Thursday, February 11, 2016

Kitchen Sink #2: "BernieSoWhite"

Now that Bernie Sanders has proven his cred with white voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the pundits are dutifully preparing us for his Great Fall in (Black) South Carolina and (Brown) Nevada. It seems that Hillary Clinton owns the African-American and Latino vote because she's been around awhile, and Bernie has had the bad taste to reside in lily-white Vermont for most of his life. Bad Bernie. Bad, bad Bernie.

For the best synopsis of Clintonian racist policies as opposed to Clintonian colorblind rhetoric, don't miss  Michelle ("The New Jim Crow") Alexander's piece in The Nation. It is scathing in its historical completeness.

It is so scathing that over at the pro-Clinton New York Times, columnist Charles Blow attempted to mitigate the damage by denigrating a new faction called the Bernie-splainers. (They appear to be closely related to those annoying Bernie Bros I hear so much about, but have never seen in the flesh, not even in my own lefty rowdy party college town.)

Blow begins: 
I cannot tell you the number of people who have commented to me on social media that they don’t understand this support. “Don’t black folks understand that Bernie best represents their interests?” the argument generally goes. But from there, it can lead to a comparison between Sanders and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; to an assertion that Sanders is the Barack Obama that we really wanted and needed; to an exasperated “black people are voting against their interests” stance.
That's right. He cannot, therefore does not, tell us the actual number of white people who wrote him such insulting messages. Not one direct quote among the whole alleged bunch. Blow presents no evidence that any of the Bernie-splainers are presenting Sanders as a kind of Great White Hope to all those ignorant black folk, or have been "talking down" to black people.

Blow goes on to explain that Hillary-style "functional pragmatism" has always worked better for black people. I guess he forgot about Martin Luther King's fierce urgency of now, and his brave stance against incremental change, and his marches through Chicago, Washington and Memphis, and the poor people's encampment that continued as planned after he was murdered.

Then Blow pivots back into the stale establishment talking points about Bernie possessing a "whiff of fancifulness," and how it's always been safer to vote for politicians you know (Clinton) than politicians you don't know (Sanders.) He does not explain that many voters don't know about Sanders precisely because the newspaper which employs him has made it its duty to make sure they don't. 

While I completely get Blow's pique about politicians pandering to different demographics for the sole purpose of garnering votes, I am pretty appalled that he has resorted to the same old straw man (sexist bigoted progressives) argument in order to passive-aggressively boost Hillary's candidacy.

My published comment: (lots of wonderful ones: read them all.)
 You know what irks me? The epidemic of pundit-splaining about Bernie Sanders. Despite the best efforts of the mainstream press to alternately ignore, silence and ridicule him, Bernie isn't going away. And since he isn't going away, the corporate media are moving on to Plan B: pit liberal voters against one another. Gaslight them. Explain to the teeming masses that democracy is really just a theory, and not to be actually practiced outside of voting for approved candidates every two or four years.
We're told to vote by our gender, skin color or ethnicity -- or else risk offending the members of our endangered group. Madeleine Albright warns women about a special place in hell. Paul Krugman tells Bernie-supporters that our "happy dreams" are an invitation to a Trump presidency. And those ephemeral Bernie Bros are lurking in alleys, ready to pounce on American maidenhood.
I participated in a Latino conference call for Bernie a couple of weeks ago. Nevada state Rep. Lucy Flores, who is running for Congress, made the salient point that we are not members of some monolithic voting bloc, ripe for being scared into co-optation.. We vote on the issues. We have our own agency. 
 Don't fall for the same old divide and conquer techniques that keep struggling people down and out, and the plutocracy entrenched in power.
People are realizing that Identity politics is harmful to our health. We're showing a lot more solidarity these days.
And that is scaring the elites to death.
No matter what happens in the primaries, what is imperative is that the revolutionary enthusiasm prevails. No matter what the outcome, the word "socialism" has been fully integrated into the great American lexicon. No matter who wins and who loses, the country is moving in a decidedly leftward, anti-oligarchial direction. Clintonism ran out of steam a long time ago.

