Nel's New Day

March 14, 2017

Trumpcare: The GOP Killer Plan

The Congressional Budget Office has come out with the numbers for Trumpcare (excuse me, The American Health Care Act), and here’s the good news. The deficit could be lowered by $33.7 billion a year. Of course, that accomplishment come from moving costs to the state as well as taking people off Medicaid and government subsidies. For example, Oregon will have to pay 35 percent of health costs instead of the 95 percent that the federal government now covers.

The bad news for Trumpcare by the numbers:

  • 54 million individuals uninsured in ten years, double projections for ACA, according to a leaked White House analysis.
  • 24 million fewer people with coverage by next year.
  • 14 million more uninsured people in one year.
  • 14 million fewer people with Medicaid coverage in 10 years.
  • 7 million fewer people with employer-sponsored coverage in 10 years.
  • 2 million fewer people not buying health insurance each year.
  • 15-20 percent higher premiums in the first year than with ACA.
  • $880 billion cut from Medicaid over 10 years.
  • 15 percent of low income people without services to help women avert pregnancy because of defunding Planned Parenthood that results in thousands of more births. (Savings of $178 million for no care for these women would be offset by increase in Medicaid that pays for 45 percent of all U.S. births.)

Older Americans pay “substantially” more. At the same time, Trumpcare also takes away from the Medicare fund, causing it to become insolvent three or four years earlier than formerly projected unless positive action is taken.

Health insurance companies are encouraged to pay CEOs more because Trumpcare removes the ACA limit on corporate tax deductions for compensation. Under ACA, health insurance companies could deduct only $500,000 of the pay for each top executive making deductions for the companies only 27 percent instead of 96 percent. This limitation has been enough to buy dental insurance under the ACA for 262,000 people or pay the silver plan deductibles for 28,000. The 10 biggest insurance companies paid their top 57 executives a total of $300 in 2013. The provision to give them back the 96 percent was buried in six lines on p. 67, and even Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, seemed unaware of it until reporters inquired.

Republicans, claiming to be the part of smaller government, also have a provision in Trumpcare that employees without genetic testing as part of their workplace wellness programs can face large penalties in premiums. Existing federal laws don’t have this power because genetic privacy is protected. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation could charge an additional $5,443 in annual premiums employer-sponsored family health coverage.

An oddity in Trumpcare is its obsession with lottery players, mentioned 11 times, the same number as Medicaid. Six of the 67 pages in the replacement plan focus on lottery winnings. Anyone getting at least $80,000 from the lottery or lotto would be kicked off Medicaid. To give you an idea of the savings, Michigan’s plan, withholding part of lotto winnings over $1,000 and not $80,000—saved $2 million.

Republicans have spent lots of time and energy criticizing the mandate that everyone purchase insurance. Trumpcare’s new system allows insurance companies to charge a 30-percent penalty after a break in purchasing coverage. It’s still a penalty: the only difference is that the money goes to insurance companies and not to the government. It also threatens destabilization of the individual insurance market.

Geographically, Trumpcare is disastrous for DDT supporters. The plan’s elimination of 0.9 percent for additional Medicare tax on wages and 3.8 percent surtax on investment income are only people in the top income stratum. John McCormick’s independent analysis of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan for Bloomberg states:

“Counties that backed him would get less than a third of the relief that would go to counties where Hillary Clinton won. The two individual tax cuts contained in the Republican plan to replace Obamacare apply only to high-earning workers and investors, roughly those with incomes of at least $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples. Taxpayers in counties that backed Trump would see an annual windfall of about $6.6 billion, (an) analysis of Internal Revenue Service data shows. In counties that backed Clinton, it’d be about $21.9 billion.”

The refund of this tax to the wealthy is what keeps the deficit reduction only $33.7 million when the massive cuts to benefits, including Medicaid, should come to much more. Getting rid of ACA’s taxes and annual fees would reduce revenues to the federal government by $592 billion over ten years. Just one person in the top 0.01 percent, for example, will get an extra $197,000 if the bill passes, and people in the top one percent will each get $33,000.

How Trumpers—and people at the same income level—will suffer from Trumpcare: A 64-year-old person with an annual income of $26,500 pays $1,700 a year in annual insurance premiums. Trumpcare will change that annual premium to $14,600 for equivalent insurance. The math makes it an increase of $12,900.

Ryan has made two strategic problems. He tried to push the bill through the House in three weeks; the ACA took over 16 months to pass after four months of groundwork. He also failed to involve any stakeholders. To pass ACA, Democrats developed support by convening health-care groups, largely the same groups that now strongly oppose Trumpcare. In retaliation, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is trying to minimize opposition from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as just another flawed interest group. Their 37 million members comprise over one-third of the U.S. population over 50 years of age and are likely to be DDT voters. Bush’s 2005 struggle to privatize Social Security failed after AARP’s opposition.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-the-white-house-isnt-sharing-health-care-numbers-its-own?cid=eml_mra_20170314   The White House has its own analysis of Trumpcare. A leaked report from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shows numbers are even grimmer than those from CBO with 26 million people losing coverage within the next decade instead of CBO’s 24 million. Although the White House called that report wrong, it hasn’t released anything in its place. GOP-confirmed OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, in charge of the health care legislation instead of the Secretary of Health, called the CBO estimates “just absurd” and said that “I don’t believe facts are correct.” DDT may have moved Price because Mulvaney, a founding member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus and former South Carolina U.S. representative, is more conservative than either Ryan or Price.

Congress may also take both health insurance and pensions from retired coal miners. After 22,600 miners retired, the company in charge of their health care gave it to another company that declared bankruptcy and was relieved of responsibility for retiree health care. Both companies finally agreed to pay into a special fund for retiree health care benefits, but one of them stopped contributing. In addition, UMWA’s multi-employer pension plan, serving more than 90,000 retirees and their widows, became severely underfunded. The Miners Protection Act (MPA) uses federal funds to pay for threatened health benefits and strength the pension plan, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked its inclusion for his own constituents in an omnibus budget bill. The four-month extension of health benefits is due to expire on May 1, 2017 if Congress doesn’t act on the bill. Democrats wrote DDT for support in January, but he didn’t respond.

Yesterday Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talked to some of these miners during a panel discussion in West Virginia. One of them thanked Sanders for his support regarding the bill and said to applause:

“I never dreamt that I’d get to thank you personally for the bill that you are co-sponsoring. I’m one of those miners that will lose his health care at the end of April if they don’t pass that law. I think it’s kind of ironic that a senator from the northeast takes care of my benefits better than someone like Mitch McConnell.”

Sanders told the crowd:

“The Republican bill, it should not be seen as a health care bill, because throwing millions of people off of health care [is not] health care legislation. What it should be seen as is a huge tax break for the wealthiest people in this country.”

Two months ago, DDT promised “insurance for everybody.” He and other Republicans claim insurance access to all—probably the same way that everyone has access to buy a Mercedes-Benz but don’t have the money. Price claimed that Trumpcare would “cover more individuals at a lower cost.” The only way that they can be right is for people to be consigned to crappy insurance plans that may not even cover hospital costs, just as they were before the ACA. To show how obvious DDT is about killing ACA, he sent out an email asking people to “share your Obamacare disaster story.” They have no interest in any success stories or needs from “hard-working Americans like you,” but people have been sending them anyway.

The clearest description of Trumpcare has been provided by comedian John Oliver..

 

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July 30, 2016

The Bernie Entitlement Disease

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:08 PM
Tags: , ,

There’s a disorder sweeping across the nation within the past few months–Bernie entitlement. Its symptoms are “I support Bernie; therefore you owe me, and if you don’t let me get my way, I’ll make you and the entire country pay.” The problem went viral after Bernie Sanders dropped his campaign and endorsed Hillary Clinton. Not all Bernie supporters suffer from this syndrome, but the media loves to concentrate on those who have this illness. Talking to Bernie supporters who plan to vote for Hillary Clinton isn’t nearly as much fun for journalists as listening to those who oppose Hillary.

Evidence of this infirmity appeared at the recent Democratic convention. Far beyond the shouting and heckling during every speech, including the one given by First Lady Michelle Obama, was a fart-in created by Bernie supporters eating lots of bean. the decision to eat lots of beans so that Bernie supporters would fart. Not all Bernie supporters follow the same pattern as those below: the reference is to those who remain obstructionists as in this a link.

This is my response to the vocal minority of Bernie supporters who think that they can carry on their revolution by trashing Hillary Clinton.

Bernie brought in followers, many of them unregistered voters, with his charisma, promises, and generalities. He said his ideas would raise taxes by $15 trillion over ten years, but the cost of the health care plan alone is over $30 trillion. Even the economist who originally analyzed Bernie’s plans had to admit that he was originally wrong about the cost because of “faulty math.” The doubled deficit in a decade would cause higher interest rates and government borrowing costs that slow economic growth. Higher taxes to slow the deficit rate would fall on the middle class and poor. As Bill Maher said to Bernie, “[Universal health care] couldn’t even work in your home state of Vermont!” Bernie had no answer.

