Congressional Republicans Waste Billions Bullying IRS

Artwork: The Bully of the Neighborhood by John George Brown

Republicans like to talk about how inefficient the government is.  Just look at the Post Office, they will tell you, it’s about to go bankrupt any minute.  If that is true of most government agencies then the IRS is a shining exception to that rule.  For every dollar the agency spends on tax compliance it collects $4.  In fact, increasing these sorts of double-check programs was hailed – by Republicans and Democrats alike – throughout the 80’s and 90’s for their ability to decrease the deficit.  That’s no longer the case on the right.

In the last two fiscal years the US has simply failed to collect an estimated $14 billion in taxes.  And when you combine that with all of the other funds that the IRS hasn’t been able to keep track of due to budget cuts you get a staggering amount: $280 billion over the last 10 years.  Most of the money is now too old to collect and will have to simply be written off.

Earl Pomeroy (D, ND) of the House IRS oversight committee blames the decrease in audits for these sorts of changes.  The feeling among many corporations and wealthy individuals is that “I can cheat, no one will ever know.”  Because in any given year you have about a 1% chance of being audited.  So whatever you put down on your taxes you’ll probably get away with as long as you’re the only one keeping records.

Perhaps more troubling, the assault by Congressional Republicans starting in 2010 has quadrupled the number of identity thefts related to tax returns to 730k.  The targets are mainly elderly individuals, who are generally contacted over the phone and end up losing their tax returns that year.  Last year the total lost by unsuspecting tax payers hit $21 billion.  And the IRS knows exactly how to fix it.  They simply need to update their fraud detection system which is frighteningly outdated.  But with their funding constantly being cut by Congress they cannot afford it.

But what really added insult to injury is the way that the same people who are causing the problem are in turn blaming the IRS.  This week a law was passed that will postpone all bonuses until Customer Service numbers improve.  The decrease was of course due to the 17% decrease in funding since 2010, which has decreased the number of employees by 14%.  Guess where most of those employees used to work?   Congress fires telephone operators by decreasing the budget and then criticizes the agency itself for having less telephone operators.  Stop hitting yourself!

Some, like current Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, have even promised to abolish the IRS.  Though when asked to list all of the agencies he’s promised to abolish in the past he wasn’t able to.  But on the off chance that he’s able to remember his promises once he reaches office Americans can expect to see the biggest increase in the deficit ever.  The IRS collected nearly $2.9 trillion dollars in 2013 and as of yet Mr. Cruz has not explained how he would make up that difference upon dismantling the agency.

What is really going on here is just another symptom of our political division in America.  These politicians hope that in the current hypersensitive climate their weird maneuvers will be mistaken for bravery and sacrifice.  Ted Cruz for instance is only famous because he held the federal budget hostage and most of his supporters don’t realize that it cost us billions and accomplished nothing even by their standards.  The only solution is an electorate that is more informed, votes regularly and isn’t hampered by voting laws.

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Sick of the DNC? You’re Not Alone.

Artwork: Air Pusher Art Car by A Gomez

At the beginning of this campaign cycle I was a devoted Democratic voter.  I believed what our country needed was more Democrats in office in order to fix its most basic problems.  I thought that voter suppression was something that mainly happened on the right and that the Democratic Party was devoted to upholding the rights of the American Citizen.  But that is not what I have seen over the past few months.

In Arizona, information about early voting was strategically released to make it seem as though Hillary Clinton was winning by a landslide while many votes still had yet to be cast.  Meanwhile,  poll stations were reduced by about 70% so that many Bernie supporters were faced with hours of waiting for a candidate they were told had already lost.  As you might imagine many of them went home.  If this was not a planned disaster meant to tilt the primary in the former Secretary’s favor then it is the happiest accident I’ve ever heard of.  Yet it’s one of many going on all over the country in places where she ends up winning.

Nearly 120k voters disappeared from the registry in my own home state, New York.  Millions more were not able to switch their affiliation in time because New Yorkers are expected to do so 6 months in advance.  A rule obviously devised to shut out run-away populists like Bernie Sanders.  And it worked, many of my friends and family weren’t allowed to vote in last Tuesday’s primary and nearly all of them were Bernie supporters.  That’s because people like Bernie who advocate for systemic change tend to have broad based support from across party lines.  But none of those voices were counted in my home state.

