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

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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.

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.

 

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.