Why the Democrats lost the White House

Obamacare !

Now with an election that was so insanely close …
We’re talking tens of thousands of votes in an election of 120 million votes, so less than 1/10 of 1%. In other words, if 40,000 of the right people had voted for Hillary rather than Trump, she would have been president.
… there could be any number of reasons why Trump ended up winning rather than Hillary. But, most of them have been named by the media and those are obviously fairly well known. I am talking about a problem that has been continuing to this day.

The media obviously had a huge impact in this, and really any election since the invention of the newspaper. And the media obviously is also the reason Trump got past the very first primary in the first place. The media gave Trump an estimated $1.8 Billion in free coverage. More than three times what any other candidate received. It could even be argued than Bernie would now be president had he received the same kind of coverage.

It seems completely off-topic in this discussion, but a lot of people are making fun of the guys who voted for Trump, welcome the repeal of Obamacare and dread losing the Affordable Care Act.

And here is where all that comes together. The media, on several issues, is adopting the GOP’s wording of things. On the left it’s likely because Obamacare is an object of pride, an object of accomplishment. On the right the name Obama obviously doesn’t receive the same kind of reaction, and Obamacare is used to degrade the law. In the center, though, where it probably matters the most “Obamacare” is just more catchy than “Affordable Care Act”. And that’s where my problem is today.

If the media, even if we exclude the right wing, had called the law by the right and proper name, considering the insanely close election, and considering that some people didn’t know that there’s no difference, could have probably made a difference.

The media as a whole never really got around to explaining that Obamacare and the ACA are the exact same thing. Most people just assumed that the voter is reasonably educated on the choices that they’re making. Historically that is not the case. The right explains what their intentions are, the left explains what the right’s intentions are, but neither of them actually explain the implications, beyond a few buzz-words and numbers anyway. Yes they said that millions of people would lose their insurance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those people are worse off. Which they are.

So even today you hear about the Obamacare repeal on all sides. And Obamacare is not a popular law. The ACA is hugely popular, though, and (just to make the point again) is Obamacare.

So please, if you’re covering the Obamacare repeal, or all the attempts on it that have been made, and are continuing to be made, call it the Affordable Care Act. It might make a difference. It might shift the public view in favor of keeping it. It might educate at least some voters on what the republicans are trying to do. And for the record, they’re trying to get rid of it mostly because of the name. The law, as it was passed, was over 90% similar to a plan proposed by republicans. The GOP wrote Obamacare. Now they want to replace it with their own plan.

Trump’s Travel Ban

and why it’s bullshit

I know I shouldn’t call it Trump’s travel ban, because it’s not a ban it’s obviously Bannon’s idea. And I do feel bad for people protesting Trump when he obviously doesn’t make many of the decisions.

As most of you know (sadly not many of the GOP supporters do) people can’t just decide to book a flight to the US and expect to be let into the country. There’s a visa waiver program, which itself was severely limited in the past years. So if you are a citizen of a small number of countries, and you let the US border patrol know at least 2 days in advance, you don’t need to apply for a visa to enter the US. Even then the border patrol can just decide to just send you back for any and no reason at all without letting you enter the country.

For the people in the countries affected by the ban, however, there is no visa waiver program.  To even get a visa they have to go through a visa application, they have to go to a consulate or embassy, they have to get their bio-metric data taken. To apply for a visa you have to always pay a visa application fee, which is non-refundable. To get any non-immigrant visa approved the applicant needs to provide sufficient proof that they will leave the country before the visa expires.

For student visas the process also includes having to pay tuition to the school that they’re going to attend. So the people that just had their visas revoked already had to make significant financial contributions which at least partly will not be returned. They already had to go through background checks and some scrutiny.

The green card holders that were initially included in the ban likely went through a process of more than a year. With some serious review of their applications.

In short: All of the people that were included in the ban came through a very rigorous process and were deemed to be safe to come to the US.

There was no risk coming from those people entering the US.

It was a ban born from hatred of Muslims, not from a desire to make America safer.

The Bathroom debate

I can honestly not believe we’re having this discussion in the 21st century.

So as you may have not been able to escape heard about the debate on which bathrooms people should use…. here’s the deal: Republican state legislators in quite a few states are passing bills that would restrict the bathrooms to people matching the gender on their birth certificates. Have we had an issue before that would have been solved by these laws ? of course not.

So why would we make these laws now ? Fairly obviously to discriminate against transsexuals. Here’s why: As noted in the previous paragraph the laws go by the birth certificate. So even if you have legally changed your gender and are considered a woman you’re forced into the men’s bathroom. Why would that make sense to anyone ? No one is taking their birth certificate anywhere, so the law is extremely hard to enforce. Unless you want to just arrest people on suspicion of not being the gender they claim to be. So then you would have to arrest about 25 people for every one case where you’ll find someone whose gender doesn’t match their birth certificate. Obviously there isn’t one look that all transgender people share.

So with all these laws that are obviously well thought through…. They’re forcing people who went through all the therapy and possibly surgery to change their gender into the wrong bathroom. They’re making people with a beard, with a very male physique, with a penis go into the women’s bathroom. They’re making people with boobs, long hair, wearing dresses, with a vagina use the men’s bathroom.