But perhaps the most blatant transgressions come from the DNC itself.  The Sanders campaign has accused the party itself of raising tens of thousands of dollars for Clinton directly.  Worse yet, they withheld crucial voter data from Sanders for several days.  The DNC eventually allowed Sanders to access his own data after several days but the move has been called ‘heavy handed‘ by a number of former campaign experts.

Enter The Progressive Independent Party; a group that’s hoping that the momentum built by the Sanders campaign can help form a viable third party.  To do so it will need to join forces with independent groups already in play like The Green Party, Democratic Socialists of America and Progressive Democrats of America.  The Party formed as online effort calling for officials from each of these parties as well as Bernie Sanders himself to do just that.  You can sign the petition yourself here.

The movement is new and has a lot of growing to do if it hopes to find its way on to national ballots.  But it’s gaining momentum, and the political environment is certainly poised to bring about some sort of change.  So today I’m going to sign the petition and hope for a better party to come and take the DNC’s place.  A party that tries to win votes with it’s platform rather than trying to distort the electorate with it’s policies.

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Ted Cruz’s Disgusting Bathroom Bigotory

Artwork: Ted Cruz – Caricature by DonkeyHotey

So Donald Trump actually said something reasonable the other day; albeit with his usual loud, stammering, meandering, self-promoting, arrogant Trumpiness.  Still when faced with the ridiculous North Carolina ‘genital check’ law he opposed it saying it was silly and a step backward.  That prompted Cruz’s Super PAC to release this apocalyptic bathroom ad:

Did you watch it?  Watch it.  It’s disturbing and one of the most transphobic things I’ve ever seen.  And as you might have guessed it’s completely wrong.  Let’s take this line by line:

“Should a grown man, pretending to be a woman, be allowed to use the woman’s restroom?”

There are several things that I am tempted to shout upon reading this.  I suppose the most snarky would be that trans-women are pretending in the same that Mr. Cruz is pretending to be an American.  And by that I mean that he was actually born in Canada but his parents filled out all the paperwork and had him nationalized.   Can we call him a transAmerican now?  Please make that a thing.  But seriously though Mr. Cruz, if you think that transsexuals are just pretending then you’re about 30 years behind the rest of the country.  You should read a book, literally anything might help.

“The same restroom used by your daughter?  Your wife?”

What strikes me as strange is that the part about the ‘wife’ comes last.  Like it’s the punchline.  What exactly do you think is going to happen to a grown woman if she poops next to another woman who happens to have mismatched genitalia?  Is that how Republicans believe that transsexualism is transmitted?  From stall to stall?

“Donald Trump thinks so.  It’s not appropriate.  It’s not safe.”

Now this is the part that really seems silly.  How exactly is it not safe?  The little girl in the picture looks to be about 5 years old.  My daughter is 6 and I sit right outside the door when she uses a public restroom.  So how exactly would letting transsexuals in there put her in danger?  If she can’t reach the soap she screams for help; I’m pretty sure nobody’s getting raped in there.

But let me put it another way.  If you send all trans people back to ‘where they belong’ you’ll have a lot more confusion.  Many if not most transsexuals are also gay.  Which means that we’d be sending these same people – that are supposedly a rape waiting to happen – back to rooms that also may have children in them and ones of the opposite gender.  Why aren’t we worried about our sons and husbands?

“It’s PC nonsense that’s destroying America.  Donald Trump won’t take on the PC police.  He’s one of them.”

That’s literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  I don’t like Trump I think that he’d ruin this country nearly as much as Cruz would.  His name makes me nauseous.  When I hear his voice I hum to myself so as to remain clam.  But if there is one thing I have never said about Mr. Trump, it is that he’s too politically correct.  You’d have to be an even bigger idiot than the Donald to believe that.

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Trump’s Tax Plan Would Bankrupt America

Artwork: Donald Trump – Caricature by DonkeyHotey

Conservatives like to poke fun at progressive economic plans, especially when it comes to taxes.  This is all despite economists arguing that things like raising the minimum wage, less expensive education and universal healthcare would actually save us money in the long run.  It’s funny because for the past decade we’ve been living with the Bush tax code and it’s been expensive and hasn’t done a thing for the economy.  But if you want to see our economy really begin to fall apart you should vote Trump.

