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What Clinton people don’t get…

Many people I respect greatly support Hillary. This leads to conversations (arguments?) as to why I think Bernie is a better choice than Hillary. Often these conversations are frustrating because I do in fact respect these people, but also because despite saying over and over again that I really don’t care how realistic Hillary’s policies are over Bernie’s, it keeps coming round to how realistic Hillary’s policies are over Bernie’s.

So let me repeat, I don’t care how realistic Hillary’s policies are over Bernie’s. I don’t.

Why?

The way I see it we can elect Hillary who might make minor changes, but nothing meaningful and worse, not even set a meaningful narrative or we can elect Bernie who might try to get meaningful changes, only get minor or no changes, but at least start the path toward a meaningful narrative.

Is Bernie going to break up the banks? No. Is Hillary even going to champion breaking up the banks? No. Is Bernie going to end the revolving door corruption of Washington? No. Is Hillary going to even champion  ending the revolving door corruption of Washington? No. Is Bernie going to end the influence of big money in Washington? No. Is Hillary going to even champion ending the influence of big money in Washington? No. Is Bernie going to enact “single payer”? No. Is Hillary going to even champion “single payer”? No. Finally, is Bernie going to end our endless war? Actually maybe. Is Hillary going to even champion ending our endless war? Hell no.

So when their presidency is done and over, what message will the public be left with? Will “liberal” be any less of a dirty word?

To that end, to me at least, Bernie is more realistic – because the only way we can make real change is to change minds and the only way to change minds is to get a different message out. Hillary is not going to change the message. It will still be just as “unrealistic” to aim for these ends after she leaves as it is when she gets in. We have effectively gotten nowhere.

I also think this may be a basic difference in how we look at the current state of the nation. If you think the fundamental direction of the nation is basically “ok” but needs a few tweaks, then by all means I see your vote for Hillary. However, if you feel that the country is heading in an ugly direction with greater and greater inequality, where the average American lives in uncertainty and fears to meet the basic necessities, where war is endless, where democracy looks increasingly like a sham, then it’s time to aim higher. “Better than the Republicans” is not good enough.

To me at the moment the Republicans and the Democrats are two buses going to the same station, the only difference being the Democratic bus is going slower and smells better. It may be that Bernie isn’t going to change the direction of the bus any more than Hillary, but he’ll at least get the passengers to think about trying to.

Worse than every war before?

Matt Lauer on NBC to Hillary Clinton:

“It seems, Secretary Clinton, that information is so vital when it comes to combatting terrorism, and that is why perhaps—perhaps—you hear some people say when you get a key suspect like the one who was taken into custody in Brussels last Friday, maybe you should use some enhanced techniques to get information out of that person. It also may be why, if you look at this country in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings that you just brought up, a lot of people say, ‘wait a minute, Apple, you’ve got to unlock that phone that was left behind by one of the shooters because it’s crucial that we get that information.’ Is that simply just a logical step that people take after events like this, and do you agree with it?”

Wouldn’t that kind of information have been useful in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and the Cold War? And yet not only did they not use torture for any of it, no one had the lack of moral character to even suggest it?

Are you saying that these guys are more dangerous than the Nazis? More dangerous than the combined might of the Soviet Union with its world ending nuclear arsenal pointed at us?

Or maybe we have just lost our way?

Why we find terrorists after they terrorize…

If you want to know, despite all the dollars spent, why we seem to only find terrorists after they’ve finished terrorizing, this entry from the Homeland Security Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report might give a clue:

Ferrrari recalls 185 California T vehicles for fuel leak risk.

This is why the idea of sweeping as much data into the NSA databases as possible can be counter productive – if you can’t separate the real information from the noise, too much information can be as bad as too little information. This Homeland Security report shows exactly that – it would be hard to pull out relevant concerns from the noise of items that have little to do with security at all.

A fitting follow up…

I truly find what Trump is saying is execrable, though I have to admit I find those who agree with him far more scary, even if I count some of them my friends.

Still, have we really come to the point where we find it necessary to censor ideas that we find objectionable?:

MoveOn call to censorship

Isn’t one of the great hallmarks of fascism and totalitarianism the inability to tolerate alternative ideas lest they “infect” the  masses with their beliefs? That somehow those who behave badly have to be “radicalized” rather than radicalizing themselves?

Adolf Hitler was terrifying in his rhetoric, but it is convenient to blame his oratory skills and propaganda rather than give agency to those who chose to follow him, “chose” being the operative word. Hitler was not a sorcerer, those who followed him were not bewitched into their actions. It was their personal moral failings not his that led them to the crimes they supported, or worse, committed. Figures like Hitler and Trump don’t make the people evil, they just expose the latent evil within.

Yes, we must speak out, but we need to speak out with the strength of our arguments, not by using the same tools of those we object. If nothing else we should be cautious for we provide the very tools by which we too may be censored in the future.

If anything Trump shows is that “what goes around, comes around”. We see the the tools populists have used for centuries turned on themselves. Let’s not hand him another.

Hate speech is legal…

I hear arguments from my fellows on the left against the types of speech that may have incited anti-abortion violence (“anti-abortion violence” a sort of oxymoron in itself). While I agree that morally the right should STFU a bit (or rather, tone it down), I disagree with any implication that censorship would be reasonable here.

What most people don’t know is “incitement to violence” in most forms is actually legal – something I didn’t know myself until reading the always excellent Glenn Greenwald:

That’s because I agree with what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 45 years ago in Brandenburg v. Ohio. That case overturned the conviction of a KKK member for giving a speech that threatened political officials (including the U.S. president) with violence. The Court invalidated as unconstitutional the Ohio law that made it a crime to “advocate . . . the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.”

The Brandenburg Court’s key reasoning: “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force.” Only incitement of imminent violence — e.g., leading a mob holding torches outside of someone’s house and directing them to burn it down — can be punished; advocacy of violence by itself cannot be (my most comprehensive argument against criminalizing ideas on the ground that they are “hateful” or “violent” is here).

I know it’s appealing to censor when it’s “the other guys”, but someday if the tables are turned, you might disagree. And, being an old fuck, I have seen the tables turned many times.

Welcome to Hell…

“We are on the brink of a disaster and this is the government of political suiciders. So welcome to hell.”

– Acting Ukrainian President, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, via The Bugle Podcast (also see BBC)

An understatement…

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

– Bertrand Russell

Luxuries to the few…

“I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, and leave millions of God’s children smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.”

– Martin Luther King

In Britain, Labor finally gets its head out of its ass…

Will the Democrats finally do so too?

For the Conservatives, the deficit is just an excuse to railroad through the same old Tory Republican agenda: driving down wages, cutting taxes for the wealthiest, allowing house prices to spiral out of reach, selling off our national assets and attacking trade unions. You can’t cut your way to prosperity, you have to build it: investing in modern infrastructure, investing in people and their skills, harnessing innovative ideas and new ways of working to tackle climate change to protect our environment and our future.

– Jeremy Corbyn in The Guardian (slightly edited for American eyes)

Worth reading the whole thing here.

The sanctity of it all…

Via a friend, says it all really:

9-11-muffins