Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Ripening of a Sewer Socialist

I guess it could have been worse. Bernie Sanders could have totally lost it and hurled an imported Ferguson hand grenade at his Town Hall protesters last weekend instead of just hurling some pretty harsh invective at them. I guess it's easy to tell hecklers to shut up when you also have an armed Vermont state trooper firmly planted between them and you.

You can watch the clip here.

The protesters, from Occupy and the Code Pink anti-war group, were upset that their senator, along with every single one of his 99 compatriots, had voted to send more financial aid to Israel to support its war against Gaza, where nearly 2,000 people have been killed so far this summer. The shit really hit the fan when Sanders parroted the standard line: that missiles fired from the most densely populated open air prison on the planet come from densely populated areas and therefore Israel is justified in killing populations. He even hinted that ISIS is infiltrating Gaza. Now, that is a claim that even the neo-cons aren't making. Yet.

Sanders is a self-identified socialist who ran as an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, and who fancies himself the great progressive alternative to a President Hillary Clinton.  The dead giveaway that his pseudo-campaign is just flimsy window dressing designed to make Clinton's coronation seem like a hard-fought democratic battle is the smarmy way he talks about his alleged nemesis: "I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton and she has accomplished a lot of very positive things in her career. But I’m not quite sure that the political process is one in which we anoint people."

Wow. If that's the way to get all fired up and ready to go, Sanders might as well throw in the towel right now.  His wishy-washiness makes even the consensual Barack Obama look like a roaring liberal lion. Bernie isn't quite sure that anointing presidents is kosher. He'll have to ponder that one.

It's the same way he's always qualified his criticism of Obama -- from the president's proposed cutting of Social Security benefits to his coddling of Wall Street: "I support the president, but...." or "Obama has been a disappointment, but he can still save his presidency."

Heaven forfend that the lone resident erstwhile "sewer socialist" of the Senate actually condemn a sitting corporate president.

And last weekend's Town Hall was by no means the first time that Sanders let his socialist mask slip and let his war-mongering propensities shine through. When Bill Clinton was bombing Kosovo in 1999 and anti-war protesters showed up at his Burlington office to stage a sit-in, Sanders instructed his staff to call police to have them removed.

 When the World Trade Center was bombed on 9/11, then-Rep. Sanders initially voted against the Patriot Act, but later approved funding for it.  And although he initially voted against the Iraq War, he approved all later appropriations bills funding it And although he initially voted against creation of the Department of Homeland Security, he approved all later funding to keep it growing, and growing, and growing.

Sensing a pattern? Bernie Sanders is the useful idiot who pretends to take various bold stands in order to impart the illusion that we still live in a functioning democracy. When it comes to the war and surveillance states, anyway, he has more in common with Barack Obama than he does with Eugene Debs. Ron Jacobs of CounterPunch thinks Sanders's  record is a mixed one, his bellicosity tempered by his work for veterans, his approach necessarily pragmatic to ensure that regular people can survive in a cutthroat neoliberal world. Without the grotesquely expensive F-35 being headquartered in tiny Vermont, for example, how could Vermont even consider single payer health care and other progressive programs?

Also writing in CounterPunch is self-described Vermont radical Jay Moore, who is unsparing in his criticism of "Bombing Bernie":
Bernie was still an “avowed socialist” when he started out his electoral career in the early 1980s. He proudly displayed a portrait of Eugene Debs over his desk in his Burlington mayoral office. But today Bernie never even uses the term, “working class,” much less talks about what socialism means. That’s been totally dropped from his vocabulary as he seeks higher and higher offices. His populist rhetoric, often at time indistinguishable from right-wingers who advocate “America First,” is now all about saving the threatened American middle class. Lost is any sense that maybe the middle class got to where it was not only by virtue of the hard work he extolls but also by living in an imperialist country that benefits off the exploitation of workers and others in the Third World. There is no sense that maybe that American middle class standard of living is indefensible if we are going to move to a more sustainable way of living on the Earth sharing its resources in a more equitable manner. Genuine socialists, like Eugene Debs, are revolutionary internationalists. Rock bottom as a matter of principle is building solidarity for the working class and oppressed people all over the world.
Meanwhile, conservatives are ecstatic that Sanders is defending Israel's bombing campaign against what they variously describe as the Hamas supporters, racists and anti-Semites showing up at his town halls. Mediaite, for example, approvingly opines that Sanders is more moderate than many of the people he actually represents. RealClearPolitics just cut to the chase and characterized anti-war activists as "anti-Israel." 

