Pluralistic: 31 Mar 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/04/2020 - 2:50am in

Today's links

  1. 100 Ideas for Dungeon Masters: Based on the Pathfinder Bestiary, readily adaptable for other systems.
  2. Attack Surface author's note: My latest podcast is the afterword from the third Little Brother book.
  3. Trump admits voter suppression: Proving intent was never easier.
  4. Reality endorses Sanders: Pandemics have an obvious leftist bias.
  5. Amazon fires walkout organizer: Low waged workers, doing the most important work in America, exposed to lethal risk.
  6. Monopolists stole your respirator: Dying a gasping death is pareto-optimal.
  7. Corporate welfare vs food stamps: A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
  8. How viruses experience social distancing: XKCD mixes atavistic satisfaction with science communications.
  9. Scarfolk pandemics: This isn't the worst timeline after all.
  10. This day in history: 2005, 2019
  11. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading

100 Ideas for Dungeon Masters (permalink)

Manuel Solís's "100 Ideas for Dungeon Masters" can be one-shots or whole campaigns: rev up your D100s!

  • The only way to end the Queen of Shadows is beat her at her game, and infiltrate the organization.
  • The war is about to explode. The daughter of the greatest painter asks the PCs escape with 30 priceless paintings.
  • The Princess is a doppelganger and has been discovered. Secretly, she reveals that the entire royal family have always been dopplegangers. We must return her to the throne and fool everyone.
  • 20 magic arrows labeled with 20 names. The quiver of revenge.
  • A local nobleman will inherit a castle if he wins a tournament, but does not know how to fight. and needs our help.
  • The circus is in town. They have a basilisk. The basilisk has disappeared!
  • In the neighboring kingdom a man sells giant turnips that turn into giants those who eats them.
  • An Aristocrats club (The club of the humbles) is a facade of a cult that worships Dark Nagas and Demons.
  • At dawn there will be a coup, and the baby who inherited the throne will be assassinated. The whole guard has resigned.

Attack Surface author's note (permalink)

My latest podcast is a reading of the author's note from "Attack Surface" — the third Little Brother book, which comes out on Oct 12.

I recorded this for the audiobook edition of Attack Suface, which I've been recording all last week with Amber Benson and the Cassandra de Cuir from Skyboat Media.

If you like what you hear, please consider pre-ordering the book — it's a scary time to have a book in the production pipeline!

Here's the MP3:

And here's the podcast feed:

Trump admits voter suppression (permalink)

Trump went on Fox and Friends to talk about switching the 2020 election to mail-in, and said, that if you allowed everyone to vote, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Jon Queally calls it "Saying the quiet part out loud."

It's a pretty consequential slip, though. Trump was discussing the GOPs opposition to providing funding to states to retool for postal voting, which is likely to result in high-stakes litigation. And courtrooms – even ones presided over by GOP appointees – take these frank admissions of intent to heart.

Just look at the weird tale of Thomas Hofeller, creator of REDMAP and architect of the GOP's nationwide gerrymandering campaign.

Hofeller's key insight was the redistricting was "an election in reverse" where, "instead of voters choosing their politicians, politicians choose their voters." He convinced GOP donors that funding state-level gerrymanders was a huge bargain on political influence.

We know what happened next: the US became more antimajoritarian than ever and started to elect antimajoritarian politicians – politicians who embrace the core right-wing tenet that some people are better than others and those people should be in charge.

White nationalists want whites in charge. Dominionists want rule by Christian men. Libertarians want rule by bosses. But they all believe that nature made some to rule and others to be ruled.

This is a hard ideology to make work in a democracy, which is notionally a majoritarian project. To get elected, antimajoritarians have two main tactics.

The first is scapegoating. White supremacy is how the GOP gets turkeys to vote for Christmas:

LBJ's Southern Strategy was remarkably frank about this: "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

Right now, the GOP and its state media organ, Fox, have opted to put its main base (old white people) into harm's way by converting high-risk activity into a marker of tribal loyalty. They could kill of a LOT of their base. It's a weird flex.

But then there's the other antimajoritarian way to win: cheating (i.e. gerrymandering), which brings me back to Hoeffler.

Hoeffler was really careful about never saying the quiet part out loud.

Not only did he never admit he was gerrymandering on racial lines, he also exhorted his allies to never write down anything like this, not to send emails or make notes to themselves about it.

But Hoeffler wasn't good at following his own advice. When he died suddenly in 2018, he left behind computers and thumb-drives stuffed with frank admissions that REDMAP was a cheat, designed to steal the votes of nonwhites and other traditional Democratic voters.

