‘Lesser of Evils’ vs. ‘Bernie or Bust’

I’ve always liked to think that I have somewhat of a scientific mindset when it comes to politics, that I care deeply about the facts and am very willing to change my mind when wrong on the facts, and happily so. Unfortunately, being hinged to hard facts and information often makes politics so frustrating, especially when one sees distortion and manipulation of facts being presented as an alternate, optional viewpoint.

As an example, I remember being frustrated as hell with the mainstream media’s faux neutrality during the Todd Akin controversy. If you don’t remember, Akin is a congressman who famously said that pregnancy from ‘legitimate rape’ is impossible (insinuating, I guess, that if you got pregnant from rape, you liked it or were asking for it?) Despite being completely wrong on something that even people in ancient empires were aware of, articles refused to acknowledge this; in an apparent attempt to not offend people who might agree with Akin, one could read the entire article and simply be presented two legitimate, optional viewpoints- that woman can get pregnant from rape, or they have a defensive matrix that prevents pregnancy.

Climate change vs. deniers, the value of trickle down economics, weapons of mass destruction, Sharia Law in America, effectiveness of torture, or effectiveness of government surveillance- the list goes on and on. Once in a while in politics, however, there does come along two legitimate viewpoints, based completely on one’s personal set of ethics and guidelines. Issues that we would- in an ideal system- be front and center in American political discourse, issues that people can debate and discuss that are grounded in the same set of facts.

One such example is Sander’s position on gun manufacturer lawsuits vs. Clinton’s. On that very specific topic- whether or not gun manufacturers should be able to be sued for the deaths their products caused- I actually lean more towards the side of Clinton. I believe that lawsuits may be applicable, given that they make a product purposely designed for ending life as efficiently and effectively as possible, while also very likely supporting the NRA’s lobbying efforts to suppress or eliminate gun laws- similar to how I believe people should have been able to sue cigarette companies for making a deadly product while lobbying a public misinformation campaign. Though I hold and maintain this position, I completely respect Sanders’ position- that they should not be held legally accountable for a product our country allows them to legally produce, and acknowledge the legal grey area.

(Some caveats- A, While I tend to lean towards her side in this issue, I don’t necessarily believe Clinton is completely genuine. I believe she simply uses it to attack Sanders in one position she believes he is weak, taking advantage of how bad it looks to come out against suing families of slain victims. And B, Sanders’ position, that assault rifles should be banned, is ultimately the more progressive one. I would rather the companies that make assault rifles not exist to be sued in the first place.)

This leads me to a heated topic of controversy and debate that has been popping up lately. Since Sanders’ loss in New York, while a great many (including myself) have not given up hope, the prospect of a Clinton presidency seems that much more likely. This harsh blowback to Sanders supporters comes parallel to news that it is mathematically impossible for any Republican candidate to defeat Trump- leading many supporters to discuss and debate what their course of action will be given a Clinton/Trump general election.

As their name suggests, “Bernie or Bust”ers have one goal in mind- electing Bernie Sanders- and have no incentive to vote for a different candidate. Whether the allegiance is to the person or his ideals in general, they swear to either withhold their vote entirely or write him in as their candidate come general election- even if it means a Republican president. Reasons range from the short term- that Sanders is the only candidate that would reasonably represent their ideals, and thus, by basic democratic principles, he alone is worthy of their votes- to the long term reasons, theorycrafting about the direction of a the country. Right or wrong, some believe that a Trump’s over-the-top presidency would reinvigorate liberals to continue to fight harder than ever. On the other side, a Clinton presidency would only further cement the Democratic power establishment, disarm Democratic opposition to her more conservative goals, and allow the DNC to take further action to prevent another Bernie Sanders.

Adversely, the “Lesser of Two Evils” crowd. For clarity, in this post I am specifically referencing Sanders supporters, not those with a generally cynical view of politics. These are people who will hold their nose and vote for Clinton if the situation arises, and will do whatever they can to prevent a Trump (or other Republican) presidency. Though they may even acknowledge that Clinton runs antithetical to their core beliefs, they see the risks that a Republican president may enact a policy (or edict, in Trump’s case) that would cause harm to themselves or others, and their ability to prevent this supersedes their own personal preferences. Further, just as the Supreme Court is in the process of swinging Democratic for the first time in a long while, one health complication or retirement of a Justice would swing it back into Republican domination for an entire generation. Given the current political climate, I would guess there would be no ambivalence in their next pick, like they saw when the court ruled in favor of gay marriage and Obamacare.

