There’s One Belief that Jane Sanders and Hillary Clinton Share

By Jae Hansen

Yesterday I got to watch Cenk Uygur interview Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, policy advisor (and spouse) to Bernie Sanders. It’s a great interview, but there was one part in particular that stuck out to me that I wanted to comment on. At the 20:43 mark in the interview, Dr. Sanders claimed that neither she nor Bernie really identify as “liberals.” This was troubling to me, because when I first heard it my gut reaction was to assume it’s just another politician backing down from the word because it’s been so thoroughly demonized and vilified by right-wing politicians and media over the past few decades in America. I’ve always felt it shameful, or at least discouraging, when a left-wing politician backs away from the word just because it’s so attacked.

That’s exactly why I criticized Hillary Clinton for awkwardly backing down from the word when she was asked about it in a Town Hall with Chris Matthews last month. That is, if you can call it a Town Hall; Matthews’ softball questions and fawning over her were pretty sickening. When he asked if she became a “liberal” in college, Clinton squirmed a little before saying “I like to say progressive.” Before she could explain her answer, Matthews decided to save face by offering his own explanation as to why “progressive” is a better word than “liberal.” Here’s how the exchange happened:

Matthews: So you became a real liberal?

Clinton: I like to say progressive

Matthews: Well that’s the new word

Clinton: *uncomfortable laugh*

Matthews: Why did people change the word if they like the word? What’s wrong with liberal?

Clinton: Nothing’s wrong with it. You know, it –

Matthews: Progressive covers such a broader front. It goes all the way over from Democratic Socialist all the way over to moderate

Clinton: No. It doesn’t go as far to Socialism. I’m sorry. It does not.

We never really got a firm, direct explanation as to why Clinton doesn’t like the word because Matthews interrupted to give an answer for her. Given his open pro-Hillary anti-Bernie bias Matthews was trying to protect Clinton from the exact same criticism I made against her for dodging the word. He’s the one that accidentally caused her to fall into that bear trap, so it’s almost as if he was offering his own answer as an apology and a pre-emptive defense from the criticism he knew she would get for answering that question in such a way. This also goes to show that members of the mainstream media know that it probably won’t play well to distance yourself from the word “liberal” in a Democratic primary.

All of that is mostly beside the main point I’m really trying to make today though. When Dr. Sanders was asked which of them (her or Bernie) were more liberal, this was her response:

“I don’t think either of us would describe ourselves as liberal… I always think of liberal as being more willing to fight for the poor, but not really take on the upper class.. That’s been the ‘liberal’ Democrats in the past three decades. [They] want to protect the poor but not really upset the apple cart.”

Though their reactions to the word “liberal” are initially similar, their reasoning behind them are almost opposites. Clinton basically didn’t give an answer for not using the word, but it’s safe to assume she is distancing herself from it for both political and ideological reasons. The word simply doesn’t poll as well as the word “progressive,” so any standard politician would lean towards it instead. Her rejection of Matthews’ proposed explanation, however, revealed something about where on the political spectrum she views herself. While everyone defines progressive and liberal differently, it’s safe to say that “liberal” is not as far left on the political spectrum as Socialist, or even Democratic Socialist (which, for the record, are two completely different ideologies). Clinton abruptly interjected as soon as Matthews even suggested that her ideology could go that far left, but she didn’t object to suggestions that it be more akin to moderate. Clinton herself has claimed to be a moderate as recently as seven months ago. Given this, it’s safe to say on ideological grounds Clinton rejects the word “liberal” because it’s too far left on the political spectrum for her. She is further to the right. How much farther is an open question, but it’s quite clear that, in a matter of speaking, the word “liberal” is too “liberal” for her.

Dr. Sanders’ reasoning for not using the word is the exact opposite; the word “liberal” is not “liberal” enough. In her answer she criticizes all “liberal Democrats” from the past thirty years for being too unwilling to upset the wealthy power establishment in this country. She said they’re willing to defend the poor, the oppressed, and disenfranchised within the confines of the system the establishment creates for them, but unwilling to go further (to the political left) in trying to change the system to help the poor no longer be poor or to end the oppression of the powerless. So while Dr. Sanders’ and Secretary Clinton’s answers are initially similar, and none of them identify as liberal, I felt the distinction behind why they feel this way is the key difference between the two candidates; Clinton believes the word “liberal” goes too far. (Both) Sanders believe the word does not go far enough.

