Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Sanders’


No, I’m not kidding. Trump has actually done a few good things.

First, let’s list only the unalloyed positives:

  • Trump has armed the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) fighting ISIS in northern Syria, much to the annoyance of Turkish Islamist would-be dictator and ISIS enabler Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The YPG, a major part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, is the most effective military entity fighting ISIS in Syria. It’s also the only secular, democratic, libertarian (with a small “l”) force in the region in which gender equality is actively promoted. (There are all-women YPG units.)

It’s worth noting that to appease Islamist thug Erdogan, Hillary Clinton, had she won, would very probably not have armed the YPG. All of the facts noted above have been obvious for years, yet Obama refused to arm the YPG. It’s a good bet that former Obama Secretary of State Clinton wouldn’t have, either.

(For more info, see “The Anarchists vs. the Islamic State.“)

  • Trump killed the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a “free trade” pact and mutant relative of NAFTA. Among other things, it would have a allowed commercial “courts” to overrule U.S. laws, would have made the already atrocious copyright situation even worse, strengthening the hold of the media conglomerates, would have allowed U.S. pharmaceutical firms to force companies in signatory nations to stop producing affordable versions of life-saving drugs, and would have allowed foreign firms to sue the U.S. and U.S. state governments over “loss” of projected profits caused by environmental regulations.

Clinton was in favor of this abomination. Until she wasn’t. If she’d won, there’d likely have been a few cosmetic changes to it which would have made it “acceptable” to her.

Next, a mixed but overall positive move:

  • Trump has been pressuring U.S. allies to increase their military spending to bring it more in line with U.S. spending and thus, in theory, relieve financial pressure on U.S. taxpayers. Thus far he seems to have had some success with Canada, which will increase its military spending by 70% over the coming decade. This would be far more impressive if the U.S. didn’t already account for 43% of world military spending, and if Trump didn’t want to drastically increase that spending.

As for other good things Trump has done deliberately, none come to mind.

But he has also inadvertently done some good:

  • He’s laid bare the hypocrisy of the Republican Party on healthcare. Republicans had seven years in which to prepare a replacement for Obamacare, and, after they unexpectedly won the presidency last November (plus both houses of Congress), they had to scramble to come up with a nightmarish mishmash of cuts and half-measures that would cost 23 million Americans healthcare coverage.
  • He’s laid bare the racism of the Republican Party. For half a century Republicans have catered to racists — restricting voting rights of blacks and latinos, persecuting undocumented immigrants (doing the dirtiest, most necessary work), promoting the war on drugs that has devastated black and latino communities, promoting “tough on crime” (i.e., vicious, tough on poor people) laws, and promoting outright slavery of the incarcerated — while at the same time hypocritically hiding behind code words and insisting that they aren’t racist. Under Trump, Republican racism is out in the open. (Unfortunately, that racism sometimes takes physical form; the assaults and murders it produces are a hideous byproduct of it.)
  • Trump has laid bare the hypocrisy of American foreign policy rhetoric. For decades, American “leaders” have been spewing the same line about “defending democracy,” while they’ve been supporting many of the world’s worst dictators and authoritarian regimes. Trump’s praise for Putin, Erdogan, mass murderer Duterte, and our Islamist Saudi “allies” brings out in the open America’s support for dictators and authoritarianism.
  • He’s interrupted the creeping fascism that has been strangling America since at least the time of Truman, in favor of galloping fascism. The good news is that Trump is so inept — good only at manipulating and swindling the fearful, desperate, and angry — that he likely won’t succeed in destroying what’s left of our freedoms.

Had Clinton won last year, creeping fascism would have continued; nothing would have fundamentally changed; popular discontent and resentment would have continued to fester; even while they controlled both the House and Senate, Republicans would have blamed everything that’s going wrong on the “liberal” (she isn’t) Clinton; and an overt, more competent Republican theofascist would probably have taken power in 2020, which, had Clinton won last year, would likely mean “game over” for American democracy.

