Social Justice vs. Economic Justice: The False Dichotomy of Identity Politics

I had a revelation today about the on-going debates between Hillary and Bernie supporters in the wake of the Election.

Bernie has given interviews in which he rails against what he calls the “Liberal Elites” —the establishment faction of the Democratic Party—who are focused on identity politics of gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ rights and fighting for social justice but who are less interested in fighting for economic justice (i.e., taking on Wall Street and the banks, going after the billionaire class, and so on).

Indeed, it seems for the Left, the unrecognised obstacle to achieving economic justice is the fight for social justice. To put it simply: many left-leaning Americans cannot fight for free college tuition, healthcare or economic reform before eradicating racism, achieving gender equality and safeguarding LGBT rights, etc. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking will hurt all of us in the long-run as I explain below.

Choices Personified in 2016

This fundamental “choice” between economic versus social justice seems to be a large part of the massive disagreement between Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters. To put it bluntly: many who were “with Her” were more interested in electing the first female POTUS than achieving single payer healthcare, tuition-free college and so on.

Other examples of this dichotomy: Even though middle class blacks lost 70% of their wealth thanks to the 2008 crash caused by the crooked bankers on Wall Street the shooting of unarmed black men by racist cops is a more pressing and immediate public emergency; movements to increase wages for working class people are eclipsed by the desperate need to stop the midnight raids and mass deportations of undocumented workers and their families.

Bernie’s Challenge

Bernie SandersEarly in Bernie’s campaign, he received a wake-up call on the social justice front when Black Lives Matter challenged him at a rally in Seattle. This confrontation fed into a narrative pushed by the Clinton campaign: namely, that Bernie was an old white guy from Vermont who was simply and woefully out of touch with the issues of race, gender and sexual orientation. With this, the “Bernie is a racist misogynist” meme was born and the dismissal of his supporters as “sexist Bernie Bros.”

In each case, the Bernie Sanders movement was condemned for putting economic justice ahead of social justice.

“We are not Denmark”

In a Primary debate, Hillary Clinton declared that "We are not Denmark"

In a Primary debate, Hillary Clinton declared that “We are not Denmark”

Another major criticism of Bernie’s “Democratic Socialist” program was based around some version of “it’s just easier” for countries in Europe and Scandinavia to have single payer healthcare, paid family leave, free college, etc. because they are culturally and ethnically “homogenous”. In contrast, these things are difficult, if not impossible, in the U.S. because we are such a culturally and ethnically “diverse” society.

Previously, I rejected these arguments out of hand. After all, “diversity” is something that was supposed to make America better and stronger than other countries. Immigration and multiculturalism are positive forces in American life. I believe in American exceptionalism in this regard.

All this adds up to a clear realisation that diversity itself does not make it more difficult to adopt all the wonderful socialist programs enjoyed in other developed countries, but the crises and injustices arising from diversity are viewed as more urgent and pressing for America’s Left than its political, social and financial resources.

The Two-Party System: Yin and Yang of Identity Politics

Bernie is now actively campaigning to reconcile these two “wings” of the American Left, to unite Liberals and Progressives in a political revolution that rejects the false dichotomy of identity politics as practiced by the elites of the Democratic establishment. This dichotomy is reinforced and complemented by the opposing forces of the Right and the Republican Party because when it comes to bamboozling the American people, it takes two to tango. The GOP is only too willing to make every political and electoral debate about cultural issues – that way no one will realise that they stand for massive economic injustice. The white, blue collar working class of Middle America would never vote for the economic policies of the GOP, but when the GOP and the Democrats join forces to engage solely on the battlefield of cultural and social issues, wedge issues abound, and voters can be all too easily persuaded to vote against their own economic interests. But if you listen closely, in Bernie’s mantra of “we cannot allow them to divide us up,” the “them” refers as much to the corporate Democrats as it does to the GOP.

bernie-sanders-crop_custom-f7d9d8f286f09f04cf96c2f9e37fe57b34805d34-s900-c85One example of this yin-yang collaboration between the Liberal Elites and the GOP was when Barack Obama made the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. Bernie Sanders famously filibustered the Bush Tax Cuts extension, yet the Left in general was remarkably silent, complacent in their belief that the nation’s “first African-American President“ by definition had to be a Liberal, and so anything he proposed or supported or agreed to must therefore be good for the Left.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-07-56-39The silence of the Left on this issue – and others – allowed Right-Wing talking points to dominate the public discourse: all throughout the following year, headlined by Bill O’Reilly on FOX News, declaring Obama to be “the most liberal President in US history.” These attacks from the Right did more to galvanise Obama’s support on the Left than anything the President actually did to earn that title.

MLK Gave us the Solution

Bernie often invokes Martin Luther King, and in so doing he is quick to point out that MLK’s last great movement was a “Poor People’s Campaign” – because King realised that without economic justice there can be no social justice. It was on the eve of the planned Poor People’s March on Washington that King was assassinated, and so the Reverend’s call for economic justice is often neglected in the history books, and it certainly seems to have been struck from the lexicon of today’s Democratic Party.

Poor People's March 1968: Note the diversity and the placards written in Spanish, saying "More Money Now"

Poor People’s March 1968: Note the diversity and the placards written in Spanish, saying “More Money Now”

Bernie seeks, in effect, to revive MLK’s dream of economic justice as a means to achieve social justice. And Bernie supporters are in that fight with him, despite the efforts of both the Democratic elites and the Republican Party to make us choose between the two. It is a false choice, and we must reject it.

Why Hillary Lost

Hillary was constantly dismissive of economic issues, as were most of the Establishment Liberal Elites. College educated blacks, the aspirational middle class, lost 60% of their wealth because of the crimes committed on Wall Street in 2008. And yet Hillary dismissed calls for banking reform as “theory.” and purposefully tried to separate economic justice from social justice.
hillary_theory

We need to end the “Culture Wars” that the Democrats and Republicans have forced upon us; we need to change the rules of engagement. Bernie’s goal is to convince everyone on the Left that we can, in essence, walk AND chew gum…that social justice is NOT separate from economic justice. We need to see that the two are naturally and inextricably entwined, and always were.

With that, I urge all my brothers and sisters on the Left to come together and to oppose ALL injustice everywhere. How useful are “equal opportunity” laws if there is no opportunity? What does it serve to have “fairness in lending” laws when you cannot afford a mortgage? How does it help to have “equal pay for equal work” when there is no work? Indeed: how can you break a glass ceiling if you have no strong economic ladder to stand on?

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Bernie Sanders, Culture, Economics, History, Politics | Leave a comment

My Trip through Bill Clinton’s Arkansas

Bill & Hill in 1991

Bill & Hill in 1991

In the late fall of 1990 a friend and I made a cross country trip from Connecticut to California. We decided to travel via the Southern route, which took us through Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was halfway through serving his second term as Governor. We overnighted in a town outside of Little Rock and the next morning we decided to stop for breakfast at a diner before hitting the road.

My Alfa Romeo Spider convertible looked really out of place in the parking lot filled as it was with F250’s and Dodge Ram trucks, many replete with gun racks (with guns!) and dogs in the back. When we entered, we ourselves stood out as the place was filled with men garbed in various levels of camouflage outfits accented with bright orange caps and vests – yes, it was full-on hunting season there. Oddly enough, the music playing in the café was not Country & Western, as you might expect, but rather vintage Motown.

We finished our breakfast, which included 100% more grits than I was used to, and made our way to the cash register to pay. Behind the counter was a very large red-headed woman who was bopping and humming to the strains of “Baby Love” by the Supremes. When she looked round and noticed us standing there, she smiled brightly and said, by way of excuse:

“Sorry boys, I guess I just have some of that ‘natural nigger’ in me.”

We were, as the Brits say, gobsmacked. I had not actually heard “the N-word” said to me since the late 60’s when my father inexplicably described The Beatles as “nigger music.” The woman, however, was completely oblivious to our stunned New England sensibilities and sprightly handed us our change accompanied by a hearty and sincere “y’all have a nice day.”

We left, hopped back into the Alfa, and headed West as fast as we could.

I never liked Bill Clinton. I had always considered him to be “slick Willy” and even during the 1992 Primary campaign (in which I supported Tsongas), I considered him to be too far to the right for me. This view was no doubt coloured by my experience in that café. How, I asked myself, could a true “liberal” ever get elected Governor of such a State? Let alone twice?

The answer, of course, is that a liberal could NEVER get elected Governor in the Arkansas of the 1980’s. In order to win, the Clintons had to court the support and backing of the State’s largest corporations, such as Wal-Mart, with a “laser-like” concentration on delivering legislation and tax policies that favoured those companies.

Bill Clinton’s slavish devotion to corporate interests eventually led him to become Chairman of the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, whose primary strategic goal was to transform the Democratic Party into a pro-corporate, pro-business Party that was identical to the Republican Party ca. 1970, but without all the racism and sexism. Over the next 30 years, the Clintons led the effort to create just such a Party – sailing under the banner of “Third Way” politics and calling themselves “New Democrats”, they moved the DNC ever more rightward, forcing the GOP itself to move even further to the Right and become the extremist Party that it is today.

The DLC had 16 huge corporations on its Executive Council, including, believe it or not, the Koch Brothers. They set the agenda, and the Clintons carried it out, under the guise of “liberalism.” Bill was mistakenly hailed as “the first black President” who could “feel your pain” – even as he gutted the social safety net, instituted mass incarceration and delivered goodies like NAFTA and the Telecommunications Act for his corporate sponsors. In short, the Clintons succeeded in transforming the Democratic Party into one in which Hillary, both as a Goldwater Girl AND a graduate of feminist Wellesley college, could feel at home.

Make no mistake – Hillary still desperately clings to that DLC vision for the Democratic Party. The “pay to play” system the Clintons developed in Arkansas has now evolved into a globe-straddling enterprise called the Clinton Foundation. And while Hillary was forced to pay lip service to progressive policies during the Primary, the recent email leaks prove that she remains that pro-corporate, pro-business DLC apparatchik from the 90’s. I am not surprised at this. The Clintons are what they have always been: devoted servants of the corporate interests that have made them incredibly rich and powerful.

I know many people are voting for Hillary as the Lesser Evil. That is their prerogative. I would only ask that Hillary supporters stop making arguments that Hillary is a progressive who will “get things done.” The things she will get done are those that Corporate America want done. This should not be a surprise. It is what she and Bill have always done.

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The Progressive Case for Donald Trump

How This Case Is Made
First, let me say that I am NOT advocating that any Progressive EVER vote for Donald Trump. The purpose of this article is to elucidate reasons why, as Progressives in a duopolistic system with only two viable candidates, we should hope to see Donald Trump win the Presidency rather than Hillary Clinton.

Trump-Clinton-DislikesThe 2016 Election is all about negatives. Indeed, the poll numbers most often bandied about are not those of support for each candidate, but rather the numbers showing how many voters DISLIKE one candidate or the other. Indeed, the “negatives” are the highest in recorded history, so one can hardly blame the media for concentrating on the record-breaking statistics.

This means that, as Progressives, the best case to be made for Trump consists of the case against Hillary Clinton. If you have read the companion piece to this article, The Conservative Case for Hillary Clinton, you will find many parts of this piece to sound familiar. That is because the reasons for conscientious Conservatives to vote FOR Hillary Clinton are the exact same reasons for which conscientious Progressives should vote against Her.

The conclusions in this article, however, are obviously different.

A Trump Presidency Would Be a Disaster for Republicans and Conservatives

Ben Howe of RedState has been telling anyone who will listen that if Donald Trump wins, it will destroy the Republican Party, and could even cause the GOP to lose control of the House in 2018. There is thalready an internecine battle within the GOP between the traditional Republican elites and the Tea Party extremists at the grass roots level. A Trump victory would turn this conflict into a full-on war that would fracture the Republican coalition completely, setting the Party back decades. Moreover, with Trump as the leader of the Republican Party, conservatives will be painted with the same tainted brush for years to come. Indeed, the current thinking among many Republican pundits is that a Trump loss is the only thing that can save the GOP.

