Biden Schmiden

Will he?  Won’t he?

Who cares?

If recent reports are any indication, it looks like he will.  I must say this is a minor surprise to me, since I have this strange way of taking people at their word and he had said his heart was not in it.  What this indicates to me, then, is that there must have been a dramatic shift in thinking among the power brokers in the Democratic Establishment as to who they think will best take on the Republican nominee in the fall.

The thinking must be that if there is a dramatic shift in the Establishment’s wishes, then Hillary Clinton will take the hint and graciously tag out to her tag team partner Biden, who will then tag in and save the day.  The Establishment must be very nervous about Hillary Clinton and possibly view her as damaged goods, particularly in light of her impending Benghazi testimony on Thursday, despite the fact that would-have-been Speaker Kevin McCarthy famously gaffed and admitted that the Benghazi committee is nothing but a political witch-hunt.

If you’re Bernie Sanders, though, you welcome Biden to the race.  This is because Hillary Clinton is not about to take the hint and is not about to tag out.  Anybody who thinks otherwise has not been watching the same Hillary Clinton who has had designs on her own presidency since 1992, and who came within a hair’s width of the nomination in 2008.  Say what you will about Hillary Clinton— there is plenty to criticize legitimately— but she is not going to just graciously bow out in the face of diminishing Establishment confidence or Republican witch-hunting.  Indeed, I predict the pugnacious former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State is going to hand the congressional wing of the Republican clown car their proverbial behinds, to a man, on Thursday.  Furthermore, there is a wing of the electorate that is— rightly or wrongly— deeply invested in the First Woman President Dream, and they’re not going to just tag out to Biden either.

So that means a three-way race.  And that means Advantage Sanders.  Biden and Clinton will split the Establishment, pro-Corporate-Democrat, pro-Republican-Lite third-way politics wing of the Democratic Party, with Sanders as the standard bearer for progressives.

What does Biden have to offer progressives, really?  Whatever bona fides he’s had as the pro-union workin’ man’s candidate from Scranton he’s traded away carrying water for the current administration’s Trans Pacific Partnership fantasy.  (This is the fantasy that says that if we just try global corporate deregulation just one more time it will somehow create those attractive tech-savvy jobs that NAFTA and GATT and CAFTA were all supposed to create, but didn’t, and will avoid pitting our workers against workers in other countries working for pennies an hour which wasn’t supposed to happen, but did.)

Can Biden credibly say he’s the candidate that will heal race relations in this country, when he’s been heard using ethnic slurs?

What has the Obama-Biden administration done to reign in SuperPACs?  At least Hillary Clinton has a mediocre campaign finance reform plan.  The Obama-Biden administration does not have a campaign finance reform plan at all.  Bernie Sanders, by contrast, wants public funding for elections, which is the most proactive and robust plan of action to curb the influence of money in politics.  He also has forsworn SuperPAC money.  Is Biden going to do the same?  (That’s a rhetorical question.  Of course not.)

What has the Obama-Biden administration done to make college more affordable?  Is there a plan that could compete with Hillary Clinton’s complicated, mediocre plan to make college more affordable, much less with Bernie Sanders’s simple, bold plan?

Where has the Obama-Biden administration been on raising the minimum wage?  Sanders wants to raise it to $15 an hour.  Obama and Biden have had eight years to get there, but haven’t.

Bernie Sanders wants a single-payer health care plan.  Obamacare, which I suppose we can now call Obama-Bidencare, only got us so far, but there are still millions of people without affordable health insurance, because the fundamental premise behind Obama-Bidencare (which is really Hillarycare anyway)— force people to carry insurance like they carry car insurance— is essentially flawed, and always has been.  Obama and Biden don’t have the political will or latitude to take on the monumental lobbying interests that would stand to lose in a single-payer system.  Bernie Sanders does.

So, if it turns out to be the case, welcome to the race, Mr. Vice President.

For progressives, you will have a lot of explaining to do.

-Robert Gross

Extremes

We all know that politics has two “wings,” the left wing and the right wing. We know this because the corporate-owned media makes liberals into “those communist left-wingers,” and Christians into, “those fascist right-wingers. Obviously, there are liberals who are on the very far left and people that call themselves Christians who are on the very far right.  But did you know that the political spectrum ought to be looked at as a hoop or circle, rather than a straight line?  Here is why.

