Sports as an opiate for the masses

Sports are like religion: an opiate for the masses. They distract people from political engagement.

I don’t understand why people “root” for a team. Why should Seattle’s team be better than any other city’s team? And why should residents here take pride in victories? Sports must exploit some deep-seated need of humans to belong and to have an “us versus them” mentality.

Also, sports reinforce the glorification of war, competition and capitalism, instead of cooperation.

Maybe political parties exploit that mentality too, as do religions.

Luke Held responded:

Clearly you don’t like sports. Many people do. You seem to see only the negative aspects of sports. 600,000 people were on the streets to welcome the Seahawks super bowl home. You can see that negatively, or positively, it’s up to you. Sports bring people of many cultures and classes together in support of something. I don’t really hate people from San Francisco, but it’s fun to pretend and give them crap about their team. I can also talk to nearly anyone, anywhere about sports, across generation, race, whatever. Good luck going up to anyone and talking about health care reform without a fight. You might as well take away music too. It’s obviously only distraction, right? Movies? Art? Take it all away because its only distraction?

There is a limit though. ESPN is the most lucrative businesses in the media realm. It exploits people’s love of sports. It also provides crappy non-substantive coverage of sports, but people are desperate for distraction in these times of insecurity and stress. Sports provides a much needed outlet, but the line between over saturation is far too distorted towards the distraction side. Sports in general though are critical to a culture. Balance is key.

David Markham said “Competitive sports are ideal for controlled and healthy aggression – which isn’t going away anytime soon.

I wonder if there is a correlation between sports fandom and religiosity or conservatism.

Indeed, this Forbes article from 2010 is relevant: Study: Sports Fans Skew Republican.

Blame government? Or blame corporate takeover of government?

The Daily Reckoning
January 14, 2017

Snippet: “3. Cartel Cronyism You know the drill: regulatory capture, monopolies enforced by the central state, cartels that eliminate competition via absurdly complex regulations imposed by the state, etc.
One of my correspondents, a doctor, recently sent me an example of cartel cronyism in the Big Pharma sector:

A lot of people don’t know that if a Big Pharma company makes a pill with a new dose, or new method of administration of an old, generic drug – in the eyes of the FDA it becomes a new, on-patent drug, which no other Big Pharma company can copy, thus setting the stage for making billions with minimal R&D costs.
Naloxone was invented in 1961, and was in standard use when I started my medical training in 1974. It is a terrific drug – within 60 seconds it completely reverses the effects of narcotics, making it a life-saver for folks who’ve overdosed. I have used it many times with great success. So far, so good. Per goodrx.com, I can buy two pre-loaded syringes of naloxone for $34.12 today.
There is virtually zero learning curve – it works if injected under the skin, in a muscle, or in a vein. For an untrained person facing an overdose patient, you can just stab the needle up to the hilt into a buttock or shoulder, and push the plunger – it’s that easy. If it’s truly life or death, you can stab it through clothes – sound hard?
Well, kaleo pharmaceuticals have repackaged it in an auto-injecting form, with a little voice-guided thingy – somehow managed to make it a no-copay for folks with health insurance, and you can get it in my area for – are you sitting down? – $3,844.60! That is more than one hundred times the cost of the two pre-loaded syringes.
It MIGHT be worth it if it was really hard to use, and required an auto-injector and voice commands – but it’s easy as pie – I could teach you how to use the pre-loaded syringe in 5 minutes. At a savings of $3,810.48.

The advert claims “$0 copay for commercially insured patients.” So as long as somebody else pays the $3,844.60 — insurers, the government, anybody but the patient — it’s all “free,” right?
Well, actually, no.

The soaring cost of cartel cronyism is paid by all of us when the federal government borrows money to pay the bills or insurers are nailed for fraudulent charges, overbilling, needless tests and Big Pharma’s 100-fold cost increases.

