The Problem With Bernie Sanders, v. 2

As I noted last month, my big problem with Bernie Sanders’ campaign is that his policies are impractical, unachievable, and unrealistic.

When presented with this idea, Bernie’s response has always been that he’s trying to start “a revolution.” The idea, as he explains it, is that with him leading the Democratic Party ticket, he’d bring so many new people and “people who have given up on the process” into the polls — and they’d all stay engaged, naturally, as opposed to the typical Democratic voter who seems to forget that elections are every single year, not every four years — and they’d all vote for downticket Dems, so that President Sanders would have big majorities in both houses of Congress, and that’s how he’d usher in his ambitious agenda. Medicare For All, free college tuition, breaking up the Wall Street institutions, all will sail through the House and Senate because of his “revolution.” Easy-peasy!

Not only does that defy electoral realities, it appears that’s not even what’s happening — at least, not yet. Those “people who have given up on the process”? Yeah, they still didn’t vote in New Hampshire on Tuesday:

Those who don’t vote tend to be younger and less educated, according to the Pew Research Center. More than half of those who sat out the election in 2012 had no more than a high-school diploma and less than $30,000 a year in household income.

Those are the people Sanders has to get to the polls if he hopes not only to win the Democratic nomination, but also to lead troops of the party’s congressional candidates to victory in the general election, establishing the legislative majority his agenda requires.

At least in New Hampshire, though, younger, poorer and less educated people did not turn out in disproportionate numbers for the Democratic primaries, according to exit polling data gathered on behalf of major television networks and the Associated Press in 2008 and on Tuesday.

Nineteen percent of Democratic primary voters — which, as it happens, can include independents under New Hampshire’s rules — in New Hampshire were less than 30 years old, just one percentage point more than in the state’s primary in 2008. Thirty-one percent had less than $50,000 a year in income, compared to 32 percent in 2008. And the share of primary voters without a college degree apparently declined from 46 percent in 2008 to 40 percent on Tuesday.

Not exactly the hoped-for “revolution,” is it? So, how did Bernie Sanders win in New Hampshire? He did so by successfully making his case to the same people who always vote in primaries: the Democratic base. What he did not do was bring in significant numbers of disillusioned, disenfranchised or “new” voters. In fact, he didn’t even increase voter turnout:

In fact, Sanders won by persuading many habitual Democratic primary voters to support him. With 95 percent of precincts reporting their results as of Wednesday morning, just 241,000 ballots had been cast in the Democratic primary, fewer than the 268,000 projected by New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner last week. Nearly 289,000 voters cast ballots in the state’s Democratic primary in 2008.

This is a bit of reality that the Bernie folks are not going to like. But in fact it’s actually really good news for their candidate: hey, he got Democratic voters on board! Yay! But what should be good news does not bode well for him in the general election, nor does it bode well for a successful Sanders presidency, were he to win the general election.

Yes, you want the base to support you. But Bernie Sanders has been telling us that he’s going to generate energy and excitement among the disillusioned voting constituency, and that ain’t happening yet. If there’s going to be a revolution, it had better start soon.

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Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, Democratic Party, Democrats

Congratulations, Unidentified TX Family! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Heroes Du Jour!

And “unusual chain of events” led to a Henderson County, Texas woman being accidentally shot by her son. Let’s roll that beautiful gunfail footage:

When the vehicle returned, the angry resident fired a shot in the air, Nutt said, and shouted at the people in the vehicle that he didn’t want them messing with his mailbox. About that time, his son, reacting to the commotion, fired a shot, apparently in belief that the first round had come from someone in the vehicle. The son’s bullet struck his mother.

But those guns sure kept that family safe, didn’t they?

Mom was shot in the leg, and is expected to be okay. She, er, dodged a bullet, so to speak. No word on the family’s mailbox.

