Inauguration Day 2017: I Am Calm

I am calm.

I did everything in my power to prevent this day from coming. I campaigned (hard) for and donated (a lot) to the candidate who was not just the best choice for our country but who was by far the most popular candidate, the candidate who energized the most voters, the candidate with a demonstrably higher chance to win.

Though the candidate who had, at best, a razor-thin possibility of winning was chosen, and though I was crushed and disillusioned, when the time came, I voted against apocalypse.

So I did all that I could. I am calm. I am at peace. I am also unbowed, unbroken, unafraid.

I will not cry. I will not huddle. I will not hide.

I will fight. I will fight. I will fight.

I will fight on my terms. I am not a part of any party. I am not a part of any herd. I am a one-man guerrilla force against not just the despicable thug now infecting the White House but against all the forces that helped put him there, whichever side they’re on.

I will fight. I will fight. I will fight.

I am calm.

max

                                    You want to get out of here? You talk to me.

 

Advertisements

Liberal Lockstep: Why I March To The Beat Of My Own Damned Drummer

hires

To some degree, this is my Facebook feed:

“It was Russia’s fault!”

“It was Comey’s fault!”

“It was the Millennials’ fault!”

“It was Bernie’s fault!”

“It was Jill Stein’s fault!”

ME: “It was also because of poor choices by the candidate and her campaign, and because of systemic failures over the years by the Democratic party.”

“Tim, why are you still talking about this? We have to unite against Trump!”

And we do. And I am.

But I am a progressive and I want not just to beat the bad guys, I want to improve the world. I see what has happened to the Democratic party since 1992, since the rise of the corporate-friendly Democratic Leadership Council (funded by, among other big business interests, the freaking Koch brothers) and the Clintons with their “Third Way” politics of embracing right-wing policies in order to court voters on the right rather than on the left. I see how the left lost Congress during Bill Clinton’s terms after controlling it for decades, and through neoliberal policies and bad strategy has steadily lost more and more power ever since. I see how Donald Trump is not just the inevitable result of years of Republican degradation and capitulation to their worst elements, he is also the result of Democrats abandoning their traditional principles and essentially becoming socially liberal Republicans.

And I see how the corruption and cronyism and arrogance of the Democratic party went full-tilt-bozo this election and they ignored all the data and all the signs that they were making bad choices and they lost to the single most unpopular candidate in history, a man who did damn near everything possible to make himself absolutely unelectable. It’s not just a matter of forcing the choice of their own incredibly unpopular candidate on voters from the very start and violating their own regulations to make sure she won, it’s a matter of the strategies chosen after that, like never bothering to campaign in Wisconsin or maligning progressives and Millennials while pursuing Republican crossover votes.

These are things worth talking about. These are things that shouldn’t be ignored, lest we keep making the same mistakes and keep losing elections. Even big money Democratic donors are apparently angry that the party hasn’t pursued an honest postmortem to determine the real reasons for its devastating failures at every level this year. It’s a conversation that they think we should have, and the Democratic party’s frantic finger-pointing everywhere but in the mirror is pissing them off so much they’re saying they’re going to start withholding the cash.

Yet when I post about these things, or even when I praise progressives like Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard for their current acts of principled leadership, I get called out by some of my liberal friends. They really don’t want the party, or its chosen candidate, to be criticized or to be held accountable for their mistakes, or for the negative impact of their policies. When I criticize Democratic leaders for specific failures — say, Barack Obama’s failure to prosecute Wall Street criminals or his record-breaking deportation of immigrants — I’m accused of being a “purist,” naively wedded to my progressive ideals while in the real world we have to apparently just settle for terrible acts when they’re done by our side. Again, I am accused of being a purist because I want to hold our leaders accountable and encourage them to be better in the future.

Folks, I don’t have a “purity test.” I have standards.

I also get a lot of flack about posting what I’m posting rather than what everyone else is posting. “Why are you talking about Hillary Clinton’s campaigning failures when you should be talking about how Russia hacked our election? Why are you complaining about the Democratic establishment’s complete lack of accountability and myopic defense of the status quo when you should be complaining about Trump because Trump is bad?” Sometimes it boils down to a simpleminded accusation like “You’re criticizing Clinton, you must support Trump.”

Well, no. But thanks for playing.