I believe both these positions to be legitimate, respectable ones. I personally lean more towards “Bernie or Bust” but cannot refute or disrespect anyone who makes the decision to support Clinton- that they’d give up what matters to them and opt to maintain a stable, lukewarm centrist system of government than allow it to delve into an unpredictable mess. That said, the amount of respect from the other ‘side’ has been a mixed bag. I have seen some random spots of “Bernie or Bust”ers being somewhat conspiratorial, insinuating the notion of voting for Clinton means they were never really with Sanders- but these are random commenters, no one in a role I know and respect. I have, on the other hand, seen several people with a large voice or audience on the “Lesser of Evils” side, being downright condescending- insinuating that Bernie-or-Busters are unreasonable, selfish; they have a moral responsibility to prevent a Republican presidency. To withhold one’s vote or to write-in makes one by default responsible for a Trump presidency and whatever that entails.

Let me attempt to refute that claim. One personal political belief I’ve never wavered from is the idea that when one votes for someone, they take responsibility for all that nominee does. I voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and I am partially responsible for every civilian killed by a US drone strike. I am partially responsible for the push for TPP. I am partially responsible for the impunity of the bankers who crashed the economy. When I voted for him, I took partial ownership of that presidency. Given that Clinton has insinuated that Obama’s foreign policy wasn’t hawkish enough, given that she voted for the Iraq war and pushed for intervention Syria, one can assume she will only exacerbate the neo-conservative line that Obama has towed. If not voting for Clinton makes me responsible for Trump, is not the inverse true as well? Are we prepared to take responsibility for all potential foreign conflicts or corporatist policies Clinton will enact?

My second point is this- my first presidential vote was for Barack Obama in 2008. I had only the barest knowledge of politics, so I believed the vague media stigma that he was a someone different- that he would stop the Iraq war and return power to the lower and middle class. Though I did not follow his first campaign closely, I did start to become more politically active and informed- and thus, more frustrated and dissatisfied with his presidency. Though he faced genuine and absurd- not to mention strategically coordinated- obstruction from Republicans, it was more of what he did on his own that irked me- blessing corporate immunity out of fear of economic ‘collateral consequences’, maintaining golden-parachute contracts for bailed out banker executives while ripping up union contracts for bailed out auto workers, showing only the slightest, if any, support for liberal causes, such as protests and union strikes. Disingenuously claiming that his new policy of drone strikes and bombings were not technically a continuation of war. Unapologetically clamping down on government whistleblowers more vigorously than any other president in history. When 2012 finally rolled around, I was downright angry. Though the climate was not as heated as Clinton vs. Sanders, I boisterously debated with podcasts and blogs who said that we should support Obama to prevent a Romney presidency. I won’t name names, but I was irked by the claim that we were cynical rebels, purists- that for every time Obama mentions raising the minimum wage, anti-Obama liberals countered with ‘yeah, but, drone strikes!’, as if we weren’t satisfied with Obama simply because we didn’t WANT to be. (Where is that minimum wage increase, by the way?)
I admit, I lost my nerve, and voted Obama in 2012, again- all to prevent a Romney presidency.

It was no surprise, then, that a few days ago I saw a new post from the same podcast host from back then, saying that they are saddened by Sander’s drawbacks and supported him initially, that it’s the time for unity- we now have a responsibility to support Clinton and prevent a Republican. We must play the cards we are given. So, I thought they called me the cynical one, but don’t they ever get sick of being on repeat? Think about it- starting in 2008, I was fooled into thinking Obama was a game-changing liberal, the shock to the system we desperately needed. In 2012 I voted for him knowing full well he was not someone who represented my ideals. If I vote for Clinton in 2016 (and most likely in 2020 when she runs for reelection) I will have been voting for the ‘lesser of two evils’ for 16 years- about half my life- and will have NEVER ONCE voted for a president that I could truly count on to support my positions. At what point does this become unacceptable? And if this is how I feel, how can you expect any younger, more informed first-time Sanders voter to not become instantly jaded with the system?

