Time to end the romance?

The reason you’re looking at this right now on a high speed network that doesn’t cost so much that only rich people could afford it can be traced to the breakup by the federal government of AT&T way back in the Stone Age of the 1980s.

I think it’s time for some more break ups, and this is why Elizabeth Warren has my attention.

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Scott Olso/Getty Images)

 

I was “there” in the 1980s when AT&T was broken apart. Thanks to that action, I spent a large part of my early career working for new competitors who never could have come into being without the forced breakup of AT&T’s monopoly.

In Warren, I see someone with the courage to go after rich and powerful corporations. I applaud her for that, and for making this a visible plank in her campaign.

There is a fundamental truism about monopolies that everyone should understand and that everyone should talk about when it comes to conversations about the balance between capitalism and so-called free markets, and the role of oversight and regulation government is supposed to play. That truism is this.

Monopolies are terrible for everyone except for the people who own them and run them.

Monopolies have zero incentive to innovate. Why would they invest any profits into innovation when the market has no alternative but to use their goods and services?

Monopolies have zero incentive to offer their goods and services at competitive prices. Same rhetorical question as before tells you why this is true.

Monopolies have zero incentive to be good corporate citizens. Do I need to say it again?

And, no, you don’t have choices. Choice is an illusion. Just ask George Carlin or the Merovingian.

By definition, monopolies mean you have no choice but to use whatever they offer at whatever price they choose, and in whatever manner in which they choose to operate.

Ok. Fine. You can choose not to participate at all in the market they rule, but understand this reality, too. A monopoly cannot arise unless they offer something people want or need; otherwise, no one would be in that market.

And, yes, I suppose you can choose to chuck it all and move to Alaska or Belize or some off-the-grid locale. May not be a bad idea. Hell, maybe you can even sell the rights to your own “reality” show to those empty-headed nitwits at The Discovery Channel. Watch out, Swamp Loggers.

Seriously, I hope people will think about what’s been happening when it comes to corporate power and influence, especially during conversations with people who complain about, scoff at, or mock Elizabeth Warren and people like her who are now calling for this era’s tech giants – and big banks – to be broken up.

That’s advice for my fellow tech business people, too. Put greed and every last nickle of profit as the goal aside, and think long-term and for the greater good on this.

As for politicians, Democratic Party apparatchiks, and industry groups, we can expect to hear from the likes of Rob Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and Ed Black, president of Computer and Communications Industry Association, whine and wail and gnash their teeth over Warren’s plan. They’re shills for big money; it just happens to be Big Tech Money, and not Big Oil Money or Big  Bank Money. It’s still Big Money

There are no shortage of articles on Warren and this topic. Here’s one from the Washington Post in which the aforementioned group leaders are quoted.

“Does Elizabeth Warren’s breakup plan for the tech giants mark the end of a political romance?”

Certain liberals and progressives nowadays have no shortage of litmus tests they seem to relish in applying to every candidate.

It will be interesting to see how they test for the idea of breaking up with Silicon Valley and their money.

 

Imperfect allies versus actual enemies

(This is a redacted post from a Facebook Group I’m in. It was the OP’s comments and a few that followed that inspired this response from me.)

Thanks for your post, Lenard. It got me thinking. (This is pretty long. Sorry.)

Hillary - he is nuts meme

 
I don’t know if you mean this literally, Lenard, but you seem to be stating that the DNC picks a president’s running mate. I suspect they have some influence with the candidate. Such decisions are rarely – and shouldn’t be – made in a vacuum solely by the candidate. Ultimately, though, it is the candidate’s decision to make, so chastising the DNC for not putting Bernie on the ticket, with apologies, makes very little sense.
 
That said, having him on the ticket got me thinking.
 
How and why would having Sanders as Clinton’s VP have changed the outcome?
 
Did leaving him off exasperate voter apathy and disillusionment?
 
Perhaps, but turnout in 2016 according to FairVote (https://www.fairvote.org/voter_turnout#voter_turnout_101) was actually pretty good comparatively speaking.
 
That’s not to say that this country doesn’t have a problem with apathy as evidenced by the United States of Apathy (https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/11/voter-turnout-midterm-election-statistics-map/574939/), but we should remember that Trump lost the general by 3 million. That’s a wide margin even if only 60% of eligible voters voted.
 
We also mustn’t forget that he only won the EC thanks to 77,000 voters in PA, MI, and WI.
 
Which leads me to this question; would those 77,000 have voted for Clinton with Bernie as VP?
 
Seems unlikely to me thanks in no small part to the hate on both the Right and on the Left for Hillary, the latter thanks in no small measure to die-hard Sanders supporters who then refused to vote the way Sanders asked them to, and that was for Hillary.
 
