Tag: politics

I can’t keep up with this primary cycle.

It’s too much.  We’ve become such a polarized, combative, ignorant, and hateful nation of dickholes.  No one thinks anymore.  Everyone jumps to the conclusion they want to jump to, and stubbornly clings to the narrative they made up in their head (or read on a Facebook meme during breakfast a week ago).  Everyone loves to make cute comparisons to horrible things for effect, then end up believing their own hyperbolic garbage.

All sides are guilty of this.  No one is exempt.  This isn’t a “Trump voter” thing, or a “stupid liberal” thing.  This is an “entire country” thing.  We are all this dumb.

We are now getting the political leaders we deserve.

One is an obstinate, hyper-religious zealot who is probably the most hated politician in the country, at least by other politicians.  He’s getting votes mainly because he’s the most aggressively Christian candidate, and being that will always gain a good chunk of votes in America.

Another is a long-term independent running in the Democratic party, and it shows.  His policies are more socialist and challenge a large concentrated power base in the country (banks, billionaires), but he’s made the mistake of using the actual words “socialist” and “revolution”.  Even though this country is 60 years removed from the last Red Scare and 15 years removed from the end of the Cold War, those two words are still frightening to many.

Yet another is one of the most establishment-approved candidates in political history, despite the fact that she would be the first woman president.  She’s tried to maintain a message that paints her presidency as something new based on the fact that she’s a woman, but in reality her politics line up perfectly with two of the last three presidents, and her overarching economic and foreign policy aligns with the interests that have shaped our country for the last 40-60 years.

Finally, there is a reality television star who can’t stop telling us how rich he is.  He has stated and supported multiple nativist and xenophobic policies, and has replied to almost any question asking about specific policy with some form of “it’s going to be great.”  We spent a week talking about his dick.  He speaks to us like we’re fifth-graders, because we are.  He’s a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.

This is it, everyone.  This is the part of the history book where there’s a new heading called “Peak and Descent.”  We have one of the most extravagant standards of living in human history, but it’s spoiled us so much that now we’re electing our political leaders by opening cereal boxes and hoping the prize is a toy.

America is fucking great.  And we’re fucking it up.


A Quick Word On The Farm Bill

$8.7 billion over the next ten years have been cut from food stamps nationwide as part of the newly-signed Farm Bill.

The oil industry continues to receive around $35 billion/year in subsidies. They probably need it; they’ve been recently recording record-low profits. They’ve only been averaging around $60 billion/year profits the last few years. They need to eat too.

The pharmaceutical industry gets north of $250 billion/year, when calculating for subsidies and the fact that Medicare cannot negotiate prices with drug manufacturers, thanks to the 2003 Medicare Part D bill that continues to heavy contribute to our extremely high prescription prices. But they need to eat too.

Top-200 companies combine to receive well north of $1 trillion/year (with a T) in federal support, and that doesn’t count the fact that their lobbying (which they spend a far less than that on) gets them trillions of dollars of business combined. But we need to prioritize the well-being of the good people from Goldman-Sachs, AT&T, Microsoft, Comcast, Lockheed-Martin, big banks that already received a bailout years ago, and other enormously rich companies you’ve heard of. They need to eat, so badly.

So let’s ignore those in need and keep shoveling money to the people who already have all of it. That makes sense.

It’s Not Funny Anymore

Trump was a punchline only a few months ago.  Yeah, he had some polling numbers, but those didn’t really mean anything until people actually went and checked the box next to his name on a real voting ballot.  Yeah, the rest of the GOP field didn’t seem particularly strong, with a lot of flawed candidates and no clear favorite.  Yeah, at best Trump would get a wave of popularity (which is all he wanted, right?), he’d die off as one of the real politicians grabbed the reins, and he’d retreat back to wherever he would retreat to.  Probably off to fire somebody.

Instead, he’s now likely to win the Republican nomination with a delegate majority.  Donald Trump, Republican Nominee for President of the United States is very quickly becoming a reality.  It’s actually happening.

There’s little to say about it, so I won’t say much more.  It’s ludicrous this would happen, it seems a little obvious it would eventually in hindsight.  I’d rather talk about the implications this has on the public conversation, as that’s far more important.

I already blogged a tiny bit on this a few months ago, back in more innocent times.  There I wrote about how both Sanders and Trump were making their marks regardless of whatever success or failure they met in the primaries; they were both pushing populist messages that normally weren’t given voice in the mainstream media or the national political conversation.  That has absolutely continued, but there’s a key difference.

In Sanders, the long-silenced voice of the middle class, unions, and progressive reform has taken rise again.  His ideas and policies are largely derived from Roosevelt-ian doctrine (both Teddy and Franklin Delano) and the pragmatic progressive postures of northern European countries.  Sanders has tried to show us what America could be.

Trump, however, has given voice to a much uglier part of our past, or what we thought was our past.  He has peeled back the scab to show that the sore is still present.  Racism, xenophobia, and nativism have long thought to be dying, or at least on a steady march to the grave (though we still have a long way to go).  Instead, this base has been invigorated and mobilized behind the snake-est of snake-oil salesmen (it’s actually not hard to picture Trump as a figure in the late 1800s, lamenting the loss of the Civil War and doing his best to keep the roots of white supremacy planted firm).  Trump has shown us what America still is, and will still be for quite some time.

Here’s the thing: let’s assume Trump doesn’t win the presidency, if only for our own sanity’s sake.  Whether he loses the primary or the general election, there’s a key point to remember: his supporters aren’t going to go away.  They’re not going to go back to keeping their racist, xenophobic, nativist thoughts to themselves.  Trump has shown them that saying what you want (no matter what) is a virtue, even if what you want is reprehensible and unacceptable to most of rational, educated society.  The toothpaste is out of the tube.


In writing about politics here, I’ve tried very hard to remain objective and bipartisan, or at least the best I can be.  Obviously I’m a liberal, obviously I’m voting Democrat.  I’m done acting like I’m bipartisan, just to be nice.  The other side has stopped trying to be civil.  Violence and threats of violence have been common around Trump rallies and supporters, and I suspect it will only get worse with every passing speech or event.

We may reach a boiling pitch where Trump fails to get a majority of delegates (but is close), and the GOP sheepishly gives him the nomination in the face of a full-on, for-real violent revolt.  We may reach a time where Trump or Trump’s supporters crash Hillary’s or Bernie’s events, spreading the violence and unrest to the entire campaign.  We may reach a point where there are threats of violence (or worse, violence) at voting booths in November.  We may reach the point where he wins, and America officially becomes the laughingstock of the world, a great yet bleeding empire who has willingly handed the controls to a disingenuous sociopath who was only really in it for the Twitter followers anyways.

Or Trump loses, but his legacy remains.  Where his candidacy once lived, what remains are his fervent supporters, now angry that their avatar was vanquished.  But now they’re no longer afraid to shout their feelings from the rooftops.  They’re proud of their bigotry and intolerance now, so so proud because Mr. Trump showed them that it’s OK to talk about it.  It’s OK to exclude an entire religion from the entire country, while crying for the “religious freedom” to refuse service to people who don’t make fuck like you want them to.  It’s OK to destroy one of the great tenets of our country’s credo by building a wall next to an allied country.  It’s OK to just “bomb the shit out of them”, regardless of whether you’ve ever met “them”, or whether “them” has ever done anything to you, or whoever’s kids have to die fighting “them”.  It’s even OK to kill “them’s” family in the name of feeling more safe in a country that is actually very, very safe.

I’m not going to hold my tongue about it anymore, or be cute and pretend I’m bipartisan.  I’m not.  Especially in this election, where we have what we have.  I’m already accepting a Trump win in the primary, I honestly believe it will happen now.

So, while I lose no sleep over this whatsoever because not a single person I know in real life is a Trump vote, I’m going to say it anyways, if only to get it into print so I feel better.

A vote for Donald J. Trump is a vote for anarchy.  It is a vote against not just “everyone’s” self-interests, but your own.  It is a vote that is only born out of a negative quality; only ignorance, idiocy, or hatred leads to a vote for Trump.  He is a used-car salesman selling you a pinto with a fresh coat of paint.  He is a blackjack dealer, only dealing a game where he knows he will win.  He is the embodiment of everything wrong with America, and it’s incredibly saddening and disappointing to me that a significant part of our voting population is ignorant, stupid, or hateful enough to check the box next to his name.

If you’re reading this, and you honestly feel Donald Trump deserves your vote, I implore you, look within yourself.  Ask yourself why a shady billionaire with no political experience has any chance to do anything good for your country.  Ask yourself if you want a president who is a known misogynist.  Ask yourself if you want a president who has received a Stone Cold Stunner.  Ask yourself if a man who likes his steak well-done is deserving of sitting in the Oval Office.

If you still think Trump is the answer, then I don’t know what you say to you.  You’re either ignorant, stupid, or hateful.  And you’re proud of it.

“The Establishment Has Failed”, or “What Happens When Government Stops Serving The Majority”

No matter what part of the political spectrum you lie on, there is a scary candidate on the other side.  Republicans are frightened of the potential of a “socialist” Sanders presidency (and that “socialist” label is being applied to Clinton as well, to a lesser extent).  Democrats are wringing their hands at the momentum Trump appears to have.

While Sanders and Trump are as close to diametrically opposed as can be philosophically, they do share one common trait: they are populist, non-establishment candidates.  Trump brings far more consternation among Republicans than Sanders does among Democrats, but neither are the preferred candidate of either party.  Trump threatens to splinter the GOP, while the DNC has more subtle fears about Sanders, mainly the concern that he is too far left and will turn off centrist voters (which are the key to winning anything).  Both of them are getting their funding from nontraditional sources (Sanders by a large volume of small donors and unions, Trump from his own coffers), and both are appealing on a populist platform.

This shouldn’t be surprising.  The success of both candidates points to a rising tide of dissatisfaction with either political establishment.  While it may be shocking to see this on both sides at this time, to me this was a situation that was inevitable.

This is what happens when the majority of the country (re: middle class and lower) have not been served properly by the government for decades.

This is what happens when both political establishments have sold out (pardon the cliched term) to corporate interests.

This is what happens when the decay of the majority is so apparent that people turn to relatively extreme candidates and their ideologies.

The most ardent Sanders or Trump supporters share that same thought process: the establishments have failed us, we must look elsewhere for help.  The perceived failures, possible solutions, “radical” ideologies, and the candidates themselves are obviously different depending on which side you ask, but the resentment and dissatisfaction is of the same stripe: Washington has failed the American people, and enough is enough.

For the Democratic party, this is less of a concern for a variety of reasons.  The current establishment candidate is a strong household name, and Sanders’ success hasn’t been enough to carry him to a clear victory (and most sober predictive measures don’t show him as a real threat anymore).  While Sanders’ success is still going to provide a lasting effect even without a win (in that his ideals are now exposed and talked about in political analysis), the fact that he simply won’t win doesn’t threaten the Democratic party to a great extent.  The largest consequence of his success is the fact that it’s very obvious that the younger generation of Democrats and liberals largely share his ideals, and this is something that needs to be accounted for as they get older.

The GOP, on the other hand, may be heading for a fracture of immense proportions.  Trump’s success, now some of it in hindsight, is rather obvious to trace.  He is tapping into a portion of conservatives that share his somewhat-to-obvious xenophobic proposals, and are also dissatisfied with recent establishment results.  This is exacerbated by the fact that Trump appears to have appeared at the “perfect” time, where there is no clear opponent.  There’s no one with the cache of Hillary Clinton on the Republican side to oppose Trump.  The GOP’s initial establishment candidate, Jeb Bush, has already been ousted from contention, and the newly-crowned Marco Rubio has yet to win a state.  Some would think lining up behind Ted Cruz would be the obvious play for the GOP, but they dislike him almost as much as they do Trump, so they chose to back Rubio.


Both sides have themselves to blame.  Income inequality has been rising steadily for over four decades now; it was only a matter of time before people took notice.  Corporations now exert their power over our government with impunity.  While I wouldn’t call this a “revolution” by any standard (you’d need a lot more voter turnout to consider that term), it may be the beginning of one.  It may be the first wave of a sustained storm that may reshape American politics as we know it.

Will the establishments adjust to this development?  Will our government realign their priorities to serve the majority once more?  Will all this culminate into a splintering of parties, resulting in a four-or-five-or-six-party system?

Well, who the hell knows.  Right now we have a self-labeled socialist and a reality TV star in our primaries.

Three Should-Be-Obvious Societal Truths

There’s a ton of misinformation and lack of information in political/societal discussion.  This is natural, obviously.  However, of all the things that are misunderstood or not understood at all, there are three things I feel everyone needs to know.

1 – Creating a life in America is harder now than it was decades ago.

There’s a common saying that tends to come from baby boomers or any generation pre-Gen-X: “just pull up your bootstraps and work.”  This isn’t terrible advice, but it’s often couched in a belief that hard work is all you need to create a good life in America.  This is simply false.

Back in the day, going to college guaranteed you a mid-to-upper-level salary.  Housing cost less.  Gas cost less.  Food cost less.  Everything cost less!  And this is after calculating for inflation.

Houses used to cost, on average, two years of income for the middle class.  Cars used to cost around 1/3 of the income.  College was less than half what it costs today.  The simple fact is this: back then, credit wasn’t necessary to obtain these things, or at least far less necessary.  Now, buying a car without a loan is a rarity, college loans define your economic standing for decades, and housing (even in a deflated market!) costs more than ever.

Creating an average middle-class life in America is much, much harder now.  This is compounded by the fact that not only do you have to go into heavy debt for a house, you’re starting with a mountain of educational debt, or you don’t have a degree and have to get lucky to make it into a career path that yields decent pay.

Compound this with the fact that earnings overall are lower than in the past, when adjusted with the difference in the cost of living.  This makes it harder to have a family, since single-income households are now a rarity instead of the norm.  This puts undue stress upon parents and parenting, which then affects the child or children.

“Pulling up your bootstraps and going to work” just isn’t the cure-all answer anymore.  That should also include “get really lucky” or “hope your parents pay for college”.

2 – Institutionalized racism still exists in America.

This is obvious to the people it affects negatively, but not to the people it doesn’t affect (or to those who benefit!).

Cocaine is a drug predominately abused by well-off white people.  Crack cocaine is a drug predominately abused by poor black people.  However, possessing 1 gram of crack gets you a jail sentence equal to the sentence you would get for 18 grams of cocaine.  That sounds ridiculous, though it used to be worse!  Before the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, that disparity used to be 100:1!

Black children are 18 times more likely to be charged as adults than white children.

People with “black-sounding” names have to send 50% more job applications before getting a callback, when compared to people with “white-sounding” names.

A black man is three times more likely to be searched at a traffic stop, and then subsequently six times more likely to go to jail, when compared to a white person.

If a black person kills a white person, they are twice as likely to receive a death sentence, than the other way around.

77% of death row executions were a person who killed a white person.  13% of death row executions were a person who killed a black person.  Black and white murder is roughly the same.

It’s there.  Stop denying it.  And if you aren’t denying it, be aware of it.  If you’re white, I’m not saying you should have white guilt.  I’m saying you should have societal awareness.

3 – Socialism is not Communism.  Having social programs does not make you socialist.

Too often, people hear the word “social” or “equal” and automatically assume “socialist,” which then leads to “communist.”  This is dumb.

America has had socialist programs for ever.  Public police is socialist.  Public fire protection is socialist.  Public schools are socialist.  Social security.  Medicare.  This doesn’t make America a socialist country.  It makes it more socialist, but far from real socialist.

The ideas of universal health care or a higher minimum wage aren’t necessarily socialist ideas, but they are ideas that would help a majority of Americans.  Neither would change America into a socialist country, and not even close to a communist one.

This is silly confusion over dumb words that somehow have negative meanings, despite the fact that progressive ideals only help the most people, most of the time.

They’ve already won.

This cycle’s presidential primaries are probably the most compelling since I’ve been alive.


bern = felt.

Bernie Sanders has changed the game.  While he still lags in many polls and projections, and he still claims the “socialist” label that will likely keep confidence in his ability to win a general election tepid, his impact on the race has been felt already.

In a way, Sanders has already won.  Even if he loses in the primary or the general election, his views and arguments have now been projected into the mainstream.  Hillary has been forced to entertain or outright co-opt a number of views that many progressives would have only dared to dream would be spoken of on television, radio, Twitter, and countless other media outlets.

Even if he doesn’t win, Bernie Sanders has made an indelible mark on American politics.


it’s gotta be the hair.

Donald Trump has changed the game.  While many pollsters and experts predict his eventual loss in the primaries, and he still claims the “straight-shooter” label that has served him well so far but will likely be his undoing, his impact on the race has been felt already.

In a way, Trump has already won.  Even if he loses in the primary or the general election, his views and arguments have now been projected into the mainstream.  Other Republicans have been forced to entertain or outright co-opt a number of views that many closeted racists and xenophobes would have only dared to dream would be spoken of on television, radio, Twitter, and countless other media outlets.

Even if he doesn’t win, Donald Trump has made an indelible mark on American politics.