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Higher Ed After the Election: Facing the Democrats' Intellectual Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/11/2020 - 11:53pm in

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Democrats

As soon as the Biden-Harris victory was confirmed, the media pivoted to a ritual rediscovery of "Democratic Divergence" between their moderate and progressive wings. This very obvious fact about a coalitional party, visible to all by1968, shouldn't distract us from the 2020 reality that the lifelong moderate Joe Biden campaigned for president as a progressive, and that every kind of Democrat gave him and Kamala Harris the largest popular vote in U.S. history. I note this as a reason not to be complacent.

There's a silver lining in the mixed results overall. Democrats lost part of their majority in the House and failed to flip seats in competitive Senate races in Iowa, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. If they don't win both Georgia run-offs on January 5th, then Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell will continue to function as Washington's co-president, elected by 1.23 million voters in Kentucky, where he will control judicial appointments, environmental investment and fiscal policy, like his non-existent Covid-19 stimulus.

The silver lining?  Democrats have the chance to dig beneath their manifest differences to rebuild their intellectual foundations for the 2020s.  My goal for them is that they hold power as a center-left party that can protect more radical movements from the wholly toxic and destructive Republicans. But they can't do this unless they get the intellectual act together.

On the terrain covered by this blog, I noted last time that higher ed has internal contradictions and a weak overall narrative that, if not fixed, will keep it on the sidelines of the Biden Administration. The same is true for the Democrats on higher ed.  Their power is limited by the close election and Republican dominance in a majority of states, where public college funding is controlled. Longer term, their intellectual scope is limited, and not up to steering the economic and social forces currently in play. Though most of the great thinking being done about education is being done by people who at least vote Democrat, the Democrats as a party don't have a strong or even coherent tale about what higher education does. 

This might be okay.  The party itself may not be so relevant to a "scene that is irreducibly multiple," as Amanda Armstrong-Price reminds us about U.S. politics more broadly. But the major higher ed movements of the decade--student debt cancellation and free college--came about as partnerships (or collisions) between activists and national Democratic politicians.  This kind of synergy is useful and probably necessary in a country as dispersed and divided as the U.S. But real synergy will require intellectual transformation.

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Taking him as he is, we can see Joe Biden doing a lot for higher ed with the executive branch. He can soon replace Betsy de Vos with someone much better (like former teacher-of-the-year, Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), pictured above).  Most of Trump's damage to higher ed can be undone with executive actions (see the WaPo's good roundup of the coming "series of reversals" in K-12 and postsecondary federal policy; and also Michael Vasquez's overview of the higher ed portion in CHE). Biden can also do significant student debt reduction with executive actions. Congressional Democrats can push towards the version of free college that Biden supports.  Hope has been placed in the fact that the incoming First Lady, Jill Biden, is a working community college professor who was teased by Michelle Obama for grading papers on diplomatic trips.

And yet the Democrats' underlying narrative about higher ed isn't good.  It has allowed the party, over the decades, to participate fully in creating the student debt crisis, the student food and housing insecurity crisis, the faculty adjuncting crisis, and the crisis in core educational funding. I'll review a bit of this weakness as an example of what is required to enable Biden's effectiveness--and winning real Congressional power in 2022.

On the debt crisis, the government professor Suzanne Mettler showed that Democrats helped the Republicans erode the value of Pell grants as far back as the 1980s.

The compromises between [Democrats and Republicans] did not decimate the grants, but they took the entitlement option off the table and left benefit rates dwindling in real terms and falling well behind average tuition costs. Politicians in both parties found common ground instead on the expansion of student loans because that only required them to lift borrowing limits and waive restrictions on who could borrow. (Degrees of Inequality, 199)

35 years later, Biden has proposed the doubling of Pell grant ceilings that his party had previously managed only to tweak. But the deeper intellectual problem remains. The Democrats gave up "the entitlement option" that tied them to their only meaningful conceptual paradigm of the 20th century, in which people accessed relatively equivalent public goods like education with no reference to their personal market power.  The systemic racism built into the New Deal and Great Society programs starkly violated the universal entitlement, and in contrast built a legacy of white entitlement which damaged Black and brown lives and also U.S. democracy. But social rather than market allocation of essential goods remained a  distinctive conceptual lineage, one that the Democratic accommodation with Reaganism buried within the party. The parliamentary Democrats (elected officials and their managerial and financial apparatus) helped push ideas like free college out of its status as an established norm and widespread practice in the postwar period to a Left insurgency on the party fringes, from which it was rescued largely by Bernie Sanders in 2015. 