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Filed under gun control, Guns

Weary Of This Primary

I’ve had enough of this primary. The media has been flogging it since, well, Obama’s last inauguration, if we’re going to be honest. The past 6-8 months have worn me out. And I have lost patience for the thin-skinned followers of St. Bernard — not all of them, of course, but a certain faction of rabid Hillary-haters, the reactionary ones who have decided they will define “progressivism” for the rest of us (including those of us who were working the trenches when many of them were still playing with crayons.)

I have no patience for bullshit from “progressive” outlets like this:

Madeleine Albright Throws Shade To Young, Female Voters

No, she didn’t, Talking Points Memo, and you know better. She repeated a quote she’s been saying for years. Years. In fact, she’s been saying this so long, it’s been featured on a Starbucks cup and mangled by Sarah Palin:

original

This entire nonsense is being ginned up by the media, desperate to divide liberals because it’s so much more interesting and profitable for them when people are at each other’s throats. Lots more advertising money coming their way, amiright? So no, I will not tolerate anyone smearing Madeleine Albright because their fee-fees got hurt. Grow up.

And since I’m on my soap box about fake controversies, I really don’t get what the big deal is with Hillary Clinton’s speeches. Every public official makes speeches for money to various civic groups, business groups, corporate retreats, etc. There is an entire industry devoted to this. Higher profile individuals (like a former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State) get bigger paychecks. Republicans do it. Democrats do it. Progressives do it. Tea Partiers do it.

Here’s one of Hillary’s Goldman Sachs speeches which supposedly makes her a Wall Street puppet: she was the main speaker at Goldman Sachs’ “10,000 Women” dinner, an “investing in women and girls” initiative that the firm started in 2008.

Clinton’s topic? Perhaps it was the Rothschild banking conspiracy? Or, “How to screw the poor?” Maybe she revealed details on how she plans to turn the Oval Office over to Wall Street when she’s president? No. It was “Proving the Case for Women Entrepreneurs.”

In fact, Hillary Clinton is represented by a speaker’s bureau. You know who’s represented by the same speaker’s bureau? Bernie Sanders. His All American Speakers bio says he talks about education and Jewish issues. Good for him, I bet they’re great speeches. Maybe someone can go through the 60,000+ YouTube videos of Sanders’ appearances and find one that I can post. I don’t have the time.

I don’t have the time for any of this shit. The reality is, there’s very little difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In the two years they were in the Senate together, they voted the same 93% of the time.

I’m really tired of the demonization of Hillary Clinton. And please stop telling me “both sides do it,” because I’m not seeing nearly the headlines in mainstream media outlets targeting Sanders that I see coming from the other side. Did someone say something mean on Twitter? Yeah, sure. But I’m talking New York Times headlines and Talking Point Memo posts.

Bernie Sanders is the shiny-sparkly new thing, so a certain amount of media adoration is to be expected at this point. But just you wait, the MSM will lose interest just as it always does. The media loves nothing more than to smack down that which it has built up. “Dean Scream,” anybody? And I can just see it now, Hillary Clinton will get blamed for that, too. I’m already seeing people blame her for the more offensive “Bernie Bros” on social media, calling them “Clinton plants.” Seriosuly, people? You’ve got to be kidding me.

I just don’t have the patience for this bullshit, at all. Knock it off, and grow the fuck up. There is too much at stake here for us to be behaving this way.

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Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, feminism

Maybe It’s Not The Lack Of Training

Remember last October’s horrific story of an 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed by her 11-year-old neighbor because she refused to show him her new puppy? The kid has just been convicted by a Jefferson County Juvenile Court judge.

Here’s what happened:

MaKayla Dyer, a student at White Pine Elementary, was killed October 3, 2015, outside her home. Juvenile Judge Dennis “Will” Roach II, who presided over Tiller’s case, wrote in a court order that he was playing with MaKayla Dyer, her 11-year-old sister and her friend when he asked her to retrieve her puppies. After she said no, he went inside and came back with a 12 gauge shotgun and a bb gun, telling the girls he had guns.

