We Do Not Have Legitimately Elected Officials

Do we have legitimate governance, with the consent of an informed electorate?

If a voter makes a choice based on a campaign that is based on lies, disinformation, promises that are never meant to be fulfilled, incorrect assumptions and premises, psychological manipulation, intimidation, well-funded mass propaganda and the rest of the entire modern Republican operation — is there a legitimate outcome? Are votes that result from that legitimate votes?

What about a candidate who just lies, saying “what the voters want to hear” with no intention of doing what was implied in the campaign? Are those “legitimate” votes?

A “legitimate” election requires a properly informed electorate given adequate and correct information upon which to make a decision. Trickery, misinformation, lies, misdirection, manipulation, financially outshouting, and all the things we understand as modern “elections” actually mean the results are not legitimate and anti-democratic.

Never mind mass voter suppression, gerrymandering and the other ways our system has become “rigged” against allowing democracy to function. Never mind possible tampering with voting machines. Those things are also for real. But alongside those, this general non-functioning of democracy has become “normalized.” We do not even expect candidates to just tell the truth about issues that are important to us anymore, and when they do they are considered to be “outside the mainstream.”

Look at the extent to which our supposedly democratic system has been de-legitimized. This is not just about Trump, this has become systemic. Saying what is needed just to get votes is a violation of democracy and de-legitimizes the outcome. Tricking people, lying, manipulating, outspending all de-legitimize the outcome.

How can we restore truly functioning, free, informative news media combined with an attentive, educated electorate? How can we restore legitimacy to our entire democratic process? The first step is to call it out, stop accepting it, see it for what it is and say it for what it is.

Thoughts On Russia Election Systems Hacking Report

Here are some thoughts on the report that Russia was trying to — or did — hack into our election systems before the election.

1) Why was this a secret? Who from? Obviously it wasn’t a secret to Russia. Maybe they’re keeping the idea that they detected it a secret? (And this tips Russia or whoever off to what we did not detect, by the way.)

2) We only know about hacking that we detect, not that which we do not detect. It’s like the saying that nothing in Washington remains a secret. The response to that is, “except for the things that do. We don’t know about those things.”

3) It shouldn’t matter if election systems are hacked. Our election system should be set up from top to bottom so that you just count actual votes. We used to do that. Now we do not. We believe what we are told the results were. Seriously. that way there is a record of actual votes, that you check whether you detect hacking or not. The way we do things now there’s no way to know who wins elections. If you set the system up correctly then it doesn’t matter if it is hacked. (It matters if someone finds a way to “stuff” a ballot box. But good systems can even prevent that, and that doesn’t decide national or even statewide elections.)

3a) If machines have “paper trails” you could count what’s on the paper and compare it to what the machines reported. We don’t do that. One reason we don’t is because that “costs too much.” (Even when someone raises the money for a “recount” it doesn’t usually involve actually counting the paper records.) Instead, we believe what we are told the results were.

3b) There are still lots of machines out there without paper trails. In Georgia, for example. They are old and very easy to hack. There are real indications they get hacked. There is no way to know. So with these machines there is no way to know for sure what the voters actually wanted. There is no way to know if they were hacked, no way to know if they made mistakes. Just no way to know. Instead, we believe what we are told the results were.

4) The only way to have an honest election is to use paper ballots. These can be tabulated by machines. Then you hand count a large random sample and check that against what the tabulators report. If that count is off by even a single vote, something is fishy and you have to count all the paper ballots. With paper ballots and careful checking you do know who actually won.

5) If you want to know who actually won an election instead of what the “powers that be” tell you, you have to do things that we largely do not do now in too many places. Instead, we believe what we are told the results were.

6) As for messing with the registration lists to keep people from voting, that’s a different problem. (Voter ID laws are also a form of messing with the registration lists to keep people from voting.) Are we hearing about lots of people being turned away at the polling places? If so this form of hacking is also a serious concern. I understand that lots of “provisional ballots” are not counted and this is serious. To solve this stop the laws that make it harder to vote, and just make it easier to vote. And make voting a holiday so people don’t have to leave work, go after work, etc. Make it easier to use verifiable, mail-in ballots.

Update: Hand counts should match what the machines are reporting. If not something is fishy. Unfortunately even “recounts” do not necessarily mean a real hand count. In Wisconsin, 2016 for example. Watch this:

Impeachment Is Not Enough

The problem with impeachment is it doesn’t really solve our problem. The problem we have goes so far beyond just Trump and into flaws in the the design of our system.

George Washington established rule by “norms” when he declined to run again for President, saying we are not a nation of kings. So it became a norm that presidents hand over power. In the years since we developed a system of democratic norms instead of laws that can be enforced, with systemic mechanisms to ensure enforcement.