Even putting aside the fact that I do criticize the terrible orange shitnuke, which I am amazingly able to do even while talking about other things, does anyone really need me, personally, to tell them how shitty Donald Trump is? Is it really vitally important that I replicate what everyone else is saying, that I surrender my voice to the group voice?

Because you know what that is? That’s authoritarian message control. That’s an insistence that we should all not just be working together, we should be marching in lockstep. And you know what? I’m not really a lockstep kind of guy.

On the individual level, I know that some of my friends say these things out of annoyance because they’re sick of seeing some of my posts, and that’s fair. I’m sick of some of their posts, too, but I don’t let that turn personal. They can post what they want to post. They don’t have to cater to my concerns.

And I know that some of them are sincerely concerned that criticism of Democrats at a time like this is counterproductive, that it hurts the party and scatters our energies and will limit our effectiveness in the fights ahead. I’m less sympathetic to that viewpoint because I think the left will only beat the right if it, well, moves left again. And sweeping its failures under the rug of temporary expediency, to be forgotten and later dismissed as “old news,” does not contribute to that happening. Only open eyes and open discussion will help us do what we need to do in order to beat back the forces of darkness.

The most insidious reason that some argue for this messaging lockstep is because they are trying to control the narrative in order to protect the entrenched Powers That Be. They want us to think that Russia’s alleged involvement in revealing to us the reality behind the DNC’s “neutrality,” or James Comey’s nebulous letter a week before the election, brought us to this point. They want us to think that a tiny percentage of disillusioned third-party voters betrayed us, not a party and candidate who ran a contest so badly that those tiny numbers mattered even when they had the gift of a buffoon as an opponent. They want us to think that those who didn’t support their candidate are all misogynists and racists and “deplorables,” not folks with legitimate concerns they no longer trust the Democrats to address, who went for the crazy Hail Mary pass of a Trump or third-party vote because the ‘safer’ option, to them, offered no perceived hope or respite from the trials they face.

They want us to support the narrative that it wasn’t their fault because they want to maintain their power and wealth. And they want us to suppress criticism of the establishment, to push us into lockstep with a consistent message that keeps them from being held accountable, allows them to avoid change, protects them from progressive challenges to their control. This narrative is driven from the top and absorbed by those below, and whatever the personal motives of each person insisting we stick to it might be, they all wind up serving that overarching purpose and acting as a shield against accountability and necessary change.

This isn’t just the case now, with President Trump about to occur. This has been the relationship between the Democratic establishment and progressives for a quarter of a century. Progressives are always expected to fall in line, to accept the malignant fiscal policies, the kowtowing to corporate interests, the diminished concern for working people and the poor, the embrace of war as a defining principle. They’re told they have to march lockstep, to be realists not idealists, to shut up about bad things like draconian trade policies and focus instead on good things like gay weddings. They’re told to shrug off the failures of the Democrats because the Republicans are monsters (and they are) and they have nowhere to go. They’re told not to criticize now, during the election, because they might hurt the nominee, and they’re told not to criticize after the election because that stuff’s in the past. (I had one friend literally say, “It’s been nearly two weeks since the election, why are you still talking about this stuff?” Nearly two weeks.)

And progressives, largely, submit. Because a little good is, undeniably, better than all bad. And they surrender their voices to the group voice, to the narrative that the Democrats are doing as well as they can be expected to do, and we can’t do great things, we can only do little good things here and there as we go, and you gotta be a team player and you gotta stop trying to do more. Because you have nowhere else to go. So sit down and shut the fuck up and vote when we tell you to.

No more. Not for me. This year, my  lifelong progressivism became weaponized because (a) I saw that significant change for the better was actually possible because millions of people are yearning for it and willing to work for it, and (b) I saw how utterly resistant to that change the party I’d always supported truly is. Resistant to the point of total disaster.

I’m on your side. But I’m not your monkey. I will fight for what I believe in, and I will always, always point out the Emperor’s lack of garments whether you want me to or not. You pick your fights, I’ll pick mine, and hopefully along the way we’ll wind up with a party strong enough to take our country back and compassionate and ethical enough to make it something worth having.

Doc Wilde Update: Running Late, Still Working On It…

WILDEmadskullCoverMockup

Advance cover mock-up by Gary Chaloner

Okay, the bad news first: Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, which was targeted for release right about now, ain’t ready yet.

