Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Don’t underestimate Hillary Clinton

July 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton is not an inspiring speaker, but she has long experience in politics, an extensive network of supporters and the ability to win the loyalty of disparate individuals and groups.

Credit: Chip Somodevile / Getty Images

Credit: Chip Somodevile / Getty Images

Her response to the Network Nation protest is an example of her seasoned political judgment.  First of all she had sense enough not to attend, and therefore did not catch any of the flak from #BlackLivesMatter that Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley did.  Then she was able to make a considered response to #BlackLivesMatter that struck just the right note, which neither Sanders nor O’Malley was able to do.

This skill set did not come out of nowhere.  It is the result of more than 20 years experience in Washington and national politics, much more than any of her opponents have.

My ideal candidate would be someone with the political skills of a Bill or Hillary Clinton, the eloquence of a Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, the concern for average Americans of a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, and the commitment to Constitutional rights of a Ron Paul.

LINKS

The Rohrschach Candidacy of Hillary Clinton by Gaius Publius for Down With Tyranny!  An excellent backgrounder with lots of good links.

Hillary Clinton is not a great campaigner, but she has mastered the art of inside politics by Jonathan Allen for Vox.com.

Hedge Fund Titans Choosing Hillary Clinton Over Top Republicans by Saijel Kishan for Bloomberg Politics.

What if Bernie Sanders actually wins?

July 29, 2015

When Bernie Sanders announced he is running for President, I decided that, barring the unexpected, I will vote for him, not because I thought he could win, but to “send them a message.”

I don’t think Sanders himself expected to win.  I think he ran in order to get his ideas before the public.

Bernie SandersNow the relative weakness of Hillary Clinton and the leading Republican candidates in public opinion polls indicate that Vermont’s 73-year-old Senator has a real, though small, change of winning the Democratic primary and the general election.

What if he did win?  Sanders himself has said many times that no President can bring about the changes that are needed in this country unless there is a political revolution.

What I take him to mean by political revolution is a mass movement among the public, as in the Populist and Progressive movements prior to World War One, the labor movement in the 1930s or the civil rights movement of the 1960s.   Only with movements such as this at his back could any President force reforms through Congress and overcome the reluctance of the bureaucracy.

The changes Sanders advocates are not revolutionary in themselves.  Although he calls himself a socialist, he is essentially a Roosevelt-Truman Democrat.  But the financial establishment, and the military-intelligence deep state, are so dead set against even modest reforms, that to bring them about would require a shift in power than would be virtually revolutionary.

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Bernie Sanders opposes open borders

July 29, 2015

Unauthorized immigration into the US and offshoring of American jobs out of the US are two different ways to do the same thing—drive down wages and escape U.S. labor law.

So I’m not surprised that Bernie Sanders said the following in an interview.

Ezra Klein:  You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders.  About sharply increasing …

Bernie Sanders:  Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.

Ezra Klein:  Really?

Bernie_Poster_v3textless.0.0Bernie Sanders: Of course.  That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. ..

Ezra Klein: But it would make …

Bernie Sanders: Excuse me …

Ezra Klein: It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?

Bernie Sanders:  It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that.  If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people.  What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy.  Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them.  I don’t believe in that.  I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

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Hillary Clinton in her own eyes

July 28, 2015

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
==Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Hillary Clinton in her various autobiographies, reviewed by Doug Muder on The Weekly Sift, presents herself as a progressive working for change within a conservative establishment.

This may well be how she sees herself, even when making $235,000 speeches to Wall Street banking audiences, and her right-wing opponents see her this way as well.

I don’t see it.   I think Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton before her, has been so focused on getting into power, and on making herself acceptable to conservatives and the powers that be, that any progressive goals have been lost in the process.

Because she spends to much time hanging out with the Wall Street and Washington elite, she may well imagine that her minor differences with those people make her a courageous dissenter.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

My disillusionment with the Clintons started in 1993 when they fired the members of the White House travel office and turned over the job to an Arkansas travel agency.

