Monday, April 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Impeccable Followership Credentials

In "Why Hillary Clinton Could Be the Kind of President Bernie Sanders Supporters Will Love," Paul Waldman argues that if elected, Clinton will "be as liberal as liberals force her to be."

He points to the "Fight for 15" as a telling example. Waldman admits that Clinton was unwilling to support a $15/hour minimum wage until the struggling workers of New York City forced their legislators to recognize that hardworking people deserved something better than starvation wages.

Once those workers achieved their objective, Clinton was "proud" to stand on a stage with Governor Andrew Cuomo and celebrate their achievement as if she had something to do with it.

Clinton shills such as Waldman love to argue that this sort of behavior from Clinton will somehow inspire "love" from the electorate not because such shills are tone-deaf to the will of the people, but because they are tone-deaf to their own desperation.

Does Waldman understand what it means to run for president--to rely on a slogan such as "Fighting for Us"--to present oneself as a champion of the people?

Apparently not--so I'll explain.

The etymology of champion is available to anyone with access to the internet. Unsurprisingly, the term still means (just as it did when we started using it back in the 14th century) "one who fights on behalf of another or others."

We Sanders supporters are apparently silly because we think that the person we elect to the presidency should be willing (like Abraham Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt) to lead the charge against any mercenaries bent on thwarting the will of the people.

But Waldman wants us to understand that Clinton can be a different sort of champion than the knight who jousts to advance a particular cause. She is perfectly willing to sip tea in her tent behind the arena while we--her putative supporters--pour out of the stands to demolish the mercenaries against whom she is supposed to joust. Once the field is littered with their dead bodies, Clinton is 100% capable of emerging from her tent to take a bow and allow us to shower her with rose petals.

Do we think that Sanders can defeat all the mercenaries arrayed against him without our active help and support? Of course not. If we're going to get anywhere with Sanders, it's only because he'll ask us to give more to the cause of reclaiming democracy than we think ourselves capable of giving. But he can inspire us to dig deep enough to do just that.

Clinton, on the other hand, will wait for us to inspire her.

Waldman's argument therefore boils down to the contention that if we citizens can solve Flint's water crisis without any help from our public officials, we'll "love" a President Hillary Clinton because of her willingness to drink the tap water once it's proven to be non-toxic.

Inspiring stuff.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Coalition Opposing Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Grows

In the picture above, Doug Hughes holds a dollar bill stamped with the message: "Not to be used for bribing politicians."

Just over a year ago, Hughes was arrested for landing a gyrocopter in the lawn of the U.S. Capitol (a violation of restricted airspace). He characterized the act of civil disobedience as a "stunt" designed to call attention to the corrupting influence of money in politics.

A mail carrier in his 60s, Hughes wanted to deliver 535 letters--one for each member of Congress--concerning the urgent need for campaign finance reform in America.

After being arrested, Hughes planned to challenge DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for her seat in the House of Representatives. Hughes was motivated to run because he considers Wasserman-Schultz "the poster child of corrupt politics in the Democratic Party."

Those who consider it corrupt for a representative to take money from the predatory lending industry and then work to repeal consumer protection laws in that industry might be inclined to support Hughes' candidacy.

But alas! Such support now comes too late, as Hughes has suspended his campaign in support of another rival for Wasserman-Schultz' seat, Tim Canova. Canova is a law professor who, according to the New Times of Broward-Palm Beach, is "part of the frothing section of the populace that is pulling for Bernie Sanders."

Of the superdelegates Sanders supporters would most like to see thrown out of office for backing Clinton, Wasserman-Schultz presumably tops the list. But if she has any sense that the natives are restless, she doesn't seem to let on in this interview with TYT's Jordan Chariton:

At one point in the interview, she says she would wager "a lot of money" that any corruption in the Democratic Party is trivial, in the eyes of most voters, compared to the ongoing meltdown in the GOP. Regrettably, Chariton failed to ask which payday loan service would be spotting the money for that wager to Wasserman-Schultz as a thank you for the important work she does to cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Who Better Than Hillary Clinton to Help Stephen Colbert Betray Jon Stewart's Legacy?