I have also heard the argument from some that they will vote for Clinton- but fight her presidency from day one. That voting is not the same as supporting. I said this back in 2008 and still believe it now- I am not rich, I cannot be the type of political donor that an establishment, SuperPAC Democrat would listen to. My ONLY political capital is my vote. If I were a Clinton or any other corporatist, big money Democrat and I heard someone saying they will be extremely dissatisfied with my presidency, that they do not believe they I represent them- but they ultimately promise me their vote, how could I think anything but “stay the course?” They gave me what all that they could give me for four years of leadership, and all I needed to be was politically left of Genghis Khan.

You can’t vote for someone with an asterisk attached. They either believe they have your support, or they believe they would need to earn it. There is no in-between.

Thousands Prepare To March On The DNC


Grassroots movements are circulating on social media and their goal promises to be a memorable one. Thousands of United States citizens are preparing to descend on Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention to assure that their voices at heard, and that voice is saying one thing… Bernie.

This energy and enthusiasm is exactly what has carried the Democratic presidential candidate this far, and his internet following has locked arms in light of recent events. A pro Clinton super pac is reported to have shelled out a million dollars to help solve the former Secretary of State’s social media problem and “forcefully correct” what they deem as negative commentary.

Support for Bernie Sanders is far from waning. Donations continue to pour in as enthusiasts dig in their heels and go door to door in preparation for a fight until the end. The hashtag #ItIsntOverTilCalifornia has been circulating as Sanders surged 6 points in the battleground state.

Given that a contested DNC is a near assurance Sanders supporters are hedging their bets. Some are vowing to drive from one side of the continent to the other in support of the Vermont Senator. The movement is highly organized and sports drivesharing  and a “BernieBnB” for those wayfarers on a budget.


Lodgings –   www.BernieBnB.com

Transportation    http://bit.ly/1SDYz2k





Clinton Delegate Overseeing New York Primary Audit


Voting irregularities in the New York primary have resulted in several officials launching their own investigations. Now on the surface this seems like a speedy reaction to the outcry of the people, however, the issue gets muddier once you’ve looked a bit deeper.

New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, the man who ordered the audit of the controversial primary, is on record as a Clinton delegate in the 10th Congressional District. In an election peppered with voter suppression claims and 126,000 democratic voters being purged from the voting rolls it would be prudent for officials to put someone less biased in charge of the investigation.

It seems that there is already a huge conflict of interests at play here. An investigation spearheaded by a delegate of one of the democratic presidential candidates does not appear to be the best way to handle this. Stringer is quoted to have said, “Our audits are above politics. If we find issues that would call on me to recuse myself, I will.”

It is more than possible that Mr. Stringer could run the investigation in an unbiased fashion. He could give the disenfranchised voters a quick and speedy resolution, but given the climate in New York there will always be a large swathe of the democratic voters that will question the results.


Clinton Condescension Reaches New Heights


The Clinton campaign following New York has one message for Sanders supporters: Just give up! It’s over.

Now this amuses me… It comes from a campaign who’s candidate is under investigation by the FBI, and the possibility of an indictment has loomed over the entire election cycle. It comes from a candidate who has borrowed talking points from its opponent. It comes with there still being 1,400 delegates left in the democratic party process and Sanders only trailing by 227 in the race to the nomination.

If the Clinton campaign is for party unification as it has claimed for so long then why be so condescending towards Sanders supporters? Why try to score a kick to the side of the campaign just when you perceive them to be down? Well… It’s simple really. I’ll sum it up in one word. California.

Without her “home” state advantage Clinton has rarely broken out so far ahead of the Vermont Senator after her southern firewall. In fact the Sanders campaign has pulled ahead of the former Secretary of State in several contests and beat her by rather large margins. This is exactly what the Clinton Campaign hopes to avoid coming into California.

