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.

 

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Venn

When trying to describe my political orientation I have morphed through many descriptions. Some have been decided by the state of my own beliefs, other times I have tried using terms that describe what political party I most associate with. I have toyed with using what is in vogue for most people that I politically agree with, and with using what most aptly describes my leanings.

My grandfather was involved with Boston city politics, becoming a campaign manager for a long time City Councillor. That meant he was a Democrat. It was from my mother’s side that I inherited the Democrat bent. My father was a cynic who rarely voted. He never subscribed to any party because he believed they were “all a bunch of crooks”. From my father, I inherited cynicism; which rested dormant in my mind until world events pushed me to recognize in an abstract way my father was right. All politicians are a bunch of crooks. Not because they necessarily stole from public coffers, but because most put the comfort of the wealthy before that of the voters. Oddly, as my own cynicism began to blossom during my later teen years and the Vietnam War through the Reagan administration, his lessened as he began to dutifully believe the President was justified to do whatever was needed because he knew things we didn’t. For a while I considered myself a Democrat.

In fact, I am still registered as a Democrat. But I cannot participate in their party activities. I’m still invited to their get-togethers, but I cannot find the space in my life to go. I am not #Demexit. I am #NoMorePoliticalParties.

My wife was brought up in an Italian Catholic home, but their religion was belonging to the Democratic Party. She has never wavered from that. She did try a few religions before settling on becoming a Jew. So a nice Italian Catholic Democrat girl, became a Jewish Democrat. Those are the Venn Diagram she individually lives in.

As I noted over the years I modeled my descriptions along more esoteric terms. Lately I have bundled them all together into a long stream such as “Progressive, Liberal, Left Wing, Bleeding heart, Social Democrat. I intentionally leave out the Liberal Libertarian part that was actually a moniker I used online for a while. Inevitably people would accuse me or tell me that if I used Libertarian in my self description that regardless of any modifier I use (such as Liberal!) then I am a Libertarian and are therefore required to follow the Libertarian agenda. I realized that thinking was true across the political spectrum when I stated opposition to early voting and was rebuked by someone telling me that “Democrats are in favor of early voting”. Perhaps I am not a Democrat? Is autonomy dead? Do most people actually look to political parties to tell them what to believe? Current events tell me this is so, more now, I think, than ever.

Watch the news, read the paper and everything is characterized into one single grouping for Liberals. Liberals believe Russia hacked the election, they tell us. Conservative voters believe that Trump will bring good business sense into managing US economic issues. None of that makes any sense. Russia did not hack the election, Trump has no business sense at all. I’m a Liberal and I know Conservatives that don’t believe Trump would know how to run a lemonade stand.

In reality, we are all defined by the Venn Diagrams that describe each of us. The media, in a day when there is time to tell the story that is real are supposed to be cynics, instead they are toadies of the lowest sort. I have noted some of the Venn circles that I find myself in, I bet almost every person that reads this shares at least one circle with me. That cannot be covered in today’s political party setup.

From here on I will call myself a #TrueLiberal. Anyone can use the nomenclature, it’s only purpose is to separate those of us that want to disassociate themselves from the any of the established Political parties.

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.

Incompetence and Misleading the Public is a High Crime

After years of observing President Trump demonstrate an ineptness that astounds even fans of the 1962 New York Mets, I have determined that for the benefit of the nation, the world, and to allow Melania Trump to return to the relative safety of the nearest Women’s shelter that she can buy; Donald J. Trump must be impeached.  His impeachment cannot be for his shady business dealings with Russia or any of the other rather unsavory business types he has done business with over the decades.  When he was elected, his past connections was fairly well known.  An astute, diligent press could and should have been able to report on all that, but then there would not have been any ink left or air time available for writing about and covering his wonderfully, enlightening tweets.  We certainly cannot impeach him for collusion with the Russians for affecting his election, mainly because.  OK because it didn’t happen and even if it did there is the slight (sic) problem that both Democrats and Republicans committed much more election tampering than the Russians could have.  See Post

 

How about impeaching Trump for the recent implied allegation by former FBI Director Comey of Obstruction of Justice? Good, but it still has that Russian stink to it and for the sake of world peace, we need to avoid any impeachment that revolves around Russia.  Any issues with Trump’s staffers, or even Vice President Pence, regarding Russia; we can resolve after we impeach The Donald. No, not Russia, not even the alleged Prostitutes in Russia will have the lasting positive impact that an impeachment trial on the grounds of incompetence will have. But only if the trial takes place and found guilty.  Trump cannot be allowed to resign, and then be pardoned. The trial must happen.  Sure, I know, it would be a bend over backwards by Congress to write up the impeachment articles but they are all experts at bullshit. I am certain they can wordsmith incompetence into legalese so that it can be described as a high crime or even a misdemeanor.