If Jon Stewart could be relied upon for anything, it was his unflinching commitment to exposing the many ways in which corporate media failed the American people by using faux journalism to distract Americans from meaningful political discourse.

Stewart proved that in the face of a failed fourth estate, satire could routinely and compellingly do a better job of informing viewers about the important news of the day than any conventional anchorperson reading from a teleprompter.

In the wake of Stewart's retirement, some of us hoped that Stephen Colbert would emerge as the heir to Stewart's legacy. That position is plainly untenable in light of the video above, which is more Kafkaesque than Kaufmanesque in its approach to cringeworthiness.

Friday, April 15, 2016

In Other Inevita-Hillary News . . .

Watch Torie Osborne argue with increasingly repetitive and tautological desperation that voters are going to elect Hillary because Hillary is going to be elected.

Thanks to Ms. Osborne for this quick demo of how Democrats put the "demo" into demoralization. (Also, it isn't working.)

Nina Turner, Will You Be My Representative?

You’re obviously a busy person, Ms. Turner. For all I know, you may be preparing for the vice-presidency—so I’ll make my case as quickly as possible.

Will you please be my representative?

Understandably, since you’re from Ohio, you probably haven’t thought of being a representative from Austin, Texas. But my wife and I have a guest suite upstairs that we’ll be happy to rent to you for $1/month to help you meet the necessary residency requirements. (Since you travel full-time anyway, it’s less important to focus on amenities such as a private bath and sitting area than the fact that the zip code would do the trick for residency.) 

I know; I know. Texas probably terrifies you. With people like Ted Cruz dominating the headlines, our state looks a lot more backward than it is.

But you often go out of your way in speeches to quote the great Barbara Jordan, who passed away in Austin in 1996 and is still beloved by the community—so much so that the Home Depot where I sometimes shop is located on Barbara Jordan Boulevard. 

Jordan spoke, as you know, of an “America as good as its promise.” And when she served as the acting governor of the state for one day in 1972, she allowed Texas to become the only state in U.S. history with a black female governor. 
I swear to you the Texas of Jordan’s days hasn’t died—despite the insane appearance given off by Governors Perry and Abbott and Senators Cruz and Cornyn. 

As you probably know, the voters of Texas—especially in the Austin area—have been gerrymandered into irrelevance. Our representatives are elected despite the people and not because of the people.

We need to create a Texas as good as its promise, but our elected officials are standing in the way.

Even though I live in true-blue Austin, my current representative is Mike McCaul, who represents the interests of Houston (which is several hours away). Thanks to the criminal mapping of congressional districts, tens of thousands of Austinites go without representation in Congress because McCaul doesn’t care about our votes. He knows he can rely on oil money to keep him in office as he promotes the agenda of the surveillance state. As the second wealthiest member of Congress, McCaul is less a tool than a personification of special interests.

He’s been in office since 2004. I know it’s too late for you to challenge him in 2016, when he’ll be going up against the same Democratic opponent for the third time in a row (a candidate whom he keeps crushing so badly that the only conceivable explanation for nominating her yet again is that Democrats are less dedicated to winning than to dodging the expense of generating new campaign materials for a different candidate). If we are serious about challenging McCaul in 2018, we need someone with star power—someone who can get voters excited about standing up to the elected officials who refuse to represent them—someone like you.

We need a true Berniecrat. Please help!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

If Hillary Secures the Nomination, the Next Casualty of Regime Change Will Be the Democratic Party

Hillary Clinton has a talent and a propensity for toppling established systems of authority and leaving power vacuums in their place. This usually happens in places far-flung from the average American voter (such as Honduras, Libya, etc.), but the chickens of Clinton’s chickenhawkishness are about to come home to roost for the Democratic Party.

The Democrats can only send one message to the American people by nominating Hillary Clinton: that they would rather preserve the current system of pay-to-play politics than win the presidency.

