Origins and purpose of some progressive advocacy groups

When presidential campaigns have done strong issue advocacy, they have often continued on after the campaigns themselves are over. Pick a few to get involved with now.

Rainbow Coalition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow/PUSH
The granddaddy of them all, the Rainbow Coalition grew out of the 1984 Jesse Jackson presidential campaign, back when your only organizing tools were direct mail and making expensive long distance phone calls. In 1996, Jackson merged the coalition with Operation PUSH, the social justice coalition which he had founded in 1971.

Progressive Democrats of America
http://pdamerica.org/
PDA grew our of the 2004 presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich. The organization endorses candidates as well as working on the main issues of healthcare as a human right, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, ending corporate rule, stopping climate change, election integrity, ending wars and occupations, stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership pro-corporate agenda, and general economic and social justice issues.

Democracy for America
http://www.democracyforamerica.com/
DFA grew out of the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean–originally Dean For America. Howard has not actually been involved–the organization is run by his brother, Jim Dean.

Organizing for American/Organizing for Action
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizing_for_America
Originally known as Obama for America, Organizing for America, then Organizing for Action, (OFA) is a currently community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee. Initially founded after the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, OFA sought to mobilize supporters in favor of Obama’s legislative priorities, particularly health care reform. After 2010, it became the grassroots arm of Obama for America. After Obama’s second inauguration, it was reorganized again as Organizing for Action and returned to its previous mission of organizing around the President’s agenda. It has since turned into a hub of the Democratic protest movement.

Our Revolution
https://ourrevolution.com/
Our Revolution grew out of the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. It backs local candidates as well as doing issue organizing.

Sanders Institute
https://www.sandersinstitute.com/
The Sanders Institute was founded by Jane O’Meara Sanders, and works on economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues.

Onward together
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onward_Together
Hillary Clinton co-founded the organization in May of 2017 with Howard Dean and is the CEO. In August 2017 they had hired Emmy Ruiz and Adam Parkhomenko as consultants. Both Ruiz and Parkhomenko were members of Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns. They don’t yet have an issues page.

In 2016, we have seen something new–organizations devoted to contesting local and congressional elections.

Indivisible
https://www.indivisible.org/
This group did not grow out of a campaign, but was founded by a group of former congressional staffers with the purpose of putting pressure in individual members of Congress to fight Trump’s agenda and advocate for progressive issues. There are thousands of local chapters.

Brand New Congress
https://brandnewcongress.org/
Brand New Congress was originally started by a group of volunteers and staffers from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The group is non-partisan, and will back Republicans who agree with its agenda, as well as Democrats and third party candidates.

Justice Democrats
https://justicedemocrats.com/
Justice Democrats was created by Cenk Uygur, CEO of The Young Turks, Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk and Zack Exley and Saikat Chakrabarti. Zack and Saikat are former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers.
Justice Democrats all pledge to:
• Create a universal, Medicare-for-all health care system
• Raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour and tie it to inflation
• Make public colleges and trade schools free
• Call for a constitutional amendment to get rid of money in politics once and for all
• Take no corporate PAC money or corporate lobbyist money

Also, urge your progressive state legislators to get involved with State Innovation Exchange
https://stateinnovation.org/
https://www.facebook.com/pg/stateinnovationexchange/
SiX supports state legislators who seek to strengthen democracy, fight for working families, defend civil rights and liberties, and protect the environment. We do this through training, emphasizing leadership development, amplifying legislators’ voices, and forging strategic alliances between our legislative network and grassroots movements.

Review of Martin Nowak's Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

How can cooperation emerge in a world of selfish individuals ruled by a Darwinian competition for survival?

This is the question that Martin Nowak, Professor of Mathematics and Biology at Harvard University, discusses in Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed.

Nowak and his collaborators have published a series of articles in major scientific journals that give partial answers to this question. The book provides a gentle overview of the technical results, with frequent comments about the implications for politics and economics. For example, Nowak repeatedly mentions climate change as an example of something requiring cooperation among humans.

The hope is that if we understand, mathematically, how cooperation emerges, we can better design policies and structures to promote cooperation and deter selfishness.

I propose that “natural cooperation” be included as a fundamental principle to bolster those laid down by Darwin. Cooperation can draw living matter upwards to higher levels of organization… Cooperation makes evolution constructive and open-ended.

Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

The book has a few simple mathematical formulas, but the educated layman should be able to understand the gist of the arguments, thanks to generous use of example, analogy and simplification. Indeed, the book’s readability benefits from the aid of Roger Highfield, an author of popular science books, who helped Nowak with the writing.

Darwinian evolution is based on competition for survival, for resources, and for mates. Winners reproduce, losers leave few offspring. Due to mutations, individuals vary in their fitness. Over many generations, fitter (configurations of) genes proliferate, while weaker ones disappear.

