Media-splaining Democrats and Socialism

I’m going to say this bluntly. The only person standing between a confirmed socialist who is calling for political revolution in this country winning the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, which has always been more moderate than that, is you.

– Chris Matthews interviewing (or mediaspaining to?) Hillary Clinton

There is so much to unpack in this sentence alone, not to mention the entire interview.

Let’s talk about 3 words that Chris uses to instill the view with fear.

a) Socialism:  When Bernie talks about socialism he is talking about a political system such as Denmark which insures workers are not exploited. For example, in Denmark, McDonald’s employees that get $20/hr.  Bernie is decidedly not speaking about Communism where adjectives such as “confirmed” might be necessary.  It’s simple and Democrat FDR would have understood this.

b) Revolution:  When Bernie talks about revolution, he isn’t speaking about journalists getting murdered in the streets, he is talking about a political revolution, one where money is not speech, corporations are not people, and the news is not infotainment.  It’s simple and Democrat FDR would have understood this.  Political revolutions are common in Democratic governing history and they include the SSA, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and the Civil Rights Act.  Bernie’s revolution is to continue to walk back the destructive Reagan Revolution – something we are only beginning to do.

c) Moderation:   There was nothing moderate about the reforms Democrat FDR passed that continue to help us avoid the natural down cycles of a free market system.

We still depend on the modern-state and worker-protection reforms such as Social Security, FDIC, et. that he and the Democrats were able to pass while the “economic royalists” did (and are still doing) everything they could to prevent and then repeal these.  Btw, the first Republican president after these reforms, President Eisenhower, also understood the importance of a modern state and invested in infrastructure like our highway system while maintaining a 90% top marginal tax rate.  Today, arguing for returning to these top marginal tax rates or protecting SSA programs or even Medicare is seen as immoderate or even unconstitutional.  This doesn’t mean it is, it just means the conversation has moved so far to the right that protecting and expanding common goals such as universal health care or paying for the maintenance of our common infrastructure now seems extreme.

So if you can make it through that first sentence of mediasplaining in the Matthews/Clinton interview you should.  You’ll learn a lot about the common-sense of the media middle right now and what is at stake. (Don’t forget this is the media that gets slammed as being too liberal.)

Thankfully Hillary didn’t take the bait as much as she could.  I think she comports herself well and I understand sentiments of hers like (paraphrasing) “rolling up one’s sleeves and compromising”.  Here is one example of Hillary pushing back.  Chris Matthews said this.

Can the Bernie people be taught—not him, he can’t be taught—can the kids behind him be told that this is how it works in our system?

Darn kids, we in the media gotta learn ’em good.  Secretary Clinton replied, in part, with this important concept.

People have to believe they have a stake in it, that their voices count, but then they gotta see results from their investment in our democracy. Our democracy has to work better. Our politics have to work better.

Yes, Secretary Clinton thank you, and I would add this.   Even more than just believe, our politics have to work better in having people actually have a stake in the results.

My question to both Secretary Clinton and for Mr. Matthews who mentioned a NDC mentality (November Doesn’t Count) from the sixties, what becomes of the middle when the right is made of up exaggeration, false narratives with the left as the “enemy”, and  outright lies and deception.  Isn’t the moving of the center rightward through obstruction and fabrication part of the game they play?

What can we on the left then do to prevent that strategy alone from moving the governing center when in the end the right does not even care if there is governing?

I would like to hear some mediaspaining on that topic please. Thank you.

Continue reading “Media-splaining Democrats and Socialism”

Don’t Miss this Democratic Debate

This was a great debate between two candidates, either one of whom will be a great President.  Despite all odds given the exigencies of commercial media and a public that has learned to desire infotainment, they discuss the ideas we are all fighting to return to a better America.  An FDR America with a once strong middle class which changed and continues to change the world we live in.

Please don’t miss it.  I hope to watch it again and next time take notes.

The above is part one of seven.  Click on the upper right corner just before each video ends to move along.

Don’t listen to what the media headlines say (or miss).  Make your own mind up.  Both candidates did well and were asked important and substantial questions by Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd of MSNBC.

Continue reading “Don’t Miss this Democratic Debate”

Changing the Debate on Universal Health Care

The debate is beginning again, yet sadly it is still firmly set within the frames established and maintained  by Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, American Enterprise Institute, et. al. and not those by Harry Truman or FDR.

Here is (another) NYT columnist favorite of mine on Senator Sander’s health care plan.

