Sunday, November 20, 2016

3.8 - RIP: Leonard Cohen

RIP: Leonard Cohen

We end the week with an RIP.

Leonard Cohen
A musical career of singing and songwriting that lasted 50 years has come to an end. Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82 at his home in Los Angeles.

Even though his song "Hallelujah" wound up being described as a sort of "latter-day secular hymn" and was probably his best known and most covered work, I have to say that my  personal favorite was and still is "Suzanne" and I can still enjoy putting on a harmony to Judy Collins' version, even though she changes some of the words, like she often does in songs.

No matter. It's another chapter closed but as with any artist, the art lives on.

So RIP, Leonard Cohen.

3.7 - Cop who killed Philando Castile is indicted

Cop who killed Philando Castile is indicted

Noted for the record:

Philando Castile
I won't blame you if you don't remember the name Philando Castile. His was one of the too many names of young black men killed by police.

On July 9, Philando Castile was pulled over by a cop named Jeronimo Yanez in St. Anthony, Minnesota, a part of Minneapolis. The time was 9:05pm.

By 9:06 pm, Castile was bleeding to death from being shot multiple times as his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter watched.

On November 15, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced that Yanez will be charged with three felonies: one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm, declaring that
no reasonable officer - knowing, seeing and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time - would have used deadly force under these circumstances.
A charge, we have seen too often in such cases, is a long way from holding a cop responsible for wrongfully and needlessly killing someone. But it is at least a first step.

3.6 - Democrats refusing to recognize their own failures

Democrats refusing to recognize their own failures

Here's one last part of that normalization and it shows how progressives are stuck fighting a sort of two-front war: one against the reactionary policies and convictions of the Great Orange One and his administration and the other against the liberal political establishment represented by the Dummycrat Party and a significant number of those who falsely lay claim to the honorable title of progressive.

Specifically, I'm talking about the attempts by that establishment to avoid any blame for their failures in this election. Even more specifically, about the quote reasons unquote that Clinton lost.

Four big reasons have been offered:
1. blame third parties
2. blame sexism
3. blame Russia
4. blame James Comey

What do all those have in common? They mean you don't have to look at your own candidate, at her flaws and failings, at her baggage.

And you don't have to look at the failings of your own campaign, you don't have to look at the fact that despite all the talk about it was "the white vote" that put TheRump in office, Clinton did just about as well with whites as Obama did in 2012. But she did seven points worse than he did with blacks - a deficit amplified by the fact that black turnout was down. She also did eight points worse with Latinos, 11 points worse with Asians, and five points worse among young voters.

Blame third parties, blame sexism, blame whatever else you can think of, and you don't have to consider any of that.

The point of the excuses, that is, is to insist we did nothing wrong, to insist that all we need to do is "sharpen our message," to insist that there is no need for us to change.

That notion, we know, is wrong just as those excuses are all either factually wrong or deeply flawed. Here are some reasons:

- The argument against third parties is based on a bizarre calculation done at CNN that if Clinton had gotten all of Jill Stein's vote and half of Gary Johnson's vote in four states - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida -it would have tipped the election. That argument was eagerly echoed by liberal darling Rachel Maddow.

Besides being an exercise in pure fantasy, it's undermined by fact: The BBC reports that according to exit polls, only a quarter of Johnson and Stein voters would have backed Clinton if they had to pick between her and TheRump. About 15% would have backed him. And most - as much as 60% of the total - said they would have just stayed home if their only choices were those two.

- There was a lot of blaming sexism. For one example, big time blogger and writer for Salon.com Amanda Marcotte said the election proved that "America would self-destruct rather than elect a female president."

Which is a rather strange not to say untenable argument when you remember that as of November 19, Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of over 1.5 million votes with more still to count.

- The "blame Russia" argument is based on the idea that hack of the DNC emails was supposedly done by a Russian agency. But the argument is made without reference to the fact that it was what was in the emails that was damaging, not the hack itself.

There is also an ominous undertone to the argument, which refers to the emails coming out "in dribs and drabs." But it wasn't Russia that released them to the public and media, it was WikiLeaks, so the argument actually implicates WikiLeaks as being part of a Russian plot to manipulate the US elections.

- Finally, there is some truth to the "blame Comey" argument as there is no question but that re-opening the wound about the emails hurt the Clinton campaign. But again, it's an argument made without reference to the fact that the original wound, the email server itself, was self-inflicted.

I'm going to stop here because there are still two things I want to get to so I'm going to have to put anything more off until the next show, which I promise you will be the last one post-morteming if there is such a word, the election.

3.5 - The importance of continuing protest

The importance of continuing protest

Last week I mentioned and celebrated the spontaneous demonstrations against TheRump and his declared intentions in the wake of the election. "That's what we need," I said.

Those protests, to my great - I was going to say delight but the proper description is to my great encouragement - have continued.

Thousands upon thousands of people, many of them but by no means all young, in dozens of cities across the country have turned out into the streets in protests that as I do this show have continued for more than a week.

It's hard to maintain that kind of day in, day out passion and the demonstrations appear to be tapering off some but that doesn't mean the end of the opposition, doesn't mean the end of the resistance.

For one thing, there are still rallies and demonstrations planned and on-going. A list a checked the night before doing this show had at that point some 51 events in 44 places between November 16 and 20 and there are counter-inaugurals planned for DC and LA on January 20 plus a Women's March on Washington on January 21 with support rallies in Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas.

Even beyond that, there is a lot of talk about settling in for long haul, for not so much what we might call furious passion as sustained passion, a passion that can and will turn people out into the streets but doesn't expect it to be seven days a week for weeks and months on end.

One aspect of that long haul could be seen on November 15 when students on campuses across the country walked out of class to pressure school officials to make each of their respective schools a "sanctuary campus," one that limits cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Organizers have said that 80 campuses saw actions. The response to the day from the administrations addressed was mixed and not all positive - but then again, that is exactly what you would expect in the face of a new movement, one that precisely because it is an on-campus movement is a sort that can generate slow but sustained pressure. And we will need a lot of that.

But we have to recognize that as far as the establishment - in this case the political and media establishment - is concerned, this is not how you do things. Demonstrations, protests, and the like, well, they can make for interesting visuals for the evening news, but as serious parts of an effort to change things? Why don't be silly! Demonstrations are disruptive, rude; they are messy, they are impolite towards power, that's just not how we do things around here!

So we shouldn't be surprised by two trends. One is to dismiss the protests and the protesters especially by a sort of mocking condescension of how either unrealistic or naive they are.

For example, The Washington Post started a story about the protests this way; this is the first three graphs, quoted in full:
They’re angry. They’re afraid. They’re upset that Donald Trump is going to be their next president.

But many of the protesters who took to the streets in cities across the country over the past week didn’t cast a ballot for the candidate who could have beaten him.

Instead of voting for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, dozens of protesters in cities from Philadelphia to Portland, Ore., said in interviews this week that they had cast ballots for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, wrote in Sen. Bernie Sanders or, in some cases, failed to vote at all.
Because well, I mean, after all, how can you protest TheRump if you didn't vote for Hillary? That's just not the way it's done!

By the way, after dissing the protesters, the Post piece admitted in a parenthesis that Clinton won most of the states where the biggest protests have happened despite what the post tried hard to portray as the disinterest of the protesters.

We have to expect this kind of attitude, it always meets protest movements, and our best response both sort and long term is just to keep on keepin' on, doing what we would do anyway.

