My Issue With Bernie Sanders

 

When it came time to cast vote in the Texas primary I made it no secret that I was voting for Bernie Sanders. This wasn’t out of some attempt to say Hillary wasn’t good enough, in fact she was easily more qualified on paper and I was pretty sure she would be our next president or, at the very least, that she would win the nomination.

We expected a run between Jeb and Hillary. Those were the people that the parties wanted to support going in and I can’t really remember if Jeb was still in the race by the time it came our turn to send the conventions our pick for candidates.

But I liked what I heard about Sanders and what he was saying. I thought that his ideas deserved some looking at and I thought that, maybe without the racist sentiment that haunted Obama we could sustain some of the policies that had managed to come out of the last presidency and build on to them. We had fought pretty hard for healthcare and equal rights over the last eight years, after all.

Looking back over the nine months since the inauguration of Trump and seeing the split in the Democratic Party, I’m willing to admit that I was wrong. The different things about Sanders that keep piling up at best make him out to be someone who kind of wants to fight some of the good fight, but that’s okay with those who support him engaging in terrible stuff to get there. At worst he’s actually a sheep in wolf’s clothing that attempted to use the Democratic Party as a stepping stone to build his own party with a platform of some progressive policies. I say “some” like that because his calling Planned Parenthood part of the “establishment” and his endorsement of an anti-abortion candidate paint him as a little less on the progressive end of the spectrum when it comes to women’s issues. Which is what brought this whole thing up because he is the opening speaker at the Women’s March and people are asking why.

Back in late November he also slammed what he called “identity politics” (which is a phrase I take a bit of issue with — more on that later). On Twitter and Facebook whenever there is a discussion about politics there’s no shortage of people popping up to tell you how Sanders speaks for them, even when they claim to fall under the umbrella of policies that he seems to be willing to shed in order to look more appealing.

There in-fighting that plagues the Democratic Party right now boils down to a fight about what happened. Hillary Clinton, a woman who has been in the political spotlight almost all my life, lost an election that she shouldn’t have. Some people think Bernie would have stood a better chance, even though Bernie didn’t win the primaries, even if he was pulling votes from people on the fence about Trump. The fact of the matter is that if you asked me who Bernie Sanders was in 2014 I wouldn’t know who the Hell you were talking about. Clinton has put in the work over the years trying to get healthcare reform, working at the national and state levels of government and more often than not pushing for policies that I agree with and that a lot of people seem to agree with in the Democratic Party. Most of the hate for her extends from leftover ammunition that was loaded into the gun of the Right Wing political machine that has only grown more nefarious with the rise of Breitbart and the proliferation of Fox News.

Bernie Sanders might not have loaded that gun himself, but he used it as cover fire where he could. He drew from their playbook in criticizing Clinton and when things didn’t go his way he attempted to march on Washington. He’s even attempted to hijack the party itself, a party that he really isn’t part of. He’s stolen the spotlight from Randall Woodfin, a black mayoral candidate that won an election in the Deep South who was a Hillary supporter and who ran a pretty successful campaign before Sanders’ group’s involvement. Overall Sanders backed candidates are losing, but you wouldn’t know that from the sound of things in the media. It’s like Sanders can do no wrong.

Another part of my problem with Sanders is the tone of some of the support he gets. It seems like some of it comes from alt-right types that just couldn’t get behind the blatant idiocy of Trump. You see a bit of that Gamer-Gate-Intellectual-Atheist crowd showing up to debate about free speech without seeming to realize that free speech doesn’t mean what they think. People who punch actual Nazis in the face aren’t violating the first amendment. And angry that people protest “anti-identity politics” speakers on college campuses aren’t either no matter what fucking Bill Maher says.

Well, there’s the problem. Identity politics is a conservative issue too. When you look at the fight over Confederate statues that’s tied to a racial identity in the South that has huge roots reaching back to slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights era. The Christian identity of the country is another hot button issue for conservatives. So this idea that it’s impossible to win elections when drawing praise from these things just doesn’t hold water. One entire political party does it and the parts of that party that don’t identify with those things ignore the parts they don’t like.

