Yes, Virginia … there IS a Sarah Claus!
Published Saturday, October 20, 2018
Today was a fascinating day for me.
I had to really sit down and reflect.
This is the manifestation of my #WalkAway moment and there was more than a little cognitive dissonance as I found myself cavorting around Capitol Hill with a big pile of “sorry we missed you!” flyers for Republican candidate Michael Bekesha, of Ward 6, who is running for DC council.
You see, while I’ve never been a democrat, per se, I have almost always voted for dems, including Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Senator Al Franken, among others, and a guy you may have heard of, Barack Obama — twice!
Six years ago — literally six years ago to the day (a beautiful fall day in zip code 55105), I was canvassing for President Obama to be re-elected for his second term, going door to door in St Paul, MN. I was terrified — and despairing — that Romney could win and the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. I didn’t LIKE Obamacare, I liked one of its provisions, that any state could set up its own single payer option (and like every failed attempt at something decent and beneficial of Obama’s legacy, that too became an impossible dream that even Vermont (Vermont!!) couldn’t realize); additionally, I was worried that abortion would instantly become illegal, overnight. I believed that Romney as a devout Mormon would make sure of that.
I had neither of these fears with Trump. Not for a second, not for a millisecond.
You know why? Because by 2016, I’d given up on the absurd ridiculous bureaucratic nightmare that ACA devolved into, one that doubled my own insurance premiums so I couldn’t afford health insurance (to say nothing of the deductible I’d have to pay if I DID need to see an ACTUAL doctor) and forced me to pay HUNDREDS of dollars against my tax refund due to the individual mandate since I opted to go uninsured rather than pay for something I couldn’t afford anyway. And frankly, I don’t think Trump would ever touch the abortion issue with an executive order. He talks a pro-life talk to get the religious demographic to vote for him, but he’s no Pence.
There is only one person I wouldn’t vote for in a race against Pence and that is Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, I would vote against Pence.
I don’t sound very republican, do I? Well, it’s because I’m not. I hate labels, and have long eschewed them. There’s a reason I call myself a progressive patriot. I’m pro-legal abortion (I wouldn’t object to a 120-days-pregnant cut off), I’m for gay marriage (what do you think men who can’t marry other men because society shames them for being gay do? Sometimes they marry women. Some might perpetrate fraud against women and pretend they’re straight). At the same time, I want very secure borders, an America First domestic and foreign policy, where we fix NAFTA (Trump is working on it with the new USMCA) and pull out of the TPP (Trump did that on day one) and bring back manufacturing jobs. That’s all happening plus that garbage individual mandate from Obamacare has already been repealed, thank God. And I have hope Trump will finally get us out of Afghanistan as well and work with Rand Paul to offer a better health care solution, while protecting anyone with pre-existing conditions (the other good component of the ACA).
To me, Trump is the one who doesn’t sound very republican. (In fact in his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” he holds up the Canadian single payer health care system as an example of a plan that we could implement in the US; albeit an improved Trump-version of it, of course!) Or at least, Trump seems like a throwback to the populist Republicans of the early 20th century: he’s no corporatist like Paul Ryan or Romney. That’s why even so many Republicans didn’t like Trump!
Ever since the 2016 election, I have been hellbent on voting for anyone but Dems. And I do mean anyone. Some people might #WalkAway: I’m going to drag myself out of the clutches of the Democratic Party’s lying scheming duplicitous filthy claws and attempt to collapse their entire house of cards on my way out.
Some people might #WalkAway: I’m going to drag myself out of the clutches of the Democratic Party’s lying scheming duplicitous filthy claws and attempt to collapse their entire house of cards on my way out.
But after moving to Washington, DC and becoming a registered Ward 6 voter, even considering a Republican for my District Council member initially felt … so alien. I had figured I would vote for the independent or libertarian candidate. But then I found out about DC Log Cabin Republicans-approved Michael Bekesha.
This whole concept of an “urban republican” sounded interesting. It had a ring to it. It seemed sophisticated. It seemed like the perfect name to print onto the beige label of a bottle of 2019 Rose from the latest California vineyard. Ok, I thought, I’ll take a sip.
I went to Michael’s meet and greet and found out he’s an attorney for Judicial Watch (yay!). I found out he’s pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, and he’s just a cool down to earth guy all around! Super kind and friendly wife, they have a rescue dog, they know DC, having lived here a long time, etc. Good people. When we talked about not paying teachers and cops who work in DC enough to be able to also live (afford housing) in DC proper, he had real solutions to suggest, ones that have worked in other major cities. He’s genuinely worried about the recent uptick in violent crime. He cares about things that matter to every day people, like an aging metro system and getting the government out of the way so people can supplement their income by renting their home out through airbnb. All politics are local, as they say, and I even had a very interesting conversation with him about the role of government in regulating the sale of marijuana.
I thought, this is my type of Republican!! (Cue film noir voiceover: I looked in the mirror, and said to myself, could I be … an urban republican? Perhaps. Perhaps that longing and aching for a party … any party … could finally be … fulfilled!)
And as I canvassed door to door today, I had great conversations with the few registered Republican voters who happened to be home (or answered the door!) as I dutifully followed the trail of pindrops on the app on my phone. A whole lot more convenient than lugging around 20 pages of voters’ names and addresses on a bulky clipboard the way I did 6 years ago, I can tell you that much. This time, constituents shared that their biggest concern was crime and the quality of public schools. Everyone was nice — exactly the same as when I went door to door to registered Dem voters 6 years ago. Might “nice” be a personality trait of the registered voter?
People who vote, I posit, vote because they unconsciously feel that they are following a rule: just as you have to come to a complete stop at a stoplight on red, you have to vote on election day. There’s a good chance that the same people who taught us how to drive, also taught us how to vote — our parents. And this is where the current Dem party leadership takes such a sharp turn away from the Dem party voters. Who are rule followers. The Dem leaders, Feinstein, Pelosi, Schumer, et al, are literally praising rule-breaking — loudly and emphatically — on tv. And all these rule-followers are watching. And shaking their heads.
Which leads me from the local political scene to the national one. Being Republican in DC is basically a non-starter … unless you live in the White House and your name is Donald Trump. Bekesha likely won’t win the Ward 6 race but if he doesn’t run, it’s a total surrender to the one-party system that DC is entrenched in. A lot of people thought Trump was wasting his time and money. But standing firm in our views is never a waste. Every time we stand up and speak out, we add another layer to the snowball that eventually triggers an avalanche.
And President Trump is speaking very loudly: he’s saying things that ALL rule-followers are hearing. Registered voters from ALL parties. And they’re agreeing with those things. And nodding their heads.
One of the things Trump says is if you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country. It’s laughably obvious. He campaigned on enforcing **existing** immigration law. We have rules so that society doesn’t devolve into absolute chaos. No one thinks we put on the breaks at a stop sign so we can appreciate what a lovely job the local municipality did with such a vividly red octagonal accent piece. No one thinks we refrain from budging in line at the grocery store because it’s fun to wait our turn! No. We follow rules because we were taught to respect authority, or to fear authority and the negative consequences of not following the rules. The results are the same, either way: a compliant cooperative populace that *usually* stops at stop signs and doesn’t budge in line. Or kill. Or steal. Or break into someone’s house. Or break into someone’s country. Etc.
Even the Hill is coming to terms with the fact that the left has dug themselves such a deep rhetoric grave, that they’ve created an abyss. It’s very hard to scratch and crawl your way out of an abyss — the best strategy is to avoid falling into one (or for crying out loud, DIGGING ONE RELENTLESSLY) in the first place. The Hill retweeted President Trump saying, “The Democrats don’t like being called an angry mob but, really, that’s what they’ve become. They’ve gone so far left, they can’t even believe that they’re over there.” Now, the Hill wasn’t saying that because they agree with Trump, they were sending out a warning to the Dems: I read between the lines and I think the Hill is desperately trying to remind the Deep State (with whom they are a mainstream media partner and for whom they are a bullhorn) to reel back the gasping bloated struggling donkeys-out-of-water the Democrat Party has become.
But please don’t conflate “dems” with normal people. Because normal people (classical liberals) like me wanted GTMO closed, to get the hell out of Afghanistan, to put our own people first, to hold the big banks accountable for crashing the economy in 2008, to have job and retirement security for Americans, but the Democrat Party leadership have become such shills for a globalist, border-free, US sovereignty violating world order that they’ve lost touch with the everyday man and woman. No, not the “forgotten man and woman,” the blue collar workers whose lives were devastated by NAFTA and other “free” (globalist) trade agreements, who elected President Trump by an electoral college swinging margin in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, no, I mean the AVERAGE person: the other group of normal, middle-of-the-road, working, tv-watching Americans. And those people PLUS all the forgotten men and women are watching that TV, and they’re seeing with their own eyes thousands of migrant people, mostly men of working age. And they’re reflecting. And they’re drawing a conclusion based on available information, as human beings who aren’t brain-dead are wont to do. And they are agreeing with the sentiments of Tera Marie Major below: this is not a caravan, it’s an invasion.
This is not a caravan, it’s an invasion.
And here’s some food for thought …
Would the Dems be ok with 4,000 Russians illegally crossing our border? We know the answer. If 4,000 Russians attempted to illegally force their way through our southern border, the Dems would be UP IN ARMS. On the national mall, in front of the White House, parading down 5th Avenue, blockading the subways, the airports and the freeways. “Russian collusion, Russian collusion,” they’d chant, like deranged zombies.
Borders are laws. And laws are designed to prevent chaos (and other types of pain, of course). President Trump is right: the Dems have gone so far left, they can’t even believe they’re over there. Everything they’ve done — from showing us that it’s one tier of justice for you and me, and a separate tier for people with the last name Clinton, to the DNC claiming in open court that they have every right to rig the primaries, regardless of what their charter says, to claiming bizarre denial of reality (i.e., there are more than 2 genders, gender is fluid, and attempting to normalize the sexualization of minors by glorifying child “drag queens” as glamorous instead of acknowledging that those MINORS are being exploited by adults) has shown the WORLD that they are losing their minds. They have no idea that they seem crazy. And they operate in an echo chamber (such as the one established and sustained by the crypt keepers of the abyss known as Twitter) so not only do they avoid any real debate that could lead to a change of heart, their existing viewpoint is freakishly and cultishly reinforced, thanks to such a high degree of isolation.
And I am so thankful I got away from that cult.
Vote Michael Bekesha for Ward 6 DC Council on November 6!!