“The victim then laughed at Mr. Tiller, and stated that she believed they were not real,” read the court documents. “Tiller then made certain the gun was loaded, cocked the hammer of the gun, and shot the victim just above the heart” from inside the window.

Dyer fell backwards and was later confirmed dead.

This heartbreaking story brought to you by bad parenting, gun culture, and the NRA. The 12-gauge belonged to the kid’s father, and if you think it’s perfectly okay to leave a 12-gauge within reach of an 11-year-old, you’re an asshole. Oh, but you say, it’s perfectly fine if they’ve had that Eddie Eagle training! Riiiight:

Judge Roach said Tiller had been trained in firearm safety and had been taken hunting by both his father and grandfather.

Clearly this kid was fucked up in the head, and I have to wonder why anyone would let their fucked up kid mess around with guns. I wondered this same thing about Nancy Lanza and Chris Harper-Mercer and I also wondered the same thing about Chris Kyle, who took PTSD-afflicted vets to a gun range as “therapy.” That just strikes me as supremely stupid. After every mass shooting people say “Oh, we just need to keep the guns out of the hands of the mentally ill,” yet those same people are the ones handing the mentally ill their guns in the first place!

And every time a child gets his or her hands on a gun and blows someone away we’re told “well, training …” and yet here’s a fucked up kid who had that training, which he apparently put to good use to blow away his neighbor.

So really, gun people just need to shut up, already.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, NRA, Tennessee

Why Market Solutions To Policy Problems Usually Don’t Work

Interesting piece from Governing magazine, which quotes the University of Michigan’s Barry Rabe, who looked at two market-based solutions to policy issues: the Affordable Care Act and cap-and-trade.

These, of course, were both solidly Republican ideas which Democrats signed on to. Once they did, however, these market-based solutions suddenly caught liberal cooties, and Republicans ran away from them screaming “socialism!” at the top of their lungs.

Rabe notes that by 2008, 23 states had signed on to cap-and-trade:

It seemed a perfect solution. New markets developed, and regional consortia planned to reduce greenhouse gases by 10 percent or more within a few years.

But that perfect solution didn’t last long. Rabe found that, within five years, more than half the states had walked away from their cap-and-trade commitment. The market-based alternative to command-and-control regulations evaporated as a state-based policy tool.

What happened between 2008 and 2013? Well, there was an economic meltdown. There was also a Republican meltdown. Any policy progress while a Democrat was in the White House ground to a halt. The Tea Party took over, state legislatures turned Red. Hyper-partisanship became the rule of the day.

Then there’s the Affordable Care Act, which was designed to dodge complaints of “big government” and encourage the states to create exchanges that would provide insurance policies to their uninsured.

State implementation proved wildly uneven. Federal policymakers found themselves without the results they sought. And everyone came away more convinced than ever that government couldn’t solve problems like this, even though many of the problems were rooted in private market failures.

By the end of 2015, 38 states had declined to set up health-care exchanges, leaving the federal government to step in and create them. Three states — Hawaii, Nevada and Oregon — tried the exchange approach and backed out when enrollment was lower and costs were higher than expected. Some states, like Maryland and Washington, enthusiastically embraced the exchanges but fumbled the launch. Pressed by angry Republicans, who criticized the states’ lack of accountability for federal funds, the Obama administration took back $200 million in grants it had made to states that had struggled to launch their exchanges.

Note: this wasn’t a failure of the policy. It was a failure of politics. Republicans love to talk about the need to “run government like a business,” but when a Democrat does it, they call it Socialism, Fascism, Big Government, etc. Hyper-partisanship has basically ruined our country’s ability to solve big problems, in my opinion. We’re seeing the predictable result of 30 years of “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” messaging.

The author notes:

The fundamental flaw lies in two assumptions: that markets always work better than governments and that markets will run themselves if government gets out of the way. The first assumption is the stuff of fierce ideological debate, but the second is really a settled question. Markets just don’t run themselves in delivering public goods, because most of the time they are being asked to do things they aren’t used to doing. And because policymakers tend to assume that the markets will take care of themselves, they often don’t build governmental capacity to steer the process. The reformers then end up running after problems as they develop down the line.

