30 April 2016

How to defeat Donald Trump in easy do-it-yourself instructions

I think dismissing Ted Cruz at this point is perfectly justifiable. But dismissing the Trump phenomenon is dangerous. His appeal is more akin to the appeal of classic fascists than it is to normal American politicians. If the Democratic candidate is to be an establishment politician (and admittedly a smart one), she had better school herself and fast not on how to emulate this dangerous demagogue, but how to effectively counter his appeal. And for that, she should turn to, and embrace, Bernie Sanders and his campaign, full-throatedly. Because Bernie appeals to the same "disgusted with all of them" attitude. Clinton is not Sanders. But there's plenty of time between now and November to reforge the Democratic party as the party of the people's interests. And if she does that, she can win the presidency, the Senate, and even, just possibly, the House. If she doesn't, we could have the kind of historically low-turnout election that is the only way someone like Trump could win. And he knows it.

I'm still supporting Sanders. Although his path to the nomination is now tortuously narrow (despite being the preference of a majority of potential "D" voters (as opposed to registered Democrats) in November), his campaign is the future of the Democratic party. And they had better get that through their heads.

My advice Clinton: Think big! Promise a major transformation of American governance! Read FDR's speeches from shortly before he died, when he was planning a big post war economic reform! Consult with Bernie about what it is the Sanders movement stands for an embrace it! that is the path to crushing Trump and gaining a landslide that will allow you to actually govern.

25 April 2016

Trump as Trojan horse?

What are the chances that years from now in a tell all, Trump will let fall that, sure, he was always a big ego and all, but he never wanted those RIGHT WINGERS to run the place, and running for president was terrific publicity, so he went along with the House of Cards style machinations of the Clintons and ran as a Trojan horse in 2016 to ensure HRC's victory AND Senate flipover? And it succeeded beyond everyone's wildest dreams?


24 April 2016

Atheism as a belief system

An FB post noted that no atheists have organized terror or jihad based on their belief system, to which I commented the following.

Valid point. But atheism isn't a belief system. Just the opposite; it's a considered working empirical conclusion based on the foremost principles of empirical science; skepticism and adoption of theories only after falsifiable test, OR when that's infeasible, substantial cross linked evidence that strongly disfavors alternate hypotheses in comparison (as in cosmology, where lab experiments aren't possible).

Any serious consideration, without a priori postulates, of the hypothesis of an active, conscious God capable of and engaging in changing events in the physical universe, will have to conclude that there is no consistent evidence for the existence of such a being. People are free to believe whatever they like, but there is no REASON to adopt this belief based on the only reliable method we have for testing truth claims; the scientific method. Indeed, the hypothesis that God-belief resembles other forms of wishful thinking found in the study of human psychology, finds considerable support.

19 April 2016

No Bernie Sanders independent run!

In response to Facebook posts proclaiming "Bernie or bust" and advocating an Independent run, I posted the following reply:

I disagree. We must think longer term. Bernie himself has made clear that if he is not the nominee, he will endorse Clinton, and THEN continue to work to build a Progressive coalition to elect real progressives at all levels, and to reform the party so that next time a candidate espousing the SANDERS AGENDA will emerge victorious. Political change requires patience as well as enthusiasm, strategy as well as tactics. Bernie will go to the convention, and the result will be FAR BETTER than it would have been had he not run. And he has done a huge (YUGE) amount to move the Democratic party to the left, and towards far more transparency and responsiveness to its voters. The structure of elections in this country isn't going to be wished away, it will have to be transformed by a sustained effort. But fragmenting the party and ensuring the election of all three branches of government to the party that's closer to fascism than EVER BEFORE in America is foolhardy, and terribly, terribly bad for the future of our country.  

17 April 2016

To any of my friends who continue to believe that Sanders is less electable, and not a candidate of serious issues...

Please take the time to watch Cenk Uygur's interview from several weeks ago. 

Note in particular what he says he's trying to accomplish in the event he is NOT successful in getting the nomination (about which I believe he is perfectly realistic about his chances).  

Another exchange with HRC supporter

​I admit I'm getting a little tired of this kind of exchange, but here's the latest in an ongoing exchange with a Hillarist. 