We all know that’s true, of course. But we also expect our professional politicians to do a better job of concealing their cupidity and corruption. This reasonable expectation of the electorate puts Hillary in a bind, since it’s difficult for one to conceal what one embodies. 

Every speech Clinton makes and every press stunt in which she participates is a dazzling display of disconnectedness from voters whose concerns she cannot fathom. From her perspective, however, it’s only fair to hold ordinary American citizens in contempt. If we commoners wanted to avoid economic hardships in our own lives, then we should have been more eager than Clinton was to trample on people weaker than ourselves. Those of us who didn’t seize the opportunity to profit from the school-to-prison pipeline or to advocate fracking in struggling economies all over the globe or to exploit worldwide sympathy for Haitians to line the pockets of our friends and family members—well, we only have ourselves to blame.

If Hillary could really win a general election in November, then the Democratic party might be able to survive her nomination. But she can’t win an election because there are only two kinds of people who will vote for her: the misleaders and the misled.

The misleadership class that supports Clinton consists of the people who are already on her payroll and others who seek to be on her payroll. Their motives are clear; their incentives are real; and their support of Clinton is perversely genuine inasmuch as they are championing the candidate who is most like themselves. Some of them work in politics; some work in churches; some work in the media; but they are united in their purpose of putting themselves as far ahead as possible by making sure the people whom they influence stay as far behind as possible. These folks will vote for Clinton, but there aren’t as many of them as Clinton likes to pretend. 

The class of the misled includes rank-and-file citizens who trust their local politicians, their local clergy, and the corporate media to tell them what is in their best interest. Such people are often overworked and underpaid. They are too busy and exhausted to pay close attention to national politics, and they may only have access to information via frequencies approved in advance by the Clinton machine. These folks will also vote for Clinton, but the existence of the internet means that the ranks of the misled are dwindling by the hour. 

The misleaders and the misled who support Clinton do not even constitute half of the Democratic Party—much less half of the general electorate. Clinton therefore has no realistic chance of winning. She has relied on the foil of Donald Trump to prop up the sputtering viability of her own candidacy, but as we watch the wheels falling off the Trump campaign, we must realize that Clinton is going to have to beat another actual politician with an actual ground game. She can’t do it. 

But as I indicated earlier, the elite members of the Democratic Party are determined to nominate her not because they believe she will win in November, but because they know that her Republican opponent (whoever that turns out to be) will pose less of a threat to their gravy train than Bernie Sanders does.

I understand why the DNC leaders believe this strategy will work. They’ve seen how successful Clinton has been at destabilizing and disenfranchising people throughout the world by removing their leaders from power. Why should it surprise anyone that she’s willing to destabilize and disenfranchise the Democratic base by running as an unelectable candidate—a candidate who cynically relies on her own toxicity to prevent the people she purportedly represents from having a voice in government?

But there’s a critical difference between cutting power off at the head and cutting it off at the base. If you remove the democratically elected leader of Honduras from power, Honduras doesn’t cease to exist. But if you remove the voting base from the Democratic party, all you have left is a train starving for gravy.

So good luck, Paul Krugman. Good luck, Barney Frank. Good luck, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Good luck, Queen Hillary. Good luck with your glorious future of presiding over nothing and no one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

After Watching Israel’s Failed Occupation of the West Bank for Half a Century, the World May Be Ready for Simone Zimmerman

Howdy, Ms. Zimmerman. I'm delighted by your refusal "to sit by as leaders of our community offer no solutions to the daily nightmare of occupation."

I’m a 47-year-old American. Many Palestinians my age have never known any kind of life except the life of occupation by a foreign government.

But most Americans of my generation don’t give much thought to the Palestinians in Gaza.

We’re too busy being fiercely pro-Jewish (which we should be). As a corollary, we spend a lot of energy being overwhelmingly pro-Israel (which we should also be). And as another corollary, we find ourselves being reflexively anti-Palestinian (which we should not be).

I can’t say how this happens in the minds of other Americans my age, but I want to expose how it once happened in my own. (The fact that this story reeks of my own white privilege may be precisely why it’s important for me to tell.)  