First of all, despite Trump claiming that his plan is revenue neutral, his tax cuts would raise the deficit by $980 billion.  Meaning that he and Reagan would be the only 2 presidents ever to have tripled the deficit at any time.  This would put incredible pressure on the federal government to cut corners on things like Medicaid, Social Security and Other Social Safety Net Programs.  Things like education and disease prevention programs would also see large cuts as a result.

The plan is a thinly veiled attempt to reduce taxes on the rich while giving poorer Americans a more moderate break.  Those making millions per year would see a tax decreases between 17 and 19% while the average American would only save around 4%.  And in exchange for this moderate tax cut for the Americans who need it most we would likely see the national debt rise to over $30 trillion over the next 20 years even if we do everything we can to cut corners.

Trumps plan is basically an expansion of the Bush Era Tax Cuts which account for roughly $2.5 trillion of the current US debt.  And even though that’s a tremendous amount of money to waste it’s nothing compared to how much Trump’s proposals would cost us.  Worse yet, we already know that this sort of Trickle Down Economics doesn’t work the way its proponents say it will.  The plan was hailed as a job-creating super-formula but was immediately followed by the poorest job growth rates we’ve seen in half a century.  Less than 1/3 of the job growth we saw during the higher taxes of the Clinton era.

Our economy is just stumbling back to its feet after one of the worst recessions in American history.  A Trump presidency could easily turn that progress around and throw us into the apocalyptic ‘double-dip’ that Fox News has been praying for.  Though they’d undoubtedly find some way to blame it on President Obama.

3 Stupid Arguments against Bernie Sanders (and How to Demolish them)

Artwork: Hillary Clinton – Painting by DonkeyHotey

[1] Bernie Voted for the Crime Bill too

Okay – yes – Bernie Sanders did vote for the same crime bill that helped to pave the way for mass incarceration.  Though as he’s said it wasn’t clear at the time that it would do so.  Bernie Sanders voted against a similar bill in 1991, pointing out that economic security and opportunities to learn and advance would do more to reduce crime than harsher punishments.

He has said, then and now, that the only reason he reversed his position in 1994 is that he felt the compromises the bill offered were worth it.  It set aside considerable funds to help stop domestic abuse and later a ban on certain types of assault weapons.

Just recently he’s admitted that the crime portion of the bill did serious damage to minority communities and that had he known he wouldn’t have supported it.  But let’s be clear: he was never a fan of the crime part.  He was trying to help limit assault weapons and end domestic violence.

This is difference between the Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders.  Bill Clinton adopted his ‘tough on crime‘ attitude as part of a political strategy to lock Republicans out of winning future elections by stealing their message.  “Triangulation” he called it.  Thus, when he voted for the bill and when then First Lady Hillary Clinton talked about bringing minorities ‘to heel‘ they were simply writing off the poor for their own gain.  Bernie Sanders on the other hand made one of those ‘hard choices’ Hillary likes to talk about and in retrospect admits it was a mistake.

[2] Bernie took Money From Oil too

I’ve already covered this at length in another post but here’s the short version.  Neither Bernie nor Hillary have accepted direct money from Oil Companies though some employees have donated to their campaigns.  For Bernie Sanders these account for some minor employees that gave small donations just like the millions of others from other industries that donated to his campaign.  There’s no evidence that there was any collusion involved.

But in the case of Hillary Clinton this donated money is vastly more organized.  She has a whole team of Oil Lobbyists that go out and collect money for her called ‘bundlers.’  They have raised $1.4 million during this election cycle and have done so with the expectation that Mrs. Clinton will be more sensitive to their concerns.  Like she has been in the past.  She also accepted millions more through the Clinton Foundation and though it can’t be used directly to help her campaign it’s still tied to her.

The clincher here is that she promoted fracking all over the world, opened up new places to drill here at home and dragged her feet on opposing the Keystone pipeline.  She’ll of course argue that she eventually came out against it; but fail to mention that this was 2 years after she left office and 8 months after the project had already died in the Senate.

