From Tablet Magazine, Zach Goldberg writes about white liberals, what he calls America’s White Saviors. This is an example of how corporate media slants their reporting on public opinion. In this case, the author focuses on one narrow demograpic of race and ideology, so as to isolate it and make it seem far left, while ignoring that the majority of Americans agree with white liberals on most major issues. I’ll break it down and respond to it piece by piece.
“In one especially telling example of the broader trend, white liberals recently became the only demographic group in America to display a pro-outgroup bias—meaning that among all the different groups surveyed white liberals were the only one that expressed a preference for other racial and ethnic communities above their own.”
This isn’t surprising. Going back many years, I’ve seen data like this. In social science research from earlier last century, it was well known that liberals had stronger pro-outgroup bias. From some years back, one survey showed liberals had greater empathy for foreign noncombatants killed by US soldiers than for US soldiers.
There has always been a subset of people with a strong pro-outgroup bias, although Goldberg is correct to point out that this is growing. But in a way that is the whole history of the United States. Thomas Paine, in arguing for Independence from the British Empire, made an outgroup argument that a large part of American colonists weren’t English, including the majority in his adopted home of Pennsylvania.
“In the past five years, white liberals have moved so far to the left on questions of race and racism that they are now, on these issues, to the left of even the typical black voter.”
That is not entirely meaningful. Why compare an ideological demographic with a purely racial demographic? The fact of the matter is black liberals would, generally speaking, be further to the left of white liberals on most issues and particularly on issues of race and racism. This framing feels manipulative, an exercise in sophistry.
“They are also tied to a significant decrease in support for Israel and—perhaps more surprisingly—a rise in the number of white liberals who express negative attitudes about the perceived political power of American Jews.”
I doubt most white liberals have any issue with “perceived political power of American Jews” in and of itself. Rather, it’s probably an opposition to the colonial Apartheid of Zionism. As far as that goes, Jewish liberals tend to oppose Zionism as well and probably are even more critical than white liberals. Once again, why isolate white liberals in the way others isolate rural whites to scapegoat them?
Later in the artcle, the author points out that white liberals retain a strong favorability toward Jews. In fact, their favorability is stronger than that of white moderates and white conservatives toward Jews. As for ranking of advantage and disadvantage, all whites (liberal, moderate, and conservative) put Jews about smack dab in the middle. And the white liberal ranking of Jews relative to other demographic groups is about the same as white moderates, the two combined being the view of most whites in general.
“As white liberals have come to place far greater emphasis on racial injustice, they have also endorsed reparative race-related social policies in greater numbers.”
That is about right. As a white liberal, I’ve personally followed this trend. I was raised by white conservatives in the racist Deep South. I didn’t understand racism when I was younger and probably expressed unconscious racism all the time. But I educated myself and expanded my social experience. Any informed person is forced to admit that there will never be justice until there is some form of compensation for the harm done and continuing to be done, whatever that might mean. That doesn’t particularly radical to me, just common sense, as Thomas Paine thought the theft of the Commons should be compensated with a land tax.
“The woke elite act like white saviors who must lead the rest of the country, including the racial minorities whose interests they claim to represent, to a vision of justice the less enlightened groups would not choose for themselves.”
That comes across as bullshit. The author points out that minorities, even minority Democrats and liberals, are not as strongly supportive of certain issues about immigration. Sure, there is variation depending on the particular issue, but that ignores the general agreement. On immigration, the majority of every racial demographic of Democrats and liberals supports the same positions on immigration, if some support it stronger than others. Also, the vast majority of Democrats and liberals of all races agree that diversity makes the US a better place to live.
One area of divergence was on whether one sympathizes more with Israelis or Palestinians. Minorities in general seem to sympathize more with Israelis. But this sympathy has been dropping for minorities as well. And by 2018, most minority Democrats and liberals had no opinion at all in sympathizing with either side. Another issue of even less disagreement is abortion. The majority of white and Hispanic Democrats think women should be able to get an abortion under any condition, but only about half of black Democrats think so. Then again, most Americans in general, including most blacks, do support abortion in all or most cases. So, why show the most extreme scenario to portray a false division?
As for freedom to choose gender identity, the majority of Hispanic and Asian Democrats are in line wiith the majority of white Democrats in being all in favor. Even generally conservative black Democrats support this at 42% and probably quickly rising, maybe already being a majority position among young blacks. On a related issue, across all racial groups, Democrats and liberals are in agreement that there needs to be more attention given sexual harassment in the workplace.
“White liberals make up 20-24% of the general population but, for a multitude of reasons, exert an outsize political and cultural influence. […] The danger is that “woke” white activists acting on behalf of voiceless minorities have had their perceptions distorted by social media-tinted caricatures that obscure more objective measures of reality and end up silencing or ignoring what the voiceless groups, themselves, have to say about what policies are in their best interest.”
