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.

Chris Cillizza’s Dog Whistle

So Chris Cillizza wants to be the latest in a long line of smart, unimaginative commentators who want to say that Bernie Sanders can’t win the presidency because of the “socialist” label.  As if that’s a particularly original, or particularly brave, thing to say to earn the gazillions of dollars he earns writing for the establishment Washington Post.

But what’s interesting is that he posts a list of a bunch of different descriptors of candidates that people won’t vote for, along with the percentages of who would, and who would not, vote for that kind of candidate.  The list: Catholic, woman, black, Hispanic, Jewish, Mormon, gay/lesbian, evangelical Christian, Muslim, atheist, socialist.

First, Bernie Sanders’s own actual ideological descriptor isn’t even on the list: Democratic Socialist.  Cillizza says that the five words “I am a Democratic Socialist” are enough to sink Sanders’s chances of being president.  Oh?  Then why isn’t Democratic Socialist being polled on this list?  Afraid that Democratic Socialism might rate a little higher than “socialist” by itself, which might poke a few holes in this received wisdom?

But why include a list at all?

It’s because this is a dog-whistle.  It’s not the socialism that the piece wants to reinforce.  It’s that other one.

Jewish.

This is a hit piece, make no mistake.  And there’s no reason to reinforce the already trodden, boring, ho-hum ground that says “Sanders can’t win because he’s a socialist.”  There have already been a million, billion, gazillion people saying that.  There’s nothing new to see here.

Except for that chart.  That chart that reminds you that the are a number of kinds of candidates that a certain number of people won’t vote for.  That chart that reminds you that there’s something else about Bernie Sanders other than the already trodden ground of his Democratic Socialism that should make you concerned.

Granted, the chart says that 91% of Americans would vote for a Jew, and only 7% would refuse to vote for a Jew.  No matter.  That’s not the point.  The point to the inclusion of the chart is to remind you that Sanders is Jewish at all. 

“Socialist” is a long-held anti-Semitic dog-whistle for “Jew.”  As a for-instance, check out the writings of noted antisemitic author Elizabeth Dilling, whose raison d’etre is the explication of how Jews are in control of all socialist and communist regimes in the world.

(The Jews, it seems, can’t win.  According to anti-Semites, they are either consummate capitalists and control all the banks, or consummate communists and control all the totalitarian socialist regimes in history.  Which is it?  It can’t be both.)

Now, you would think that since this trope does exist, and that since Bernie Sanders is a Jew, after all, a journalist of Chris Cillizza’s caliber would realize it is incumbent on any journalist to make the very careful distinction, then, between what Bernie Sanders actually advocates— Democratic Socialism— and mere “socialism,” which is often an anti-semitic dog-whistle.  But does Chris Cillizza make this careful distinction on his cute chart where we see the words “Jewish” and “socialist” lumped together?

PBBBBBBBBBBSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

And since Chris Cillizza wants to be the good guy and point the finger at other examples of anti-Semitism leveled against Sanders, it seems to me that Cillizza really, really, really should know better.

Or would he?  As Kyle Drennen notes,  Chris Cillizza gives a pass to Joe Biden as being “real” and “authentic” when it’s the sitting vice president who is making the anti-Semitic slur.

(Aha.  Now we know who Chris Cillizza’s pulling for.)

Whether intended or not, Chris Cillizza’s little list and refusal to use the “Democratic” part of “Democratic Socialism” support those who want to promulgate anti-Semitic dog whistles about Bernie Sanders.

Way to go, champ.

-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

Stuff Happens

“Jeb!” is done.

Regarding the recent Oregon shooting, “Jeb!” summarized the situation succinctly: “stuff happens”.

“Jeb!” had heretofore been polling at a whopping 4% according to Pew Research.  Now he’ll be lucky to pull Scott Walker numbers.  (Scott had to leave the race when he was polling at a fraction that embarrassingly rounded down to zero.)

But in an odd way, I have finally gotten a long-standing wish on something.

