Feb 28, 2017

Fake News Isn't Anything New

In 2004, I was working in Ohio for a Get-Out-The-Vote organization called America Coming Together. One day while going to door-to-door in a trailer park in Licking County (forgot which town, but not the unique interaction with the voter) I spoke with a man who wasn't that concerned about the upcoming presidential election as he was concerned about the "newspaper" reporting about Bill Clinton having been caught having yet another affair. I was astonished, then I asked what newspaper broke the story (I had already checked the New York Times, Columbus Dispatch, and the Newark Advocate (OH) earlier that day and even if they had been scooped they all would've reported on the news outlet that broke the story). The man told me to wait while he fetched the "newspaper". When he returned he showed me the frontpage headline of the Weekly World News, right there next there most recent update to Batboy.

I pointed out that just as there is no Batboy, I don't think Bill Clinton had been caught in another affair, he simply replied "That's what they say happened" oblivious to clear objective truth that facts was not what the Weekly World News deals with. I didn't change his mind, and he probably thought that I didn't really know how the world works, that the Illumnati and the Masons rigged the world for some unknown purposes and that the scandals brought from the weekly tabloids are the only real source of news unlike those boring endless articles brought by wire service reporters distributed by the likes of the Columbus Dispatch.

Humans want to be distracted, we want the world to be simple, and would love if it were clear cut good vs evil and without any nuance; but the world is full of grey and gradations. There are no explicit bad guys or good guys, the Vietnam War didn't pit the "good capitalists" against the "evil communists" there was good and evil on both sides. The Spanish American War was kicked off by the U.S.S. Maine blowing up, presumably by some Spanish royalist, there again it was framed as "good democracy" versus "evil monarchy". In both instances whether 50 years ago or 115 years ago the spark of the war was fake news, the U.S.S. Maine was not blown up by any Spanish ne'erdo-well, nor was the North Vietnamese attacking American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, the sensationalism of the moment carried our nation off to war either to impose American Imperialism or Capitalism around the world.

Currently we have a president that regurgitates statements from the most sensationalist news outlet of our time in pithy 140 character bites via Twitter or from the podium of speeches. Without much (or any) reflection, the Republican president decides over dinner to send Seal Team 6 into Yemen and doesn't even think it's worth his time to be in the situation room while the operation occurs, he still declares it a success after the fact despite the lack of planning that certainly contributed to the death of Chief Special Warfare Officer William “Ryan” Owens in Yemen and the deaths of upwards of 30 non-combatants including 8-year old Nawar "Nora" Anwar al-Awlaki, daughter of American born Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed by an American drone strike in 2011. Nora al-Awlaki was just as American as Alberta Canada born Senator Ted Cruz and was killed without any due process or even any thorough planning by the commander in chief.

Americans have already died because too many people willfully refuse to critically think about the world, and challenge whatever feels truthful to them or as The Colbert Report famously declared in 2006 "that truthiness is more important than the Truth". We need to accept that our emotions are meaningless, and our opinions if unchanging despite new information are harmful if not fatal to ourselves. It's distraction to read whole cloth falsehoods that give you the impression of being let in on a secret, but it's no means a harmless distraction. Ignoring the harm and refusing to accept reality will come home to roost as it did in the aftermath of the Spanish American War where the souls of American servicemen were lost as they committed heinous crimes against their fellow humans in Philippines or the 50,000 servicemen who gave their lives in the Vietnam War just so they could drink Coca-Cola and eat McDonald's which they ended up doing anyway. The individual that is convinced of a lie, will be more willing to suffer through harm than suffer through the shame of being hoodwinked by the lie.

Nov 19, 2016

Journalists Seem To be Confused By Whether Or Not Trump Has Actually Purged Lobbyists

Both of these headlines can't be true.


Washington Post: Lobbyists are still involved in Trump team, despite the president-elect’s pledge to remove their influence

Trump: Lobbyists should stay
Trump: Lobbyists should stay
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/11/18/lobbyists-remain-involved-in-trump-transition-despite-pledge-to-remove-their-influence-2/

Politico: Lobbyists leave Trump transition team after new ethics rule

Trump: Lobbyists Should Go
Trump: Lobbyists Should Go

http://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trump-administration/2016/11/lobbyists-leave-trump-transition-team-ethics-rule-231641

May 21, 2016

2017: President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Sanders



There are many of those that voted for Senator Sanders and continue to #FeelTheBern, those that support him with the most passion have transitioned to #BernieOrBust. Susan Sarandon has intimated that it may be better for liberals to oppose a Trump presidency than try to get revolutionary change from a second Clinton Presidency.