Hillary agrees that people need relief in health care, and it’s one piece of her vision. Unfortunately, Bernie supporters just say that she doesn’t mean it because she lies. Yet statistics show that the two Democratic candidates lie at the same rate–20 percent–compared to 80 percent lying for Trump.

This statement from the Bernie supporter is an outright falsehood: “We understand that while the candidates differ in significant ways, both Clinton and Trump offer unthinkable options whether cutting services, limiting our rights, and inciting hatred or promoting an increasingly pro-corporate agenda, destroying our planet, or sending our children to endless war.” Both Bernie and Trump supporters operate on “feelings” and not facts about Hillary’s past. When she took money from Wall Street, she gave much of it to Democratic candidates to help their campaigns. Bernie kept his $200 million for himself.

The GOP and Trump support unlimited gun ownership, sexual assault, no health care, much lower taxes for the wealthy, no paid family leave, low minimum wages–or perhaps none–rescinding LGBT rights including marriage equality, no abortion or contraception, a police state allowing law enforcement to kill innocent people, World War III if someone annoys Trump, persecution of the disabled, no equal pay for genders, no public education, no protection against climate change and protection of endangered species, fraud in profit-making higher education, no unions, elimination of Social Security and Medicare, no other safety net, oppression of the press, mandatory Christianity, no women’s rights, no relief for college loans–in short, the opposite of Hillary’s position. In addition, he wants to support Russia, North Korea, and other places controlled by totalitarian dictators and give them nuclear weapons.

Bernie supporters use the word “passion” to describe Bernie and accuse Hillary of not being “passionate,” but passion is more than playing the star at huge rallies. Hillary hasn’t stopped working for human rights since she was a teenager.

Listing all Hillary’s accomplishments would take too long here. Listing Bernie’s achievements is much easier. He got a lot of young people, many of them not registered voters, excited about the election process. This article shows his accomplishments. He revitalized a city waterfront and opposed TPP, NAFTA, CAFTA, Keystone XL, Patriot Act, and the Iraq War. (Hillary now admits that she was wrong about TPP, Keystone, and the Iraq War.) The claim that he tells the truth puts him on par with Hillary’s truth-telling rating. The legislation he’s passed in his 20 years in Congress is listed here. But what he’s done doesn’t matter: his campaign achieved its goal–to move Hillary toward the left. Yet like Hillary Bernie has made mistakes, and Bernie supporters need to accept that Hillary will do the best job she can to benefit the people.

Bernie supports are right that Hillary is “disliked” because people, including Bernie’s followers, pass along false propaganda that the conservative mainstream media has propagated for the past three decades. Those who put a high priority on likability need to consider George W. Bush, an extremely likable man, and look at what he did to the country. Likability is for high school prom royalty.

The ten percent of Bernie voters who say they cannot vote for Hillary also say that it’s okay if the country blows up. The others who are still smearing Hillary are achieving the same ends. Instead of blowing up the nation, they might move to Somalia and leave the United States to people who want to preserve the nation.

I agree that many people are struggling, and don’t see the country getting ahead because that’s their situation. Hillary is aware of these problems, which is why she supports higher minimum wages, unions, equal pay for women, paid and medical leave, and other benefits to help struggling people.

Bernie supporters also complain that “our hard work [for Bernie’s campaign] doesn’t matter.” They worked for less than a year and expect to get everything they want. Life doesn’t work that way. If they really want to change things, they need to cheerfully work for Hillary and struggle to make the changes that they want.

They also think that we have the hard times now are unique. When I was 26 years old, a teacher and new mother, I worked two different jobs–one full-time as a high school teacher and the other as an adjunct teacher at a junior college. I worked at a 7-11 market in the summer to make ends meet, and my husband worked full time. I was much luckier than the people who lived during the Great Depression of the 1930s. People angry about inequality should look at the massive costs to the nation by George W. Bush’s huge tax cuts and wars and blame GOP leaders who pass laws giving the country’s assets to the wealthiest and then rig the voting system through gerrymandering and voter restrictions so that the practice continues.

Like Trump supporters, Bernie supporters operate on feelings and not facts. They provide no evidence about which lies the media told or how it suppressed the vote. Bernie supporters complain about all the lies the Hillary told about Bernie, but Politifact records that each one lied about the opponent only three times. References about how the Clinton campaign infiltrated a Sanders network are not well substantiated, but the Sanders campaign took information about the Clinton campaign from the DNC last year.

Like Bernie supporters, I’m furious about Arizona and New York denying votes, but Republicans were responsible. I’m even more furious that almost every red state denies people the vote–which is not mentioned in the writer’s statement. The trashing of votes in California is inexcusable, but it would not have changed the outcome: Hillary won by over 3 million votes. The same thing happened to Arizona ballots in the last presidential election as well as in other states. The media did create the Trump monster, but that’s not Hillary’s fault. Changing the system requires more than angry ranting at Hillary.

I, too, don’t like some of Hillary’s positions, specifically her strong support of military and Israel, but she succeeded in brokering peace between Israel and Palestine if only for a short time. Opposing some of her positions won’t make me oppose her election.

Bernie created his following by with the positions that all other candidates are evil and corrupt and that he is the only ideologically pure person. His absolutism, both moral and political, attracts the same people who followed Ayn Rand’s philosophy, such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Congressional gridlock was caused when the Tea Party refused to compromise, the same position that Bernie supporters have. Everyone has complained about the congressional gridlock since the Tea Party co-opted Congress, a gridlock caused by lack of compromise. That’s where Bernie’s supporters are at this time.

This year’s presidential candidate campaign had three positions: fear, idealism, and pragmatism. People could select on the basis of primal reactions from the lizard brain, belief in something with no evidence, or an approach that has the best chance of getting results. Hillary wants a lot of the same things that Bernie does, but many of his supporters are not satisfied and they would rather go with the GOP lizard brain.

I understand the grief that Bernie supporters are feeling. It’s like the loss of a lover. But destroying the country that Bernie cares about doesn’t bring his campaign back to life. People who really care about the country and not just themselves and Bernie Sanders should do everything they can to elect Hillary Clinton and then continue with Bernie’s ideals. People who give up after less than a year are quitters.

People need to look at both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders realistically. Neither one is perfect, but they’re both good people. Hillary won, and it’s time to move forward. Bernie supporters have said that Hillary needs to work to persuade them that they should vote for her. It’s really their own job to look into Hillary’s positions to see if she really is exactly the same as Donald Trump.

If people continue to smear Hillary and/or vote for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Donald Trump, or–worse yet for democracy–not at all, we have a great chance of the lizard brain running the United States and destroying the country. People also need to consider these three words–Supreme Court justices. The decision that voters make in November 2016 is not for the next four years. It determines the future for everyone on this planet.

[Note: once again, I’m not talking about all Bernie supporters–just the ones who don’t care whether Donald Trump wins the upcoming election. I’m grateful for those who have are now supporting Hillary and hope that more of them will understand the high stakes of this year’s election.]

 

May 31, 2016

Sanders’ Wars

Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential candidate almost exactly one year ago on May 26. He started out focusing on two major issues—the economy and the climate—that energized an electorate, primarily young, who had previously ignored the voting process. He also started out as a pretty decent person who claimed that he wouldn’t run a negative campaign as shown by his comment to Clinton in last October’s debate that “the American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails.”

Then Sanders started winning states. He now claims that he can win the candidacy despite being behind Clinton by over 3 million votes and 270 pledged delegates—and short another 498 super delegates. To just equal Clinton in pledged delegates, Sanders needs to pick up 463 of the remaining 655 delegates—over 70 percent of them. His one endorsement from the Senate in comparison to Clinton’s 41 is turning a bit lukewarm. All except one of the Democratic governors support Clinton as are the vast majority of Democratic members of the U.S. House.  Sanders has nine representatives and no current governors—not even the one from his own state—on his endorsement list.

The media, once entranced by the Vermont senator who represents fewer than 627,000 people, has grown increasingly disenchanted. The disappointment vastly increased after Sanders’ supporters intimidated speakers at last month’s Nevada Delegate Convention, threw chairs, sprayed graffiti on the state Democratic office, and posted death threats and obscene messages on party chair Roberta Lange’s personal telephone. All because Sanders lost two delegates. In Donald Trump fashion, supporters are now threatening problems at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer. It’s not the first time that the “Bernie Bros” behaved badly, but this event hit the mainstream media.

Instead of condemning the abusive behavior, Sanders first walked away from questions and then denied that his supporters would behave like this. Later he released a weak statement that blamed the Nevada Democratic party for preventing a “fair and transparent process” and he threatened Democrats with failure if they refuse to “treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned.” Sanders rationalized the violence with grievances and conspiracy theories. Gone is the man who declared that “Mr. Trump should take responsibility for addressing his supporters’ violent actions.”