Indeed. Government exists for a reason. Government exists to do the things that the private sector can’t or won’t do.

I’m not going to agree that market-based solutions NEVER work. They can work — when accompanied by a strong government regulatory presence. What never works is all one or the other. You need both.

Truly no ideology has more consistently failed than the Libertarian one, or even worse, the Libertarian-lite “run government like a business,” “government needs to get out of the way,” “release the free hand of the market” one, which dominates today’s Republican Party. I really don’t understand why anyone who believes government is the problem would want to be in government. And I don’t understand why anyone votes for someone who believes government is the problem. It’s like going to a butcher shop run by PETA. You’re just asking for failure.

One thing Democrats have consistently failed at is defending their own positions. A Republican yells “BIG GOVERNMENT” and we wet our pants. Democrats need to learn how to defend their principles, instead of trying massage their positions into something Republicans will find palatable. As the past eight years show, Republicans will never find anything a Democrat does palatable. They will even turn on their own market-based policy solutions if a Democrat is the one selling it.

These are lessons we’ve learned during the Obama years. We’ve also seen markets fail the economy and the American people time and time again. We’ve seen bad actors like Turing Pharmaceuticals and Theranos, hell even Enron is still synonymous with “crooks.” The financial crisis of 2007-2008 ain’t exactly ancient history, not with movies like “The Big Short” reminding everyone about how the market failed the global economy.

We’ve seen deregulation in Texas end in an entire town exploding. And hello, Flint, Michigan, where Republican Gov. Snyder tried to “save money” because “government should be run like a business.” Meanwhile, an actual business — General Motors — refused to use Flint River water at its engine plant because chloride levels were too high.

As this article notes, “government requires governing.” Republicans don’t seem to know how to do it. Democrats don’t seem to know how to be advocates for it. And I believe we will never have effective policies until we fix our politics.

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Filed under free hand of the market, Housekeeping

Tennessee Gun Report

So much stuff never makes the papers. For example, one of the local Moms Demand Action members was in a Nashville Krispy Kreme when someone found a loaded gun left behind in the bathroom. Cops were called but it never made the news.

So it just seems so bizarre that our gun-crazy state legislature is bound and determined to ensure that we all are forced to interact with firearms on a daily basis now, whether we like it or not. Check out this fresh hell: a bill has been filed that would allow people to sue if they are injured in gun-free zones:

The bill, if passed into law, will allow any Tennessean with a valid handgun permit to sue property owners for injury or death that occurs within a gun-free zone.

The right to sue does not extend to individuals who do not have a permit to carry a weapon.

The underlying premise of this bill is the assumption that a gun could prevent said injury or death. Facts not in evidence! This strikes me as legally specious, but regardless, the premise is that if you’re in a gun-free establishment and, say, a bear busts in and goes on a rampage, the underlying assumption is that someone with a gun could have taken that bear out. So if they’re injured by the bear, they have a right to sue.

This is a neat little switcheroo on those of us who have been clamoring for mandatory liability insurance for all gun carriers. But every day is upside-down day in NRA land, right?

I love this glorious assumption that a gun would solve every problem. Hammers and nails, people. This is pretty much how the gun nuts think: the only way they can defend themselves and their families is with a gun. They just feel so helpless without their ballistic security blanket! Poor dears, I feel sorry for them, really I do.

Without further ado, our semi-weekly roundup of law-abiding armed citizenry:

• February 2, 2016:

A Murfreesboro man was chased by police because he was running naked with a gun, firing shots. The police were armed to the teeth too, with assault rifles, shotguns and pistols. Yee haw.

• January 30, 2016:

A fight broke out in the parking lot of Nashville’s White’s Creek Pike High School while a basketball game was going on and one person was shot. He died.

• January 29, 2016:

1- A Franklin County man accidentally shot himself in the shoulder.

