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Posted by on Feb 13, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Announcing My Lean in the 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucus

TEN POINTS OF LIGHT

.

I’m conflicted.

For the first time ever, I’m still somewhat uncertain as to who I will vote for in a major election.

With Nevada’s caucus now ten days away, however, I now have a lean. I am prepared to announce this preference in today’s column.  This is a fragile choice subject to change. I’m no longer on the fence, but the fence is still easily within reach. I never understood voters who said they made up their minds right before the election, in the past. Now, I’m part of that “semi-undecided” group.

[1]  First and foremost, my voting decision and activism are entirely predicated upon one thing. I’m only interested in removing the evils and dangers of Donald Trump and any other political leader associated with his toxicity. My ideology is totally irrelevant to the discussion. And since I’m an ideologue, this is a significant departure in practice for me, something that’s very difficult to do.

[2]  Every Republican — from the president down to local judges — must be defeated. Period. Exclamation point. Any candidate with an “R” next to their name is an automatic — FUCK NO. Indeed, I wish there was a “FUCK NO” box to check. I bring this up because the candidate at the top of the ticket has a huge impact on down-ballot races. The coattail effect will be huge in 2020 (i.e., there will be very little vote splitting, I believe). So, we need to get the top of the ticket right, by choosing the best candidate who will help the other races (which means keeping the House and perhaps even flipping the Senate).

[3]  I strongly supported Bernie Sanders in 2016. He’s the closest in philosophically to my own politics. However, I have several serious and justified concerns with Sanders. While he has done wonderful things to educate millions of Americans about (democratic) socialism and he has energized many young people, I fear he may tarnish the movement from this point forward. I would be thrilled to be wrong on this point. But I’m not wrong in having concerns. If Sanders loses in the general election, Republicans would certainly maintain control of the Senate (ensuring another six years of McConnell) and there’s even some chance Republicans might re-take the House. If this happens, the consequences for our country and democracy would be utterly catastrophic.

[4]  I’m glad Pete Buttigieg is in the race. He’s a fresh face. He articulates a centrist Democratic position, and I’m good with that politically speaking (though I don’t agree ideologically). His surprising success and national exposure will go a long way towards broader acceptance. I wish Buttigieg was running as a congressman, senator, or something other than an inconsequential mayor. I like having him as a choice, but don’t see any chance of supporting him at the caucus.

[5]  I might get sick if Joe Biden wins the Nevada caucus. He reminds me so much of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign. If I thought Biden had any capacity whatsoever to re-energize his candidacy, I might be persuadable to supporting him or at least reserving judgment. But there’s nothing to jump-start here. He’s the old car battery that’s been sitting in the Dodge out in the driveway that hasn’t started in four years. Biden served his country well and is a good person. But he’s nearing his public service expiration date and would be a bad choice for the nomination. I can’t think of a single person excited about Biden’s candidacy. That said, given the dysfunction and corruption of the DNC and the role of superdelegates, I’m not sure he’s done quite yet.

[6]  Elizabeth Warren will drop out of the race after Super Tuesday, on March 3rd. It’s sad really. She’s had a good ground game here in Nevada set up for more than a year. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t get a call or text from the Warren campaign asking me to come to see her speak or lend my support. I actually think Warren’s Nevada campaign has done a good job, and I have the frontline experience to say that. However, these first two primaries have been devastating and she won’t do well in South Carolina, either (which is next). I can’t see Warren finishing in the top three here, which is what it would take to get her back in the race.

[7]  I’m leaning towards supporting Amy Klobuchar in the Nevada caucus. I would measure this support at 60 percent certain. She’s more of a default choice at this point. She checks some key boxes — particularly on gender and being midwestern. I have some serious differences with Klobuchar on issues, but I’m willing to set those aside from pragmatism and practicality. Her third-place showing in NH was a breakout, and I really liked her speech afterward. That was the first time I’d seen Klobuchar catch any fire. I also like her personal story, which is now getting some press. She seems like the best chance to beat Trump at the moment, though I’m perhaps weighing the NH results too heavily.

