Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Monday, April 30, 2018
Sunday, April 29, 2018
By all measures, California is one of the most liberal states in the country. It was a state that Hillary Clinton won 62-32. (The 3-million vote advantage in the state was the same as Clinton’s national popular-vote victory margin.) Democrats hold every statewide elected position, plus supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature. This complete governmental dominance (and ballot initiatives) has delivered a steady stream of progressive legislation -- environmental protections, sanctuary state status, $15 minimum wage, legalized pot, increased gun restrictions -- while maintaining the state’s status as one of the world’s economic powerhouses. Indeed, if California were a country, it would be the sixth-largest economy in the world. Thus, the GOP fantasy that liberal governance is bad for business is, well, bunk. And as a minority-majority state, it’s showing that America’s demographic future is a strength, not something to be feared by the shrinking white majority.
Shepherding that progressive renaissance in the state legislature? Senate Majority Leader Kevin de León, who we are now endorsing in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate against incumbent Dianne Feinstein... Feinstein may have been a breath of fresh air when first elected in 1992... an era when California still elected ideologically odious Republican governors like Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson... Unfortunately, Feinstein has failed to evolve with her state, making her a relic of a bygone era. She should’ve retired to accolades; instead, she’s trying to hang on to a state she no longer reflects. California is the vanguard of the Resistance. Yet Feinstein continues to act as though her state is Indiana, or Nebraska....
According to FiveThirtyEight, Feinstein is the second most Trump-friendly Democrat when factoring the ideology of her state. In fact, she votes with Trump twice as much as her fellow California Democrat Kamala Harris... That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since she’s been urging that people be “patient” with Trump, since he could still turn out to be a “great president.” Note that California [--] liberal capital of America! [--] is still represented in the Senate by someone who voted to deregulate the banks in 1999 (leading to the financial crisis nearly a decade later). She voted for George W. Bush’s tax cuts, one of just 12 Democrats to do so (which benefited her greatly, with a net worth in the hundreds of millions). She voted for the Iraq War, co-sponsored the extension of the Patriot Act, is a big proponent of FISA secret courts, and wants the government to have access to your encrypted cell phone data. She sponsored a Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning. [S]he has opposed single-payer healthcare, saying, “If single-payer healthcare is going to mean complete takeover by the government of all healthcare, I’m not there yet.” De León supports it, and Kamala Harris has actually co-sponsored Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-All bill. Weirdly, for someone who has had a strong record of gun control throughout her career, Feinstein recently said that no law could’ve stopped the Las Vegas gunman, feeding into the NRA’s narrative. Obviously, that’s utter bunk, as it would’ve been much harder to kill 58 people if the gunman didn’t have easy access to assault rifles, guns, and ammunition...
Support Kevin de León for Senate, and if you’re in California (and lots of you are!), please consider volunteering for his campaign. It’s an uphill climb, but if there’s anything we’ve learned this cycle, it’s that the impossible keeps happening over and over again.
And one last benefit to this primary challenge, even more so than her releasing the Fusion GPS documents (an uncharacteristically aggressive move by her, spurred no doubt by the primary challenge): California has a b.s. “jungle primary” system, in which all candidates run together in one ballot, irrespective of party affiliation. The top two advance to the general in the fall. Currently, it’s entirely possible that the governor’s race will feature two Democrats in the fall. A strong showing by de León would mean two Democrats in the Senate general election in November. That would mean ZERO Republicans anywhere near the top of the ballot. Why does this matter, since no Republican stands a chance in either of those two races in the fall? Because California Democrats could win up to 10 Republican-held House seats this year. Without any top-of-the-ballot representation, Republicans would have even less reason to turn out and vote, while Republican candidates in those competitive districts would have to shoulder their entire GOTV on their own, without any up-ballot support. (Meanwhile, FOUR Democrats would be doing GOTV to get out their own votes.)
This primary isn’t just important for ideological reasons, to fight for a party that better represents its base and is in line with the Resistance. It’s important for practical reasons as well! The stronger de León runs, the stronger the chance of that all-Democratic top-of-the-ballot lineup making the GOP’s grip on the U.S. House that much more tenuous.