My point here is that non-market, rights-based allocation of educational goods isn't an inherently progressive position to be contrasted, as the media does, with centrist positions. It was the mainstream party position when the Democrats were in power, and it formed its only distinctive--and popular--conceptual frame.  (Its Dixiecrat segregationist base was popular but not distinctive.)

Democrats thought they'd invented a winning new paradigm after Bill Clinton's victory in 1992, but that helped create the problems we're facing now, starting with wholly unresolved white racism, inadequate public health systems, and economically dysfunctional, ethically indefensible economic inequality.  The New Democrat paradigm rested on attempts to get public benefits via the private sector, with the privatization of public revenue streams as the mechanism. A continuous side effect was the combination of higher costs and reduced and/or unequal services, that is, cuts in quantity and quality, usually both.  Democrats endlessly agonized over the legitimacy of health and welfare programs that did basic things like reduce childhood hunger, mostly because Republicans categorically denied it.

The private insurance-based health system is the most famous result of this ongoing history of cutting the private sector in as a provider, gatekeeper, and market allocator of public goods. It was preserved with Obamacare, improving an unpopular and exclusionary system in the classic New Democrat way--with higher government subsidies funneled through private firms so that the results of an unchanged system are more humane.

Putting their confused private--public good narrative into practice as standard Democratic coalitional compromise policy, the party got a reputation for not really solving the public problem at hand. As Biden's victory became more assured, Tressie McMillan Cottom and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor wrote powerful analyses of the damage these policies have generally done to racial justice and to the public fabric of society.  Cottom demanded full accountability for Republican damage--not bipartisanship--which would include restoring the status of professional analysis. Taylor recounted the damage that Democratic management has done to Black communities, among others.  The Democrats, she writes, must deal with

the depth of the bipartisan failure to address the tangled roots of racism, poverty, and inequality. . . . [T]he overwhelming majority of Black voters backed Biden, but the fact is that millions of African-Americans experience the daily failures of Democratic officials to respond to the poor conditions of their public schools, the lack of affordable housing, rampant police harassment and brutality, and usurious loans. The answer to these legitimate grievances can’t simply be to say that they are Republican talking points.

What Taylor correctly describes as chronic policy failure is also intellectual failure. Both follow from corruption in more than one sense.  Focusing on the aggression of the progressive wing against the center (or vice versa) is a total diversion from the intellectual condition of the Democrats as a whole.  

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A good place to study the thinking of this coalitional Democratic party is California, where it effectively rules as a one-party state.  The Democrats have a nearly 2:1 voter registration advantage over Republicans, who have fallen from a third to a quarter of registered voters over the past 20 years.  Both legislative houses have for years been near or above a 2:1 Democratic supermajority (the Assembly is currently 3:1).  This month, Biden-Harris beat Trump-Pence by a nearly 2:1 margin. The same ratio appeared, this time within the Democrats, in the 2020 presidential primary. Sanders and Warren together got about half the votes, and Biden about a quarter (with Bloomberg picking up another 12 percent). Okay there goes the 2:1 margin, but progressives by any measure are a majority of California Democrats. Color-coding in this Wikipedia chart nicely captures the extent of Democratic control.

This is the same period in which California became the fourth most unequal state by income (after New York, Connecticut, and Louisiana), acquired the highest poverty rate (geographically adjusted), and made housing unaffordability a permanent problem. By 2000, the California Democratic party had embraced the low-tax Proposition 13 framework and focused on deficit reduction and safety net programs that left business alone.  Parliamentary Democrats accepted that, beyond safety-net maintenance that the private sector won't touch, public goods would be defined and shaped (though decreasingly funded) by the private sector.

In the domain we follow here, higher education, the Democrats allowed the most diverse college student population in U.S. history to suffer a massive decline in real per-student public funding.  Here's the UC case, explained in detail in this post.

As the white share of UC undergrad enrollment fell, state investment fell in lockstep.  For ten years, Democrats said, "well, if we send you less tax money your studnets can pay you more tuition," then felt political heat for that, so they froze tuition, but without restoring the lost state funds.  In short, after two decades of liberal Democratic control of state government, UC has between 40 and 60 percent of the total per-student net revenues that it began the century with.  

