Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What I've Learned from COVID and Our Election

Some truths that I believe have been exposed over the past few months:

1-We do not have democracy in the US.

We have a system that is more like what exists in Iran.  The Ayatollah selects candidates that are acceptable to him that have slight differences.  The people are then permitted to make a selection among them.

Bernie Sanders was not acceptable to the Ayatollah.  The appearance of democracy is there to convince people they believe they can choose him.  But Shadow Incorporated is tallying the votes in Iowa and you never really get to be sure what happened.  Bernie may have gotten more votes, but Pete won.  The establishment ultimately will converge on a narrative that prevents a Sanders victory (he can't win, Biden can) and that will have a big impact.

If Bernie had been able to overcome this and win more delegates this wasn't going to matter.  The establishment was clear that they would have disregarded the will of the voters.

The big assist is the establishment media.  Imagine if Bernie had spent a whole month falsely claiming he had been arrested with Nelson Mandela?  Imagine if there was a credible accusation of rape against him?  What if Bernie was as confused as Biden?  What if Bernie was on video awkwardly sniffing the hair of little girls and women?  They attack Bernie because anonymous twitter fans are mean.  We're supposed to just trust Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow when they say Bernie's followers are much worse.  It won't matter that after the fact this will be disproven.  You can try to resist this.  It can be overcome in theory.  In practice though all the money you donate, the canvassing you do, the time you spend on the phone calling supporters, I'm coming to the point where I feel it is wasted.  We must fight with one hand tied behind our back.  I don't see that we can win.

2-Even I'm surprised at how inept the US response is.

We're the richest most powerful country in the world.  We were given plenty of advanced warning about this epidemic.  Frankly China's response was astonishingly swift (see this discussion of their overall timeline.)  The virus was spreading there for 2 months before they even knew it was human to human transmissible (January 15).

And yet China with a GDP/capita about 1/3 of ours was able to get in front of the epidemic and in about 2 months was able to bring their economy back online.  With their extremely dense population centers and massive public transportation.  In the middle of the biggest travel period of the year, in a time of year that is cold with higher transmittance rates for airborne illnesses.

Frankly I'm embarrassed.  But smart people saw it coming.  They knew we're going to have people that just won't go to the doctor for fear of the bills.  Like this.  We have a garbage system, and if this doesn't get people to ask some questions and demand some change I'm not sure what will.

3-Establishment Democrats do not care about anything but their own power.

What's great about Trump is like Homer Simpson he says out loud what he a smart person would keep to himself.  We know he's narcissistic and he's not good at hiding it.  For instance I watched this interview with Hannity.  He's concerned about letting the Covid patients that had been out of country into our country because it will make our numbers look bad.  A smarter politician would think that but keep it to himself.  You're supposed to appear to be more concerned about people's safety then any potential negative perception that comes from a meaningless scorecard, the number of people in America with corona virus.  But it's kind of nice that he tells us what he's thinking.  The truth is laid bare.

But it's sad to say Democrats think similarly.  This amazing report details how Democrats pushed for elections in the middle of this pandemic knowing that it would kill.  They did it because Biden is currently up in the polls and they want to close out the primary to ensure Sanders is blocked.  They go so far as threatening states with a reduced allotment of delegates if they delay their primary out of concern for the health of their citizens.

What about women's rights?  Democrats were very concerned about the rape allegation against Brett Kavanaugh.  What about Joe Biden?  Nah.  It's not even worth talking about.  In fact Biden surrogates are going back in time and deleting their past Kavanaugh tweets.  They have never cared about women's rights, they have never cared about gay rights, they don't care about environmental matters.  They adopt positions that are useful for obtaining votes and will abandon them as needed in service to power.

They are not different from Trump, they are just better at hiding it.  Malcolm X nailed this many years ago, I think he captures it perfectly.

4-Capitalism is savage.

In the city of Las Vegas, currently filled with empty hotel rooms, the homeless sleep in the parking lot.  An empty hospital sits unused because the owner and city can't come to terms.  The maker of an $11K ventilator threatens to sue because volunteers spent $1 on 3D printing materials to create a valve that saved lives.  Reports are that Trump is trying to gain exclusive access to a corona virus vaccine being developed in Germany.  They assure us it would be "affordable."

This type of capitalism is being forced on others.  Iran's health service has been devastated by sanctions and they are struggling with the corona virus.  But the US has tightened sanctions in the midst of this.  Sanctions in Venezuela are very deadly and dangerous during this pandemic.  Recent action by the US is to put out a mafia style indictment, offering to pay people up to $15M to provide information that can help lead to his arrest.  Bombing runs are ordered on Iraq.

In contrast China is sending plane loads of medical help to nations around the world.  In the US media China sending help is proof that they are evil.  Cuba is sending doctors and even taking in foreign sick people.  No apparent concern for how this will make them look statistically.