Medicare costs are expanding at a rate that far exceeds the GDP growth of the economy which supports Medicare spending.” – Charles Hugh Smith

 

Highly educated people are liberal

Pew Research reports:

A Wider Ideological Gap Between More and Less Educated Adults

Political polarization update

Two years ago, Pew Research Center found that Republicans and Democrats were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in the previous two decades. But growing ideological distance is not confined to partisanship. There are also growing ideological divisions along educational and generational lines.

4-22-2016_01Highly educated adults – particularly those who have attended graduate school – are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.

More than half of those with postgraduate experience (54%) have either consistently liberal political values (31%) or mostly liberal values (23%), based on an analysis of their opinions about the role and performance of government, social issues, the environment and other topics. Fewer than half as many postgrads – roughly 12% of the public in 2015– have either consistently conservative (10%) or mostly conservative (14%) values. About one-in-five (22%) express a mix of liberal and conservative opinions.

Among adults who have completed college but have not attended graduate school (approximately 16% of the public), 44% have consistently or mostly liberal political values, while 29% have at least mostly conservative values; 27% have mixed ideological views.

By contrast, among the majority of adults who do not have a college degree (72% of the public in 2015), far fewer express liberal opinions. About a third of those who have some college experience but do not have a bachelor’s degree (36%) have consistently liberal or mostly liberal political values, as do just 26% of those with no more than a high school degree. Roughly a quarter in each of these groups (28% of those with some college experience, 26% of those with no more than a high school education) have consistently conservative or mostly conservative values.

….. See http://www.people-press.org/2016/04/26/a-wider-ideological-gap-between-more-and-less-educated-adults/

Donald Trump sings: Don't Know Much about History

Don't know much about history.
Don't know much about ecology.
Don't know much about a science book.
Don't know much about the job I took.
But I do know that I'm richer than you,
And I know that if you watch Fox News
What a wonderful world this would be.

Don't know much about politics.
Don't know much about economics.
Don't know much about pollution.
Don't know much about the Constitution.
But I do know how to lie and cheat,
And I know that if you read my tweets
What a wonderful world this would be.

How the Washington State Democratic caucus worked to sabotage progressive candidates

The House Democratic caucus in Washington State supported Democrat Matt Larson over Darcy Burner in the 5th LD primary for House seat position #2.  Darcy is a strong progressive. She worked in D.C. as Executive Director of Progressive Congress and has a big following. The Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson. Later, after Darcy trounced Larson in the primary (11,014 to 5,056), the Dem Caucus donated only $20,000 to Burner.

Before the election I’d heard mumblings from a Democratic operative that Darcy was too far left, and after the election this same operative defended the caucus’s decision, saying that Larson would have been more electable.

Darcy Burner on TV

I was told by a knowledgeable source that the Democratic caucus also refused to support Jason Ritchie for state House because he refused to be critical of Darcy.

I asked Jason Ritchie about this, and he agreed that the HDCC didn’t want either him or Darcy in the caucus, so they didn’t target the races for support. He also agreed that both seats were winnable, as the district is trending blue. He went on (telling me I may quote him):

Labor allies stood behind my campaign 100%. I was endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution. The problem is the HDCC and the entrenched elite who are not listening to the grassroots. Progressives and Labor need to stand together, not fight against each other, to oust the current leadership and reestablish our party as it was founded, progressive and working class champions.

Jason Ritchie for House

Here’s an early article about the caucus’ opposition to Darcy Burner, from Seattle Met: House Democrats Take Sides in Democratic Primary.

Here are details about the donations. In the 5th LD primary for House seat position #2, the Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson, Darcy’s Democratic challenger.

Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson
Darcy easily beat Larson: 11,014 to 5,056.   On Oct 10, 2016 the House Democratic Campaign Committee contributed $20,000 to Darcy’s campaign (substantially less than the $50,000 they gave to Larson).

Democratic Caucus contributed $20,000 to Darcy Burner

But Darcy lost in the general election to Paul Graves, who won 39,330 votes to Darcy’s 33,838.

In the other 5th House race, Jason Ritchie was the only Democratic primary candidate.  Republican Jaye Rodney beat Jason Ritchie 37,772 to 34,954 in the general election. That was even closer.

Fact is, the caucus (especially Frank Chopp) tends not to like progressive candidates.