  • Trump, through his defeat of Clinton, has partially broken the hold of the corporate Democrats on the Democratic Party — the Republicans’ junior partner in the looting of the American working class — and made it at least possible that the “democratic wing of the Democratic Party” will ascend.

For decades, the corporate Dems have had a stranglehold on the party as they’ve catered to the corporate elite (e.g., Obama’s refusal to prosecute any of the banksters responsible for the financial crash), taken massive amounts of money from the corporate elite, and refused to advance policies (most notably “Medicare for all”) favored by a large majority of Americans, and an even larger majority of Democrats.

At the same time, the corporate Dems have been chasing the chimera of the “center” (the maybe 10% of eligible voters who are so  poorly informed that they can’t make up their minds until the last minute) while ignoring the vastly larger number of those eligible to vote (41% in the last election) who don’t even bother to do it, largely because of disillusionment, largely because they can’t see any real differences between the parties (at least in terms of economics).

The major gains of the Labour Party in the UK in the recent election there, under Jeremy Corbyn (the UK’s Bernie Sanders), which successfully went after nonvoters by offering a starkly progressive platform, will, one hopes, provide a further boost to the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

  • Without intending to do it, Trump has spurred a wave of political activism in the U.S., the like of which hasn’t been seen in nearly half a century. This is a good thing for American democracy.

Contrary to popular belief, Trump’s victory last fall hasn’t been a total disaster, and in the end might turn out to be a good thing.

(Of course, things could get a whole lot worse under Trump. He and his minions are likely too inept to stage a Reichstag Fire and get away with it, but they almost certainly would take advantage of any of a number of disasters to impose parts of their horrific agenda. Naomi Klein at The Intercept offers a cogent analysis of these possibilities in “The worst of Donald Trump’s toxic agenda lies in wait — a major U.S. crisis will unleash it.”)


by Chaz Bufe, publisher See Sharp Press

I’ve been putting off writing this post for some time, but last week a grotesque piece of political performance art jolted me into putting fingers to keyboard: Hillary Clinton declared herself part of the “resistance,” and announced the she was creating a PAC (!) to fund “resistance” groups she approves of (and that, presumably, approve of her).

Why is this grotesque? She’s the one-woman embodiment of the status quo, not “the resistance.”

Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger

Hillary Clinton with war criminal Henry Kissinger

She voted in favor of Bush’s catastrophic invasion of Iraq. She was the architect of the disastrous intervention in Libya (with no plan about what would follow Qaddafi’s overthrow). During the presidential debates, she even bragged about being friends with mass murderer Henry Kissinger.

And she takes money — lots of it — from the banks and corporations, including “pay” for three speeches to Goldman Sachs between 2013 and 2015 at $225,000 each, and another eight speeches to banks in the same period garnering her another $1.8 million.

Bill Clinton is no saint in this regard, either. In February 2016 CNN documented Bill and Hillary Clinton’s receiving, to that point, $153,000,000 in speaking fees. (Yes, $153 million.)

And like those of her husband, her campaigns (and PACs and SuperPACs supporting her) have been funded predominantly by the corporations, banks, and those who own them. One strongly suspects that the ultra-rich who fund Clinton aren’t doing so out of the goodness of their hearts.

It would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to prove that her (and her husband’s) positions are payback for that funding, but consider this: During her career in politics, she, like her husband, never even proposed any measures that would threaten her backers financially.

To cite the most prominent example of that, she has consistently opposed a “Medicare for all” single-payer system (supported by approximately 60% of the public), and instead has opted for plans which leave our healthcare in the hands of the big pharma and insurance industry vampires, whose goal is to deliver the minimum amount of healthcare for the maximum amount of dollars.

Which brings us to her predecessor. Barack Obama ran on a platform of “hope and change.” And then he systematically betrayed those who voted for him. He continued, and in some ways intensified (drone assassinations of U.S. citizens), George W. Bush’s disastrous, interventionist, neo-con foreign policy. He kept the wars going, and kept up American support for authoritarian Islamist (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Turkey) and military (Egypt) regimes.

He also promised the most open administration in history, and then delivered the most secretive, with mass surveillance of all of us, and the persecution of whistle blowers — at the same time that he completely let the banking criminals responsible for the financial crash completely off the hook.