As a result of Democratic underfunding, the state university systems encountered the Covid-19 pandemic without enough funds to operate absent new debt (UC took on another $1.5 billion in the summer, on top of overall institutional debt that has doubled in the past ten years). Neither Cal State nor UC could afford to open safely, even for a partial student body. 

There were two more reminders of the constant grinding shortfalls last week. The Legislative Analyst's Office reported that most campuses in both systems have enough uncommitted reserves to cover only a week or two of operations.  And materials for the upcoming UC regents meeting identify $25 billion in facilities needs through 2026 that have no identified funding source.

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There's one more Democrat policy area I want to discuss, where the economy and higher education meet.  The Democrats wholly committed themselves to human capital theory, which among other things defined bachelor's degrees and their student debt through the wage return on a financial investment. Non-monetary and social benefits were downgraded or completely ignored.  Human capital theory was always flawed. I wrote about this in The Great Mistake (Stage 8), and will have more to say elsewhere (this week I'm reading what looks like a major intervention, The Death of Human Capital?, as part of ongoing research on a new political economy for education.) 

Though it sounds odd to say, human capital theory entails the privatization of work itself.  It treats individual capabilities as a private good rather than as something that is created through social processes and is always interpersonal; it sets wages and working conditions with no regard for their political and social conditions or effects.  (See Wendy Brown's Undoing the Demos for a definitive analysis of these.) Executive pay and founders' fortunes reflect, in reality, their beneficiaries' institutional and social power, not an objective valuation of a true contribution.  

Human capital theory has had many practical effects. One is that Democrats agree with Republicans on seeing capital gains, real estate, and very high net worth as entirely private goods, which makes them very hard to tax, even at the rate of wage labor. Another is that Democrats have participated in converting employees, entitled to benefits and legal protections, into contractors, without these benefits and protections. In this model, contractors voluntarily enter into private contracts as entrepreneurs of their human capital.

This Democratic confusion played out in several propositions up for a vote on the California ballot. There were three notable anti-progressive outcomes in the midst of a 2:1 Democratic majority vote, all of which implicate the university.

Proposition 15: Taxing commercial property at its market price.  This was another unsuccessful attempt to qualify Prop 13 from 1978, which tied property tax assessments on all property, commercial and residential, to the original purchase price and capped the tax rate at 1 percent of that value (plus a 2% annual increase).  California property owners keep the full value of the difference between purchase and sale price (doubling and tripling is not unusual if you stay put for a while), and don't have to share those gains with the state on an annual basis, though schools and other infrastructure, which must be funded annually, contribute to the property's value).  In the residential market, tying today's taxes to the prices of yesterday benefits the old over the young, who are doubly penalized by paying the newer, inflated purchase prices, which subsidize the capped taxes of the old.  Older homeowners are whiter, so racial injustice is also unofficial state tax policy. The artificially-lowered property tax dopes property values, letting asset price inflation sustain a housing crisis.  The situation with commercial property is even more irrational, and Prop 15 focused only on that, but it lost anyway. I've heard lots of tales of why--the hypocrisy and individualist selfishness of Californians is always a popular one. My candidate is the limit to Democratic thought that I've been discussing, which prevents it from advocating a public-investment model of private property that would allow proper taxation. 

Proposition 16 (to restore affirmative action).  This measure came from legislative Democrats, was oddly worded, appeared late, and had little money behind it, so faced an uphill battle (such was the KQED Forum verdict). I'd also point out that Democrats were unable to move from what I'd call the Level 1 justification for affirmative action to Level 2. Level 1 is that affirmative action is needed to breach an exclusionary white majority lock on an institution.  But in California, the most visible sites of contestation over race-conscious affirmative action--college admissions---now have minority-white student bodies (see the chart above). Voters might assume that on the goal of racial diversity, it is mission accomplished. The Level 2 justification for affirmative action is the persistence of both racism and racial inequality, very much including graduation gaps, student debt gaps, wealth gaps, and income gaps.  But these are issues that human capital theory (and the neoliberalism that rests on it) place in the private realm, as not a matter of public policy. Thus it's been decades since Democrats in any numbers espoused racial equality of outcome (proportionate admissions, income and wealth parity, etc.) as a vital goal. So party members would have no reason to turn out in force for affirmative action.