Politifact found that Sanders supporters’ claims of fraud in Nevada’s  convention rules were completely wrong. Delegates, even some of them Clinton’s, weren’t seated because either they were not Democrats by May 1 or their names or addresses could not be confirmed. Only eight of the rejected delegates even showed up to the convention, meaning that seating them would not flip the majority. As in other situations, Sanders’ campaign didn’t check the existing rules of the party that he wants to elect him. By last Friday, he admitted that the Democratic Party rules aren’t rigged; he’s resorted to calling them “dumb.”

Yet Sanders lumps what he calls a corrupt Democratic Party into cries against income inequality, big banks, and Wall Street. His campaign reported that it will increase attacks on the party and Clinton in order to run up Sanders’ delegate count. Sanders’ attacks started over six months ago when he sued the DNC for briefly suspending his  use of voter information after one of his staffers inappropriately accessed Clinton’s voter data. Sanders blamed the access on the DNC, and the problem was settled within a day. Yet the lawsuit reemerged in March.

Another Sanders’ war against the DNC comes from super delegates; supporting Clinton. He toned down that rhetoric when he decided to take all of Clinton’s super delegates by falsely persuading them that he had a better chance of winning against Donald Trump. He railed against closed primaries, but doesn’t mind undemocratic caucuses because he is more successful with them. (He won nine of the 11 states with caucuses which is almost half of the states that he won.) Ironically, the two states in which he overwhelmingly won with caucuses (Nebraska and Washington) voted him down in primaries.

Sanders has long wanted to remove DNC chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, from her position, going so far as to support her opponent in the Florida primary. Last week, he demanded the removal of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy from being co-chairman of the platform committee and former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank from leading the rules committee. His excuse is that they don’t support the Sanders’ candidacy.

For the past several months, Sanders has consistently attacked Clinton, calling her unqualified and insinuating that she is giving favors to Wall Street. He now says that Clinton’s emails are a “serious issue” and voters should take a “hard look” at it. Yet after months of trashing Clinton and then claiming that he’s in a better position to win the presidency, he announced that it is her responsibility for winning over his supporters. According to Sanders, “it’s the candidate’s job” to win over his supporters. At the same time, he indicated a willingness to be her vice-president.

Several Sanders’ media supporters aren’t swallowing his claims: CNN backer Sally Kohn in Time, “I Felt the Bern But the Bros Are Extinguishing the Flames”; Esquire’s Charles Pierce, “It’s Time for Bernie’s People to Calm Down”; and Harold Meyerson, “The Bros Are Undermining Bernie.” At least two wrote in Sanders’ “fanzine” Salon that it’s over, and Berners are abandoning their following in Reddit.

The complaint of male entitlement in the GOP has begun to shift to the Sanders’ “movement.” Sally Kohn wrote:

“It’s also too easy to suggest that Sanders’ supporters are a different kind of angry than Trump’s. Are we entirely sure about that? The populist right may be more inclined toward misogyny and xenophobia, but the populist left is not immune from these afflictions. And as I’ve written before, when you see progressive white men—many of whom enthusiastically supported Barack Obama’s candidacy—hate Clinton with every fiber of their being despite the fact that she’s a carbon copy of Obama’s ideology (or in fact now running slightly to his left), it’s hard to find any other explanation than sexism. Either way, the brutish, boorish behavior of Bernie Bros (and their female compatriots, too) was a huge reason I was reluctant to seemingly side with them in endorsing Sanders—and has been the only reason I have ever questioned my decision to do so since.”

Joan Walsh wrote:

“If you’d told me a year ago that we’d go into Philadelphia with 45 percent of the delegates committed to a socialist, as a firm flank on the left, backed by the many millions of Clinton supporters like myself who also identify with the left, I’d have said we were on the verge of transforming the party into a vehicle for racial and economic justice. Now I’m afraid of what’s coming. If Sanders wants to destroy the party instead of change it, if he wants to demonize progressives like Barney Frank and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (Devine has suggested he wants them removed from leadership roles because they endorsed Clinton), if he wants to turn the first female presidential nominee into a corrupt caricature of herself, a cross between Carly Fiorina and Marie Antoinette, then Philadelphia will be a disaster. For the party, and for Sanders too. He thinks he’s the only one who can defeat Donald Trump. But in fact, he’s the only one who can elect him, by tearing the party apart.”

Dana Milbank asked if “Bernie Sanders want[s] to be the Ralph Nader of 2016”:

“A few weeks ago, I wrote that I wasn’t concerned about Sanders remaining in the race until the very end, because he doesn’t wish to see a President Trump and will ultimately throw his full support to Clinton. Sanders has, indeed, lightened up on Clinton and is instead trying to shape the Democrats’ platform and direction. But his attacks on the party have released something just as damaging to the causes he professes to represent. Coupled with his refusal to raise money for the party, his increasingly harsh rhetoric could hurt Democrats up and down the ballot in November and beyond.”

“We are taking on virtually the entire Democratic establishment,” Sanders proclaimed, and his arguments sound exactly like the ones that Ralph Nadar made 16 years ago when he handed the country to the Republicans. Now Nadar is talking about Trump’s good points in opposition to Clinton. When Sanders started his campaign, he declared that he would never do what Nadar did because there’s a clear difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. Now his campaign against the Democrats is a strong support for Trump. Little wonder that the polls are causing concern for a Democratic presidential election in 2016.

The question is why Sanders is destroying his political career. He has never had much clout in the Senate, but most of the Democratic senators are turning against him. His entire political future depends on whether he can drop the angry, bitter old man persona and return to the ethical-appearing character who started the campaign just a few months ago.

Sanders has proved himself to be just like the politicians he pretends to reject. He wants people to think that he’s driven by lofty ideology but avoids inconvenient positions, like gun control, that are politically driven.

As a Washington Post editorial stated:

“Mr. Sanders is not a brave truth-teller. He is a politician selling his own brand of fiction to a slice of the country that eagerly wants to buy it. It proves that many progressives like being told everything they want to hear…. “Senator Sanders has fostered a toxic mix of unreason, revolutionary fervor, and perceived grievance.”

Sanders chose to use the Democratic Party to make his run for president rather than being an independent candidate. He has no loyalty to the party that gave him publicity and a platform for his success and instead uses the term “anti-establishment” to campaign. His single-minded focus ignoring the fact that class intersects with race and gender causes him to lose among minority groups and, to some extent, women. These are not his issues; he addressed them only after Hillary Clinton did.  Bernie Sanders promised not to run a negative campaign. He failed.

May 6, 2016

Katha Pollitt: ‘Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote’

katha pThe Nation, which endorsed Bernie Sanders, was brave enough to publish an article by Katha Pollitt called “Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote” in the midst of all the Hillary Clinton bashing. She pointed out a few of the standard bits about why people are not voting for him followed by these excerpts:

“Bernie didn’t ask for my vote. Oh, you can go to his website and find a page of boilerplate setting out his general commitments to women’s rights: He’s in favor of equal pay, reproductive rights, the ERA, the Violence Against Women Act, childcare for all, and so on—a laundry list, indeed, of the causes dear to the heart of those often derided by his supporters as bourgeois feminists content with incremental change. I am aware, too, that Bernie has a good voting record on those issues in Congress. But there’s a difference between someone who votes the right way, and someone who introduces legislation and champions the issue. He never convinced me that gender issues, specifically the persistent subordination of women in every area of life, were of much concern to him.

“There were all those little tells. Pooh-poohing Planned Parenthood and NARAL as ‘establishment’ when he didn’t get their endorsement. Arguing for parental leave because it allows a new mother ‘to stay home and bond with her baby’ instead of as something that benefits fathers as well, and something that women need in order to work and advance on the job. Doubling down on the idiotic quip by his surrogate, Killer Mike (‘A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States’), with the pseudo-lofty pledge ‘No one has ever heard me say, “Hey guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.” I would never do that, never have.’ Is there a word for someone whose entitlement is so vast, so deep, so historically embedded, and so unconscious it includes the belief that they got where they are by a resolute devotion to fair play? It’s not reassuring that his senior campaign staff, like his long-time political inner circle, is almost entirely white and male.

“In a long campaign, everyone says unfortunate things. But these and other remarks suggest that when it comes to gender, he just doesn’t feel the burn. The problem is less that Bernie focuses on class and economic inequality than that he doesn’t seem to understand that the economy, like society generally, is structured by gender and race. Equal pay is great, but if women and men are funneled into different kinds of work by race and gender, with men’s jobs valued more because men are valued more, and if women are hobbled economically by doing most of the domestic labor and having to contend with prejudice against working mothers to boot, equal pay alone doesn’t solve the problem.