Domestically, he proposed a stimulus big enough to keep the economy from collapsing (thus saving the banks) during the recession, but nowhere near big enough to put the 8.7 million who lost their jobs back to work. Nor did he do anything to help the 7 million who lost their homes.

What did he deliver? A singularly inadequate piece of healthcare legislation that protected big pharma and the insurance industry, and left tens of millions uninsured and tens of millions more underinsured. Obama also delivered, to some extent, on social issues that did not threaten his ultra-rich and corporate backers: gay rights and reproductive rights.

Richard Branson and Barack Obama on Branson's yacht

Richard Branson and Barack Obama on Branson’s yacht

Now that he’s left office, he’s been cashing in on his celebrity and connections — including being paid a $400,000 speaking fee by a Wall Street firm — and hanging out with his natural constituency, billionaires (Richard Branson and David Geffen).

Which brings us to the present, the “democratic wing of the Democratic Party” is currently trying to wrest control of it from the corporate lackeys personified by Obama and the Clintons (and Diane Feinstein, John Podesta, Chuck Schumer, Donna Brazile, Nancy Pelosi, et al.).

The corporatists recently won the first major battle, electing Obama’s Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee over Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison.

(This on the heels of the DNC’s rigging the presidential primaries against Bernie Sanders and for Hillary Clinton — by among other things drastically restricting the number of debates and by scheduling them at times almost guaranteed to deliver low viewership, thus throwing away tens of millions of dollars of free air time.)

This does not portend well. It portends more of the same: no real attempt to address the gross economic inequality in this country, no attempt to institute universal healthcare, and instead a continued focus on social issues (that are no threat to the rich), all under the stirring battle cry, “We’re not as bad as the Republicans!”

It’s time for people to wake up and realize that the Democrats (at least the Clintons, Obama, and the rest of the corporatists) are not their friends.

Instead, they’re the “good cop” in America’s perennial good-cop / bad-cop political extortion routine.

The “good cop” is not your friend.

* * *

(Chaz Bufe is the author, co-author, or translator of 12 books. His latest work is The American Heretic’s Dictionary, which is the 21st century’s equivalent of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary.)


American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


Trump’s alt-right supporters have been celebrating his election — through, among other forms of assholery, attacks on blacks, hispanics, and muslims — and acting as if he won in a landslide. But he has nothing approaching a mandate.

The Democratic corporate elite did their best to hand him one. They managed to foist upon the electorate the most disliked (or detested) Democratic candidate in history, a candidate whose unfavorability polling rate has exceeded 50% for years. They knew how unpopular she was going in; they rigged the primary process to deliver the nomination to her; and they alienated many, many of her opponent’s supporters, especially his young supporters.

They were arrogant enough to think that they could cram an incredibly unpopular candidate down an unwilling public’s throat, because they calculated that Donald Trump was even more unpalatable than she was. They thought that their perennial good-cop-bad-cop routine would once again work. They were almost right.

Donald Trump won the electoral college, but lost the popular vote, receiving about 2.6 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton; he lost the popular vote by approximately 2%, roughly 46% to 48% (with the other 6% going to “protest” candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson).

Looking at the figures more closely, one sees that the voter participation rate was approximately 59%, which means that over 40% of eligible voters were so disgusted or discouraged that they didn’t even bother to vote. They abstained in what the Democratic establishment and its water carriers were trumpeting as “the most important election of our time” (as they’ve trumpeted every presidential election in my time). Subtracting “protest” votes, only about 55% of those eligible voted for either Trump or Clinton.

And Trump didn’t win even half of those votes. Trump won with the votes of 27% of eligible voters.

That’s one hell of a “mandate” there, Bubba.


As I write, fivethirtyeight gives Hillary Clinton a 64.4% chance of winning the election. This of course means that they assign Donald Trump a better than one-in-three chance of winning.

In the event that happens, prepare yourself for a slew of articles blaming Green Party and Libertarian Party voters for that horrifying outcome.