[8]  Finally, all of this could change. I’m disgusted with the Culinary Union here in Las Vegas, which is demonstrably anti-Sanders. The disgraceful and corrupt practices of the Culinary Union in the 2016 race, rescuing Clinton’s campaign which was floundering, was scandalous. Right out of the old Chicago machine political playbook. Now, they’re trying to torpedo Sanders, astoundingly under the guise that universal health care (Sanders’ core issue) would disrupt the negotiated health care plans between casinos and their workers. In other words, “WE GOT OURS–SCREW EVERYBODY ELSE.” That’s the Culinary Union’s position. I’m generally a huge supporter of unions, but this backstabbing on universal health care smacks of perversion. Read on…..

[9]  If I arrive at my local caucus (The Lakes/ Las Vegas) and see the Culinary Union people there all wearing Amy Klobuchar t-shirts and marching around like Hillary Clinton’s failed flunky robots, I might bolt across the room and stand with the Sanders supporters in the caucus. I’m not sure how I will react. But I will have a very hard time standing with that union crowd against my ideological brethren. I hope it doesn’t come to this. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do.

[10]  If anything I’ve written causes you to rethink your position, then that’s good. I hope by sharing my own conflicts and decisions, this might help others going through the same thing. Thanks for reading.

VOTE BLUE!

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Posted by on Jan 31, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

The Constitutional Bonfire

 

 

History is written in the blood of people who at one time thought it doesn’t affect their daily lives, until finally — it does. And then, it’s too late.

I’ve watched most of this week’s “impeachment trial” in the United States Senate. The likely outcome will be as follows:

Trump:

(1) ….gets away with obstruction of justice by blocking all attempts to produce documents and witnesses, and
(2) ….gets acquited.

An unprecedented abdication of responsibility will have occurred for the first time in the 200-plus year history of the United States. The legislative branch might as well CEASE TO EXIST. Since executive power now goes unchecked, and since the very last firewall of congressional and senate oversight has been trampled to death, de facto, our federal government will be transformed into an authoritarian regime guided exclusively by the wants and whims and witticisms of the premier figure atop a capricious cult of personality.

Hereafter, we will see the federal government operating almost entirely by executive order. One man’s executive order(s) will be the law of the land. Trumpian political sycophants at every federal agency will dictate policy — from cutting Medicaid and Social Security (now underway) to slashing regulations that protect clean air and water (which happened last week). Far right-wing judicial appointments will eagerly rubber-stamp any disputes in the president’s favor.

Check and balances will be GONE. OVER. FINISHED. Parts of the Constitution might as well be trimmed away with a switchblade.

Want to subpoena a witness to testify in front of Congress? Go ahead. Try that. The executive branch will simply ignore it. They just did that and got away with it. Want to obtain documents and official records to check on a government program or investigate wrongdoing? Go ahead and make the request. Ditto. The executive branch will ignore it, just as they have done by not turning over a single document, blocking witnesses from testifying, and even threatening and intimidating subordinates. It’s government by the decree of organized crime.

Since Trump will have gotten away with IGNORING all legitimate and legal requests made by law, the law no longer matters. The law is toothless. He can now cheat in elections, solicit foreign interference, and commit ANY impeachable offense in the future because it won’t matter. Congress will have played its hand, lost, and no amount of hearings or subpenas is going to put a check on executive power. We had our chance. And we blew it.

I used to believe that even with the horrors of Trump, the scare tactics and comparisons between the current regime and its players with authoritarianism-sliding-towards-fascism was a bit hyperbolic. Now, I’m not so sure.

Think about this while you try to stomach a “verdict” that was never in doubt, an “acquittal” with about as much credibility as a jury rigged by John Gotti.

Trump’s not on trial here. America is on trial. Representative democracy is on trial. The truth is on trial. All three LOST.

I never expected it to see my own country, with all its flaws, teetering on the brink of governing as a banana republic, succumbing to public division and indifference. These kinds of things happened in faraway places with names we couldn’t pronounce strongarmed by evil men in funny looking military uniforms.