We are already seeing the GOP run away from Trump. The recent scandal surrounding his “hot mic” moment has caused Senate Republicans to openly consider dumping him. And the Republican leadership continue to scramble to try to save down-ticket candidates from a Trump “wipeout.”

Trump Would NEVER Be Able to Deliver on His Agenda

Let’s keep it real: if Trump wins, it will not be because a majority of Americans supported him; it will be because a majority of Americans OPPOSED Hillary Clinton. Most of the people voting for Trump will actually be voting against Clinton. This dynamic will not hold for the down-ballot races for Congress and State offices. Trump will have “negative coattails” in down-ballot races, with Republicans trying desperately to distance themselves from Trump while their Democratic rivals drive home the simple message that a vote for their opponent is a vote FOR Trump – and not a vote against Hillary Clinton.

Once in office, Trump will have NO mandate. The GOP Leadership in the House and Senate will continue to run away from him, and will continue to treat him as toxic. He will not be able to get anything done.

By Contrast, a Clinton Presidency Would Breathe New Life into the GOP

The message from all of the conservative strategists and pundits is clear: A Clinton win will allow the GOP to regroup and remain viable as the Party in opposition to another “liberal” Democratic President, and further allow them to retain control of the House and possibly even regain the Senate in 2018.

Business and conservative political media outlets from Fortune to The Federalist are all instructing their readers to vote for Hillary. And many high-profile Republicans, from Colin Powell and George HW Bush, to Richard Armitage and John Negroponte, from Hank Paulson to Brent Scowcroft, from Christine Todd Whitman to Meg Whitman – all are on board the Clinton train.

And the first wave of Republicans to jump onto the Clinton bandwagon were the cabal of PNAC neocons who architected the Iraq War: Robert Kagan, Max Boot, and Paul Wolfowitz, among others.

If you are a liberal, a Progressive, then you should be against the Iraq War, and you should be against interventionist policies in general. If the maxim: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” holds true, then shouldn’t the reverse also apply?
In other words, should we not, as Progressives, be thinking “the friend of my enemies is my enemy”?

I really don’t see how a principled, reasoned Progressive could vote for the same person that these neocon warmongering jackals are supporting.

A Trump Presidency Could UNITE the Left as Never Before

Right now, the Left in America is divided. The Democratic Primary split the Party and the Left in horrible, ugly ways, and Hillary Clinton’s SuperPAC “Correct the Record” (CTR) spent millions in attacking Bernie Sanders and his supporters in a way that left many on the Left embittered and demoralized. If Hillary wins, this split will continue, and the wounds will fester until the American Left is irretrievably splintered, with establishment Democrats and Hillary supporters on one side, and Liberal Democrats on another, and millennials and Progressives in the Green Party or Libertarian Party, or – even worse – fully exited from the political landscape altogether.

A Trump Presidency would do the same for the Left as a Clinton Presidency would do for the Right – namely, allow the Left to coalesce around a central goal of opposing Trump and the Republicans. Such a coalescence might even attract independents who are turned off by Trump and by association Republicans in general. Hillary’s defeat will signal the discrediting and failure of the “New Way” corporatist Democratic culture, paving the way for a Renaissance of true Progressivism.

So there you have it. The case to be made to Progressives for not fearing, and indeed preferring, a Trump Presidency to a Clinton Presidency consists of three main

SEE THE OTHER SIDE: The Conservative Case for Hillary Clinton

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A Green Party Plea to my Cousin in California

My dear cousin: as you know, I take exception to your assertion that politics is “persuasion” and that Jill Stein has made her case to the American people and “failed to persuade” enough of them. I have been thinking about your statement and realised that what really bothered me about it was the fact that you were proceeding from an assumption that somehow the US political system was functional and, in its own way, logical and fair – at least to some extent.

I am here to tell you that this is a completely false and demonstrably incorrect assumption.

Trump won the nomination by garnering the votes of 6.89% of registered Republicans. Clinton won her nomination with the support of approx. 7% of Democratic voters. Altogether, 9% of the voting population delivered us these two horrible and dismally, disastrously and uniquely unqualified candidates. These facts alone show that the “system” we have does not function in any way that even remotely resembles democracy.

I give you proof: if you look at only the two major party candidates,
there is no way for you to vote against the excesses of Wall Street;
there is no way for you to vote against fracking, fossil fuels and worsening climate change;
there is no way for you to vote against the Military Industrial Complex and perpetual war;
there is no way to vote against worsening income and wealth inequality;
there is no way for you to vote against a for-profit healthcare industry that literally enriches itself by letting our citizens sicken and die.

These were all Bernie’s fighting themes, and I know you supported Bernie. But Bernie fell victim to the party duopoly which is designed to prop up the status quo, not tear it down. We now know his “revolution from within” was doomed from the start.

Cousin, we have finally arrived at a state of true fascism by Mussolini’s definition, namely a society in which the power of the Government is exercised solely for the benefit of Corporations, and the elites of Government and Business are inextricably entwined by what everyone so blithely and unthinkingly calls “the revolving door.” This metaphor of the “revolving door” amazes me. Everyone acknowledges its existence, but no one ever seems to appreciate its implications – namely, that when you live in a State where the Government and Big Business are run by the same people, you are living in a fascist state.

Fascism has been defeated in the past, cousin. But it was never defeated “slowly” or “incrementally.” It was only defeated by a revolution that overpowered the apparatus of the fascist State.

Many people smarter than I believe such a people-powered revolution can succeed, and I take hope and solace in that thought. But we have to start somewhere, and it starts with getting the Green Party to 5% in the polls, so that they will qualify for Federal Election Funds in the next cycle. That will be the first step towards truly changing the system, and the Corporatist elites know this. That is why they are working overtime to bamboozle you and so many others into thinking that they MUST vote for Hillary regardless of where they live. If The Greens qualify for Federal Funding in the next election cycle, then they have a beachhead, a toehold, a foot on the ladder leading to political viability, and this is something the power elites simply cannot allow.

I therefore urge you and every progressive in California to vote for Jill Stein. Do not listen to the corporatist claptrap about having to vote for Clinton. Help us reach the 5% threshold to qualify for tens of millions in Federal Election Funds in 2020. Jill Stein and the Green Party are our only hope for fighting the fascistic power structure that currently controls all the levers of Government, and we have to start somewhere. That somewhere is California and every other ‘safe” State in which a vote for Jill Stein will not affect the election outcome this year, but will help us effect needed change in future elections.

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The Conservative Case for Hillary Clinton

To Know Hillary, Look at Her Husband and Barack Obama
nixon-mao1“Only Nixon could go to China.” This is now a maxim of American politics, a metaphor for the political phenomenon I call “inoculated immunity”. This is when a politician is deemed by the public to have a set of political “credentials” that prohibit criticism that might otherwise be brought to bear to block certain political objectives. In the case of Nixon, his history of red-baiting and anti-communist rhetoric put his political détente with China beyond reproach. A commie-hater like Nixon would never “sell out” to Red China – that was the common wisdom at the time. And so Nixon’s efforts to normalize relations with China were immune from what should have been a tsunami of criticism and condemnation from the conservative Right and his own Republican Party.

image00_0On the other side of the spectrum, the first and most prominent case of inoculated immunity for Democrats was found in Bill Clinton. As a Democrat, he was able to “end Welfare as we know it” with his 1996 Reform Act without having to fight the progressive Left over the effects that bill had among impoverished communities. Because he was a Democrat, only Clinton could pass the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill that led to the mass incarceration of blacks and Hispanics while militarizing police forces across the country. And because he was a Democrat, people did not question his pro-business legislative milestones like bank de-regulation and the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which led to unprecedented industry consolidation, massive income inequality, sky-high profits and incredible wealth consolidation among the Corporate class. Perhaps the best example of Clinton’s inoculated immunity was when he, as a Democrat, was able to do what his predecessor, Bush 41, was unable to get accomplished: he got NAFTA passed through the Democrat-controlled Congress, thereby fulfilling Reagan’s vision where Bush could not.

6a00d8341c630a53ef012876400c7c970c-600wiIn many ways, however, Barack Obama is an even more profound example of inoculated immunity. Because he is not just a Democrat but also an African-American, Obama was immediately and automatically credited with fighting for all sorts of progressive objectives, from taming Wall Street excesses to ending racism; from providing universal health care to stopping climate change – and of course he was going to end America’s wars and bring about World Peace. The last item was only furthered by his (some say premature) winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.

And yet, as Bruce Bartlett and others at The American Conservative have pointed out, Barack Obama has acted as a true Republican while in office.

Liberals fought bitterly against the Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003. The cuts were passed despite the protests of the Left, who could only console themselves with the fact that they were temporary and scheduled to sunset in 2010. Obama, however, first extended the Bush Tax Cuts by 2 years, and then, in 2012, Obama made the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. Conservative representative Dave Camp (R-Mich.) summed up the situation by saying, “After more than a decade of criticizing these tax cuts, Democrats are finally joining Republicans in making them permanent.” Indeed, in many ways these are now Democrats’ tax cuts as much (if not more so) as they are Republicans.

hqdefaultThe reaction from the Left about Obama’s extension and subsequent permanent adoption of the Bush Tax Cuts was at most “muted.” Bernie Sanders famously filibustered the extensions on the Senate floor for 8 hours. But Sanders was almost alone in opposing Obama – the measure passed with majority Democratic support.

So while Bush was able to pass the tax cuts, it took Obama, a Democrat with his inoculated immunity, to make them permanent. Nixon and China all over again.

Obama has also pursued a very quiet but determined pro-business agenda. Last month we found out that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown, actually submitted in their final report a recommendation that criminal charges be filed against 14 banks and their top execs personally for causing the great financial crisis. The Obama Department of Justice did nothing, and buried the committee’s report.

rtr2ratyThe reaction from the Media and the Left to this bombshell of a scandal? Crickets. Elizabeth Warren kicked up a fuss, but the whole issue has been swept under the rug, and Citigroup Board Chairman Robert Rubin (a top Democratic operative and donor named in the criminal referral) has nothing to fear. Again, had a Republican Administration given all these banks and bankers a free pass, the outrage would have been powerful and pervasive. But Obama’s inoculated immunity ensures that the Media and the Left will keep mum about it all.

And of course, Obama is touring the world touting the virtues of the TPP, and seems determined to see this trade deal passed in the waning days of his Presidency. In this he has shown himself to be a true friend of Corporate America and the Chamber of Commerce.

1403120782000-phxdc5-6fse5sangjbm29vhjh3-originalEven in the area of national defense and border security, inoculated immunity helps Obama pursue a Conservative agenda without incurring opposition from the usual Leftist groups. Take deportations, an area where Obama has far, far exceeded anything GW Bush ever did. Between 2009 and 2015 Obama’s administration deported more than 2.5 million people – 500,000 more than Bush did, and Obama still has another year to go. And then there are the Central American refugee families and children languishing in ICE “detention centers” – which are really more like prisons. Thousands of others are being turned away in order to “send a message” to their friends and relatives in Honduras, El Salvador and elsewhere. This “tough love” policy is worthy of even the most conservative policy maker, and, amazingly, seems designed to antagonize the same Latino demographic that helped Obama win the Presidency in the first place.

And yet there are no mass demonstrations, no congressional opposition … the Left and the Media seem fine with this situation. Because Obama is a Democrat.

When it comes to war, Obama has acted as a principled conservative. He has doubled-down on the Bush foreign policy initiatives, and so far he has carried out 10 times more drone assassinations than did Bush. He has increased our troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has abandoned all rhetoric that talks about ever withdrawing. The PNAC vision of having a permanent US military presence in the Middle East is quietly becoming a reality under Barack Obama, and the Left is nowhere to be seen or heard.

