Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Debating Blue vs. Green with SCOTUS as backdrop

Ed. note: As this post was being composed, Jill Stein has selected human rights activist Ajamu Baraka to be her vice-presidential running mate.  More on that later.

I don't want to be harsh every single day for the next three months to all of these binary thinkers, but I need to point out how often they use the same threadbare logic.

-- Ben Jealous debated Jill Stein on Democracy Now (you may recall he was a Sanders supporter up to last week) and the tropes he employed were, in order, "Trump", "privilege", "George W. Bush in 2000", and "Greens need to start at the bottom", all of which have been debunked in these pages in recent days.

Jealous also referenced at the end a mashup of 'pie in the sky' and Nader.  ('Pie in the sky' is one of John Coby's old standbys; he's earned future Daily Jackass consideration with his 'pinch your nose because you must'.)

-- Robert Reich and Chris Hedges had the same faceoff in the same venue, and Reich went Trump, "Supreme Court", "wait until next cycle", and followed that with Hillary's own faux pas, which riffed off Ted Cruz at the RNC's 'vote your conscience'.

These debates would be very instructive for those who still have an open mind as to whether to vote for Clinton or Stein.  There are always going to be certain understandings -- biases -- that each person listens or reads with, so in that sense there are very few true undecideds.  The arguments against Stein, as Jealous and Reich demonstrate, are always rooted in the same handful of lame rebuttals.

Let's examine one that rarely gets scrutiny: the SCOTUS premise, beaten like a rug previously here but this time we take a look from a more nuanced perspective.  In 2000, Barbra Streisand hosted a gala fundraiser for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman in Los Angeles and raised what at the time was reported as a record-breaking amount of money, $5.1 million.  I remember watching at least part of the event, though not live, perhaps on YouTube or as part of some other documentary some years later.  Tommy Lee Jones, Gore's old college roommate, did the introductions.  Streisand and several other prominent artists of the time performed, and Barbra gave a short speech, calling for Gore's election to "reform campaign finance regulations, strengthen gun control laws, improve education and healthcare, safeguard a woman's right to choose, and control homophobia".

Isn't it fascinating how little things change in our presidential politics?

Streisand's brief mention of the Supreme Court's importance in the 2000 election was direct and blunt (I can still see her holding up her fingers with a determined look on her face): "The first three reasons to vote for Al Gore are the Supreme Court... the Supreme Court... and the Supreme Court."  You can read the rest here.

At the beginning of this primary season about a year ago, I polled a handful of Democratic activists about their choice for nominee and why, and a couple of them, sadly, named 'Clinton, because of the Supreme Court'.  Leaving aside the question of picking a party nominee on this uncareful logic, it seems obvious even to your average Democrat fifth-grader that electing a Democrat and not a Republican because of the SCOTUS makes sense for the same reason that it does for a Republican to vote for a Republican instead of a Democrat.

Having cleared that up, let's return again to the year 2000 and Gore and W. Bush and the infamous circumstances that occurred in Florida that year.  The myth that Ralph Nader is to blame for the outcome has been thoroughly refuted, but let's look closer at the numbers laid out by Jim Hightower in the oft-cited Salon piece from November 27, 2000 -- a full two weeks before Gore actually quit, on December 12.  Bold emphasis is mine.

Now it gets really ugly for the Gore campaign, for there are two other Florida constituencies that cost them more votes than Nader did. First, Democrats. Yes, Democrats! Nader only drew 24,000 Democrats to his cause, yet 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush. Hello. If Gore had taken even 1 percent of these Democrats from Bush, Nader’s votes wouldn’t have mattered. Second, liberals. Sheesh. Gore lost 191,000 self-described liberals to Bush, compared to less than 34,000 who voted for Nader. 

If the Supreme Court was such a vital part of the message to Democrats to elect Gore, why did over 300,000 registered Florida Democrats vote for Bush instead?  Did they miss the memo?  Did they defy the exhortations of thousands of their fellow Democrats, from Barbra Streisand on down?  Were they just, as so many people have delighted in saying about Florida Democrats in 2000, stupid?

