Candidates’ spending on media and the Election-Industrial Complex

2016 election funds

Where does all the money in politics go, you ask???

Thanks to OnTheMedia by way of BestOfTheLeft, we now know that, like the Military-Industrial Complex, there’s an Election-Industrial Complex.

They don’t give a shit who wins so long as they make millions as zero-value-add middlemen and -women who give candidates terrible advice and then take a cut of the media buys.

So, who is spending what?

Open Secrets is the most reputable source I know for tracking money in politics, including who is financing the candidates and where they are directing expenditures.

What I discovered is that no one has spent more than Bernie on media.


STOP!!!

THIS IS NOT A HIT PIECE ON BERNIE!


(Sadly, I feel like I have to continuously issue this sort of caveat to try to placate – more like, hold at bay – my fellow Sanders supporters who are part of the Bernie-or-Bust crowd.)

Bernie has spent the most on media.

That is a statement of fact based on data reported by Open Secrets. If for some reason that statement upsets you, you just don’t like it for some reason, or if it doesn’t seem to fit your narrative about Bernie, then here’s my advice.

If you think the facts are incorrect….

….then you’re invited to show verifiable facts that dispute Open Secrets from sources that are at least equally reputable.

If you want to accuse a candidate of falsifying data to the Federal Elections Commission…

….then I think you’ve just set a bar you need to overcome that just went through the effing roof.

Now that we have all of that out of the way, here are the facts as presented by Open Secrets as of today.

  • Bernie has spent $41.8M – over one-half of all expenditures – on media. Only (only?) $8.8M have been spent on salaries.
  • Hillary has spent $29.5M – about 70 cents to every dollar spent by Bernie – on media. She has spent $32.6M – almost 4 times as much as Bernie – on salaries.

The GOP candidates’ media buys don’t come anywhere close to either Democrats.

  • Trump, $7.6M
  • Cruz, $6.3M
  • (Kasich’s data is not yet available)

(To see all of this data for yourself, go to https://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/, click on the candidate, then on the ‘Expend’ tab for details.)

So, once again, this is not a hit piece or a judgment of Bernie or any of the candidates. It’s simply an attempt to answer a question I saw in a Facebook group about where all the money goes, and to raise awareness of the Election-Industrial Complex that puts more and more power into the hands of fewer and fewer oligarchs.

What conclusions you draw or what you decide to do with this information is, of course, up to you.

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2016 election funds

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Bernie or Busters: Are you prepared to own it?

I admire the passion of Bernie or Busters, but I don’t think that they’re being very strategic or very pragmatic. What I think they’re being is ideological.

This friendly criticism is coming from a guy who had been registered Non-Partisan for the first 36 years of his eligibility. It wasn’t until Bernie decided he was going to be a “Democrat of convenience” that I decided to join him. I’ve always voted in elections, and now I’m registered as a Democrat solely so that I can vote for Sanders in the closed PA primary on April 26th; a primary that, as of today, FiveThirtyEight gives Bernie only a 7% chance of winning.

That doesn’t deter me. He’s still my first choice, but he’s not my only choice. And, this is where I part company with the Bernie or Bust crowd.

So, to be clear, I admire you Bernie or Busters for the strength of your convictions. I’m a Democrat today because I share the belief that Sanders is the best candidate to be president. Still, I can’t help getting the sense that you’re not all thinking this Bernie-or-Bust idea all the way through to its logical conclusion.

 

Votes Don’t Lie

I will say that your position would be more understandable if Bernie had been and was continuing to win state after state by landslides but still wasn’t getting the superdelegates. He and we would have all the proof needed that he had overwhelming popular support, and to deny him the nomination over some lack of superdelegates would be a travesty.

Clearly, that’s not what is happening.

Don’t we have to remember that caucuses and primaries are how party members and where allowed, independents, get to have their say? If that’s true, then so far there are fewer voters saying they want Bernie. It’s not over yet, but that reality cannot be denied. And, please spare us the conspiracy theories. If more people loved Bernie the way we do, it wouldn’t matter when debates were scheduled or how many superdelegates were committed to Hillary before this even got started. We’d be showing up in greater numbers and carrying Bernie to landslide victories.

The importance of New York, BTW, can’t be overstated. The rest of April is a run of blue states. Not to put too fine a point on it, but don’t Sanders supporters either have to show up or shut up? Is the adult thing to do to just take our ball and go home because we lost?

 

Bernie’s promise and your quandary

I believe that Bernie is true to his word. So the question for the B-or-Bers is what if he stays true to his promise and asks you to support Hillary? What then?

 

I think if he asks us to vote for her and we don’t, then I think it’s also fair to ask just how much of a Sanders supporter we really were? I suppose we can just ignore him, but what does that really say about our support for the man and what he stands for?

More to the point, what do you do then in November? Flip Bernie the proverbial finger and stay home, write him in, vote for Jill Stein? What? What do you do to stay true to Bernie other than to do what he asks?

Look, vote your conscience if you feel you must, but take it from someone who has done so and voted third party in the past. That’s not going to put Sanders in the White House. Why not? See the above. He simply doesn’t have enough popular support even if every single one of us voting in primaries and showing up in caucuses wrote his name in.

Who’s winning, where, and why it matters

And lest we forget, presidents are elected by an Electoral College.

If you look at which states went for Obama in 2012 and then compare which of those states have already gone to which candidate through the Democratic nomination process…..

….you find that Hillary has won some important Democratic states, including the top 3 states in terms of blue Electoral Collage votes so far; FL (29), IL (20), and OH (18).

She also leads Bernie overall in the Obama Blue State “EC vote count,” 103 to 72.
As the table below shows and as of today, FiveThirtyEight gives her a 99% chance of winning New York (29 ECVs) and a 93% chance of winning PA (20). Those two alone added to the states she has already won and could be expected to win again in the general election get her to 56% of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
State-by-state
All this to say, that it’s not just how many popular votes a candidate gets, it matters a great deal in which states they get them. Hillary is clearly winning both the popular Democratic vote and in the Blue Electoral College states where it counts, too.

 

We’re all responsible for the choices we make

Finally, I think it’s important for B-or-Bers to appreciate this.

 

You will be held accountable come November.

 

My fellow liberals can debate all day the effect that Nader’s 2.7% had in the lead up to the corrupt SCOTUS decision that stole the election from Gore in 2000, but if you’re angling to “punish” Hillary, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  and the DNC, just understand and own the fact that you are knowingly and willingly helping Trump or Cruz to win the White House.

You cannot get around that fact. If you’re comfortable with that then, by all means, own it and vote your conscience, but also know this reality: the Democratic Party didn’t become the Green Party 16 years ago when disaffected Democrats voted for Nader, and I’ll lay money that you won’t get much more than 2% to 3% this time, either.

No matter what you think, the DNC won’t change just because some small number of “Democrats of convenience” make the same mistake their predecessors did.

That kind of thinking is how we ended up with W. Do you really, really want to have to answer future generations when they ask how you could consciously be part of the reason Trump or Cruz occupied the White House?

Call it a guilt trip if you like. Call it the lesser of two evils. Call it having to hold your nose to pick the less offensive bowl of shit. Just be real about it.

Cruz or Trump can only win if Democrats refuse to stay united.

This isn’t politics as usual. It’s not even about conviction or belief or ideology.

It’s math. If we can’t carry Sanders to the nomination, then we must understand and accept responsibility for the undeniable fact that every vote not cast for whomever the Democrat is is a vote cast for the Republican.

Staying home, writing in Sanders, or voting for a third party will not change that. What will change it is for more people like Sanders to start running for their local school boards, town councils, mayors, state houses, and as members of Congress. If you think ensuring a Cruz or Trump presidency is the pathway for finally energizing more people in the Sanders mold, I submit to you that you are fooling yourself, and even if that were true, the ends would not justify those means. It must be understood that either Trump or Cruz as president is too terrible an idea to allow to come to fruition.

So, as bad as Hillary is; as much as you might hate her; as much as you justifiably point out that she’s a corporatist and not a Democrat in the mold of FDR, we all need to remember that, “….on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.”

So said Bernie.

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White privilege, crybabies, #Drumpf, and chickens

Another PA Justice chooses to retire instead of facing the music, and the lessons learned are both immediate and prescient.

Why is another judge retiring?

Because he’s guilty of….
“….exchanges that included photos of naked women, sexually suggestive themes, gender and socio-economic stereotypes, and content that was anti-gay and made light of violence toward women.”

I think it’s very instructive when people in positions of power and authority no longer get away with such behavior.

This is, after all, the 21st century. They should be setting the example for what civility and reason mean and what they look like, not tearfully apologizing after the fact for their bad judgment.

Modern people living in a civil society should no longer be ok with anyone – but especially with people (yeah, ok, men) in positions of power – acting like pre-pubescent adolescent boys when it comes to women, minorities, the poor, and LGBTQ persons.

Call it political correctness if you want, but I’m reminded of an old saying which I’ll modify for our purposes here:

“There but for the grace of God go you.”

It’s only through the lens of white male privilege that one can look at circumstances like these going on in Harrisburg and then complain that it’s political correctness run amok.

In fact, it’s complaining about and railing against so-called political correctness that makes it possible – even acceptable and commendable in some quarters! – to vilify entire religions, races, and people who just don’t look, think, talk, and act like the rest of us.

Now I know that some will undoubtedly claim that they wouldn’t have hurt feelings if they were a woman, poor, a minority, or LGBTQ and being mocked and made fun of by others, but I challenge that notion, and here’s why.

Speaking as one, I think old, white, American men of the 21st century are just about the biggest crybabies to ever walk the planet. After all the privileges afforded to them solely by gender and race, they have the audacity to complain about such terrible infringements on them and their freedoms as political correctness, reverse discrimination, the threat posed by immigrants and atheists and all the non-Christian religions, plus those damned women who just can’t wait to have recreational abortions.

It’s all of the socialists and hippies and hipsters and their out-of-control amorality spewing forth for all of these people who don’t look, think, act, speak, and behave exactly like “the rest of America.”

The poor babies. They whine and wail and complain that they are under constant attack, and that it’s time they rallied together to “take their country back!”

Hence, Trump. Sorry. Drumpf.

Now, I’m not suggesting for one second that laws be passed to silence anyone or that anyone’s speech be censored. Let them speak, I say. It makes it easier for the rest of us to identify who is who.

But, do you know what I find hilarious in all of this?

As bad as some old white folks are, just wait until they’re no longer the majority. The tears will fill reservoirs, and droughts will be a distant memory, and that’s before anything of any consequence, real or imagined, actually happens.

I shudder to think about the chickens that will come home to roost in future Republican primaries if present-day conservatives and Republicans allow lunatics like Drumpf to be their new standard-bearer.

 

Then they really will have something to cry about.

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#EmoProgs, you’re not helping

To my fellow Sanders supporters:

sanders-warren_min_wage

(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, published along with “Sanders and Warren Sign Letter Urging Obama to Get Behind ‘Fight for $15’ Movement” May 15, 2015, by Common Dreams)

If you’re among those attacking Warren for not endorsing Sanders, and if you plan to stay home, write in Bernie, or vote 3rd party if Hillary wins the nomination, I submit to you that you will be just as responsible for a President Trump as those misguided Americans who vote for him.

Before you get pissed off at me, please understand this.

I didn’t decide lightly after 36 years as Non-Affiliated to register as a Democrat so that I could vote in the closed PA primary for Hillary. I did it so that I could vote for Bernie Sanders. Jill Stein is actually my first choice, but it’s impossible for her to win, and a vote for her is just a vote that doesn’t cancel out a vote for the Republican. Yes, it’s shitty, but that’s reality. We live in a two-party system, and 2.7% of votes going to a third party every 4 years, in my opinion, will never change that. It can, however, impact outcomes as some complain that Nader’s 2.7% did in 2000.

I’ve been a harsh critic of Democrats and fellow liberals over the years when I’ve thought they’ve deserved it. (See here, here, and here for just a few examples if you need proof.)

This is one of those times.

There apparently are enough misguided Democrats – and, I suspect, a fair number of Independents like me now caucusing with Democrats – who support Sanders to such a degree that they are referred to as acolytes. They’ve even seemingly earned comparisons to the Tea Party movement and a name of their own: EmoProg.

I don’t see this going well for us liberals in November if so many of us have become so terribly misguided that there’s now a name for people who, among other things, think Elizabeth Warren is now the enemy.

Passion is great. Let’s continue to use it and do everything we can to help Sanders win, but please, let’s not leave a scorched Earth on the Left doing it. The Right is doing enough of that already, don’t you think?

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