The travel office employees were employed at will, and there was some question as to whether they were doing a good job, so I wasn’t bothered by the firing itself.   What shocked me was that, when the firings drew criticism, they initiated an FBI investigation into possible criminal wrong-doing.  Billy Dale, the head of the office, was indicted but later acquitted.

The travel office scandal was not the most important Clinton administration controversy, but to me it revealed the Clintons’ character and priorities.  I lump Bill and Hillary Clinton together because I regard them as closely bonded, even more so than most married couples.

What the scandal showed is that the Clintons were willing to ruin the lives of ordinary people who wished them no harm simply to gain a minor political advantage.  If they had qualms of conscience, they probably said to themselves that it was better for the country that they preserve their power by any means necessary.

I don’t think it is productive to wonder whether Hillary Clinton is a right-winger pretending to be a left-winger, or a left-winger pretending to be a right-winger, or, like Doug Muder, try to answer the question of “who is she, really?”   She has a record and it speaks for itself.

LINKS

The 2016 Stump Speeches: Hillary Clinton by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

The Rohrschach Candidacy of Hillary Clinton by Gaius Publius for Down With Tyranny!  [Added 7/30/2015]

Hillary Clinton is not a great campaigner, but she has mastered the art of inside politics by Jonathan Allen for Vox.com.  [Added 7/30/2015]

Hedge Fund Titans Choosing Hillary Clinton Over Top Republicans by Saijel Kishan for Bloomberg Politics.  [Added 7/30/2015]

Bernie Sanders and African-Americans

July 28, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders, whose voting record is rated near-perfect by the NAACP, has a problem relating to African-Americans.

His recent mishandling of a #BlackLivesMatter protest at the Netroots Nation convention shows how style can matter as much to people as substance.

Bill Clinton was a master of style.   My guess is that more poor black people remember Clinton playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show than his 1994 crime bill or 1996 welfare bill.

I have no reason to doubt that Clinton genuinely liked black people, but the important thing is that as a candidate for Governor of Arkansas, he needed the votes of black citizens.

Bernie Sanders' 12 points

Bernie Sanders’ 12 points

Bernie Sanders is from Vermont, a state that is as near to 100 percent white as it is possible to get.  When talking about civil rights, he talked to other white people about the principles of justice.  He never had to convince black people that he represents their interests.

I am sure that he, like me, is righteously indignant about the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail after being arrested for no good reason.  But I do not think of the deaths of Sandra Bland, or all the other black people recently in the hands of police, as something that could happen to me.   My guess is that the same is true of Sanders, and that is why the #BlackLivesMatter protestors found Sanders wanting.

Sanders’ 12-point platform is a program for economic justice, not specifically for racial justice.  (Double click on the graphic to read it.)  There is a point about equal rights for women, but not one for equal rights for racial minorities.

I don’t take this to mean that Sanders is indifferent to racial justice.  I take it to mean that, as a product of the socialist tradition, he sees economic justice as the fundamental question and that, as a practical politician, he sees economic justice as the issue that will bring him the broadest support.

You can’t have racial justice without economic justice, or vice versa.   The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spent as much time speaking in union halls as he did in churches, and his last campaign was the support of a garbage collectors’ strike in Memphis, Tenn.

LINKS

Can Bernie Sanders Be Less White? by Barrett Holmes Pitner for The Daily Beast.  Thoughts of a black man who once worked in Sanders’ Washington office.

Give the People What They Want by Seth Ackerman for Jacobin.  Opinion polls indicate that economic justice is not a “white” issue.

On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears by John Halle on Outrages and Interludes.

Sanders gets the bulk of Obama donors so far

July 27, 2015

obama.bernie-1Source: U.S. News

A new analysis shows that Bernie Sanders has received more donations from former Obama donors than Hillary Clinton has.  And Marco Rubio so far has a bigger share of former Romney donors than any other Republican candidate has.