The circle model gives us two axes.  One, the axis of what you might call good, or at least acceptable to the general public in regards to finance, reform, domestic and foreign policy, morality and so on, while the other center, which I shall call the axis of evil, gives us people who regard none of these things.  Those in the axis of good want better education for all.  They want to get the money out of politics so that all candidates have a fair chance of winning, and win by the platform on which they stand and the way in which they present that platform.  They want jobs for everyone willing to work, and good pay for all workers.  They want a welfare system for those unable to work due to disability or discrimination, and to end that discrimination.

Then there is the other center, the “axis of evil.” Before I continue, I must emphasize that many of the people in this “axis of evil,” have simply done and do what they think is right.

If you read the communist manifesto with an open mind, you will quickly realize that Marx and his comrades were absolutely correct in their analysis concerning the state of affairs in which they lived.  Consumerism was on the rise, and the elites wanted it that way.  When too much product was produced, industry simply destroyed the rest.  This still goes on.  A few years ago, I was told of a Best Buy store who got in a new shipment of desk chairs.  Instead of simply putting them on sale, they took the older models outside, slashed the upholstery to ribbons, and threw them out, making sure nobody even tried to steal the now mutilated chairs.

Hitler and his people also did what they thought was right.  They thought that they could advance the human race by making us into supermen.  How do you do that?  Well, if you want to make the best corn, you kill off the diseased corn, the weak corn and so on, and this is exactly what the third Reich attempted, and how did it begin?  Other than Hitler being rejected from art school, It began with Hitler observing that many criminals were treated way too well for what they were, as it is in many places today…  Though in our society, where prison is a huge business primarily based on the “catch the African American looking at the cops wrong,” game, you will hear no complaints from me on that score.

Where do these extremes end?  Even though the people of these extremes both think they are right, the ends are the same: killing, oppression, suppression of the truth and free speech and, in a word, tyranny.

Perhaps you are asking why I am writing about these extremes, though I feel it ought to be obvious to the observer. In an earlier post on this blog, Dr. Robert Gross examined the abject racist comments of most of our lovely Republican candidates, and not just comments but many other offensive acts, all the while accusing Bernie Sanders of socialism.  While Sanders *did* indeed call himself a “Democratic Socialist,” there is a great difference between socialism and democratic socialism.  Canada is a Democratic Socialist country. T hey have freedom of the press, but they also have free health care.  The USSR was not a democratic socialist country.  Otherwise it would have been the USDSR.

Therefore, it is quite obvious that these Republican clowns are farther near an extreme than is Sanders.  (This is a gross understatement.)  Sanders is tired of seeing oppression, not wanting to cause it.

There is one more group we need to look at, the Clintons. are they liberal?

From my understanding, the core of being a liberal is that you believe that everyone should get their fair shake. this is not what Bill has done though, nor is it what Hillary will perpetuate.  In 1996, Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act, and told us that this was going to do just that, allow the liberal voice to be heard, to continue to further the spread of ideas and so on…

Well, how are we doing?

Are you aware that six major corporations own not 10%, not 30%, not 50 or 70 or 90% of the media, but a whopping 96%!  Is this the case because Bill Clinton just misunderstood the bill and couldn’t imagine what happened, or is it because he is in bed with the corporations?  Notice that I did not ask if it were possible that the Clintons could possibly be in the pockets of the corporations, and that is because this is a known fact.  Frankly, to me this looks much more right-wing than I am comfortable with.  Yes, I know that President Clinton did much good for our country.  The national debt became a national surplus, and foreign affairs were good, but Mrs. Clinton doesn’t get to ride the former president’s coat tails, just as Jeb doesn’t get to ride his brother’s coat tails and his brother didn’t get to ride his dad’s.  I know it’s a bit different, but if it is the case the case that it is different because she was much more involved, much more than George W. was involved with his father, should she even be allowed to run in the first place?  This smacks of dynasty to me, just as having a second president Bush smacks of dynasty to me, but I guess the American people love their dynasties… Wasn’t there even a show by that name once?