2- A road rage shooting on I-40 in Memphis made the morning commute a little more hectic than usual:

The victim advised police the suspect was in a white 4 door F-250. According to the victim, the suspect was attempting to merge onto traffic at Sycamore View and Sam Cooper when the suspect became angry at the victim and began shooting.

The victim said a man shot him multiple times. He went to Regional Medical Center in critical condition. He has since been upgraded to non-critical condition.

Police said they believe the victim was shot in the leg, arm, and shoulder. There were at least 12-13 shots fired into the vehicle.

Are we safer yet?

• January 28, 2016:

1- A 20-year-old Alexandria, Tennessee man called the Murfreesboro Social Security office and threatened to shoot everyone because he said his check was $100 short.

2- Congratulations, Nashville International Airport! You rank #6 for gun catches, with 59 weapons discovered in 2015. So much for “law-abiding citizens” and “safest, most responsible ever.”

By the way, if gun-free zones are so dangerous, how come there have been so few mass shootings at airports?

• January 25, 2016:

Parents leave their kids in the car with a handgun. What happened next will blow your mind! Just kidding:

Investigators said that one of the children found a loaded semi-automatic pistol inside their mother’s purse. The child then tried to unload the gun when it accidentally discharged, striking the 7-year-old boy.

Brilliant.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

A Question

Doesn’t the piss-poor primary performance (say that ten times fast without stopping!) of Jeb! Bush, and Donald Trump’s loss in Iowa, mean that our elections aren’t, actually, for sale?

I’m actually thinking more about Jeb! than Trump, as I’m not sure Trump has actually spent much money yet, relying on all the free attention the lamestream media has lavished upon him. But Jeb! has a SuperPAC that raised over $103 million as of last summer. As Mother Jones noted:

To put Right to Rise’s numbers in historical context, Mitt Romney’s entire primary effort in 2008 cost $107 million; Hillary Clinton’s cost $245.7 million.

With all that money and he came in sixth? After spending more money than anybody else?

Maybe we don’t need to be so freaked out that he (or she) with the most money wins.

What do you think?

8 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election

That’s Not How It Works

Look, I know people aren’t going to be happy about this, but I’m not feeling it where Bernie Sanders is concerned.

I like Sanders, really I do, I’m glad he’s in the Senate. I’m glad he goes on and on about “billionaires” and such. But he seems way out of his league where presidential politics is concerned. And while the stuff he says shows that we agree on what’s wrong, it just smacks too much of him telling progressives what they want to hear. None of it is grounded in reality, in the reality of what a president can actually get accomplished. Have people been asleep for the past 8 years?

I spent some time going through his January Twitter feed. Mostly it’s him railing against Wall Street and such, serving as a progressive cheerleader: “We will no longer tolerate an economic and political system that has been rigged by Wall Street to benefit the wealthiest Americans.” That’s fine, every candidate needs their fist-pumping moment. Rally the troops, etc.

But then there’s some stuff that’s just undiluted, Trump-like bombast. It’s, “I’m gonna wave my magic wand and change will just happen by virtue of my awesomeness!” Dude, that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!

For example:

BernieSCOTUS

BernieABORTION

BernieBanks

BernieCreditAgency

BernieBillionaires

BerniePharma

None of these are things a president can actually do. Surely he knows that his Supreme Court nominee, assuming they get confirmed, can’t just magically undo Citizens United, right?

How can anybody take this guy seriously? Jamelle Bouie at Slate tried. Bouie took Sanders’ “revolution” rhetoric at face value and concluded that it will take more than that for Sanders to accomplish any of the stuff he says he wants to do.

Let’s set aside reality and pretend for a moment that Bernie Sanders wins the White House. As Bouie notes,

…the world where a self-described socialist wins the presidency is a world of tremendous political change, where untapped and new voters flood the polls to lift Sanders—and his Democratic fellow travelers—to victory.