Worse (for Hoeffler and the GOP), the person who inherited his data was his estranged, anarchist daughter, Stephanie. She put all that data online:

She dumped it all in raw form, so no one could accuse her of putting Hoeffler's deeds and intentions in a false negative light — it's all there, including materials that reflect badly on Stephanie. She was more interested in truth than her own feelings.

Before Stephanie doxed her father, court cases over REDMAP gerrymandering had been stalled and nosediving. Afterwards courts – presided over by GOP-appointed judges – had no choice but to find in favor of the plaintiffs, against GOP redistricting.

Proving intent is key to prevailing in court challenges to redistricting and other election fuckery. It's really hard. The bar is set incredibly high. If the redistricters can make any sort of claim of a legit purpose for the new boundaries, they usually win.

But not when they come right out and say the quiet part out loud. When the President goes on national television and announces that he wants fewer people to vote because otherwise, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again," well…

Both figuratively and literally, Trump has a really hard time keeping it in his pants. He always says the quiet part out loud from "rapists and drug traffickers" to his statement that he would withhold aid from states whose governors criticized him.

He's really good at running across the river hopping from the back of one alligator to the next before the jaws snap closed, but that's a strategy much better suited to owning the news cycle than the courtroom.

Because courts don't lose focus when your outlandish deeds are chased by more outlandish ones, obliterating the previous scandal from the public mind. They are deliberative, slow, plodding.


Remember when Trump's Muslim ban got struck down because courts weighed his statement that it wasn't a Muslim ban against his tweets where he said it was? Saying the quiet part out loud is good antimajoritarian electioneering. It's a terrible legal strategy.

Running across a river on the back of alligators works great…until it doesn't. It's hard to keep running once you lose a leg.

Trump no longer has a leg to stand on.

(Image: Michael Fleshman, CC BY-SA)

Reality endorses Sanders (permalink)

Hard to say it better than Keeanga Yamahtta: "Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders."

From Medicare for All to public broadband provision to reining in pharma to the need for worker rights to universal housing, pandemics have an incredibly unfair left-wing bias.

SF and LA can order shelter-in-place, but that doesn't magically end the plague of homelessness that was created by allowing the private sector to decide which housing got built and where.

Quarantine's incompatibility with mass incarceration is indisputable.

A nation without savings cannot survive a pandemic unchanged.

History tells us what those changes can be: the New Deal, the GI Bill, the Great Society.

We're balanced on the knife edge between two futures. In the first one, pandemic leads to fascist exterminism, the belief that poors and spoonies and olds need to be eliminated to ensure that they don't become reservoirs of pathogens.

In the second, the manifest failures of the cruel doctrine of "personal responsibility" is displaced by solidarity and the frank admission that we have a shared destiny, not just economic or social, but microbial.

We get to choose. Soon. As soon as November.

Amazon fires walkout organizer (permalink)

Amazon warehouse workers and other low-waged workers who are literally keeping us and our economy alive during the pandemic say that their employers are cutting corners, depriving them of PPE, handwashing, sick pay, etc.

It's especially bad at Amazon warehouses, where workers have staged walkouts to protest unsafe working conditions.

The walkout at Staten Island's JFK8 warehouse was led by Chris Smalls, who has been fired by Amazon.

Amazon claims that Smalls was fired for failing to observe social distancing. Read between the lines and you'll discover that they sent him home because he was a labor leader and insisted that he stay there, using epidemiology as a pretence for illegal labor practices.

Workers at Whole Foods are ready to walk out too:

And Instacart:

It's funny, you'd think the right would be all over this. After all, the excuse for paying low-waged workers substarvation wages is that the market has set their wage there, because other people are willing to do their jobs if they don't want to.

And now, no one is willing to do those jobs, so they have a seller's market. When you have a seller's market, capitalists tell you that you should demand all the market will bear. In this case, I think that comes out to sick pay, PPE, and a giant fucking raise.

Monopolists stole your respirator (permalink)

A couple days ago, I wrote about how lax antitrust enfforcement caused America's ventilator shortage, because medtech giant Covidien bought out tiny rival Newport to kill a USG contract to produce tons of low-cost ventilators.

I based that post off this excellent NYT piece, which gets deep on history of the plan to produce the ventilators, and the way that Covidien killed it, and then got acquired by an even bigger company, Medtronic (who were already a horrible shithow).