One of Sanders's aides, pointing to his recent bipartisan compromise on Veterans Administration reform with Neocon John McCain, allows that Bernie "may have mellowed a bit as he's gotten older."

Except, I guess, when he's going all Archie Bunker on his own constituents and telling them to go stifle themselves.

"Shut up," he explained


annenigma said...

Yet another phony politician who needs to be replaced. Maybe he meant running for President of Israel. I'm pretty sure that, contrary to Obama's fundraising claim, Sanders actually does have Israel's DNA in his blood. I'm not sure if the unofficial but most powerful 51st State needs any more clout in the U.S. Senate than they already have though.

Unlike the current cast of lying protectors of the 1% in Washington, Montana has a candidate for Senate who's an honest to goodness breath of fresh air and supporter of the poor and working class, and she's not ashamed to admit it. Amanda Curtis, 34 year old high school math/physics teacher is late in the running for the U.S. Senate, being selected by the Democrats after John Walsh was forced out by plagiarism allegations. She has served in the state legislature and is a quick study as well as a staunch Union activist. She's even showed the courage of her convictions by writing an article in the IWW newspaper.

It's safe to say she has PRINCIPLES that guide her work and life which included a rough beginning that made her who she is - politically informed and involved.

If we get really lucky and the wheel of fortune turns against her millionaire opponent Congressman Steve Daines (said to have funded the opposition research on John Walsh), we might see Senator Amanda Curtis proudly standing tall among the Botoxed millionaires of the U.S. Senate. It'll take a miracle, but you never know.

The black and white video mashup of her own legislation related videos, put out by the Republicans, shows her at her genuine best, funny and real. It's titled 'Meet Amanda Curtis' located further down in this article from the Washington Post. Obviously, I'll be working hard on her behalf but I hope you'll all join me in praying for a miracle! She might not be able to change anything, but she herself would be a vital change.

Kat said...

This guy is a war monger. And the guy in counterpunch is right-- you can't be a true socialist without being an internationalist.

Pearl said...

Kat: Which article in Counterpunch did you refer to in your statement about being a true socialist?

Zee said...

“The way I saw it at the time, Bernie was an instinctive politician and I [Greg Guma] was not. He enjoyed campaigning and knew how to give the same speech, over and over, while connecting viscerally with his audience. He also knew how to wage ideological war and manipulate the media, without scruples or dependence on facts to make his case. On the other hand, he wanted to lead this emerging movement without submitting to the dictates of any leadership. And he conveniently separated a professed dedication to democracy from his personal practice, which soon led to autocratic actions and shutting down the opinions of allies with the temerity to disagree.

As one supporter confided, 'He’s a jerk. But he’s our jerk.'”
—Greg Guma, 6/13/13 (My bold emphasis.)

There's the entire story of modern American politics—Left or Right—in two simple sentences:

“(S)he's a jerk. But s(H)e's our jerk.”

Barack Obama suckered the public with “hope and change” in 2008. It appears that Bernie Sanders was a long way ahead of him in 1981.

Why do we insist on voting for jerks?

Well, because Kareem Abdul-Jabar (and many others) had the right of it, but not only for the impoverished class:

“it’s crucial that those in the wealthiest One Percent keep the poor [and middle classes] fractured by distracting them with emotional issues like immigration, abortion and gun control [and homosexual marriage, drug crimes &etc.] so they never stop to wonder how they got so screwed over for so long.”--Kareem Abdul-Jabar

I think that I've figured out how to leave Progressives alone on the “hot-button issues” such as abortion (I'm pro-choice), and I'm fully sympathetic to Progressives on homosexual rights. Regarding the “war on drugs,” well, it's time to surrender and therefore win. I think that I'm more “progressive” than Progressives on that issue, if I do say so myself.

On the topic of immigration, well, I think that I've met Progressives half-way: legalize those 12 million or so “illegal” immigrants who are already here and have clean records, but secure the god-damn' border, too. With as much poverty as we already have in America according to Progressives, do we need to import an even greater number of people to our “underclass?”

I have, in the past, voted for Right-Wing jerks because Progressive jerks can't figure out how to leave me alone on the “hot-button” issues. Not happy to admit it, but there it is. Politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Tell me, how we meet in something resembling the “middle?” Or will it have to be “winner take all?”

Sorry for tenor of the rant, but I'm a little cranky just now. Believe it or not, it has little or nothing to do with Sardonicky.

Denis Neville said...

Well, so much for Bernie Sanders!