[3] Clinton has More Experience

It’s true that Clinton was Secretary of State for almost 4 years.  And apparently she made a lot of hard choices while in office, some of which have been very divisive and others being outright failures.  But, hey, it certainly looks good on a resume no matter how bad of a record she might have had.

But the idea that being Secretary of State makes her categorically different than Bernie Sanders is far from obvious.  To date only 6 of our 43 presidents served as Secretary of State before ascending to the presidency.  Worse yet for this argument, the last president to have been Secretary of State was James Buchanan, which was over 150 years ago.  So if you’re wondering whether this is a thing, no, it’s not a thing.

And apart from her short stint as one of Barack Obama’s secretaries she actually has less experience than Bernie.  He has spent:

  • 16 years in the House
  • 9 years in the Senate
  • 8 years as a Mayor

Compared to Hillary Clinton who:

  • 8 years in the Senate
  • 4 years as Secretary of State

So Bernie Sanders actually has 21 years more experience than Hillary Clinton.  Even if you argue that his time as mayor doesn’t count, you’re still left with 13 years more experience.  That’s more than double the experience that former Secretary has racked up.  And to be honest even if Hillary actually had more experience than Bernie I would still vote for him; because all of Bernie’s experience has been spent fighting for the poor and middle classes.  Hillary has considerable experience making choices that hurt Americans and the Environment.

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4 Signs the Clinton Camp is Worried Bernie Sanders Could Win in New York

Artwork: Hillary Clinton’s Underground Communications Center by DonkeyHotey, some rights reserved

[1] She Tried to Duck out of This Week’s Debate but Then Had to Relent

The candidate that I originally supported before I fell for Bernie was Lawrence Lessig.  If you’ve never heard of him then you’re like most Americans and that was exactly the problem.  He eventually pulled out of the running when he couldn’t force the DNC to let him into the debates despite his fulfilling all the supposed requirements.

For many would-be presidential hopefuls being able to debate other candidates in front of millions of Americans is the best way to get exposure.  And even if you’re already thoroughly exposed it’s a chance to get more free press.  So why did Hilary Clinton fight so hard to avoid the most recent debate with Bernie Sanders less than a week before the New York Primary?

Obviously, because she was afraid of something.  Bernie Sanders has been slowly chipping away at her lead and converting former Clinton supporters to his cause.  In fact, some might argue that the only thing stopping a large majority of them from switching sides is that they don’t know enough about him.  So what could be worse than millions of them tuning in to hear the two of them compare platforms?

Although this doesn’t mean that Bernie Sanders is going to win it does mean that Hillary Clinton knows that she cannot compete with him on a level playing field.  She had a large lead simply based on name recognition since the beginning and her actions seem to suggest that that lead is the only thing she’s got working in her favor.

[2] Bernie’s Been Drawing ‘Yuge’ Crowds Across the State

If the only thing holding Bernie Sanders back is name recognition then he could hardly push harder to change that than he has been.  He’s pulled in bigger-than-Obama crowds for the last several months all over the country.  But the 27k supporters that came out to see him in NYC this past week make him seem more like a rock star than a politician.

Clinton on the other hand has stopped releasing the numbers for her latest rallies.  She’s also been casting doubt on the numbers coming out of the Sanders campaign.  She even experimented with holding her rallies at smaller venues to give the illusion of a crowd.  Despite having only 700 attendees at one New York rally she boasted “standing room only,” which didn’t play well with her unenthusiastic and elderly supporters.

[3] Bernie Sanders Consistently Out-Performs his Poll Numbers

Pollsters are still trying to figure out why it is that some of the polls have been so far off in Hillary’s favor.  Most notably in Michigan Sanders ended up winning by a point and a half despite the most recent polls putting him more than 20% behind.  In fact, in a number of polls, Bernie Sanders has done quite a bit better than expected even if he doesn’t win outright.

Now, that said a victory in New York would require a substantial departure from the current polls which put Bernie Sanders about 15% behind.  But given recent history that isn’t anywhere near impossible.  And even a significant error in his favor might be taken as a sign that he can still win given that national polls are nearly tied and he’s been on a considerable winning streak lately.

