Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Balllot Selfies

New Mexico law prohibits voters from showing their marked paper ballot "to any person in such a way as to reveal its contents."

This is according to the AP, which asserts that it makes ballot selfies illegal here. AP went around the country state by state to find out whether the increasingly popular practice is legal or illegal in each state.

They say NM is one of 17 states where it's illegal. Apparently controversy arose when pop star Justin Timberlake posted a picture of himself in the voting booth on social media and later deleted it when told it was illegal.

I don't know if I'll take a ballot selfie or not. Voting confuses me anyway. There are all those people there and it's so official and you have old ladies telling you to go this way and that way and I'm afraid if I go the wrong way I'll be sent to federal prison.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Hillary You Get

"Speaking at a rally in Pittsburgh on the weekend, Clinton said, “I’m not going to pretend that we can just snap our fingers and solve our problems… That doesn’t happen in the real world.”"

That's Hillary Clinton, confident of victory, starting to manage the expectations of her supporters, some of whom may have believed the liberal rhetoric she adopted to secure the Democratic Party nomination and win the support of former Sanders voters.

It's being reported that she is already contacting key Republicans to discuss how they will work together when she's in office. Cabinet posts and other positions in her administration are being discussed.

"Jeff Zeleny of CNN reported, “I’m told she’s been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern.” Clinton has told these Republicans that she will be more approachable than Obama, Zeleny said, adding, “She will work with them. She wants to have an open-door policy.”"

Donald Trump meanwhile is saying Clinton's policies in Syria could start World War III. This is unfortunate. Military figures have already said as much in congressional hearings, but now that Trump is saying this it gives the media an excuse to ridicule the idea. Clinton as recently as the final debate reaffirmed her desire to establish a "no fly zone" over Syria, which is tantamount to war with nuclear armed Russia. The Guardian goes into this in depth today.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What Is To Be Done?

New Mexico Democrats never mention wealth and income inequality. They emit an occasional "dog whistle" directed at the principle of equality that used to govern their party; it usually contains the phrase "middle class" and is always devoid of any meaning and is never followed by any concrete mention of any bill or policy. They forever say they will fight like hell for you but never detail what that will consist of, leaving them free to do nothing for you at all, which is what they do. Now, with their Neoliberal champion about to win an election and you having supported her wholeheartedly, they have even less reason to do anything for you. You fell for it again.

How did this situation come to be? Thomas Franks, who wrote the watermark book What's The Matter With Kansas, has some ideas that he discusses with Truthdig editor Robert Scheer on Scheer's Pacifica radio program (link and transcript here.) Democrats, knowing that working people have nowhere else to go, have a new core constituency, Franks says, the"professional class." The term is sometimes "meritocracy." They are the upper socioeconomic classes and most elected Democrats now come from that class and so they naturally serve the interests of their class.

What is to be done about this? First is to get people out of the mode of thinking that Democrats are their only choice. As Frank explains and other have explained, the Democrats only served the interests of working people in the first place because of outside pressure from primarily the labor movement but also from civil rights groups, women's groups and environmental groups. The leaders of those kinds of groups still support the Democratic Party. In many cases they have moved into the higher socioeconomic strata themselves and have stopped serving the interests of their members.

There are plenty of options besides the Democratic Party, but first you have to know that you need another option. Most people think only in terms of Democrat and Republican, but even at that don't know that the Democrats' and Republicans' power comes from them, and that's the problem facing anyone who still wants social and economic justice. The problem of raising that consciousness in peoples' minds and imaginations.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What's Next?

Donald Trump has the ability to get headlines written about him every day. According to Joel Silberman, writing in attn:, it doesn't matter to Trump whether he's getting attention with good news or bad news, and as the presidential race winds down Trump's behavior suggests he is actually preparing things for what he plans to do after the election, which is to catapult the anger and resentment that fueled his campaign, and will only get worse after the election, especially if his supporters think it was stolen, into a movement and/or some kind of media empire.

Trump's son in law, i.e. Ivanka Trump's husband, real estate investor Jared Kushner, owns the New York Observer and has been in touch recently with  investors who specialize in media deals, and former Fox News chief Roger Ailles might be part of the scheme, Silberman writes.