Clinton Guarantees Us More of Obama’s Brand of Conservatism

RT_hillary_clinton_and_henry_kissinger_3a_ml_160518_4x3_992Hillary Clinton has already telegraphed her intention to carry on Obama’s conservative corporatist agenda. Indeed, it could be argued that she already has even deeper ties to Wall Street and Corporate America than Obama does, and when it comes to foreign policy, she is widely recognised as being to the Right of Obama. Indeed, policymakers behind the Iraq invasion such as Robert Kagan, Max Boot and Paul Wolfowitz have all publicly declared their support for Hillary Clinton, as have Henry Kissinger, John Negroponte and George HW Bush. The fact that Clinton can “proudly” publicize these endorsements with no blowback is proof positive of just how strongly Hillary has been inoculated. The “Right Wing Witch Hunts” that she and her team constantly complain about have inculcated a view in America’s mind that Hillary must, beneath it all, be the Liberal that Rush Limbaugh says she is.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Indeed, Clinton is so much more conservative than Obama that she should have been more difficult to “inoculate”. Enter the Mainstream Media. The six major media companies owe their very existence to Bill Clinton and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which allowed them to gobble up the other 44 media outlets that existed at the time. These media progressive14n-1-webconglomerates know whom they have to thank for their power and their wealth, and they are repaying it with interest. Clinton is by far the biggest recipient of contributions by Media company employees, and the owners of the New York Times, Thompson Reuters, 21st Century Fox and Newsmax have all given over $1 Million to her campaign. Other companies like Comcast (NBC), Time Warner (CNN), The Washington Post, Viacom, NPR and Knight-Ridder have also given generously.

Online “liberal” Media outlets such as RawStory, Vox and The Daily Beast – on whose Board Chelsea Clinton sits – have all been pushing Hillary’s “liberal” bona fides on the Internet. These online ‘zines have savagely attacked Bernie Sanders and his proponents, and have now turned their attention to Jill Stein and the adherents of the Green Party – always pushing Clinton’s self-proclaimed characterization as a “Progressive who likes to get things done.”

The result? Hillary Clinton is now widely perceived as a liberal candidate, a stalwart Lefty who may not be as wild-eyed as Bernie Sanders but whose liberal credentials cannot be questioned. This positions her ideally to continue Obama’s priorities regarding conservative, pro-business and traditionally Republican economic and foreign policy issues.

A Trump Presidency Would Be a Disaster for Republicans and Conservatives

We cannot talk about the reasons for Conservatives to vote for Hilary Clinton without discussing the many very valid reasons for Conservatives to vote against Donald Trump. Ben Howe of RedState has been telling anyone who will listen that if Donald Trump wins, it will destroy the Republican Party, and could even cause the GOP to lose control of the House in 2018. There is already an internecine battle within the GOP between the traditional Republican elites and the Tea Party extremists at the grass roots level. A Trump victory would turn this conflict into a full-on war that would fracture the Republican coalition completely, setting the Party back decades. Moreover, with Trump as the leader of the Republican Party, conservatives will be tarred with the same tainted brush for years to come. Indeed, the current thinking among many Republican pundits is that a Trump loss is the only thing that can save the GOP.

maxresdefaultAdding to these worries is the potential for Trump to move to the Center or even the Left once he is in office. Conservatives like Joe Scarborough have been saying all along that Trump is really a “big government liberal” at heart. And Tom Nichols at The Federalist openly worries:

“Trump will be every bit as liberal as Hillary—perhaps more so, given his statements over the years. He is by reflex and instinct a New York Democrat whose formal party affiliation is negotiable, as is everything about him.”

At the very least, everyone agrees that Trump is narcissistic, vain, malleable and open to suasion by others. Everyone also agrees that Trump has championed everything from Single Payer Healthcare to Abortion Rights in the past. Should large protests break out around liberal issues, he may well take steps to mollify the liberal Left in an effort to make himself more popular. And of course Trump has made his absolute opposition to the TPP a cornerstone of his campaign.

The message from all of these strategists and pundits is clear: A Clinton win will allow the GOP to regroup and remain viable as the Party in opposition to another “liberal” Democratic President, and further allow them to retain control of the House and possibly even regain the Senate in 2018.

Certainly these are all very good reasons for Conservatives and Republicans to vote for Clinton and ensure that Trump never gets to the Oval Office.

Now I know many Conservatives may feel nervous about voting for a candidate who is openly campaigning on “debt-free college” and “higher taxes on the wealthy” – but remember the lessons of Obama. His two most popular campaign promises, which he introduced to thunderous applause throughout 2008, were to (1) offer a public healthcare option and (2) close Guantanamo Bay prison. Needless to say the Left are still waiting for those goodies. Clinton will “deliver” in the same way.

COMING NEXT: The Progressive Case for Donald Trump

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Bye-Bye, Bernie.

I love Bernie Sanders. I maxed out my donations to his campaign ($2500) and have now added my name to the list of complainants in the class action suit against the DNC to get my money back after he was robbed of the nomination. I was banned for life from the Daily Kos for writing articles that were deemed to be too pro-Bernie and anti-Hillary. I was a true believer, I was #BernieOrBust all the way – right up until the Convention, when the DNC made it clear that they preferred “bust.”

Now I am voting #JillNotHill and supporting Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party with my money, my time and my enthusiasm.

Here’s why:

Bernie_JJWhile I will always be thankful to Bernie for having inspired me, and millions like me, to question the Establishment and to fight against the corruption that dominates our national political system, I have come to the realisation that Bernie is simply not the man to lead us into a true Revolution.

The reason is simple, actually: Bernie believes in the 2-party system; he does NOT believe in third parties nor does he believe in the possibility to have a Revolution that takes place outside of the political duopoly that currently has a stranglehold over our body politic. This is a shame, given that it was Bernie who always told us to “think big” and to “think outside the box.”

It was a sad day when I realised that what Bernie actually believed was that we should think outside the box, but we should mobilize inside the box. The “box” in this case being the Democratic Party and our current 2-party political system.

That simply doesn’t make sense to me.

Much has been made by both supporters and opponents of Bernie Sanders that he is an independent, and Bernie himself proudly asserts that he is the “longest serving independent” in Congress. That fact, however, belies the reality that Bernie has caucused with the Democrats for over 30 years. That he has raised money for the DCCC and the DSCC. That he has supported and voted for the Democratic Leadership in both the House and the Senate, and he has voted with the Democrats 98% of the time. Indeed, one criticism often levelled at Berners by Clinton supporters was the fact that Bernie and Hillary had virtually matching voting records while they served in the Senate together. Yes, they both supported the “Democratic Agenda.”

Bernie with Harry Reid

Bernie with Harry Reid

I have come to realise that Bernie is not the maverick that we might wish him to be. He is, in the end, a Company man, a Party Man. Harry Reid is notorious for running a tight ship in the Senate. He does not give you a plum Committee assignment unless he knows you will toe the Party line, and he certainly does not make you the Chair of a high profile committee like the Veterans Affairs Committee (as he did with Bernie in 2013) unless he knows you are a loyal partisan for the Democrats.

Bernie believes that the Democratic Party can be turned around. That we can reverse the decades of DLC-driven corporatism and remake the Democrats into the Party of FDR. This is simply not possible. The “pay-to-play” corruption that the Clintons and their New Democrat allies introduced in the 90’s has, over the past 30 years, completely taken over the Democratic Party. We are now on the 3rd or 4th generation of Democrats who literally grew up thinking that it was OK to take corporate money and to do the bidding of your donors as long as you stood on the righteous side when it came to civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and other social issues. These Democrats actually believe that they are doing good work by supporting LGBTQ causes and defending abortion rights even as they support Wall Street criminality, fracking, for-profit healthcare, TPP and other noxious issues pushed by their corporate donors.

bigstock_avarice_deadly_sin_of_greed_do_6574367Mind you, these are not all bad people. They are simply playing the hand they have been dealt, in a game that they did not create. They are making their way within an organisation that is so systemically corrupt that they do not even perceive the corruption for what it is. Cenk Uygur once described this phenomenon with an old joke: if you ask a fish “how’s the water?” he will answer “what water?” So it is with Democrats and the ocean of corruption in which they live.

You cannot ask today’s Democrats to change both themselves and the system in which they have thrived. They like the game as it is, because they are winning at it. And even if they wanted to change, their Corporate masters would never let them do so. The DNC is rotten to the core, and their actions during the 2016 Primaries show them to be a corrupt, well-organised and almost criminal enterprise willing to engage in illegitimate if not illegal activities to achieve the results that they and their Donors want. There is no way to rehabilitate this organisation, and there is no way that the DNC will countenance a “revolution” within their ranks.

Khama Savant is my HERO.

Khama Savant is my HERO.

BERNIE, I love you, and as I said at the top I will always revere you for what you did to start this Revolution. But you cannot lead the Revolution. The Democratic Party has been your adopted “home” on Capitol Hill since Bill Clinton first entered the White House in 1992. We cannot expect you to abandon the organisation that you have supported for 25 years. But neither can we hope to build our Revolution within the sclerotic ranks of the DNC. As Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has rightly said, any progressive movements “will reach a graveyard in the Democratic Party.”

That is why we must part company. You will push for Clinton to win the election, because you genuinely believe that once she is in the White House, she will bend toward the progressive causes that she has so studiously avoided all her career. You believe that she will be forced to listen to the Progressive wing of the Party, rather than the centrists and moderate Republicans she is currently courting for votes. You believe that we do not have the “luxury” of voting for a third party.

Sorry, Bernie. I do not believe those things that you believe about Clinton, nor do I believe that voting for my candidate of choice is a “luxury.” Indeed, in a representative democracy, I believe that voting for one’s chosen candidate is a duty.

97fd249e1c7e7287fae75f5a3d52b1eaBernie, your personal political hero is Eugene V. Debs, the American Socialist who maintained that it is better to vote for what you want and not get it, than to vote for what you don’t want and get that.

I plan to vote for what I want. I will vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party.

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Bernie Sanders, Politics | Leave a comment

Why I Want Trump to Win Over Clinton

After much deliberation, I have decided to write-in Bernie for President, or else vote for Jill Stein the Green Party candidate. I will NOT vote for Hillary Clinton, and many people freak out, telling me that this is a vote for Trump. I tell them that if the price for keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House is putting Trump in it, then I am OK with that.

Here’s why:

I was living in Stuttgart in 1983 when Reagan stationed the nuclear-tipped Pershing II’s in West Germany so he could have a pissing contest with the USSR, and we all thought WWIII was right around the corner.

Cowboy-reagan-on-missile-by-Melinda-GebbiePeople forget, but this had been a HUGE worry about Reagan: that he was a crazy fascist and would not hesitate to unleash nukes against the “Empire of Evil” – remember the USSR was a big thing back then, and we were all scared – and rightfully so.

On the domestic front Reagan was determined to privatise Social Security and completely do away with Medicare, which he called ”socialised medicine”. He rode into DC on a platform that called for disassembling government almost entirely, eliminating the Dept. of Education among others, and he was surely going to abolish the social “safety net” and put those Cadillac-driving, a999reaganalbum_2050081722-30790filet steak-eating “Welfare Queens” back to work.

Well, you know what? The nuclear missiles never flew, and Medicare, Social Security, the Education Dept. are still here. Only one of his major goals was achieved, but not under his Administration: it was a Democratic President named Bill Clinton who 8 years later decided to “end Welfare as we know it”. That was all part of Clinton’s “Third Way” takeover of the Democratic Party whereby he, his wife and other DLC apparatchiks turned the Democratic Party into the Republican Party ca. 1978.

clinton_welfareI was there when much was made about the fact that in 1996 Bill Clinton became the first Democratic Presidential candidate to raise more money from Corporate America than did his Republican opponent. That should have been a canary in the coal mine, a flare, a red flag, but we Democrats just shrugged and blithely held our noses and re-elected him, because he could WIN, and winning was everything. We were brainwashed, and we sold our progressive souls in order to make modest gains in the “Culture Wars” against Pat Buchanan and his evil bigoted ilk.

But while we congratulated ourselves on being “liberals” no one was minding the populist progressive store. Clinton’s “New Democrats” just gave up on the Reagan Democrats, the blue collar working people. They became a Party more interested in lawyers, bankers, high tech symbolic analysts – in other words, people with money. Unions became, like blacks and POC, just another constituency taken for granted, ignored and abused until election time, because, in the end, where else could they go?

