DNC Nomination Rigging Redux

“…clear evidence that Bloomberg, HuffPo, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are two months into a no-holds-barred, all-out narrative assault on the Sanders candidacy.

“This stuff makes a difference. Sanders is not dominating the other Democratic candidates in narrative-world centrality today as much as he was two months ago.”

~Ben Hunt, Stuck in the Middle With You

There is strong evidence, from analysis of media articles, that most major news outlets in corporate media, besides Fox News, suddenly did a simultaneous shift toward negative reporting on the presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the past months. It appeared to be, one could easily argue, coordinated in preparation for the 2020 Democratic caucuses in Iowa.

This stands out because, in recent years, Sanders has been the most popular candidate in both parties. Last campaign, he received more small donations than any other candidate in United States history. And this campaign, he received even more and has accumulated more total donations than any other candidate. Most of the polls from last time around showed Sanders as the only candidate with any strong chance of defeating Trump, assuming defeating Trump was the priority, rather than keeping the political left out of power and maintaining the Clinton hold on the DNC — a big assumption, we might add.

That is why Clinton Democrats used so many dirty tricks to steal the nomination from Sanders in the previous election. Hillary Clinton was not only the candidate in opposition to Sanders for she also effectively controlled the DNC. She used DNC money to influence key figures and denied Sanders’ campaign access to necessary DNC voter information. Using DNC cronies in the corporate media, they controlled the narrative in news reporting, such as the Washington Post spinning continuous negativity toward Sanders right before a debate, almost an attack piece per hour.

Then at CNN, the insider Donna Brazile slipped Clinton questions before the CNN debate. By the way, the middle man who passed those questions directly onto Clinton was John Podesta who has also been caught red-handed right in the middle of the Ukranian fiasco. Even though he was the right-hand man of the Clintons, his brother’s lobbyist Democratic lobbyist firm was working with Manafort at a Republican lobbyist firm (John Podesta, Clinton Democrats, and Ukraine). The deep state can get messy at times and the ruling elite behind the scenes don’t care much about partisan politics, as can be seen in Donald Trump’s political cronyism that for decades has crossed partisan lines.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Clinton bought off the superdelegates with DNC money and promises. Some states where Sanders won had the superdelegates go against public will and threw their support for Clinton instead. They didn’t even bother to pretend it was democracy. It was literally a stolen nomination.

The actions of the DNC elite in the previous campaign season was one of the most blatant power grabs I’d seen since Bush stole the 2000 election by fiat of the GOP-controlled Supreme Court, when later analysis showed that Bush actually had lost Florida which meant in a fair election and full count he would not have been elected. But everyone, including Republicans, expect the GOP to be corrupt in being anti-democratic (gerrymandering, voter purges, closing down polling stations in poor neighborhoods, etc) because it is their proudly declared position to be against democracy, often going so far as calling it mobocracy or worse (to the extreme reactionary right-wing, democracy and communism are identical).

It’s theoretically different with Democrats as they give lip service to democratic ideals and processes — after all, their party is named after democracy. That is why it feels like such a sucker punch, these anti-democratic tactics from the Clinton Democrats. And isn’t the media supposed to be the fourth estate? Or is it the fourth pillar of the deep state that extends beyond official governing bodies?

* * *

The above criticism is an appraisal of the situation as an outsider to the two-party system. This post is not an endorsement of a candidate. We have come to the conclusion that the U.S. lacks a functioning democracy. We are one of those supposedly rare Americans who is undecided and independent. We may or may not vote, depending on third party options. But for the time being, we’ve entirely given up on the Democratic Party and the two-party system in general.

Even Sanders is not overly impressive in the big scheme of things, though he is the best the Democrats have to offer. We don’t trust Sanders because he hasn’t shown he is willing to fight when the going gets tough, such as when after being betrayed by the DNC he threw his support behind Hillary Clinton who has since stabbed him in the back. We definitely don’t endorse any Clinton Democrat, certainly not a member of the Clinton Dynasty, nor will I endorse anyone who has endorsed such a miserable creature.

In our humble opinion, we are inclined to believe it’s best to leave Donald Trump in office. Our reasoning is similar to why we thought the same about Obama. Whatever a president does in the first term creates a mess that they should have to deal with in the second term. That way they can never convincingly deny responsibility by scapegoating the party that inherited the mess. We suspect that, for all the delaying tactics such as tariffs and tax breaks, there is going to be an economic crash in the near future and quite possibly in the next few years.

It would be best for all involved if Trump is in power when that happens. Trump has taken all the bigoted rhetoric, neocon posturing, and capitalist realism that the GOP elite has been pushing for decades and thrown it back in their face. This forces them to take ownership of what they previously had attempted to soft-pedal. Trump is devastating to the country, but he is even more devastating to the RNC and the conservative ruling elite won’t recover for a long time. Also, being forced out into the political desert will give the Democrats an opportunity for soul-searching and give the political left a chance to take over the party while the Clinton Democrats are in a weakened state.

Even more important, it’s an opportunity for third parties to rise up and play a larger role. Maybe one of them will even be able to take out one of the present two main parties. The only relevance Sanders has had is that he has promoted a new narrative framing of public debate about public policy and that in turn has shifted the tide back toward the left again, something not seen in my entire life. That is a good thing and we give him credit where it’s due. If imperfect and falling short of what is needed, his efforts have been honorable. As DC career politicians go, he is far above average.

I actually wish Sanders well. One of my closest friends caucused for him recently. And last election, I too caucused for him. I hope he can make a difference. But I’m personally finished with the Democratic Party. I no longer trust them. What we need now is something far more radical and revolutionary than Sanders or any other Democratic candidate can offer, specifically any that would ever get the nomination.

* * *

How the DNC Thwarted Democracy in Iowa Using 5 Easy Steps
by Veronica Persimmon

Step One: Enact a Plan to Subvert the Progressive Frontrunner
Step Two: Manufacture a Surge
Step Three: Develop a Private App to Report the Results of the Iowa Caucuses
Step Four: Use “Quality Control” in Order to Withhold Data
Step Five: Declare Victory with Zero Precincts Reporting

It appears that Buttigieg is the DNC’s Chosen One. The “Stop Bernie” candidate designed to exhaust and discourage progressives from partaking in the electoral process. The question is, will voters be more determined to fight for their rights, lives, and the future of the planet? Or will progressives put their desire for progress on the back burner in order to replace a dangerous, corrupt demagogue with a dangerous and corrupt candidate hand-chosen by the treacherous DNC?

The Curious Case of Candidate Sanders
by Rusty Guinn

There are two takeaways: first, yes, every outlet appears to have generally increased the extent to which they use language with negative affect to cover the Sanders campaign. For the reasons described above, that shouldn’t be taken as a sign of “bias” per se. But the second takeaway is concerning: four of these key outlets – the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters and Huffington Post – used dramatically more negative language in their news, feature and opinion coverage of the Sanders campaign in the month of January 2020.

We are always skeptical of relying on sentiment scoring alone; accordingly, we also examined which outlets drove the breakdown in the previously cohesive use of language to describe Bernie Sanders, his policies and his campaign in the media. In other words, which outlets have “gone rogue” from the prevailing Sanders narrative? Are they the outlets who chose to stay “neutral” or at least relatively less negative in December and January? Or can we pin this on the ones who have found a new negative streak in their Bernie coverage? Is there even a relationship between the rapid shift in sentiment by some outlets and the breakdown in narrative structure?

Oh yeah. […]

I think they tell us that the Washington Post and, to a lesser extent, the New York Times experienced a shift in the nature of their coverage, the articles and topics which they included in their mix, and the specific language they used in the months of December and January.

I think they tell us that change was unusual in both magnitude and direction (i.e. sentiment) relative to other major outlets. Their coverage diverged from the pack in language and content.

I think that change was big enough to create the general breakdown in the Sanders that observers have intuitively ‘felt’ when they consume news. […]

Why now? Should we be concerned that a publication which used its editorial page to endorse two candidates suddenly experienced a simultaneous change in tenor of its news coverage?

Not a trick question. Obviously, the answer is yes.

John Podesta, Clinton Democrats, and Ukraine

With the Russian and Ukranian situation back in American news with the revelations of Joe Biden’s son Hunter, I was reminded of the name of John Podesta. I had forgotten about him, although I had been trying to remember his name for a while now. He was a major player in these events, often acting as an intermediary and orchestrator. But after earlier having seen his name in the Mueller investigation, the part he played quickly disappeared from view. That made me suspicious since, to my mind, he demonstrated the most damning link in the chain of oligarchy. He was right in the middle of so many different scandals and had long been a powerful figure among the Clinton Democrats.

Robert Mueller gave immunity to Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, who in his capacity as the head of the Podesta group shared guilt with Paul Manafort. Criminal charges against Tony Podesta might have linked the Russian and Ukrainian scandal directly to top DNC leaders, specifically the Clinton and Biden families but maybe also Barack Obama. Yet the focus has been almost entirely on Manafort who only ever gets referred to in his former and rather brief role as Donald Trump’s campaign manager. That is odd in that Trump in 2014, of course, was not president nor yet a presidential candidate; heck, he was not even a Republican or maybe involved with Manafort in any way when Manafort in 2014 was engaged in this illegal activity as an undisclosed foreign agent. Then again, the two were part of the same social circle and crony network such as how, back in 1980, Trump hired Manafort’s Republican firm (he was their first client) and so maybe there is an old crony connection there (indeed Trump is a creature of the swamp), although supposedly Manafort had to reintroduce himself when he sought to become Trump’s campaign manager; as a side note, the Reagan campaign was another early client of this firm.

Nonetheless, during the 2014 Ukranian dealings, Trump presumably was still a Clinton Democrat, having not yet dreamed of a GOP coup and presidential power, whether or not he was ever complicit in any way with what was going on with the Clintonian Podesta Group. Certainly, Manafort was tied up with the Clinton Democrats at the time, since he personally hired the Podesta Group and directly worked with them, specifically Tony Podesta. Yes, it’s true that the two families, Trumps and Clintons, were tight; they attended each other’s social events, including weddings, and their daughters were bosom buddies. Trump had been supporting and funding the Clinton Democrats in the previous decades and, as far as I know, remained a Democrat until he decided to run as a Republican candidate and go against Hillary Clinton’s own political aspirations. Whatever was Trump’s involvement or not, it’s interesting that the Republican Manafort who was tied into the Clinton Democrat’s machinations decided to become the campaign manager of the former Clinton Democrat Trump, and so Manafort like the Podesta brothers offers a point of connection for all parties in this orbit of power games.

That still leaves open the motivations and agenda behind it all. Why was Manafort hiring what was essentially a Democratic firm started by the Podesta brothers with one of the brothers being in the top rank of Clinton Democrats? Manafort, along with Roger Stone, is a major Republican insider going back to the Reagan administration: “Other men key to the 1994 landslide’s strategy were fellow “Reagan boys” and lobbyists Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Those men would years later be key to getting Donald Trump elected president. He [Trump] was one of their firm Black, Manafort and Stone’s first clients thanks to infamous and later disbarred attorney Roy Cohn” (Donna Ladd & Nick Judin, Mississippi Lobbyists, Associates in Thick of Trump’s Ukraine-Russia Web); that firm would later add Democratic Peter Kelly as a named partner and so “It has often been said that the addition made the new firm — Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly — the first bipartisan lobbying shop in town” (Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Swamp Builders).

Manafort would appear as solidly Republican as they come, to the extent that he grew up as a Young Republican leader and his father, Paul Manafort Sr., was a Republican politician. On the other, hand he was known to lack any principles in his willingness to play both sides of the field, sometimes working simultaneously with competing candidates. Still, his ideological bent was clear. He was not a typical old school Republican but already at a young age was “trying to steer the party to the right” (Roig-Franzia) — maybe, in his transpartisan scheming, he was a force behind what also pushed the Democrats so far right, assuming the Clintons didn’t go willingly. It does get one wondering. Why else was he so deep into Clinton territory of a powerful Democratic lobbyist firm? Who exactly was working for whom and for what purpose and to what end? Why this bipartisan interest in Ukraine that made possible a strange form of bipartisan cooperation? The Podesta brothers, Clinton insiders possibly acting on behalf of the Clintons themselves, were choosing to work with Manafort, one of the worst Republican swamp creatures to ever haunt the halls of Washington power.

What is this seeming alliance between top RNC insiders and top DNC insiders in meddling in what is essentially the covert foreign policy operations of an extra-governmental deep state and international ruling elite? Both parties are deep in this scandal and one can imagine the skeletons in closets of dozens, if not hundreds, of other powermongers and plutocrats. What exactly is going on here? Maybe it has nothing to do with party politics at all. These conspirators were acting as mercenaries and sociopaths, not loyal partisans. All of these corrupt figures simply followed the money and in resource-rich Ukraine wealth overflows: “Like the inhabitants of all borderlands throughout history, many Ukrainians have learned to play one side against the other in securing money and power for themselves. Lavishing money on an American consultant with deep ties to the Republican establishment (like Manafort) or to the Democratic one (like Hunter Biden or Devine) can go a long way in securing influence in Washington and, hopefully, still more money in the form of American aid. The same can be done to secure the flow of Russian funds” (Julia Ioffe, Here’s Why Ukraine Pops Up in So Many U.S. Scandals).