In its most naked form the argument runs as follows: “If you don’t vote for Clinton you’re voting for Trump.” Neglecting that something akin to transubstantiation would be required for a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson to magically transform to a vote for Trump, those who make this particular argument ignore the fact that a Trump supporter could make essentially the same assertion: “If you’re not voting for Trump, you’re voting for Hillary.” Thus the achievement of perfect symmetry.

So, neglecting that weak attempt to shift blame, if Clinton loses who really would be responsible? Let’s hit only the high points (more realistically, the low points) here:

Neglecting recent history (we’ll get to it shortly), we need to go all the way back to 1972/1973, the years in which real wages peaked. It’s been downhill from there: wages have declined as productivity has approximately doubled, with almost all of the productivity gains going to the top 1%. Democrats have done exactly nothing about this.

In fact, Democratic policies, particularly trade policies, have made the situation worse. NAFTA is a case in point. Passed under Bill Clinton, with bipartisan support in Congress, NAFTA resulted in heavy losses of manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt and at the same time devastated million of Mexican small farmers by opening up their markets to mass importation of cheap, agri-business-produced corn (which directly led to the “immigration crisis” as landless, income-less farmers streamed north due to NAFTA-induced economic desperation).

(Going back even further, bipartisan tax policies allowed [and still allow] corporations to transfer millions upon millions of American manufacturing jobs overseas, while paying virtually no tax penalties for doing so.)

Then there was Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform,” again passed with bipartisan support, which led to millions upon millions of our poorest citizens being plunged into utter destitution. Combine this with America’s disastrous mass-incarceration policies, and you end up with tens of millions living in utter misery, with little if any hope.

Follow that up with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, once more with bipartisan support, at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and you find the seeds of the Great Recession.

Getting back to Hillary Clinton, consider her cynical vote authorizing the catastrophic 2003 invasion and subsequent war in Iraq, a war which cost approximately 5,000 American lives, perhaps 1,000,000 Iraqi lives, the squandering, at absolute minimum, of at least one trillion U.S. taxpayer dollars, and the creation of ISIS.

Clinton isn’t dumb. Far from it. She had to know that the rationale for the invasion was phony and would at best lead to the loss of thousands of lives. But she voted for it anyway, almost certainly because she calculated that it was to her political advantage to do so.

Flash forward to the Great Recession of 2008,  in which the de-regulated banks (free of Glass-Steagall restrictions) gambled massively with depositors’ funds on CDOs (based on the issuance and aggregation of bad mortgages) and lost damn near everything when the housing market collapsed — until the federal government stepped in and saved them (but not us).

At that point, Barack Obama, the “hope and change” candidate was elected. He was elected in a near-landslide, and had big majorities in both houses of Congress. What did he deliver? A stimulus package that was large enough to keep the economy going, but not large enough to help the over 6,000,000 people who lost their jobs nor the approximately 7,000,000 who lost their homes.

He also delivered a grossly inadequate healthcare program–he didn’t even try for anything better–that left tens of millions uninsured and left the insurance companies and big pharma with their fangs sunk in the public’s jugular.

Beyond that, and the grossly inadequate stimulus package, he delivered virtually nothing to the people who had elected him.

Perhaps most maddeningly, Obama’s “Justice” Department, at the same time it was zealously persecuting whistle blowers, didn’t prosecute any of the top-level banksters responsible for what has justly been called “the greatest financial fraud in world history.” (One single mid-level trader was jailed, and that’s it.)

To put it simply, Obama betrayed the hopes of those who elected him, leading to the Republican takeover of Congress and many, many state governments in 2010, and in part to the formation of the Tea Party. (Racism alone doesn’t explain the rise of the Tea Party; you need to add in Obama’s economic betrayal of those who elected him.)

Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during this time, part and parcel of the Obama Administration. During the time she was Secretary, she gave tacit approval to the coup in Honduras in 2009, was a leading cheerleader for/architect of the disastrous intervention in Libya (with no plan as to what would follow Qaddafi’s overthrow), and also went along, with evident enthusiasm, with Obama’s war on whistle blowers. While she was Secretary of State, she displayed terrible judgment.