Proposition 22. (excepting some tech companies' contractors from re-conversion to employees via Assembly Bill 5). This was put on the ballot by a few Silicon Valley transportation companies, including Uber and Lyft.  AB 5 had been an example of parliamentary Democrats deciding in effect to rein in human capital theory, which was allowing some wealthy companies to evade labor law and force drivers to bear the structural costs of their employment privately.  Prop 22's passage (reverting drivers to contractors) exposed yet again the issue of whether the Valley will be allowed to use tech to force workers to negotiate the value of their  individual capital with huge platforms, whose size will allow the latter always to win the argument.  Prop 22 succeeded in part because of the tech plutocracy's access to customers' apps and their $200 million ad spend. But it also succeeded because the Democratic party has no clear intellectual critique of the political economy of the "independent" contractor. 

For example, on a Forum discussion of the proposition, a caller named Nick from San Rafael said this:

I voted to allow workers to stay independent--I voted for 22. I did it with mixed emotions. I just fundamentally believe that AB 5 is bad law. The most charitable description is that it has so many carve-outs for anybody who had friends in Sacramento that it doesn't have any teeth. but the practical effect has been really devastating to a lot of my friends. I'm over forty and I work in marketing, and if you're over 40 and you work in marketing you're probably a free-lancer. And if you're a freelancer in California, you didn't get any work this year. It's been a bad year for everybody. So I felt, not why shouldn't these Uber drivers be independent: I thought why shouldn't everyone? And it really frustrated me the way the conversation has been framed  as these big bad tech companies are trying to get away with it, when the reality is,  it's so hard to do business in California.  And trust me, it's easy to hire freelancers and contractors in other states. My downside to Prop 22 passing is now there's no muscle to fight AB 5 in Sacramento. . . . it's a classic story of posturing politicians, and I'm worried about my friends who don't have the money to fund a Prop 23 for themselves.

Nick's logic is a bit death drivey--California contractors had no work this year, so everyone should be contractors.  And AB 5 shouldn't prevent them from underbidding competitors in lower-cost states, so they can't afford to live in California.  Sam Harnett, KQED's Silicon Valley reporter, shot back, "why isn't [Nick] an employee with benefits and protections"? This didn't seem to cross Nick's mind. Nick's comment about "mixed emotions" makes me think he's a Democrat, which is also why he has no systemic critique of contracting. 

Marketing is one of the major career paths of non-STEM college grads, which puts universities in the position of enacting a human capital theory that makes the precarity of their (usually indebted) graduates that much more likely.  Even the people who go to college for personal development rather than marketable skills expect the degree to lead to relatively secure work. That is no longer happening,  and yet graduates of any age cannot turn to the Democrats for a worked-out conceptual alternative to white-collar precarity.  Nick in fact directed his wrath at Democrats rather than at the tech companies the Dems were trying for once to corral.  One likely reason is that he didn't see an underlying intellectual case. 

Universities are damaged by all three of these trends. Majorities want to keep state-suppressed property tax rates, which makes housing unaffordable for most university employees and students. Majorities don't support the strong forms of racial equality that should be a core public benefit of higher education. Majorities don't support secure employment for either non-college or college workers--and many of the latter don't either.

The common theme of these failures is the Democrats' tendency to hop on and off and on the Republican bandwagon of low taxes, racial laissez-faire, and business sovereignty over employees. They share a human capital theory until it gets a little too cruel. The immediate problem isn't the gap between the Democratic party's center and left, but that the party as a whole has not, for many years, narrated a clear alternative to the Republican paradigm.

Democrats now have to explain that government isn't a safety net. It's a coordinator, creator, orchestrator of collective effort--both builder and purchaser of goods in common (health, knowledge, transit, safety, justice, collective change). Democrats have to teach everyone in reach that public spending cannot be replaced by private spending for a wide range of fundamental public goods. That includes private tuition for university degrees. 

Nothing is going to get better in the coming era without more collective construction of common systems. The systems we have now, dominated by the self-interest of various firms and sectors (Uber, etc), are inefficient and unjust. We need structures that can transform climate change, warfare, poverty, migration, and human ignorance into better forms.  The current policy mashup, hatched in the 1990s, won't work. Really sophisticated governments will be essential.  Anti-masker individualism is finished as positive force: it can only generate a long series of national setbacks.  Democrats need a real story line about all this.