I’m not sure this is a problem, considering the vast majority of Americans support liberal views, causes, and policies. The self-identified liberal demographic might be smaller but those who are liberal without identifying as such is now the moral majority. The main problem is that, in using ‘liberal’ as a slur, most liberal-minded Americans are still afraid to identify as liberal. Demonstrating this problem, the author of that article is creating more confusion in portraying liberalism as extremism, and I’m sure that is intentional
“In fact, multiple recent studies find no racial disparities in police use of deadly force. The odds of an unarmed black person being shot by police appear to approximate his/her chance of being struck by lightning. The probability of being killed by a right-wing extremist is equally low, if not lower.”
That is such a fundamentally dishonest portrayal of the racial issue. I’m not sure about those specific claims of data, but why cherry pick what confirms the author’s beliefs. A ton of other data does show racial biases in policing and the criminal system. And, sure, rigth-wing extremism is low in a general sense, but to be honest we have to admit that most terrorism is right-wing. So, right-wingers only occasionally blow up buildings and kill lots of people. Well, occasionally is too often. Left-wingers in recent history don’t generally commit that kind of violence at all. Consider that in the past quarter of a century, no anti-fascist has ever assassinated anyone or committed terrorism.
“Due at least in part to digital media, white liberal attitudes that more or less endured for decades have been drastically overturned in the space of months or single years. In contrast, the attitudes of white conservatives—and conservatives in general—have moved at a more glacial pace, if at all. For liberals, the lack of awareness of how fast and far their attitudes have shifted fosters an illusion of conservative extremism. In reality, the conservatives of today are not all that different from the conservatives of years past.”
That deceptive argument is morally indefensible. Most Americans in general, not only white liberals, have grown increasingly leftist over the decades. Conservatives may not be any more political evil than in the past, may not be any more racist and misogynist, bigoted and xenophobic, theocratic and fascist. But pointing out that they are as extremist as they ever were is hardly a defense that they aren’t extremists and that such extremism is not problematic in being outside the moral norm of most Americans at this point.
“Resentment of those seen as standing in the way of necessary social and cultural change may inspire a commitment to what political scientist Eric Kaufman calls “multicultural millenarianism”: the belief that the demise of a white majority will pave the way for a more racially progressive and just society. Perhaps this is why white support for increasing immigration coincides with more negative feelings toward whites.”
Demise? WTF! Only a reactionary conservative would fearfully portray growing diversity as a demise. The difference for white liberals is that there simply is not a fear of the other. It’s largely irrelevant, anyway. All that is likely to happen won’t conform to the paranoid fantasy of the decline of the white race but simply a shift in how whiteness is culturally defined and so who identifies as white. Increased immigration will simply hasten this process, such that a large number of Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans will adapt to white identity, as did Jews and Italians in the past. It is the expansion of whiteness, not the disappearance, that is so fearful to white conservatives. As for white liberals, I doubt they care, one way or another about the future prospects of white identity politics. I doubt most other Americans care either.
In 2016 Bernie Sanders declared himself a Democratic Socialist, and in doing so assured he’d never be president. The issue, then as now, was the “S-word.” Why would you label yourself a Socialist if you want to run for office in America? Especially – and this part is key – if you aren’t one?
My suspicion is that Bernie Sanders never planned on winning. Either he didn’t think he could win or didn’t want to win. So, he purposely created a self-defeating campaign. Even when attacked, he would not attack back in kind or even strongly defend himself. He simply placed himself on the altar as sacrifice to the DNC gods.
Maybe he figured he never had a chance and that, no matter what he said, he was going to be attacked as a socialist. So, he decided to embrace it as rhetoric to push the Overton Window back to the left. To be fair, if not for his last campaign, there would be now far less political and public debate about many of the issues and policies he ran on.
If that was his only purpose, he succeeded on some basic level. But succeeded to what end? In a political situation where ideological rhetoric is already fairly meaningless, he further added to the confusion of labels. I’m not sure how that was clearly a net gain for society, particularly for the political left.
The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, has pushed us far closer to healthcare reform than Sanders could ever hope to accomplish in all of his halfhearted campaign rhetoric. And calling it socialist healthcare reform probably wouldn’t be helpful. Most Americans already supported it. The problem was the political elite that Sanders is part of and the stranglehold of the two right wings of a one-party corporatocracy.
Sanders’ ultimate accomplishment, intentional or not, has been to act as a sheepdog to bring large segments of the political left back into the neocon fold. Did his doing so pull the Clinton Democrats from the precipice of the reactionary right-wing? Has the lesser evilism become less evil? Not that I can tell.
Now Sanders has thrown his weight behind Biden, a right-wing corporatist and deficit hawk, what could be called soft fascist, and certainly the complete opposite of socialist and (small ‘d’) democrat. You can dismiss the distinctions of social democracy and democratic socialism, as Biden is the enemy of both.
Anyway, what does this accomplish? Barring Trump dying from Covid-19 or the economy collapsing, Biden is almost guaranteed to lose bigly. For what gain did Sanders sell his soul? It might help Sanders’ career in getting favors from the DNC elite, but it won’t oust Trump from power, much less give a foothold to socialism or even moderate progressivism.