I suspect, too, that the recent visit of Pope Francis and his popular message of inclusive social justice and solidarity went a long way in facilitating the rise of Bernie Sanders, who has openly expressed his own admiration for the Pope and Catholic social teaching in the vein of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.


Suggestions for further reading:

Rima Regas, regular Times commenter, also runs an excellent blog (listed on my "roll" under Blog # 42). Her latest entries, on Hillary and Israel, and the lack of ethics in media coverage of Bernie Sanders, are must-reads. Her graphic showing the lovable Paul Krugman at an elite Clinton rally is a hoot.   

Black Agenda Report's Bruce Dixon reports that the best outcome of the Democratic primaries would be a permanent split in the party and an end to "the rich man's duopoly." He still believes that Bernie is "sheepdogging" young voters into the Democratic fold, and that he is probably as surprised as anybody that his democratic socialist message is catching fire. Dixon agrees with Blow's observation, adding that even though black people have a long radical political tradition, they historically have not voted for radical candidates in national elections. They vote Democrat mainly to seek protection from the sadistic GOP -- which, let's face it, would just as soon that black people disappear. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party, co-opting black churches, colleges, sororities, fraternities and civic groups, resembles nothing so much as a protection racket.

  Most scathing line from Dixon's piece: "The Democrats ooze like pus from every orifice of the Black body politic."


Some members of what the Black Agenda Report writers have famously called the Black Misleadership Class were out in force today, endorsing Hillary Clinton. As The Intercept's Lee Fang reveals, however, the "Black Caucus Pac" putting their power and their money behind her are not to be confused with the congressional Black Caucus itself. The 20-member Pac is actually composed of about half elected officials and half lobbyists, one of whom works for the largest manufacturer of the highly addictive opioid, OxyContin. Others are representatives from tobacco companies, Walmart and student loan giant Navient. What a great group of people that Hillary should be proud to have on her side. I hope the Bernie people call her out on these endorsements when, say, she brags about wanting to remedy the drug addiction problem in America.

The cigarette lobby infiltrating Clinton World also kind of puts a damper  on the Obama/Biden cancer cure "moonshot" continuing past this year too, should Hillary win the White House. 

Hillary needs to be smoked out, and fast.  


Meredith NYC said...

Congrats on one of your best comments to Chs Blow column--- Times Pick, and most recommended at almost 1700, and the longest reply thread ever. And good to cite Rima here in the blog.

My comment---
Karen, clear thinking, well said. It does seem the elites are scared to death and so is the establishment news media, exemplified by our ‘liberal’ columnists who suddenly seem not who we thought they were.

I too want some policy talk re Sanders. If you disagree with him, tell why, realistically. Setting Bernie up as a pie in sky, far -out radical ignores our own history---most of his policies on taxes, unions, education, govt infrastructure building, etc, were centrist, accepted, and effectively helped build the middle class into a proud example for the rest of the world.

Since he aims to restore and preserve our workable, practical past policies against rw Gop destruction, it’s Bernie who is the true conservative of traditional US values. Take that, NYT.

Now, other democracies have exceeded the US in the very attributes we were famous for. Especially how our democracy once worked, when our non rich had input into lawmaking. But no longer, as Princeton’s Martin Gilens proved, showing the great majority of our laws are passed per the wishes of the elites, ignoring majority preferences.

We’re a long way from parity with other nations in h/c for all, low cost tuition, and worker protections. International rankings show other nations ahead in economic mobility vs the USA—once famous for meritocracy and opportunity.

It’s time the columnists stepped out of their narrow box, read up on some history, and took a look abroad to compare realities.