In fact, fitness is defined in terms of ability to reproduce, so the fact that fitter individuals reproduce is something of a tautology.

Similarly to evolution, in an economy, people often act selfishly, trying to get paid as much as possible for what they sell, whether goods or their services, and trying to pay as little as possible for what they buy.

It would appear that cooperation is difficult to explain in a pure, evolution-based model or in a selfish profit-based economy. You’d expect that selfishness would always win out. But it’s clear that cooperation is common, both among non-human animals and among humans.

The basic reason is that, in the long run being nice pays off, for you or for your children, kin, or neighbors.

In the context of this book, cooperation basically means: an individual is willing to sacrifice some short-term benefit in exchange for a longer-term reward, either for itself or for related individuals (e.g., children or kin or members of the same group). In other words, cooperation is a form of reciprocity, or reciprocal altruism. This sense of cooperation isn’t as pristine or as self-sacrificing as some religious traditions’ ideals of pure selfless love. But even Christianity relies on a promise of reward and punishment in the afterlife to motivate moral behavior.

Albert Einstein once said, “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

Unfortunately, from the point of view of biology, all we seem to have is punishment and reward, where reward means reproductive fitness: produce descendants who survive and who likewise reproduce. (It is not sufficient to have children: if your kids are too weak to survive, or if they don’t reproduce, your reproductive fitness isn’t really high.)

Yet the bearer of fitness (the entity getting the reward or punishment and that gets to reproduce) isn’t necessarily the individual of a species. Richard Dawkins famously suggests that the unit of competition and survival may be the gene: animals exist to promote the interests of their genes, not the other way around. Moreover, genes, as well as gene networks, span individuals and species.

There are also theories which say the unit of the reward is the group: related kin, or cooperating subgroups, or (at a higher level) cooperating species who live in symbiosis with one another.

Indeed, group-based reciprocity seems to be the essence of cooperation.

We are all in it together.

We are interdependent.

Nowak thinks cooperation, and not just competition, is a fundamental force in evolution.

I have argued that evolution “needs” cooperation if she is to construct new levels of organization, driving genes to collaborate in chromosomes, chromosomes to collaborate in genomes, genomes to collaborate in cells, cells to collaborate in more complex cells, complex cells to collaborate in bodies, and bodies to collaborate in societies.

A set of genes working together is an example of cooperation. And in the primordial soup, sets of cooperating chemical reactions led to the origins of life.

Within biology, there have been attempts to explain cooperation in terms of kin selection (in which an individual is willing to sacrifice itself to aid close relatives who share many genes with it). The social insects are prime examples of cooperators; the worker ants who build and defend the nest are closely related to the queen.

A related notion is group selection (aka multi-level selection), according to which groups which are more fit (e.g., due to being better cooperators) out-compete groups which are less fit.

The idea of group selection seems intuitively correct, and Darwin was aware of the role of cooperation in evolution and of the apparent presence of group selection, both in biology and in culture (where ideas or what are now called “memes” reproduce).

But there are heated disagreements among professional biologists about whether the phenomenon of group selection really occurs and about the extent to which it occurs. Richard Dawkins has famously ridiculed both the idea and the biologists who support it. Nowak seems to be among the latter group.

Examples of cooperation among humans include: lending a cup of sugar to a neighbor, taking the bus instead of driving the car, paying taxes instead of cheating, contributing to the donation plate, bringing in your neighbors’ and garbage bins from the curb, as well as more dramatic examples such as risking your life to safe someone who has fallen onto train tracks. Most parents would instinctively risk their lives to save the lives of their (small) children.

In the mathematical and computer models of cooperation, various individuals interact with other individuals, either in a well-mixed pool; in a network of connections such as on social networks; in various sets of interests groups; or on a grid. Whenever you interact with another individual, each of you decides whether to cooperate or whether you will defect (be selfish). You are rewarded or punished accordingly.

Mathematically, cooperation is formalized in the form of such a two person game. The standard game of this sort is is called The Prisoner’s Dilemma.  It models the situation where two prisoners who have been arrested by the police and are being interrogated separately. Each prisoner gets to choose, independently, whether to cooperate (keep his mouth shut and deny the crime) or defect (accuse his partner of the crime). If they both cooperate they each get only one year in prison on a lesser charge, because the police have insufficient evidence. If they both defect, they each get two years in prison. If one person cooperates with his partner and the other person defects, then the first person (the cooperator) gets three years in prison and the second person (the defector) gets off free.

From the point of view of each prisoner, it seems the smartest thing to do is defect.

Suppose the other person cooperates and stays mum. Then you should defect, because you get off free.

On the other hand, suppose the other person defects and accuses you of the crime, then you better defect too. For if you cooperate with your partner, you get three years in prison, whereas if you defect you get just two years in prison.