The other trend, though, is more subtle and potentially more damaging to our society: It is the tendency, even the desire, for the establishment - again, I'm speaking of the political and media establishment here - to normalize whatever happens to or within that establishment. To make it seem like nothing has really happened, nothing has really changed, everything is just as it was.

Now, they are trying to normalize the idea of a TheRump administration.

One example: The Dummycrats are gearing up for a strategy not of opposition to TheRump, but one of "working with him" where he has said some not-horrible things - such an increasing spending on infrastructure. No, there's nothing so outrageous, we just have some policy differences but see? We can still work together!

Another: In her first formal talk since the election, Hillary Clinton, without referring to TheRump specifically, still said "there is common ground to build upon."

A third, maybe even better example: CBS's Leslie Stahl said after an interview with TheRump that he is "more subdued, more serious."

The message from that establishment is "So you see? It'll all work out. I'll all be fine." With the  unspoken addendum "for us, anyway."

We can't let that normalization happen and I guarantee you it will if we don't stop it.

3.4 - Show solidarity with undocumented immigrants

Show solidarity with undocumented immigrants

Such solidarity as the LAPD showed, because even if they didn't think of it that way, it still is, such solidarity is more necessary than ever.

Since TheRump's victory, there have been numerous racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic incidents, with bigoted supporters celebrating the success of the Great Orange One by spewing their bilge over any convenient target.

One person tried to keep a running list of examples but couldn't keep up. For its part, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such matters, counted more than 200 hate crimes involving vandalism, threats, and intimidation in just the first five days after the election. By November 18, the number had risen to 701.

And don't expect it to get better: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has joined TheRump's transition team.

Who is Kris Kobach? Well, I could cite a lot of things about him, but for the moment we will limit ourselves to this: Remember the infamous Arizona law called SB1070, known as the "your papers, please" law? He wrote it. Remember the two dozen copycat laws in places around the country? He wrote those, too.

Remember TheRump's plan for a registry of all Muslims in the US? That was Kobach's idea. Remember how TheRump proposed (and may still propose) barring immigrants from sending money to families in Mexico as a means to force Mexico to pay for the Great Wall of Orange? Yup, Kobach.

And now he is on TheRump's transition team, right there alongside so-called "chief strategist and senior counselor" Steve Bannon, until now executive chairman of the overtly anti-Semitic, misogynist, and racist Breitbart News.

A need for solidarity, indeed.

So here's a simple way you can show it: Wear a safety pin.

The idea originally came from a woman named Allison, who kept her last name private. She is an American living in the UK. In the wake of the Brexit vote, she was upset by the surge in xenophobic incidents that took place and in some ways even more upset by the realization that because she is white and English is her first language, the anger against "foreigners" did not apply to her.

So she came up with the idea of wearing a safety pin to say "you are safe with me, I support your right to be here." The idea caught on and back in July I gave her a Hero Award for coming up with it.

Now the idea is spreading to the US.

It's a small thing, just a symbol - but symbols can have power. So why not do it: It'll cost you nothing and yes, I suppose you can make all sorts of arguments about how it won't do any good, it's silly. Do it anyway. Just remember this is not a substitute for other work - it's a call to it.

3.3 - Good News: LAPD will not become immigration police

Good News: LAPD will not become immigration police

Finally for now, a case of Good News arising because of bad news.

During the campaign, the Great Orange One made immigration a central issue, what with "The Wall," an idea that was much better when it was a Pink Floyd album, swearing to deport everyone who is undocumented, and pledging to undo what immigration relief the Amazing Mr. O created.

While he has backtracked a little on some of his more audacious plans, he still claims an intent to "immediately" deport some 2-3 million undocumented persons who he claims are "criminals, gang members, drug dealers."

The Good News is that not everyone is going to falling in line with his plans.

On November 14, Charlie Beck, the police chief of Los Angeles, said that he has no plans to change the LAPD's stance on immigration enforcement. Since 1979, the LAPD has not initiated contact with someone solely to determine whether they are in the country legally. In 2014, the department stopped turning over people arrested for low-level crimes to federal agents so they could be deported and has refused to honor federal requests to continue to detain inmates who have finished their jail terms on the grounds they might be deportable unless that request comes with a judicial order.

Beck was backed up by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said that "Our law enforcement officers and LAPD don't go around asking people for their papers, nor should they. That's not the role of local law enforcement."

True, this is not a new policy for the LAPD, but to reaffirm it now and to say it so clearly, at a time of legitimate renewed fear running through the immigrant community, at a time when there are rumblings of plans to force local cops to become the immigration police, to say that now is a welcome sign of solidarity.

And although it is again only the bad news that makes it necessary, it still is Good News to hear it.

3.2 - Good News: the TPP is dead

Good News: the TPP is dead

Next up under the heading Good News is the fact that by all appearances, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, is dead. And it's equally-evil cousin, the The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, essentially the TPP but between the US and the European Union, likely also is headed for the morgue.

On November 11, Obama's trade office announced that it is, essentially, giving up on trying to pass the deal during the lame-duck session. Matt McAlvanah, speaking for the US Trade Representative's office, which had been lobbying for the TPP for months, said in a statement that "this is a legislative process and it's up to Congressional leaders as to whether and when this moves forward."

He said that after both Senate Majority Leader Fishface McConnell and House Speaker Paul Rantin' have said that they will not take up the pact during the lame-duck session. Since they will still be in power after TheRump, who has called the TPP "a disaster," is inaugurated, there really is no reason for it to come up after that.

Except maybe there is. Because there is no such thing as untrammeled good news these days.

You have to realize that the big reason the GOPpers opposed the TPP was that it was Obama's deal. If you think they cared about the increase in corporate power it entailed, the weakening of environmental and labor protections it envisioned, or the shrinking of government ability to regulate The Market (pbui) it looked to, then you are sadly deluded. They only cared about Obama not getting it passed.

Already there are rumblings about how the TPP isn't dead, it's just "in purgatory." Ken Brady, the GOPper who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, says that the TPP shouldn't be dropped, just "renegotiated." So don't be surprised if in a couple of months from now, the TPP re-emerges with the minimum of tweaks thought necessary to justify a flip-flop by the GOPper hierarchy.

So watch this space, because as the great philosopher Yogi Berra said, "it ain't over 'til it's over." But for the moment, take a breath and the fact that we can do that, that we can take a breath, yeah, that's Good News.

3.1 - Good News: pushback against forced arbitration

Good News: pushback against forced arbitration

We'll start quickly with something just for the sheer fun of it.

Among those who are to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 22 is Vin Scully, honored for his 67-year career as a baseball announcer, which I mention here because I can still in my head hear him do radio play-by-play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s.

Okay, on to more serious things.

First under that category is something that was actually done a bit ago; the first week of October, in fact, but I'm bringing it up now both because it's a federal regulation that is going into effect on November 28, which makes it time relevant, and because it's on a topic I've been meaning to talk about, one which happily is getting some more attention.

The issue is what's called forced arbitration. Arbitration is described as an alternative method of resolving disputes in which instead of going to court, two parties present their sides of a complaint to an arbitrator. Ideally, the arbitrator decides the rules, weighs the facts and arguments, and impartially resolves the dispute. Think Judge Judy without the snide condescension and the chosen-for-TV melodrama.