In that case, the connection between the Trumps and the Clintons, between Manafort and Podesta, etc is simply what connects all plutocrats. In the end, they are a singular plutocracy and hence are part of a global oligarchy. Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter. As for Trump, it’s not clear that he is directly involved in any of this particular scandal. Just because he is a sleazy corporatist and crude narcissist who maybe should be impeached or even imprisoned for many other reasons it doesn’t mean he is guilty of every allegation against him. If anything, the Clintons seem more implicated in it all, even if they are more experienced and capable in maintaining plausible deniability. Keep an eye on John Podesta and see if his name comes up. He might be the key to it all. Or else he might represent a loose thread that, if pulled, could begin unraveling the web of control and silence.

It’s amusing for me to see these conspiracies discussed on the ‘mainstream’ corporate media. It is even getting mixed up in the campaign rhetoric of major candidates. In decades past, no matter how much evidence there was in support, such talk would have been dismissed as conspiracy theory. The only place where it used to be taken seriously was on the talk shows of those like Art Bell and Alex Jones. How much the world has changed. We are no longer arguing about the conspiracies being real but now the debate is over who is guilty or rather who is most guilty. No one is left who still doubts that our world is ruled by conspirators who wish to do us harm. We just need to figure out and agree upon who are these dangerous people and how to deal with them.

The problem is the government officials leading the investigations are often also creatures of the swamp. Asking someone like Robert Mueller or Nancy Pelosi to drain the swamp would be as meaningful as expecting Trump to fulfill this promise. Other than a populist uprising and revolt, the only thing that could have an impact is if and when the ruling elite turn on each other and the dark secrets begin spilling out.

* * *

Democratic Failure of the Democratic Party

Intriguingly, the Wikileaks dump showed that the email she wrote for this purpose was sent to John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri. I had forgotten about the details and, reading it again, it now stood out to me.

Podesta, along with his brother, is a high level DNC operative and powerful lobbyist. To show how much of an insider he is, consider the email (released by Wikileaks) he sent to George Soros and other plutocrats about a meeting they had on Democratic strategy to “Control the political discourse,” in which he wrote: “Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.” More recently, Podesta has been in the news because of his connection to the fiasco of Donald Trump’s cronies and the special counsel’s Russia investigation, by way of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Vin Weber. Podesta became a focus of the investigation because of his direct involvement in meddling with Ukranian politics, the reason Manafort and Gates are being charged for acting as unregistered foreign agents. In this activity, Podesta had meetings with Weber who is a former GOP congressman and also a powerful lobbyist.

The corruption connects corporate media to the party establishment and it crosses party lines. These kinds of well-connected figures, powerful and influential, are mercenaries deep within the party establishment and political structure. That is shown by how the two main party nominees, Clinton and Trump, were old family friends and political allies. But in politics as spectacle, all that matters is that they put on a good show so that the big biz media could play it 24/7 to increase their profits. Meanwhile, the real action happens behind the scene, which in this case was Clintonites controlling the DNC and sabotaging Sanders’ campaign.

Triangulating Manafort — Obama, Clinton and Ukraine
by Andrew McCarthy

In 2014, NABU alerted the bureau to a ledger said to have belonged to Yanukovych, bête noire of the new Ukrainian government. The ledger purports to show $12.7 million in cash payments to Manafort. The FBI used the information to interview Manafort, but the authenticity of the ledger has not been established. Manafort dismisses it as fake, contending that the Party of Regions paid him by wire transfer, not cash. Ukrainian officials have conceded that they cannot prove the payments reflected in the ledger were made. The case was thus reportedly closed with no charges. (Perhaps not coincidental to the Obama Justice Department’s decision not to pursue the case: Manafort had brought influential Democrats into his Ukrainian work, such as former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig and the consulting firm started by Obama and Clinton adviser John Podesta — a firm that is still run by Podesta’s brother.)

But then came 2016, and sudden renewed interest in the Manafort- Ukraine investigation … just as the U.S. presidential campaign kicked into high gear.

13 reasons why the Russia probes must be expanded
by J. Michael Waller

4. John Podesta and $35 million from a Russian industrial espionage firm. While advising Hillary Clinton in 2011, John Podesta joined the board of a small energy company in Massachusetts that, two months later, received $35 million from Rusnano, a Russian investment firm. Putin created Rusnano by decree for the purpose of committing industrial espionage. Rusnano CEO Anatoly Chubais, was a major figure in the creation of the Russian gangster-state in 1990s and was close to the Bill Clinton administration, whose White House Chief of Staff was John Podesta. Podesta subsequently joined the Obama White House as senior counselor in 2014, but did not declare his Rusnano business connection. That same year, the FBI issued an “extraordinary warning” about Rusnano. Podesta went on to become Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager.

5. Tony Podesta lobbied for criminal Russian bank. John’s brother, lobbyist Tony Podesta, John’s, took $170,000 over six months in payments from a sanctioned Russian bank, Sberbank (and offshore subsidiaries). The money was for lobbying the U.S. to lift sanctions on Sberbank in 2016, while John Podesta ran Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

6. Podesta Group lobbied for same pro-Kremlin Ukrainians as Manafort. The Podesta Group, founded by John and Tony and headed by Tony, took $900,000 in payments from what Politico calls “pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians who also employed former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.” The purpose was to conduct influence operations against Congress and federal agencies on behalf of the pro-Putin figures. The Trump campaign’s liaison to the RNC in 2016, Rick Gates, connected the Podesta Group with the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a non-profit whose board originally contained Ukrainian members of parliament from the pro-Russian party.” The lobbying ended in 2014 when Ukraine’s pro-Putin president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Moscow.

7. Uranium One: Sale of 20% of US Uranium Production to Russia. Uranium One was owned by Frank Giustra, a close friend and business partner of former President Bill Clinton. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved the company’s sale to the Russian nuclear agency, Rosatom, giving Putin’s nuclear weapons monopoly ownership of 20% of US annual uranium production. Sberbank, which hired lobbyist Tony Podesta, was the lead financial institution involved in the transaction. Tony Podesta’s firm also represented Uranium One before the State Department in 2012 and 2015. Giustra and others tied to the sale donated $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Is power lobbyist Tony Podesta next? Hillary campaign chairman’s brother quits firm they set up together after Mueller looked at his dealings
by Geoff Earle

Top Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta told staff he was leaving the eponymous firm he founded with his powerful brother – on a day two Trump campaign operatives were indicted and a third pled guilty to lying.

Podesta founded the Podesta Group in 1988 along with his brother John, who went on to become Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama‘s chief of staff, as well as Hillary Clinton‘s campaign chair.

The hacking of his personal emails is one of the key factors in the investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, which makes his brother Tony’s role all the more striking.

Tony Podesta told staff he is stepping down from his firm, after an investigation of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s finances revealed lobbying work that the firm got paid to do in order to burnish Ukraine‘s image in the west. […]

According to the indictment, Gates wrote Company A that it would be ‘representing the Government of Ukraine in [Washington] D.C’ Manafort repeatedly communicated with Victor Yanukovych, who led the Party of Regions and served as president of Ukraine before being ousted.

Such lobbying requires disclosure with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  Both Manafort’s firm and the Podesta Group only filed amended forms acknowledging the work after it got reported in the media.

The firms got paid not by their ‘nominal client, the Centre,’ but through off-shore accounts associated with Manafort and Gates headquartered in Cyprus and the Grenadines.

They got more than $2 million in payments between 2012 and 2014. […]

In his heyday, Podesta was one of D.C.’s power lobbyists, with an unusual professional partnership with his wife, Heather Podesta, who was also a fixture on the city’s party circuit. […]

In a sign of how plugged-in Podesta remains, he was spotted at a surprise 70th birthday party for Hillary Clinton over the weekend. Also present were former Clinton advisors John Podesta, Huma Abedin, and Sidney Blumenthal, Politico reported.

“A Bitch For God”

“I challenge the idea that the people who got us in this ditch are the only ones who can get us out of it.”

Marianne Williamson has called herself “a bitch for God.” As presidential candidate, she is getting plenty of attention right now. She is well known among a certain crowd, as she has written numerous books that sold widely, including best-sellers, such as Healing the Soul of America that topped The New York Times nonfiction list for 39 weeks: “Seven reached the New York Times best-seller list, and four hit No. 1” (Cameron Joseph, Marianne Williamson Knows You Think She’s a Joke. But Her Campaign Isn’t.). I’ve known about her since the 1990s during my young adulthood. But for most Americans, she hasn’t been a household name. Yet many people are more familiar with her words, such as a quote often misattributed to Nelson Mandela: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Besides being on Oprah’s show in the past, she is well connected and, for those who know her, strongly supported. She has inspired many people, from famous stars to ordinary Americans, including in politics: “She has some surprising adherents in the Granite State, including former Rep. Paul Hodes who served as a co-chairman on President Obama’s 2008 campaign and is still a power broker in the state. He’s been a Williamson fan since her heyday in the ’90s — her quote “Who are we to stay small?” inspired him to run for Congress a decade-plus ago and hangs in his home to this day,” as reported by Cameron Joseph. That has been her career, inspiring people and she has a talent for it. It is the kind of mixing of religion, politics, and progressive vision we haven’t seen in a while, maybe not since Martin Luther King Jr.

I must admit it feels validating to hear her in the mainstream media, particularly in the early Democratic debates. She comes out of the same background as I do, something I explained in another post (Heretic For President!). She is part of a heretical tradition of thought that goes back to the earliest Christians. Today, we think of it as “New Age” or what in the liberal wing of Christianity is called New Thought. Basically, she believes God is Love — no ifs, ands, or buts. It’s the radical message of Jesus himself, too often diluted or rationalized away and yet still carrying a powerful punch when released from centuries of stale dogma.

Williamson was the minister of the second largest Unity church in the country, the denomination of Christianity I was raised in. She still does guest speaking at that church and other churches. Her primary career has been as a Christian minister, but the mainstream, both left and right, caricatures her as a New Ager, spiritual guru, or whatever; although I’ll give Slate some credit for sort of complimenting her, if backhanded (Shannon Palus, The Bizarre Charm of Marianne Williamson). “I do not understand why everyone is so dismissive of her,” said Marshall Kirkpatrick. “Are we really so out of touch with emotions, spirituality, etc that she seems insane?” If corporate media were to be fair, they’d have to admit she is a Christian minister who comes out of the American Evangelical tradition (Unity Church) and who upholds a theology that has its roots in the earliest Christianity by way of Valentinianism (A Course In Miracles). That is maybe too much historical knowledge for a society that suffers from permanent historical amnesia. She may be a heretic, but she is a heretic with credentials. I’ll call it the return of the repressed. It’s amusing.

Despite it all, Unity is slowly creeping into the mainstream. This has been going on for a long time. I remember when visiting non-Unity churches in decades past and I would sometimes come across the Unity publication The Daily Word even in mainstream churches. So, many people were reading New Thought theology without knowing it. More recently, the Unity Church showed up in a major subplot of the tv show The Path (Meyerism and Unity Church). Then there is the story of Carlton Pearson, as told in a segment on This American Life and in the Netflix movie Come Sunday. He attended Oral Roberts University and was mentored by Oral Roberts himself. As a popular fourth generation Pentecostal preacher, he came to a point of crisis in his faith. He no longer could believe God was a horrific and monstrous demiurge threatening people with eternal damnation. After much inner struggle, he converted to the view that there is no hell, was officially condemned as a heretic, lost his congregation, and then found his faith again in New Thought theology. He has since become the senior minister of a New Thought church and an affiliate minister of a Unity church. His story has inspired many.

Now here we are. We have a Unity minister as a presidential candidate. To me, it is mind-blowing. Unity Church powerfully shaped who I am. I can’t shake the blinding idealism of New Thought theology, in the way an ex-Catholic never quite gets over original sin or an ex-Baptist never loses that sense of fire-and-brimstone breathing down their neck. It is hard to explain being raised in that kind of light-and-love sincerity. I remember going to what was the Unity equivalent of a Bible camp, called Youth of Unity. I had never experienced so much positivity and goodwill in my life. Then I returned back to ‘normal’ life of high school and it shook me to the core. As wonderful as Unity was, it wasn’t the way life operated or so I was told. I was supposed to get real and accept the world the way it was. Like most others growing up in this society, cynicism fell upon me like a sledgehammer.

But Marianne Williamson embodies and exemplifies another way of being. She suggests there is another way and she walks her talk. She doesn’t care who attacks her. She won’t attack back. Instead, when she feels she is wrong, she admits and apologizes. Holy fuck! Someone aspiring to be president who isn’t afraid to apologize! Trump came to power on the arrogant, egomaniac and psychopathic claim that morality, compassion, and common human decency no longer matters. Williamson disagrees down to her soul that it does matter. How we act determines the kind of country we live in. And she is driven to make the world a better place or go down trying. When arguing her position, she doesn’t fall back on talking points. In response to a question about her strategy, she used air quotes as she spoke of her “strategy” — she said that her only strategy was to speak the truth she knows and to continue campaigning as long as people supported her vision of America (Marianne Williamson says she supports mandatory vaccines – but ‘when they are called for’). Her non-aggressive approach doesn’t come across as weakness for, when a principle is at stake, she doesn’t back down. And she isn’t afraid to call someone out on their bullshit, including the MSNBC interviewer Jo Ling Kent, but even then she does so with perfect politeness.

Her personality comes across as strong and confident, and not as a pretense and pose. I loved watching her in that interview. Before answering, she would often get this serious look on her face as if she were scrutinizing the true intentions behind the question and contemplating it as a philosophical issue. Such sincerity is potent, an antidote to cynicism. Trump would have a hard time combating her because she would never give him the kind of response he feeds on. No one is likely to throw Williamson off message because she lives her message. Walk and talk are perfectly aligned. I’m not sure how many people listening to her get where she is coming from. It’s something I’m extremely familiar with from years in the Unity Church. But most people rarely come across authenticity at this level. It’s not something we’ve come to expect in politics. The last time I heard a candidate this straight-shooting was when I went to a speech given by Ralph Nader when he was running for president in 2000, but even he didn’t come across with the same confidence in vision. Even Bernie Sanders, in his down-to-earth style, doesn’t come across as powerfully as this.