For years, I have deeply suspected that at their core, gun advocates truly and sincerely do not care when people get shot up in a mass shooting.  It’s somebody else’s problem.  I have long suspected that gun advocates perform a perverse sort of callous calculus.  They know that it has become sort of inevitable that once a month a bunch of people are going to get shot up by some mentally ill person who shouldn’t have a gun.  But the odds are very slim that it will be them getting shot up, or anyone they know.  And in this calculus, they would rather have completely unregulated, unfettered access to guns because they love the guns more than they care about people getting shot up.

My longstanding wish has been to hear someone just admit that.

That’s because I’m weary of all the maudlin, crocodile tears that gun advocates always proffer up.  “Oh, it’s a tragedy, but…”  And “Oh, our thoughts and prayers are with the families, but…”  And “I know that our impulse is to try to do something about this, but….

Well, with “Jeb!” the “but” stops here.

Finally, at last, one politician has had the callous courage to concede what I’ve known all along.  The gun advocates simply do not care.  Their thoughts and prayers aren’t even with the families of the shootings.  For years they have pretended that they do care about the victims of shootings but we must take a principled stand for the Second Amendment.  That has always been the pretense.  Thankfully, “Jeb!” has shot down that pretense.  Thankfully, “Jeb!” has finally admitted what I’ve known all along.

The gun lovers simply don’t care when other people get shot up.

Stuff happens.

So “Jeb!” has really done us a great service in the national dialogue about sensible gun control.  At last we can challenge the gun lovers and ammosexuals when they claim that they really, truly care about people getting shot up all across the nation, but we must take a principled stand for the Second Amendment, and the Founding Fathers, and What If The Government Becomes Totalitarian Someday doomsday scenarios.  Thanks to “Jeb!” we can cut through all that bullcrap, and say, look.  One of your own summarized succinctly the actual emotional response that you guys experience when people get shot up.

Stuff happens.  That’s it.

So don’t come around here with your “thoughts and prayers” jazz.  It’s not “thoughts and prayers” anymore.  It’s “stuff happens.”

Transitioning a little here by way of contrast, there is a whole other presidential candidate that you should consider supporting.  His name is Bernie Sanders.  Here’s why.

If you really want the shootings to stop, you should support Bernie Sanders.  Now, this will sound a little bit like a Rube Goldberg puzzle, but it’s really true, if you’ll bear with me.

If you want sensible gun control laws, you have to get a bill through congress.

That can’t happen right now because congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA and the legalized bribery we euphemistically refer to as “lobbying.”

So we need to get the money out of politics.  We need robust campaign finance reform.

There is only one presidential candidate with a serious proposal for campaign finance reform.

That’s Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton has a mediocre proposal for campaign finance reform that would multiply small donor contributions with a public fund.  That will do nothing to get the big money SuperPACs out of politics.  She takes SuperPAC money; Sanders does not.  Sanders, by contrast, wants public funding for elections and equal distribution of campaign finance among candidates, and the overturning of Citizens United as a litmus test for Supreme Court justices.  Sanders is the vastly superior candidate on the campaign finance reform front.

With campaign finance reform in place, the NRA would not own congress anymore, and then we might be able to pass some laws with some teeth that could mitigate against all these shootings.  Don’t tell me that gun control laws don’t work.  They work in every civilized, industrialized so-called First World country.  Except ours.

Stuff happens.  Let’s make Bernie Sanders happen.  Let’s make campaign finance reform happen.

And let’s make “Jeb!” dropping out of the race and slinking back to Florida in disgrace happen.

-Robert Gross

Hillary Danced the Whip

Twelve percent of the population were living in poverty, while Hillary danced the whip.

Republicans were pouring hate from their hearts like water from teapots, while Hillary danced the whip.

Dozens of millions of people went without health insurance, while Hillary danced the whip.

The corporate-controlled media smiled and sat at ease, pretending nothing was wrong, while Hillary danced the whip.