Does that make sense ?

Why do we have a problem with a person in a dress going to the women’s bathroom ?

How many people have put on a dress, gone into a women’s bathroom, and raped someone ? Raped a minor ? Please tell me, because I haven’t heard of a single case.

So with all these issues that we haven’t had, we’re creating a law with a sole purpose of discriminating against people.

Should we discriminate ? Should we judge people ?

Now I’m a guy, with a beard and short hair, I have a 6 year old daughter. Can I take her to the bathroom ? Clearly now I’m violating the law if I go to the women’s bathroom with her. Clearly she’s violating the law if she goes into the men’s room with me. What really is the accepted behavior here ?

Party line vote attack ads

or X has voted with Obama Y% of the time.

In a fairly interesting development there are now attack ads on candidates that solely focus on how much they voted with Obama. Interestingly enough though Obama used the same tactic when it was Obama vs McCain for president.

Why does that bother me ? It does not. The implications do bother me, though.

So we live in a world where most of the voting happens along party lines. That much is obvious to pretty much anyone. But now the republicans are implying that the gridlock that is now part of D.C. is the fault of the democrats that keep voting with Obama. Obviously this also rallies the republican base.

If the democrats now made attack ads about how much the republicans vote along party lines, or against any democratic bill, nothing the ad says would be news to anyone, and it wouldn’t get anyone to vote, or even change the way they would have been voting. We have actually come to a point where republicans can freely admit and advertise that they vote against any bill of the democrats and it won’t cost them a whole lot of votes. It might even actually get them some votes. But they can “attack” the democrats on doing the exact same thing. Hypocrisy now knows another level.

Now here is what actually bothers me about the whole thing: All the ads are focusing on is how much the democrats vote with the president. Nothing at all is said about what bills they voted on, if they approve or deny certain bills. The content of the bills they vote on is completely irrelevant. It could be a bill preventing people from clubbing baby seals and all the democrats vote for it… doesn’t matter, voted with the president.

Jobs bill, ending government shutdown, obamacare, you’d bet the democrats voted with Obama. Why is that ? All of them are insanely popular with broad support among any demographic (except for that last one in the conservative rich white demographic, maybe).

So now we have attack ads that attack the democrats for passing bills that enjoy the support of far over 60% of the voters and the worst thing is: it works.

The republicans shutdown the government over obamacare, vote to repeal obamacare over 40 times, when it’s such a huge step into the right direction that no one in the general public really questions anything about it anymore, except for the personal mandate. Discrimination against preexisting conditions, no one wants that. Preventive care is paid for, everyone wants that. Medicare expansion allowing less fortunate people to get emergency help, everyone wants that.

But none of that matters, because what individual bills you vote on doesn’t factor into the ads anymore. The simple fact that you vote with the president is enough to rally people to vote republican.

Please people, focus on the issues. This almost seems like a foreign concept these days, but look at what the candidates have voted on and how they have voted. Don’t focus on statistics.

Obamacare has such broad support and republicans still run on the platform of repeal obamacare.

Background checks for all gun sales has 90%+ support of the general public. And yet almost all republicans vote against that bill.

Republicans shut down the government over obamacare in a last ditch effort to stop it from taking effect. And somehow they get reelected. Please don’t let that happen. Don’t let them waste hundreds of millions of dollars on posturing and circumventing democracy.

Whichever way you decide to vote, make it about the issues and not the person. Vote for the person who is more likely to improve your situation or the situation of the nation as a whole. Don’t vote for someone who wants to give tax breaks to the top 10%. Don’t vote for someone who creates or extends tax loopholes or even subsidies for companies who make billions of dollars every year. Don’t vote for someone who wants to cut social security for the people who already are hit hardest by the recession. None of this helps you, or the country.

Why Rick Perry will never be President

Rick Perry recently said: ‘The United States is at “historic record highs” of individuals being apprehended on the border from countries with terrorist ties such as “Pakistan or Afghanistan or Syria.”‘

Now obviously there’s no basis for what he said at all, but Rick Perry isn’t the kind of guy that lets facts get in the way of the point he’s trying to make. And very obviously that appeals to a lot of the conservative republican voters.

The problem that the republicans have, though, is that only the conservative republicans appreciate that kind of thing. There are quite a few moderate republicans, there even are liberal republicans and those people, while they would vote for nearly all republican candidates probably don’t appreciate everything the republicans are doing right now.

There was a time when the republicans knew that they can’t just push an extremely right wing agenda on the general public, and they didn’t try. There was a time when the republicans appreciated the middle class and what they’re doing for the economy. There was a time when the republicans appreciated job creators, rather than calling rich people job creators without any basis for it at all. These days the republicans just have no problems that they’re working to solve. The republicans have a majority in the house and they have the opportunity to pass legislation that would help people. Yet they pass bill after bill eliminating obamacare. Obamacare now being something that most of the country actually wants.

So currently the issues for the republicans are whether or not Obama is at fault for Benghazi (he’s not), whether or not Obama is at fault for the IRS targeting conservative groups (he’s not), whether or not Obama is at fault for the humongous deficit (he’s not), etc. The issue is not (and hasn’t been in a long time) “What can we do to improve the lives of americans”. And that is the main issue for most people.

