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.

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.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

BRADFROMSALEM

The other day I heard a rerun of the tail end of the May 5 Stephanie Miller program still touting the wonderfulness of all things Hillary. I find her hard to take anymore. Then, later that same day Bill Maher demonstrated for all to see and hear, how very wrong he and the establishment Democrat’s analysis of why Hillary Clinton lost to the only candidate in the entire 18 (or was it 19?) field of Republican candidates for President that she had a chance of beating. But the star of the “Still with Her” of the Democratic establishment supporters defending Hillary’s loss as not HER fault, was Hillary herself.

I think it was on a Thursday that Clinton addressed her loss, admitting she made mistakes. But what Clinton went on to say after her mea culpa, demonstrates precisely why she lost, when her intention was to explain it. If Clinton stopped at saying she made mistakes, it would have been a tiny step toward understanding both why Progressives rejected her and why the Reagan Democrats voted for Trump. But instead, not being able to keep her trap shut (I sympathize with her on this disability, I have been known to toss politest to the wind myself, to my own detriment. However I have never run for president.) Hillary goes on to minimize and even trivialize her mistakes by noting that nobody runs a perfect campaign. No shit, (S)Herlock Clinton. Without stretching out to rebut the further points she made, none of which actually mattered, such as Comey’s now revealed reason during the day prior to her speech, for sending a letter to Congress about reopening the Clinton server investigation or the release by Wiki Leaks of the DNC emails. A reason that as Comey explained made some sense. I still think there is more to the story, but none of that is the reason I am writing this post.

In all of these diatribes about how, in the words of Clinton, on Oct 27, she was winning. And that was an actual juvenile whine by a person that her supporters had ardently claimed to be the most qualified person to ever seek the office of President of The United States, explains why she may have had the best resume, but as it turns out still was not qualified for the job. And to any Hillary sycophants, like Stephanie Miller, drooling into their microphones at the thought of a Hillary Clinton Presidency, and now drooling about Clinton joining the “resistance” that just jumps their heart rates right into the danger zone, I just have to say.. Fool.me once, shame on me, Try to fool me twice… I Won’t Get Fooled Again. Yes, paraphrasing W’s really jumbled thoughts now passes for cleverness.

Hillary and her resistance crew. Yes, Hillary, by claiming she is part of the waste of time anti-Trump resistance has become its titular leader. When I heard Miller on the radio jumping for joy, that Clinton claimed to be part of the resistance and she was about to embark on creating a new political organization, recruiting board members and raising funds told me all I needed to know. In Clinton world, and with the resistance groupies it is still about money. The lessons of 2016 and how she stole money from local candidates, and outspent Trump, and that she spent all of it on telling everyone how horrible Trump would be is totally lost on her and her followers. That includes opinion makers such as Bill Maher and Stephanie Miller; who both seemed to bother to actually think things through when it came to Bush. And here, finally is my point. It ain’t my freaking fault that Donald Trump was elected President. Because that was the point of Maher’s rant. It was unsaid by Hillary, but you could feel it. By what rubric did I “owe” my vote to Hillary Clinton?

See, that is what people mean when they complain about how many votes Jill Stein got, and that if Stein’s votes all went to Hillary, then it would be “Madame President” instead of “Madman President”. Sorry, that argument holds no water. I owed her my vote because she ran with a “D” after her name? I did not hear or see Hillary Clinton come to me and tell me why I should vote for her. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment paid lip service to the movement instigated by Bernie Sanders, and expected us to fear Trump and fall in line. My vote costs a lot more than that. A lot. She could have won me over, and by extension millions of more Progressive Americans. She could have won. Hillary was quoted in the forthcoming book “Shattered” which is about her campaign, where she noted that she has no idea what is going on with the American electorate. That statement says it all. Trump does have at least a gut feeling of what is happening, and being a con artist salesman that is how he ran his campaign and now his administration. But a person’s whose profession is politician that does not know the pulse of the nation, cannot possibly be president. We have won, because Trump can be manipulated by the masses. He is like the creatures that often show up in Star Trek and other Sci-Fi movies and literature. Those monsters feed off of some chosen emotion, usually anger or hate, Trump feeds on his ego and the main staple of his diet is making the sale. Joining with Trump supporters, gently welcoming them to our ranks, will eventually bring Trump himself to the political table with something we want him to sell us. Political affiliations don’t matter anymore.

