What’s So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding

I just cannot believe how many people I am supposed to hate.

I’m a Progressive, proud Liberal, All American Bleeding Heart, a Socialist too albeit one that favors Free Enterprise Capitalism and disdains Free Market Capitalism, occasionally I can be a (Liberal) Libertarian. I also favor Democracy over any other form of governance, but I recognize it’s limitations.

I am supposed to hate all Republicans, except the Libertarians.  It would be presumed that I hate Donald Trump, perhaps John McCain but probably not until the next time he votes for another war. Some, perhaps many might believe that I adore Hillary Clinton, after all I am a member of the Democratic Party. That belief would be false, I’m a Berniecrat, but I don’t hate Hillary, I don’t hate John McCain, Donald Trump, or all Republicans.

Some of the harshest language that I hear comes from fellow Berniecrats. Many of them now hate Senator Sanders, along with Debbie Wasserman Shultz, John Podesta, Elizabeth Warren, and countless others that our Main Stream Media have dubbed Progressives. The online crowd I run with has a list a mile long and only a handful squeak by the tighter and tighter reins of the so-called alt-Left on who to love ad who to hate. And they are right, politicians like Senators Warren and Booker are not currently the aspirational Progressive voices this country desperately requires and is, in fact, yearning for.

Enough with hate. Because someone gave money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign means I should hate them. Because Hillary and company stole the primary from Bernie, is not reason enough to hate viscerally anyone.

Hate is a very strong and powerful word.

Using things or ideas of such power requires restraint. Hate the outcomes of their actions, not the actor. As an example lets look at John McCain. I “hate” that he advocates for policies of military aggression. I do not hate John McCain. I “hate” that John McCain is still in the Senate. I do not hate John McCain.  The same can be said for Hillary, Trump, the Koch Brothers, George Soros and countless, dizzying others.

A Rabbi taught that we should love others as we would love our brother or sister. That teaching of having goodwill toward each other, is not about any religion, instead it is about dispensing with personal vindictiveness, replacing it with a bias toward understanding. Think about ISIS, nearly all Progressives recognize their anger is fed by the actions of Western nations. We need to treat our political opponents the way we would like the US to treat ISIS. With respect.

I know and acknowledge that treating the DNC and Nancy Pelosi with respect is very hard when they are working so very hard at marginalizing the Progressives by using the name for themselves and otherwise ignoring us. We are being disappeared, like in Stalin’s Soviet Union and in Orwell’s 1984.

This is a callout to Progressives. Stop hating. It is making me nauseous.  Thank You.

Thanks, Russia!

All over the press, mainstream media, social media, water coolers, and barstools the talk is about President Trump’s relationship with Russia. Every person he knows that ever spoke to a Russian is being presented as further evidence of collusion with Russia between his campaign and even President Trump himself in order to alter the results of the vote last November. A serious charge that if proven true should mean more than the removal of just Donald Trump as President. Since the accusations extend to numerous individuals within his campaign, a legitimate case could be made that the election itself is invalid. However calling telephone conversations that have been documented as not having been found to have any evidence of collusion along with the total lack of any hard forensic evidence means that the charges, if true would be hard to prove. In fact, there are significant reasons to discount every justification being made by the press and the government to take the idea of Russian meddling in the US Presidential election seriously.

But there was election tampering and it all occurred by US interests without any foreign assistance. Hillary Clinton actively rigged both sides of the primary. She manipulated the media with the assistance of the “unbiased” DNC, laundered contributions that were intended for other Democratic candidates in other races. There was also money used by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to create a hidden stash that was used to create social media propaganda and outright attacks on Sanders and his supporters. Additionally there are questions outstanding as to the validity of the actual votes counted in the Primaries due to red flag discrepancies between the count and exit polls. On the Republican side, the Clinton campaign enlisted assistance from various media outlets to minimize their coverage of Sanders and fill in that void with an overdose of coverage of the two most extreme Republicans, Trump and Cruz.

During the general election, Republicans had already proactively rigged the vote by engaging in wholesale voter suppression of targeted likely Democratic voters. There was minimal, exit polling which is the international standard in which to gauge the validity of the vote. Additionally when challenges did arise, recounts were either impossible due to all electronic votes tabulated without a verifiable audit trail, or both parties conspired to raise the costs of funding recounts as to make them all but impossible to achieve.

And after all that known improprieties by US interests we are supposed to get all worked up because the Director of the FBI stated that Vladimir Putin hates Hillary Clinton? That was an actual reason provided at one point by then FBI Director Comey.