So the Republicans (are you listening ? this might be important in 2 years) are holding primaries and the most extreme candidate wins (like the one that beat the extremely conservative Cantor) while making 100% sure that they won’t win a general election. They are trying to lower the taxes for the top 1% while taking that money from the bottom 50% and justifying it with ‘we have the moral high ground’. They make immigration, abortion or ‘don’t take my guns’ a topic for elections so that they can then push their own agenda.

You won’t win a general election by being against abortion (majority supports it), lowering taxes for the extreme rich (majority opposes it), denying background checks on all gun purchases (majority wants that), or close down the border (that simply isn’t an issue that needs to be addressed, what to do with the people that do (want to) come to america is a real issue). But apparently it wins primaries so now the republicans put themselves into a corner that it’s hard to get back out of.

Vorratsdatenspeicherung

Auf Heise.de gibt es mittlerweile einige Artikel über die Vorratsdatenspeicherung. Ich kann auch jedem empfehlen täglich heise.de zu lesen oder @heise auf twitter zu folgen um die Headlines zu sehen. Auch könnte man @xyious folgen, da sieht man dann wenigstens wenn hier was passiert.

Hier hat Heise zum Beispiel kurz zusammengefasst wie es zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung überhaupt gekommen ist. Es war, wie es zu erwarten war, ein drängen der Amerikaner der dazu geführt hat, dass einige Politiker denken, dass die ganze Sache eine gute Idee ist. Und natürlich wird die Gefahr des Terrorismus in den Vordergrund gestellt. Fareed Zakaria hat schon sehr viel geschrieben, einer seiner besten Artikel ist aber die Überreaktion auf den 11. September. Vor allem ist die Gefahr des Terrorismus in den letzten Jahren deutlich geringer geworden, ganz ohne die Vorratsdatenspeicherung.

In einem ganz anderen Artikel geht heise.de auf die Abfrage von Kontodaten in relativ großem Umfang ein. Im letzten Absatz “Terrorismus als Türöffner” kritisiert der frühere Bundesbeauftragte für Datenschutz Peter Schaar die Ausweitung der Abfragen. Der Terrorismus wurde auch in diesem Fall dazu benutzt die Daten der Bürger den Strafverfolgern zu übergeben. Und sobald dann das Gesetz wegen der Terrorbekämpfung geschrieben wurde geht’s um Steuerhinterziehung und Leistungsmissbrauch. Da ist klar, dass das Vertrauen in die Politik langsam verloren geht.

Aber zurück zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung. Die europäische Richtlinie dazu wurde Anfang diesen Monats für ungültig erklärt, weil die Vorratsdatenspeicherung in erheblichem Maße in die Grundrechte des Menschen eingreift, ohne dass es spezielle Regelungen für die Verwendung der Daten gibt. Österreich hat die Daten zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung für das Jahr 2012 im Detail veröffentlicht. Aus 326 Anfragen gab es nur eine einzige wegen Terrorismus. Da muss man nicht mehr lange darüber nachdenken was der eigentliche Grund für die Vorratsdatenspeicherung ist. Die CDU/CSU wollen aber so schnell wie möglich ein neues Gesetz auf den Weg bringen um die Vorratsdatenspeicherung trotzdem umzusetzen.

Wenigstens gibt es dafür nicht einmal eine Mehrheit in der Regierungskoalition, von der Mehrheit im Parlament ganz zu schweigen.

Kommen wir aber endlich zum eigentlichen Punkt dieses Artikels. Eine Mehrheit für ein Gesetz dieser Art gibt es in der Bevölkerung schon lange nicht mehr, das war auch schon vor der NSA Affäre so. Jetzt hat sich noch einiges anderes geändert und hat bestimmt nicht dafür gesorgt, dass mehr Leute die Vorratsdatenspeicherung wollen. Der EuGH hat entschieden, dass die Richtlinie so nicht in Ordnung ist, und trotzdem will die CDU, dass das Gesetz umgesetzt wird. Wie passt das alles zusammen? Gar nicht. Ich persönlich habe Angst davor, dass die Daten für vergleichsweise unwichtige Delikte benutzt werden. In diesem Fall liegt es nahe die Daten gleich zu den Abmahnanwälten zu schicken, damit die nur noch einen Click machen müssen um eine Abmahnung wegen Copyright Verstößen zu schicken und den Bürgern Geld aus der Tasche zu ziehen.

Wo wir übrigens beim nächsten Gesetz wären, dass für irrsinnige Sachen missbraucht wird. Das Copyright Gesetz wurde gemacht um Gewerbsmäßige Raubkopierer zu belangen, Leute die damit Geld verdienen, viel Geld. Nicht um normale Leute auszunehmen, die mal einen Song aus dem Internet beziehen. Nicht um Betreiber kleiner Internet Shops abzumahnen weil diese ein falsches Bild für ein Produkt genommen haben…. Ich schweife schon wieder ab.

Die Vorratsdatenspeicherung muss endlich begraben werden.