It’s Time for Democrats to Read the Bible Verses on the Wall and Stop Courting White Evangelicals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/11/2020 - 4:35am in

I’ve always been fond of the “Charlie Brown with the football” series from Peanuts. The...

Biden Will Have The Most Diverse, Intersectional Cabinet Of Mass Murderers Ever Assembled

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/11/2020 - 1:09pm in

Well you’ll be happy to know that the next US president and his crack team of ventriloquists are assembling a cabinet of mass murderers that’s as diverse, inclusive and intersectional as America herself.

It’s been obvious for a long time that Joe Biden’s cabinet would be packed with Obama holdovers, war pigs and whatever primary opponents he owes favors to, but now that he is the media-anointed winner of the presidential election we’re getting a bit more confirmation on who they’re expected to be.

A new Politico report informs us that the heavy favorite to lead the US war machine into further imperial conquest as Secretary of “Defense” is a butcher of the fairer sex named Michele Flournoy, who was Obama’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2009 to 2012.

In an article titled “Biden: A War Cabinet?”, Antiwar’s Mariamne Everett writes the following:

Flournoy, in writing the Quadrennial Defense Review during her time as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy under President Clinton, has paved the way for the U.S.’s endless and costly wars which prevent us from investing in life saving and necessary programs like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. It has effectively granted the US permission to no longer be bound by the UN Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of military force. It declared that, “when the interests at stake are vital, …we should do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power.”

While working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a “Top Defense and National Security Think Tank” based in Washington D.C., in June 2002, as the Bush administration was threatening aggression towards Iraq, she declared, that the United States would “need to strike preemptively before a crisis erupts to destroy an adversary’s weapons stockpile” before it “could erect defenses to protect those weapons, or simply disperse them.”

“In 2009, she joined the Obama administration as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, where she helped engineer political and humanitarian disasters in Libya and Syria and a new escalation of the endless war in Afghanistan before resigning in 2012,” report Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J S Davies in another Antiwar piece on Flournoy. “From 2013–2016, she joined Boston Consulting, trading on her Pentagon connections to boost the firm’s military contracts from $1.6 million in 2013 to $32 million in 2016. By 2017, Flournoy herself was raking in $452,000 a year.”

Flournoy would be the very first female head of the US war department, and if that doesn’t make you want to listen to P!nk and kiss your Hillary Clinton pendant I don’t know what will.

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A favorite to lead America’s other war department, also known as the State Department, is former National Security Advisor and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. Rice is an ideal choice for a leading role in the Biden administration because she holds the valuable trifecta of being (A) female, (B) Black and (C) an enthusiastic promoter of the Iraq invasion which murdered a million human beings.

Some quotes from Rice, courtesy of Everett:

“I think he [then Secretary of State Colin Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.” (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003)

“It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It’s clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that’s the path we’re on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side.” (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002)

“I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it’s a question of timing and tactics. … We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions.” (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002; requests for audio of Rice’s statements on NPR were declined by the publicly funded network.)

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Rice, who is also notorious for helping to deceive the world into the destruction of Libya, may have difficulty getting confirmed for Secretary of State in a Republican-held Senate. But one way or another she’s guaranteed to be playing some role in the Biden administration.

Also under discussion for a role in leading the US threshing monster is Senator Tammy Duckworth, who has for months been aggressively attacking the Trump administration for not confronting Russia over the completely discredited claim that Moscow had paid Taliban-linked fighters to kill occupying coalition forces in Afghanistan.

You might think that someone who promotes cold war escalations on a daily basis which have no relationship to facts or reality might make Duckworth an unsuitable candidate for military leadership, but what you are apparently too bigoted and Russian to realize is that the Senator from Illinois is both a woman of color and handicapped. I bet you feel silly now.

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Up for consideration as leader of America’s most sociopathic government agency is Obama’s former CIA Deputy Director Avril Haines, who protected all perpetrators implicated in a Senate report on CIA torture from suffering any consequences for their unspeakable brutality, and helped redact that same report. If selected Biden would become just the second president with the highly progressive distinction of selecting a female CIA Director, the first being Donald Trump when he appointed Torturer-in-Chief “Bloody” Gina Haspel (whose appointment Haines supported).

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see how else the Decency President plans to uplift us with girl power and diversity of ethnicity and sexual orientation in the most powerful force of human slaughter in the history of civilization. 2021, here we come!