On that, frankly, I’m skeptical. I’m for Medicare for All, but it won’t happen. And if it did, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group, found that Sanders’s sums come up short by $3 trillion over a decade.

Nicholas Kristof

And here is the report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) that argues the shortfall of Senator Sander’s plan will be $3 trillion over 10 years.  Both the CRFB report and and a recent post by my favorite blogger Kevin Drum reference this report by Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University which chimes in with an estimated shortfall of $14 trillion over 10 years.

OK, this surely sounds impossible, even though we are a can-do county that happens also to be the world’s richest.  How is it then when you map those countries with universal health care the map looks like this?  American exceptionalism indeed!

A Map of the Countries That Provide Universal Health Care.  Source:  Atlantic.

Link for above map.

And, please let’s not forget this graphic when we are singularly focused on the inability of the U.S., still the richest nation in the world, to insure all it’s people.


No, it can’t be said that in health care coverage, it’s cost and it’s mediocre outcomes averaged over a population that the U.S. is NOT exceptional.

Universal health care can (and will) work. I am under no illusions that electing Bernie means it will happen during his tenure, after all, there are two other branches of government.  That doesn’t mean we don’t fight to elect someone who understands clearly the direction we need to head and can articulate why.


Nicholas Kristof:  2 Questions for Bernie Sanders:

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones:  Yet Another Look at BernieCare (2/3/16)

Analysis of the Sanders Single-Payer Offsets – Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

An Analysis of Senator Sanders Single Payer Plan –  Kenneth E Thorpe, Ph.D.
Emory University



I Heart Iowa

I don’t think I’ll ever view the Iowa caucuses the same way again.  The view I had, and this is still true-ish, is that Iowa does what it can to be contrarian, contrarian with an evangelical flourish on the right side of the aisle.

But there is more to the Iowa caucuses and the people who partake in them.  People can make a difference in Iowa.  If those of us in states that count it’s people by the 10’s of millions have lost the fundamental nature of democracy;  those in Iowa, at least in late winter every 4th year understand that leaders can be selected by the people instead of by business or polling agencies or political pundits.

And yesterday, Iowa kicked off the people’s choice for President with the following results:

  1.  A big blank-you to the invisible primary and the faux-fear over the word “socialist” or more appropriately democratic socialist.  The results between Hillary and Bernie will be less than 0.5%.  This when Hillary had an overwhelming command of the invisible primary.
  2. Iowa put Trump and his media-enablers in their place.  Despite the best predictions (or was it aspirations?) of pollsters Trump came in the middle of the pack of 3 GOP contenders.
  3. Despite the odds and the shouting from the far right, Iowa brought forward Senator Rubio who will now likely be the GOP nominee.  I think he will be a formidable opponent to the Democratic nominee and although he still will represent the far-right political ideology of our current conservative culture he is no Trump and he is no Cruz.  Given, Iowa did give the most delegates to Cruz, but that’s Iowa being it’s contrarian/evangelical self.
  4. Two out of three top GOP winners are Hispanic and the Democratic winner is a woman.  Identity does matter, especially as we began this nation in writing for white male property owners.  The law has changed over the years, but  it’s still refreshing nice to see this change for reals, even if those caucuses will inevitably be largely white.
  5. Thank you for helping the also-rans end (or begin to end) their self-aggrandizing runs for President.
  6. Apparently Senator Cruz did not pander on ethanol, yet the conservative voters put him at the top.  Huzzah!
  7. Record-setting caucus participation.  Way to go Iowa, see you again in 2024.

Bernie’s One Hope

Is us and it begins in Iowa today.

The results of the Endorsement Primary or invisible primary are in and from the NYT to every single declared elected Democrat from Senators Claire McCaskill to Sherrod Brown (minus Representatives Keith Ellison and Raúl Grijalva).

But if we vote, the leaders will follow.  This is appropriate b/c the changes we need will need to start with us.

The below can change.  If it will, it begins today.  Common Democrats of Iowa!  Bernie, and the rest of us, are depending on you.  We can do this.

Invisible Primary

HCDCC to AFSCME: Thank You for the 35 Large

One of the things I like to do in my spare time is review Cal-Online for the latest news on the Humboldt County Democrats.  [Read:  In no way was I tipped off to this as I entered this report myself as the (apparently dyslexic) HCDCC Treasurer.]  While perusing the HCDCC campaign finance inter-tubes I noticed this…


For those not familiar, that is in one check about what the HCDCC makes in revenues over the year by putting on two fundraising events.  Previously, we had received $25,000 from “Political Action for Classified Employees of California School Employees Small Contributor Committee”.  The latter was done a day before the 24 hr reporting period that begins 90 days before any state-wide election.