What about those 191K who self-identify as 'liberal" Democrats?  What in the world was going on inside those people's brains?

I've not been able to track down -- in a decade of searching -- a single solitary response from the Blame Nader crowd, or anybody else for that matter, as to why these folks cast a ballot for Bush and not Gore.  I know they've never been appropriately held to account for Gore's defeat, while Nader's 90,000 or so votes always are.  Which begs the next question: how is it that Nader's votes are assumed to belong to Democrats, when more than triple that number of Ds can run off the reservation and vote Republican without consequence?  Whatever conclusions we might draw, one thing seems certain: "SCOTUS" was obviously not an important enough reason for them to vote for their own party's nominee, no matter what Barbra Streisand said.

(Sidebar: "SCOTUS" is a tenuous argument also because so many Justices have not turned out to be the "slam dunks" John Sununu, to use one example, predicted David Souter would be.  Hillary Clinton will likely appoint judges whom she believes most closely resemble her own mushy middle, corporate-styled centrism: Merrick Garland, Sri Srinivasan, Amy Klobuchar.  We're more likely to see those political types grow more conservative than liberal as the years pass.)

I suspect to the chagrin of Hillary supporters everywhere that history may be repeating itself in 2016.  It might be that the old and tired arguments to vote for the moderate Democrat against the freak-right fascist might carry even less weight than they have in elections past.  Let's establish clearly that a Trump presidency would be a disaster for all of us, irrespective of our class and/or privilege.

But it is still not a good enough reason for progressive Democrats -- who have been bullied and defrauded from start to finish in the just-completed primary -- to abandon their principles, pinch their noses, and avert disaster on behalf of others.  If Clinton is to win the Sanders bloc, she's going to have to do so without the standard guilt and shaming.  She and her supporters are going to have to come up with some more intelligent reasons for people to vote for her.

I don't see it happening, but they have a few final shots at it.  If they want to take them, that is.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Daily Jackasses: "Anti-science pandering"

Did you know there was a massive group of voters out there just waiting to have their concerns acknowledged by a political party?  Like the renowned Chupacabra, the existence of the formidable Anti-Science Caucus by a couple of Hillbots has been exposed.

Kris Banks and Allan Brain, fairly devoted Democrats in the fine Blue Dog/Houston tradition, have made certain that everyone is aware of this terrible development by interpreting the words of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's views as ... well, as the headline above indicates.

(These guys don't often make their FB posts public, and they may delete this one or block me eventually -- which is why I'll edit this post with screenshots if they do -- so go look and read while you can, and while their "friends" are chiming in.  Importance of full context and all that.)

Let's begin at the beginning.  Back in March, a Reddit began on this topic, and a rabid tome added there took off like Zika among the haters of the Green.  A couple of weeks ago, someone brought it to my attention and I responded in the comments of this post, reprinted below.

I read the Reddit; you are mistaken. She is NOT anti-vax. The WORST characterization you could imply is that she is "pro-choice" for parents about vaccinations (which might be a problem if there were only public schools in the nation).

1. All 50 states have a parental waiver of some kind, be it medical, religious, philosophical, or all three (like Texas). Forty-seven plus DC allow a religious exemption.

You want to argue egregious, start there.

2. This astronomer makes your case better than any I've read, for what it's worth (and is certainly closer to my own view). And schools have the right to ban students who haven't been vaccinated, particularly when there's an outbreak in their district, because of the legal liability they risk.

3. Anyway, Luddites mostly home-school these days -- when they can't afford to send their unvaccinated children to a private school, that is.

4. Stein is also an MD, which is to say that she knows more about these things than people who post to Reddit or comment on blogs or Google up someone's screed.

5. The bottom line is that you simply cannot force parents to vaccinate their children.

6. Because Stein is not strongly-enough-pro-vax for you is not the same thing as being anti-vax. That's the Brockolli part.