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STRATEGY: Vote third party if you live in a historically red state in order to create a historical record of dissent but vote for Trump if you live in a state that is historically blue or is a swing state. Remember, it’s a just war we’re fighting. Hillary is just a pawn in the game, the human personification of a wire transfer. But the war is real — and it’s a war on corruption. We know what we’ll get with Hillary: four more years of corporatism. Trump may keep none of his promises (to stop regime change, nation building, endless war, the TPP, pull out of NAFTA, and bring back manufacturing jobs), but we know for sure that Hillary won’t. If we take a risk on Trump’s populism, the worst case scenario is four years of republican disaster that create the fertile ground for an even more progressive candidate to run in 2020. For example, BERNIE. Hillary has run for president twice and ostensibly, Bernie would be running a re-election campaign in four years anyway, had the DNC and the mainstream media not conspired against him to ensure that Hillary was the candidate and that Bernie never even had a chance.
Here’s the article on the Iranian asset that was killed because of those classified emails Hillary sent with extreme carelessness on an unencrypted server. Ruh-roh. The Nat Sec community doesn’t like you anymore, Hillary.
The second that Iranian nuclear scientist was hanged for treason, she became a liability. Think I’m connecting imaginary dots? Well, what day was he executed? And what day did Trump make his apology speech? Trump is now being coached by people who have a lot more to lose than their pride. Notice he’s walking back his immigration stance and skipping the torture rhetoric and no longer saying weird things like “Hillary and Obama are the founders of ISIS” and instead saying logical things like “Obama and Hillary’s actions in the Middle East contributed to the vacuum from which ISIS could emerge.”
Now, when Bernie warns us that if he ever tells us who to vote for, we shouldn’t listen to him — should we listen to him? YES.
Here’s Hillary earlier this month on a stage as her health publicly deteriorates. Hillary freezes: then her handler comes up to her and tells her to “keep talking,” but has to say it twice before it works.
And here’s 13 minutes of Hillary lying straight!
Here’s a HILARIOUS — and I mean HUH-larious — reading by Bill Whittle. Hillary Clinton is NOT a feminist.
And here he is talking with Stefan Molyneux about FBI Director Comey’s scathing statement on why the FBI would not be recommending prosecution to the DOJ, which to many of us sounded a lot more like “closing arguments” that beautifully outlined all the crimes that Hillary committed rather than an explanation for why he wasn’t recommending prosecution. Bill has an excellent theory that Comey essentially couldn’t recommend prosecution because of possible corruption inside the Dept of Justice and so instead, he disclosed all of her crimes so that Congress would demand a hearing (which it did) and call for additional separate charges (which they did). Lo and behold, the Clinton Foundation is being investigated for corruption as we speak!
My own personal theory (AND I’M SPECULATING) is that Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch did indeed talk about the grandchildren on the plane for 39 minutes, but especially about Loretta’s grandchildren and what might happen to them if Attorney General Lynch went ahead and charged his wife Hillary with any crimes. At that point, I speculate, faced with no other option, Director Comey decided to try Hillary Clinton in the Court of Public Opinion, and delivered his closing arguments in front of the jury of 318 million of her closest peers in the form of a live televised “official statement.”
And watch more about the donors to the Clinton Foundation in Abby Martin’s excellent expose. The whole episode is great, but I have it embedded to start at exactly 12:15 in order to get straight to the corrupt donors to the Clinton Foundation. $10 million from literal hell on earth Saudi Arabia, $10 million from billionaire oligarch Victor Pinchuk, between $1 and $5 million each from Oman, Quatar, Kuwait, the UAE and … that’s right, another friendly neighborhood Saudi billionaire. These are countries where dissent is punished with public execution. Oh, and a woman who is raped? Well, that’s adultery, you silly Westernized whore. And adulterers get stoned to death.
And here’s the conservative version of Abby Martin’s expose called “Clinton Cash.” There was a lot of pseudo fact checking, but lo and behold, it turned out that Clinton Cash the movie, like Clinton Cash the book, simply followed the money trail and documented the horror as it was. There was no need to make it look worse. Here’s the fact check of the fact check! Click here.
Now watch the Clinton Chronicles — the corruption goes WAY back!
Listen to Hillary Clinton pat herself on the back for getting a 41 year old child rapist off with two months’ time served in the 70’s. And she chuckles in nostalgic glee.
Watch Abby Martin’s excellent expose on NAFTA, “How NAFTA Displaced Millions of Mexican Farmers”
Don’t let David Seaman be the next Seth Rich.
Please vote! I’d love it if you voted for Trump but I’d love it if you voted period!
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This April, thousands will mobilize in Washington, D.C., to spark a Democracy Awakening like never before. From April 16-18, we will gather in our nation’s capital to Rally for Democracy and call for a Congress of Conscience.
The movements for voting rights, money in politics reform, climate change measures, labor rights, peace, and justice for students, women, immigrants and the LGBTQ community are coming together to deliver a resounding message to our nation’s leaders:
We demand a democracy that works for all of us – where we have an equal voice and elected officials are accountable to the people and the public interest. There will be teach-ins to learn more about advancing voting rights and reforming money in politics (the #GetMoneyOut movement, including the movement to pass a Constitutional Amendment that will overturn the two disastrous Supreme Court decisions, Citizens United vs FEC & McCutcheon vs FEC, which both made it legal to donate unlimited amounts of money to election campaigns — anonymously! (They call it “dark money” for a reason.) AND there will even be a day of real lobbying where we meet with our Senators and Representatives (or their aids) on Monday April 18.
If that’s a vision you want to be a part of, join me in signing up to stay engaged. The Awakening will feature exciting panels and workshops, music, and inspiring speakers and activists like you from around the country, joining together to demand solutions.
When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United back in 2010, it undermined the integrity of the vote by allowing billionaires and wealthy special interests to drown out our voices. And in 2013, the Supreme Court dealt democracy another blow when it gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in its Shelby County decision.
We are mobilizing in April to counter these undemocratic rulings and ensure both the right to vote and the integrity of the vote are upheld in this crucial election year.
Our elected officials have yet to act and it’s critical that we hold them accountable.
Whether you care about climate change, racial justice, fair wages or ever-increasing student debt, change is possible only when we stand together.
A coalition of more than 110 groups, from the NAACP to MoveOn.org, the LGBTQ Task Force to the National Organization for Women, the Postal Workers of America to Public Citizen, have jumped on board to make this April action historic. More are joining every day.
Join the fight: click here for more info. It’s a FREE event!
It will take all of us. But together, we’ll awaken the democracy we all deserve.
Want to send me to DC? Click here!
Here’s my pitch:
Thank you for your support!
Feeling patriotic? Sell your gas-guzzling absolute monarchy-funding, human rights tragedy-perpetuating car and buy an electric car! Let’s all stop voting with our dollars for public beheadings, public lashings, internet censorship, repression of speech, an absence of an independent free press, and woman-hating kings who make life a fascist regime hell for their subjects in Saudi Arabia by donating to their cause every time we purchase gasoline.
I’ve said before that we vote in three ways, first with our actual ballot at the polls; second, with our dollars, with which we vote affirmatively for all the laws and policies of the government of the country the product is manufactured in when we buy it; and third, with our time, minutes and hours we spend assenting to the practices of the major corporations who create our news, our television, our music, and our books, by spending that time reading/watching/listening to it (to say nothing of the free advertising we give away every time we wear branded clothing/shoes/handbags, etc.). And because we get to vote at the polls once a year at the most, we technically do much more voting with our time and money — especially when we pay our taxes, in which case we re-vote, and confirm the presence of every member of Congress, and second their every legislative move.
This is why it’s so important to sign petitions and write to Congress regularly, reminding them that they work for us and promising them that we will fire them next election day if they don’t do what we want. Hey, that’s how lobbyists do it. It’s an incredibly effective strategy. Less than a third of eligible voters turned out last mid-term election — how many voters would you guess actually picked up the phone and called their one Rep and two Senators? Guarantee lobbyists picked up the phone. Multiple times. And showed up in person.
So every time we fill our cars up with gas, we are voting with our dollars for the laws and policies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, most American gasoline’s country of origin. Now, I was ten during the first war in Iraq, the Gulf War that began in 1991, and I remember my mom calling me downstairs to watch President George H W Bush on the TV in the family room so that she could teach me the body language of lying. As he yammered about how urgent it was to declare war (a declaration that started the instability in Iraq we are still fighting today; people often refer to our 2003 invasion as the impetus, but this blogger suggests that our 1991 invasion is a better historical peg), my mom said to me, “You’re watching the President of the United States lie to the American people on live national television. Now, I want you to watch his face.” Now in my little SNL’d brain, I immediately thought of Dana Carvey and his brilliant impression of Bush the first, and my mom, anticipating this, told me it was not time to improve my comedy routine; it was time to learn the facial ticks and speech blips of liars. (I put my GHWB hand gestures back into my pockets and put “Not gonna do it” firmly out of my head.) So she says, “Now, Sarah Louise, there are people who lie, people who lie pathologically, and people like this man who look straight into the camera when they lie. No compunction whatsoever.” (Me: “What’s compunction?” Mom: “No qualms.” Me: “What’s a qualm?” Mom: “Jesus, Sarah, what do I look like, a human dictionary?” Me, nodding sweetly: “Yep.” Later she made me look up compunction and qualms in the big dictionary in the dining room. Thanks, mom.) After the address from the Oval Office was over, we talked (she talked, I listened) a bit more about the nature of someone who could feel gratified by getting away with deceiving millions of people and how they are few and far between in every day life but very frequently found in people who occupy positions of authority in government.
Now, this was a game we played with lots of public figures on the glowing oracle-box of truth (the TV) over the years; for example, a year later, we would watch the Bush/Perot/Clinton debates together and she would tell me that the difference between George H W Bush and Bill Clinton was that Clinton actually believed his own lies. But that night, on the eve of Desert Storm in 1991, she just wanted to me to know that the most important thing to remember about the United States’ involvement in the Middle East was that it was about oil. Period.
Long story short, our military protection of the Saudi regime is how we protect our access to cheap, readily available oil.
If your next question is why, let me be the first to admit that Abby Martin’s answer rivals the one my mom gave me twenty-five years ago. (Ok, truth: Abby’s 27 minute answer is so thorough, so concise, and so well-researched that it is actually better than my mom’s — and if my mom were alive, she would love Abby Martin and agree.) The historical perspective provided in the episode of the Empire Files embedded below tells you everything you need to know, going all the way back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. And it makes it very very clear that our “dependence” on oil is actually the Saudi monarchy’s dependence on US consumption of their oil. But, long story short, the answer to “why?” is that our military protection of their regime is how we protect our access to cheap, readily available oil.
This is a paradigm 100% in our power to change. We don’t have to buy gas. We don’t have to vote with our dollars for monarchs who believe it’s okay for women to vote as long as the men they live with and are financially dependent on give them permission to leave the house. We don’t have to collectively prop up a regime that denies due process (what courts? oh, secret courts with “private” trials), a regime that beheads people for stealing, for being gay, and for objecting to abuse of power by the government and protesting that injustice in public, in print or online, a regime that lashes women for being raped (yes, a woman who is raped will receive more public lashings than her rapist), a regime that is destined to be overthrown. And it knows it. As Abby Martin points out in her brilliant withering expose, the House of Saud is scared — and they should be. History hasn’t been kind to kings.
