Hey, did you hear that Melania Trump plagiarized her RNC speech from Michelle Obama? You’re not the only one.

Actually, whoever wrote her Melania Trump’s speech stole from whoever wrote Michelle Obama’s speech and got caught. The Trump campaign, though, is saying that no one will be fired. Of course they won’t. It was, after all, a job well done.

Even getting caught. Especially getting caught.

Think about it. They didn’t choose a speech from decades ago that most people on the internet today probably never heard, they picked one from 2008. They knew someone would find it and share their findings.

The Trump team wanted to get caught. The question is why. I can think of two reasons:

The Perfect Audition

If you see politics through the lens of showbiz and reality TV as the Trump Campaign clearly does, this speech was Melania’s audition for the role of First Lady. And now, thanks to the plagiarism, everyone gets to see her audition reel juxtaposed with that of the woman who currently has the role.

They’re using the same script, as many performers do in an audition. Only the delivery can be judged. If you think that Donald Trump thinks substance is important, especially when it comes to women, then you really haven’t been paying attention to the Trump Campaign.

Sure, there will be Trump plagiarism jokes, but they will fade. Everyone knows about speechwriters, so there won’t be any lasting repercussions for Melania’s credibility. The result of the media’s inadvertent and subliminal elevation of Melania Trump to Michelle Obama’s level, on the other hand, could be long lasting.

Burying the Ugliness of the Night

Until Donald introduced Melania, night one of the Republican National Convention was a prime time play to the extreme right of the GOP base. The speakers hit all the right bigot sweetspots.

There was fear of the Mexican other, fear of the Muslim other and fear that Hillary Clinton somehow colluded with the others in Benghazi. There was praise of the militarized state and, of course, Blue Lives Matter.

It was a display of middle American white pride and fear that was as sure to rally the Republican troops as it was to infuriate the left and alienate more than a handful of centrists. But that’s not what we’re talking about now, is it?

While the far right most likely now feels that Donald Trump’s Republican Party really speaks to them, the rest of us have been focused on video of a would-be first lady played opposite a video of an actual one. Donald didn’t even screw it up by saying something inflammatory himself.

After using We Are the Champions as intro music (something, fortunately, we are calling him out for), Trump said: “Oh, we’re gonna win. We’re gonna win so big!”

He sounded like someone unable to contain the fact that he thought his plan was working. Now, it’s clear what his plan for the night was.

The most frightening takeaway from RNC Night One wasn’t that most of the GOP base are bigots, we already knew that. It’s the horrific realization that Donald Trump may actually be smart enough to pull this off.

We have some very exciting news to report: Bernie Sanders is the winner!

(pause)

The winner of the FTB US Presidential Election Poll.

Honestly, I was thinking of just using the first part as the headline of this post. Misleading? Quite. But if the Associated Press can do it, so can we. However, it could also be a bit of a mean tease to those (like myself) who were hoping for a Sanders victory in California last night.

us election pollNear the beginning of the primaries, we asked our readers to vote for the candidate they wanted to be the next President of the United States with the promise that the winner would receive the official endorsement of FTB readers and a post explaining why they are the best choice. This is that post.

As candidates dropped out, we removed them from the available choices (except for Lincoln Chafe, I still think #feelinchafed will trend). Only Ted Cruz and  John Kaisich had actual votes when we removed them (two apiece).

With 153 votes cast, the Vermont senator and everyone’s surrogate grandpa won the poll with a resounding 48%. Donald Trump was second (one only hopes ironically) with 14%, one vote ahead of “You realize you’re a Canadian site, right?” Hillary Clinton got 7%, narrowly beating out a push for four more years for Barack Obama which tied with None of the Above.

So why did the majority of our readership pick Bernie? While I can’t be sure of their reasons, I think the fact that he is a once in a generation candidate probably had something to do with it. Not only is he an inspirational speaker who brought income inequality, money in politics and the need for universal healthcare and a $15/hr minimum wage to the forefront of mainstream political discourse in the US, he also proved that socialism isn’t a dirty word, at least when you couple it with the word democratic.

He is also very consistent in his talking points and has been for thirty years, a unique quality in legitimate POTUS contenders. He didn’t change his views to suit the electorate, the public caught up with him. He then became the figurehead of a movement that started with Occupy.

His ads were not only powerful, but themselves revolutionary in their choice of speaker. Some of them featured people establishment politicians usually avoid associating with, like Black Lives Matter activist Erica Garner and Chris Wilson, a man who turned his life around after spending half of it in prison.

Sanders went from a candidate unknown outside of Vermont (and southern Quebec homes with Vermont and upstate New York affiliate stations) whom very few thought would even come close to being a contender to the man who won 22 states, seriously challenging a household name with an unparalleled political machine behind her. He also met with the Pope. And all of this in just a year.

Unlike politicians who drop out when offered a deal that benefits them personally, he has vowed that the struggle will continue right up to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. But the struggle is now more about entrenching the values of social and economic justice in the Democratic Party, a party whose establishment fought hard against a progressive shift in the primaries. With Bernie, it’s about the issues and the movement or revolution. Not about him.

What path Bernie will follow after the convention is unclear, so is the next step for the movement he champions. What is clear is that Bernie has already had a yuuuuge impact on the American political landscape and political progressives around the world.

No wonder so many FTB readers are feelin’ the Bern.

Panelists Der Kosmonaut, Cem Ertekin and Jerry Gabriel discuss the Mayday March protests and the violent police reaction in downtown Montreal, an update on the US Primary elections, Prince leaving us too soon and Peter Sergakis’ lawsuit against Peter McQueen. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Cem ErtekinFTB Contributor and Managing Editor

Der Kosmonaut: Poet, writer, spoken word artist, DJ and blogger at The Adventures of Der Kosmonaut

Jerry Gabriel: Podcast regular and FTB Contributor

* Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

What do the 2016 US Presidential candidates eat? What do their gastronomic ways say about their presidential personality?

Though it only lasted five months, our own federal election in Canada gave us enough time to find out what out candidates ate, and what it said (or didn’t say) about their leadership style.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders is the Tom Mulcair of candidates south of the border. Just not in the way you might think.

Each has pulled his party in the polar opposite direction. Yet they share a gruff gastronomic asceticism on the campaign trail.

If you recall, Forget the Box was the first outlet to uncover the bombshell news: Mulcair’s organs are made of bricks and wool. Our investigative report disclosed that this Prime Minister hopeful had never been seen partaking in food, even when hiking on Mont-Royal, stumping in small towns, or Schwartz-ing with jovial peers.

