Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bernie Takes on Establishment, Media in Election Post Mortem

     Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin - Progressives note that 
     Hillary Clinton lost the state and others with similar 
     demographics to Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders has been making the rounds in the media with the release of his book, Our Revolution.  Most of the interviews have been about what you would expect.  They ask if he thought he would have beaten Trump among other Trump related questions.  Inevitably they get around to the question of why Hillary lost the election.

Bernie always figures out a way to fit in all the issues that working families are concerned about in every answer.  He also manages to mention how the media never talks about those issues.  A good time is usually had by all.

However, when CBS's Nora O'Donnell asked Bernie if he is any to blame for Hillary losing, Bernie couldn't hold in his contempt for the question and the whole idea of establishment entitlement.

Unless the Democratic Party and their media sycophants stop playing the blame game, they are going to be doomed to repeat this election every four years.  The political climate is changing and Donald Trump tuned into it and ran away with the electoral college.  In the meantime, Hillary and the establishment Dems are blaming FBI Director, James Comey, or  Bernie Sanders, or even the African-American community for not getting to the polls.  The most recent scapegoat is the electoral college - a system that has been around since the inception of the Constitution. Until there is some ownership within the party, they are going to be left behind or will have another party splinter away from them as Robert Reich suggested according to The Hill.

This whole episode reminded me of a time when I used to coach Little League. One year, my team finished the regular season undefeated beating the overwhelming favorite of the league twice.  In the championship game of the playoffs, we had to play them again.  In that game, there were a number of bad calls favoring our opponent and we came up short.

After the game, as I gathered the team to address them, the parents came out of the woodwork exclaiming "We wuz robbed!"  They encouraged the boys with statements like, "You really won this game; the umpires just stole it from you," and similar messages.  I put a stop to it and told my row of 30 tear filled eyes that I was proud of them and that I loved them.  However, I made one point very clear:  "You can't go through life blaming someone else for your defeats and disappointments. Sure, the umpires had an effect on the game, but what could WE have done to change the outcome?  What could we have done to take away the power of any bad call?"  I talked about the few errors that we made and the number of times we swung at bad pitches.  I finished my speech with, "I want you to go through your life knowing that you have the power to win or lose. Concentrate on what you can control and not the things that you can't."

Going forward, this is the same message the Democratic Party must learn. Otherwise, they will take the same tack, make the same mistakes, and only hope that it works out.  But most importantly, they have to understand what those mistakes are. Many now are agreeing with Sanders that the party has to change its focus. If show that they care about the people, the people will care about the party's agenda - because it will be THE PEOPLE'S agenda.

As Sanders told Wolf Blitzer on CNN, “There are millions of families in this country where people are working two or three jobs, where people can’t afford childcare, they can’t afford to send their kids to college, they’ve seen their jobs go to China or Mexico. They’re hurting."

He went on to say that the Democrats have become “more concerned about raising money from wealthy individuals than they have been about bringing working people into the party and taking on the billionaire class, taking on Wall Street, the drug companies or the insurance companies,”

Donald Trump was able to tap into that angst.  The Democrats didn't. And as they sit in the dugout crying about their defeat, they better be prepared to do things differently from now on.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Relation State FINALLY endorses . . .

I have been putting off this post because it has probably been the most difficult piece to write. This election illustrates how dire our situation is in the United States. With this cast of characters running for the highest office in the land, the future looks bleak no matter what happens on election day.

First, allow me to define the term according to
the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Endorse:  to approve openly <endorse an idea>; especially :  to express support or approval of publicly and definitely <endorse a mayoral candidate>

Keep that definition in mind as we go through the candidates.  I will cover each one in reverse order of popularity as measured by the Real Clear Politics composite poll.

Jill Stein (Green Party) - Stein has no relevant experience in governing - especially for a national office.  She has run for president twice (2012, and presently), governor of Massachusetts twice, and has also ran for other down ballot offices.

Stein’s platform is basically the same one that Bernie Sanders ran on in the Democratic Primary.  In fact, she requested that Sanders become the Green Party candidate when he fell short of getting the nomination.  I have no issues with Stein’s platform as I endorsed Sanders in that primary because of his platform.

The negatives that Stein brings to the table are inexperience and judgment. She hasn’t held any public office of note and starting out as POTUS is an example of one's dreams outreaching one's arm span.  That concept paints this candidate as kooky among other adjectives in that vein. In addition, her selection of Ajamu Baraka shows poor judgment. Baraka is a controversial figure who has said a lot of things that are not conducive to running for office. He is a drag on the ticket and encourages people to not take the ticket seriously.

Gary Johnson (Libertarian) - Johnson has relevant experience.  He was governor of New Mexico as a Republican. He has also run for president twice as the Libertarian candidate (this year and in 2012).

Although Johnson is a Libertarian; he is also a corporatist. Other than personal liberty issues, he tends to remain Republican in his fiscal policies. 

The problem with Johnson is he doesn't come off like a serious candidate.  His pro marijuana stance is so well known it is associated with his personal choices.  He is practically the Bill Maher of the presidential candidates.  He doesn't seem to know or to be interested in knowing basic world happenings like “What is Aleppo?”  In addition, his running mate, former Massachusetts governor, William Weld has already shown support for Hillary Clinton.  Ron Paul, probably the most popular Libertarian in the country, chose to endorse Jill Stein over Johnson, if that tells you anything.