“What I really knew where Bernie, I think, has really overstepped his ground here is when his own staffers are not saying that they’re on board. Briahna Joy Gray openly tweeting, all respect in the world to Bernie Sanders, but I don’t endorse Joe. Same with David Sirota. And so my question is this. If Bernie Sanders can’t even get his own staff to vote for Joe Biden or endorse Joe Biden, what are they gonna do in the election? They don’t even have that personal loyalty and fealty to Bernie the way that his staffers do right.”
~Saagar Enjeti, co-host of The Hill’s Rising
Who can say what he was thinking as he tattooed the S-word on his forehead? Maybe, as Merelli suggests, he wanted to shock us – and we’re certainly a nation that could do with a little shocking. And given the practical concerns of reforming the American system it mattered not whether he called himself a Social Democrat, a Democratic Socialist or an ambisexual Martian. But from the perspective of winning, though…
In c. 2016 it would have been challenging enough to win by drawing a line to your candidacy from the New Deal, but it would have been considerably easier than dealing with the line your opponents were going to draw from Stalin. This is ‘Merica and labels matter a lot more than realities, more than policies, more than voting records, and Sanders had to know this.
For the love of Roosevelt, man, just call yourself a Social Democrat!
I was baffled in 2016 and still am, and despite my support for his candidacies I have to admit to a healthy dose of frustration. Sanders is a smart guy, so why would he do something so patently self-defeating? Is he playing eight-dimensional chess and I just don’t get it? Did he want to reframe the agenda and saw a Quixotean run at the White House as the best way of doing it? To be sure, much, if not most of what defined this cycle’s Democratic campaign revolved around issues he put on the table.
But … did he ever really want to be president?
I don’t have answers, but I suspect he did more damage to his bids than his opponents did.
Sanders, who calls himself an independent, caucuses as a Democrat. The Democratic Party determines his assignments in the Senate. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who oversees Wall Street campaign donations to Democratic candidates, offered to make Sanders the head of the Senate Budget Committee if the Democrats won control of the Senate, in exchange for the Vermont senator’s support of Clinton and the hawkish, corporate neoliberal Democratic candidates running for the House and Senate. Sanders, swallowing whatever pride he has left, is now a loyal party apparatchik, squandering his legacy and his integrity. He routinely sends out appeals to raise money for party-selected candidates, including the 2016 Democratic senatorial candidates Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, Ted Strickland in Ohio and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada. Sanders made a blanket endorsement of every Democrat running in the 2017 election, including the worst corporate Democrats.
There was about $6 million left from the Sanders campaign, and it was used to form an organization called Our Revolution in August 2016. The organization was set up ostensibly to fund and support progressive candidates. It was soon taken over by Weaver, who ensured that it was not registered as a political action committee (PAC), a group that can give money directly to campaigns. It was set up as a 501(c)(4), a group prohibited from having direct contact with candidates and giving donations directly to candidates. The 501(c)(4) status allowed it to take and mask donations from wealthy donors such as Tom Steyer. Sanders’ decision to quietly solicit contributions from the billionaire oligarchs who funded the Hillary Clinton campaign and control the Democratic Party betrayed the core promise of his campaign. Yet, even as he created a mechanism to take money from wealthy donors he continued to write at the bottom of his emails “Paid for by Bernie Sanders, not the billionaires.”
Eight of the 13 staffers of Our Revolution resigned in protest. The organization is now adding a PAC.
* * *
Here is another piece worth looking at. It’s by David Sirota, a speechwriter and senior adviser of the Sanders’ campaign. Even though Sanders took on the strong label of ‘socialist’, he did not fight strongly — not only having not fought hard for socialism but even for moderate progressivism; he simply did not fight. Sirota gives some reasons why. But more importantly he explains the negative consequences.
Even though Biden at times pathologicallylied about some of these facts (at one point he actually insisted he didn’t help write his own bankruptcy bill!), this record is verifiable, it is not in dispute. A group of us believed it was important for this record to be spotlighted — because it was good strategy and good for democracy.
We didn’t push Bernie to “attack” Biden in some sort of vicious way. We pushed him to instead simply and very explicitly cast the primary as a choice between a vision of progressive change, and Biden’s promise to his donors that “nothing will fundamentally change.”
At other times, though, the campaign backed off and did not seize opportunities to explicitly and continually spell out big differences between the candidates.
Ultimately, Biden was able to avoid having to constantly try to explain his offensive record. Instead, he was allowed to depict himself as a safe, electable “unity” candidate.
Was it fun to always be one of the people pushing the campaign to be more aggressive, and also eating shit on Twitter for supposedly being “toxic” for simply tweeting a few videos of Biden pushing some grotesquely retrograde policy? No, it was not fun. I have more gray hair and less stomach lining because I pushed. I’m no hero or a martyr, but I can tell you it was awful, excruciating and heartbreaking.