    

Now Sanders’ food choices remain equally opaque, leaving us up here to surmise that he survives on his healthy diet of finger wagging. Even the hearty US press corps, with its fifteen months of research, has come up mostly empty trying to paint the “lifestyle” profile of loveable Uncle Bern.

In candidate surveys, the best they could come up with was “scrambled eggs for breakfast.” This sounds like it was filled in by some campaign intern. Though it’s not really an answer, we’ll assume they’re unsalted, devoid of condiments.

To be fair, Sanders has this slight edge over Mulcair. The latter was never even seen sipping coffee, whether in meetins or at pictoresque rural working class diners. Sanders, on the other hand, was definitively ID-ed sipping Vermont craft beer. It seems suspicious, sort of a photo-op setup.

Yet I believe it. He is drinking the hoppiest beer in a state known for very hoppy delights, which seems to fit with his enjoyably bitter personal brand.

Ted Cruz

You might recall the eponymous #GuacGate, spurred by the NYT’s suggestion of peas in traditional Mexican-American versions of guac.

We saw then that guacamole was a deeply divisive political issue, and this was before the immigration debate gathered full steam. Yet it also united party leaders in unexpected ways, such as Jeb and Obama’s ardent disavowel of this French intrusion into an already-perfect dish.

Fittingly, one of the only dissenters, even in a moment of bipartisan fun, was divisive Senator Ted Cruz. The Texas senator came up on the wrong side as his colleagues as usual, claiming his distaste not only for guacamole, but for avocadoes full stop.

Fitting consistent with his Texas image, Cruz picks enchiladas (the legal kind) over any other dish.

Donald Trump

Now to the frontrunners. We’ll save Clinton to the end, because her food preferences, like Harper’s in my original article, somehow leave me most unsettled.

This is a surprise in itself, because in this unprecedented US primary spectacle, you’d think Trump would reign supreme generating gastronomic headlines. Yet despite him criticizing Kasich for his hearty four-course Italian meal at a New York market food stand, he has been criticized for eating pizza with forks and generally unhealthy food preferences. This might be exciting for another candidate, though for Trump’s grand style, his diet lands up surprisingly boring, even unworthy of mention.

He claims he eats light and healthy on the trail, sans alcohol. He does, of course, mention that he indulges in his favourite dish once in awhile: US steak. This is helpful, given the cartons of unsold Trump Steaks likely sitting in some warehouse.

Hillary Clinton

Remember Obama’s epic stops at Ray’s & In n Out burger, photos of juicy burgers joyously shared with Senator Joe? They swarmed over social media, part of his fresh new image that helped launch him to the win.

Source: WaPo

Clinton, on the other hand, is ever the milquetoast frontrunner. In ways eerily similar to Harper who, lest we forget, was once touted to regain his majority reign, she avoids unplanned ops or stops or any real insight into her soul. So the first similarity is their over-advised inhuman personas: it’s hard to discern if they have any real passions or preferences at all.

Yet the second is spicy. We revealed Harper’s “secret obsession” with deathly strong hot-sauce (he supposedly kept a special pantry of it at Sussex Drive, if you recall). Clinton, too, has been said to carry hardcore hot sauce in her purse, a “confession” corroborated by aides.

Now, some criticized this as blatant pandering, since this detail unsurprisingly slipped out during one of her Southern campaign stops. It’s possible that Clinton’s hot sauce obsession is as manufactured as her Southern accent.

Like her true views on society, policy and values, one thing’s safe to say: we’ll never know the truth.

—–

What dirt have you uncovered on the Presidential candidates eating habits?

UPDATE: Press time: Carly Fiorina just announced her VP run with Cruz. We’re curious if the Cruz team vetted her dietary preferences before the presser.

‘I always used to eat Milk-Bones as a kid’: Carly Fiorina snacks on dog treats and tells puppies to vote Republican because ‘Obama ate your cousin’ in bizarre video – Daily Mail, 15 Dec. 2015

Souce: Daily Mail

Last Tuesday night, Donald Trump won both New York Presidential Primaries. He crushed his Republican opponents and the establishment Democrats brought his ideal general election opponent a huge (not yuuuge, that’s a good thing) step closer to clinching her party’s nomination.

No wonder Trump was beaming the next day when he said: “Bernie’s gone. You know that? Bernie’s gone. I love running against crooked Hillary. Bernie wouldn’t be as much fun.” More like Hillary he can beat, Bernie not so much.

trump and clintons

For months, the Democratic Party establishment and allies in most major American corporate media outlets have had two main goals:

  1. Make the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign go away
  2. Force all progressive voters to unite with neo-liberal and somewhat socially left neo-con dems behind the candidate they had selected eight years ago: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Tuesday they came closer than ever before to making their first goal a reality. Unfortunately for them, they did so in such a way that all but ensured their second goal will be next to impossible to fully achieve. What they have done since has only compounded their mistake.

Can’t Forget Voter Suppression

For a party that has railed against voter suppression tactics and still does when the Republicans try to pull them in general elections, it’s a little hypocritical that all Democrats aren’t up in arms demanding to know what happened with the 126 000 people in Brooklyn who were unceremoniously de-registered as Democrats and denied the right to vote in the Primary on Tuesday.

It’s also unfortunate that New York only let people registered as Democrats by last October vote in the primary. A move designed to prevent rival parties from pushing less electable candidates ended up hurting the Democrats’ chances of running the most electable candidate in the next general election.

Moving forward, there is now word that Rhode Island, a state where Sanders leads in the polls, will only be keeping one third of their polling places open. How can this not be considered voter suppression?

While all of this is horribly undemocratic, it’s also real sad for the Democratic establishment. They don’t realize a very simple truth: getting the party faithful to rally behind Sanders and join all the new progressive voters he has inspired is a helluva lot easier than the opposite path they have chosen, the path they always choose.

Why would someone who never saw themselves as a Democrat until they were inspired by a particular candidate turn around and support the opponent who they associate with denying them their right to vote in the primaries? Or, as this meme puts it:

sanders wonka

Maybe the DNC feels that the Trump or Cruz boogeyman will be enough to convince Sanders supporters to hold their nose and vote Clinton. It may be, but #BernieOrBust and #BernieOrJillStein (referencing the Green Party leader) are real things. Stein even reached out to Sanders, asking him to cooperate on a political revolution.