I don’t think Sanders deserved the nomination and I don’t think that he could have won. I don’t have any solid proof of that, but neither do the people claiming he would have coasted to victory. This country is racist enough against Jews that even we denied them Visas during WWII and it’s still racist enough that there’s never been a Jewish president and you can still find countless people peddling bullshit theories about the Jews doing evil things. A guy at Starbucks came up and started talking to me about Jewish mind control. That’s not even a rare thing.

And I don’t blame Sanders for the entire election loss. There is a lot things that went wrong including voter suppression, Russian intervention in the process and propaganda, and Hillary’s own decisions to campaign in certain places over others. But I do believe that Sanders being slow to back her and his march on Washington during the DNC had some affect and I think that now his attempt to gain popularity runs the risk of costing Democrats the 2018 mid-term and the possibility of Trump getting elected to a second term.

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Is This Liberalism

I have never watched many of the politics based programming on television because it wasn’t having the kind of conversations that I want to see, but HBO seems to know me. Edit: There is an error with this theme for my Wordpress where contractions in the first word apparently fuck the whole post up.

“Last Week Tonight” and “Real Time with Bill Maher” have become mainstays of my weekend shows. I tend to watch them back to back late Sunday night after everyone else is in bed. I genuinely agree with most everything Jon Oliver says, and let me tell you he had a hard sells for me. I thought I was always see him in Jon Stewart’s shadow because of his years on the “Daily Show”. After the time that he filled in for Stewart proved that he had what it took, I still remained skeptical. I mean, a big part of the show was the writing staff.

His move to HBO did him some justice though and he surpassed the “Daily Show” in my mind almost immediately.

Real Time is a different beast all together. I was the show because the guests are people that I want to see discuss things. I skipped an episode once (the one with Milo Yiannopoulos) because I felt that even giving that kind of person a platform to reach more people was in bad taste, but the more I hear about the episode the more that I think I should have watched it.

There’s a phenomena in the liberal community that seemed to be at its height right after the election. The idea at its best is that social issues are less important and that we should concentrate on the big things and at its worse there are those who are only able to care about the issues that affect them directly.

Marijuana legalization would be a pretty big deal considering the number of people locked up for such a minor drug, but when that’s the only thing you’re considering important in a world with out of control pay inequality and where people are literally dying while the government could do something about then there’s something seriously wrong.

And let me just say that social issues do mean a lot. Maybe you’re not gay or black or hispanic or a woman, but a hell of a lot of people are and these issues are their day to day lives. Bill Maher brings legalization pretty often and he treats the whole thing with a sort of reverence. This past week when comments Bill O’Reilly made about Rep. Maxine Waters’s hair came up on Maher’s show her immediately shot the whole story down and say liberals sweat the small stuff. Let’s try to remember that the guy shot down a valid point she made about Trump by saying  “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”

There’s layers of hypocrisy to the statement itself, especially when O’Reilly is defending a man who has the hair that Trump does. But then add to that how Maher handles the statement by dismissing the whole thing too.

Maher is one of the only ones I see on the airwaves doing this kind of thing, but he represents a swath of the liberal population that seems to be unconcerned with real gender and racial equality and treat it like one of those things that we’ll get to after all of the other things are done.

So what party is left for the rest of us? We’ve got one that openly vilifies us and another that thinks of us as an afterthought or votes in their pocket to be drummed up every four years when they need us, but forgotten any other time.

I got into liberalism because I felt that it was the ideology that served the People with a capital “P”. I was pretty conservative for years and I grew up going to Catholic school and thought abortion was wrong and that we had to be patriotic and stand by our President no matter what things he did. I found those policies didn’t work for me slowly over time and I grew up and learned what was important to me.

If liberalism doesn’t represent the people and work for the good of everyone, what good is it to us? Liberalism that doesn’t do that doesn’t even seem like liberalism at all.

 

South Park and Choosing to Care

I was a late comer to the South Park train. While a lot of kids were watching it all the way back in ’97,  I was aware of the show, but never seemed to see it. Comedy was a big part of my life growing up, though. I remember watching things like Mystery Science Theater on Comedy Central late at night and Comic View on BET when I happened to be over at my sister’s late enough.