Here is how I see the affect Sanders has on the electorate:  We live in a news cycle of TV news. Programs on TV come and go with rapid regularity. Bernie, along with Trump, represent the allure of the New and a break with the same, old stuff of hum-drum American politics.  Hillary who has been in the public sphere for more than 25 years comes across as yesterday's news no matter the fact that she has had first-hand knowledge of the levels of government as First Lady, US Senator for eight years and as Obama's choice for the most important post in the cabinet as Secretary of State.  Highly intelligent, years of significant experience appear to count for little among those who like something new on the TV screen.

Senator Sanders ( not even a Democrat ) is the new show. He appeals to the aspirational desires of the Center Left with his lofty rhetoric and defiance of the financial system which, in this globalized economy, has left the less-educated in fear of declining living standards as their manufacturing jobs and their middle class lifestyles disappear.   American education is the best in the world when it comes to Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional Education but has significant shortcomings in Secondary Education and Job Training.  Sanders rails at the big banks and the decline of the Middle Class, but seems lacking in the necessary means of achieving those goals.  That does not seem to matter. He is new and interesting. His speeches appeal to the current fears of American decline. Hillary is the old model.  Bernie is the new car in the showroom. But, we may ask, what's under the hood? 


Oh please. This is so condescending. And I for one have posted and emailed about "what's under the hood" so many times I'll just refer you to my post on gyromantic.com, "Why I'm supporting Bernie Sanders."
But seriously, the implication that support for Sanders is the result of ill- educated addiction to novelty is outright insulting. Do you think the most celebrated economic analyst of recent years, Thomas Piketty, who has said that Sanders's economic agenda is the right prescription and would be transformative, is some dopey kid who just wants a shiny new toy? Or that Andrew Bacevich, probably the foremost military historian of the present time, whose analysis of US middle east policy is in complete accord with Sanders, is likewise?  People support Sanders because they prefer the policies he promotes to what Clinton is offering. And generally for very sound reasons. At present, irrespective of the way the nomination process works, which will probably make her the nominee, MORE DEMOCRATS FAVOR SANDERS. If she's smart, (which she is), she won't ignore that. And if they're smart, her supporters will cut out the ad hominem insults. (And so will Bernie's...I don't deny some of them are doing that, too, and it's not helpful. )

16 April 2016

Ongoing discussion of Bernie vs. Hillary

In an ongoing conversation with a Hillary Clinton supporter correspondent, I recently sent the following: 
I understand why people support Clinton. I will vote for her if she is the nominee, as I've always said and as Bernie has always said, and still says.

But when you say ...

the vast majority of opinion indicates Clinton is better prepared to be president.

...That's Just not true. We're entitled to our opinions but not our own facts. The majority of democratic politicians believe that, and the majority of the talking head class will say this, too. But actual data shows that support for Clinton has declined to where it's close, but nationally, Sanders has higher approval rating among Democrats and is actually ahead in head to head matchups.

And when you say

If it's Trump vs Clinton it will be like LBJ and Goldwater in 1964.   ...

That's true, but it's even more true that it's Sanders who does better against Trump, and all Republicans, than she does. In fact Kasich [who will not be nominated] beats her in national polls, but Sanders beats Kasich.

This won't determine the nomination, but as rationale for supporting Clinton you cite prepositions that are actually contrary to available evidence.

And there's no reason to believe the Senate is more likely to go Democratic with her than him. I happen to believe the enthusiasm and turnout factors suggest just the opposite.

Fortunately, whoever wins the nomination, and it will of course most likely be Clinton, will win the general, the way things look right now.


15 April 2016

Reply to a correspondent

In response to my observations about Andrew Bacevich and his new book about the failure of American foreign policy in the Middle East ever since 1980, and that this is one of the main reasons I'm supporting Bernie Sanders, a correspondent said, "Enjoy being in the Minority. Bernie will lose."

Apart from the, well, frankly, smugness of this remark, I felt constrained to reply with this: 

«Ah, well, that may be, but it's hardly the point of my post. And even the most die hard Clintonistas recognize (if they're honest) that Bernie Sanders and the movement he has instigated has moved the center of gravity of the Democratic Party significantly to the left, so that the era of "Democratic Leadership Council" style wannabe-Republicanism in our party is finally over. Certainly positions taken in this campaign by Clinton herself reflect this undeniable reality. And for that alone, Sanders' and his supporters' efforts in this campaign have been worthwhile and salutary for the future of our country. As it happens, I believe that his policy positions reflect an emerging majority (hence recent polls that show him leading Clinton in head-to-head national matchups). The undemocratic party-procedural election process in this country is what it is and his road to a nomination at this point is incredibly steep if not actually impossible, but that doesn't make him a "loser" and it doesn't change the reality that: by and large, it is Sanders's positions on issues that are the new mainstream of the Democratic Party. 