But it was necessary. […]
I am confident, however, that a stronger contrast would have at least put us in a better position to survive when Beto, Klobuchar, and Wine Cave Pete all fell in behind Biden to help him seal Super Tuesday.
In absence of a tough critique early on and with no day-to-day focus on his record, Biden was able to solidify an “electability” argument he didn’t deserve or earn.
According to exit polls, Biden was able to win the largest share of Democratic voters in 15 states who said health care was their top priority, even though a majority of Democratic voters in those states said they support replacing private insurance with a government run plan — a position Biden opposes.
Biden won Midwest states that have been ravaged by the trade deals that he himself supported.
Biden even won the most Democratic voters in 11 states who said climate was their top issue, despite his far weaker climate plan.
By the time our campaign was finally comfortable consistently making a strong case against him, it was after Super Tuesday and it was too late. […]
This attempt to scandalize policy criticism supposedly reflected heightened concerns about “electability” — the idea promoted by Democratic politicians and pundits being that sharp contrasts might weaken the eventual Democratic nominee against the existential threat of Trump.
And yet, history argues exactly the opposite — tough, brutal primaries often end up battle-testing nominees and making them stronger (see President Barack Obama). In the same way the minor leagues can prepare players for the major leagues, brutal intraparty contests subject the eventual standard-bearers to training, and they also suss out potential weaknesses at an early point when a party can still make a different nomination choice.
By contrast, primaries dominated by demands for “good decorum,” “unity” and “decency” create coronations — and coronations run the risk of creating nominees who are not adequately road-tested, and who are only publicly vetted in the high-stakes general election, well after the party could have made a different choice.
That is where we are now — a tyranny of decorum has given us a presumptive nominee whose record hasn’t been well scrutinized or challenged. […]
We’re in the midst of unpleasant, uncivil and impolite emergencies that threaten our country and our planet. A global pandemic won’t be stopped by niceties. The corporations profiting off the health care crisis won’t be thwarted with good manners. The fossil fuel giants intensifying the climate cataclysm won’t be deterred by gentility. And elections will not be won by prioritizing good decorum over everything else.
In short: preventing a real contrast and a real conflict over ideas only serves the establishment and its politicians who know that scrutiny will weaken their power to decide nomination contests and control the future.
But winning nomination contests without real vetting not only serves corporate power, it also jeopardizes that much-vaunted quality that parties claim to care so much about: general election “electability.”
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.
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?
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.
As the Russian and Ukranian situation is back in American news with the revelations of Joe Biden’s son Hunter (and John Kerry’s stepson Chris Heinz), I was reminded of the Podesta name. There is John Podesta and his older brother, Tony Podesta. I had been trying to remember the Podesta name for a while now. Both brothers were major players in these events and investigations (see earlier post: Democratic Failure of the Democratic Party). John often acted as an intermediary and orchestrator for the DNC elite, but it was Tony who was the key link as head of the Podesta Group. The New York Times noted, it is “tragic — or at least ironic — that the Russia investigation for which [John] has been advocating has ensnared his brother” (Kenneth P. Vogel, Russia Scandal Befalls Two Brothers: John and Tony Podesta). These investigations are dangerous games when all of these corrupt power-mongers have skeletons in their closets, which is likely why both sides have been pulling their punches (e.g., Donald Trump, after being elected president, choosing to not reopen the investigation against ‘Crooked Hilary’).
After earlier having seen the Podesta name in the Mueller investigation, the part they played largely disappeared from view or rather from the news reporting. That made me suspicious since, to my mind, this demonstrated the most damning link in the chain of oligarchy. The Podesta brothers were right in the middle of so many different scandals and had long been key political actors within the Clinton machine. The Podesta brothers and the Clintons practically grew up together in the Democratic Party. “For both John and Tony Podesta, the connections with Democratic politics began at an early age. In 1970, they worked together on the Rev. Joseph D. Duffey’s antiwar Senate campaign in Connecticut, for which Tony Podesta served as a top official, and his younger brother — as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton — were volunteers” (Vogel).
Early on, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller gave immunity to Tony Podesta who, in his capacity as the head of the Podesta group, shared guilt with Paul Manafort. If the purpose was to discover the truth and prosecute the guilty, this move by Mueller made no sense as it took away all leverage to gather info from the Podesta brothers and, instead, ensured their silence. 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 Republican 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 apparently 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 Ukranian dealings, Trump presumably was still a Clinton Democrat or at least still family friends with the Clintons, 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. By the way, Manafort also “had brought influential Democrats into his Ukrainian work, such as former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig” (Andrew McCarthy, Triangulating Manafort — Obama, Clinton and Ukraine). He hired them “to work on behalf of a nonprofit that was ostensibly independent but which prosecutors say was “under the ultimate direction” of the Ukrainian president” (Theodoric Meyer, Why the Russia probe demolished one lobbying firm but spared another). Manafort and Tony Podesta both knew about the Ukranian president’s role and so they were equally complicit in working with a foreign power in their role as lobbyists, but only Manafort (and Rick Gates) was charged and prosecuted for acting as an unregistered foreign agent (Theodoric Meyer, Emails give new detail about Mercury, Podesta role in Manafort’s lobbying). Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.) of Mercury, the other firm hired by Manafort, also was aware of the connection to the Ukranian government. He had private meetings with Tony Podesta, which demonstrates how bipartisanship works in Washington, D.C. Yet Weber escaped with even less scrutiny than the Podesta brothers and Mercury is still in operation, possibly because Weber is too well positioned and respected in the D.C. political establishment. This demonstrates that it’s not about partisanship but about connections, about who is and is not expendable. The key point is that all of these people knew they were involved in illegal activity but chose to keep it a secret with the expectation it would remain a secret.