I'll add that it's been reported that Ailles has been informally advising Trump in his campaign and that The Observer is a New York City weekly described as being in the "upper minor leagues" of the media world by its former food critic, Joshua Stein, who resigned when the paper endorsed Trump.

There's a lot of anger out there alright, and the working class people on the right side of the  political spectrum aren't going to stop and think about the good of the country before they embark on their four to eight year mission to express their hatred of Hillary and undermine her legitimacy and her presidency. And Republicans in congress will aid and abet that as they try to block everything she puts forth, possibly even any Supreme Court nomination she might make, because, as I reported a few posts ago, it's what works for them electorally and allows them to hold on to the considerable power they wield.

You can't solve anger and hatred. You can't talk someone out of it. The only thing you can do is replace it with something else. Hillary Clinton has begun to try to unite the country, it's being reported. You could see it in some of her comments in the final debate the other night. Traditionally though, politicians and leaders have united people by getting them wrapped up in things like fear of invasion and war hysteria. Clinton has repeatedly said she wants to escalate the wars in the Middle East and has been in the forefront of starting the new Cold War against Russia. It's going to be a fun time coming up. A grim time.

Law And New Mexico Law

Bernalillo County, NM, has a feature on its web site that lets you see what your own specific ballot will look like on election day. (On this same page you can also check your voter registration status.)

The county web site explains that each precinct has a different ballot and there are more than 500 different ballot in Bernalillo County alone. It doesn't say why. There are obvious reason why ballots would differ from, say, one congressional district to another, but as to why they differ by precinct I can only guess that it's because each precinct has a different combination of ballot measures and of boards and bodies people are being elected to.

It's been pointed out that there's no way to write in someone's name for president this year. I'm not sure this is legal and I'm not sure it matters in New Mexico. There seems to me to be law, and New Mexico law. Rather, different localities here have their own ways of doing things and it's accepted that that's OK. I'm sure a native could give you quite a few examples of this. I'd think it's owing to our unique historical background and values and the fact that the federal government is looked upon differently here. A guess.

The first time I encountered this was the first time after moving here that I renewed the physical that's required for my commercial driver's license. Most of the physical -- eye test, urine test, blood pressure, etc. --  is conducted by nurses and then a doctor or nurse practitioner comes in and looks you over and pokes you, looks over the other results and then signs off on it, except that this particular nurse practitioner wrote on my physical card that I needed to wear eyeglasses even though I had passed the eye test, just not by enough for her satisfaction. These physicals are federally mandated and have federally mandated standards, but in New Mexico there are New Mexico standards.

For president, incidentally, I'll vote for the ticket of Gloria LaRiva and Dennis Banks running on the Party for Socialism and Liberation ticket. I'll have more to say about this later. It will be a disappointment to people like me that Hillary Clinton's victory will be so lopsided that not voting for her won't matter and that we can't spend the next eight years defending ourselves against accusations that we put Donald Trump in office. People still blame Ralph Nader for George W Bush getting into office, despite the fact that this has been disproven. Nader took votes equally from Bush and Gore, and more Democrats voted for Bush than for Nader, the Democrats being unable to come up with candidates people like, Hilary Clinton being a prime example of this. She's very disliked and will only be elected because people dislike Trump more.  Most Americans and especially young people won't even vote, they are so disillusioned by the candidates that get put up and by the way politics has come to serve only the ruling class. And people don't like candidates Democrats nominate because they're Republicans who are only liberal on gay rights and abortion, as Jim Hightower pointed out at the time.

There's also a ballot measure that would convert Bernalillo County to a "home rule" county. This would give the county board more independence from the sate legislature in various ways and is fairly common around the country, but the way it's done here is unique, too, owing to the right of local governments to rule themselves via home rule being enshrined in the state constitution, and then a vote of the people in 1970 that broadened that right. This ballot measure has been put before Bernalillo County voters twice before and has been defeated twice, so why it's being brought up again I don't know.

I've seen nothing about this ballot measure in the media save for a recent article in the Albuquerque Journal from the point of view of an attorney who helped draft the measure and is in favor of it passing. I have no particular reason to oppose the measure except for the fact that when something like this hasn't been publicized it raises concerns about why not. It's possible, for example, that the county board wants to do something it can't do unless this gets passed. Law and New Mexico law.