Marianne Williamson, in the Democratic debate said, “So, Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me please — you have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out … I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field and, sir, love will win.” Who says something like that in a national political debate, especially in a political party that has become infamous for its political insincerity from Clinton domination, and even more especially while facing president Donald Trump who came to power through hate, anger, and outrage. Such audacity to proclaim love in this era of cynicism. Listen to what she said in that debate (Tim Hains, Marianne Williamson: If You Think We’re Going To Beat Donald Trump By Having A Lot Of Plans, You’ve Got Another Thing Coming). She kicks ass! And it has won her a following, something the corporate media is trying to dismiss — oddly, one hit piece calls her positivity-spouting and humorous followers on Reddit “trolls” (Ben Collins, 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson’s reddit following).

Those in the mainstream are looking for reasons to attack her. For example, some misrepresent her as an anti-vaxxer (Jo Ling Kent, Marianne Williamson says she supports mandatory vaccines – but ‘when they are called for’). In explaining her actual position, she states in no uncertain terms that, “I understand that many vaccines are important and save lives. I recognize there are epidemics around the world that are stopped by vaccines. I also understand some of the skepticism that abounds today about drugs which are rushed to market by Big Pharma.” There is no way to fairly call her an anti-vaxxer. What she is mainly questioning is the anti-democratic role big biz plays in public policy and wants to ensure the best scientific evidence possible is available to promote the public good. She is a principled anti-corporatist and pro-democrat. As she put it in her own words, “I want you to rail against the chemical companies and their GMO’s — not support them. I want you to decry the military industrial complex — not assure them you’re their girl. I want you to support reinstating Glass-Steagall — not just wink at Wall Street while sipping its champagne” (An Open Letter To Hillary Clinton).

She supports mandatory vaccinations when they meet the criteria of the highest standards of the scientific method, if and only if the best evidence strongly supports a public health concern that is proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be remedied only through this drastic course of action. Otherwise, if the evidence is weak or still under debate, if big pharma is unduly influencing government decisions, then we are morally forced to defend democratic process and individual liberty, personal conscience, and bodily autonomy. It is the forever difficult but not impossible democratic balance between public good and private good. A mandatory vaccination is justified in many cases and maybe not in others. She is not promoting denialism. After all, she has vaccinated her own daughter. Science isn’t a dogmatic belief system that is forever settled. Instead, science is an ongoing process. To act like it is otherwise is anti-scientific.

The same problem comes up with attacks on her credibility because she is skeptical about GMOs. Do these people even bother to look into the science? I could write a long post about all the contrary evidence, especially the relationship between GMOs and increased pesticide use (as opposed to organic farming), but this isn’t the place to flesh out that debate. Let’s just honestly acknowledge it exists as a contested issue, a state of affairs that, of course, is reported on in the alternative media but also found in mainstream sources (a few examples: The UK’s Royal Society: a Case Study in How the Health Risks of GMOs Have Been Systematically Misrepresented by Steven Druker from Independent Science News, How GMOs Cut The Use Of Pesticides — And Perhaps Boosted It Again by Dan Charles from NPR, Largest-Ever Study Reveals Environmental Impact of Genetically Modified Crops by Caroline Newman from University of Virginia, Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells Than Their Declared Active Principles by Robin Mesnage et al from BioMed Research International, etc).

If only from a viewpoint of the precautionary principle, whether about the GMOs themselves or the pesticides heavily used with GMOs, it’s perfectly rational that the vast majority of Americans (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) are concerned about GMOs and strongly support having GMO foods labeled — 71-95%, depending on the question and the group asked (Chris Mooney, Stop Pretending That Liberals Are Just As Anti-Science As Conservatives). Not that American politics was ever constrained by nuance. That is precisely the problem. Williamson is arguing that we must understand diverse problems as being systemically related, such as health and the food system or such as the inseparable relationship between GMOs and pesticides. Yet nuance is deemed ‘loony’ because it challenges the dominant paradigm that is dominated by corporate agendas.

As a loony left-winger myself, here is how I put it: “Yeah, monocultural GMO crops immersed in deadly chemicals that destroy soil and deplete nutrients are going to save us, not traditional grazing land that existed for hundreds of millions of years. So, sure, we could go on producing massive yields of grains in a utopian fantasy beloved by technocrats and plutocrats that further disconnects us from the natural world and our evolutionary origins, an industrial food system dependent on turning the whole world into endless monocrops denatured of all other life, making entire regions into ecological deserts that push us further into mass extinction. Or we could return to traditional ways of farming and living with a more traditional diet largely of animal foods (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, etc) balanced with an equal amount of vegetables, the original hunter-gatherer diet” (Carcinogenic Grains). Tell me. Is my skepticism irrational? If so, how has the highly destructive ‘rationality’ of mass industrialization been working out for life on this planet, as we head toward the cliff of mass extinction and climate change?

In many different ways, Marianne Williamson is a potential threat to the Clinton Democrats. Republicans have sensed this and, as a way of fucking with Democrats, some of them have donated to her campaign (Cnaan Liphshiz, Republicans donate to Marianne Williamson’s campaign to keep her in the Democratic debates). It reminds me of how Democrats promoted Trump in the hope that would ensure a Democratic victory. It’s funny that Republicans are falling into the same trap of naivete. Williamson isn’t a mere unknown outlier. After the debate she participated in, her name was the most Googled and, even while the debate was happening, Google searches for her name spiked every time she spoke (Malachi Barrett, Marianne Williamson searches in Michigan explode after Democratic debate). Also, “Williamson has performed better in national polls than more established candidates like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; and Tulsi Gabbard, congresswoman from Hawaii” writes Merle Ginsberg (Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Is Running on Empathy); and she concludes that, “If anybody could play Jesus to Trump’s Antichrist, Williamson is, as our wayward president would put it, straight out of central casting.”

Williamson is no lightweight. In the debates, she is the only candidate that brought up the harmful US policy in Latin America — interestingly, the only article I came across mentioning this came from a conservative source (Christian Watson, Democratic debate showed conservatives could learn something from Marianne Williamson). And she is bold in her vision that comes across as quite left-wing (e.g., since 1997, she has supported reparations for African American slave descendants) while simultaneously invoking the American founding generation of revolutionaries. Here is how she puts it: “Franklin Roosevelt said that the primary role of the presidency is moral leadership. Americans are a decent people, but over the last 50 years, the concept of what it takes to live a good life—an ethical life—has been overtaken by corporatocracy. When I was a child, corporations were expected to have responsibility to the community, not just focus on fiduciary responsibilities to stockholders. Soulless economics has not brought us economic vibrancy. It’s destroyed our middle class and replaced a model of democracy with a model of aristocracy. We repudiated that in 1776—and need to repudiate it again.”

We used to call that a jeremiad, an American tradition if there ever was one (Sacvan Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad). If that is ‘woo’, then give me more of it. This is ‘woo’ that could seriously shake up public and political debate and hopefully a whole lot more. Give me some of that old time religion.

Elizabeth Warren: “The Progressive” Foil

I watched some of the beginning of the first Democratic debate. It wasn’t subtle who was being promoted by the DNC elite and their corporate media lackeys. In the first debate, the first question was lobbed as a perfect set-up for Elizabeth Warren. Before some of the candidates even got a chance for a single question, the moderator had given Warren multiple opportunities to talk. Specifically, she got the most time to speak during the first 30 minutes when the largest number of viewers were watching. Also, not only did she get the first word in the debate, but as an additional gift she received the last word as well.

In case Joe Biden’s campaign falls through as it probably will, Warren is being offered as a back up plan to keep anyone too far left, even principled liberals, out of the nomination. She isn’t much of a back up plan, but Biden is looking pathetic as well at the moment (Jonathan Martin & Alexander Burns, Biden Comes Under Attack From All Sides in Democratic Debate). The DNC elite simply has little of value to offer. I’m wondering if it’s the same plan as last time. The Clinton democrats are still clinging to power and that means they are more focused on punching left than keeping Trump out of the presidency. The DNC is looking desperate in how unimpressive are their top preferred candidates. On an amusing note, Warren was blindsided during the debate by an accusation she didn’t even know about beforehand (Mairead McArdle, Warren Caught Off Guard by Ethics Complaint During Debate).

Scanning the news, much of the corporate media has already declared Warren as the victor of the first debate (Vox, BazaarBoston HeraldThe New York Times, The Independent, etc). In fact, they were promoting before the debate even began (Mike LaChance, Mainstream Media Already Has Headlines Written: Elizabeth Warren is Big Winner in First Debates). But a winner compared to which other candidates? Despite all the camera time given her, she didn’t come across as a strong candidate. She sounded like she was repeating rehearsed talking points, presumably because she was. At least two polls, from the Drudge Report and the Washington Examiner, put Tulsi Gabbard as the winner (Ellie Bufkin, Drudge poll shock: Tulsi Gabbard runaway winner of first Democratic debate; & Joaquin Flores, Paradigms Flip as Trump and Tulsi Emerge as the Winners of the Democratic Party Debate). Gabbard, unlike Warren, comes across as sincere — a straight shooter with actual principles. All Warren could offer was a rehashing of Sander’s platform that she opposed a few years ago during his last campaign, but even in that her delivery wasn’t compelling.

Elizabeth Warren is a Clinton Democrat rebranded as Bernie Lite. I know how this game is played. And I think I see the strategy they have in mind. They’re setting Warren up as “The Progressive” foil (e.g., NYT’s Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump Are Wrong About the Same Thing) so as to eliminate any strong progressive challenge to whatever other mainstream candidate the DNC actually wants to win. But if all else fails, she’ll be acceptable to the DNC as an alternative nominee. Since the ruling elite want to promote her for their agenda, I’m opposed to her. She is the false hope, the faux progressivism we are battling against, as Barack Obama was before. I don’t know if I’ll go for another Democrat or a third party candidate or simply abstain in protest, but I will never vote lesser evil and that is what Warren represents at this point, one of the many varieties of lesser evil in a system that inevitably leads to greater evil. I don’t care what any candidate says. Show me their record of consistently standing up for tough positions and fighting for what is right, even when it is difficult and costly.

In the end, Elizabeth Warren is in the Nancy Pelosi school of economics (“We’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.”) Sure, she wants a softer, more paternalistic corporatism to take off the edges of neoliberalism. That isn’t what we so desperately need. This is what makes her a Clinton Democrat and, like Hillary Clinton, Warren began her political involvement as a Republican — Alex Thompson writes that (‘Liz Was a Diehard Conservative’), “It was not until 1996—when Warren was 47 years old and a newly minted Harvard law professor—that she changed her registration from Republican to Democrat.” So, she only became a Democrat after the Clintons took control of the party and pushed hard right with corporate deregulation, racist tough-on-crime policy, mass incarceration, privatized prisons, etc. She is an economic conservative, a moderate one that promotes a classical liberal vision of a well regulated market but that is far from uncommon among fiscal conservatives (my fiscally conservative father, a former factory manager and business management professor, also supports increased regulation). Thompson continues:

“Some on the left have already pointed out the less-than-progressive stances in her 2003 book, The Two Income Trap, including the rejection of a “quasi-socialist safety net to rival the European model.” But a review of Warren’s early scholarship and interviews with more than 20 friends and colleagues from her high school years through her academic career reveal a longer conservative track record that has not been fully explored. Warren’s conservatism centered not on social issues like abortion or gay rights, friends say, but on economic policy, the dominant focus of her academic work and now her presidential candidacy.”

This right-leaning economics that seeks to defend capitalism by slightly moderating it, this is what distinguishes Warren from Sanders, as Thompson further explains: “The fact that Warren likely has spent more of her voting years outside the Democratic Party than in it distinguishes her from her 2020 primary opponents. She and Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, share many policy objectives and an inclination to rail against the powerful. The Vermont senator, however, largely decided what he believed 50 years ago and has been remarkably consistent ever since.” She can’t even blame her upbringing for her decades as a Republican: “Warren didn’t inherit the Republican Party from her parents or from her home state. Oklahoma was mostly a blue state while Warren was growing up there. Although partisan politics wasn’t much discussed at home, she speculated in a 2018 interview with the Intercept that her parents were New Deal Democrats. Yet Harry, one of Warren’s best friends in high school, distinctly remembers Warren being an “ice-cold Republican,” as she would sometimes tease her.” What makes this stand out is that she can’t blame her upbringing. She embraced right-wing Republicanism of her own accord, only to switch teams late in her career.

In her heart of hearts, she is a capitalist. More from Thompson: ““That’s her fundamental framework—she’s a believer in economics,” says Johnson, her UT-Austin colleague. “It’s just that she now shifts to protect consumers.” “Throughout the years we worked together, she’s always been focused on markets,” Westbrook adds. “Both of us believe very much in markets.”” She is and always will be a capitalist, political rhetoric aside. And worse still, she remains in line with American imperialism, the other side of the coin to American capitalism. Sonja Krieger (Elizabeth Warren Votes for Massive Increase of War Budget) makes a scathing criticism: “Once again, Senator Warren, a “progressive” Democrat, demonstrates that she is no different from the establishment of both capitalist parties. She, like the rest of the Republicans and Democrats, supports exorbitant budgets that mean more imperialist wars, more deaths of innocent people, and the continued neglect of the basic needs of American workers at home.” That was from a couple years ago, but still applies. More recently, Sarah Lazare wrote (Elizabeth Warren Can and Should Do Better on Foreign Policy):

“Yet none of these articles take a close look at Warren’s track record on war and militarism, despite the fact that the realm of foreign policy is where presidents have the most power to act without Congress (thanks in part to Obama’s unfortunate expansion of presidential powers to make war). It’s as though the United States existed in a vacuum, with only domestic matters to attend to; in reality, we are the biggest military empire in human history, with eight hundred military bases around the world and US commandos deployed to 75 percent of countries.