I understand how the owner of a building needs to make money, that hotels have constraints.  I'm not viewing this as proving that Americans are evil people.  We have a system that leads to action though that produces an evil outcome.  China has a system that is producing a positive outcome, whatever motives people want to attribute to them.  We have to be willing to think about that.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

I Have No Patience For These Snowflakes

Color me surprised, and yet not surprised, at this absurd focus on "mean" Bernie Bro tweets and comments.  This is a non-story.  The corporate media has a difficult time going after Sanders on policy because his policy positions are very popular.  And he's been consistent.  He wasn't against the war and supporting gay rights when it was popular only.  He did it when it was hard.  He hasn't been fighting to protect social security and the environment only recently when it was more politically popular.  He did it when it wasn't easy, when triangulators like Biden and Clinton wanted to be thought of as moderates and friends to Republicans, and they wanted the adulation of the corporate media.

So they focus on the fact that some people online are mean.  This is not news.  Everyone knows what the comment section of Youtube looks like.  Everyone knows how toxic it can be.  It's not for everyone.  If you don't want to be subject to that I understand.  But stay out of the public discourse on politics.  Don't criticize Trump.  There are people that like him that will call you names, attack you.  That's life.  If you want to get in the ring and throw punches expect punches to come back.  Some will be below the belt.

It is unbelievable to me how much time Warren and Maddow spend on this topic in her interview after ending her campaign.  Of course publishing people's home addresses and phone numbers is terrible.  But this kind of thing is going to happen to people on Bernie's side, to people on Warren's side.  I look at it a lot like late hits you see in the UFC.  What Jorge Masvidal did to Ben Askren was horrible.  But it's going to happen.  If you don't like it don't get involved in the fight business (I wouldn't.)

What is another level of absurdity are these people who refuse to vote for Sanders because of the mean tweeting Bernie Bros.  Here's a Biden surrogate who says she will not vote for Sanders over Trump if he's the nominee.  She is a super delegate.  She had a "horrible" experience in her mind.  She tweeted an edited video of Bernie saying nice things about the subway system in the Soviet Union, how the metro stations are beautiful (which is absolutely true).  His criticisms were taken out, so it makes him appear to be an apologist for Soviet communism.  Glenn Greenwald offered a modest tweet in rebuttal.  This led to Sanders supporters attacking her.  They called her a racist and a bitch.  Oooohhh.  It was so bad she felt she needed to resign her position as treasurer of the Pennsylvania Young Democrats.  Vanity Fair explains how much of a victim she is with this article.  The subtitle indicates that she "didn't survive with her job."  She resigned, her job was not taken from her, and it was an unpaid volunteer position.

Again, I'm not condoning what was said to her, it is wrong.  But we do have free speech in the US.  Bernie cannot prevent this.  A lot of Bernie supporters are angry people I suppose.  Many are probably outsiders.  A lot of us think Bernie gets unfair treatment in the media and this is aggravating.  Some overreact.

But people are dying from lack of health care.  The planet is on track to not be habitable for humans for large areas of the globe.  There are so many issues that are far more important than the mean tweets coming from Bernie Bros.  The corporate media is making this an issue because it's hard to get after Bernie on policy.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Election Thoughts-Something is Wrong

I'm pleasantly surprised by the success of Sanders once again in this election cycle.  Will he win the democratic nomination?  It certainly looks like it.  People are talking a lot about how the establishment could steal it from him.  It's possible, but my instinct tells me they won't go to that far.  He'll win the nomination.

Even more surprised than me is the establishment.  Here's a great video watching through time as MSNBC variously downplays him, acts like he has no chance, only to come to the horrifying realization that he's becoming the front runner.  Today is the day after the SC primary and the media is delving back into fantasy land thinking Biden can stop him.  This guy.  I don't see it.

A lot of the establishment thinks Bernie won't be able to beat Trump.  No way the population will go that far, they say.  As if universal health care is so bizarre, or raising the minimum wage.  What is true though is that Bernie is a departure from the way we currently do things.  He's different.  He's change.

But isn't this obviously what the electorate wants and has wanted for quite some time?  The ruling class I think understood this in 2008 when they offered up Obama.  Obama wasn't really much of a change.  But he felt like change.  A black president is at least superficial change.  But I think people were a bit disillusioned with Obama.  He wasn't real change.  Hillary I think once again demonstrated that the ruling class knew that change is needed.  They tried the superficial "first woman president" method that got Obama elected.  But it was against Trump.  Whatever you think of Trump he's real change.  Real change beat superficial change.

And now we're 3 years into Trump and while there has been change I don't think it's the kind of change people were looking for.  I think this Ted talk is insightful in terms of recognizing that we have systemic issues that cause depression and anxiety.  Our problems are not the result of illegal immigrants, Muslims, minorities.  This is Trump at least offering the population some kind of answer for their problems.  He's attacked these groups, but it hasn't made life better for ordinary people.  I think at a deep level people understand that something needs to change still.

And that is why I think all the data we have, imperfect as it is, is telling us that Bernie would be among the best positioned to beat Trump.  Further I think if he does win and is able to successfully implement his agenda his popularity will skyrocket.  Because not only would this mean change, it is the kind of change that I think will help Americans start addressing their serious problems.

For me the most important thing is it means the planet would have a chance.  I'm not sure if we are too late, but I think we are not.  If we organize and focus we can prevent catastrophic damage.  Sanders means we'd have a president that would at least try.  That's real change.  We desperately need it.