What could prevent defection is loyalty, or the knowledge that in the future, after you’re both out of prison, the other person could punish you. Likewise, in a future similar situation, where cooperation might help he will remember your betrayal.

The tragedy of the commons is a similar scenario.

In the more general game, where rewards and punishments can take the form of money or some other outcome, there are likewise four possible outcomes: Cooperate-Cooperate, Cooperate-Defect, Defect-Cooperate, and Defect-Defect. Each outcome has a (possibly different) payoff for each of you. If you both cooperate, you both get the same reward R for cooperating. If one person cooperates but the other person defects, the first person is punished (S for Sucker) bad but the other person wins a big reward (T for Temptation) If you both defect, you’re both punished slightly (P). Depending on the relative values of P,R, S, and T, and on the structure of interactions — specifically, whether you can learn about the reputation of the person you’re interacting with — cooperation may or may not emerge.The standard Prisoner’s Dilemma game has

T > R > P > S.

Yet cooperation can emerge. This result is non-intuitive, because given the inequalities above, the values P, R, S, and T guarantee that in the short-term the smartest thing to do is to defect. Here’s why. Your opponent is either going to cooperate or defect (and you won’t know which he does til after you make your move).

Assume he cooperates. Then you can win big by defecting. Here’s why. If you cooperate, you get only R. But if you defect, you get T and T>R. So, it seems you should defect.

Likewise assume he defects. Then you better defect too, because if you cooperate, then you’ll get only S, but if you defect you’ll get P, and P>S.

So in either case, the best thing to do, in the short run, is to defect.

But in a community of people playing the game repeatedly, there are benefits from cooperation. A group of cooperating individuals will have a higher fitness (reward) than a group of turncoat defectors, because R>P.

If the last time I interacted with you, you cooperated, and if I remember that, I can try cooperating again, in the hopes that you will reciprocate.

So in the presence of repeated interactions, and memory, cooperation can emerge.

Cooperators are rewarded with help from other cooperators. Defectors are punished by future defection. If cooperators gain a benefit as a group that is unavailable to defectors, then cooperation can flourish. But cooperation is always susceptible to exploitation by defectors: a population of trusting cooperators can be taken advantage of by a few defectors.  Such invasions by defectors are visible in computer simulations.

Cancerous cells can be modeled as defectors.  So can tax dodgers and alleged welfare moms who drive Mercedes.

Using the formalization of Prisoner’s Dilemma, Nowak was able to prove mathematical theorems, and run computer simulations, that show under what conditions cooperation can flourish.

He showed that cooperation emerges if you meet the other person often enough in the future and can remember the previous interactions, so you can punish or reward him. It also helps if people have a reputation that is is public knowledge or that is shared between individuals (indirect reciprocity). Furthermore, it helps if people are organized into small groups; this allows cooperators to shield themselves from being taken of advantage of by nasty defectors; large groups are difficult to police. Finally, it helps if it’s possible to move between groups, to escape defectors.

Even if we can explain cooperation biologically, in terms of kin selection, or group selection, there is still a problem: how inclusive is the in-group?  Does it include people of a different race or nationality? How about individuals of a different species?

As indicated above, the biologically inspired notion of cooperation is somewhat unsatisfying, because it still relies on a form of reciprocity, albeit at the group level. If someone chooses not to identify with the group, then why should they cooperate?

Indeed, conservatives are the consummate defectors: individualists who detest and ridicule cooperation and community endeavors, at least by governments. Conservatives detest the United Nations. They detest the International Court of Law.  Conservatives avoid paying taxes,  but typically like spending money on wars, both domestic (e.g., the wasteful and disastrous war on drugs) and foreign.  Conservatives oppose laws and regulatory agencies that deter their antisocial behavior. They under-fund the IRS, encouraging tax cheats. And they under-fund Congressional staff, so that lawmakers are dependent on lobbyists and outside groups for information.

Like parasites, conservatives destroy the body politic, all in the name of “freedom.”

Conservatives and their ideology can be defeated only when enough people wake up to the lies and the half-truths behind their movement,  and when enough people realize that we’d be better off in the long run by cooperating on building a government that works for everyone, that makes sound environmental, health, and safety policies, and that makes sure tax cheats pay their fair share.

The Three Splits on the Left

There are three splits on the left: 1. The Democrats are split from the Socialists, Greens,Anarchists and others on the far left, and (2) Within the Democratic Party, the progressive Dems and Berniecrats are split from the mainstream, corporate Dems, and (3) Within the far left, the various factions rarely agree and often have weird rules about needing consensus.

Why can’t groups on the left cooperate and horse trade on various issues?

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/

Do liberals suffer more than conservatives?

I finished Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom.

All the relationships in the novel (between lovers, between parents and kids, between siblings, and between friends) were screwed up. People fought, competed, and betrayed each other. People yearned to be free of dysfunctional relationships.