Bernie Sanders is a Stronger General Election Candidate

Adding establishment support to the grassroots movement Bernie built would clearly be the easier path to victory for the Democrats. But not only that, Bernie Sanders is a much stronger general election candidate than Hillary Clinton.

The Republicans have been planning to run against Clinton for about eight years. In that time they have surely amassed significant dirt on her which you had better believe they are waiting for her to get the nomination to release.

If the Democrats flip the script and put up Sanders, all attacks will have to be policy-based. Sure, they can call him a socialist, to which he clarifies that he is a democratic socialist, explains what that means and moves on. Calling someone a socialist only works as an attack if the candidate is not one and thinks it’s a charge he or she has to defend against.

Bernie Sanders has proven himself to be a movement builder. He is inspirational just as Obama was inspirational in his campaigns. Clinton comes across as someone who feels it is her turn to be President.

Sanders has pull with independents and could even bring in votes from Republicans dissatisfied with the prospect of voting Trump or Cruz. He has respect on both sides of the aisle while Republicans have been conditioned for years to hate the very mention of the name Hillary Clinton.

Sanders has proven to be quite a good fundraiser, too, on his own terms. This means the DNC could focus any PAC money they have received on House and Senate races.

Could Things Be Changing?

In an interview that was published in the New York Times on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden criticized Clinton’s attacks on the boldness of Sanders’ promises:

“I like the idea of saying, ‘We can do much more,’ because we can. I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big — we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic. C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I’m not part of the party that says, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’”

While Biden and President Obama have refused to officially endorse any candidate in the primaries, as incumbents finishing their second term generally do, their remarks have heavily hinted that they favour Clinton. So why this sudden change?

At first I thought, optimistically, that maybe Biden was floating a test balloon as he did with Marriage Equality. Then I realized that it probably had more to do with Democrats wanting Bernie’s email list of donors in the event that he drops out of the race.

hillary clinton computer

It doesn’t look like the HRC camp’s tactics are changing. A few days ago, a Clinton Super PAC was caught paying $1 million for online trolls to attack Bernie supporters (one former paid troll even shared her story on Reddit). These are tactics most frequently used by right-wing parties.

Meanwhile the message out of the Clinton Campaign and many democrats has been that Sanders is done and should drop out “for the good of the party.” This despite the facts that Clinton herself argued in 2008 that it’s not done until California votes and that Obama had less pledged delegates at this point in 2008 than Bernie has now.

Bernie’s not done, as much as Donald Trump and Clinton supporters wish he was. He does face an uphill battle, and even admits that his path to victory is a narrow one. It is made considerably more difficult by attacks and the risk of more voter suppression in the upcoming primaries.

California may turn the tide, but if it doesn’t (and there are already stories of independents accidentally being registered as members of a right wing party and unable to vote) and it comes to a brokered convention, then the Super Delegates will play an important role.

For months, people in the Sanders camp have loathed how presumed Super Delegate votes were and still are being included in delegate tallies in media reports and have voiced concern that Super Delegates could thwart the will of the people. However, given the countless would-be Democratic voters denied the chance to vote for their candidate, it wouldn’t be undemocratic for Super Delegates to vote for Sanders  if Clinton still has the lead in pledged delegates come convention.

It would be correcting an injustice and insuring that Sanders, a stronger general election candidate, was nominated. Of course, that would take the Democratic establishment, or at least enough members of it, realizing and admitting that their handpicked candidate is the weaker choice and that the last eight years of strategy was wrong.

Progressives are sick of being taken for granted by neo-liberals and neo-cons and might not take it this time. While Sanders has ruled out running as an independent, his supporters may forego voting for Clinton. If that “splits the left vote” and elects someone like Trump, the Democratic establishment only has to look in the mirror to know who’s to blame.

Donald Trump held a rally in Buffalo last night. More important than the Don remembering 7/11 was the fact that a group of protesters (both inside and out) got their message across. Only two arrests were made and no violence was harbored.

Buffalo was not happy about the arrival of Donald Trump. We did not shut down the hate monger’s rally, rather we celebrated what counts with a dance party: Love and Freedom. We told the world that Hate is not acceptable in our city or anywhere.

All of the beautiful energy of this event was captured by Buffalo photographer and activist Pierce McCleary

(CLICK ON THE FIRST IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY)

Donald Trump ProtestDonald Trump Protest

On April 17th Donald Trump will be at The First Niagara Center in Buffalo NY… lovely.

All of the hair on my body stood up, I had heard rumors that he was coming, I was ready for it, but still a wave of fury coursed through my body when I read the date.

I suddenly feel like Macauley Culkin in Home Alone, I want to start setting boobie traps to catch this man in the act like the Wet Bandits. What do you do when you know evil is about to knock on your front door?

I have never been more angry about a politician in my entire life, and believe me I am not a fan of politicians, in the current system we have in the United States they are pretty much all bad news, with very few bright spots (#FeelTheBern). Donald Trump is a black hole of stupid comments and even stupid-er faces, his hate filled agenda and ignorant stance on every topic that means anything to me is enough to make me want to scream. I am disappointed in the American people for allowing this to go on as long as it has, even most Republicans dislike him.

Never Trump

I am a calm and loving person, not wishing harm on any creature but like most people I want to charge and tackle him, shave that stupid comb over off his head, and tar and feather the pompous sonofabitch. He degrades women, supports racism and xenophobia, loves violence, wants to build a wall around us, and has no intent of doing anything but glorifying himself and big business.

He is a media king, he knows how to get the headlines, and stupid people support him, the same people that watch Nascar and hope for a crash, the same people who passed around the baby dolphin to take selfles with it until it died, the same people who don’t lend a hand to someone who has fallen into a subway but would rather take a video of them getting hit by the train, the same people who spit on those who are not like them, the ones who bash gays and blacks, the ones who watch Fox News, the people who date their cousins and expose themselves to kids at playgrounds, the same ones who drown puppies and put their grandparents in terrible retirement homes. These assholes have power in numbers too.

I would love to set up fake polling stations in U-Hauls in all of the Wal Mart parking lots across the country that say Vote for Trump Here, this way all of the Trump supporters will just cast their votes there and think that they done good. Any person who says they like Trump because he “speaks his mind” is a true idiot, sure he speaks his mind, but every word sucks! There is nothing good in there.

We cannot fight hate with more hate, life is about loving one another and spreading positivity. In order to make the world a better place we cannot feed the snarling monster.

I want to be the first person to hug him when he gets off the airplane, because honestly I feel sorry for anyone who harbors that much hate. He must have been abused as a child, people just don’t come out evil like that, it takes some wrong doing.