In conclusion, if you want the axis of evil to gain power, if you want the extreme of fascism to become the norm, vote Republican.  Even if the next republican president doesn’t get us all the way there, he will certainly move us closer.  If you want politics as usual, go ahead and vote for Hillary, who is only on one side: that of the corporations.  If you want change though, real, indefatigable change, then their is one candidate and only one candidate for whom you must vote, and that candidate is Bernie Sanders.  Even if he moves us farther left than we are currently, this will be a move toward the center rather than a moving out onto the left wing.

-Ken Downey

CNN Says Hillary Clinton Won the Debate, But….

CNN pundits— despite what their own on-line polling shows— have declared Hillary Clinton the winner.  Yeah, but:

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times.

Time-Warner, which owns CNN, donated money to Hillary Clinton.

-Robert Gross

UPDATE: A Bernie Sanders supporter just posted this on a Bernie Sanders facebook site:

CNN keeps deleting my comment off of their site. Please copy and paste this and post it all over their debate coverage.

Time Warner Inc owns CNN.
Time Warner Inc is Hillary’s 7th biggest financial supporter.
CNN is posting all over that Hillary won the debate.
CNN’s own polls show that 81% of their viewers think Bernie won.
CNN will not even post the results of their own poll.

If this isn’t some Orwellian 1984 shit, I don’t know what is. We need to show corporations that we’re not taking the manipulation anymore. ‪#‎Bernie2016‬ (My cousin has asked me to help. Please share:)

This is really disturbing to me— it is essentially a tacit admission that CNN knows that it is biased and doesn’t want that simple truth to get out.

Totally Random Thoughts: Debate Edition

Totally random thoughts about the debate.

* I spent the whole night wondering if anyone would call out Hillary Clinton on her alleged pro-green-energy position and her fighting-climate-change platform by pointing out how much money she’s taken from the fossil fuel industry.

* I very much respect Jim Webb’s service to this country.  But someone needs to tell him that not everything in the world is about the military.

* Hillary Clinton used the phrase “God-given” three times.  Dog whistle.  Yes, we get it.  Bernie’s a Jew, a minority religion.  And possibly an atheist.  But the point of a dog-whistle is to be *subtle*.

* Lincoln Chafee and Richard Dawkins could be brothers.

* If anybody remembers Admiral Jim Stockdale’s pitiful performance in the 1992 vice presidential debate, that’s how bad Jim Webb was.  Maybe they’re not teaching debate in Annapolis?

* Bernie Sanders scoring points off of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal by defending her instead of attacking her is one of the shrewdest pieces of political jujitsu I’ve seen in a long time.

* The candidate that whines the most about not having enough time/attention from the moderators is always the sure loser.  Jim Webb for the Loss again.

* That said, I really wanted to know if Jim Webb ever smoked pot.  I thought they were going to ask everyone.

* Nobody knows what Glass-Steagall is, policy wonks.  We do need to reinstate it.  But it’s not the homerun winning issue you think it is, Martin O’Malley.

* Whose idea was it to schedule this against Mets-Dodgers?  Another Debbie Wasserman Schultz conspiracy to keep people from watching in case Hillary falters?

* Lincoln Chafee went to the weaksauce “but everyone else was voting for it” excuse not once, but twice!  Twice!

* Anderson Cooper, you’re not Jon Stewart.  Please don’t try to be funny.

* Hillary Clinton scores some major points defending a woman’s right to choose.  People rose to their feet.  Then she deflated every bit of it by refusing to support across-the-board marijuana legalization.  The disappointment in the room was palpable.

* Why didn’t Hillary Clinton have to choose between “black lives matter” and “all lives matter”?

* Yeah, the grid thing.  2050.  An admirable goal, but the framing of the issue is a little heady and 2050 seems pretty remote.

* That said, O’Malley really hit home with me when he pointed out that nobody denigrated blacks, Latinos or religious minorities at this debate, unlike at the Republican Debate.

* Did anyone besides me notice that Hillary Clinton— the only woman Democrat running for president— got the question about Carly Fionrina— the only woman Republican running for president?

* Yeah, CNN tried to “gotcha” Bernie Sanders on that immigration vote question.  You don’t “gotcha” Bernie Sanders.  You just don’t.  And the fact that he voted against the so-called “guest worker program” because it would effectively turn immigrants into non-unionized super-cheap slave labor?  That actually matters.