“Once Warren’s foreign policy record is scrutinized, her status as a progressive champion starts to wither. While Warren is not on the far right of Democratic politics on war and peace, she also is not a progressive — nor a leader — and has failed to use her powerful position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to challenge the status quo.

“While she’s voted for military de-escalation on some issues, including ending the Yemen War, she’s gone along with some of the most belligerent acts that have occurred under her watch, cheerleading Israel’s devastating 2014 war on Gaza and vocalizing her support for sanctions against Venezuela. Even judged according to the spectrum of today’s Democratic Party, which is skewed so far to the right on war and militarism it does not take much to distinguish oneself, Warren gets an unsatisfactory grade: not the last in her class, but far from first.”

To put that in context (Alexander Rubinstein, Elizabeth Warren and the Military Industrial ComplexElizabeth Warren and the Military Industrial Complex), “her apparent hostility towards defense contractors is new – in the past, her fiery rhetoric was mostly directed towards financial institutions. It’s also not reciprocated – the defense lobby has given glowing reviews of Warren as a Senator. […] “I have seen the senator and her team take a very active role in defense matters in Massachusetts,” Joseph Donovan, a former aide to then-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and now a defense lobbyist in the state, said. “I’ve been in roundtables that her office has organized with major defense contractors and small businesses.” […]

“After Warren was elected and reached out to defense firms like Raytheon and General Dynamics, the unnamed executive told Politico that “there’s certainly not an impression that she’s adversarial” to defense giants in the state. Raytheon, one of the biggest employers in Warren’s state, where it’s headquartered, “has a positive relationship with Sen. Warren, and we interact with her and her staff regularly,” Michael Doble, a spokesman for the company, said.”

So, in the context of far right-wing DNC positions on plutocratic corporatism and military imperialism, she is a moderate. She occasionally wants to reign in some of the worst abuses, even as she goes along with other areas that are equally as bad. There is no principled consistency that makes her a political leader and moral exemplar. More importantly, that puts her far to the right of the American public. Why would I support that morally depraved vision of America by voting for her? Just because she is not the worst of the worst? That isn’t good enough. Even on a safe Democratic issue such as environmentalism, she has spent her political career being silent and uninvolved (Benjamin Storrow, Elizabeth Warren on climate change: Who knows?; & Ben Adler, Is Elizabeth Warren Really a Leader on Global Warming?). So, what is one of her strengths? Like Joe Biden, Warren works well with Republicans (Elana Schor, Here’s how much Elizabeth Warren works with Republicans, compared to other 2020 Democrats), and her being a former Republican probably helps. Wait, is that a positive?

Bernie Sanders is more radically progressive not only on economics in his specifically targeting economic injustice and inequality. He is also even more radically progressive on foreign policy (Jonathan Wiggs, Where Is Elizabeth Warren’s Fire in the Realm of Foreign Policy?). Warren really is Bernie Lite. And she is rather a latecomer at that. Warren didn’t shift somewhat left until she was middle age, whereas Sanders has been strongly progressive for longer than Warren has been alive. She won’t even take a strong position on campaign financing, an issue that should be the most basic no-brainer for anyone who genuinely believes in democracy (Emily Jashinsky, Elizabeth Warren hates money in politics, keeps taking campaign donations from rich lobbyists and corporate executives; Christine Rosen, The Democrats’ ‘Dark Money’ Hypocrisy Audacity.). All in all, a vote for Warren is a vote for what exactly? Maybe some mild economic reforms to prop up a declining capitalist system, but nothing that is too antagnoistic to corporations and big money donors. That isn’t impressive.

* * *

Here is an example of the deceitfulness of corporate media, even when it is supposedly leftist media. In The Nation, Jet Heer wrote (Elizabeth Warren’s Ideas Dominated the Debate More Than Her Stage Presence):

“Yet a word count doesn’t fully measure Warren’s undeniable impact. The striking fact of the night was the degree to which Warren’s aggressive progressivism was accepted by almost all her rivals as a baseline for the party.”

What a blatant lie. The aggressive regressivism of corporate media is horrifying at times. Bernie Sanders is almost entirely erased from acknowledgement. Warren, with the help of corporate media, stole Stander’s thunder. And that is after the corporate media worked with the DNC to exclude Sanders from the nomination. They never give up with their games of power.

From the comments section:

Kathryn Levy says:

Most of the progressive ideas being debated last night would never have entered the mainstream dialogue without Bernie Sanders’ courageous candidacy in 2016. And he continues to move the needle by insisting on a true single payer health care plan (something that Elizabeth Warren has waffled on before last night), a groundbreaking K-12 education plan, a plan to eliminate all student debt, and numerous other policies that Warren barely mentions. I am used to the mainstream media erasing Sanders name from discussions. It’s sad to see that happening in The Nation.

Larry Gilman says:

I’m glad to see Sanders getting any credit at all here, but a subordinate clause in the last sentence is an odd place for him to get it.

That whole conversation last night, and the one we’ll hear tonight? Sanders shaped it. He broke that ice. He made these terms possible, even unavoidable. It’s plain history that in 2016 he stepped out on the national stage and unexpectedly changed what was possible, even obligatory, in Democratic presidential politics — Medicare for All, you name it — and this whole primary race, including the debate, reflects that history. E.g., Warren calls for banning private prisons now, and that’s truly welcome, but as recently as 2015 she wasn’t ready to cosponsor a bill with that exact aim, the Justice Is Not for Sale Act . . . Bernie’s bill.

Credit where due: Warren gets a lot right. But if we’re talking about who put left politics on the national stage in a whole new way, about whose ideas shaped that debate, Bernie should be way more than an afterthought.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/06/democratic-debate-winner-bernie-sanders

Caleb Melamed says:

It’s interesting to look back on the history of 2015- 2016. The originally-contemplated progressive champion was initially Warren, not Sanders. She had first dibs to be Clinton’s progressive opponent. She never went through with that challenge, partly, it is likely, because The New York Times (a bastion of pro-Clintonism throughout 2016) started writing negative articles about her. Sanders then became the only progressive Democratic presidential contender. With his democratic socialist orientation, he moved the yardstick of generally acceptable positions far more than Warren ever would have at that time.

* * *

With Warren getting so many debate questions, anybody want to believe the DNC hasn’t got this rigged?
by Monica Showalter, American Thinker

After nakedly rigging the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 for Hillary Clinton, Democrats have bent over backwards to try to persuade their electorate that they wouldn’t dream of doing the that this time.

They declared themselves “neutral” in this Twitter poll here. They handed out 20 slots for their 24 candidates in this week’s debates even though that many no-hopers mixed in with the possibles made for an unwieldy set-up in two ten-person tranches which also cost them more. “The critical imperative is making sure everyone feels their candidate got a fair shot,” Perez told Politico. Even Bernie Sanders has woke up after three years and smelled the coffee, given that he was the one who got the put-up job. Perez also had a slip of the tongue earlier this year and admitted the 2016 party process “was rigged” before backtracking. Rigged? Hey, no rigging this time.

Bzzzt! Fooled ya twice, hyuk, hyuk, hyuk!

Based on the number of questions Elizabeth Warren got, compared to those of her rivals, it was pretty clear we know whom the party is tilting toward. Warren was quick with lots of words crammed into tiny spaces in her answers and didn’t actually get the most actual airtime, (John Hinderaker at Power Line actually checked) but she did get the most questions, the most camera shots drawn to her. She also got lots of favorable press saying she actually won the whole debate, and well, I didn’t think she actually won — I thought she was babbly and didn’t project presidential gravitas, she was like an old lady at the dean’s office giving her prissy prescriptions. But all the lefty moderators couldn’t get enough of what she thought, and well, who do you think they took marching orders from? These are the same people who won’t let anyone onto their network unless they talk about impeaching President Trump. These are the same people Tucker Carlson exposed as being in unnatural collusion with the Democratic National Committee, something of no embarrassment to them, though it should be. We know who they’ve taken marching orders from in the past.

Elizabeth Warren embraced by debate moderators
by Dan Gainor, Fox News

NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start. […] Moderators let her dominate the early part of the debate, when most people were likely watching.

NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. “You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,” Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

The networks did it again halfway through. At 10 p.m. EDT, after some embarrassing tech issues that let Warren mull a question for several minutes, the debate went full-on pro-Democrat. NBC brought in bigtime liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow and “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. Once more they turned to Warren to set the agenda by asking her a gun control question;

“We are less than 50 miles from Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last year and where there has been significant activism on gun violence ever since,” began Todd.

And, in case that wasn’t clear enough, the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the “final, final statement.” That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.

Democratic debate: Cory Booker gets most airtime, NBC hit with tech issues
by Rob Tornoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Booker ended Wednesday’s debate with the most airtime among all the candidates, overtaking Warren, who dominated the first hour. […] Despite holding a somewhat smaller presence in the second half, Warren was asked the first question of the debate, and offered the final closing statement. […]

Warren, the only candidate on the stage tonight polling in the top five, garnered the most camera time during the first 30 minutes of the debate. The senator from Massachusetts got the first question, and spoke twice before multiple candidates on the crowded stage had even talked once.

The amount of time Warren was getting prompted complaints from the family of at least one candidate sharing the stage.

The big debate story: Elizabeth Warren wasn’t the big story
by Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe

With Elizabeth Warren positioned in the middle, the stage was set for the Massachusetts senator to solidify the perception that she’s the Democrat who can beat former Vice President Joe Biden in the primary and then President Trump.

While Warren had a strong start, she didn’t dominate the debate, and at times, went strangely silent. Her disappearing act left room for others […]

But the big story of the night was that Warren wasn’t the big story of the night. She went into the night with the wind of a punditry in search of a contender whose name isn’t Biden behind her. Stories of her high school debating prowess were woven into the pre-debate build-up, the better to intimidate her rivals. She’s inching up in the polls, at least to the point of being able to surpass that cranky, old socialist named Bernie Sanders. Her dog, Bailey, is a hit on Twitter.

And she has a plan for everything. The first question she got was whether her plan for the economy is risky, given polling that shows most people think it’s doing well. She answered it with a question: “Who is this economy really working for?” That’s a theme that works well for her. When she was asked if she has a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, she paused and said with great timing, “I do.” Her plan: For Congress to “reflect the will of the people.” Some might call that wishful thinking.

She had nothing to say about immigration, and held back when others were fighting for a chance to say something about anything. Staying above the fray works for now. But when this field winnows, Warren will have to mix it up with rivals who may bring more than plans to the debate stage.

* * *

Bernie: introduced S.2054, in 2015, to end private prisons
Warren: made a blog post, last week, about ending private prisons
Where is Warren’s detailed policy proposal to abolish the private prison industry? And why didn’t Warren cosponsor Bernie Sanders’ legislation in 2015?

Talk is cheap. Sanders has boots on the MFing ground doing work

Now that Biden is slipping, the DNC and MSM have begun the furious re-branding of Warren. Warren didn’t back Bernie or his policies in 2016 and threw her support to the centrist that was rigging the primary in the hopes she could get a career boost.

Bernie introduced the bill against private prisons back in September 2015, but Warren wouldn’t sign on to it. Here is what I got from @OpenSecretsDC but her name was not on it for donations.

Bernie has been rolling progressive policy proposals as well as Warren. He actually has released more detail plans than her and many of his plans have been filed as legislation in Congress (her plans have not). Yet the corporate media pretends he has no plans

And why didn’t the media cover it in 2015?

All these receipts coming back to haunt Warren. We just gotta keep asking why she’s just now coming around to these ideas when Bernie’s been trying to pass them for years.

Warren is desperately trying to steal Bernie’s thunder. #WhichWarren #Bernie2020

Bernie: addresses problems of all magnitudes for all citizens every day. Liz: goes to the immigration camps the day of the debate.

The evolution from Republican to Democratic Socialist is a long and uneven process of becoming.

Why doesn’t she do so now? After all, Bernie made a point of saying he considers her a friend. Is she saying she doesn’t return his friendship?

Why did Warren refuse to run in 2016, refuse to even endorse the only progressive candidate with the courage to run against Hillary and then give Hillary her super delegate vote?

Warren was busy kissing the rear end of Hillary Rodham Clinton to co-sponsor progressive legislations. Haven’t you heard? She’s a coward and opportunist.

Warren is using the usual neoliberal excuse for general election donation corruption of “refusing to unilaterally disarm.” This excuse was used to Obama and Hillary. We can infer that corporations will be very interested in vetoing all of her “plans.”

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Democratic Failure of the Democratic Party

“Many political actors around the world, similarly, think that epistocrats should rule and try to gain the emotional support of the population. Consider the slogan of the Democratic Party in the 2016 US election: ‘I’m with her.’ The Democrats were telling their own version of Plato’s salutary myth, or simple story meant to induce people to identify with a political cause.
“Democracy, instead, requires treating people as citizens – that is, as adults capable of thoughtful decisions and moral actions, rather than as children who need to be manipulated. One way to treat people as citizens is to entrust them with meaningful opportunities to participate in the political process, rather than just as beings who might show up to vote for leaders every few years.”
~Sam Haselby, Treat people as citizens

“The point of the Brazile story isn’t that the people who “rigged” the primary were afraid of losing an election. It’s that they weren’t afraid of betraying democratic principles, probably because they didn’t believe in them anymore.
“If you’re not frightened by the growing appeal of that line of thinking, you should be. There is a history of this sort of thing. And it never ends well.”
~Matt Taibbi, Why Donna Brazile’s Story Matters

Donna Brazile, acting Chair of the DNC, wrote that, “The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.” She is stating the obvious here and, if anything, understating it to an extreme degree.