The warning signs of history are abundant, should we care to heed them. History has become the present.

 

Footnote: I’m also attaching a clip from Bill Maher’s monologue last week. For those of you thinking the Nov. election is another firewall, don’t be so certain. Watch.

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Posted by on Jan 29, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

How Socialism Made the NFL America’s National Pastime

 

History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good; experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy.

— Karl Marx, Reflections of a Young Man (1835)

 

karl marx

 

Who is most responsible for making the National Football League into the world’s richest and most successful sporting league?

George Halas, the NFL’s founder?  Vince Lombardi, the great coach?  Pete Rozelle, the pioneer commissioner?  Joe Namath?  Joe Montana?  Tom Brady?

Try again.

The correct answer is Karl Marx.

That’s right, Karl Marx — otherwise known as the patriarch of the global and contemporary movement known as “socialism.” [*see footnote below]

Next Sunday, more than 100 million viewers will tune in to the Super Bowl.  Many of those watching will be red-meat ravishing red-staters and stalwart conservatives, their minds chained to some Dystopian philosophical mantle falsely asserting that fierce competition between businesses and among individuals combined with the prioritization of profits breeds two certain outcomes:  (1) strength and (2) prosperity.

But this isn’t true.  It’s certainly not true in professional sports.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Fact:  The NFL has enjoyed unparalleled national success over more than a half-century because it adopted virtually all of the principles of SOCIALISM.

Indeed, the NFL is a socialist enterprise.  Socialism works.  And the best example of this is American professional football.

Gather your jaws off the floor, and open your minds, my fellow football fanatics.

Read on.

*****

The NFL is a monster.

It’s the richest and most successful sporting institution in the history of the world.  It’s America’s true national pastime.  Forget Major League Baseball — which slipped off the pedestal as the nation’s premier spectator sport 60 years ago because of its rejection of socialism and embrace of me-first/fuck-everybody-else capitalism.

Football initially surpassed and eventually supplanted baseball as the national pastime in the early 1960s, when television became the new barometer of popularity.  Now, both college and professional football demolishes baseball in ratings to the point where Major League Baseball avoids scheduling post-season games against the NFL regular season.  Want proof?  Consider that nine of the top ten most-watched television programs of all time are Super Bowls.  Not baseball.  Football.  By contrast, the World Series of Baseball’s highest-rated game ever in history (played in 1986) drew about a third of what an average Super Bowl attracts.

How did this remarkable transformation come about?  Two words — revenue sharing.  In other words, the governing body redistributing wealth.

Earlier, I alluded to Pete Rozelle, who really is the most important figure in the history of professional football.  If the game has a Karl Marx figure, it’s most certainly Rozelle, who ran the NFL for nearly 30 years and was the architect of the NFL-AFL- merger in 1970.  I suppose it’s Friederik Engels would then be Dallas’ Lamar Hunt, who held the same power over in the American Football League (AFL).  When the two pro football leagues signed huge national television contracts, Rozelle and Hunt had the tremendous foresight to divide profits and share the millions in revenue equally between all teams.  That meant money from CBS, ABC, NBC (and later FOX and ESPN) would be divided into equal shares between New York, Chicago, Los Angeles — and much smaller cities like Green Bay.  Despite the big market teams enjoying significantly greater numbers of fans and viewers, Rozelle and Hunt (along with team owners) understood that the overall game — the COLLECTIVE (remember our Marxism, classmates) — would be much better off if all teams were given an equal chance to compete, win, and prosper.  In 1970, the two leagues merged and adopted this same policy for all teams.

Wow, talk about a chapter straight out of Das Capital.

Today, all NFL teams receive an equal share of the profits generated from the league’s coffers.  For this reason, Green Bay (population 70,000) can compete with New York (population 8,000,000).  Both teams can also be just as profitable.