So contribute today to Kevin de León! Where California goes, the country will eventually follow. And it’s looking pretty awesome in California these days, in huge part thanks to Kevin de León.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Friday, April 27, 2018
Thursday, April 26, 2018
New Quinnipiac poll:— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 26, 2018
Trump should not fire Mueller: 74-13
Mueller is conducting a fair investigation: 54-31
Believe Comey over Trump: 54-35
Trust media over Trump: 53-37
Media is important part of democracy: 66-22
Yep, Americans want checks on Trump: https://t.co/pE4yKwFpoN
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Monday, April 23, 2018
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Today marks the anniversary of my swearing-in for the 105th Congress. Thank you to my incredible East Bay constituents – the most progressive & enlightened district in the country – for your support all these years. It’s an honor to serve you and fight for our shared values. pic.twitter.com/NiKGT4GydZ— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) April 21, 2018
Friday, April 20, 2018
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Paul Ryan thinks working and middle class Americans should work until we die.— SocialSecurityWorks (@SSWorks) April 17, 2018
Meanwhile, he's retiring at 48 with a government funded pension of nearly $85,000 a year: https://t.co/8bY0GpvcOQ pic.twitter.com/DLfGeDBAYs
A lying, incompetent, cruel, cowardly, hypocritical, fraudulent, utter embarrassment, just get the fuck off the public stage...
Monday, April 16, 2018
Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It's also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his first 100 days in office... Over half, 56 percent, disapprove of Trump.... Overall, Trump has gained ground in approval among several demographic groups that were important in his 2016 campaign. For one, 59 percent of Americans living in rural areas now approve of his job performance, up 17 points from January and a smaller seven points from last November. Among white rural Americans specifically, his approval is even higher: 65 percent approve, up from 50 percent in January. Trump garners above-water approval among whites, 53 percent of whom approve of the president, up seven points from January. He does even better among whites without college degrees (60 percent, up seven points) and white men without college degrees (70 percent, up six points). Almost three-quarters of conservatives approve of the president in the latest poll, 74 percent, up nine points from January. Trump continues to face overwhelming disapproval from an array of other groups, including 79 percent of racial and ethnic minorities, 67 percent of adults under age 30, and 64 percent of women. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats and more than 8 in 10 liberals also disapprove of Trump.
OneHostility to taxes is commonplace among anarchists, as well as for right-wing "conservatives" whose advocacy of "smaller" or "more limited" government might as well be anarchism, since always only advocating ever smaller, ever more limited government without ever indicating what good government actually should be and alone can accomplish is substantially equivalent to blanket anti-governmentality in principle. Exploitation of discontent over taxes is also commonplace among neoliberal/neoconservative right-wing politicians and thinkers who want to ensure taxes subsidize primarily the fortunes of incumbent elites through extractive-industrial-financial corporate-militarism backed by complacent consumerism and organized violence. I for one do not want to smash states, but to democratize them. And an understanding and championing of taxes should be no less indispensable to the work of democratization as its obfuscation and demonization is indispensable to the work of anti-democratization.
TwoTaxes are not really the price we pay for a civilized society -- in Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s, influential phrase -- for civilization is priceless. This is just to say that commonwealth is not a private commodity but a public good. Taxes are not, for example, fees for discrete services that might be provided otherwise, nor are taxes a price for which there might be discount alternatives. Perhaps the true spirit of Holmes' phrase is captured best in a negative formulation: anti-tax zealots would appear to believe that civilization is the only free lunch.
ThreeCertainly taxes are not theft, as anarchists of the right and the left are so pleased to declare, since taxation is a precondition for the constitution and ongoing intelligibility of the claim to ownership on which notions of theft depend in the first place.
FourNeither should taxes be mischaracterized as forced contributions to what might instead be charitable causes, since the basic rights secured through taxation cannot be regarded as matters of charity else they are not truly rights but mere favors bestowed by privileged elites.
FiveTaxes are not, however annoying they may seem, burdens on our freedom so much as essential enablers of freedom. Taxes, government bonds, and public fees support the public investments maintaining the legal, infrastructural, and administrative material conditions alone within which political freedom can abide.
SixTaxes ameliorate undemocratic concentrations of wealth and authority to secure sufficient equity among citizens of diverse fortune. The equity valued by democracy ensures that the diversity also valued by democracy does not disable the demanding and costly democratic processes facilitating collective responsibility, expression, criticism, problem-solving and the interminable reconciliation of the aspirations of all the people with whom we share and contest the present world.
SevenTaxes pay for the maintenance of institutions providing nonviolent alternatives for the adjudication of disputes. Taxes pay to secure basic needs to ensure that the scene of consent to everyday association is reliably informed and is non-duressed by the threat of deprivation, inequity, or insecurity. And taxes pay for the accountable administration of commons and public goods without which they are inevitably violated and exploited for short-term profit-taking by minorities to the cost and risk of majorities. Far from representing quintessential state violence, taxes are the enabling condition of a democratic state facilitating nonviolence.
EightTaxes coupled to representation itself ("No Taxation Without Representation") tie the maintenance of government as such -- an organization invested with legitimate recourse to force with all the clear dangers inhering in that state of affairs -- inextricably to public accountability and democratic legitimacy.
