Monday, November 28, 2016

My letter to selected Electors in the Electoral College



Dear <<name>>,

I am writing you with great concern regarding the influence of the Russian Federation in the election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

I recognize that your election implies that you may vote for Donald J. Trump when the Electoral College meets. And I recognize that from a constitutional perspective, choosing to not vote for Donald J. Trump is a matter that necessitates grave pause and reflection. However, for the first time in my 50-odd years I believe we have come to the time where our country will seriously be imperiled by a president-elect.

The Russian Federation and its security services have repeatedly attempted to influence the American presidential election by using teams of hackers and cyber warfare agents aimed at servers housed in the United States.

Although Russia initially denied interfering in the election, the Vladimir Putin-controlled Russian media made clear their preference for Trump throughout the campaign. Trump has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Putin. Trump’s indications that the U.S. will no longer support NATO, the Kremlin’s bold moves to put missiles back in range of Germany, and Trump’s willingness to allow Putin’s government to operate unilaterally in Syria create, for me, a stunningly dangerous precedent and put the United States in clear and present danger.

It is my sincere belief that honorable electors, such as yourself, have a duty to prevent a president from taking office under the shadow of such foreign influence. I ask you, with my allegiance to the United States and not to a party, not to vote for Donald J. Trump for president of the United States of America.


Andrew Bellware
Note that I didn't get terribly specific about Russian influence. The reason is that every dang day something new comes out. I mean, it's a real nightmare. I figure that by the time any Electors get this letter there will be more information about the closeness of the Kremlin to Trump. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Soooo Much Better Without the Clintons. So much. Soooooo much.

This Guardian editorial about how thankful we should be that we've gotten rid of the Clintons.

First of all, "moving the Democratic party – the party of FDR – away from what it once was and should have remained: a party that represents workers. All workers." -- now THAT's some ahistorical nonsense. Because the DNC was majorly split on race. Remember that? When the Democrats were the party of segregation? 

Huh. Any difference in coverage you can see here?

Secondly, complaining about how there was a delicate balance between the party that represented the capitalist class and another that represented workers is also ahistorical and has a very strange relationship to reality. "This delicate balance ended in the 1990s." Really? What else happened in the 1990's. Oh wait! I know! The Republican monopoly on the US Presidency ended in the 1990's.  Before Bill Clinton the DNC had only held the Presidency 4 years in 22. He ran the only way he could get elected. And it worked.
Thirdly -- we're making some wild suppositions here that if HRC ran a more left-wing campaign that somehow she would have won. The American Left loves to think that -- but every Democratic president (including FDR) has run from the right of the party. 

I mean what's going to happen? "Oh thank god we got rid of those Clintons, now let's elect Jim Webb"? Every single time the DNC loses and the country shifts to the right. Every. Single. Time. The next DNC President has to run to pick up those right-wing votes.

Note, for instance, that Obama's health-care plan was to the RIGHT of Hillary Clinton's 1992 plan. That's what he ran on as a platform in 2008. (HRC has since adopted the Obamacare outlook.)
"Many blame Reagan and Thatcher for destroying unions and unfettering corporations. I don’t." Well, why not? What union-busting did Bill Clinton do? The incredible level of damage to labor under a Republican president stacking the NLRB is staggering. 

Finally, Bill Clinton actually closed the School of the Americas. The American left HATES to admit this. That the nightmare of fascist revolutions in Latin America was brought almost to a complete halt by Bill Clinton. GHW Bush tried to start it up again in Venezuela but his coup failed. (And no, HRC did not support the Honduran coup.)

The shortness of memory is disturbing. The Left doesn't really remember when George HW Bush lied about intelligence in Iraq, manufactured intelligence, outed intelligence officers who opposed him, and started a war we're still in. But they "remember" a time when America the Democratic Party was great

Gimme a break.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quite Worrying

If we follow the GW Bush administration example, there will be about 9 months of Trump's buffoonery and incompetence and high-hilarity followed by a dangerous attack on the United States which sweeps him into greater power and war.
The incompetence of the Administration is what brought us 9/11. At all levels the Bush Administration was warned of an attack by al Qaeda, the FBI knew some of the operatives and the CIA knew they were in the country. But the Bush Administration did not want to focus on terrorism because that had been what the Clinton Administration had done.
The incompetence of a Trump Administration could bring us anything. And the press, as they did with Bush after 9/11, will be eating out of his hands even more than they are now.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Germany in '33

If indeed we are standing on the precipice of Germany in 1933, where a racist demagogue will be swept into office, we are certainly in a Constitutional crisis.
Let's not normalize fascism.