“It would have been great if Bernie had given a major speech about his plans to make women’s lives better—safer, fairer, less dominated by men. Instead, he gives every sign of believing that his basic program—a $15 minimum wage, free public college, breaking up the big banks, single-payer health insurance—is quite enough. Those are all great and important goals—in fact, the $15 minimum wage will benefit more women than men. But they do not speak directly to the rage and fed-upness that so many women, in every class, justly feel. Bernie showed a similar blindness to the specific harms of racism, but, thanks largely to Black Lives Matter, has moved a little further toward integrating race into his analysis.

“At 74, you are who you are. Bernie is a traditional class-based leftist for whom feminism is a distraction. Abortion, as he told Rolling Stone, is a “social issue.” Women’s mental and physical health, their economic survival, their ability to determine the shape of their own lives as men do, is a social issue? The clear implication is that reproductive rights (like guns and LGBT rights, which he mentions in the same breath) are secondary considerations, impediments to winning broad support for his populist economic proposals. I can go to the comment sections of AlterNet—or The Nation—and get that view any day from the bros, but I really thought we’d be further along with a white man who wants to lead a movement in a party that is majority female and over a third people of color. (And that’s just registered members—in 2012, 46 percent of people who voted Democratic were people of color.)

“After Indiana, the GOP looks more likely than ever to nominate a racist, xenophobic misogynist of staggering crudeness and mendacity. If elected, Trump would consult with the conservative Heritage Foundation on Supreme Court nominations. We could well lose what remains of a century of progress for women, workers, LGBT people, and people of color, including the right to vote itself.

“Trump understands very well that racism and sexism are crucial components of the nationalistic insurgence he wants to lead; he appeals openly to some of the darkest impulses in our political id. It is more than disturbing that Bernie pays so little attention to these dangers. He’s changed the debate within the Democratic Party by showing that millions of voters want more than incremental, technocratic tinkering with growing inequality. For that, I’m grateful. But when it comes to dealing with the Republicans in November, I don’t think Bernie gets the awful reality we’re facing. Hillary does.”

Thanks, Ms. Pollitt. You say what I feel but so much better than I ever could.

April 28, 2016

I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:27 PM
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Oregon is unique in its system of voting: everyone votes by mail without long lines, inaccessibility to the polls, discriminatory mandatory IDs, poll workers who turn people away, shortened hours for voting that may not mesh with voters working schedules, etc. Sometime before May 17, I will mark my ballot and put it in a convenient drop box. This year I’m marking the box beside Hillary Clinton’s name for president.

Bernie Sanders has many commendable attributes. He was 100 percent right when he said that Clinton needed competition, and he has changed the conversation surrounding what it means to be a Democrat and a progressive. For too many years, the Democratic party has moved to the right, largely from fear of failure at the polls. The Supreme Court’s support of big business, blatantly shown in Citizens United, has warped the campaign process and twisted politics into working for corporations instead of the people who elect lawmakers.

People who plan to vote for Sanders want what he offers—big business out of politics, free college tuition, single-payer insurance, $15 minimum wage, return of the middle class, carbon tax to slow down climate change, etc. I want the same thing, but I’m voting for Clinton because I think she has a better chance moving toward progressive success.

Sanders shows rigidity in his policy of “my way or the highway.” When George W. Bush had this approach, we hated it. Sanders focuses on one solution; Clinton looks for alternatives. He pushed her to support his one position on Social Security and then ridiculed her because she provided alternatives. Clinton looks for compromises; Sanders has said that compromise is important, but he refuses the middle ground.

Clinton knows that passing a $15 minimum wage for the entire country when the federal wage is currently $7.25 is impossible without increments, but Sanders ridicules her when she says that $12, a 40 percent increase, could be a beginning. Oregon, for example, discovered that even with a Democratic legislature and governor, the importance of a compromise to put the minimum wage at a sliding scale from $14.75 in the largest urban area to $12.50 in rural areas. We hate Congress because it won’t compromise; we need to accept it in a president.

Every speech that Sanders makes incorporates his complaint that Clinton takes money from Wall Street, but he never explains how she has supported Wall Street. As far back as 2007 Clinton introduced the American Home Ownership Preservation Act to try to save people from the housing bubble that most politicians refused to recognize. At the same time, she warned about the danger of derivatives and issued calls to eliminate the so-called carried interest loophole, roll back the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and place limits on chief executives’ compensation. She still has plans to regulate Wall Street, but they are complicated. The slogan of “takes money from Wall Street” is easier as a sound bite.

Sanders has no plans on how to carry out his visionary, grandiose plans. In every Clinton town hall, she addresses questions from the audience in how to accomplish her plans, but Sanders has no suggestions beyond how important his ideas are. Yes, they are vital to the survival of 90 percent of people in the United States, but the problem is how to achieve them.

Sanders doesn’t do his homework. The Washington Post ran the headline “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president,” but she didn’t say that. Yet Sanders leaped on the media’s translation of Clinton’s carefully parsed answer on The Morning Joe Show and accused Clinton of being unqualified—useful fodder for the GOP if Clinton should become the Democratic presidential candidate. Her conclusion was that “I think he hadn’t done his homework,” and Sanders proved this with his response. Clinton’s actual statements are here.     

Most recently, Sanders accused Clinton of an illegal fundraising scheme, using “proof” from a Washington Post article from two years earlier than doesn’t list any specific misdeeds. Yet he didn’t take his complaints to the FEC, the appropriate agency to investigate election wrongdoings, but instead contacted the DNC. Thirty minutes after his accusations, his campaign used the allegations in a new fundraising message. Now the issue has disappeared.

Early in the campaign, Sanders appeared reasonable, and the two were able to discuss issues in their debates. The more votes that Sanders got, the angrier he became. In the most recent debate, he consistently interrupted her after waving his hand in the air and failed to let her answer questions directed to her while ridiculing her, and repeating his standard one-issue position that she takes money from Wall Street. The Washington Post described Sanders with such terms as “caustic, angry and bitter” and “dripping sarcasm and ironic snark.” Unfortunately, it lowered the debate to the level of the Republicans’ cage fights.

Sanders admits that he is a one-issue candidate—income inequality. (Actually, two issues when one considers his positions with his concern about climate change.) He made that obvious after Donald Trump’s far-right statement about punishing women for having abortions by criticizing Trump’s comments as a distraction from the “serious issues” facing the country. Sanders didn’t address concerns from minorities until he was pushed into doing so, and, despite his high record in voting for women’s rights, has not shown himself a leader in this area. he also demonstrates ignorance about foreign affairs, something about which Clinton is well versed.

Someone else is always to blame for Sanders’ losing votes—the media ignores him, blacks support Clinton, closed primaries, the poor don’t vote, etc. He was highly critical about Clinton collecting super delegates early in the race, a technique that she learned after Barack Obama did the same thing in 2008. More recently, however, Sanders’ campaign said that he would try to get these delegates even if Clinton won the popular vote and the assigned delegates.

Sanders has a big problem with his “passionate” followers trolling women journalists who support Clinton and call them sexist terms. They also harass delegates, threatening them if they don’t vote for Sanders. A speaker at Sanders’ Manhattan rally lambasted “corporate Democratic whores.” Sanders isn’t responsible for his followers, but he also doesn’t criticize them.

The “political revolution” can’t happen without support at the polls, and some of his followers aren’t helping him there. In Wisconsin, he warned against electing a far-right state supreme court justice who applies her religious views to her judicial rulings and protects Gov. Scott Walker from any judicial problems, but 15 percent of voters for Sanders ignored everyone else on the ballot. Young people promised a revolution in 2008, and they allowed the Tea Party to take over two years later. These Sanders’ supporters couldn’t even be bothered to help with the revolution when they had their ballots in their hands.

While Sanders and others decry Clinton’s “honesty,” Politifact judges Clinton higher on the Truth-O-Meter. In True or Mostly True, Clinton has 95 ratings, and Sanders has 49.  Although more of Clinton’s statements have been rated than those from Sanders, she still comes out with higher ratings.

When I told a young woman I was voting for Clinton, she said, “But Clinton voted for DOMA (Defense of Marriage).” I pointed out that she was First Lady, not senator, when that passed and that women should not be blamed for what their husbands do. The woman said that it was still Clinton’s fault because she had a great deal of influence over her husband. During the Clinton administration, however, the First Lady was constantly criticized for being too liberal, a socialist when compared to her husband’s centrist agenda. She and her aides were known as “the Bolsheviks” by economists.

One problem I have with Clinton is her strong support of Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet Sanders has been very neutral until his supporters gave him the go-ahead to support Palestine. He was praised for not speaking at the AIPAC meeting, but he requested that he address the meeting via video link. AIPAC President Robert Cohen refused. As Nicholas Sawaya pointed out, “[Sanders] record on key issues in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice falls well short.”

