Thursday, August 01, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard Unleashed The Wu Tang Sword On Kamala Harris Last Night



Senator Kamala Harris is one Joe Biden and one Elizabeth Warren away from being the Democratic Presidential nominee right now. Kamala Harris has the political wit of Barack Obama and the political maturity of Hillary Clinton. Kamala Harris has been able to joke about smoking weed during her time in Howard, but also make former Attorney General Jeff Sessions quake in his boots.

Kamala Harris is not someone to mess with, especially if you haven't done your homework.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard does her homework.

Last night in the the presences of God, Detroit, and the Multiverse, Gabbard laid Harris' record as California's District Attorney out like your grandma was setting up Sunday Dinner. Gabbard assembled the Infinity Stones of Indifference, Arrogance, Corruption, and Corporatism then snapped Harris' true self into the consciousness of everyone in earshot. Gabbard put Harris in a figure-four leg-lock and dared her to get out. She opened up the Matrix of Leadership and said, "Light Our Darkest Hour."

Harris responded pretty much the same way Tim Ryan did when Gabbard summoned the Iron Fist and punched him in the breadbox ("Assad apologist, Nyaah!").

If Gabbard's main issue wasn't ending interventionist wars, this would have been the moment that Harris stopped being relevant. But like Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard is a political pariah, so Kamala Harris is probably safe (until she has to deal with either Warren or President Trump, that is).     

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Nancy Pelosi: Social Media That Doesn't Support Me & Mine Needs to Sit Down & Shut Up

Nancy Pelosi has benefited from social media. It's safe to say that site like Daily Kos was a factor in her becoming Speaker of the House during the Bush Administration; in fact, the two entities are very simpatico.

Well, Pelosi is once again Speaker, but the political landscape has changed. The anti-war (in Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically) crowd has evolved to a non-interventionist movement. Black people who saw Bush's indifference to Hurricane Katrina started talking about police brutality. Those struggling to makes ends meet have watched in astonishment as Democrats and Republicans in Congress joined Bush to bail out the banks, or shuddered as President Obama not only gave some of the Wall Street watchdogs promotions while Occupy Wall Street protesters where being pepper-sprayed and have now begun to embrace universal healthcare, a $15.00 minimum wage and student loan forgiveness. 

The Real Base of the Democratic Party has moved left since Pelosi's first stint as Speaker, and she is not being receptive to it at all.

Which brings us to her latest attempt to keep corporate centrists in charge of the Democratic Party: Pelosi apparently wants the more progressive voice to quiet down and get off the Twitter.

Pelosi’s comments, which were described as stern, came during the first full caucus meeting since a major blowup over emergency border funding last month between progressive and moderate lawmakers as well as a recent spat with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her freshman allies.

"So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it," Pelosi told Democrats, according to a source in the room. "But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK."
Democrats in the room said they interpreted that remark, in part, as a shot at Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who called moderate Democrats members of the “Child Abuse Caucus” in a tweet over their support for the Senate’s version of the emergency humanitarian package.

Regardless of how one feels about Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN) and Ayanna Pressley (MA), their influence on social media is something to envy. Even presidential candidates recognize that it's better to be on the same side as these ladies then in their way.

And Pelosi is, sadly, in their way. She wants to have nothing to do with their progressive agenda. And before anyone argues that she has bigger fish to fry, she doesn't even want to support the "Impeach Trump" crowd that's mostly made of of her centrist cohorts.

So that leaves us with some questions. What does Pelosi really want to do, beside bang a gavel and raise money? When's the last time Pelosi went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for stonewalling bills coming out of the House? Why is Pay-Go so important when her predecessor (Paul Ryan) proved that all the concern coming from Republicans about deficits was just noise?

The participants of the newer social media probably know how Pelosi ran things during her last turn as Speaker, and now they have better outlets (like Twitter) to criticize her. She doesn't like that, especially from a fellow congress member, and now she want to regulate it. A far cry from the days when Daily Kos diaries were used to help propel her above the criticism from conservative media. 