Buffalo Feels The Bern
Buffalo Feels The Bern! #Bernlesque

The only way to protest this event is to be peaceful, anything but non-violence and positivity will be counterproductive. We are not like him, we don’t want to incite a riot.

Blocking roads and being disruptive will do nothing but fuel the fire, we cannot egg on or even engage the antagonists. We must make signs and artistic displays that show our dedication to community and freedom in general.

Like other Trump rallies I am sure there will be a designated area to protest, which I still think is ridiculous. I want to go inside, because I know I can as white person. Racial profiling at the gates and blatant abuse of anyone who “defies” Trump is rampant at these events. People are getting pepper sprayed and physically harmed due to the color of their skin or the clothes they are wearing.

This is the point where my white privilege can be allow me to be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Sure, I would love to dress in full drag and burst in with a super soaker full of fake blood and shower ol’ Donny with a Gwar style Buffalo welcome, but again we have to be smart about things.

We have to have power in numbers and create a positive environment of peace, tell him NO, this is not going down in my city, my country, my planet! Together we can stop him. Stay safe and stand together! Love is the only answer.

Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump may be making an appearance in Montreal this month, at least if local businessman Peter Sergakis has his way.

The infamous bar and restaurant owner has invited Trump to be the guest of honour, welcoming patrons to the grand opening of Jersey’s Saloon, a Coyote Ugly-style bar set to have two locations, one which used to house NDG landmark MAZ Bar.

“We’ve turned a community watering hole into a resto-bar where women wearing next to nothing dance on tables and pour drinks. It’s a flashback to a hypersexualized fad from the 90s that never took hold in Montreal,” Sergakis told the press, “who better to kick it off than Donald Trump!”

For Sergakis, this is a follow-up to far right French Front Nationale leader Marine Le Pen speaking at another one of his bars, Station de Sports in Montreal’s Gay Village. The connection wasn’t lost on the bar and real estate magnate:

“I didn’t get enough traction with far-right drinkers by inviting Le Pen,” the businessman lamented, “hopefully Trump will change that! Or, at the very least, we could get Milania, she’s hot!”

When asked about the invitation, Trump was enthusiastic, stating that it was a good reason for him not to build a wall along the US border with Canada. While he emphasized that his attendance would depend on his campaign commitments, he made it clear that if he did not show up, Montrealers should blame “Muslims and China.”

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton didn’t have anything to tell the press, though reports indicate she has asked Sergakis how much a speaking gig at his new bar paid. Trump’s principal GOP opponent Ted Cruz, meanwhile, said: “What? Who is this? Forget the what? How did you get this number?”

It was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, though, who hit the proverbial nail on the head:

“Oh, April Fools, funny, now let’s get back to the real issues!”

***

Seriously, though, while the Trump part was a joke, Peter Sergakis did harbour Marine Le Pen when she was in Montreal and is planning on turning what was MAZ Bar in NDG into a Coyote Ugly-style resto-bar, or at least he was until yesterday, when the promo video for Jersey’s Saloon was removed from YouTube and rumous surfaced that he had changed his plan.

Maybe it was the rather vocal opposition to his plan, or possibly the fact that he realized it was the wrong location and year for this concept to take hold (Don’t get me wrong, I love burlesque, but this is not burlesque. I also have no problem with strip clubs, but this is not a strip club. It’s just a cheesy idea and not in a good way). Or just maybe this was itself an April Fools joke executed a few days early. We may never know.

Also, Donald Trump is still the frontrunner to be the Republican candidate for the presidency. And no one in the party or his campaign has said April Fool’s on that one yet!

 

I admit it. I am prejudiced. Not against any religion, ethnic origin, gender or even political leaning. I am prejudiced against assholes.

They come in all colours and socio-economic statuses and run the gamut of beliefs, lifestyle habits and places of origin. There are a few things they all have in common: a desire for power, a willingness to do harm to any random person to either preserve or attain that power and a lust for physical violence.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some situations where violence is okay and, in fact, the only option. I’m talking about self-defense, defense of a loved one or retribution, but only when it is warranted retribution for physical violence and applied directly (please note that I am at best a glorified blogger and am in no way a court of law, me being okay with something does not mean you won’t go to jail).

Physical violence is also fine in UFC, boxing, pro wrestling and BDSM. Why? Because there is consent from both or all parties involved. More on that later.

Violence committed against random, unwilling targets is never acceptable and if you’re doing it, you’re either an asshole or anbeing led and duped by an asshole. Yes, I’m talking about you, terrorists who carried out the attacks in Brussels, Ankara, Paris, yesterday in Pakistan and other places.

While I’m not exactly stepping out on a limb by calling ISIS (or Daesh) members, supporters or leaders assholes, it feels good doing it nonetheless. If you can think blowing up random travelers in an airport or spectators in a concert hall that you don’t know will in any way stop the oppression wrought by the world’s imperial powers, you have been drastically misinformed and probably don’t care.

In fact, terror attacks only embolden other assholes: the privileged few running the show and those who very much want to be. While the Obamas of this world quietly drone strike anyone they can, the Trumps and Le Pens stir the cauldron of ethnic and religious hatred and preach that the way to fight terror is to label all Muslims as terrorists.

Some assholes blow random things and people up because they associate them with the violence another group of assholes has inflicted on the part of the world they are tied to through ethnicity and religion. Then the other assholes use that as an excuse to blow more things and people up in that same part of the world and blame the religion that the first group of assholes claims to follow.

It seems to me that the problem here isn’t religion, it’s assholes. If we need to be watching out for some group, profiling a group and discriminating against them, then the assholes in the world should be the prime candidates.

If we were all prejudiced against assholes, someone like Jian Ghomeshi would have been identified as one a long time ago. And if, by some artful trickery on his part, he still managed to get to where he got and do what he did, then the stories of his multiple survivors would have been enough to convince us.

Plus, the fact that he tried to plead that he was engaging in BDSM, something which requires clear consent (I told you I would come back to that), when the fact that clearly there was no consent would further make it clear that he was, in fact, an asshole. And don’t get me started on assholes like Roosh V and Bill Cosby.

Now, let’s be clear. I am aware that Ghomeshi’s sexual assault, the bombers’ murders and ethnic or religious scapegoating by politicians are all much more serious and specific charges than simply being an asshole and that is how these serious and specific cases should be treated. But this is about prejudice and profiling.

If we need to profile and be prejudiced against any particular group, let that group be assholes.