When my ballot arrives, I’m marking it for Hillary Clinton. She’s careful, doesn’t jump to conclusions, and has a wealth of information to use in making decisions. She considers alternatives and doesn’t lose her temper. Her diplomacy is known throughout the world. She also stands for the same things that Sanders does, but she will be better at accomplishing these tasks. Forty-one senators have endorsed Clinton, showing her potential for working with Congress. Only one senator has endorsed Sanders. (A list of Clinton endorsements are here.) More of my reasons for voting for Clinton.

 

April 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton Faces More Media Censure

Hillary Clinton was declared the most untrustworthy of the presidential candidates two months ago and has received negative ratings in favorability in ten recent polls. That’s this year. Three years ago, when she stepped down from the position of Secretary of State, her approval rating was 69 percent, making her the most popular politician in the country and the second-most popular secretary of state since 1948. The year before, the Washington Post called on President Obama to replace VP Joe Biden with Clinton for his second presidential run.

In Quartz, Sady Doyle has a theory for why this happened:

“[Clinton’s] public approval plummets whenever she applies for a new position. Then it soars when she gets the job. The wild difference between the way we talk about Clinton when she campaigns and the way we talk about her when she’s in office can’t be explained as ordinary political mud-slinging. Rather, the predictable swings of public opinion reveal Americans’ continued prejudice against women caught in the act of asking for power.”

Karen Blumenthal’s Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History, written for teenagers over 15 years old, follows Clinton’s rise and fall throughout her lifetime, starting when she was a bright, competent, confident high school student who wanted to make the world a better place. At Wellesley, she made friends with one of the six black students in the school population of 400, and they became roommates. Her friendship with black activist Marian Wright Edelman led her to become an advocate for children. At the same time, she campaigned for candidates, changing her allegiance from the GOP as a “Goldwater Girl” to fighting for Democrats. In her twenties, she was a member of the House Judiciary Committee legal staff to work on the Nixon inquiry into Watergate.

Clinton’s marriage to Bill Clinton led her to massive ridicule from people in Arkansas, including Bill Clinton’s mother, for her clothing, hair, makeup, etc.—issues that men never face. She kept a job but maintained a low-key presence because of the disapproval. And she tried to change her appearance to satisfy the critics. The same ridicule came from politicians and pundits across the United States when she supported her husband in his campaign for president. Forced to give up her career while she was in the White House, she face further cruelty when she worked to improve conditions for people in the nation. Early in the first term, she and her husband faced five inquiries about the death of a close friend who killed himself because of the persecution he faced in Washington, D.C. The persecution continued as she faced criticism for not divorcing her philandering husband.

People told Hillary Clinton to be more open. She complied, and they heaped more derision on her. She became increasingly private, resulting in even more contempt. Nothing she did suited her critics. As she runs for president in 2016, both Republican candidates and her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, talk about how much people dislike her. Sanders calls her a liar and unqualified to be president before his aides and consultants talk about how Sanders plans to take over the Democratic candidacy at the July convention because Clinton is unpopular.

Hillary Clinton opponents now realize that ridiculing her hair and dress might be seen as sexist so they complain about her “shrill” voice and ask that she smile more. Chris Matthews (Hardball), who I sometimes respect, recommended that Clinton select John Kasich (check out the last two blogs) for a vice-president if she wants to win.

The conservative media has attempted to dodge he belief that any treatment of Clinton is sexist. Instead, as Brian Birdnow claims, her “vaunted achievements in public life materialized because her now-estranged husband was going places, and she went along for the ride.” According to Birdnow, “the Clintons have been the beneficiaries of adoring media coverage beginning in 1991.” Blumenthal’s book records how hard Hillary Clinton worked before meeting Bill Clinton and since then. As for the “adoring media coverage,” it may have been so for Bill Clinton, but not for his hated wife, “Billary.” Birdnow wrote that “the critics cannot help that she sounds like a screeching harridan when she tries to give a political speech, or that her hoarse voice grates like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.”

Sanders has given conservatives fuel against Clinton by his repetitive complaining that she took money for speeches on Wall Street. He has never come up with any ways in which she has personally benefited Wall Street, but his insinuation is enough to taint her. Sanders himself voted to deregulate Wall Street in 2000.

The GOP has further plans to shred Clinton’s reputation. Over six months ago, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) led Clinton through an 11-hour inquisition—at least the ninth time—into the death of four people at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi in 2012. Almost two years ago, Gowdy had said that his investigation would be completed by the end of 2015, but that wasn’t an election year. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy bragged that the purpose of the inquiry is to destroy Hillary Clinton.

Fox network Greta van Susteren wrote a year ago that “dragging the investigation into 2016 looks political” and that releasing the report right before the election “looks awful” and “sends a bad message about fairness.” If the report comes out in 2016, she wrote, “it is fair to draw an adverse inference against the Committee—an adverse inference of playing politics. . . . Whatever the findings are in this investigation—it will forever be plagued by allegations of unfairness, and politics if this investigation is dragged into 2016.”

Gowdy said then that “it’s not going to come out in the middle of 2016.” He recently announced that the Benghazi report will be released during this summer–the middle of 2016. Democrats on the committee aren’t allowed to see transcripts of witness interviews, and they won’t see the final report before it’s released either in July just before the Democratic convention or in September as the presidential campaign goes into full swing. Gowdy promises that the report will be “eye-opening.”

In a recent column, Dana Milbank pointed out one “eye-opening” event:

“Gregory Hicks, the U.S. diplomat in Libya who criticized the administration response, is now on detail from the State Department working as a legislative assistant to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who previously said Hicks’s ‘shocking testimony’ confirmed a ‘Benghazi whitewash’ by the administration.”

Also eye-opening is the $6.5 million expenditure thus far in a probe that “quickly devolved into the mix of unfounded allegations, selective leaks and partisan sniping that characterized the preceding Benghazi investigation by Rep. Darrel Issa’s oversight panel.”

Gowdy swore transparency that never occurred. Sixteen months ago, he promised monthly hearings that didn’t happen. In its 700+ days, the committee had only four public hearings and only one since January 2015. At the same time, mysterious leaks, damaging and false, are fed to the press from GOP members. Remember? Democrats aren’t allowed to know what’s happening.

Gowdy has dragged out his committee “work” longer than investigations into 9/11, Watergate, and the JFK assassination. No male has ever been investigated in this manner despite their greater transgressions.

Milbank provided a background of the Benghazi investigation up to Clinton’s testimony in October.

Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of the acclaimed biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, said of Hillary Clinton, “I don’t think there is a First Lady who has been treated as rudely and meanly except for Eleanor Roosevelt. Both of these women boldly risked the scorn of “those threatened by the image of a woman carrying the fight for social justice into the public arena.” Karen Weaver, the mayor of Flint (MI) said about the water crisis that Hillary Clinton “has actually been the only candidate, whether we’re talking Democratic or Republican, to reach out and talk with us about, ‘What can I do? What kind of help do you need?’”

Hillary Clinton graduated high in her Yale Law School class and became partner in a top law firm through her own hard work. Throughout her life, she has worked hard and energetically, showing competence, intelligence, stamina, courage, and knowledge of the issues. In her current campaign, she demonstrates a consideration of alternatives leading to successful endings rather than latching on to only one solution. She has experience in working with countries across the world and has been highly praised for these accomplishments. Clinton understands that a plan is necessary to accomplish goals—universal health care, higher taxes for the wealthy, gun sensible laws, equal pay, reduction of income inequality, clean energy, etc. Just hoping that people will rise up isn’t a successful way to improve the lot of over 300 million people in 50 disparate states.

One question is how people would view Clinton today if the media and other politicians had not spent billions of dollars to trash her. Another is how they would treat her if she were a man. The miracle is that she is doing so well with all these forces against her.

April 13, 2016

Press Has No Justification to Hate Clinton

One of my good friends is a registered Republican—although she recently told me that she’s considering a switch to being independent after the events of the last few months. She also hates Hillary Clinton. Last Sunday I asked her what was wrong with Clinton politically, and she said she’d make a list. What’s wrong with Clinton is the media. Bernie Sanders complains about how they ignore him, but he’s lucky.

Both wings of the media, love to bash Clinton while they give Sanders a walk. A prime example is the massive number of complaints about Clinton supporting the omnibus crime bill in 1994 that included the federal “three strikes” provision. Sen. Sanders voted in favor of the same bill—as did many other liberals—but the media ignores that vote. Trevor Noah, the un-funny replacement for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, has declared open season on Clinton, but Sanders gets Noah’s weak “heh heh.”

Alternet, a progressive website self-described as a “syndication service and online community of the alternative press,” almost exclusively prints anti-Clinton and pro-Sanders articles. Just Google the two names separately with “alternet” to see the difference. (Caveat: it did reprint Gabler’s article referenced below about media attacks on Clinton.)