P.S.: The Base has presumably left Daily Kos behind as well, judging by its founder floundering to explain how Bernie Sanders being consistent is a bad thing

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Kamala Harris Tries to Solve One Problem By Creating Another

Democratic Senator and presidential primary candidate Kamala Harris (who has recently rediscovered her roots just in time to banish Joe Biden into the Shadow Realm) has recently offered a proposal designed to help potential black homeowners.

But one piece to this puzzle has started to get some light shone on it: specifically the part where Harris says that credit scores should include rent, cell phone and utilities:

There are an estimated 26 million people who are “credit invisible” and another 19 million who are said to have “unscorable” files, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These people don’t have enough bank or credit-union accounts to have a credit score by today’s standards.

While the traditional FICO score, named after the Fair Isaac Corporation FICO, +0.31% mainly considers payments on debt such as credit cards, mortgages and auto loans, the credit scores have always been designed to consider telecommunications and utilities payments since they were first released in 1989, said Joanne Gaskin, vice president of scores and analytics at FICO. The latest version of the credit score, FICO Score 9, is also designed to incorporate rent data.


The article does mention that Republican Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Keith Ellis introduced compatible, bi-partisan bills in their respective chambers in 2017, but Harris wasn't involved.

Also, as promising as it sounds, there are some concerns:

However, others have argued that the added data alone may not be much of a game-changer in terms of creating a new pool of potential home buyers. The 2018 legislation, for instance, didn’t require lenders to abandon the traditional FICO score altogether. As a result, some argued lenders may choose to ignore the alternative scores or, if they used them, consider those borrowers to be riskier and thus charge them a higher interest rate.

Others have also suggested consumers’ credit scores could potentially go down if this additional data is added in earnest to the calculations. For instance, utility companies can already report late payments to credit bureaus, but typically only do so after several months have passed. If utility companies were obliged to report all consumer payment information to the credit reporting agencies, consumers could be dinged for a single late payment, even if they quickly resolved the situation.


I would add that adding "rent" into the mix could be problematic; not everyone who rents lives in an apartment owned by some corporation. People stay/live with families and friends, people sub-lease and then we have whatever people who are in-between work, moving or in school are doing. Not everyone who rents has everything documented, and that applies to both parties. And with the likelihood that the credit score will be linked to a certain rent price...well, I can only imagine the conversations that will be held if either side starts arguing for an adjustment, let alone where those conversations will lead.

Let's get one thing straight: the main reason home-ownership is such an obstacle for African-Americans is that racist policies where baked in the cake years ago, and they still resonate today.  Making it easier to have a down payment on a $400K or $500K home is nice, but what happens when that outrageous mortgage (this proposal doesn't seem to talk about the future homeowner's income or employment) is due every month? What's going to prevent the (most likely white) affluent members of these communities from moving out? What's going to keep funding flowing into the community for good schools, libraries and the like?

Harris' proposal is typical for the neoliberal Democrat: use financing to solve social woes. Redlining caused this problem, and anti-redlining legislation would be the best way to resolve it.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Interesting Lineup for the 2020 Democratic Primary Debates (NBC Edition)

Very Interesting.

First of all, there's the theory that Warren's main role is so siphon votes away from Sanders, which would hard to do (a) if they are on stage where people can compare them and (b) in light of Sander's awesome speech the other day. Of course, pitting Biden with Sanders could hurt Biden's chance of getting the True Base to even give him a decent look. And putting Biden and Warren together only to let Sanders be the star of the other night would be disastrous for every establishment Democrat out there. So the choice to pit Biden against Sanders makes me think the Shaft of the Democratic Party believes that Biden's lead is genuine (Ha!) and enough to weather a Bernie Storm.

Next, we have Tulsi Gabbard (a person who makes Fox News shake in their boots) in a group that are pushing sad Military Industrial Complex-friendly ideas. Gabbard is to foreign policy what Sanders is to economic policy, so unless the questions are all on the domestic side, she'll have a real chance to shine. In fact it's very possible that due to her non-interventionist stance, left-leaning libertarian types gravitate to Gabbard in a similar way that Democrats began gravitating to Ron Paul when he ran for President.