Reflections, 2014

By Jay Hansen

Part 1, Politics

In my closing piece for 2013, I ended with the following statement.

I guess, in giving this year a moniker, 2013 was just the year of fail. The President, Congress, the Supreme Court, the media, both parties… no one came out looking really good this year. 2013 was a war just to prevent the nation from falling apart. It was a war to just maintain our already sad condition for a little while longer and not to fall further.

I find this oddly metaphorical and sadly appropriate for politics in America though, given how much we obsess over election years, which 2014 will be. It’s like everyone was just holding their breath and waiting for 2013 to pass. So, I guess all there is left to say is here’s looking forward, and hope that 2014 can be just a little more productive than 2013, even though that’s setting the bar pretty low.

Well, in 2014, the nation “fell apart,” which is why I hereby dub 2014 the year progressives gave up on the system, from their refusal to participate in the election to the seemingly endless string of police brutality stories with unjust endings. Republicans regained control of the Senate by a huge margin, and bolstered their numbers in the House considerably, and primarily because the Democrats were too scared to run progressive candidates. Progressive ideals won around the country, including red states like Arkansas and Alaska, from ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage to legalizing pot, disproving or at least greatly working against the argument that Democrats have to run conservative candidates in conservative states. Similarly, we’re half-way through Obama’s second term, and since getting re-elected, what has he accomplished? There have been no legislative victories for sure, and only more defeats from the judicial branch. The only “victory” progressives had was when the Supreme Court didn’t act, which forced dozens of states to legalize same-sex marriage at long last, including Oklahoma. As for the executive, the Obama Administration has taken small steps to ease the rabidly out of control war on drugs, he’s currently trying to do what little the executive can to reform immigration with great opposition from Republicans, and he’s reached a non-binding agreement with China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, though Republicans have already taken legislative action to undo the agreement. That’s pretty much it. Everything he’s promised, from meaningful immigration reform to raising the minimum wage, has seen virtually no progress this year, or since he won re-election. The only major things he’s done are cut taxes and deregulate, the two core tenants of the Republican Party and conservative ideology.

Don’t get me wrong; I understand that the most immediate reason Obama hasn’t accomplished anything is because of Republican obstructionism. But why do the Republicans have so much power to begin with? They were a minority at the federal level for a long time, and yet they were able to block or greatly water down virtually everything during Obama’s presidency until they managed to “run out the clock” and regain control of both houses of Congress. In 2010, Democrats badly bumbled the election, and in 2014 we saw the exact same thing. Ask yourself this; what were the Democrats running on in 2014? Did they even have a single, unifying message? It’s almost hard to believe that anyone could be as bad at politics as the Democrats were in 2014, especially when you consider a lot of the mistakes they made in 2014 were the exact same ones they made in 2010. It’s so hard to believe that some can’t help but wonder if Obama and the Democrats wanted to lose.

That sounds absurd, but if you look at Obama’s legislative history it’s not that farfetched. Republicans haven’t even taken over the Senate yet, but Obama and the Democrats have already agreed to an extremely Republican budget that undoes some of Obama’s chief accomplishments, including his agreement with China, Dodd-Frank financial reform, and a small part of the Affordable Care Act… let the chipping away begin. It’s no wonder progressive voters didn’t even bother to vote in 2014, the year America set a new record for low voter turnout across America. Why should progressives vote for anything or anyone if they’re not actually progressives? At this point, Obama has indisputably proven that he not only isn’t a progressive, but that he’s actually very conservative, and now, in effect, is a Republican President.