* I really wish Mark Russell was still doing his thing on PBS.

-Robert Gross

Flip Floppin’ Away

In this presidential election season, on three major issues Hillary Clinton has flip-flopped in order to mimic the policy positions that have long been occupied by Bernie Sanders.

First, she flip-flopped and came out against the Keystone XL pipeline which she had previously supported.

She also has promised Black Lives Matter that she would end private prisons.  This, despite the fact that Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, two private prison corporations, are among Clinton’s campaign contributors.

But perhaps the biggest whopper is her stunning reversal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal which Bernie Sanders has consistently and staunchly opposed, but which, until this week, she publicly pushed 45 times between 2010 and 2013.

Flip-flopping is not a bad thing in and of itself.  We all remember how John Kerry was excoriated in the 2004 election for having made adjustments to policies, and how this redounded to the benefit of his opponent, President George W. Bush, who was given credit by the American people for “consistency” no matter how consistently his policies were wrongheaded and disastrous.  The American people like people who stick to their proverbial guns, even if those guns are deeply flawed.  This can be unfortunate.

But in this case, it is not unfortunate at all to observe that Hillary Clinton has been a flip-flopper.  If anything, it would be profoundly unfortunate not to notice.

Ask yourself this: do you actually want to stop the Keystone Pipeline, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and for-profit prisons?

If so, whom do you trust to do it?  Someone who discovered these issues in the last three weeks leading up to the first debate?  Or someone who has been there all along?

But it’s worse than that with Hillary Clinton.  Let’s say just for the sake of argument that she’s had a genuine change of heart on all these issues.

The problem is that she is still beholden to her campaign contributors.  Wall Street corporations desperately want the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Which candidate takes money from Wall Street corporations and their SuperPACS— Clinton or Sanders?  (That’s a rhetorical question, but in case you need it answered, Clinton has taken gazillions of dollars in corporate SuperPAC money while Sanders has not taken a nickel from a SuperPAC.)

The fossil fuel industry desperately wants the Keystone Pipeline.  Well, guess what.  Hillary Clinton has taken a crap ton of money from the fossil fuel industry too.

And, as noted, Hillary Clinton has taken money from the private prison industry.

Bernie Sanders hasn’t taken money from any of these interests.  So, even for the sake of argument accepting that Hillary Clinton’s changes of heart are genuine, she is still beholden to her campaign contributors.  Even if she wants to stop TPP, Keystone and private prisons, she won’t.

She can’t.

Possibly.

She’s hoping that you won’t see the lobbyist behind the curtain.  She’s hoping that with her relative name recognition advantage and the media blackout on Bernie Sanders that has occurred, that you, the voter, will believe (a) that she actually believes what she is saying and will keep these promises and (b) she thought of them first and has held these positions all along.

What this will test will be the degree to which mainstream and traditional media is still relevant.  If mainstream/traditional media is still relevant, then Hillary Clinton’s gambit will succeed.  However, if online journalism has anything to say about it, then Bernie Sanders will win the day.  Bernie Sanders is not only not blacked out online, but he’s easily, handily winning the online campaign by any metric.  On line, it is easy to fact check and to get the real story.  This very article has given you multiple links with which you can investigate on your own the background behind Hillary Clinton’s newfound positions on Keystone, TPP and private prisons.

So if you want real progressive positions and real progressive results, you have to ask yourself these things:

Who’s been there all along?

Who really means it?

Whom do I trust?

-Robert Gross

Sen. Sanders: Call for Independent Investigation of Doctors Without Borders Bombing

President Obama formally apologized Wednesday for the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan by the U.S. armed forces.

Dr. Joanne Liu, the international president of the organization that treats war wounded regardless of nationality, was having none of it.  She said tersely that the message had been received, and that was that.