The progressive state already has a following of die hard Sanders supporters who have protested her fundraising with actor George Clooney. He helped raise amounts of money even he admitted on Meet the Press was “obscene.’ Berners in the state have already started a drive to switch voter’s parties from independents to unaffiliated so they can vote in the mixed-primary. A battle in California could be the David and Goliath moment that Hillary Clinton would rather simply avoid. Her campaigns tactics have been nothing less than patronizing and more than a little condescending towards a voting block she hopes to absorb.

What’s worse is Sanders supporters know it. On social media the recoil from her New York victory speech elicited a near instant recoil and doubling down support for Bernie Sanders. A large swathe of the voting block is already swearing to follow the Vermont senator if he were to go for an independent run, and with a large cross section of the democratic party already voting for him this could spell trouble for the Clinton campaign.

The former Secretary of State does very well in closed primaries, but markedly less so in states were independents can vote for Bernie Sanders. Should the Senator make a go of a third party run in November it’s fair to say the Clinton campaign would be pressed to raise funds to fight a battle on two fronts. They never planned for a battle for the nomination to last this long. After all, according to them this has been over since February.



Three Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

The State brought allegations against three Michigan men in relation to the high levels of lead  and other contaminates found in the water in Flint, Michigan. Michael Prysby and Steven Busch were charged with violating the Safe Water Drinking Act, misconduct, and tampering with evidence while Mike Glasgow was charged with willful neglect and tampering with evidence.

This comes after Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette began an investigation into the circumstances leading up to the crisis following a state of emergency being declared. Flint residents were exposed to Legionnaires’ disease, E. coli bacteria, and  most devastatingly lead poisoning when officials switched the towns water supply from the City of Detroit  to a nearby river.

A slew of conditions have been reported in the population of Flint, including but not limited to: miscarriages, behavioral changes, marked drops in intelligence, rash, hair loss and death.

Filters have been distributed in the homes affected, but the people largely lack confidence in them. There have been conflicting reports of there effectiveness. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder pledged to drink water from Flint in an attempt to instill trust in the local government’s handling of the issues plaguing the area.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver remains unconvinced and had this to say, If the governor really wanted to know what it’s like to deal with the situation that we’re in he needs to come and stay here for thirty days and live with us and see what it’s like to use bottled or filtered water when you want to cook and when you want to brush your teeth…”

While holding someone finally accountable is a step in the right direction residents of the Michigan town continue to struggle with their day to day routines. They have also expressed worry that when the 2016 election cycle ends and the spotlight on Flint fades so to will the help.

Verity Now – Feel The Bird! $13

Remember a moment in the the Sanders rally when a little birdie stopped to say hello and brought down the house? All proceeds will go to the Sanders campaign.


Clinton Win in New York Sparks Controversy

Voting irregularities are casting a large cloud over Hillary Clinton’s apparent win in New York.  Clinton surrogate and Mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio has pressed for an inquiry with New York City Board of Elections as reports come in of 126,000 Brooklyn Democrats being removed from the voting rolls.

Social Media exploded as the news circulated and many Sanders supporters were quick to point out that the largest concentration of affected voters were in Brooklyn. It was not lost on them that this was Senator Bernie Sanders childhood home.

Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan had this to say, “Brooklyn was a little behind with their list maintenance tasks.Because there are other things going on at the same time. For example, when we are doing an election, which we did in November we’re not doing list maintenance tasks.”

Those effected by the lapse in maintenance do not appear to be buying it. The overall sentiment seems to be reflecting frustration and voter disenfranchisement as the term “The Brooklyn Purge” is bandied about.

At Brooklyn Borough Hall the site coordinator claimed that about 10% of the voters that showed up at the location were affected by the voting roll purge. Reports came in of entire blocks and buildings being removed from the system

Nick Benson, a New York Attorney General spokesman, tweeted out this as calls rang in to the voter complaint hotline.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has come out promising an audit. He had this to say, “The people of New York City have lost confidence that the Board of Elections can effectively administer elections and we intend to find out why the Board of Elections is so consistently disorganized, chaotic, and inefficient.”