By contrast, baseball maintains an economic system reminiscent of the robber baron days, an area of “haves” and “have nots.”  In baseball, big market teams reap and keep the lion’s share of their television money and horde their profits from merchandising.  Accordingly, big and powerful teams like the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, Angels, and Dodgers can buy up all the talent every year when players around the league become free agents.  Smaller cities like Kansas City and Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay — with far less money to spend on good players — can not compete.  The competitive imbalance causes fans in some cities to lose interest.  The entire league suffers.  That’s one reason why baseball’s TV ratings are in the shitter.

Indeed, while professional football is based on the principles of socialism, baseball remains very much wielded to the principles of capitalism.  And based on any tangible metric, the evidence is abundantly clear as to which system is more successful.

*****

Socialism’s intent is sharing resources and encouraging cooperation.

Let’s examine how the NFL operates as a business model.  Consider the following:

REVENUE SHARING — All 32 NFL teams share television money in equal shares.  “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”  Sound familiar?

MERCHANDISING PROFIT — Until 2010, NFL teams shared most of the royalties earned from merchandise sales.  However, courts ruled that this policy violated anti-trust laws.  Now, the 32 teams will be able to make their own deals, which ruins a system that has worked well for the past fifty years.  So, Jerry Jones becomes the owner of the NFL’s most valuable franchise, despite not winning a championship in a quarter-century (admit it — you knew the attack on Jones was coming).

THE NFL DRAFT — Every year, the weakest teams are given an advantage.  Sorta’ like the poor.  Losing teams are given the opportunity to make the first picks when drafting new players.  This gives bad teams a greater opportunity to improve and perhaps become better.  By contrast, the best teams must pick last in the draft.  This is the way taxation should work, according to the principles of socialism.  Tax the wealthy — they’ll still do fine.  At least the poor teams have the chance to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

SCHEDULING — The teams at the top get penalized.  They are required to play tougher schedules the following year.  The worst teams play a weaker schedule.  Whatever you think about this system, it works.  Chalk up another win for NFL socialism.

GAME DAY — All NFL teams play games on the same day at the same time (in rotation).  They are equals.  No team gets special treatment.  It’s not like baseball in which teams can play pretty much whenever they want.  No NFL team is permitted to schedule its games apart from the rest of the league.  The league strictly dictates pro football’s regular-season schedule and game times are known and expected by fans.  No outlier competition.  Total cooperation.  More socialism.

And so, virtually everything the NFL does is patterned on the principles of sharing and cooperation.  Profits are divided equally.  Teams needing help are given competitive advantages.  And teams that consistently perform well are asked to sacrifice more.

Conclusion:  The NFL is the best illustration of the success of socialism.

Footnote:  Okay, so this isn’t totally true.  But “Karl Marx” rolls off the tongue easier than Auguste Comte or Saul Alinsky.

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Posted by on Jan 20, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

My Thoughts on Alan Dershowitz

 

 

MY THOUGHTS ON ALAN DERSHOWITZ

Alan Dershowitz has been picked to be on Donald Trump’s legal team in the U.S. Senate’s upcoming impeachment trial. Here are my thoughts on this high-profile legal celebrity.

I keep on hearing that Alan Dershowitz is a great legal scholar. Yet, what I’ve observed over the past 25 years is an artfully-crafted illusion, the concatenation of a media-obsessed subterfuge of publicity willing to argue *any* side of *any* legal controversy, no matter how ridiculous, so long as he gets to appear on television and reinforce his own mythology. I haven’t seen nor heard Dershowitz argue *anything* convincingly since the Von Bulow trial, and that fabrication four decades ago was spun by a movie.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. I have no issue with any attorney taking any case to provide the best legal defense possible. I need not explain that to readers. If you don’t understand it or disagree, then please stop reading. We have zero common ground. What I take exception to, and hereby question is Dershowitz’s presumed commitments to justice when he’s so often been on the opposite side of is own arguments.  Moreover, I’m not casting aspersion to the legal defense of murderers and scumbags, rather — I’m stating Dershowitz has demonstrated an appalling lack of ability to persuade and be effective, despite countless opportunities to argue in dozens of settings and cases.