Donald Trump (Republican) - Trump has no experience in public office and is proud of that fact.  He touts his business acumen and deal making as being some of his positive points. His biggest positive, however, is that he presents himself as being anti-establishment.

I am not going to get into a lot of details on Trump’s policies for a couple of reasons. For one, he doesn't have a lot of details other than he is going to “make America great again.” His methodology for doing that is a little cloudy but he insists that we should just trust him to do it.  He does promise to secure the border by building a wall and also to cut taxes.  He vows to bring industry back to the country by threatening tariffs.

Trump’s negatives are almost too many to mention.  He lacks transparency as he is the first president in recent history to refuse to release his tax returns.  He has alienated Mexicans, Muslims, and women.  He is charged with horrendous deeds by women and has also made money off scams such as Trump University.  Pardon me now while I sigh.

Hillary Clinton (Democrat) - Clinton is obviously the most qualified when looking at all the candidates' resumes. Her experience in the executive branch as first lady is unlike any other first lady we have had since Eleanor Roosevelt.  She actually worked on policy, namely health care. She also has legislative experience as a popular senator from New York.  Finally, she has foreign policy experience as secretary of state for Barack Obama.

Clinton’s original platform is a moderate, corporatist Democratic one.  Since Bernie Sanders worked out his endorsement deal with her, she has adopted about 70% of his policy initiatives that brings her platform to one of the most progressive in history.

Clinton brings a ton of negatives into the contest, however.  She is allegedly involved or associated with a number of scandals.  The first one being her poor judgment in having her own server in her home to do State Department business. The FBI investigation showed extreme carelessness and FBI Director James Comey even revealed her dishonesty as she discussed her emails with the public and to Congress.  In addition, the Clinton Foundation is being investigated for shady dealings - to which Clinton’s State Department may be a party. Also, there is evidence showing that collusion existed between the DNC and the Clinton campaign during the primary. Even more, WIkileaks has released emails that apparently show the Clinton campaign was coordinating with supporting PACs which is illegal.  Double sigh.

On to the Endorsement

Trump’s problems are too big to ignore.  His rhetoric suggests that he will not represent all Americans; that is disqualifying.  The fact that he isn't transparent with his taxes (the first candidate in five decades) and that he has no detailed plan to institute anything we can see as positive change takes him out of serious consideration.

Clinton’s legal problems, trustworthy issues, and lack of good judgment is ALSO disqualifying for her. I went back and forth between Clinton and . . . ANYTHING ELSE (other than Trump) for a long time before making my decision.  It is the reason this endorsement post is so late in the game. However, when playing out the scenarios to their logical conclusions, I have determined that I cannot endorse this candidate.  

A Hillary Clinton administration will be bogged down in investigations and hearings for perhaps her entire term. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) of Utah, the head of the House Oversight Committee, has already stated that there is enough evidence to look into her activities for years - and he is determined to do so.  The reality of that is deterrent enough, but the knowledge (via WikiLeaks and FBI investigations) that there is some legitimacy to these investigations makes it that much worse.  The country doesn't need an administration with this much of an albatross hanging around its neck.  

I have heard from a number of people when discussing Clinton’s alleged corruption say that it is just the reality of politics.  However when we support and elect these candidates, we are saying that we care nothing about the integrity of our government.  Wink wink, nudge nudge is not the methodology of a government that is supposed to be a beacon of democracy. Politics is only dirty because we allow it to be.  Count me as one that will no longer be apathetic to a system that represents big money and special interests rather than the people who dutifully exercise their franchise.

Thus, the only candidate that can possibly be deemed worthy of endorsement is Green Party Candidate, Jill Stein.  Sure, she is short on experience, but that doesn't seem to be a concern to half the country supporting Donald Trump.  While examining both candidates, Stein seems to be much more versed in policy and how government works compared to Trump.  

She fails to have anything close to the resume qualifications of Clinton, but she has nowhere near the baggage either.  She has a solid core of values that she puts on the line by actually showing up places where she finds injustice.  Her only legal baggage is a misdemeanor charge against her in North Dakota for standing up against the North Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens to desecrate sacred lands of Native Americans and poison the drinking water - an issue on which Clinton hasn't had the courage to even comment.

Stein is honest and willing to put skin in the game to take the country out of the establishment muck that it is stuck in.  She has virtually the same progressive platform as the Bernie Sanders primary campaign which, in my opinion, puts her on the right side of history.  Her honesty and willingness to commit makes her a newbie president that we can work with. While every president shares the same observation that NOTHING can prepare someone for the presidency, I accept that Stein will happily fit into that scenario.

At the beginning of this piece, I defined the term “endorse” as to "express support or approval of publicly and definitely." I cannot do this for Trump, Clinton, or Johnson. However, I can for Jill Stein.  She isn’t perfect, but she is someone that Americans can be proud of as president.

I don't make any unrealistic assertions that Stein has a chance to pull a big upset in the election. However, there is an additional incentive to vote for Stein (or even Johnson). Enough support for the Green candidate will help take away the monopoly of power by the establishment two-party system. If five percent, or more, of the voters find it impossible to support Clinton or Trump and vote for Jill Stein, it will open up the process to the Green party in the next election. They will be eligible for matching funds which will help get their message out. Presently the two parties, as much as they show complete contempt for each other, collude to orchestrate that the two party system remains. We have seen the disaster that this system has become and we have an amazing opportunity to do something about it. The founding fathers warned us about it; perhaps now is the time we will listen.