That isn’t just unethical behavior and compromised integrity. That is blatantly undemocratic and anti-democratic, a direct attack on democracy itself. And this happened within a party leadership that hypocritically still calls themselves the Democrats, a party leadership that is still in power and still trying to eliminate the last traces of democracy. Those involved realized how damaging this could be, if it ever became fully known to the public. Even though “[t]he questionable nature of the Hillary Victory Fund was no secret during the Democratic primary,” the limited info that was revealed drew negative attention (as told by Abigail Tracy in Vanity Fair):

“As details of the arrangement emerged in the spring of 2016, the joint fund-raising effort drew a great deal of scrutiny from the Sanders camp, the Vermont senator’s supporters, and the state party committees that signed on. In July, hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks revealed that party officials and the Clinton campaign sought to bury the particulars of the deal and tamp down criticism directed at the fund.”

After discovering the full documentation of what went on, there is no way someone then in good conscience and with moral courage could have done the following as Brazile describes her own actions:

“I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster. He might find some of her positions too centrist, and her coziness with the financial elites distasteful, but he knew and I knew that the alternative was a person who would put the very future of the country in peril. I knew he heard me. I knew he agreed with me, but I never in my life had felt so tiny and powerless as I did making that call.”

She felt so tiny because she had betrayed the public’s trust. And she felt powerless because she had given her power away. Are we supposed to feel sorry for her in her pitiful complaints? And why would any of us now believe anything she claims, especially about Sanders? This is the same woman who cheated for Hillary Clinton. Working for CNN, she had slipped questions to the Clinton campaign for a CNN town hall debate. Intriguingly, the Wikileaks dump showed that the email she wrote for this purpose was sent to John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri. I had forgotten about the details and, reading it again, it now stood out to me.

Podesta, along with his brother, is a high level DNC operative and powerful lobbyist. To show how much of an insider he is, consider the email (released by Wikileaks) he sent to George Soros and other plutocrats about a meeting they had on Democratic strategy to “Control the political discourse,” in which he wrote: “Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.” More recently, Podesta has been in the news because of his connection to the fiasco of Donald Trump’s cronies and the special counsel’s Russia investigation, by way of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Vin Weber. Podesta became a focus of the investigation because of his direct involvement in meddling with Ukranian politics, the reason Manafort and Gates are being charged for acting as unregistered foreign agents. In this activity, Podesta had meetings with Weber who is a former GOP congressman and also a powerful lobbyist.

The corruption connects corporate media to the party establishment and it crosses party lines. These kinds of well-connected figures, powerful and influential, are mercenaries deep within the party establishment and political structure. That is shown by how the two main party nominees, Clinton and Trump, were old family friends and political allies. But in politics as spectacle, all that matters is that they put on a good show so that the big biz media could play it 24/7 to increase their profits. Meanwhile, the real action happens behind the scene, which in this case was Clintonites controlling the DNC and sabotaging Sanders’ campaign.

It went beyond Hillary Clinton controlling the DNC financing by redirecting state funds into her own campaign. Brazile went on to say that, “Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.” This seems to have included Clinton controlling, influencing, or having veto power over the party messaging, debate schedule, choice of superdelegates, and various major DNC decisions.

Brazile considered Podesta a close ally and trusted intermediary. She sent these debate questions to him, knowing he would get them to Hillary Clinton. That indicates how deep she was in this swamp of corruption. And in finding the inexcusable financial fuckery of Hillary Clinton’s control of the DNC a year before the nomination, Brazile’s immediate response was to hide this ugly truth from other Democrats and to manipulate Bernie Sanders to back the very person, Clinton, who was actively destroying the Democratic party. Now that the whole scheme is falling apart, the rats are fleeing the sinking ship.

Here is the most important part. Brazile admitted that, through Clinton’s control of the DNC, the primary was rigged or stacked in favor of Clinton and this began long before the primary. It’s not entirely new info — it’s just finally being acknowledged by an insider who knew it was true all along. And it’s not just one person saying this. A number of Democratic figures have come forward in agreement, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren but also including Gary Gensler who was the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign — speaking of a phone conversation Brazile had with Gensler, she explained that, “He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the [Vermont Sen.] Bernie [Sanders] camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse.”

At Law Newz, Elura Nanos writes:

“Let’s not forget—there’s a class action lawsuit proceeding against the DNC for defrauding campaign contributors who’d sent funds to support Bernie Sanders and expected him to get a fair chance at the nomination. At the heart of that lawsuit is a brazen contention by the DNC that seems even worse in light of Brazile’s statements: any assumption that the presidential nominating process was fair couldn’tbe the basis for a lawsuit, because any indications of fairness are nothing more than “purported political promises.” In other words, the DNC isn’t interested in even pretending it gave Bernie a chance.

“Perhaps the worst thing about Brazile’s revelation is its origin. This story isn’t coming from Fox or Drudge, but from someone deeply committed to furthering the interests of the Democratic party. A not-so-secret contract between Hillary and the DNC may not make Russiagate look any better, but it sure makes our democracy look a lot worse.”

For a long time now, critics on the left have been making such complaints and allegations while pointing out the facts and suspicious activity. Yet the Democratic establishment and their partisan lackeys kept lying to voters and gaslighting and trolling the political left. It’s nice that the truth has finally come out. But I’m not expecting too many apologies from the lesser evil bullshitters. I hope these chuckleheads finally understand how they were played like fools.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t the lesser evil. She was simply one of two greater evil choices. The real lesser evil was Bernie Sanders. The thing about Sanders is he is a moderate, not a radical. He is a lifelong professional politician who is willing to work with anyone in either main party to get things done. As far as public opinion goes, he is a centrist. He represents what most Americans agree about, what most Americans want. But as recent events demonstrate, he has limited capacity for fighting the hard fight. He caved into the Democratic establishment. That is what makes him a lesser evil. He is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, not even close. Sanders, by force of personality and strength of leadership, isn’t going to be the one to usher in a new era of progressivism. But he could make for a useful ally to move us in the right direction.

The point is that I don’t see Sanders as a populist savior nor an inspiring visionary. He is the kind of politician who will only do the right thing if we the public force him to do so, which is more than Clinton would ever do since she is in the pocket of big money. Although not much of a fighter, Sanders at least is honest and actually represents the American people, in giving voice to the silent majority. We need people like him to hold the center in Washington, which would allow the actual left to maintain pressure to keep the political system from shifting right.

This is what faux democratic “lesser evil” voters were utterly clueless about. They misjudged to an extreme what Clinton and Trump symbolized in relation to what the public was demanding. The Democratic establishment and partisans have lost all credibility, their political failure having become a national shame that they will never live down. The only respectable option left for them is to admit their failure and, as the losers that they are, to get the fuck out of the way. Change is coming, like it or not, be it reform or revolution. As John F. Kennedy put it, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

For context, consider this. Polling has shown that most Americans distrust major institutions: big government, big business, and big media — the trinity of power in our society. This lack of trust doesn’t even follow an expected partisan pattern, as seen even seven years ago in an AP-NCC poll: “Only 10 percent of Republicans expressed strong confidence in state governments, despite frequent GOP demands that Washington cede more power to the states. Just 10 percent of Democrats voiced strong trust in Congress, even though their party controls it.” Public trust and confidence certainly hasn’t increased over time.

Also seen in the data is that most Americans don’t think the US is a functioning democracy nor has an actual free market and fair economy. Generally speaking, very few see the system as working well as compared to those who see it as outright broken. To emphasize this point, here is further context (APA Stress in America Survey): “More than half of Americans (59 percent) said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history that they can remember — a figure spanning every generation, including those who lived through World War II and Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” The citizenry isn’t happy right now. And for good reason, as both main parties have failed them and betrayed them.

* * *

Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False
by Glenn Greenwald

Viral Falsehood #1
The Clinton/DNC agreement cited by Brazile only applied to the general election, not the primary.

Viral Falsehood #2
Sanders signed the same agreement with the DNC that Clinton did.

Viral Falsehood #3
Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

Viral Falsehood #4
Evidence has emerged proving that the content of WikiLeaks documents and emails was doctored.

Donna Brazile, the DNC, and Democratizing the Democrats
by Richard Eskow

The weekend was filled with claims and counter-claims, revelations and counter-revelations. Here’s what’s known as of this writing: The Clinton campaign organization, Hillary For America (HFA) ,signed a Joint Fundraising Agreement and at least one other agreement giving it significant influence over the DNC’s hiring, budget, and strategy.

Claims that the Clinton team’s authority was limited to the general election appear to be false. While the document carried a legal disclaimer to that effect, attorney Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center commented that this clause is “contradicted by the rest of the agreement.” Fischer also pointed to a provision in the agreement that, in his words, meant “Clinton controlled every communication mentioning a primary candidate.”

Clinton’s defenders argued that the Sanders team was also offered a joint fundraising deal, but it was quickly revealed that the Clinton campaign executed a separate side agreement with DNC granting it oversight powers. As NPR points out, that agreement was executed while Joe Biden was still considering a run.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver denies it was offered the same veto power over staff. An email from an attorney representing the DNC, Graham Wilson of Perkins Coie, states only that “DNC staff would be happy to chat with the Sanders team and come to an understanding about the best way to use … funds to prepare for the general election at the DNC.”

The September 2015 email says that “the DNC has had similar conversations with the Clinton campaign and is of course willing to do so with all.” In fact, the Clinton deal had already been signed.

Perkins Coie represented both the Clinton campaign and the DNC when that email was written.

Memo Reveals Details of Hillary Clinton-DNC Deal
by Alex Seitz-Wald

The August 26, 2015, memorandum of understanding from Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook to DNC CEO Amy Dacey, which supplemented a standard Joint Fundraising Agreement, more fully explains the relationship between Clinton and the DNC long before she won her party’s nomination.

In exchange for Hillary for America’s (HFA) helping the cash-strapped DNC raise money, the committee agreed “that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.”

Specifically, the DNC agreed to hire a communications director from “one of two candidates previously identified as acceptable to HFA.” And while the DNC maintained “the authority to make the final decision” on senior staff it the communications, technology, and research departments, it said would it choose “between candidates acceptable to HFA.”

Read: The full memo here

Book Reveals Clinton Campaign Effectively Controlled DNC As Early As 2015
by Scott Neuman

Hillary Clinton’s campaign gained significant control over the Democratic National Committee’s finances and strategy more than a year before the election in exchange for helping the party retire lingering debt from the 2012 presidential campaign, according to a new book by a former party chairwoman. […]

Brazile’s account appears to contradict the DNC’s repeated assertions that it wasn’t favoring Clinton over Sanders and it bolsters charges from the Sanders camp that the primary itself was “rigged.”

During the campaign, Sanders had repeatedly charged that the DNC was working in league with the Clinton campaign to ensure her victory in the primary.

“The idea that the DNC was willing to take a position that helped a candidate in the midst of a primary is outrageous, and there is no justification for it,” Mark Longabaugh, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, was quoted in the Post as saying.

The party is over: Time for Democrats to clean house
by Douglas E. Schoen

The recent revelations by Donna Brazile that Hillary Clinton rigged the 2016 Democratic primaries through corrupt financing come as no surprise to me, especially as someone who before the election said he could not, despite longstanding ties to the Clintons, support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

In October 2016, I said that there would be a constitutional crisis if she were to be elected. Given the news from Brazile about rigging the primaries, the report from John Solomon of The Hill that U.S. uranium tied to an Obama era deal may actually have reached Europe, and ongoing questions about who paid for the infamous Steele dossier, there may well be a constitutional crisis even without Clinton in the Oval Office. […]

Though it is certainly important that Brazile offered these revelations about Hillary Clinton, she herself is no pillar of honesty, as previously leaked Clinton emails revealed that Brazile provided Hillary’s campaign with debate questions prior to the Democratic primary debates, which Brazile subsequently lied about when asked on television.

Above all and unequivocally so, this comportment is obscene, dishonest, and represents a level of malfeasance we have not seen before. […] There needs to be a complete and total housecleaning of the infrastructure of the Democratic Party. Ultimately, Hillary Clinton needs to go away, Bernie Sanders needs to go away, Donna Brazile needs to go away. They are all complicit. We desperately need a renewed understanding of ethics in politics. I am truly sickened by what I see today, but not just because of individual behavior, though the behavior of former Secretary of State Clinton is becoming increasingly egregious.

I am sickened by the behavior of the entire party establishment led by a former chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who uses dismissive ignorance as a defense of everything: “I know nothing, I know nothing, I know nothing.” Well, I know something. The body stinks from the head down, and the core itself is rotten too.

Democrats in Denial Over Brazile Allegations that Further Confirm Primary was Rigged
by Kevin Gosztola

However, what those in denial refuse to confront is that Clinton may have received more votes because citizens believed it was impossible for Sanders to win, since the news media kept reporting Clinton had so many more superdelegates than him. Plus, whether Sanders was able to overcome the impact of an unethical fundraising agreement does not change the reality that it made the primary unfair.

