Thursday, March 12, 2015
How sincere is Elizabeth Warren?
Like many people I have heard a lot about how Elizabeth Warren is a great defender of consumers. This has been repeated over and over again but after hearing it for a while I have begun to have some doubts. These aren’t mainly due to things that she has done but perhaps due to things that she hasn’t done. Instead of accepting what I’m told by the Mass Media I often go about things differently. I think about what a sincere advocate for consumers would do and how they would make the case for their cause; and I think about things that a politician might do if they wanted to convince the public they’re in favor of a certain cause without acting on it; then I look at what a candidate does and says and try to decide whether or not they’re doing one or the other.
(This was originally posted on September 19, 2011)
In the case of Elizabeth Warren I am coming up with mixed conclusions. In all fairness a big part of the problem isn’t Elizabeth Warren but the system, which is controlled primarily by the Mass Media and the corporations that screens candidates and presents information to the public, without attempting to do so in a way that enables the public to make well informed decisions. Therefore this might mean that even tough I may have some objections to the way she is campaigning she may still be the least bad candidate and certainly better than Scott Brown.
When I wonder how a sincere advocate for consumers would act in a good campaign the first thing I think they should do is address the issues that need to be fixed; and there are many of these. These issues include planned obsolescence, marketing to children and any other deceptive marketing, defective products that could have harmful effects on the public, environmental destruction, price fixing. There are many policies that could be implemented to reduce all of these problems; however the most important one could be to reduce the secrecy that enables the corporations to profit at the expense of the public. These laws are designed to ensure that the majority of the public doesn’t have the information they need to make many of the most important decisions in their lives. I could go into more detail about what I think a good candidate could and should say but it shouldn’t be necessary for them to stick with exactly the priorities that I choose; instead if they do a good job choosing their own issues and addressing them then that should be just as well. I’m not convinced that Elizabeth Warren has done that although she does seem to have done better than most political candidates that are being presented in the Mass Media as a credible candidate. She has stood up for consumers and stood up to financial fraud according to a lot of articles but most of these are spread far out and they aren’t as clear as I think they could and should be. Once again the fault for this may be more with the Mass Media than with Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren has however had the opportunity to provide her case on her own web site and to some degree she has on a page about her priorities. This page seems like it could be a good introductory page that could lead people to more pages that provide more details; however at this time she hasn’t provided more details about what she would do in an easy to find location. Hopefully she will in the near future; this is early in the campaign but she has clearly been thinking about this for months and could have prepared more than this if she chose to. She also had the opportunity to discuss these things when she announced her candidacy on the Rachel Maddow show; unfortunately she didn’t bring up one important issue that I noticed. The only important issue that was brought up was the issue about how she could overcome the enormous financial advantage that Scott Brown had due to the money he has been collecting from Wall Street, this was brought up by Rachel and Elizabeth Warren didn’t provide what I would have considered a very productive answer.
When I think about what a politician would do if he or she wanted to convince the public that they would stand up for them without actually doing so this could involve avoiding the issues by providing some kind of fluff and appeal to emotion. This is the way this is usually done. The candidates often talk about how they were raised and their values which are all fine if they’re also accompanied by sincere addressing of the issues. They may also discuss things that the audience likes, often including sports or something else that might appeal to the audience and get them to like the candidate better without actually discussing the issues. Elizabeth Warrant didn’t discuss sports but she did spend more time talking about her history and background without talking about the issues on the Rachel Maddow show and this is also written about on her web site. This includes mentioning “her first job at nine, babysitting for a family across the street from her house,” which sounds very nice to many people; however it has very little to do with how she would legislate in congress. This is designed to increase likeability without addressing the issues. On the Rachel show she also seemed very happy which many political scientists may have concluded could help her in a campaign to obtain positive feelings. This is the type of thing that I might expect for a person running for prom queen in high school but it isn’t the most effective way that a job applicant should run for a serious job.