That makes a total of $60,200.  If past is prologue, after the 2016 election frenzy is over we can expect about 7% of that, (plus whatever else we manage to collect) to remain in our coffers.

I’ve written about this ad infinitum before.  All I’m asking HCDCC members to consider is to return or donate to local causes the entire amount we don’t independently chose to spend in one or two California legislative races this November.  Just don’t use the money for our own political interests or to pay the rent.  Please.  It is a nightmare to try to explain our own benefiting from this money as we are the party that needs to be fighting against the corrosive influence of money in politics.

I understand the other argument and have made it before.  There does have to be some way to employer money because dollar-for-dollar the system is rigged against workers and unions.  What I am saying is this is the wrong way to do it because it might be doing more harm than good.  Because this does cost us a great deal.  It costs us credibility.

I’m working on gathering statistics on our past results.  Here they are so far.

Table One:  HCDCC Donations Since 2008

09/25/14 CHAVEZ FOR SENATE 2014 STATE SENATOR 14 SUPPORT $120,000.00
10/15/10 RON, KUHNEL OTHER SUPPORT $332.27
10/16/10 RON, KUHNEL OTHER SUPPORT $414.69
10/27/10 NEELY, BONNIE OTHER SUPPORT $5,000.00
09/18/14 FAIR WAGE FOLKS SUPPORT $200.00
11/01/14   Public Safety/Essential Services Measure Z SUPPORT $500.00
11/01/14   Genetic Contamination Prevention Ordinance P SUPPORT $500.00
11/01/14   Fair Wage Act R SUPPORT $300.00

Table Two:  HCDCC Funded Election Results

            DEM REP
10/28/08 STATE SENATOR 19 $105,000.00 207,119 207,976 49.9%    
10/08/10 STATE SENATOR 12 $25,000.00 86,963 92,270 48.5%    
10/21/10 STATE ASSEMBLY 15 $15,000.00 104,441 91,378 53.3%    
10/21/10 STATE ASSEMBLY 10 $15,000.00 83,177 68,395 54.9%    
10/08/12 STATE SENATOR 5 $165,000.00 143,425 139,502 50.7%    
10/10/12 STATE SENATOR 31 $60,000.00 133,882 108,320 55.3%    
09/19/14 STATE SENATOR 34 $60,000.00 69,220 95,792 41.9% 39.0% 34.8%
09/25/14 STATE SENATOR 14 $120,000.00 46,035 54,251 45.9% 48.8% 29.6%

The ones in red are the races we lost, the ones in blue the ones we won.  So far it’s been a wash and no one will every argue that a $100,000 the HCDCC helped direct to a candidate won the election for them.

In the mean time, please consider what has happened to Democratic priorities in Humboldt County.  They have collapsed.  Outside of Arcata (forever) and Eureka (in 2014) we have seen Democratic values, including the most fundamental of all – the right to vote ones conscience, all but disappear.

I am not saying these are correlated by cause and effect.  What I am saying is that we at the HCDCC have to re-prioritize what it is we do and why.  I do think that this is a perfect example of the HCDCC focusing on that which is easy such as acting as a highly paid conduit for a preferred candidate in Southern California.  What we have failed miserably in doing is finding and then electing candidates that vote for Democratic values.

Continue reading “HCDCC to AFSCME: Thank You for the 35 Large”

Public Staff and democratic Elections

Yesterday’s Times Standard had a short, but very important letter yesterday from Chip Sharpe of Bayside, that shouldn’t be missed.


Planners and schemers abound in Humboldt County

I have no confidence that Humboldt County’s present Planning Commission has the well-being of our county at heart. And only a little more faith in our current Board of Supervisors to do the right thing.

I am grateful for our professional and dedicated county staff. It’s a bit ironic that we the people are dependent upon career civil servants to protect us from supposedly democratically elected or appointed boards and commissions.

 – Chip Sharpe


Thank you Chip for paying attention and taking the time and effort to write the letter. Here is the Times-Standard brief coverage of the event from the 1/21 print edition.

The commissioners — including Morris, Lee Ulansey, Kevin McKenny and Alan Bongio — stated that staff misrepresented the commission’s recommendations on the ordinance when it came back to the board for final review in December. The commission had made several recommended changes to the ordinance after a marathon 10 meetings in November and early December.

