Disputed Ground

On Martial Arts, Politics, and Culture.


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The Democratic Primary on the eve of 4/19

Sandersrally

The Case For Voting for Sanders and against Clinton:

Bernie Sanders is a rare sub-species of politician. He represents a throwback to an earnest new-deal style liberalism that he calls “democratic socialism”. In an age of austerity, means testing, and war, he champions a universal right to healthcare and peace. Rarer still, in his life’s work and conduct, he appears to be a genuinely decent and honest person.

His opponent is Hillary Clinton. In contrast to the constructive energy and positivity of the Sanders movement, there is no defensible case for Hillary Clinton. She is a politician who has advocated for a war that resulted in the unnecessary and violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. She is a friend to the rich and an enemy to the poor. She has promoted bigotry, and the curtailment of civil liberties. Most of the problems that she opportunistically wants to solve now are problems that she had a hand in creating in the first place. She is funded by those who benefit most from the broken status quo, and as such will represent their interests.

All of this is beyond dispute, and all of this makes it very difficult to advance a positive argument for Hillary Clinton. As such, her supporters’ only recourse is to engage in a series of distractions and meta-debates, hoping that if they kick up enough dust, her superior money and name recognition will carry her through the primary.

No one is perfect. This blog would disagree with Sanders about some issues. But given the stakes and the choices, the course of action is clear. This blog advocates that participants in the democratic primary vote for Sanders.

To understand the difference between the two candidates, consider the example of how they approach money.

Question: “What does Hillary Clinton represent?”

Answer: “Wall street.”

Establishment liberals are stuck in a conundrum. Years of complaining about Citizens United, and now their preferred candidate is making an argument that money doesn’t corrupt. Something has to give.

Companies like Goldman Sachs are profit-seeking entities with a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to earn as much money as possible. These companies are very good at making money, and very good at buying politicians to help them make more money. To believe that the millions of dollars that Clinton has received from Wall Street haven’t influenced her, is to necessarily believe that (1) She is different than all the other bought-and-paid for politicians, and (2) That suddenly all these profit seeking entities like to throw away money. Sorry, not buying it.

That these firms continued to give her money is a sign that they believe they’re getting something out of it, and we should believe them. The Wall Street firms that believe she is buyable are spending millions of dollars on that belief. The liberal pundits that try to claim otherwise are spending nothing, and they stand to gain insider access and positions should Clinton win. Thus, those investing in Clinton have an incentive to be correct, and those defending her have an incentive to lie.

“Name one thing she’s changed her mind on as a result of money!”

Is the retort we get from her ever more desperate defenders.  This is a stupid question because corrupt politicians don’t admit that they’re corrupt. They always have their spin and their reasons.

They’re also opening the door to another damning possibility. She’s not corrupt. She’s earnest in her support for the rich and powerful. The oligarchs see the work she does on behalf of them and choose to support her after the fact. Neither is good.

Luckily for us we can also meet the challenge to find evidence of corruption head on. Elizabeth Warren asks us to  remember the bankruptcy bill:

http://billmoyers.com/story/elizabeth-warren-recalls-a-time-when-big-donors-may-have-changed-hillarys-vote/

No longer able to deny the influence of money, Clinton is forced to take Human Shields. The first is Obama. From the debate:

“Mrs. Clinton used Mr. Sanders’s attack on her for taking speaking fees and contributions from banks to drive a wedge between Mr. Sanders and Mr. Obama, perhaps more aggressively than at any point in the campaign.

“The comments that Senator Sanders has made that don’t just affect me, I can take that, but he’s criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street, and President Obama has led our country out of the Great Recession,” she said. “Senator Sanders called him weak, disappointing. He even, in 2011, publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama.”

Hillary Clinton thinks you’re stupid. This is one of those paragraphs that’s almost too absurd to respond to. Another politician took corrupting donations therefore she should too. The economy has cycles therefore everything was done perfectly. Clinton actually ran in a primary against Obama but Sanders is the real extremist for merely talking about running in a primary against Obama.

One might just laugh at the absurdities, but some of Clinton’s other attempts to distract from her corruption, aren’t so funny:

“I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan, where Wall Street is…”

Three thousand people killed, their last moments spent in absolute pain and fear, all so a shameless, sociopathic, politician could justify being bought off by the super-rich, all the better for the oligarchs to further carve up this country. This is disgraceful.

This is a campaign run by liars. People who will say absolutely anything.

So who should we reward with our support? Remember that those that will lie to you to get power will lie to you when they have power.

Why should we tolerate this dishonesty. For pragmatism? Like the rest of her campaign that’s a lie too. Sanders is more electable than Clinton according to the data we have. You can concoct all sorts of scenarios where you think Sanders’ political label hurts him, but you must recognize that doing so is mere speculation and not based on any evidence. Sanders has higher favorability, lower unfavorability, has more individual donors (that aren’t close to maxing out), and beats the Republicans in hypothetical head to head matchups by the largest margins.

