SocraticGadfly: 6/12/16 - 6/19/16

June 18, 2016

Bernie Sanders wants to tarpaper over the Democratic shithouse

TruthDig/Common Dreams can turd-polish all they want on Bernie Sanders' endgame.

They can't hide that he is really just calling for greater numbers of slightly more liberal "good Democrats" like him to run for office or otherwise get involved within Democratic Party politics, while kicking third parties to the curb by ignoring them. And 'liberals' like Naomi Klein play along.

Bernie wants more 'open' primaries. Will that draw more in the way of caucus-based Greens, free to vote Dem, in will it draw more in the way of right-of-center independents (the Democratic Party is centrist, so indys between it and the GOP are by definition center-right), with some further Overton Window shifts, or in the case of Bernie's win in West Virginia and near-win in Kentucky, will it attract registered Republican spoilers?

At a minimum, real voting reform that benefitted voters, not the DemocraticParty, would include:
1. Easier creation of fusion slates (and constitutionally overturning bans on them in some states, on freedom of assembly grounds;
2. Easier third-party ballot access (Texas is notorious);
3. Public financing of Congressional and state office campaigns.

I'm not a Democrat, I'm an American. I want a fundamental transformation of elections.

As for the idea of more 'open' primaries, let alone the 'jungle' primary in non-presidential contests? Meh.

As a supporter of parliamentary democracy, I'd rather see parties forced to defend issues and coalesce. As for transforming the Democratic Party, I'd rather do it with the cudgel of outside pressure otherwise?

Bernie, to at least a few of us non-Sandernista non-kiddos, now that your value as a cudgel inside that party is fading away, you;re becoming more and more like a 3-day-old fish.

June 17, 2016

The #FeelTheBern fire sale

Let's start with Politico, which inks a "my way or the highway" piece about Bernie Sanders and his campaign team.

However, the alleged dean of insider baseball politics gets punched out by me on a called third strike, Either ignoring, or being ignorant of, Jane O'Meara Sanders' clear influence, and then not digging deeper, is a grade-school failure. I have long had little doubt that her taking Burlington College on a debt ride of doom was predicated in part on hoping her husband's senatorial name, whether through friend-schmoozing or fear-avoidance, would be a rainmaker. Perhaps illustrating some Clintonistas' plaints about his time in Congress, that obviously didn't work.

(That said, it's not surprising that the overrated Politico blew it.)

Anyway, beyond that major whiff, it's not too bad. Without specifically citing the taking on the "democratic socialist," it shows the man himself (ignoring Jane's role) made a lot of the tactical decisions. Given that, even or a politician, he has a pretty big ego, that's no surprise. At the same time, he hired professional-type staff even though having once lamented that those people wouldn't work for him.

Well, they're pros enough to now, largely, be at the rats deserting the sinking ship stage. A lot of the piece covers the endgame intra-staff machinations related to that.

The schizophrenia of the staff is also on display. That and backbiting are parts of any major US presidential campaign team, but it seems worse with Team Sanders, in part due to the idealism he projected.

Finally, Politico gets the staff to admit that the real reason Bernie may have lost is that he was, as I've said for months, "too good a Democrat" to really attack Clinton, like not suing the Iowa Democrats. Since he has been a Dem, de facto if not de jure, since his second House re-election race, people like me have long known that he's a real Democrat.

(Besides being "too good a Dem, this was about turd-polishing the Bernie brand. I blame Jane on that. And that's not snark; she is to blame for the paucity of tax returns, plus see above.)

Anyway, her's the staff lament:
Sanders and aides laugh at the idea that he’s damaging the party and hurting Clinton. They think they don’t get enough gratitude for how much they held back, from not targeting more Democratic members of the House and Senate who opposed him to not making more of an issue out of Clinton’s email server investigation and Bill Clinton’s sex scandals, all of which they discussed as possible lines of attack in the fall. They blame Clinton going after him on gun control for goading him into letting loose on her Goldman Sachs speeches.

Interestingly, and tellingly, not a word there about him zipping his lips on the Hillary-backed, Hillary-guided, Honduras coup. Not a word about his other foreign policy punch-pulling. (Nor investigation of how, at least with Big Ag, he IS a socialist, of the corporate welfare type.)

For that, beyond my own blogging, we have to head to Counterpunch, since Politico would never ask a question outside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment consensus.

Let's start with this transitional riff:
Those vast crowds seemed to have acted on Sanders like a kind of opiate, numbing him to the political reality of his campaign. As noted in a recent Politico article, the Sanders campaign staff had known for months that the senator had no path to victory. Instead of being honest with their supporters, the Sanders campaign fed them one illusory scenario after another. Even Sanders himself got seduced by the fairy tale.

Maybe not "seduced" as much as "intoxicated," but generally, yes. 

