Democrats. The Democrats point to laws passed mainly by Republicans that are sold to the public as a fix for those people who allegedly voted illegally. These laws require a list of particulars for each citizen to show as proof of their right to vote. The result is that many legitimate voters, mostly minorities, the elderly, and the poor are denied their right to vote, and illegal voters are never actually found.
Democrats on the other hand have made sure their candidates are vetted by the party as being consistent with the Party’s objectives of resolving most policy issues with public/private partnerships, so that partnership can be used in order to raise money for campaigns and keep out any candidate that questions the party agenda. The result are few candidates that serve up any new ideas. Both Democrats and Republicans are now built upon the same foundation of deference to the private sector that was put in place during the Reagan administration and reinforced during Bill Clinton’s term.
What has happened is that Democrats tend to minimize the variety of candidates while Republicans minimize the number of voters, especially historically Democratic voters. This dynamic has reduced the choices of ideas and candidates. This contributes mightily to the dread that Elections bring to American voters, and added to their well founded belief that their vote matters very little, if at all.
But, unfortunately there is more that is restricting the quantity of democracy (if that is such a thing) here in the US. The United States does not have a trustworthy system of vote counting. There are few laws enforcing strict validation of voting counts and only a handful of jurisdictions require post election audits. Making remedies harder to implement, the courts have generally opted to recuse themselves from litigation on election issues deferring to the legislature for resolution.  In general courts have served mostly to reinforce the existing two party system that has evolved into a political monopoly trust.
The Democrats and the Republicans have monopolized to the tune of well over 90% of all office holders belong to one of them. They compete for your vote, but only against each other, their competition stops when it appears there is anyone challenging their monopoly. That is the definition of a monopoly trust, and it violates the law; additionally a two party system, is in no manner based upon anything in the Constitution. But it is so embedded into our conscious that nearly all political discussion revolves around Democrat vs. Republican, every single party that is not the Democratic or Republican party is lumped into a single 3rd Party. Without going down the political party rabbit hole, leave it to note that this forced choice is also a large contributor to voter dread.
A frequently noted remedy for many of these issues is to implement a voting process called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). It also is frequently referred to as Instant Run-off voting. The following points summarize what I have learned about RCV.
HOW RCV WORKS
  • Each ballot allows a voter to vote for potentially every candidate ranked by the voters preference.
  • If no one achieves a majority of votes on the first counting of all #1 choices, then the votes are tallied again. Only anyone who voted for the last place finisher has his #2 choice counted. If a voter chose only one candidate, then their ballot is no longer part of the process.
  • The recounting continues until a single candidate achieves 50% +1 votes. That person is then declared the winner.
  • Each city or town can make their own rules regarding how many choices a voter actually has. But minimums are defined.
  • In most jurisdictions that have implemented RCV, Primary elections are eliminated.
GENERAL ISSUES WITH RCV
  • Does not resolve the problems with vote counting, and in fact it’s complexity amplifies those problems.
  • Election fraud becomes harder to determine, easier to implement, and mistakes are much more likely to occur.
  • The proposed MA RCV does not address party control of the election process. If implemented statewide, the Democrats and Republicans will likely use their large base in order to crowd out other parties, in the same manner that monopolies crowd out competition.
  • RCV works best only when all candidates are viable. Since it usually eliminates Primaries elections which are in place to filter out the candidates that are not viable, it is possible that a poor candidate could win, especially when there is large field of candidates.

A SOLUTION – That addresses what is wrong with our Election Process

  • All Ballots must be counted both mechanically and by hand. Any significant deviations triggers an automatic recount. The mechanical software code and database must be made available to the public.
  • All ballots and machines must be audited before a vote is certified. At least 20% of the vote must be subject to a forensic audit.
  • Voter registration is automatic at age 18. On Election day polls must be open for at least 36 hours and is a holiday. No early voting, except for absentee ballots.
  • Only one ballot for primary elections. You may vote for up to three candidates for each seat being voted for during the Primary. These are NOT ranked votes, all votes have equal weight.
  • All offices have two possible votes in addition to the candidates.
    • “None of the above” (NOTA) and “Abstain”
    • If NOTA wins, then the election must be held over with all new candidates. Abstain, reduces the actual number of votes needed for victory. Voting for either of these two is void if a vote for anyone is also made.
  • The Primary winners are chosen by taking 1/3 of the total voters for all candidates (less any abstains) and awarding a position on the general election ballot for every candidate starting from the candidate with the largest number of votes until the 1/3 of the total voters are tallied.
  • The General election also has the NOTA and abstain options, but a voter can only choose up to two candidates to vote for.
    • The same rules apply as in a Primary, but the winner must receive over votes of over 50% of the voters, excluding abstains. If no one has over 50% of the voters then another election is held and with only the candidates that were in to top 50% of all votes. The winner is determined by a plurality.  In any General election where NOTA wins, then a new election is held with an entire slate of new candidates.