We are living in serious times. This is not a time for fluff and stuff. It is a time for gravity and solemnity. Thousands— not hundreds but thousands— die of gunshot wounds every year— not around the world, but in this country.  Meanwhile, right-wingers are spouting their hatred— not covertly as was once done in the klanklave, but publicly, in the open air.  I often hear folks talk about how far we’ve come in the realm of racism and social justice, but have we?  The Republicans all made horrible statements about people— yes— living people that bleed when stabbed and cry when they feel grief, and who has rebuked them?  It is a game, a dance, a puppet show.  Bring out the popcorn and beer, and watch Hillary dance the whip!

America is plagued by problems caused by a lack of campaign financial reform.  While the vast majority of us want guns regulated, as cars are regulated, whose drivers must be tested for competence and licensed, the NRA still rules the roost and how? Through legal bribery…


So two men yesterday, October 1, in two locations readied their guns while Hillary danced the whip.

Six corporations, thanks to Bill Clinton, own ALL the mass media in this country.  Free press has become a thing of the past, and now the media is in the palm of corporate America, and their is only one source of news for the people, the corporate source…


Is it any wonder, then, that  they had their cameras rolling while Hillary danced the whip?

It is time to stop dancing around the issues that face us and deal with them head-on.  It is time to stop living in denial, wake up and smell the excrement, and do something about it.  It is time for change.  In a country where the top 1% of the people own 90% of the wealth, where some 8.9 million people cannot find jobs (and yes, this speaks of those who are looking actively), where many cannot even get a standard physical, it is time for change.  I need not tell you here who the one candidate is that will bring us campaign reform, employment reform, and so on.  You all know by now that it is Bernie Sanders.  Hillary is owned by corporate America. She will not cross them.  Sanders takes money from no one…


And, as he decried the injustices committed daily in this country, Hillary danced the whip.

-Ken Downey

Presidential Prejudice is In

First Donald Trump said that Mexican immigrants were all rapists and murderers.  This shot him immediately into front-runner status, with him polling at poll numbers that rivaled the other thirteen or fourteen candidates combined.

Not to be outdone, the candidates had to get in on the prejudice act.

When Kentucky clerk and anti-LGBT bigot Kim Davis became a folk hero for defying the Supreme Court and refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz ran to her side in order to try to “me too” their way into the prejudice vote.  Huckabee’s effort mostly took.  Cruz’s effort didn’t.

So the prejudice ball was back in Trump’s court, and at a rally, a supporter began a question with, “There’s a problem in this country and it’s called Muslims.  The president is one,” and all Trump responded with was a promise to “look into it.”  This was a fail on two fronts.  First, Trump failed to correct the questioner on his assertion that we have a national problem called “Muslims.”  Second, Trump failed to correct the questioner on his assertion that President Obama is a Muslim— as if that would be a bad thing— which he is not.  The Constitution, by the way, says that we cannot have any religious tests for office holders.  How inconvenient.

But Constitution be damned.  Ben Carson doubled down on the anti-Muslim sentiment by proclaiming that Muslims would not be qualified to be president.  Carson failed to notice the inherent risk that comes with stoking racist flames when he is, you know, a black guy trying to court the votes of an ardently racist base.  Good luck with that, doc.

“Jeb!” saw his numbers slipping away as the Trump Train and the Carson Caboose rolled on, so he tried the old-fashioned Republican approach by dog-whistling his racism.  He came out against multiculturalism.  Let me say that again.  “Jeb!” issued his opposition to “multiculturalism,” which is a seven-syllable word.  He didn’t see any kind of bump in the polls.

So “Jeb!” tried again, this time being more explicit, pulling a (failed) play from Mitt Romney’s playbook, and maintained that black people just want a bunch of free stuff from the government, this time promulgating a much more overt and virulently racist meme about the laziness of black people.

But this still hasn’t translated into much of a bump for “Jeb!” so “Jeb!” has been scrambling around looking for some other ethnic minority to pick on, maybe one that no other presidential candidate has picked on yet.  Aha!  Nobody’s pissed off Native Americans in the presidential cycle lately, so “Jeb!” publicly maintained his deep abiding conviction that the name of Washington’s football team— “Redskins”— is not actually racist.  Plus, “Jeb!” gets bonus points for this since the Redskins owner is a contributor to one of “Jeb!”‘s SuperPACs.  Whether “Jeb!” gets a bump out of kicking Native Americans in the teeth remains to be seen, but at least he knows how to keep his donors happy.  (I mean, in ways other than actually going out and winning the nomination or whatever.)