Also, please sign this petition asking the UN to remove Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council:
**Brief Aside: I managed to find the No Compunction, No Qualms speech from 1991 on youtube. Watch it here. Notice GHWB trip up on the word diplomatic starting at the 53 second mark. No, flubbing a word isn’t always an indicator of dishonesty. In this case it is.
**Second brief aside: Have you ever watched the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Try watching it again with this whole new additional perspective.
Dear Bernie Sanders,
My name is Sarah, I’m a millennial who voted for Obama twice, and I see you being railroaded by a media who refuse to acknowledge you as a legitimate Presidential candidate and the only Democrat candidate who can win the general election. I have previously blogged about Hillary Clinton’s lack of electability, and unlike her followers who are literally blind to her flaws, I am not only aware of hers, I see a few of yours as well. And I want you to win the Dem nomination because if you don’t, I feel very strongly that we will be looking at a President Bush or Trump thirteen months from now. Writing an open letter to her would be a waste of time because her greatest flaw is a sense of entitlement that causes her to think in terms of how much she deserves to be president instead of how much work it requires to earn votes. You, on the other hand, know all too well how hard the fight ahead will be. You’ll have to fight tooth and nail, not only against your opponents and the superpacs but against the media itself who have already decided you can’t win. I think you can win by implementing a few specific strategies. But the number one demographic you need to start concentrating on right away is the Millennials.
Here a Millennial, there a Millennial, Everywhere a Millennial
It turns out that there are more Millennials alive than Baby Boomers, (87 million compared to 76 million) and now that we’re all officially old enough to vote, we are the most influential demographic politically (notice that no major news outlets are rushing to announce this). This means that Millennials need to get registered to vote so every time you’re on TV, Senator, don’t waste an opportunity to remind us to if we aren’t already. And, point out that in 31 states and in Washington, DC, people must be either registered *as a democrat* in order to vote for you, Bernie, or they must declare their party affiliation at the polls. (Click here to find out if your state is one of them.) Hey, fellow Millennials, think having to declare loyalty to a political party, in and of itself part of the divide-and-conquer-method, is a load of steaming cow pie? You’re not alone; lots of millennial, gen x-er and Boomer lawyers agree. I have talked to a few and apparently it will take a series of lawsuits against individual secretaries of states (but we have to be careful which states we start with) for infringing on our 1st Amendment right to free speech. The argument will go something like this: if I am prevented from voting for someone on a ballot because I have not registered with my secretary of state as a member of a certain political party, then I am being prevented by that state government from “speaking” my support for a particular candidate. Now if you think that’s a stretch, keep in mind that when Citizens United vs the FEC (federal campaign commission) and McCutcheon vs the FEC were each heard by the Supreme Court regarding whether or not money is speech, those sage robed upholders of our constitutional rights decided that money IS speech! (Obviously, money buys volume or silence, it is not in and of itself a type of expression, for crying out loud.) So if money is speech, voting is definitely speech. And how about our right to privacy also being violated by making us disclose to the secretary of our state which party we intend to vote for? Bernie, those two issues would be a great thing to bring up during the debates.
What’s a democratic socialist?
Do we really need a fly on the wall of HRC’s war room to guess she’s rubbing her hands together and grinning, “Berrrrnie. Sannnnders,” then leaning forward on her throne to command her minions, “Destroy him”? Do we actually need someone to secretly screenshot her whiteboard and tweet the image of the hashtag thereon, #OperationRedSmear? No, we don’t. We just need to acknowledge that it’s probably already begun. By saying that you are a democratic socialist (or, to put it another way, admitting that you are one), Hillary probably sees you walking into a trap of your own making. For example, you say something like, “with a small transaction tax on high frequency stock trades, we could pay for socialized health care, just like in Canada and France, or fund college tuition at all public universities at no charge to students.” She’ll grin into the camera (amused at your ignorance), announce this isn’t Denmark! and then shake her head back and forth condescendingly (pitying your ignorance). Then she’ll pounce and declare: sometimes we need to save capitalism from itself, [everything up to this point she’s already done] conflate socialism with communism, use nasty throwback trigger words like “Marxist” and “the USSR,” and you’re going to lose, sir.
Now, the only day we can go back to is today. So let’s rewrite that chapter right now.
“Senator, what’s democratic socialism?” Here’s where it’s really important to answer the question, directly, before you go off on your trademark soapbox style “Bernie Sanders says NO to Wall Street’s greed” tangent. We love those tangents; we love them because they indicate passion, idealism, and confidence. Those aren’t the problem. You know what a tell is in poker? Well, your unwillingness to just put it out there, what democratic socialism is, tells us that for some reason, you aren’t quite comfortable with your fondness for it, or perhaps the discomfort is with dem-soc itself. Here’s your usual way of answering the question:
That’s right, you tell us what dem-soc means, to you, connotatively, instead of denotatively. Hillary will eat that right up, like butterscotch pudding, Bernie. When you don’t answer a question directly, you look like you’re trying to hide something or that you can’t handle the question. I want you to win; that’s why I want to tell you how I think HRC will turn this hesitation around and use it against you. I think she’ll
interrupt you talk over you say, “Senator Sanders, why don’t you just admit it? It means there’s voting but the means of production are socialized. And we all know that’s a stone’s throw away from communism.” So I want you, as part of a premeditated strategy to appeal to the large number of libertarian millennials whose interest you have already piqued, to be the first to reference the Bill of Rights in your answer. So here is one way you could define democratic socialism in a forthcoming way that does the most damage control:
Democratic Socialism is where you have a democratic political system, where people vote just like we have now, and a socialist economic system. Now, when the economic system is socialized, it doesn’t mean it has to be run by the government – there are probably people out there who belong to a co-op, and if you do, you know the profits are socialized, meaning spread out among all the members, everybody gets a dividend at the end of the year. But it often does mean state-run programs. And the truth is we already have tons of socialized — meaning government run, in this case — programs in our country. The FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the military, our entire Justice System. Do our judges get paid per decision or per trial? Do our FBI agents get paid per case? No, they all get paid on salary so there is no motivation for them to serve anyone’s interests but the American people’s. (Later, you could tie that into why you co-sponsored the Stop Outsourcing Security Act.) And let’s not forget the bailouts; a taxpayer bailout is known as socializing a loss — instead of spreading the profit or benefit around, we spread the loss around. People will tell you we have a capitalist system but not only do we already have a ton of socialized services that benefit everyone, like our national security apparatus, already in effect, the negative effects of the casino capitalism, they don’t trickle down, they flood down. All those bets Wall St made? When they lose, the taxpayer picks up the tab. That 2008 TARP bailout under President Bush? It was $700 billion. Divide that by the population of the US at the time: 309,557,862. That works out to be $2258 for every man woman and child in the country. Now how much did you pay for your health insurance last year? In student loan payments? In credit card payments? Crony capitalism’s gambling losses are always socialized, but when they make a killing on the stock market and we ask them to pay the same tax rate on capital gains as other income, they balk! Now, obviously, we have a constitutional republic (this phrase is a trigger phrase for libertarians) and one democratic socialist president is not going to undue the system of checks and balances designed by the framers of the constitution, and I wouldn’t want to. The Bill of Rights is designed to protect us from a corrupt government. But the income inequality in this country, where 95% of all income gains since 2009 have gone to the top 1%, where only 2% of this country makes more than $250,000 a year, is scandalous. Only 5% of Americans make more than $150,000 a year. The founders wanted the Bill of Rights to protect us from a corrupt government but they could never have imagined we’d need just as much if not more protection from a corrupt Wall Street.
Emphasize that socialism has nothing to do with corrupt fascist regimes. If anyone asks you if you are a Marxist, say, “No, Marx advocated the abolition of private property; that kind of extremist ideology has no place in our country.” If you don’t believe that, start practicing in the mirror now. You will be asked. The GOP is just waiting to accuse you of it. But Hillary will be worse. She will say, “the rich need to pay their fair share” but then refuse to pick an income level or an income tax percentage that corresponds to her vision of “fair.” Instead, she’ll use your desire for high income tax rates on high income as evidence of you being “out of touch.” Point out that during the 1950’s and early 60’s, the top bracket income tax rate was over 90% and the economy boomed.
Thank you for getting totally real on marijuana; more than half of Americans support legalizing marijuana (58% according to Gallup’s Oct 2015 poll) and an overwhelming majority of millennials do. But HRC is going to pounce on this issue because even though more than half of Americans support legalization, they are not the half you can count on to go register to vote in advance or make sure they’ve declared a party affiliation. So, here’s how you could play it. You want marijuana to be legal not only because the drug war is imprisoning young people instead of the banksters (this is deflecting, by the way, and Hillary will hone in on that like a predator drone) but because prohibition doesn’t work. It doesn’t make sense. Did prohibition of alcohol work? No, but a massive campaign against drunk driving and drinking while pregnant have worked. Why not legalize pot and put warnings on the packaging like we have with cigarettes? If growers of organic pesticide-free fair trade marijuana want to sell their plant at the farmer’s market, then we require them to hand out a little warning pamphlet (with side effects on fertility/virility, memory, and citing studies of irreversible IQ point decreases in people under age 25, etc.). In other words, you can and should acknowledge that there are negative side effects of pot use and say, “I want buying and using marijuana to be legal; no one should spend a minute in jail for smoking pot. That doesn’t mean I want you to use it!” The DEA spends boatloads of taxpayer money trying to override people’s free will decision to use drugs, a fool’s errand in this blogger’s mind. Far more logical to regulate their sale and educate people (especially on the horrific side effects of meth and heroin). And, Senator, when the topic of legalizing marijuana comes up, you could also suggest using the sales tax revenue it would generate to fund national health care, including treatment programs for those addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Speaking of Health Care
Lots of people who voted for President Obama blindly supported anything he proposed after he took office because of his star power and magnetism. And you want that demographic to vote for you too (look them up on twitter with #UniteBlue). You need that demographic to vote for you. So start out praising Obamacare, and segue to single payer by pointing out that the best part about the ACA is the provision allowing each state to set up its own single payer system. Besides, as long as there’s going to be a mandate, why not take the middle man/insurance company out of it so that the mandated number of dollars we all pay is even less? And why not put doctors on the federal payroll? Judges are on the federal payroll and get paid from our tax dollars. What is a doctor but a judge of disease? What is a prescription or treatment but a sentence for wayward health? What is a hospital but a jail that doesn’t need bars because the people inside are too sick to get up and walk out of it? (Kidding! It’s way more fun to visit people in the hospital than jail! Unless they’re dying, of course.)