On Friday night, protesters successfully disrupted a rally for Republican presidential frontrunnner Donald Trump. When the race-baiting businessman realized that anti-Trump activists made up roughly half the crowd, he cancelled the event. Then he went on the offensive. Predictably Twitter moaning about freedom of speech:

First, Trump clearly doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, that the right to free speech enshrined in the US Constitution (the states doesn’t have hate speech laws like we do in Canada, where Trump could probably be charged) doesn’t work that way. As this civil rights and constitutional lawyer pointed out:

What is really ironic, though, and what would really be tragic if Trump ever ended up in the White House, is that his recent rally rhetoric promotes an attack on the very constitutional right he claims he was denied on Friday.

Trump’s “Good Old Days” Were All About Suppressing Free Speech

Over the past few weeks, Trump has been encouraging his supporters to attack protesters more and more. As Rachel Maddow and others pointed out, this was most likely a deliberate attempt to provoke violence so he could claim he was the victim.

What is the most troubling about his rhetoric are his constant references to the “good old days” where there were “consequences” for protesting and protesters would most likely be “carried out on a stretcher.” To be clear, Trump misses the use of state violence to stifle dissent, to stifle free speech.

While his hypocrisy is palpable, so is the (perhaps willful) ignorance of his supporters. That they can claim to support a right while championing someone who seeks to repress it, most likely in a brutal manner, when in power, is stunning.

It’s About the People Rising Up, Not Politics

By Saturday, Trump had already named a culprit: Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. This was based, at least on the surface, on the fact that some of the protestors inside the event were vocally supportive of the Vermont Senator and completely ignored all the other protestors inside and the thousands in the student-led demo outside.

For his part, Sanders responded the best way he possibly could:

“As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar. Obviously, while I appreciate that we had supporters at Trump’s rally in Chicago, our campaign did not organize the protests. What caused the protests at Trump’s rally is a candidate that has promoted hatred and division against Latinos, Muslims, women, and people with disabilities, and his birther attacks against the legitimacy of President Obama.”

In response, Trump threatened to send his followers into a Sanders rally and now the story has basically turned into Trump versus Bernie, at least in the mainstream press. While this will help Sanders in the upcoming primaries, especially given Hillary Clinton’s lack of support for the protesters, it distracts from what is really at play here: that a group of protester, mostly people of colour, were able to stop a Donald Trump bigot love-in.

Maybe Trump can’t fathom or admit the truth, so blaming a well-organized political machine is the only way out. I think, though, that admitting it wasn’t a power play but rather a play against power makes it impossible to deny that it is the protesters who are on the side of freedom of speech.

Donald Trump’s rights were not violated Friday night, he was in the power position while seeking a greater power position. But if he becomes President, you can believe he will do his best to eliminate the right of free speech through protest for everyone.

GOP & Democratic primary presidential candidates policy on food issues

Where do the Republican front-running prez brigade stand on food policy? What do the Democratic presidential candidates say when it comes to important food issues?

More than most other issues, food remains foundational to the wider platforms of the GOP & Democratic 2016 primary candidates. It’s reach relates to the deeper economic, environmental, foreign policy, health and labour platforms on offer.

For all the debates, media hype and fact checking, there’s been little to no discussion of food issues, let alone wider food policy. Here in Canada, it took outside advocacy groups to push for food policy in the run-up to the election.

The Eat, Think Vote campaign urged citizens to eat with their MPs to get them to pledge to tabling national food policy. Luckily, it seems the tactic worked, as the eventual majority party made good on their promise to follow through on the national food policy mandate, not to mention what we see now in mainstream press running renewed calls for this policy.

US food advocacy groups have had a harder time tabling such issues, yet Food Tank put out this great list of questions for presidential candidates which I lauded last month with other similar calls. Recently, some others have joined in, most recently celeb foodie Michael Pollan (in Esquire, of course) and celeb chef Tom Collichio.

It can be hard to find what morsels of food-related policy the front-running GOP or Democratic candidates have publicly put out in their platforms.

So we’ve done the work for you. See below for the food policy snippets form their policies, starting with the Republicans. Or, if you’re interested in the Dems, skip down to our summary the 2016 Democratic candidates.

The GOP Primary Front-Runners on Food Policy

Ted Cruz

For Cruz, policy platforms on food fall under his reforms to small businesses and the stable dollar.

For small businesses, when it comes to food, Senator Ted Cruz promises to:

  • End EPA regulations like the Waters of the U.S. rule and the Clean Power Plan that “burden small businesses and farmers.”
  • Pass the REINS Act, “holding Congress accountable to vote on any major cost-inducing regulation.”
Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 1.03.49 AM
Ted Cruz is promising that tax cuts and reining in the Fed will help food producers.

His platform promises to rein in the Fed, which he promises will help farmers and ranchers:

  • “When the dollar is high as it is today,” says Cruz, “prices tend to fall, which is good for consumers, but farmers, ranchers, and the energy industry get hurt, as do American exporters.  America needs a more stable dollar.”

For income of farmers and food workers, Cruz’ flat tax policy would promise to free up income to get the economy flowing so to speak

See Ted Cruz’s full policy platforms.

Marco Rubio

Rubio dedicates one entire policy platform to farms. His main premise is to “get government out of the way of farmers” via curbing overregulation, cutting taxes and opening up new markets.

This includes platform to:

  • Repeal regulations on farmers and ranchers. This includes undoing the EPA ‘Waters of the U.S. Rule’ which Senator Rubio pledges will “dramatically expand federal control over ponds, ditches and streams.” Other regulatory repealing includes cutting carbon mandates, to open up what he calls “swathes of productive land off-limits for agriculture or other beneficial development.”
Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 1.06.15 AM
Rubio, who is fading from the front-running crowd, is promising to get the government “off the backs” of farmers and ranchers.
  • Cut the punitive “death tax” on farmers. This is part of his larger tax plan. This will free up cashflow for farmers and ranchers, e.g. “to immediately write off the cost of new machinery and equipment.”
  • Oppose new taxes on energy. Senator Rubio promises to fight cap-and-trade in order to decrease costs for farmers. This falls under his wider energy plan.
  • Open new markets for farmers and ranchers. This would be supporting pushing for “timely completion of trade agreements to boost exports for US farmers and ranchers”

See Marco Rubio’s policy platforms

Donald J. Trump

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 1.06.52 AM

Donald Trump does not explicitly state food policy platforms, though vague connections might be found in his trade proposals.

