Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Is there something to the difference in crowd support and primary votes beyond the exclusion of Independents from many primaries? Do we need to ask ourselves:

Is Something Rotten in Denmark?  

What about those exit polls after the primaries? No one really pays more than fleeting attention to them. Maybe we should attend them more closely, says Richard Charnin in today's NY Times online. Apparently this year's vote discrepancies are.. ahem.. quite a bit larger than normal.

Below is a response comment from his editorial page article about Bernie's effect on the Hillary campaign. Copied directly.

[RLS is a trusted commenter Virginia 40 minutes ago]
"The Editorial Board should be calling for a recount in some of the states. The probability that Sanders' vote share in the unadjusted exit polls has been GREATER than the recorded vote in 21 of 23 primaries is 1 in 30,000 according to Richard Charnin, a mathematician and author of two books on election fraud

The margin of error for exit polls is between 1% and 2.5%. The larger discrepancies (an exit poll was not taken in Arizona):

Georgia - 12.2%
Virginia- 4.3%
Massachusetts - 8.0%
Alabama -14.0%
Tennessee - 8.3%
Arkansas - 5.2%
Texas - 9.3%Michigan - 4.6%
Mississippi - 9.9%
Illinois - 4.1%
Missouri - 3.9%
Ohio - 10.0%
New York - 11.6%

Charnin’s blog posts on the April 26 states, New York, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, March 15 states, and Super Tuesday states:

Election fraud is real. A group of citizen observers told Chicago Board of Elections officials at an April 5 meeting that BOE [Board of Elections] employees changed hand-counted tallies to match the recorded vote. This took place during an audit of 5% of the electronic machines as required by law in Illinois. Watch as one of the audit observers testifies at the 24-31 minute mark:

Election Board Scandal: 21 Bernie Votes Were Erased and 49 Hillary Votes Added to Audit Tally, Group Declares [Video]

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RLS is a trusted commenter Virginia 35 minutes ago
Why exit polls matter:

"Why should we care about exit poll results?

"When properly conducted, exit polls should predict election results with a high degree of reliability. Unlike telephone opinion polls that ask people which candidate they intend to vote for several days before the election, exit polls are surveys of voters conducted after they have cast their votes at their polling places.

"Around the world, exit polls have been used to verify the integrity of elections. The United States has funded exit polls in Eastern Europe to detect fraud. Discrepancies between exit polls and the official vote count have been used to successfully overturn election results in Ukraine, Serbia, and Georgia.

"Are exit polls data better than other polling data?

"Exit polls, properly conducted, can remove most sources of polling error. Unlike telephone polls, an exit poll will not be skewed by the fact that some groups of people tend not to be home in the evening or don’t own a landline telephone. Exit polls are not confounded by speculation about who will actually show up to vote, or by voters who decide to change their mind in the final moments. Rather, they identify the entire voting population in representative precincts and survey respondents immediately upon leaving the polling place about their votes."


Is anyone going to check this out? If there's any truth to this, we are, as a nation,  quite possibly doomed. That is, more doomed than usual.  Perhaps it's naive of us to believe otherwise. Then why does everything in our nature feel compelled to deny it?

I've just finished watching a series on Netflix: "Occupied", a Norwegian tv series from the unfailingly interesting and adventurous production company Yellow Bird Productions. The premise is a Russian invasion of Norway, backed by the EU and condoned by the US, in order to prevent Norway from instituting an innovative green energy program that, if adopted by all, could save the planet (and their economy in the bargain). It's an interesting "fictitious" study of the insidiousness that can mask a nation's incremental compromise with evil, how easy for good people to fall prey to gradual erosion of human liberty until fascism  (the corporate state) reigns. 

What was that Sinclair Lewis book from the mid-twentieth century? "It Can't Happen Here".  Oh yeah, I remember... (from Wiki, the plot):

"In 1936 Senator Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a charismatic and power-hungry politician, wins the election as President of the United States on a populist platform, promising to restore the country to prosperity and greatness..... Portraying himself as a champion of traditional American values, Windrip easily defeats his opponents, Senator Walt Trowbridge and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt [the socialistic New Deal Dem]. Though having previously foreshadowed some authoritarian measures in order to reorganize the United States government, Windrip rapidly outlaws dissent, incarcerates political enemies in concentration camps, and trains and arms a paramilitary force called the Minute Men, who terrorize citizens and enforce the policies of Windrip and his "corporatist" regime. One of his first acts as president is to eliminate the influence of the United States Congress...."

