On Sanders the Socialist

Ya know…there’s a quick and easy conventional wisdom on the Presidential campaign of one Bernard Sanders, and it’s simply this….there’s no way a socialist can win a national election.

Oh, that’s also proceeded by, “I love the guy, don’t disagree with much he does, he’s honest, and does what he says he does.”

Also, he was born in 1941 and will have *just turned* 75 in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

We actually have a socialist running for President of the United States. A real one.  A “self-avowed” one, if you will.

This is going to have a number of interesting effects. First and foremost, in the primary season…folks are going to get to see *WHAT AN ACTUAL UNAPOLOGETIC SOCIALIST* sounds like.

And it’s going to be a crotchety, 75-year old man that thinks the system is unfair to young people and workers.

And knows how that system works.

It’s not going to be scary. It’s not going to be Stalin. Socialism, through the curious lens of American culture, is going to be cool again.

This will likely go down as (another) of the great mistakes of the GOP. You see, having cast *Obama* as a socialist, the GOP has already broken that ice. The latest 3 generations of Americans weren’t as programmed as the Boomers (and above) to hate the very notion of the sound of the word of “socialism”, so they see *and feel* the term much differently.

Particularly those who have spent their sentient years under the rule of a “socialist dictator” as so many on the right think of Obama (I’m not joking, this is a common comment on the President).

To see *an actual* socialist in campaign mode will no doubt be good for the country, as we get a chance to re-engage a term that is not actually political poison in the rest of the world, but simply a general term for a system of government that trends opposite of our current oligarchy, for better or worse as such trends dictate*

Do I think Sanders can win the upset campaign? I’m not so sure, if only because he’s waited so long to really start.

Going on the Sunday shows was not the strategy to lay the groundwork for a successful Presidential campaign at 75. Doing it at 63, and 67, and 71 was, as RON PAUL did for his own “ism” of the liberte variety.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Sanders fairs with the grueling pace of the campaign, and how he looks under the lights and the contrast he allows for Clinton. Where and how they disagree will be useful, if only as a lesson as to what words mean.

Like “socialism”, which we are about to get a solid dose of, one way or another.

* to be clear, I think income/wealth inequality is our biggest societal challenge, about to be made *MUCH WORSE* by automation, and as such, a healthy dose of socialism is exactly what we need to prevent (or merely push back) societal collapse.**

**. I say with my usual comic over/understatement.

Correcting Rubio (re: Net Neutrality)

This is what happens when a (former) High School teacher grades a Senator’s op-ed on a technological subject.

That Senator is running for President, BTW.

Mark Takano's photo.

I only break out the red pen on special occasions. So when I saw Marco Rubio’s recent op-ed on Net Neutrality, you know I couldn’t resist. It is intentionally m

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2016: The Supreme Court Election

Just thinking a bit about the context of the upcoming Presidential election. For those that don’t know, I tend to write a good bit about such events, largely doing such writing as an (unpaid) job for the last 3 of them.

Certain themes arise around them, and a friend of mine, I think, struck the bass chord of this one….it’s about the SCOTUS.

For those unfamiliar with the term, let’s get introduced. SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court of the United States. SCotUS, if you are a stickler for capitalization, but that looks weird and is also hard to type, so SCOTUS, is often used as an abbreviation.

Here are the current Supreme Court Justices and their ages…

John G. Roberts: January 27, 1955 : 60 yrs.
Antonin Scalia: March 11, 1936: 79 yrs.
Anthony M. Kennedy: July 23, 1936: 78 yrs.
Clarence Thomas: June 23, 1948: 66 yrs.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: March 15, 1933: 82 yrs.
Stephen G. Breyer: August 15, 1938: 76 yrs.
Samuel Anthony Alito: April 1, 1950: 65 yrs.
Sonia Sotomayor: June 25, 1954: 60 yrs.
Elena Kagan: April 28, 1960: 54 yrs.

Now comes the kicker….via google (and it’s one of those common answers)…


78.7 yrs. According to a 2006 study conducted by the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Supreme Court justices are retiring later and later. Before 1971, the average age of retiring Supreme Court justices was 68.3.

Even at 79 years…that puts three justices over that range *at the start* of the next President’s term (and one right on the cusp). Scalia and Ginsburg are on opposite ends of the spectrum, Kennedy is often a swing vote.

So it’s a 2-1 or 1-2 split on the “old guard” judges, if you will, pushing the limits of what the human mind can endure. The next President is likely to shift that to a 3-0 split, one way or the other, in finding their replacements.

This turns a court that has been on the 5-4, 4-5 knife’s edge for the last 20 years into a 6-3 machine that can decide some law….one way or the other.

There is, to my eyes as a consistent watcher, a MASSIVE DIFFERENCE in the ideologies that drive the important decision making in our political parties. From voting rights to access to healthcare to women’s rights to foreign wars to regulating Wall Street to accepting established science to…seriously…freaking science…to many other things…there are just soo many differences.

And these differences show up in legal theory. The SCOTUS is one-third of our government, it’s a BIG DEAL. It’s not very often that we get such a clear and straightforward VOTE in which direction it goes.

This Presidential election we do. We get to decide the Supreme Court.

I’ll be coming back to this theme, again and again and again, one would assume, but I do think it is terribly important. That’s what this election is about, to me.

The personalities are somewhat secondary, although endlessly entertaining/frustrating. It’s just important to keep sight of what is important in the chaos, and in this election, what’s important is the Supreme Court.

The Big Wall Street Money Behind Rafael “Ted” Cruz

And it turns out that pandering to the .001% is not a particularly bad paying profession. This is not a surprising, but the actual numbers here are staggering.

It’s up to $31,000,000/week, if you find the right sugar daddy.

This was what was warned about when the Supreme Court gave down the “Citizens United” ruling, that a single person, or very small group of people, could fully fund a “radical” candidate and how that’s not really good for democracy in general.

Trying to convince the Cruzies (rhymes with “crazies”) of the simple fact that the guy is backed by a single billionaire (although more will jump on board when the realize his supporters don’t give a shit what he *actually does*, only that he talks good) will be near impossible.

And trying to let them know that the 3.9% tax on investment income over $400,000/yr that is the cornerstone of paying for the expansion of medical insurance under the ACA is the simple financial motivation for such a person to back Cruz….well….the problem with that argument is that it is logical and fact based.

It goes like this…$1,000,000,000/yr in investment income. 3.8% of that (over $400,000) is $37,984,800/yr.

So this guy can invest in Cruz, and if it pays off….that’s about $40,000,000/yr (per billion in unearned income) that he can then spend on politicos to save that much in taxes.

It’s a pretty sick calculation (essentially taking heathcare aware from millions of Americans so one guy can have a slightly bigger dick in the measuring contests these assholes care about), but that’s what we are currently facing in this country.

That’s how bad it has gotten.

Ted Cruz, breaking fundraising records…that’s how bad it has gotten.

The reclusive Long Islander who made his fortune using computers to outsmart the stock market is a key early bankroller of Senator Ted Cruz’s fast campaign start.
NYTIMES.COM|BY ERIC LICHTBLAU