The biggest problem clearly isn’t Elizabeth Warren though it is the system that provides us with candidates and teaches us how we should evaluate them. They clearly aren’t trying to teach us to evaluate them in a manner that is beneficial to the public at all instead they’re trying to teach the public to continue accepting the propaganda they give us and simply choose the person that they like the most without actually understanding the issues. It should be up to the public to learn how to do this on their own although they could do this much better if they had institutional help instead of institutional propaganda teaching them that the system can handle it if they just choose the right candidate. If the public does elect Elizabeth Warren and they understand the issues then they can keep informed and continue their participation. Then if Elizabeth Warren does what the public wants it will be as much because of the participation of the public and the fact that she knew that she would be held accountable as it will be because she is sincere. If on the other hand the public is complacent and stops paying attention once she is elected, assuming she actually wins, then when she runs into opposition it will be much easier for her to cave under pressure whether or not she wants to.
She may be one of the best that the traditional system seems to have with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders and a few other progressive candidates that receive very little attention and these few exceptions almost certainly had much more grass roots support from an attentive public and less support from the establishment; however I have my doubts about her. It shouldn’t be good enough for the establishment to repeat over and over again that she represents the people, and showing her being attacked by the representatives of the corporations, without doing a better job addressing many of the details.
Update 9/24/11: Elizabeth Warren is catapulted to the front runner status with the help of the Mass Media and declines to accept challenge to limit donations.
Prior to her announcement there were already several other candidates for the Senate who have received virtually no media attention. One of them, Alan Khazei, has requested that she agree to limit donations and she declined. The majority of the public is almost certainly not ware that many if any of these candidates exist; nor is it likely that they would know where to find out more information about them. This essentially means that the Mass Media has chosen the front runner for both political party and vetoed just about everyone else by simply declining to pay any attention to them at all. No one has any chance to get their views across the thousands if not millions of citizens across any given state, even the smaller ones, without the help of the Mass Media. She has also been reluctant to answer questions from some reporters including a question asked by Jim Braude (except below) about an appointee of Back Obama from General Electric. She has also done a YouTube video (cited below) that has been replayed on the national media which covered it extensively that contains a significant appeal to emotions. Many of her statements in this video were quite reasonable in my opinion so my objection isn’t that she made these points but that she is declining to present them in as organized a fashion as she could have to enable rational scrutiny. She could have provided much more information on her web site including links to this YouTube video and many others, many of which I would think would be helpful to her campaign. While searching for the video on the internet I found that there were many other YouTube videos involving her although I suspect she might not want to draw attention to those that are being played by her opponents. If she was as concerned about reforming the way politics is done then she could do all these things and many more that would enable the public to do a better job accessing the information they need to make their decisions.
Of course this shouldn’t be solely her responsibility; in fact we should have a better “free press” that would help us do this; however we don’t. While double checking an article from the Boston Globe on her at a copy from a lightly different location I found out that the Boston Globe provides multiple different editions for its papers and the ones distributed farther way from Boston cost more and provide less. One article in one edition was not available in another and the quality of the articles available free on line is apparently not consistent either which I was previously unaware of. One out of two articles that I looked up is available in its entirety at Boston.com’s web site the other may apparently not be. I have cited several articles including the one that is available and portions of the one that isn’t below.
As indicated previously I believe that Elizabeth Warren is much better than Scott Brown; however I doubt whether she is nearly as sincere as she could and should be. It appears as if the establishment is presenting her as the lessor of two evils in my opinion; only they’re trying to present her as more of a consumer advocate than she almost certainly will turn out to be assuming she gets elected. This is definitely not the best way to choose the candidate that represents the public the most effective way they can; the discussion in the Mass Media is clearly limited to what they want us to think about; and they’re probably not paying attention to many other issues unless there is an enormous amount of grass roots pressure.
The following are a few related links including a couple of notable excerpts:
“Khazei to push Warren on PACs” - David Catanese: September 15, 2011 Politico
Appearing as a guest on WTKK-FM radio, Warren faced a tough question from cohost Jim Braude: How does she feel about her former boss, President Obama, picking the chief executive of General Electric to chair his jobs council, given that she attacked the company in her campaign announcement video for using loopholes to avoid paying taxes.
Warren avoided answering Braude and instead talked about the loopholes.