They chose former Republican Rodney Tom over a good Democrat, leading to the Republicans taking over control of the state Senate. State Democratic chair Dwight Pelz later regretted this.

Fact is, the Democratic caucus is wishy-washy on Democratic Party principles:  Frank Chopp allowed Steve Litzow’s charter school bill SB 6194 to come to a vote; over a dozen Democrats voted for it; and Governor Inslee allowed the bill to become law. Despite its being unconstitutional!  See These Dems voted to undermine public schools, contravene the Constitution, and aid Republicans.

In 2012, after Dennis Kucinich’s seat was redistricted out of existence, he visited Washington State to investigate running for Congress here. But Pelz opposed Kucinich’s move and ridiculed him,  angering many progressives.

A similar sellout was the recent votes by Senators Murray and Cantwell against Bernie Sander’s bill to allow re-importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada. There is an effort underway among Democrats to pass a resolution, or possibly a censure, about this issue.   Yes, Trump’s upcoming inauguration is a dark day for America. No, that’s no excuse for selling out principles for the sake of campaign money from corrupt drug companies.

It’s sellouts like these that confuse the voters, cause low turnout, and contribute to GOP victories and defections to the Greens and Socialists.

Dems should support a grand compromise involving reasonable restrictions on late-term abortions

Alternative titles for this essay:

  • “The natural attitude: pro-choice at conception, pro-life at term.”
  • “Late-term abortions are rare and morally suspect. Compromise!”
  • “I’m pro-choice, but not for late-term fetuses.”
  • “A commonsense compromise on late-term abortions”
  • (if I want to pick a fight): “How Pro-Choice Extremists Sabotaged the Democratic Party.”

Are you okay with on-demand abortions late in pregnancy, say in the eighth or ninth month?

The question is almost absurd, for three reasons.

First, such abortions are rare.

Second, no woman would want such a late-term abortion except for a very good reason, such as her health being at risk, or rape.

Third, the fetus is usually viable and has a highly developed nervous system, so chances are you are not comfortable with such late-term abortions.

For these reasons, and because Democrats keep losing elections, Democrats should support a grand compromise: reasonable restrictions on late-term abortions, in exchange, say, for reasonable restrictions on gun rights or, better yet, guaranteed health care for all — something that pro-life people should support.

Many Democrats and women will be outraged at this suggestion, but when you think about the facts, you realize that it’s an obvious step that would help the Democrats at very low cost.

Conservatives like to use purported examples of late-term abortions to illustrate the immorality of abortion.  And Democrats seem unwilling to compromise on the issue. But late-term abortions are extremely rare.

“Of the 1.6 million abortions performed in the U.S. each year, 91 percent are performed during the first trimester (12 or fewer weeks’ gestation); 9 percent are performed in the second trimester (24 or fewer weeks’ gestation); and only about 100 are performed in the third trimester (more than 24 weeks’ gestation).” (source: Fast Facts: U.S. Abortion Statistics)Likewise, “just 1.3 percent of abortions took place at or after 21 weeks pregnancy.” (source)

Data for other countries are similar.

Only four doctors openly perform late-term abortions in the U.S.

Not only are late-term abortions rare. They’re also restricted already. According to Late-Term Abortions Are Rare and ‘Partial Birth Abortions’ Illegal. Why Do They Keep Dominating the Reproductive-Rights Debate?, in 43 U.S. state “abortion is banned—with limited exceptions, such as for the safety of the mother—after the second trimester, after the point of fetal viability (when a fetus could live on its own outside the womb), or after a specified number of weeks (generally 20-24). When exceptions are required, many states require two physicians to sign-off on the procedure before it’s permissable [sic].”

In 2013 the House of Representatives passed a bill to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest, and where the health of the woman is endangered. The Senate refused to consider the legislation and President Obama said he’d veto it.