The Alleged Trump Russia Alliance Proves Democrats to be Oblivious

The MSM/DNC “Liberal” narrative is now including actual Russian interference with our Presidential elections. The story goes that the Russians hired a bunch of hackers and mom’s basement computer nerdies to disseminate information all over twitter and Facebook that will twist malleable American minds into anti-Hillary zombies. But even more nefarious, the Russians also gained access to various state voter tabulating or voter registration servers and physically altered the vote totals.

Now, just imagine the narrative of the previous paragraph was true. Furthermore, imagine you are one of the leaders of the negatively impacted Democratic Party. What would you do and advocate?

I know what I would do. As a person “in power” I would be well aware that all governments attempt to influence elections all over the world. I would also know that the US itself has inserted itself into foreign elections. So if a party leader was aware that elections were being influenced and even manipulated by all powerful nations including the US, why are they beating the war drums? Why are they demanding that we place sanctions on Russia and stop sending them our excess Cheerios?
(IMHO every single Cheerio is excess) Perhaps they doth protest too much?

A person in power, knowing how widespread and comprehensive election tampering from foreign nations would demand that an election overhaul is in order so that never again will a foreign power, or anyone else, be able to tamper with the vote counts in American elections. I would demand the US institute via the Dept. of Education tools for younger Americans to separate the bull from the bullshit, the truth from truthiness from misdirected information. Most young persons I have met understand these differences but there are always a few students left behind without that awareness. They need to be helped.

These strategies are not even talked about, and they haven’t in many years. Only two reasons, the MSM/DNC have something(s) to hide or they are oblivious to their denial of reality. I can’t decide which is worse, they’re so bad.

What if they gave a riot and no one showed?

I reject outright the idea that every single Republican politician knows or understands that their agenda is immoral, just as I reject the idea that the Democrats understand the consequences of implementing more failed neo-liberal economic strategies are perilous. No matter where those policies are implemented. A reason given for rejecting the idea that the government and the media are conspiring, each for their own reasons, to force conflict between the Nazis and opposing strong arm groups is that Republicans intentionally commit evil acts and by implication, Democrats do not, is inherently false. The real issue is not memorial and statutes, or if a few hundred people show up in random cities proclaiming themselves Nazis. Energy is wasted and opportunities for real change is missed when people show up to counter-protest and encourage engagement. The Nazi numbers are small, but the media always goes with the sex story, followed by violence. Especially violence by people that the viewing audience hates, or has been trained to hate. Counter protest instead at another site. Instead of telling people that Nazis suck, tell people that we can guarantee jobs for everyone, explain that health care can be available to all, that public college can be free and all past debts to public colleges will be forgiven or repaid. Tell people that ancestral slavery victims will receive reparations along with reparations to those whose land was stolen by the United States as it conquered the native peoples. All this is not a pipe dream. It is economically feasible and socially desirable.  Does not solve all problems, but simultaneously insisting on truth and refusing to let lady liberty to even peek beneath her blindfold will move the needle ever closer to true justice.

Our problem is not that the President is an incompetent asshole and that by relieving him of duty will change anything. Nor will punching a Nazi in the nose, instead it will only escalate the anger and confusion seething through the country and the world. Our problem is that we have an economic crises, where unemployment is artificially deflated by not including those that have been discarded by our Capitalistic job market. Young people across the country are destroying themselves sometimes to death through opioid and meth addictions, because for just a bit the desperation to survive is subsumed by the high. Another problem is that we have a nation that claims to exercise democracy, yet the two parties that rule do a little dance with one party stopping people from voting and the other singing quietly from the sidelines “ooooo, you bad, and you naughty” but they don’t do a damn thing about it.

I don’t care if Nazis march. And you will not find me endorsing using their tactics against them. It is their tactics of violence and repression that make them strong, using them only strengthens them. I want to snuff out Nazis by refusing to feed them the attention and blood they crave. Destroy Nazis with the light of ideas that bring positive changes to our individual lives, opportunity to our economic system, justice to our justice systems, and peace  to our international positions.

 

Hello, Is there anybody in there?

I have had it with this Trump guy.  I am not amused at his juvenile tweets, his sleazy salesman phrases, and most of all the never ending articles friends and foes alike explaining to …  who?  Explaining that Trump is an asshole, Trump just said the worst thing a President ever said, Trump is insane, and so on and on it goes. Every hour of every day. But let me get back to that dangling sentence, who are these never ending articles explaining all of Trump’s faults aimed at?  Not me, I am certain. I lost interest in The Donald about one week after he announced he was running. Not that I was so certain that he couldn’t win, but I was much more concerned about who the Democrats would nominate. You see, I never gave voting for a Republican a moments thought, and there was not one person out of all 17 that were running that I would vote for. Also, in MA, where I live, if you are registered in any party then you can only vote for a candidate in that party, so why bother listening to Republicans openly fight among themselves about which one will harm more people when they became President.  If I paid attention to them, perhaps I would have tallied each one’s blood lust potential score; great sport!

