Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lester Holt Told the First Big Lie-- A Guest Post By Sam Husseini


Before the faceoff between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, many were pleading that Lester Holt, the NBC anchor and moderator Monday night, to be a “fact checker.”

Any delusions in that regard should have been dashed right away as he perpetrated a root falsehood at the very start of the event.

Holt claimed that the event was “sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. The commission drafted tonight’s format, and the rules have been agreed to by the campaigns.”

While the CPD certainly controls much of the event, it’s not a “nonpartisan” organization at all. It’s about as far from nonpartisan as you can get. It’s totally bipartisan. It’s a creation of the Democratic and Republican parties designed to solidify their dominance over the public.

Its origins are in an agreement “Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances” from 1985 signed by Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., then Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Paul G. Kirk Jr., then Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The two would go on to head the CPD.

But that original agreement didn’t even have the word “debates” in it. This Commission is the mechanism by which the Democratic and Republican parties came together to push aside the League of Women Voters, which had organized presidential debates before 1988. It was to make sure that the campaigns, not some independent entity, would decide on moderators, on formats-- and to critically exclude other participants unless both sides agreed. They simply wanted to ensure “televised joint appearances”-- which became emblematic of a pretense of democratic discourse.

Holt’s fabrication-- he can’t possibly be ignorant of this-- is really a root problem of our politics. All the lies and spin from Clinton and Trump largely manifest themselves because each side excuses them because “the other” is worse. That is, the very “bipartisan” structure of our elections is in large part responsible for the dynamics we’re seeing.

Normally decent people ignore all of Clinton’s deceptions because they loathe Trump and normally decent people excuse Trump’s fabrications because they detest Clinton. That’s why candidates with incredibly high un-favorability ratings-- as Clinton and Trump famously have-- may still have millions voting for them, like two crumbling buildings help up by each other.

And the voters have “nowhere else to go” because they are in effect held prisoners by fear. Millions of people who might agree with other candidates-- Jill Stein of the Green Party or Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or the Constitution party or socialist parties-- do not actually coalesce around those candidates because they fear helping Trump or Clinton. This mindset probably prevents stronger challengers to the duopoly from ever coming forward in the first place.

There are two ways out of this that I see:

* Pollsters: Pollsters can find ways of finding out what the public actually wants. That is, every tracking poll today has the same format-- some minor variation of “if the next election for president were held today, with Donald Trump as the Republican candidate, Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate, Gary Johnson the Libertarian candidate, and Jill Stein the Green Party candidate, for whom would you vote?” (NBC/Wall Street Journal)

What pollsters are not doing is asking people who they actually want to be president. That is, there are lots of people who want Johnson or Stein, but feel like they have to vote for Clinton or Trump to stop the other. So while media outlets claim that Gary Johnson is at 8 percent in “the polls” and Jill Stein is at 3 percent in the “opinion polls”-- that’s not accurate. They are not opinion polls. Polls are not gauging the actual views and beliefs of the public. They are ostensibly predicting a future event. But they are molding that reality as we go along. Most brazenly because the CPD has set 15 percent in these polls as the criteria for exclusion.

USA Today, in a refreshing departure from usual polling, recently found that 76 percent of the public want Stein and Johnson in the debates. And here’s the kicker: When reformers suggested that someone should be included in the debates if a majority wanted them in, the heads of the Commission rejected the effort. Paul Kirk, now co-chairman emeritus of the CPD, said: “It’s a matter of entertainment vs. the serious question of who would you prefer to be president of the United States.” But that’s the problem: The polls the CPD is relying on don’t actually ask the public who they prefer to be president. We could have a “third party” candidate with plurality support and we wouldn’t know it because the question to gauge that isn’t asked of the public.

Obvious recommendation: Pollsters should actually have an interest in the opinions of the public and ask them who they prefer to be president.

* Voters Can Unite: The other way out of this seemingly perpetual duopoly bind is that voters come together. That’s what I outline at People who feel compelled to vote for Clinton because they detest Trump can team up with their opposite number. This requires real work. Instead of stopping Trump by voting for Clinton, a progressive can stop Trump by taking a vote away from him.