[4] She Continues Having to Change her Message to Answer Bernie

In Thursday’s debate Clinton was forced to explain her stance on raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.  This is the latest in a long list of issues that she’s had to slowly inch towards Bernie’s position while simultaneously answering accusations that she’s inconsistent.

Like several other trends this seems to suggest that Bernie Sanders has the message that resonates most with 2016 voters and that Hillary Clinton is merely trying to use her wealth and notoriety to co-opt it for her cause.  Whether or not this actually spells victory for the Sanders camp is uncertain; but clearly Hillary Clinton seems to think it might.

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No Fox News the Wage Gap is Not a “Myth”

Artwork: Female factory workers during WWII by Alfred T Palmer

Did you know that Tuesday was equal pay day?  Yeah me neither.  I just heard about it this morning while I was researching for this article. So if no one else has told you yet: Happy Equal Pay Day.  If you’re a woman Tuesday was the day that you finally earned what you would have already in 2015 if you were a man.  Statistically speaking of course.

If you’re a Fox viewer though you know that the Wage Gap is just another plot by the liberal media to kill babies and raise taxes.  In case you have any doubts here’s a short list of examples of their coverage:

  1.  Hannity Guest say women shouldn’t work.
  2. Dana Loesch and Megyn Kelly pretend the Wage Gap is Fake.
  3. Jon Oliver laughs at Greta Van Susteran for making Women’s Day about Men.
  4. A Media Matters collection of Fox News Pay Gap coverage.

In their standard fashion Fox News always begins by blaming the victim.  Worse yet they often use apparent victims to send the message.  Leave it to Dana Loesch, Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteran to tell us that women are plagued by their own poor economic choices.  Just like an army of African American anchors and guests will tell Fox viewers that black people commit more crime (hint: they don’t) and make bad parents.  Let’s examine some of the reasons Fox blames women for making less:

[1] Women Choose Lower Paying Careers

While it is true that women tend to work in fields that are less profitable, they also earn degrees at a higher rate and are more likely to graduate from college in general.  So why exactly are jobs that typically attract women less profitable than ‘manly jobs’ in the first place?  Shouldn’t a fair economy value work based on how much experience and expertise it requires.  After all, women are no less productive than men.

This is the mistake that most people make when talking about things like race and gender.  Social Injustice is not caused by some rich old man smoking a cigar who calls you ‘toots’ and uses the “N” word.  I mean I’m sure there are still a couple of those guys left out there but they’re both busy honking breasts in the dialysis room at a retirement home.  The things that are actually keeping things like the wage gap are not individual people at all.  They are systems and institutions that exist among many people and are proliferated by innocuous assumptions that go unchallenged.

However, what makes this argument really ridiculous is that the numbers don’t even add up.  Even when you subdivide men and women’s wages by job type they still make considerably less than men in almost every field that’s been studied.

[2] Women Work Less Hours

Women don’t necessarily work less; they spend less time at their jobs.  If you count the work that the average women does taking care of children or spouses women spend between 25 and 50 more minutes per day working than men.  This is because when it comes to childcare, housecleaning and food preparation women take on a severely disproportionate workload.

They don’t do it because they want to or because God made women to clean things; they do it because if they don’t they’re judged poorly in most societies.  In American households today if a woman and a man come home from working the same number of hours a man will feel perfectly justified in sitting down to relax while a woman will feel that it is up to her to figure out how to feed the family and take care of the cleaning.  Even in situations where women already work more at the office it is likely that the they will do the majority of the house work.  Given this disparity it is truly disgusting that Americans cannot wrap their heads around paid leave for new and expecting mothers.

But even without taking disparate expectations into account men still make more than women.  The median hourly wage is nearly $2 per hour less for women.  But hey at least men go around holding doors for them right?  That’s a fair trade.

[3] Women Interrupt their Careers to Have Babies

It almost goes without saying that having a baby can be one of the worst things for your career.  But with more and more studies showing how beneficial constant contact and breast feeding can be it’s unlikely that society will find a work around for this anytime soon.  However, the idea that this can explain the entire wage gap is a huge exaggeration.