Suffice to say even as Hillary Clinton has come out and given her victory speech and Sanders his concession, the dust kicked up in New York is far from settled.



Fact Checkers: ‘You are correct, and a liar.’

Sites like Politifact have a rough time. On the one hand, they do an ‘okay’ job at calling out lies and misstatements, remaining fairly objective by just taking each viral or boisterous claim as they come, without picking and choosing. And yet, they walk a thin wire. When George Macy University sourced their website in a study to compare the honesty of political parties, Politifact spokespeople objected. So desperate are they to be seen as non-partisan that it’s spokesmen cringe and sidestep at the conclusion their own site has come to. Republicans lie more. A lot more.

It is this riding of the line between neutral and objective that has lead many on the left to criticize the website, believing it to pursue and cheerfully report on any perceived lie the left might tell. This is, of course, not to say that Democrats or liberals are immune from being wrong or flat-out lying, but some liberals such as Rachel Maddow have had their beefs with the site, claiming they do mental gymnastics and logical stretches on some statements to hold Democrats and the left to a higher standard than Republicans, so that the lying “score” between the two parties does not look so lopsided.

I personally stopped giving Politifact my website hits following their 2011 decision. Paul Ryan had just released his budget proposal for the Republican side, including, among other things, completely dismantling Medicare as a social program, instead providing vouchers for the elderly to pick and buy their own private insurance. (Government subsidized private insurance, by the way, is something they would later forget they liked, when railing against the Affordable Care Act.) Democrats responded with ads, correctly pointing out that Republicans were voting to dismantle Medicare. Politifact, in a stretch of logic, said that this was a lie- that because the  completely new, non socialized program of private insurance was still technically called Medicare, claiming that it would be destroyed is a lie- and not only is it a lie, they declared it 2011’s Lie of the Year, the BIGGEST lie.

This decision would lead to a lot of frustration, Polifact even publishing it’s own hatemail with mocking emails such as “at least I know when the Democrats criticize our votes to dismantle social security and replace it with private investments, you will have our back- the GOP.”

These logical stretches segway into the recent two noteworthy fact checks, and seem more geared towards bias towards the Democratic establishment against liberal activists.

Our first is not from Politifact, by from the Washington Post’s fact checking segment. A Greenpeace activist’s confrontation with Hillary Clinton recently garnered quite a bit of attention, as Clinton was unapologetically outraged by the ‘debunked’ notion that her campaign has taken millions from oil and gas. In it’s fact-checking, the Washingon Post admitted that, yes, Greenpeace has correctly tracked over 1.5 million dollars bundled by lobbyists as a direct contribution, and another 3.25 million given to her Super PAC.

Washington Post then concluded that Greenpeace, (and by extension, Bernie Sanders’s campaign, who Clinton mis-attributed the accusation to, but has made similar insinuations) lied. “Three Pinocchios”, in the article’s liar scale.
What? Well, the Washington Post stretches in every way possible to come up with justifications. Claiming that she has no technical connection to her super PAC, for one- an eye-rolling notion as absurd as the richest American companies using offshore accounts to claim they never made a profit. But that only explains the 3.25 million. The other 1.5 million, directly attributed to her campaign, they claim, also does not count because lobbyists registered with oil and gas, may also work as more generalized lobbyists registered to other industries. And lastly, that the money in it’s entirety makes up a small portion of her entire campaign coffers- something completely unrelated to Greenpeace’s claim.

While these caveats may, of course, be added during the piece, the claims of Greenpeace were undeniably factually correct- and to claim that it was misleading enough to garner “3/4 Pinocchios” discredits the the Washington Posts entirely. (If the famous 16 anti-Sanders articles hadn’t already.)

Our second example more directly involves Bernie Sanders, and also returns to Poltifact. The Politifact claim in question: “Bernie Sanders says Wall Street Tax would pay for his free tuition plan.”

Politifact correctly outlines Sanders’ proposed “College for All” act, in which a tax on Wall Street would be used to pay for 2/3rds the total cost of a student’s cost of higher education, estimated by some sources to ultimately cost around 75 billion dollars, and that States would be required to cover the remaining cost.