Then there’s fact that the entire justice system has fallen apart. We thought the Trayvon Martin case was bad in 2013? At least there was a fucking trial for Trayvon Martin. 2014 brought us Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, and countless other faceless victims of our broken justice system. All of them were unarmed black men killed by the police and the police responsible faced no consequences for their actions. John Crawford was holding a toy shotgun in the toy aisle of Wal-Mart when cops arrived on the scene and immediately shot him without warning. Tamir Rice was a twelve year old boy with a toy gun that was shot literally within two seconds of police arriving on the scene; there was no “freeze” or “drop it,” cops just arrived and shot, like a drive-by shooting. Eric Garner was killed by cops when he was put in an illegal choke hold by the police, which was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. Garner was not resisting or being violent at all. He had been charged with “selling untaxed cigarettes,” but that’s not reason enough to execute someone, much less without a trial. Worse, many people have the audacity to say something along the lines that technically, Garner died of a heart attack and not the choke hold. That’s like saying Trayvon Martin didn’t die from being shot, he died from internal bleeding. Internal bleeding caused by being shot; a heart attack triggered by being put in a choke hold. Saying Garner died because he had a heart condition is no more accurate than saying he died because he was obese, which is another claim some are making, including Republican lawmakers. But even considering these arguments, the cops that killed Garner did not call for an ambulance for several minutes, and when they arrived they waited several more minutes before trying to help him. Still, no indictment, let alone trial, meaning there apparently wasn’t even the appearance of wrongdoing in any of these situations, according to the American justice system. But you know who was indicted? The guy who filmed the cops killing Garner. The cops themselves aren’t really making it any better though with their increasingly juvenile and “proving-our-point” responses, from staging political protests at the funerals (maybe the Westboro Baptist Church will join them next time), to suing the city for which they work when put on administrative leave for a whole three days after firing 137 shots at two unarmed people, calling their punishment an “onerous burden.” I’ll spare you commentary on the entire Brown case and just say this; either the prosecutor Bob McCulloch threw the case because he’s in league with the police or he is the worst prosecutor in the entire country, which earned McCulloch The Young Turk’s “Jerk of the Year” Award, despite significant competition for the title.

There is an anger building in this country the likes of which it hasn’t seen in generations, and the people in Washington are still completely oblivious to it.

And did I mention TIME magazine tried to “ban” the word feminist this year? Even if you’re not a progressive, you’ve got to acknowledge that the deck seemed really stacked against us this year.

But if you regularly read my site you knew all of that already, I’m sure. That’s why I’ve dubbed 2014 the year progressives just gave the fuck up. They gave up on Obama, on the Democratic Party, on the entire democratic process, on the justice system, on everything. For better or worse, they’re just done. We’re just done.

Part 2, Personal and Social

That said, I also have to use my reflections article as an opportunity to talk about 2014 more personally than I normally do to bring the year to a close, because 2014 was quite possibly the hardest year of my life yet. It all started all the way back on January first, right after the clock struck midnight to usher in 2014. For the first time in my life the local news stations didn’t interrupt programming to go to the downtown celebration to ring in the new year for the Central Time Zone. Not a single news station did, and it’s always been a small moment of personal joy for me. Immediately I took to Facebook and said “I really hope this isn’t a bad omen.” But tragically, I had no idea how accurate that statement was.

Literally right at the start of the year I caught the flu and strep throat at the same time, neither of which I’ve ever had in my adult life. I’ve never had to take a sick day before, but the year opened with me taking three of them. A couple of months later my last living grandparent died. I barely knew her, but at her funeral learned that I had more in common with her than I’d ever imagined. Just a couple of weeks later my mother died totally unexpectedly and with little warning. Work has been extremely difficult as we struggle to find good help; I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to take my vacation which I had filed to have off a whole year in advance. To this day there are still troubles ensuring the work gets done right. My job woes pale in comparison to those of my wife, however, as her employers and higher-ups have demonstrated again and again how little they value her or appreciate the fact that she is the glue holding the entire department together. Just a couple of months after my mother died, we had the shit scared out of us when my wife had a cancer scare and had to have a total hysterectomy to check if a growth in her uterus was cancerous or not. It was benign, thankfully, but she still had nearly two months of recovery from such a major surgery. It ate up all of my remaining sick leave too since I stayed with her to help care for her. Ever since returning to work, counting her commute time, she’s been working twelve to thirteen hour days (and she was working ten to eleven hour days before the surgery). Worse, it was during her recovery from surgery her employer decided to start paying her subordinate more than her, which is still an unresolved issue. She’s been seeking a raise ever since she found out, but there’s been little progress thus far. In addition, despite working as a supervisor for years now, the state still refuses to recognize her as one, adding more insult to injury.

Heidi’s surgery led to more monthly medical bills, which I’ve severely railed against this year. We also had little choice but to get a new car, as Heidi’s new job location (did I mention the state re-located her much farther away and gave her more responsibilities?) was devastating our bank accounts with the cost of gas for her truck, forcing us to take on another debt. She’s had to take on so many debts, most of which are medical (which will never be paid off in her lifetime), that her credit union is now less willing to work with her at maintaining the mortgagee on her house, which her son has been paying through her. Her son also went through a divorce that diverted a lot of our time and support, both financial and emotional, after his wife cheated on him. So, we’re left with little choice but to sell her house. We have one month to fix everything wrong with the house, get it on the market, find a buyer, and complete the sale before we get slammed with more financial penalties.