The Supreme Court ruled that while abortion is a constitutional right, the right is not absolute and states can restrict late-term abortions provided they make exceptions for the life and health of a woman and provided the doctor gets to decide what constitutes health, including mental health.  “Although the vast majority of states restrict later-term abortions, many of these restrictions have been struck down….Nonetheless, statutes conflicting with the Supreme Court’s requirements remain on the books in some states.”  (source)

Because late-term abortions are so rare, because late-term fetuses are viable and presumably have feelings, because late-term abortions are already highly restricted, and because tens of millions of voters think abortion is a sin, abortion rights supporters should be willing to accept national restrictions on such abortions, provided there are exceptions for the health of the mother and for rape and incest.

One can and should quibble on whether 20 weeks was the correct cutoff — 24 weeks might be more reasonable — and one can quibble over whether pregnancy is measured from the last menstrual period or from the date of likely fertilization. And one can quibble about what constitutes the health of the woman. But it sure seems that compromising on this issue would be a reasonable choice, given all the other issues and seats that are at stake in elections, and given the fact that there are so few late-term abortions.

I’ve spoken to conservatives who say they’d gladly vote for Democrats but for this one issue: abortion.

In Why Abortion isn’t Murder I argued at length that until the embryo has a highly developed nervous system, there’s “nobody home” — no consciousness — and so abortion is not the destruction of a person. When I showed that article to some abortion rights activists, they were skeptical. They were uncomfortable with an argument based on consciousness because, they rightly saw, it logically leads to a position in which there are restrictions on late-term abortions.  Abortion rights activists prefer an argument based on privacy rights: a woman should have absolute control over her own body.

According to a 2012 Gallup poll, only 14% of respondents think that third-trimester abortions should be legal.

What are the risks for Democrats of compromising on this issue? First, the haggling over the cutoff date — 24 weeks? 20 weeks? — could be ugly. Second, it’s unclear how many votes it would win in elections.  Third, conservatives may use the compromise as an excuse for demanding tighter restrictions on abortions.

Perhaps some of my feminist friends will be upset with me because of this stance.  Besides, they may say, I am not a woman, so I have no right to state my opinion.

But face the facts. Trump won; a majority of white female voters voted for him. Republicans control the House, the Senate, and a majority of legislatures and governorships. Soon they will control the Supreme Court. Politics requires compromise.  For tens of millions of Americans, abortion is a moral outrage and is the defining factor on how they vote.  Late-term abortions are rare.  Are you comfortable aborting a nine month old fetus?  Reasonable restrictions on late-term abortions are a worthwhile compromise, if that’s what it takes to avoid GOP control of all levels of government, and if that what it takes to win on other issues dear to progressives.

Reasonable restrictions on late-term abortions are like reasonable restrictions on guns: something that a vast majority of people want but that political extremism makes very hard to enact.

The Teflon Don and the Triumph of the Republican Noise Machine

The 2016 presidential election was a battle of negatives.

Despite Trump’s numerous well-known negatives — including a history of racist and sexist insults, inexperience in politics, impetuousness, sexual scandals, mediocre performance at the debates, and a 70% untrue rating from PolitiFact — Trump managed to convince almost a majority of voters that he was the better choice than Hillary Clinton.

As Thomas Frank said, the least qualified presidential candidate in history bested the most qualified candidate.

The country is in shock that Trump and the GOP were able to eke out a victory.

Hillary had her negatives too — carelessness with emails, questionable ties to Wall Street, hawkishness, and a legacy of dirty tricks against Bernie Sanders — but it’s obvious to me that Republicans were much more successful at making their attacks stick.

Trump is the Teflon Don.

Hillary is the Sticky Dame: attacks stick to her.

The victory is being explained as the result of a populist backlash against business-as-usual in Washington, D.C. and against a Democratic Party which failed to inspire confidence among white middle class voters. Such voters felt that the Democrats were closer to Wall Street than to Main Street; were more concerned about immigrants than poor white folks; and were more interested in diversity than in traditional religious orthodoxy. Opposition to abortion, gay marriage, transgender rights continues among millions of Americans. Hillary called such people “deplorables” and it’s no wonder they voted against her.

