Monday, May 22, 2017

US elections are ranked worst among Western democracies

I found it interesting that Posner's article I mentioned in the piece on the electoral college was written to support the Obama presidency, which means that the right can be sore losers: even when they truly lose.

My dislike for the electoral college isn't just because someone lost even though they had the larger share of the popular vote: it is because it is one of many anti-democratic aspects in US politics.  None of these have been questioned in the US.  One of the many reasons I made the Demexit was that the Democrats were far from democratic, or they would be screaming about the electoral college costing the election.

Anyway, the University of Sydney's (Australia) Electoral Integrity Project has duly noted the systemic problems in US elections.

Again, Left and Right should be upset.

But I don't think popular elections are truly popular in the states.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Heeeyyyy, MITCH!

Yep, I am calling Penigma's fav right wing blogger to pass on some what isn't news to us on the far left, but is for pretty much everybody else.

There is a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, which I have known about early on when I signed on as a member of the class.  Let's toss in that this is the material that was published in Wikileaks about how the DNC violated its charter about neutrality in the primary, among other things, in pushing Clinton as the Candidate.
In July 2016, Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone that, “primary season was very far from a fair fight. The Sanders camp was forced to fund all of its own operations, while the Clinton campaign could essentially use the entire Democratic Party structure as adjunct staff. The DNC not only wasn’t neutral, but helped with oppo research against Sanders and media crisis management.”
I know you righties like conspiracy, and the DNC mess includes the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.  Rich is pretty much been shown to be the source of most of the material published by Wikileaks (look at Assange's twitter feed...).  That's been the buzz since the news of his murder came out.

The DNC Class action lawsuit is conspicuously absent (even on Fox News), which makes me wonder how much the powers that be have been jerking around the right.

We may find out if people like Mitch don't start doing their research (of course, that presupposes they CAN research...) since they can have a field day with how undemocratic the democratic party happens to be.

The real fun is finding the documentation of dissent from the Sanders camp and its repression by the DNC at the Philly Convention.  Try Craig's List...

Have fun!

Recommended reading:
Election Justice USA, “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries,” ElectionJusticeUSA, July 25, 2016, http://www.election-justice-usa.org/Democracy_Lost_Update1_EJUSA.pdf.
Is MSM distracting from class action lawsuits against DNC?
DNC lawsuit: DNC won’t answer court’s basic question about state primary deals — Part 2 of 3 | The Florida Squeeze

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Abolish the Electoral College

I am amazed that this institution has not gone away long ago, or at least been reformed. This past election has demonstrated that most of the reasons for its existence are fatuous. lets start with:

It prevents foreign interference in US elections

This reason comes from The Federalist Papers, No 68:
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?
This seems to make any allegation of foreign interference (read Russia) absurd if the reasoning behind this institution is sound. I am surprised this hasn't been brought up as a reason that any investigation into this is just silly.

It prevents an incompetent from becoming president

The 2016 US election was one of duelling idiots. While one may defend Hillary Clinton as Threat not chicebeing well educated, she certainly lacked the knowse to deal with the election process (I refer you to Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign for documentation of her lack of political savvy, but that was pretty obvious to anyone watching the campaign). [1]

On the other hand, the US has been saddled by someone who appears to believe he wouldn't have won. I could get into Trump's candidacy, but this is a really bad one if this is one of the reasons for having the electoral college. I'd toss in the 2000 election as another example of the wrong person becoming president.

More reasons

I found Richard Posner's Slate article defending this anachronism. In defence of Posner, his article was written in 2012 before this past election fiasco. Posner gives the following reasons to keep this: Certainty of Outcome, Everyone’s President, Swing States, Big States, and Avoiding Run-Off Elections. I have to admit that the learned judge seems to be offering confused reasons.

Certainty of Outcome is a bad one for the learned judge to begin with since Gore won the popular vote by over 500,000 votes in 2000 and Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes (2,868,691). I found it hard to find a graph which gave the popular vote in the 2016 election, as opposed to graphics that showed the electoral vote, since this number is so disparate it makes this argument risable. [2] It would seem more certain in a truly democratic society, or at least one that likes to pretend to the rest of the world how great its democracy is.

Or is that pretence a relic of the cold war? Now that democracy is no longer an issue the US can get rid of its pretending its democracy is somehow better than the rest of the world.[3]

Everyone's president is a truly laughable assertion under Trump. How many people DIDN'T vote in the last election? Then there are people like me who voted for third parties.

