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
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

It wasn’t long after news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing hit social media on Saturday that we got an idea of what the Republicans were planning, courtesy of Conn Carroll, Communications Director for Senator Mike Lee of Utah:

This sentiment was echoed in much more nuanced terms by GOP Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz:

It is clear that the Republicans, who now control the US Senate, plan to block any Supreme Court nominations current President Barack Obama makes to replace Scalia on the bench. Their motivations are clear and it is possible for them to achieve this goal, with a little over a year to go before the next President is sworn in.

But if they do succeed in carrying out this plan, they may have wished they hadn’t. Nobody knows who the next President will be or which party will have a majority on the Senate.

Republican Dream Scenario is Just a Dream

The GOP is clearly hoping one of their own moves into the White House and nominates a right-leaning candidate which the Senate, still controlled by Republicans, quickly confirms. Now, I know that you have to approach an election with the attitude that you are going to win, but even GOP strategists must realize that their dream scenario is a bit of a longshot.

It’s extremely likely, thanks largely to gerrymandering, that the Republicans will still form the majority in the US House of Representatives, a body that has nothing to do with Supreme Court nominations. They have a likely, though not definite, chance of retaining control of the Senate, too, so there is a decent chance they will retain control of the confirmation process if they succeed in delaying.

When it comes to winning the Presidency, the odds are not in their favour. When a two-term President is still popular at the end of his second mandate, there’s a good chance his party will keep the Oval Office, for at least another term.

George W. Bush was extremely unpopular across the board when he left office, to the point that John McCain didn’t really want him helping out during the campaign. Obama is still loved or at least respected by most of those who voted for him and the people who hate him now hated him in 2008, too.

Also, the Democrats have narrowed their options to two and the debate is pretty much centered on how much to the left of Obama the party should go. The Republican field, on the other hand, is still wide open.

Factor this all in and the possibility of a Republican being able to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice, while not an impossible scenario, is not the likely scenario. So the question becomes: Why would the GOP gamble everything on a bet they very well may lose?

Irrational Fear of Obama or Playing to the Bigoted Base?

Despite all the rhetoric the right throws at him, President Obama is a solid practitioner of incrementalism. Anyone he nominates to the Supreme Court, though perhaps harboring a liberal bias on some issues, would be, by and large, a moderate. Not just that, but someone specifically selected to pass through confirmation by a majority Republican Senate.

us supreme court

FTB’s legal columnist Samantha Gold listed some of Obama’s potential choices. These are all qualified jurists who really don’t scream anything close to radical activist. One of them, David Jeremiah Barron, even once wrote a legal memo justifying drone strikes against US citizens. While this horrifies me, I don’t see why law and order “kill the terrorists at all costs” Republicans would have a problem.

What may make the GOP nervous about confirming some of these names? Could it be the names themselves? Sri Srinavasan and Jacqueline Hong-Ngoc Nguyen both have the qualifications to justify being on the SCOTUS, but they also both have names that don’t sound white, because they’re not. They also both weren’t born in the US.

None of this should matter, but it may matter to the more racist elements of the Republican base. We’re talking about people who care less about the fact that Srinavasan graduated from Stanford Law than the fact that he swore his oath to the circuit court on the Baghavad Gita instead of a Bible.

Now, of course the Republican Party can’t come out and say that racism played a role in their decision to force a delay in the nomination. What they can do, once it becomes widely known that the Thurmond Rule (what they are using currently to justify pushing the nomination to the next President) is not an actual rule and also doesn’t even apply until the last six months of a President’s term, is play the fear and hatred of Obama card.

It’s something they have mastered. Irrational paranoia over a moderate incrementalist. In this case, though, it may give them a result that will make approving an Obama nominee seem like the safe bet.