So now we have a president who has no interest in norms or rule of law, and we have no laws and no systemic mechanisms to do anything about it. He and his cronies are destroying our system of democracy and rule of law.

These clowns got into office illegitimately and we have no mechanisms to stop the destruction of all the “public structures” We the People own and treasure, from our public land to our public schools to our public infrastructure to our system of checks and balances to our democracy itself.

They got into office illegitimately using a corporate-and-billionaire-financed propaganda machine (and possibly non-US “dark money” funding sources) spewing lies at us 24/7/365 for decades, massive voter suppression, possible election-rigging, the electoral college designed around maintaining slave states, lies (“I will drain the swamp”) and all the other things they have done.

And beyond the presidency we have the gerrymandering lock, states populated by cows but with two senators, and other ways they maintain a grip on power when they can’t get the votes.

All impeachment does is move the incompetent, loathsome Trump out of the way, after he signs the things they want and they are through with his usefulness. But the entire fraudulent crowd will still maintain illegitimate power.

What we need is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that can sweep away all the corruption, illegitimacy and lies and find ways to restore democracy and return Power To The People.

The Reality Of This Election Is Trump Or Clinton

The reality of this election is that this year two choices for president, and only two choices. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will become president.

And this election is entirely about Donald Trump. You are either for him or against him, period. There is just no way around it.

Trump will have the keys to the FBI, NSA and Department of Justice. Imagine Chris Christie as Atty General and Rudolph Giuliani as Director of National Intelligence. Maybe Newt Gingrich running the FBI. Imagine Trump with the NSA surveillance apparatus under his control. All rubber-stamped by a Republican Congress. He’s already talked about firing all the generals, imagine what happens to the rest of government. our government will become entirely a support-Trump operation — not unlike how Putin runs Russia. Do you think you’ll be safe?

Trump promises a “deportation force” that will round up Muslim and Latino families — and do what with them? Black, Jewish and “mixed-race” families obviously are in line to be on that “Skittles” list. What happens to the rights of Gays and political “politically correct” opponents? His crowds chant “lock them up” about the news media. No, if you are someone who is reading this you won’t be safe if Trump wins.

If you think this is a just exaggerated talk or a joke, everyone also thought it was a joke that Trump could win the Republican nomination, or be anywhere close to becoming President. Yet he did and he is.

This is serious shit. Bernie Sanders is traveling around the country right now to spread this message:

“The stakes are much too high. This is not a personality contest. You are not voting for the senior class president at the local high school. You are voting for the most important public official in the world. The differences between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump are day and night.”

If you do not want Donald Trump to become president you have to vote for Hillary Clinton. If you do not vote FOR Clinton you are voting to allow Trump to become president, period. You might not be able to stand Clinton, but you have to decide if you want Trump to be president, with all the consequences that brings. Because that is what it could mean if you do not show up and vote for Clinton.

My very first blog post ever was this July, 2002 post: Ralph Nader is a Scab,

In the union movement we learned the hard way that the only way to fight the moneyed interests is to stick together. It’s called SOLIDARITY. It’s what “union” MEANS.

When unions are in a fight the members stick together, and those crossing the lines are called “scabs”.

In the 2000 election it was the usual fragile Democratic coalition fighting the usual moneyed interests. Ralph Nader broke the solidarity, divided the coalition, and lost us the election. Ralph Nader is a scab.

Even if you are in a “safe” state you still have to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Not voting for Clinton to “send a message” keeps her “numbers” down nationally which, if things are close elsewhere could leave Trump with more votes nationally but lose the electoral college — like what happened to Gore. If that happens it encourages Trump’s neo-Nazi followers to take up arms.

In 2000 people voted for Ralph Nader to “send a message.” Solidarity was broken and Bush became president. No message was received and nothing was done about climate for 8 years, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed in an illegal war that brought lasting chaos to the Middle East. And our economy was ruined. A Trump win promises far, far worse consequences.

Small Businesses Say Trump Is Wrong

One (more) of the way this country is split is a sharp divide between what small businesses need and what the giant, multinational corporations want (and usually get.) According to a coalition representing small businesses, Donald Trump’s policies would widen this divide, hitting small businesses hard.

Small businesses around the country are squeezed by the giant WalMarts and other national billionaire-owned chains that put local businesses out of business, pay low wages and few if any benefits, and then drain local and national resources by exporting their profits from the communities and states to offshore tax havens to dodge taxes.

The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state-based small business coalitions working with “real small business owners, on the ground, in their shops and restaurants.” They issued a statement warning that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s prescription for America is wrong for the small businesses that speak for. Representatives of small businesses provided statements making their point.