Some of the Alternet’s puff pieces about Sanders might have shreds of truth, but the reprint of Arturo Garcia’s article from Raw Story about Chris Hayes’ joint interview with former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and economist Robert Reich uses a headline about how “Reich “schools” that was a blatant and total misrepresentation of the information. Reich was unable to answer Frank’s questions about banks “too big to fail.” Frank kept asking “how big is too big,” and Reich just said, “They are already too big to fail.” Garcia failed to give Frank’s detailed information in comparison to Reich’s generalizations.

As Neal Gabler wrote on Moyers & Company, the media is sticking to its standard position that Clinton can do nothing right. After it destroyed Donald Trump, it had more time to devote to the next candidate they love to hate, Clinton–“the media’s national pinata.” Over and over, the media declares that she lies, she is a pawn of the rich, she is dishonest. They repeat the same mantra over and over with little basis.

The entire focus on emails from private servers is directed at Clinton, despite the fact that it has been a common practice even by the most recent Secretary of Defense. George W. Bush’s White House destroyed tens of millions of emails, and the GOP said “good” because they were run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee.  Karl Rove used RNC email servers for 95 percent of his communications, and all the emails have disappeared with no congressional investigations. GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie hid thousands of emails concealing his part in “Bridgegate,”  dangerously closing the busiest bridge in the world with no objection from Republicans.

The media obsesses about the “classified” emails on the private server although these emails were not “classified” until much later. Yet every release of emails results in more headlines claiming Clinton’s wrongdoing. According to the media, 147 FBI agents have been assigned to Clinton’s emails because an unnamed “lawmaker” said so. Investigation revealed the possibility of fewer than 50, and FBI experts told NBC that this number is largely overstated. But the media continues with the later number.

Another attack on Clinton comes because of the four people killed during the attacks at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Again, more and more investigations from 32 congressional hearings resulting in 11 written reports, all costing over $20 million. During Ronald Reagan’s first reign, 254 servicemen were killed at a Lebanese diplomatic outpost after the military command left a vehicle gate open and ordered sentries to keep weapons unloaded. Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill asked for one investigation which made recommendations for better security measures. Less than five months later, CIA’s station chief in Beirut, Bill Buckley, was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. Reagan’s response to the lack of safety measures leading to Buckley’s death was that a kitchen can’t be quickly remodeled. There were no public hearings and no investigations. Perpetrators, not political rivals, were blamed.

Sally Quinn, the wife of conservative Washington Post’s executive editor Ben Bradlee, basically called the Clintons country bumpkins who had sullied the White House and Washington. The Clintons were always punished for trying to enter the Washington society. The media jumped on NYT’s accusation from Jeff Gerth, either implausible or false, to accuse the Clintons of fraud in Whitewater. This non-scandal led to more stories that created the myth of untrustworthiness, perpetrated by the media for almost 25 years. Instead of looking for truth, the media made money.

The accusations continue. Clinton takes money from the coal and oil industry, according to Sanders, and the media leaped on his statement. Even the conservative Washington Post fact-checker gave the claim three “Pinocchios” out of four because Clinton’s money comes only from the industry’s employees—just as some of Sanders’ money does.

The media keeps falsely communicating that Clinton might not win the presidency even if she is the candidate because people don’t like her or they’re not enthusiastic. Gallup Poll checked up and found that Clinton supporters are extremely or very enthusiastic by 54 percent as compared to only 44 percent of Sanders supporters for him.

A year ago, Politico’s Dylan Byers said, “The national media has never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton.” The same press corps, he added, is poised to “elevate a Republican candidate.” No one objected to his comments that Clinton faces a tougher press than her opponents. Gone are the days when journalists thought their job was to report on what happens rather than destroy a viable candidate. Make that a Democratic candidate. The press didn’t attack Trump until the GOP establishment made clear that they wanted another candidate.

Eight years ago, Dana Milbank stated, “The press will savage [Clinton] no matter what.” Journalists simply “dislike” her. When Clinton answered tons of media questions early in her run, the press attacked her and stated that her answers were all wrong. No matter what she does, the press’s goal is to take her down.

Hillary Clinton should smile more. She should be friendlier. Her voice is too loud. She shouts. She sounds angry. She should pick John Kasich for a vice-presidential candidate if she wins the candidacy. This last one from Chris Matthews may be one of the craziest comments I’ve heard about her.

All the presidents who had sexual affairs—including Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy—got a walk for them. Republicans decided to impeach Bill Clinton for consensual sex. George W. Bush started a permanent war in the Middle East that has thus far cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars with no intelligence that Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction. His actions killed hundreds of thousands of people, and even people who know he was wrong just say we should forget it because it’s in the past. Ted Cruz has threatened to “spank” Clinton.

The conservative media want Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate so that they can trash him in the general election. The so-called liberal media, owned by big corporations, either want the same thing or they just continue their tradition of hating the Clintons.

What makes the press the angriest is that they can’t find anything wrong with her policies. They have to trash her personality, appearance, past votes, etc. Like Sanders, Clinton is progressive, but Sanders makes visionary statements about a political revolution with no plans to carry it out in a time when the GOP refuses to compromise on anything. Clinton keeps fighting for causes, admitting that she can’t always achieve perfection. (Sanders admits the same thing, but his supporters overlook how he agrees with Clinton.) Clinton wants to build on past successes; Sanders wants to tear down what’s happened and start over. The media just wants to tear down Clinton. We all want idealism, but if we don’t settle for pragmatism—and fight the media—we’ll get GOP destruction.

[Update: An earlier version of this blog stated that “Clinton voted in favor of the omnibus crime bill.” In 1994 she was First Lady, not Senator. In fact, she has been recently criticized for “supporting” the bill. The blog has been changed to reflect that correction.]

 

April 8, 2016

Whither Bernie Sanders?

Bernie Sanders, poised for his big win in Wisconsin, suffered the day before from a New York Times piece based on interviews with over a dozen advisors, Sanders, and his wife Jane. It’s content would have typically been published after a loss instead of during Sanders’ potential to climb after he won four caucus states–and five more delegates–two days earlier.  Interviewees lamented waiting too long for advertising, too much time in New Hampshire and too little in Iowa, big rallies instead of small groups, not reaching out to the black community, and waiting to hit Hillary Clinton on her speeches to Goldman Sachs.

A damning transcript from a NY Daily News interview came out the same day, showing his awkwardness in answering both foreign and domestic policy questions. Although reforming Wall Street is his campaign’s centerpiece, he admitted that he didn’t know how to break up the big banks and wasn’t exactly sure how the Dodd-Frank regulatory bill works.

Asked for the names of three American corporate giants destroying the national fabric, Sanders listed only one before he launched into his standard generalities. His answer to a recalcitrant Congress was a “political revolution.” In discussing his support for pulling back settlements on the West Bank, Sanders said if he had “some paper in front of me, I would give you a better answer.” Asked if Israel had committed essentially war crimes in their attacks on Palestine, he flatly said “no” before saying that 10,000 innocent people killed in Gaza—he wasn’t sure about the number—“was more indiscriminate than it should have been.” (There were 2,300 killed and 10,000 wounded.)

Mark Halperin, conservative and Bloomberg television host, tweeted, “If Hillary [Clinton] gave answers like this to [an editorial] board, she would be crucified.”

The day after his Wisconsin win, Sanders called Clinton “unqualified” to be president because he understood that she had called him unqualified. She hadn’t. Clinton’s words on Morning Joe:

“I’d think he hadn’t done his homework and he has been talking for more than a year about … things that he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood and that does raise a lot of questions and really what it does is for voters to ask themselves, can he deliver what he is talking about, can he really help people.”

Another of Sanders’ problems come from his supporters. In addition to claiming that they won’t vote for any Democratic president except “Bernie,” they also ignore elections that could help Sanders to effect his “political revolution.” An example is Rebecca Bradley’s Wisconsin election for a ten-year term as a conservative state Supreme Court justice despite her radical positions that “queers” (her word for LGBT people) are “evil” and deserve to die of AIDS.  Conservative donors gave Bradley a 5 to 1 edge in spending over her opponent.  Because of the 15 percent of  Sanders’ “single-issue” supporters who failed to vote on the justice position in Wisconsin, conservatives completely control the formerly progressive state. If these voters had listened to Sanders, they would have realized the importance of voting for Bradley’s  opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg.

When Sanders’ supporters—as many as one-third of them—refuse to vote for any other Democratic presidential candidate, they support the regressive far-right presidential candidate. Their position of “my way or the highway” sounds exactly like the GOP reason behind the congressional gridlock. To accomplish their goal, “Bernie Bros,” white male Sanders supporters, troll Internet comment sections with sexist comments about Clinton, some of them extremely gross.