The reality of the "everyone's president" argument made by Posner is silly is that he then goes on to "Swing States" and "Big States". Posner is trying to use the founder's belief that somehow the Electoral college prevents regionalism. Then he goes into the glaring examples of regionalism. It was Clinton's failures in swing states that cost her the election!

Bottom line on those three arguments: you can't claim that somehow the electoral college prevents regionalism when regionalism is what ended up costing the election of someone who won the popular vote by 48.5% (as opposed to the electoral college winner who won by 46.4% of the popular vote).

Reading Posner's article, the 2016 election points out the flaws in his arguments: the electoral college serves no point other than to be anti-democratic, which gets into "run off elections".

Those would be small prices to pay if they would be the cost of having the democracy the US has presented to the rest if the world through the last part of the 20th Century and the beginning of this one.

The problem is the electoral college is an anti-democratic institution which is an extreme danger to the electoral process. The sad part is that the travesty caused the electoral college is again being ignored. I noticed that the democrats were blaming everything except this fossil for their loss. Now, the silliness of foreign influence in US elections overlooks a reason given for this artefact.

The 2016 Presidential election has demonstrated that this institution needs to be abolished, or drastically reformed. Its existence has led to a constitutional crisis (not that the US hasn't been on the verge of one since its inception). But this one is one of proportions that can no longer be ignored.

The real bottom line here is that the US system of elections is in drastic need of an overhaul: does it take a Constitutional crisis to force this to happen?

notes:
[1] disclaimer: I voted for Jill Stein for many reasons other than just the "democratic" party running Clinton, but her choice was one of many sickeners the party gave me. The entire US election process makes me sick, but the duopoly really disgusts me.
[2] I knew Clinton was going to lose when the election results focused on the electoral votes as opposed to the popular votes.
[3] there is little difference between a republic and a democracy in modern political science. Besides, the French Revolution pretty much put paid to most of the anti-democratic v republican beliefs of the founders.
 [4] Here is my wish list of changes to the US system of elections. Only Jill Stein and the Greens seems to be willing to mention them:
open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform--if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Thoughts on US Third Parties.

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.
In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.
One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).
Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:
"It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns' agreement was negotiated "behind closed doors" and vas presented to the League as "a done deal," she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.
Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called "outrageous" the campaigns' demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.
"The campaigns' agreement is a closed-door masterpiece," Neuman said. "Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates' organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands."
Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
lwv.org/press-releases/league-refuses-help-perpetrate-fraud
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.
I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton's "loss" was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the "losers" won the popular vote.
Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:
open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform--if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.
While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn't seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.
OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the "state" can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.
Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly's power against it.
Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.
[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

100 Days of Nothing

Donald Trump the candidate made dozens, even hundreds of promises.  Nothing new in that, all people seeking office make promises.  Congressmen promise to "do things differently" with great frequency and big, sweeping statements about either cleaning things up or "running things like a business" or a host of other silly promises.  They aren't honest brokers, they certainly don't bother to say to anyone that they'll be simply one of 435 voices in one part of the legislature.  Honestly, most don't even mean it.  I've met my share of Congressional Reps flying back and forth between my home and Washington DC so regularly.  Virtually all I've met promised to do things differently, virtually all became comfortable in their offices and in the Washington process immediately.  They clearly were paying lip-service to change.

What made Trump different, among many things, was that he was making promises which were so outrageous, so bombastic, it strained belief to take him seriously, yet, many people did.  It strained honesty to its breaking point to think even he thought the promises he made, the proposals he offered would get anywhere near passing, let alone work.

Yet, Trump made them, and made them, and made some more.  His followers often didn't seem to care if the promises were real.  Well, maybe except for one or two.  Each constituency had certain pet promises and each expected him to follow-through.  The chief among those was the promise to "bring manufacturing jobs back."  Trump made all these promises and those of us who had a small understanding of policy knew, knew beyond any doubt that they could not happen.  I'll lay out why following the promise, that each has failed and continues to fail.

Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Epic Failure): Repeal and Replace, Republicans had 7 years to formulate a plan, they never did (despite claiming to have done so), because throwing 15 million or more people out of the market and failing to ensure pre-existing conditions don't return to causing bankruptcy.  You have to expand the risk pool to cover folks and Republicans refuse to do that.

Build a Border Wall and Make Mexico Pay (Failure):  Trump promised Mexico would pay, he didn't mean in 10 years when he said it and his followers didn't think that's what he meant either.  He has asked for some initial surveying, but the local land owners who would have to forfeit their land have balked.  The cost to build the wall is FAR beyond what the national treasury can afford (and far beyond $30B, it might be more like $100B or even $500B).  His own party doesn't want to pay that much and with net negative immigration from Mexico, the facts don't support the need.  Most importantly, though, no one ever said a wall could not be built, but rather that it could not work and would be immensely costly.  Both those things are proving true.  Our primary source of illegal immigration is from Europe, not Latin America and the cost is absurdly large (including the manning of such a wall which would cost ever more Billions).   It's a non-starter to many Republicans.