 

Just for starters here is some of the examples of The Donald’s challenge to the ’62 Mets.  He has a majority in both Houses, he claimed he had the best health care plan to replace the ACA.  He has failed, not for a lack of trying; but instead his attempts have been miserable failures.  This failure to deliver anything that resembles his campaign pledges is clearly evidence that he either ran his campaign based on total fabrications of what he intended to do once he won, or just did not care. He has admitted openly that he had adopted phrases on the campaign trail that implied policy, but were only included because the phrase elicited a positive reaction from his supporters. On the few occasions that he has actually tried to implement policy that aligns with his campaign either the Courts or his own party has thwarted him. The Courts, due to unconstitutional policy, the Republican Party leadership due to political constraints. In both cases, a competent President would have made adjustments to his proposals so that they could, in some manner be implemented.

 

Perhaps you are reading this article and are thinking that all politicians make claims and policy proposals on the campaign trail that they do not keep. Why impeach Trump?  That is very simple, because we can. Because running for president in the manner that happens today was not foreseen by the founders. Because, by running a campaign built on promises made to the electorate and then abandoned once elected most certainly in a functional democracy be considered and impeachable offense and a high crime. Because, not having the skill set required to execute the duties of any job, let alone presiding over a nation of over 300 Million people, should not be allowed to continue performing that job. Being incompetent and should the Congress awaken and do their diligence to remove Donald J. Trump via impeachment, American Presidential candidates will be restrained in making promises they are unable or unwilling to keep. Congress will also reestablish their Constitutional role of being a check on the President. But only if Trump is impeached for incompetence. His most glaring defect as President. Even his most ardent supporters are starting to realize that.

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.

Let’s Pretend.

 

Picture 045

 

BRADFROMSALEM

Let’s play pretend.

Let’s pretend we know what happens over the next two years while the Republicans have control of America’s House of Representatives and the Senate as well. Let’s pretend that they continue passing bills in the House to defund anything Obama tries to do either by veto or by executive order. Let’s pretend that in both chambers, rule changes are instituted on a regular basis. Rules that prevent any chance of Democrats funding any initiative that will provide more opportunities for rich and poor alike, strengthen and reinforce the tattered safety net, glue back together our crumbling infrastructure to keep things working and moving until a new infrastructure can be designed and built. Of course, we must also pretend that even environmental issues will need to be put aside so we can pretend to create jobs via tax cuts to those that have money, and less regulations on both good and bad, but especially pesky environmental and safety regulations. Yes, let’s pretend by a crooked hook they get everything they want, and more.

What will happen when they attain their goal of privatizing every single government function?  Is it the end of government waste and fraud, saving the taxpayer billions of dollars every year? Is this how we achieve a lowered tax rate, but continue to live and prosper in the greatest nation ever made in the history of Earth, 3rd planet from the star Sol in the Milky Way galaxy?  No, it’s not. But at that is exactly what the Republicans will pretend. What I don’t know for sure is just how many Republicans believe that their agenda, if implemented, will create the greatest nation ever made in the history of Earth and how many know it’s a game of pretend.

So what does happen? The meager improvements in the real unemployment figure will start to diminish and by the end of the two years turn negative just like in 2008. The persons whose wages have been stagnant lately will see their wages actually decrease, and those already suffering lowered wages will see their pay plummet. We probably will see prices begin to drop as demand almost entirely disappears.

You may have heard that recently, Mitch The Turtle McConnell, is taking the credit for our limping, but improving economy to the Republicans and people being thrilled about the Republicans gaining control of both Houses. He knows the reality is that any improvements have been in spite of Republican obstructionism, but that doesn’t matter. By 2016 he and the rest of the Republicans will be able turn in either direction. If things go well leading into the 2016 elections, the story will be that it is the Republicans that did it. If things turn sour (most likely), he can say that Obama’s veto pen, executive orders,  and the Democrats in Congress obstructed all their initiatives.  That story does not require truth to get in the way of its telling, the media will report as a “he said/she said” argument. But since we are pretending that the Republicans do get their way, then I am fairly certain that the economy will tank and the Republicans have already started to sow the seeds just for that outcome.

But I call this pretend because there are options open to the managers of the American economy. And the economic managers work for the executive branch. There are signs that some, particularly Senators Warren and Sanders, that are trying to force the executive branch to look for alternative answers. Warren’s blocking of another Wall Street guy to Treasury, and Sanders naming a leading Modern Money Theory advocate to be the minority economic adviser to Senate Budget committee. Together on two separate fronts these two are making it clear to the administration and the American people, that just maybe the ruin that Republican economic policies will create does not have to happen. And all their maneuvering to get their way will end up as an exercise for some future professor to say to her class, let’s play pretend.