The Sanders’ supporters excuse for the overwhelming trolling is that “there’s just more of us on the internet in general so it probably just seems like we’re disproportionately trollish.” No matter how hard some pundits try to claim that the Bernie Bros’ misbehavior is generated by the media, emails and tweets to female journalists supporting Clinton consistently use swear words and insults specifically directed at women. They insist that blacks be told about the error of voting for Clintons and do it in angry, bigoted terms.

Many of Sanders’ supporters are young, a time of taking risks and self-assured arrogance as synapses struggle to connect. He promises people better Social Security, living wage, and free college tuition. A newspaper discussion in our small local newspaper about the increase in community college tuition brought the response that it didn’t matter because tuition would be free when Sanders becomes president. Non-thinkers take Sanders at his word that he’ll wave a magic wand and give people everything they want while bypassing Congress.

Sanders, however, uses the concept of compromise to explain votes that are less desirable to far-left voters. He said:

“As we all know, there are bills in Congress that have bad stuff, there are bills in Congress that have good stuff. Good stuff and bad stuff in the same bill.”

Not all young people, however, are as naïve as those who accept Sanders as the wizard easily able to overcome any dissent. Explaining why she’s voting for Hillary Clinton, Rebecca Unger, 22, writes:

“[Sanders’] is an idealistic, naïve agenda that could never be put into practice in America. In this country, to legislate even one tenth of such an ambitious plan would take degrees of cooperation, sacrifice, even manipulation and such an immense amount of ‘give-and-take’ tactics that an idea that once stood untarnished, glistening at the campaign podium, would come out looking like a child’s napkin after a meal of spaghetti Bolognese.”

Unger thinks that “Hillary Clinton’s qualifications here far exceed those of Bernie Sanders.”:

“Yes, Clinton has made ‘slip ups’ and she will inevitably be criticized for them, but experience is built by learning from one’s mistakes, and her acumen in this area is something American people should take into serious consideration. We need a Commander-in-Chief who understands the importance of what commanding the most powerful armed forces in the world means and knows how to exercise such an enormous responsibility.”

For much of his campaign, Sanders consistently said, “My one issue is trying to rebuild a disappearing middle class. That’s my one issue.” Yet the person in the White House is responsible for many other issues—including a  foreign policy far more complicated than Sanders’ statement, “I voted against the war in Iraq.”  He thinks that all blacks live in ghettos and that he can single-handedly provide free college tuition and raise the minimum wage to $15. After Donald Trump said that women needed to be punished for getting abortions, Sanders said that his comments were just a distraction from the “serious issues” facing the nation, as if women’s reproductive rights aren’t one of these “serious issues.”

No one disagrees that Sanders has great ideas—but he has no method for carrying them out. Concerning the election, the right-wing press is hoping that he’ll be the candidate so that they can label him a communist who has never held a real job outside politics. Kevin Drum shows how right-wing advertising can drive away independent voters because of problems in Sanders’ economic suggestions. Rand Paul has other criticisms about Sanders. The right-wing won’t care that these claims might be false: they’ll just spread the information to defeat them. The huge difference between Sanders and Clinton is that there doesn’t seem to have anything more to dig up about her. There’s a lot concerning Sanders.

Hopefully Sanders has realized the huge gaffe he made in calling Clinton “unqualified.” For the first time this week, he said he would support her if she were the presidential candidate. Prior to this time, he claimed that it was too early to consider the possibility. Last month, he said he couldn’t support her until she agreed to his policy demands.

Yet he still says that he’ll attack her if she continues her attacks and fails to understand that the media used the word “unqualified,” and not Clinton. In an interview with the Washington Post, he expressed regret about what has been said. Although he wouldn’t attack Clinton on what he might see as her faults, he listed them. He also blamed the change in Clinton’s “tone” on her “nervousness.” There was no feeling of “regret” in his defensiveness.

Sanders hopes to win the candidacy by taking super delegates already pledged to Clinton, but Nate Silver’s blog, well known for its accurate prognostications, expressed serious doubts about Sanders’ ability to pick up delegates in the remaining 17 states where people have not yet voted. Thus far, Sanders has 42 percent of the popular vote in places that have held caucuses and primaries; to win he would need 60 percent of the remaining voters.

The next Democratic debate is April 14, before the April 19 primary in New York. The question for that event is whether Sanders can control his temper. My message to Bernie Bros? Grow up!

October 14, 2015

Clear Winner in Democratic Debate

“I trust Bernie Sanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my labrador.”  That was GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s tweet about the best presidential debate in many years when five Democratic presidential candidates appeared in Las Vegas (NV). Watchers of GOP debates who like to watch the participants beat up on each other would have been disappointed with the Democratic debate last night. Spirited, funny, and full of exchanges, it was exciting viewing for those interested in the issues, but the five people on the stage didn’t take potshots at each other as GOP candidates are prone to do. In fact, the expected question to Hillary Clinton after emails brought an unexpected defense of her from Bernie Sanders. “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” Sanders said to rousing applause and a handshake from Clinton.

clinton sanders

Lincoln Chafee criticized Clinton for the emails, and moderator Anderson Cooper asked her if she wanted to respond. Clinton scored when she simply said “no.”

Television is supposed to be entertainment full of winners and losers so pundits kept pushing “who won.” Depending on perspective, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were each declared victorious. Rather than turning on each other, the candidates turned questions into criticisms of Republicans.

Joan Walsh wrote:

“Now that was a debate.

“Courtesy of a Democratic Party that’s shifted left thanks to its base, for the first time in American history a national television audience was exposed to a serious discussion about capitalism vs. socialism, expanding Social Security, providing debt-free college, protecting reproductive rights, and jailing bankers…. “

Sanders did take Clinton to task when she said that she “represented Wall Street” as New York’s senator. He answered, “Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress.”

Asked whether he is a capitalist, Sanders answered:

“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t. I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.”

Asked the same question, Clinton gave a softer response, responding that the United States must sometimes “save capitalism from itself”:

“It’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the kind of inequities that were seeing in our economic system. But we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world.”

During a lively discussion about gun safety laws, Sanders lost some of his liberal bona fides. Asked if Sanders is tough enough on gun control, Clinton said, “No. Not at all” and followed that answer with statistics about the number of people who die every day from gun violence. Sanders tried to justify his 2005 vote to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits by his representation of a rural state and the need to compromise.

Martin O’Malley followed with the story about the Colorado family whose daughter was killed in the Aurora movie theater. When the parents sued the on-line retailer who sold the killer 4,000 rounds of ammunition, they not only lost the case but were forced to pay $220,000 for the companies that sold the ammunition, partly because of the 2005 law.

Clinton argued forcefully for equal pay, paid family leave, and reproductive rights. She brought up the infamous GOP treatment of Planned Parenthood, and three of the men agreed with her. (It’s always hard to figure out where conservative Jim Webb stands.)

The other three participants had hoped to set themselves apart, but there was no time when this happened. O’Malley kept referring to things that he had done in Maryland, but his answers lacked any passion. He also committed a gaffe during his answer to the question about whether it’s “all black lives matter” or “all lives matter.” (The question may have come up because O’Malley found himself apologizing for changing the phrase to “all lives matter” last summer.) His use of the term “illegal immigrants” last night seems to have been overlooked–thus far.

Chafee got into deep water with Cooper’s question about why he had voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall act in the 1990s. He made a weak answer about just having been appointed after his father had died didn’t wash with Cooper who asked him, “What does that say that you cast a vote about something you didn’t know about?” Cooper asked. Chafee said that Cooper was being “a little rough,” and Cooper moved on. The memory of this won’t disappear.

Jim Webb showed his conservative side when he explained why he supported fossil fuels. Then he turned a question about U.S. intervention in Libya about Syria before he switched to China, explaining that he had waited ten minutes to talk about the subject. That led to an argument about his not being able to talk enough during the debate. Except for one term as Virginia’s senator, Webb’s political career was for four years in Ronald Reagan’s administration, and he appears to be stuck in the Republican party of the 1980s. He may be best remembered for complaining about not having enough time in last night’s debate.

Despite CNN’s frequent comments about “saving a podium” for Vice-President Joe Biden for the debate if he should declare, there’s a strong chance that Biden won’t need that podium. Clinton was at the top of her form and looked presidential. A big threat to her, the select House Committee to investigate her part in the deaths at the Benghazi (Libya) diplomatic outpost, has largely imploded after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) admitted that its sole purpose is to destroy Clinton’s campaign.