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.  --John Adams

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Election 2016 Exposes the Media as Fraudulent

Nauseating has been the operative word for this election season. However, the one aspect of the season that is more than sickening is the fact that we can no longer trust what we see or read in the media anymore. There is too much coziness between the media's parent companies and presidential campaigns. Even the on screen talent and beat writers become "too familiar" with the candidates and their staffs. There is no wonder why the words "shill" and "rigged" are being thrown around so much this year.

Jordan Chariton, from The Young Turks Network and Mediaite, has painstakingly filtered through WikiLeaks for all the evidence illustrating that the mainstream media has descended to an aid to the powerful instead of the noble entity it once was.

Traditionally, the role of media has been to keep us informed and remain the watchdog over the authorities and ruling class. Today media follows a different model. For the most part it merely echoes the opinions of the elite.

In an article that Chariton wrote for Mediaite, he exposes the media bias for Hillary Clinton while covering the presidential election. In a section concerning CNN Contributor and DNC Chair Donna Brazile, he shows how she played an integral part in the campaign's “media division:”

"Brazile is joined by a long list of phony 'analysts' and 'strategists'—as well as anchors and reporters—who were clearly in-the-tank for Hillary Clinton all along . . . Brazile and those like her do what they do best: scheme to help get, and keep, their friends in power, and then go on TV and pretend to be on the level, offering their expert “analysis” on the same people. Does this make Brazile and other pundits bad people? No. But does it expose the platforms they operate on completely and utterly fraudulent."

This just isn't crooked, it is a cancer. We turn on the news and hope to get the unvarnished truth so we can make decisions about our lives. However, when I turned on MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning I saw a panel talking about how the WikiLeaks have nothing troubling for the Clinton campaign. They cited an email that talked about general campaign strategy when the panel said nothing of the numerous emails that show a direct cooperation between the Clinton Campaign and their PAC's, for example - which is explicitly illegal.

Case in point:

Credit: Wikileaks, and @JordanCharion on Twitter

This isn't meant to be an anti-Clinton rant.  No, not at all.  Clinton, Trump, and those who follow in the elections that have yet to come, will emerge and fade away.  This post is about something much more significant than who becomes the president in the remote year of 2016. The most frightening part of this election season is that we have discovered that we are manipulated into thinking whatever the mainstream media, and those who pull their strings want us to believe – true or not, in order to advance the corporate establishment agenda. Since this seems to be the model now, there is no reason to think that we will ever be able to count on knowing the truth about our world. We are now, and will undoubtedly continue  to have the "blue pill" shoved down our throats.

“When the people who control the political power in this country . . . can rig the media, they can wield absolute power over your life, your economy, and your country. They control what you hear and don’t hear, how its covered and even if it is covered at all.”
--Donald Trump

That just goes to show you, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Open Memos to the Clinton and Trump Campaigns

Dear Hillary Camp:

We understand that the probability of Russia hacking into our national emails is problematic. We also understand that the troubling content of those emails paint a Jekyll and Hyde candidate. It also paints a campaign and political party that are not above collusion and dirty methodology. We have the ability to consider both of these issues at the same time and consider them separately. Please stop insulting our intelligence and pretend that we can't or shouldn't.

Dear Trump Camp:

We understand that all of the sexual accusations of your candidate are not confirmed by witnesses. We also understand that the probability that they are all false especially given the very words that come out of your candidate's mouth is practically nil. Please do not insult our intelligence by suggesting we ignore reality and ask us not to factor in the disgusting aspects of your candidate's existence.

Dear Hillary and Trump Camps:

The American people don't deserve either of you, but apparently you deserve each other.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Diverse Group Supports Miners at Capitol Hill Rally

The United Mine Workers of America and other labor unions were in full force - along with various organizations, activists, and concerned citizens - at a rally in Washington last week. They were there to press Congress to honor its 70 year old commitment.  A promise was made by the government in 1946 to always protect miner and retiree benefits. The details can be found in part one of the this series.

I was invited to ride along on a bus with a group from Henderson, KY on the 1470 mile round trip.  People from different unions and other backgrounds made the trip to support the miners who stand to lose quite a bit.

Tina McCormick. candidate for
Henderson County (KY) Judge Executive
Tina McCormick, who is the daughter of a miner - and a candidate
for the office of Henderson County Judge Executive - was aboard the bus as it headed towards the capital.  McCormick made an interesting choice to sign on to the trip. She decided to take three days away from her campaign to support the cause. 

“This is an issue that affects a lot of lives in our area,” said McCormick.  “I just want the miners and retirees to know that we in Henderson County will do more than give lip service.  We will actually stand with them.”

Ed Mellor also decided to support the miners.  At 82, he didn’t hesitate to climb aboard the Washington bound bus.  Mellor, a member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters union from Evansville, IN, is proud to fight alongside his union brothers of the UMWA.

“The union has been a blessing to me,” Mellor said. “I thank God for it.  Without the benefits the union got for us, I don’t know where I would be.  That is why it is important to stand in solidarity with all the unions.”

Jackie Condor and
Cecil Roberts, president of the UMWA
As Jackie Condor illustrates, one doesn’t have to be a member of a union to realize the importance of supporting the UMWA at the rally. She is a retired nurse with an activist’s heart.  Condor is proud that her grandfather was a miner under John L. Lewis.  Lewis was the president of the UMWA from 1920-1960 who negotiated the “the romise” from the federal government that now is in jeopardy. 