Booker, Klobuchar, O'Rouke and Gillibrand need to use the debate to move up a tier; they are still mentioned in the cable news circuit, but with nothing of note coming out of their camps they could slip into the "also-ran" category. Williamson and Yang, being the only two non-elected officials, will need to prove their ability to govern (sorry; just because Trump won doesn't mean that everyone is willing to vote for non-politicos in every election going forward).

Harris and Buttigieg seem to be at the crossroads; this debate could either be what propels them or what sinks their chances. Biden has them beat on experience, Sanders has them beat on True Base appeal, and Williamson and Yang has them beat on outsider appeal...outside of identity politics I don't see how these two can stand out.

That leaves Castro, de Blasio, Delaney, Inslee, Ryan, Bennet, Hickenlooper and Swalwell. *Ahem*

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bernie Sanders Makes His Case

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Joe Biden Isn't a Progressive; He's Barely Even a Democrat

Monday, June 03, 2019

"Blue No Matter Who" Forces Progressives and Democrats to Make Excuses for DINOs

So Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a fetal heartbeat (six weeks, BTW) bill into law.

Normally, left-leaning Americans would go after Governor Edwards hard for this, as a majority of those who vote Democrat range from being pro-choice to supporting abortion under specific circumstances (rape, incest, health of the mother, etc.).

But we live in the Age of Team Politics, where you can be as conservative as you want even if you're a Democrat, and other Democratic voters/supporters will bend over backwards to justify deviations from traditional positions.

Websites that have been referenced here in the past are a good example of how Team Politics has shrouded ideological perspectives. The reactions/comments on Daily Kos and Democratic Underground, for example, has mostly ranged from  this is the price we pay for being a big tent  and better a Democrat than a Republican (although DU has, to be fair, more willing to challenge the status quo).

Compare this to the drastic shift in tone when the Republican Governor of Ohio signed similar legislation. And before anyone says, "Well, the laws were different enough to make a distinction," let me remind everyone that the prevailing reactions have not been about the details of the law, but the politics of those behind creating and signing it. It's a given that all of these laws are, in terms of policy, against the Democratic Party's traditional stance on abortion.

But in the spirit of remaining nostalgic to pro-Democratic site that used to also be very progressive (before you take offense, check in see how many Bernie Sanders/Tulsi Gabbard/Mike Gravel posts dominate compared to Joe Biden/Kamala Harris/Pete Buttigieg posts are on your favorite site; chances are high that's it's the later), let's ask a version of the question posed by Crooks & Liars: How much like a Republican does a Democrat has to at like before Democratic voters no longer see him/her as a Democrat?

I think the answer depends on who you're asking, so let's break the Democratic Voters down a bit.

The elected party members (both those in the state/federal government) as well as those in groups like the DCCC and DNC, are more or less concerned with the status quo; as long as the policies don't impact their power or finances to a great degree they don't really care. On the other end we have the progressives and old-school liberals who will readily admit they have their own -for lack of a better phrase- litmus test (and pity on the politician who fails to measure up). So what we really have are those in the middle of the party's power structure: they don't have the ability to draft/create legislation, but they certainly have more access to have their voices heard by those in power. Those who have outlets (websites, radio shows, YouTube channels, TV shows, etc.) that are approved by those in power, but those outlets are generally targeted towards a left-leaning voting populace.

Or to put it another way (using the classic "column" example): if the die-hard progressives (say Bernie/Tulsi/Gravel supporters who may or may not vote a third party if none of those candidates win the primary) is The Base (at the bottom but holds the party up), and the Elected Officials/Party Leaders are The Capital (the top, with various degrees of decor), we can call those who support the Blue No Matter Who philosophy The Shaft (in the middle, most visible on eye-level, keeps the Base and the Capital separate).