Professional public staff is likely to feel pressure as politics change over time.  Eureka City Councilmember Linda Atkins argued vehemently that staff had been ignoring her request to add a houseless crises resolution to the agenda, and then had to take the initiative herself to amend the milquetoast resolution that City staff had produced.

But these are not equivalent, at least in my potentially partisan eyes.  I do want to spend more time reviewing the recent Planning Commission meetings before I comment further, and I’d welcome any comments from those who have ideas or feelings on the subject.

I do want to address what Mr. Sharpe calls the “supposedly democratically elected” boards and commissions.  I’m not sure what exactly Mr. Sharpe has in mind, but this is what I understand to be eroding our local democratic elections.

a) an increasingly shrinking electorate that favors those with the most to gain or lose personally rather than more esoteric and long term public goals.

b) a crumbling business model for local public interest reporting or media. (Serious Question:  Has one existed in Humboldt?)

c) disingenuous politics that takes shape in two concrete forms election after election locally.

  i) right of center politics cannot win elections in Humboldt so candidates must either not wear a political label or, worse yet, must chose one that will help their political ambitions.

  ii)  property-rights activists who have donned the mantel of populism based on tenuous overlap in environmental concerns (i.e. Peter Childs’ righteous Alternative Owner Builder activism which has opened the gates to potentially catastrophic negative cumulative environmental effects), or populism based on tenuous overlap in objectives, with those struggling to stay either financially afloat or in the middle class.  (i.e. cash-poor land owners or renters who need extra income from their property)

The ultimate example to me of the undemocratic process has been the ongoing GPU process, which can be condensed down to the political fight over the Guiding Principles.  Supervisors Rex Bohn and Estelle Fennell were elected almost 4 years ago with a strong contingent lead by Peter Childs, and supported by organizations like the League of Women Voters for increased public participation in the GPU process.

To anyone paying attention, this should have been known to be baloney at the time. (League of Women Voters I’m looking at you)  Worse yet, after elected, those professing to be interested in public participation, in effect, canceled the work of previously elected Supervisors and their staff by re-writing the standard operating procedures for county planning commission staff (Supervisor Lovelace’s apt description of the Guiding Principles), with little or no changes to their privately-written version over sustained and vehement public criticism.

And worst of all?  There is no media coverage of these contradictions, nor even a potential for a democratic solution, as there will likely not be a viable candidate to run against either Supervisor Bohn or Fennell.

And we will lack these competitive contests, not because there aren’t important policy differences, but because of a political system where very few, very powerful, local players with vested interests to either protect capital, or continue income from this capital, have the capability to run candidates at every turn – “public interests” right now do not.

So yes, I agree with Chip generally, if not on the specifics: More and more our Supervisor’s elections are democratic in name only.

Thank you Humboldt County Planning staff for the work you do.  We DO appreciate the work you do and our children and their children depend on it.

Continue reading “Public Staff and democratic Elections”

John Fullerton Announces for the 4th Ward

John Chiv is keeping us up-to-date on the latest and early announcements for the 4th Ward in Eureka.  John Fullerton is in and Melinda Ciarabellini is considering another run.

To review (and some of this I just learned too), Eureka will be voting for two of it’s five Councilmembers in November.  There is no primary, only a general election.  Linda Atkins will no longer be eligible to run as she has termed out and Melinda Ciarabellini will be eligible to run for Councilmember a second time.  Melinda was appointed as the 2nd Ward Councilmember as then Councilmember Frank Jäger moved to Major when then Major Bass ran for and beat 4th District Supervisor Bonnie Neely in June 2010.

So here is a conundrum for lefties like me.  There is very little chance a left-of-center candidate would be able to win a race outright between John Fullerton and an incumbent like Melinda Ciarabellini unless they have similar name recognition.  Without a primary that person with the most votes wins.

This is a problem, and it has nothing to do with the candidates themselves but with the undemocratic system which lacks a primary that currently exists in Eureka City elections.  One former Republican running against a very conservative Democratic candidate that views the houseless thought the prism of trespassers should not mean those left-of-center cannot have a voice in November without the people first deciding.

But that is where we stand, at least at this early stage.  My bet is that without a candidate from the left Melinda will not chose to run again.  I’m not sure there is much difference between her and John Fullerton, at least not enough to change Melinda’s mind about retiring after 1 and a half terms.  We’ll see.

To those who care about things like smart growth, preserving and expanding our historic heritage and working-class values and understand that the houseless deserve representation too my suggestion is this.  Find someone to run.  It can’t hurt and if Melinda does not run John Fullerton is vulnerable as a candidate as we found out in November 2013 when Lisa Ollivier defeated John in a rare race for Eureka City School Board.