And, perhaps ironically as it supposed to be her wheelhouse, but this general trend also applies to foreign policy.» 

Andrew Bacevich

Fixing to read Andrew Bacevich's «America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History», about the folly of the 35+ year attempt by the U.S. to control events in the Middle East. Starting with the "Carter Doctrine"in 1980. He notes that between the end of WW2 and 1980 virtually no American soldier was killed in action in the M.E. Since 1990, virtually no American soldier has been killed in action ANYWHERE ELSE. And what have we gained from that? We have become conditioned to it, but it's time at last to face the fact that our direct involvement there has been a colossal mistake whose only parallel is the abject failure of the War on Drugs.

Apropos, Hillary Clinton's apparent failure to understand either of these crucial policy insights is a major reason I'm supporting Bernie Sanders.

12 April 2016

Longman on Paul Ryan's presidential ambitions

Wa Mo's Martin Longman says Paul Ryan is just being coy in denying presidential ambitions. I say, who cares? The Democratic nominee, even if it's Hillary Clinton, will defeat any Republican. That might not have been the case four years ago, but now, with half of Trump's supporters refusing to vote at all if they don't nominate him, I'm not too worried.  

Blackout warnings bogus ... of local LA interest mostly

Yuge surprise! An article in the Bus sec of the LAT today sez just what I suspected. Sempra (The Gas Co) is planting this fearmongering about blackouts this summer in order to scare people into tolerating the sweetheart deal they're cooking up with the regulators to keep the Aliso Canyon gas storage facilities open with minimal disruption to their bad practices of the past.  

11 April 2016

Separation of Church and State

I saw this posted on social media. Not absolutely sure it's authentic, but it sure is an appealing and well said message:

"The reason we separate Church and State is because the Founding Fathers believed government should be guided by a balance of morality, and reason, not blind religious faith. Practice your religion in freedom; just don't make everyone else practice your religion."

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

10 April 2016

The price of civilization

I do consulting (legal writing) and earned more doing that last year than I anticipated. Can't complain. I have a very modest retirement pension. No complaint. I'm fortunate enough to have some investment income, although I don't actually see any of it to spend. That's for later. I'm deferring Social Security till "full" retirement age, 66 for me. (Born 1953). My tax bracket is actually pretty fair and reasonable for people at my modest income level. And I do nothing to try to take exemptions or deductions that I'm not 100% entitled to. I believe in a role for government and that taxes are the price of civilization as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr said in the 1920s. So when I found that my federal and state income, estimated 2016 first installment, and self-employment taxes added up to thousands of dollars... enough for a moderate budget weeks long European vacation, I was, well, not exactly delighted, but accepting. This is my dues.

If we had a progressive, fair, watertight tax system where everyone, including the 0.1%, had to pay THEIR fair share in just the same way, we would have more than enough for the infrastructure, education, research and development, housing, health care, and jobs investments our nation DESPERATELY needs to be making. So I accept my responsibility without complaint.

And this is yet another reason I believe Bernie Sanders should be our next president.

08 April 2016

​Reasons to support Bernie Sanders:

​Everyone has their own views, and that's the way it should be. But if anyone has any doubt at all, please read my reasons for supporting Bernie Sanders. 

·       Consistent record of supporting working peoples' interests against oligarchic mega-rich corporations and individuals, including rapacious and actually, literally criminal banks and other wall street institutions (for example nearly all of them participate in illegal assistance to the very rich to hide offshore assets from taxation; and participate in illegal and fraudulent derivative-related activity even after the meltdown they created in the first place; contrary to attempts to mischaracterize Sanders's positions, this includes so-called "shadow banking.")

·       Supports legal regime to actually enforce and reinforce statutory and regulatory control on Wall Street excesses (including breaking up the "too big to fail" banks under existing Dodd Frank powers (the recent flap over how to do this is totally distorted; if you read his answer he understands perfectly how the legal regime would allow this to be done) & 21st Century Glass Steagall, etc.