Arbitration was initially intended for use by businesses looking to avoid the possibility of a long and expensive legal battle. It was a mechanism to resolve disputes between forces that were at least more or less equal and one to which both parties had to freely agree.

Increasingly, however, it's being used by corporations to force consumers and employees to surrender some of their legal rights as a condition of buying a product, using a service, or getting or keeping a job. Increasingly, purchase agreements for things such as insurance, home-building, car loans, car leases, credit cards, retirement accounts, investment accounts, computer software, and more as well as employee contracts contain provisions - usually buried in the small print in the hope no one will notice - requiring that the consumer or employee submit any dispute to binding arbitration and waive their right to sue or join a class action suit or to appeal the results of the arbitration, arbitration which occurs at a place of the corporation's choosing using an arbitration firm acceptable to the corporation - that is, one likely to rule in its favor, as they do 93% of the time.

What's more, unlike a court decision, the results are not public, so there is no public record that a complaint against the corporation even arose - and consumers can even wind up under gag orders banning them from discussing the case publicly.

Put simply, instead of being a tool for use between equals, arbitration, as forced arbitration, has been twisted into a weapon for use by the powerful against the non-powerful, for use by the corporations against the rest of us, to keep us silenced and subservient in the face of their power.

If you want a particular and recent example, here's one: Wells Fargo, one of the nation's largest banks, committed systematic and deliberate fraud against account holders. At least 3,500 Wells Fargo employees, at the instigation of senior management, opened approximately 1.5 million bank accounts and approximately 565,000 credit cards without the consent of their customers and then charged them fees for the fraudulently-opened accounts. Since 2013, customers have been trying to sue Wells Fargo, both through class action and as individuals only to have the corporation used the forced arbitration provisions for the original, legitimate accounts to force them all of those people into individual, private, forced arbitration on each of the fraudulent accounts.

So what's the good news? There is some pushback.

In August, the Obama administration completed a two-year rule-making process that declares that federal government contractors with contracts of $1 million or more cannot impose forced arbitration on employees if the dispute arises under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or over claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment. That regulation is now in force.

Next, the CFPB, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is in the midst of a rule-making that would ban forced arbitration provisions from blocking participation in class-action suits, a move that has gotten widespread support, with much of that support arguing that the rule should have gone further.

Finally and most recently, and the one that brought all this up, as part of a comprehensive review of the the requirements that Long-Term Care facilities must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced final a rule barring forced arbitration requirements at nursing homes that accept federal funds.

The rule was announced on October 4 and goes into effect on November 28.

And all that is Good News.

This doesn't mean that this won't come under the baleful glare of those surrounding The Great Orange One as they "review the regulations" and of course he himself is even more a product of the corporate world than many of the entourage. But forced arbitration is enormously unpopular among that segment of the public that is aware of it to the point that even TheRump and his cronies may be hesitant to so obviously flout their base.

What's Left #3



What's Left
for the week of November 17-23

This week:

Good News: pushback against forced arbitration
http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-scully-medal-of-freedom-20161116-htmlstory.html
http://www.consumeradvocates.org/for-consumers/arbitration
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/wells-fargos-use-forced-arbitration-deny-consumers-justice/
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/release-fan-coalition-applauds-obama-administration-restoring-rights-government-contract-employees/
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-proposes-prohibiting-mandatory-arbitration-clauses-deny-groups-consumers-their-day-court/
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/cfpb-arbitration-rule-receives-strong-widespread-support/
http://www.afj.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016-23503.pdf

Good News: the TPP is dead
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html
http://whoviating.blogspot.com/2015/08/2172-more-on-three-secret-trade-deals.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-trade-tpp-idUSKBN13629G
http://www.supplychaindive.com/news/TPP-purgatory-dead-trade/430555/
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Yogi_Berra

Good News: LAPD will not become immigration police
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-elect-trump-says-how-many-immigrants-hell-deport/
http://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/11/14/lapd-says-it-wont-change-its-deportation-policies-under-trump/21605987/
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-police-immigration-20161114-story.html

Show solidarity with undocumented immigrants
http://fusion.net/story/369091/donald-trump-racist-incidents-since-election/
http://time.com/4569129/racist-anti-semitic-incidents-donald-trump/
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/10/1595617/-The-architect-of-the-most-racist-law-in-modern-American-history-has-been-named-to-Trump-s-team
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/trump-immigration-adviser-kris-kobach-wrote-book-muslim-registry-n685026
http://fox4kc.com/2016/11/14/trumps-inner-circle-includes-far-right-former-news-executive-accused-of-racism/
http://whoviating.blogspot.com/2016/07/blog-post_17.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37948762

The importance of continuing protest
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/15/1599582/-Trump-protests-calendar-and-information
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-protests-planning-idUSKBN1362E0
http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/politics/sanctuary-campus-protests/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/11/16/anti-trump-demonstrators-say-nationwide-protests-are-just-a-taste-of-things-to-come/
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/us/politics/democrats-house-senate.html?_r=0
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-in-first-formal-talk-since-conceding-there-is-common-ground-to-build-upon/2016/11/16/180efaf8-ac1a-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/stahl-trump-is-more-subdued-more-serious/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab0g

Democrats refusing to recognize their own failures
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html?_r=0

Cop who killed Philando Castile is indicted
http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/us/officer-charged-philando-castile-killing/

RIP: Leonard Cohen
http://www.usatoday.com/videos/life/people/2016/11/11/93629432/
http://www.newsweek.com/leonard-cohens-12-greatest-songs-520637?google_editors_picks=true
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkamRumVXn4

Monday, November 14, 2016

2.7 - RIP: John Zacherley

RIP: John Zacherley

Okay, we have one more thing to cover and it's an RIP for someone a lot of you have never heard of. But you know, I'm sure, of what he created.

John Zacherley
His name was John Zacherley, usually known just as Zacherley. He died at his home, an apartment in Manhattan where he had lived for 50 years, on October 27. He was 98.

Zacherley did a lot of things in show business in his long and varied career, including a hit novelty record, "Dinner with Drac," in 1958.

But that itself hints at what he was best known for: He was "the cool ghoul" and essentially invented the TV format of some ghoul or mad scientist or vampire or whatever introducing Grade B (or worse) sci-fi or horror movies, often interrupting the flick with some sort of shtick.

Everbody from Elvira to the Cryptkeeper in Tales from the Crypt to the gang on Mystery Science Theater 3000 to the many such characters and shows on local or public access TV around the country can trace their heritage in some measure to John Zacherley.

And, sigh, another part of my childhood slips away.

RIP, Zach. I'm sure you feel right at home.

2.6 - Good News: Public more accepting of undocumented immigrants than 10 years ago

Public more accepting of undocumented immigrants than 10 years ago

Finally, proof that even when things look dark there can still be streak of light.

Believe it or not, over the past decade, there has been a massive shift in public opinion in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a shift visible even in the heat of this bitter, hateful campaign..
In poll conducted in late October, the Pew Research Center found that 80% of American voters support there being a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the US legally. While that includes 95% of Clinton supporters, it also includes 60% of TheRump supporters, half of those who voted for TheRump in the primaries, and 77% of GOPpers who voted for other candidates in the primaries.
This is a shocking turnaround from 10 years ago, when in another Pew survey, only 32% of voters favored the possibility of undocumented workers being able to stay permanently.
I can easily recall being surprised at how quickly, once it got to a certain point, same-sex marriage moved from being "no" to being "yes." Maybe we can see something of the same happen with  immigration.