Now revisiting that question, How much like a Republican does a Democrat has to be like before Democratic voters no longer see him/her as a Democrat?, we can say:

  • The Base would most likely sour on such a Democrat if it involved (a) a key policy/issue close to the voter's heart, or (b) a series of policies/issues that when added up, looks more conservative/GOP than progressive/Democrat. Lacking any real power or access to power gives them the freedom to be more selective and objective. 
  • The Capital would sour if the backlash affected their poll numbers or financial bottom line, but outside that, they all work together so why rock the boat?
  • The Shaft, being stuck in the middle, has no choice but to accept the situation. Sure some in this grouping will question the politician's actions, but the risk of losing access will prevent them from going beyond that. 

If you're in the Shaft of the Democratic Column, you'll support a Democratic congressperson who's against medical marijuana because they are a yes vote on the ACA. You'll support the Democratic majority in California to keep Democrats in a majority, despite them having no universal healthcare in the state. You'll support Democratic leaders who question President Trump's sanity despite that fact that they helped pass legislation that gave President Trump more money in military spending than what he originally requested. You'll support a Democratic President who took a hard line on immigration and whistle-blowing because you're more concerned about how much worse it could be under a Republican President instead of being concerned that no president should be authorizing the separation of families or imprisoning leakers to news outlets under the Espionage Act. You'll support a Democratic Governor who made abortion illegal in his state.

In other words: they will support Republicans who run as Democrats because of their affiliation, not their politics. 






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Friday, May 17, 2019

"Team Politics" Isn't Enough Any More.

There was a time when those left-of-center considered compartmentalization, incrementalism and pragmatic politics of the Democratic Party to be an acceptable alternative to the staunch conservatism of the Republican Party (who decided, with each election cycle, that appealing to voters who where either misogynistic, racist, Islamophobic or a combination was a necessary evil).

[Before I delve to deep in the rabbit hole here, let me say that the Republican Party is not 100% full or bigots, racists and misogynists. If anything, the GOP is the Party of Old Money and Oil Money. But they learned long ago that playing into a person's biases can help generate a pretty good voter turnout. In the same vein, the Democratic Party is not a bastion for racial minorities, women, LGBTQ, non-Christians, etc. If anything, The Democratic Party is the Party of New Money and Tech Money. They are more cordial to the non-WASP voter because, why let those votes go to a third party? Also, both parties are in bed with Big Pharma and the Military-Industrial Complex. Neither party has any serious love for the working class.]

That time pretty much ended around Bill Clinton's second term. 

Before then, Democrats were hurting for a political hero. Ronald Reagan had convinced enough Americans that Jimmy Carter was a grumpy wet blanket and that Walter Mondale was Karl Marx. Trickle-down economics was so popular George HW Bush was able to ride Reagan's coattails (with a little help from an overwhelmed and uninspiring Michael Dukakis) to victory, giving the GOP 12 years to mold the nation's hearts and minds. Taxes for the super-wealthy plummeted while the cost of health care soared. Wages for CEO kept creeping up while the Average Joe's paycheck became stagnant.

Then a little known governor from a town called Hope, Arkansas showed up.

Clinton was the Democrats dream candidate (once he made it out of the primary, that is). As someone from Arkansas, he would resonate with Southern voters. Once he started playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall, he became the hot topic in African-American circles. Were you a voter who admired a strong women but not yet ready for her to be a vice presidential candidate? Then met potential First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Oh and one more thing: Clinton will be tough on crime (aka lock up minorities at a record clip), friendly with Wall Street (aka, deregulate everything while unions die a slow death) and nation-build (aka, wasn't afraid to drop some bombs on other countries). At this point, anyone who either admired Carter's more passive foreign policy approach or thought Mondale has a few good ideas began to cringe. But if you were either salivating for a Democratic Party win or thought that leftist views was the main reason we got 12 years of GOP "rule," then you stuck to your metaphorical guns and prepared yourself to defend Clinton's policies until the end of time.

And hence, Team Politics" were born.