“I want to be a part of helping people,” Condor said. “We cannot change this country till we all pull together

For Greg King, the concern over the loss of benefits could be a matter of life or death.  He depends on those benefits now that he has been disabled from an accident while working in the mines.  If the benefits discontinue, he will not be able bear the cost of his meds for himself and his wife. King is heartened to see the diversity of people taking up the cause.

“I’m tickled to death to see folks from all walks of life standing up with us,” he said. “It shows everyone is concerned and not just us miners.”

No one had any misconceptions about the trip. They knew it was not going to be a picnic and it wasn’t. We spent most of rally day outside in the heat (with a heat index of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit). There was also a matter of a grueling 30 hour bus ride on a trip that lasted only three days from start to finish.  However, I didn’t see any complaints on the journey.  I only saw people rising up for a cause and enjoying the opportunity to spend time with others that were likeminded.  The group saw the importance of fighting to make sure that the government that represents all of us stands by its promises to each of us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Coal Miners Take the District to Press Congress to Honor Promise

United Mine Workers Rallying
at the Capital Building.
Some things should transcend politics.  Honoring promises to hard working Americans should definitely be one of them. However, America’s coal miners are concerned that this simple and principled position is getting lost on our corporate billionaire class and some of the politicians that feed at their trough.  Unless Congress takes action, 22,000 coal miners will lose their health care coverage and over 90,000 retirees will have their pensions significantly cut.  That is why thousands of miners and other activists will descend on Washington D.C. Thursday at the Keep the Promise – Capitol Hill Rally.

The promise these miners are pointing to stemmed from a 1946 agreement between the executive branch of the government and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).  The Krug Lewis Agreement promised the UMWA membership that their health and retirement benefits would not be compromised.

A Little Background

Through the first half of the 20th century, there was no industry more important to the United States than the coal industry.  The country counted on the energy provided by coal through the hard work of the miners to power them to world heights of the industrial age.  So important was the coal mine industry that miners were asked to stay in the mines throughout World War II instead of fighting on the front lines.

At the conclusion of World War II, the UMWA went on strike because an agreement couldn’t be reached with the coal companies concerning their inadequate health benefits.  Industry had turned back to production of consumer goods and Americans were in the mood to consume. The country couldn’t afford a coal shortage because of the likelihood it would halt production. The stand-still would move the country back into the dire economy of the pre-war depression.
To avoid this crisis, President Harry Truman ordered the federal government to take over the mines and start negotiating with the union.  What emerged was the Krug Lewis Act which promised benefits would not be taken away from the coal miners.

What Happened?

The funds holding together the miners’ benefits were solvent up until the 2008 economic crisis.  At that time, abuses on Wall Street destroyed the pension funds of a lot of Americans. Also, the changing energy industry and the declining price of natural gas had an adverse effect on the number of employed coal miners.

In addition, corporate shenanigans such as the Peabody/Patriot Coal spinoff perpetuated the disaster.  Patriot spun off Peabody and acquired its liabilities including retiree health benefits.  When Patriot filed for bankruptcy in 2012, these benefits were in jeopardy. If it weren’t for a modest settlement between the company and the UMWA, the crisis would have hit crisis level much earlier.  However, this minor victory for the union did nothing to ensure future availability of these benefits.

The Solution

Last year, Senator Joe Manchin, (D) WV, introduced S. 1714 “The Miner’s Protection Act.” This legislation would essentially keep the promises that were made and protect the benefits of the miners, the retirees and their families.  It is a bi-partisan bill with 18 sponsors with nine being Democrats, eight Republicans and one independent.  There is an identical bill in the House that is also bi-partisan.  It has 47 Republican sponsors, and 36 Democrats.

“Our retirees suffering from black lung, who gave not only their years of service but also sacrificed their health, will be forced to choose between getting that oxygen tank they rely on to breathe or paying their electric bill. Surviving widows will be forced to choose between buying their blood pressure medicine or putting food on their tables.”
--Sen Joe Manchin, (D) WV

Senator Joe Manchin (D) WV, introduced the
Miners Protection Act to the US Senate
So what is the hold up? The leadership has not allowed the bills to progress to a vote on the floor.  Strangely enough, the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell is holding this bill up in the Senate.  As the senior senator from Kentucky, a big coal mine state, one can only conjecture why he hasn’t jumped to the aid of his constituents.

According to the AP, a McConnell spokesman said that the majority leader “has been and remains committed to helping ensure the retirement security of our nation’s retirees, including coal miners.”  Of course the UMWA and the many legislators that have signed on to support the Miners Protection Act logically respond, “Prove it!”

Relation State is firmly behind the UMWA and their membership. It was on the backs of coal miners that the US became the strongest, most industrialized nation in the world.  It was the energy driven by coal that pushed the factories that provided Americans jobs, but also automobiles, appliances, and other goods that kept the economy strong and created the middle class. Those that labored in the mines gave their bodies and health to push the nation forward.  Is it too much to ask that we honor our commitments and ensure that they get the benefits that they earned and were promised?  If Washington can bail out the Wall Street banks that caused the economic crisis, it is incomprehensible that the government could default on the promises made to the coal miners who were victims of it.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Should Voters Be Afraid of Trump Incompetence?