Dershowitz’s willingness to play the provocateur of persuasion is certainly good for theatrics. He’s a master ringleader of any political circus once he enters the big tent. Yet, he’s become so soiled with personal and professional contradictions, it’s now impossible to take him seriously, on anything. Especially anything with a political connotation. Go back and watch Dershowitz’s commentary on the Clinton impeachment during the late 90s, or his countless appearances in defense of murderer O.J. Simpson. They’re cringeworthy.

Do you want a better example of Dershowitz as a legal and political failure? I’ll give you three, each off the top of my head:

1. Years ago, ESPN did a mock civil trial on Major League Baseball and the battle between big-market and small-market teams. The question was on baseball’s competitive balance. It was a bold three-hour experiment on live television. Dershowitz argued on behalf of small-market teams, a view which I was vociferously in agreement with. Yet, Dershowitz was destroyed by opposing counsel Bruce Cutler. It was a major league ass-kicking. I had several arguments swirling in my head while watching, which Dershowitz failed to bring up. It was an embarrassing performance and the first hint that Dershowitz wasn’t nearly as smart or gifted as we thought.

2. Following the 2000 presidential election debacle (the Florida results went to the Supreme Court), Dershowitz wrote a book titled How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000. Entirely sympathetic to Dershowitz’s argument, I was seeking supporting material on my own for Gore’s case. So, I bought and read the book. Rarely has any text ever swayed me in the opposite direction, but somehow this legal scholar managed to do exactly that. This book, written for laypeople (non-legal people like me, was an appalling misfire. How does an author manage to defeat his own argument within his own text? I vowed never to waste $25 on another Dershowitz book again.

3. A few years later, Dershowitz wrote The Case for Israel, supposedly a defense of the Jewish state. Eager to expose myself to opposite points of view, I cracked open the book at a Barnes and Noble and spent an entire afternoon suppressing disbelief at how poorly-constructed Dershowitz’s written arguments were, both morally and politically. Any contributor to Foreign Affairs could easily have deconstructed and destroyed Dershowitz’s so-called “defense” of Israel. Once again, he managed to move a reader *away* from his side of the argument.

In fairness to Dershowitz, I’ve seen him debate numerous times (twice in person). Once, he debated Alan Keyes on the topic of religion in government. Predictably, Dershowitz took the secular side and mopped the floor with Keyes, which wasn’t exactly saying much. More recently, Dershowitz (I thought) won a heated debate about BDS (sanctions against Israel) against Dr. Cornel West, who appeared woefully unprepared in the back and forth. Those are the only two moments of Dershowitz’s lengthy career when he advanced his case in any way, and both wins were softballs.

Now, Dershowitz somehow gets pegged for Trump’s legal defense. Call me unimpressed.

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Posted by on Nov 18, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

My Thoughts on the Latest Colin Kaepernick Controversy

 

My Thoughts on the Latest Colin Kaepernick Controversy

Would-Be NFL Player/Activist Fumbles at the Worst Possible Moment

 

I tried. I really tried.

I tried to support and defend Colin Kaepernick, the unemployed multi-millionaire quarterback-turned-activist who was clearly the victim of disproportionate backlash from NFL fans and teams.  Please, mark me down as a supporter and a defender.

Here’s some perspective:  Women-beaters, drug abusers, accused rapists, and dog killers have signed and re-signed with teams. Those clearly guilty of serious crimes are cheered by fans, their despicable acts all but ignored by tribal mobs. But Kaepernick, an activist making a peaceful display of protest against racial injustice in America becomes an outcast and a pariah. Shame on the fans and teams for losing all sense of perspective and for their grotesque hypocrisy. Cheering for women beaters and dog killers while blasting Kaepernick makes you look like a joke.

That said, the NFL held a so-called “workout” this past weekend, which was likely Kaepernick’s one and last chance to prove he belongs in a uniform under contract. Not only did Kaepernick blow this opportunity in the worst way, but he also embarrassed himself and harmed the noble causes he supposedly espouses:

Here’s my perspective:

(1) There are approximately 96 NFL quarterbacks on 32 team rosters, and even more with practice squads and on injured reserve. Question — Is Kaepernick a “top 96” quarterback? The answer is yes, or at least *was* yes. Kaepernick took his last snap three years ago, in 2016. Nonetheless, given the current dregs of NFL quarterbacking (Chicago Bears, are you listening), Kaepernick would likely be, at worst, a capable backup who deserves a chance at playing.