So inevitably, win or lose in New York tomorrow, when people tell you to support Clinton for pragmatism, or demand that Sanders drop out to avoid hurting “our” chances, remember that the opposite is true. Sanders is the most electable candidate. Moreover, Clinton’s campaign damages the progressive movement every day that it continues to exist. In order to defend the indefensible, the Clinton campaign is making right wing arguments against universal healthcare, and free public tuition. The Clinton campaign is making imperialist neo-con arguments for war. The Clinton campaign is siding with the conservatives on the Supreme Court when it comes to Citizens United and the issue of money in politics. The Clinton campaign is openly attacking progressive causes and attempting to shift the democratic party even further rightward. For the good of progressives, she should lose the nomination.

Primary voters then get a two for one when they choose Sanders. They continue pushing left and continue the struggle for a more equitable and just society, one where healthcare is a basic human right. On the other, they get try and stop the dishonest establishment politics of the increasingly reactionary Clinton campaign. Do not reward the liars that frighten seniors by telling them that somehow universal healthcare attacks medicare. Do not reward those that attack public education. Reward instead those that stood on the right side of history. Reward the candidate that marched with Martin Luther King. Reward the candidate that continues to push for a greater social safety net. Reward the campaign that has been built on decades of principle and fundamental honesty.

Vote Sanders.

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Submission-only rules suck because Jiu-Jitsu should be a martial art.

Respect the position bro.

Respect the position bro.

“POSITION BEFORE SUBMISSION!!!!”

Said the wise Jiu-Jitsu master back when Jiu-Jitsu fighters were the most dominant martial artists on earth.

“IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SUBMISSION!!!”

Said the guy selling you a $20 internet stream in 2016, when Jiu-Jitsu is at its least relevant point in years.

What went wrong? Why are we here? After a series of increasingly dull sub-only events, including today’s Polaris card that featured zero submissions, we should address the issue of sub only, and why it’s bad martial arts.

The case for sub-only goes something like this: “What matters in fights is the finish. Getting a pass doesn’t mean you won a fight, but getting a submission does. Likewise, people want to watch exciting events, and submissions are more exciting, therefore we should watch submission only.”

These arguments have persuaded large segments of the community, but they’re ultimately flawed.

1) The focus on the submission puts the cart before the horse. Submissions end fights, but that does not mean that the best way to get submissions is to simply go for more of them at the expense of fighting for positional dominance. Getting submissions is difficult, so traditional Jiu-Jitsu strategy has been to first secure increasingly dominant positions and establish control. In the course of securing these positions, the opponent either (A) commits a major blunder in an attempt to scramble out of a bad position, (B) fatigues from fighting against superior leverage and gravity, or (C), allows you to establish such an immensely dominant position- such as a flattened out back mount- that imposing a finish becomes easy. Indeed, not only does this make the finish easier, but following this process also prevents your opponent from climbing up the positional hierarchy, and protects you from serious damage or defeat if you lose position while attempting a submission before securing dominant control. Imagine a striking coach saying that what matters is the KO, therefore let’s throw nothing but power punches to the head. Such a mindset should be treated as equally nonsensical in Jiu-Jitsu. Good process leads to good results, and submissions should be the end point of your strategy, not the starting point.

2)The submission only format does not lead to better fights. While this blog would disagree that only fights that end in submissions are exciting, let’s grant that premise for the sake of argument. The problem remains: Submission only matches don’t result in more submissions. Why is this so? Simply stated: Because the format abandons combat realism. As discussed in argument (1) above, submissions often occur in process of positional battle. In a real fight, positions represent dangerous striking, and so you fight to avoid them, or get damaged with strikes. In a point Jiu-Jitsu match, the rules respect that combative reality, and award large and oftentimes insurmountable point margins for transitions up the positional hierarchy. In submission only neither applies. You have neither of these things to contend with, and so you begin to lose the relevance of position, and with it the factors that make finishes happen. An overwhelmed opponent can go to a draw against superior opposition by avoiding risky scrambles, suffering no punishment from being controlled, and actually expending far less energy than the aggressor. This is why most sub-only tournaments now seem to be draw-only tournaments.

 

“But what about EBI?”

EBI suffers from the same thing, but they realized the issue earlier on and manufacture overtime submissions through a unique rule-set that can force people to give up their backs or an armbar, something their athletes often can’t get to during regulation because of the perverse incentives of no-points/sub-only rules. EBI overtime goes even further and adds a clock to this, flipping it on its head and making the awarded position super-dominant in OT by penalizing you for every second you spend being controlled. This is why submission rates shoot up during EBI overtime.

 

Conclusion: Examining the incentives of the sub-only rule set, and the various ways these tournaments deal with it, it’s clear that submissions come from the value of positions. In real fights, positions can be a matter of life and death. The more a rule set recognizes and respects that reality accordingly, the more that rule set will tend to produce submission finishes.