But still, when I mention these issues, people tell me to ‘get over it’. Why? The supposed two party system was manipulated so that the choice would be between a person whose only accomplishment in life was marrying a guy who later become President, while she garnered an incredible resume, but little else and a man who rose to fame and fortune by the grace of his father’s business acumen backing him up. Ever since his father’s death, his career has been a string failures punctuated with a few get rich quick schemes. In other words, this election was not between two people who have been proven capable, but between two corrupt and incapable individuals. Whether the Russians had any influence in the outcome, the damage was done before they ever got involved. Maybe, the Russians did us a favor, or more likely we are just giving them another reason to make a toast and down a shot of vodka.

HOW YA GONNA DO THAT?

BRADFROMSALEM

Election season in America.  There is nothing like it anywhere in the world.  Some , maybe even most, do it better.  And surely there are also a lot places that do it worse. But I really doubt that any nation can have such a convoluted, impractical, inconvenient, illogical, costly, undemocratic process of a electing the only nation wide elected office holder.

And we got ourselves a doozie this year. But that is just an observation and not what this blog post is about.  However, as you read on, keep that observation in mind.

I am strong supporter of US Senator Bernie Sanders to be elected President, and so I get to read and talk about his candidacy with many Hillary supporters.  And a theme that I have heard from these supporters from the earliest days of the campaign has been, that “other people” will not vote for a Socialist so he can’t beat a Republican, and even if he did win, he can’t pass any of his plans because Congress is overflowing with Republicans.

The first point is totally irrelevant, since if Socialism is so despised, then how will he win the nomination? And if the fear of Socialism only exists in Republicans, then most of them they are not voting for him anyways, and we all know Republicans would never vote for Hillary.  But more importantly, Bernie Sanders in all his years in office always worked to promote private enterprise, expansion of Democracy, and using government as the organization to operate certain industries where profit is not in the public benefit. Industries such as schools, health care, and infrastructure projects. These areas have always, since Colonial times been administered, at least partially, as social institutions in the US.

The second point is unique. Because once the point is made that he will not be able to pass any legislation they are in the awkward position of justifying it with outright misinformation. The reason is quite obvious. The point is made under the assumption that Congress will have both houses under Republican control. If that happens, then Congress will block every thing Hillary proposes as well.  We all know the song, it’s been playing almost continuously for 7+ years. So, in order to hide that the Hillary supporters make two points. First is that Hillary has actually passed legislation, and Bernie has not.  Without going into details, that simply is not true.  The second point assumes the first point is correct and is more of a demand. How will he pass his legislation proposals, is the query. One person even asked for a detailed plan. Whether or not the Republicans hold both houses, there will be different players. For example, Harry Reid will not be the Democratic leader. This would be like asking Peyton Manning exactly how will you win the Super Bowl, what plays will you call, who will be your receiver? Not the day before the Super Bowl, but at the beginning of pre-season.  Not only that, when the question is reversed, the answer gets flipped back to Hillary has a history of getting things done so there is no need to explain it.

So, in a year when all the assumptions have turned out wrong, we are being told to elect a candidate based on the type of assumptions that have turned out wrong, based on facts that are misleading.

WRONG REASONS TO SUPPORT HILLARY

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Sunset in Salem
BRADFROMSALEM

Starting almost the day after (or maybe it was the day before?) that VT Senator Bernie Sanders announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for President there has been strong disagreement within the Democratic Party in particular, and all Progressives in general, regarding his candidacy.  Most prominently there have been numerous arguments taking place between supporters of Sec. Hillary Clinton and supporters of Sanders.

To the credit of both the former Secretary and the Vermont Senator, neither has carried much, if any, of these arguments to the campaign trail.  But for those that have not decided irrevocably for any candidate from  any party it may be useful to review some of the debate points regarding the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and how it affects Bernie Sanders. Full disclosure, I am an unabashed Bernie Sanders supporter. Also, just to be clear, as everything stands in August of 2015, I will not vote for Hillary in the General. And I can confidently add that I will also not vote for any Republican. So yes, I do have an agenda. Very simply, most of the reasons that are being pushed by Hillary supporters to not vote for Sanders are based on a set of assumptions that are not very strong.

One of the most common arguments for supporting Clinton over Sanders is that Hillary has the best resume of any candidate in modern times has had to be President. There are 2 ways that postulation is really a moot point as well as wishful thinking on the part of her supporters.

First, is that the resume includes her position as First Lady at both the state and national level.  But how does that translate into a qualification for the job of President of the United States? The answer is, it does not. Who can confidently say they are qualified to give advice about their spouse’s job? Only couples that do the same job, that’s who. And First Spouse is not the same as being the elected Governor or elected President. Yes, she was an adviser and probably a strong voice and even an participant during Bill’s administrations. So has nearly every other First Spouse, she just happens to be the first one running for President.