Hillary Rosen, a prominent Democratic Party strategist who regularly appears on CNN, insisted Democrats could not reckon with Brazile’s allegations when attention must be paid to the GOP’s tax proposals. She also misleadingly argued Brazile could not find any evidence that the system was rigged against Sanders, which is not what Brazile wrote. Brazile said she could not find any evidence to support widespread claims until she came across the joint fundraising agreement.

“The voters chose Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, and it had nothing to do with any staff person at the DNC,” Rosen asserted.

In May 2016, Rosen said, “Bernie Sanders is losing this race, and instead of taking it like a man, he’s working the ref. He’s encouraging his people to think that the system is rigged. The system he signed up for as an independent to run in a Democratic primary. This constant sort of whining and complaining about the process is just really the most harmful thing, in some ways, he could do because he’s encouraging his supporters to think that the process actually is cheating them, and they’re not.” So, Rosen has an interest in maintaining her denial of reality.

The reality is hundreds of superdelegates pledged their allegiance to Clinton before votes were cast in Iowa, a limited number of debates were scheduled to ensure voters had the least amount of exposure to Clinton opponents, the DNC and Clinton campaign falsely accused the Sanders campaign of “stealing” voter file data, and Democratic women supporting Sanders faced forms of retaliation for not supporting Clinton.

New Documents Suggest Clinton and DNC Conspired to Block Sanders from Key Voter Database
by Brian Hanley

In December 2015, just weeks before Sanders and Clinton faced off for the first caucuses in Iowa, something curious happened. The DNC cut off Sanders’ access to a critical voter database.

A software vendor, hired by the DNC, had incidentally exposed confidential voter information collected by the Clinton campaign to the Sanders campaign. The glitch and complications it caused were entirely the vendor’s fault, an independent investigation would later find.

Nevertheless, the DNC penalized Sanders for the error. The DNC leadership went as far as suspending Sanders’ access to the voter database, even though it was the DNC that had hired the company responsible for the mistake. NGP VAN, the software vendor in question, is the same vendor Guccifer 2.0 allegedly hacked to breach the DNC’s network. There were clearly vulnerabilities in the software, which Sanders had nothing to do with.

A campaign cannot function, let alone compete, without access to essential voter data. In suspending Sanders’ access, the DNC effectively crippled his campaign and deprived it of its lifeblood. Then-DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (“DWS”) alleged that such a suspension was necessary to ensure the security of the committee’s voter files. But if that were the case, if security were the concern, DWS should have cut off data access to all campaigns until the issue was resolved. Instead, she let one candidate suffer and helped another prosper.

Later, she would resign from her role as DNC chair amid growing allegations that she had rigged the primary. It should be noted that DWS also happened to serve as Clinton’s campaign co-chair in 2008.

It should also be noted that in 2008, when DWS served as Clinton’s co-chair, the two women found themselves in an eerily similar position as Senator Sanders. NGP VAN, the same software vendor that would mishandle voter data in 2015, accidentally exposed Obama’s voter data to the Clinton campaign. But the DNC didn’t take any action in ‘08. It certainly didn’t suspend anyone’s data access.

Sanders, meanwhile, had to sue the DNC before his own data access was restored. All the while, Clinton’s campaign marched ahead at full throttle while Sanders’ camp scrambled. Keep in mind, this was mere weeks before the first caucuses in Iowa. Every minute without that voter data was a minute the Sanders campaign couldn’t afford to lose.

In emails released by WikiLeaks, we later discovered that the DNC’s communications official and communications director actively conspired to undermine the Sanders campaign. Mark Paustenbach and Luis Miranda, who, as DNC leaders, were expected to be neutral, discussed exploiting the software vendor’s slip up to make Sanders look sloppy. “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” Paustenbach wrote in an email to his communications director.

“Hurr, Durr, It’s A Conspiracy Theory!”
by Caitlin Johnstone

Brazile’s melodramatic “oh I was so grief stricken” admission that Clinton had taken over DNC operations long before becoming the party nominee is just the latest in a long series of revelations confirming things Berners have been saying for over a year now while being dismissed as conspiracy theorists by Democratic party loyalists.

This is coming straight off the back of Twitter’s admission that it hid half of all #DNCLeaks mentions in the leadup to the general election despite the fact that only two percent were considered to have come from suspicious accounts. As The Young Turks’ Michael Tracey rightly notes, people who pointed out at the time that tweets with this hashtag seemed to be hidden from view by Twitter admin “were called conspiracy freaks”. The American people were trying to communicate with each other about a very real thing that had been revealed about their democratic process, and Twitter actively worked to prevent them from doing so.

This thread goes all the way back. The thing Twitter was keeping people from discussing was the undeniable revelation in the DNC emails that the Democratic National Committee had violated the Impartiality Clause of their Charter when the DNC Chairwoman permitted a clear us-vs-them culture in the Committee, as revealed by the content of their communications. Berners were called conspiracy theorists again and again for claiming that this bias was happening, and then it was proven to have happened.

After that came the Podesta emails, proving that then-Vice Chair Brazile had served as a mole against the Sanders campaign and passed multiple debate questions in advance to Hillary Clinton, showing Clinton campaign staffers conspiring with the DNC to schedule debates and primaries in a way that benefitted Clinton, and showing blatant collusion between the Clinton campaign and the supposedly neutral news media to get Hillary into the White House. Again, any suggestion that Hillary hadn’t won the nomination fair and square got you dismissed by Clintonists as a daffy conspiracy theorist, but it was proven to be a true and legitimate grievance.

Dem Pundits Spent Yesterday Lying About DNC Primary Rigging Document
by Caitlin Johnstone

We’ve seen no indication that any similar agreement was entered into with any other candidate besides Hillary Clinton. Not from Sanders, nor from Brazile, nor from the DNC, nor from any former Clinton campaign staffers, nor from WikiLeaks. Nor could the same agreement have been made with any other candidate, since the Clinton campaign was giving itself authorities over DNC functioning which would be nonsensical if two parties had them, like that it would share authority with the DNC “over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.”

Regarding the claim by plutocracy teat sucklings like Howard Dean that that the agreement applied only to the general election (which would make the Clinton campaign’s added control of DNC operations standard practice) and not to the primary (which would make it a violation of the DNC’s Impartiality Clause), this is pure hogwash. Firstly, the dates on the document plainly contradict this assertion, as they were set during the primary contest and scheduled to end long before Clinton became the nominee, beginning September 1, 2015 and ending March 31, 2016. The DNC convention in which Clinton became the nominee wasn’t until July 2016.

Secondly, as the Campaign Legal Center’s FEC reform specialist Brendan Fischer notes, the claim that the document is intended to focus on the general election and not the primary is directly contradicted by the rest of the document, which explicitly gave Hillary For America control of every communication which mentioned a primary candidate. The agreement was very clearly and specifically geared toward giving Clinton an advantage in the primary elections.

Journalist Mike Sainato points out that with the agreement the Hillary campaign gave itself the authority to pre-approve DNC hires, an authority it then used to wave through the hiring of DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda. Miranda, one of only two candidates Hillary For America allowed the DNC to choose from per the agreement, would later resign from his position in disgrace after the DNC leaks revealed he’d participated in a discussion about how to construct a narrative against Sanders.

Perhaps far more impactful, Tim Tagaris, former Digital Fundraising Director for the Sanders campaign, said after Brazile’s admission that without the joint fundraising agreement Clinton would have been “majorly out-raised by Bernie Sanders in the primary”.

This joint fundraising scheme was why we saw things like Clinton inviting her donor class friends to dine with her and George Clooney for a whopping $353,400 a couple in April of 2016. Such large individual donations were permitted by campaign finance law via a loophole because the money was meant to be distributed throughout state party races across the country, but according to Donna Brazile virtually all of it got funneled to the Clinton campaign.

This was all happening long before Clinton became Democratic presidential nominee in July of 2016.

Clintonites Still Denying The Primary Was Rigged Proves They’ve Never Cared About Facts
by Caitlin Johnstone

On November 2, 2007, John Podesta wrote an email to billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis, Herb and Marion Sandler, John Sperling, and high-level millionaire Steve Bing with a detailed and structured overview of material the group had covered during a meeting they’d had in September. And if seeing the names John Podesta and George Soros in an article about a conspiracy of elites makes you roll your eyes a little, hang in there, because this one is legit.

On page two of the attachment:

“Control the political discourse. So much effort over the past few years has been focused on better coordinating, strengthening, and developing progressive institutions and leaders. Now that this enhanced infrastructure is in place — grassroots organizing; multi-issue advocacy groups; think tanks; youth outreach; faith communities; micro-targeting outfits; the netroots and blogosphere — we need to better utilize these networks to drive the content of politics through a strong “echo chamber” and message delivery system”

And on page four:

“Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.”

So to recap, an elite insider of the Democratic party met with a group of powerful plutocrats to discuss how they would use their footholds in the media, the internet, academia, faith-based groups and think tanks to create “a group situation where information, ideas, and beliefs are uncritically bounced from insider to insider and amplified, while dissenting views are censored and/or ignored,” exactly like the idiocy-generating manipulation machine that conservative think tanks were inflicting upon Americans of the political right.

A Message to Democrats Who Still Support Hillary Clinton
by Rob Cotton

To the people who still support Hillary Clinton despite all of this, all I can say is that you must have a secret fondness for Donald Trump and far-right Republican governance. Unless you begin to realize that Hillary Clinton and the corrupt neoliberalism she represents are cancer and the Democratic Party needs a complete overhaul, you will keep losing to Republicans and those Republicans, down the road, will make Donald Trump seem like a pleasant memory of the past.

The damage done by Clinton and her cronies to the Democratic Party cannot be overstated. In fact, it’s quite possible that the damage is irreversible. Until and unless the Democratic Party as a whole admits its fatal error in 2016, it will see its support wane. While virtually no one on the left and center-left is happy with Trump and the direction his Republican Party are heading, the “lesser-evilism” offered by the Democratic Party is not seen as lesser enough by a critical mass of people who also happen to be the most active and energetic members of any potential Democratic Party base in future elections.

It’s time to wake up, Clinton Democrats. Your glass castle has shattered.

The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and all Dems an apology
by Brent Budowsky

The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and his supporters an apology if it signed a secret deal in 2015 that sought to fix the 2016 nominating process.

The DNC owes every Democrat and party candidates in every state an apology for failing to mobilize Democrats and better support Democratic candidates during an epic political struggle that will have gigantic impact on the nation after the 2018 midterm elections. […]

In other words, regarding the Democratic National Committee that should represent all Democrats equally and treat all candidates equally throughout presidential primaries, the fix was in before the 2016 primaries had even begun.

Two points are key:

First, the DNC has for some time been so incompetent and ineffective that any DNC-Clinton deal probably did not make much difference in the 2016 primaries.

Second, and more importantly, this DNC-Clinton deal, if it happened as Brazile suggests, was a disgraceful and unethical venture that violated a core principle of the DNC: that it should be neutral in presidential primaries between competing candidates. […]

For this, the DNC owes every Democrat across the nation a sweeping, comprehensive and humble apology.

Sanders would’ve beat Trump in 2016 — just ask Trump pollsters
by Brent Budowsky

As Democratic leaders and strategists consider how they should campaign in the crucial midterm elections of 2018, they would be wise to consider why so many polls throughout 2016 showed that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have decisively defeated Donald Trump in a general election contest.

My view, stated throughout the 2016 campaign, was that whether one supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the presidential primaries, it was vital that all Democrats fully understand why Sanders ran so far ahead of Trump in polling — usually by double digits — and markedly stronger than Clinton in match-up polling against Trump.

As reported recently in The Hill, Trump’s own pollster, Tony Fabrizio, stated flatly at a recent Harvard University Institute of Politics event that Sanders would have beaten Trump. He said Sanders would have run stronger than Clinton with lower-educated and lower-income white voters. I could not agree more, on both counts.

The real working-class hero candidate was always Sanders, not Trump, who has always been a crony capitalist pretending to be a populist. […]

America is a far more progressive nation than most pundits understand. They are waiting for the next great progressive Democratic president, whoever he or she may be. That person will lift the nation after the Trump nightmare ends and the post-Trump America begins in earnest in 2018 and 2020.

Poll: Democrats Want To Ditch Their Leaders And Move To The Left. They’re Right.
by Richard Eskow

Poll: A majority of Democrats want the party to move left and oppose its leadership
by Andrew Joyce

As Tensions Simmer, Poll Shows Majority of Democrats Want Bold Leftward Shift
by Jake Johnson

As Donald Trump’s Popularity Dwindles, Bernie Sanders’ Surges
by Michael Sainato

Universal Mobilization
by Ralph Nader

…there has long been a broad convergence of agreement between Left and Right on many issues, especially when you deal with where people live, work, spend, and raise their families.

Binary politics thrives from the few real divisions between people. The drumbeats about “our polarized society” serve the agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties as well as the plutocracy. Divide-and-rule has been the tactic of ruling groups for thousands of years. Consider instead some areas of concurrence by the Left and Right that enjoy widespread public support, some as high as 70% or more—often a decisive eyebrow raiser for members of Congress. They include opposition to crony capitalism or corporate welfare, support for excision of anti-civil liberties portions of the Patriot Act, criminal justice reform, cracking down on corporate crime against consumers, clean elections, programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, worker rights and privacy, break-up of the big New York banks that are too big to fail, a higher minimum wage, not being the world’s policeman, ridding the Defense budget of its enormous waste, revision of trade agreements, access to the courts, a Wall Street speculation tax directed to investments in public works and upgrades in communities throughout the country, shareholder power, clean air and water, stopping commercialization of childhood that undermines parental authority, and many more. In the past, despite strong corporate opposition with campaign cash, Congress handily passed the auto safety law (1966), the Freedom of Information Act amendments of 1974, the False Claims Act of 1986 and the Whistleblower Protection Act of 2013. Why? Left–Right support from back home.