Crowdpac, a political research organization cited by U.S. News, reported that, out of the 9,302 Romney donors who have contributed to 2016 candidates so far, 2,891 made contributions to Rubio, 1,840 to Ted Cruz, 1,562 to Jeb Bush, 511 to Ron Paul and—get this!—280 to Hillary Clinton and 276 to Bernie Sanders.

This is an interesting omen—no more than that.   Neither Sanders nor Rubio is winning either the overall money race or the public opinion race.

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GOP wants to raise Social Security benefits age

July 20, 2015

Almost all the Republican candidates—including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Rand Paul, but not Mike Huckabee or Donald Trump—want an increase in the age for receiving full Social Security benefits.  This is a bad idea.

They are using Social Security as a wedge issue to divide the old from the young.  But in fact, the longer us old-timers are forced to work, the fewer jobs there are for young workers and the less opportunity for young workers to rise.

berniesandersAs Bernie Sanders has pointed out, the Social Security trust fund, which is invested in interest-bearing Treasury bonds, is sufficient to ensure that full benefits will be paid for many years to come, and full benefits can be continued indefinitely by raising the income ceiling on Social Security taxes.

Until recently, there was a bipartisan consensus on reducing Social Security benefits.  Benefits are already being cut by means of a law now in effect that gradually raises the age for full benefits from 65 to 67 (it’s now 66).

President Obama’s budgets called for calculating Social Security cost-of-living increases by means of something called the Chained CPI, which discounts actual price increases when meaning inflation.

He dropped the idea when he proposed the current 2015 budget after opposition from liberal Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren.

Hillary Clinton said she is opposed to plans to privatize or “undermine” Social Security.   So far as I know, she hasn’t said anything more specific.  Two other Democratic candidates—Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley—think Social Security benefits should be increased.  I agree with Sanders and O’Malley.

I say—hooray for partisanship.  It is better than bipartisan agreement on bad ideas.

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Why I vote for candidates who “can’t win”

July 17, 2015

Why vote at all?

I get no material benefit out of it.  I do not determine the results of any election.  I have never voted in an election for public office that was decided by one vote, or even 100 votes.

By voting, I do two things.  I do my duty as a citizen of a democratic country.  I express my belief in the direction of my community by my choice of candidate.

Vote-Chop-LegThat being so, why should I limit my choice in the general election to just the two largest parties?  And why should I limit my choice in the primary election to the candidate most likely to win the general election?

People who limit their choice in this way are basing their vote on how they think other people will vote.  To the extent they do this, they allow these other people to determine their choice.

By voting my conviction, I make myself one of these other people.  I am one of the people whose views they have to take into account when they make their decision.

I of course do not criticize anybody who votes for a front-runner or a major-party nominee based on a sincere belief that this person is the best choice, and that the nation is basically on the right path.  I used to think that way myself.

I’ve become disenchanted with the two major political parties because it seems to me they are now more alike than they are different.

That is not to say that they are entirely alike, especially on questions that do not affect the structure of economic and political power.

But there is a bipartisan consensus among candidates for both parties of acceptance of perpetual war, persecution of dissidents, economic decline and immunity from prosecution by high-level criminals that, to me, is more significant than any differences.

I refuse to support militarism, authoritarianism and financial oligarchy by voting for candidates who accept them as normal.

Politics as a spectator sport

July 15, 2015

Some people seem to enjoy national politics as a kind of spectator sport with audience participation.

DCdivided-300x253They root for Team Blue or Team Red, and they do your bit to help their team win.

They vote in the general election for the team they support.  They vote in the primary election for the candidate who will best help their team win in the general election.

They reject the option of voting for a superior candidate on the other team, or for a candidate not on either team, because this might tip the balance for the other team.

When I point to the bipartisan acceptance of the USA’s drift into financial oligarchy, economic stagnation, authoritarianism and perpetual war, the answer I get is that one party is worse than the other, and that is the only relevant consideration.

As committed political sports fans, they made an initial decision as to which team to support, and any subsequent decision is based on its implications for their team’s victory or defeat.