Nor did she take a position late in the week on the president’s job bill, when questioned by a television reporter. Braude, who generally takes liberal positions, said her weak responses raise red flags about her candidacy. “Warren’s rivals chafe at her sudden ascent” Boston Globe 9/17/2011
Khazei urges donation limits ; Challenge targets Elizabeth Warren
Warren is the favorite of the national party. Democrats eagerly courted her for months and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reportedly spoke to her several times about entering the race. She starts off her primary contest with front-runner status due to that support and her presumed ability to raise huge amounts of money. Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a Washington-based PAC, had raised more than $100,000 for her before she ever stepped foot in the race. That number has now topped $300,000, PCCC co-founder Adam Green told The Hill. Two days after Warren announced, Khazei called on her to reject PAC contributions such as those from PCCC, calling them inconsistent with her reputation as Wall Street's biggest enemy.  Elizabeth Warren is two days into her Senate run and the perceived front-runner is already taking heat from a fellow Democrat in the race. Alan Khazei, the co-founder of a national service program and the leading fund-raiser on the Democratic side, offered a direct challenge to Warren today to match her populist rhetoric and reject corporate lobbyist and political action committee money, a pledge he said he is making himself. "If she's true to her words, she'll join me in rejecting contributions from every single Political Action Committee and corporate lobbyist," Khazei said in a statement to the Globe.  Alan Khazei waited one whole day to begin to draw lines in the sand with Elizabeth Warren. The City Year co-founder is using the Harvard professor's own words to ask her to reject all contributions from political action committees and corporate lobbyists. "In her opening campaign video, Warren said, 'Washington is rigged for big corporations that hire armies of lobbyists,'" Khazei noted. As the Boston Globe notes, Warren did not take her Democratic colleague up on his offer. “Elizabeth Warren Faces Tough Campaign” newsfeedresearcher.com
Khazei challenges Warren to reject lobbyist, PAC money in Senate fight” Boston Globe 9/16/2011
Elizabeth Warren Youtube
Update: November 15 2011
Since I first posted this there has been little or nothing to indicate that this race is truly about bringing about reform of the political system even from Elizabeth Warrant who claims she is standing up to Wall Street. She has criticized the corruption of the system with strong emotional appeals; however she still refuses to stop using the same tactics that her opponents do although it may seem to some that she is; a closer look will almost certainly indicate that she is just doing a better job providing political propaganda without actually doing much to address the issues. Elizabeth Warren has actually raised more money in her first moth as a political candidate than Scott Brown although she hasn’t completely caught up with the heads start he received by entering the race much earlier. She still continues to decline to adopt any fund raising limits and she still hasn’t provided much issue oriented material about her agenda on her web site. Nor is there any record of her positions on Project Vote Smart which seems to be later than they have in the past collecting issue positions and also seems to have reformatted their web site so that it looks better but is harder to navigate; however that is a story for another blog. Both candidates seem to have put out “Dueling Stories of Rags to Riches” that don’t involve telling the public about the issues; instead they’re making appeals to popularity. The latest stories about this race are about an ad war by outside groups on both sides that are saturating the airways with thirty second sound bites that have little or no scrutiny accompanying them. Warren has done little or nothing to say that this is not the proper way to educate the public about the issues; nor has she requested that the people running these ads including her own supporters attempt to use different tactics that will do more to educate the public. When these ads air they go completely unchallenged except perhaps by another attack ad that could be just as biases; occasionally the media may provide what they indicate is an impartial review but the majority of the public may not see this and it is almost certainly not nearly as impartial as they indicate.
Alan Khazei has dropped out of the race for the democratic nomination making it virtually guaranteed that Elizabeth Warren will get the nomination without any input from the public. This decision was essentially made by the Mass Media; they provided an enormous amount of polling data, as usual from members of the public who never had a chance to find out about the candidates and they presented them with wall to wall coverage of Elizabeth Warren presenting her in a positive way without covering any issues and ignored any other candidates or when they did report on them it was about how low they are in the polls. This essentially means that the public has no say in the nomination process and little or no chance to interview the candidates. On the rare occasions that a hand full of people have the opportunity to ask important questions they might be answered to them but they may not be widely reported; so if they do contradict other answers there is no way anyone will be able to know. After Khazei dropped out he initially declined to endorse Warren; however he indicated that he might be done in the future. Perhaps this will be done after a closed door meeting that will result in an endorsement that doesn’t involve discussing issues. If there is any discussion of some kind of a deal to gain that endorsement, perhaps a promise of a job or some other political favors there will of course not be any disclosure of it. In other words it’s business as usual.
There was also discussion about Elizabeth Warren’s cautious support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and attempt to appeal to the supporters of this movement without alienating other parts of the electorate including her campaign contributors. This report attempts to imply that she may be the candidate of the Occupy Wall Street movement and that she has a lot of support within that movement although she is trying to maintain a safe distance; however they don’t cite any support from the actual people that are protesting. In fact they cite two protestors who say that they don’t think it will be easy for the movement to rally around one candidate. They also cite a poll about the political positions of the protestors and indicate that it is a diverse group but it doesn’t attempt to see if they actually support Elizabeth Warren as their candidate. The leading indication that the Occupy Wall Street protesters might adopt Elizabeth Warren as their candidate is a sociology professor from Tufts University, Sarah Sobieraj, who says, “If they were going to find a candidate it would be Warren. She sounds a lot like they do. She gets the same frustration and gets very vocal that no one’s been held accountable for the financial improprieties that have been so costly.’’ This professor is not part of the movement though; nor does she make any attempt to find out whether or not there are many if any people in the movement that are trying to do a better job addressing the issues that the Mass Media or the traditional politicians, including Elizabeth Warren. There is also a lot of material on the internet that indicates that there might be support for the Occupy Wall Street people for Elizabeth Warren but some of the can and probably is being faked by the supporters of her that aren’t part of the movement. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that Elizabeth Warren doesn’t have some support within the movement but I doubt if it is nearly as much as they’re trying to imply and they may be trying to give the rest of the public the impression that Elizabeth Warren is the candidate that supports them even though she isn’t doing much better at addressing the issues.
One of the things that Elizabeth Warren said was that she supported the protestors but that they should abide by the law; this sounds good to a point. When you think about the destruction of property or resorting to violence this is certainly reasonable and most people will agree with it; however this statement may also be attributed to many other things like the right to protest. This is now becoming important that they’re in the process of shutting down many of these protests as I write this. They’re using the rule of law to justify the fact that their shutting down the protests; these laws are controlled by a small percentage of the public against the will or knowledge of a larger percentage of the public. This means that the rule of law is being used to preserve the current corrupt system. It also means that it can be used to suppress legitimate democratic activity. This is just one example of the rule of law being used to preserve the power of the ruling minority at the expense of the majority; when this happens it may be necessary to stand up to the corrupt implementation of the rule of law when it is made and or enforced by corrupt officials. Also, when indicating that they should abide by the rule of law they should also hold the officials that make the laws and the corporations accountable when they don’t abide by the laws even when they have them skewered heavily in the favor of those in power. In the past the kings that made the laws went to such extreme measures that they even required a newlywed couple to allow a lord to bed the bride on their wedding night for one reason or another; now they don’t do anything nearly so extreme but there are still very subtle ways they can and do rig the system to benefit the rich and powerful. Obeying the law often makes it much more difficult to implement true democracy when they’re using the rule of law to suppress democracy. The government has used the rule of law to give the Mass Media a virtual monopoly so that they have the ability to use it as an indoctrination machine; they’ve used the rule of the law to pass copyright laws that heavily regulate the distribution of educational material that the public needs to participate in the democratic process; they’ve passed laws that enable the rich to control the economy in a way that enables then to shroud their activities in secrecy and participate in price fixing and planned obsolescence that would be considered outrageous if the majority of the public knew about it. Saying they should abide by the rule of law might be reasonable if the rule of law was fair and democratic or perhaps even close; however when the system is as corrupt ass this system has become then it is not unreasonable to think that the public should be able to use more reasonable discretion when it comes to some laws that are clearly and blatantly corrupt. Also the rule of law argument is the same one that many tyrants have used in the past including Hitler who wanted to clamp down on law and order at one point and the Palmer raids and many FBI investigations during the McCarthy era.
Update: November 17 2011
Within a few hours after I posted this update the police clamped down on many protests; this was justified partially with the rule of law argument which was based on laws and interpretations by the same corrupt officials that they’re protesting against. This is the type of laws that shouldn’t be made in the first place since they involve clamping down on sincere democratic movements and therefore it would by justifiable to disobey them; what isn’t justifiable is enforcing them.
This update is based on the following news stories about the Warren-Brown race:
Out of State Donations filling Warren Coffers
Dueling Stories of Rags to Riches
Khazei to Drop out of Senate Race clears Warren’s path to nomination
Warren Walks Fine Line on Occupy Wall Movement
Khazei Praises but Does no Endorse Warren
Outside groups fuel Brown-Warren ad war
Update 1/26/2012: Warren and Brown are still doing little, if anything, to address issues or implement real reform.
Neither Warren, Brown nor the Mass Media are doing much if anything to reform the system or address the important issues. Since I have first posted my comments about how sincere Elizabeth Warren is there have been dozens of articles about this race, focusing mainly on the contributions to the campaigns and whether they would reach an agreement to limit the spending from outside groups; they finally did reach an agreement, or so they claim, but there has been little or no discussion about many of the most important issues either before they reached that agreement or after; nor is there much reason to expect them to change that if they have a choice. Both candidates have come up with an enormous amount of rhetoric and done an enormous amount of posturing but none of this can do much to help the voters to see which one would be more qualified for the job.
One more candidate has dropped out of the primary race against Warren and once again he has said that he would think about it before deciding whether or not he would endorse Warren. Once again this may happen after a discussion behind closed doors that may or not involve undisclosed promises. If such a discussion happens it will not be revealed to the public as usual. The public had little or no say on whether or not this candidate would run or not. There may be many candidates that are much more interested in discussing the issues with the public in a much more constructive manner but the corporate media wouldn’t pay attention to them if they tried unless they were part of the existing political establishment or they managed to raise and enormous amount of money for their campaign. This would effectively discourage anyone from even trying to run. Anyone who decided to do so anyway would almost certainly be ignored by the corporate media.
Elizabeth Warren has released more financial information and it turns out that she is of course a millionaire and her husband is also well off and another Harvard professor. You would think that with all that education they would know how to do a better job trying to address important issues and run a web site that does much more to inform the public about their plans if they wanted to. Presumably that is the problem; they don’t want to! Either that or they know that if they do so they will almost certainly be blackballed by the corporate media.
Elizabeth Warren has been portrayed as the great defender of the working or middle class but if she truly was as interested in defending the middle class she could do much more to steer the discussion to important issues. She could also do much more to provide more information on her web page. Brown isn’t any better at this; in fact their two web sites are almost identical in their lack of material and focus on hype and appeals to emotion.
Neither Brown, Warren or the Mass Media can be trusted to make any attempt to reform this system; if they wanted to they would have already done so! Elizabeth Warren has already indicated that she can’t be trusted much if any more than Brown to do a good job unless someone puts her feet to the fire. She has put some distance between herself and the Occupy Wall Street movement; which is just as well because she hasn’t really done anything to provide real reform except to provide more rhetoric and additional promises that sound a lot like the promise from her former boss, Barack Obama, to put on some comfortable shoes.
For additional follow up on Elizabeth Warren, including attempts by her campaign to prevent other people from even getting on the primary ballot or continuing the debate see Elizabeth Warren is NOT as sincere as she appears!!
This is supposed to be the campaign that provides the best candidate for reform but instead it has made it clear that if we want Real Election Reform it is going to have to happen at the grass roots level!
For a few of the articles that have been published in the Boston Globe on the subject see the following:
Conroy will end bid for Senate
A Safe distance from Occupy Joan Vennochi
Warren quickens pace in cash race: 2011 fund raising surpasses
Warren releases financial report
Brown, Warren in battle over ads
Brown, Warren campaigns to meet over PAC spending
Brown launches bid facing ‘new world’
Brown, Warren propose new penalties for third-party funding
Brown casts campaign as a battle with a ‘machine’
No ads deal for Brown, Warren
Third-party ads nixed by Brown, Warren
Scott Brown campaign page