Second, even if we accept that her service as First Lady counted and the fact that she was a lawyer at the Watergate hearings are legitimate resume items that add to her qualifications the questions remain about the value of a resume.  For the job of President, in modern history (post WW I) the person with the best resume was clearly George H. W. Bush.  He served in Congress, was an official adviser to a President and he even served as Director of the CIA as well as Vice President. Additionally, he served as a distinguished fighter pilot. Was he a great President, or even an OK one? No. He was certainly not the worst President, but with all those qualifications his performance still fell short of anything remarkable.  Resume is not a qualification to be President.  A resume may get you an interview, but we have a long campaign season for the people to conduct their interview and to demonstrate your competence, resume or not.

Another, irrelevant attack on Senator Sanders used more and more by Hillary supporters is that Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. And we all know that Socialism means that the entire economy will come under the control of a vast bureaucracy. Sorry, but that is not Socialism, that is Communism.  While both are based on similar premises, their implementation are vastly different. The Socialism that Sanders adheres to is used throughout many countries that also support a thriving Capitalist economy integrated with Socialist principles. The Socialism that Sen. Sanders wants to bring to the US is called Democratic Socialism. The name does not mean Democrats that are Socialists, it means that the government is a democratic institution created by the people for the benefit of the people.  Sort of sounds like something a long ago Republican once said. The election of Bernie Sanders will not result in Congress being replaced by a Politburo, along with the imposition of 5 year plans and Party apparatchik enforcing conformity.  Although that does sound like something a modern day Republican might think of as a good idea. Bernie Sanders does not now, nor has he ever advocated the entire political and economic systems of the US be transformed into anything other than a democratic system operating as an advocate for the people, providing opportunity and protection against the more powerful for everyone.

Lastly, the Hillary supporters insist that having Sanders even competing against Hillary hurts her chances in November 2016. And the roughly similar argument that only Hillary can beat the Republican candidate because she can raise almost? the same amount as the Republicans. Neither of these arguments make any sense in a open democratic election. First, only the media decides who is winning based on how much money a candidate has raised. I have never heard anyone ever claim that they are voting for Rufus Firefly because he raised the most money. And unless Sanders reveals some deep secret that somehow he or his staff dug up on Clinton, he is not going to say anything that will be used as ammunition by the Republican nominee. (I am certain the Republicans have been accumulating their anti-Clinton talking points since 2006.)

The bottom line is that all the pro Hillary supporters are using misleading information that does not stand up to scrutiny.  And if you are a Hillary supporter because a) It’s her turn; b) She’s a woman; or c) We need to be sure a Republican will not win. Remember, that it is never someone’s turn to be President, and just as Hillary would be the first woman president, Sanders would be the first Jewish President. Neither is a reason to vote for either one.  If Bernie can compete against an intelligent and competent opponent such as Hillary, what makes anyone think that he cannot compete and win against any of the Republicans running.

So What Happens Now?

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BRADFROMSALEM

I read posts and comments and columns about the upcoming catastrophe. The end of our nation, is how I would best summarize it. The Democrats lost the Senate and as I noted in my previous blog, it was not the fault of the electorate, but instead it was the fault of the party. So, does that mean, next week when the new Congress convenes, their first order of business will be to mobilize a special military force or perhaps a special media force, whose entire purpose will be to dismantle the US as we know it. Or, at least think we know it. How much will change?

From where I sit, not much. First of all both of the mainstream parties are terribly fractured. So that on the Republican side you have a small vocal minority of individuals that mostly have no idea how government works. These, of course, are the Tea Party adherents. There are just enough of these silly people to allow the other two Republican factions to actually put together a coherent Birthday Party, let alone a political platform.  The other two are the Ayn Rand Libertarians/Objectivists and the rest all want to be Ronald Reagan, or at least what they imagine him to be.  Whatever comes out of this crew is sure to be horrible legislation that in most cases will rarely have enough Republican votes to pass. And the ones that do get through, usually with the help of some Democrats will almost never have enough support to pass a Presidential veto.

Democrats of course have their Progressive Wing and the Blue Dog wing, they at least talk to each other, but it appears they have not figured out that if they had a common agenda, they can probably run the board. Instead, they just run away from using common messages. The look just like Will Rodgers described them years ago.  “I do not belong to any organized politic party! I’m a Democrat.”

And there, my friends is the problem. Knowing this tells us exactly what the outcome of this Congress will be. It will be whatever President Obama wants it to be. The worst of it is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A treaty with a group of Pan asian nations that has been years in the making, a treaty that for most of those years was being negotiated in secret, a treaty that the administration is looking for Congress to authorize it without amendments, and to give that authorization prior to actually seeing the agreement.  This agreement is more of the same ilk as NAFTA, only more so.