But you know that candidates are starting to get desperate to get in on the prejudice pump priming when they start going after the Jews.  That is actually a little risky since there is practically only one lobbying organization in Washington more powerful than the god-almighty NRA, and that’s AIPAC.  But what’s a far-right candidate to do when the base is screaming for red meat and all the good marginalized minorities have already been thrown under the bus by the other candidates?

So that’s why Marco Rubio held a fundraiser at a mansion of a Nazi memorabilia collector on Yom Kippur.  Screw dog-whistles.  Rubio wasn’t farting around and taking any chances with subtlety.  Plus, like Ben Carson, a guy named Marco Rubio really has to fight extra hard for the far-right hateful bigot vote, and, he’s got his very own mentor (that would be “Jeb!”) to outpoint here.

But the crowning achievement came yesterday.  Not from any particular presidential candidate— none of them would dare go this far.  Yet.  Yesterday, right-wing A.M. Hate Radio talk show host Michael “Savage” Weiner called Bernie Sanders a “liberal weasel Jew” who hates Christians and hates America.

Yes.  It’s a bad thing to be a Jew, and that’s why you should be against Bernie Sanders.  Because he’s a Jew.

I should not have to remind anyone why anti-Semitism is so much the taboo it is anyway.  But for those who need a refresher course, I invite everyone to listen to Stars in the Dust, an oratorio by the great Jewish-American composer Samuel Adler, who was my teacher, on the historical subject of Krystallnacht.  The piece is not short, but everyone needs to listen to at least a little bit of it.  Adler was nine years old during Krystallnacht and his family was incredibly fortunate and able to emigrate to the United States.

No doubt MIchael “Savage” Weiner is giving political cover by saying something that the candidates themselves would dearly love to say, but feel they cannot, because it would cross a line.  But here’s the thing.  Every other line has been eroded.  It is only a matter of time before this line is eroded too.  Expect at least one candidate before it’s through to take a potshot himself or herself at Bernie Sanders for being a Jew.  Savage is just the stalking horse.  The candidates, and the Republicans writ large, want to see if there is any mass resistance to this overt, ugly anti-Semitism.

Well, is there?

-Robert Gross

Sanders Surging; How Can This Be?

The mainstream punditocracy is accurately reporting (at last) that the Bernie Sanders surge and Hillary Clinton decline is real, is here to stay, and has gone national beyond just mere (!) leads in Iowa and New Hampshire for the good senator from Vermont.  Places like here, here and here are reporting that Clinton’s national lead over Sanders has shrunken to single digits, with her trend-lines going steadily downward while his trend-lines are steadily going upward.

What is amusing to me, though, is how stunned the punditocracy is over this.  Chuck Todd’s gobsmacked drooling jaw drooping on the NBC studio floor is not a pretty sight.  Establishment Democratic Party Operatives that were certain it was going to be Hillary and “Jeb!” are now scrambling for explanations (as both partisan outcomes are now anything but certain).  They were sure that Sanders’s rallies, which are attracting crowds in numbers that look like ZIP Codes, were just curiosities; readily dismissed as young people attracted to novelty and that this phenomenon would not translate into polling or, ultimately, into votes.  It still remains to be seen, of course, whether the phenomenon will translate into votes.  But it certainly appears to be showing up in the polling.

What is it that the pundits missed?

Three things, as far as I can see.

1. You don’t need SuperPAC money if you’re the most honest man in Washington.  Sanders has never had a scandal; the worst thing anyone has been able to dig up on the guy is that he wrote some bad erotica in the early 1970s.  Big deal.  He never pulls his punches, and he never leaves you guessing on where he stands on any particular issue.  For example, he has clearly and effectively stated his opposition to the Transpacific Partnership (TPP); Hillary Clinton, by contrast, has been anything but clear on TPP.

All the smarties in Washington said that one can’t run for president without a SuperPAC pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into one’s campaign coffers.  Yet, by eschewing SuperPAC money, Sanders has earned such a loyal following that his small-donation contributors are breaking records in contributions.  This loyalty is the result of something that is so refreshing that ordinary people are willing to back it to an unprecedented degree: and that something an honest candidate in Washington.  It defies political science and formulas and triangulations— indeed, it defies precisely the kind of triangulations for which the Clintons are so famous, but of which ordinary people are so weary.

2. The s-word doesn’t scare people as much as you thought it would.  Pundits were sure that the word “socialism” was going to scare people away from Sanders.  There are two reasons why this thinking was wrong.  First, because Sanders has been more-or-less effective in explaining that his prevailing political philosophy is democratic socialism— you know, like they have in Canada and many European countries— and that this is quite a different thing from Cold-War totalitarian-style Socialism.  Second, it’s just a label, and oddly enough, because the right has thrown that label so much at Obama, the American people have become quite tone-deaf to the right yelling “Socialist!  Socialist!” all the time.  Ironically, the more the right screams about Sanders’s socialism, the more they may be convincing the American public that their use of the word— which is in this case, for once, partially justified— is just more hyperbole.

When people listen to what Sanders has to say, they find they actually agree.  Almost all of Sanders’s viewpoints poll in the majority.  (The only stand he has taken that I can think of offhand that polls in the minority is his principled opposition to the death penalty, which does not bother me in the least since it is a position I happen to share.)  The punditocracy has sadly underestimated the ability of the American people to see beyond labels and to see instead the substance.

3. You underestimate how much people are tired of people like you, Establishment folks.  It is very easy to live in a punditocractic bubble and not be aware of the problems people are really facing.  To the pundits, “economic disparity” is a buzzword with which to lard pretty progressive-sounding speeches if you happen to be writing for Hillary Clinton.  But people are not convinced that the Wall-Street-cowtowing semi-progressive Democratic Party Establishment Operatives are actually feeling our pain when it comes to “economic disparity.”

The pundits scoff when it is pointed out that Sanders comes from a small (that means “relatively unimportant”) state.  But I bet Senator Sanders can actually name people he knows who are economically hurting back in Vermont.  When you come from a small state, and you represent that state, you rub elbows with ordinary people to a degree that people in the bubble do not.  Hillary Clinton by contrast represented New York State in the Senate, a state not only which is perceived as very large and very important, but also a state to which Hillary Clinton had no particular ties.  Progressives in the state thought it might be prestigious to be represented by a particularly smart former First Lady, and, as it happened, she faced a pretty weak opponent in one Rick Lazio. 

But people trust Sanders to feel their pain.  They don’t trust that Hillary Clinton feels their pain or knows anything about it.  It has been a long time since Hillary Clinton knew anything about economic suffering in small-state, small-town America; she has not had any use for Arkansas since 1992.  (Did it ever occur to her to run for Senate from Arkansas?  What would have been wrong with that— not prestigious enough?  Not Wall Street enough?)

So Hillary Clinton may still be just barely outdistancing Sanders by single digits, but you have to wonder, if given a choice, whose staff would you rather be on right now?  The team that is clearly running out of gas?  Or the team that looks like it has the wind at its sails and that looks like it’s still just warming up?

I cannot promise you that Senator Sanders will get the nomination.  But I will sit here and tell you this, Establishment Democratic Party Operatives.

It is going to be a horse race.

-Robert Gross

Memo to White Liberal Sanders Supporters: Denial Doesn’t Help

It seems like I every time I try to drum up some positive virtual ink for Bernie Sanders himself I feel obligated nevertheless to scold his supporters.  I have repeatedly taken to task the Bernie-or-Busters (Bernie Sanders supporters who have the silly idea that pledging to write in Sanders’s name in the general election if he is not the Democratic nominee is going to do any good for anyone).  Please feel free to explore this blog further to find examples of my doing just this.

Now I feel obliged to respond to this article in the Washington Post which describes the ongoing problem of Bernie Sanders supporters being racist toward black voters they are trying to persuade.

The thing is, the article is correct.  It’s spot on.  And no amount of denial is going to change that.  Sanders supporters need to agree on some fundamental things; otherwise, I predict that white liberal Bernie Sanders supporters will continue to alienate people of color on the campaign trail.

We need to agree on three things.

First, white liberals are capable of being racist.  I know this may come as a shock to some people, but it’s true.  Even staunch Bernie Sanders supporters are capable of being racist.  Don’t believe me?  As much as it pains me to do this, because I used to believe in this man, I used to support his program by word-of-mouth as best as I could, and I used to correspond with him on a regular basis, I say look no further than white liberal Mike Malloy, who is a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter.  Watch this video, especially at 4:22, where Mike Malloy calls Black Lives Matter activists “thugs and punks”.  Malloy obviously has not gotten the memo that “thug” is the new n-word in right-wing code.  Shame on you, Mike.

Second, black people don’t owe it to Sanders to vote for him.  I know Sanders marched with Martin Luther King.  In fact, one white liberal Sanders supporter that I read on-line literally asked “Don’t they know he marched with MLK??”  People of color do know that, white liberal Sanders supporters.  Guess what?  They’re not actually all that impressed.  As one person I was talking to on-line today pointed out, that was fifty years ago.  When you lead with the MLK meme, there is a good chance that it could backfire.  It sounds as though you are suggesting, white liberal Sanders supporters, that this makes Sanders support a requisite for black voters.

Third, there is such a thing as the white savior narrative.  Narratives that work in film and books and theater also happen to work really well in the theater that is politics.  White liberal supporters of Sanders have to be aware of this narrative.  Out on the campaign trail it is very easy for a white liberal, unaware of his or her own racist attitudes and white privilege, to begin to whitesplain to a person of color why Bernie Sanders is the very best candidate that they could possibly support.

Now, I am white.  I do not presume to speak for people of color.  But I am a white guy who is aware of his white privilege and his male privilege.  So I want to use that privilege responsibly and to help be a voice that can level the playing field for marginalized voices.  With that said, here is my advice from one white liberal supporter of Bernie Sanders who is aware of his white privilege to white liberal supporters of Bernie Sanders who may not be.

One.  Please be aware of how you’re coming across to people.  Don’t lecture.  In fact, this is probably good advice across the board, whether you’re talking to people of color or not.  Nobody likes being lectured.  Indeed, I am probably contradicting myself by lecturing here.  But there’s a difference between a blog post you’re choosing to read and a one-on-one interaction on the campaign trail (or the virtual campaign trail).  It is especially imperative one-on-one to be aware of one’s tone.  How one says something is as important as what one says.

Two.  Listen.  Be prepared to do a lot of listening.  A lot of people of color may not be supporting Bernie Sanders, and may be supporting some other candidate, and may have good reasons for that support.  You have to be aware that your candidate— Sanders— is an insurgent running against other people who have been on the national scene longer, and have garnered a certain number of loyalties because of that.  You may not convince every voter to abandon those loyalties and support Sanders.  I think it is better to listen respectfully, agree to disagree if you have to, and move on.  There is always the chance that voter may change his or her mind later and support Sanders down the road.  That voter certainly will not support Sanders down the road if you try to bully or badger him or her into it.

Three.  You might want to point people to Sanders’s own policy statement and just let that speak for itself.  That shows that you respect the other person’s intelligence enough to make up their own mind without being harangued.

People often vote for candidates not on the basis of the candidates themselves, but on the basis of the experiences they have with those candidates’ supporters.  So when the reports come in from the media that Sanders is having trouble connecting to people of color— and the problem may be that he is poorly represented by some of his white liberal supporters— do we just live in denial of that?  Or do we examine ourselves, examine our white privilege, and make adjustments to how we approach people?