Surviving a dark time, indeed.

2.5 - Good News: 4th Circuit says "even the president" can't override laws against torture

Good News: 4th Circuit says "even the president" can't override laws against torture

Next up, an important court decision, particularly in sight of TheRump's proclaimed intention to bring back waterboarding and "even worse."

It happened a couple of weeks ago during our month off, but it's important enough to cover now.

Four men, held and tortured at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, sued an American military contractor for the company's role in the prison and the torture.

In June 2015, a district court in Virginia dismissed the suit, ruling that a "cloud of ambiguity" surrounds the definition of torture, and that despite laws banning torture, the decision to torture was a "political question" that could not be judged by courts.

On October 21, a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals flatly and unanimously rejected those arguments, ruling that torture is illegal, period, full stop, in fact it is so clearly illegal that it is "beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful."

Take that, Rumpy.

2.4 - Good News: Joe Arpaio is out as sheriff

Good News: Joe Arpaio is out as sheriff

To cheer us up, we do have some Good News this week.

First is that the Cubs won the World Series. Which could seem an odd thing for me to say since I'm not even a Cubs fan: Growing up on the Jersey shore, I became and always was a Dodgers fan. No matter, I really really wanted the Cubs to win. Somewhere, Ernie Banks is smiling.

On a more serious, if your will, note, comes some news about Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. You may recall him. He's a rightwing extremist, a bigot, and as corrupt a politician as you have ever seen. He's the self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff" who gained nationwide attention with mistreatment of prisoners and his illegal "immigration sweeps" racially profiling Latinos.

Well, Joe Arpaio is still a rightwing extremist, a bigot, and corrupt, but there's something he's not: He's not sheriff anymore, having lost his bid for re-election by the healthy margin of 10 points.

Oh, but then again, he is one other thing: He is someone facing criminal contempt charges for his persistent refusal to obey a court order relating to his racist enforcement policies.

Take pleasure in the little things.

2.3 - We have to accept the possibility of failure

We have to accept the possibility of failure

And yet and yet and yet - we face the continuing advances of the reactionaries, marked not only by GOPper control of the White House, the Congress, and potentially through that the Supreme Court, but also by on-going gains at the state level. This year the GOPpers had a net gain of at least two governorships and gained at least two state legislatures and now control all the political branches of state government in more than half the states. By comparison, the Dims so control just five.

In the face of such continuing advances, in the face of the sexism and racism that have been revealed and justified by this campaign, revelations that have not lead to their being rejected but to their being embraced and even celebrated, in the face of the sheer enormity of the task, we must face the fact that for the foreseeable future, for as far out as at least I can imagine, that all our efforts may - and I am stealing something from William Rivers Pitt here - all our efforts may come to nothing.

We are down to the point of total opposition, but as lonely as that estate may be, it is where we are, and we owe it to those who have suffered beyond our comprehension to continue as we have, in hope even if not in expectation.

Understand: I am not giving up. I refuse to concede defeat in any way. Yet I have to consider the possibility that all our efforts, all our best efforts, will come up short.

Pitt reminded us of a scene in "The Lion in Winter." As Geoffrey, John, and Richard await their executioners, Richard demands that they face the end with strength. Geoffrey scoffs at him, saying "You fool. As if it matters how a man falls."

Richard's reply is telling: "When the fall is all that's left, it matters."

Even at our lowest moments, even when we just want to give up, pack it in, and move to a commune or to Canada - or to a commune in Canada - we have to remember that even in failing, the manner in which we fail matters. Even in falling, the manner in which we fall matters. It matters, that is, it matters for the future, for the longer term than we can perceive, whether our failure is marked by defiance or by despair.

Henry David Thoreau, in his classic essay "On Civil Disobedience," wrote:
I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name - if ten honest men only - ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.
Of course he did not mean, as some seeking to dismiss him have, that such an act would mean the instant end of slavery. Rather, he meant that a seed would have been planted that would eventually, ineluctably, lead to slavery's demise. "What is once well done is done forever" because even if it failed to stop slavery at once, the manner of failing mattered.

None of what we do is for nothing. Because immediate victory is not the only end worth achieving; what can be won now is not the only cause worth fighting for; even being able to see victory in the future is not the only reason for keeping up the struggle. It is also for ourselves, for our own integrity. A member of the anti-Stalinist Russian group Memorial, founded by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Andrei Sakharov, said
I do what I do because I owe it to my family, to the victims of my country's injustices, and for my own honor.
Or as Wendell Berry put it,
[p]rotest that endures is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.
Or perhaps you would find Abraham Lincoln's observation the most telling version*:
To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
We owe it to others; we owe it to the victims, who have suffered more than we can know; we owe it to the victims who in the days to come will suffer more than we can know; we owe it to ourselves; we are honor-bound, even when we feel discouraged, especially when we feel discouraged, we are honor-bound by justice to carry on as best as we can.

So for now and for the future, the issue, I say to you (and to myself, for that matter), is not "What can I do?" It's "Am I doing what I can?" Perhaps that only amounts to a little, to what can seem so trifling as to not matter, but matter it does.

We are each of us as individuals called, required by what is right, required by the call of justice, to do what we can. No one can expect more of us - but we should expect nothing less of ourselves.

And if despite all, we fail? Then we fail. When Dylan Thomas's father was old, the poet felt the old man, so energetic in his younger days, had given up on life and was just passively waiting to die. Saddened and distressed, Thomas cried out to his father

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

We do live in a darkening time, a time being marked not by failure to advance but rather by the cold prospect of failure to hold on to the little that has been gained, a time not of standing still but of sliding backwards. So yes, we may fail - or at least seem to because true victory (and getting Hillary Clinton elected would not be such a victory) is far enough off that we will not be able to see its approach.

While I think that unlikely (the title of my blog, after all, includes the phrase "surviving a dark time"), I have to admit that such failure is possible. But that possibility makes it even more important that we do not go gentle into that good night but that we rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

I hope to see you in the streets.

*I have since learned that the actual source is a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2.2 - But we have to carry on as best as we can and there was some good news

But we have to carry on as best as we can and there was some good news

Despite that, maybe in spite of that, we have to do our best to carry on. Everything I said last week about the role of the left after the election, about what still needs doing, remains true; if anything, it is even truer.

So let's see if there is any good news out of this election to offer some inspiration or hope.

Over the past couple of years, liberal groups undertook a plan to do an end run around state legislatures often dominated by reactionaries by pushing citizen initiatives. There has been some success on that front:

In 2014, left activists won victories on the minimum wage, gun control, and marijuana legalization through ballot measures in Nebraska, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia.

In 2015, they followed with wins for campaign-finance reform in Seattle and Maine.

And some additional victories came this year:

Voters handily approved raising the minimum wage in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington while rejecting a proposal to decrease the minimum wage for teenagers in South Dakota.

California and Nevada approved measures to require new background checks on gun purchases.

California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing to around 21% of the population of the US living in places where marijuana is or soon will be legal.

Four states voted on, and passed, provisions for medical marijuana: Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, and Montana. In Florida the yes vote was 71%. 29 states and Washington DC now have some form of medical marijuana provisions.

In Colorado - this is more controversial on the left, but I think of this as a victory - voters approved physician-assisted suicide.

In South Dakota, a measure to overhaul the state's ethics and campaign finance rules passed. It also creates a system of a publicly financed vouchers for voters to give to candidates of their choice.