NineTaxing more those who profit more by their personal recourse to the shared inheritance of human knowledge and culture, to the shared substance of precarious environmental resources on which we all depend for our survival and flourishing, and to the ongoing benefits of collaboratively maintained infrastructure, institutions, norms, trust, legitimacy, and security is not unfair in the least. Progressive taxation follows quite simply from a recognition of the indisputable fact of our radical inter-dependence as both productive and vulnerable beings in the world. This same recognition, of course, is also the foundation for fairness.
TenWhenever a right wing politician declares all government wasteful, criminal, or corrupt you should pay close attention, because he is revealing his intentions. Wherever government is meant to be of by and for the people, to be anti-government always means to be against the great majority of the people.
Friday, April 13, 2018
President Trump’s favorable rating, already low by historical standards, has dropped to 38% — while his unfavorable rating is at 59%.Does it mean anything? Who knows? Most of the bedwetting bully bigot idiot deplorables still love him; gerrymandering, disenfranchisement, and the electoral college still empower them; consumer complacency and purity cabaret (not to mention underinterrogated racism and greed) still undermine the solidarity of the more "decent" majority; fear and fecklessness competes with the comparatively clearminded and righteous Democrats on whom so much depends, and I suspect only mass demonstrations will finally claw us back from the Weimar analogy we have been so haplessly re-enacting since W. stole a Presidency, McCain picked Palin as a viable Vice-President, and popular vote loser Trump got installed against the wishes of every sane and decent citizen. The Republican Party remains the most dangerous organized force on Earth and the climate change endgame is nigh anyway. Cherish life, hold your loved ones close, do your best, resist the bigots and the bullies, and maybe we'll pull through in time to build a diverse, equitable, consensual, sustainable democracy on the knife's edge. Young people and artists and activists still instill me with whatever measure of hope I manage in this disgusting and stupid epoch.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
"Pink is the truth you can't hide, maybe/Pink like the folds of your brain, crazy/Pink as we all go insane," feels very true to the moment. Visually marvelous, lyrically outstanding, musically more 90s Janet than 80s Prince this time around, a sweet sweet sweet spot.
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Thursday, April 05, 2018
[T]he left is doing the most harm to itself by willingly participating in an effort to depress turnout by picking fights with people who are broadly on their own side. As the Russian effort to interfere in our elections is re- and deconstructed more and more each day, we’re learning how they feverishly worked to prevent reconciliation between Clinton and Sanders’ supporters. They took some of the more heated ideological battles on the left, like the Black Lives Matters movement, and weaponized them to pull socially conservative Democrats out of the coalition. They sought to depress black turnout, to prevent socialists from holding their nose and voting for more of the same, and looked to exploit leftist critiques of capitalism and American foreign policy to promote apathy and third-party voting.
These are weaknesses and fissures on the left that are to some degree always with us, but the best time to wage ideological battles is when you’re already in power and trying to decide what to do with it. When you’re out of power, these wars are a luxury the left cannot afford. That doesn’t mean that people can or should stop fighting for what they believe in, but they need to be self-aware about how their actions can be self-defeating and a great aid to the opposition...
Probably the easiest way to look at this is as a matter of using your energy and resources efficiently and avoiding doing the work of your adversaries for them. Why pick fights with people on your side of the broader fight to take back control of Congress from the Republicans? Is it the best use of your time to sling insults at Bernie Sanders supporters you encounter on social media, knowing that you’ll need them to turn out to vote? Or, if you are a Bernie Sanders supporter, do you really need to continue to bash Hillary Clinton and her supporters? What good does it do?
Likewise, if you’re trying to get a Democrat elected in a conservative district or state, why waste time and energy complaining that someone somewhere said something that’s going to be useful for the other side? If you’re an ideologically purist liberal, do you really need to police every Democratic candidate in the country for evidence of apostasy?
The other side (and the Russians) will once again spend much of their effort this year trying to get Democrats to pick fights with each other in an effort to hurt turnout. Why would you willingly do their work for free?
... The solution isn’t to hopelessly attempt to control what other people say. Look to yourself, first. You have control over what you do, so that’s where your focus should begin. Are you being helpful or are you creating a disincentive for someone to work with you on your common goals? Are you getting someone to vote or basically making yourself an uncompensated cog in the Republicans’ apathy campaign?
The left will always fight with itself, but it must do it in an intelligent way. And that’s starts with each individual making sure to focus their energies where they will help rather than hurt.
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
Monday, April 02, 2018
Date(s) % Approve % Disapprove
03/25-31/2018 39% 55%
03/19-25/2018 39% 55%
03/12-18/2018 40% 56%
03/5-11/2018 39% 56%
02/26-03/4/2018 39% 55%
02/19-25/2018 39% 56%
02/12-18/2018 37% 59%
02/5-11/2018 40% 57%
01/29-02/4/2018 40% 57%
01/21-28/2018 38% 58%