But there's even more to the story, as David Dayen writes in The American Prospect.

The whole story is even more of a parable about late-stage capitalism than it appears at first blush.

First of all, this kind of buy-and-kill maneuver is an epidemic in the health industries. This paper identifies 45 instances per year in which pharma companies acquire small competitors to prevent the release of low-cost competitors to their products:

For example: Roche killed a promising hemophilia cure from small rival Spark Therapeutics, whose one-shot drug would have ended the market for Roche's once-a-month hemophilia drug Hemlibra.

Then there's Covidien's acquisition by Medtronic, which wasn't an acquisition in the traditional sense, rather, it was a "tax inversion" — a piece of financial engineering — that allowed Medtronic to move $1B in offshore money to the US tax free.

Covidien had a long history of financial shenanigans, dating back to its years as a division of Tyco International, whose CEO was imprisoned for fraud. Covidien has variously billed itself as a US, Bermudan and Irish company.

tldr: "Covidien, a longtime corporate tax cheat and serial acquirer of competitors, scooped up a rival and scotched its most promising project, which would have significantly boosted our ability to cope with pandemics. Then it merged with an even bigger rival and lent it the same tax avoidance and corporate consolidation tactics, making the medical supply chain even more fragile."

Corporate welfare vs food stamps (permalink)

Are you an airline exec hoping for up to $32 no-strings billions from the US government? Just fill in this handy, simple form:

Are you a laid off worker who needs food stamps so you and your family don't starve to death? Here's a kafkaeque form betraying a love of bureaucratic fuckery that makes Stalin look like Ayn Rand.

As Matt Stoller says, "The airline application for billions in assistance is 'what's your name and where can I send the check?' The application for food stamps requires ten pages of detailed personal financial records.'

How viruses experience social distancing (permalink)

This week's XKCD is one of the best commentaries I've seen on coronavirus so far.

There are real risks associated with anthropomorphizing the virus – it can feed conspiracism and xenophobia – but Randall's work at describing the public health to the pandemic from the virus's perspective is just incredibly heartening and also compelling.

What a sweet moment for your day, to imagine how your sacrifices are frustrating the virus, and simultaneously to get a rigorous, easy-to-grasp description of how social distancing and other countermeasures work. Randall Munroe is a human treasure.

Scarfolk pandemics (permalink)

You might think that this is a terrible timeline to be having a pandemic in, but it hasn't got a patch on Scarfolk, the small, conservative English town caught in a perpetual loop from 1970-1980.

Scarfolk is consistently brilliant. Creator Richard Littler published a great book in time for last Christmas, the "Scarfolk Annual."

And his animated series Dick & Stewart is a must-watch.

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Valenti signs Betamax tape for fan at Grokster hearing

#15yrsago South Park-infringing trench art from Iraq

#1yrago The weird grift of "sovereign citizens": where UFOlogy meets antisemitism by way of Cliven Bundy and cat-breeding

#1yrago Slovakia's first woman president is an anti-corruption, pro-immigrant environmental campaigner

#1yrago The strange tale of Runescape's Communist republic

#1yrago Internal files reveal how US law enforcement classes anti-fascists as fascists, and actual fascists as "anti-anti-fascists"

#1yrago America's best mobile carrier is also the first phone company to back Right to Repair legislation

#1yrago Citing transphobic policies, 172+ googlers call for removal of Heritage Foundation from Google's "Advanced Technology External Advisory Council"

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Mitch Wagner (, Naked Capitalism (

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Author's Note from Attack Surface

Upcoming appearances:

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commerically, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

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When live gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

Solidarity Class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 2:37pm in

Hey everyone! How’s your pandemic going? Good? Good.

If you’re freaking out, like I am, take a stroll through the archives and take your mind off of the current tragedy by enjoying some humor about previous tragedies.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/03/2020 - 1:57am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 12, 2020 Kali Akuno on why black voters like Joe Biden • Dibyesh Anand on the belief system of India’s Hindu Fascists (book here)

Beating Teflon Trump Entails a New Perspective on GDP

By Brian Czech

In the earlier months of Donald Trump’s presidency, Democrats were stunned by his popularity despite his racist rhetoric, acerbic arrogance, and international insults. Trump himself had meanly boasted that he could “shoot somebody on 5th Avenue” and not lose any votes. He knew the American political system—Dems included—worshiped at the altar of GDP growth. Trump, as the quintessential growthist, had skyrocketed to the throne of Untouchable High Priest, albeit in a sharply divided church of red and blue growthists.

