Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Daily Jackass: Voting third party is just like sending 'thoughts and prayers'

Congratulations, Jef Rouner of Free Press Houston.

Every four years we get together and play American President Idol, electing either a Republican or a Democrat. And, every four years this is when some fringe kook or two tries to tell us about all those parties outside the system, man. The ones who are really woke, as my white ass should probably not be saying, and aren’t corrupt by Big Scaryword.

See, Noah Horwitz, this is how you move to the head of the class.  Note that a clear path could involve going "anti-vaxxer" a full week after that smear has been debunked.  If you truck in lies that have been demonstrated to be lies, you're a pretty big Jackass.  But this is Rouner's moment; let's allow him to revel in it.

Between the carnival of carnage that was the Republican primary choosing the form of Gozer the Destructor and the bitter hold out of Bernie Sanders to the end of the Democratic one, emotions on both sides got a little high. I’ve never seen so much announcing that people were voting third party, and every single bit of it is as bloody useless as the Republicans offering their thoughts and prayers to the victims of the mass shooting (does it really matter which one I name?).


Which is why voting third party is mostly an empty gesture meant to telegraph a person’s own virtue without actually involving real work. If Stein really wanted to do some progressive good or even pass her bonkers woo ideas, she’d be a Democrat or at least an Independent who works with Democrats like Sanders. If Johnson actually cared about letting you smoke weed hassle-free, he should have done something about it when he was a Republican in actual power.

I was a Democrat who worked for ten years attempting to to pull the Texas Democratic Party to the left.  I wasn't alone; the Progressive Populist Caucus was, in 2006, the largest in the TDP, with several hundred members.  You have perhaps noted over the past decade how successful we were.

There's a better analogy if your intention was to crack on both progressives and religious extremists simultaneously: "the best way to make change for the better in ISIS is to join them and transform the organization from within".  Not ludicrous at all, is it?

Nothing Stein or Johnson say matters. At all. Their platforms are meaningless because neither of them will ever be called to do any of it or have to answer for the promises that they made to voters. Theirs is a consequence-free existence. Politifact is never going to check them on the Johnsonmeter or the Steinmeter like they did for Barack Obama and will certainly do to whoever wins this long-ass trudge to the future of the country.

Actually what they say and do does matter, as history has demonstrated.  Where do you think all this "spoiler" nonsense comes from?  It's that sort of progress that duopolists fear.  Even Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton's not-so-useful idiot, fell for the 'spoiler' BS right from the beginning of his campaign.  See, you can't really spoil an election that's already spoiled.

More importantly, the two major parties often co-opt the messages of the minor parties (Tea Party subsumed into GOP, sad attempts by Dems to occupy Occupy, Green becomes 'green' without those dirty hippies).  So they must be doing something right if their best ideas are being shoplifted.

Most importantly, political scientists get it and have for a long time.

"The irony is that no leading political scientist who studies political party systems believes that it is necessary to squelch minor parties in order to 'defend' the two-party system. The true definition of 'two-party system' is a system in which two particular parties are much bigger than all the others; it doesn't mean a system in which minor parties have atrophied into non-existence. The last leading political scientist who believed that it is socially useful to squelch minor parties was Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia, but he changed his mind over five years ago, and now advocates that election laws treat minor parties equitably." -- Richard Winger, Ballot Access News December 12, 1996

Logic needs to stay out of Rouner's way, however.  He thinks he's on a roll.

That’s politics, and more importantly, that’s America. It’s not a place built by storming out of the room in a moralistic crusade, and it’s certainly not a place where sitting on the side-lines free from any blame deserves virtuous acclaim. There’s a reason Hillary Clinton wrote a book called Hard Choices, and even Donald Trump recognizes that if his vision for America is to matter he has to actually get in the game on a team that can win. So did Sanders. You have three choices. The last one is “do nothing,” and voting third party for president is just doing nothing with a big old bowl of sanctimonious bullshit on top. Just like praying for shooting victims who need blood donations and cities that need lead out of their water.  

Maybe I've missed it, but did Democrats get the lead out of the water while I wasn't paying attention?  Have they stopped the police from killing unarmed black men?  Have they banned fracking yet?  Repealed Citizens United?  Halted the TPP?

Ohhhhh: they just need more help in Congress, where all the guys and gals on both sides of the aisle are already owned by the banks, the pharmaceutical companies, and the NRA.  I think maybe Rouner missed the whole 'revolution' part of the equation.

As you might imagine, today's Jackass has been excoriated by the readers of FPH on the original page and on the Facebook page, very few of which happen to be orthodox Democrats or Republicans waiting to be scolded about not conforming.  This seems more like a successful clickbait trolling excursion, and if you read only a few of the responses at either place, you'll see our boy has been roasted and then seared in his own juices to a greater degree than I need to add to.

Much like the Texas Observer, Free Press Houston used to be a radical, iconoclastic, unabashedly liberal-before-progressive-was-the-word newspaper.  Then they went out and hired all these angry Hillbots, and then wonder why their subscriber base has abandoned them.


Better Choices Funnies

There are more palatable options than chicken or fish ...