Men make more than woman with an identical level of education right out of school before any of them have had a chance to put their careers on hold by starting a family.  Additionally, if we compare men to women who’ve never had any children there is still a 10% wage gap.

[] Conclusion

So even though there are logical reasons why women make less than men they cannot account for the full 23% difference in pay.  But I think it’s also dangerous to suggest that discriminatory practices are some sort of conspiracy that keep women down.  Except in a few cases where they actually are.  These differences mainly rise out of a society of individuals that make the majority of choices by unconsciously submitting to what they feel they are expected to do.  So that even when most racist individuals are dead or no longer in positions of power it is still possible for their past influence to live on to oppress future generations.

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So Wait, did Hillary Accept Oil Money? Did Bernie?

Artwork: bambini tra lo smog by CLAUDIA DEA

I’m usually very pleased with what I hear on NPR.  The reporting is almost always of a quality that you just don’t see elsewhere anymore.  However, just a few minutes ago I heard a story about the two Democratic candidates contributions coming from the Oil Industry that seemed significantly lacking on a few key points.  I suppose I also should point out that The Capitol Press Room (link to the interview I’m talking about) is primarily in interview format; so perhaps it was really the fault of the two individuals being interviewed for not giving listeners a full picture.

I had already starting writing this article last week and decided to scrap it in favor of something else because it was just too ambiguous.  But now that I’ve heard it being mischaracterized over and over in the main stream media I’ve decided to cover it anyways.  Even though it’s not the most interesting topic.  Did you stop reading?  Okay I’ll try and make a couple jokes to keep you entertained while we talk about the in’s and out’s of shady campaign dealings.

The message I walked away with from the radio show was basically that there is no difference between the contributions that Sanders received and those that went to the Clinton campaign.  And to some extent that’s true.  After all 97.7% of the donations from the Oil and Gas Industry went to Republican candidates.  So there is in fact a categorical difference between contributions on the Left and those on the Right.  But that doesn’t mean that the Clinton campaign received nothing at all or that we can’t trace it to actual positions she’s taken on issues.

First off, there is a difference in terms of amount.  Open Secrets reports that $333,262 has gone to Clinton while $53,760 has gone to Bernie Sanders.  Keep in mind these are individual donations so it’s hard for us to know whether they were small $20 donations from Bob who’s the manager of a gas station in Milwaukee Tennessee or $1000 from the Vice President of Exxon.  Literally anyone who works for an oil company would show up on this report.  But there are significant reasons to believe that Clinton’s contributions are shadier than Bernie’s.

Unlike the Sanders campaign with an average donor size of only $27, the Clinton campaign is much more traditionally funded.  Clinton herself has tried to argue that she also relies on small donations, a statement that Politifact rated ‘mostly false.’  The situation is compounded by the fact that most of the bundlers working with the Clinton campaign come from Oil Lobbies for Chevron, Exxon Mobile and Marathon.

‘Bundling’ is all the rage now in campaigning.  Since accepting money from unpopular lobbies can cost a candidate votes, they often accept less obvious donations this way.  Essentially, the money comes from rich individuals and is recorded that way on paper so that it doesn’t break any laws or catch much attention.  These people don’t even have to actually work for the Oil Industry but they donate money pursuant to some relationship with a them.  The bundler then collects all the money together (in bundles) and delivers it, often in exchange for ‘a few minutes of the candidates time.’  In this way the Clinton campaign has accepted $1.4 million while being able to scold Bernie Sanders and his supporters for suggesting she’s taken anything at all.  Neat trick, right?

Then there’s the Clinton Foundation, which her daughter is currently running.  Though the foundation can’t give her any money to help out her campaign it’s clearly part of her legacy and something she constantly points to as a success when campaigning.  It’s received $3 million in the past few years.  Most disturbingly, oil companies were donating millions while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state and had incredible influence on some of the issues they cared most about.  Quite a coincidence isn’t it: that they just happened to donate millions right when the former secretary was overseeing some of their most profitable projects?

And it worked.  While Clinton was pounding the drum of Climate Change publicly she was also pushing for more off-shore drilling as a Senator and refused to weigh in on the Keystone XL pipeline as Secretary of State.  To avoid looking to weak on environmental issues she has publicly denounced the project but not until September of 2015, two and a half years after she had any power to do anything about it and 8 months after the project failed to pass a Senate vote.  What is it they say about retrospect?