What is the significance to the party elites? 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 member in good standing within the DNC elite 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 drawn into the sphere of the Clinton Democrats decided to become the campaign manager of Trump, a former Clinton Democrat. And so Manafort, like the Podesta brothers and Weber, offers a point of connection for all parties in this orbit of power games. These were among the most powerful political figures in the country across multiple administrations and so it is almost guaranteed many others were involved, maybe even the CIA, but only Manafort took the fall. Was Manafort bribed or threatened to not give the names of other guilty parties? How was he and his family compensated for making such a sacrifice? That none of these conspirators were assassinated like Jeffrey Epstein demonstrates they were not perceived as major threats to the rest of the establishment.
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. That seems to have already begun, but the deep state and the corporate media propagandists are doing everything in their power to suppress the revelations and control the narrative.
* * *
Let us extend our discussion. We began with Ukraine and so now we’ll move onto Russia, the powerhouse that is behind so many of these conspiracies. Putin loves to get his hands in everything and it boosts his ego to cause problems. Russia may no longer have the military power of the Soviet Union, but Putin has found other forms of power to be just as useful. He is a product of the KGB and no one doubts he is smart. Too many American leaders underestimated him and might have managed to get his claws into numerous politicians and their families, from the Clintons to the Trumps. To get things started, consider the Podesta link (J. Michael Waller, 13 reasons why the Russia probes must be expanded):
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.” (For more info, see: Democrats, Russians, and Uranium.)
“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.
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.
We Americans are trapped in a cage with a sleeping grizzly bear and a pack of rabid wolves. The DNC careerists hold the keys to the lock.
They keep telling everyone to speak softly and don’t make any sudden moves, for fear of being torn to shreds. When someone suggests they simply unlock the cage door so that we could all safely step outside, they calmly explain that the danger is real but that we need to consider other options first before we go to such extremes.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump punches the bear in the nose and flings his own poop at the wolves, while declaring there is no bear or wolves and even if there were he’d use his business superpowers to make a deal with them. The GOP sycophants defend his bravery in standing up to the libtards telling everyone what to do. Make the Cage Great Again, cheers some in the crowd.
The corporatist news media hacks, a mass of people between them and the now growling animals, with great self-importance fairly report both sides of the disagreement. Meanwhile, the morning talk show hosts halfheartedly debate whether bears and wolves are fake news. Then they cut to an advertisement for a new antidepressant: “Do you feel anxious? Ask your doctor about Xibuprex. Symptoms may include prostate reflux, toenail dysplasia, herniated itching…”
The American people huddle together in separate groups. With passive expectation, their eyes are glued to their smartphones. They watch videos of what is going on around them and scroll through their social media feeds trying to determine which side they agree with by liking the Facebook posts and retweeting the Tweets that align with their preferred ideology or identity politics.
The bear awakens from its slumber. The rabid wolves approach. The cage door remains locked. The crowd nervously shifts this way and then that.
“It seems like there are an increasing number of areas where the discourse among centrists and liberals follows a fairly similar script. The opening statement is one of unbridled catastrophe: Trump is fascism on the ascendant march! Global warming will destroy us in the next x years! (I’m not making any judgments here about the truth of these claims, though for the record, I believe the second but not the first). The comes the followup statement, always curiously anodyne and small: Let’s nominate Klobuchar. How are you going to pay for a Green New Deal? Don’t alienate the moderates.
“All of these specific moves can be rationalized or explained by reference to local factors and considerations, but they seem like part of a pattern, representing something bigger. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Eric Hobsbawm for a piece I’m working on, but the pattern seems to reflect the reality of life after the Cold War, the end of any viable socialist alternative. For the last quarter-century, we’ve lived in a world, on the left, where the vision of catastrophe is strong, while the answering vision remains inevitably small: baby steps, cap and trade, pay as you go, and so on. Each of these moves might have its own practical justifications, but it’s hard to see how anyone could credibly conjure from those minuscule proposals a blueprint that could in any way be commensurate with the scale of the problem that’s just been mooted, whether it be Trump or climate change.