President Donald Trump

Say no to economic bloating: It’s time for Democratic candidates to take a stand against growth-mongering. (Image: CC BY-SA 2.0, Credit: Gage Skidmore )

The Democratic response to Trump’s resilient popularity was to double down on the corruption and general awfulness of Trump, all the way to articles of impeachment. Dems were stunned once again at the lack of buy-in. Yet no one in Big Money circles—nor their media-manipulated red states—cared about “abuse of authority” or even “contempt of Congress” when GDP was growing faster than anyone had hoped for in years.

Dems have also tried to take credit for the growing GDP, claiming it has more to do with Barack Obama’s policies than Trump’s. Right or wrong, that’s a claim that falls on deaf ears. The growth mindset is all about now; previous administrations are as irrelevant as climate change to red-state congregants of the GDP religion.

What else can the Democrats do, in the face of such pro-growth Trumpian triumph? Easy! They can challenge the assumption that growth is good!

Some Democratic strategists, still stuck on “It’s the economy, stupid,” shudder at the notion of questioning growth. Yet think how easy the argument is. Without batting an eye, Dems can say:

GDP isn’t everything. All it measures is the number of people and the amount they consume. Why should that be the number one goal? More and more buyers of more and more stuff…how is that helping at this point in history? More and more traffic, congestion, pollution, noise, and stress. That’s a good thing? All the while with less and less natural resources, green space, wildlife, peace and quiet, and even the peace of mind that comes with a stable climate! “It’s the economy, stupid” had its day as a slogan, but that was decades ago. Now, in the twenty-first century, pushing for higher GDP is the new stupid.

There have been some baby steps taken in that very direction by some of the Democratic 2020 presidential candidates. Cory Booker ventured out first during the June 27, 2019 Democratic debate by stating, “The indicators that are being used from GDP to Wall Street’s rankings [are] not helping people in my community. It is about time that we have an economy that works for everybody, not just the wealthiest in our nation.” While he wasn’t questioning the goal of growth so much as the distribution of GDP, merely casting doubt on the merits of GDP is right on the cusp of a growth critique.

Two more things are noteworthy about Booker’s comment. The first is especially relevant to readers of the Steady State Herald and to active citizens in general: Booker seemed to be following up on advice provided by CASSE at a meeting with one of Booker’s staff on April 11. We suggested that he merely question GDP as a measure of success, and that is exactly what he did. Second, this succinct questioning was enough to qualify as an NBC News “top candidate line.”

Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang challenged the merits of GDP as an indicator of success during his campaign. Who’s next? (Image: CC BY-SA 2.0, Credit: Gage Skidmore)



At the July 31 debate, Andrew Yang went a step further: “What we have to do is, we have to say, ‘look, there’s record high GDP and stock market prices, you know what else there are record highs [of]? Suicides, drug overdoses, depression, anxiety.’ It’s gotten so bad that American life expectancy has declined for the last three years.”

Yang went on to say, “The way we win this election is we redefine economic progress to include all the things that matter to the people in Michigan and all of us like our own heath, our well-being, our mental health, our clean air and clean water, how our kids are doing.”



Yang’s sweeping statement was reminiscent of the words of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968:

Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things… Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

The fact that Kennedy made these points more than 50 years ago is not so much evidence of the prescience of Kennedy as it is of how far behind the times the Democratic Party (sans Booker and Yang) has fallen on limits to growth. After all, Kennedy already spoke in terms of “for too long.” Now, in the 21st century, with GDP approximately 20 times higher than the 1968 model, economic growth is causing far more problems than it solves. It’s a bad dirty deal that’s starting to look like an existential threat!

Yet GDP growth is Trump’s calling card. Big Money passes it around 24/7, while Dark Money sneakily funds research and “think tanks” to make it seem like growth is the solution, not the problem. The only way to defeat this phenomenon is to keep harping on the impact of perpetually pushing for GDP growth. We have to emphasize, too, that it’s not just environmental impact. The environmental deterioration caused by bloating GDP is a matter of common sense, yet it’s not rocket science to connect that environmental deterioration to economic unsustainability and national insecurity.