Nexdt, before moving to foreign policy, Jeff St. Clair goes her:
Running as an economic revolutionary, Sanders spent most of his time in the cozy milieu of college campuses instead of in desolate urban landscapes or working-class suburbs. It’s hard to earn the trust of poor people when you don’t spend much time in their company.
That said, St. Clair is a last-ditch Naderite to the point of fomenting anti-Green Party conspiracy theories. He would never say this about his man. And I've given him a rhetorical Tweet about that.

That said, the piece was maybe half as good on second reading as on first. And it's a good example of the primary reason I delinked Counterpunch several years ago. Unskeptical, or even ax grinding, versions of left-liberalism are nor for me.

June 16, 2016

Guaranteed annual income and freedom from the tyranny of real estate

You read that right, and as with a number of others of my headers, will now unpack it.

People who support single-payer national health care over Obamacare, at least in its current weak tea form, and over pre-Obamacare, we cite as one reason for this support that it frees people from the tyranny of being lashed to an unlikeable job just for the bennies. (The US adopting guaranteed minimum vacation time would expand this freedom even more.)

Guaranteed annual income would have a somewhat similar effect. I could combine it with freelance writing to telecommute. Others could do similar. Parents of young children could look to move into better school districts. And more.

No, this wouldn't be major freedom, but it would at least mildly boost mobility.And undercut the tyranny of realtors. It would also probably further expose redlining, not a bad side benefit.

I'm sure this is all part of why white neoliberal thought leaders don't push guaranteed income.

June 15, 2016

Warning: 2017 mythmaking and conspiracy thinking just around the corner

Next year will have two major anniversaries, either centennial or multicentennial.

Both will be focused around people around whom there's been a heavy accumulation of myth, conspiracy thinking, or both.

The first is John F. Kennedy, born in 1917. I'm sure there's going to be a rash of nutbar new conspiracy thinking books about his assassination coming out. The conspiracy thinking will be peddled in part because of myths that he was, or was going to do, one or more of the following:
1. A true liberal on civil rights;
2. A true moderate on the Cold War;
3. Going to get us out of Vietnam.

On civil rights, the best thing Jack Kennedy ever did, period, was get himself assassinated so LBJ could use him as a martyr to get Congress to pass a far stronger civil rights bill than Kennedy had ever proposed.

On the Cold War, and Vietnam? Tosh.

Let's not forget Kennedy's backing of the Diem coup, then the lame excuse that he didn't think Diem was going to be killed. Let's not forget the coup against Trujillo, contra his Alliance for Progress, to maintain American hegemony in the Caribbean — a coup that had Trujillo assassinated, directly removing the "I didn't think that" excuse.

Let's not forget he had an election to win in 1964 and falling poll numbers, with any honeymoon period long over. No way he could look like a dove on Vietnam; he would have sent more troops in 1964. Maybe not as many more as LBJ (who had no idea that Kennedy had swapped our Jupiter missiles for the Soviet ones in Cuba, and thus thought Kennedy was tougher than he really was), but he would have increased troop numbers as deemed politically necessary.

Indeed, Wikipedia quotes Kennedy (link on site):
"We don't have a prayer of staying in Vietnam. Those people hate us. They are going to throw our asses out of there at any point. But I can't give up that territory to the communists and get the American people to re-elect me."

And, given that in the actual world, Bobby Kennedy was relatively late to the antiwar movement, and presuming Jack wanted his brother elected in 1968, again, while JFK probably wouldn't have used the same troop numbers as LBJ, he would have continued to increase troops as necessary up to Bobby's election bid.

Stuff like this takes 30 seconds to find.

If one accepts the actual truth about Jack Kennedy, one knows there was no reason for the CIA or the "Deep State" to assassinate him. And, yes, Bobby as AG might be a bit problematic, but the Mafia was too pragmatic to assassinate a president. Castro? Likewise.


The other anniversary?

In 1517, Martin Luther allegedly nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Electoral Saxony.

There's no conspiracy thinking about his death that I'm aware of.

But, there's PLENTY of myth, much of it peddled by the conservative, quasi-fundamentalist (it IS, family members) branch of American Lutheranism.

That includes where Luther placed those theses. Oh, he wrote them — and sent them to the bishop. They weren't nailed on any church door.

Nor did he say "Here I stand" at the Diet of Worms four years later.

He did, though, write "Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants" during the Peasants' War of 1524-25. And, frustrated that the Jews hadn't miraculously seen the new light of Reformation Christianity, freed from Catholic detritus, as salvation, he did write "The Jews and Their Lies" and call for their synagogues to be burned. (And, while Hitler would have been an anti-Semite on his own, the Nazis did reference Luther.)

I'll be addressing both of these myths further in the coming months, I have no doubt.

Technically, since Luther wasn't considered divine, I probably should call it legend-mongering rather than mythmaking, but people know what the latter means. That said, the modern "urban legend" idea works perfectly as a tag for this post.