Not to worry, folks. That's just fiction. It can't happen here. Not here. We have God on our side.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Little Perspective on Pennsylvania's Primary


From a comment on the NY Times site recently:

 James Dusel says:
"The elephant in the room is something we all tread so delicately around, namely that the church social set of the African American community has sold its soul and its vote all too cheaply to a couple [the Clintons] that has wreaked considerable damage upon their community. Martin Luther King would be appalled at the ease with which Mr. Clinton seduced that community in the first place and the entitlement with which Mrs. Clinton enjoys its continued devotion. All too often King's name is invoked as a benevolent saint from the distant past rather than as the democratic socialist he came to be in his later years. In 1966 King said this to his associates: "Now this means that we are treading in difficult waters, because it really means that we are saying there is something wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America needs to move toward a democratic socialism." That was in 1966, when income inequality in the nation was in no way comparable to the horrid inequality of the present day. This theme found even more explicit expression in "The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism". And again, "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children." King saw that the struggle must proceed on all fronts: against racism, of course, but also, and equally against militarism, and finally against the egregious income inequality engendered by capitalism. Were King still with us, there would be little doubt with which candidate he would ally himself. He would certainly not stand with the candidate who surrounds herself with Wall Street profiteers, war criminals, those who follow solely for the sake expected advancement, and those who confuse the most audacious influence peddling scheme in America's history for the Promised Land."

Yeah, what he said...

Here's a wonderful comment from Yanis Varoufakis sitting in Heathrow recently and reflecting on the difference between traveling as a government minister after having traveled with the hoi polloi most of his life:

“how readily I could forget that which my leftwing mind had always known: that nothing succeeds in reproducing itself better than a false sense of entitlement.”

I'll wager his level of self awareness in this regard is the exception . I recall an old TV show intro: "Would YOU like to be queen for a day?!"

Wull, yeah.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Real New Yorker Won Big

Hang in there, Bernie. You may have this thing won yet.

So Hillary didn't so much win 58% of the vote in New York yesterday as she lost 42% to Bernie.  That's 42% of Democrats in what she likes to claim is her home state... of course it wasn't her home state until she wanted to run for Senator and moved to a posh NY suburb which must have seemed like quite a come down after The White House Washington Power Whirl...  all those servants waiting on you hand and hoof.   But that's the Clintons for you.... always angling.

A quick glance at the NY map reveals who voted for Hill:  The urban and suburban well to do... Bernie carried the rest of the state... i.e., regular people voted for him in droves. What if the thousands in Brooklyn and NYC who weren't allowed to vote had voted? One wonders why, come every election, we find ourselves asking that question so often. Why, in a democracy, is it so hard to cast a simple vote?

Rumor has it many of her younger campaign staff actually voted for Bernie, and why wouldn't they? There's a reason the young are so tuned to Bernie's message: he's speaking to them about their future, a subject Hillary avoids. She knows damn well the kind of future her daughter of privilege can expect is and in no way will be that of the average young person in America.. she doesn't even believe it should be. In fact, given the way she chastises Bernie for his "dreams" of a better future for young people, it would seem she doesn't want the sons and daughters of average folks moving "beyond their station", if you will. For what then would be the point of all the political finagling, opportunity enhancement and millionaire mingling she and Bill have so obsequiously pursued for years? Now that her daughter is well married off  and her inheritance assured, it's hard to imagine Hillary concerns herself with anyone's future but her own. There's a juicy word for the kind of desperate, not to say embarrassing, ethics-free power grab one senses with Hillary.. I just can't recall what it is... 

