“A Bitch For God”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Warren: “The Progressive” Foil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

From the comments section:

Kathryn Levy says:

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

Larry Gilman says:

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

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

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

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

Caleb Melamed says:

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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