Why the cold shoulder?  Because the Obama administration has balked at the suggestion that an independent investigation should get to the bottom of how and why the hospital facility had been destroyed.  So far, the only investigations into the incident are being conducted by a U.S./Afghani government joint effort, by NATO, and by the U.S. Department of Defense, of which Doctors Without Borders and many international observers are deeply skeptical, as military/governmental investigations into military/governmental misdeeds tend to be little more than official whitewashing affairs.  Liu instead wants the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to conduct the investigation.  What is suspected, of course, is that the bombing took place at the direction of the Afghani government in an effort to intimidate Doctors Without Borders for having treated in the past— or for having currently treated at the time of the bombing— Taliban members.

Needless to say, an independent investigation should take place because the skeptics are right.  The misdeed took place with the knowledge and/or consent of some combination of NATO, the White House, the Afghani government, and the Department of Defense (i.e., the U.S. military writ large).  So they are patently unqualified to investigate themselves.  The bombing, by the way, was against international law and rules of war that say that you have to give hospitals warning before you bomb them so that noncombatant civilians can be cleared out first.  The strike killed 22, injured 37, and left 33 missing as of Wednesday.

Senator Bernie Sanders needs to come out and condemn the attack, and echo and amplify Dr. Liu’s call for an independent investigation.

Not because it would score him political points in the presidential race.  Of course not.  But rather, because it’s the right thing to do.  Period.  Full stop.

But, as it happens, it would actually score him political points in the presidential race too, if he did.

Right now, Sanders has enjoyed leads in Iowa and New Hampshire over rival Hillary Clinton for a number of weeks.  The very first national poll showing a slim Sanders lead over Clinton has also just been released.  Sanders recently broke more records with a crowd in Boston, with another attendance that looks like a ZIP code.  His trend lines are going up; Hillary Clinton’s trend lines are going down.

The reason for this is because of the perception that Bernie Sanders is the most— perhaps the only— honest person in Washington.  Going into the October 13 debate as the only candidate who has had the guts to stand up to administration whitewashing and call it out for what it is would only bolster those credentials.

He would not lose any support.  His base of support is already deeply skeptical of the degree to which President Obama is in bed with corporate cronies, Wall Street, and, not to say the least, the military-industrial complex.  To say that President Obama has been a disappointment to progressives on these fronts would be to understate to the nth degree.  Progressives would galvanize around Sanders all the more because it’s the right thing to do.  Progressives love organizations like Doctors Without Borders.  And, most importantly, this would win back whatever progressives have shied away from Sanders because of Sanders’s shaky record on gun control, which is Sanders’s one chunk of kryptonite with progressives.  With the recent Oregon shooting, a few progressives here and there have drifted toward Hillary Clinton because of her full-throated support for gun control, vis-a-vis Sanders’s disappointing past votes (such as his vote against the Brady Bill).

Furthermore, Sanders would gain support of independents by calling for an investigation of the current administration.  It would underscore his independence.  In the mind of the independent, the independent would identify with Sanders.  I’m an independent; look, he’s independent too.  He doesn’t identify as a Democrat, and he’s no administration lackey.  He’s calling out the administration on something that needs to be called out.  That’s true independence.

Sanders would also win over a few sane Republicans, because, after all, even the sane Republicans still have no love lost for the Obama administration.  Again, the independence shown by Sanders would curry favor with the sane Republican crowd who are beginning to realize they don’t have a dog in the race among the crazies that are actually running for the Republican nomination.

Finally, going into the October 13 debate, it would give Sanders an edge over Hillary Clinton in showing not only that he is the only candidate who has had the integrity to stand up to the administration— not over some triangulating calculus, but because the cause is just— it also would put some much-needed foreign policy bona fides on the table for Sanders.  It would show that Sanders is paying attention to our foreign misadventures in the middle east— foreign misadventures that one Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did precious little to bring to an end.  There is a widespread perception that Clinton owns Sanders on foreign policy because Sanders has never held an executive office in which foreign policy was relevant.  His only executive experience was being mayor of Burlington, Vermont.  So pointedly making an issue of this would beef up Sanders’s profile in the foreign policy department.

That all said, really, though, he should do it because it’s the right thing to do.  Period.  Full stop.

-Robert Gross

Clinton vs. Sanders on Gun Control? Bring it.

At first blush, you would think that Hillary Clinton would be your candidate if you want better gun control.  She has come out recently with a plan that would do two things: it would see greater executive action, and she claims that she would foment a national movement that will take on the NRA.  Bernie Sanders, by contrast, has in the past, cast some unfortunate votes in congress that cause progressives to question his commitment to full-throated gun control, such as his 1993 vote against the Brady Bill.