So, Hillary people, please just forget the idea that most Progressives did not vote for Hillary because she did not pass a “purity” test. That is just a continuance of the condescension spoken out loud by Hillary supporters since the day Sanders announced. We did not vote for Hillary for two important reasons. I’ll wait a second here, for Hillary people to get pen and paper. _____________________________________________ Ok. Progressive did not vote for Hillary because she marginalized Progressives, and that includes treating us with contempt, especially when she called herself a Progressive. And second because she won the nomination via cheating. We are damn certain that her campaign managed the DNC leaders and there is sufficient evidence to justify an investigation into the actual Primary voting. And she expected us to vote for her because her opponent sucks? This was not a matter of the lesser of two evils. It was a matter of no more evil. A conservative friend noted that during the Primary, when he marked his ballot for Sanders, how wonderful it felt to vote FOR someone. The Identity politics of gender, party, and resume was where Clinton got the vast majority of her votes. Almost nobody voted for HER. And that is why she lost.

Progressive Policy Defined

BRADFROMSALEM

The components of a Progressive policy is unclear. How is it different from Liberal policy, or is it just an alternative name? It is both. Progressive policy is long term policy, while Liberal are the immediate policy. Progressive is larger in scope and is less forgiving of compromising on principles. Liberal is practical, Progressive is aspirational.

I have defined Progressive as being the sum of 3 non negotiable components. In order for a public policy to be Progressive it must be morally based, compatible with the principles of Democratic Socialism, and finally must seek out peaceful solutions as a primary objective.

Public policy in the US is any law legally enacted, Executive Order issued, or regulation published. For any policy to be considered morally based it must adhere to what is often called by Christians the Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”. This is but one version of the Golden Rule which is a consistent teaching of all religions and other moral structures. A policy is moral when it applies to all equally and any that are affected would apply the same benefits to their fellows and those that are not affected would want the policy to apply to themselves.

When a policy is morally based it already contains a critical component of a true Democratic Socialist society. Democratic Socialism is already consistent with the US Constitution in the clauses regarding eminent domain, the postal services, and interstate commerce; as well as the preamble’s commitment to “the general welfare”. Democratic Socialism also does not prohibit Free Enterprise or fair and open elections. Any policy that restricts government’s ability to act for the general welfare, restrict Free Enterprise, prevent or hinder fair and open elections, are not Progressive policies. To clarify, Free Enterprise differs from Free Markets by some critical criteria, which is that Free Enterprise promotes open markets for competition of any business that does not impinge on the General Welfare. Free Markets on the other hand promotes less regulation over the markets and prefers the market to provide all services even those that affect the General Welfare. Free Market capitalism is not compatible with Democratic Socialism, Free Enterprise as I have defined it is compatible.

Lastly, seeking peaceful solutions is worthy not only in international relations but also with domestic problems as well. Internationally, entering into discussions over differences with the stated and demonstrated intention of a peaceful resolution makes a solution much more likely. A show of force by the US is totally unnecessary, the world is well aware of America’s firepower, there is no need to flaunt it. Domestically, the threat of prison and other harsh punishments that do not fit the crime are not only immoral (see above) but pits citizen’s against each other and diverts precious resources of people, land, and facilities from being into uses that enrich the entire country.

Progressive Policy = Moral + Democratic Socialism + Peace

Within that short formula is not a rigid one size fits all, but instead a means of determining where compromise can be made, and a wide range of viable positive policies can be derived.

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.

What In Tarnation is a Progressive anyways?

Maine Desert - Created by good intentions gone bad
Maine Desert – Created by good intentions gone bad

BRADFROMSALEM

We in America all talk of how we have a two-party system. Many persons disappointed in the current state of affairs have expressed a desire for a third-party.  Usually they want the third-party because “neither party is for the people”, or “they’re all a bunch of crooks”, and “it don’t matter who I vote for, they are all the same”.  All true statements, but only partly. Our present election system indirectly encourages office seekers and officeholders to put the interest of the people low on their priority list, it allows for unsavory legal and outright illegal deals to be made, and both of the two major parties have created a political infrastructure where you either sing the same song or don’t sing at all. But inside all the noise, there is a lot more going on and America is not really divided into two. We are not just either a Democrat or a Republican, a Liberal or a Conservative; or any of the tiny and not tiny offshoots of those four major alignments. What is unusual is that with negligible exceptions the Democrats have all the Liberals in their tent, and the Republicans have all the Conservatives. In the past, each party consisted of a coalitions of other groups along the political Right to Left spectrum. Not anymore. Right are Conservative Republicans, and Left are Liberal Democrats.