As a college student, I made a conscious effort to be curious and open-minded. One semester, my next-door neighbor in my dormitory was a Muslim of Malaysian descent. I wanted to get to know him if only to broaden my own horizons, since the only Muslims I had met to that point in my life were of Arabic descent. We never became close friends, but we did eat lunch together sometimes.
During one of these lunches, he asked me what I thought about Israel.

I can’t recall what I said verbatim, but it was something to the effect that after the atrocities of Hitler, no sane person could oppose the right of the Jewish people to a self-determined government in a geographically defined territory.

“Yeah,” he replied, “but what about the Palestinians? Aren’t they entitled to self-determined government too?”

I’m not proud of the fact that alarm bells went off inside my mind at that point in the conversation, but they did. Something akin to cognitive adrenaline surged through my brain as I raced through a series of questions designed to let me prove to myself that I wasn’t anti-Semitic: “Why does this Muslim insist on forcing me to think about the Palestinians? Is he trying to turn me against Jews? Is this the kind of blind hatred that Israel faces from the nations surrounding it every day? Should I ever eat lunch with this jerk again?” Instead of answering his question, I told him I had to get to class and took off.

There’s no way for me to know what happens in the minds of most other Americans when they are asked to consider the plight of the Palestinians, but I suspect it’s similar to what I experienced in college. Moreover, I suspect that right-wing Jewish hardliners such as Benjamin Netanyahu rely on such thought patterns from supporters of Israel in America and throughout the world.

What if certain Israeli politicians (not Jews in general; not Israelis in general; not even Israeli politicians in general—but simply a self-selecting group of Israeli politicians seeking to consolidate their own power) are self-consciously exploiting a reflexive response against anti-Semitism as an excuse to oppress generations of Palestinians? Is that a question we can really keep ignoring forever simply because it’s too difficult for us to face?

Simone Zimmerman, who was recently appointed as the Jewish Outreach Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign, doesn’t seem to think so.

I don’t envy Zimmerman, who is up against the Jewish version of the right-wing hate machine in New York City. She has to combat such headlines as “If You’re Jewish, Don’t Vote for Bernie Sanders” (from the New York Post) and “The scary BernieSanders: The Democratic presidential candidate is very wrong on much surrounding Israel” (from Mort Zuckerman’s New York Daily News).

The latter article intentionally distorts a section of the transcript from Sanders’ interview with the Daily News in which he wrongly but innocently switched the numbers of Palestinian civilians killed in a retaliation by Israel in 2014 with the number of Palestinian civilians injured.

How do we know he was wrong? Because someone on the editorial board looked the numbers up on the spot and corrected him.

And how do we know that the mistake was innocent? Because Sanders, who had prefaced his remarks by acknowledging that he couldn’t trust his own memory, did not dispute the correction. His point was that too many innocent civilians were hurt in the retaliation, and that point remained relevant even if he momentarily confused a couple of related numbers.