Bernie vs. Hillary

July 10, 2015

sandersvshillary (more…)

Jeb Bush, the legacy candidate for President

July 9, 2015

TMW2015-07-01color

Jeb Bush Exposed Part 1 – His Top Advisers Will Be the Architects of His Brother’s Iraq War by Michael Krieger for Liberty Blitzkrieg.

Jeb Bush Exposed Part 2 – He Thinks Unconstitutional NSA Spying Is “Hugely Important” by Michael Krieger for Liberty Blitzkrieg.

‘They vote against their economic interests’

July 8, 2015

Liberal Democrats like to talk about the foolishness of rank-and-file Republicans who vote against their economic interests.

But I think this is no less true of liberal Democrats themselves.  The Obama administration, as much or more than the Bush administration, is committed to furthering the interests of Fortune 500 CEOs and Wall Street bankers at the expense of the general public.

And a Hillary Clinton administration, based on her record and her sources of support, would be no different.

Just one example, out of many, is Obama’s and Clinton’s support for the Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements that limit the ability of governments to legislate to protect labor, public health and the environment.

Source: Center for Responsive Politics

Source: Center for Responsive Politics

The chart from the Center for Responsive Politics shows the affiliations of her top campaign contributors from 1999 to the present.

They are all connected with Wall Street banks, corporate law firms and Fortune 500 companies, except for Emily’s List, which supports women and feminist candidates.

She is a rich woman because of six-figure fees she received from Wall Street financial firms for giving speeches.  I don’t think they would have paid such fees except in gratitude for favors rendered in the past and expectations of more favors in the future.

Now she has expressed concern about economic inequality and concentration of wealth at the top, but I think her associations, her sources of campaign funding and her record are better guides to her thinking than her campaign rhetoric.

This is not to say that there are no disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on economic policy.  But I think these disagreements reflect disagreements among the corporate elite.

The Koch brothers have a different political philosophy than Bill Gates.  Some members of the economic and financial elite are willing to do things to alleviate economic distress, and others aren’t, but neither will tolerate a candidate that threatens their economic and political power.

I make this argument to my fellow liberal Democrats, and the answer I get is, “Nobody’s perfect.”

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James Webb runs for President

July 6, 2015

James Webb, a decorated Marine combat veteran of Vietnam, former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and a former Democratic Senator from Virginia, has declared himself a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.

James Webb

James Webb

He is an interesting candidate with an unusual background.  His biography is complicated, but it has a common thread.

Webb has tried to be the champion of blue-collar working men—the troops who are sent overseas to fight, factory workers whose jobs are being lost to Japan (in an earlier era) and China and especially his own ethnic group, the Scots-Irish settlers of 18th century Appalachia.

While I seriously doubt that the Democrats or the nation are ready for his brand of politics, I would readily vote for him in preference to Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker or almost any of the other current Democratic and Republican candidates.

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Thoughts on marriage and gay marriage

July 5, 2015
The last statement presumably was on June 24, 2015

The last statement was on June  24, 2015 (not August)

Hat tip to Tiffany’s Non-Blog.

There are lessons in this chart for people who advocate social change, and that is to never think that electing a particular politician is enough, and especially to never settle for the lesser of two evils.

I respect the gay rights movement for pressing relentlessly for social change and especially for withholding support for politicians who do not support their agenda.

The labor movement can learn from this.  Of course the gay rights movement had an easier task because its goals do not threaten any powerful monied interests.

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Bernie Sanders’ record in Congress

June 27, 2015

If you’re going to judge what a politician stands for, you’d do better to look at their advisers and supporters than their campaign rhetoric, and you’d do even better still to look at their record.

The presidential candidate Bernie Sanders served in the House of Representatives from Vermont’s at-large district from 1991 to 2007 and in the U.S. Senate from 2007 to the present, so he has a long record to go by.

Sanders has been a political independent, not a Democrat, for most of his political life, and is the only member of Congress to call himself a socialist.  The 2016 Presidential campaign is the first campaign in which he has run as a Democrat to organize Congress.