You’ve continued to associate the epidemic of gun violence with our disenfranchising health care system that doesn’t get the mentally ill the treatment they need. HRC may not realize it but “gun control” is a trigger phrase too — and what it triggers is a knee jerk reaction in many Americans to buy more guns. Tread as lightly on this issue as you did in the first debates; emphasize your concern for prevention and national health care. Then after you’ve won the nomination, you can reference the 2nd Amendment specifically to relate to libertarian voters. You’re going to need them in the general election. This is a very difficult issue because clearly something must be done; but in this millennial’s opinion, your suggestion that what must be done is getting people access to doctors to prevent these shootings in the first place is the one that will earn you the most votes in our current electoral college voting system. If presidential elections were a strict popular vote, I’d say push gun control because roughly a third of Americans own guns (not the majority by any means). But you’ll need to win many of the states with a high rate of gun-ownership if you want to win the electoral college, so your emphasis on healthcare is strategically your best bet.
Are you a pacifist? How you can align your conscientious objector past with Daniel Ellsberg & Edward Snowden and appeal to the greatest number of Americans
You said you weren’t a pacifist and you clearly aren’t or you wouldn’t have voted for the AUMF after Sept 11. Use the phrase “just war” sparingly to describe our nation’s right to defend itself if attacked on our own soil; and remind us again and again that you voted against war in Iraq.
Most people won’t doubt the validity of your being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. We should never have been there in the first place, as the Boomers who lived through it (or lost loved ones who died for it) well know. Many of them, including over 7 million living Vietnam war vets, explained that to their gen x-er and millennial offspring. If you align yourself with Daniel Ellsberg who blew the whistle on the government’s false narrative of success in Vietnam by releasing the Pentagon Papers, (which is why you objected to it too, right?) you’ll not only tap into our country’s collective regret over the Vietnam War and how it could have been prevented or at least cut short, you’ll simultaneously appeal to the Millennials’ admiration of Snowden (70% of us think he’s a whistleblower) because Daniel Ellsberg has been such a vocal supporter of him. In fact, many younger Millennials had never heard of Daniel Ellsberg before Snowden came along.
You are wise to say Snowden should have a trial in a court of law though, rather than that the Department of Justice should drop the charges against him or that he should be pardoned because this is what the majority of Americans think. But we’re a funny people; the majority of Americans were glad to learn from the Snowden disclosures that our 4th Amendment rights were being violated by the NSA too. So while I get it that you may feel reluctant to say anything beyond, “I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined,” as you said at the first debate, there are 61 million Millennial Americans who more than agree with you. Evoke memories of Ellsberg, and many other civil libertarians and peace activists and unjust war protesters, especially Boomers, are sure to notice too. And remind us again that you voted against the PATRIOT Act.
And be sure to mention that as a contractor, Snowden was not eligible for any whistleblower protections. Not from President Obama’s executive order …
… or from the Whistleblower Protection Act of 2012.
No low blows, just acknowledgement of the systemic corruption of campaign finance and the need for reform
Bernie, it’s so awesome that you haven’t said one bad word about Hillary. Millennials hate — with a PASSION — that bullshit. WE HATE IT. Thank you, Senator, for sticking to the facts! It’s awesome to point out that the % of your donors who are small donors is extremely high compared to the average campaign, and great to point out how much money has gone into the superpacs since the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions in order to show how flagrant the attempts to buy this election are, and even better to highlight that you aren’t taking a dollar of that superpac money. We know which candidates are in Wall Street’s pocket and that you aren’t one of them.
Politicians pointing out each other’s flaws instead of focusing on solutions to very real problems we would prefer to have solved doesn’t make them look better than their opponents. On the contrary, it reveals their personality weakness. Thanks, Bernie, for being the kind of politician who focuses on society’s flaws, not people’s personality flaws.
Below is a tweet from someone who has the opposite view. And as far as a winning strategy, I couldn’t disagree more. (This was one of the ways HRC embarrassed herself in 2008 — by insulting Obama over and over. It didn’t even faze him!)
Ease off the Revolution Rhetoric
There’s only one thing I’d recommend you completely eliminate or significantly reduce in your campaign, Senator, and that is any reference to a revolution. Especially during this time of recovering from the disappointment of President Obama’s promises of hope and change, the concept of revolution is a bit much. When someone says revolution to me, I think of two things, the Revolutionary War (and that we won it) and then I think of the Beatles’ song, and this line from it: “You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we’d all love to see the plan.” Revolution is a big word, Senator, and it has all kinds of terrible connotations, like no clean running water and the grid going down and rape in the streets. And death and blood and corpses and horrific fighting — and war. Even when you specify a political revolution, it just doesn’t ring true. All revolutions are political revolutions. Yes, “a revolution” has a better ring to it than “Get off your butts and participate; show a little gratitude for your freedom to vote that people died for. Apathy’s not gonna cut it. You actually do have to vote to remind Congress that they work for you and will be fired if they don’t do what you want, and this means voting every 2 years, not every 4.” While apathy-shaming won’t work, I think the concept of revolution in this sense will make people think of a rebellious uprising more than anything else, and that will turn off a very large important demographic (Boomers) and won’t turn on any of the others.
Your campaign is still young and I’m positive there’s a far better slogan to be had, one that will appeal to people of all generations and socioeconomic backgrounds who favor overcoming income equality and seek social justice.
To Do List:
- Don’t miss an opportunity to remind people to get registered to vote, including tweeting reminders that in many states, you must be registered as a Democrat to be able to vote for you
- Define democratic socialism within the context of it already being part of our constitutional republic (saying we live in a democracy is not factually true)
- Use trigger phrases like constitutional republic and democratic republic; explain they are synonyms
- Answer questions directly even if being direct requires a lie; a straightforward lie is always better than a hesitant justification*
- Continue your habit of not intentionally lying
- Use trigger phrases like “the truth is”
- Explain that capitalism is voting with our dollars; then contrast that with our current rigged “capitalist” system using both “casino capitalism” and “crony capitalism” interchangeably to explain how it really works in practice
- Use the 3 phrases “framers of the constitution,” “founding fathers,” “Bill of Rights” and the 3 phrases “Wall St” “income inequality” “the 1%” at a ratio of 1:1 in order to appeal to both liberals and libertarians (also, a lot of people are just plain patriotic and those first 3 words mean something to them)
- Hillary overuses the phrase “the middle class” — don’t make her same mistake! Explain socioeconomic classes as they pertain to income inequality; there are the working poor, then there’s a working class, a lower middle class, a middle class, an upper middle class, the rich and the super rich. Below are 2 videos to help explain the insanity of the ratio of CEO pay to average worker and how much worse the reality of income inequality is compared to what we think it is.
- Acknowledge the working poor in the debates, those who work but can’t get full time hours because their company’s policy is no more than 32 (or however many) hours a week and consequently, they qualify for SNAP and subsidized housing. They don’t vote because no one acknowledges they even exist! And there are millions of them. If you use the phrase, “the working poor,” they’re going to look up at the TV and go, oh, my God, someone’s talking about us! The other reason they don’t vote is because they literally can’t get time off work on election day and are unaware that in many states, employers are legally required to allow workers to take time off to vote. These votes are ripe for the picking, Bernie. Snatch them up with your #15now rhetoric.
I know you’ll make a great president, Senator Sanders!
*Example: Hillary’s concise “no” when Anderson asked her if her flipflopping on issues meant she was changing them based on the demographic (“Will you say anything to get elected?”). She was verifiably lying but it came across as honest.
Think voting doesn’t matter? Amendments are ratified by elected state legislatures. Are you a woman? Are you black? The 15th & 19th Amendments were passed by white men! There wasn’t a single woman or black person in the entire Congress.
If your vote doesn’t matter, why did corporations go all the way to Supreme Court to get permission to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence who you’ll vote for? (Citizens United vs FEC)
If your vote doesn’t matter, why did ONE billionaire go all the way to the Supreme Court to get permission to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy it? (McCutcheon vs FEC)
If your vote doesn’t matter, why did 19 states pass laws in 2014 making it more difficult to vote? Why are they trying to legislate silence? What do they have to gain?
Voting is a matter of cause and effect. The narcissists and liars in Congress today are there because they were voted into office. So were the good ones.
I’ve said before and will say again: you can’t use logic to reason with illogical people (though with the above statements, I definitely gave it my best shot). You have to use emotion. So, finally, please know that if you believe your vote doesn’t matter, someone is getting off on that. They’re rubbing their hands together going, moo ha ha ha … and chuckling all the way to the bank.
And not voting is weighted. Not voting at the polls is the same as voting with our silence for everything to stay the same. Consider this: the majority of eligible voters do not show up at the polls, even in presidential election years.
Elected officials may have the rule-making authority, but the masses have the power to decide who gets that authority. We the people. Rulers (“politicians”) work for us. This is the difference between power and authority: Elected officials have Authority. We have the Power to keep them on the payroll OR vote them out. They work for US. Imagine if you had been raised – known your whole life – that the day you turn 18, you become the employer of 4 federal employees — your one Representative, your two Senators, and the President.
The Divide and Conquer Method is what keeps people discouraged, keeps them from showing up at the polls, and keeps them from exercising this power to cause change – power that, if you’re an American, you came into like the richest inheritance the day you came of age. In other words, if you think the system is broken, remember, you’re supposed to.
The Myth of Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils
Think that if you voted, you’d only be voting for the lesser of two evils? That’s a myth. People are people. They have strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited, whether they work for the private sector or public. Everyone responds to incentives. We the people first have to be aware of that (that politicians are not above us or beyond us – that they work FOR us) and then we can get down to the business of reminding them, hey, you work for us. We pay your salary. And we’re watching. And in two or six years, if we don’t like your performance, we’re going to let you go.
We the People have the MOST leverage when a politician is up for re-election and has something to lose — namely, their job. Corporations are already fully aware of this! They know what the masses don’t: party doesn’t matter, threat of unemployment does.
Corporations already know what the masses don’t about leveraging re-election: the party of the individual congressperson doesn’t matter – only threat of unemployment does.
We the People have the leverage. Let’s be like corporations and say with our vote, “Congress, if you don’t do what WE want, we’ll find someone else who will – next election.”
March 2015 updates: register to vote HERE
TWEET THIS (copy/paste): it’s a common misperception that party matters. We have to think like corps&tell Congress, don’t do what we want, no re-election.
There are 5 reasons Hillary Rodham Clinton can’t – and thus won’t – win the 2016 Presidential election.
This is why we as progressives, progressive patriots, liberals or democrats, must find someone else who can beat Jeb Bush (or whoever might end up being on the GOP ticket) sooner rather than later. I would also invite libertarians to join us in achieving this goal (for you, my Libertarian friends, wouldn’t a Jesse Ventura/Dennis Kucinich run on the Progressive Patriot ticket be AWESOME?!?!? More on that in a moment!)