I am still curious though about the shares and posts, the tweets and MSM news and the wannabe MSM news talk endlessly about Trump. That reminds me, have you heard that most of the world leaders have decided to just ignore Trump?  Imagine that! Angela Merkel and I have something in common! Wonders certainly do never cease.  But in America there seems to be, especially among the large number of people who despise that Trump is President, a need to tell each other? just how awful Trump is. Certainly, they don’t think that Trump supporters will read one of these articles, or a MSM story  in the paper or on their telly and slap their forehead while shouting out, “damn I had no idea what an ignorant, incompetent, racist, buffoon Trump is”. No, they won’t.  That is why I rarely write about Trump, other than to note that the only good for America reason he should be impeached or removed from office is for gross incompetence.

Do you think if I wrote to Ms. Merkel we could be pen pals?

Keep Political Parties Away from our Elections

The evidence proves that Political Parties running elections is bad for Democracy.

Ideas for election reform have been flowing across my facebook screens nearly daily for the last month. Many of the ideas individually have a lot of merit, but there are some that are downright dangerous. The most common ideas are ranked choice voting, eliminating gerrymandering, open primaries, making election day a holiday, even more early voting, vote by mail, automatic voter registration, and mandating paper ballots. I am sure there are others that I missed listing and others that I have not heard about.

Why is election reform such a hot topic all of a sudden? A major driver was the recent election for president that did not turn out in any way how the experts all expected it would.  Their malfeasance has turned into a state of shock all across America. So the next question is, what went wrong that never went wrong before. As far as I can tell, nothing went wrong that hasn’t gone wrong before. That means that the problems that need fixing haven’t changed. Why all the fuss now? My thesis is that nobody wants to admit that anything was going wrong before. Especially the pundit class, that group of people who sit around tables that are near TV cameras and pontificate just as I am doing now, except my laptop camera is turned off and I don’t get paid. Also the pundit class keeps getting to talk into cameras and say stuff and two weeks later when they are all wrong, the same group gets brought back in front of the cameras and are asked to pontificate some more. Instead of looking back and asking what are we missing, they pretend that the real problems with our entire election are not consequential, and as the cognitive dissonance distance between what is broken and what the pundit class bases their predictions increases, the less reliable the predictions are, and the less the public believes them.

A reliable election process is where the best candidates are selected and those candidates should represent as much of the spectrum of ideas as possible. It also depends on all the votes being counted, and anytime the count is in doubt, a recount should be expected as a matter of course. Enforcement of election procedures along with the same level of audits used to validate that a bank is responsibly and honestly counting all the money individuals have handed to them for safe keeping is the minimum we should expect if protecting democracy is a true government objective. Are any of those standards happening in our election system? I don’t think so at all. In fact until we implement procedures to assure we have a process that brings forth candidates that advocate a broad spectrum of ideas, and elections whose results are trusted by the electorate, then any changes that do not directly address those problems will remain small band-aid patches on a deep wound. And if that is all we implement, then the band-aid will fall off and the wound will open even wider.

In order to bring forth multiple candidates with differing philosophies the two-party system has to be relegated to back of the line. It was obvious to the Founding Fathers that as odious as political parties are, they will form nonetheless. That should be accepted but in no way be legislated as a requirement for candidacy nor should parties be outlawed. People will do what they always do and form cliques, it is government’s role to make sure that parties do not make the rules.  Right now, our election system is so locked down as Democrat vs. Republican that around 98% of all elected officials in the US are members of one of those parties. That only two candidates are considered viable in at least 98% of our elections means that other ideas are literally stifled. Actual discussion is diminished and the voter finds nobody that truly represents their personal point of view, resulting in lower voter turnout. Counting ballots must take place on paper, but technology should not be eliminated. While scanner software is easy to manipulate, there is no reason that programming the machines cannot be done using open software, data entered (such as candidates names and their related printed information that appears on the ballot) should be in plain language. The program code should be written in an interpretative language so that any literate individual can read and understand how the program tabulates the votes .  Audits of at least 10% of the polling places must be mandatory and the audits must be a hand count of the scanned paper ballots.

There are two more critical issues that must be addressed since their impact on elections is profound. First, a law must be passed overturning the Supreme Court decision to release certain states and other jurisdictions from Justice Department oversight of changes to their election laws. It became obvious within days that the court had made a mistake since one state after another passed voter restriction laws as soon as the oversight was removed. Along with that, the law should provide tools for any polling places that are insufficiently supplied with voting machines or ballots to have those ballots printed at any nearby printing facility via a temporary eminent domain authority.

The second critical point is to remove any political party restrictions for Primary elections. This has become a frequent point made by many, but most do not go far enough since they only require that anyone can pick which party’s ballot they want. But consistent with my earlier point that parties must be relegated to the back of the line, each person showing up to vote in a Primary gets only 1 ballot with all the candidates on it. This becomes more critical when there is more than one office on the ballot. A person can then vote for the person they want in the primary no matter what parties their choice of candidates aligns with.