While the debate showed some of the highest moments of Democratic exchanges this year, an ad from the Stop Hillary PAC ran in selected cities during the debate is perhaps the lowest for Republican actions. Called “I’d Live to Ask,” the ad shows photos of all four people who died in the 2012 raid on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. The audio, supposedly the four people speaking from the grave, asks Clinton why she ignored calls for help and lied. The final visual is supposedly the grave of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of the four men killed.

attack ad clinton

The PAC spent over $100,000 to air the ad in swing states and early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire. The online ad was pulled because it misspelled “Libya” as “Libia.” Stop Hillary PAC’s counsel and treasurer Dan Backer said, “Stop Hillary PAC was created for one reason only–to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes President of the United States.” Most family members were furious about the ad, including Stevens’ mother who said “I would sue [the PAC] if I could.” When Backer was asked if he should have talked to the families before using their dead relatives’ images, he said:

“I wouldn’t have the first clue how to contact them. How do you go about it? Google their names? How do you go about finding people like this?”

The huge difference between last night’s Democratic debate and the two previous GOP debates is that last night’s stage had grown-ups on the stage. Thus far Republican presidential candidates have looked like a batch of junior high schoolers squabbling about personalities. They fought about insults to Jeb Bush’s wife, polling numbers, appearance, business acumen, and more juvenile bullying. Foreign Policy described the GOP debate as “heavy on insults, light on details.” In contrast, Democrats last night kept to policy– race, gender, income inequality, and problems that people in the U.S. face as this comparison between debates shows.

debate issues

At the end of both GOP debates, many people agreed that the loser was the Republican party. Last night, people thought that the real winner were the progressives policies and ideas. The infantile arguing of the GOP debates left me feeling dismayed and disgusted. Last night’s debate left me with hope, encouraged by the way that candidates addressed vital topics. The next GOP debate is October 28. I’m waiting to see if the moderators learn from last night’s experience–and how it compares with the next Democratic debate on November 14.

July 27, 2015

Todd Continues ‘Misrepresentations’ on Meet the Press

On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Chuck Todd tried to continue the same hatchet job as the last time that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) experienced the last time he was interviewed. Todd began by addressing the tragic Lafayette (LA) shooting and calling Sanders “pro-NRA.” During Sanders’ answer, Todd also used the same false meme about the United States having enough laws to stop the shooter if they were followed. In fact, the loopholes in the law allowed the shooter to legally buy a gun from a pawn shop in the small town of Phenix (AL) where he lived.

Todd followed up that set of questions by describing what he called an “attack” on Sanders at the Netroots Nation conference by Black Lives Matter activists in Phoenix (AZ) and tried to make Sanders seem indifferent to racial problems. Failing at that tactic, Todd asked Sanders whether he and Donald Trump had similar appeals as a conservative pundit had claimed.

Sanders explained that he voted to ban certain types of assault weapons, to close the gun show loophole, and have instant background checks. With Sanders’ D- rating from NRA, Todd lacked any background for his accusation, but he tends to do research for his interviews. About the situation in Phoenix, Sanders said that he was there to talk about immigration reform but that the people who disrupted the meeting had “a very important issue.” Todd failed to show a clip of the event because Sanders tutored Todd on the intersectionality of poverty and race that fuels racial tensions. Sanders finished by saying that he was not similar to Trump before Todd once again tried to sandbag Sanders with references to Hillary Clinton.

When Todd regained control by safely returning to a largely conservative panel, he called Sanders “defensive” and criticized Sanders for connecting economic and racial issues. The entire panel discussion following Sanders’ interview was about Hillary Clinton. Again Todd failed to correct falsehoods when panel member Sara Fagen said that liberals have moved farther to the left while the right has moved farther in the opposite direction. Todd weakly responded that “not everyone would agree with you” but failed to point out that the left has stayed in the same place while the right has moved far to the extreme.

change in politics

 

This graph shows how Democrats are exactly where they were in 1879 after becoming far more liberal whereas the right has made a dramatic shift to conservativism, especially since Ronald Reagan was elected.

Todd spent over15 minutes addressing Donald Trump—partly describing “funny” ways that current GOP candidates are trying to bring attention to themselves rather than to Trump. When Fagen tried to explain that Trump’s 20 percent choice in New Hampshire , no one pointed out that this number is really high in a field of 16 candidates.

In another interview, this one with GOP presidential candidate John Kasich, Todd appeared non-confrontational and congenial. The discussion was about issues, and Todd stared at Kasich sagely, appearing to agree with all the positions that Kasich espoused. After a simple question about Trump, Kasich said he didn’t want to talk about him, and Todd moved on. There were no questions about Clinton, and Todd seemed to allow Kasich to lead the interview.

Sara Fagen accused Planned Parenthood of selling tissue, a patent falsehood that Todd failed to correct. Neither he nor other panelists made any mention that the doctored videos promoting this lie came from the Center for Medical Progress, an organization with ties to anti-abortion terrorists and stalkers.

The woman allowed to present her two major lies on what was, in the past, a reputable news program was a “top Iowa staffer” in George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, moved on to be political director on Bush’s White House team, and then resigned 2007 while subpoenaed to testify about the U.S. Attorney scandal under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Emails show that Fagen was part of the campaign to eliminate high-performing U.S. Attorneys who were replaced by lawyers loyal to her employer, Karl Rove. Eventually, she testified before a Senate panel but concealed many communications under broad executive privilege authorized by George W. Bush. Gonzales resigned in disgrace for this scandal and other indiscretions.

Todd even irritated his conservative base when he predicted that Trump would make Hillary Clinton president if he ran as a third party candidate. That was immediately after he said that he’s “not going to try to predict anything Trump might do.” In his highlighting of Trump, Todd also gave racist and homophobic Pat Buchanan a platform. In 2012, Buchanan lost his place on the NBC network because of his book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” supposedly documenting how diversity and immigration ruin the United States. Todd said nothing about Buchanan’s past except he was a presidential candidate in 1992 and former communications director for Reagan’s White House. Buchanan was allowed to present his xenophobic statements framing immigration as a “massive invasion” and “conquest of the West” by “third-world … border jumpers.”

Sanders sticks to the issues; Todd panders to the right, partly because he is afraid that he can’t get conservatives to come onto his show if he treats them in the same way that he does people on the left. Once again, Todd bashed the major Democratic presidential candidates running against Jim Webb. One of Webb’s campaign team is Kristian Denny Webb, Chuck Todd’s wife.

Unable to find any dirt on Sanders, conservatives have to resort to lying. On National Public Radio, which was more accurate and progressive before the Koch brothers started funding it, host Diane Rehm threw this statement into the midst of a 50-minute interview with Sanders.

Rehm: “Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.”

[She didn’t even ask it as a question. Later Rehm said that a listener made the comment on Facebook.]

Sanders: “Well, no, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I’m an American…. I’m an American citizen, period.” He was born in Brooklyn to Polish immigrants, and he’s Jewish. But Rehm didn’t quit.

Rehm: “I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list. Forgive me if that is —“

After Sanders again denied her statement, she expanded her unsubstantiated falsehood to the entire Congress when she asked, “Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship, or is that part of the fable?” Her term “list” is reminiscent of the 1950s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) had a false “list” of Communists that destroyed many people. Rehm’s baseless hearsay is unprofessional and reprehensible, especially on a radio station that my taxes support, but it may be an indicator of things to come in the next 16 months.

Many Republicans are in tune with Sanders’ policies. And that’s members of the GOP, not the entire population:

  • 80%: money has too much influence in our politics.
  • 54%: most of the time candidates directly help those who gave money to them.
  • 81%: campaign finance system needs fundamental changes (45%) or a complete rebuild (36%).
  • 64%: changes are unlikely to be made to reform the campaign finance system.
  • 71%: the amount that individuals can give to campaigns should be limited.
  • 73%: super PAC spending should be limited by law.
  • 76%: superPACs should be required to disclose their donors.

According to the general population:

  • 66%: the distribution of money and wealth should be more even.
  • 67%: the wealth gap between rich and poor is getting larger in the U.S.
  • 57%: government should do more to reduce the wealth gap.
  • 68%: taxes should be raised on those who earn more than $1 million per year.
  • 50%: limits should be put on earnings for corporations’ top executives.
  • 74%: corporations have too much influence on U.S. life and politics.
  • 71%: the U.S. minimum wage should be increased to $10.10 per hour.
  • 80%: people should have paid family leave and 85% paid sick leave.

 

approval

The GOP is rapidly losing approval, especially among Republicans. In a new Pew Research Center poll, only 32 percent had a favorable opinion of the GOP, down from 41 percent only six months ago. Republican approval dropped 18 percent since January from 86 percent to 68 percent, and approval among independents dropped from 37 percent to 29 percent.  Democrats have held steady during the same time, even rising two points. The honeymoon from last year’s election is over.

At the same time, Bernie Sanders is gathering crowds of thousands, even in conservative bastions such as Phoenix (AZ) and Dallas (TX). Sanders’ recent appearance in New Orleans drew five times as many people in the audience as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s announcement of his presidential campaign, and Sanders’ largest audience of 11,000 is larger than any GOP presidential candidate–eleven times as many as those who turned out for Chris Christie.

That’s something else that Chuck Todd failed to mention.

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