On the other side of things, a measure pushed by the corporate private school industry to expand charter schools happily lost in Massachusetts.

Not everything was a victory, of course: A measure similar to South Dakota's public campaign finance vouchers failed in Washington state, while voters in Arizona rejected legal pot, and Maine voters turned away new background checks for buying a gun.

A question in California to rein in drug prices got drowned under the one hundred million dollars that BigPharma poured into the campaign.

And perhaps saddest of all, a vote in Colorado to provide universal, single-payer health care via a 10 percent payroll tax lost badly after opponents, financed by the health insurance industry, outspent proponents on TV ads by $1.9 million to nothing.

But those losses neither deny nor reduce the importance of the victories.

It's also important to remember that Clinton won the popular vote by something around 200,000. While that doesn't matter for the presidency, which is determined by the electoral vote, it is a much better indicator or the actual split in public sentiment.

The Rump won by just 1.3% Florida, 1.2% in Pennsylvania, 1% in Wisconsin, and 0.27% in Michigan. Which means a shift of less than three-fourths of one percent in Florida and about one-seventh of one percent in Michigan and Clinton is president-elect. This is not to plead "coulda-bins" but to re-emphasize the closeness of the national division. The left, or at least that part of the American public that rejects TheRump, is not a helpless, downtrodden minority position.

Despite that, of course, the GOPpers are doing what they always do: arrogantly claiming the mantle of power. House Speaker Paul Rantin' has declared that TheRump has "just earned a mandate" to pursue the reactionaries agenda.

And the Dummycats, the Dimcrats, are also doing what they always do: smiling through the tears and making nice, more concerned with maintaining decorum than advancing justice.

Hillary Clinton says we owe TheRump "an open mind" and "a chance to lead."

The Amazing Mr. O. says that we should "remember that we're actually all on one team" and that we should not focus on political differences.

Bernie Sanders says he's prepared to work with TheRump to help the working class. Elizabeth Warren says she and TheRump should "put aside our differences" and work together. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said all citizens must set aside their political preferences and root for TheRump's success.

No, no, no! That's exactly what you do not do. Admit defeat in the election, yes; peaceful transition of power, yes; but do not promise to "work together," to "give him a chance to lead," do not wallow in the greeting card sentimentality of "we're all Americans, after all." Have you already forgotten how Sens. Fishface McConnell and John McCan't declared before the election in the face of a prospective, not even a real, President Hillary Clinton that they would never approve any Supreme Court nominee she submitted to the Senate? Do you really think that mincing appeals to a mushy bipartisanship is going to move them?

That is idiotic and only sets us up for more failure.

Happily, it appears at least some among the Dimcrat Party's fellow-travelers are realizing that.

During the primaries and the general election campaign, the major liberal site DailyKos treated Clinton like she was the second coming. The founder and director of the site, Markos Moulitsas, tried to suppress expressions of support for Sanders well before primaries were over and actually banned people from the site for advocating for a third party vote. Now, however, Kos himself has proposed that either Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Van Jones become the new head of the DNC before arguing that Democrats in Congress should "oppose everything."
If Trump wants to pass a new Voting Rights Act ... then we can work with him. Anything else he might propose, even if we might agree with it? Let him get the votes from his own caucus while we hurl metaphorical molotov cocktails from the sideline.
There Kos is exactly correct. The Dem leadership should go to Fishface, go to Rantin', and tell them "You think you were the party of 'no?' We'll show you what 'no' means."

They need to do that and we need more of what we saw the day after the election: protests against TheRump across the country mobilized on less that 24 hours notice.

Protests with crowds ranging from just several dozen to thousands in places including New York City, Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Boston, Phoenix Arizona, Seattle, Washington, Berkeley and several other cities in California, Pittsburgh, and more.

That's what we need.

There's a solidarity statement going around, and I want to quote parts of it:
No matter what, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with every community that has been attacked, threatened, and marginalized in his campaign of hate. We will not be silent, and we will not back down.

We will fight back together against the agenda of fascism, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and hate.

We will stand with every immigrant, every Muslim, every person of color, and every woman whose ability to live safely in our country is now under urgent threat.

We will have to use all the tools at our disposal to stand up for those most vulnerable and minimize the damage of the Trump presidency.

Corporate democrats in Congress and the political establishment in Washington may be tempted to compromise in order to eke out small wins or incremental change. But we know that the progressive movement must stand for racial justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQ and gender equality, and we must lead the way in rejecting compromises or policy negotiations that leave people of color, immigrants, women, Muslims, or LGBTQ people behind.

It's going to be a hard fight.
Is it indeed and yet that kind of solidarity, that kind of fight, is again, what we need. And not just on matters of race, gender, and the other important issues mentioned but also on the economy, taxes, trade, the environment, militarism and foreign policy, climate change, privacy, Constitutional rights, and more.

I said it last week in the face of an expected Clinton presidency; it is even more urgent in the fact of an actual TheRump presidency:

Silence is not an option; acquiescence is not an answer. We have to vote, petition, and lobby, yes, but we have to do more, we have to be insistent, noisy, disrespectful, rude, we have to fill the streets and perhaps the jails and who knows - I don't expect it, I don't predict it, but I accept the possibility of it - perhaps even fill the camps.

2.1 - We do not deserve to be a free people

We do not deserve to be a free people

We do not deserve to be a free people.

We don't care about being a free people. Too many of us care too little about the effect we and our decisions have on others.

Too many of us are too easily taken in by a line of patter and bilge that appeals to the worst in us, the the basest of our fears and the deepest our prejudices, too easily taken in no matter how transparently vacuous that patter and bilge is. That is, too many of us, not to put too fine a point on it, are racist, sexist, xenophobic, ignorant, know-nothing mouth-breathers.

Exit polls the day of the election said a top concern of people was wanting "change" and of those people, an overwhelming number said they thought that TheRump, not Clinton, was the one to bring it.

Which is probably true, but the unasked question was what sort of change?

"I don't know what sort of change. I just want it to be the way it used to be."

And what way was that?

"I dunno. It just used to be better."

Ask would TheRump do that, make it all better, as they stand there like some 6-year-old waiting for mommy to kiss the boo-boo; ask can TheRump do that; ask how would he do that and the answer you'll get is either "I dunno. He just will." Or "I don't care. Just not the way it is."

Which means not only are too many of us racist, sexist, xenophobic, ignorant, know-nothing mouth-breathers, too many of us are too damned intellectually lazy to even figure out just what it is we want if it takes up more space than a bumpersticker or time than a sound bite, too easily manipulated to see through the empty platitudes of a flim-flam artist real-estate salesman, and, based on the fact that turnout for a presidential election has not even reached 60% in 38 years, apparently too physically lazy even to care.

In 1811, a French philosopher named Joseph de Maistre wrote that "Every nation gets the government it deserves." If that's true, then we do not deserve the one we have. We, too many of us, just want our prejudices catered to and approved of by a strong leader who relives us of the responsibility of figuring out what is best for the society or even the responsibility of looking beyond our own immediate desires.

We do not deserve to be a free people.

And if I'm starting to sound like Ambrose Bierce here, I don't care.

We do not deserve to be a free people.