So, if we do conclude and concede that turnout would have been even greater for Hillary across the board but especially in the battleground states with Bernie on the ticket, does this mean that “Sanders voters” in those places who refused to join me as a Sanders supporter in voting for Clinton are now taking responsibility for Trump?
 
Seriously, if you call yourself a liberal or progressive or Sanders supporter, and you didn’t vote for Clinton as Bernie asked – begged – us to do, for whom did you vote, why, and will you do it again?
 
The reality was there were two choices in 2016. Two.
 
One was Trump and the other wasn’t.
 
We all knew and understood that. It’s simply intellectually dishonest to argue otherwise.
 
I get that if you live in a “safely” blue state like CA, you feel safe voting for Jill or Rocky or whomever, but that safety is afforded you only because the vast majority of your neighbors are doing what they believe and they know they must do. This isn’t an insult, it’s just how I see it nowadays. Voting your conscious is all well and good, until it isn’t for anyone but you.
 
Now the big question. Are some Sanders supporters becoming cultists? It seems so to me.
 
Look, I’m a Sanders supporter. What worries me is what I’m seeing in other FB groups that are total hardcore pro-Sanders Groups.
 
Their demand of the DNC distills down to this: “Give us Sanders, or you’ll get more scorched earth.”
 
This raises three questions for me.
 
1. Do they think the DNC controls who runs for office?
 
2. Whom do they think they’re hurting by refusing to vote for the Democrat on the ballot?
 
3. Why would anyone take conscious actions to perpetuate what we have now with Trump in office?
 
The answers I come to are framed by what starts to look to me as the same basic thinking as Trump’s cult, and that starts with making demands for change without understanding how things work. The second is to willfully decide to vote against oneself and everyone else without regard for the adverse affects just so they can pat themselves on the back for “winning” while putting someone they love into power as self-affirmation that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.
 
This is how Trump’s cult behaves. It’s as if they thought he would take office, wave a magic wand, and everything he – and they – wanted would become real. Well, I can’t help looking at many of my fellow Sanders supporters and concluding they believe the same would be true with Sanders in the White House. We all know that’s not how politics or our form of government works.
 
As for the DNC’s role in all of this, I have to say it’s childish to keep demanding that the DNC give us what we want or we’ll punish them at the polls.
 
Who is it that gets punished?
 
Is it the rich and powerful at the top? That would be silly and naive to believe.
 
Is it the Democratic politician who loses the election? Do you mean the people who are our best, albeit imperfect, allies but who aren’t actual enemies like Republican candidates? They’ll go back to doing whatever it is they were doing, or they’ll get a job on K Street, or whatever, but they’ll be fine. You aren’t “hurting” them, either.
 
No, the people who are hurt when Democrats lose and Republicans win are everyone outside the One Percent, and especially those who aren’t cisgender, white, evangelical, men.
 
We on the Left need to stop being our own worst enemies. We need to stop talking about the DNC as if it were a cabal of evil scientists building candidates out of corporatist Democratic body parts in a lab. Real people decide whether or not to run for office. Those real people must decide to run as Democrats or Republicans, Greens or Libertarians, or as Independents.
 
(Yes, here it comes.)
 
Sanders – for all the love and respect I have for him – is NOT a Democrat. If he were perfectly true to his stated beliefs, he would’ve run as an Independent. No one is perfect.
 
That’s why I suggest that we and he should stop pretending he’s a Democrat. I’d respect the hardcore Sanders-supporting Democratic Party haters more if they started calling Bernie out for being a Democrat of Convenience. After all, many of them refused to follow his advice to vote for Hillary, so shouldn’t they be attacking him for that and his convenient relationship with the DNC? Shouldn’t they be demanding that he run as an Independent? I’ll guess we’ll know soon enough.
 
I think we on the Left should be more supportive of the Democratic Party. I think we should vote for Democrats because they are clearly our strongest, albeit imperfect, allies against the actual enemies of Trump and the GOP. No, the Dems aren’t perfect. No one is, but they are exponentially stronger than any other Party other than the GOP.
 
Something else to remember about 2016 is that Bernie lost the primary in a race that wasn’t close.
 
The lesson to be learned is NOT that the DNC wasn’t supportive enough of him. I sometimes get the sense that many of my fellow Sanders supporters actually believe the DNC capable of stealing 3 million primary votes. Yes, yes, she had the superdelagates locked up early, and Nevada, and yada yada yada, but all I’ll say to all of that is that Sanders wasn’t a Democrat until it was convenient for him to register as one. What the hell did he and we expect, a loving embrace from the rank-and-file members and the leaders of a Party he has spent almost as much of his career pillorying as he has Republicans?
 