Naming China a Currency Manipulator: Trump didn't do this, period.  If Trump intended to use China to influence North Korea (and he said he was going to do so), and that made naming China a currency manipulator untenable, then this promise was a lie, let alone a failure.

Defeat ISIS VERY Quickly With His Secret Plan:  Trump said he'd defeat ISIS very quickly but couldn't reveal his "plan" because he wouldn't tip his hand.  Upon taking office Trump announced.. ta dah! He had no plan and asked the Pentagon for one.  Now, the Pentagon already had one, the one it developed for President Obama which has reduced the area held by ISIS in Iraq by 60% and in Syria by 40%.  Trump's apparent "other plan" was to let the Russians help the Syrians quash the rebels in Syria, including and especially the pro-democracy rebellion centered in Alleppo.  The clear hope was that Russia will then help the Syrians take-out ISIS, but that isn't happening yet, and it sure as hell isn't quick.  Instead, the Shia government (backed by Iran) in Iraq is taking back Mosul in a bloody fight, supported by US aircraft, something happening prior to Trump's arrival. 

NATO Allies Would Pay Up or He'd Leave NATO: 

While a handful have said they'd pay a bit more, his statement that our NATO partners only pay 2% of the total bill for NATO forces was of course, wrong and absurd and so our allies told Trump to get real.  Then came the problems in Syria, and cries from Ivanka, and suddenly NATO is 'no longer obsolete."  As if it ever was.. but he needed his security blanket/mental salve so he says it WAS obsolete but something, somehow changed?  No, nothing changed other than this charlatan became aware of NATO's purpose and European leaders schooled him on just how stupid his stance and words were. 

So, we have 100 days of really nothing.  His Tax Reform, delayed.  His promised investigation to "voter (non)fraud", unaddressed by day 100 though he said he'd do so immediately.  The only thing he's done is issue some mostly pointless or rebuked executive orders.  What a winner.  I'm getting tired of all this winning.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Resist the Right, Oppose 21st century Fascism!



Let us hope the resistance in Europe to the oppression and bigotry of the radical right, represented by this election, is part of the opposition that has been generated world wide to and by tRump.

This the signal of a turning point marking the success of resistance,, their resistance, our resistance.

Not so much ding dong the witch is dead, more sing and shout the witch is OUT!
Fascism and extreme Russian controlled conservatism FAILS --- EPIC FAILS -- in France!

A little Edith Piaf, maybe I'll add a good video of the Marseilles. If the numbers improve appreciably, I may throw in some dubbed Jerry Lewis.

 Why the celebration?

Because in an election that for some time had been polled as possibly close, or with potential upset tRump-like win for Le Pen, this election mattered. With fears that the French Fascism of a far right wing nut, one who is also controlled by Putin, backed by Russia trying to pull off an inside take over of government, it matters. France is of one of the more significant member countries of both NATO and the EU, therefore this mattered very much.

It has been said in the past that 'X' number of Frenchmen (and women) can't be wrong, to which the comedic rebuttal has often been that all those Frenchies couldn't be right, just look at their fandom of Jerry Lewis (hugely popular in his day). I don't know how many French voters there are in the raw numbers, but the percentages are remarkable.

Marine Le Pen has lost, lost big, lost (as of the count as I write this) 65.1% for Emannuel Macron to 34.9%  for the perennial fascist. 

Or if I vilify female Nazi wannabees, to ape a turn of phrase from the male chauvinist pig/cochon,  Rush Limbaugh,"Femi-fascista" Le Pen.

No Frexit (French Brexit) now, no pull out of NATO either. No governmental racist policies -- and for a country that includes the Dreyfus affair in its history, that is saying something.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Update on the Fox News Downfall

In addition to Bill O'Reilly's well deserved exit from Fox News, on Monday, the door slammed on now former co-President of Fox News, Bill Shine, amid a cluster of NEW law suits over both corporate sexism and racial discrimination.  Some of those stories include reports of black female employees being coerced into arm wrestling white female employees, for the gratification of their white male bosses.

Shein took over from sex crazed exec and office pervert (alleged) Roger Ailes, effectively the founder of Fox News.  It appears he did not do much if anything to change the toxic misogynistic and racist culture of the organization.