What's Left #2




What's Left
(formerly known as Left Side of the Aisle)
for the week of November  10-16, 2016

This week:

We do not deserve to be a free people
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/turnout.php
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Joseph_de_Maistre
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/ambrose_bierce.html

But we have to carry on as best as we can and there was some good news
https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/01/06/19082/national-liberal-groups-push-record-number-2016-ballot-measures
https://www.yahoo.com/news/left-counters-election-losses-ballot-171815752.html?ref=gs
http://wgme.com/news/local/maine-voters-approve-recreational-marijuana-use
http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/11/08/montana-medical-marijuana-results-election-2016/66820/
http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php
http://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president
http://wlns.com/2016/11/09/finally-trump-wins-michigan/
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2016/11/09/paul-ryan-echoes-donald-trump-calls-for-unity/Lr1reOLU02OmhNa9CM8mML/story.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hillary-clinton-concession-speech-2016-donald-trump/
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-on-2016election-outcome-remember-that-were-actually-all-on-one-team/
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/latest-latest-victory-43412576
http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/9/1594519/-Bernie-Sanders-or-Elizabeth-Warren-or-Van-Jones-for-DNC-Chair
http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/9/1594458/-We-oppose-everything
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/thousands-protest-trump-victory-across-nation/
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/he-not-my-president-donald-trump-inspires-thousands-protest-streets-n681696?google_editors_picks=true
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/09/rally-planned-state-house-against-president-elect-trump/9mqnTKC5TiMgyS12AbUqTK/story.html

We have to accept the possibility of failure
http://www.governing.com/topics/elections/gov-2016-governors-races-results.html
http://www.governing.com/topics/elections/gov-republicans-add-dominance-state-legislatures.html

Good News: Joe Arpaio is out as sheriff
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/09/1593371/-Joe-Arpaio-is-sheriff-no-more

Good News: 4th Circuit says "even the president" can't override laws against torture
https://theintercept.com/2016/10/21/major-new-court-ruling-says-even-the-president-cant-declare-torture-lawful/

Public more accepting of undocumented immigrants than 10 years ago
http://fusion.net/story/367630/immigrants-path-to-citizenship-polls-2016/
http://www.people-press.org/2016/10/27/6-views-of-domestic-issues-race-immigration-health-care-abortion-supreme-court/
http://www.people-press.org/2006/03/30/americas-immigration-quandary/

RIP: John Zacherley
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0951650/bio

Sunday, November 06, 2016

1.3 - Re-introducing myself

Re-introducing myself

For the rest of the show, what with the new name and the other changes that will come over time, this seemed an appropriate time to re-introduce myself, so that what I say here can be put into a broader context of ethical, moral, and political convictions.

I am, in many ways, "a child of the '60s," having come to political awareness during that brief (and, some would have it, mythical) interregnum marked at one end by the Sgt. Pepper summer and at the other by Altamont - or, if you prefer a political description, by Flower Power and the Days of Rage.

For those of you who are less than about 55 and have no idea what those terms mean, you can look them up. For now, it's enough to know that we're talking about the period of say, 1967-1970.

Like many members of my generation, it was the Vietnam War that initially drew me beyond vague "concern" into concrete involvement. I suspect that was especially true for the males, for those of us who faced the possibility of being drafted - that is, that's why the war was what got us involved. Which is another thing that - in this case happily - folks now can't relate to, the fact that there was a military draft, under which you could be required under pain of lengthy imprisonment to join the Army and go wherever they sent you, even to kill and die in a war you thought criminal. Even for those of us "safe" with draft deferments, who could feel confident that at least for now you couldn't be drafted, the war was always there, infesting and infecting your visions for your future.

But even beyond that, for all of us, male and female, the war swirled around us like a mist, a fog, it tugged at us like an undertow, it threaded in and out of our lives, our future, our consciousnesses, our plans and hopes, and the only way you could ignore it was by making the conscious effort to do so.

In fact, I think that those of what I'll call the "Vietnam generation" have a greater understanding of the impact that World War II had on our parents than those of what I'll call the "Iraq generation" have of the impact Vietnam had on us. Because no matter how you measure it, the Vietnam War - which is properly called the Indochina War because it involved Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia - was a much bigger war for Americans than Iraq or Afghanistan ever were.

For example, peak US troop strength in Iraq was 168,000 and the peak year for Iraq and Afghanistan troop strength combined was fiscal 2008, at 188,000. Peak US troop strength in Vietnam was nearly 540,000, nearly three times as many - and by the way, South Vietnam, where the vast majority of those troops were, was about 2/5 the size of Iraq.

US troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, up to November 1 of this year, total just under 6,900. US troops killed in the Indochina War totaled over 58,300 - well over eight times as many. US wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan combined reached just under 50,000; those wounded in Indochina were about 304,000, over six times as many.

So yes, a much bigger war. Significantly more troops, significantly more wounded, significantly more dead. And for those of us who questioned the war, who asked our government about the whens, wherefores, and whys of the war, it seemed that each of the "answers" we got raised at least two new questions.

Now, of course World War II was bigger than the Indochina War by a factor as big as that by which Indochina exceeded Iraq-Afghanistan. The reason I think that we of the Vietnam generation understand the impact World War II had on our parents more than the Iraq generation understands the impact Indochina had on us is that unlike Iraq-Afghanistan, the war wasn't "out there," emotionally and psychologically it was right there, just as World War II was.

Admittedly, that was likely for a different reason: In the case of World War II, it was the sheer size of it. But with Indochina is was a matter of an emotional shock, a socially-disrupting shock at the depth of the very wrongness of it, a type of shock that I say just didn't exist with Iraq-Afghanistan: People might have been angry, even furious, over those wars but I doubt any meaningful number of people were truly shocked.

But getting back to our story, I had been to that time, we're now talking the mid-to-late '60s, what I now call a "right wing liberal," a type now commonly called a "liberal war hawk," that species of American political animal that's at least fairly liberal on domestic issues and clearly conservative on foreign policy. In other words, Hillary Clinton.

My personal breaking point came when I heard William Westmoreland, the man who was then the commander of US forces in the war, say "We're winning the war, just give us six more months" - and I recalled having heard exactly the same thing six months earlier.

And of course, the war didn't end in six months. It was to drag on for years.

The sort of, the term was and is, alienation that generated plus mounting evidence of what the governments we supported in South Vietnam were really like eventually prompted me to - very shyly - attend a meeting of a local peace group. That was, if memory serves, in the fall of 1968. I still remember walking into this room in a church basement and being greeted by a tall man with a beard and a not-inconsiderable resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. In fact, he later added a mustache because he got tired of the Lincoln jokes.

Okay, you can relax; it's over now. I've no intention of inflicting my autobiography on you. But knowing the roots of my involvement in the movement may help to some degree to explain where I've wound up: I'm an aging hippie, an educator, and a political activist, the terms' order of presentation depending on circumstances and my mood of the moment. I'm also a democratic socialist/green with an anarchist bent and a civil liberties absolutist who has, by both logical conclusion and moral compulsion, a commitment to active nonviolence both as political tactic and way of life. The only isms I wholeheartedly endorse are skepticism and eclecticism.

I have also flippantly described myself at times as a socialist-anarchist-communalist-capitalist-eclecticist-iconoclast. After people's eyes stop glazing over, I explain:

I'm a capitalist in that I believe in the "Ma and Pa" store, the community-level enterprise, the small factory, the two- or three-store chain.

I'm a communalist in that I believe that cooperative ventures are better than competitive ones.