There have been delays at both ends, writer and artist. I’m not satisfied with the manuscript as it stands and have been trying to wrestle it into its proper form while also dealing with matters related to importing my lovely lass Nydia and her son from Brazil and installing them in my cave, getting married, and preparing all the paperwork for immigration in order to make Nyd legal so that Donald Trump doesn’t spaz out about it on Twitter and sic the DHS on us. Meanwhile, Gary Chaloner has had a lot on his plate that has slowed his progress on the art and book design.

But, we’re still at it, and other Wilde adventures are in the works. For one, I have a chunk of the third book, Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf, already written and Gary will be getting a jump on the cover design for that. For another, he is about to begin publishing a quarterly comic magazine, Adventure Illus., which will focus on his comic book work and characters but which will also feature serialized original Doc Wilde stories. More news on that as it happens.

Now, I’m gonna relax and enjoy my family the rest of the year, then really get cranking again in January to get all this Wilde goodness out to the folks raring to see it.

Happy Holidays to you all. Stay Wilde!

The Power and Importance Of Truth: Why I Criticize “Our” Candidate

LIAR

Apparently, I am a victim of decades of Republican propaganda against the Clintons.

The irony is that I worked as a volunteer for Bill Clinton both times, met Bill and Hillary, motorcaded through Georgia with Al Gore and his family and got to know them pretty well, and sat next to Andrea Mitchell at the Vice Presidential debate with Gore vs. Quayle. I’ve been actively involved in every presidential campaign since, always for the Democrat even though I’ve never considered myself a Democrat because I recognized the deep problems the party has.

I also, for all those years, admired and adored the Clintons and defended them from all that Republican bullshit I’m now accused of falling for.

Since 2008, however, I have come to recognize the Clintons — and the Democrats in general — even more for what they are. I’ve seen the long-term impact of Clintonian Third Way politics, the damage they’ve done to the party and to the country, and I’ve seen the craven, arrogant way they use and abuse power. Who else has the gall to walk into polling stations and illegally campaign on voting day, simply because they know their local cronies won’t charge them with the crime?

So when people use the simple-minded defense that I’m sharing Republican lies (I am not) or falling for Republican spin (I am not), they are betraying their own superficial understanding of the facts and their own lack of attention to what I’m actually saying. Or they’re just spinning damage control for their candidate and being disingenuous.

Why do I keep criticizing Hillary Clinton while TRUMP? Because I believe in holding our leaders accountable, and I don’t believe in putting aside that principle for tactical reasons. Donald Trump is a disaster, but Donald Trump is not going to be the next president. So I don’t care what he might do in that office. Hillary Clinton is going to be the next president, so I’m VERY concerned about what she’s going to do.

Staying mum on her faults and falling in line isn’t going to improve her. The same folks who now say not to criticize her because of the election will change their tune once she’s in office and say we shouldn’t look backward or criticize her too harshly and possibly hinder her effectiveness in office. Her questionable record and current actions will be considered old news. That’s why I point out that the Empress has no clothes NOW. And my criticizing her is not going to cause her to lose. If she loses, it will be because she is a historically unpopular candidate.

The Dakota Access Pipeline issue is the perfect example of why I continue to criticize her. Her lack of leadership on the matter is obvious and deplorable. Clearly the ONLY way to get her to take a more positive role in the situation is to publicly chastise her, en masse, for her political cowardice and/or preferential consideration of the corporate interests involved. Silence will allow her to do nothing and to skate past the problem while people suffer and the land is despoiled.

I don’t accept silence as a valid or noble political tool, sorry. If the truth is too harsh, the problem is with the candidate, not the truth.

On The Matter Of My Vote

choices-fork-in-the-road3

I have, as a rule, avoided discussing how I’ll vote because I generally see that as a distraction from much more important things. My vote isn’t going to decide the election, and is itself a less than minuscule factor in the contest.