Blue collar whites trusted Trump more than Hillary to win back their jobs. If Trump doesn’t deliver, because of GOP devotion to their corporate benefactors, will the voters turn against Trump and the GOP? Or will the GOP figure out a way to lay the blame on Democrats or someone else? Given the experience with recent Democratic administrations, the latter outcome seems more likely. (See Obama and other reasons for the election debacle.)

Aside from economic and cultural explanations for Trump’s victory, there’s another explanation that should be obvious but that I feel needs emphasis.

The Republican Noise Machine is well-organized, well-funded, and very persuasive. Fox News, Breitbart News, AM talk radio, and a vast array of think tanks and websites relentlessly repeat GOP talking points that reinforce a world view that’s at odds with the world of progressives. Conservatives live in what seems like an alternate reality in which global climate change is a myth, deregulation of Wall Street is good for the economy, and tax cuts for rich people help the middle class.

As Emily Nussbaum says in the New Yorker, speaking of Fox News, “you need to immerse yourself entirely to grok the breadth of its world-building paranoias and mythologies.”

Tens of millions of Americans, and not just uneducated people, buy into that worldview.

The partisan divide is so extreme to propose a quantum multi-verse explanation for the phenomenon, given the vast gulf in facts acknowledged between the two worldviews.

Along with the ability to create alternate realities, with different facts and values, the GOP is brilliant at character assassination and dirty tricks. “Lock her up!” “Crooked Hillary”.

Specifically, for purposes of this article, they live in an alternate reality in which Hillary’s negatives trump Trump’s negatives.

To a large extent, the email scandal was Hillary’s swift-boating: the GOP was able to exaggerate the significance of the scandal.

The Republican Noise Machine was successful at rousing its base and rousing hatred for Hillary, whereas many Democrats and left-leaning independents stayed home or voted third party, refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils. The GOP base seems more willing to vote for imperfect candidates. The Democratic base is more purist.

Just how many people voted third party? According to a USA TODAY/Rock The Vote/Ipsos poll conducted Oct. 24-27. “Among those aged 18-34 who supported the Vermont senator in the primary, 64% said they’d vote for Clinton, while 10% were for Trump, 8% were for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 8% backed Green Party candidate Jill Stein.” However, it’s unclear how many of these people were Democrats and would have voted for Hillary had Sanders not run.

Unlike the case in 2000, when Nader drew votes away from Al Gore, in 2016 the reason why some Berniecrats rejected Hillary are clear: Hillary’s hawkishness, her ties to Wall Street, the mistreatment of Sanders by the DNC, and the clear flip-flopping on issues such as TPP.

Obama and other reasons for the election debacle

The emerging consensus of commentators is that Trump won because of populist disgust with politics as usual, because of hatred of Hillary,  and because of economic hardship that Trump was able to blame on immigrants, trade deals, regulations, and corrupt elites.  Trump pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., and people thought Hillary was part of the swamp.

As Thomas Frank says in Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there,

The woman we were constantly assured was the best-qualified candidate of all time has lost to the least qualified candidate of all time. Everyone who was anyone rallied around her, and it didn’t make any difference. The man too incompetent to insult is now going to sit in the Oval Office, whence he will hand down his beauty-contest verdicts on the grandees and sages of the old order.

The Democrats chose a flawed candidate, with high negatives.  Granted, much of the hatred of Hillary is based on myths and exaggerations manufactured by conservative media. But enough of the hatred was justified — by her close ties to Wall Street, by her past votes for the Iraq War, by her hawkishness during the Obama administration, by her past support for the TPP, by the questionable practices of the Clinton Foundation, and by her carelessness with the private email servers — that Republicans could rightfully say that she was corrupt.   Granted, Trump and the Republicans are far worse!!!!  But that made no difference because Fox News and the rest of right wing media have entrapped tens of millions of Americans in an alternate reality in which climate change is unreal and deregulation and tax cuts for rich people will help the middle class.

Few people on the right loved Trump. They were aware of his flaws.  But they hated Hillary even more than Trump.