# 1: She’s cold.
Hillary is cold. Plain and simple. Cold blooded, ruthless, mean, mean spirited. I have never seen a presidential candidate who was mean except in old black and white footage of JFK vs Nixon. And that’s why Nixon lost. Because he came across as mean. Americans like tough. We like strong. We even like scary. We don’t like mean. (Notice Hillary’s book title: “Hard Choices.” That’s exactly what she personifies, a hard choice. Let’s not pick her.)
#2. She’s a hypocrite.
Lots of people are feminists. I’m a feminist. Wendy Davis is a feminist. Elizabeth Warren is a feminist. Hillary is a woman who stayed married to a man who cheated on her. Not once. Not twice. Not three times. Many many times. Habitually, he cheated on her. And remember, cheaters are liars. So not only does she stay married to a man who cheats on her and lies to her face, she keeps his name. His name!! She keeps his name! That’s not a feminist. That’s the inverse of a feminist. And if she weren’t trying to be president, it would be homemade buttercream frosting on the hypocrisy cupcake that is her life – we real feminists would shake our heads and laugh at the irony (while licking the frosting off the top). But she IS trying to be president. The most powerful person in our country and in the free world who will by default become a role model for hundreds of thousands of young girls (and boys!) and the message that will be sent to them is, “yeah, let men walk all over you and treat you like shit and stay with them, because, you know, it’ll be easier to advance your career”?
No, actually. And even though it might seem that only certain people would be turned off by this, hypocrisy is felt by everyone at the primal level. It’s that feeling you get when a salesperson comes on too strong or a man at a club looks at you in no particular way, but you just know in your gut, “that’s a dangerous person.” The gut is our inner truth detector and Hillary’s hypocrisy doesn’t pass the smell test.
She asks rhetorical questions in a rude, condescending and arrogant manner and this alienates people. “What difference does it make at this point?” she asked during the hearing. Obviously, none to you, and by the way, now everyone thinks you’re a heartless politician pawn. Know why? Because you sounded like one. Too bad those four men were somebody’s son/dad/husband/friend because to those people who are grieving, it makes a huge difference. Hint: rhetorical questions make people hate you, not want to vote for you, as a general rule of thumb.
#4. Her health.
The GOP will bring up the concussion and blood clot to no end. And that will be unfair because her doctors said she is perfectly fine now. But it won’t matter to voters who are what I call “survival instinct-oriented.” Those are the voters who are highly motivated by fear and preventing danger. They can sometimes be patriotic to the point of cutting off the nose to spite the face; advertising that uses doubt and scare-tactics (“Can we really trust someone who …?” or “When [xyz catastrophe] hits the fan, do you want to wonder if so-and-so will be healthy enough to handle it? Feel safe and secure and protect your family – vote for Joe Schmoe on the Immortality Ticket this November”) is incredibly persuasive when it comes to this demographic. Ironically, Hillary used this very technique in 2008 in this 30 second spot, implying that Barack Obama didn’t have the experience to handle a 3 a.m. emergency:
It backfired because the majority of President Obama’s base isn’t survival instinct-oriented (though we all are to some extent because we all have a survival instinct – what I mean is, President Obama’s base isn’t predominantly survival instinct-oriented). We’re what I like to call, “appearance-oriented.” We care what other people think, what other people are saying, and especially what the rest of the world sees and says about our country. It matters to us. We want to have a good reputation. *This does not mean that we give a flying proverbial act of intercourse about whether or not other people approve of our own personal life decisions – then again, we might. But this national, patriotic sense of reputation is separate from that; this is rooted in a desire to avoid embarrassment on the world stage in the same way the survival instinct-oriented people want to avoid danger on the world stage. (And of course, you could want both. That’s how you get hawkish liberals.)
#5. She lacks niche appeal AND popular appeal.
In order to capture the youth and black vote that got President Obama elected, she would have to be as inspiring to them (us) as he is/was.
And she’s not young or black, the way he was/is. Remember, Obama won the 18- to 29-year-old vote by 34 percentage points, and the 30- to 44-year-old vote by six points in 2008. In every other age group, McCain won the majority. And Obama won 95% of the black vote across all age groups the first time around. (Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/did-race-win-the-election-for-obama-487/) Now, between 2008 and 2012, that same youth vote dropped 7.4%! President Obama didn’t have the same glamor as constitutional-law-professor/Senator Obama did four years earlier. Now, contrast that with the fact that the rate of increase among black voters between ’08 and 2012 was 6.7%. Hillary is not going to inspire a black voter the same way Barack Obama did. And Hillary won’t inspire a woman voter the way Wendy Davis or Elizabeth Warren do, either. That’s because Hillary isn’t a self-made woman who catapulted her way over, through and around obstacles to get where she is – Hillary rode the elevator up with her husband.
And, because the number of white voters decreased 2% across the age spectrum between 2008 and 2012, some pundits estimate that Romney would have won the election if whites had turned out at the same rates as they did in 2004. That 2% figure is huge. Neither Obama nor Romney was worth showing up for that day for 2% of white voters (read: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE). Not even to write in Ralph Nader or Ron Paul. It wasn’t even worth their time. (Source: http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2013/05/voting-2012-election) Now if Obama, who was a galvanizing force in 2008, lost that much of his mojo and magnetism, what are we to think of Hillary who never had mojo or magnetism to begin with?
More ways she alienates people:
*She used attack ads in 2008. Notice that Obama didn’t use them against her. The only reason to use an attack is if you feel threatened. This of course alerts everyone else to the fact that you do perceive the other person to be a threat, revealing that you do feel insecure, which ironically backfires and makes them doubt your strength and wonder if you really are the weaker party. This was a mistake on her part. Obama walked away looking like he had brushed Hillary dandruff off his shoulder and she got a “fights dirty” reputation.
*She threw Obama under the bus on his Syria policy in her interview with the Atlantic. This alienates — all over again — all the people who wanted Obama from the beginning back in 2008, not the people who started out backing Hillary who then switched to Obama after the primaries, but the ones who never even gave Hillary a second glance and assumed she would lose in the primaries. All of those people (myself included) watched her and listened to her overconfident monotone smugness, and we thought to ourselves, “how embarrassing, she still thinks she’s actually going to win!” She couldn’t read the writing on the wall then. She can’t read the writing on the wall now. And we can’t afford to make the same mistake.
What we have to lose:
Social Security. The ACA which has a provision in it allowing each state to set up its own single payer system. Vermont already has. Think about that – better than any exchange. Single payer – everyone covered. Awesome. And we also have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to lose – it’s just getting off its feet and with the wave of an executive order, could disappear overnight. And more. Much much more. A return to the Bush II era tax cuts. We must find a strong viable alternative to Hillary because as it stands now, she is the most popular democratic candidate and she won’t pull in the necessary votes to win.
Then who, Sarah?
Bernie Sanders. He is very liberal and to those who say too liberal, I say, Barack Obama campaigned on “spreading the wealth around” and he won by a landslide. The American people have not moved to the center in tandem with their elected rulers. We have moved more to the left or more to the right. When we have two centrist politicians, you know what happens … the Supreme Court ends up appointing the president. (Back in 2000 with centrist Democrat Al Gore and Centrist Republican George W. Bush.) Senator Sanders is married, has kids (for some reason, this matters to the masses), is for disclosing campaign financing and SJ Res 19 which will become the 28th Amendment, he’s fully aware of and in opposition to the Koch Brothers’ agenda to privatize everything from schools to prisons and bust unions and repeal Obamacare, and is all around awesome on all his social justice issues stances, including #RaiseTheWage, #15now, #singlepayer health care, and more …
… Jesse Ventura. People say he’s got a tinfoil hat reputation. To me, he will always be a SEAL, a true patriot, someone who loves his country and is happy to die for it, loves the constitution and is protective of all Americans and American values (due process, the rule of law, a strong middle class, personal liberty, such as legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, etc., and taxing the rich fairly and progressively, minus all the loopholes, and none for corporations who Jesse knows are not people). I think if he moved home to Minnesota, started wearing suits instead of tie dye every day and joined forces with Dennis Kucinich, and was willing to run on the DFL ticket, he could win. Governor Ventura IS the kind of candidate that could bring people to the polls who wouldn’t ordinarily show up. If we didn’t have the electoral college, he/they could run on the Progressive Patriot ticket, but because it’s not a strict popular vote, he will need to run as a Democrat because he’s too liberal to run as a republican or libertarian, though it’s my opinion that a lot of millennial libertarians are actually quite liberal on some issues, like Social Security which they want to keep as is, along with maintaining public schools, the socialized justice system, maintaining major federal agencies with income tax dollars, etc. It is for those millennials including myself that I came up with the phrase Progressive Patriot because of the strong adherence to the Bill of Rights that the term would entail along with the upkeep of the good (social betterment) federal programs.
I predict …
… that if Hillary ends up being the DFL candidate for president, that of the states Obama won in 2008, Hillary will lose FL, OH, VA, NV, CO, & NM, IN and NC (and Indiana and North Carolina he lost the second time). In fact, if she is the candidate, I think the GOP victory map will look like 2004’s Bush v. Kerry election. Click here to take a look. Ohio is a strong swing state but I predict it will go to the GOP if Hillary is the alternative; and Virginia, which didn’t vote for Bill Clinton in either 1992 or 1996 would go to the republican candidate, especially if it’s Jeb Bush, simply to keep any and both Clintons from getting back into the White House. Security-conscious Virginia traditionally votes red. It would take someone superlatively awesome, like Obama was in 2008, to get VA to vote blue.
Also, I think waiting till the last minute to announce who will be the real GOP candidate is part of the Republican strategy in order to let Hillary get overconfident (“If it’s Ted Cruz, I’ve got this election in the bag”). I predict it will be a Clinton-Bush re-mix, this time Hillary v. Jeb instead of the 1992 Bill v. George I match.
Let’s see what happens after the midterm elections next month and go from there. I plan to heavily promote Senator Sanders through my blog, twitter and youtube or to create a petition to Jesse Ventura asking him to run if that becomes necessary, so please stay tuned and get ready to sign some kind of petition, either way!
Reference: 2012 Obama/Romney results http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/election-map-2012/president/
The following text is re-blogged with permission from JoslynStevens.com from her blog post entitled “Q & A with Sarah Reynolds.” Joslyn is a social justice activist who promotes income equality and the #RaiseTheWage movement, like myself. I was lucky enough to receive a DM from her asking me if I would like to be interviewed as part of her series of weekly Q & A’s with people who are making a progressive difference in our country and the world. We share a love of Jesse Ventura, Ralph Nader, and the Bill of Rights, and I admire her independent, 3rd party-loving passion and drive for truth and justice so of course I couldn’t wait to see what awesome topics she would come up with for me to write about. Please check out her blog when you have a chance and be sure to follow her on twitter at @JoslynStevens. If you enjoy her thought-provoking questions below, please click here to be taken directly to the original post in order to like and share. And if you enjoyed my thought-provoking answers, please like this post. Your comments are welcome, as always. Especially from any patriots who might want to be interviewed in Nathan Hale Park and talk about the (opposite of how a) Patriot (would) Act and closing Gitmo.
