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 | Leave a 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

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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 | Leave a comment

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.

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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.”

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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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