Much of the Democratic base hated Hillary too. Some of my progressive friends refused to vote for Hillary, knowing well that Trump is probably worse, because they didn’t want to reward her and the DNC for its mistreatment of Bernie Sanders. One friend at work was a Bernie supporter who knew all about how terrible Trump would be. Still, he wouldn’t vote for Hillary. He refused to vote for the lesser of two evils.  He said he felt no sympathy for the Democrats, who courted disaster by their hubris.   (Disclosure: I reluctantly voted for Hillary, as the lesser-of-two-evils.)

Assigning Blame

There’s lots of blame to go around for this debacle. Ignoring both the obvious culprits on the right and the desperate, stupid gullibility of millions of Americans,  who should we blame? In no particular order,

  1. Hillary & Bill Clinton, for hubris, short-sightedness, and corruption;
  2. The DNC, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for cheating Bernie Sanders and for serving the corporate elite;
  3. Barack Obama, for serving Wall Street, for compromising early and often, for burdening us with a flawed health care plan designed by conservatives to enrich the insurance companies, for pushing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and, mostly, for refusing to prosecute Bush administration criminality, while eagerly going after whistle blowers who exposed government corruption, thereby hiding from the American people the extent of GOP corruption;
  4. Elizabeth Warren, for refusing to back Bernie Sanders and for refusing to run (she’ll be 71 in 2020, possibly too old to run);
  5. Bernie Sanders, for calling himself a socialist when, in reality, he’s a social democrat;
  6. Liberals, for their elitism and their insensitivity to religious and cultural minorities (Thomas Frank elaborates on that elitism here);
  7. FBI Director James Comey, for announcing to Congress 10 days before the election that he’s investigating more emails;
  8. Our antiquated and reactionary electoral system, which delivered the presidency to a candidate who lost the popular vote, and which gives greater political power to small, agricultural states;
  9. The greed and elitism of high tech plutocrats such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and the titans of Apple and Google, who profited immensely from government-funded research and from government services and protections, but then promoted anti-tax and anti-government policies that gutted education, journalism, the middle class, and the Rust Belt;
  10. The media, for giving Trump free air time, and for failing to refute right wing media’s assault on truth. If you listen to right wing media, you’d think that Obama and Hillary are raving socialists and that climate change is a myth. Half the country lives in an alternate reality.

Don’t Blame Berniecrats, Blame Corporate Dems

Notice that I don’t list Berniecrats in that list.  In 2000, many Democrats blamed Ralph Nader and his supporters for the election of George W. Bush; indeed, had all Nader voters voted for Gore, Bush would have lost.  I am unaware of any concerted effort to blame Sanders and his supporters for Hillary’s defeat.    But there are indications that low turnout, especially among blacks, contributed to Hillary’s loss. From what I have read, too few Sanders voters voted for Jill Stein or Trump to make a difference in the swing states that went for Trump.  Sanders strongly endorsed Hillary, and most Berniecrats apparently voted for her.   As Michael Moore says in his prescient article 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win,

Stop fretting about Bernie’s supporters not voting for Clinton – we’re voting for Clinton! The polls already show that more Sanders voters will vote for Hillary this year than the number of Hillary primary voters in ’08 who then voted for Obama. This is not the problem. The fire alarm that should be going off is that while the average Bernie backer will drag him/herself to the polls that day to somewhat reluctantly vote for Hillary, it will be what’s called a “depressed vote” – meaning the voter doesn’t bring five people to vote with her. He doesn’t volunteer 10 hours in the month leading up to the election. She never talks in an excited voice when asked why she’s voting for Hillary. A depressed voter.

Besides, even if Berniecrats did abandon Hillary, can you blame them, given how badly the DNC treated Sanders?

By the way, in that article Moore correctly predicted that Trump would win in the Midwest, where disgust with NAFTA and TPP would turn blue collar voters towards Trump, who campaigned there against unfair trade deals and corporate outsourcing.

Elaborating on #1 and #2, and again quoting Frank,

Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue – each of which Trump exploited to the fullest. They chose Hillary even though they knew about her private email server. They chose her even though some of those who studied the Clinton Foundation suspected it was a sketchy proposition.