So the issue seemed resolved ... until David Brock and his compensated minions got busy with the propaganda catapult last week.  Then Snopes weighed in, first with "Unproven" and revised just yesterday with "False".  You'd think that would have settled the matter, but there's this thing about lies being repeated often enough, you know.

(If you wish to understand precisely what the issue and the problem is in Texas, Anna Dragsbaek at TribTalk has your explainer.  There may be some side-eye at Stein mashed up in there but unlike the Jackasses I'll not read too much into it; Dragsbaek makes the points that need to be made.)

That brings us to Wonkette, a late addition to this morning's other two Jackasses.  If you're Banks, Brain, some of their friends or any other Hillbot looking to justify your festering resentment at this cycle's surge of the third party candidates, there you go.

Where the whole pandering premise fails is at its foundation: there simply aren't enough people in the Anti-Vax Caucus to help Stein register so much as a blip higher in the polls, much less put her in the White House.  I shouldn't have to remind anybody that she's focusing on disillusioned Democrats, aka Berners, a much larger target.

There's no pandering because there's statistically nobody to pander to.  This is simply a sad attempt by Blue Dogs and Yellow Dogs looking to cast a smear in her direction.  Because that 3% or 5% of the popular vote, max, that Stein stands to collect is more than enough to aggravate the longest-running horror show orthodox Democrats torture themselves with: Hillary will be "Nader-ed" in a battleground state, just like Al Gore in Florida in 2000, the PTSD from which yesterday's poor Jackass still suffers.  And so they are compelled to lash out, like the man who comes home from work after a tongue-lashing from the boss and kicks his cat.

Whaddaya gon' do when grownups who claim to be the smarter of the two major party's voters are scared of monsters under their bed?  Shit, I'm so old I remember when Bill White was afraid that Barack Obama might endorse him in his bid for Texas governor in 2010.


Update: Socratic Gadfly distills it as well.  There are honest objections to hold if people want to do the depth of thinking about them.  None of today's Jackasses managed that; it wasn't their intention to do much thinking anyway.

Update II: And yet more nuance on this topic.  It's perfectly okay with me for people to disagree with a candidate's stand on an issue, but it is duplicitous to put words in her mouth and then condemn those words (i.e. strawman).

The Weekly Wrangle

Off the Kuff wrote about the latest voting rights lawsuit in the state of Texas.

"The Daily Jackass", a new series beginning at PDiddie's Brains and Eggs, spotlights the unhinged, unsubstantiated rants of hard-boiled Democrats who hold something hostile against Jill Stein and the Green Party.  The first Jackass featured is Chris Hooks at the Texas Observer.

SocraticGadfly, after defending Donald Trump from conspiratorial accusations of being a Manchurian Candidate, eventually fesses up to being a Manchurian Blogger.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says kudos to McAllen for policing their police force. Power requires responsibility and accountability.

Neil at All People Have Value notes that the NFL keeps on lying about how football causes concussions at the youth football level. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

US Rep. Michael Burgess held a town hall meeting in Lewisville, reports the Texan-Journal.

Asian American Action Fund celebrates the election of Rep. Grace Meng to DNC vice-chair.

In the wake of the DNC convention, Christina Gleason at MOMocrats offers a primer on how to reach out to disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters.

Texas Leftist was thrilled to see Broadway's brightest lights unite for Orlando at the DNC to sing "What the World Needs Now".

And in more music news, Dos Centavos posted about The Krayolas' two new tunes, “Piñata Trump” and “El Cucuy”.

Texas Vox writes about Austin's energy rate case and its environmental impacts.


These blogs are also keeping Texas great (no makeover necessary).

TFN Insider sees former SBOE's Cynthia Dunbar making a poor case for her company's seriously-flawed Mexican American studies textbook.