The Trump Team - (top) Donald ,
(from left to right) Paul Manafort,
 Melania, and Michael Glassner
In the grand scheme of things, people do not have a reason to get bent out of shape over the the Melania Trump plagiarism scandal.  It was a lovely speech and many people share the same sentiments that she shared from the podium. Whether she plagiarized part of her speech from Michelle Obama or not isn't the red flag. No, it emerged in observing how Trump and the campaign handled the scandal.

It didn't have to be as complicated as they made it out to be. They should have issued a simple statement and moved on. Something like: "Melania gave that speech in earnest and her heart was behind every word. We apologize for any similarity or appearance of it resembling other speeches that may or may not have had some influence in her remarks." That kind of response would have shown some competence in handling obstacles that may surface in a campaign, but more importantly, those that arise in an administration.

What was the response from the campaign?  First it was denial. All of us who saw the obvious reproduction were dubbed crazy. Two days later, which is two days too long, ANOTHER statement was released.  This time, it is from a family friend and staff aid, Meredith McIver, who took the blame.  In a TMI passage from the statement, she admits that Melania borrowed some sentiments from people she admired - one of those being Michelle Obama. McIver even offered to resign over it, but the Trumps nixed that idea.

At that point, the campaign made a fifteen minute story that could have been vanquished immediately into a three day story that now includes how Melania is inspired by current first lady and enemy of the party (just ask them), Michelle Obama.  That would still be the driving story of the convention if it weren't for Ted Cruz.

Cruz, who doesn't want to help Trump at all, did so much more. He flaunted a non-endorsement in a prime time speech, drew ire from the delegates, and unified the Republican party all in his attempt to put Trump in his place.  In other words, Trump's enemies do a better job of managing his campaign than he does - which brings us to the REAL story here, the potential disaster of a Trump administration.

The thought of a Donald Trump presidency becomes more alarming each day. If he can't handle the single-goal concept of a campaign, how will he fare in a multi-fronted responsibility of running the United States?  With domestic social policies, foreign affairs, the economy, etc., the presidency is one job that shouldn't have the "flying by the seat of your pants" approach.

Despite his success in the primaries, he looks like he hasn't used any of this campaign journey as a learning experience. Even though he was able to bluster and bully his way to a nomination, support from a fraction of the conservative minded is not going to pave a smooth road to the White House.

Trump has seemed to have taken his methodology from Kramer of Seinfeld fame. His life and subsequent campaign seems to be from a fantasy camp. Up till this point, he does what he wants and falls ass-backwards into success. However, that only works in the primary if you are a targeting only conservatives. In a world where Limbaugh and Fox News has shaped his audience, he can play to them in any obtrusive way he wants. They will applaud his defiance of political correctness and simplified solutions.

However, in the general election, he has to draw from a new audience. They are more complicated and discriminating than the primary crowd that readily gobbles up defecated propaganda that the Conservative Entertainment Complex produces. Trump seems to flirt with a pivot towards a general election message, but so far he has proven to be like the weak dieter who holds out as long as he can, but damn it, he is going to eat that piece of cake. He returns to his boorish ways to the cheers of his base, but also to the gagging sounds of those he now needs to win over.

Instead of Kramer, Trump should borrow from another Seinfeld character, George Costanza. George learned that his every inclination has been wrong so he endeavored to do the opposite of his urges. As Jerry told him, "If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right." It worked for George. It could work for Trump.

The primary campaign and the general election campaign ARE opposites. That is why most politicians look like complete frauds. They tell their base one thing in the spring, and pivot in the fall. Or as Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney's senior adviser for his 2012 campaign, put it, "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign, Everything changes, It's almost like an Etch A Sketch, You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again." Of course, as true as that statement is for campaign strategy, he probably needed to keep that truth to himself.

As part of his campaign shift, Trump needs to do the opposite of what all his impulses tell him to do. If he feels the need to double down on an issue, he probably actually needs to back up. We will see if he has much luck with that. He is the climax of the Republican National Convention Thursday night with his nomination acceptance speech. That speech will determine what kind of direction his campaign will go.

Will he get a bump or a crater? If he does the opposite of his impulses, he will probably be okay.
However his gut is probably telling him not to take the opposite strategy to heart. Someone over at the campaign should probably hide the cake.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The "Berners" are ready to Occupy the News Channels for Bernie Sanders

There is a movement afoot that has Bernie Sanders supporters ready to occupy the media for next Tuesday's primaries.

What caused this stir is something Chris Matthews, of MSNBC, stated on the air to Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, "I'm told by the experts on numbers around here at NBC and elsewhere that come June 7th, the day of the California primary, . . . that at eight o'clock that night Eastern Time the networks will be prepared, including this one, to announce that Hillary Clinton has now gotten over the top - that she will have won the nomination. In numbers, it's done! What will that do to turn out if that's five o'clock Pacific time with three more hours to vote in California, who will be least likely to vote?  Sanders' people from 5 to 8, or Hillary's?"

It was at this point that Humpty Dumpty establishment finally had their big fall. This arrogant proclamation by Matthews infuriated the Bernie crowd.  Afterwards, social media became abuzz encouraging the faithful to stand up to these establishment media giants in the same spirit that Sanders has crusaded throughout his life - through peaceful protest.

The issue is that only the pledged delegates, i.e, those that are mandated by the voters, are locked-in delegates.  The superdelegates are basically floaters.  They can change their mind everyday from now until the convention.  Nothing is written in stone for them.  Weaver explained to Matthews that the pronouncement would be inaccurate because the superdelegate count is basically a poll, not a vote. He compared it to calling the California primary election based on polling numbers rather than the voters on election night.  