Which brings up her use of a private e-mail server. The FBI investigation revealed that she did nothing horrible, but it was a prime example of her hubris and poor judgment — if she wasn’t so hubristic, she’d have realized that should word of the server ever become public, the optics would be terrible.

Fast forward to the primary campaign against Bernie Sanders.

Yes, it was rigged. Over 20% of Clinton’s delegates were “super delegates,” unelected party insiders. Donna Brazile, Clinton ally and interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, fed Clinton debate questions prior to her debates with Bernie Sanders. And previous DNC chair and Clinton ally, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, restricted the number of debates between Clinton and Sanders (thus throwing away tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars of free airtime), and scheduled the debates at times that virtually guaranteed minimal viewership. (This allowed Clinton to capitalize on her name-recognition advantage with low-information voters; because of name recognition, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy would have gotten votes simply because low-information voters recognized their names but couldn’t recall what they were famous for.) Add to that the mountains of corporate and big-donor cash that funded the Clinton superpac and campaign, and it’s fair to say that the primary election was rigged.

And all this to nominate a candidate most of the public disliked or despised –going back years — prior to her nomination. All of the empirical evidence, all of the polling, during the primaries showed that Bernie Sanders was running well ahead of all of the potential Republican candidates, while Clinton was neck and neck with them. The polling also showed that over 50% of the public disliked or despised Clinton, and that her unfavorability ratings had been remarkably high for years.

Clinton’s water carriers chose to ignore, and downplay, all of this evidence while making the bizarre assertion, with no evidence to back it, that Sanders would get beat in the general election because the Republicans would red bait him. And this despite Bernie Sanders having loudly proclaimed for decades that he was a socialist, and his proclaiming it at every stop on the campaign trail. All too many Democrats bought the Clintonistas’ line of b.s., and voted to nominate the candidate most likely to lose.

In a time of widespread disgust with the status quote, the corporate Democrats managed to nominate the status quo candidate par excellence. They were betting the bank that the Republicans would nominate someone even more odious than Clinton, and that they could then extort the public into voting for her.

So, if Clinton loses, who’s to blame? Clinton and her fellow corporate, status quo Democrats, or those who refuse to give in to blackmail, who refuse to vote for Clinton simply because her opponent is even more despicable than she is?

 


Two months ago we reported on Hillary Clinton’s favorablity vs. unfavorability ratings. At the time, fully 53% of the public viewed her in an unfavorable light. Since then, her unfavorability rating has risen to 55%, with only 40% of the public viewing her favorably. Further, 49% of the public say they would not even consider voting for her.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders’ favorability and unfavorability ratings are a mirror image of Clinton’s. The most recent poll puts his favorability rating at 55% and his unfavorability rating at 40%. The Huffington Post’s average of 10 polls over the last three weeks has Sanders’ favorability rating averaging 47% and his unfavorability rating averaging 42%.

Which candidate is more electable?

It’s all too possible that Clinton could lose the general election if, as now seems quite possible, Sanders continues to pile up victories in the remaining primaries and caucuses, and the superdelegates hand the nomination to Clinton. Fully 25% of Sanders voters say they will not vote for Clinton, should she win (or be handed) the Democratic nomination. If it is in fact handed to her following a stream of losses, that percentage would almost certainly rise.

Clinton seems to be banking on the Republicans nominating a candidate the public loathes even more than it loathes her. It could happen. They could nominate either Donald Trump (69% negative, 26% favorable) or Ted Cruz (59% negative, 26% positive.

In such a case, Clinton would probably win a squeaker, the Republicans would retain control of the House and Senate, and we’d have four more years of the status quo: no serious moves toward reducing economic inequality; no real moves toward addressing the climate crisis; continued kid-glove handling of Wall Street criminals; continuation of the disastrous Bush/Obama interventionist foreign policy; and continued assaults on civil liberties and persecution of whistle blowers.

To make this more palatable to her backers, Clinton would throw them a few sops on social issues — especially gay rights and women’s rights. These are good things, but they’re also things she could deliver without angering her corporate backers, including those who have “paid” her $5,000 a minute to deliver speeches at their events.