We throw around terms like "fascist" and "traitor" all the time. But those words do actually have meaning. Until now, we've never actually had a fascist President. Sure, through some tortured logic you could say that someone had some authoritarian impulses, but not actual fascist ones. Not Nixon or Ford or Reagan or either of the Bushes. Some might have been war-mongering, some might have done spectacularly illegal things, but non have been actually fascist.
Until now.
And we (or more accurately, the Right) say people are "traitors" all the time. But treason is a very very specific crime in the US. The Constitution even defines it. And now we actually have a President Elect who is a puppet of a foreign state.
Now, it's also true that the FBI is in the bag for Trump. So much so that it's clear they will look the other way when Trump's Kremlin masters start pulling the strings. Arguably that, too, is treason. But not hyperbole. My guess is that they will be good at covering it up.
There is merit in having the Electoral College refuse to elect Trump. This is an actual Constitutional crisis but unfortunately the "good" people of the country are the ones who want to hold it together and there's a feeling that we can just ride this out
Even when the country starts "registering" Muslims. 
Relying on the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center to protect us is problematic as wars can be started with impunity as there will be no war crimes trials. The courts can be loaded and there will be no repercussions for any domestic or foreign actions. And then by the time a reasonable President is brought in they will have to spend all their political capital fixing the mess. 
A theoretical fix, which is actually enshrined in the Constitution even though it hasn't really been used, is the Electoral College. This would be a drastic measure. But a racist demagogue who is a puppet of a foreign state, indicates a drastic time. 

Otherwise we need to ask: what exactly do we do when Trump orders the Night of the Long Knives?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Just When You Think the Election Has Jumped the Shark...

This is really beyond the pale. I mean, this is really deranged fantasy bad political noir paperback novel nonsense, where the ACTUAL candidate is an ACTUAL dupe, patsy, and agent of Russia. 

I mean... really? This is actually happening? After all those years of the right sneering "If you love socialism so much, why don't you live in Russia?" they're actually throwing their lot in with this? 

Getting stuff to blackmail Trump with can't be, I suppose, terribly hard for a state actor

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Russian Dupes

It's odd how the Republican party has gone from thinking that Russia poses the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States, to actually being dupes of the Russian State.
One of the problems is the sheer amount of love the Republican base has for authoritarianism. You know, I never realized just how that could be until I read this thing by Czech animator Jan Švankmajer about how there is a certain segment of society that actually wants a totalitarian state.
And the Republican party is chock full of people who talk a game about "freedom" but what they actually want is an autocracy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Listen, listen

I'm mostly a pro-Bernie guy. But I'm afeared that the actual socialist (Bernie) in our Presidential race has lost the progressive part of the race to the moderate (Hillary Clinton.)
And this is why.
We've learned some things over here on the left in the last 40 or so years. The anti-nuke movements, the anti-racism movements, the pro-clean-Earth movements, women's rights, LGBT rights, we've learned quite a lot about organizing these movements. Since Angela Davis published Women, Race, and Class we've learned (albeit slowly and with stops and starts along the way) that we need to be inclusive of what the kids today call "intersectionality" (which is a word I don't particularly like but 'tis enough, 'twill serve.)
And how do you do that?
The rule is you have to listen.
Bernie. O! Bernie my brother. You have some good ideas. And you can change the political discourse from where it's been since Regan (no less than Barack Obama told me that). But man, you need to listen.
You have to not be surprised when the Black Congressional Caucus tells you things -- like that they don't want Superdelegates to go away. I mean it surprised me when I heard it, but I don't work with those folks every day. You do! Why didn't you ask them? The BCC has what we might euphemistically call a "history" of not being allowed on the floor of the DNC convention. They like to know they're invited.
And you know what? That makes a lot of sense. It's still anti-democratic, but yeah, it gives establishment Black Democrats a bit more power which is maybe an okay thing. But you need to listen, to find out, what other people (non-white people, for instance) are thinking.
This is way overdue. I'm beginning to think they were wrong about him coming for our guns.