What made matters worse is the response Matthews gave to Weaver, "I don't want to have this conversation."  

Of course he doesn't but it was too late for that.  As a result the "Berners" are mobilizing. There is talk of showing up at the door of NBC at Rockefeller Center, CNN at Columbus Circle (both in New York City) to express their displeasure with the establishment media who they are convinced has been out to get Sanders from the beginning.

What makes it look particularly bad for MSNBC is the hypocrisy.  It is hard to reconcile that their commentators routinely chastise Republican policies that suppress the vote while their basic reporting policy will do the same thing come Tuesday night.

If the media follows through with its pre-mature announcement,  it will be just another in a long list of ways the entire establishment has been trying to contaminate the democratic process in the primary process. It is this kind of system that gave birth to the Trump and Sanders' phenomena.  It will be interesting to see how they all attempt to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Bigger Than Bernie

Why don't Sanders supporters get it? Don't they know that Donald Trump winning the presidency is Armageddon? Don't they care about the appointments he will make to the Supreme Court? DON'T THEY? The answer: Yes and no.
Many people want to tell Bernie Sanders supporters that no matter how they feel about Hillary Clinton, they should be ready to work for her if she secures the nomination. The thinking is that a Clinton presidency while a lot less appealing than Sanders in the White House is infinitely better than a Trump presidency. While Bernie doesn't yet urge his followers to be prepared to support Clinton if he comes up short, he does admit that a Trump presidency would be the worst of all possibilities.However, it seems that Bernie doesn't quite understand the full impact of the movement that he started. It has become bigger than Sanders and more about the future of politics in the United States.
The Bernie revolution is hoping to change progressives to a different way of politicking and governing. They want to do it from within the Democratic party because of the two main parties, it is the most progressive. However, a great number of Bernie supporters are just now getting acquainted with politics and the Democratic party and have found both to be contemptible. There is no "sucking it up" and getting behind the party. They are more inclined to start their own party than to coddle up to the one that rejected them. It wouldn't be a leap to say that half of them wish Bernie would walk out right now and run as an independent.
To the revolution, this election isn't about beating Trump; it is about transforming the way America does its business. Without Sanders, it is business as usual. If it takes Trump to screw things up to wake some progressives up, then a Trump presidency isn't' the worst thing in the world that could happen. Politics as usual is worse than even Trump. Is that a practical approach? Probably not. Couldn't the revolution be won in increments without giving up the White House and congressional coat tails to the Republicans? Perhaps. But just remember, the idea of increments was what they rejected in the first place. That was the mantra of that other primary candidate.
To the "Bernie or Bust" crowd, for a revolution to succeed, the insurgents are going to have to be prepared to sacrifice for the cause. A Trump presidency, no matter how horrible, is merely a sacrifice and not a defeat. They know that a raccoon will chew through his arm to free itself from a trap. A Trump presidency may be that sacrificial limb. The sacrifice may hurt and disadvantage them for a spell, but will also provide incentive for them to come back stronger than ever. At least, that is their mindset. They just may be right.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

UPDATE: Trump Not As Smart as We Gave Him Credit


Just when we thought we had Donald Trump figured out, he comes through and confirms what many have accused him of being this entire primary season - just a blow hard, and a lucky one at that.

Relation State, on careful analysis (as seen in the original article below), determined that there had to be some genius to Trump, despite his appearance of being a pompous, policy vacant celebrity.  However, after having a brilliant strategy come to fruition, he backed out like a typical flip-flopping politician that listens to too many advisers.

The reason Trump gave was that it wasn't appropriate to debate the second place finisher in the Democratic Party.  What paints Trump as dishonest (this time) is that nothing has changed in the Democratic primary situation in the last 24 hours when he agreed to the debate.  It is a cop-out explanation.  What makes that position worse is that he took a leap in the debit direction on ALL four of the reasons that made debating Sanders so brilliant in the first place.

By not debating, he gives up the opportunity to 1) use his leverage to fashion the debate for his maximum benefit, 2) have a huge, national audience to watch him slam Hillary Clinton, 3) up his PR by raising money for a good cause.  Now that he has painted Bernie as the loser despite Trump's position that the Democratic primary was rigged, he now puts himself squarely INSIDE the establishment with the rest of the "Hillary has already won" crowd.  Doing that takes Trump out of his inside position to 4) court Bernie's followers.   By slamming the door in the "Bernie has already lost" fashion, he lost his chance to woo them.  He may have even made Hillary look a lot better than she did.

Perhaps this thong sandal of a decision shouldn't be surprising since he has changed positions on just about every issue that he has initiated.  It can only be assumed, like his other positions and proclamations, his agreement to debate Bernie Sanders was "just a suggestion."

At first blush, it doesn’t look like a good idea for Donald Trump to debate Bernie Sanders.  Everyone knows that it is seldom a good idea to “debate down.”  Because Trump has already clinched the Republican nomination, debating the long shot in for the Democratic nomination is indeed debating down. 

However, Donald Trump didn’t get where he was by always doing the obvious or the safest things.  He somehow has a foresight often missed by the workaday pundits that you find on cable news channels.  The master of the greatest show in politics always seems to find the unconventional way to get ahead.  This time is no exception.

What is so genius about this debate for Trump?  There are four main components that will give him a great advantage in the fall.

