Articles

Essays and opinion pieces from our hosts and listeners involving American politics touching on current events, politics, history, and the like.

Why Not Indict James Comey?

Every day on Facebook I see several posts claiming that FBI Director James Comey said Hillary Clinton had lied about her emails, and several posts counter-arguing that Comey proved Hillary didn’t lie. It all proves to me one very unimpeachable fact: James Comey did a crappy job of clearing things up.

In his July 5th press conference, reading from a prepared script, Comey mixed up his explanation of what material was marked classified, what wasn’t, and whether it was indeed classified at the time or not. He further expressed his opinion that Clinton exhibited “extreme carelessness,” a subjective opinion not bound in law and therefore beyond the scope of his official responsibilities. The FBI director is not supposed to give opinions or pass judgments beyond what is legal and what is not. His job was to find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, not to evaluate Mrs. Clinton’s performance as Secretary of State.

Then, in his July 7th testimony before congress, Comey backtracked on most of the so-called facts he had laid out a few days earlier. He acknowledged that only three out of 30,000 emails were indeed suspected of containing any material that was classified at the time, that those emails had no formal headers to show them being classified, just a small (c) marking in the body of the text, and that it was therefore a “reasonable inference” for Clinton to think they weren’t classified. He also changed his characterization from “extreme carelessness” to “great carelessness” (a distinction lost on me) and gave plenty of other testimony to either exonerate Clinton or dilute his earlier, stinging rebuke from behind his FBI lectern. Read More

The Politics of Presidential Impressions

As you know, I often pontificate about politics without any professional experience, inside expertise, or anyone listening. So today I thought I’d change things up a bit by writing about a subject I actually do know something about: political comedy. Or, as it’s known in the industry, political comedy.

In my distant past, I’ve written for dozens of TV series and major bombs, including election year stints at Saturday Night Live and Fridays, a truly unmemorable sketch comedy show that ran from 1980 to who cares. So my professional bona fides clearly qualify me to make stuff up on this topic.

Starting with SNL in 1976 AD, it’s been an American tradition for sketch comedy shows to mock and humiliate presidential candidates, much to the chagrin of everyone involved but Donald Trump. And what I’ve noticed is that you can predict a lot from the impression the actors do. For instance, I can predict with fair accuracy that these debate sketches will happen every four years, except February. And that Morning Joe will show clips without either host understanding them. Read More

Dispelling the Trump Invincibility Myth

An urban myth of legendary proportions has built up around Donald Trump. The fable is that Trump defies all rules of politics and polling, so that no matter what deficiencies or giant screw ups he shows on the campaign trail, he will somehow turnout out masses of previously unidentified voters to defeat mere mortal politicians and install him in the Oval Office with ease.

I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

Sure, Trump surprised us all by vanquishing his 16 more experienced primary opponents. (Well, 15 more experience. I still don’t know what the heck Ben Carson was doing there.)

But he didn’t do it with black magic or voodoo. While all the pundits may have dismissed his chances, Trump was leading in almost every GOP primary poll since July 2015. So it wasn’t a Houdini trick that Trump won the primaries; it was our refusal to believe what was right in front of our own eyes. Read More

A Jobs Program That Costs Us Nothing

by Kevin Kelton

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to merge two opposing problems into one solution. I think Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump could score a major policy victory by addressing jobs and untaxed offshore profits at the same time.

American companies are currently holding 2.4 trillion dollars in accumulated profits offshore to avoid what they consider onerous U.S. corporate tax rates. That’s almost $800 billion in owed taxes that we may never ever see.

To get that money back into the U.S. economy, politicians are proposing temporary preferential tax rates – called a transition tax – that they’d like to apply to those profits to coerce them back to the United States. President Obama has proposed a transition tax rate of 14%, but corporate lobbyists and their bagmen in congress are balking that it’s too high. Some want it at ten percent, some want it at six or less – rates so low that they would be seen as a giant giveaway to corporate greed. Some even propose a “tax holiday” by setting the rate at zero.