The big deal is we need to listen. Hillary Clinton is the very model of the modern major general of listening. Sometimes she listens too much -- like to Bush II when he told her he wasn't going into a senseless and nonsense war with her vote for authorization of force in Iraq.
But you can't imagine she'd be blindsided by the BCC on Superdelegates.
Sigh. I wish this were a clean election between Sanders and Clinton. One does get the impression that either the RNC or the DNC's gonna split in half here. The problem is there are too few leftists to maintain a Green party in the US and the Libertarians offend the Christian Right. So who knows what they'll do?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The News Lies about Hillary Lying (again)

So. This is funny.
As it turns out, Hillary Clinton did not lie about her emails.
She said they weren't marked "classified".
And that's true.
There were a handful had classified stuff in them, and had classification marks inside, but those marks were improperly in the body of the email, not in the header (which is where the classification marks belong). Note that these emails did not originate in Clinton's office.
You can quibble with what "marked" means: does it mean properly indicated in the header like regulations say they have to? Or stuffed in the body? 
But if "stuffed in the body" means "marked" it's sort of like saying "That package was marked 'Do Not Open 'Till Christmas!' when it was written on the inside of the wrapping.
Here Politifact gives her a "false" rating, however the addendum contradicts the rest of the article:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Guns and Ammo

So, the CDC is effectively banned from studying gun violence. (Note the headline in this essay actually contradicts the point made in the essay in which it demonstrates that for all intents and purposes the CDC is banned from studying gun violence.)
I'll get back to the CDC in a moment.
Now typically I'm not as concerned with any sort of long guns as handguns are what most people die from in gun-related deaths. And most of those deaths are suicides. An outright ban on handgun sales would drastically reduce the suicide rate and do quite a job on many homicides.
But of late we've gotten tired of trying a handgun ban. So the new hotness is an assault rifle ban.
Assault rifles kill many fewer people than handguns. In fact "long" guns overall kill very few people. But they are implicated when someone kills a whole lot of people at one time. And those kinds of murders get the most media attention. Sort of how airplane disasters get much more attention than car crashes, even though vastly more people die in automobile accidents.
Back to the matter at hand:
So. Banning assault rifles. What's the problem there? Here's a typical pro-gun infographic. It's reasonably accurate.

The problem is that (as the NRA likes to point out) the main difference between an "assault-rifle" and a "hunting-rifle" is that the assault rifle is black. The definition of an "assault rifle" over a "hunting" or "sporting" rifle is typically that the assault rifle has pistol grips, telescoping or folding stock, and (sometimes) a bayonet lug.
Yeah, that's a weird one. When was the last time you actually saw a bayonet on a rifle of any sort?
Anyway, functionally the two "kinds" of weapon are virtually identical (unless you desperately want a bayonet lug so you can run out stabbing... something.) One type of gun doesn't fire quicker or more accurately or more powerfully or whatever.
Now for a quick caveat about the picture above:
This is a Ruger Mini-14 with its magazine attached. Also, note, it has a flash suppressor. Actually, if the infographic above had used a picture with the magazine their point would have been better illustrated.
So on the face of it one would have to question any sort of so-called "assault rifle" ban. I mean, assault rifles are no different from any other kind of rifle. Yeah, they tend to be involved in more mass shootings but when you try to define what an assault rifle is you end up with very slippery definitions.
For instance New York State has banned sale of assault rifles. Their definition of what constitutes an assault rifle includes a rifle that has a pistol grip.

So gun manufacturers have come up with some weird-looking Frankengun AR15 variants which scootch around having a pistol grip on their guns.
Resulting in weapons that look substantially like the AR-15's they basically are.

So again, what is up with this? Why assault rifles? [Note that for our purposes fully automatic weapons basically do not exist. Civilians just don't have them. Something like three people have been murdered in the US with full-auto weapons in the last 100 years. So although all the weapons discussed here are "automatics", they are only semi-automatic, not full-auto.]

So the NRA is right about this one? The prejudice is against "black" guns? Maybe...

But wait. What if we take it from the other angle? Instead of looking at these weapons from a rational position by rational people, we should perhaps look at the crazies. Why are mass murderers choosing these guns?

Well remember that first thing about how the CDC isn't allowed to study gun violence? That's kinda a big deal. The "military-style" weapon might aesthetically attract the sort of person who wants to go on a killing spree, murdering children and the like. It may very well be that the "cool" factor, the extension of your hoo-ha that is an assault rifle, is in fact something that inspires mass murderers.

Mass murderers don't exactly have the reputation for being capital human beings. And their delusions of grandeur, their need for revenge, their insecurities about their sexuality and gender, might indeed be sated by a nice AR15 variant.

How would they get that idea though?
Oh. Right.

The CDC isn't allowed to study it but it may very well be that the asses who become mass murderers are turned on by something about the modern assault rifle (even if it is only a semiautomatic). What causes mass murderers to pick up an AR15? Maybe it really is the color. Maybe we need to insist that all rifles with polymer coatings be painted pink with Hello Kitty stickers on them.