Again, if Bernie’s going to be a voice of independence from corrupt Parties, than he should run independent of them.
 
In my view, this is the absolute most important thing to remember about the primary: More people chose Hillary over Bernie. That’s how the system works.
 
So, if the Democratic candidates on your ballot aren’t liberal or progressive enough for you, then run for office yourself, but let’s stop this arsonist’s strategy of wanting to burn down the Democratic Party because the people who choose to operate within it and who choose to run as representatives of it aren’t pure enough for us. If that’s how you feel, then join the Party, run for office, and change it from the inside; otherwise, what makes you think you should have a voice in how the Party operates and who runs under its banner? Talk about privilege.
 
And, if you’re left with another choice in 2020 that doesn’t include Sanders and you vote for anyone but the Democrat at least have the courage to publicly own it. I see precious few Sanders supporters who claim to despise the Democratic Party with the courage to reveal for whom they did cast their vote. I’m proud to say that I registered for the first time in my life as a Democrat so that I could vote for Bernie in the closed PA primary. I’m just as proud to say that I voted for Hillary.
 
No one is perfect. My view is that the Left needs to find a way to coalesce and to stop being our own worst enemies by constantly fighting intra-movement purity battles. Yes, the Democratic Party should be more Liberal with a capital “L”, but how does attacking it or refusing to work with and within it lead to the change you want? It doesn’t.
 
I think that we must remember that the Left has a lot of imperfect friends and allies in the Democratic Party.
 

We have none in the Republican Party.

Voters should #NeverForget915, and they should never believe people like Scott J. Freidheim

Republican politicians have been selling the lies of trickle down economics and deregulation on behalf of their Big Money and Wall Street masters for decades.

Now the very people at the heart of the financial market collapse of 10 years ago – people like Scott J. Freidheim – are trying to explain how it could have been avoided by making their lives easier.

Anyone paying even the slightest attention to economic reality since Reagan and certainly in the years leading up to the collapse of 2007/8 will know better.

NeverForget915

Everything old is new again

As someone who just made it under the wire of Baby Boomer, I’ve watched for decades as low information conservative voters have been able to be counted on by generations of Republican politicians as people who are very easily duped into buying Republican lies.

These days I find myself asking whether Americans who think of themselves as Republicans and who vote for Republican politicians have either the will or the desire to ever actually understand how voting for a Republican at any level of government – from school board to town mayor to president – is truly a vote for a Party with an ideology designed explicitly to hurt them, their progeny, and everyone else outside the One Percent?

Republican orthodoxy on full display

The answer seems to be that some Americans continue to be willingly duped by people like Scott J. Freidheim.

Lehman insider Scott Freidheim

In “The Lehman Brothers Collapse, 10 Years Later,” full-blown One Percenter and former senior Lehman executive, Scott Freidheim, is peddling the right-wing lie that says everything is the government’s fault if the government doesn’t do what Big Money wants.

In other words, pure Republican orthodoxy.

Mr. Freidheim has the temerity to claim that Lehman’s collapse was the government’s fault for not allowing Lehman to reorganize in ways that would have given them better federal protections.

Think about that as you then consider this.

In what I suspect was an unintended and fleeting moment of honesty, he admits in the interview that his industry didn’t “take it far enough” in evaluating the risks they had created for themselves and for the world economy.

So, which is it?

Too much regulation or too little?

By his own admission, Wall Street paid too little attention to risk. Why? Was it because they expected to be bailed out, thereby continuing to socialize all the risk while privatizing all the gains?

And, when the help didn’t come to him and Lehman Brothers?

Freidheim wants us to agree with him and blame Lehman’s collapse on the federal government.

Seriously, and on behalf of all Americans outside the 1/10th of 1% where you live, Mr. Freidheim, fuck you and all of your fellow Wall Streeters.

You all belong in jail.

Republican voters; stop ignoring reality

Voters across the spectrum who are outside the One Percent – but especially Republican voters – need to stop and understand what Freidheim and people like him are saying.

You Republican voters more than anyone need to understand what Republicans, bankers, ALEC, and all the Big Money power brokers are doing to this country because YOU’RE THE ONES VOTING FOR politicians who want LESS regulation of greedy, power-hungry, and soulless people like Dick Fuld, James “Jimmy” Cayne, Jamie Dimon, and now lesser-known cretins like Scott Freidheim.

You Republican voters more than anyone need to understand why Freidheim and his ilk want LESS REGULATION. Less regulation means they have more opportunities to take unwarranted risks knowing that they will keep all of their gains and that we’ll have to bail them out on their losses as the only way to “save the financial services industry” when next their greed and stupidity causes the next collapse thanks to people like Freidheim and his kind.