“I wonder if there is any precedent for this in history. You’ve had ages of catastrophe before, where politicians and intellectuals imagined the deluge and either felt helpless before it or responded with the most cataclysmic and outlandish utopias or dystopias of their own. What seems different today is how the imagination of catastrophe is coupled with this bizarre confidence in moderation and perverse belief in the margin.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
…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.
“With the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s campaign coming under increasing investigative scrutiny for their ties to Russia, just over half of voters now think something illegal was going on.” (Rasmussen)
There has been a breaking story. Or rather it is an older story with new info being revealed. It involves the Clintons and Obama, the FBI and DOJ. There was an investigation into potential bribery, kickbacks, etc. And there was even a breaking apart of a Russian spy ring. And the public is taking it seriously, despite the distractions of the Trump administration.
Is this a real scandal as the allegations portray it or not? There have been so many investigations involving Russia. This particular investigation goes back to the early Obama administration. It’s still not clear what it all might mean. But it does get one wondering. I have no doubt that there are thousands of examples of corruption in both parties, going back decades and many happening at this very moment. Most Americans, according to polls, have little faith that the US government is a functioning democracy. Still, that doesn’t prove any given allegation.
I hope all of this will be investigated further, if justified. The problem is there are no neutral third parties within the government to head the investigation. All I know is this contributes to the public mistrust. It is hard to prove collusion, such as pay to play, but that is the nature of politics these days. Plausible deniability has become standard operating procedure for any professional politician or government official. And political foundations are useful for plausible deniability, as they make it almost impossible to find direct connections.
This allegation of malfeasance against the Clintons and cronies should be taken as seriously as the allegation of malfeasance against Trump and cronies. None of this should get lost in partisan gamemanship. As a non-partisan, I say lock ’em all up and let God sort ’em out.
With the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s campaign coming under increasing investigative scrutiny for their ties to Russia, just over half of voters now think something illegal was going on.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters believe it’s likely that Bill and Hillary Clinton or their close political associates broke the law in their dealings with Russia. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say that’s unlikely. This includes 37% who consider illegal activity Very Likely and 20% who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Sixty percent (60%) continue to believe it’s likely some actions Hillary Clinton took as secretary of State were influenced by donations made to the Clinton Foundation, with 45% who say it’s Very Likely. This is down slightly from highs of 64% and 49% respectively last August. Twenty-nine percent (29%) say it’s unlikely that Secretary Clinton did favors for some of those who contributed to the Clinton Foundation, but that includes only 12% who say it’s Not At All Likely.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 24-25,2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Republicans think it’s Very Likely the Clintons or their close political associates broke the law in their dealings with the Russians, a view shared by 18% of Democrats and 36% of voters not affiliated with either major political party.
But a plurality (44%) of unaffiliateds agree with 69% of GOP voters that it is Very Likely some actions Hillary Clinton took as secretary of State were influenced by donations made to the Clinton Foundation. Perhaps surprisingly, even one-in-four Democrats (25%) agree.
Men are much more skeptical about the Clintons’ behavior than women are. Blacks trust them more than whites and other minority voters do.
Among voters who believe some of Secretary Clinton’s actions are Very Likely to have been guided by donations to the Clinton Foundation, 77% also think the Clintons or their top associates are likely to have broken the law in their dealings with the Russians.
This particular FBI investigation and the uranium deal happened years ago. It was during the Obama administration. And of course, Hillary Clinton was a key player in that administration. But there is something easy to forget. Trump was a Democrat at the time and a strong supporter of the Clintons. The Trumps and Clintons are old family friends and political cronies going back decades.
Over that period of time, the Clinton Foundation was involved in all kinds of shady dealings that any rational and moral person would admit to being highly questionable and likely illegal. The pay-to-play is obviously bribery hidden from view, whether or not it skirts legality in being able to prove intentions. Still, it wasn’t just the Clintons. While a Democrat, Trump had a long history of connections to Russian oligarchy and organized crime.
Trump and those associated with him might form an evidential link across the supposed party divide. We already know of one Democratic lobbyist, Tony Podesta, who was working with Trump (see below). How many other political actors involved in this Trumpian fiasco have in the past lobbied for Democrats, funded Democratic candidates, worked for the DNC, donated to the Clinton Foundation, etc? Despite recent media obsession, all of this is far from just being about Trump and the Republicans, as shown by the numerous investigations into the Clintons.
Any of these investigations could spill over in all kinds of directions. It is naive for any Democrat to think this won’t come back to harm the Clintons and many people surrounding them. They are not good people, as their political history proves. Everyone knows that. The question is how far down does the rabbit hole go or, if you prefer, how far do the tentacles spread. Anyone still playing partisan games at this point is some combination of willfully ignorant, psychotically disconnected from reality, mindlessly authoritarian in group obedience, sociopathic/psychopathic, and outright cynical.
Here is about Tony Podesta, a major well-connected figure among Democrats:
Tony Podesta, a powerful Democratic lobbyist and the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, reportedly has entered Robert Mueller’s investigative crosshairs as the special counsel’s office probes whether his firm violated federal law.