US Demographics & Increasing Progressivism
Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
Claims of US Becoming Pro-Life
Public Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich
Most Oppose Cutting Social Security (data)
The Court of Public Opinion: Part 1 & Part 2
Non-Identifying Environmentalists And Liberals
Environmentalist Majority
Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
Gun Violence & Regulation (Data, Analysis, Rhetoric)
Warmongering Politicians & Progressive Public
Who Supported the Vietnam War?
Vietnam War Myths: Memory, Narrative, Rhetoric & Lies
Hillary and Honduras
The War Party Always Wins

Political Elites Disconnected From General Public
Wirthlin Effect & Symbolic Conservatism
Polarizing Effect of Perceived Polarization
Is there a balance point in a society of extremes?
Inequality Means No Center to Moderate Toward
What is the Moderate Center of a Banana Republic?
A Manifesto of Meaninglessness
What Liberalism Has Become
Confused Liberalism
Liberalism: Label vs Reality (analysis of data)
Sea Change of Public Opinion: Libertarianism, Progressivism & Socialism
Poll Answers, Stated Beliefs, Ideological Labels
Authoritarians in Authoritarianism
But Then It Was Too Late
Then What?
A Sense of Urgency

Partisanship vs Democracy
Obama’s Lack of a Legacy
The Partisan ‘Good’
Moral Failure of Partisanship and the Political Machine
Racial Polarization of Partisans
Of Dreamers and Sleepwalkers
Very Serious, Important Thoughts
Politics On My Mind: March 1-8, 2016
More Metaphors of Madness
American Populism, From Frustration to Hope
Class Divide and Communication Failure

Presidential Candidates and Voter Demographics
Data and More Data
Class Breakdown of the Campaigns
Right-Wing Politics of the Middle Class
The Comfortable Classes Remain Comfortable
Which Candidate Do the Poor Support?
MSMsplaining Poor Whites.
On Rural America: Understanding Is The Problem
It’s Time to End the Myth That Black Voters Don’t Like Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders and Civil Rights
Endless Nonsense of the Misinformed Mind
Note to Cynical Liberals and Useful Idiots
A Generation to End All Generations
Old School Progressivism
On Infrastructure and Injustice
Trump’s Populism, Something For Everyone
It’s All About Timing
“That party could find itself out of power for a generation.”
A Perfect Storm
All is Lost

American Democracy?
Democracy?
Protecting Elections From Democracy
Failed Democracy and the Demand for Justice
We’ve Been Here Before
From Progressivism to Neoconservatism
The Sting of the Scorpion
Investigation Hullabaloo
Democrats, Russians, and Uranium
The Complicity of Mainstream Politics and Media
Corporate Bias of ‘Mainstream’ Media

The Dying Donkey

“The top three House Democratic leaders are 76 (Pelosi), 77 (Steny Hoyer) and 76 (Jim Clyburn). The average age of the Democratic House leadership is 76. That’s even older than the 70-year old average of Soviet Politburo members in the age of Brezhnev, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
~Miles Mogulescu, Democratic Leadership Looks Like Old Soviet Politburo

“A party that is that detached from the wishes and demands of the electorate, and of its own discouraged and angry base, is not a party that’s going to be around much longer.
“At least one can hope.”
~Dave Lindorff, Democratic Leaders are a Craven Bunch of Idiots Bent on Self-Destruction

Even as the establishment maintains control of the DNC, the recent loss of power by Democrats has turned out to be unprecedented.

It wasn’t only that Hillary Clinton lost to the most unpopular candidate in recent US politics. She lost even many of the majority white areas that supported the first black president and who once voted for FDR. She also lost what was the most Democratic county in US history, a county that has been loyal Democrats for a century and a half. In addition, Democrats have lost control of Kentucky state government, the last Southern state where Democrats retained power.

But its worse than that. And it can’t be all blamed on her. Some of the biggest losses came during the Obama administration. Since then, the decline of power continues. The donkey is bleeding out, barely with enough energy to temporarily fend off the circling predators.

Some of this comes from voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other anti-democratic tactics. Even so, Clinton didn’t actually win the popular vote, not in any fundamental and meaningful sense. She won the most votes from those who voted, but that ignores that the majority of eligible voters don’t vote in most elections and haven’t for a long time. The reason she lost was because so many Americans don’t trust the Democrats any more than they do the Republicans.

Democrats have given up on fighting for the American public. They betrayed and abandoned Southerners, rural residents, poor whites, immigrants, and organized labor. Everything has become identity politics that has splintered the Democratic Party. Identity politics has simply become a cover for the neocon and neoliberal politics that now rule the DNC, what basically is Republican Lite. The American public have come to understand that and it isn’t what they want nor is it what they will tolerate.

Bernie Sanders may have been the last chance the Democrats had not just for victory but for survival. The DNC’s miscalculation might be a mortal wound. Political parties have come to an end before in American politics. It would be naive to think it can’t happen again. Waiting for Republicans to destroy themselves may not be a wise strategy, as both political parties could be taken down in the aftermath.

* * *

The Great God Trump and the White Working Class
by Mike Davis, Jacobin

But we should be cautious about dumping all the blame on Clinton and her troubled inner circle. If she had been the principal problem, then local Democrats should have consistently outperformed her. In fact, that seldom happened and in several states her vote was significantly higher than the hometown Democrats. The malaise of the Democrats, it should be clear, permeates every level of the party, including the hopelessly inept Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the Midwest, in particular, the Democrats have largely been running on retreads, nominating failed veterans such as former Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett (who lost to Scott Walker in 2012) and ex-Ohio governor Ted Strickland (slaughtered by Rob Portman in the Senate race).

Meanwhile, for the gifted team around Obama, holding on to the White House, not strengthening the state parties, has been the relentless and at times exclusive priority. East of the Rockies, as a result, Republicans have surpassed their 1920 benchmark in state legislative seats. Twenty-six states are now Republican “trifectas” (control of both chambers and the governorship) versus a mere six for the Democrats. Progressive initiatives by Democratic cities such as Minneapolis (paid leave) and Austin (sanctuary) face the veto of reactionary legislatures. […]

It is no secret that the inadvertent ally of the Republicans in the Rust Belt has been Obama himself, whose lofty conception of the presidency does not include being the leader of the party, at least not in the old-fashioned, out-in-the-hustings style of an LBJ or even Clinton. In 2010, 2012, and again in 2014, Democratic candidates bitterly complained about their lack of support from the White House, especially in the upper South, Louisiana, and Texas.

Obama ended his presidency with the Democrats having lost nearly one thousand legislative seats across the country. Republicans legislatures are now targeting Missouri and Kentucky — possibly Ohio again, as well as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — as the next right-to-work states. (In Missouri and New Hampshire right-to-work amendments recently had been passed by the legislatures but were vetoed by Democratic governors. Both states now have Republican governors.) You might call it the Southernization or Dixiefication of the Midwest.

Republicans Now Control Record Number of State Legislative Chambers
by Barbara Hollingsworth, CNS News

Republicans added to their historic 2014 gains in the nation’s state legislatures with the addition of five state House chambers and two state Senate chambers in last week’s election, while Democratic control was reduced to levels not seen since the Civil War.

Republicans are now in control of a record 67 (68 percent) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation, more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats have a majority, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

“That’s more than at any other time in the history of the Republican Party,” according to NCSL. “They also hold more total seats, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920.” […]

“Republicans grabbed more of America’s statehouses and governors’ mansions during the Obama administration than at any time in the modern era,” the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips reported.

Last week’s historic flip of the Kentucky House – the last Democrat-controlled legislative chamber in the South – to Republican hands for the first time in nearly 100 years underscores the point.

In 2010, Democrats in the Kentucky House held a solid 65-35 majority. Six years later, the GOP now has a supermajority, and will control 62 of the chamber’s 100 seats.

“Democrats are now basically extinct in the South,” Phillips noted.

“Republicans bested expectations,” said Dan Diorio, a policy expert at NCSL. “Having already reached the peak of control in party history, Republicans will maintain a similar level of control in a year when many expected Democrats to net seats and chambers.”

 

Democrats Flip Zero Seats in Four Blue State Special Elections
by Andrew Kugle, The Washington Free Beacon

Democrats have failed since Election Day in November to take any Republican-controlled seats in four special elections in blue states, despite hefty investment from the Democratic Party.

Since President Trump’s election, there have been several state-level special elections across the country. The Republican State Leadership Committee, or RSLC, published a memo this week showing Republicans have won every district they previously held across multiple states that Democrats have won in the last three or more presidential elections.

Republicans kept their seats despite “hefty financial investments and high profile Democrats lending star power to state-level candidates,” RSLC noted. […]

In recent years Republicans have made significant gains at the state-level. The Democrat party lost a net total of 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts–including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships, and the presidency–while Barack Obama was president.

All is Lost

This election, for many Democrats, wasn’t only about a candidate.

Hillary Clinton was not just a candidate but their candidate. Not just a Democratic candidate but the Democratic Party itself. The Clinton New Democrats have defined and controlled the party for decades. And Hillary Clinton has become the face and voice of the party establishment, of the Democratic worldview. Many Democrats, especially women, have looked to her as a leader long before she ran for the presidency.

What ended was an era. It felt like a stake to the heart of what was left of the progressive vision. It was a loss of a promise, a loss of the guarantee that no matter how bad it could feel at times the United States was fundamentally good and getting better. Democrats didn’t just lose an election. Their entire sense of reality was demolished and their vision torn out by the roots.

How could someone like Donald Trump win? It is incomprehensible to these good liberals. Trump stands for everything they fear and hate, the type of old school bigotry-spewing demagogue and misogynist that this country supposedly left behind when we entered this new century. These Democrats see themselves on the side of good. How could they lose? It was supposed to be impossible for someone like Trump to come to power. All the mainstream media, all the experts, all the polling said it couldn’t happen.

Now, having put all their faith in Hillary Clinton, they’ve been profoundly demoralized and publicly shamed. Their entire sense of the world has been shaken. They are asking themselves, what country is this that I live in? Simply put, they are shocked, maybe traumatized even, and they find themselves in a state of mourning. Nothing will ever be the same again. In their anguish and despair, they’ve gathered in public places to comfort one another, to protest, to have the opportunity to speak and be heard. They want to be reassured that they are not alone, that there are others who understand and share their sadness, their fears, a jumble of emotions and doubts.

Those on the outside see it as a strange response. It’s an election, like many elections before. There are always losing candidates and bad feelings among those who supported those candidates. Also, this isn’t the first time a party has been so severely challenged. In fact, this country has faced many periods of worse conditions than this. Objectively, the stolen election of 2000 was a far more important failure, and yet most partisan Democrats were oblivious of its significance at the time (and most remain oblivious). Nor is this as bad as the Whig Party losing power in being replaced by the Republican Party, Republicans losing to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for three elections in a row, Richard Nixon’s presidency ending with the Watergate scandal, etc.

We haven’t experienced an assassination, civil war, revolution, coup d’etat, or societal collapse. It was just another election, nothing particularly shocking about that. Elections happen on a regular basis. That misses the point, though. It’s easy to be dismissive. This wasn’t a normal election, in so many ways.

It’s slowly dawned on me how this has impacted partisan Democrats and why that impact has been so powerful. When they look upon someone like Trump and his ‘deplorables’, the good liberals feel disgust, an unmoderated and overwhelming disgust. To be fair, Pew found that 55% of voters in general state that they feel disgust about the campaign. But Pew also found a clear difference in Democrats taking it more personally: “Clinton backers – particularly highly educated ones – have more difficulty respecting Trump supporters than the other way around.”

This disgust response is not a rational assessment of the problems we face but a visceral reaction that knocks their legs out from under them, hits them in the gut, hurts their heart, etc. For many of them, it makes them physically ill, in the way that smelling puke can make you puke. And I wouldn’t be surprised if many Clinton supporters took a sick day after the election.

Why is that?

J. Scott Wagner, in his new book The Liberal’s Guide to Conservatives, offers an explanation that seems to fit. In differentiating the two main ideological predispositions, he explains the disgust response (Kindle Locations 4767-4778):

“I think conservative disgust ties in with the strange, strong evidence of conservative strength in the sense of smell, where the disgust response long ago originated in humans. They seem to have a way of “sniffing out” situations, and then use appropriate, mild levels of disgust to set a boundary that doesn’t just max out all at once, like liberal disgust. The emotional reaction is muted. Some research has shown conservatives with broadly higher levels of specific types of brain activity than liberals when disgusted, yet reporting the same perceived level of disgust: this may mean that they’re used to interpreting and dealing with greater impacts from disgusting events without being as emotionally affected.[ 145] It feels to me as if mild levels of disgust are so common for them that they learn to live with it, so that it doesn’t overwhelm them unless there’s a strong reason to be disgusted.

“When I’m around liberals who are disgusted, it’s hard to miss. With conservatives, in situations like business or casual social situations, it can be hard to detect, yet the effects can be dramatic, at least over time. Their politeness often takes the form of being reserved, after all, so what they’re thinking and feeling doesn’t spill out as readily or clearly, even if they’re experiencing disgust.”

Wagner is right about his assessment. And he is right that this fits into the issue of boundaries and boundary types, a topic I’ve discussed with him before in this blog. Liberals can’t simply shut off disgust or compartmentalize it, at least not to the extent that conservatives are so easily able to do. About emotional unpleasantness, liberals “can leave the experience with a much worse feeling than the conservative does; more emotionally affected” (Kindle Locations 3267-3268).