Aside from Booker and Yang, who are out of the running for 2020, the Democratic presidential candidates haven’t provided any leadership to speak of for raising awareness of limits to growth and the need for a steady state economy. That said, they have been far, far less growth-obsessed than Trump. In fact, taken as a whole, they’ve had so little to say about economic growth that columnist John O. McGinnis (also a professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University) claimed, “Democratic presidential candidates have abandoned the idea of economic growth.” That was an overstatement, though. Outside of Booker’s baby step and Yang’s follow-up, none of the candidates have capitalized on the potential of a 21st century growth-is-stupid strategy. Rather, they are too focused (according to McGinnis) on “taking” from the rich and redistributing it to the poor. According to McGinnis (and supply siders at large), Dems would do better to help the less fortunate by way of the seemingly ancient approach of GDP growth, that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Iowa State Fair

A sign at the 2019 Iowa State Fair reads, “Make Him Go Away, 2020.” Trump’s obsession with GDP growth is especially ripe for disposal. (Image: CC BY 2.0, Credit: Phil Roeder)

So, what is the political lesson? It is that the Democratic focus on helping the less fortunate would be far more effective if coupled with the message of limits to growth. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, especially,1 should be pointing out there is only so much “water” for a rising tide, and only so much room for “boats” on the water (not to mention the limited availability of boat-building materials). In the 21st century, we need a transition to a steady state economy for the sake of all boats.

All that said, a democracy is supposed to be “for the people, by the people.” Simply wishing that Sanders, Biden, or Warren will take a stand on limits to growth is about as productive as wishing that Trump would re-sign the Paris Climate Treaty. In order for a Democratic presidential nominee to handle the truth about limits to growth, he or she will need to hear from constituents to develop the knowledge and comfort to do so. So will Democrats (or other progressive candidates) running for county, state, and federal offices across the board. If CASSE’s one request of a presidential candidate quickly paid off with a rhetorical baby step that was then recognized by NBC News as a “top candidate line,” imagine what thousands of such requests across the country may accomplish.2

Teflon Trump’s obsession with GDP growth is not only ham-handed; it’s short-sighted, anachronistic, and stupid. It belongs in the dustbin of history, and the sooner it gets there the better. Let’s make sure it gets there by providing the alternative vision: the vision of the steady state economy.

1Elizabeth Warren would be too avowedly pro-growth to manage a steady-state paradigm shift, certainly within this election cycle.

2 Why not print this off and send it to your local Democratic Party candidates, staffers, and organizers? If they express an interest, follow up with a visit, or at least send them a copy of Best of The Daly News: Selected Essays from the Leading Blog in Steady State Economics, 2010-2018. Best of The Daly News is a primer for getting people—including staffers and candidates—quickly up to speed on steady-state economics. To order copies at the cost of printing for political candidate distribution, send an email to Casey Reiland, Managing Editor, at

Brian Czech, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. He is the author of three books, Supply Shock, Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, and The Endangered Species Act, as well as more than 50 academic journal articles. He served as a conservation biologist in the headquarters of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1999-2017 and as a visiting professor of natural resource economics in Virginia Tech’s National Capitol Region.

The post Beating Teflon Trump Entails a New Perspective on GDP appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.

Losing Reality: Can We Get the Truth Back?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 3:11pm in

In the Trump era we find ourselves engulfed in two realities. Bill Moyers and Robert Jay Lifton in conversation. Continue reading

The post Losing Reality: Can We Get the Truth Back? appeared first on

If You Can’t Join Them, Be Them

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/02/2020 - 6:52pm in



Democrats want to elect a candidate who is electable. But what exactly does their conception look like of a candidate who can take on Trump? Like Trump.

Cartoon: Billionaire buttinsky 2: Bloomberg boogaloo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/02/2020 - 11:50pm in

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Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/02/2020 - 2:42am in

Image result for bernie socialism

            Bernie Sanders is currently the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. He and everyone else knows exactly how the Republicans will attack him if and when he becomes the nominee: old-fashioned redbaiting.

            China became communist in name only during the 1980s, the Soviet Union shut its doors in 1991, the Cold War is dead, and the 64% of Americans under age 50 have no memory of an actually-existing socialist regime. Yet Trump and the GOP have already broadcast their plans to hang the “democratic socialist” label around Bernie Sanders’ neck.

            Whether such archaic fear-mongering—against long-dead adversaries—will be effective even with elderly voters is anyone’s guess. Considering the fact that 40% of Americans consistently tell pollsters they prefer socialism or communism to capitalism, branding Bernie Sanders as a nefarious democratic socialist might have the unintended effect of bringing out people who don’t normally vote to support an ideology they’ve never had the chance to get behind before.

            On the other hand, only 76% of Democrats say they would vote for a socialist.

            One thing is for sure: the socialism thing will be Sanders’ biggest challenge. And so what? Every candidate enters the game with a handicap of some sort.