Goldman SachsWe Democrats blew it. We sold out. We accepted the Clintonian curse of “pay to play” politics. It became all about the money, Lebowski. The money, and the winning. We Democrats collectively put our hands over our ears, we averted our eyes, we held our noses and voted the way we thought we could WIN. And meanwhile the Democratic Party lost its soul. The racist Crime Bill, the disastrous bank deregulation, the cynical abolition of Aid to Families with Dependent Children – we looked away. This, we told ourselves, was the price of winning. And leading that charge, convincing us of the righteousness and justness of the Third Way, reaping in money at obscene rates to fuel an increasingly rapacious, mammon-driven yet morally dissolute Democratic Party, were the “liberals” from deep red Arkansas, the Clintons.

Yes, my hatred and disdain for the Clintons is strong, but so is my FEAR of them. I lived in Germany for nine years. I have seen and heard Trump’s speeches “in the original German”. I know how a country can get hijacked by a megalomaniac. I have seen how good and decent people can be turned into racists and killers. I understand all too well how a civilized, cultured and God fearing country can be transformed by hatred, xenophobia and racism into a wasteland – both figuratively and literally.

The fact that I know all these things, lived all these things, and I STILL consider Hillary Clinton to be the greater threat, should give you pause. Because it is not enough to simply look back on history. We must look to the future. The disastrous neoliberal policies of Clinton and Blair, the DLC and the Third Way, the so-called “New Labour” and “New Democrats,” have led us to a place where the once-great but now beleaguered middle class is overworked, overtaxed, underpaid and completely disenfranchised.

AND THEY KNOW IT.

Do not think for a moment that Trump is the real threat. Trump is a buffoon, he has the mental capacity, the unjustified arrogance and the immaturity of a 15 year old with a Trust Fund, and he will be the engineer of his own downfall. I do not think Trump will even serve 4 years, as he will tire of the pace. He has already signalled that there will be large parts of the job of POTUS that he does not want to do – I think that once he has become sufficiently famous and assembled enough of other people’s money to launch his next business venture (a media company I am told), Trump will leave the stage.

No, it is the person waiting in the wings, studying Trump, whom we should fear. The one who will know how to capitalise on the massive wealth inequality, the pain and suffering of the working classes, the one who will have an organisational infrastructure behind him – HE is the one we must guard against.

If Hillary Clinton is elected, the neoliberal attack on the middle class will continue; things will NOT improve, and indeed will probably get worse. The ‘weak tea” of neoliberal incrementalism, triangulation and identity politics will only serve to further inflame the working people of America, and we will have a reactionary, xenophobic, racist and violent backlash that will make Trump’s rise seem tame.

donald-trump-question-mark-sbs copyThat is why I want Trump to win over Clinton. Trump stumbled into his nomination. He is like the dog that caught the car. He will not be a true danger because he will not pursue any sort of coherent agenda. I believe it is the NEXT Trump that we need to worry about, and if we elect Clinton, and vote for more of the same, then the next Trump will be more formidable, more organized and more dangerous than anything we have seen heretofore.

We need a new direction. We need Bernie Sanders, or someone like him, to lead us away from the wealth inequality. materialism and corporatist globalism that has given birth to Trumpism. We need to kill that movement in the crib. But if we elect Clinton we will have 8 years – at least – of neoliberal policies leading to yet more war and a further diminishing of the middle class. The fascistic “baby” we are seeing today will have had plenty of time to grow, and the results will be disastrous for our nation and our planet.

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Culture, Economics, History, Politics | 2 Comments

The Brexit: One ExPat’s View

As a “EuroYankee”, I feel I should weigh in heavily on the so-called Brexit. I was not surprised at the Leave vote. The Brits have been complaining about the EU for years – and the EU had had to bend over backwards to accommodate them. Yes, Ok, they could eschew the metric system used everywhere else and keep their sacred pints. Yes, they can still measure highway distances in miles; yes, they can still give their weight in stones; yes, they can sell land in acres and road-signsnot hectares like everywhere else. I just called my boss, who is staying at my house in Italy, and he informed me that the weather there was great, with a temp. of 85 degrees, when I knew damn well it was really 29.

Passport linesWhen asked where they plan to vacation (or holiday), most Brits will still reply “oh we are going to Europe”. Since starting work for my London based employer I have become accustomed to this distinction, as in “we have offices in both the UK and Europe” or “we need to start work at 7am in order to accommodate our European customers.”

The Brits also insist on using AM and PM, which gets very confusing once you start doing business on an international/ intercontinental level. I have yet to meet a Brit who was really comfortable using 14:30 rather than 2:30 when scheduling a call or a meeting. This gets dicey when you are often doing calls at 07:00 in Europe and then 19:00 in the US.

Most Europeans speak at least two languages, and many speak 3 or more. The most popular second language is of course English, and there is a reason for that: after 30 years of doing business in Europe, I can count on one hand the number of British businessmen I have met who were able to conduct business in a non-English language.

PythonALL THAT SAID: I am happy to let the British be British. After all, no one in the rest of the EU understands sarcasm. No one has the rich literary tradition that the UK has. And no “European” country has anything even remotely approaching the brilliance of Monty Python or Fry and Laurie or Rowan Atkinson. I majored in English History and Language at college, so I know of what I speak: the British are unique on this earth in terms of their contributions to literature and popular culture (Beatles, anyone?). May they forever remain so.

Still – be careful what you wish for: the Germans, French and Belgians are now rubbing their hands with glee: they finally have a legitimate reason to buy “European” and pay in Euros while keeping the business in their own countries. I have already heard of one large project that was destined to be delivered in Wales but has now flipped back to Germany. The Irish will have a problem with Northern Ireland, where the border may once again have to be hardened – but on the positive side, they will now represent Anglophone Europe. Any job in the “new” EU that requires native English will now perforce have to go to an Irishman. And all because their English rulers outlawed the Irish language and imposed English as the official language of Eire. Sweet irony there.

All in all, I am happy with the Brexit. For one thing, it may mean that my London-based employer may finally make the long-discussed move to open a “European” office in Barcelona, where I live. That will really cut down on my commute 🙂

Posted in Culture, Economics, History, Politics | Leave a comment

UPDATED: 10 Reasons why Clinton would be worse than Trump as President

1. Firstly, I do not believe that someone will set fire to the Capitol and blame it on the Mexicans or the Muslims. In other words: I do not foresee Trump being able to seize Hitlerian style absolute power. He will face the same checks and balances that have hamstrung Obama for 8 years. If elected, Trump would be hemmed in on all sides by aggressive Democrats and scared Republicans trying to salvage their own seats and their own upcoming re-elections. He would be blocked to an extent that would make Obama look like he had carte blanche for 8 years.

2. People who are wetting themselves over SCOTUS nominations are impugning the integrity and the backbone of the Democrats in the US Senate. Trump will not be able to push a radical right-winger onto the bench. He prides himself on making deals, he will make a deal to get a judge appointed over what will be strong Democratic opposition.

3. Trump wants to be POTUS – he does not want to be a “War President” – he is untravelled and uninterested in foreign events. He has run on a non-interventionist platform, and that is a major difference between him and Clinton, whom he has attacked incessantly for Iraq.

4. Trump has railed against bad trade deals and the TPP – this is another differentiator and is one of the few points that his supporters all agree on. Trump would most probably resist going back on this, one of his few consistent campaign promises, by signing the TPP.

5. The amount of damage that Trump could do would thus be very modest, aside from the more subjective damage done to America’s prestige and image by having our own version of Silvio Berlusconi in the WH.

6. Clinton, OTOH, knows “how to get things done” – and that scares me deeply. With Bill in charge of the economy (as she repeatedly promises), TPP will be a done deal – Bill as we know has never met a trade deal he didn’t like.

hillary-netanyahu-530x3067. Likud-led Israel badly wants the US to attack Iran and bomb them back to the stone age. Hillary will oblige them. If she wins, we will be bombing Iran before you can say “I Love Bibi”.

201132163646881140_208. Syria? Again – Israel wants Assad out, so Hillary will oblige. We will push Russia out of the area and cause even more misery and instability all in the name of Israeli Security.

9. God only knows what she will do to further punish, provoke and incite Russia, but look for a very aggressive and trigger-happy Putin if Hillary gets in.

10. A CRITICAL AND STRATEGIC REASON for not electing Hillary Clinton is that her victory will prove to the Democratic party Establishment that the duopoly is intact; that the “lesser of two evils” strategy is still valid. That it is OK to have 50% of the voters stay home because they have nothing to vote for – as long as you can eke out a majority among the remaining half of the electorate, you can claim a mandate, you can claim to represent the “people” – even though only slightly more than 1 in 4 of them voted for you. This is NOT democracy.

clinton-bush-article-display-bAND – I have not even started on what having two Presidents Clinton at the helm will mean for the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. I think that their “Initiative” may just about be tantamount to world domination. I am not joking. You do know that she prizes Henry Kissinger as a mentor and an advisor on world affairs and foreign policy, right? That the Clintons vacation together with the Kissingers? Makes my skin crawl, and I fear having any POTUS who is on such close personal terms with a genocidal maniac war criminal like K.

Clinton-Trump_Debatesafe_image.phpAnd finally: how bad can Trump be? The Clintons themselves seem to have no problem with him. After all, they famously went to Trump’s wedding. They in turn invited Trump to their daughter’s wedding. Chelsea and Ivanka are BFFs. Bill plays GOLF with Donald. If Trump really were the dangerous megalomaniacal bigot that the Clinton camp would have us believe, then why be so cozy with him?

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Bernie Sanders, Politics | 1 Comment

The Bernie Sanders Rapid Response Library ver. 4.2 (09 June 2016)

The Struggle Continues!

The Struggle Continues!

Tired of the MSM and Clintonista trolls talking smack about our guy? Wish you had some statistics and facts – or maybe just some snappy comebacks – to combat their BS?
Here is my own “Rapid Response Library” to use as a reference – some facts, figures and opinions – use whatever you think makes sense to you. Cut and paste, modify as needed to shoot down the nattering nabobs of negativism and the Clintonista shock troops wherever they may rear their ugly heads…

Just click the link below to download the DOC or the PDF.

Bernie Sanders Rapid Response Library_4.2 – MS Word DOC

Bernie Sanders Rapid Response Library_4.2 – Adobe PDF

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid!! – The DNC’s Suicide Pact with Hillary Clinton

Suicide pactSo now the Democratic Primary is moving into its last stages, and a very disturbing trend is starting to appear.

It seems that the DNC and the Superdelegates are determined to support Hillary Clinton even in the face of mounting evidence that she is a deeply flawed and weak candidate who is in serious peril of losing to Donald Trump in the General Election.

The DNC campaign to elect Hillary Started in 2013 with the “Ready for Hillary” PAC

NGP VAN (DNC Database provider) donated the "Ready for Hillary" bus

NGP VAN (DNC Database provider) donated the “Ready for Hillary” bus – conflict of interest much??

Upon her leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton’s DNC allies wasted no time in setting up the Ready for Hillary PAC, an organization that was setup according to the new rules that were in place following the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. By September of 2013 the Ready for Hillary PAC was already involved in helping finance the campaigns of Clinton’s “down ballot allies” such as Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, and by 2014 the PAC even started to spread money around to 27 state Democratic parties and six national organizations such as Emily’s List.

Fast forward to 2015, when the Ready for Hillary operation split into the Ready PAC and the Hillary Victory Fund, which continued to funnel money to Democratic State parties and candidates.

The Clintons and the DNC are now one big corrupt entity

Sen. Claire McCaskill is an example of the influence the Clintons have on the DNC

Sen. Claire McCaskill is an example of the influence the Clintons have on the DNC

The Democratic Establishment is fully invested in Hillary Clinton, and vice versa. The two entities of the DNC and the Clinton Family are so intertwined that they cannot be separated. The Clintons invented pay-to-play politics back in the 90’s and now they have perfected and promoted the “system” to the point where they completely dominate that system. I would expect that a substantial amount of the DNC and state party funding is now due either directly or indirectly to Clinton contributions or influence. It is reminiscent of the Medicis and the Catholic Church in Renaissance Florence – financial and political patronage combined with Establishment “legitimacy”.