"Well, you know, some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately," Sarandon told MSNBC journalist Chris Hayes. "If he gets in, then things will really explode." 
I could not disagree more, there is nothing scarier than the thought of the sociopath buffoon being inaugurated to highest office in the land and at the helm of the ship of state. But Sarandon, and other #BernieOrBust people could angle for a much better solution that will end up providing avid support for Clinton's election from even those that today swears to never hold their nose to vote for Clinton for their myriad of reasons: Clinton formally endorses Sanders to become the next Senate Majority Leader if the Democrats take back the Senate in 2016.

She could twist the arms of those Democratic Senators that had endorsed her, to commit to electing Sanders and not Chuck Schumer to become the majority leader if the Democrats win back the Senate in the general elections. Sanders would be committed to campaign for US Senate candidates in an effort to take back the senate (his advantage with independents would be welcomed to any candidate challenging a Republican) while at the same time it would allow Clinton to select whomever she felt best suited her to be her Vice President (a position that if Sanders was offered would become limited to only what the constitution provides breaking ties in the Senate and checking if the president was still alive).

Though Chuck Schumer would hate the possibility of having the Democratic Socialist rank over him, calls for party unity would be disingenuous if there isn't any actual attempt to corral those #BernieOrBust folks. Party unity is paramount to assure that Trump will be denied the White House, and as Barack Obama said in the commencement speech at  Howard University

And democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100 percent right.  This is hard to explain sometimes.  You can be completely right, and you still are going to have to engage folks who disagree with you.  If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want.

Even if the intended target was the Sanders supporters who were dead-enders, the exact same logic could be directed towards the establishment and Clinton campaign that are reluctant if not adamantly rejecting to compromise what she will promise to earn the votes of those who do not wish to see a double-down of business-as-usual from yet another Clinton presidency. Yes even if you have won all the primaries, with assistance of mainstream media, and with the political and economic elites cheerleading you, 45% of the people is not something can be ignored even if you are 100% right. So the Clinton campaign should not continue to ignore those millions of voters that didn't vote for her, and instead seek out a means to genuinely earn their vote in November.

My proposal of setting up Sanders as the Senate majority leader seems eloquent and with nothing lost by Clinton, that is if she really is a "progressive that gets things done". A Democratic controlled Senate would allow her to accomplish all the things that she wanted to, and if it were blocked by the House it would be a great fulcrum in the mid-terms to win the House as well. Sanders would sufficiently placated no longer jockeying for the presidency and be given real influence in the Senate to affect national policy.

The only downside I could imagine is that the neoliberal Clintonistas, though giving all the lip service in the world otherwise, are not liberals and therefore would not want a liberal lion in charge of the Senate. This is very likely true, and undercuts any argument to those that want to bolt from the party establishment for not being liberal enough, to stick it out because "we in the establishment are just about deliver on some really progressive things".

Mar 25, 2016

Trump visits the homes of grassroots supporters

Donald J. Trump, leading Republican presidential candidate, decided to meet some of his most ardent supporters and active grassroots leaders. "Yeah, this going to be the greatest thing that happened in their lives" said the real estate magnate come outsider politician. The decision to interact with the "amzing people, who are 'making America great again'" came about because Trump wanted a real demonstration of how much he is loved, after proposing he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose one vote, interacting with his fan base would demonstrate exactly that.

Upon meeting the first Trump super-fan, Mrs. Cathy Felcher of Beaverton, OR it was difficult for Mr. Trump to hide his discomfort in her modest 3 bedroom 1 bath home. Mrs. Felcher was over the moon about "our next president right here, in my living room", which she repeatedly so often and with such gusto it was as if she said it often enough and believed it enough it would deliver 270 electoral votes and the GOP nomination just from sheer will.

Mr. Trump, visibly regretted this campaign stunt almost immediately. When he walked into the house with a handful of press in tow, he involuntarily cocked his eyebrow at the furniture from Target and the kids school bags that cluttered the entryway. Mrs. Felcher led the Mr. Trump and his half dozen reporters into the living room pointing out the desk with the e-Machines desktop computer is "where the magic hapens". That all of her volunteer hours have started right there. Mr. Trump asked in response "You can work out here with the TV, that's great."

Mrs. Felcher offered Mr. Trump and the reporters iced tea or coal, which politely turned down. Trump, perceiving that he should make a statement for the press simply turned to them and stated "This what America is all about, despite struggling Ms. Felcher has taken it upon herself to do what's needed. I want to thank her for her tremendous efforts, I know that she is really going appreciate all the winning we are going to do, both here in Oregon and when we win in November."

Mrs. Felcher made a slight and meek attempt at correcting Mr. Trump regarding being called 'Ms.' instead of 'Mrs.' but Trump effortlessly plowed through and decided to go on to the next event and jumped back into his Suburban with the pair of trailing 15-person passenger vans.

Next week Trump plans on visiting a volunteer who serves as Connecticut state leader, Chuck Gossamer. Let's all hope that his station in life is more tolerable to Mr. Trump than Mrs. Felcher's.