June 14, 2016

TX progressives mourn with Orlando and call out stupidity

The Texas Progressive Alliance mourns with the people of Orlando as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff wants everyone to remember that Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick stand with Donald Trump, now and always.

Socratic Gadfly takes a week off from looking at politics to note his general support for science writer John Horgan and his critique of the current skepticism movement.

Ohio is going to be a battleground state for both the White House and the Senate, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value walked the streets of Houston with his sign regarding the value of long-term relationships in our often short-term society. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Robert Rivard urges investment in mass transit in San Antonio.

Kriston Capps observes that if Texas had spent as much on flood mitigation in recent years as it has spent on toll roads, we'd have far fewer floods.

Better Texas Blog notes how incredibly difficult it is to qualify for Medicaid in Texas.

BOR cheers the nomination of a Democratic Presidential candidate who supports repealing the odious Hyde amendment.

Nancy Sims pauses to review history and the centuries-long fight for women's rights.

The Makeshift Academic examines whether transitional insurance plans are driving losses on state exchanges.

Finally, we revisit In the Pink Texas on the day in 2008 when candidate Hillary Cliton dropped out of that year's Presidential race. She's come a long way.

June 13, 2016

Hillary Clinton Veep speculation time

Filemon Vela Jr. —
Hillary Veep material?
OK, it's time to start thinking about this, folks. I don't care for her at all, and will be voting Green, but both personally and professionally, the chess game part is still interesting.

One — what focus?

Hispanic seems very likely. (If she opts for another woman, it could of course be a Hispanic woman.

Elizabeth Warren does NOT seem likely. First, even though she didn't actually endorse Bernie, she didn't endorse Hillary before the end of the primary season, either. Plus, Massachusetts law is clear — contra Harry Reid. The governor — as in, the current Republican governor — names Warren's replacement. So scratch her.

I think Clinton doesn't look for another woman because she doesn't want to look TOO tribalistic, she worries about alienating men, and ...

Because she doesn't want to share her non-historymaking moment.

So, that's that.

(Sidebar: If she asked, and Warren said yes, I'd kind of look down on Warren, even if she really felt she had to "take one" for the Democratic party team.)

So, Hispanic and male because of Donald Trump's self-immolation. That's my guess.

First, rule out either Julian or Joaquin Castro. I'm with you there, Brains.


First of all, Texas ain't in play. Despite what she told Hillary-fellator (sic: I know my sexual anatomy) Rebecca Traister, Clinton herself knows Texas ain't in play. Or should. If she doesn't, she's a lot stupider as a political data-cruncher than I thought. (That said, never assume, eh?)

Second, while somewhat younger appeals to Sandernistas on paper, she doesn't want to go too young, in part lest it make her look too old. The Castros are under 45. (And, per Brains and that link, they're kind of green on the big top of Dem politics, and may not be Friends of Hillary.)

If she does want to go both Hispanic and female ...

California's Linda Sanchez is over 45. (Sister Loretta will face off against Kamala Harris in the general election for Barbara Boxer's open Senate seat, so she's out.)

A dark horse is current Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Being from New York, a safe place, and being Dominican in background, not Cuban or Mexican, likely tells against him.

An INTERESTING choice would be Texas Congressman Filemon Vela.

Yes, I just said Texas is not in play. But, if Clinton wanted an attack-dog Veep candidate, and a Hispanic, the man who told Trump to "shove (your border wall) up your ass" would certainly be high on the list. Age 53 is perfect for Clinton on that demographic. He's "connected." His wife was a former Republican state appeals judge.

Or will it be 'connected'
Michelle Lujan Grisham?
Former Colorado Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia might be solid, but, at the same time, is low-profile — perhaps too low.

New Mexico Congresscritter Ben Ray Lujan is only two years older than the Castros. Cousin Michelle Lujan Grisham is older and would give her a Latina instead of Latino; she would also counter any (why, I don't know) GOP appeal by Susana Martinez.

In addition, the Lujan family name is still gold in New Mexico, with at least some spillover effect into Colorado, and that cuts across family lines. (Manuel Lujan Jr., still alive, was also a Congresscritter before becoming Poppy Bush's Secretary of the Interior. So, this would be a good play in the Southwest.

That said, I could be shocked and it's Warren after all.

If so, I don't get it. It puts a Senate seat at a loss to the GOP for two years. Remember Scott Brown.

Second, it means Warren is officially Democratic Party first, principles second.

Third, contra DNC and Camp Clinton smiley faces, some men, in a gender-based version of the Bradley Effect, will not vote for a two-woman ticket.

Fourth, Sandernistas, it's NOT HIM, despite a clueless Twitter hashtag. Either wake up and smell the coffee or drown yourself in it. I can't believe that as many as 2/3 of Dems want him as Veep. Lots of scared Clintonistas?