I'm a socialist in that I believe that beyond a certain size, profit-seeking enterprises cannot be trusted to be responsible to the communities in which they operate and at that point the community as a whole has the right, the responsibility, and even the duty to step in to exercise control and make decisions, up to and including assuming ownership.

I'm an anarchist in that I believe in doing that with as little government as necessary and with individual freedom and civil liberties being at the maximum possible consistent with social justice.

I'm an eclecticist in that I believe you can put this together into a reasonably coherent social philosophy.

And I'm an iconoclast in that - well, you may have heard that the I Ching is based on the notion that "the only thing that doesn't change is the fact that everything else changes." My version of this is that I believe "the only ultimate answer is that there is no other ultimate answer" and so if we ever did build a society along the lines I envision the first thing I'd do is to try to figure out what was wrong with that one and how it could be improved.

In doing this show and this blog, I'm guided by four editorial principles:

1) "To thine own self be true." Which, as I expect you know, is a quote from Shakespeare.

2) "The US isn't the worst - but it is the biggest." That's a quote from Joan Baez.

3) "Sometimes a bit of humor contains more inner truth than the most serious seriousness." That's from a chess grandmaster named Aron Nimzovich.

4) "No one but no one, no matter their ideology, political perspective, or status as 'left' or 'right,' 'revolutionary' or 'counter-revolutionary,' 'liberal' or 'conservative,' can be by that reason exempt from either criticism or praise." That's from me.

The answer to the ultimate question of why I do this show is that I have always believed that in any political movement, everyone has some skill they can use, some skill they can contribute to advance the cause. While my list of inadequacies on any compilation of useful skills is quite lengthy, I do have some skill with words. With writing. Talking. Giving speeches. And like that.

So this, ultimately, is just another way I think I can be of use, another way to try to advance the idea of justice, another attempt to maintain the hope that is the only thing that keeps us going. It is, if you will, another candle in the rain.

I have been helped so much over these past years by several people without who this simply would not have happened or even if it did would not have gone on nearly so long as it has and hopefully will.

So I want to say thank you.

First to Donna, just for being Donna. She is my strength, my source, my reason to get up each day.

Next to Matt Willett, who since has gone on to bigger and better things than this local cable station, but who designed the initial graphics for the show, some of which we still use.

I wanted to say thanks to the other folks here, to Dylan, to Kris, and perhaps especially to Yvanna because she once said that she liked working the camera for the show because she always learned something, which is about the most complimentary thing someone could say to me.

Then there is Will, video editor extraordinaire of song and fable.

And finally there is Rich, the Executive Director of the station and the all-around go-to guy here who was willing to take a chance on me: When I first approached him about doing a weekly show of political commentary, one I flippantly described as "a lefty Glenn Beck minus the chalkboard and paranoia," he - I could tell - wasn't too sure that it wouldn't peter out after a few weeks. But he took the chance to let me do it my way and I hope in the time since he's been given enough cause to be happy with his decision.

Let me finish up by thanking those of you who watch the show and those of you who have commented on it. Thank you for taking the time and I look forward to more comments and, I hope, to make a show worth watching. Let me know how I do.

1.2 - Summing up: the role of the left

Summing up: the role of the left

In thinking of how to sum all of this up, I was reminded of something I wrote to a friend some years ago when he asked me what would be the role of left after the election. You can consider this a somewhat updated version of what I said then.

Because the role of the left - the real left, the true progressive left, not what passes for a "left" for most of the Democratic Party - after the election will be the same as it's been all along: arguing, working, and campaigning for our ideas and our ideals.

Bernie Sanders, for better or worse has been "the great progressive hope" in this election. But the fact is, he didn't create the American left. He didn't create the movement that threatened the establishment of the Democratic Party; indeed, it created him. And the left didn't cease to exist when the convention lights went off the evening after his speech.

All the things we've talked about, disarmament, health care, housing, environmental clean-up and protection, halting global warming, decent jobs under decent conditions at decent wages, an end to sexism, racism, homophobia, and all the other -isms and -phobias to which we're heir, an economy controlled by all for the benefit of all instead of by the few for the benefit of the few, and a society that values cooperation above competition and public good above private greed, all of it still needs doing.

And there will always be children to be educated instead of indoctrinated, communities to be cemented instead of walled off, and human freedoms to be protected by rigorous vigilance instead of proscribed by rightist vigilantes.

That we've not had as much success recently as we might has a lot more to do with us than with the conceptually warped, logically vapid, morally bankrupt frothings of the right. We've failed to advocate our beliefs either strongly enough or openly enough and have tended to - pardon the cliche - hitch our wagons to the harness of the currently popular Democratic Party star, whoever that might be. We did it for eight years with Bill Clinton, we've now done it for eight years with Barack Obama, we must not do it for four years or who knows maybe eight years with Hillary Clinton.

We have to petition, to lobby, to vote, yes, all of that. But we have to do more. We have to be loud, we have to be insistent, we have to be noisy, rude, impolite; we have to fill the streets and if necessary the jails.

It's time, past time, to stop holding our tongues; it's time, past time, to stop holding back. And it's past time that we realized that when you hitch your wagon to someone else's team, you spend your time following a horse's ass.

1.1 - What we face with a Clinton administration

What we face with a Clinton administration

Hillary Clinton
This show is going to be a bit odd because I am doing it five days before the election, which means, it being a weekly show, that at least some of you are going to see it after the election is over - and what I'm going to be doing here is looking beyond the election to what will confront us after.

I'm doing this under the assumption that Hillary Clinton will be (or is now, depending on when you see this) president-elect, which despite the breathless blather about tightening national polls - which don't mean a damn thing under our presidential elector system - still seems highly likely.

So the question becomes what we of the left are going to have to deal with during a Clinton presidency.

Because Hillary Clinton, bluntly, is not nearly as progressive as she tried to paint herself during the primaries with her sudden and convenient commitment to populism, a commitment that increased in direct proportion to the shrinkage in the polling gap between her and Bernie Sanders and one which it was clear from the beginning could not be trusted: The last day of the Iowa primary campaign, she declared on the stump "I'm a progressive" only to say the very next day during an interview with Chris Matthews that "We've got to get back to the middle, the big center."

So no, not a true progressive.

Rather, she was the preferred candidate of the political, economic, and foreign policy establishments, the candidate that even though they might not be great fans of all of her proposals, she is still the one that establishment feels comfortable with, the one that establishment has confidence might rearrange the apples on the cart but will not upset it.

So we are going to find ourselves in opposition on a lot of issues and on a lot of occasions. And we had better be ready for that. We will have to watch carefully and be prepared to squawk loudly and to not care when we are told - as we will be - to be quiet and get in line behind Hillary because "OMG! Republicans!" We have got to be prepared to stand firm and not back down because just being better then the GOPpers is not good enough!

You want specifics, let me give you some on a few big issues.

Right at the top, remember that Hillary Clinton was the candidate of Wall Street, which raised $23 million for her campaign, besides having paid her at least $26.1 million in speaking fees over the years.

I have said a number of times that she has so many ties to Wall Street it looks like some kind of kinky bondage party. We are going to have to watch carefully and very likely raise a stink about who she wants to bring on board as advisers and more importantly regulators.

Because in speeches to the bankers and during the campaign she has argued for having the foxes guard the chicken coop, saying that Wall Street executives, not financial or legal experts from outside the industry, not consumer advocates, but the people who run the banks, are the best people to call in to regulate the banks.