·       Non-interventionist foreign policy, 100% voting record going back to 1980s. Opposes sweetheart defense contract deals and rampant privatization of national security, military, and intelligence infrastructures in the US. Supports international cooperation wherever feasible, and even handedness and rethinking policies of "projection of power."

·       Supports tax reform to undo the trend towards rigged tax code favoring the very rich and offshoring of individual and corporate wealth, as recently revealed in truly wretched excess in the Panama Papers… 100% record on this issue going back decades. To include significant realignment of marginal rates on very high incomes to resemble the tax system we had in this country during the great prosperity of 1950-1974, before Reaganomics and tax changes to favor the rich, which are still in effect

·       Favors free trade, not regimes of so-called Trade Agreements that are really systems of rigging the rules in favor of big corporations and deals with foreign governments to switch jobs overseas.

·       Favors realistic transaction tax on Wall Street to discourage financialization of the economy and encourage actual production

·       30 year record of slow, steady legislative progress on liberal reforms

·       Supports infrastructure investment to build trains, bridges, public transport, libraries, public universities, research and development, renewable energy infrastructure and technology research, etc. both to create jobs and address the no. 1 environmental AND national security issue in America, which is Climate Change (military strategists agree)

·       Supports free tuition for public universities and colleges, like many states had until the 1970s in this country, financed by the transaction tax and tax reform

·       Supports moving towards a system which recognizes that health care is a right not a privilege, including ending special interest deals with Big Pharma and for profit medical industry

·       Supports ending Citizens United and other methods to take the power of money out of politics and end the oligarchic superstructure has used to control policy with money; public financing of elections

·       Supports programs to put people to work and ensure that no one goes without decent housing and nutrition support

·       First to support $15 min. wage among national candidates

·       Supports rational gun control; has D- rating from NRA (only supports some restraint in making non-intentional gun dealers liable for sale of guns), including total assault weapons ban and registration of handguns

Economists like Thomas Pikkety, author of the hugely influential Capitalism in the 21st Century, have said that this program would be transformative and ensure a robust and growing economy with a much fairer distribution of the wealth resulting from American innovation and productivity.

Contrary to many characterizations of Sanders's ideas of how to do this, he has created the largest political movement of citizens demanding change, and the greatest amount of enthusiasm for political change in a long, long time. It is defeatism on the part of the Centrists of the Democratic party to say, "get real, you can't do this, you need the Republicans and they won't vote for anything." You don't need the Republicans if you persuade enough of the people to join this peaceful political revolution, and if you take money out of politics so legislators are free to actually represent what their constituents, not their financial backers, want. We can change the rules of the Senate in one vote to do away with the filibuster, and with a 50 state, fight every race strategy, we can take back both houses of Congress within a few years, and enact a Progressive New New Deal. This is perfectly possible, but it requires bold, big thinking, not the kind of compromise-in-advance, triangulate, play the incremental change game favored by Centrists like Clinton and Obama.

Hillary Clinton has compromised, one might say triangulated, positions on every single one of these issues, and has refused to commit to vetoing TransPacific Partnership and many other more progressive positions she has articulated, but failed to actually commit to. She has taken huge amounts of money from special interests, which necessarily implies a quid pro quo, while Sanders has refused to do so (similar to how Russ Feingold has refused to do so, and is about to be elected to the Senate again). This election, where the Republicans are cracking up and will almost certainly lose, is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to elect a real progressive to the White House and commence a years-long movement to reinvent American government as much more progressive, which is what the majority of Americans want, according to all impartial polling.

Lastly, it is simply not true that Sanders is less electable than Clinton. A poll in Wisconsin on election day showed 90% of Democrats thought Sanders was honest, only 58% thought Clinton was. Her "negative view" numbers, long known to be the best predictor of electoral success, have always been higher than his. He consistently polls higher than her against either Trump or Cruz. And, recently, national polls have shown the Democratic electorate favors him, by a slight margin, overall.

If you have not yet voted in your state's primary or caucus, please consider voting for Bernie Sanders, to bring about REAL CHANGE in America.  

06 April 2016

Successful bone anchored hearing assist surgery (BAHA)

To everyone who was kind enough to express good wishes, my surgery today went well and I expect a fast and uneventful recovery. In six to twelve weeks I should get the actual sound transducer appliance, which will allow me to hear close-in, quiet sounds on the left side of my body through my (good) right ear, conducted through the bones of my skull. 

♦ David Studhalter