Further rumors that are credible say that Sean Hannity will be out by Friday, giving rise to rumors that Fox News may be on its way to a substantial decline or even a possible collapse.

We have another deplorable supporting the Fox News misogyny, Michael Reagan weighing in.
Another anti-women conservative, the son of the disastrous conservative president Ronald Reagan,
who tweeted in defense of Fake News, apparently ignoring that the dress of women on camera was dictated by the management:
"If women are going to wear low cut dresses that show cleavage don't be harassed when we men look. Or should we sue for sexual arousal?"
Apparently Reagan never got the memo or the upbringing that men and women are each of us responsible for our own feelings and reactions, and especially for unacceptable behavior.  The issue here is that unacceptable behavior, including unprofessional conduct. 

It is ironic that so many of the women of Fox News are now found on MSNBC.  Perhaps even more surprising is that there is an apparent friendship and mutual adration society that has quietly existed for a while now between Roger Ailes and MSNBC  super star Rachel Maddow.  The story goes that Ailes is a huge admirer of the work done by Maddow.  It is worth noting that as Maddow has gained experience she has surpassed the performance of Fox News, particularly in the more desirable demographics.

I found it ironic while posting the news of the departure of another figure from the right wing propaganda outlet, notorious for its factual inaccuracies and partisan malice, grotesque hypocrisy, racism and on-air sexism, that some of the more ignorant right wing trolls claimed that the worst thing that ever happened at Fox News was some slightly salty language.  They denied the findings of the law firm that Fox hired to investigate the charges against the company which found them to be true.  And credible journalism like the New York Times reported that the sexual harassment extended at times to women being intimidated into being groped, kissed against their will, and women being coerced to perform oral sex acts on executive in the Fox News offices during working hours.  The trolls were apparently a mixture of women and men on the right, among some of the most misinformed individuals I have ever encountered (based on their expressed beliefs appearing in comments), which argues well for the accuracy of Hillary Clinton that both sexism and misogyny were factors in her election defeat.

In other news supporting the contention that the radical right are members of an adult version of the Little Rascals' "He Man Women Haters Club" has been the news that Rep. Fisher in New Hampshire was one of the originators of a particularly toxic and noxious sub reddit, a type of forum / website, in which he makes the observation
..on The Red Pill made by one of Fisher’s alleged usernames in 2008 reads, “rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

...The Red Pill frequently normalizes rape, diminishes female intelligence and discusses the best ways to pick up women, including “negging,” a tactic in which men say backhanded compliments to women in order to lower their confidence and make them more open to sexual advances.
This is conservatism in the 21st Century.  Those who do not share these deplorable and repugnant views in how they conduct themselves are however far too willing to include in their party and their politics those who do act and think like this in devaluing and demeaning women.  This is the GOP that accepted TRump as a candidate and support him in his presidency.  This thinking is where the racist and the sexism in policy originates on the right.  And the Evangelical Right is smack in the middle of it, as are the far right white supremacists and other people Hillary Clinton correctly identified  as deplorables.  Just as Racism drove right wing hatred of Obama for being bi-racial, this misogyny drove the hatred of Hillary Clinton.  Neither was rational or objective. No one repudiates it on the right, no one drives out these people on the right.

Fox News and Republican candidates and Conservative polices all normalize the view of women as lesser, not equal.  This is true in opposing equal pay for women as much as in treating women as sexual objects or second class citizens without the same rights and true equality.  The right is attempting to make misogyny socially acceptable and to make other hate such as racism, religious intolerance, and hate and fear for the LGBT acceptable.  The opposition to so-called "political correctness" is just one facet of this effort to undermine women in society.

And in other news another Right Wing Extremist, a be able to have an abortion as the result of either.

From CBS News:
Mourdock, a Tea Party-backed candidate who beat longtime moderate Senator Richard Lugar in the state's Republican nominating contest earlier this year, expressed his view that "life begins at conception" and that he would only allow abortions in circumstances in which the mother's life was in danger.

...Republican candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen,"
His assertion, lacking internal logic, that nothing happens without the will of God would then presumably extend as well to murder or crimes against humanity.  Because nothing can happen without God's will making it so -- which should include abortion, giving the majority of conceptions do not implant or otherwise naturally terminate, so.......approved by God. This is the same mindset that gives rapists custody of their children conceived from criminal acts, and the same mindset in other parts of the world that see no crime in rape, if the victim subsequently marries the rapist, because then "all good".

I have to wonder if Murdock were raped, but did not get pregnant, if he would still find that an Act consistent with the approval of God? I'm betting absent the accident of pregnancy he would not.