Intersectional Omnicide

Our weapons will be manufactured by corporations
that have pansexual CEOs and Muslim shareholders.

The bombers will be emblazoned with rainbow flags
and flown by empowered women of all colors
who will scream “YAAASSS QUEEN!” as the mushroom clouds arise.

The desert sand will turn to glass in the blasts,
and that glass will become a ceiling,
and that ceiling will be shattered
by a lesbian CIA Director.

People will be vaporized on the spot,
or watch their own bodies fall apart like sandcastles,
but they will never be misgendered.

We will march as equals,
white, black, Asian, indigenous,
and whatever miscellaneous extras we can find
(so long as they’re photogenic enough for Instagram),
arm-in-arm singing “Fight Song” in one voice
beneath a drone-filled sky
to the edge of extinction
where we will leap together
screaming “This is all Susan Sarandon’s fault!”
into the face of the abyss.

It won’t be pretty,
it won’t be wise,
but at least,
for one glorious flash,
we will get to feel like we really tried.

____________________________

____________________________

____________________________

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25 Lessons Democrats Will Take From Their Horrible 2020 Performance

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/11/2020 - 12:02am in

Democrats have shocked the world by managing to spectacularly under-perform against a president who has failed the nation by virtually every metric after years of mass media stories claiming he is literally a secret agent for a hostile foreign government.

As of this writing the election is still too close to call, and Trump could still end up winning. This should never have been close, and it should prompt some serious soul-searching for the party. Obviously some drastic changes need to be made, because what they are doing clearly is not working.

So with that in mind, here are the key lessons we can expect Democrats to take away from their terrible 2020 performance:

1. RUSSIA!!!!

2. RUSSIA!!!!

3. Should have run a more right wing candidate.

4. RUSSIA!!!!

5. Should have given more money to the Lincoln Project.

6. This is still Susan Sarandon’s fault.

7. Get Pelosi to say “Wakanda forever!” at the next State of the Union address.

8. Bernie Sanders: secretly Russian?? Demand investigation by Special Counsel.

9. Demand more internet censorship. Threaten antitrust cases if necessary.

10. RUSSIA!!!!

11. Was there a Green Party candidate this year? Find out. If yes, they’re Russian.

12. Get the Krassenstein brothers their own MSNBC show.

13. Breast hats.

14. Kente cloth surrender flag.

15. Re-appoint Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to DNC chair.

16. IRAN!!!! (plot twist!)

17. Spend more time on Twitter yelling at leftists for being too far left.

18. Get Steve Bannon to join the #Resistance.

19. Promise voters if they start supporting Democrats they’ll be rewarded with economic sanctions on geostrategically valuable nations on the other side of the world.

20. Try doing literally nothing and see if that helps.

21. Try giving Trump everything he wants and see if that helps.

22. Get wealthy celebrities to shame voters.

23. See if Ted Cruz will run as a Dem in 2024.

24. Find out what “QAnon” is, then see if maybe we can do something similar.

25. RUSSIA!!!!

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The Pandemic Election: Combatting Chaos

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/10/2020 - 2:10am in

When Trump leaves office, he will lose the US Department of Justice as his personal law firm. He will lose Attorney General William Barr as his wingman. And he will lose his power to undermine the rule of law. That’s … Continue reading

The post The Pandemic Election: Combatting Chaos appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Reversing the GOP Power Grab

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/10/2020 - 1:58am in

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation as the ninth justice on the U.S. Supreme Court is a travesty of...

I Hate You Leftists, Please Don’t Leave Us

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 5:58pm in

The centrists and moderates who control the mainstream Democratic Party repeatedly tell progressive voters that they are not needed or wanted. But when progressives refuse to vote Democratic, they are vote-shamed.

The post I Hate You Leftists, Please Don't Leave Us first appeared on Ted Rall's Rallblog.

How Centrist Democrats Paved the Way for Betsy DeVos

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 10:15pm in

A consensus between Republicans and centrist Democrats around charter schools has been at the very center of education policy for the past three decades. Guest David Menefee-Libey joins us to talk about the formation of the charter school “treaty,” why it unraveled and what happens next. 

Complete transcript of the episode is here. The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Subscribe on Patreon or donate on PayPal.

Jennifer and Jack’s forthcoming book A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School, is now available for preorder!