See Donald Trump’s policy platforms

Democratic Presidential Candidates Policy on Food Issues

Bernie Sanders

Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has the most lengthy public platform relating to food. In several sections of his platform, he touches food issues. In particular, food policy is explicitly mentioned in the platform he calls “fighting for the rural economy.”

Broadly speaking, Bernie Sanders supports:

  • Farm policies that foster the new generations of owner-operators.
  • Upholding land stewardship standards that include the commonwealth of clean water for all.

Sanders promises the following outcomes from the platform of his farming and food policies:

  1. Make sure that family farmers and rural economies thrive;
  2. Expand support for young and beginning farmers; 3
  3. Produce an abundant and nutritious food supply;
  4. Establish an on-going regeneration of our soils;
  5.  Enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship to keep our air and water clean and to combat climate change.

Specific food issues and food policy fit into Senator Bernie Sanders’ rural communities, farm agriculture, & renewable energy platforms. Here are the top lines:

Supports to agriculture

Senator Bernie Sanders promises to “fight for America’s small and mid-sized farms.” In particular, he pledges platform policy to:

  • Expand services of the D for new and underserved farmers. Says Sanders, this department should “live up to the name” it was given by Lincoln, who called it the “People’s Department”
  • Encourage growth of regional food systems. Senator Sanders pledges to invest into local farmers who sell “directly to local consumers, institutions, and restaurants.”
  • Reverse trade policies, e.g. NAFTA that he says “have flooded the American market with agricultural goods produced in countries with less stringent environmental, labor, and safety regulations.”
  • Enforce US antitrust laws against large agribusiness and food corporations. Senator Sanders pledges to “stand up to corporations” to make the prices that farmers receive more fair. He wants to prevent “few large companies” that  “dominate many agricultural industries, allowing them to force unfair prices on farmers.”
Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 1.05.45 AM
By whatever measure, Sanders covers the most food issues by double in his platforms of other candidates.

Renewable energy investment

Several energy policies impact farmers, ranchers and small food businesses, not to mention food to plate distribution. Senator Sanders is particularly firm on this matter. His platform says it will:

  • Increase investments in wind energy to “substantial” degree
  • Make the Wind Production Tax Credit permanent.
  • Invest into biofuels, e.g. ethanol. Sanders calls these an “economic lifeline to rural and farm communities in Iowa and throughout the Midwest, supporting over 850 000 workers, all while keeping our energy dollars here at home instead of going into the pockets of oil barons.”
  • Support the Renewable Fuels Standard

Rural US

Though not directly related, Sanders speaks fully on rural US improvements, which has huge impact on farmers, ranchers and the future of food quality & distribution. Senator Sanders pledges to:

  • Improve the electric grid. “We desperately need to improve our aging rural electrical grid, which consists of a patchwork system of interconnected power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities, some of which date back to the early 1900s,” says Bernie Sanders.
  • Invest in high-speed Internet services for rural folk to improve infrastructure, e.g. for farmers.
  • Improve dams, most of which facilities exist in rural areas. His Rebuild America Act will invest $12 billion per year to repair “high-hazard dams that provide flood control, drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and recreation across rural America; and the flood levees that protect our farms and our towns and cities.”

See Bernie Sanders’ policy platform

Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her US presidential candidacy for the Democratic party, does not specifically offer food policy improvements. Certain issues for food production, distribution, farmers & ranchers crop up in her other platforms.

Renewable energy

She does have a platform on renewable energies, some of which touches directly farmers and food production. Secretary Clinton promises to:

  • Reform leasing on public lands. This includes to “reform fossil fuel leasing and significantly expand clean energy production on public lands, from wind in Wyoming to solar in Nevada.”
  • Promote clean energy leadership and collaborative stewardship.
  • Fully fund programs to provide help to “producers who conserve and improve natural resources on their farms, strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard, and double loan guarantees that support the bio-based economy’s dynamic growth.”

Minimum wage

Her labour and minimum wage policy touches food workers, in particular. These fast food workers started the minimum wage campaigns which Secretary Clinton pushes:

  • Raise the minimum wage and strengthen overtime rules.
  • Support raising the federal minimum wage to $12
  • Support to raise further than the federal minimum through state and local efforts
  • Support workers organizing and bargaining for higher wages, “such as the Fight for 15 and recent efforts in Los Angeles and New York to raise their minimum wage to $15.”
  • Support the Obama expansion of overtime rules “to millions more workers.”

Rural communities

Clinton promises broadly in her rural policy to raise agricultural “production and profitability for family farms.” Vaguely, she mentions that:

 

Farmers and ranchers supply food for America’s dinner tables, invest in farm machinery and supplies, and provide domestic energy resources that fuel small businesses. The agriculture economy also drives America’s larger economic success—accounting for about $800 billion in economic activity each year.

Yet her policies do not go into specifics, except to:

  • Increase funding to support farm succession. This support would supposedly include “the next generation of farmers and ranchers, invest in expanding local food markets and regional food systems, and provide a focused safety net to assist family operations that truly need support during challenging times.”

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 1.06.37 AM

See Hillary Clinton’s policy platforms

Panelists Ethan Cox, Josh Davidson and Jerry Gabriel discuss student tribunals at Concordia, the US Primary Season and Justin Trudeau’s statement that pipelines will pay for green energy. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Ethan Cox: Editor at Ricochet

Josh Davidson: FTB Food Columnist

Jerry Gabriel: Podcast regular and FTB contributor

 

* Concordia Tribunals report by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

“Every rise of fascism bears witness to a failed revolution.”

-Walter Benjamin

The other day marked yet another milestone within the American political travelling circus. Newt Gingrich took a swing at Fox News for “creating” Donald Trump. What’s fantastic about this is that Gingrich simultaneously took a hit at one of his best political impersonators and attacked a media institution that fed off the environment he fostered while he portrayed himself as the reasonable guy within a sea of demagogy.

And, to add insult to injury the headline: “Newt Gingrich Drops a Truth Bomb on Fox News” was plastered all over Facebook, shared widely and celebrated by progressives of all stripes.

All of this, of course, is but the frantic scramble of an American political class that can’t come to terms with its own demise. Trump’s resounding victories in Nevada and South Carolina have proven that this isn’t some kind of glitch in the system, it’s a systemic prophecy coming true.

Headlines and articles have continued to pop up by disillusioned pundits in dismay about the ascension and popularity of Trump’s hateful rhetoric. At first it was a joke and now it’s a tragedy.