NBC News first reported that Podesta and his Democratic lobbying firm are now subjects in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, after inquiries regarding former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s finances.
The Podesta Group was co-founded by Tony and his brother John Podesta, who is a longtime Clinton aide and served as chairman of her 2016 presidential campaign.
In the above video, the beginning discussion about Franklin Delano Roosevelt is quite significant. He didn’t just seek to boost the economy by increasing employment and promoting consumerism. The rise of early progressivism, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt and continuing with FDR, was tied up with corporatism, militarism, imperialism, expansionism, and racism. TR was famously bigoted and xenophobic but so was FDR. Both needed to get the support of Southern racists and working class whites. Progressivism sought to make America a great nation that would compete globally, both in terms of economic success and military power. Progressivism was America first on steroids. And that America was very much a white America.
Some of those early progressives, specifically Jews in support of Israeli Zionism, started the neocon movement and switched to the GOP. They maintained the progressive vision of a powerful free society (at least, free for whites) and combined it with a cold war mentality of theocratic-slanted capitalist realism, which was used to further exacerbate the Anglo-American strain of Manifest Destiny and White Man’s Burden. This is where Ronald Reagan’s sunny optimism came from, as he always admired FDR. And that confident optimism was easily brought in line with nationalist bravado. Like progressivism, neoconservatism wasn’t isolationist but quite the opposite.
The neocons complained about government and welfare, but they pushed for big spending, military buildup, corporate subsidies, and nation building. Reagan raised taxes more than he cut them while expanding the number of federal jobs, all of which was done with a conservative majority in Congress. They wanted a new expression of progressivism by different means. At the same time, Democrats almost entirely gave up on progressivism and, in its place, took up a status quo pseudo-liberalism (often in the form of neoliberalism). This gave the neocons free reign to more fully co-opt the progressive worldview while subverting it to ever more reactionary ideology.
The Roosevelts had a genuine sense of paternalistic noblesse oblige, that is to say with great power comes great responsibility. TR, as a conservative progressive, hated the radical left-wing. Yet TR argued that socialists were right in the problems they brought up and that those problems needed to be taken care of or else the public would vote for socialists. FDR, although a liberal progressive, also wasn’t friendly toward the radical left-wing which is why he became the most union-busting president in US history, before and since. But like the trust-busting TR, neither was FDR fond of monopolistic and oligopolistic corporations.
Corporatism was promoted by FDR giving out corporate subsidies (the origin of big ag). It was intended to bring big biz into alignment with big gov, with the latter calling the shots. The goal was to place labor and business under a common cause of economic and social progress, a strategy that competed with the then popular fascist and ethno-nationalist ideology of an organized society. Fascism was a much more feared threat than communism at the time. Soft corporatism kept in check by social democracy seemed like a decent compromise, considering the alternative as seen in other countries.
The neocons later sought to reverse this progressive formula by creating inverted totalitarianism where big biz gained the upper hand over big gov, through various methods: corporate personhood, big biz media consolidation, propagandistic right-wing think tanks, astroturf front groups and fake movements, lobbyist power, indirect bribery, revolving door politics, regulatory capture, no-bid contracts, privatization, defunding of public education, etc. It was corporatism turned on its head and no longer serving the public good, not even for most whites. This co-opted corporatism bypassed standard fascism and went straight to corporate rule. That is how paternalistic progressivism became full-blown plutocracy. The Reagan neocons were able to sell this using a number of rhetorical tactics and political maneuvers: Starve the Beast and Two Santa Claus theory, Supply Side Voodoo Reaganomics and Trickle Down promises to float all boats.
The Clinton Democrats, building off of Jimmy Carter’s austerity-minded pre-Reaganomics (along with Carter’s anti-welfare and anti-union politics), then played into this confused push toward the right-wing. Bush and Obama helped to further establish the reactionary neoconservatism in the post-9/11 world, always with dashes of neoliberal ‘free’ trade bullshit — the two parties falling ever more into lockstep. As FDR was more union-busting than any other president, Obama was the most immigrant deporting of any president, not even the present president yet outdoing Obama’s anti-immigrant accomplishments. And this dominant paradigm of mutated ideology is what set the stage for yet another demagogue using progressive rhetoric to win the presidency, which brings us to Trump riding a populist backlash into power.
Trump was able to successfully manipulate trends that had been developing for more than a century. And Hillary Clinton had no alternative to offer because she was fully entrenched in the establishment worldview. The brilliance of Trump, by way of Steve Bannon, was to combine early 20th century progressive rhetoric with early 20th century isolationist rhetoric, and that proved to be a potent mix. But this mix was only possible because of the growing bipartisan racism that was able to lock together old school progressivism and isolationism, a strange brew of optimistic promise and fear-mongering, hope and hate.