I had a healthy appetite for comedy.

South Park was edited and aired in syndication around the time I was in high school, I think. By then I was old enough to get a lot of the jokes and the movie had come to cable, which I had seen a few times. I had a South Park shirt and considered myself a fan of the show. I thought the guys writing it ‘got me’–that they were the kind of guys I wanted to be like. I didn’t just want to not care on a personal, emotional level. Not caring needed to be the default reaction when faced with almost anything.

When you’re fifteen or sixteen it’s easy to see how this world view applies to you. It’s hard to find somewhere to fit in and when you’re already attending a school where graduating classes numbered under fifty students there was a good chance that you might not have the friend group that even outcasts had at bigger schools. Not caring seemed like a good way to deal with the pressure. What you don’t care about can’t hurt you.

South Park takes that to a deeper level. It poked fun at everyone, a thing I once greatly respected. It reinforced my notions about the world, or it reinforced the notions that I figured I should have: gays are weird and okay, as long as they’re not hurting anyone, but you’re not doing any disservice by calling people faggots as an insult. The younger generation is past racism completely, so all that’s left is to let all of the older people die off (there’s no way that racism is still really affecting us!). The choice between Presidential candidates means nothing, they’re both horrible.

From about ages fourteen to twenty I probably held some version of these beliefs and others that lined right up with the show. I didn’t mind when they took aim at targets that I cared about or liked or believed in. It was okay because they were making fun of EVERYONE, right?

As long as you’re indiscriminate in your fun poking, what’s the harm?

Fast forward to I’m thirty and I still love comedy. I still can’t get enough crude humor as evidence by being able to quote Louis CK and Hannibal Burress’s albums like scripture. Until a few months ago I thought South Park had been canceled. No one had mentioned the show in years around me (probably a testament to having friends that are ‘keepers’).

The internet was set on fire by this past years South Park seasonal target. PC culture, the new boogeyman of the Alt-Right, Brocialists, and just your garden variety bigot. This isn’t to say that there isn’t problems with hard-left liberalism, but to hear some people talk about it liberals are to blame for terrorism, the break down of the American family, and pretty much everything else under the sun.

To see South Park make season long antagonists out of PC culture seems less like the brave thing that people always claim that the show is and more like the expected thing for an audience that grew up watching the show. A lot of them became the adamant Bernie Sanders supporters that refer to Hillary Clinton as ‘a cunt’ every chance they get and don’t understand why it’s sexist (and unwarranted). They are the ones who refuse to look at race, sexual orientation, or gender even when it’s undeniably a factor (Elliot Rodger shooting, for instance).

I was a lot more moderate the right leaning when I started watching the show and I would say that I was more easily offended back then.  Me now still has a bit of that don’t care attitude. But I care when it counts. I care when you’re selling me a value system that’s flat out wrong and trying to reinforce views that don’t really work.

Yeah, it’s just a show. South Park isn’t the news or some politically commentary, except that it’s being used that way this past season and people have cited it before in the past to refer to their views. There are still some moments from the show that I can relate to, everyone expecting me to just like Family Guy because of my sense of humor (spoiler alert, I’ve hated Family Guy for almost the entirety of it’s run), but I think that I outgrew South Park years ago. I’m kind of glad that I did.

Some things are important to me and I don’t see that as a fault. Equal representation of all races and genders (at least in the sense of how they’re portrayed, because not all situations would have all types of people there) is important to me. Caring about politics is important to me, being well informed, and who gets elected is all important to me. PC culture isn’t such a dangerous thing that you need to go on about it for thirteen episodes or how ever long their seasons are.

And yeah, maybe the nearly one thousand words I spent on this was too much care, but I think it extends to more than South Park. And more importantly, it’s something that is relevant, because we live in a world where people actually don’t care enough.

The Bare Minimum

I’ve been hearing more and more about the wealth gap in this country and how it affects the poorer, majority of Americans. I hate to dwell on it and really go off on this long rant about what’s happening, but basically there are people out there who think they deserve to make more than they do right now.Federal-Minimum-Wage-1

And these people are absolutely right. The price of everything has gone up, but the cost of making it seems to have either gone down or stayed the same while the pay for those doing the making…has stayed the same. Just look at gasoline—do you think that modern refineries work harder to produce a product?