By taking our cue from this particular treaty, we can surmise that the President will allow us continue down the same path started by Reagan (perhaps Nixon, but that is another story). Pushed onto the American public by Presidents Clinton and both Bushes. President Obama had a chance to break this cycle when he first arrived in office. Instead he brought on board the old Clinton crew. We can expect that public policy will mostly be framed by a simple concept. The American government should do nearly anything in its power to ensure that American corporations are profitable in the world markets.

Of course, I do expect that in really lame cases, such as the Keystone pipeline and a few other environmental issues, Obama may show some toughness. In other words, it won’t be all bad, and the worst stuff will be mostly the same as it is now. Foreign policy is run from the White House, and will continue to, so that won’t change much.

Real, transforming change can occur in 2016. Until then. Let’s just watch the show, let the Republican pro business agenda loose. Let the American people see for themselves what it really means to believe that supporting businesses over people actually helps more than a few persons. I am willing to bet the 2016 election it, unless Hillary is the Democratic candidate.

NOT READY FOR HILLARY

 

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BRADFROMSALEM

 

The other day I was having a friendly conversation with a couple of friends, neither who are as much a Progressive Liberal Bleeding Heart Socialist Democrat. Both persons believed that the Clinton’s are left of center. Actually, in my mind they are both right of center. First off, more than any other couple in the political spotlight, their views are nearly identical. On social issues Hillary may be closer to the center than Bill, but on foreign policy she is certainly to his right. And on economics they both straight down the Center. On the whole it balances out for both to be on the right wing side of center.

To demonstrate, just look at how Bill got to be President and how Hillary became the first woman candidate who was a shoo in for the nomination. For those with short memories, that was in 2008.  but back in 1992 Bill had put together a backroom coalition to remake the Democratic Party more like the Republican party. Just with some of the traditional liberal values shared by Northern Republicans and Democrats.  The plan was to engage with business to jointly come to mutual  agreements on policy. This was the start of what is now usually called a business government partnership. Over the the last 20 years we have seen that the business is usually the one controlling the partnership. A Democratic idea gone bad. An idea that pushed the people’s agenda aside as being at best equal to that of business. Also, during Clinton’s administration he led the charge to weaken welfare., an item of frequent complaint by Republicans.  The new rules lowered government expenses helping to bring the budget into balance. But, Bill had one thing going for him. Early in his first administration he did actually do some smart things. He raised taxes on wealthy persons, increasing revenues. The tax increase was not enough to bring the worsening income gap back, but it did slow it down. So when welfare was weakened, the economy was starting to finally recover after 12 years of Reagan and Bush I. This hid the problems with the new limited welfare until Bush II crashed the economy in 2008.  But there was more that Clinton did that were not consistent with the Left Wing Democratic agenda. He carried the banner for NAFTA. A trade agreement that has defined exactly what a pro business trade agreement looks like. There was very little to protect workers on either side of the border, but large corporations made out quite well. This is why businesses continue to put a lot of time and money into getting  new trade agreements. And lastly, he went along with the elimination of the Glass-Steagall wall that kept investment banks separate from ‘regular’ banks. Removing the wall allowed the investment houses to reclassify themselves as banks and therefor be eligible to get bail out money which as an investment house they would not have been eligible for. And lets not ignore that balancing the budget was not really a good idea and running a surplus was really bad. But the problems caused by hid budgets did not appear until after the Y2K jobs bubble deflated and Bush II had already paid out bonuses to rich people by lowering their taxes. Our economy never really recovered, and of course, nearly collapsed in 2008.

Hillary has not shown any inclination that she would do things differently, on the domestic front, except fight somewhat harder for school improvements and women’s rights. But in foreign affairs, while Hillary is certainly not a Dick Cheney War Hawk, she is much more willing to put guns and troops on the ground than either her husband or Barack Obama have been. Both Hillary and Bill have continued to maintain close connections with many the banking industry’s top people, and in an era where banks have become dangerously large she must start sooner rather than later defining exactly  how she would diminish the power of the banks.

And for both Hillary and Bill, both must share in the blame for the Patriot Act and the war against terror. After 9/11, Hillary in the Senate was not shy about supporting W’s war without borders or a defined enemy. Bill also supported W’s wars in many public statements at the time. The Patriot Act was mostly written during Bill’s last term. The Republican Congress was outraged at many of its provisions and so it was not enacted, until just after 9/11.

We need America to change direction. The power of corporations continue to increase daily. They can and do heavily influence the public forum. I would be ready for anyone that insists that Corporations be removed from the public forum. I am ready for candidates that will agree to the following two short statements.
People First, Nothing Else second.
When People succeed , Business success will follow. (This statement cannot be reversed)

To me, they describe all that I need to know about politics, economic and international affairs. I don’t believe Hillary is ready for either one; until I hear otherwise, I remain Not Ready For Hillary.