BernieSanders1_1280His congressional record seems to me to be like a 1930s New Deal Democrat.  He is a staunch defender of the New Deal programs such as Social Security, a champion of labor unions and an opponent of Wall Street.

While his voting record is favorable to abortion rights, gay rights, affirmative action and civil rights for African-Americans, he does not have a high profile on these issues as he does on bread-and-butter economic issues.

Liberals might have trouble with the fact that he was first elected to Congress as an opponent of gun control and still has reservations about gun control.

∞∞∞

Here are some highlights of his legislative and voting record:

He founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus in 1991 and chaired it for eight years.

In 1999, he defied U.S. law on drug imports by organizing a trip to Canada with constituents to buy cancer medications at 10 percent of the U.S. cost

In 2005, he joined with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to repeal the section of the USA Patriot Act requiring librarians to give the government information on patrons’ book-borrowing.   It passed the House, but did not become law.

In 2010, he gave an eight-and-a-half hour speech against the Tax Relief, Unemployment and Job Creation Act of 2010, which extended the Bush era tax cuts.  The speech drew nationwide attention and was later published as a book.

In 2011, he successfully introduced legislation calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System’s bank bailouts, which revealed that the Fed had granted $16 trillion dollars in assistance to troubled banks, some of their foreign banks.

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Bernie Sanders in his own words

June 25, 2015

Agenda for America: 12 Steps Forward.

  1. Rebuilding Our Crumbling Infrastructure
  2. Reversing Climate Change
  3. Creating Worker Co-ops
  4. Growing the Trade Union Movement
  5. Raising the Minimum Wage
  6. Pay Equity for Women Workers
  7. Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers
  8. Making College Affordable for All
  9. Taking on Wall Street
  10. Health Care as a Right for All
  11. Protecting the Most Vulnerable Americans
  12. Real Tax Reform

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Bernie Sanders might not get on the NY ballot

June 19, 2015

Update 6/23/2015.  This post turned out to be much ado about nothng.  The State Board of Elections ruled that Bernie Sanders’ party status will be no barrier to him appearing on the 2016 Democratic Presidential Election Ballot.

Bernie Sanders might not get on the ballot for the 2016 New York Democratic presidential primary.

berniesocialistThat’s because he’s not a Democrat.   He is a socialist who was elected Senator from Vermont as an independent.

Under New York law, you have to be a member of a political party in order to be a candidate in that party’s primary election, unless the governing committee of that party makes an exception.

The chair of the New York Democratic Party is former Gov. David Paterson and the executive committee chair is Sheila Comar.  The committee headquarters is in mid-town Manhattan, and the committee can be contacted by through its web site.

Sanders has said that he will support the nominee of the Democratic Party.  So unless the New York Democratic Committee opens the state primary, New Yorkers won’t get a chance to vote for him at all—unless he wins the nomination, of course.

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How to preserve the status quo

June 13, 2015

There’d still be a Soviet Union if they’d been smart enough to have two communist parties that agreed on everything except for abortion.

via Jon Schwarz on Twitter

Hat tip to The Intercept

At last the AFL-CIO plays hardball on TPP

June 11, 2015

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The AFL-CIO is withholding support from congressional representatives until it sees how they vote on the Trade Promotion Authority and Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The TPP is an anti-labor international agreement, and the TPA, also known as Fast Track, is a procedure for pushing it through with limited time for debate.

Good!  It’s about time that organized labor stop supporting politicians that don’t vote in the interests of working people—even if such politicians are supposedly a lesser evil.

LINKS

Democrats Frustrated by Unions’ Cash Freeze Over Fast Track by Emily Cahn and Emma Dumain for Roll Call.

AFL-CIO Says Labor Has Been Blocked from Trans Pacific Partnership Debate by Marc Daalder for In These Times.

Dems support politicians they don’t believe

June 10, 2015

One oddity of American political life is the voter who support Democratic candidates because he or she doesn’t believe their campaign rhetoric.