On top of all that, I just found out a month ago that the magazine I write for, Large in Charge Magazine, is being discontinued at the end of this year, so I lost my position as a columnist. I’ve been contacting more local papers and publications now that I have actual experience and asking if they’re looking for a relationship columnist or some other topic in which I have experience (size acceptance, gender identity, etc), but so far have only gotten rejections (if you may be able to help me here, please do). Speaking of size acceptance, our size acceptance group Oklahoma BBW has experienced a growth spurt of biblical proportions, and the staff is struggling to keep up. There are so many people attending our events now that we have to find an all new venue, but sadly with the experience my wife has searching for them in the metro area the only places that may be able to accommodate us now are likely far beyond our price range, if such places even exist. So for now, the fate of Oklahoma BBW is very much in the air, and with everything else swirling around in our life it unfortunately must take a lower priority position in our lives.

So in case you’ve been wondering where the hell I’ve been all year, now you know.

Basically, as a friend wrote on Facebook;

Right. 2014, you can fuck off. You’ve been shit, and outstayed your welcome to an abominable extent. No, I’m not doing anything to celebrate you leaving. I’m going to sit on my arse on my comfy corner of the couch and open a bottle of Penfolds. End of. Now shush.

It’s really not helping matters that 2015 marks ten years since I graduated High School. I’ve changed a lot of course, and for the better, but losing my columnist position, among the other difficulties I’ve had recently, at this particular time only amplified the feeling of loss. That said, the biggest way I’ve changed is the one area in which I’ve made significant progress in 2014 – openly exploring my gender identity. A lot of people never really think about how much one’s personal development can be hindered when they for whatever reason have to stay in the closet, especially for teenagers and young adults. Often, children of alternative sexual orientations and gender identities don’t have the freedom necessary to really figure out who they are. The process of self-discovery starts as early as ten or twelve for most kids, and really takes off during the teenage years, but this same process doesn’t get to start until eighteen, twenty four, or even later for those trapped in the closet while living at home. For me, it’s been three and a half years since I moved out of my parents house, and so I’ve only had so long for real self-discovery.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article about the first time someone asked me if I prefer to be referred to by male or female pronouns. I was pleasantly surprised at their thoughtfulness, and after a moment of thought I told them I prefer the feminine “her” and “she,” among others. Within a week I was asked two more times, and have been asked several more times since then. Each time I’ve responded with the same answer, that I prefer the feminine, and I’m fairly certain that will always be my answer henceforth to anyone with the mind to ask. I’m definitely preferring it, because for the first time in my life I feel like in using the feminine people are starting to both understand and respect the real me, the one that’s been hiding behind a facade of varying thicknesses for her entire life. I’m certainly not one to get mad at another who uses the masculine, either out of habit or based on what little surface-level assumptions they can make about me (hell, even I’m still guilty of it out of habit from time to time), but as of late I have felt a little more bite to masculine pronouns and titles like him, he, sir, mister, or many others. The water drops are starting to get to me.

In an ideal world, I would just go to the big “user settings” tab in the sky and switch my pronouns around however I wish, but I know for many reasons it’s not so simple or black and white in real life, from some people’s deeply-rooted psychological awkwardness around using feminine terminology to describe me to a simple matter of not knowing or remembering. Still, I’d appreciate being referred to by female pronouns and titles by all those who feel comfortable doing so from hereon out. Even if this is the only victory I get out of 2014, I guess it makes the whole year worth it.

The tragic thing is, I wrote this entire article (save for this paragraph) days before the suicide death of Leelah Alcorn, one of countless trans suicides in 2014. A tragic end to a year with far too much tragedy. Using proper pronouns and titles is something so tiny and so simple that can make all the difference in the world. No longer being afraid to ask this of others is the least I could do for all those like Leelah and the thousands that went before her who no longer can.

If there’s any lesson I learned this year it’s that life is too short to keep putting up with cultural bullshit like all the taboos that still lingers around everything to do with transgenderism. At the very least I’m resolving to stop dumping it all over myself to appease the outdated social standards of strangers, even if not doing so discomforts them. As Ray Bradbury wrote, “we need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” Or, as my mother so eloquently put it many times, it is my job to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable. I’d say I hope 2015 will be a better year than 2014, but that’s setting the bar pretty damn low. Finding a new outlet for my writing alone would make my year.