And to those lightweight, nouveau, self-styled "feminists" of the privileged class who insist that any woman who doesn't vote for Hill is betraying her gender, I say: I learned that lesson years ago, honey, when I voted for women Republican Senators who turned right around and voted for anti-choice Supreme Court ideologues; I'd rather cast a real vote for our daughters' futures and the planet's than usher in another self-serving politician who's running on resentment, hoping to prove a point and expunge her fury over having married a such a creep.

Yeah, I'm feelin that Bern.  Right to the finale. and then?... NO I'm not voting for her. She's as creepy as the guy she married. 

Go, Bernie. Here's another twenty bucks.

Monday, March 14, 2016

World banking explained in less than 2 minutes

Thanks to Gill for sending this along. John Perkins is a well-known writer whose work experience qualifies him to comment on such matters. Here's a very clever synopsis of the machinations of world banking. No doubt, Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's former Economic Minister, would attest to its accuracy.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What Price Glory?

In today's NY Times Maureen Dowd offers up a bit of elitist rationalization for the pointlessness of boycotts (would Cesar Chavez agree, I wonder?),  in particular a recent effort by celebs to boycott the Sultan of Brunei's Beverly Hills Hotel, a fave gathering spot for rich and famous and wannabes, who object to the sultan's shariah rationalized punishment of gays and adulterous women. Here's what one commenter had to say about that slippery cop-out.

Susan Anderson is a trusted commenter Boston 2 hours ago

"Interesting that hatred of Islam only applies to refugees, the victims not the bosses and perps.

But to be honest, we are all aware of our hypocrisy. The life we live is made of illusion, we outsource our pollution to the third world and the ghetto (or to be politically correct, those who cannot afford to protest the for-profit dumpings of "job creators").

I and my friends study global warming, and have come to the conclusion that without systemic change our world is only good for a few decades (two?) absent a total reorganization which eliminates a wide variety of indulgences and deeply dishonest special pleading (see Jane Mayer's Dark Money).

But if we get rid of the unnecessary, how will the people who produce it earn a living? Instead, it's climate science to the guillotine: we don't want to know.

Best to eat, drink, dance, and be merry, I guess. But the Keep It In the Ground campaign and other protests are still worth the effort, I'd say. Just noticed the MIT sit-in got action, though not a commitment to divestment.

Can cities turn out some of the lights at night? It seems we won't even take potential extinction seriously enough to do the smallest easiest things.

Expensive luxuries, intellectual diversions, passion projects, they all take energy that, if we think about it, is no longer free. Small pleasures, simple things, they've been eclipsed, but are still worthwhile. "

Enjoy the spring weather, everyone.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Why Trump? Have The Pundits Got It Wrong (Again)?

Is it really Trump's racist remarks that white American voters find so attractive? Really? What about that OTHER thing he's always on about?...... You know, that thang the Dems like to deny is even an issue.

Thomas Frank is quite possibly one of our most insightful sociopolitical writers. I was thrilled to find this in the Guardian recently. It explains why I occasionally find myself smiling at something Donald says, whispering "yes" to the screen. If nothing else, I give the man major props for vociferously pointing out that 9/11 happened because the Bush Administration didn't give a damn about warnings of an attack. All that "kept us safe" bs from Jeb. It is a fact that when Clinton's security advisor approached the incoming Bush Admin, prepared to brief Bush on terrorist threats, Bush declined to be briefed. Just plain wasn't interested. Prior to 9/11 Bush's approval numbers were in the toilet, after only a few months in the White House. After 9/11?.... Well, let's just say he was suddenly BMOC.
So.. Why Trump? It's plain as the nose on your face, and, for most of his supporters, has little or nothing to do with racism. Neoliberal Economics, folks. The nasty betrayal of the American worker by the party that once was his/her champion. 

I know it's a long article, but it's worth your time, Frank's thorough, with a gift for seeing right through the media fog.  Check him out.

Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here's why | Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank
Let us now address the greatest American mystery at the moment: what motivates the supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump?