But here is the problem

Hillary is the weakest and most flawed candidate that the Democratic Party has ever put up for election. This is not a subjective opinion, it is an objective analysis. Her negative favorability numbers are well north of 50% and have been for most of the past 3 decades. In the Democratic Primary of 2008, Senator Chris Dodd famously opined at a candidate debate that Hillary was “unelectable” because polls showed that half the country would never vote for her. “We may not like it but a fact is a fact,” Dodd said, and “we as a party need to take that into account.”

Hillary's unfavorables are now 5 points WORSE than when she was deemed "unelectable" in 2008

Hillary’s unfavorables are now 5 points WORSE than when she was deemed “unelectable” in 2008

That was then, but this is now. Hillary still has astronomically high negative favorability numbers, but the Democratic Party is steadfastly refusing to heed Dodd’s words. The fact that a large majority of Americans consider her untrustworthy is a fact that is NOT being taken into account.

Aside from her blatant flip-flops, her wooden personality, and her universally acknowledged problems with appearing human on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has a major problem that is not going away: Hillary Clinton is at the center of a FBI criminal investigation. Despite the best efforts of both the Clinton campaign and the DNC to spin the investigation as a “security enquiry,” the FBI Director James Comey has confirmed that it is a traditional FBI investigation to ascertain whether laws have been broken.

This is mind-boggling. That a candidate under FBI criminal investigation could not only survive but flourish under the overt and protecting hand of a major political party is something that was unthinkable until this election cycle. Whether or not Hillary is indicted, whether or not anyone is indicted, is not at issue at this point. What is at issue is the fact that this “scandal” continues to raise questions about Clinton’s trustworthiness, her hubris, her preference to play outside the rules, or to bend those rules when they suit her.

Warnings are everywhere

Hillary is essentially tied with Donald Trump in the polls nationally, and is in a very weak position in key battleground states. Indeed, in the key swing state of Ohio, Trump is already beating Hillary by 4 points. And this is BEFORE Trump “pivots to the center.” Trump is already backpedaling on some of his more incendiary positions, <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/donald-trump-transgender-people-should-be-allowed-to-use-bathroom-of-their-choice/" HRC-Trumptarget=”_blank”>seeming to be OK with transgender Americans using the bathroom of their choice, implying that the minimum wage should be raised in America, and that the rich should actually pay more in taxes.

These U-turns are now added to the advantages Trump already had against Hillary in the areas of Trade and Foreign Policy, where he is attacking her for supporting NAFTA and other “bad” trade deals, and hammering her for supporting the Iraq war and generally being a war hawk who is too eager to go to war:

“On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy,” Trump told the crowd. “She is, she’s trigger happy. She’s got a bad temperament,” he said. “Her decisions in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya have cost trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and have totally unleashed ISIS.”

"She came to my wedding. She had to, because I gave."

“She came to my wedding. She had to, because I gave.”

And of course, Trump is attacking “Crooked Hillary” on corruption. Trump has a personal and compelling argument to make about Hillary because he contributed to her campaign and he saw a return on that investment. “She came to my wedding,” he says, “she had to, because I gave.”

Think about that: Trump has first hand knowledge of how the “corrupt political Establishment” works because it worked for him – with HILLARY!

If Trump can successfully tone down his rhetoric, his “leftist” positions on Trade and Foreign Policy will echo those of Bernie Sanders; his attacks on Hillary for being “in the pocket” of wealthy campaign donors and Wall Street will find a ready and willing audience, and he will succeed in capturing many of Bernie’s supporters who are Independents.

The numbers don’t help

And the Democrats need those Independents in order to win. Membership in the Democratic Party has continued to dwindle, and now the Democrats represent only 29% of the American electorate (the GOP has 26%). A plurality of voters are now Independents (42%) and any successful campaign will have to court those voters.

And yes, since 2013 the % of voters identifying as Democrats has dropped from 31% to 29%.

And yes, since 2013 the % of voters identifying as Democrats has dropped from 31% to 29%.

The solution is clear and simple – and that is to make Bernie Sanders the nominee. Bernie does not have the baggage of Clinton, he polls very high in favorability ratings, he is seen to be honest and trustworthy, and his positions ALL command majoritarian support among the American people. Most of all, Bernie is NOT under an FBI criminal investigation.

The utterly invalid push-back against Bernie

ClaireWhen forced to confront all the negative aspects of a Clinton nomination, Hillary supporters push back with the same story lines that we have been hearing from the likes of Claire McCaskill since Bernie first announced his candidacy:

“Bernie is not vetted” – this is ridiculous. Bernie has won 14 Congressional and Senatorial elections running as a Socialist Independent up against the Democratic AND Republican establishments, and in one case beat Vermont’s wealthiest man, who outspent Bernie many times over. He is certainly more thoroughly vetted than Barack Obama was.

“Bernie will be attacked as a Socialist/Communist who wants to raise your taxes” – this argument literally makes me laugh. I feel forced to ask the person making it whether they have been in a coma for the past 8 years. Has there ever been a campaign in recent memory where the Republican did NOT attack the Democrat as a commie who would raise taxes? The American electorate is wise to this sort of bunk, and coming from the Republicans, who have never ceased to compare Obama to Mao, Stalin, Castro, and even Hitler all at the same time, such arguments will fall on deaf ears.

Even the GOP admits that this election will be the first in decades where the size of Government will not be an issue, and that indicates a sea change in the electorate that Hillary is just not able to connect with. Remember, she and her husband were the ones that famously and proud;y declared that “the era of big government is over.” The fact that government is no longer seen as “the problem” is something that old-school DLC apparatchiks like Hillary and Bill Clinton simply cannot cope with.

A Slow-Motion Train Wreck

To anyone paying attention, it is clear that the DNC and the Superdelegates, who have been “bought” by the Clinton campaign, cannot make a rational decision when it comes to selecting the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump. They will support Hillary up until the day she is indicted, and even then I am sure some surrogates would still be supporting her. But aside from the FBI investigation there are already many signs to indicate that she will lose against Donald Trump in the fall, whereas Bernie Sanders would win.

Die-hard Democrats accuse Bernie supporters of being naïve, of not accepting reality, in believing in a fairy tale dream. With Hillary, so the narrative goes, we will have a candidate that is practical and has been battle-tested. Yes, they say, her poll numbers are horrible, but that is only because she has been in the public eye for so long, and has suffered decades of scorn, scandal and vicious attacks.

But while Clinton supporters are quick to point out the history of attacks, they refuse to acknowledge the result: Only 19% of Americans think Hillary is trustworthythat number can only go DOWN.

By contrast, fully 80% of Americans think that Bernie Sanders is trustworthy.

Hillary and Debbie Wasserman Schultz: More than BFFs.

Hillary and Debbie Wasserman Schultz: More than BFFs.

And yet — they are convinced that Hillary Clinton, having spent 35 years in the public spotlight being constantly painted as a corrupt politician by her opponents, will be able to change the opinion of the American public in just a few months’ time. They steadfastly believe that she will overcome decades of opprobrium and negative polls quickly and successfully, and she will turn those numbers around all the while being attacked by an unscrupulous and outrageous media manipulator like Donald Trump, with the full funding and fury of the Right Wing and the GOP behind him.

Surely, this is madness.

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Bernie Sanders, Politics | 3 Comments

Jury Nullification, the “Glass Ceiling” and Clinton’s Support Base

Like many progressives who support Bernie Sanders, I have been amazed by the capacity for Clinton supporters to defend her even in the face of overwhelming and damning evidence of her faults. During the course of the Primary campaign, much of Clinton’s history, her past deeds and positions have come to light, and yet the hard core base of Hillary fans are immune to any and all proof of her having adopted, promoted and defended very illiberal positions on health care, fracking, trade, foreign policy, and so on.

Hillary's "convenience" explanation is false on its face, yet her supporters claim they believe it.

Hillary’s “convenience” explanation is false on its face, yet her supporters claim they believe it.

Moreover, I am continually astounded at the vehemence with which Clinton adherents dismiss the current FBI criminal investigations into her emails as just another “witch hunt” perpetrated by the “vast right wing conspiracy.” The fact that this is the Obama Administration, the Kerry State Department and the frigging FBI who are investigating is completely lost on them. The actions of the US Dept. of Justice under the aegis of a Democratic President – and one who had Hillary serve in his cabinet – are, in the end, no different to Clintonites than those of the slavering partisans in the GOP-controlled House committees.

Why is this?

I first attempted to describe this phenomenon in a blog post in which I talked about “RCDS” – or “Reverse Clinton Derangement Syndrome.” I believe that I correctly identified a major phenomenon of cognitive dissonance on the Left as regards Hillary Clinton, in that Clinton supporters are having to twist themselves into mental pretzels in order to claim a progressive mindset and yet support the clearly non-progressive policies of their candidate. But I could not explain WHY this was happening.

And then it hit me: what we are witnessing among Hillary supporters – especially women of a certain age – is sort of “Jury Nullification.” This is the act by which a jury finds a defendant innocent despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and even when they may privately recognise the culpability of the defendant. Jury Nullification exists in order to right previous wrongs or fight back against an unjust legal or social order by “nullifying” the law’s intended effect on a particular defendant. The phenomenon of Jury Nullification goes back a long time historically, but was most recently seen prominently in the case of O.J. Simpson.

Lionel (Lon) Cryer, an OJ Simpson juror, who gave the "Black Power" salute just prior to the "not guilty" verdict being read.

Lionel (Lon) Cryer, an OJ Simpson juror, who gave the “Black Power” salute just prior to the “not guilty” verdict being read.

In the Simpson trial, almost all those who were watching nationwide – especially white people – simply could not understand how Simpson could be exonerated. And yet for the mostly black jury, the trial was not so much about the guilt of one man as it was about the fact that the LAPD was an extremely racist organisation filled with sadistic cops who had been unjustly persecuting people of colour for years.

I think the same is true in Hillary’s case. The people who support Hillary Clinton most adamantly are those who admire her ability to have come as far as she has, done the things that she has done, but above all for having achieved them despite the many obstacles and hindrances that were placed in her path all along the way over the past 40 years.

I first started to suspect that Jury Nullification was at work when I looked at all the female Senators that had endorsed Clinton en masse. Among them were Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, the two Senators from the State of Washington. Bernie Sanders won the Washington State Primary with 73% of the vote, but these two Clinton Superdelegates refuse to even consider moving their support away from Clinton.

Likewise, I look at Claire McCaskill and Jennifer Granholm, one a Senator and one an ex-Governor, who have both been tireless and enthusiastic surrogates for Hillary since the beginning of her campaign.

Katherine Lawrence was an HP employee credited with coining the term "Glass Ceiling" in 1979

Katherine Lawrence was an HP employee credited with coining the term “Glass Ceiling” in 1979

All of these women were born in the 50’s, and so would have been in their 20’s when the term “glass ceiling” was first coined by HP’s Katherine Lawrence in 1979. According to Wikipedia’s definition, “A glass ceiling is a term used to describe the unseen, yet unbreakable, barrier that keeps one from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of qualifications or achievements.”

The concept of the Glass Ceiling was thus something very real and very important to them. The idea that women could not succeed or rise to a prominent position either in politics or business due to unfair biases, “old boys networks” and other structural prejudices was something that directly affected them and their contemporaries. Even today there is a large group of middle aged and even younger women who realise that the Glass Ceiling still persists in many areas of endeavour, and that women continue to be judged unfairly by both their male colleagues and the mass media. Female “baby boomers” were thus predisposed to combat and destroy this “invisible barrier” everywhere they found it. It was a quest, an ethos, a crusade like any other in the Civil Rights and the woman’s movement. Yes, the gutless politicians could not pass the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), but women themselves could certainly break those barriers in the private sector. But that still left Politics. And the greatest symbolic prize there was to elect a woman as President.

So when Hillary exhorts her followers to “help me break that last glass ceiling” she is speaking to something very deep-set and very powerful within this cohort of Democratic women. When Hillary talks about “breaking down barriers” (ass she did in her Super Tuesday victory speech), she is speaking to those ardent supporters who have been breaking down barriers their entire lives.