American public debate has turned into a self-caricature to the point that we can have one of the main instigators of the neoconservative counter-revolution come on Fox News and blast them for creating the environment in which Trump’s monolithic World Vision thrives. I guess stone throwers shouldn’t live in glass houses…

trump fox news

Even though Gingrich and other Conservatives such as Dick Cheney and Karl Rove calling out Donald Trump is ironic, it’s also quite revolting. The media obsession with the Trump phenomenon, in their view the worst thing yet to hit American politics, glosses over despicable track records and heinous crimes.

Trump has been the biggest gift for Bush & Co who have been able to rehabilitate themselves as dignified representatives of some kind of respectable conservative branch. It’s nauseating for me to hear pundits talk about the Bush days with nostalgia and fondness. The recap videos attempting to contrast Trump and Bush’s rhetoric about Muslims and Islam are vomit worthy.

I can feel for the disoriented right-wing pundits, though, and the sense of betrayal and injustice they are feeling over Trump. After all, you can think Islamophobic things, you can be a closet racist and garnish support from KKK bigots in private and you can bomb and send flocks of Drones to the Middle East, but the golden rule is you don’t talk about such things in public.

It’s quite impressive to see the right-wing running to the hills, in a sort of Frankinsteinesque freakout. Newt Gingrich was right about how Fox News fostered a welcoming environment in which Donald Trump’s brand of neo-fascism breeds extremely well. But it would be a mistake to see Donald Trump as some freak side show. After all Republican and Democratic administrations alike have been putting Trump’s word into practise for the past few decades if not more.

Within the American political spectrum no one is better at embodying the pyromaniac firefighter syndrome than the Democratic Party establishment. It’s the Democratic Party’s liberalism, rhetoric of managed expectations and guardianship of the status quo that allowed a space to be opened to right-wing maniacs and an egocentric form of politics that would go on to ignite the flame that has embroiled American public discourse. Those sulfurous fumes are oxygen for Donald Trump’s campaign.

Few western political institutions have represented such a profound betrayal of “progressive” principals as much as the US Democratic Party. It has been such a detrimental force to progressive movements in the United States and throughout the world.

Trump has built his reactionary movement on the ruins of the Social Contract once promoted by New Deal politics and its dismantling through progressive Republican and Democratic administrations. Even though Reagan and his bunch were the first to start destroying most of the social acquisitions that were the bedrock of the idyllic American middle class, this Herculean task wouldn’t have been accomplished without the economic agenda implemented by the Clinton administration.

During the 1990s, Clinton continued Reagan’s economics: in depth deregulation of the American financial system, political financing, strengthening big capital’s grip on the United States. The Clinton administration, however, had carefully crafted a different rhetoric from their Republican counterparts. Well versed in the Liberal ideals of formal equality over substantive equality, the Clintonites and the Blairites in England espoused an idealistic and fundamentally paradoxical third way.

Their rhetoric was of true recognition and emancipation of all minorities and an end to discrimination which would go hand in hand with market liberalization. Whereas conservative forces denied formal rights outright, this rehashed old-new brand of political liberalism acknowledged formal rights but only as residues of past discrimination and unequal access to resources, not a systemic discrimination.

Emancipation would come though liberalization. Exit any notion of reparations, which is fundamental for any form of substantive rights to be implemented.

Meme courtesy of Lee Camp on Facebook, original image from 2005 by Getty Images
Meme courtesy of Lee Camp on Facebook, original image from 2005 by Getty Images

Clinton continued the massive liberalization agenda that was put forward by Reagan and Bush Senior. Bush Junior only exacerbated already deep underlying fault lines and Trump is the direct beneficiary of that. It’s not innocent that Trump has railed against trade deals everywhere he goes. One of the things mainstream political media have for sure left out of their coverage is that Donald Trump has given stump speech after stump speech calling for the “opening-up” of the trade agreements that have destroyed industrial and working-class American communities.

Trump’s popularity among white working-class American families has much more to do with the shortcomings and the political maneuverings of the Democratic Party than with right-wing rage contortionists like Glenn Beck or Fox News. The history of the Democratic Party’s ambivalence about race and divisions in the American working class and the construction of the racist narrative of White American Working Class are the grounds on which Trump’s degenerate xenophobia breeds.

But Donald Trump is also a more direct reaction to the economic crisis of 2008 and failed opportunity that the newly anointed Barack Obama had to effect profound change within the United States, dismantling the too big to fail power structure and removing American democracy from the grip of Wall Street. Fascism, ie. Donald Trump, is simultaneously a reaction against a potential “revolutionary” movement at a precise transformative moment and a movement that feeds off the desolation of that missed opportunity.

To understand the rise of Trump, one must understand that there’s nothing particular about Trump. There’s nothing special about this phenomenon except that Trump has decided not to follow the pre-established conventions of the American political class and there’s surely nothing dangerous about Trump for the American political establishment despite CNN’s lyrical waxing.

Hillary Clinton, earlier this week, made a very revealing remark: “I’ve said for a long time that Trump isn’t a joke.”

Hillary Clinton and most of the American political and media establishment have known for a long time that Trump wasn’t a joke. Trump, after all, is merely a reaction to their policies. In the past four decades, American administrations have followed Trump’s platform to the letter, just in a more discreet, less pompous and extravagant manner.

* Featured image by Gage Skidmore via WikiMedia Commons

As the news set in over Iowa yesterday, flashbacks of Monday night’s Democratic and Republican primaries were playing on loop on every TV screen in the state. The most amazing development, that made its way to every morning talk-show throughout the nation, is that Socialism and Social-Democratic ideals have taken center stage in a Democratic Primary for the first time since probably Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda.

As Noam Chomsky said last week, Bernie Sanders is far from being a Marxist-Leninst in any way, unfortunately for the red-baiting  Clintonites and Republicans who would love to mark him as such, but his showing in Iowa is nothing short of revolutionary and it says a lot about the current shift within American society. This is manifest in the exhilarating progression of Sanders’ claim on the Democratic nomination and the way he went about opening up an avenue to victory.

From the day Bernie Sanders launched his presidential bid, it seemed by current standards he was doomed to run within an unequal playing field without any of the perks of the American political system such as private financing and Super PACs. But Bernie’s unorthodox take on politics went well beyond just political financing when faced with and compared to the “Trump insurgency” in the Republican camp.

Bernie took a completely divergent path. For every outlandish xenophobic comment Donald Trump made, the Sanders camp refocused their message on the profound class divisions that divide America and it seemed to hit a nerve.