Coastal Commissions Lester’s Public Hearing 2/10

The Coastal Commission has been critical to helping to protect Humboldt’s coastlines natural heritage.  We should be paying close attention then when developers begin a power play to gut the Coastal Commission’s mandate and fill it’s ranks with those who wish to develop the coast “reasonably”.

Let’s be clear, those that stand to lose will inevitably be all of us as we inevitably lose more of our unique natural coastal heritage.  Those that stand to win are those that can pay for a forced-dismissal and continual pressure on this Commission.

This has been in the offing for a while and it brought to mind a warning that the Commission was losing it’s ability to perform it’s mission to protect California’s coastlines that former Commissioner Steve Blank gave as he resigned in 2013.

A year before that the Commission (and the public) had lost Peter Douglas someone who had been with the organization for 34 years.

What is happening now?  As the T-S headlined last Thursday, there is a power-play lead by the commissions chairman Steve Kinsey to fire Executive Director Charles Lester.  Kinsey exercised his right to a public hearing and this will take place on Feb 10th.

From the T-S article, “Susan Jordan of the California Coastal Protection Network said Lester’s ouster would leave the agency in turmoil and intimidate its staff.”  Ah, it always seems to come down to that doesn’t it?  Development interests have learned that they not only have to head up these public boards, but then they have to be able to intimidate staff to unlearn their fancy planning, engineering and administration educational backgrounds and listen instead to the people.  And by “people” we of course mean those people who have enough wealth and influence to populate the boards that have been so much trouble to them.


TS Headline on Coastal Commission
From the 1/21/16 Times Standard, click link below for the article.

Staff turmoil shakes powerful California coastal agency (Times Standard, 1/21/16)

How dark forces are chipping away at our beloved California coast (LA Times, 1/23/16)

Blank resigns with warning for commission (Half Moon Bay Review, 1/18/2013)

Peter M. Douglas dies at 69; California Coastal Commission chief (LA Times, 4/4/2012)

For good measure, what “progressive” (in the sense that he knows politically how to progress forward, unlike  us Goerblels lovin’, smart-growth-in-name-only-promotin’, Saul Alinsky readin’ B.A.N.A.N.A.s) and Coastal Commission scold Matthew Owen has recently written on the Coast Commission.  It is development-progressives like Matthew and those whose land values will skyrocket who will be the winners if we lose people like Commissioner Lester. .

MATTHEW IN THE MIDDLE: BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) (Lostcoast Outpost 4/28/15)

TS Letter from Tireless Houseless Advocate Nezzie Wade

What would Humboldt and Eureka look like without Nezzie Wade?  *shivers*

Dear editor, Eureka, and Humboldt County residents

At Tuesday’s Eureka City Council meeting, we took a big step forward on homeless housing solutions in Eureka: A shelter crisis was declared. A resolution submitted by Linda Atkins at the Jan. 5 City Council meeting was gutted and a new draft was introduced by the city attorney. It was thoroughly discussed and amended into the Eureka resolution to declare a shelter crisis. Based on Councilwoman Atkins’ appropriate amendments, supported by Councilwomen Arroyo and Bergel, the resolution passed. Watch it on Public Access, it will show you how the hard work of AHHA, advocacy groups and individuals proved to be key in a Shelter Crisis Declaration as a pathway to safe, legal places for Eureka’s houseless to be. AHHA is grateful to our City Council and encouraged by their courage and integrity.

AHHA encourages attending the meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Eureka City Council, and Focus Strategies on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in the Supervisors’ Chambers. Focus Strategies will present their homeless housing inventory results and a Housing First implementation plan. Attending will assure that “housing first” includes immediate housing solutions (sanctuary camps, tiny house villages, safe parking programs) while people wait for permanent housing. Eureka won’t consider options unless they are integrated with the Focus Strategies Implementation Plan.

AHHA Safe Parking and Sanctuary Camping Proposals will be discussed at the AHHA General Assembly on Saturday Feb. 6 at Jefferson School, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Join us and share your input.

Nezzie Wade, president, Board of Directors, Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, Inc. (AHHA)

Thank you Nezzie for all your hard work in our community to include AHHA.  Thank you TS (buy a paper or subscribe online).

I hope many of you can make it Saturday Feb 6th.  (one more letter to the editor below the fold)

Continue reading “TS Letter from Tireless Houseless Advocate Nezzie Wade”