What Could Happen

Let’s look at a few hypothetical situations that could arise after the Senate Republicans delay filling Scalia’s seat until the next US President is sworn in:

  1. Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is the next President and the Republicans still control the Senate: The list of potential nominees would be similar, though maybe not that drone supporter guy in the case of a Sanders presidency. All the Republicans accomplished was leaving the court deadlocked for a year with no purpose behind it.
  2. Clinton becomes President and the Democrats take control of the Senate: She could nominate some of these people but would be free to go with a judge decidedly more liberal.
  3. Sanders becomes President and the Democrats take control of the Senate: The Republicans freak out, call a lame duck session and try with all their waning power to confirm Obama’s nominee because they know Bernie won’t pick a moderate or even close!

Never mind the fact that the current Republican course of action has them completely and deliberately ignoring their constitutional responsibility to promote an illogical fear of Obama and appease the more racist elements of their base, it also has them throwing everything behind a bet there is a good chance they won’t win.

The case of the Calgary Freeman on the land Andreas Pirelli, who declared his rented property a sovereign embassy, is both hilarious and sad. Funny in that it involves a comically delusional dickhead whose bizarre understanding of contract law and massively misinformed personal philosophy led him to violate his lease with the owner of the property on the grounds that he had claimed the duplex as his sovereign territory. He later attempted to bill the landlady for the “improvements” he had made to the house, by means of an invoice issued by his phony corporation.

Fortunately, the real law doesn’t recognize ridiculous crackpot legal theories as a defense and the man was evicted. It transpires, this particular jack ass has a history of this kind of behaviour, including an assault charge against him for an incident involving a former landlady in Montreal.

For those who don’t know about the spectacular lies of the Freeman-on-the-land movement, I invite you to visit Wikipedia to learn more about their conspiratorial beliefs. Basically, If I can oversimplify their childish theories, these folks try to shirk their legal obligations by claiming that there is a distinction between natural persons and their legal persons. While the latter is subject to all the laws you and I are because of their birth certificate ( wtf?!?) the former is not, because he (they’re almost invariably angry white males) has the status of a sovereign person or Freemen-on-the-land and doesn’t enter into contracts with the state or abide by its laws.

This has been used to justify all kinds of crazy stunts, such as driving without a license, stiffing your ex-wife on child support and, most alarmingly, keeping illegal firearms. Is it any wonder that the FBI consider them to be a terrorist organization?

Sad in that it represents a growing phenomenon of what one judge in Alberta charitably dubbed Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument Litigants (OPCAs) in the case of what law nerds now regard as the legal equivalent of a cult classic of Canadian Jurisprudence. Meads vs. Meads was a more or less typical case of divorce, with an unusual twist: one of the litigants Mr. Meads was a so called Freeman-on-the-land (like our weirdo in Calgary) and refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the court (or, for that matter, Canada) over him. 

In his wonderful opinion, the judge tried in vain to comprehend the logic of Mr. Meads. He also shed light on a major source of headaches and frivolous lawsuits for courts especially in Common Law countries. These idiots try to bring down the state, at great cost to the taxpayer and themselves, with a wide variety of invalid legal tactics and claims.

The one thing that all of these half-baked legal schemes seem to have in common is that they are promoted by self-styled legal gurus who sell their pseudo-legal crap online and at conferences. Meanwhile, the unsuspecting fools that lap up their nonsense make life miserable for legal professionals by contesting every aspect of the legal system.

It should be said that the arguments made by Freeman-on-the-land closely resemble those of their now mainstream and equally obnoxious political brethren the American Tea Party. In fact, the judge in Meads vs. Meads observed that “the memberships focus is strongly anti-government and has libertarian and right wing overtones. Christian rhetoric is common”.

Doesn’t it sound like he’s describing the current GOP and its leading dim bulbs in a nutshell? It’s downright scary to think that many of them support politicians like Republican congressmen and presidential hopeful (thank God he repudiated his Canadian citizenship) Ted Cruz in his quixotic quest to defund and destroy Obamacare. These people, whether tea baggers or Freeman on the landers, hate government and will do everything in their power to see it fail.