That’s not a “holiday.” That’s a full and absolute pardon.

At the same time, American companies are not hiring at as brisk a pace as we need to grow GDP and spark wage growth.

So how about we merge the two problems into one solution? What if we made creating American jobs a patriotic and profitable thing to do? Read More

Bill Maher May Have Just Won It For Trump

I like Bill Maher’s politics, but he may have just put Donald Trump in the White House. On his “Real Time” show this week, Maher noted that Bernie Sanders seems to defy normal age limitations and that “You can run again in four years” – sending that defiant message out to his predominantly liberal 4.4 million viewers, most of whom probably supported Sanders over Clinton.

Way to go, Bill! After several weeks of castigating Bernie Bros. for threatening to throw away their votes on Jill Stein or just not vote, which he knows could cost Clinton the election, he’s now given Bernie fanatics a perfect excuse to not support Hillary.

Their logic? “Sure, voting for Stein or Johnson might elect Trump. But so what if he fills a SCOTUS seat or two? In four years Bernie can run again, whup Trump’s ass, and all will be right with the universe.”

If only a tenth of Maher’s audience gloms onto that idea, that’s almost half a million lost votes right there. And I guarantee you that that message will spread on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit millions of times. That ahead of an election where just a few thousand lost votes could change the outcomes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Colorado, and/or Iowa.

So if Jill Stein ends up exceeding expectations this year, costing Hillary the election, you have Bill Maher to thank for it. I’m sure Donald Trump is already thanking him.

Kevin Kelton is co-host of “The More Perfect Union” podcast and founder of the Facebook political discussion group, OPEN FIRE. Come join us for the best political debate in town.

The Problem Isn’t Our Candidates

by Kevin Kelton

I keep hearing the same forlorn complaint: “Why do we have such bad candidates this year? Why must we choose between the lesser of two evils?” But the truth is, our 2016 presidential candidates are not any worse than ever before.

Donald Trump, for all his personal peccadillos, is no worse on policy than Mitt Romney, who also promised anti-choice judges and a repeal of Obamacare, wanted to press immigrants to self-deport, and proposed tax cuts just as massive and just as onerous as Trump’s. And they are both just as recklessly hawkish and just as wealth-gap enabling as John McCain or George W. Bush. Take out Trump’s antipathy for trade deals (one of his few plusses), and you could line up all their policy positions in a spreadsheet and not be able to tell who belongs to which column.

Hillary Clinton, for all the GOP-inspired caricature myths about her trustworthiness and cozy relationship with Wall St., is very much in line politically and temperamentally with previous nominees Barack Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, and Michael Dukakis. Read More

Kelly Thomas Police Beating Video

This is the video that is mentioned in our episode 44 podcast (“Politics, Policing, Pride, and Prejudice”) that shows the violent police arrest of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, Los Angeles that led to his death.

Bill and Loretta: too much interest, not enough conflict

by Kevin Kelton

On our weekly political podcast, “A More Perfect Union,” I got into a spirited exchange with my co-hosts about whether Bill Clinton’s private tarmac meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch created a potential conflict of interest. I argued that it didn’t. They thought I was crazy.

They were wrong; I am right. Read More

Couples Counseling for a Hill-Man and a Berner Babe

by Kevin Kelton

Romantic couples sometimes need the help of an objective outsider to break bad interpersonal habits and patch up hard feelings, and Facebook friends are no different. As a Facebook group moderator and Psych minor (and former dorm R.A.), I’m often called on to mediate conflicts among couples who are struggling politically. Here is one Private Message counseling session I had recently with a Bernie Smathers supporter and a Hillary Clayton voter. (NOTE: Names have been changed for privacy.)

Moderator: Good morning. You two seem unusually distant today. What gives?

Kathy: Him! Or more accurately, he doesn’t give. He is the least giving person I know. Ever since his Queen Hillary was crowned the nominee by the corporate media, he’s been gloating all over our news feeds.