            Elizabeth Warren has acquired a reputation for deception and opportunism. Amy Klobuchar plays a mean girl on TV and behind closed doors. Pete Buttigieg is gay; only 78% of voters say they’d consider a gay candidate. He’s also inexperienced. Joe Biden appears to have been suffering from dementia for years.

            Political weaknesses are inevitable; what makes or breaks a candidacy is how his or her campaign chooses to address it. History’s answer is clear: take it on honestly, directly and credibly.

            Own your crap. Americans voters hate sneakiness and avoidance.

            Bernie has no one but himself to blame for this potential electoral albatross. As Paul Krugman of The New York Times points out, the independent senator from Vermont is not really a socialist: “He doesn’t want to nationalize our major industries and replace markets with central planning.” He is a New Deal Democrat indistinguishable from old liberal figures like Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern. The economic model Sanders wants to establish isn’t the USSR or even Yugoslavia, but the Scandinavian countries with their superior safety nets and enlightened penal systems. Capitalism as we know it would continue, albeit with reduced overall cruelty.

            Bernie is a social democrat, not a democratic socialist. For some unknown reason, however, he chose to label himself as a democratic socialist. “It’s mainly about personal branding,” Krugman speculates, “with a dash of glee at shocking the bourgeoisie. And this self-indulgence did no harm as long as he was just a senator from a very liberal state.”

            Now he’s going to have to explain himself and his beliefs to American voters who have been propagandized through education and the media to believe that socialism equals communism equals totalitarian dystopia.

            If he’s smart – and there’s no reason to believe that he and his staff are anything but—he will own the phrase and address those concerns head on.

During the 1960 campaign John F. Kennedy responded to worries about his Roman Catholicism that he might take orders from the pope in a speech that allowed anti-Catholic voters to take a chance on him. “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act,” Kennedy said.

            Aware that he was going to run for president in a few years, Barack Obama discussed his drug use as a young man, specifically the fact that he had tried cocaine, in his memoir and in an interview published ahead of the race. By the time he ran in 2008, the coke thing was old news baked into the politics of the time.

            “Democratic socialism” is a pretty meaningless term. Which is not necessarily bad. Because it doesn’t define an existing party or ideology in the real world, Bernie can imprint his own definition upon his awkward tabula rasa.

            Like every crisis, this is an opportunity. Voters want to know what Bernie stands for. Their confusion about democratic socialism (confusion caused by Sanders’ weird word choices) is his chance to explain himself and his policies.

            The one thing he should not and cannot do is to shy away from the S word. No matter how much he protests, Republicans are going to call him a Marxist, a communist, a socialist and worse. So there’s no point in protesting. “Yes,“ he could say, “I am a socialist. A democratic socialist. A democratic socialist is a person who cares more about you as an ordinary American than about greedy billionaires and corporations who pollute your water and lay you off at the drop of a hat.”

            Nothing neutralizes an attack more effectively than to cop to it.

            If nothing else, even if he loses, Bernie can rehabilitate socialism as an acceptable economic alternative. In the long run, that would be a greater accomplishment than anything Sanders could accomplish in eight years as president.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the forthcoming “Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Lee Camp: They’re Going to Try to Steal California From Sanders (Again)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/02/2020 - 6:16am in

After watching Iowa devolve into chaos like a car crash in slow motion, I regret to inform you that California will be stolen from Bernie Sanders.

It’s happening now, and anyone with a vague understanding of what took place in 2016 should know how the grand theft will go down. But the good news is there’s still a chance to have a legitimate vote in the land of sunshine and broken dreams, which is why the Democratic National Committee probably doesn’t want you to read this column. So if DNC Chair Tom Perez comes around and dumps hot tea in your lap in the next few minutes, you’ll know why. (He has a lot of free time.)

California is one of the biggest prizes, with 495 delegates up for grabs. And it’s even more important this year because its primaries have been moved up to Super Tuesday, March 3. Right now, Bernie Sanders, aka  “Old Man Rational,” has jumped to the top of the California polls. So if you were the ruling elite of California and you wanted to rig your primary against people like Bernie Sanders, what would you do (Short of breaking the legs of anyone who gives change to a homeless man)?

Well, I guess one thing would be to make it really hard for a person to vote if he isn’t a full-on bread-and-butter Joe Biden-loving Democrat who owns a T-shirt featuring Barack Obama riding on a dinosaur. Candidates like Bernie attract a lot of voters who are outside the two corrupt Wall Street parties, i.e. independents. And independents are no small group. In fact 45% of Americans consider themselves Independents, while only 27% call themselves Democrats and 27% Republicans.