Nevertheless, Sanders rates a D-minus from the NRA and has consistently supported universal background checks.  But that’s not why Sanders is the candidate for you if you want better gun control laws.

The difference has less to do with gun control itself and more to do withand let us pause for emphasis here— the structural reasons why we cannot have sensible gun control laws in the first place.

In other words, it has everything to do with campaign finance reform.

Hillary Clinton’s two-prong approach is commendable, but structurally flawed.  First, she maintains that she will initiate executive actions to curb gun violence.  Well, guess what.  According to Ladd Everitt, communications director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, President Obama has already issued 23-25 executive orders in his presidency in an attempt to curb gun violence.  How is that working out?

More interestingly, Hillary Clinton says she will use the bully pulpit of the presidency to foment a mass movement in this country that will take on the NRA.

Commendable.  Commendable wishful thinking.

The problem with Hillary Clinton’s plan is this.  You can march a million moms and dads on Washington— make that tens of millions of moms and dads on Washington.  You can phone bank members of congress and senators night and day until the proverbial cows come home.  You can speechify and speechify on the presidential podium until your voice goes hoarse.

But until congress is no longer a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association, nothing.  Will.  Change.

As long as members of congress and Senators are afraid to be outspent— and if they don’t take that NRA money, they will be— they will continue to vote in lock step with the NRA and will continue to stymie any sensible gun reforms.

To change this, we need real campaign finance reform.  The only serious candidate talking about serious campaign finance reform is serious Bernie Sanders.  Not Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has a campaign finance reform plan, but it’s mediocre.  She says she will appoint Supreme Court Justices that will overturn Citizens United (though, unlike Sanders, she does not say that it will be a litmus test for appointment).  The other centerpiece of her plan is a cockeyed “multiplier” system in which a public fund will match small-donor donations multiplied to some degree (to what degree she does not say).  So if I give Bernie Sanders $25, and the multiplier is 3, then the matching fund will kick in $75 and Bernie Sanders gets $100.  The idea is that this will level the playing field between small-donor and big-donor contributions.

Obviously, of course, this is nonsense.  Whether Bernie Sanders gets $25 or $100 or $500 from the small donor, it’s still peanuts compared to what multi-national corporations are allowed to give to SuperPACs and what SuperPACs in turn are allowed to give to candidates.  Only one candidate in the race on the Democratic side has forsworn SuperPAC money, and that’s Bernie Sanders.  Hillary Clinton is awash in SuperPAC money.  Her rhetoric that she will make a particular difference in the way campaigns are financed rings particularly hollow.

Sanders by contrast has promised that Citizens United would be a litmus test for his Supreme Court justices to be appointed.  He has also repeatedly stated his support for public campaign financing with equal distribution of resources to candidates.  That way Candidate A cannot outspend Candidate B, and instead, the marketplace of ideas will determine the outcome rather than the, you know, literal marketplace.

With spending caps and public financing in place in a post-Citizens-United landscape— let’s bring it back to guns now— congress would then be free and clear to vote its conscience on gun control.  It would be free to reflect the actual will of the constituency rather than the will of a lobby to which it is beholden to fund its campaign advertising.

The corporate media, of course, hates Sanders’s proposal, because it would limit how much air time a candidate can buy from the corporate media.  This may have just a tad to do with the indifferent, or outright unfavorable, treatment Sanders routinely receives in the corporate media.

The case for Sanders on gun control is admittedly more complex than the case for Clinton.  Do I wish Sanders had voted for the Brady Bill?  Of course; history records that the Brady Bill was the right bill at the right time, though we have seen important provisions of it lapse, thanks to the muscle of the NRA.  However, Hillary’s plan of executive action— which has been ineffectual in the hands of Obama, who almost everyone believes is sincere and committed to gun control— and marshaling public sentiment— though one hesitates to see how public sentiment against guns could be more marshaled after Sandy Hook— has little chance to succeed because the plan does not attack the problem structurally.

Structural problems require structural solutions.  The candidate with the structural solution in this case is Bernie Sanders.

-Robert Gross