On Taxes

Trump “brags of his massive and phenomenal wealth while skipping out on his taxes.” Billionaires using corporate fronts and various schemes to dodge their taxes are starving communities and states of the resources needed to provide good schools, infrastructure and the rest of the things government does to provide a foundation for local prosperity and business growth.

“Trump has exploited the tax system for decades and threatens the safety nets in place to help struggling business and families. Taxes are a cost of doing business and are essential in funding the infrastructure my business depends on”, said Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats and Fare Well Diner Bakery Bar, in D.C. “Skipping out on your taxes year after year doesn’t make you qualified to rewrite our tax code, it qualifies you for an extended visit from the I.R.S.”

“Trump’s recently released tax plan would only worsen the unfair U.S. tax system by disproportionately benefitting the highest-income earners and putting a strain on the rest of us. We need to move away from a system that has been manipulated by greed and self-indulgence to create a tax code that levels the playing field, said Matt Birong, the owner of 3 Squares Café in Vergennes, Vermont.

On Immigration

Trump insults immigrants, during the Wednesday debate calling them “bad hombres.” He demands a giant wall that would “keep our customers, future business owners, and innovators out.”

“As an immigrant and the owner of an architecture firm, the walls I build are on homes, designed to keep families safe. We don’t build walls designed to keep good people out. It’s not how our country or our economy works. Trump’s idea of an immigration policy would be a disaster for our country,” said Francisco Garcia, the owner of The Building Workshop in San Diego.

“This country depends on a strong immigrant community. Any ‘business’ person who uses these hard-working employees to make millions, but turns on them for political gain, is no leader to fit to hold our nation’s highest office,” said Alma Rodriguez, the owner of Queen Bee’s Art and Cultural Center.

To see the Clinton campaign’s positions on small businesses, click here.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progressive Breakfast.

Must Must Must Listen Podcast: Robert Reich On This Election

I listened to this on a walk, and it is a must, must, must listen podcast.

Robert Reich, speaking Tuesday at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco: “The Oddest Presidential Election in Living Memory

From the website:

Tue, Sep 27 2016 – 6:30pm
Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary of Labor; Author, Saving Capitalism

Holly Kernan, Executive Editor for News, KQED—Moderator

In the midst of an unpredictable presidential election, get insight from a veteran political figure who knows Washington inside and out. Time magazine named Reich one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. Come hear his provocative thoughts on the presidential election and the future of America.

How Clinton Can Use The Debate To Change The National Discussion

Everyone has an opinion on what Hillary Clinton should do in the Monday’s debate, and this is mine. Hopefully I will be wrong enough to earn a regular column on the New York Times op-ed page.

This election season so far has been about Donald Trump, and not about the real problems facing the country and We the People. The national discussion certainly has not been about things that can be done to make people’s lives better.

Donald Trump talks about Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton talks about Donald Trump. The news media talks about Donald Trump, even breaking into news shows to cover live anything Donald Trump might be saying. As a result everyone talks about Donald Trump. Clinton and issues and ideas are almost invisible.

In Monday’s debate, Hillary Clinton should be a model of how the country should be treating Trump and his deplorable campaign. She should just ignore him as the irrelevant distraction he really is.

She should talk from the beginning of the debate to the end of the debate about her policies and proposals to make people’s lives better. She should ignore Trump’s inevitable insults, provocations and everything else he says or does. She should turn him into background noise and not allow herself to be distracted from discussing how she proposes to address the needs of the country.

It’s not like she doesn’t have great policies and proposals to talk about. It’s her strength. Trump just doesn’t, which unfortunately is considered a strength by too many people. Bill Scher’s post, “On Policy, It’s No Contest. Clinton: 112,735 Words, Trump: 9,000,” explained the difference between the two when it comes to actual substance and policy.

Clinton should ignore Trump and talk about the issues that are important to the public and the country. He is trying to bait her with his provocative language and get her off message. Her message is good, but he has succeeded so far. It’s time to change that. Don’t even acknowledge his presence on the stage. Draw the contrast between bluster and substance.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progressive Breakfast.

I Recommend Angie Coiro’s Interview With Geoffrey Nunberg

I just caught up with Angie Coiro’s interview with Geoffrey Nunberg and I recommend it. They discuss the language of this presidential campaign.

It’s at In Deep With Angie Coiro: Linguist Geoff Numberg: the Language of Campaign 2016

Note the picture at the link. Angie does her interviews with a live audience in a book store, and you’ll hear the audience reaction on occasion during the discussion. It’s well worth attending one of these if you are in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto, California area on a Wednesday.

Also, listening will show you just what an excellent interviewer and radio professional Angie is. (Can listening ‘show’ you things? What’s the right word?)