1. He can forge the rules to give him the maximum benefit.  Trump has all the leverage in this deal. Sanders would have to give in to just about every demand because he needs the debate; Trump doesn’t. He has already demanded that the purpose would be to raise money for women’s health agencies.  Trump could also demand that neither participant engage in personal attacks on EACH OTHER (I emphasize this with great intention).    Sanders is inclined to play that way anyway.  With this, Trump ensures that Sanders doesn’t go after the “Trump is a bigot” tack which is Trump’s biggest weakness – as the demonstrators at his rallies continue to point out.

2. Trump gets the opportunity to slam Hillary Clinton for two hours in front of a national audience – probably a YUUUUGE one.  Trump and everyone else (except Sanders and his supporters) believe that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee in the fall. He will take every opportunity to rake Hillary over the coals and Sanders will likely be an accomplice rather than a Clinton defender. With the recent Inspector General’s report about Clinton’s email violations, he will even have fresh fodder. While Sanders will probably not deal with Clinton’s personal issues, he will be right there with other issues such as exchanging money for access, the Iraq war, and international trade deals.  Both candidates will make it look obvious that Hillary is just wrong about too many issues.  In addition, he will easily be able to refer to Clinton as being not smart enough to take advantage of this debate and perhaps paint her as a coward for not being brave enough to face him or Sanders.

3. By raising money for organizations dealing with women’s health, he capitalizes on the female demographic where some are still sitting on the fence about Trump.  Many Republican women do not like Trump, but dislike Clinton as well.  Trump may help to sway a portion that is just plain undecided. It is just good public relations.

4. Perhaps the most genius aspect of the debate deal for Trump is that he will have the opportunity speak directly to Bernie supporters.  He knows that if Bernie loses the nomination, the last thing they will WANT to do is support Clinton.  Trump can slyly court a practically captive audience and attempt to give them another option.  For this to work, he will have to stress the issues on which they both agree (Iraq war, trade, and campaign finance, etc.).  In order for this to work, he will have to resist his normally callous attacks and keep his eye on the prize.  If he does this and emphasizes his anti-establishment persona, he may steal a few – especially the “Never Hillary” crowd.  I have heard many “Bernie or Bust” people say that it would serve the DNC right if Trump gets elected.  Some even think it is the only way the Bernie revolution can survive if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination.  Being “not that bad,” may capitalize on that spirit and pick up a few more votes.

At this point, there is no reason to underestimate Donald Trump.  Whenever he gets accused of doing something stupid or unwise, it ends up working in his favor.  For the above reasons, the Bernie debate strategy is very impressive. He will do what he does best which is infuse himself into the front of the news coverage while Hillary looks like an ineffective spectator in the back of the auditorium. What makes stealing the media here particularly a bonus is that he is coming into what normally would be considered a media dead spot for a candidate.  He is already the presumptive nominee.  He has little to do to make news until the convention in July – other than picking a running mate.  It would be hard to do that for two solid months.

However, to make this strategy work, he will have to remain disciplined throughout the process and keep his mind on the bigger prize – November.  If he gets to aggressive with Sanders, he will alienate Bernie’s followers and defeat his strategy.   The only thing that will stop a windfall for Trump is that he isn’t brave enough to go through with it or disciplined enough to execute it.  However, it has usually been a mistake to bet against Trump.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Relation State's 2016 Democratic Primary Endorsement: Feel the Bern

From our sister site Psychosomatic Wit :

This year, in the Democratic primary, we have Hillary 2.0, “It’s My Turn” versus Bernie Sanders, whose “Enough is Enough” campaign has excited people who normally don’t think about politics. Clinton and Sanders both offer compelling cases.  Clinton brings experience and pragmatism to her campaign while Sanders wants a more transforming government. Since they both agree on the issues roughly 90% of the time, it is their approach to how to best run the executive branch will decide in the end for most voters who they will support.  As for Psychosomatic Wit, I believe Bernie’s approach to be the most compelling and serves the best interest for this season and for the future of this country.  Let me lay out my case.
To See The Republican Nomination Endorsement Click Here

I originally was in the Clinton camp. I didn't think that anyone should even bother to challenge her in the primary.  As we all have heard before, many believe that Hillary is the most qualified candidate that has ever run for president.  She did meaningful work while being associated with the executive branch as first lady and received hands on experience of government from the legislative branch side of it as a senator from New York.

She has also spent four years as Obama’s secretary of state which is probably the most impressive qualification she has.  Many may argue that she didn’t do anything significant, but she certainly was busy cleaning up a lot of diplomatic messes in the Middle East which is a result of a broad military presence there.  Despite the right wing talking points that the US has a worst reputation around the world under Obama, the facts do not back them up.  According to the three polls I could find (BBC Polling, Pew, and Gallup), the US has improved its standing around the world compared to the Bush administration.  Clinton can sincerely take credit for a big part of that.

The Issues

It wasn't easy to look at Clinton’s credentials and decide to go in another direction.  However, the issues help tell the story. Both candidates claim to want to bridge the gap in economic inequality. Bernie Sanders wants to address this by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour slowly over the next several years. Clinton wants to raise it to the twelve dollars per hour which she deems “sensible.”

Both realize that we have farther to go in providing health care.  Sanders wants to transform our healthcare system to something similar to the rest of world - a single payer, everyone is covered system he calls Medicare for all - borrowing from the popular system already covering senior citizens and the disabled. Clinton wants to build on ObamaCare, (the Affordable Care Act) that President Obama worked hard to pass that is the centerpiece of his presidential legacy.