The Jury Nullification argument becomes even stronger when we look at the 2008 race, which was very contentious and hard- fought. Back then it wasn’t “Bernie Bros” but “Obama Boys” who were the sexist misogynists out to derail a worthy woman from her deserved destiny. The Corporate Media was also against her, and even the most energetic, vituperative and savage attacks by her husband against her opponent could not save the day.

When Hillary did concede, however, she gave a very definitive and pointed shout out to those who had watched her blaze a trail through what they perceived as a misogynistic, rigged system. She spoke in the plural and rallied her sisters thusly:

Hillary Clinton giving her concession speech, June 7, 2008.

Hillary Clinton giving her concession speech, June 7, 2008.


“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”

So there you have it: in 2008, Hillary declared that the “invisible barrier” was still there; she had done her best to break it, but it was not yet broken. To all those who listened that night, however, it was clear that she would be back.

And now she is back, and she is winning. And there is nothing that will stop her. That Glass Ceiling, that invisible barrier that has been blocking women for the past 40 years, will finally be shattered. And THAT is what is important.

Hillary may be an imperfect vessel; she may have faults, she may be a weak candidate and suffer the loathing and mistrust of a majority of Americans, but for that energized cohort of female Democrats who have themselves been butting their head against that Glass Ceiling for decades, it is not about Hillary Clinton per se. It is about electing a woman President of the United States.

Elizabeth Warren is a firebrand and a darling of the Progressive Movement.

Elizabeth Warren is a firebrand and a darling of the Progressive Movement.

Many Democrats, liberals and progressives would also like to see a woman in the White House – “just not that woman”. I have been on many blogs and website comments sections where Sanders supporters or Hillary detractors defend themselves by saying that they would have loved to see Elizabeth Warren run for President. Indeed, it is widely believed that had Warren run, Sanders would not have thrown his hat into the ring. But that misses the point. Warren is NOT running, and Hillary is. It is Hillary Clinton that can gain the nomination and then go on to be elected POTUS.

The foibles, the scandals, the failures, the faults and the suspected criminal activity that pertain to the specific person of Hillary Rodham Clinton are irrelevant. She could be sitting in a jail cell and there would still be people trying to get her elected, because she is the last, best hope for a female President in 2016 and, after coming so close in 2008, after having put those “18 million cracks” in the Glass Ceiling, it is more important than anything else right now to finish the job, to break that invisible barrier, to achieve what so many have fought so hard to make happen.

Ulysses S. Grant was a horrible person, and a man of many faults. But he won the Civil War, and that was what counted. Democratic dames d’une certaine age and many of their younger sisters see Hillary in much the same light, I am sure. And like those jurists in the O.J. Simpson trial, they are willing to give the defendant a pass in order to strike a broader blow for the common good.

My take-away from all this? Do not try to reason with a true Hillary supporter. Anything you say will only come across as you telling them that the Glass Ceiling is still there, and it will not be broken. For them it is all about the message, not the messenger. Hillary is not just Hillary, she is all women who have faced that Glass Ceiling, who have had to live in that rigged system, who have struggled against the sexism that does surely still exist among their colleagues. And any words against that messianic cause will be received by them as a personal afront, as if you’re saying “it’s not yet your time.” And they have waited too long to be denied again.

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Bernie Sanders, Culture, History, Politics | Leave a comment

The Clintons and their Allies, The Koch Brothers

In April 2016, Charles Koch made headlines when, during an interview with CBS, he said that he might very well support Hillary Clinton rather than any of the GOP candidates still in the running at that time.

Koch’s remarks were treated as a major surprise:

DLC_HRCHillary was very quick to denounce the half-hearted endorsement, but there is a reason why Koch’s support for Clinton should come as no surprise: the Kochs helped propel the Clintons into the White House and were a major donor and backer of Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

When Bill and Hillary Clinton moved into the White House in 1992, they had a lot of people to thank. Prominent among those people were the Koch Brothers and their massive corporation, Koch Industries, Inc.

As Robert Dreyfuss explained in The American Prospect:

“…28 giant companies found their way onto the DLC’s executive council, including Aetna, AT&T, American Airlines, AIG, BellSouth, Chevron, DuPont, Enron, IBM, Merck and Company, Microsoft, Philip Morris, Texaco, and Verizon Communications. Few, if any, of these corporations would be seen as leaning Democratic, of course, but here and there are some real surprises. One member of the DLC’s executive council is none other than Koch Industries, the privately held, Kansas-based oil company whose namesake family members are avatars of the far right, having helped to found archconservative institutions like the Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy. Not only that, but two Koch executives, Richard Fink and Robert P. Hall III, are listed as members of the board of trustees and the event committee, respectively–meaning that they gave significantly more than $25,000.”

Clinton_DLCSo there you have it. The Clintons were part of the “New Democrat” movement that was funded by Corporate America, including the Koch Brothers.

You may have noticed that Verizon Communications was also a part of the DLC Board. That is probably why it took Hillary so long to express support for the striking workers last month. Of course, Bernie was out there supporting the Verizon workers last October. Still, it must have come as quite a shock to the executives at Verizon when their old DLC comrade, Hillary Clinton, finally spent some time with the workers …

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RCDS – “Reverse Clinton Derangement Syndrome” – Its Symptoms and its Cure

Hillarty-2

There is an epidemic affecting millions of people who once described themselves as “liberal” and/or “progressive”.

I call it “RCDS” — “Reverse Clinton Derangement Syndrome.” But while this epidemic has only recently broken out, this type of affliction is not new.

Many of us are already familiar with ODS: Obama Derangement Syndrome

This disease has led many GOPers to actually OPPOSE the legislation they had introduced or favoured, such as the ACA (which was a GOP idea first introduced as Romneycare). Watching Republicans tie themselves into pretzels trying to explain why Romneycare was good but Obamacare was a disaster was really interesting — likewise with Merrick Garland: praised by Orrin Hatch who implied that the GOP would vote for Garland but Obama would never nominate him and then … bam! Now they have to be against Garland.

There have been many instances where Obama has proposed something that had been pushed by the GOP but the Republicans then had to find some reason to oppose what they had previously favoured, or to favour what they had previously opposed. All due to ODS.

It is the same with RCDS
I am sure that many if not most Hillary supporters would be the first to say that the GOP is funded by Big Oil and Big Pharma and other special interests, and that they are corrupted this way and so represent those interests. Indeed, I am sure there are many diaries from a few years ago here on DK that decried the Big Money donations that were going to the GOP.

Look, we all know that 70% of this Corporate money goes to Republicans, and 30% goes to Democrats (Barney Frank says it is 80/20, but he exaggerates). Hillary supporters would maintain however that whilst the Republican recipients of Corporate largesse do the bidding of the Corporate donors who fund them, Hillary is somehow magically immune from their influence. This particular strain of cognitive dissonance is a hallmark of RCDS.

I am sure that the Hillary supporters were OUTRAGED when Dick Cheney held “secret” meetings with the energy industry “behind closed doors” and that many of them vehemently demanded that the minutes of the Energy Task Force meetings be divulged by the Bush Administration. But Hillary’s “closed door” meetings with Wall Street? Well, that’s a different KIND of Corporate meeting. A horse of a different feather.

Likewise, I am absolutely positive that many if not most Hillary supporters were strong proponents of a Single Payer healthcare system when it was proposed by Obama and was part of the Democratic Party Platform in 2008. But now they all are convinced that a Single Payer system will just “never, ever happen” and Bernie Sanders is “unrealistic” to even propose such a thing.

Fracking, as it now appears to Hillary supporters, is not such a bad thing after all — it just needs to be properly regulated.

Lifting the cap on Social Security — bad idea …. now.

Were today’s Clinton supporters less strident on gun control when Hillary was portraying herself as “Annie Oakley” (shooting ducks, etc.) to contrast herself with the “anti-gun” Obama of 2008? I would imagine so.

I am sure also that many Hillary supporters were — at least at one time — disappointed in President Obama. His promise to fight for a Single Payer system fell by the wayside; his promise to close Guantanamo never happened, even though he does have the power to do so.

And I know many “liberal” Democrats were disappointed that no one from the Bush-Cheney Administration were prosecuted or at least called to account for lying us into a war. The greatest and most devastating fraud ever perpetrated on the American people went without any public reckoning. But that is all water under the bridge now for RCDS sufferers. Clinton has said it was a mistake, and so that is that. We must, as Obama said, “look forward, not backward,” because bringing the matter up only casts shadows on Hillary Clinton’s infamous vote, and RCDS sufferers are now honour-bound to defend that vote in any way possible.

Likewise, I am sure that at one time many Hillary supporters were against big money in politics, and they felt that the Citizens United decision was incredibly injurious to American democracy. But we don’t hear much about that any more from Clinton or her supporters. Indeed, the subject of campaign finance is a taboo among those with RCDS, because the unlimited campaign donations that Hillary is able to bring in thanks to Citizens United and McCutcheon allows her to “help” down-ballot Democrats and Superdelegates, and this is a major point of contrast and an effective attack line against Bernie Sanders.

AND THE BIGGEST EXAMPLE:
The fact that the Obama Justice Department, the FBI and the Inspector General of the State Department (who was appointed by

State Dept. IG Steve Linick was appointed by Obama and John Kerry

State Dept. IG Steve Linick was appointed by Obama and John Kerry

Obama and John Kerry) are all part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that is out to nail Hillary Clinton for no reason at all, and that she is being singled out by these Democrat-appointed operatives for no other reason than something John Podesta calls “Clinton Bias.”

Is there a cure for RCDS?
As Democrats we should extend our sympathy and compassion to those who live with RCDS every day. It cannot be easy to cling to these DLC-driven, centre-right corporatist beliefs in the face of the growing wave of insurgent progressivism both among Democrats and Independents.

We are already starting to see massive and epic FAILS among RCDS sufferers around Bernie’s tax returns, his putative “sexism” and his trip to the Vatican. The pathetic attempts to discredit, “disqualify and defeat” Bernie Sanders are blowing up and blowing back with increasing ferocity. W.B. Yeats could have said it: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” And indeed, this may be the way the world ends for centre-right DLC New Democrats and their corporate allies.

There is, in the end, only one cure for RCDS, and that is to finally give in, to let go, to surrender to the righteous cause and to finally embrace Bernie Sanders. And as Sanders supporters let us all do our part to support our benighted brothers and sisters even as we gently nudge them towards salvation.

Feel the Bern.

UPDATE 17 April:
There is an excellent article in The Guardian that covers this topic as well. Here is an excerpt:

The Clinton campaign has spent the last few weeks furiously pushing back at the criticism that she is influenced by the vast donations her campaign receives from backers in the oil and financial industries. Her supporters have been vigorously arguing there’s no evidence of a quid pro quo.

How quickly they forget. As journalist David Sirota reported earlier this week, in the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Clinton harshly criticized then senator Obama for accepting donations from oil and gas executives – and even cut a campaign commercial about it. The kicker? It was less money than Clinton has accepted from people working for fossil fuel companies so far this campaign season.

While Clinton called the suggestion that she might be influenced by the wealthy bankers who raise money for her campaign an “artful smear” in 2016, she also had no problem hurling even stronger accusations about Obama in 2008: “Senator Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors – Exelon, a big nuclear power company,” she said. “Apparently he cut some deals behind closed doors to protect them from full disclosure of the nuclear industry.”

Then there are the closed-door speeches that Clinton gave for Goldman Sachs and other big banks after she left her role as secretary of state. While she has steadfastly refused to release the transcripts, she’s claimed it has never affected her position on the banks one iota. Which is fine, if that’s the principled stance you want to take, but it’s not one her party has had in the past. Mitt Romney was hit hard in the 2012 presidential campaign by Democrats for the speeches he gave to financial institutions.

So which is it? Are politicians corrupt (or susceptible to corruption) if they are giving highly paid speeches behind closed doors to financial institutions, or not? It doesn’t work both ways.

Clinton has also criticized the supreme court’s ruling in Citizens United by rightly pointing out that the original case was sparked by an attempt to air a documentary that was critical of her right before an election. Yet she has reaped the rewards from the ruling – possibly more than any other candidate – from myriad Super Pacs and outside groups that have spent heavily in favor of her candidacy.