This is the best we can hope for if Clinton gets the Democratic nomination.

But if, as now seems certain, the Republicans have a contested convention, and if they end up nominating anyone but an ogre (such as Trump or Cruz), all bets are off. Dislike of Clinton is so high that she could well lose to any Republican who sounds remotely reasonable.


For months now, Hillary Clinton has been attacking Bernie Sanders’ proposal for free higher education on two grounds. One is that the country simply can’t afford it, and the second is that the country shouldn’t be funding free higher education for the rich.

Both of these arguments are, to put it mildly, deliberately misleading.

Let’s consider the “we can’t afford it” argument first.

Even ignoring that the U.S. is responsible for well over 40% of world military spending, and spends more than eight times as much as the next eight countries combined, Sanders has proposed a Wall Street tax, a transaction tax on sales of stocks and commodities that would fund his higher education proposal. It would have the added benefit of reducing speculation and high-volume day trading, thus increasing the stability of the market and reducing the prospects of another crash. Average people have a lot to gain from this proposal. The only losers would be speculators and day traders (many of whom fund Clinton).

Clinton’s second argument against free higher education is truly grotesque: that taxpayers shouldn’t be funding free education for the children of the rich. That sounds reasonable for about five seconds, until you realize that she could use exactly the same argument against Medicare, Social Security, and public schools — in fact, against any program that benefits all members of the public. Clinton — who has promised to be “flexible” on proposals to degrade (“reform”) Social Security benefits — is arguing here against all publicly funded programs to promote social wellbeing.

This transparently phony, deliberately misleading argument reveals as nothing else does Hillary Clinton’s contempt for the people who support her. She thinks they’re too stupid to see through this ridiculous argument and hold her accountable for her cynicism and dishonesty.

One can only hope she’s wrong.


With Bernie Sanders having crushed Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, let’s take a look at Hillary Clinton’s primary argument: that she’s more electable than Bernie Sanders. That’s simply crazy. A majority of the public dislikes Clinton, and a lot of Americans outright hate her. The Huffington Post just ran a compilation of polls on Clinton’s favorability, and Clinton’s favorability rating only averages 42%, while her unfavorability rating averages 53%. (In contrast, Bernie Sanders has a 46% favorable rating and a 38% unfavorable rating.)

Even worse for Clinton, her favorability rating has been steadily falling over the last three years, while her unfavorability rating has been steadily rising. Three years ago she had a net favorable rating of a few points, with some polls giving her a net favorability rating of over 20 points. That favorability rating has vanished in all of the polls, being replaced by an ever-increasing unfavorability rating. In other words, the more exposure the public has to Hillary Clinton, the more the public dislikes her.

Why do people dislike Clinton so much? One reason is that very large numbers of people consider her untrustworthy. A New Hampshire primary exit poll, for example, showed that only 5% of voters considered her trustworthy. This figure includes Republicans and independents, not just Democrats, but it’s devastating nonetheless.

There’s very little Clinton can do about this. She’s been in the public eye for a quarter of a century, went into this campaign with an already high unfavorability rating, and it’s been getting worse. Those who disliked her going in still dislike her, and voters who weren’t paying close attention are finding that the more they learn about Clinton the less they like her.

To make matters even worse, large numbers of Republicans outright hate Hillary Clinton — listen to talk radio if you doubt this — and most independents dislike her; the latest figures are that 55% of independents view Clinton unfavorably and only 39% view her favorably. Even among Democrats, Clinton’s unfavorability rating has doubled since last summer, from 11% to 22%.

What will happen if Clinton somehow obtains the Democratic nomination? Disaster for the Democrats. She’ll energize the Republicans, who loathe her, and demoralize the Democratic Sanders voters who want real change–and who won’t turn out if Clinton is the nominee. Her only argument in the general election will be that she’s not as bad as her Republican opponent, and that’s simply not an inspiring message.

In the general election, Clinton might squeak by if the Republicans nominate Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Then again, she might not.

She’s all but unelectable.