Despite what some of Clinton’s most vocal supporters have stated in the past few weeks, Bernie is in fact the anti-Trump movement. Anti because he succeeds where Trump fails in giving a voice to the preoccupations of the American working-class, precarious youth, impoverished racialized communities throughout the United States and large swathes of marginalized Americans.

This is evident when you compare Trump and Sanders’ speeches last night. Trump’s was all form, no content. Sanders’ was a vision to channel frustration, to build on the anger, to convert it into hope. Where Trump’s populism is merely an orgy of  self-fulling masturbatory rage, Bernie converts the righteous indignation of his supporters over a rigged system and a broken economy into the energy that has fueled his rise. Where Trump’s support evaporates, Bernie’s support solidifies.

The foundation of the Bernie Sanders phenomenon resides in the fact that he has quite skillfully crafted a new gravitational center within the Democratic Party with new political reference points and mobilized a different political rhetoric using the symbols that had resonated with American during the Occupy Movement.

Bernie Sanders, like his Spanish counterparts in Podemos, understands that with left-wing populism rooted in concepts and mottos like the 99% versus the 1% and the have-alls versus have-nots, properly framing a new paradigm is essential to hatching a viable anti-establishment movement.

Marx, in the 19th century, spoke of the revolutionary subject, a concept that would influence Marxist and critical theory for decades. For Marx, writing from the deepest bowels of the European Industrial Revolution, the revolutionary subject of his age, on which all of his theory revolves, was the nascent European working-class. One of the most amazing developments yesterday, beyond the fact that a self proclaimed democratic socialist got 49.6% of the vote in an Iowan democratic primary, is the proof that the conceptualization of a new revolutionary subject in North American advanced capitalism isn’t a far-fetched idea.

The coalitions that led SYRIZA to victory last year in Greece and Podemos to victory in Spain, the political coalition that brought Evo Morales to power and the Venezuelan social movement at the backbone of the Bolivarian revolution, although existing within very distinctive sociopolitical environments, have striking parallels. Youth, urban poor and precarious minimum wage workers were at the forefront of these diverse movements.

What pushed the SYRIZA, Podemos and Latin American movements to seize power was that they broadened their horizons and political constellations. That will be the Bernie Sanders phenomenon’s ultimate test. Can this movement pick-up stream in South Carolina among African-American voters? Among Latino voters in Nevada?

Bernie needs to break the Clinton hegemony in these groups and truly integrate questions of racial justice and speak to the issues that affect women and women of colour in particular. He must tackle the hypocritical idea that a candidate financed by America’s biggest financial institutions, those which maintain a corporate patriarchal system with obscene levels of pay inequality and back up the prison-industrial complex, is somehow more apt to speak on issues of gender and race inequality.

While the shockwaves Bernie sent right through the spine of the Democratic National Committee are marvelous for us left of center spectators, the real landmark accomplishment is that a whole generation of Iowa caucus goers identified a self-proclaimed socialist as their champion. For the political left in Canada, Bernie’s showing in Iowa and his campaign in general is a call for us to re-think our strategy.

A while back, after SYRIZA’s victory in Greece, the Tyee featured an article that begged the question: “Is a Canadian SYRIZA possible?” I don’t know if it is, or even if that’s what we should want, knowing what happened to them. A Bernie Sanders-type movement, however is possible in Canada.

The success of Bernie’s brand of nominal Socialism is reason for some on the Canadian left to reconsider their so-called third-way-ism, but beyond that Bernie’s tackling of Clinton can give us ideas on how to tackle the fluffy progressiveness of the Liberals. Also, his polarization of the political debate can teach us how redefine the political debate here in Canada, allowing the emergence of a true left-wing, right-wing divide.

We have a lot learn from Bernie’s emergence within the saturated American political spectrum.

A luta continua

Last night, Donald Trump took his travelling Muslim-bashing, racist-baiting, headline-grabbing roadshow to a place that few probably expected it would go: the Flynn Center in Burlington, Vermont. The Burlington Free Press has a rather thorough report on all the turmoil and protest the event caused and screening tactics at the door.

What it didn’t touch on, though, is why Trump made the trip in the first place. Why would a Republican front-runner, still trying to get the party’s nomination, spend a Thursday evening campaigning in a state that has voted Democrat in presidential elections since 1992? In Burlington, of all places. A city so much to the political left that local power is split between the Democrats and the farther left Vermont Progressive Party.

Does he want to show GOP voters that he is the candidate who can, finally, flip those three Electoral College votes Vermont has? Doubtful. Most likely, he is thinking beyond the primaries to the General Election and trying to prove to Republicans that he can have an impact in the hometown and home state of his future opponent Bernie Sanders.

But wait, I thought Hillary Clinton was a lock for the Democratic nomination. That’s what all mainstream and even some of the larger internet media sources have been telling us for months, after all.

I have been skeptical of those assurances as thousands of people across the US have been flocking to Sanders rallies in several states. Meanwhile Bernie has been showing up on mainstream talk shows, maintaining support from his base of unions, and getting endorsements from the likes of Seth MacFarlaine.

While those controlling the Democratic Party and their well-placed media friends want everyone to think it will be a Hillary landslide, people on the ground probably know better. The Trump Campaign may have figured out just who the opponent will most likely be and have sent their candidate into the lion’s den rather early in the game.

Yes, Donald Trump is an idiot, but his strategists know a thing or two about politics. They know how to grab headlines and they probably know who Republicans think the Democratic nominee will be.

Now, to play Devil’s Advocate, maybe this move was an attempt by the Trump Campaign to help make Bernie his opponent. That doesn’t make sense if you look at the polls that say Sanders would clearly beat Trump in a general election. Also, the media hardly touched this event, the same media that loves to report on anything the Donald does.

If you need proof that Bernie Sanders is the Democratic candidate to beat in the primaries, you have it. Donald Trump just campaigned in Vermont.

Our 16th podcast is our holiday/2015 Year-in-Review Special. Regualr panelists Jerry Gabriel and Josh Davidson discuss some of the top events and stories of 2015 including the Canadian Election and the rise of Justin Trudeau, Just for Laughs, the Quebec anti-austerity movement and police repression, Bernie, Hillary and Trump, the Montreal music scene and more! Plus the Community Calendar, Sergakis Report and Predictions for 2016!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau

Panelists

Jerry Gabriel: FTB contributor

Josh DavidsonFTB food columnist

FTB Podcast also available on iTunes

FTB Podcast: 2015 Year-In-Review Special by Forget The Box on Mixcloud

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons