Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Hey, YouTube Progressives: You Gotta Be Fair

Let me start by putting it like this: if you're going to call a group out, make sure you are consistent. Because if one of your cousins or ex-coworkers is making the same claims as some jerk you're attacking, you're not serving your cause that well.

Jimmy Dore went after some "Democratic Strategist" and Joy-Ann Reid for smearing Tulsi Gabbard. Kyle Kulinski gave his take as well

Both Dore and Kulinski were right in addressing these smears. Gabbard is sitting congresswoman, she has an impressive military record, and she sits on a number of important committees. If she was really part of some Russian plot she'd be bagging groceries in Hawaii by now. The "pro-Democratic Party" media is at best The Shaft; they want the political affiliations to be different but not the policies. Gabbard's campaign (and yes Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang could also be plugged in here) are the antithesis of the status quo and the people who sign Reid's checks do not want the status quo to change. No one on that panel does.

And as Dore further demonstrated, Rising's Krystal Ball (a progressive) and Saagar Enjeti (a conservative) showed us how to swat away McCarthy-like Russai-gating claptrap in real time. So there's no question as to how we deal with this.

Which leads me to...The Young Turks (TYT). Dore's show used to be part of their network. Kulinski teamed up with found Cenk Uygur to form the Justice Democrats (which produced candidates like AOC).

Now, before I continue, let me make this correlation/assumption. One theme that both Dore and Kulinski share is that the media doesn't do thing like smear Tulsi Gabbard by accident; it's by design. The people running the show aren't dumb. If this is true (and I believe it is) it shouldn't be a stretch to believe that TYT is not also doing certain things by design. In addition, it it not crazy to think that Dore and Kulinski still occasionally peak over TYT and look at a video or two, especially when the video might deal with politicians and topics they feel strongly about.

If we assume that TYT is just as capable of smearing a presidential candidate as the mainstream media, than we should assume that eventually Dore and Kulinski would catch wind of it.

Now why would I think that TYT, "the Home of Progressives" would smear anyone in the manner that Reid did. Well because it happened, again and again and again and again.

Emma Vigeland and Ana Kasparian are not fans of Tusli Gabbard. Niko House, who has gone on record as not being a rabid follower (or fan, TBH) of TYT, managed to picked this up. Two of the videos House posted are from two months ago. Kulinski has been a guest on TYT and has talked about Uygur's bid for Congress since all of House's videos went live, and has even done a video with Niko.

If Kulinski isn't aware of Niko's videos about TYT going after Tulsi, well...I can't even finish that sentence because I find it hard to believe. I would give Dore a bit more leeway, but he's mentioned Uygur and TYT enough in the last two months to indicate that he's at least still aware of things that go on over there.

Jimmy Dore and Kyle Kulinski are not the den-mothers of TYT.  They are not obligated to call Vigeland or Kasparian out like House did.

But they did see fit to point out how demonstratively bad MSNBC was in their coverage of Gabbard. Is it too much to ask that they do the same when it comes to an outlet that claims to represent progressives more accurately than MSNBC?

Now in all this time, House did not mention that Dore and Kulinski have been curiously silent on this. I can't blame him; he seems to admire both of the guys and consider them as best friends and at worst compatriots in the progressive struggle.

One of the hardest things to do to call out or criticize someone you get along with; we're socially conditioned to "let things slide" when it involves someone you like. 

I admire all three, in addition to some others. But I have learned the hard way that eventually you have to decide whether you want to be defined by your positions or your social circle. It's not easy because all three have a level of influence (whether they want to admit it or not) that resonates with the progressive movement, and (just as important in this case), their appeal crosses over (Dore fans can be Kulinski fans, Kulinski fans can be House fans, etc.).

Dore and Kulinski will probably not criticize TYT by name over this. I can live with that. But as a fan and follower, can I at least ask this: "If you believe in what you believe in, then why not?"

UPDATE #1: Status Coup has also chimed in on the Gabbard smearing. Jordan Chariton also has ties to TYT (he left to co-found Status Coup after leaving there) and he's gone on record saying that he doesn't have much to say about TYT (meaning his time there and whatever they are saying/doing now).

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Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Today In "Future Batman Villain" News

Doctoral student who called cops on sleeping graduate student gets upset when said cops start acting "hostile" by asking her questions (like, "Why did you call us for this crap?" I guess) and after being mocked for abusing her privilege, has taken to social media to swear revenge on the world.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

2020 Democratic Debate, Part 4: CNN Tries to Make Lemonade Out of Rocks

Thanks to some very awesome Youtubers, I was able to view last night's debate through a non-corporate lens. I won't do the "Winner/Losers" thing, but I will give my impression on their overall effectiveness:

  • Joe Biden: He's pretty much riding off name recognition at this point. Combined with the fact that (1) his polls are based on landline calls and (2) most of his supporters don't watch news stories related to him, he's fairly insulated from just having a massive drop. In other words: as long as older voters (and the media) keep propping him up, Biden's not going anywhere. Which is said, because you have to sift through his word salad to find any real points, and most of the time those points are either common-sense or too wonky for the average voter to care about. In short, he's not beating President Trump on a debate stage, and he's not going to convince many former-Obama-voters-turned-Trump-voters to switch back. 
  • Kamala Harris: It seems like her answer to every problem is to either apply Clintonian rhetoric or punitive action. Last night she basically stole Kristen Gillibrand's pro-woman platform, which could foreshadow what she plans to do if any of the other mid-to-low tier candidates drop out before she does. She still can't defend her record adequately, which means problems in a general election debate. She's all but lost the black vote after Gabbard decapitated her. With the exception of Gabbard and Biden, none of the other candidates really pay attention to her on the stage, which is probably one part "I agree with her" and one part "she's not a real threat," but my impression leans to the latter. Her attempt to be some kind of hybrid of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is not resonating in an area where the voters want authentic populism.  
  • Elizabeth Warren: She said all the right things (for the most part), which only hurt Sanders because she's using his lines. Anytime she's been confronted with something outside her wheelhouse (which boils down to making the economic field fairer for more people) she gets flustered. No one has brought up some of her more obvious flaws (that for more than half her life she was a Republican, she has no real answer for health care, how using a false ethnic identity has helped her career) which is is one of the many things that's keeping her safe...in the primary debates.
  • Pete Buttigieg: Everything notable about him is identity politics: he's openly gay, he worked in the intelligence community, he served in the military, he's a mayor. He compiles his experiences into anecdotes and platitudes that tell us nothing about how he'll govern beyond "maintain the status quo." What's his "passion policy?" I haven't heard one yet.
  • Beto O'Rourke: Aside from the guns stance, he's not running on anything. And O'Rouke is the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Trump. Not exactly inspiring.
  • Andrew Yang: Aside from the appeal of UBI, Yang comes across as the left-leaning libertarians that rose up during the Bush years and joined the Democratic Party (think Daily Kos and Arianna Huffington). While he's able to explain the logic of his ideas, he hasn't been able to explain how he's going to convert the non-believers, let alone how his ideas will impact our financial reality. He feels like a third party candidate who's too apprehensive to run as a third party candidate. 
  • Amy Klobuchar: Someone had to wave the centrist flag proudly! Sadly for her, this isn't the 90's, and both her ideas and smug disdain for any ideas to her left is tired. Her touting that she can work with the current incarnation of congressional Republicans -who are pretty loyal to Trump to a fault at this point- is not a plus. 
  • Cory Booker: When you're surprised that you're being asked question in a debate you basically had to beg your supporters for help to get into, your campaign is hurting. And the whole, "We just need to beat Trump!' is so 2004 George W. Bush. 
  • Tulsi Gabbard: Tulsi using her "now-that-I-got-in-I-might-not-go" ploy was enough to get her some TV time pre-debates, but I', not sure that she used it to her full advantage. The smear merchants are still running "Assad articles." She didn't get many questions that weren't foreign policy-based. She pulled out a giant hand cannon and aimed it at Warren's head, but got cut off by the moderators for a "commercial break." The calm, reflective demeanor that makes her appealing is what also keeps her from being effective in these debates. Tulsi is the equivalent of the sports team that's built for the playoffs, but always struggles in the regular season. 
  • Julian Castro: When Castro wasn't talking, I forgot he was there. He seemed to have stepped back after going after Biden (for being a forgetful, mumbling goof) and like others, he has no "passion policy" that he can fall back on. 
  • Tom Steyer: He bought his way into the debates using his "we must impeach Trump" movement (which he started like two years ago?) yet mentioned it about as much as the others. Now if this were me, I would be all, "It took you guys long enough to catch up!" even if the idea/strategy is prone to backfire. That said, he neither said anything too appealing or too revolting. 
  • Bernie Sanders: Like Gabbard, Bernie got questions that were either rehashes ("how you gonna pay for Medicare for All") or smears-in-disguise ("you're kinda old, should we be worried?"). He handled them as best he can, but having the rest was certainly a plus in term of appearance. His biggest obstacle is that in order to reach the general election, he's going to have to (1) distinguish himself from the left-leaning pretenders and (2) show that he can aggressively challenge the other candidates without coming off as grumpy. 

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Joe Biden Tries To Answer a Question

So the Democrats had yet another debate, and with 10 people all vying for time and a media outlet more concerned with ratings and protecting the status quo then keeping the electorate informed, incoherent-like messages became the flavor of the day. No candidate best exemplifies this more than former Vice President Joe Biden. Below is how he responded to Senator Elizabeth Warren's response about dealing with income inequality:

BURNETT: Vice President Biden, you have warned against demonizing rich people. Do you believe that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren's wealth tax plans do that?
BIDEN: No, look, demonizing wealth -- what I talked about is how you get things done. And the way to get things done is take a look at the tax code right now. The idea -- we have to start rewarding work, not just wealth. I would eliminate the capital gains tax -- I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5 percent.
I would double it, because guess what? Why in God's name should someone who's clipping coupons in the stock market make -- in fact, pay a lower tax rate than someone who, in fact, is -- like I said -- the -- a schoolteacher and a firefighter? It's ridiculous. And they pay a lower tax.
Secondly, the idea that we, in fact, engage in this notion that there are -- there’s $1,640,000,000,000 in tax loopholes. You can’t justify a minimum $600 billion of that. We could eliminate it all. I could go into detail had I the time.
Secondly -- I mean, thirdly, what we need to do is we need to go out and make it clear to the American people that we are going to -- we are going to raise taxes on the wealthy. We're going to reduce tax burdens on those who are not.
And this is one of the reasons why these debates are kind of crazy, because everybody tries to squeeze everything into every answer that is given. The fact is, everybody's right about the fact that the fourth industrial revolution is costing jobs. It is. The fact is also corporate greed is they're going back and not investing in our employees, they're reinvesting and buying back their stock.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Oh, boy, where to begin?

First, Biden implies that the crux of income inequality is the tax code. As a solution, he says he would "eliminate the capital gains tax" then says he would "raise it to it's highest rate" then says he "would double it."

He talks about some imaginary person "clipping coupons in the stock market" but than transforms that imaginary person into a "schoolteacher or firefighter" who he then concedes show pay lower taxes.

He says that there's over $1.6 trillion in tax loopholes, and while we "can't justify a minimum of $600 billion of that", "we could eliminate it all."

Then, (keep in mind Burnett's question to him), he agrees "to raise taxes on the wealthy" and "reduce tax burdens on those who are not [wealthy]."

Finally (and ironically) he laments about the inherent flaw of debating and explaining complex issues in this infotainment format. And closes by personifying "corporate greed" as the bad guy who's "reinvesting and buying back their stock" instead of "investing in our employees."


I'm not sold that the tax code is the primary reason wealth inequality exists, and I'm equally unsure how Biden would modify the tax code. But he also suggests eliminating tax loopholes and confronting corporate greed, so obviously the tax code is not the end all/be all solution here.

But here's my two points:

  1. Joe Biden's explanation is a big fat mess that has to be filtered in order to get to the somewhat valid points, but these points range from non-controversial (corporate greed is bad) to borderline arcane (how many voters sit around discussing the tax code?). Compare this to Donald Trump's straight-to-the-point (yet usually false) rhetoric and Biden comes off as doddering. 
  2. More frustratingly: Joe Biden was Vice President for eight years. He could have addressed this issue while he was in office!!! The fact that it is still a problem (as opposed to something like Obamacare, which Trump purposefully made less effective) makes Biden look unsuccessful as an executive. All Trump has to do is ask, "So Joe, why didn't you fix any of these problems when you were in office?" 

 In a world where more than half of the Democratic candidates come off as over-rehearsed, Biden could really use some note cards.

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Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Quote of the Day

“You feel like you’ve known someone...and then all of a sudden a door opens up and there’s a part of them you didn’t know...they’re not allegations of an affair. They’re allegations of a crime.”

-- Hoda Kotb, referencing Matt Lauer's latest rape accusations.

Going by the stories of that automatic lock Lauer could control from his desk, I think the problem was that there wasn't enough open doors.

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Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Thing About Whistle-blowers...

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Random Thoughts On Trump, The Democrats and Impeachment

  1. You would think that, considering the way Donald Trump went after Barack Obama for a "long-form birth certificate" after Obama provided more proof then he should have, Trump would know the difference between a transcript and a memo
  2. Impeachment will not remove Trump from the White House, you'd need the (GOP-controlled) Senate for that. Once Trump realizes that impeachment won't force him out, he will go hard into "Witch Hunt" mode.
  3. That being said, the only benefit of the proceedings to to test Trump's ability to fight political battles on two fronts: the House Democrats looking to impeach and one front, and the Democratic nominee on the other. 
  4. This spectacle is yet another distraction for the Democrats, who still refuse to examine why/how they lost in 2016.
  5. This spectacle does not mean that the Bidens are innocent; a corrupted politician trying to get dirt on a corrupted politician in a corrupt manner does not exonerate the target. 
  6. Status Coup's take  (as well as Humanist Report, MCSC, and Secular Talk) on all of this is pretty decent.  

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Both of These Statements Can Be True

  1. Andrew Yang is being screwed in the debates by the corporate media.
  2. Andrew Yang's UBI proposal has flaws
Just because someone has a questionable policy (and we're not talking about something that degrades another group like say, Jim Crow) doesn't not mean that the media should determine that they should filter that person out. 

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

FYI: Tucker Carlson is No Friend To Progressives or the Left

Anyone on the Left who gives Carlson props just because he sometimes comes across as anti-war needs to understand that he's not an ally of the Left. It's not like dealing with a voter who's been fed Fox News misinformation; Carlson is someone who is never going to be advocating for progressive policies.

Why would I say this about Carlson?

He said that John Bolton was fired because Bolton was too progressive.

Don't fall for his phony faux-populism; its a cover for his more nationalistic beliefs.

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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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