That said, as anyone who follows my blog already knows, I have a lot of issues with Hillary Clinton that will make casting a vote for her extremely difficult. The DNC collusion (particularly the unethical use of state parties to bypass campaign finance donation limits allegedly to support down-ballot candidates while actually funneling almost all the money to Clinton’s campaign while the DNC was, according to its own bylaws, supposed to be neutral), the swiftboating of Sanders’s civil rights activism, the bullying and rigging that went on right before the cameras in places like Las Vegas, the Clintons illegally (and arrogantly) campaigning in polling stations because they knew their local lackeys wouldn’t prosecute them, ordering poll workers to give the wrong ballots to independent voters in California, the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters in multiple states like New York, the utter disrespect shown to Sanders’s duly elected delegates and volunteers at the convention…

Jesus, I could go on and on, and I haven’t even started on her record or policies. The DNC money laundering/collusion, which is a matter of public record and not just conspiracy theory, is all by itself compelling enough reason not to support Clinton or the Democrats at all. A vote for Clinton sends the message that all of that bullshit was exactly the right thing to do because it gets them what they want. It rewards electoral villainy. And I have some strong issues with doing that.

Should Trump lose? Yes. But my hope remains that Clinton wins by a very tight margin so that she knows she’s going into that office on probationary status, not with the mandate to continue doing as she and the DNC have been doing. I want her to know she cannot just take progressives for granted and treat them like shit and expect to win again. Odds are, she’ll have a more formidable challenger next time and she’s gonna need our votes. If a voter doesn’t vote for her, she’s likely still going to win, but that vote doesn’t add to her mandate. If any voter opts to go that way, I completely grok that. Clinton already has the gift of Donald Trump (though even so, she’s oddly weak against him), so perhaps she doesn’t need that one vote, and perhaps the lack of support contributes to her doing more progressive things in office because it makes her afraid of losing next time.

And the risk that Trump wins? Well, as I’ve pointed out, that risk was just fine for Clinton supporters who were “with her” when they put aside the math which showed that maybe running the least popular Democratic nominee in history might be a bad idea. If she can’t even beat Trump of all people because she was already unpopular and her actions in conspiring with the DNC lost her even more support, that’s on her and the DNC and all her supporters, just as much, or more, than it’ll be on folks who don’t choose to vote for her in November.

The entire case for Hillary Clinton tends to boil down to a handful of words: Woman. Trump. Nader. History. Democrat.

The only one of those words that isn’t entirely a plea to emotion or tribalism is “Trump.” And most of the folks who are tearing their hair out and screaming apocalypse when other folks say they might have to risk Trump because of silly things like “ethics” were more than willing to take the risk of Trump when they determinedly followed the DNC into the electoral pit by choosing the candidate with the demonstrably far worse chance of beating Trump. It was fine for them to risk Trump to get their preferred nominee, but now it’s just crazy to risk Trump for other reasons.

Me, I think it was crazier to bring a Clinton to a Sanders fight. And I’m tired of hearing simplistic hyper-emotional rhetoric and canned spin from the very people who put us in this situation.

My point boils down to: whether I vote for her or not, the election will turn out the way it’s going to turn out. She will win, or she won’t, and it will not be based on my vote. Another reason I won’t say how I’m voting is because by doing so I’m implying at least a bit of endorsement I can’t give, but however I vote, it ain’t coming down to me. In fact, a logical case could be made that my individual vote is of such statistical unimportance that demanding I violate my personal integrity for the sake of what is, effectively, a non-effect is absurd. That aside, again, what’s gonna happen is gonna happen, and if she loses, it will be because she was the worst choice for the fight and because she and hers screwed over a huge segment of leftward voters. If one individual chooses not to vote for her, for whatever reasons, their complicity in her loss will be infinitesimally smaller than her own, or than the DNC’s.

I don’t support Clinton, but I hope Trump loses. That’s all the endorsement she’s earned from me.

So We’ve Got THAT Going For Us… (A Bit of Good News For Election 2016)

clinton_trump

In June, polling agencies stopped including Bernie Sanders in their questions. At that time, he led Donald Trump by an average of 10.4%. This was the culmination of a campaign which always led Trump (and, indeed, all of the other GOP contenders), every step of the way, usually by double digits. Sanders, one of the most popular politicians in the country, a man drawing tens of thousands of excited voters to his rallies all over America, was the only candidate on either side with net positive favorability ratings.

Hillary Clinton’s numbers were never remotely as good. She often lost to Republican candidates (even John Kasich usually beat her by 8-12%), and Trump was the only candidate she could almost always beat, though always by a very small margin. And she shared with Trump the worst favorability scores of any candidates in history.