Visions of the second coming of Eugene V. Debs filled up the horizons of the many disgruntled on the Left.

Alas, yet another political "Potemkin village" to avoid.

The Democratic Party is the place where Progressive reform goes to die.

Karen’s excellent post is a wake-up call and a reminder that there are no progressives in Washington. Bernie Sanders is just another Trojan horse meant to deflect true progressives and keep them from coalescing into something that just might challenge the corruption and hollowness of the ruling class.

The protesters, from Occupy and the Code Pink anti-war group, were upset …

“And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is very close to madness.” — Alcuin to Charlemagne, 798 A.D.

Bernie Sanders may be the furthest “left” politician that there is in the Senate, but he's all hat and no cattle. He beats his chest and makes a few progressive statements from time to time. But when the time comes to “man up,” Bernie Sanders always stands down.

Contrast Sanders defense of Israel's bombing campaign against the Holocaust survivors’ condemnation of Israel for the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and their call for a complete boycott of Israel.

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” - Woodrow Wilson

Denis Neville said...

Thomas Frank’s conversation with Cornel West, “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”

“But look who’s around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse,” says West.

“You know as liberal and or progressive or whatever I don't get all the left rage at Obama. What - does he have a magic wand to turn the US in centralized parliamentary system and wipe away all states and local governments and render the Republicans in congress impotent?” writes Kathy in response.

What are the people who tell us President Obama hasn't got a “magic wand” really saying? We hear it all the time.

BAR’s Bruce Dixon replies, “Whenever anybody repeats that “magic wand” line, what they mean is that people have no right to demand peace or jobs or justice. They mean that people expecting, demanding or fighting for these things are fools, losers, and if their demands make the president and his party look bad, race traitors. How much clearer can it get? Only the immature and politically unsophisticated expect any sort of political involvement to change things. The lame “magic wand' excuse only seems to apply for things like stopping foreclosures, curtailing or forgiving student debt or shutting down unjust wars, things his voting constituents actually DO want. The only thing the president's magic wand has accomplished is the final hollowing out of our black political class. Their president, their pretense of representing us, and their ghetto pass are all they have left to stand on. It's time to revoke that pass.”

Bernie Sanders says he is “prepared to run for president of the United States.”

“Save us, Obi Bernie Sanders, you're our only hope!” is a representative response to the above.

Wasn't Obama a great lesson in political seduction?

Karen Garcia said...


I had just read the Thomas Frank interview with Cornel West, and now here is your excellent comment. Thank you.

The Obamapologists are out in full force today over Maureen Dowd's latest. The game is played like this: columnist writes what could be a scathing indictment of Obama (as she did last week) but instead trivializes it into an extended golf metaphor in the form of the Gettysburg Address. Readers leap to Obama's defense, bashing the resident Times Barry-basher and thus allowing him to come out smelling like a rose. This type of "criticism" works like a charm for him every single time, elevating him to some kind of perverted cult hero-as-victim status as I wrote about last week.

I liked what West said about the dark truth not being the same thing as despair. Made me feel better.

Cornel West has Obama absolutely pegged, as does Thomas Frank. And neither one of them will ever be an op-ed columnist at the New York Times. The dark truth is not click-bait or "consumer content."

annenigma said...

Just imagine if Cornel West was heard and read widely. What a different country we'd have.

I used to enjoy watching the annual State of the Black Union on C-Span. The speakers were outstanding, impassioned and riveting to listen to. I had never heard anything like them since MLK. Dr. West was the best of the bunch. Inspiring.

Considering the effect they had on me, just imagine for a moment what it would be like if a majority of Blacks got to hear him/them. That explains exactly why they don't.

Tavis Smiley stopped organizing that annual event and I really miss it. You could hear the soul of the entire nation, not just Blacks, crying out through those speakers. They weren't reading from teleprompters either - they were speaking from the heart. The contrast with Obama would be especially revealing. He would sound exactly like the empty, soulless self-promoting speech reader that he actually is.

Anonymous said...

A comment in yesterday's NY Times:

"It is ironic that those on the left, especially so-called liberal Zionists, always warned Israel that continued hostilities toward the Arabs would just breed radicalism, yet never chastised the Arabs that continued hostilities towards Israel would also breed radicalism. But that is what happened. Much of the world believes that radicalism is a natural response by Arabs for actions taken against them, but those same people are utterly flummoxed when Jews react the same way. It is either anti-Semitism or the racism of low expectations for Arabs, or both."

stranger in a strange land said...

It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different. ~ C.W.