As David Talbot said, “This catastrophe is primarily the fault of the elites who took over the Democratic Party and turned it into a bastion of corporate globalism and permanent war, at the expense of the working people who were once its base. The Clintons — with their self-serving Davos internationalism and Wall Street pandering — were the ultimate symbol of this Democratic Party sellout.”

Though I risk criticism from friends and allies on the left, I want to elaborate on #6.

Liberal Elitism and Gay Marriage

I support gay rights and think that gays should have the right to get married.  But I suspect it was a huge tactical error for Democrats to push this issue.  Gay marriage enrages and disgusts tens of millions of Americans, guaranteeing that they will vote for Republicans.   Far better if the Democrats had spent their political capital on other issues such as (1) cleaning up corruption in D.C., (2) exposing and prosecuting Bush administration criminality, (3) reining in Wall Street, (4) exposing and fixing our unfair tax system that gaping loopholes that favor the rich, (5) ending bad trade deals, and (6) ending our  imperialistic foreign policy.

Politics is like a game of chess. You have to sacrifice some pieces.   We have gay marriage, but now we got Trump. It wasn’t worth the trade.

Besides, is marriage really that wonderful?  Look at the high divorce rates among heterosexuals.

Same with transgender rights.    A worthy cause.  Politically stupid. (A Chinese acquaintance said she voted for Trump because the Democrats favor immigrants and transgender rights.)

On the other hand, even the Supreme Court agreed that gays should marry.  Maybe I’m horribly wrong.  Maybe gay rights is like civil rights for blacks.  Just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 drove the South into the arms of the Republican Party, gay marriage helped strengthen evangelicals embrace of the GOP.

Notice, too, that I haven’t mentioned abortion rights.  I am unwilling to sacrifice the right to choose. But I point out that with the election of Trump, and with the continued GOP control of Congress, the Supreme Court may overturn Roe versus Wade in the not-too-distant future.

With gay marriage, the Left won the battle but lost the war.

Politics sucks.

Immigration

On immigration, the sad thing is that Obama has been extraditing  millions of immigrants — something you’re not likely to hear. Immigrants are the ones who may suffer the most from the election of Donald Trump. This is truly a tragedy.   Unfortunately, millions of Americans think undocumented aliens should be extradited. (The same Chinese woman I mentioned above told me she’s angry that illegal immigrants get to stay here for free and go to college, while her son is discriminated against when he applies to elite colleges because he’s Asian.)

Obama’s Culpability

Lastly, I want to elaborate on #3 (Obama’s blame). He’s the leader of the Democratic Party. How much blame does he deserve for the debacle?

Many of my friends are despairing.  One woman says she hasn’t been able to sleep at night.  Another friend has pledged to boycott contact with family members who voted for Trump.  People are scared and saddened.   In fact, this sort of mental anguish has plagued millions of us since 2000.  There was a ray of hope in 2008, but that was soon extinguished when Obama surrounded himself with Wall Street hacks, prosecuted the whistle blowers, protected the Bush criminals, escalated the war in Afghanistan, and pushed through a flawed healthcare act designed by conservatives to enrich the insurance companies. Obama compromised early and often. See this petition for a partial list of Obama’s many sell-outs, too numerous to mention here.

After Obama aided Wall Street, the rural whites correctly saw that the Democratic establishment serves the 1%.  Obama had a chance to break new ground and expose the GOP for what it is. Instead, he foolishly tried to be bipartisan and allowed right wing media to control the narrative.

George W. Bush delivered the G.O.P.’s head on a platter. Obama re-attached it and resuscitated a conservative monster that has roared back into power.  (On this, see Thomas Frank’s Pity the Billionaire.)

Obama back of head

Obama saved the nation from economic collapse but failed utterly at getting credit and at stopping Republicans.  By 2010, Republicans had taken back control of Congress.  Republicans now control a record number of governorships and state legislatures.  In 2017, Republicans will almost certainly repeal Obamacare (Obama’s “crowning achievement”)  and will probably  gut Dodd-Frank.  Trump will appoint a replacement for Scalia and, quite possibly, two or more additional members of the Supreme Court.