Franzen showed how dysfunction was passed down through generations. He described the struggles and mistakes of the parents and grandparents of the main characters.

People made stupid choices when young (about school, about roommates, and about lovers) and had to live with the consequences for years afterwards.

Everyone was neurotic, selfish and greedy.

Just like real life, I thought.

I mentioned the open-eyed cynicism/realism of the novel to some coworkers. One coworker said, “Yeah, this world is fallen.” Another said, “I’m sick of my husband.” I responded, “Too much information!”

For many people, work is the sanest part of their lives. But some workplaces are war zones too, and many managers make bad decisions.

To some extent, the novel was a glorified soap opera. I cringed at the mistakes the characters made in their lives. But the central characters changed over time, and in the end love and friendship triumphed — sortof. The characters were imperfect but they weren’t sadistic and they did have some tender feelings.

A common theme in the novel is the differences in outlook between conservatives and liberals: how political views affect personal lives. Franzen — like the main characters in the novel — is clearly a liberal, but it seems that the liberals suffer more than the conservatives.

This leads me to suggest a research topic: do liberals suffer more than conservatives?

Perhaps liberals suffer more than conservatives because (1) liberals have a conscience; (2) Liberals live in reality, unlike conservatives who live in a fantasy land, and (3) liberals typically lack religious faith, which can be a solace. Perhaps liberals are more neurotic. Are they more often single?

Hot August Political Thoughts

Currently, we arguably live in an Oligarchy – A form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. Examples: The Russian Federation, the United States of America.
-Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

A 2014 Study by Martin Gilens, Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, analyzed nearly 1,800 policies enacted by the US government between 1981 and 2002, and compared them to the expressed preferences of the American public as opposed to wealthy Americans and large special interest groups. It found that wealthy individuals and organizations representing business interests have substantial political influence, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little to none. Gilens and Page apply the concept of “civil oligarchy” as used by Jeffrey Winters with respect to the US. Winters has posited a comparative theory of “oligarchy” in which the wealthiest citizens – even in a “civil oligarchy” like the United States – dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection. -Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Political power must be wrestled from the American Oligarchy and it will use every bit of its immense power, including control of corporate media, to maintain its domination. The Oligarchy will not leave meekly and gently in the night. Anyone who thinks this will be easy, or quickly done, is seriously misguided, naïve, or delusional. This a war, not a battle, albeit a just cause for those taking the Oligarchy on.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There are 244 million Americans of voting age. Some 81 percent of us, about 198 million, are women, millennials, or persons of color. Of the remaining 46 million of us who are white males over the age of 35, a decent number are progressive to moderate in their political leanings. Absent a military coup, the eventual demise of the Oligarchy is spelled out in these demographics, if the American People open their eyes and exercise their power in a concerted, sustained, effective manner.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Every political candidate should earn the votes of Progressives through ethical behavior, demonstrated consistency, policy positions that are the closest approximation of voter values and views, demonstrated good judgement, and by running a campaign in a manner that demonstrates respect for voters, an ability to listen, and a recognition that maintaining the status quo in terms of those with extraordinary wealth and/or corporate influence over all levels of government has all but destroyed our Democracy and turned it into an Oligarchy is unacceptable.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There is absolutely no moral, social, or political equivalency between voting for Donald Trump or voting for Hillary Clinton. Nada. Zilch. None.

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Far from it. She is a product of and the embodiment of the Oligarchy. Let me be blunt: She and her Husband have received over $200 million of influence and access payments masquerading as speaking fees and control a massive self-promotion vehicle supported by $Billions that represents itself as a charitable foundation but spends the vast percentage of its budget on administrative overhead and promoting the Clintons.

Clinton is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican who will extend the control of the Oligarchy over economic policies for four years and will have to be constantly thwarted by an engaged electorate to prevent us from entering into further needless wars. Progressives will have to push, cajole, embarrass, and hem in Clinton – a hard but manageable task – to minimize negative impacts on the working class and our shrinking middle class. It will be a difficult four years with many suffering but the nation and the planet will survive.

Trump is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. It is clear his decision-making in matters of virtually any policy topic is irrational, ego driven, and inconsistent. If he ran our economy like he ran his businesses, he would start a trade war, a Second Great Depression, and quite possibly a third World War. His instability, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia would be a cataclysmically divisive force likely not seen in our nation since our Civil War 150 years ago and potentially result in America becoming a pariah nation. His Climate Change Denial will push us to the edge of environmental extinction.