The price of gas in just the years I have been driving has gone up 400%, yet the minimum wage still hovers around seven dollars for a vast part of the country. Value meals at fast food places, the cost of living in general—it’s all gone up. Inflation is kind of expected, but the minimum wage should keep the pace with it. Issue is that it hasn’t.

My problem in this post is less with the wage itself and more with the people arguing against others getting a higher wage. There seems to be this overwhelming sentiment that others shouldn’t get a wage that’s higher because “I work my ass off and I’m not getting paid more”.

Then your problem should be with the employer, not with the others trying to do better for themselves. As Americans it seems we’re cultured and trained to think that sick days, vacation, pensions and unions are for the weak or the lazy and that if you’re a true, red blooded patriot that you’ll work your job and if you don’t like how you’re treated you’ll find somewhere else to work. I’m not sure how we started to think we were the greatest place on Earth or how we collectively got so stupid as to be duped into a way of thinking that makes us expendable basically sets us up to be shit on.

I’m reminded of a line from one of my favorite shows “Louie”:

“The only time you should look at your neighbors bowl is to make sure they have enough.”

The Most Endangered Species on the Planet

antiracisthitlerIn the wake of the George Zimmerman trial I got into a fight about the idea of racism in general. I don’t remember the exact details of the exchange that brought about this topic. That was an eventful week on the Internet for me, to tell the truth. I don’t think I can remember a time where people so blatantly made racist remarks.

Somehow the idea of interracial dating came into question and I posted my thoughts on it. Another person linked me to this video by White Rabbit Radio.

I had never heard of White Rabbit Radio, but that could be because I don’t hang out on racist forums like Stormfront or attend any Klan meetings. What I came across was a lot of things about White Nationalism and a “mantra” of beliefs that I’ve been hearing for years now and never realized were from a single source.

It happens from time to time that we come across something that seems too rehearsed and planned out to just be a coincidence. Like if Aliens were to land in three Catholic Churches in three different countries and hear the Nicene Creed. They would be able to automatically recognize that these people share a common source for their belief. They might not know where that source was instantly, but it’s clear that everyone repeating that, though it might be in different languages is related in faith.

That was how this looked. And to someone who doesn’t realize what they’re reading, it can look like this type od thing is everywhere and it’s engrained in people. This repetition of the mantra not only gives these racists a common goal to work toward. It gives racist non-whites a common enemy and a reason to believe that all whites feel this way. Why else would these simple ideas be so prevalent?

It’s not uncommon to be around non-whites when you’re not white and have them strike up talk about how someone white was racist, even if you witnessed the same event and there’s a far more reasonable explanation. Racist ideologies drive a wedge between races from both sides.

You might have witnessed the mantra yourself in some form. It’s basic main idea is that: “Anti-racist is code word for anti-white.” It goes on to point out that diversity is bad and it’s only ever forced on white people. Most of the text reads like:

“Everybody says there is this race problem. Everybody says this race problem will be solved when the third world pours into every white country and only into white countries. … Everybody says the final solution to this race problem is for every white country and only white countries to ‘assimilate,’ i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites. … But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews [sic].”

The idea is almost sound and the man who wrote it, Robert Whitaker, claims to be a genius who worked on Regan’s staff and is partially responsible for the fall of Communism. And these ideas were said to be part of the motivation in some violent crimes, the most noteworthy of which is the shooting perpetrated by Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who slaughtered 77 people two years ago in his home country.

This article outlines a lot of the things I’ve said here and it goes into the details about the background of the whole situation. On the surface even the video has huge issues that anyone who looks at it with a non-biased eye will see it. For instance, the video seems to think that Israel only has Jews in it. It doesn’t there are Arabs living in Israel peacefully. The other issue is that these arguments seem to make the claim that simply allowing diversity is the death of a race. The only issue is that people will still choose to marry within their own culture and race some of the time. No one is being forced to marry outside of their race.