I also commented:

Yes Ben Jealous, NAACP pres, was eloquent on the Democracy Now show, Feb 10. He knows our history. Charles Blow might take a look at that transcript, which included Coates, and write a column discussing it.
A clip:

Ex-NAACP Head Ben Jealous: Sanders is Most Consistent Candidate Tackling Racism, Militarism & Greed

“ You know, look, I looked at his record. And for the same reasons that I supported Jesse Jackson in 1988—which Bernie did, too—when I was 15 years old, I signed up for Bernie this time, which is that on the issues that Dr. Martin Luther King referred to as the "giant triplets of evil"—racism, militarism and greed—Bernie is the clearest and the most consistent.”

How would Charles Blow compare Hillary on those yardsticks?
How many black families were badly damaged by Bill Clinton sending mfg jobs off shore, ending welfare as we know it and expanding the prison industry?

Pearl said...

Could Unelected Superdelegates Give Clinton the Nomination Even if Sanders Wins the
Primaries? via @sharethis

Interesting report about superdelegate set up. Disheartening.

Pearl said...

The above item is from Truthout in case it doesn't translate for you.

These 'share 'items do not translate clearly

valerie said...

Just touching down to say I agree and applaud what has been said so eloquently in this post and in the comment section so far. I can't wait to get over to the Times to read more reader comments. I've said it before, Charles Blow is no Bob Herbert.

I am encouraged to see more and more people saying that Bernie - not Hillary and the Democratic Machine - represents their values and best interests. I am tired of voting for TLOTE - the lesser of two evils. Give me real Liberals to vote for.

And if Hillary's smear campaign works and she squeaks into the Democratic nomination, I hope the Bernie camp (despite what he will have to say - the price he will pay to have been allowed to run as a Democrat) moves en mass to the Green's or another independent candidate. The momentum of bringing these key issues into the national dialog and no longer allowing ourselves to be pacified by platitudes can not be allowed to slow.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the NYT's ridiculous attempts to skew coverage to match their endorsement of not only their candidate but of the whole stinking system, write to Patrick Healy. Here's the headline for the post-debate article that he co-wrote: "In Democratic Debate, Hillary Clinton Paints Bernie Sanders’s Plans as Unrealistic." That doesn't read like a Clinton campaign talking point, it is one. The last time he did that, framing the issues as "pragmatism vs. liberalism" I wrote him and he responded. He responded with lame excuses, but he did respond. Write in. Give the guy a hard time.

Robert F

Anonymous said...

I read Charles Blow to find out what Eli Broad is thinking.


annenigma said...

Hillary's supporters are harping about Bernie's 'rude', 'condescending', and 'insulting' finger wags.

Karen Garcia said...


Thanks for your reply to my Times comment. If I had written that comment during the 2012 election (and I did write many in that same vein) I would have been blasted to smithereens by the liberal choir. Back in those days, even the mildest criticism of Obama and the Democrats brought forth accusations of racism, closet Republicanism and insanity. So I am glad to see so many Times readers are becoming more "radicalized." Another thing to remember is that people who comment or vote on comments on the NYT have to be either paying subscribers or savvy wall-jumpers who still have to register. And since the Times prides itself on appealing to a relatively affluent demographic, the fact that there so much rebellion on the threads is cause for great jubilation, in my view.

Valerie and Anne,

I understand that Jill Stein is waiting in the wings to embrace the Bernie refugees, should he "lose" (or more aptly be robbed of the nomination by super-dreckalates.) I am "for" Bernie, for sure, which doesn't mean I don't vehemently hate his basic embrace of American exceptionalism (drones, bases, etc.) We still need an anti-war movement to go along with his revolution.

Robert F,

If Patrick Healy reads the comments, he knows full well what I and many others think of his "reporting." No accident that he was brought over to cover the horse race direct from the theater beat. He and others are so trapped in their insularity that they have no clue what a parody they truly are. Bernie is right. They think we're stupid.

Pearl said...

Sign @RBReich's petition: Bernie or Hillary? Let the voters decide -- not party elites

This is an important petition about delegate involvement with interesting information from Robert Reich.

Anonymous said...