The best we can hope for if Donald Trump is elected is a quick impeachment and removal. Unfortunately, if Trump were removed from office, he’d be replaced by one of the most rightwing politicians in America – Mike Pence (Planned Parenthood rating of 0%, NARAL Pro-Choice America 0%, National Farmers Union 11%, Sierra Club 0%, American Library Association 0%, National Association of Manufacturers 100%, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 0%, Human Right Campaign 0%, Americans for Democratic Action 0%, ACLU 0%, NAACP 5%, American Conservative Union Lifetime Score 99%, Alliance for Retired Americans Lifetime Score 3%, League of Conservation Voter Lifetime Score 4%, American Wilderness Coalition 0%, American Association of University Women 0%, AFL-CIO Lifetime Score 5%, AFSCME Lifetime Score 2%, Source: VoteSmart.org).

At the worse, we could see an attempted or successful Military Coup or the Start of World War Three. There is no way Donald Trump should have access to nuclear launch codes. Seriously.

Hillary Clinton is a temporary barrier to Progressives defeating the American Oligarchy. Donald Trump is an immediate existential threat to the survival of our nation and planet. They are not equivalent. It is not a close call. Trump must never be elected President.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

We would have been even worse off if it were not for Bernie Sanders and what I would call “The Great Awakening.” A little known, Independent Socialist Senator from the state ranking 49th in population started a national movement that engaged America’s largest Generation (Millennials), generated 13 million votes, made income inequality a widely recognized issue, propelled public awareness of the existential threat of Climate Change, and shook the Oligarchy and Political establishment to its core. Bernie and the Progressive Movement have at least temporarily pushed Clinton towards the left on important economic, social, trade, and environmental issues. Bernie achieved far more success than he or most of those of who are his supporters could have thought truly possible at the onset of his campaign. To his great credit and to the equally great discredit of virtually every other nationally prominent progressive politician in the country, he did what they were too cowardly to do: took on the Clinton Political Machine, Democratic Party power structure, Corporate Media, and the American Oligarchy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. Amazingly, Bernie almost won – earing 46 percent of pledged delegates. Arguably, in a straight-up and fair nominating process, Sanders would have won.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Of course, the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominating process was not straight-up and fair. The 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominating Process was the most overtly manipulative, unethical, corrupt process in modern American Political History. The integrity of the nominating process of two-thirds of Democratic State Parties was shattered by fundraising arrangements with the Clinton Campaign. The Democratic National Committee was essentially a completely controlled and biased appendage of the Clinton Campaign.

Corporate Media essentially parroted Clinton Campaign speaking points from start to finish. Future historians will write that 2016 was the year Corporate Media completely forsook responsible journalism and engaged in wholesale and totally slanted propaganda to maximize profits and help determine a Presidential Race’s outcome. Murrow, Cronkite, Chancellor, Huntley, Brinkley, and Jennings are, no doubt, spinning in their respective graves.

Millions were prevented from exercising their franchise in a purposeful, underhanded, systematic manner. Ongoing investigations and law suits may very well prove actual vote rigging and miscounts in any number of states. Multiple academic researchers have reviewed primary election data and concluded that the results could only been achieved thru widespread vote fraud. Cal-Berkley and Stanford Studies placed the odds that Hillary Clinton won without widespread fraud at only 1 chance in 77 Billion (http://alexanderhiggins.com/stanford-berkley-study-1-77-bi…/).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

So, what are our options in 2016? We have four candidates who will possess the theoretical possibility of being elected President of the United States this November in that they will each be on enough States’ ballots to win 270 Electoral College Votes and the Presidency.
The “Democratic Party Nominee”, Hillary Clinton, is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, who is the clear choice of the Oligarchy.

The “Republican Party Nominee”, Donald Trump, as previously stated, is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. If elected, he has the serious potential to involve us in a constitutional crisis, internal strife not seen since the Civil War, a Major Economic Depression, or even a Third World War or a Military Coup to prevent such a war. A recent poll found one fifth of Republican voters want Trump to drop out.
The Libertarian Party Nominee, Gary Johnson, is a former Republican Governor of New Mexico and was also the 2012 Libertarian Presidential Nominee. Johnson received about one million votes for President in 2012. Johnson’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 8.3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16)).

The Green Party Nominee, Jill Stein, is a Medical Doctor and was also the 2012 Green Party Presidential Nominee. Stein received about 470,00 votes for President in 2012. Stein’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

What are Libertarians? They frequently describe themselves as “Socially Liberal and Fiscally Conservative. I think that is half right – they are Fiscally Conservative but they are not consistently liberals on Social Issues. Critics label Libertarians as “Republicans who smoke pot.” Author Christopher Hitchens acerbically described Libertarians this way: “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement in the U.S. that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” Libertarians are secularized Republicans without the Far Right “Christian” moralistic bullshit, in my humble opinion. David Koch, yes, one of those Koch Brothers, net worth $44.2 Billion, was the 1980 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee. Koch is hardly a progressive on any issue.