So, although she can technically claim that she’s ‘not one of their favorites,’ Mrs. Clinton has clearly accepted considerable contributions and faithfully acted upon them.  Her campaign is filled with oil lobbyists and though they’ve muddied the waters a bit, it only takes a few minutes to see that she’s accepted millions.  Fortunately for the former secretary most Americans don’t have that long an attention span.

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Bernie Sanders: Even if we Lose the Election, the Revolution is a Success

Artwork: The Sacrifice of Isaac by Pedro Orrente

Last week a New York voter asked Bernie Sanders what he would do if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination.  For most candidates this would have been a garbage question that they’d do their best not to answer.  But instead the Senator from Vermont commended the young New Yorker for asking a tough question.  He still hopes to win, Bernie said (I’m paraphrasing) but if not then the revolution will continue.

Some in the Hillary camp seem to be taking this to mean that he might be considering a third party run but he already ruled that out months ago when the election hadn’t even begun.  Unlike on the Right Bernie engaged in no posturing on this point.  He couldn’t live with himself if he brought about a victory for any of the strange faces now inhabiting the Republican party, he said.

You see, though his presidential bid has been much more successful than anyone could have imagined he has always had a secondary motive in running.  Mr. Sanders has been trying to convince the American public that what they need is a revolution.  The kind where institutions are created and destroyed, where party lines are redrawn and people no longer trust that things just are what they are and will continue to be so.  I think it’s fair to say that no one will ever say that a Socialist can’t win the presidency again.  Except Fox News Anchors who are paid to say such things no matter what the numbers look like.

For decades Mr. Sanders has been fighting an almost one man battle in the Senate and before that in the House.  It was exhausting to watch him speak about injustice we all know exists but which none of his colleagues would address.  He has filibustered and addressed an empty chamber and no one for the longest time has seemed all that challenged by what he was saying.  For the most part no one seemed to feel that had any responsibility to answer the assertions of the crazy old man from Vermont.

Now, assuming that he loses and I hope he does not, he will go back to Congress with a very different kind of mandate.  Having nearly won the nomination for president, with the numbers to win outright in the general election.  And having done all that without the usual trappings of a presidential candidate.  99% of his campaign was funded by small donations of around $30 or less from mostly average Americans who’ve never donated to anyone before.  Will he be able to raise similar donations for important political causes?  If he can that’ll make him nearly impossible to ignore.

And unlike other candidates who experience a long period of shame after their loses Bernie Sanders would likely still be hailed as some sort of political genius.  What he achieve he did so on his own without any support from the DNC and with few allies in Washington.  Meanwhile his opponent is being investigated for hundreds of instances of unethical voter suppression and influence.  He’s not likely to disappear even after a considerable loss.  And he’s already said that he doesn’t plan to.  It makes one wonder how future speeches will be received.  The room is less likely to be empty if he’s so beloved by a large constituency.  Democrats, at least those up for reelection, will need to be respectful to some degree.

But most importantly, by doing so well at his presidential bid Sanders may prove to everyone that Nordic style Socialism is acceptable in America.  We may start to see other’s of Sanders same ilk winning in the Senate, House and in Gubernatorial elections.  After all if he wins the election alone and has to deal with a Congress reminiscent of what Barack Obama has faced he’s unlikely to get much past them.  But if he’s able to set the stage for someone else by changing the make up of America’s political body then everything he has promised and more could be accomplished.

“Strike me Down Madame Secretary, and I Will Become More Powerful than you Can Imagine”

Before I get any angry emails let me say that I do, more than anything, want Bernie Sanders to win the presidency.  But  I also want to see this revolution that he’s been talking about.  I’d rather see him lose the election than to watch the revolutionary zeal he’s been conjuring dissipate.  And I think he would say the same.  He sort of did last week in response to that question he got from a New York voter.