(2) I was never of a fan of Kaepernick’s skill set, even when he was successful as a starter. He’s not the quarterback I’d want to build a team around. However, he was a winner, albeit on a very good team at the time.  Given the older retreads, mostly losing quarterbacks, who continue getting plenty of opportunities (Derek Anderson, Matt Cassel), and even start games (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub), Kaepernick should be on a team somewhere.

(3) Kaepernick handled the initial controversy terribly (back in 2016). Showing up to team practice in socks portraying police officers as pigs was disgraceful and stupid. His public comments about there being no difference between then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton showed appalling ignorance. His admission that he didn’t even bother to vote in the 2016 election reveals the downright stupidity of a social influencer and bad example for others to follow.

(4) I, and many others inclined to support Kaepernick, chalked up those dumb comments in 2016 to simple immaturity, and perhaps not understanding the gravity of his actions. Over time, we expected the activist to understand his cause has become much bigger than any individual. Given Kaepernick had three years to learn more, develop better understanding, and explain himself, we thought he’d mature and perhaps even admit he was wrong in the way he handled the scrutiny.

(5) Kaepernick’s opportunity to show his skills and demonstrate he was still in football shape was a unique chance not given to any previous player. He should have agreed essentially to do whatever it took to sign with a team and contribute. Prospective teams were reportedly not looking so much at Kaepernick’s arm or legs of physicality but wanted to see if he really wanted to play. Unfortunately, he answered these questions before the workout by getting into a pointless legal spat about liabilities and waivers, demanding that cameras be allowed onto the field when NFL rules forbid such media attention, and then moved the location at the last minute. Nothing was gained by this idiotic last-minute dispute.

(6) Showing up in a t-shirt with the letters “KUNTA KINTE” on the front of his shirt was football suicide. Anyone, including supporters, who thought Kaepernick would be focused on his game and wouldn’t be a distraction was shown to be foolish. This ridiculous optic of self-comparison to the slave from “Roots,” was mind-bogglingly stupid.

(7) Lest there remain any doubt about Kaepernick’s confusion and mixed intentions over the weekend, he also made a huge deal out of a new line of shoes being released by Nike. This was nothing but a media sideshow intended to cash a paycheck. No one should care what Kaepernick, the prospective NFL player, is wearing or promoting. But he made an embarrassing spectacle of himself in pimping his shoes. This wasn’t the first time Kaepernick has created a sideshow that detracted from his message.

(8) Kaepernick is finished as an NFL quarterback. He will never take another snap. Prior to this weekend, that was the NFL’s fault, in an obvious case of collective bias and collusion. Now, Kaepernick’s fate is his own doing. It’s his own fault, likely shared by some idiotic agents and personal advisors.

My main takeaway from this mess is that we can and should separate the message from the messenger. Indeed, the justice system in this country is biased. Protests are justified. Kneeling for the National Anthem is an act of patriotism. Speaking out for one’s personal beliefs is very American. Kaepernick is not only worth defending *on* the football field. He should be hailed as a hero and a role model.

But “off” the field, Kaepernick has fumbled at the worst possible moment. He turned over any advantage to his haters and detractors with a series of preposterous blunders. He lost the undecided and made a mockery out of those who were adamant in supporting him publically.

Surely, a decade from now, perhaps sooner, there will be an ESPN “30 for 30” when Kaepernick will be celebrated and remembered as a brave person of principle. In some respects, that praise shall be deserved. However, in the meantime, all Kaepernick has done is stupidly waste two opportunities — his chance to play in the NFL again, and our chance to evolve into a nation with a better understanding of social activism and the things worth defending.

Mr. Kaepernick — you’ve got your shoe company money. You got your media attention. Now, please — go away. I don’t want to hear from you again.

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