How would you like to be King or Queen for a Day!

With the sudden ascension of Oprah on the political stage it seems that a trip down memory lane all the way back to 2015 through 2016 is needed. I have read a few posts proclaiming that because Oprah is being talked about as a candidate in 2020 we should take it seriously. We are now in the era of the celebrity candidate, and America only trusts wealthy performers anymore. Hillary lost because she could not do a performance speech, is the noise I hear. Hillary lost because she had no answers for what troubles Americans, she had no credibility and all her so-called achievements were on paper only. Hillary lost because she was not qualified, Trump won in spite of not being qualified. Trump had answers, and most of those answers depended on him being able to deliver.

Whether he has or not is a matter of opinion.

There was also another dynamic behind Trump’s success, that could play a major part in someone like Oprah Winfrey actually running for president. The media. Les Moonves called it straight when he noted that Trump might make a horrible President, but he is great for CBS. Moonves is the Chairman of the Board at CBS. Not only did the media, all the media, not just CBS cover Trump 24/7 during the primaries but they did nothing about examining his qualifications to be President. Granted, they did not do a very good job of that on any candidate, except Sanders. Perhaps it was because of the Socialist label but Sanders was being asked for details of his proposals that could only be answered once the legislation is actually written. All others, but especially Trump, were never held accountable for their statements about policy.

Was there any interviews with other business executive that did business with him? And fellow students at college, were their memories talked about? Trump was just covered 24/7, even mildly critically at times, but still talked about. There is no doubt that the out of proportion coverage of Trump only validated in many minds his agenda. Which was tailored as only a salesman could to give the voters (customers) exactly what they wanted to hear. It was, in the end the media propped up salesman that won, not the celebrity. The media propped him up as a celebrity but people voted for who they though was a very successful businessman who spoke raw truths. The media failed to show us how unsuccessful he really was, and I am still waiting to hear from former employees. Why?

Stop blaming Trump voters being deplorable, stop blaming voters not voting, stop blaming Hillary or Bernie. In the it was our First amendment Free Press that failed.

OK Probably Hillary and the DNC are somewhat to blame, but their narcotizing blather might have been a major step backwards.

Advertisements

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”

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.

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

IMG_20150803_201122457[1]
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.