They then go on to explain that, according to the Tax Policy Center, Sanders’ proposed tax would raise between 50 and 60 billion dollars, thus putting him very close or higher to being able to cover 2/3rds cost.

To summarize, Sander’s proposition is either perfectly accurate or over-preforms in how much he could raise to cover tuition for all. Politifact’s ruling? Mostly False.
Again, what? Almost lazily, Polifact barely tries to justify the ruling- giving the excuse that some Republican states, in acts of ideological rebellion, could either refuse government financial assistance, or to pay the remaining costs. Because some states may refuse to participate in his program on obstructionist grounds, they essentially said he was mostly lying. Absurd when you consider this vague assertion could be applied to any number of proposed policy positions that require some amount of state assistance.

Again- though I am against fact checkers taking it upon themselves to pivot several steps in logic or take any number of theoretical variables into account in order to declare a true statement false, I am of course NOT against caveats or “True, but..”. Take, for instance, Republican claims that our Navy is the smallest it has been since World War II- the implication being that A) Democrats have dismantled and weakened the military, and B) we are in dire need of more military funding. This statement, that our Navy is smaller in terms of number of vessels, is true- and also incredibly misleading. Technological capability makes a single ship, jet, or tank worth hundreds if not thousands of antiquated ones.

Rarely is anything true or false in it’s entirety- especially in the convoluted world of politics,  but taking steps upon oneself- with or without an biased agenda- to give the impression that true statements are false makes me want to give the fact checkers “Pinocchios.”

Democracy Awakens in U.S. Capitol

The movements Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring have been busy this past week in our country’s capitol. A historic 1,400 people have been arrested between the two groups as they stood their ground and raised their voices against what ails our Union.

The groups have protested peacefully and are being jailed to bring their, and a vast majority of the country’s, goals into focus. Some of the two movements demands are as follows:

Democracy Spring


Restores the protections against voting discrimination and updates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The bill seeks to streamline the voting process and empower the citizens.

Overturns Citizens United and gets corporate money out of our politics.




Encourages small dollar contributions from everyday Americans by publicly matching the funds, but only available to candidates who refuse corporate money.


Democracy Awakening


Democracy Awakening is a large coalition of groups that are seeking to end the corrupting influence of big money in politics. The movement is well organized and has events nationwide. See their website for upcoming events near you.

Photo by Susan Melkisethian Washington DC, April 17, 2016

Clinton: 53% – Sanders 47% In New, New York Poll



Sanders continues to close the gap with the current Democratic front runner as his number surge following a strong debate performance. In the new Gravis poll Clinton’s lead has narrowed down to a mere 6 points, and one has to wonder if her Goldman Sachs speeches are finally taking their toll.

Democratic voters on both sides of the aisle are questioning the former Secretary’s reluctance to release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches.The prevailing thought among supporters of the Sanders campaign was echoed in the Brooklyn Democratic debate — Why not release them if there is nothing the voters need to see and put the topic to rest?

When pressed on the issue Clinton seems to launch into political double speak.  Both she and her surrogates claim that this is a new standard and she will only release them when all current presidential candidates, on both Republican and Democratic sides, release their paid speeches. This is a tactic that appears to have largely backfired on the former New York senator as the hashtag #ReleaseTheTranscripts has continued to trend on social media for the fourth day in a row.

One also has to wonder how helpful former President Bill Clinton has been to his wife’s campaign. Things seem to be harkening back to the 2008 election where some close to the campaign noted he may be more of a hindrance than a help on the campaign trail. The former President has seemed to have his own share of controversies in this election cycle.

Just recently he is quoted to have said that Sanders supporters wanted to “shoot every third person on Wall Street.” There is also the more infamous altercation with Black Lives Matter protesters where Mr. Clinton seemed to defend his wife’s use of the term superpredators and lectured them on their movement. It was a move that did not settle well with many African American activists.

With all of this followed up by a weak Thursday night debate performance the Sanders surge comes as no surprise to some political analysts. The Clinton campaign seems to be marred with a series of missteps that should have been easily avoided by the seasoned political couple.

The New York Primary is April, 19 2016 and seems to be poised as one for the history books.