Here is what changed. Paternalistic technocracy has long been the ideal of the ruling elite of both parties. It goes back to the claims of an enlightened aristocracy from early American politics. The early progressives followed more closely the view of an enlightened aristocracy. That is what the Roosevelt family represented. They didn’t deserve power because they were from a business family but because they promised to use their inherited power and privilege toward the public good.
The neocons, in cahoots with the pseudo-libertarians, came to argue that the optimal technocrat to rule the country should be a businessman (sometimes combined with the utopian night watchman state, a government without need of governance). That capitalist class elitism has finally been fulfilled by Trump, a man who has styled himself as a successful businessman. According to the neocons, only someone like Trump could solve the country’s problems. They finally got what they wanted. But the reality is that Trump is as much a product of inherited wealth as the rest: the Bush family, the Kennedy family, and the Roosevelt family (while other politicians have to suck up to this plutocratic aristocracy to gain access to wealth and power). Trump would be deemed a failed businessman in terms of a functioning free market which of course doesn’t exist, even as he is a symbolic representative of success within present capitalist realism (i.e., actual functioning capitalism), which is to say plutocratic cronyism wielding power through oligarchy. His wealth was not the product of meritocracy, if we assume that meritocracy is based on the concept of genuine earned merit.
The neocons have pushed plutocracy under the guise of deceptive rhetoric. Sure, there was always a dark element going back to the beginnings of progressivism. But the Roosevelts could never have dreamed this is what would become of the progressive tradition. They avoided the extremes of authoritarianism in their own era, but in the process they helped to give birth to a new and even more threatening monster. This neocon neo-imperialism as global superpower, at this point, would likely require a global revolution for it to be dismantled. Paternalistic noblesse oblige has long been thrown aside. In the void left behind, obscene wealth and brute power has become its own justification.
Yet the memory of old school progressivism, faint and distorted as it may be, still holds the public imagination. The progressive label, as polls show, has gained favor among the majority of Americans. Bernie Sanders being the most popular political leader at present demonstrates this. If another strong and inspiring Roosevelt-style candidate comes along, he or she would be able to take the presidency by storm. That is what the plutocracy fears the most.
I’m amused by all the constant hullabaloo about investigations. One side demands investigations and the other side tries to block them. Then the two sides switch places about some other investigation. But neither major party actually wants investigations. The establishment politicians and officials are ultimately bipartisan in their common interests in maintaining their privileges and power.
There is nothing stopping Republicans from forcing investigations into Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Even many of the investigations that were closed can be reopened at any point this year. The Republicans claimed they wanted these investigations. So, now that they have the sole power to make these investigations happen, why do they refuse to do so?
It’s simple. There are two basic reasons.
First, any major investigation is opening up a can of worms. Once they start digging into the records and doing interviews, extremely uncomfortable and threatening info could come out about powerful people in both parties. For example, it might be discovered that some Republican politicians, conservative organizations, and right-wing think tanks have donated to the Clinton Foundation (in exchange for favors) or otherwise have other connections.
Second, a major investigation would set a precedent. Once one powerful career politician is targeted, any powerful career politician can be targeted. If Hillary Clinton could be taken down by an investigation, then no one in government is safe from the legal enforcement of justice. And don’t you doubt for a minute that there are hundreds of politicians who, if seriously investigated, would be locked away in prison. And if we ever had a truth commission, our entire government would be torn down to its foundation because of all the scandals and corruption revealed.
They will do minor investigations, as long as only minor political figures are targeted and scapegoated. That is why, when some major political failure happens, it is usually bureaucratic functionaries that get sacrificed while their superiors escape unscathed.
It would require much more political breakdown before major investigations into government and politicians could happen. We might eventually get to that point, when those in the establishment are willing to turn on each other. But we aren’t quite at that point yet. It will have to get much worse.
I enjoyed this long debrief, but you ignored the elephant in the room. Bernie constantly saying that any of his opponents – particularly Biden – could defeat Trump.
I don’t work in politics, but I’ve had my share of relationships in my not-so-short life, I’ve been running my own business and negotiating with clients for 25+ years, and I went through a 14-year VERY contentious child visitation/custody battle (that I won). No one in their right mind tells the girl they are trying to woo or the client they are trying to win that their competition can get the job done too. Bernie made a lot of tactical errors (IMHO) in his two presidential runs, but this was one of the biggest. In this primary, it would have been simple to point out that in 2016 everyone thought Clinton would win, and we saw how that turned out. Everyone except Bernie, and especially Joe Biden was running one version or another of Hillary 2.0.
I could list many other tactical errors, but will limit myself to one. Joe lying to Bernie’s face in the last debate, and Bernie not calling him out, made Bernie look weak af because it IS weak af. Saying people should look it up on YouTube and decide for themselves is not what people look for in a leader. Anyone who knew about their records had to think, “Is this how Bernie would handle Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi if he wins the WH?” Most of the viewers who didn’t know about their records would side with the guy who was lying confidently rather than the guy who was sheepishly deflecting to a third party (YouTube) and the viewer to decide for themselves if Biden was lying.