Here’s the relevant section of the transcript from the Daily News interview:
Sanders: I don't remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?
Daily News: I think it's probably high, but we can look at that. . . . We will check the facts. I don't want to venture a number that I'm not sure on, but we will check those facts. Now, talk about Hamas. What is it? Is it a terrorist organization?
Sanders: Yes.
. . . .
Daily News: Okay, while we were sitting here, I double-checked the facts. It's the miracle of the iPhone. My recollection was correct. It was about 2,300, I believe, killed, and 10,000 wounded. President Obama has taken the authority for drone attacks away from the CIA and given it to the U.S. military. Some say that that has caused difficulties in zeroing in on terrorists, their ISIS leaders. Do you believe that he's got the right policy there?
Sanders: I don't know the answer to that. What I do know is that drones are a modern weapon. When used effectively, when taking out ISIS or terrorist leaders, that's pretty impressive. When bombing wedding parties of innocent people and killing dozens of them, that is, needless to say, not effective and enormously counterproductive. So whatever the mechanism, whoever is in control of that policy, it has to be refined so that we are killing the people we want to kill and not innocent collateral damage.
Even though the Daily News presumably has access to its own transcript of the interview, it distorted Sanders’ remarks in “The scary Bernie Sanders”—for the embarrassingly transparent purpose of whipping up a frenzy of reflexive pro-Israel outrage against Sanders:
Stunningly, Sanders said he believed that Israel had been responsible for 10,000 deaths — a number almost five times the United Nations count of roughly 2,000 killed.
His use of the figure 10,000 was all the more remarkable and irresponsible coming from a presidential candidate who had previously put the death toll at 1,500.
Contrast this position with Rania Khalek’s summary of Sanders’ erroneous recollection of Palestinian casualties in the Daily News interview:
But [Sanders] went on to confuse the number of civilian deaths in Gaza with the number of wounded, saying, “I happen to believe … anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”
The Daily News corrected Sanders, who accepted the casualty figures and everyone moved on. Well, everyone except for hardline Zionists. And Hillary Clinton.
If you’re unsure whether the Daily News or Khalek offers a fairer characterization of Sanders’ remarks, all you need to do is read those remarks, in context, for yourself. 

The challenge that Simone Zimmerman faces is that it’s difficult to get lazy American voters (including some Jewish Democrats in New York) to delve deeply enough into issues to reach thoughtful, reasoned conclusions.

Is Zimmerman up to the task? This article from The Times of Israel gives me hope that she is. I’ll be cheering her on, in any case.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Steve Chapman Doesn't Trust Bernie Sanders with the Presidency—Or Voters with Prefixes

In an op-ed piece for yesterday, Steve Chapman asserted that "Liberals and conservatives should reject Bernie Sanders."

His claim is only six letters away from the truth (perhaps because of a keyboard malfunction): "Neoliberals and neoconservatives should reject Bernie Sanders."

I just wanted to fix that for you, Mr. Chapman. You're welcome.

Ubiquitous Unanimity

Now that the New York Daily News has released a transcript of the interview between its own editorial board and Hillary Clinton, we can expect to see various mouthpieces of the Clintonite media empire scurrying to reach identical conclusions about the interview in cosmetically different ways.

Time set the tone for this forthcoming consensus last night by pronouncing Clinton a “wonk’s wonk.” 

We can therefore count on seeing that point of view echoed today and throughout the week in such publications as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.

Those publications all fell happily in line when Clinton’s surrogates tried to convince us to regard her admission that she is not a “natural politician” as evidence of charming and vulnerable candor.

This is how the illusion of widespread consensus about Clinton is created and maintained.

In reality, people think of Clinton as a lying liar who lies. But media shills from The Los Angeles Times to The Guardian like to assure us, over and over again, that she is “fundamentally honest and trustworthy.”

It doesn’t matter how many real human beings respond to such puff pieces with scorn and derision. The people in the Beltway bubble don’t think the comments on such shill pieces indicate anything about public attitudes concerning Clinton. They seem genuinely to believe that as long as the Clinton campaign can get the right headlines into the newspapers and footage of the right distractions into nightly news broadcasts, it can displace the reality we experience firsthand with whatever narrative it chooses to promote.

The problem is that we aren’t interested in any of these clumsily coordinated pushes to achieve ubiquitous unanimity concerning Clinton in the media.

So what if Clinton is a wonk's wonk? No one doubts her ability to grasp fine nuances of policy decisions. More importantly, however, no one doubts that her purpose in paying such tremendous attention to policy detail is to find a talking point that she can use to distract the American people as they are fleeced by the donor class.

So when we hear, as we doubtless will, from major news outlets all over the country, that Clinton is boring to readers because she has too comprehensive an understanding of government policy, that assertion will only be half true.

Clinton's candidacy is boring. But it’s not because of her wonkishness. It’s because her media lackeys keep playing these games of distraction and narrative manipulation instead of confronting her glaring and deeply troubling inadequacies as a candidate. If someone forced you to play the same tedious game of charades since 1992, wouldn't you be a little bit bored by now?