Other than that the video is downright offensive and the whole thing about the people running the websites and spreading this message let it be known what is really going on here. People are afraid of diversity, even when it’s to the benefit of everyone and even when it’s what some people want. They seem to think their culture is being wiped out when in many cases it’s being spread around the world through mediums like the internet at an alarming rate.

And even if a culture melds into another that’s what things are supposed to do. That’s the natural evolution of things.

Realistic Racism?

Zero Punctuation does some of my favorite game reviews. Ben Croshaw, or Yahtzee as he is known, does an excellent job ripping into games. I don’t think I can remember a single review I’ve seen that wasn’t funny and I have seen a lot of them. A few weeks ago in his review of Bioshock Infinite he said that while the game was great that he had a problem with the villain and how he’s basically irredeemably racist in an unrealistic way. I don’t want to give too much background on this in case people haven’t played the game yet. But here’s a pretty spoiler free piece of a recording featured in the game. These are the words of the villain himself:

What exactly was the Great Emancipator emancipating the Negro from? From his daily bread. From the nobility of honest work. From wealthy patrons who sponsored them from cradle to grave. From clothing and shelter. And what have they done with their freedom? Why, go to [area of the game], and you shall find out. No animal is born free, except the white man. And it is our burden to care for the rest of creation.

When I heard this in the game it was like a kick in the nuts. I was in combat and I got so distracted I think I even died. I had to go back and listen to it again to make sure that I heard correctly.

I’m not here to gush about the game again, but the game does raise several serious topics and this is probably the biggest of them. Race plays a huge role in America to this day and to say that race doesn’t matter and that racism is dead is straight bullshit.

urlThere are some common lies about racism we need to all get out of the way before I even go on. 1. There is no such thing as reverse racism. Any race can be racist against any other, the idea of reverse racism is in and of itself racist. If you think that your race has to be separate from ordinary racism to the point of having their own term, that’s a problem. 2. Racism still happens. I don’t know how many times I have watched people try and claim that it doesn’t on TV and in person and online. But it still happens, end of story.

The idea presented in the above quote from the game used to be the standard rationalization for slavery. This excerpt by James Oakes speaks of paternalistic reasoning behind slavery and even goes a little bit into the idea of “Christian Stewardship”. These ideas, while not prevalent today, still exist in the minds of some and there have been issues where they reared their ugly heads in back-handed ways.

An American Pastor, Pat Robinson, is super famous and known around the country for being this revered man of God. A few years back when Haiti suffered their devastating Earthquake he made a remark that this had come to fruition as punishment for their deal with the Devil.

The deal to which Pat Robinson refers is the idea that the slaves held then by the French couldn’t have revolted against their white owners and won without the aid of the Devil. Similar allegations were made about the flood in New Orleans. It’s funny that whenever mostly black, mostly poor people are suffering from natural disasters we call it the Devil. When it’s done to other people here in United States we call it God testing them.

I don’t think Ben Croshaw will ever read this little blog, but if he did I would want him to know that it may be because he’s from a country that has grown past a lot of the racist issues. Issues that still plague the States and he doesn’t realize it. This kind of racism did exist and the traces of it can be found today.

Election Eve Observation

For those of you that don’t know I’m not a fan of Shakespeare. I don’t worship him like most writers seem to. Though I will give him where credit is due and I don’t hesitate to use his writing as an example in political debates. this is a short excerpt of a post I made on a forum the other day. I needed to fill my “post something for the day” quota and I felt this might fit here.

A lot of the qualification that is happening seems to be that Romney is “the white guy”. People are saying shit like he looks more presidential, he made that comment about no one needing to ask him for his birth certificate, and the whole election seems like Othello playing out in real life. Here’s this black guy that his enemy can’t even give straight reasons for hating and they keep changing their narrative and at the end of the day the only real reason that he’s hated so much is because he’s the Moor, an outsider, the black guy.

No one wants to be accused of being so openly racist, but there’s a very thin veil over it. Those who don’t realize it and who are weaker willed are bombarded with stories of Obama being an outsider and it really started during the last election. Things are being said that would never be said of a white candidate and really I think that if there was any doubt how much a problem racism is in this country, Obama’s presidency should be proof that it still is.