So if you’re an independent in California, when you registered to vote, some of you probably checked the box that said “American Independent Party.” There’s only one problem: The American Independent Party is a borderline neo-Nazi group. It’s the name of a party that opposes gay marriage, hates immigrants and apparently hates women, because the last line of its manifesto (of course it has a manifesto) actually states, “In consequence whereof, we call upon all men who value their God-given liberty to join us in pursuit of these political convictions!” (Emphasis added … but you could feel it.)

Can I also add that I strongly believe one can’t just follow racist, sexist crap with the antiquated phrase “in consequence whereof” and think that makes it OK? Rarely do you hear a story like, “The other day someone said to me, ‘In consequence whereof, I consider you a bucket of dicks.” And I responded, ‘Why thank you, my good man. Henceforth and forsooth, go screw yourself.’”

So, do you think a lot of independents in California accidentally sign up for the bigotry party? Yes they do. “A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that a majority of [the American Independent Party’s] members have registered with the party in error. Nearly three out of four people did not realize they had joined the party. …”

Therefore, Californians should be forewarned that if they want to vote for someone outside the centrists — say, Bernie Sanders — they need to change their party affiliation to either Democrat or No Party Preference. But it gets even worse.

In order to stop the “No Party Preference” people from voting, the state (read: the corporate Democratic machine) does not give them a ballot with the presidential choices on it … which is RIDICULOUS! Do they honestly think millions of people skipped work to stand in line at a polling place playing Pokemon on their phones for three hours in order to vote for the City Council’s assistant treasurer?! No! They showed up to tell Joe Biden to check into a retirement home. And there is indeed a way they can vote in the presidential primary, but it’s complicated.

To sum up — millions of California independents are accidentally signed up for a racist, homophobic party. Millions more are handed a ballot without presidential candidates. In consequence whereof — millions of people will not get to cast a vote in the primary. But, as investigative journalist Greg Palast has revealed, it gets even worse! He wrote, “… if an NPP voter asks the poll worker, ‘How do I get to vote in the Democratic party primary?’ the poll workers are instructed to say that, ‘NPP voters can’t get Democratic ballots.’”

The poll workers are not lying … kinda. NPP voters can’t get Democratic ballots, but they can get Democratic crossover ballots, which do include the presidential race. So as Palast explains, “…if you don’t say the magic words, ‘I want a Democratic crossover ballot,’ you are automatically given a ballot without the presidential race.”

You have to say the goddamn golden phrase to get to vote?! Poll workers are nearly instructed to lie to Independents unless the voter has the passcode. It is bananas that it’s this hard to obtain the correct ballot in California! (I’ve had an easier time procuring meth in a Mormon household.)

Because of these intentional hurdles designed to stop Independents from voting, millions of Californians will be handed something called a “provisional ballot.”

Let’s see, how do I explain a provisional ballot? You know when a little toddler has a ball and they go to throw it, and they cock their arm back and then the ball rolls out of their hand behind them, and they end up throwing nothing but air? But they think they threw the ball, so you can see them watching for where the ball is going to land? That’s a provisional ballot. It’s a lot of buildup, but you didn’t do shit. Because no one will ever count it.

In truth, a certain percentage of provisional ballots are indeed counted, but by the time they are, it’s too late. The results have been reported, and the provisional ballots are really just an afterthought. For this reason, Palast calls them “placebo ballots” — they’re designed to make you think you voted. So don’t accept a provisional ballot. Demand your right to vote in the presidential primary. Demand a crossover ballot.

Election integrity activists in California also recommend people vote early, which can be done right now, in person, at your county Department of Elections. That way you’ll have plenty of time to deal with what they call in the election integrity biz — fuckery.

Ironically, our government fights to make sure as few people as possible vote in our elections. Since the mainstream media has been captured by corporate America, only alternative media now reveals how the wealthy and the powerful game the systems.

So tell your sun-bleached Cali friends to demand a real ballot with the presidential candidates on it. I’m not going tell you or them who to vote for, but in consequence whereof the American Independent (Homophobe) Party is fighting for your rights, such as the right to speak like it’s the mid-1800s. (As long as you’re a white male landowner of military age. Immigrants and women need not apply.)