I encountered this in 1992 when I talked to a United Auto Workers leader who was working to elect Bill Clinton for President because he was convinced that Clinton didn’t mean what he said about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

True, the UAW guy said, Bill Clinton said he’s for NAFTA, but he also said he is for a lot of other things, such as treaty protection of labor and environmental rights, that would negate NAFTA.  So in effect, his reasoning went, Clinton is really against NAFTA.

But Clinton betrayed him.  He pushed NAFTA though, just as he said he would.  The part he wasn’t serious about was the protection of the labor and environmental rights.

I saw the same thing among supporters of President Obama.  Every time Obama would do something such as offering to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a budget-balancing deal, they would say this is something he “had to” do.

Really?  “Had to”?  Did somebody like the Luca Brazzi character in The Godfather put a pistol to his head and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Now we have the same thing with Hillary Clinton, but with a twist.  She is trying to steal Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ thunder by talking about economic inequality, while signaling that she doesn’t really mean it to the Wall Street figures, who have made her rich by paying her six-figure fees to give speeches.

It will be interesting to see where Clinton comes down on the Trans Pacific Partnership.  She historically has supported trade agreements and in her 2014 book called the TPP the “gold standard” for such agreements.  Now she declines to take a clear stand.

A lot of the political commentary describes her “dilemma” over the TPP—the dilemma consisting of the politics of the TPP, not the merits of the agreement.

If she were to come out strongly against the TPP when her opposition might have some effect in defeating it, I would give her credit for a sincere change of heart.  I don’t expect this to happen, but I would be pleased to be proved wrong.  Otherwise I will view Clinton’s campaign rhetoric with the same skepticism that is being asked of her Wall Street supporters.

I don’t think this happens so much in the Republican Party because there is less of a disparity in the Republican Party between what’s said to the voters and to the financial backers.

LINKS

Hillary Clinton Traces Friendly Path, Troubling Party by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman for the New York Times.

In Classic Clintonian Fashion, Dems Insult Their Own Voters by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Is Clinton Still Down With TPP? by Freedom Partners.

Is Bernie Sanders a sheepdog for Hillary?

June 9, 2015

InevitablySenator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is running for the Democratic nomination for President, supports a breakup of the too-big-to-fail banks, higher taxes on the ultra-rich, Medicare for all and repairing America’s decaying physical infrastructure.

He is opposed to the war on drugs, bank bailouts and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

He voted against the original USA Patriot Act, authorization to use military force against Iraq, confirmation of John Brannan as director of the Central Intelligence Against and immunity for telephone companies who conduct illegal surveillance for the government.

That sounds good to me, but I have been warned by Bruce A. Dixon on the Black Awareness Report not to be fooled.  Sanders’ function, he wrote, is to be a “sheepdog” to herd angry liberals and progressives back into the Democratic Party.

In almost every Presidential year, he noted, there is some Democratic candidate—Jesse Jackson, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich—who gives voice to the discontent of working people, minorities and progressive intellectuals with the existing Democratic Party policies.

Afterwards, feeling they have had their say, they vote for the establishment Democratic candidate.  Ford thinks the same thing will happen in 2016.  After venting their feelings by voting for Sanders, Democrats will fall into line and support Hillary Clinton as the latest lesser evil.

There is something to this.  As Dixon correctly pointed out, you would think, to listen to Sanders, that all the USA’s problems stem from the Republican Party, Wall Street bankers, Fox News and the Koch brothers, and have nothing to do with Barack Obama, Bill or Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party.

That is the price of party loyalty.  If you ask for a political party’s nomination, most members of that party would expect you to support that party’s ticket.   The same dynamic operates on the other with Rand Paul and the Republicans.

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How job choices correlate with political choices

June 3, 2015

20150602_jobsHat tip to zero hedge.

This chart was created by Verdant Labs.  If you click on that link, you can find the original chart, plus an additional interactive chart with information about more occupations.  For example, it shows that, in my own former job of journalist, there are 88 Democrats for every 12 Republicans.