As it happens I dimly recall having been one of the students packing the auditorium for the Gene McCarthy rally in those tumultuous days of 1968. Probably classmate Bob Reich was there also.
McCarthy's whole mission was to end the Vietnam War and indeed dropped out once RFK came on the scene (only to be assassinated). Consistent with Karen's entry above I believe it be crucial that Bernie with his hard won national forum put anti-war movement front and center in his campaign.

Meredith NYC said...

Yes,Patrick Healey --the Times brought him from theater to write on politics, and they brought Bruni from restaurant reviewing--don't know if any intervening assignment or experience. And Bruni made sure to let readers know he'd once dined with Donald Trump.
This is the authoritative, prestigious, quoted nyt

Meredith NYC said...


re rebellion in the times threads:

I too was getting disgusted with the Times, the op ed page, and liberal columnists especially those with 'consciences'--- and so considered not commenting. It's now conspicuous there's not 1 true progressive on the page, just phony ones. But I see the obvious increase in criticism by many commenters, talking back with realism and facts, making the expert rationalizing columnists look bad.

Does the Times have enough sense to be embarrassed? If Times commenters are rebelling---this is significant and I want to be in on it. It's the only positive sign.

The new talk back to Krugman and Blow should be reinforced and this could help build a store of evidence -based common sense to counter the faux progressive trend. Sanders' candidacy is clarifying a lot of issues for a lot of people and showing where they stand--to themselves and to others.
(I have yet to read Kristof's latest-- '2 questions for Sanders' and the comments.)

The Times has a narrow range of opinion that's out of keeping with the direction of the 2016 campaign. If they can't even have 1 columnist to support many of Sanders ideas, despite he's 1 or only 2 candidates for the democratic nomination---that's a scandal.

Hillary cited Krugman yet again in the debate, and he may soon start his packing to move to Washington. Even if he get's a cabinet post he'll likely still blog continuously to his fans since he's obviously compulsive. But did you notice his dead silence for 2 days after Sanders NH big win? And then his latest 2 posts were tech stuff on bonds and interest rates! We see what's going on.

Harry Belefonte is on Chris Hayes show, countering the anti Sanders pro Hillary talk by the holy civil rights leader John Lewis who says he never saw Sanders at rights rallies decades ago, but he DID see Hillary. Good for Belafonte. He looks great btw. I remember him in one of my favorite classic movies, Carmen Jones, among other things.

Anonymous said...

Karen, your work in the comments section is great. And I didn't know that Patrick Healy was brought over from the theater beat. They did that again? Still, I should have made clear in my comments that I was suggesting to the other commenters here that they might consider occasionally writing directly to the reporters. I don't know that it does any good, but I just get tired of them putting out crap and want to let them know that some people aren't buying it. It seems an inexpensive way to get in their heads a bit. I emailed Jonathan Martin yesterday and he replied within 5 minutes. So far, the responses of these "reporters" show the sophistication of "I don't see it" (Healy), and "Ha." (Martin).

Here's my exchange with Jonathan Martin:

Mr. Martin,

One of the most interesting aspects of the current presidential campaign is watching "reporters" such as yourself blatantly spinning coverage in an attempt to shape reader's perceptions in favor of your chosen candidate. Among other things, Sen. Sanders did a fine job last night of exposing two of Sec.Clinton's biggest flaws as a candidate. The first was her craven use of the "If I knew then what I know now" dodge to defend her vote on the disastrous Iraq war, which he exposed for what is was, buying into obvious lies. The second was her support of a morally bankrupt foreign policy by lending an ear to one of its architects, Henry Kissinger. But that's not the story you want to tell, is it?

Martin: didn't I mention Henry K?

Sec. Clinton isn't the only one who dodges. You mentioned Sen. Sander's points about Henry Kissinger as if they were an example of desperation as opposed to HC's calm confidence. Nonsense.

Martin: he seemed the aggressor, no ?

People see what you are doing. That's all I want you to know.

Martin: ha.

I've made my point. Have a good day, Mr. Martin.

Martin: same to ya.

Robert F.