The 2016 Libertarian Platform calls “for the repeal of the income tax” and the abolishment of “all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.” Their platform also indicates “an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union…” and supports “restoring and reviving a free market health care system…” and “phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” Libertarians “oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production…” and “favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.” Libertarians maintain “Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems.” Rather Darwinian and survival of the fittest, these Libertarians, but they’ll let folks smoke pot.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!
The Green Party really isn’t a National Political Party at all yet – it’s more of a shell of a Presidential Candidate nominating process with fragmentary cells of supporters lightly scattered about the country and wrapped around a progressive and enlightened political platform reminiscent of a 21st Century version of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Think of what the Democratic Party Platform would look like to a progressive without any corporate warping and distortion and you’d probably have something that would look very much like the Green Party Platform. The Green Party is basically a philosophical pure version of the Democratic Party in terms of ideology, if the Democratic Party didn’t have any meaningful infrastructure and was free of all the corporate bullshit, bad influences, tremendous policy warping resulting from said bullshit and influences.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The “Ten Key Values” of the Green Party Are Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community Based Economics, Feminism and Gender Equity, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus and Sustainability. The Green Party Platform includes “A Call to Action”, a Preamble, the “Ten Key Values” and detailed sections on “Democracy”, “Social Justice”, “Ecological Sustainability”, and “Economic Justice and Sustainability.” Most members of the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and certainly “Berniecrats” would be very comfortable with the 2016 Green Party Platform.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The times, they are a changing, and the Green Party may quickly start to transition from a noble concept to a functional political party with an influx of Sanders Supporters abandoning the Democratic Party. Some observers frequently opine that most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton. Others say Berniecrats are flocking to Jill Stein and the Green Party. Who is right? Well, maybe, in a way, both.

The nuance that most observers seem to miss is that tens of thousands of Sanders activists, the folks who did the grassroots organizing for Bernie, are indeed moving to support Stein and the Green Party. The movement of hardcore activists from the Sanders Campaign to the Green Party isn’t uniform or evenly distributed, but it is significant.

This isn’t to say that Berniecrats are leaving the Democratic Party in masse – they aren’t. Here in Washington State, the majority of incoming Precinct Committee Officers (PCO’s) could accurately be labelled Berniecrats. In my home county, home to the State Capital of Olympia, two thirds of incoming PCO’s are Berniecrats.

Nationally, Senator Sanders and his supporters are creating multiple organizations, including “Our Revolution”, a National Network of Sanders Activists who likely will heavily influence and frequently run Democratic Party Organizations for years to come. Bernie may have been denied the nomination in 2016 but the Movement he catalyzed and changing demographics are converging in a manner that likely will mean Progressives will regain control of much of the Democratic Party in the near future.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

But the Democrats likely won’t be the only Progressive Political Party of consequence in America in the near future. The rise of the Green Party, powered by the influx of former Sanders supporters, is imminent.

Will the “Berning of the Greens” be enough to turn the Green Party into a full-fledged, functional Third Party in less than three months? No. Could the Green Party be a full-fledged, functional Third Party in 2020? Yes, but only if they do some serious organizing and get their collective shit together about building slates of candidates for local, state, and federal offices across the country.

The Green Party’s biggest weakness is that it has been almost exclusively focused the Presidential Elections, only recruiting and running candidates for lower tier races in a very limited number of jurisdictions in a small number of states. This has got change if the Greens want to be taken seriously. People want their pot holes fixed, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and dependable public services. The old saying that “All Politics are local.” Is mostly true and the Green Party and its membership needs to show it can get voters’ garbage picked up and run cities and states before it will be trusted by most folks with leading the Free World and controlling the Nuclear Launch Codes, regardless of how wonderfully progressive they are. For an American Political Party to be viewed as credible in a nation with 321 million citizens and a $19 Trillion economy, it must not only think globally, it must act locally and be able to govern effectively in all the myriad and mundane ways citizens expect. I’m being real here.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I see a certain irony, and a whole lot of Karma, in that if Bernie had won the Democratic Nomination, it would have revitalized and democratized the Democratic Party, likely locked in Millennials, the largest generation in history, into strongly voting Democratic for decades, diminished the significance of the Green Party, and hastened the demise of the Republican Party as a relevant factor in Presidential Contests. Control and domination, not fair play and party building, were more important to the Corporate Wing of the Democratic Party. Consequently, the Democratic Party has alienated, in some cases permanently, large numbers of Millennial activists and other Bernie Supporters and the Green Party has an opportunity to achieve a level of national political relevance that has so far eluded it.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering if this is where Joe says which candidate for President everyone should vote for. God knows damn near every person on Facebook with an opinion on the subject has been telling everyone else who they should support. I’m not going to do that. The reality is if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to make up your own mind and 99 percent of voters are going to go thru whatever decision processes they use and do just that. My circle of friends and family is large enough that some will vote for each of the four main Presidential candidates and I’m not going to like or love any of them any more or any less based on who they vote for. If the Creator, Evolution, or the quantum chance of our being in this portion of the Multiverse made free will possible for our species, the rest of us ought to do the same for each other.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I will share who I’m voting for and my reasoning: readers may agree, disagree, or ignore as they wish.

To place my decision in context, in 38 years of voting, I’ve only knowingly voted for a Republican for any public office once in my entire life and I’ve regretted that vote for almost four decades and tried to make amends for that vote. I have voted in nine Presidential Elections in my life and nine times, I voted for the Democratic Candidate. In the language of politics, I am referred to as a “Strong Democrat” and a “Perfect Voter” (vote every election).

Unless there appears to be chance that Donald Trump might actually carry Washington State and it’s 12 Electoral College Votes, something highly unlikely, given all available political information, Washington’s voting history, and current polling data, I am planning on voting for Democratic candidates for all other elective offices and for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump would be an existential threat to the nation and planet. To avoid that risk, I would force myself to vote for the Oligarchy’s candidate and a functionally Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, Hillary Clinton, if Trump were leading or within striking distance of Clinton in Washington when it was time to cast my ballot.
Absent the possibility of a Trump win in Washington State, I will vote for the candidate who, imperfect as she may be, presents both the opportunity to vote for my progressive values and beliefs and the opportunity to send a message to the Oligarchy. I will vote for Jill Stein.

Let me be blunt, the Oligarchy will win this round in the battle for our future and Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States. No objective review of the available evidence and polling data would suggest otherwise. Even the Republican oriented Rasmussen Reports is projecting Hillary Clinton at 348 Electoral College Votes, well above the 270 needed to win the Presidency.

For Jill Stein to have had a chance to win in 2016, she would have had to have most or all of Sanders Supporters pivot their support to her and that clearly didn’t happen. If she had surged above 10 percent in the polls after the Democratic Convention, and progressed to rise to force her inclusion in the Presidential Debates, stellar debate performances on her part would have changed the political equation and she would have had a chance to be truly competitive. That didn’t happen and Stein won’t win in 2016.

However, short of a dramatic change in the polls that indicate Trump could take Washington State, I won’t validate the blatant, systematic manipulation and corruption of the Presidential nomination process by the Democratic Power Structure, Corporations, and Corporate Media with a vote for Hillary Clinton. Absent the existential threat of a Trump victory, I won’t go there.

I will cast a vote for Stein to support the germinating seed that is the Green Party in 2016 and I will work within the local Democratic Party, where Berniecrats have a clear majority, to progressively shape local and state Democratic politics, candidates, and campaigns. Call this an Inside/Outside Strategy.

The Second American Revolution continues. We Progressives need to play the long game to defeat the Oligarchy and generate a rebirth of true Democracy. Success will not occur in one election cycle – neither did getting to the point we are at as a nation. With persistence, hard work, and sustained effort, we will get to a point where we defeat the Oligarchy and have two National Progressive Political Parties, a revitalized Democratic Party and a vibrant, fulling formed Green Party. This is Our Revolution. Stand Up, Speak out, Fight On.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The Divided Left revisited

The Divided Left in America is a major problem, and it’s come to fore in the discussions on social media about whether Bernie should run as an independent and about whether Bernie supporters should work within the Democratic Party.

Progressive Democrats are desperately trying to reform the Democratic Party but lack numbers. As a result the corporate Dems win. Greens,Socialists and others further to the left flee the Democratic Party and support candidates like Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and Rocky Anderson. Nationally, these third party candidates win maybe a few percent of the votes and fail to organize effective political organizations. For example, they don’t typically have statewide candidates.

In short, angry Dems flee the Democratic Party, allowing the corporatists and hawks to win. In contrast, angry conservatives take over the GOP and push it further to the right.

In local races, candidates like Kshama Sawant can win a city like Seattle. But statewide (e.g., in the suburbs) they are perceived as too radical by most people. (Bernie Sanders is more of a social democrat than a democratic socialist; he harmed his chances by calling himself a socialist. Noam Chomsky and others agree with this view.)

I understand that working within the Democratic Party is difficult, dirty, unpleasant work. Whoever said the Revolution would be pleasant?

Still, I’m not condemning those people who flee the Democratic Party. I understand why they do it. The leadership is corrupted. This is clear nationally. Statewide, Inslee voted to give $8.7 billion to Boeing, and he allowed the charter schools bill to become law. In my LD (41st) there are many good Dems but the LD allows our legislators to betray us: Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn both voted for Steve Litzow’s (R, 41 LD) charter schools bill, despite the fact that the state Supreme Court ruled charter schools are unconstitutional; despite the fact that McCleary isn’t yet funded; and despite the fact the the state party platform says “We oppose charter schools.” Many (most?) of the 41st LD Dem PCOs are pissed, but the LD leadership treats me like a dangerous outsider. They also disliked my criticisms of Hillary’s hawkishness.