Feature photo | A supporter holds up a sign for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a rally in Venice, Calif., Dec. 21, 2019. Kelvin Kuo | AP

If you think this column is important, please share it. Lee Camp’s new book, “Bullet Points & Punch Lines,” is available at

This column is based on a monologue Lee Camp wrote and performed on his TV show, “Redacted Tonight.”

This article was published with special permission from the author. It originally appeared at Truthdig.

The post Lee Camp: They’re Going to Try to Steal California From Sanders (Again) appeared first on MintPress News.

Media, Democratic Establishment Panics as Sanders Predicted to Sweep All 50 States

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/02/2020 - 3:46am in

While former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg may have claimed victory at this week’s botched Iowa caucus, the real winner, according to statisticians, was Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator is now by far the favorite candidate according to bookmakers. Oddschecker, a betting comparison app, surveyed eighteen different gambling sites and found every one declaring the democratic socialist the clear frontrunner. Real Clear Politics has also had Sanders as its favorite for over a week, as Bernie surpassed former vice-president Joe Biden, who performed poorly in the first caucus of the year. The runaway favorite in October, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren has crashed, her likelihood of overall victory dropping from 53 percent in the fall to just 7.5 percent today.

Perhaps most notably, statistics and politics website Five Thirty Eight predicts that Sanders is the favorite to win in all 50 states, suggesting he will receive over 200 delegates in California alone – twice the total of any other candidate. This is all the more surprising as Five Thirty Eight’s Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver is a conservative, describing his politics as lying between Mitt Romney and Gary Johnson. The site also has a history of downplaying or underestimating Sanders’ chances.

No matter how much mainstream media attempts to spin the results, Iowa has many of those in the establishment very worried, to say the least. Writing in New York Magazine, self-described liberal Jonathan Chait was beside himself with worry and was unsure what the best plan of action was to stop the Sanders surge. “One strategy would be to rally around Biden, on the grounds that no other candidate has or will have his name recognition and ties to black voters. The other strategy is to hope his campaign collapses as quickly as possible, so that another contender can emerge,” he wrote. “At the moment it is not clear which strategy makes sense.” He bemoaned the lack of coordination from the Democratic establishment to oppose the Vermont senator and claimed that other “center-left” candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar simply do not have the backing of black voters, making a South Carolina victory very unlikely. He also wrote that Mike Bloomberg might be liberals’ best-case scenario for victory, even though he felt he was just another long shot.

Chait claims to oppose Sanders purely on pragmatic grounds, arguing that Bernie veers way too far left to be elected. Therefore, selecting him as the candidate would be “an act of insanity.” Of course, he also strongly supported the invasion of Iraq and argued that liberals should get behind Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016 as it would destroy the party and lead to an easy Clinton victory. Therefore, those who do support Bernie might not feel Chait’s pronouncements are a death knell for his campaign. Leaked audio has shown that Sanders was the only candidate Trump was fearful he could not defeat. “Had Clinton picked Bernie Sanders it would have been tougher. He is the only one I didn’t want her to pick” for vice-president, Trump told his team, noting that “If Bernie would have been VP it would have been tougher.”

MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid, who recently invited a quack body language expert on her show to discuss Bernie’s supposed sexism, tried to downplay Sanders’ large lead in the Iowa vote share. “Am I wrong to think that 6,000 votes is not exactly a revolutionary margin either way so neither of the top two finishers in Iowa got much out of it regardless of the outcome?” she wrote. 6,000 votes equate to around three percent – a wider margin of victory than Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 popular vote.

Clinton has been sounding the alarm for weeks over Sanders’ rise, refusing to agree to endorse him if he wins the nomination. Late last month she claimed that “nobody likes him” and that she hates the “culture around him,” specifically his “rabid followers,” using a word usually reserved in English for diseased and dangerous animals to describe the two-thirds of Americans who have a favorable opinion of him, according to a January poll. Evidently, Clinton still has the same tactical nowse as in 2016.

Former Maryland governor Mmintpartin O’Malley, who ran as a “moderate” in the 2016 primaries, also expressed his alarm at the rapidly leftward moving party. “Look, I know in my own generation we fell for the Nigerian prince scam, but how do you all fall for the Bernie Sanders scam? I don’t get that,” he said to The Guardian.

Regardless of the objections of establishment Democrats, Sanders’ campaign appears to be gathering momentum. The next primary is on Tuesday in New Hampshire, where Bernie has a strong organization. Another victory will likely turn angst into full blown panic.

Feature photo | Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., uses the back entrance of his New Hampshire headquarters, before a new conference, Feb. 6, 2020 in Manchester, N.H. Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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