At the beginning of the Obama administration, the country was reeling from the disaster of the Iraq War, the recession, and Republican corruption.  Now Republicans have convinced almost half the population that Democrats are to blame for the country’s problems.

As a friend said on facebook, “The same people who elected Obama in the rust belt states are those who elected Trump. It’s the hopey – changey thing.” Obama delivered an economic boom but allowed the GOP to blame him for the country’s problems.

Thus, the prize for blame goes to Barack Obama.  He had a chance to slay the dragon. Instead he helped Wall Street and the Pentagon, while letting the dragon roar back to life. Hillary’s loss is collateral damage.

We Told You So!

We Berniecrats warned people, during the primary, that Hillary was vulnerable, that Bernie would more easily beat Trump.

Indeed, Bernie warned the Democrats on August 28, 2015:

Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout.

With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old will not be successful.

The people of our country understand that — given the collapse of the American middle class and the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing — we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.

We need a political movement which is prepared to take on the billionaire class and create a government which represents all Americans, and not just corporate America and wealthy campaign donors.

In other words, we need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of it.

Is this an opportunity to replace corporate Dems? Or is this a victory of conservative, corporate ideology? Though Hillary and the corporate Dems lost, it’s hard to see this as a victory for progressive values, given the Republican gains.

Possibly the loss is best blamed on hatred of Hillary, fueled by the powerful right wing media, and on populist revolt against the establishment, especially among rural white folk, many poor and poorly educated.

One problem with revitalizing the Democratic Party is that most Congressional progressives, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, sold out to Hillary and went down with her sinking ship.

I often think that Elizabeth Warren should have run. She’ll be 71 in 2020, possibly too old. She is almost as progressive as Sanders; but, unlike him, she doesn’t call herself a socialist. She wasn’t hated, the way Hillary was hated. Yet Warren may have destroyed her credibility by refusing to back Sanders and by hitching her star to Hillary’s.

Looking for a silver lining …. will Trump follow through on his pacifist rhetoric? While he’s spoken against the Iraq War and other foreign entanglements, he’s also pledged bring back water-boarding and beef up the military. Presumably, Trump will avoid war with Putin. Maybe this is a silver lining. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Rob Kall (editor of OpEdNews and my friend) blames the DNC, the HillaryBots, CNN, MSNBC, and even Elizabeth Warren for supporting a corrupt, hated candidate.

Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek, has this excellent commentary:

In the end, Hillary Clinton became the face of a corrupt, arrogant and out-of-touch Establishment, while Donald Trump emerged as an almost perfectly imperfect vessel for a populist fury that had bubbled beneath the surface of America.

There is clearly much to fear from a Trump presidency, especially coupled with continued Republican control of Congress. Trump and many Republicans have denied the reality of climate change; they favor more tax cuts for the rich; they want to deregulate Wall Street and other powerful industries — all policies that helped create the current mess that the United States and much of the world are now in.

Further, Trump’s personality is problematic to say the least. He lacks the knowledge and the temperament that one would like to see in a President — or even in a much less powerful public official. He appealed to racism, misogyny, white supremacy, bigotry toward immigrants and prejudice toward Muslims. He favors torture and wants a giant wall built across America’s southern border.

But American voters chose him in part because they felt they needed a blunt instrument to smash the Establishment that has ruled and mis-ruled America for at least the past several decades. It is an Establishment that not only has grabbed for itself almost all the new wealth that the country has produced but has casually sent the U.S. military into wars of choice, as if the lives of working-class soldiers are of little value.

On foreign policy, the Establishment had turned decision-making over to the neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, a collection of haughty elitists who often subordinated American interests to those of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for political or financial advantage.

With blinders firmly in place, the Democrats yoked themselves to Clinton’s gilded carriage and tried to pull it all the way to the White House. But they ignored the fact that many Americans came to see Clinton as the personification of all that is wrong about the insular and corrupt world of Official Washington. And that has given us President-elect Trump.

Canadian Border Patrol guarding against illegal American immigrants