The third leg of bridging the gap between the rich and the middle and working class has to do with accessibility of education.  Sanders believes that public education should increase from K-12, to K-16.  He claims that a Bachelor’s degree today has about the same bargaining power for employment as a high school diploma fifty years ago.  He claims that in order to stay competitive and give the middle and working class a chance to keep up with educational requirements for most gainful employment, the time has come to revise the extent of public education bridge the educational gap.  Clinton wants to take that notion as far as an associate's degree (2 year) at a community college. This is concept that was introduced by Obama.  She also wants to make borrowing money for tuition more affordable.

Clinton’s main arguments about why she should be elected over Sanders is three-fold.  One is her experienced which I have already touched on. The second reason is her electability.  She believes that she is the only one that has a chance defeating the Republican in the fall.  Finally, and the reason she emphasizes the most, is that she is the only one that can get her agenda passed through Congress.

The Decision

When analyzing these and other arguments, PW has decided to endorse Bernie Sanders.  In addressing her experience, it is true that, no matter how you slice it, Clinton has more qualifications based on experience. Although Sanders has served in the legislature longer, Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State cannot be matched by Sanders or anyone else.  However, if this was the main qualification to hold the office of president in this country, we would have a number of former secretaries of state holding the office throughout history. Sanders argues that his judgment is more sound than Clinton’s.  He points to his opposition to the Iraq war and the numerous trade deals, such as NAFTA that he opposed while Hillary supported them.  Still, judgment aside, it is hard to minimize her experience.

Clinton argues that because of her experience, she will be ready on Day 1 to deal with anything that arises on the foreign policy side.  The saving grace for Sanders, in addition to his judgment, is that starting in November, the president-elect, while putting a team together is kept apprised of all security situations.  As long as the team is good, the foreign policy is good and Sanders will have the opportunity to use his judgment based on the information he is given.

Clinton claims the edge on electability but the facts really don't bear that out. The right wing absolutely despises her.  She has had over 20 years head start acquiring that level of contempt compared to Bernie, a relative newcomer on the national scene. Unfortunately for Clinton is that hate spills over to mainstream America because of the success the Conservative Entertainment Complex (CEC) of pushing their views.  Fox News and AM radio have butchered Hillary for years and some of the metrics associated with her establish this.  She is running a high deficit on trust issues as the CEC will not let her email issues and other scandals disappear from the public eye.  

In addition, the most recent head-to-head polls for the general election show Sanders in a much better position to win in the fall than Clinton. In polling reports provided by Real Clear Politics,  Clinton narrowly defeats Trump but loses to the rest of the field.  In the same polling, Sanders beats the entire field.  When figured on average, Hillary loses in the fall no matter who her opponent is, but Sanders beats the entire field by an average of 9 percentage points.

In examining which candidate can push an agenda through Congress, Bernie still makes the most sense. Hillary is running on a pragmatic platform. She keeps saying that she won’t make promises that she knows she can’t keep.  What that means, is that she is the candidate of increments.  She knows we need a universal healthcare single payer system in this country, but she doesn't want to push it, so she says that she just wants to build upon ObamaCare which still gives insurance companies control over our health care. Bernie wants a revolution.  He wants to take the populist capital that he has and continues to acquire and put pressure on the system.  That is what a revolution is all about - championing the grass roots with the threat of “throwing the rascals out” if they do not bend to the will of the people. A revolution will have bigger coattails and have a better chance bringing lower level democrats into office with the huge excitement and turnout it should bring.

That brings us to the number one reason why Bernie is the only choice to get Psychosomatic Wit’s endorsement. He is committed to getting big money out of politics. Without that, “the one person, one vote” concept of our democracy is only a myth.  This is a battle between the people and the establishment. Hillary tries to tell us that she is not establishment, while taking millions from Wall Street and other interests.  Bernie is funded by the people.  He has no PAC.  He doesn't get Wall Street money.  He gets his funding through the folks - those of us that want our vote to count whether we have $20 or $20 million in the bank.  Bernie would rather have our donations (which he boasts only averages $27), than any check from special interest that will always want special favors.  He wants to for and with the folks, not special interests with deep pockets. Clinton says that she has never changed a vote because of big money.  Maybe she hasn't; maybe she hasn't needed to because her agenda has been shaped by those gifts in the first place.  All we know is that Bernie makes sense when he proclaimed at a recent debate, “Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American People. People aren't dumb. Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? . . . I guess for the fun of it.”

Bernie knows that with the big money in campaigns, he isn't going to get the great things passed.  That is why it is his number one objective to reform campaign financing.  If we can’t get money out of politics, it really doesn't matter who wins, does it?

So, yes Bernie Sanders wants to do great things and Hillary wants to be pragmatic. To borrow a sports metaphor, Hillary might be a good game manager, but Bernie is a play maker. The time has come to stop throwing a few crumbs to the masses in an unseemly attempt at pacification while preserving a system of big money corruption that flies in the face of our very democratic national identity.

The Republican party is not going to work with ANY Democratic president.  We have seen that over the past seven years and the election of  Hillary Clinton will not change that.  It will take a revolution to change the government from one of stalemate and stagnation to one of progress. Because of this, Psychosomatic Wit is forced to shout, “Go big, or go home!”  And in that spirit, PW whole-heartedly endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president.
To See The Republican Nomination Endorsement Click Here