White liberals have a great propensity for feeling ashamed when their privilege is pointed out to them.  Don’t be ashamed.  Be aware.

Sanders vs. Clinton on Climate Change

Mother Jones recently gave Hillary Clinton a mixed score-card on global warming.

While Clinton within the past 24 hours has finally— finally!— come out in opposition to the environmentally disastrous Keystone XL Pipeline (Bernie Sanders, her main rival for the Democratic nomination, has always been consistently against it), there are other areas of concern for environmental progressives.  From the article:

She promoted fracking abroad while secretary of state. Clinton encouraged developing countries to sign deals with American fossil fuel companies to extract their shale gas through fracking. This is consistent with Obama’s fondness for touting natural gas as a lower-carbon “bridge fuel” to help us move from coal to renewables. Mariah Blake of Mother Jones did a deep dive from last year that found, “Under her leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe—part of a broader push to fight climate change, boost global energy supply, and undercut the power of adversaries such as Russia that use their energy resources as a cudgel. But environmental groups fear that exporting fracking, which has been linked to drinking-water contamination and earthquakes at home, could wreak havoc in countries with scant environmental regulation. And according to interviews, diplomatic cables, and other documents obtained by Mother Jones, American officials—some with deep ties to industry—also helped US firms clinch potentially lucrative shale concessions overseas, raising troubling questions about whose interests the program actually serves.”

* * *

Her family’s charitable foundation takes lots of oil money. Big oil companies like ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips have given millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, as have Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations in the Middle East. Thursday brought the latest exposé on this issue from the International Business Times, which reports on donations from Pacific Rubiales, a Canadian oil company accused of human rights violations in Colombia. Pacific Rubiales’ founder, Frank Giustra, now sits on the Clinton Foundation’s board. IBT reports, “After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation—supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself—Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial US-Colombia trade pact. Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it ‘strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.'” A cynic would say oil companies are buying influence with the Clintons without being subject to campaign finance laws. A Clinton defender would point out that the foundation gives away this money, it isn’t going into Hillary Clinton’s pocket or her campaign account.

* * *

She has supported offshore oil drilling. In 2006, Clinton sided with Republicans and against climate hawks like Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) by voting in favor of a bill opening new Gulf Coast areas to offshore oil drilling. Obama has opened up many areas for offshore oil drilling, and it’s possible Clinton would do the same.

* * *

What does the Bernie Sanders campaign have to say about climate change?

Here you go:

The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change, if we are to make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards energy efficiency and sustainability. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, and we need to greatly accelerate technological progress in wind and solar power generation.

Unless we take bold action to address climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: Where were they? Why didn’t the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community told us would surely come?

KEY ACTIONS

  • Introduced the gold standard for climate change legislation with Sen. Barbara Boxer to tax carbon and methane emissions.
  • Led the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Secured $3.2 billion in the economic stimulus package for grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in a program that has funded upgrades for more than 86,000 buildings and installed more than 9,500 solar energy systems.

Not enough?  I say it’s not nearly enough, as the Sanders campaign underplays the good senator’s record on his own web site, which is unfortunate.  As it happens, Sanders was rated the senate’s best Senator on climate change.

However, the article goes on to say:

So we know Sanders is dedicated to climate action and clean energy. Looking forward, though, it’s unclear how Sanders will differentiate his climate and energy proposals from Clinton’s. Clinton, like President Obama, firmly supports regulating carbon emissions domestically and getting strong international agreements to reduce emissions globally. 

To this I say au contraire.  You don’t have to look very far to find someone spelling out what an environmental disaster the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be, which Hillary Clinton has in the past supported, however unclear her position remains currently.

What is clear, though, is the choice.  You can support a candidate who has flip-flopped on Keystone XL and on TPP, coming out in favor of either, or against, depending on what is politically expedient at the moment, or you can support the senate’s environmental top dog.

Seems like a pretty clear choice to me.

-Robert Gross

UPDATE: Just as I finished writing this, this article appeared revealing that Hillary Clinton’s biggest bundlers are from the fossil fuel industry.