No candidate has ever won the presidency with negative favorability scores. This year that will no longer be the case, as both major candidates are enormously unpopular. Recent polls show that a majority of each of their committed voters say they are voting for their chosen candidate primarily to vote against the other candidate.

The standard spin about Sanders’s better polling results was always that he was “untested,” and if he became the nominee then he would be tested and maybe his numbers would drop. But the spinners never seemed to see that their argument also basically acknowledged that Clinton’s numbers were terrible because she had been tested, and failed, and her numbers were therefore unlikely to get any better if she became the nominee.

We were also told that “polls don’t matter this far out.” Only polls after the convention are accurate, only polls closer to election day prone to reflect pertinent trends.

Hillary Clinton currently leads Donald Trump by a paltry 1%. Both continue to have net negative favorability, with 55% of voters disliking her and 57% disliking him.

We have only 47 days till election day.

As Sanders supporters said for months, only to be met with spin and derision from Clintonites and establishment loyalists (I saw one person say that “clinging” to Bernie’s superior poll numbers was, you guessed it, misogynistic), we’d have been better off going to fight with the nominee who at least started with superlative favorability numbers and far better numbers against all GOP possibilities than the nominee whose numbers started in, and would likely remain in, the toilet.

But at least we can say that the Democratic nominee isn’t quite as hated as Donald Trump, one of the most hated men in the world.

So we’ve got that going for us.

The Pragmatic Truth Behind Bernie Sanders’s Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

point

Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders also endorsed Bill Clinton in 1996, and I think we can read his words then and gain a great deal of insight into his present endorsement:

“In terms of who to support for president, the choice is really not difficult. I am certainly not a big fan of Bill Clinton’s politics. As a strong advocate of a single-payer health care system, I opposed his convoluted health care reform package. I have helped lead the opposition to his trade policies, which represent the interests of corporate America and which are virtually indistinguishable from the views of George Bush and Newt Gingrich. I opposed his bloated military budget, the welfare reform bill that he signed, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which he supported. He has been weak on campaign finance reform and has caved in far too often on the environment. Bill Clinton is a moderate Democrat. I’m a democratic socialist.

“Yet, without enthusiasm, I’ve decided to support Bill Clinton for president. Perhaps ‘support’ is too strong a word. I’m planning no press conferences to push his candidacy, and will do no campaigning for him. I will vote for him, and make that public. Why?
“I think that many people do not perceive how truly dangerous the political situation in this country is today. If Bob Dole were to be elected president and Gingrich and the Republicans were to maintain control of Congress, we would see a legislative agenda unlike any in the modern history of this country. There would be an unparalleled war against working people and the poor, and political decisions would be made that could very well be irreversible.

Medicare and Medicaid would certainly be destroyed, and tens of millions more Americans would lose their health insurance. Steps would be taken to privatize Social Security, and the very existence of public education in America would be threatened. Serious efforts would be made to pass a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, affirmative action would be wiped out, and gay bashing would intensify. A flat tax would be passed, resulting in a massive shift in income from the working class to the rich, and all of our major environmental legislation would be eviscerated.

“The Motor Voter bill would be repealed, and legislation making it harder for people to vote would be passed. Union-busting legislation would become law, the minimum wage would be abolished, and child labor would increase. Adults and kids in America would be competing for $3.00-an-hour jobs.

“You think I’m kidding. You think I’m exaggerating. Well, I’m not. I work in Congress. I listen to these guys every day. They are very serious people. And the folks behind them, the Christian Coalition, the NRA, the Heritage Foundation, and others, are even crazier than they are. My old friend Dick Armey is not some wacko member of Congress laughed at by his colleagues. He is the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Check out his views. No. I do not want Bob Dole to be president. I’m voting for Bill Clinton.
“Do I have confidence that Clinton will stand up for the working people of this country—for children, for the elderly, for the folks who are hurting? No, I do not. But a Clinton victory could give us some time to build a movement, to develop a political infrastructure to protect what needs protecting, and to change the direction of the country.”

That was when the Democratic Party took its rightward turn and disavowed its traditional progressive ways. Bernie knew it at the time, and he spoke out against it, even while acting pragmatically in the face of the Republican threat.

Time is a circle.