But even if thousands of new people show up to vote on election day and lift Sanders to an unprecedented win, that doesn’t change a gerrymandered House, it doesn’t change partisanship, it doesn’t change the country’s ideological divide or the Republican Party’s intransigence, it doesn’t change the Tea Party’s existence, it doesn’t change any of that. The idea that by merely electing Bernie Sanders (and down-ticket Dems) we’ve created the change that will usher in the progressive agenda is just such horseshit.

Please don’t tell me that it’s going to be different this time, that Bernie Sanders is a transformative candidate who brings all of these new people into the process, the “millennials” and such. Yeah, those same millennials who can’t be bothered to vote, ever, until we invent a cool app for them. Look, that’s what we said about Barack Obama. And yes, Obama got elected — twice! — and we also lost the House, the Senate, a whole bunch of state legislatures, and saw the rise of the Tea Party.

So I just can’t take this shit seriously. I’m a pragmatist and a realist. I don’t have time for fairy dust and magic wands.

27 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election

Congratulations, Joseph Lemier! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

A man in the checkout at a Dollar General in Lehigh Acres, Florida, was just trying to do some shopping when he got shot. Why? Read on:

Brandon Orlando was standing in the checkout line when the man standing behind him accidentally dropped his gun on the floor, and it fired.

“I heard it go off it sounded like a balloon,” said Orlando.

According to deputies, when the gun hit the floor, it shot off a round. The bullet ricocheted off a conveyor belt and then grazed Orlando’s stomach.

“It’s just a crazy freak accident that happened, but thank God I’m still alive,” he said. “I’m happy.”

Just a “crazy freak accident! Except it’s one of those things that’s happening with increasing frequency. The more people walking around with loaded guns, the more gun accidents. It’s called math.

And as for our 2nd Amendment Hero?

The gun owner, Joseph Lemier, called the sheriff’s office immediately. When a deputy got to the scene, he ran Lemier’s concealed weapons license and learned that it had been revoked.

Lemier also claimed that the safety was on when the gun hit the floor. But upon inspection, the deputy found that the safety was not operational.

Yeah, a real law-abiding citizen would never let that happen. Except, of course, when they do.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns

“Things Just Happen”

Quite possibly the stupidest thing you will read this week:

According to police, four children were left alone in a vehicle while their mother and step-father went inside a store to a pay a bill.

One of the children found the gun in the mother’s purse and tried to remove to the magazine to unlock it.

However, the gun fired and struck his seven-year-old brother in the head. The boy was flown to a Knoxville area hospital where he died.

“There’s always a danger leaving a child in the car because they can pull it into neutral or anything else,” Crossville Police Chief Rodney Shoap told Local 8 Now. “Things just happen.”

Things just happen? Because they can put the car in neutral? Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? What about leaving your loaded gun in the car, maybe that wasn’t such a swuft idea? Ya think?

No, things don’t just “happen.” Some idiot left her four kids in the car with access to a loaded gun and the absolutely, 100% predictable thing happened.

What did you people think would happen when you told ordinary people that they needed to carry guns with them everywhere? Did you seriously think that some person in East Jesus, Tennessee was going to take out ISIS, stop a carjacking, defend freedom and the American flag, be a big damn hero, whatever?

No. These people leave their guns everywhere because they aren’t responsible, they aren’t “law-abiding citizens,” they aren’t the “safest ever.” They’re ordinary people who go about their ordinary days doing ordinary stupid shit like leaving their kids in the car, leaving their purse in the car, lose their keys, drop things, forget stuff, and make bad decisions. Except when you do all of those things with a loaded gun, people die.

I don’t even have a thought and a prayer for you people and your fearmongering enablers like the NRA, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Tennessee Firearms Assn, and the entire Tennessee Republican caucus. Scratch that, I do have a thought. Fuck you, that’s my thought.

By the way, who leaves their goddamn purse in the car in the first place? If your community is so safe that you can leave your purse in the car, why the fuck do you need a gun?

Idiots.

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Filed under gun control, Guns, rants, Tennessee