Rick: I’m not gloating. I’m celebrating. My candidate won, and I’m happy. Why can’t you just accept that and be happy for me? Read More

Is Blue Lives Matter Racist?

downloadEvery year my father made a donation to the Fraternal Order of Police and he proudly put that new sticker on his truck when it arrived. The expressed mission of Blue Lives Matter is valuable and essential. Police, military, secret service, and every other law enforcement organization should be fully integrated into the community they serve, along with all other emergency responders, and that means prioritizing medical and financial support. 

ab6bac177697c1aed47fc9c693ae4833Unfortunately, the very name Blue Lives Matter is designed to be racially antagonistic. It allows the organizers to harvest the Us vs Them environment simmering in our country. The subtext is: “you stand with Blue or you stand with Black, but not with both.” This allows the Blue Lives Matter supporters to behave like Queen Elizabeth: voicing any disagreement is tantamount to treason.

“With us or against us,” according to our Founding Fathers, is un-American and cowardly and exactly where we find ourselves.

confederate-lives-matter-rebel-flag-mens-t-shirt-49Just like the Confederate flag, Blue Lives Matter does not have a single meaning. For many of us, including my family and friends who are members of law enforcement and first responders, Blue Lives Matter resonates with a strong message of support, just like the Confederate flag conveys a positive message of culture and belonging in certain demographic categories.

 

bil-policeOutside of those target demographics, people still have the same big picture goals to integrate and care for all first responders, but different groups respond differently to symbols and subtext. There are good hearted southerners who still have no idea why people are making a big deal about the Confederate flag. There are good hearted law enforcement officers who see criticism against Blue Lives Matter as an attack against law enforcement. And there are good hearted members of Black Lives Matter who think that any criticism of specific members is the same as an attack on all black people.

download (3)Maybe now I understand why people lost their shit over Beyonce’s new album. Either she completely supports my worldview, or she doesn’t. Under no scenario do we both matter.

By the way, as a suburban white guy, it’s weird to be writing about Black Lives Matter, right? Like, it isn’t my place. Like, I can be on your side and all, but maybe I should leave the talking about it up to, I don’t know, black people? Do I need to mention that I have black friends and listen to hip hop to be allowed to weigh in? And if I do publicly state that America does not exist in a state of post-racial harmony and equality, does that mean I hate cops? That I want to bring the whole thing down in a fantastic conflagration from which we never recover?

No. Don’t be a dick.

download (4)I’d like to point you towards an organization called C.O.P.S. It’s true, their name is kind of corny, but they do good work. Quiet work. Hard work. The work that needs doing. And, near as I can tell, they don’t have a race-based agenda.

 

 

Jonah Knight is a co-host of the More Perfect Union podcast. He is an independent currently living in Maryland.

Bernie Sanders’ Name May Be On The Ballot This Fall…Whether He Wants It There Or Not

Bernie Sanders may be about to run as a third party candidate in the general election, whether he knows it or not. And whether he wants to or not. Sounds ludicrous? Hear me out…

Like anyone who plays with fire, Sanders is about to get burned by his own revolution. Sanders has lost control of his unruly movement, and the Bernie or Bust crowd will not go gladly into that good night – even after Clinton’s inevitable nomination, when Bernie will no doubt urge his millennial minions to get on board with her.

“Okay,” you say, “but no one can force Sanders to run in the fall. Right?” Wrong.

Yes, they can get him to run. Or at least, they can run his name.  Read More

Busting a Hole in the ‘Bernie or Busters’

Okay, time to bust a hole in the Bernie or Bust movement. No, their noisy Facebook threats notwithstanding, they will not throw the general election to Donald Trump. Because, once again, their inability to do math disproves their theory of the race. Here’s how…

The B or B theory is that enough BernieBots who either stay home or vote third party will deny Hillary Clinton the votes she’ll need to win. But that’s extremely unlikely. The numbers prove it.

Read More