The president of Citizens United even told the Center for Public Integrity last week: “Wouldn’t you know that Hillary Clinton has become one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Citizens United supreme court decision. It is an irony that is not lost on me.”

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Politics | 1 Comment

Here’s what will happen at the Democratic Convention in July

HillaryIn July 2016 the Democratic National Committee will hold its National Convention in Philadelphia, in the appropriately named “Wells Fargo Center.”

Here is what most probably will happen:

1. A political party that represents 29% of the voters will nominate a candidate to run for President.

2. That candidate will run against the nominee from another party that represents 25% of the voters.

4. The Democrats will nominate a candidate with a 46% favourable rating among voters.

5. That candidate will face an opponent who has a 35% favourable rating.

That spread, i.e., 65% unfavourable versus “only” 54% unfavourable, is what the DNC considers a “winning scenario.”

So let’s sum up:
One party, representing 1 in 3 of the nation’s voters, will nominate a candidate that more than half of all voters do not like.

The other party, representing 1 in 4 f the nation’s voters, will nominate a candidate that two-thirds of all voters do not like.

So we have two parties, neither of which represents a majority or even anywhere near half of us, choosing candidates that more than half of us do not want to vote for.

For all my friends out there who were worried about having to choose “The Lesser Of Two Evils” let me tell you the truth:

This year, we will face the Evil of Two Lessers.

The two party system is broken. We need to fix it.

And yes, since 2013 the % of voters identifying as Democrats has dropped from 31% to 29%.

And yes, since 2013 the % of voters identifying as Democrats has dropped from 31% to 29%.

Let us all hope that Bernie Sanders can help revitalise the Democratic Party and make it relevant again by attracting young people and others to the Democratic fold, so that the future DNC will be able to nominate a candidate with a “net positive” approval rating. It is not too much to hope for.

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This is what Corruption Looks Like: How Hundreds of Superdelegates were “bought” by the Clinton Campaign.

Hillary and Debbie Wasserman Schultz: More than BFFs.

Hillary and Debbie Wasserman Schultz: More than BFFs.

You know, I always thought it was somewhat strange that so many Superdelegates had endorsed Hillary Clinton even many months before the Primary race started.

As Debbie Wasserman Schultz explained to Rachel Maddow, the Superdelegates should not be treated or counted like pledged delegates. They do not have to declare their preference until the Convention.

I always thought it was strange, then, that so many Party officials and officeholders would be tripping all over each other in a mad rush to endorse Hillary, when the convention was still a year away.

Now I know why.

You see, these Superdelegates are members of their State Democratic Parties, upon whom they rely for support and funding for re-election. And the money that will be available for those re-election efforts has, in many cases, been provided by Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has provided funds for these candidates through a sophisticated system of money laundering that has allowed the Clinton campaign to funnel billionaire’s donations to State parties in return for their participation in a massive money-laundering payback system to also funnel money to the Clinton campaign itself.

Margot Kidder supports Bernie.

Margot Kidder supports Bernie.

The whole sordid affair was recently brought to light in a Counterpunch article and showcased on The Young Turks. As Margot Kidder (yes, THAT Margot Kidder) writes in Counterpunch:

In August 2015, at the Democratic Party convention in Minneapolis, 33 democratic state parties made deals with the Hillary Clinton campaign and a joint fundraising entity called The Hillary Victory Fund. The deal allowed many of her core billionaire and inner circle individual donors to run the maximum amounts of money allowed through those state parties to the Hillary Victory Fund in New York and the DNC in Washington.

Remember, this was in AUGUST — 6 months before the first vote was cast in the actual Primary. Margot continues:

The idea was to increase how much one could personally donate to Hillary by taking advantage of the Supreme Court ruling 2014, McCutcheon v FEC, that knocked down a cap on aggregate limits as to how much a donor could give to a federal campaign in a year. It thus eliminated the ceiling on amounts spent by a single donor to a presidential candidate.
From these large amounts of money being transferred from state coffers to the Hillary Victory Fund in Washington, the Clinton campaign got the first $2,700, the DNC was to get the next $33,400, and the remainder was to be split among the 33 signatory states. With this scheme, the Hillary Victory Fund raised over $26 million for the Clinton Campaign by the end of 2015.

… and the rest of the money went to the State Parties and, eventually, the candidates, including many officeholders who are Superdelegates.

These Superdelegates are actually PLEDGED — to Clinton

Many people are speculating as to whether or not Superdelegates from States that have voted for Bernie will move their support away from Bernie.

Unfortunately, that will NEVER happen.

You see, when it comes to all this money flowing in from the millionaires and billionaires who give to Hillary, the Clinton Campaign can decide which State Parties get to partake in the spoils:

The fund is administered by treasurer Elizabeth Jones, the Clinton Campaign’s chief operating officer. Ms. Jones has the exclusive right to decide when transfers of money to and from the Hillary Victory Fund would be made to the state parties.

So if a Superdelegate whose State voted overwhelmingly for Bernie switched her support to Sanders under the reasoning that she was representing the will of her State, then Clinton’s Campaign COO would shut off the spigot and all that sweet, sweet billionaire cash would stop flowing into the coffers of her State Democratic Party — and the candidate herself.

As Kidder gently puts it:

One could reasonably infer that … the super-delegates of these various partner states would either pledge loyalty to Clinton, or, at the least, not endorse Senator Sanders. Not only did Hillary’s multi-millionaire and billionaire supporters get to bypass individual campaign donation limits to state parties by using several state parties apparatus, but the Clinton campaign got the added bonus of buying that state’s super-delegates with the promise of contributions to that Democratic organization’s re-election fund.

So — there you have it. Not a pretty story. It is not just the money-laundering operation itself, which has allowed the Clinton campaign to “legally” obviate campaign finance law, but it has further allowed them to pervert the political process of the Democratic Party by “buying” the fealty of the Superdelegates. These Superdelegates are supposed to be “free to choose the best candidate” according to their own beliefs and their own conscience. But now many of them will have that choice essentially turned into a dilemma: they can support Hillary and stay in politics, or they can support Bernie and deprive both themselves and their State Party of significant funding from the Clinton campaign — thereby ending their career.

Spread the Word!

The next time you hear or read someone challenging you to prove that the DNC and/or the State Parties are “in the tank” for Hillary, or possibly doing ANYTHING to help Hillary defeat Bernie, show them this diary or the original article — or even this article on AlterNet. It is clear that it is in the direct financial interest of all these groups to have Hillary win — our at least be seen to be helping her win, so that their gravy train of Clinton campaign cash does not derail.

The next time you see Rachel Maddow or someone else criticise Bernie for not supporting down ballot candidates, and you hear them crow about how Hillary has “raised significant money” for Democrats, you should point out that that money came from billionaire donors using a clever money-laundering process to avoid campaign finance laws, and that Clinton’s “altruism” and “Party loyalty” has in fact been nothing more than a corrupt scheme to “buy” the votes of hundreds of Superdelegates and thereby subvert the political process and the will of the People.

The Rogue’s Gallery

Here is a handy list of the beneficiaries of the Clinton Victory Find scheme. Super delegates from these States will not be able to switch to Bernie if they want to keep any friends in their State Party.

Recipient Party Type** Office Sought Total Clinton, Hillary D C Pres $4,440,000 DNC Services Corp D P $2,263,436 Democratic Party of Wisconsin D P $207,278
Democratic Party of Oklahoma D P $140,000
Democratic Party of New Hampshire D P $74,700
Democratic Party of Pennsylvania D P $70,500
Democratic Party of Texas D P $69,100
Democratic Executive Cmte of Florida D P $66,200
Democratic Party of Nevada D P $66,200
Democratic Party of Colorado D P $66,000
Democratic Party of Ohio D P $66,000
Democratic Cmte of Utah D P $64,100
Democratic Party of Alaska D P $64,100
Democratic Party of Mississippi D P $64,100
Democratic Party of Montana D P $64,100
Democratic Party of Oregon D P $64,100
Democratic Party of South Carolina D P $64,100
Democratic Party of Tennessee D P $64,100
Democratic State Cmte of Massachusetts D P $64,100
Georgia Federal Elections Cmte D P $64,100
Idaho State Democratic Party D P $64,100
Michigan Democratic State Central Cmte D P $64,100
Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party D P $64,100
Missouri Democratic State Cmte D P $64,100
Rhode Island Democratic State Cmte D P $64,100
West Virginia State Democratic Exec Cmte D P $64,100
Wyoming State Democratic Central Cmte D P $64,100
Democratic Party of North Carolina D P $64,000 Democratic State Central Cmte/Louisiana D P $64,000 Indiana Democratic Congressional Victory Cmte D P $64,000 Democratic Party of Arkansas D P $63,000 Maine Democratic State Cmte D P $59,800 Democratic Party of Virginia D P $43,500

Source: FEC

Posted in 2016 Campaign, Bernie Sanders | Leave a comment

As Commander-in-Chief Hillary will keep us safe like no other Democrat would

Hillary and friends When it comes to foreign policy, there is no doubt that the Middle East poses the greatest challenge to any would-be American President. Hillary Clinton is in a unique position to defend both the US and our closest allies in the Middle East by virtue of her experience, her proven track record in foreign relations and her unparalleled personal connections and relationships with the major players in the region.

Hillary Supports Israel 110%

hillary-netanyahu-530x306Hillary is by far the strongest supporter of Israel, our “special and irreplaceable ally” and the only theocratic Democracy in the world. Her steadfast support for the ruling Likud Party and her personal allegiance to Bibi Netanyahu is unquestioned, and she has for years supported Israel in their efforts defend themselves against the terrorists living in Palestine. For Hillary, there is no “grey area” – there is only the black and white reality that Israel is our ally and that their actions in Palestine are purely based on self defense and a desire to secure their own right to live in peace without fear of terrorist rockets or suicide bombers. In her speech to AIPAC, Hillary was clear, stating that the United States could not be “neutral” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; could not be neutral when it comes to settlements or land or the need to rout out the terrorists wherever they may hide. She railed strongly against the so-called “BDS” movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanction”) which she sees as nothing more than anti-Semitism and an unfair attack on Israel and the Jewish people.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, still talks about the so-called “two state solution” in which the Palestinians should have the right to live in an “economically viable” state of their own, and he is actually on the record as condemning Israeli settlements and the bombing of Gaza and various other operations that Israel has had to conduct in order to protect itself from sen-bernie-sandersthe terrorists living in Palestine. His positions on these issues clearly put Bernie out of touch with the modern Democratic Party. Indeed, his views are a throwback to the 1970’s and the naïve peacenik policies of Jimmy Carter, who recently has even gone so far as to call the Israeli administration of Palestine an “occupation” and “a modern apartheid.” Clearly, politicians like Bernie Sanders and Jimmy Carter simply do not understand the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as they have evolved over the past years, and how the situation has become more grave and more dangerous for Israel since the Likud Party has taken control of the Jewish State. Hillary knows that without the firm and unrelenting leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu Israel would find itself in a very different situation today, and so her strong and unswerving personal loyalty to the Israeli Prime Minister has gained her his trust and his thanks. Having Hillary in the White House will re-establish warm, friendly and close ties with Netanyahu and the Likud Party, which have grown tenuous and weak under President Obama – and would certainly become even more contentious under a President Sanders.

Hillary has a Proven History of Working with our Arab Allies

HRCarabsHillary’s close ties and unqualified support for Israel has not kept her from developing equally close ties with our greatest Arab allies. As Secretary of State she moved decisively to push the Obama Administration to overthrow the Libyan government and remove Muamar Gaddafi from power. The US support for the bombing campaign that ultimately killed that despot was critical to the success of that mission, and Hillary herself described the overwhelming victory when she said “we came, we saw, he died.”

This action was not just a humanitarian mission, however. It was also something that our Arab allies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere desperately wanted to see happen, and Hillary’s strong leadership in this action earned her the respect and the thanks of the ruling families of those kingdoms. Hillary was also able to cobble together support for the move to overthrow Assad in Syria, something both the Israelis and the Saudis wanted to see happen. Clinton thus proved capable of working with our two closest Middle Eastern allies in an effective way that reflects well on both her ability to get things done as well as her skill in keeping such initiatives “under the radar” in order to cloak the involvement of our allies and therefore spare them any embarrassment.