It's suggested in the Journal article that it's supporters might use home rule to change the size of the county board, or to change some county offices, like treasurer, from being elected to being appointed by a county executive. People might see these kinds of actions as "power grabs" and if so that's probably why it failed before.

But there might be more to it than appointing a treasurer who knows what they are doing instead of letting the people elect someone who doesn't. Think of the controversial  Santolina development, which was approved by the county board but may have not been done so legally if they didn't have home rule. Or, without home rule, it's possible the state legislature could overrule the county board's decision. I don't know if anything like this is the case but it doesn't hurt to ask or to wonder why we haven't heard very much about this ballot measure.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Clinton Foundation Pays Women Less Than Men

Is among the headlines generated today by today's batch of leaked Clinton campaign emails, which keep being released by the thousands almost daily by Wikileaks.

I'm having a blast reading one delicious surprise after another and hearing people come up with ridiculous reasons for why we need less information about the people who run our country and not more.

The Clinton campaign is trying to make the story be about Wikileaks and Russia -- to discredit the emails because of who hacked them, which isn't known and can't be discovered. According to multiple computer experts it's impossible to tell who hacked you. Another storyline, that the emails were doctored, has been drowned out by the sheer volume of the release -- tens of thousands.

And of course the source of the hack, while it may be interesting and a story in itself, doesn't matter as far as the truth contained in the emails and their significance. Using the Clinton campaign's logic, if Hitler told you to get out of the road because a bus is coming, you'd have to stay in the road.

The truth revealed by the leaked emails isn't that Hillary Clinton and those around her are cynical and dishonest or even that it's verified in writing now that Clinton is a warmongering servant of big Wall Street banks, big corporations and rich people. Most people know that about their elected officials and don't care. Which is another thing.

The truth revealed by the emails is in how they are being treated by Clinton supporters and a mainstream media that by and large favors Clinton over Donald Trump and is helping her to win.

It's that we pretend to be rational and fair and just when we are not.

It's that when there's news we don't like, that doesn't make it a bunch of lies. It's that when there's new we don't like we don't like it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hillary Voters Vote For War

The Washington Post reports today that the "foreign policy elite" can't wait for a President Hillary Clinton so we can start killing more people again.

The Post's interviews with these people, along with the recently leaked transcripts of Clinton's $250K Goldman Sachs speeches, confirmed the fact that, knowingly or not, if you vote for Clinton you're voting for escalation in Syria and against Russia and Iran. You're voting to kill a lot of people. A lot of them. And throw a lot more money down the toilet that is the foreign policy consensus.

This elite, a "bipartisan" cabal of former state department officials, think tank members, consultants and the like, who rotate from one place to the other in a revolving door I might add, laments that President Obama hasn't been aggressive enough toward Iran, Russia and Syria, among other things they dislike him for. This is despite Obama having expanded the Middle East killing spree begun by the GW Bush Neocons to Libya, Syria, Yemen and North Africa and become the drone assassinator in chief and provoked nuclear armed Russia and China in various ways like instigating a coup in Ukraine and surrounding them both with military alliances and missiles. This foreign policy elite wants more direct confrontation than that. They want war, which, as the head of the joint chiefs of staff told congress recently, is what the no fly zone Hillary and this elite both favor will amount to. War with Russia.

This elite cares little that, as I read the other day, the US military, since Bosnia, has killed, depending on the estimates you use, between 1.5 and 2 million people, and you can add in that terrorism has exploded because of it. This goes back before 9/11, and it's gotten worse since then.

The same elite panicked when it looked like Donald Trump might be president, the Post reports, not because he says gross things or isn't smart enough or qualified enough or abuses women but because he wants to be less aggressive and kill fewer people and pull back some of our vast military death machine that spans the globe with over 1,000 instillations and consumes more than half of federal spending, while things like food stamps and Head Start are being cut.