So what does this mean?  It means we need to prepare ourselves for whatever happens in the next couple of months and endeavor not to go back to watching day time television if our candidate doesn’t win.  We need to be involved in every election the way we’ve been involved in this one and build a coalition for the future.  And yes, it even means we need to go out and vote for Hilary Clinton in November.  Even though she’s been nasty and even though she’s cheated  she’s far better than Trump or Cruz.  But in supporting her, even begrudgingly, we can commandeer her efforts and force her to adopt more progressive positions (she already has to some extent).  Because the good guys always win in the end; and if they don’t then don’t let it be the end.  (This is a Zulu proverb I think but I couldn’t find it)

Look! A chance to read stuff like this all the time:

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3 Reasons that Bernie Sanders has Nothing to Apologize for

Artwork: The Denial of Saint Peter by Caravaggio

[1] Nothing Bernie has Ever Voted Against Would Have Stopped the Sandy Hook Massacre from Happening

If bringing up campaign contributors is out of bounds, as Clinton argued a week ago, then what do you call it when you goad the grieving child of a Sandy Hook victim into blaming your opponent for a massacre?  Erica Smegielski strategically made her accusation on Twitter as soon as it was clear Sanders was going to win Wisconsin.

Apparently, this was the predetermined signal that Mrs. Clinton had given everyone.  The next day she went on Morning Joe with the same message and The New York Daily News ran a Sanders hit piece on their front page.

But it appears that her plan may have backfired as the majority of the response on Twitter (at least so far) has been negative.  Tweets condemning the former secretary for her lack of class in using dead children for political gain have been piling up for the last day and a half, at least one of them from an actual relative of a Sandy Hook victim.  Others say that this whole mess has turned them off of Hillary in support of Bernie or that they just plan not to vote at all.

But more importantly, the criticism doesn’t even make sense.  The only gun laws that Bernie Sanders has ever voted against were ones allowing people to sue manufacturers based on what people do with their guns.  This isn’t to say that you can’t sue a gun manufacturer if their guns are faulty and inadvertently cause harm to people or property, just that if someone uses a gun to kill people the gun manufacturer isn’t responsible.

As of yet there’s no way to make a gun that can tell the difference between a crazy person and someone defending themselves.  So what exactly would we be suing based on?  Which companies randomly happen to be used in crimes?  Remember that these companies don’t necessarily have any say in legislation that helps to keep their guns out of dangerous people’s hands.

I’m in favor of reasonable gun legislation and this isn’t it.  If we are going to win the argument with gun enthusiasts that we all have to be a little more careful and take a few more (potentially annoying) steps to keep our children safe then we cannot take these sorts of pointless stands.

Things Clinton has Done through the DNC should be Illegal – And Probably would be if We Knew the Whole Story

“We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.”

That was a quote from Barack Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe during the 2008 primary season.  But it just as well could have been written today about the voter suppression in places like Arizona.  In fact things are arguably worse given the slew of Voter Suppression Laws the Right has enacted in the last few years.  So far this year we’ve seen:

  1. Bill Clinton illegally influencing voters at a large polling center when similar Bernie supporters were asked to remain outside.
  2. New Laws in Wisconsin being selectively enforced by the DNC in ways that seem to target student voters who overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders.
  3. A Debate schedule that seems designed to reduce viewership which protected Hillary Clinton’s early lead.
  4. The DNC allowed the Clinton campaign to use physical resources that it denied to Bernie Sanders.
  5. Handing out excessive punishments for mistakes made by one Sanders staffer.
  6. The DNC finace chair raised money for the Clinton Campaign directly.
  7. Push Polling – the practice of giving people lots of slanted information right before you ask who they’re going to vote for.

[3] Bernie clearly gave Hillary Clinton a pass on her Email Server when he had a Chance to Draw Blood

Remember that first debate when Bernie said that he was “sick of hearing [Hillary Clinton’s] damn emails?”  Keep in mind that even then the former Secretary had been engaging in some of the sneaky tactics listed above.  But Bernie Sanders was adamant that a clean campaign that focused on the issues was better for everyone.

And personally I don’t think his remarks about Clinton’s campaign financiers were disingenuous at all.  Something like 99% of his campaign money was raised from small donors, something that people would have dismissed as impossible right up until it happened.  How exactly are we to believe that Hillary Clinton really wants to overturn Citizen’s United when she’s profiting from it at record levels?