Saturday, August 06, 2016

#GNCinHOU - Assange, Stein, Baraka, West, and YOU

Today's speeches and the roll call of states will culminate a furious week of Green Party events, media coverage, and high profile exposure (at last) of America's only political option for peace.  One highlight breaking late is the "chairman" of Wikileaks, making some remarks from long distance just before lunchtime.  Perhaps you saw him last night on Bill Maher.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, the organization that recently posted thousands of the Democratic Party's internal emails online, will speak via live stream at the Green Party national convention, party officials announced Friday.

Assange is scheduled to speak at 11:45 a.m. Saturday over a live stream from the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

He will speak on the third day of the progressive party's national convention at the University of Houston, before the party nominates its 2016 presidential nominee, widely expected to be Jill Stein.

Assange is expected to be interviewed by 2004 Green Party presidential nominee David Cobb, party officials said in a statement Friday.

Wikileaks recently made headlines by releasing thousands of Democratic Party emails on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, suggesting that some DNC party officials quietly had backed Clinton. The revelations angered Sanders supporters, rocked the Democratic gathering and prompted the ouster of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The keynote speakers today will be Dr. Cornel West and YahNé Ndgo, late of the Bernie Sanders campaign and now -- like so many others -- advocates for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka.

West was appointed to the Democratic Party's platform drafting committee by Sanders. The activist raised concerns over the party's stance on Palestinian rights, and later endorsed the Green Party, saying "there’s no way, based on moral grounds, those based on my own moral conscience, that I could support [the Democratic Party] platform."

He added about Sanders' ultimate support for Clinton's nomination at the Democratic National Convention: "And once my dear brother moved into his endorsement, his strong endorsement of the neoliberal disaster that Sister Hillary represents, there was no way that I could stay with Bernie Sanders any longer, had to break with the two-party system."

That should get a few pairs of Jockeys in a wad.

Here's a schedule of speakers and events.  Note that political conventions don't always run on time, but Assange will likely be prompt (satellite time is neither inexpensive nor flexible).  Dr. West is slated for 2 pm.  Videos from yesterday's pressers are already posted; Texas Green candidates down the ballot are represented in the third one there.

"Come for the revolution, stay for the party". Tonight, after the formalities conclude.

Music, food, a cash bar and lots more.

Throw some caysh into Jill's money boom.  She's already purchased some national teevee advertising, jumping ahead of Trump there and in this poll of voters under thirty.

If you can't be in Houston today for a little history, find a livestream.

Voter ID affidavits, and election day in HD 146

Charles has kept us up to date on both items, so I can only add a couple thoughts.

-- Twenty-seven four Democratic precinct chairs will select their (and my) new state representative from among a field of half a dozen or so contenders.  The favorites are Erica Lee Carter -- daughter of Cong. Sheila Jackson Lee and the oligarchs' pick -- and Shawn Thierry, a frequent Harris County judicial candidate for the Democrats in recent years.

My money is on Lee.  She opened her campaign at the SD-13 special election, which former HD-146 Rep. Borris Miles won (a prediction of the vote count I happened to nail).  HGLBT activist, social media marvel, and recent Daily Jackass award winner Kris Banks will probably have the live-Tweeting.  I'll check with him late morning to see who won, being elsewhere doing more exciting things personally.

Update: In the closest possible outcome, Thierry defeated Lee 13-11 when third challenger Larry Blackmon's vote opted not to force the top two into overtime.

After one round of voting by raising hands, Thierry had 12 votes, Carter had 11 and Blackmon 1. This led to an immediate runoff between Thierry and Carter, with a request for a change of voting procedure. Instead of raising hands, precinct chairs stood in line next to their candidate of choice. This time, Thierry beat Carter by two votes.

Charles with his take from the scene.

-- The parties in Veazey v. Abbott, the voter/photo ID litigation finally decided a couple of weeks ago by the Fifth Circuit, came to an agreement and the rules have been relaxed for voters.  Essentially those without picture ID may present their voter reg card, or phone bill, water bill, etc. confirming their identity, swear and sign (the affidavit) that they are who they say they are, and cast a provisional ballot.  In elections past, very few of those were ever counted because they generally involved the voter taking some kind of action between Election Day and the county canvass, which finalizes the election.  First, Matt Angle at Lone Star Project ...

The order would essentially allow voters whose name appears on the voter rolls but lacks a photo ID to cast a ballot if they can present other appropriate proof of identification including a utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck, or a voter registration card.  Their vote can only be challenged if there is conclusive proof that the voter is not the person listed on the voter roll.

A person who is involved in this process locally spoke with me and explained how the verification process differs this time.  I have paraphrased that response in the next graf.

For BBM (ballot-by mail) voters, signature verification -- comparing the sigs on the current ballot with recent past ballots -- is the method by which those votes are certified as legitimate.  In the case of a provisional vote without ID, the voter has signed their voter registration card and their affidavit, and those two signatures can be compared just as they are (electronically, scanned) for BBM.  Beyond an obvious mismatch, they only reason a vote would not be counted is if someone came forward with compelling evidence that the provisional voter is not who they represented themselves to be when voting (and signing the affidavit).   Quite a high bar to clear for a ballot to be rejected.

Expect there to be many folks in Harris County and across the state who are delighted with the fact that they have been re-enfranchised for the coming election.

Update: Ernest Canning at Bradblog with more.