But we don't know. Because we're not allowed to study anything which might, even inadvertently, lead to any sort of gun control.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Petty Vendettas Against Perceived Slights

So, seriously? The whole purpose of Bernie's "revolution" is really just about settling some petty vendettas against political enemies?

Like for real, he wants to squander his political power to nix Sherrod Brown as a VP choice?
There’s also the issue of payback. Campaign aides say that whatever else happens, Sanders wants former Congressman Barney Frank and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy out of their spots as co-chairs of the convention rules committee. It’s become a priority fight for him.
Really? Is that what this is all about? Bernie Sanders' ego? It's time to grow up and not betray the ideals you once espoused. BernieBros, the white male privilege of the Sanders campaign? It comes from the very top.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ooh. Jumped the Shark

On October 1, 2015 I made a prediction; Clinton/Sanders would win the 2016 election.
I'm now backing way off on that bad boy.
Why? Because Sanders has totally jumped the shark. My man Bernie has really let me down, with his nutty conspiracies we end up with a situation where the white people of the Democratic Party simply cannot believe that anyone voted for anyone else.
So May 29 2016? I wish Hillary would pick Elizabeth Warren to be her running-mate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

White Power on the Left

So, Sander's campaign has been disappointing me lately.

Remember that broad coalition of 2008? Sigh. Those were the days. Bernie supporters in the form of the Bernie Bro don't really care about that. Many (too many) are essentially the left-wing version of Donald Trump supporters. I'm not saying Bernie is like that but he sure doesn't do anything to discourage the "We're White men and we must be heard" portion of his followers.

Hey White people. No, you don't need to be heard. Men especially. Which is ironic 'cause I'm a White guy writing a blog post. But the fact is we have to get over the fact that we won't be electing 100% White guys to office anymore. 

The "Bernie or Bust" movement is a threat that if White men don't get their way, they'll throw the country (or at least the non-White part of the country) to the wolves in the form of Donald Trump. The White progressives will hold us all hostage if they don't get what they want.

Remember the strident Naderite naivety in 2000 where Bush and Gore were exactly the same? How well did that work out for everyone? (Hint: not well.) Yet our left in America hates to actually have to govern. They actually prefer someone like G.W. Bush in office because it's more "fun" to have such a clear enemy.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

For All Big Tents

Not to be contrary here but I feel that the confluence of Sanders and Trump will actually split the Democratic party, not the Republican.
Right now, mid-March 2016, Trump is barreling along, throwing red meat to his racist and xenophobic crowd. The rest of the Republican front-runners really have no ideological differences with Trump but have been banding together to try to keep Trump from getting the nomination.
But here's the thing: Trump has only been getting on average about 35% of the Republican vote. And Republicans have only got about 35% of the population of the US.
Trump has a solid handle on 10% of the US population. They're morons, obviously, but they're only about 10%.
Now over there on the Democratic side things are different. There's only two viable candidates for the nomination: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Now Clinton has re-aligned her views to match Sanders on most issues. But she seems hell-bent on saying things which are just nonsense. Specifically, Republican nonsense. She said this about AIDS:
"And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan, in particular, Mrs. Reagan, we started national conversation when before no one would talk about it..."
What? I mean what? I was alive and reading papers at the time, Reagan wasn't talking about it at-freaking-all. I have no idea what alternate reality Clinton came from, but on this planet the idea that Reagan started a national conversation about AIDS is ridiculous.
The biggest difference between the Trump Republican ideology and the Democrats is Sanders. Bernie Sanders "democratic socialist," holds positions that are extraordinarily mainstream. Most Americans agree with most positions he holds on most things.
That has always been true with Bernie.
So where, with these seemingly disparate facts, are we?
Right now the Democratic party is the "big tent" party. In a rational world, Clinton would be the Republican party candidate and Sanders the Democratic one. Trump can hijack the Republican party because of a unique confluence of Rush Limbaugh-inspired drones but that does not make a national party. Oddly, a Trump candidacy would all but guarantee a Sanders Presidency if Sanders were the DNC candidate.
The real race that's being played out is between Clinton and Sanders. The Republican nomination is a circus side-show with everyone trying to out-clown one another whereas the Democratic side is two candidates who are serious.
So what happens if Trump takes the nomination and then tanks the election for the Republicans? Yeah, he'll do more than 35% of the 35%. But the problem with the way we do elections is the "winner-take-all" makes us tend to have two parties. A third party has always acted like a spoiler and then is booted from the next election.*

The question then is will the Democratic party split? Or will the Republican go? On the right there are a lot of Libertarians who would love to see a viable Libertarian party, but their numbers are just too small to be a national party. On the left the dream has always been to have some sort of socialist or labor party but again the numbers, while bigger than the Libertarians', aren't really enough to support a Socialist Party (if they had, they would have pushed out the Democratic Party years ago.)