All things considered – developments in my personal life as well as everything political happening in the world – I’ll just conclude with this; have a disturbing 2015, everyone.


By Jay Hansen

So, The Young Turks decided to have a sigil contest for their participating TYT meet up cities. As bannerman to Oklahoma City, it was my obligation to make sure we got one, even if I had to make it myself. Now, I’m no graphic artist, and honestly don’t have diddly squat in the way of graphic programs, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. So, using exclusively high-quality images I found online, and my own pixel-by-pixel handy work, I managed to create this. I may do a little more touch-up work on the sigil before the deadline this Saturday, but I wanted to get something uploaded just in case I don’t get around to it.

Be kind.


… For a novice.

The sigil had to be something simple; something you could possibly doodle on a napkin at a restaurant. That’s how I started out thinking about it. What I meant by that was it couldn’t be some massive work of art with army hordes or spaceships or sharks with freaking laser beams on their heads (though for a short time I did consider the use of Epicus Maximus). It had to be symbolic, so that’s what I went for.

The first thing most of my page viewers will probably notice is the use of the Oklahoma state flag. I wanted something that was uniquely Oklahoman, and honestly that was the only thing I could think of aside from global warming deniers and wind (which, if you didn’t know, is really hard to draw). I took out a lot of the widgets and woggles on our flag – I never really realized how many it had – to make it a little more simple and unique. I took off the word “Oklahoma,” the feathers, and the crosses. I even considered removing the Native American war shield, but ultimately felt it was a nice backdrop, especially when considering how long it would have taken to remove. I also thought about changing the background to black, but that would have made the lettering very difficult. Plus, the blue background was noticeably Oklahoman, and went on to provide further symbolic meaning.

I also kept the olive branch and peace pipe, also referred to as a calumet, as they are symbols of peace from the western, European world and Native American world, respectively. For those of you unfamiliar with Oklahoma history, that was what Oklahoma becoming a state symbolized for many people; the merging of European and Native cultures. That’s why both symbols ultimately ended up on the flag. Though I must admit, it’s an extremely ironic sentiment, given that not long after the cultures “merged” the European majority outlawed marijuana and with it, effectively, the Native American symbol of peace… and really, isn’t that representational of all European American and Native American history?

Bet you didn’t know Oklahoma’s flag basically had an ancient bong on it. Yes, we were so proud of that heritage that we put it on our flag and will imprison the hell out of you for using it.


Anyway, that’s where I started getting creative. Placed over the branch and pipe is a strong, blue shield emblazoned with the TYT logo. The blue shield represents progressivism, human reason, and the other ideals of the TYT army. The shield specifically is protecting the peace symbolized by the branch and pipe by way of reason and progressivism; it’s along these same lines I didn’t include a weapon. We’re not looking to start fights, merely protect what’s right and good in our homes and communities – as a wise warrior should – from the endless assault of ignorance, corruption, and extreme right-wing ideology, from which we’re always under attack (symbolically speaking, of course) here in Oklahoma, one of the reddest states in America.

Which brings me to the next symbols; the arrows and fire. The red arrows are being fired into the blue shield, representing the constant attacks progressives must endure daily from Republicans in this part of the country. Also notice the side of the shield in which the arrows are lodged; from the shield’s perspective, it is being attacked from the right. The fire, which is dominantly reddish in nature, represents how much of the state right-wing extremism has consumed, and even destroyed. It’s completely surrounding the shield of progressivism and the peace it’s so desperately trying to protect, all while being directly assaulted by the same place that started the fires; the political right and the Republican Party. That only left the final part of the sigil; the text.

TYT in OKC, the name of our group, and the old Young Turk axiom, hold until relieved.

Now do you see what I mean? Boss. If “hold until relieved” applies to anyone, it’s to us TYT fans in heavily Republican cities and states. Oklahoma City fits that bill perfectly, and yet we’re still hanging in the top 10 on the leader board with cities like Detroit, Seattle, and Portland.

Don’t forget that Oklahoma is the home of both Elizabeth Warren and Chelsea Manning. We don’t produce a lot of progressives, but those that we do only go on to become the greatest progressive heroes in the country, just like our TYT group. We aren’t many, but we’re mighty.

Oklahoma may not be number one in education, intelligence, health, well being, happiness, progressives policies, human reasoning skills, or TYT fans, but until the day we are, hold until relieved.

(Now I just hope I didn’t mess up the technical specifications!)