I call it a “mystery” because the working-class white people who make up the bulk of Trump’s fan base show up in amazing numbers for the candidate, filling stadiums and airport hangars, but their views, by and large, do not appear in our prestige newspapers. On their opinion pages, these publications take care to represent demographic categories of nearly every kind, but “blue-collar” is one they persistently overlook. The views of working-class people are so foreign to that universe that when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wanted to “engage” a Trump supporter last week, he made one up, along with this imaginary person’s responses to his questions.
When members of the professional class wish to understand the working-class Other, they traditionally consult experts on the subject. And when these authorities are asked to explain the Trump movement, they always seem to zero in on one main accusation: bigotry. Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s, which is blowing through the inherited structure of the Republican party like a tornado through a cluster of McMansions.

Trump himself provides rather excellent evidence for this finding. The man is an insult clown who has systematically gone down the list of American ethnic groups and offended them each in turn. He wants to deport millions upon millions of undocumented immigrants. He wants to bar Muslims from visiting the United States. He admires various foreign strongmen and dictators, and has even retweeted a quote from Mussolini. This gold-plated buffoon has in turn drawn the enthusiastic endorsement of leading racists from across the spectrum of intolerance, a gorgeous mosaic of haters, each of them quivering excitedly at the prospect of getting a real, honest-to-god bigot in the White House.

All this stuff is so insane, so wildly outrageous, that the commentariat has deemed it to be the entirety of the Trump campaign. Trump appears to be a racist, so racism must be what motivates his armies of followers. And so, on Saturday, New York Times columnist Timothy Egan blamed none other than “the people” for Trump’s racism: “Donald Trump’s supporters know exactly what he stands for: hatred of immigrants, racial superiority, a sneering disregard of the basic civility that binds a society.”
Stories marveling at the stupidity of Trump voters are published nearly every day. Articles that accuse Trump’s followers of being bigots have appeared by the hundreds, if not the thousands. Conservatives have written them; liberals have written them; impartial professionals have written them. The headline of a recent Huffington Post column announced, bluntly, that “Trump Won Super Tuesday Because America is Racist.” A New York Times reporter proved that Trump’s followers were bigots by coordinating a map of Trump support with a map of racist Google searches. Everyone knows it: Trump’s followers’ passions are nothing more than the ignorant blurtings of the white American id, driven to madness by the presence of a black man in the White House. The Trump movement is a one-note phenomenon, a vast surge of race-hate. Its partisans are not only incomprehensible, they are not really worth comprehending.

* * *

Or so we’re told. Last week, I decided to watch several hours of Trump speeches for myself. I saw the man ramble and boast and threaten and even seem to gloat when protesters were ejected from the arenas in which he spoke. I was disgusted by these things, as I have been disgusted by Trump for 20 years. But I also noticed something surprising. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called leftwing.
Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy. Not even his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, the issue that first won him political fame. He did it again during the debate on 3 March: asked about his political excommunication by Mitt Romney, he chose to pivot and talk about … trade.

It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies’ CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.
Trump embellished this vision with another favorite leftwing idea: under his leadership, the government would “start competitive bidding in the drug industry”. (“We don’t competitively bid!” he marveled – another true fact, a legendary boondoggle brought to you by the George W Bush administration.) Trump extended the critique to the military-industrial complex, describing how the government is forced to buy lousy but expensive airplanes thanks to the power of industry lobbyists.

Thus did he hint at his curious selling proposition: because he is personally so wealthy, a fact about which he loves to boast, Trump himself is unaffected by business lobbyists and donations. And because he is free from the corrupting power of modern campaign finance, famous deal-maker Trump can make deals on our behalf that are “good” instead of “bad”. The chance that he will actually do so, of course, is small. He appears to be a hypocrite on this issue as well as so many other things. But at least Trump is saying this stuff.

All this surprised me because, for all the articles about Trump I had read in recent months, I didn’t recall trade coming up very often. Trump is supposed to be on a one-note crusade for whiteness. Could it be that all this trade stuff is a key to understanding the Trump phenomenon?

* * *

Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic powerbrokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream.

To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico, and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.

As I watched it, I thought of all the arguments over trade that we’ve had in this country since the early 1990s, all the sweet words from our economists about the scientifically proven benevolence of free trade, all the ways in which our newspapers mock people who say that treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement allow companies to move jobs to Mexico.

Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace”. A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.

* * *

Now, I have no special reason to doubt the suspicion that Donald Trump is a racist. Either he is one, or (as the comedian John Oliver puts it) he is pretending to be one, which amounts to the same thing.
But there is another way to interpret the Trump phenomenon. A map of his support may coordinate with racist Google searches, but it coordinates even better with deindustrialization and despair, with the zones of economic misery that 30 years of Washington’s free-market consensus have brought the rest of America.

It is worth noting that Trump is making a point of assailing that Indiana air conditioning company from the video in his speeches. What this suggests is that he’s telling a tale as much about economic outrage as it is tale of racism on the march. Many of Trump’s followers are bigots, no doubt, but many more are probably excited by the prospect of a president who seems to mean it when he denounces our trade agreements and promises to bring the hammer down on the CEO that fired you and wrecked your town, unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Here is the most salient supporting fact: when people talk to white, working-class Trump supporters, instead of simply imagining what they might say, they find that what most concerns these people is the economy and their place in it. I am referring to a study just published by Working America, a political-action auxiliary of the AFL-CIO, which interviewed some 1,600 white working-class voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in December and January.

Support for Donald Trump, the group found, ran strong among these people, even among self-identified Democrats, but not because they are all pining for a racist in the White House. Their favorite aspect of Trump was his “attitude”, the blunt and forthright way he talks. As far as issues are concerned, “immigration” placed third among the matters such voters care about, far behind their number one concern: “good jobs / the economy”.

“People are much more frightened than they are bigoted,” is how the findings were described to me by Karen Nussbaum, the executive director of Working America. The survey “confirmed what we heard all the time: people are fed up, people are hurting, they are very distressed about the fact that their kids don’t have a future” and that “there still hasn’t been a recovery from the recession, that every family still suffers from it in one way or another.”

Tom Lewandowski, the president of the Northeast Indiana Central Labor Council in Fort Wayne, puts it even more bluntly when I asked him about working-class Trump fans. “These people aren’t racist, not any more than anybody else is,” he says of Trump supporters he knows. “When Trump talks about trade, we think about the Clinton administration, first with Nafta and then with [Permanent Normal Trade Relations] China, and here in Northeast Indiana, we hemorrhaged jobs.”

“They look at that, and here’s Trump talking about trade, in a ham-handed way, but at least he’s representing emotionally. We’ve had all the political establishment standing behind every trade deal, and we endorsed some of these people, and then we’ve had to fight them to get them to represent us.”
Now, let us stop and smell the perversity. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working people. But our left party in America – one of our two monopoly parties – chose long ago to turn its back on these people’s concerns, making itself instead into the tribune of the enlightened professional class, a “creative class” that makes innovative things like derivative securities and smartphone apps. The working people that the party used to care about, Democrats figured, had nowhere else to go, in the famous Clinton-era expression. The party just didn’t need to listen to them any longer.

What Lewandowski and Nussbaum are saying, then, should be obvious to anyone who’s dipped a toe outside the prosperous enclaves on the two coasts. Ill-considered trade deals and generous bank bailouts and guaranteed profits for insurance companies but no recovery for average people, ever – these policies have taken their toll. As Trump says, “we have rebuilt China and yet our country is falling apart. Our infrastructure is falling apart … Our airports are, like, Third World.”
Trump’s words articulate the populist backlash against liberalism that has been building slowly for decades and may very well occupy the White House itself, whereupon the entire world will be required to take seriously its demented ideas.

Yet still we cannot bring ourselves to look the thing in the eyes. We cannot admit that we liberals bear some of the blame for its emergence, for the frustration of the working-class millions, for their blighted cities and their downward spiraling lives. So much easier to scold them for their twisted racist souls, to close our eyes to the obvious reality of which Trumpism is just a crude and ugly expression: that neoliberalism has well and truly failed.

Thomas Frank is the author of Listen, Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People, published 15 March by Metropolitan Books
  • This article was amended on 9 March 2016 to reflect the fact that Nafta stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement. An earlier version of this article referred to it as North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.