The PDA pursues an inside-outside strategy that allows people to work but within and outside of the Democratic Party. That’s perhaps necessary but it’s not ideal.

Anyway, any ideas for uniting the left? For years I have been promoting the idea of a shared media platform where people post articles and discuss things. Progressives and socialists are supposed to believe in cooperation for the common good. Fact is: people don’t work together too well.

Hey, all you Bernie supporters who attended the caucuses, take over the Party!

The surprise overwhelming win by Bernie Sanders in the Washington State Democratic caucus was due, I surmise, to the participation of young people who had never before gotten involved.    I know in my precinct there were a surprising number of young people I had never seen before.   I am eager to see hard data about whether my theory is true.

Regardless of whether Bernie wins the nomination, we need these young people to reinvigorate the party and push it to the left.  This is the sort of peaceful political revolution that Bernie Sanders has been calling for.

Angry conservatives take over the GOP.  Angry progressives too often flee the Democratic Party.  This election represents a chance to fix that fundamental flaw in liberal politics in America.

The Republican scam, and the Democrats' unwillingness to oppose it

Last night I was listening to AM talk radio, and a Republican candidate was promoting the following conservative narrative: “Yes, there is terrible wealth inequality, and it’s due to government waste, corruption and regulations. We need to slash taxes and get rid of regulations so that the middle class can have jobs and thrive.  Government is a taker. We need more freedom.”  The candidate also talked about the preciousness of life.

Likewise, at a political event in Nevada recently, Marc Rubio told the audience that the notion that “big government is good for the people who are trying to make it” is a “lie.” He said, “When the government dominates the economy, the people that can afford to influence the government — they win. And everybody else is stuck.” (source: November 30, 2015 edition of the New Yorker)

There is some truth to Rubio’s statements, and the conservative narrative is plausible enough to dupe lots of people.

Yet it’s a big scam.

The scam goes like this. Conservatives corrupt and starve government so it performs poorly. They make sure it serves the 1%. They wage almost constant war. They allow corporations to ship profits and jobs overseas. They oppose regulations that might rein in Wall Street, even as they decry Wall Street greed and the bailouts. They under-fund the IRS and regulatory agencies. They promote regressive taxation which unfairly burdens the middle class.  Then they argue that taxes are too high and government is wasteful and corrupt. They use the failures of government to justify cutting taxes and maintaining tax loopholes for the rich. When progressives try to fix the system, they accuse progressives of wanting to raise peoples’ taxes.

The scam works — it’s rather brilliant — and our task is to expose it and promote an alternative vision in which government serves everyone, not just the 1%.

Scam Alert!

The solution to the corruption of government isn’t to throw in the towel and give up on government. The solution is to fix the system so it’s not rigged.

But we have a tiny voice, and the corporate-backed Republicans have most of the money and an effective noise machine.  There aren’t enough progressive rich people willing to fund an alternative, lefty media empire. And most Democratic politicians choose to ignore the problems of fair taxation and government corruption. They allow Republicans to frame the issues.

At a recent King County Dems Legislative Action Committee meeting I asked state House majority leader Pat Sullivan what he’d do to educate the voters so that they stop voting for Tim Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives and for Republican candidates.   I want Sullivan and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership — including Governor Inslee and ex-Governors Gregoire, Locke, and Lowery — to boldly take the lead in educating the public about taxes and government.

But Sullivan said that it’s not his job to educate the public.  The voters won’t listen to him.

I think the politicians run away from the issue because they think (know?) that they’ll get slaughtered at the polls if they talk about taxes.

Moreover, there are enough corporate, triangulating politicians within the Democratic Party to muddy the waters and make it unclear which party can be trusted. Bill Clinton dismantled Glass-Steagall, supported NAFTA and said “The era of big government is over.” President Obama surrounded himself with Wall Street cronies and promoted a health care plan designed by the Heritage Foundation to enrich insurance companies. Governor Inslee gave an $8.7 billion tax break to Boeing. Democrat Ross Hunter took the lead in arranging tax breaks for Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Republicans control the U.S. House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, and they’ve taken over a large majority of state legislatures. In Washington State Republicans control the state Senate and are two seats away from controlling the state House.

Who will step up and promote the pro-government, fair taxation message people need to hear? How can we strengthen the hand of progressives in the Democratic Party?

Clearly, Bernie Sanders has been effective at getting parts of this message out to the public. Perhaps the movement he inspires will succeed at starting to fix the corruption. My only fear is that his calling himself a socialist might limit his effectiveness. The ironic thing is: he’s probably not even a socialist! He’s a social democrat. See Bernie Sanders is a social democrat, not a socialist. Dwight Eisenhower was more of a socialist than Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders is a Social Democrat, not a Democratic Socialist

[Note: this article’s former title was: “The conservative scam: a plausible narrative that enriches the 1%”.]