This week I spoke to Sarah Reynolds, author, messenger, and millennial about our government’s abuse of its power, what it means to be a patriot, and why there’s still time for the Millennial generation to change things.
Last month in North Carolina over 80,000 people came out for a Moral Monday protest against extreme austerity and the other weekend close to 100,000 Australians protested the corruption of their prime minister and government. I know you are a big fan of signing online petitions to bring about change but it seems a more hands on approach is necessary. In terms of citizen engagement, do you think petitions are just as an effective form of activism as opposed to hitting the streets?
A. If not more effective. What I’ve noticed — and this is so so unfortunate — is that when people’s commute is lengthened by protesters in
the street blocking the flow of traffic, the protest’s purpose (to shed light on an injustice) is actually now associated in the bystander’s mind
with the pain and discomfort of an inconvenience. People are funny. If you piss them off on the way home from work, they’ll hate you for a long time. It’s that whole primal reward and punishment part of the brain we have to appeal to as activists if we’re going to motivate the unaware and inactive to read up on issues and take action.
It’s my thought that if those same number of activists spent the same number of hours door-knocking, registering people to vote, and organizing monthly meetups where people engage in calling, post-carding and letter writing to Congress, that we would get a lot further a lot faster in our efforts to achieve progress. I always tweet that a petition a day keeps the fascism away and then follow up with the line from the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting…the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Any time we exert pressure on our rulers (politicians) to get what we want instead of what monied interests want, we are petitioning authority. And sustained pressure will be the key to our progress – we’ve got to request and remind, request and remind. Hey, Congress, Mr President, this is what we want.
And then, we have to remind these elected officials that they work for us. The day we turn 18, we become the employer of 4 federal employees: the President, our 2 U.S. Senators, and our 1 U.S. Representative. Yes, elected officials have the authority, but we have the power — the power to keep them on the payroll or vote them out.
By the same token, the history in our country of the right to peacefully assemble is very interesting: the right to gather became enshrined in the
1st Amendment because the Crown had prevented the early American colonists from gathering and discussing the issues of the day by making town meetings illegal. Essentially, King George knew if people could get together and share ideas, they would soon start organizing and protesting injustice and revolting against tyranny. Organization is like rocket fuel to a movement. Additionally, I 100% agree with you that taking to the streets is a great way to publicize a cause — and as long as the emphasis is on signing a petition, and writing, and calling Congress as soon as everyone gets home, I’m all for it, as step 1 in a 2 Part Action Plan.
You are passionate about and committed to seeing Gitmo closed and filmed yourself calling Obama on this issue. Here we are over 5 years into Obama’s presidency and Guantanamo Bay is still open and at least 76 prisoners, who have been exonerated, remain captive. What’s going on?
A. There are two issues here: the transfer of the 76 cleared-for-release “detainees,” or as you more accurately put it, prisoners, and the remaining 79 men who really could be charged and tried for crime in federal court or a military commission. But Congress has repeatedly passed legislation that prevents them from being transferred to the United States from Cuba. President Obama said in January of this year that, “The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees.” Ironically, the desires of the executive branch shouldn’t have anything to do with why they get charged and tried in federal court.
They should get charged and tried in federal court because Camp Justice should never have come into existence; there should never have been off-the-grid interrogations at Gitmo or anywhere else. AUMF — the travesty of legislation known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in the wake of 9/11 — is the only thing that allowed a “detention facility” off US soil used to hold people indefinitely without charge or trial to be built in the first place. You know, they could hurry up and do the military commissions right at Gitmo. They’re not doing that because of lack of evidence or evidence that was obtained through torture – so by delaying trial, Fed Gov is essentially admitting that they couldn’t get the guilty verdicts they want. And the truth is that there is a very real possibility that men who are guilty of engaging in terrorist acts could go free after a not-guilty verdict is rendered because the burden of proof that a trial requires might not be satisfied.
There’s a cost/benefits analysis built into our justice system: the founding fathers, the framers of our constitution, believed that it would be better if a hundred guilty people went free (due to lack of satisfying the burden of proof) than for one single innocent person to end up imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit. This was their mathematical formula — a justice to injustice ratio! — for calculating the value of preventing injustice. They valued preventing injustice (wrongful imprisonment) 100 times more than getting justice (“rightful” imprisonment). Our entire court system is predicated on this concept, the idea and ideal that the price to prevent injustice is the cost of lost justice, and the founders had decided that the resulting margin of error was one that society should accept and be happy to pay, for the greater good.
And for a very specific greater good: to protect the common man or woman from a corrupt government that would plant evidence and/or charge the innocent – as an act of retaliation for protesting that government corruption – with crimes they did not in fact commit. So the founders made the guilty conviction a lot harder than the not-guilty one: the prosecutor has to sell 12 people (a whole jury) on guilt whereas the defense attorney only has to sell one person on doubt of that guilt. So due process ends up being a lot like the Yelp review filter: not all the guilty get caught but only a very few innocent people end up wrongly categorized.
The other half of the delay is the incredible amount of money that is being made from Gitmo: 2.7 million dollars a year isn’t the cost of each Gitmo detainee – it’s the price. The cost is less, so there’s a profit. Just the building being open is causing the whole Bill of Rights-violating set-up to act as a source of profit for an untold number of people. And that is the primary reason I believe that Congress doesn’t budge on the transfers – the military industrial complex is lobbying against it, and that means lots of re-election campaign funding dollars for lots of representatives and senators. Again, sustained pressure is the key: request and remind, request and remind.
Like many others, I love Jesse Ventura’s no-bullshit approach to the truth especially when it comes to confronting the greed of the one percent. Ventura has held office before and isn’t ruling out a 2016 run. Why do think a presidential ticket of Jesse Ventura and Dennis Kucinich would be good for America?
A. Oh, yes — my dream ticket would have Ventura for President, Kucinich for Vice President. Call it the Progressive Patriot Party. I love Jesse
Ventura!! And I love Dennis Kucinich — the man carries a copy of the Constitution around with him in his pocket. I LOVE YOU, DENNIS, if you’re reading this. (Kidding … mostly kidding). But seriously. I was seventeen and a senior in high school when Jesse Ventura ran for Governor in Minnesota in the fall of ’98. I missed being old enough to vote for him by six weeks — I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to vote in that
election. I was so excited about him as an independent politician. He had such an aura about him, what you refer to, Joslyn, as the no-bullshit,
take-no-prisoners, doesn’t suffer-fools-gladly approach, along with this neighborly, down to earth, what we call a true Minnesotan, personality. He just says what he’s thinking.
He’s not trying to polish it up or impress anyone, he speaks the truth and isn’t afraid to make a mistake, knowing full well the media will beat him over the head with the reminder of it every chance they get. He can handle it. We know he wants minimal government interference in personal preferences and civil liberties (like gay marriage, drug use, abortion, etc) but he understands that some things are better socialized, like the military. He’s a SEAL so he gets that while we ought to have a military (what I call the original Department of Homeland Security), we certainly don’t need to be spending billions of dollars every year enriching private security contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc. Not only is it more expensive, it’s not wise to ever give anyone an incentive to prolong war.
What a dangerous game that kind of greed engenders — building F35′s that don’t fly is the tip of the iceberg. And Kucinich is such an old school democrat. He really understands that he is to represent the people in everything he does, and that without taking care of our planet, future generations will be left with a legacy of ever increasing cancer rates due to chemicals in the air and water, that no mater how cheap nuclear power is, the costs of the inevitable tragic meltdown are far greater — and he said this years before Fukushima. He wants us to be done with war for profit (voted against invading Iraq post-9/11) and supports Medicare for All, as just one step in achieving income equality. The man loves his country and everyone in it, let’s put it that way. He proposed a Department of Peace and wants us to pull out of NAFTA – I love this guy.
Many people-powered political uprisings have been the result of food insecurity, a global problem, in countries like Egypt. Here, we have over 46 million people living in poverty so we’re seeing more families going hungry and food pantries popping up on college campuses. Given repeated cuts to the SNAP program and congress’ continued proposals to steal Social Security from seniors, do you see Americans finally having our own Arab Spring?
A. I hope it never comes to that because revolutions involve such chaos: women get raped, children have to witness horror, schools shut down, hospitals get looted — revolutions are hell, second only to hell of war itself. That’s the extreme side of it, of course. Can they be worth the outcome? Yes, definitely. I remain somewhat skeptical of the six of one, half a dozen of the other dictator-switch that happens so often in the Arab world. What I would like to see blossom in the hearts and minds of Americans are the buds of awareness of our own collective power. The people of Tunisia took to the streets because they do not have have the right to vote for representatives in a democratic republic also known as a constitutional republic (our system) or anything remotely close to our referendums and other forms of direct democracy.
We have the power here in the U.S. And more and more people are waking up to the responsibility that having power requires us to take. Social Security is a good example. President Obama and party-line dems thought they could pass chained CPI and the American people wouldn’t bat an eye last year. Wrong. We called, we wrote, we signed the petitions. And we did it – we succeeded at getting chained CPI off the table. This past summer we collectively prevented an attack on Syria the same way. It was amazing! Again it started out as a “support the President; you love Obama, right? Cuz you totally just re-elected him so do what he says, okay, you guys?” and we were all like, no. I wrote my Rep and my two Senators, and called all three and tweeted at them and told them, “hey, I voted for you before and I was happy to do it. You support an attack on a country that is not a threat to us? I’ll be writing in Nathan Hale in the next election, thanks.”
If more people continue to wake up and take action, and realize that we the people are in the superior position in the power/control/authority dynamic with our elected representatives, we won’t ever need an actual in-the-streets revolution. But good point on Social Security – they don’t quit, do they? If it’s not chained CPI, it’s Abby Huntsman saying we have to raise the age or reduce benefits. No, we can just remove the income cap, Abby, and tax all income, not just the first $117,000 per year, at the same rate. So all of us normal people with a moral compass that tells us to make sure the elderly aren’t starving in their old age have to keep reacting to the anti-Social Security crowd’s ploys with sustained pressure, the same way corporate lobbyists do, by informing Congress, “Don’t do what we want, we’ll find someone who will — next election.”
“There are two ways to get and maintain justice: protest the injustice and demand that a specific solution be implemented by those in the position of authority to make it happen OR occupy a position of authority and implement it yourself.” Our government isn’t listening to us so I take your quote to mean that more people need to run as Independents at the local level to bring about justice. Thoughts?