The Post article ends with soothing assurances that Clinton won't kill as many people as Bush did -- we'll see about that -- but one thing is certain, a vote for Hillary is a vote for more death and a vote to feed fewer Americans and educate fewer of the children who are our future.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hillary's Emails

Wikileaks is still releasing thousands of emails a day from the account of Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta and they confirm the view of her already held by people like me on the radical left that she's a warmongering whore of Wall Street. That's a polemical statement, of course. Translated into everyday American it means she's way too quick to use the US military and she thinks government is supposed to help create a climate where business can profit so that workers can have jobs, which is basic truckle down Reaganomics. In other words she's at the center to center-right of where the American political spectrum today which is further to the right than it was 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

There are also the kind of revelations, like when she told the Goldman Sachs upper crust in one of those $250K speeches that you have to have a "public and a private position" on issues. The polemical translation for this is that she lies her ass off in her public statements. But all politicians talk like she does. They "spin" everything. Anyone who has been in the politics business for awhile knows you have to be careful of what you say and not give your opponents any ammunition. You promote what you want as much as you can because you know it will get torn down by opponents. It's another version of what we do in our own conversations where we're not very honest at all, and it's why we keep some distance between ourselves and almost everyone except maybe one close intimate, usually a spouse, and even then we have secrets.

Maybe the most serious revelations from the emails are what they reveal about the press in the US. There are emails from reporters from big time publications like Politico and the New York Times who want are showing the Clinton campaign their articles before they publish them and letting them take out what they don't like. The Free Thought Project has an article citing ten such emails that's worth a look, I think.

The mainstream media of course is largely ignoring the whole stream of leaks, because they favor Clinton but also because they want to be seen by their sources and peers as staying within the bonds of conduct approved of by the power establishment. It's the old wink and a nod thing that has always been with us. Wikileaks has been successfully demonized within that establishment and the Clinton campaign has been defending itself by attacking Wikileaks and suggesting it's in collusion with Russia and wants Trump to win.

The younger generation, fortunately for American democracy, pays more heed to things like Wikileaks than they do to mainstream figures like Hillary; in fact the media has been putting out articles saying that Millennials aren't getting excited about Clinton, which means they won't vote. Twitter is used predominately by the younger generations and a quick glance at the Twitter pages demonstrates their preferences for sources of information. Everything Wikileaks posts is "re-tweeted" between 7 and 12  thousand times. Everything Hillary posts is re-tweeted 3 or 4 thousand times.

The leaks won't affect the outcome of this election. Donald Trump has made sure of that. But historians are much more interested in primary documents, like emails, than they are in daily news articles. The books they write won't influence this election but will be read by the leaders of tomorrow.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

He Was Here Just A Minute Ago

Two images, each, I think, beautiful in its own way, and in many ways.

I came across the second while trying to find out some information on the first. The first, by Reuters photographer Carlo Allegri, is a woman who called herself Sista Soul Love. She was protesting something -- possibly forgiving white people, according to one person who posted video of her on YouTube, but I'm not really sure -- outside the Charleston, SC, AME church the Sunday after the massacre there in 2015 of 12 Black church members by a white supremacist, according to the caption when the photo was used by The Guardian. They used it with a gut wrenching essay by Kiese Laymon, a professor of English and African American studies at the University of Mississippi, about being Black in the USA and about what the grandmother who raised him thinks about being Black in the USA that he wrote after the Charleston church massacre.

I liked these images because they were visually appealing to me, and part of that was because their content, visual and symbolic, in each case set my synapses to popping, they just struck so many conscious and unconscious cords at once, and finally because they made me wonder, if America gives up on Jesus, what will it turn to?


Saturday, October 15, 2016

FBI Entrapment

We'll see if the three men arrested by the FBI in Kansas for "plotting to bomb a Garden City apartment complex where about 120 Somalis live" following a "major" 8-month investigation turns out to be another case of entrapment. Several studies have been done about this and one found as many as 95 percent of domestic terrorism cases the FBI brings are cases of entrapment. This article talks about other studies that find that well over half were entrapment.

Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle
What the FBI does is, agents or paid informants find some low life idiots, often through online social media now, gradually befriend them, gain their confidence, and then suggest bombing something. Sometimes the FBI even gives them fake bombs to plant. Then they move in for the big arrests and then it's the choreographed press conference where they tell the media how they saved America from great harm after a "major" 8-month investigation and give themselves lot of credit using vague and meaningless terms like "conducted an investigation" and never say just what that means or entails.

It's hard to say if they do this because they need to justify their budgets or themselves, but it's an insight into the mind of law enforcement people.