Have You Heard · #97 How Centrist Democrats Paved the Way for Betsy DeVos

Democrats Campaigning to Keep Green Party off the Ballot in Key Swing States

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/09/2020 - 1:52am in

The 2020 presidential election is already underway — or, at least, it should be. Because of an ongoing legal battle, none of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will be sending out mail-in ballots today like they were originally scheduled to. Democrats are attempting to remove Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins from the ballot because of an alleged procedural mistake his running mate Angela Walker made when informing election authorities about a change in her South Carolina address. A similar battle is raging between the two parties in Wisconsin, another key battleground state.

That such a minor procedural error could, in effect, disbar an entire political party from running might be news to many Americans. It is also a charge the Green Party strenuously denies. “I filed my address change properly to the Wisconsin Elections Commission as they instructed me to when our campaign informed them of my address change,” Walker said in a press release this morning,

The Democrat chairing the hearing concerning Democratic objections to my filing prevented that documentation from being presented. They had that information in hand. The Democratic commissioners could have resolved the problem last month at the hearing. Instead, they are playing politics with Wisconsin voters. They could end this now by withdrawing their phony objections. The Democratic commissioners are as guilty as the Republican justices in this hold-up of absentee ballots.”

“The court should have made a decision by now. We want a decision today to put us on the ballot. We want the absentee ballot process to proceed without further delay,” Hawkins added.

Why the Democrats might benefit from the removal of the Greens is clear. With many predicting a close election, third party votes could prove crucial in preventing one of the two major parties from getting over the line. One Emerson poll found that 51 percent of Bernie Sanders primary voters were at least considering opting for a third party come November. Hawkins and Walker have been pitching hard to disenchanted leftists, reminding voters that they embrace a Green New Deal, while Biden has rejected it.

Democrats have been clear in their opposition to Hawkins. “The ‘Green Party’ has done incalculable damage to the environment by helping to elect Republican Presidents twice. Don’t fall for it again,” advised Obama advisor and MSNBC contributor Ben Rhodes. Democratic strategist Tom Watson was even blunter, tweeting, “A vote for the ‘Green Party’ is a vote for fascism.”

The attack on Hawkins comes amid an open letter signed by over 170 prominent environmental leaders condemning the Green Party and telling the nation to vote for Biden, claiming he is a “progressive Democrat,” who, in “his 36-year Senate career” was “an enlightened voice on nearly every issue.” “Twenty years ago, the Green Party snatched the White House from a climate change leader and handed it to George W. Bush,” they questionably claim, not mentioning the Republican Party’s legal shenanigans. “Pious gestures [like voting Green] will produce catastrophic results,” they conclude.

On the Green ticket, Ralph Nader won 2.9 million votes in the 2000 election, no doubt hindering Al Gore’s chances. However, the Florida election was blatantly stolen by Bush, a fact glossed over in the letter. In 2016, the Green Party received 1.5 million votes nationwide, triple what they got in 2012. “Whatever you think of the Green Party, throwing them off the ballot because they listed two addresses for the VP is complete bullshit and voter disenfranchisement,” said Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project think tank.

Republicans have also been involved in their own voter suppression tactics, closing around 1,700 polling stations across the South since 2013, primarily in poorer and majority non-white neighborhoods (some counties losing nearly 90 percent of their voting places). President Trump, who recently said that if more people voted, Republicans would never again be elected, has attacked the postal ballot system as well, claiming it would produce a fraudulent result, instructing his followers to vote twice, once by mail and in person on Election Day. Across the United States, some 671 mail sorting machines have been removed ahead of the election, leading many to accuse the Republicans of blatant election rigging.

While the merits of voting for a third party in a two-horse race can be debated, voter shaming did not work for the Democrats in 2016 has historically not been a productive strategy. With this latest attempt to bar the Green Party from even standing, the Democrats are choosing a high-risk strategy that could potentially backfire come Election Day.

Feature photo | Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins reads a newspaper in a holding room before a television interview. Mike Groll | 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.

The post Democrats Campaigning to Keep Green Party off the Ballot in Key Swing States appeared first on MintPress News.

Lies, Lies, Lies, Hacking and Twitter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/09/2020 - 11:45pm in

While there was continuing fallout today from the story that Trump lied to the American people about the seriousness of the coronavirus, the breaking stories were mostly about securing the election. Overwhelmingly, the stories today were about controlling the flow of information to voters. Continue reading

The post Lies, Lies, Lies, Hacking and Twitter appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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