A. Oh, you read my blog post on “How to Adopt A Zero Tolerance for Weakness in Yourself”! Yes, more people ought to run as independents or even as democrats and republicans with either a progressive or libertarian bent, and not just at the local level, the federal level too. You know I eschew labels and will always say, “I’m not a can of soup so labels are not going to stick to me” because it’s part of this #OpDivideAndConquer, and by that I mean a strategic effort to use language that induces the feeling of Us and Them, Left and Right, and inevitably, right and wrong. And once people are divided, they’re conquered. And once they’re conquered, they stop speaking up because they think it doesn’t matter. So is the government really not listening to us or is it that not enough people are talking? Well, okay, yes – a combination of both. But one thing is for sure: the more we talk, the more they listen. And not the louder we talk.
The more: the frequency of protests (calls, letters, petitions, gatherings on a consistent basis) and the quantity of the people doing the protesting (in every state, organized, if by city, all the better). And we’ve got to stop viewing politicians through the lens of their self-adhered labels (which often turn out to be masks) too. I ask myself, what does this politician believe and believe in? Are they likely to stand up to greed in both its expressions, and protest greed for power and greed for money? Or are they lying liarpaths with the moral compass of styrofoam? Then I make my decision from there, regardless of whether they call themselves democrat, republican, green, independent, libertarian, or what have you. It’s really a common misperception that the party of individual congresspeople matters at all — we remind them, “you work for us. You don’t do what we want, you don’t keep your job. Bottom line.”
Thanks to Edward Snowden, Americans are now aware of the National Security Agency and their illegal data collection of our every communication. However, the Fourth Amendment 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act is supposed to provide some protection from government intrusion but it’s outdated and allows for the same thing. What do you think is the purpose for all of this data mining aside from “keeping us safe”?
A. And don’t forget President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333: “Most of NSA’s data collection authorized by order Ronald Reagan issued.” As I have said in the past, I love a good conspiracy theory as much as any Millennial daughter of a liberal Boomer, and if my mom were alive today, she would love that Snowden brought Ellsberg out of “whistleblower retirement,” if you will. And Ellsberg makes an excellent point that via PRISM, the system is in place for anyone to be blackmailed for anything by the NSA: with the literally limitless capacity to collect the details of our entire lives via our internet trails, the government could use the kind of porn we watch, the affairs we’re having, or the political candidates or political movements we might have preferred to keep supporting anonymously, or anything — any random seemingly innocuous site we visited without a second thought — against us. And how the Stasi worked most pervasively was to use the intel it gathered on/against certain individuals to get those easier targets to then provide the juicy and/or gory details of the deep dark secrets of the un-spy-on-able harder targets. So let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s a huge conspiracy. Maybe it is.
But I really don’t think it’s as sinister as gathering secrets to set up a Stasi network. I’m going to say it’s pure greed. If I were a betting woman, I would bet the house on greed for money, plain and simple. Piles and piles of money — our tax dollars — are sitting there and these war mongers want to rake in the money pile. “Oh, we need even more data to protect us from the Terr’ists, so hire more analysts, build more data centers, and don’t forget to outsource wherever possible at a 300% markup compared to in-house spies.” The desire to profit from everything as much as possible – unbridled greed – will be the cause of the fall of our empire before any other catalyst.
But … on the off chance there is something sinister going on, let me stress here that it’s imperative that we demand that our elected
representatives repeal the entire USA PATRIOT Act, and not just section 215. After all, Snowden said in his Greenwald interview that the NSA was hell bent on “making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.” Ellsberg describes this as “a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist ‘German Democratic Republic,’ whose goal was ‘to know everything.’”
And just in case, have everyone sign this one too: It’s a letter to your 2 Senators and 1 Rep asking them to support the Email Privacy Act, which would require law enforcement to get a warrant to view any email, the same as the law currently requires now for them to read any of our regular USPS mail.
On your website you write about patriotism, dying for your country, and giving thanks to those who have. It’s a word proudly claimed by conservatives who don’t really know the true meaning. What is patriotism?
A. Patriotism is true unconditional love for everyone in your country. The true patriot is happy to die for any American — not just the ones who share the same political beliefs. I try to wrap my mind and my heart around being willing to die for anyone in our country at any time. Every time I get trolled on twitter, I think, “hey, this person is expressing their right to freedom of speech, the same as I am” and I block them and move on. But the soldier, the vet, the true patriot – they’re happy to die so the troll can tweet word-vomit, you can blog about raising the wage, I can tweet @whitehouse every single night to close Gitmo, and the tea partiers can tell the President that Obamacare is communism. To the true patriot, all that matters is that someone always be there, ready and willing to give their life on demand as payment on an insurance policy against tyranny, as the premium that will insure that no government does to us again what the government we revolted against did to us.
The Founders delineated those tyrannical injustices with the Bill of Rights to insure that we’d be protected from specific violations. Freedom of speech is just one of many rights, but here’s an example using it. People will quote Voltaire and say, “I may detest what you say, but I will defend to the teeth your right to say it.” The true patriot lives this idealism as a lifestyle, always ready to die – to defend to *the death* – our right to protest injustice and object to abuse of power by authority, our right to practice any religion we choose, our right to be free from religion, our right to bear arms, our right to free speech and a free press, the right to a jury trial, the right to remain silent and make the accuser prove whether or not we’ve actually done something wrong in a court of law, the right to gather in protest or to gather to organize and discuss the government’s unjust actions out in the open, and the list goes on and on. That’s love – being willing to die for freedom, not because any specific person has earned it with behavior that deserves it, but simply because freedom itself is worth dying for.
Last week you tweeted, “Not voting at the polls is the same as voting with our silence for everything to stay the same.” Despite the high level of voter apathy and low approval of congress, voting matters and it’s a right we still have. It seems congress would prefer that we not vote so they can go back to pretty much electing themselves like they did before the 17th amendment. What do you think?
A. Well, members of congress definitely count on apathy to get re-elected, that’s for sure. Apathy, I believe, comes from a shortage of time. People literally don’t have the time to care: at the end of the day, after dealing with their survival needs (working, taking care of offspring, etc.), they’re literally and figuratively spent. The 24 hours in their Time Account is tapped out and they have to go to sleep, without one minute left to read an article or sign a petition. And you make a great point — prior to the 17th Amendment, it was state legislatures that elected each state’s U.S. Senators.
In my state, the only reason pro-consumer, anti-Citizens United, Al Franken was able to win the senate race was because he was running in 2008, the same year people turned out in droves to elect Barack Obama and many — but not all — voted for Franken because they voted Democrat all the way down the ticket (it was such a close call here in Minnesota that there had to be a recount of all the ballots and it took months). There’s a very real possibility that Senator Franken will not be re-elected this fall because the people simply don’t turn out to vote in high enough numbers for Senate and House elections for the outcomes to represent the actual desires of the populace, so in a way, it’s as if the 17th amendment is repealed by default.
The same party-line establishment dems and republicans are predominantly the ones who take the time to go and vote in those elections, so yeah, it might as well be the state legislatures choosing the Senate, the same as it was pre-Amendment 17. I call this winning by a default plurality– probably every politician holding office in our country won because the majority of people didn’t vote at all.
I’m always so sad when I meet people who do not realize how lucky they are to live in a country where we get to vote. I’ll never forget going with my mom to vote when I was 7, in the Bush/Dukakis election in 1988: she lifted me up in the tiny booth to show me the ballot and explained that people had died for us to be free of a monarchy, to be able to elect our leaders, and that those people, during the Revolutionary War, didn’t fight so that they would get the right to vote, because they wouldn’t get to, and they knew it. They knew they were going to die on a bloody battlefield. No, they fought so that we would get the right to vote. And they were happy to die, to put another generation’s happiness above their own.
I am so thankful for the right to have my voice and opinion literally counted – I know I’m honoring all vets, living or dead, when I cast my ballot. It’s not an option or an obligation to me, it’s a true privilege. I love voting – I try to take the day off work when I can and enjoy the whole day of being alive and not living under a monarchy or a fascist regime.
You’ve been on hiatus for almost a year now from blogging and posting Youtube videos mainly using Twitter to communicate your message for social and economic justice and to incite progressive action. When can we expect you back?
A. Spring time is always a productive time of year for me — in some ways, I do hibernate during winter which here in Minnesota lasts about 5 months; some years, it’s even longer. On the calendar for this spring is more Nathan Hale Park Interviews (the snow has to melt off the bench though or my butt gets wet during the interview), and specifically I’d like to interview someone from my co-op, the Mississippi Market, about how they run a business paying everyone a liveable wage and how that same business model could be applied to large companies. I’m a huge proponent of the #FifteenNow movement for a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage and it would be a dream interview to have Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant on the bench to discuss how she mobilized an entire city to vote for her and support her $15/hr minimum wage agenda.
I’d also love to interview Colonel Morris Davis and Coleen Rowley about being whistleblowers: his first hand experience with the Gitmo military commissions and her front end experience with terrorist act prevention. And I’d really like the opportunity to have a conversation with CIA Director John Brennan if he had a chance to make it out to St Paul some time. I’d ask him a few questions about the differences between the PATRIOT Act and how a Patriot would actually act. I’d also like to pitch to him my idea for an overt op (like a covert op, only different) for closing Gitmo: what it would be is a collaborative effort to meet with every single member of Congress, 535 people, in 90 days, to get them to pass the legislation required to transfer all the men in Gitmo to a prison on U.S. soil and finally close the detention facility in Cuba for good. I would be the warm sell, he would be the deal closer. Gitmo isn’t going to get closed until someone on the inside comes forward and says, hey, what we did by opening this prison was not good (or “was the best decision we could make under the circumstances at the time”), but we can stop doing it now. I’m all about idealism so my gift is inspiring people to consider doing the right thing.
To actually get Congress to vote to close Gitmo will require upping the ante: someone who can apply sustained pressure and make good use of the power of persuasion. That person needs to be big and scary and federal, in order to radiate the sense of safety and confidence necessary to convey that “bad guys” getting transferred to a prison in the U.S. will not be the end of the world. As I always say, it really could be worse – instead of (alleged) terrorists, they could be child pornographers and child rapists; and we give those people a trial in a court of law, don’t we? To put it into perspective, those kinds of pedophiles aren’t under a religious delusion that violence is justified; they’re fully aware that they are hurting minors and/or profiting from it. Bin Laden’s stated goal was to ruin our country financially — he wasn’t even trying to morally bankrupt us, but here were are 12 years later holding people without charging them with, or trying them for, a crime, 76 of whom could be released. Indefinite detention is torture! There must be someone inside the intelligence community who is brave enough and patriotic enough to volunteer to help Congress realize it’s not too late — that there’s still time to restore our nation’s moral authority, what President Obama called our greatest currency in the world.
Thank you so much for interviewing me, Joslyn! I love your passion and drive — it’s so inspiring. It’s up to our generation to shift the paradigm and it’s people like us who are making it happen right now.