But as I noted, there used to be Republican Liberals. And most notably, the Republican Party under Teddy Roosevelt created the modern Progressive movement.  Progressives were and are a liberal faction that places as it highest goal the supremacy of the individual person.  This is similar and yet the opposite of the Objectivists, AKA the followers of Ayn Rand’s Libertarianism. The key difference between Progressives and the Objectivists is simply a question of how the supremacy is defined and how it is accomplished.  The Objectivists believe each individual is solely responsible for their accomplishments and that means in the Objectivists worldview that the more an individual achieves is an indicator of how much better or worse that individual is as compared to others.  A Progressive on the other hand believes that individual supremacy occurs when all persons are helped, guided, and encouraged to achieve whatever they are best at. This requires that our social mores and government (communal) actions are all biased toward the goal of each person achieving their individual supremacy. Objectivists are a special case of Conservative and Progressives are a special case of Liberals.

But beyond the individual person’s achievements there is another even larger gap. Progressives do not recognize the supremacy or even the legitimacy of the artificial person known as corporations to overrule the supremacy of natural persons. Objectivists, see the corporation as a collection of persons.  The persons who run the corporations then use the corporation’s achievements to justify supremacy over other persons natural and artificial. It is a difference of perception, one which I personally choose the Progressive argument.

So here is the Turing test to see if a person is truly a Progressive.  Many Liberals and Progressives will agree on policy details, but there is a big, huge, difference that will steer the decision-making once they have achieved public office. The test is an answer to a simple question. Do you believe that we, as a society, can achieve our loftiest ambitions by allowing corporations and it’s representative Natural Persons to have any say in our laws and regulations? Any person that answers ‘yes’ is not a Progressive.

 

BUILDING A TRUE CABLE/WEB PROGRESSIVE OUTLET

Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day

 BRADFROMSALEM

Yesterday I wrote about MSNBC’s current death spiral.  https://opinionatedwriters.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/leaning-forward-msnbc-falls-flat-on-its-face/  Today I would like to propose a format for a Progressive Cable station also available with live streaming on the web.  To use both outlets is critical, since more and more people are looking to cut the cable cord. Live streams are also critical since we are talking about news and current events. As the Stone sang many years ago “who wants yesterday’s news?”.  But, on the other hand, some programming may be better suited to making it available for streaming over a long stretch of time. Thus a cross platform is necessary.  That does not preclude a small $2 or $3 dollar per month subscription to the entire Progressive TV outlet’s catalogue.

But, content and name recognition is absolutely necessary to bring in the eyeballs and the ears initially.  But programming cannot and should not follow the Right Wing baloney, where a blowhard talk and rants for an hour, brings in the same rotation of talking heads and possible experts that tell the host how smart they are. This happens now on both Fox and MSNBC. The people that want Progressive programming are not fooled by such inanity. That is why MSNBC’s ratings are tanking. That and each and every show covers the same two top stories every night. Borrrring!!

So Rule #1 If the show before you covered scandal “A”, then don’t say anything more than coverage of scandal “A”  is available on the web and is also optimized for your cell phone. Two shows after scandal “A”, then the host has 90 seconds to outline the main theme and the redirect people to the web.

Rule #2. Nobody gets to cover scandal “A” more than 2 nights in a row.

Rule #3  is that Rules 1 and 2 can be overridden to introduce a new development, but only new information can be reported.

Rule #4, no host has a regular shift.   What?  No Rachel (or whoever) every night at the same time? Yup. All evening programming should be ready for publication by 5 PM each evening and announced via push technology such as social media, and even emails as well as 45 second blurbs on air. (These blurbs can be on radio and other tv outlets)  For example, Rachel can put together a 45 minute program one night where she explores an issue in depth, the next night she follows with a rebuttal or a an expansion or possibly responds to viewer questions live or prerecorded, but that program only take 30 minutes.

Rule #5, One host, each evening may choose to not do a program.

The idea here is to create a dynamic set of programs that can explore issues with real experts, and sometimes follow up on the issues generated from one program into another. It does not have to repeat the same news stories over and over. Invite, but not require or expect viewer participation. Place material on the web that ties various parts of the same subject together . Allow hosts to live or die on their talents, and above all do not repeat the same story.