This is because liberals tend toward being thin boundary types. There is less division and distance between aspects of a liberal’s life and experience. This applies as well to perception of time, as the past is never entirely past for the thin boundary type. As such, an election doesn’t just end. Also, the results aren’t limited to the boundaries of politics. Thin boundaried liberals take it personally. I could hear this in the words that liberals spoke after Trump’s election. They immediately jumped to the personal effect they imagined this would have on people they personally know and care about. The potential harm that could follow from bigotry let loose is real to them, as if it has already happened to them personally.

So, it wasn’t a mere lost election. The world they know, feel, and experience is threatened. And the worldview they held no longer makes sense, no longer applies to what this election has shown the world to be. It may not be the literal end of the world, but it is the end of their world, that is to say the world that they have become personally invested in and fought for. It doesn’t matter that, as someone like myself might argue, that the good liberal dream has never been a reality. Nor does it matter that Hillary Clinton was never actually the person they believed her to be. What has been destroyed is a hope and a promise, the sense that the world was moving toward something better.

Naive as it may seem, good liberals genuinely believed in the good liberal vision, no matter how many inconvenient facts critics and doubters pointed out. It wasn’t that the good liberal vision always succeeded and perfectly matched reality. The point was they had good intentions and that, however slow it took, real progress was being made. They saw themselves on the right side of history, a moral arc that bent toward justice. But now they feel as if they’ve been abandoned and all is lost.

The War Party Always Wins

Since the War Party dominates both branches of the Two-Party-System, the recent track record suggests that the Republicans will nominate a candidate bad enough to make Hillary look good.

This was written by Diana Johnstone, from Queen of Chaos. The book was published in October 12, 2015. I’m not sure when the writing of it began or was finished, but nowhere in the book does she directly speak of an ongoing campaign season for the presidential election. It seems she is speaking of a purely hypothetical scenario, which is to say a prediction.

She had no way of knowing someone like Trump was going to take over the Republican Party and win the nomination. Her prediction turned out to be more true than even she could have imagined. Trump is about as bad of a candidate as could be found, in making Hillary look good. Apparently, the War Party’s strategy has so far been a major success.

* * *

Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton
By Diana Johnstone
Kindle Locations 3629-3671

Hillary Clinton’s performance as Secretary of State was a great success in one respect: it has made her the favorite candidate of the War Party. This appears to have been her primary objective.

But Hillary Clinton is far from being the whole problem. The fundamental problem is the War Party and its tight grip on U.S. policy.

One reason there is so little public resistance is that the wars started by the War Party hardly feel like real wars to the American people. Americans are not seeing their homes blown up. The drone armada is removing the inconvenience of “boots on the ground” veterans coming home with post-traumatic stress syndrome. War from the air is increasingly safe, distant, invisible. For most Americans, U.S. wars are simply a branch of the entertainment industry, something to hear about on television but rarely seen. These wars give you a bit of serious entertainment in return for your tax dollars. But they are not really a matter of life and death…

In fact, it hardly seems to matter what happens in these wars. The United States no longer even makes war in order to win, but rather to make sure that the other side loses. Hillary Clinton accused Vladimir Putin, quite falsely, of adhering to a “zero-sum game in which, if someone is winning, then someone else has to be losing”. The United States is playing something even worse: a “no win”, or a “lose-lose”, game in which the other side may lose, yet the United States cannot be called the winner. These are essentially spoiler wars, fought to get rid of real or imagined rivals; everyone is poorer as a result. Americans are being taught to grow accustomed to these negative wars, whose declared purpose is to get rid of something – a dictator, or terrorism, or human rights violations.

The United States is out to dominate the world by knocking out the other players.

“Our ideals” are part of the collateral damage. With its wartime crackdown on internal enemies and its Homeland Security and Patriot Acts, the United States is not only sacrificing its own freedom, it is undermining the very belief in progressive values: in democracy, in progress, in science and technology, in reason itself. By loudly identifying itself with these values, the United States is actually promoting their rejection. Such ideals increasingly resemble a mere camouflage for aggression. What is the use of democratic and liberal ideals when they are reduced to serving as pretexts for war?

And yet, opposition to the War Party is certainly shared by countless Americans. It is probably much greater than the pro-war establishment realizes. But those who are increasingly alarmed by the danger feel helpless to do anything about it. This is because the War Party is firmly in control of the two-party political system.

In February 2015, Paul Craig Roberts wrote:

Jobs offshoring destroyed the American industrial and manufacturing unions. Their demise and the current attack on the public employee unions has left the Democratic Party financially dependent on the same organized private interest groups as the Republicans. Both parties now report to the same interest groups. Wall Street, the military/ security complex, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness, and the extractive industries (oil, mining, timber) control the government regardless of the party in power. These powerful interests all have a stake in American hegemony. The message is that the constellation of forces precludes internal political change.

And he concluded that: “Hegemony’s Achilles’ heel is the US economy.”

If Roberts is right, and it is hard to see where he is wrong, the only thing that can liberate Americans from their warlike fiction would be economic collapse. This is not a cheerful prospect. It is hard to hope for an economic catastrophe as the only way to avoid nuclear annihilation. Whatever the odds, one cannot help wishing that the American people would come to their senses and figure out a way to end this policy of war and thus find a constructive way of dealing with the world. This happy ending is theoretically possible, but looks extremely unlikely because of the American political system.

The U.S. Presidential election is essentially a popular entertainment event. Billionaire sponsors send two carefully-vetted contenders into the arena, sure to win either way. The intellectual level of Republican-Democrat confrontation increasingly recalls that of the parties that divided the early Byzantine Empire, based on blue and green chariot racing teams. In the 2016 presidential election, the Good Cop party and the Bad Cop party will disagree about domestic policy issues before everything gets stalled in Congress. But the most significant issue of all is the choice of war.

Since the War Party dominates both branches of the Two-Party-System, the recent track record suggests that the Republicans will nominate a candidate bad enough to make Hillary look good.

 

 

Irreparable Damage, Voting Subjects, & Direct Action

I get the feeling that Barack Obama has done irreparable damage to the political left. So many Americans genuinely believed in and were excited by his message of hope and change. I bet even many people from the political right voted for him.

There was such a profound sense of disappointment and betrayal once he had been in office for a while. It turned out he was just another professional politician and that the hype had meant very little. He continued many of the same policies from the Bush administration. Worse still, he passed healthcare reform that was originally a Republican idea which favored insurance and drug companies, rather than the leftist single payer reform most Americans wanted.

Obama’s presidency has made many Americans far more cynical than they’ve been in a long time. No one expects Republicans to genuinely care about the poor and needy, to fight for the rights and opportunities of the lower classes. But many do expect this from Democrats, however naïve that might be.

I know of those who supported Obama in 2008. Some of them now support Clinton, Obama’s nemesis back then. The heir of hope and change is Bernie Sanders. Yet many have lost faith that hope and change is possible. It’s not just fear of Trump. These Clinton supporters, in many cases, have simply resigned themselves to the notion that Clinton is the best that the Democratic party will ever offer. It’s either take that pathetic choice or get nothing at all, so it seems from this jaded mindset.

Older voters, in particular, feel wary about trusting that genuine progress and reform is possible. They don’t want to be betrayed again. They’d rather go for the cynical choice because at least that way they’ll know what they’re getting. When cynicism overtakes the citizenry, that is the most dangerous moment for a democracy.

That is what Sanders is fighting against.

* * *

For US citizens, voting is a right. But it is also a privilege.

For one thing, not all US citizens have the right to vote, besides the young. Convicts and many ex-cons don’t have the right to vote. Many others who technically have the right to vote are politically disenfranchised and demoralized in various ways, by both parties in elections and in the presidential nomination process.

Another issue is that, for all intents and purposes, the US is an empire. Most of the people directly and indirectly effected by US policy aren’t voting US citizens. Who and what you support with your vote impacts not only non-voting Americans but also billions of people around the world.

This includes millions harmed, millions made homeless refugees, millions starving, and millions killed. Those impacted, mostly innocent victims, come from wars, including wars of aggression, proxy wars, and drug wars; CIA covert operations, such as inciting of governments coups, propped-up puppet dictators, US-backed authoritarian regimes, arming of paramilitaries, and School of the Americas military training; post-colonial resource exploitation, unfree trade agreements, US-aligned IMF-enforced austerity policies, and harmful sanctions; et cetera.

As a subject of the empire, you benefit greatly from US policies. It is other people, mostly poor and brown people, mostly in other countries that have to pay the full costs of these imperial benefits.

You are never making merely a personal decision when you vote. You are part of a privileged class of people on this planet. Your vote matters and the results are powerful. This is true, even as the system is rigged against American voters. The last thing you should ever do is support a candidate who supports the corrupt status quo of neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

We Americans should take all of this much more seriously. For those who have personally experienced US power, this isn’t idle campaign rhetoric. What is at stake is their lives, their families, and their communities. This isn’t about your party or candidate winning. It’s about morality and justice. Be sure you’re on the right side of history. You are complicit in what you support. Choose wisely.

* * *

When I was a child, I played soccer. My main talents were that I could run fast and take pain. I often played defense because I was good at stopping things. I demonstrated this talent during one game when in elementary school. I was probably playing halfback that day, as it requires a lot of running around. A halfback’s purpose is to be a go-between, to go where and do what is needed. It requires adaptability to the situation, whether defense or offense is required.

Anyway, in whatever position I was in, it was further up the field. The game had just begun. The other team had the ball. One of their players dropped it back and got out of the way. A giant girl came forward and kicked the ball all the way down the field. She was their one great weapon. It forced everyone on my team to immediately run back down the field. After a second time of this, many on my team were already running before the ball went flying. After observing this predictable situation, a brilliant idea popped into my mind. Why not simply stop the ball before it goes flying? So, at the next opportunity, I ran full speed right at that girl and took a body blow. Every time they did it again, I took another body blow. It stopped the ball and allowed my teammates to push the play forward, instead of backwards.

It was a proud moment of my childhood. But I’ve always wondered what the life lesson was from this incident. Well, besides the willingness to take a hit for the team. A few things come to mind. A basic lesson is to look for the obvious. Another is that direct action can be a good thing. Also, it’s much easier to prevent something than to react to it once it has already happened.

I’d apply these lessons to the entire society I live in. Politics most of all. I’ve come to realize how rare it is for people to see the obvious. Partisan politics shows the power of groupthink. Everyone sees the situation as inevitable and then reacts to it. This feels justified, as every0ne else is reacting as well. Strategy usually consists of trying to react more effectively. It doesn’t occur to many people that, if there is an obvious problem, maybe we should do the obvious thing to stop the problem.

Our society is full of obvious problems. The solution or prevention to these problems is often just as obvious. Yet we seem stuck in a mentality of endless reaction, always chasing the ball down the field. But what if we simply threw ourselves in front of that ball. Would it hurt? Yes. Would it stop the problem and make life easier for all involved? Yes, a thousand times over.

If we want to reform our society and make the world a better place, then we should do it. In the simplest, most direct way possible. We’ve already wasted enough time tiring ourselves out by running the wrong direction down the field, again and again and again. One would think that we as a society would finally grasp the obvious.

Let’s stop the problem first. Then we can act as a team to move forward.

The Partisan ‘Good’

There is something that I’m only now beginning to fully understand.

The whole lesser evilism is a distraction, but not in a way I previously thought. To many (I suspect most) partisan Democrats, someone like Hillary Clinton isn’t a lesser evil. She represents precisely what they want. Few of her supporters are fooled by her empty rhetoric.

Her political record is well known: big money cronyism, racialized tough-on-crime policies, class warfare on the poor, welfare slashing, war hawk militarism, and standard flip-flopping particularly on social issues. That is what people mean when they say she has ‘experience’, because indeed she is complicit in the corrupt system and is part of the corrupt establishment. She has experience in the day-to-day operations of the empire and experience in how to keep the masses in line. She knows the political game from decades of being an insider.

What lesser evil voting allows is plausible deniability. Partisan Democrats can vote for someone like Hillary Clinton, all the while pretending they don’t actually want everything she stands for. These kind of people want a strong ruler to maintain the status quo and protect the social order, at any and all costs. That is the only promise Hillary Clinton can make and that is why so many partisan Democrats support her. She represents the last hope for the system, beyond which lies the dangerous democratic masses demanding reform and justice.

Until recently, I took lesser evilism at face value. I assumed that most partisan Democrats would choose the more liberal and progressive candidate, if there was a viable option. That has been disproven with this campaign season.

Bernie Sanders represents everything partisan Democrats claim to believe, what they supposedly want and support. He is also the most popular candidate, both well-liked and well-trusted, unlike Hillary. In fact, in competition against Republicans, he is the most viable candidate. If all partisan Democrats cared about was winning to defeat the greater evil of the GOP, then there would be mass support of Sanders by the entire Democratic party.

Some suspect Sanders is a sheepdog to draw non-Democrats and Democratic doubters back into the fold. In that case, he would bring more votes to Hillary. But if that was the purpose, he is utterly failing at his job, considering many of his supporters aren’t partisan Democrats and have no plans in voting for Hillary. That is probably why there is such push back against him. He is making apparent the divide between the political left and partisans. The Democratic establishment and their defenders are realizing what a threat Sanders represents, as it is forcing the corruption of the system into the light.

This has put Democrats into an uncomfortable position. There is no longer any plausible deniability. They either support progressive liberalism or they oppose it.