Yesterday morning, I made a little video. Inspired by my experiences volunteering on Saturday mornings with the Minnesota for Obama grassroots campaign, I have often wondered if people would be even more motivated to vote if I burst into song. But … I hold it in.
The song is to the tune of a slightly rearranged “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson of course! Side note: I don’t generally give people directions to their polling place but I happened to look it up for Natalie the previous night and then mapped it. And she really didn’t know — she thought she was going to the same place as 2010 and 2008. A lot of people’s polling place changed with the nationwide redistricting and you don’t want to accidentally show up at the wrong place on November 6. Just google “where do I vote in (your state)” and a website for your state will pop up that allows you to enter your address and find out if it’s the same place as last time or somewhere else. Then, march down to the polls and embrace that ballot in the most intimate of ways.
In Sarah’s fantasy realm (not to be confused with my vision of world joy which — admittedly — is a reach goal), we throw out the whole idea of a “debate” and call in a joint CIA-FBI task force to subject the candidates to lie detector tests and interrogate them until their actual views on the issues and their real plans for our country are revealed in their entirety on live national television. And why not? The members of both federal agencies work for us — we pay their salaries. And the truth is a matter of national security. Besides, if Romney gets his way, it sounds like they’ll soon be one merged entity anyway. Will it be called the FIA? the CIB? Oh, no!! Although, yes, please, let’s do away with the TSA child molesters and the DHS a.s.a.p. Plus, we already have a Department of Homeland Security. You’ve probably heard of it — it’s called the Military.
Instead of Jim Lehrer opening up the debate with a polite request for silence, let’s have a masked CIA agent appear out of thin air to get the party started. In the sketch comedy version, could this role of Primary Interrogator be played by Will Ferrell, using the same voice he used when he played the retail store manager who dressed all in black and pulled out his teeny tiny phone while riding on a scooter (it was called Jeffrey’s Clothing Store)? He could face the crowd and greet them with, “Splendid. You’re all here. So I’ll begin the interrogation now.”
Meanwhile, a [very long buffet style] table would fill with ten FBI profilers who would sit behind the Primary Interrogator and take notes on the facial expressions and hidden communication patterns of the candidates so that they could deliver their personality analyses of the two Presidential candidates to us, the People, at the end. And tag team interrogate the candidates during Round Two. Ah, yes. Good cop, good cop, good cop, good cop, good cop, good cop, good cop, scary masked cop, good cop, good cop, good cop. Every time the lie detector test detects “untruthfulness,” a gigantic red neon sign behind the candidates would blink a warning, alternating between bright crimson, “Lying Liar” and neon orange, “Lying Liarpath.” I imagine Will Ferrell with his terrifying golden mask and a megaphone announcing a lie: “LIAR.” And the profilers firing follow-up questions, such as:
“Which loopholes, Governor?”
“Would you be willing to name one?”
“Would you be willing to name one, right now?”
“Would you be willing to specify, tonight, one loophole that you would close?”
“When we say tonight, we do mean tonight, before midnight, because at that point in time, it will officially be tomorrow — do you think you could describe a particular tax write-off that you would eliminate, and describe it in five words or fewer within in the next five minutes? It could be one for a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars or even one dollar or ten cents …. No, the answer has to be yes or no. Yes or No, Governor. The word yes or the word no. One or the other. Right now.”
“Then we’ll sit here and wait till you can think of one.” (Oooh … awkward!)
And none of this Lehreresque, “I’m sorry, we’re way over 15 minutes.” No, bring on the Will Ferrellian, “Time is up. I said time is up. If you don’t stop talking, I’ll waterboard you on live national television. Raise your hand if you want to be waterboarded on live national television. Oh, not so much? Splendid. Shut your mouth. We’re moving on to the next topic.” (To which President Rockstar could point out that he outlawed the use of waterboarding just 2 days after taking office, I suppose!)
And I want major demands for clarification when Romney says he’s going to “give $716 billion back to seniors” on Medicare. Obama missed an opportunity here to explain that the $716 billion reduced from Medicare costs to fund Obamacare was cut out by lowering the amount of money to be paid to doctors and hospitals per service. So if Romney were going to reverse Obama’s action, the $716 billion would go back to doctors and hospitals, not to seniors. When Romney says, “back,” I want the interrogators to demand the form. Via a check? A voucher? A deduction? An extra dessert off the Senior Menu at Perkins? Someone, please, make Romney say — disclose — that he doesn’t want to give a penny back to seniors, he wants to give the profit back to doctors and hospitals.
If we had national health insurance — and I am still sad that not even a public option was included in Obamacare — the health needs of everyone in our nation could and would be met: seniors, the young, the poor, rich, the healthy, the sick, and everyone before, after or in between. And the program could be designed so that your family doctor would be paid the same way FBI profilers and CIA agents are: on salary! Not per service. It is true — conservatives are not lying when they say this — that nearly a third of doctors are no longer taking on Medicare patients because of the rate at which those doctors are being reimbursed per service compared to a private insurer. They miss the point (and oh, how I want the Presidential Interrogators to help them see it … so so badly, my friends …) that, to reference the example in this blog post on Forbes’ website by Avik Roy,
“Wertsch billed Medicare $217 to care for a Medicare patient with a sinus infection whose appointment ran late, because the patient required more time. Medicare reimbursed the clinic for $54.38. Later in the day, a younger patient with the same sinus infection, requiring half the time, was charged the same $217. But his private insurer reimbursed the clinic for twice the amount of Medicare: $108.04,”
the reason the private insurer, as an insurance company — which is a profit-motivated organization — can afford to pay more to the doctor is because many young and healthy people are paying in the same premium for coverage but needing less care than the elderly because they are so healthy. So the insurance company has more money to pay out to the service providers (doctors) because they are making a profit — unlike the government. And the reason the insurance company has so many healthy people? They deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions (unhealthy people) and drop people in the middle of terrible sickness once they’ve received the lifetime maximum dollar amount in treatment. So who picks up the tab for the unhealthy people? The government. (Ironic, right? The government as the FBI and CIA is also picking up the tab on people who are unhealthy in a “different” way, unhealthy people who want to auction children and fly airplanes into tall buildings. Talk about sickness. And preexisting conditions.)
Would it be so bad if primary care physicians — general practitioners we go to when we want a check up or have an infection — and ER doctors were government employees? Paid on salary? And were offered bonuses for preventing recurring accidents and illnesses, and maintaining the existing good health of their patients? Everyone, sick or healthy, would be in the same pool, causing an average between the two figures mentioned above for the treatment of sinus infections (which were $54.38 and $108.04; the average works out to be $81.21) but it would probably be even higher because, just as in the insurance company pool, there are more healthy than unhealthy people in the pool of our country. But we’d remove the profit motive for the physician to patient-load (like carb-loading before a marathon) in order to make more money by taking as many patients as possible and shorten visits to the minimum required, and the other profit-motive which is to skip any lifestyle change recommendations that could prevent more billable, charge-able, profit-from-able visits in the future? Doctors, really consider this: a 5% matching savings account (Thrift Savings Account) and only 6.2% social security tax instead of the 12.4% you pay when you’re self-employed, and other great benefits like paid vacation and sick time, and how awesome would it be to have no overhead costs, such as paying rent for the clinic space, the wages of your receptionist, nurses, etc.? No, it wouldn’t be ideal for specialists, in my opinion, but if we think of how the CIA and FBI work — for the greater good of the entire country — then you can see how establishing an agency of highly trained physicians, motivated to protect the People from illness and serve them by helping them to achieve and sustain excellent health, could be considered a success strategy. And wise. Especially if we want to really truly take down type 2 diabetes and heart disease, two totally preventable diseases that are killing people! In the same way WMD’s do.
This kind of system would restore the healing element of practicing medicine to the doctor’s lifestyle too. Instead of feeling impelled to drive up the number of patients and the number of visits and treatments, the doctor would truly act as a conduit for healing. Still not convinced? Consider the fact that no one has to pay Due Process Insurance which would be calculated on how likely you were to eventually have criminal charges brought against you at some point or other in your life. The 5th Amendment guarantees everyone the right to due process in a court of law (a trial where evidence has to presented that proves guilt) and the 6th Amendment guarantees that, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” Yes, you get a lawyer, and if you remember from TV, “if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.” So, we get a lawyer if we need one. Why not a doctor? The Justice System is socialized: our tax dollars pay for criminals (er … alleged criminals) to have a public defender. And all the judges and clerks and everyone else involved in the process part of due process are paid their salaries with money that was collected through taxes. What is a doctor but a judge of disease, coming up with an opinion/diagnosis and a sentence/treatment plan?
Obamacare is a great start, and I was amazed the President got that much transformation of the system passed into law. And as far as the popular ideas for single payer health care currently stand, I’m glad none of them were on the table because the greed element remains as long as primary care doctors who would ideally feel called to prevent illness still have a financial incentive (a motive if it were a crime, which it ought to be) not to. There’s still a lot to be done and I look at it in the light of, “Look how much the President accomplished in four years with a divided Congress during the second half. How much more will he accomplish in four more years?”
On a primal note, what’s interesting about how the President did not defend himself — or counter-attack Gov. Romney — on Wednesday night is that the lack of the act of self-defense often indicates that we simply do not feel attacked. So we might truly be experiencing an attack — with words as weapons in this case — but in the very confident person’s perception of what’s happening, there is no genuine threat, thus no genuine need for self-defense.
Some said that the President’s manner could only be described as “subdued” during the first presidential debate, but I saw a man granted the acceptance of things he cannot change. He was surprised by the bald-faced lies from his opponent, but only slightly and only for a second. I saw a man resigned to his fate, one who knows that in the end, his occupation for the next four years will be determined by the collective caprice of a nation. After all, he can’t make us google the lies. And no one’s going to force us to see the truth either; after all, we don’t live under a fascist regime. Wednesday night, I saw a man (not a perfect man, as he reminded us) who has come to terms with the inevitability of life’s whims, and who, with a shrug of consent, knows that either way, what was true before he became president will be true after: he was and will be a husband, he was and will be a father, and every Oct 3, he will celebrate the anniversary of his marriage to the woman he adores and the woman he mentions every time he speaks in public directly to the people. She was the first thing he said. Literally, his first point: “There are a lot of points I want to make tonight,” said the President straight out of the gate, “but the most important one is that 20 years ago I became the luckiest man on Earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me.” This matters to me, possibly as much as my gratitude for the good parts of Obamacare and my disappointment over his reneging on the promise to close Gitmo. It matters because it means that the President finds his identity primarily in his ability to love and is, perhaps unconsciously, acknowledging that although everything else about life is transitory, love isn’t.
At the end of the day, Chris Rock says it best.
“If you’re voting against Obama because he can’t get stuff done it’s kind of like saying, “This guy can’t cure cancer. I’m gonna vote for the cancer.”