That is, instead of a husband and wife who are actually unhappy with both Clinton and Trump casting votes that in effect cancel out each other-- one voting for Trump and the other for Clinton-- they can both vote for candidates they actually prefer. Each would be free to vote their preference-- Johnson, Stein, whoever.

The progressive would undermine Trump not by voting for a candidate they don’t trust-- Clinton-- but more skillfully: By taking a vote away from Trump. The conservative would not feel they have to suffer the indignity of voting for a candidate that’s distasteful-- Trump-- they would instead succeed in depriving Clinton of a vote.

It’s that kind of outside the box thinking that’s going to get us out of the binds that the ever duplicitous duopoly attempt to impose on the citizenry.

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At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you vote for lying idiot Stein or sociopath brain-dead Johnson, you ARE the problem. The committee is doing the country a favor by keeping them out, democratic or not.

At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on Howie, you're better than this.

This entire post is garbage from beginning to end. For any third party to be successful, it has to build organizations to run candidates in local or state elections, get them elected, and establish some record of conduct in office. Not start at president and work down.

Then there's this, which if we accept it, demonstrates the cluelessness of this entire sorry attempt.

Please stop trying to make a case for Stein. she is unqualified and incompetent.

At 4:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The history of the committee planning the debates is interesting. Bipartisan, not nonpartisan. Quite a difference. Another death nell for democracy as we slide down the slope towards the cliff.

That said, Stein really has absolutely no business running, anyway. She surely has narcissistic tendencies to run, as she must recognize a vote for her would only help Trump - it would serve NO other purpose. She has no experience and a lot of nerve. And all these progressive people who are into Johnson! They must be nuts to think he would be be any alternative to Hillary. He is far far worse - he is anti government regulation and programs such as social security. The two of them stink and are destructive egotists at heart. Bernie, on the other hand, would have been a great third party candidate. But he sees the light at this point and rightly wants to stop Trump at all costs. A new Hitler, we do not need.

At 4:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I repeat with some modification: "Apparently the only American fascist about which to be concerned is the utterly transparent one as opposed to the entire system that spit him out and which exudes each and every one of Britt's 14 characteristics of a fascist society."

To put it another way: "Trump is the Symptom, Clinton is the Disease." 2eqq

John Puma

At 5:29 AM, Blogger CNYOrange said...

WOW, I'm going to assume all posts from "Anonymous" are from the same person and clearly from a clinton campaign operative, a trump operative wouldn't peruse this site.

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media is all about shaping public opinion, not reporting factual truth. Lester Holt was following the orders of those who sign his big pay checks, so he isn't about to toss aside that kind of wealth to join so many former media stars in attempting to make a living on the Internet via donations and subscriptions. He will do what he's told like a good follower of evil.

One of these days, enough people will register what I say here, and the media will cease to be a weapon which can be used effectively against us.

Not The Same Anonymous as CNYOrange points to.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely paid Clinton operatives. They really think treating their supposed constituents like shit will someone get them to vote for their corrupt candidate. The cognitive dissonance is hillary-ous. 'Narcissistic tendencies', 'incompetent', 'sociopath', methinks the Clintonite doth protest too much.

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post as the League of Women voters should have never been displaced. There are other solutions to break the "Lesser of 2" Fear-O-coaster ride. In Australia they have a "None of the above" ballot choice were voters can reject all candidates, and those rejected candidates can no longer participate in that election and new ones are allowed to step up. There is also rank choice voting where the frightened can select policies they agree with, as well as vote against those they fear. The Green party has rank choice voting in it's platform. The lesser of 2 Ride has given us a choice between the real Deplorable's i.e. candidates nobody likes.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Anon said...

No kidding! Whether they're cashing David Brock's blogger paychecks or not, the "Stein sucks!" and "B-b-but Trump's Worse!!" hacks are obvious. feh


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