And most of all, you Republican voters more than anyone need to understand that you are not at all even a part of the concern of Republican politicians.

And, that absolutely includes the current leader of what is now the cult that is the Trumpublican Party.

Trump is not a Republican, neither are you, and none of them give a shit about you

Here’s a prime example of how Republicans hurt everyone.

Thanks to you Republican voters, The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S.2155) was signed into law by Trump. It de-fangs what was already not a strong enough post-collapse attempt to rein in the banks, Dodd-Frank.

As someone duped into believing you’re a Republican, you apparently bought the lie that undoing Dodd-Frank was a good move.

You were wrong. Again.

You Americans who think you’re a Republican were wrong in the 2016 election for believing you were voting for someone in Trump who was going to work for you and not the bankers. Honestly, you Republican voters should be ashamed of yourselves for being so gullible.

Not to worry, though.

November 2018 is your next chance to prove you aren’t the useful idiots of Republican politicians and Wall Streeters you act like by voting for them. All you have to do is to stop being your own worst enemy, and stop voting for the Party who has fucked you over your whole life.

Lefties, you’re responsible, too.

As for you self-proclaimed liberals and progressives who can’t seem to hate enough on the so-called “corporate” and “Wall Street” Democratic Party; here’s my advice to you.

Grow the fuck up.

You need to stop acting like some perverse combination of spoiled brat, self-righteous egomaniac, and puritanical zealot, and understand the difference between imperfect allies and actual enemies.

Yes, Democrats are imperfect. So are you.

Yes, some purple state Democrats in the House and Senate “disappointed” you again by voting for S.2155.

But understand this:

One, just ONE House Republican, voted against the bill.

Not a single Republican Senator cast a No vote. Not. One.

So, to my fellow social democrats, liberals, progressives, and everyone else on the left who is self-righteously banging your fists or holding your breath or acting like whatever spoiled and privileged lefty that you want to be, stop that shit right now.

Pull your heads out of your asses, and support any and every Democrat on every ballot.

Most of all, act like an informed and intelligent citizen, and vote in November for whomever has the ‘D’ next to their name…….unless, of course, you’re happy helping Republicans to keep control of local, state, and federal government.

No, Democrats aren’t perfect, but this is where you need to grow up. What they aren’t are Republicans.

If that’s not enough for you……I’m tempted to suggest an impossible solo sex act, but instead, know this.

You are looked at now and you will be considered by history when it’s written as just as much the source of our social, political, and economic problems as the duped 99-percenters who are voting for Republicans because you refuse to do what is required to end Republican rule.

 

Progressives: This is your wake up call

To all my fellow progressives, liberals, wannabe social democrats, and disgruntled Bernie supporters:

Time (actually far past the time) for some tough love. Time for us to pull our collective heads out of our assess.

Republicans control everything because of us. Yes, us, and it’s probably not for the reasons you want to tell yourself. It’s not those evil corporate Democrats.

It’s you and me.

Here’s the reality.

1) I can’t vote for candidates who don’t run, and neither can you.

Stop insisting that the Democratic Party “give us” progressive candidates we want or else. It doesn’t work like that. Please stop making that idiotic demand. You’re making all of us look stupid. If you don’t like who’s on the ballot, run for office yourself; otherwise, please shut the fuck up about “corporate” Democrats controlling who is on the ballot. You need to vote for Democrats as the only way to beat Republicans. (I’m going to get to your roiling self-righteous outrage and indignation in a minute.)

2) Any Democrat is better than any Republican any day.

Does this even need to be explained? Do you honestly believe that Democrats and Republicans are the same? If you do, you need to know that is just about as intellectually dishonest a position as one can take. I’m asking you again to shut the fuck up because claiming that both Parties are the same is even dumber than believing that the Democratic Party hand-picks corporate candidates, or that you’re “punishing” anyone but the most vulnerable among us by self-righteously refusing to vote for a Democrat.

3) Less evil is always better than more evil.

When were elections ever not this choice? Seriously. I’ve been voting for longer than most of you have probably been alive. No, it’s not optimal, but what is in life? And, you need to pay very close attention to this – you will NOT change this reality by not voting or by throwing your vote away by not voting for the only Party in today’s reality that can beat Republicans, and that’s the Democratic Party. If this isn’t convincing enough, ask people in the LGBTQ community and refugee families and people of color and women and American Muslims and environmental activists and Planned Parenthood and just about anyone who isn’t an aging cisgender white Evangelical if they think Democrats are just as evil as Republicans.

4) When did a scorched Earth become a progressive value?

This one is especially directed at all my fellow middle class and doing-ok white liberals from the Baby Boomer Generation. Haven’t we fucked up this world enough already? Now you want to pat yourself on the back for not supporting “corporate” Democrats regardless of the fact that that just about guarantees more Republican scorched Earth? Is that the world we want to bequeath? We stay fat, dumb, and self-righteous in our suburban homes banging away on our keyboards and thumping our chests in so-called progressive Facebook Groups, too selfish and too egotistical to worry about others in distress today – right now – to do what’s necessary to salvage what’s left of this country and this planet by first stopping the Republican destruction.

5) We progressives and liberals continue to be our own worst enemies thanks to our inability to unite.

Instead of banding together to defeat Republicans, we waste our time and energy arguing with each other about who “deserves” our vote and how we need to “punish” the Democrats for not being progressive enough.

There are no perfect progressives.
There are no perfect candidates.
If there are any, they aren’t running for office where I live.

We need to start voting in unity in every election the way conservatives do. It’s the only way to defeat Republicans, and that’s all that matters in November. Nothing. Else. Matters. Now.

We can only move this country toward a more progressive future by first defeating Republicans the only way possible, and that’s to vote for Democrats.

That is how we start winning battles.

That is how we win the war.

Then we can go back to arguing over who is the more corporate and who is the more progressive politician.

To liberals and progressives: know the difference between imperfect allies and actual enemies

Calling out bad Democrats and illiberal liberals is fine. Confusing imperfect allies with actual enemies is just mystifying and inexcusable.

Such has been and continues to be the case with some on the left.

Despite the stranglehold that Republicans have at every level of government, some on the left are doubling-down on the inexplicable idea that the way to reform the Democratic Party is not by joining it in order to move it to the left from the inside, but instead to remain outside of it and demanding purity and fealty first before they will grace the Party with their ideas, their efforts, and their votes.

That makes absolutely no sense to me.

For the record, I’m a life-long liberal. Until 2015, I was registered Non-Partisan. I registered as a Democrat that year solely for the purpose of voting for Sanders in the closed PA Democratic primary.

Let me be clear. I believe it’s fine – and necessary – to call out “bad” Democrats. I’ve been doing it for most of my life. There’s plenty of recent evidence in this blog site. Just search for words like ‘liberal’ and ‘Democrats’. You’ll see.

But to my fellow lefties who can’t seem to hate Democrats enough, let me say that for you to go on demanding from the outside that the Democratic Party change to your liking while also criticizing the idea that liberals and progressives should join the Party in order to actually change it from within is not only illogical, it puts you into a category of people who can’t seem to tell the difference between an imperfect friend and an actual enemy.

Democrats are not the enemy. No, they are not perfect. No one is, but they are the only major Party that represents progressive and liberal ideas and policies. No, not enough and not strongly enough for some, including me, but they do represent them.

When it comes to discerning friend from foe, don’t take my word or the word of someone on Facebook. Look up your favorite antagonist at GovTrack.us to see what bills they sponsor and support, how they vote, and where they are on the ideological spectrum.

Here’s the chart for recent Angry Buster target, Cory Booker.

Cory Booker

That grey dot on the extreme left is you-know-who. That’s right, no one is left of Sanders.

That doesn’t make everyone else in blue an enemy.

So, I ask anyone who thinks they can change the Democratic Party from the outside these questions.

What if all the “calling out” actually did force out present-day bad Democrats, what then? Let’s say you get your wish. Who replaces them if not members of the Party?

And, seriously, do you expect all the rank-and-file members and all the leaders to simply throw up their hands, fall to their knees, and exclaim, “Hallelujah, you are right! We are evil and wrong and bad. We abdicate! The Party is yours! Thank you for saving us!”

It just makes no logical sense to go on believing that somehow the Democratic Party will change if only enough people outside of the Party screech long enough and loud enough about how terrible the Democrats are.

I’ll add this. It requires an ego that rivals Trump’s to think that all that screeching will eventually convince enough people to also join up in throwing away their votes in battleground states because that “sends a message” to Democrats to be more like them, or else.

I have bad news for those folks.

No political party cares what 1% of the total electorate thinks.

The Democrats aren’t trying to figure out how to win 100% of the 1% who voted for Stein. They’re trying to figure out how to win more of the overall electorate in districts and states where it matters.

So, here’s my advice to the Greens, liberals, and angry Busters who hate Democrats and the Democratic Party:
If you want the Democratic Party to change, become part of it; otherwise, you’re leaving the Party to those who are part of it, and they’re going to go on without you and your ideas.