This by the way does support the claim of conservatives that reporters tend to be liberals, but I’m not sure what, if anything, could be done to change this.  An affirmative action program for journalists who claim to be conservatives?  I don’t think that would work.

I often hear that Americans prefer political centrists, but Americans classified by occupation are strongly polarized.   Interestingly, though, if you go to the original Verdant Labs article, you will find that some of the top corporate and business positions are more evenly divided between the two parties than many of the middle-class and working-class jobs.

I can understand while environmental protection workers would tend to be Democrats while oil field workers would tend to be Republicans.  But some of the other political polarizations seem to based on people deciding to fit stereotypes than the actual positions of the two parties.

Politics and the 1 percent of the 1 percent

June 3, 2015

2015_0601ls3Hat tip to occasional links and commentary.

The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of the U.S. population—fewer than 32,000 people—are increasingly the gatekeepers of American politics.  As elections grow more costly, super-rich campaign contributors grow more powerful.

Last year, according to a report by the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics, this small group of people accounted for 29 percent of all campaign donations.

Within this group, there were 135 who gave $500,000 or more, 63 who gave $1 million or more, and three who gave $10 million or more.  The top giver was Tom F. Streyer, a liberal San Francisco hedge fund manager and environmentalist, who put more than $73 million into anti-Republican PACs.

While most individuals gave mainly to one political party or the other, the elite donors are fairly bipartisan as a group, as the chart above shows.

Wealthy lawyers, environmentalists and executives of non-profit institutions give mainly to Democrats, while oil and gas industry employees give mainly to Republicans.  Wall Street gave more than any other industry, with substantial amounts to both parties but more to the Republicans..

LINK

The Political One Percent of the One Percent in 2014: Mega Donors Fuel Rising Cost of Elections by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation.

Too many of two kinds of people

May 27, 2015

The world has too many rich people whose wealth is derived from political power, and too many politicians whose political power is derived from wealth.

The enigma of Barack Obama

May 21, 2015

HarpersWeb-June2015-Cover-302x410Anyone who voted twice for Obama and was baffled twice by what followed — there must be millions of us — will feel that this president deserves a kind of criticism he has seldom received.  Yet we are held back by an admonitory intuition.  His predecessor was worse, and his successor most likely will also be worse.

One of the least controversial things you can say about Barack Obama is that he campaigned better than he has governed.  The same might be said about Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, but with Obama the contrast is very marked.

Governing has no relish for him.  Yet he works hard at his public statements, and he wishes his words to have a large effect.  Even before he ascended to the presidency, Obama enjoyed the admiration of diverse audiences, especially within black communities and the media.  The presidency afforded the ideal platform for creating a permanent class of listeners.

via Harper’s Magazine..

I am more disappointed in Barack Obama than in anyone else I ever voted for.  His speeches are often eloquent and wise, but his actions have no seeming connection with his words.  He is conciliatory toward his American political enemies, and tough with his core supporters.

I read The Audacity of Hope in 2008 and was under no illusion that Obama was a progressive reformer.  In that book, he presented himself as one who understood both liberals and conservatives and, by showing his reasonableness, could reconcile the two.  This was either hypocrisy or naivete.

What hoped for was that Obama as President could restore the country to normal after the excesses of the George W. Bush administration—a country in which the President respected the Constitution, didn’t start wars and kept his distance from Wall Street.  But none of these things happened.

There are three possible explanations of this.  One is that the entrenched power of Wall Street and of the covert military-intelligence complex—the so-called deep states—are too powerful to overcome, and that Obama is the best we can hope for.  I hate to believe that because it means there is no hope for my country.

Another is that Barack Obama has certain character flaws that make him ineffective.  The third, which is what I tend to believe, is that Obama’s intentions are not what his liberal supporters think they are.  Although he ran on a platform of hope and change, he is a very effective defender of the status quo.

David Bromwich, writing in the June issue of Harpers magazine, examined the Obama record in terms of his character.   The article worth reading, but it is behind a pay wall, so you have to buy the magazine or go to a public library to read it.  I subscribe to the magazine, so I can provide the highlights.

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