Hillary Occupies a Unique Position in World Affairs

Hillary cemented her personal ties with many Arab and Muslim leaders around the world by masterfully leveraging her position in government. Every arms deal must be approved by the State Department, and Hillary made sure that no weapons shipment was made without first ensuring that America and the world would benefit from the transaction.

HillaryCGIAlongside her duties as Secretary of State, Hillary also championed the charitable activities of the Clinton Global Initiative, deftly using her arms negotiations with over 20 countries to cajole sizeable donations from the recipients. While some have criticised her for this, it is obvious that any negotiation resulting in such a “win-win” scenario can only serve to strengthen Hillary’s credibility and hence her ability to get things done with our Arab allies. In this way Hillary is uniquely positioned to succeed in enforcing her policies in the Middle East through leverage she can exert both through official channels as well as non-official and even private sector engagement. She is truly a “triple threat” in the world of Realpolitik.

Hillary is Right on Anti-Terrorism

snowdenAs a US Senator, Hillary Clinton was and remains a staunch supporter of the Patriot Act, having voted for it in 2001 and again to re-authorise it in 2006, when she proclaimed “We understood then, as we do now, that these tools are important in our fight against terrorism.” Democrats need to be strong in this regard, and the good work that is being done by the NSA and other Government agencies are needed to keep us safe. This is the Democratic position.

Bernie Sanders has adopted a radical opposition to the original Patriot Act and its reauthorisation, and in this he is in the company of such Republicans and Libertarians as Rand Paul. Moreover, Hillary realises the danger in having such people as Edward Snowden breach our national security without facing the consequences. While Bernie Sanders seems to want to extend leniency towards Snowden, Hillary will be steadfast and forthright in demanding that the criminal Snowden “face the music” for his traitorous activities.

What Hillary will get done in Foreign Policy

Hillary will continue to be the lion-hearted crusader in Foreign Policy that she has always been. Hillary is not afraid to take on the enemies of America and our key allies like Israel, and she will not hesitate to use America’s military might to extinguish any perceived threat to us or our friends, and she will be pro-active in pursuing a policy of international engagement that fits America’s unique position as the world’s lone Superpower and the “indispensible” country when it comes to international security. Henry Kissinger, though not a Democrat, is still one of the most venerated statesmen in America, and he has rightly praised Hillary for her handling of foreign affairs while at State. This is because Hillary, like Kissinger, understands that America occupies a unique position in the world in terms of its military capability as well as its innate moral superiority.

neocon_monstersMoreover, Hillary has a proven track record of bipartisanship in getting things done on Foreign Policy. Kissinger is not the only Republican to have praised Hillary’s performance as Secretary of State: John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Condoleeza Rice, Cory Gardner and even Jim Demint have all praised Hillary’s leadership while at State.

Indeed, Hillary maintains a “massive” stable of advisors including such luminaries as Robert Kagan as well as Kenneth Pollack and Martin Indyk, who share Hillary’s determination to assert America’s rightful position on the world stage as well as to stamp out terrorism and defend Israel at all costs. If elected President there is no doubt that Hillary will indeed “get things done” in the foreign policy arena.

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Democrats should Embrace the “Bernie or Bust” Crowd

UnknownThere has been an awful lot of vitriol and haranguing among the ragged ranks of the Left lately. Purity versus fealty is now turning into a sort of 30 Years War among Democrats, supporters of Bernie Sanders battling it out with those of Hillary Clinton.

The latest battle is raging around the so-called “Bernie or Bust” movement that has taken hold among a very dedicated cohort of Sanders supporters. The adherents of this movement swear that if Hillary becomes the Democratic nominee, they will “write in” Bernie’s name for President.

First, Don’t Freak Out

Hillary supporters are losing their sh$t and screaming that these Berners are not “real Democrats”, and that they are acting from a vile position of “privilege” in which they somehow will not suffer personally from the extreme depredations that will be visited upon the American people should Donald Trump win the White House. Others maintain that a Trump Presidency will make the sarandongeopolitical disaster that was the George W. Bush Presidency look like a picnic compared to the Apocalypse that will surely follow if Trump is sitting in the Oval Office.

Please can we step back and look at this thing logically and intelligently?

1) YES, the Bernie-or-Bust people are probably not normal Democrats, and

2) YES, they probably would not even vote if Bernie were not running, and

3) YES, that makes them immune to exhortations by Democrats to vote for Hillary and “toe the party line” if Bernie loses.

BUT — these three attributes actually explain WHY we should all be working on trying to bring these people into the Democratic fold, not alienate or exclude them through savage attacks and haughty condemnations. Indeed, even dismissive snark should be ruled out in this case as it will only serve to further frustrate and irritate people who are already massively pissed off and feeling hard done by the Democratic “Establishment.”

What Bernie Has Wrought

It is no secret that voter turnout in the USA is abysmal, and that young people as well as blue collar middle class Americans have given up on the political process. Even the most rabid of Hillary surrogates are quick to acknowledge the fact that the Bernie Sanders campaign is hitting a nerve with these groups, and literally bringing masses of them into the political process in a way we have not seen since 2008 or even earlier.

Indeed, Democrats have been presented with an amazing gift this election season: namely, the opportunity to increase the ranks of the Party and become a truly overwhelming Majority that can dominate US politics and policy for decades to come.

WHY, then, would any true-blue Democrat wish to drive these people AWAY from the Party and back into the shadows of apathy and cynicism?

WHY would anyone put a cult of personality – whether it be for Clinton or against Trump – ahead of the greater good that can be easily realized in victorious Congressional, Senatorial and Statehouse races that could result when such “new Democrats” go to the polls in November?

Those who are dumping on the Bernie or Busters have allowed themselves to become obsessed either with a love of Hillary Clinton or a fear of Donald Trump – or both.

Likewise, the Bernie or Busters have become so focused on the Man himself that they cannot think about anything but the office to which he aspires, the winning or losing of which will have an irreversible and Manichean impact on the rest of their lives.

And this actually points up the single major problem behind this whole mess: the complete and utter disregard for the Legislative Branch. Somehow both sides of this debate refuse to realize that the President cannot act unilaterally by fiat or decree. My God, how is it that so many people who have bemoaned the utter inability of Obama to get anything done during his second term somehow ascribe dictatorial powers to the next President, whoever that may be??

Hillary supporters are quick to warn that “the Supreme Court is on the line” in this election. Indeed it is. But the SCOTUS will not be repopulated solely according to the wishes of the President. If that were the case, then we would already be looking forward to the seating of Merrick Garland. Indeed, the nominee would probably not even be Merrick Garland but rather a more liberal appointee who did not have to weather the storm of a Republican Senate approval process.

The Senate is in many ways just as important as the Presidency in this election, at least where the matters of domestic policy are concerned. Indeed, I am sure that virtually all of the Democratic Party faithful who are wringing their hands over the prospect of a Trump Presidency have also spent the past 6 years bemoaning the fact that the Republicans in Congress have prevented Obama from doing all the myriad wonderful and progressive things that he had promised. Republican “obstructionism” has been the bête noir of the Democratic Party for many years, and yet – AND YET – being craven Democrats, they cannot possibly imagine fighting back in kind against the GOP.

This Election is about MORE than the Presidency

The Senate must be recaptured. And the Bernie or Bust voters can be a BIG HELP in doing that. When engaging in an anti-Clinton Sandernistas, avoid the Presidential race. Query them about other Democratic races. Surely they do not plan to “write in” Bernie’s name for every office down ballot. Depending on where they are from, you might ask:

“Will you help us defeat [INSERT SENATOR HERE] in November? Whoever is ion the White House, whether it is Bernie or Hillary, they will need to have a Democratic Senate, and your vote for [GOP SENATOR]’s Democratic opponent will help us give our new Democratic President a partner in the legislature, and if a Republican wins, a Democratic Senate will keep them from doing irreparable harm to our country and the Supreme Court.”

Here is a list of Senators you can use in that argument, BTW:

• Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
• Roy Blunt (Missouri)
• John Boozman (Arkansas)
• Richard Burr (North Carolina)
• Dan Coats (Indiana) retiring in 2016
• Mike Crapo (Idaho)
• Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
• John Hoeven (North Dakota)
• Johnny Isakson (Georgia)
• Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)
• Mark Kirk (Illinois)
• James Lankford (Oklahoma)
• Mike Lee (Utah)
• John McCain (Arizona)
• Jerry Moran (Kansas)
• Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
• Rand Paul (Kentucky)
• Rob Portman (Ohio)
• Marco Rubio (Florida) retiring in 2016
• Tim Scott (South Carolina)
• Richard Shelby (Alabama)
• John Thune (South Dakota)
• Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)
• David Vitter (Louisiana)

Keep your eyes on the prize, Democrats.

Do not make your dogmatic doom-saying turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy by alienating and rejecting the very group of people who could help turn Congress blue again and make the Democratic Party a true and virtually perpetual majority in American politics.

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Bernie Sanders Rapid Response Library ver. 4.0 (12 March 2016) – facts, figures, comebacks and zingers to fight against the misinformation!

150429103321-ernie-sanders-gallery-photo-4-super-169Tired of conservatives, Hillbots and Clintonista trolls posting smack about our guy? Wish you had some statistics and facts to combat their BS?

Here is my own “Rapid Response Library” to use as a reference – some facts, figures and opinions – use whatever you think makes sense to you. Cut and paste, modify as needed to shoot down the nattering nabobs of negativism and the Clintonista shock troops wherever they may rear their ugly heads…

Just click the link below to download the PDF.
Bernie Sanders Rapid Response Library ver. 4.0 (PDF)

Or click here for the Word doc:
Bernie Sanders Rapid Response Library_4.0 (Word)

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Trump v. Clinton – for Progressives, a Tougher Choice than You Might Think

I believe that the Democrats will take back the Senate in the 2016 elections. This will put a halter on anything that Trump wants to do should he become President. This will also force Trump to nominate moderates to the Supreme Court and other positions requiring Senate confirmation.

Indeed, there are really only 2 areas where a President can act unilaterally with some degree of autocracy: Trade and Foreign Policy. I find Trump’s views and positions on both these issues to be much more in line with my own (and those of most Sanders supporters) than those of Hillary Clinton.

If Clinton wins, I am confident that there will be an almost immediate escalation of our involvement in Syria, greatly exacerbating a bad situation and generations even more anti-American sentiment. I am also pretty sure that a Clinton Administration will throw our move towards detente with Iran in reverse and would not be surprised if we are bombing Iran by the end of her first term. In sum, I am sure that a Clinton Presidency will have disastrous consequences for America lasting decades into the future. Trump has criticised the Iraq war and opposes “stupid” interventionist wars that simply do not make financial sense to him. He espouses a more restrained foreign policy and has even expressed a willingness to negotiate or even collaborate with Putin and Russia. He has also said that he will honour the nuclear deal with Iran.

On Trade, I am likewise 99.9% sure that a President Clinton will not only green-light the TPP but will actively promote it, just as she has for so many years. This will be a domestic disaster of epic proportions that will have repercussions extending far beyond the term of her Presidency. Trump opposes “disastrous trade deals” just like Sanders – albeit in a more crude fashion. Trump puts it into the frame of “winning” ands “losing” but the message is the same: these trade deals have been a disaster for the American middle class, and he opposes the TPP.

Trump is scary, but more scary to me is getting a phony corporatist Democrat in the WH. If Trump is elected, he will be a one-term President, and will hopefully be defeated in 2020 provided that the Democrats put up a TRULY progressive candidate and not a Corporatist Wall Street tool like Clinton. Hillary, however, would use her first term in office to consolidate her political power and further cultivate powerful allies and forces in the American corporate community. She will be unbeatable in re-election, and so the cause of Progressivism will be set back for decades. This, combined with a disastrous trade policy and an irresponsible and aggressively adventurist neocon foreign policy make her for me the less attractive candidate.

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