Even in 2014, at a time everyone knew she was going to run but hadn't announced her candidacy, Politico was writing that "the big bankers love Clinton, and by and large they badly want her to be president" because she will not tamper with the Street's vast money pot.

In fact, she may even look to add to it: Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group hedge fund and someone whose name has been floated for Clinton's Treasury Secretary, has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings - and the word is Clinton's top aides are warming to the idea.

This plan would replace individual voluntary 401(k)s with a requirement that workers and employers to put a percentage of payroll aside, but not into Social Security, into individual retirement accounts to be, in James' words, "invested well in pooled plans run by professional investment managers" - in other words, by outfits like Blackstone, which could collect a fortune in fees.

What George Bush failed to accomplish - privatizing Social Security - Hillary Clinton could help along.

We also have to be prepared to make a stink not only over actions but over inactions, as there is every indication that a Clinton administration will continue the big bank protection racket of the Obama administration, lots of tough talk combined with no action.

And in keeping watch on that, we have to bear in mind that Hillary Clinton has blamed the 2008 crash on most everything except the deregulation championed by Bill Clinton and enacted during his administration and that she continues to oppose reinstating Glass-Steagall.

Beyond that, her entire supposedly "progressive" agenda consists almost entirely of nibbling around the edges, of maybe incremental change that will be presented to us as shockingly dramatic progress but which we will have to be prepared to say out loud is just not good enough.

Consider health care, where she proposes to tweak Obamacare - but she has specifically rejected single-payer in so many words, meaning anything she would do still has the failings of Obamacare in that she still relies on the insurance industry, still depends to work at all on the insurance industry thinking it's profitable enough, and the whole program is actually about health insurance, not about health care. We have to be take the opening offered by any such tweak to demand at least single-payer and even better a national health system because the Affordable Care Act is not good enough.

On climate change, she is all over the map and despite some good rhetoric on the topic, it's policies, not fine words, which matter, and on that count it doesn't look so good.

In a speech, she told an energy group that she wants to "defend natural gas" and, referring people pushing the slogan "keep it in the ground," "it" being fossil fuels, over a concern for global warming, she called them "wild" and said they should "get a life."

She finally came out against the Keystone XL pipeline after dithering about it until it was clearly unpopular, but she said she did it because it was "a distraction," not because it was a bad idea.

During the primaries she was forced to say she is against fracking but she told that same energy group that she wants to "defend" fracking and the fact is that during her time as secretary of state, she sought to export fracking to countries all over the world.

And to show how much we can trust her public assurances on the topic, she picked former Senator Ken Salazar, a big fan of fracking, to chair her presidential transition team.

Which in turn raises another issue where we have to watch and be ready to fight. Because Ken Salazar is also a big fan of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP.

Clinton, as is fairly well known, had been in favor of the TPP; in fact she had called it "the gold standard" for trade agreements. But in the face of clear opposition among the public and Bernie Sanders making it an issue in the primaries, she gradually shifted her position from support to opposition. She even said she was opposed to a vote on the agreement during the lame duck Congressional session after the election.

But there is genuine reason to question how sincere that opposition is and how long past election day it will last.

There was the statement back in January by Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue that once elected, Clinton would flip back to supporting the TPP.

There was the statement in July from Virginia governor and Clinton bestie Terry McAuliffe that once in office, a few tweaks would enable Clinton to support the pact.

Her VP-to-be, Tim Kaine, is a "free trade" zealot who had been the Senate's most fanatical supporter of the TPP.

And of course there was the selection of Salazar to head the transition team.

On top of all that came leaked emails, one which made it clear that she opposed the deal at least in public because her campaign feared she would be "eaten alive" by labor and Sanders supporters if she didn't.

So even if the pact does not pass during the lame-duck session - which, happily, seems likely - that does not mean it will not come up again in the spring with a few "tweaks" that have turned it back into "the gold standard."

We will have to be prepared to fight on matters both of privacy and government secrecy. In Congress, she supported both the Patriot Act and its reauthorization. She has defended NSA spying. She has called American hero Edward Snowden "an enabler of terrorism" who should be prosecuted and imprisoned. During the first debate with TheRump she advocated an "intelligence surge," a new slogan describing, among other things, more intensive domestic surveillance.

In fact, her obsession with official secrecy is so great that as Secretary of State, she once threatened the United Kingdom with shutting off intelligence cooperation if a UK court as part of a then-current case published details of the mistreatment of a prisoner who had been wrongly imprisoned at Gitmo.

That mention of Gitmo brings us to another major concern: Hillary Clinton was not only the candidate of Wall Street, she was the candidate of the neocons - who supported her precisely because she was, in the words of one, "the candidate of the status quo" who would "resist systematic change" - and she was the candidate of the war hawks.

Clinton is a warhawk, far more than Obama ever was - which, when you consider he bombed seven countries during his administration and has troops on the ground in three, is saying something.

For example, by all accounts she was as Secretary of State the strongest voice within the White House for intervention in Libya. That worked out so well that after Qaddafi was killed -an event she quite literally laughed off as "we came, we saw, he died" - Libya descended into the chaos of a multi-sided civil war from which it still has not emerged.

She supported an expansion of the war in Afghanistan, one even bigger than the generals did, and resisted the drawdown of troops.

She has "wholeheartedly backed" the drone war in Pakistan and other nations that has killed at least hundreds of civilians and likely many more; supported so much so that as Secretary of State she had her legal counsel develop a legal rationale for expanding it.

When it comes to Israel, the only fair word is sycophant. From proposing as a candidate in 2008 a US "nuclear umbrella" over Israel, to in 2012, saying "We've gotta support Israel 110 percent here" while getting any mention of the Israeli siege of Gaza scrubbed from a ceasefire proposal, to in 2014, declaring that "If I were the prime minister of Israel, you're damn right I would expect to have [security] control" over the West Bank, she has repeatedly shown a clear bias and declared positions that would make the two-state solution in which she falsely claims to believe, impossible.

She declared a position on Iran's nuclear program that, had it been adopted, would have undermined the agreement that was reached and later said that her policy on Iran would be "distrust and verify." Which is at least consistent: During the 2008 primaries, she called Obama "naive" for saying he would be willing to talk to the Iranians.

And then there is Syria.

She has bemoaned that the US has not been more involved in Syria. As Secretary of State, she devised a plan to arm and train "moderate" rebel factions to create a "credible fighting force."

During the primary campaign she said Obama was "not tough enough" on Syria and called for more special ops troops to train local forces.

During primary debates, she called for a "safe zone" to be established in Syria, something that would require ground troops because there is no other way to secure such a zone.

And she has continued to argue for US-imposed "no-fly zones" in Syria, despite being unable during the third debate with TheRump to say what would happen if a Russian plane violated such a no-fly zone and despite having acknowledged in 2013 that imposing a no-fly zone would mean taking out air defense systems, including in populated areas, and that in doing so "you're going to kill a lot of Syrians."

Here's the bottom line on all this, as reported by the Washington Post on October 20:
In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama's departure from the White House - and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton - is being met with quiet relief.
That foreign policy elite, which wants a "more assertive" foreign policy, which is eager for a "more interventionist" foreign policy, is actively looking forward to a Clinton presidency.

All of which means under President Hillary Clinton we face the prospect, the very real prospect, of more bombings and more wars in more places, including the clear possibility of a direct confrontation with Russia.

Altogether, silence, here as elsewhere, is not an option.
 
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