Ashton Woods at Strength in Numbers made a point about Greg Abbott's support of the Black Lives Matter movement by calling for a new law to make it a hate crime if a police officer is killed in the line of duty.

An intoxicated former Somervell County deputy discharged his weapon while shouting racial epithets inside an Ellis County church, notes the Salon.

Space City Weather lets us a breathe a sigh of relief as the first tropical disturbance of the hurricane season seems to be veering away from Texas.

The Fort Wort Star-Telegram, via Sayfie Review Texas, marks today as the first in Texas that concealed handguns are allowed on university campuses.

The Texas Tribune points out that as Texas Democrats left Philadelphia for home, they do so with very few electoral prospects.

Anna Dragsbaek objects to "conscientious" vaccine exemptions.

Brantley Hightower considers the evolution of Whataburger's architecture.

The Bloggess explains how Pokemon Go helps her with her anxiety and agoraphobia.

Eileen Smith makes a triumphant return to blogging.

Paradise In Hell is excited by recent archaeological finds at the Alamo.

And Pages of Victory isn't 'feeling the Johnson'.

#GNCinHOU readies for kickoff

Before we send up the profile of the two local Daily Jackasses today -- previewed at the end of yesterday's DJ -- here's some good news to report.  (Not for them, I suspect.)

Nina Turner, former Democratic state senator from Cleveland and high profile Bernie Sanders supporter, has confirmed that she’s received an offer from the Green Party to run for Vice President under Jill Stein. Turner said that she is still considering the offer to cleveland.com today in a telephone interview.
Both Stein and Turner have become rallying figures for Bernie Sanders supporters who have become disenchanted by the Democratic party and the Clinton campaign.
Turner was at the center of controversy last week when her previously scheduled speech nominating Bernie Sanders for President was cancelled by the Democratic National Convention at the last minute. A small rally protesting her treatment by the Democrats was held on Wednesday involving Hollywood actors Rosario Dawson, Susan Surandon, and Danny Glover. Some Sanders delegates at the DNC even pushed to nominate Turner for Vice President as an alternative to Senator Tim Kaine.
The Green Party holds its convention in Houston starting this Thursday, so Turner’s answer to the Stein campaign’s invitation is expected within the next few days.

Check the #ImWithNina hashtag for more background, or the new #RunNinaRun one for the latest, trending as this is posted.

Even if Turner takes a pass (which I kind of expect; it's very difficult to transition from Blue to Green in a matter of months), the media has been alerted, and the one thing that's still missing from this weekend's convention is some corporate teevee coverage, even in limited amount.  Like grinding out ballot access, it's hard work getting the talking heads to talk about something besides the 'he said/she said' BS.

These developments are making Shrillary Democrats nervous, and the very first 'Daily Jackass' has made travel plans to be in town this weekend.  Looking forward to welcoming you to the convention, Chris!  Are you one of the "anonymous" registrants on the media credentialing page?  We don't want you to have to pay the buck fifty to get in -- I know how tight the Observer's budget is -- so check with me at the registration table on Thursday morning if you have problems.

Perhaps we should all be aware that it's now legal to carry a concealed weapon on Texas university campuses as of today.  I'm certain it's just an unfortunate coincidence that it comes on the anniversary of one of the Lone Star State's most infamous gun violence legacies.

Half a century ago, a sniper perched on a University of Texas tower unleashed a killing spree that left 16 dead, and for the first time since then the school will hold an official memorial for an event that shocked the nation.
But overshadowing the anniversary of the Aug. 1, 1966 tower shooting is the start of a new law backed by Republican lawmakers to allow more guns in more places at public universities. 
The lawmakers say the "campus carry" law, which goes into effect August 1, could prevent another mass shooting, while many survivors of the university tower shooting half a century ago see it as a chillingly wrong-headed approach that could spark more killing. 
The campus carry law allows those over 21 with a concealed handgun permit to take guns into classrooms and several parts of the campus.

Probably a good idea to keep disruptions to a minimum, yes?