The platform, the policies, the issues didn't really matter. You were either a Republican or a Democrat. If you third party, you "were just helping the other side win by default." If you stuck to your issues, you were "a purist." If you decided to be independent, you were, "not being serious."

It was hard not to get caught up in the spectacle of it all. After all, Clinton had presided over a term of unprecedented economic growth. How dare the Republicans try to ruin the good times with some impeachment over a blow job? After 12 years of GOP crazy, Democrat voters were not going to let the good times end...not with a fight.

So next thing you know, Clinton is trying to define the word, "is."

Meanwhile, over in Team Republican, there was much fuming. A folksy Southerner had stolen most of their ideas, called some of them "liberal," and had become more popular after being impeached! They need a counter for the 2000 election. Someone just as folksy. Someone who could make conservatism seem more palatable, even "compassionate." Someone who the wealthy could get behind. Someone with name recognition!

Enter George W. Bush.

[Yes, Bush won because the Supreme Court Justices he father nominated convinced the country that there would be a crisis if we keep counting votes, so we should just stop and give the election to the Republican. Also, voting machines are very susceptible to tampering, who knew? But that was the general; he had to fight hard to get through the primary]

So basically, the Republicans countered with a more conservative version of Clinton. More tax cuts for wealthy people, more restrictions for minorities, more wars against the wrong people (somebody was responsible for 9/11, but it doesn't mean we choose the right target).

Team Democrat was faced with a choice: Slide to the left to address those who felt abandoned by both Clinton and Bush, or slide to the right and hope to chip of even more of the GOP more moderate voting block.

They choose a third option: a candidate who could appeal to the left but still govern like a Clinton archetype. We know him as Barack Obama.

[Campaign Obama (CO) was a different person than President Obama (PO). CO promised real health care reform, a cleaner environment, and only attacking with "actionable intelligence." PO gave us Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's Healthcare program,  more oil drilling and drone strikes in multiple countries]

So Team Democratic Party had possession again, leaving Team GOP stunned. They couldn't go with a black presidential candidate (imagine trying to get through the primary); the best they had was RNC chair Michael Steele. They really couldn't go any farther right politically-speaking (the base was labeling Romney and John McCain moderate for goodness sake). Their only option was to go radical and try to package said radical as a conservative.

So again, faced with an opposition as far right as allowed on TV (at the time, anyway) what was Team Democrat to do? Go left? Go to the right more (and try to push Team GOP off the Overton Window)? Put up another "horoscope candidate" who makes everyone feel good despite the actual politics?

Nah, let's go with "Status Quo is God" candidate Hillary Clinton (remember her)?

[ I understand that Actual Hillary had a detailed platform that, if ever fully implemented, would have exceeded Obama's initiatives. However, like Obama, there were two Hillary Clintons, and Campaign Hillary decided to fearmonger about her candidate instead of touting what she would do for various voting blocs.]


The point is, there were three times in political history were we could have had a clear alternative to what used to be the American conservatism: an American progressive. Instead, Team Democratic Party decided play lip service (to various degrees) to the left while promoting a candidate tailored to making the populace more comfortable with the new, more conservative world they were living in.


An incremental approach to monumental problems will end in failure. Our environment, the working class, every minority, our basic infrastructure and our economy are on the brink. School shootings are becoming the norm. Local elections are being compromised. Countries that just happen to be rich in natural resources are being threatened.


So no, it can't be as simple as, "choose either Team Democrat or Team Republican." The country needs someone who can lead the way to addressing our problems, not make us feel better about their existence. We need medicines and cures, not pain relievers and placebos.



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Just One Example of How Trump Lies (When He Doesn't Have Too)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

When Fake American Conservatives Meet Real European Conservatives, Things Don't End Well.

As Secular Talk explains.

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Thursday, May 09, 2019

Dana Milbank Suddenly Cares About How The Press Is Being Treated

After his co-worker Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and chopped up and after Julian Assange was arrested, stalwart journalist Dana Milbank is woke...oh wait, no; it's because his White House credentials was revoked.

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