The Republican party first ran into trouble under Bill Clinton because Clinton picked up many of the RNC's positions -- specifically the idea of shrinking the budget deficit. But he adopted some other right-leaning positions which made him less popular with Democrats.

Now the Republicans barely have a platform. All of the actual popular stuff has been taken over by the DNC, leaving the RNC with turkeys and loser issues like gay marriage and torture. What else can they take? The deficit? That's more of a Democrat thing now. Anti-NAFTA? Well, the Bernie left pretty much has that one covered actually.

Hillary Clinton represents the Republican party if the RNC were reasonable. Pro-choice because of, well, freedom. Quick to get into a war but not, you know, actively looking for one. Free-market but healthcare friendly for working people. Now it's not like Republicans are going to make HRC their candidate, but they're slavish devotion to the Rush Limbaugh fringe has made their party unelectable on a national stage.

It seems to me the real dividing line in American politics is Glass-Steagall. There's the liberal-to-left side personified by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and there's the conservative-to-libertarian side personified by those very very few Republicans who aren't insane and Hillary Clinton (and, it should be noted, Barack Obama.)

So how does this all shake out? Obviously the RNC can still win state and Congressional elections (as they have majorities in both houses). But it seems more and more that GW Bush's elections were a fluke, a statistical sputter, than a demonstration of the RNC's power to find a President.

The Republicans' having got into bed with the Evangelicals sort of got them into this mess. So it may not be the sort of thing they can extricate themselves from at all. But if the RNC becomes irrelevant at the Presidential level what is going to happen? A DNC perma-lock on the Office where the real fight is taken out in the primary (as is happening now)? Or will the DNC just split between its progressive and moderate wings?

We'll find out when Sarah Palin joins the Socialist Working Party.

*Isn't that how Grant was elected?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

More Different "Socialist" Noise

I was sort of surprised to hear the right-wing noise machine start up with the attacks on Obama as a "communist" eight or so years ago. I thought that word's inherent sillyness had played out. But there's a pocket of true believers who remember "communist" as a pejorative and are willing to trot it out and parade it around.
Pretty much since the demise of the Soviet Union "communist" has lost much of its sting. The only other major Communist party in the world is the Peoples Republic of China and -- seriously -- what about them is actually communist? They don't have a national healthcare system. It's a party-controlled state, sure. But they don't even pay lip-service to any sort of socialist ideals do they?
In any case, I think this is going to inure that middle range of undecided voters to attacks on Bernie Sanders for being "a socialist". We've been hearing so much noise about Obama being a socialist that when they hear it about Sanders they'll just be like "Oh, those guys say anything."
Here I am with my Firearms ID card. It took me from August to March to actually get it. Getting a firearms ID in New Jersey is as hard as getting a voter ID in Alabama. Of course, getting a gun license in Alabama is as easy as voting in New Jersey... Ha!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Three Negatives

I have three negatives on Clinton. But they're all positions which she presently takes the right side of. Problem is, she wasn't always on the right side.
1. The war in Iraq. It was eminently clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but she voted in favor of the authorization of force. She should have known better.
2. Landmine ban -- she has traditionally been opposed to it. Her present position is to favor the ban. But her opposition to the ban was one of the distinguishing differences between her campaign and Obama's in 2008.
3. The Arab Spring -- the last judgement call where she was on the wrong side of history was her favoring of keeping Mubarak in power in Egypt. I mean c'mon. Luckily the Obama administration put the kibosh on that.
And I don't think anybody's going to be as good at the office of POTUS as Obama, but those lapses in judgement on HRC's part make me... concerned.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Socialist Meme

So. There's a lot of back-and-forth on the social mediae about "socialism". Much of it is about how roads and plumbing are all examples of socialism followed by those who insist that, somehow, public roads are not socialism.
Which is... odd.
There's a bit of a disconnect about where the line between "socialism" and "capitalism" lies. To presume that it's somewhere around Bernie Sanders but not around (say) public roads requires a bit of a logical breach though.
And things like Social Security are historically directly related to socialist (and occasionally anarchist) activism.

But it's sort of like that relatively recent meme that the US isn't a democracy, it's a republic. Which is a weird and new way to split hairs but seems to mostly be the result of a new-found fear that the populi are turning against gun nuts. But they don't want to say we're a democratic republic, or a constitutional democracy, so they change the definition of "republican" to mean "constitutional" (and seemingly without any reference to democracy at all.)