Monday, March 7, 2016

Win One for Mrs. Gipper

There's nothing like the political-media complex invading your water-poisoned city to make your situation feel even more toxic than it already is.

Vanderbilt heir and CNN moderator Anderson Cooper immediately set the tone for last night's Democratic debate:
Before we begin tonight, we want to take a moment to remember former first lady Nancy Reagan. As probably know, she passed away this morning at the age of 94. Her grace and elegance in the White House, her deep love for President Reagan, and her strength and advocacy in the fight against Alzheimer’s and drug abuse will always be remembered. We would like to pause of a moment of silence in honor of Mrs. Reagan.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and an audience full of lead-poisoned Flint residents were then forced to bow their heads in remembrance of the Reagan Revolution against non-rich people. And thus did the ghosts of Ronnie and Nancy waft over the proceedings of an increasingly right-wing Democratic party. It was a sad spectacle of Clintonian bromides, pandering catch-phrases, and slick political deflections. As for Bernie Sanders, would it be cruel of me to posit that it was one missed opportunity after another? There's unfortunately a grain of truth in the corporate media's castigation of him as a "one-note" candidate who blames generic billionaires and generic Wall Street for all that ails us. What about the Clinton Foundation itself?

What establishment pundits won't say is that he should be calling out Hillary Clinton's wars and corruption, and explaining in more detail the entrenched Clintonian neoliberal ideology. He should be explaining how the Clintons have continued right where the Reagans left off. He should have called Hillary a scion of Reagan, if not a Goldwater Girl. He is a little too nice, despite the best efforts of the media to cast him as an arm-waving rudenick.

I'll give you just a couple of examples of lost opportunities from last night's debate. 

First, there was the standard boilerplate exchange over guns. Hillary actually faulted Bernie for the probable failure of a lawsuit being brought by Sandy Hook parents against gun marketers and manufacturers, pointing to his Senate vote against holding sellers accountable for subsequent crimes committed with the weaponry.
CLINTON: The gun manufacturers sell guns to make as much money as they can make.....
CLINTON: I was in the Senate. And they said, “give us absolute immunity.” No other industry in America has absolute immunity...
CLINTON: ...and they sell products all the time that cause harm...
SANDERS: So let’s say this. Let’s say this.
CLINTON: ... and they’re held responsible.
COOPER: Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: You know, I think it is a little bit — it is a little bit — look, what happened at Sandy Hook, what happened in Michigan, what has happened far too often all over this country is a terrible, terrible tragedy, and we have got to do everything we can, as I mentioned a moment ago, to end these mass killings.
But, as I understand what your question is — and, you’re not the only person whose heart was broken. I know, I was there in the Senate when we learned about this killing. It is almost unspeakable to talk about some lunatic walking into a — I mean; it is hard to even talk about it.
We all feel that way. But it, as I understand it, Anderson, and maybe I’m wrong, what you’re really talking about is people saying let’s end gun manufacturing in America. That’s the implications of that, and I don’t agree with that.
Wow. The USA is the largest arms manufacturer and weapons dealer on the entire planet. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, personally brokered the sales of billions of dollars in lethal weaponry to the Saudis, who have used them to kill innocent civilians in Yemen and elsewhere. She's sold products that have caused great harm all over the world.

 Sanders also didn't mention revelations published last month in the New York Times that Hillary Clinton not only wrecked Libya, she enabled illegal weapons sales to Syrian rebels by way of Libya. He never mentioned her role in the right- wing coup in Ukraine. He never mentioned how the recipients of her official largesse have funneled countless millions to her family's private charity/slush fund.

He could so very easily have called Hillary out for her chutzpah in criticizing the greed of the gun lobby. He could have pointed out that she and her husband have been longstanding recipients of all kinds of legal immunity. But he preferred not to. All he said was that he doesn't think that we should end gun manufacturing in America.

And now for something completely new and corrupt:
(APPLAUSE) COOPER: Senator Sanders, on the — on the campaign trail, Senator Sanders often refers to a fundraiser in January that was hosted by executives from a firm that has invested significantly in domestic fracking. Do you have any comment on that?
CLINTON: I don’t have any comment. I don’t know that. I don’t believe that there is any reason to be concerned about it. I admire what Senator Sanders has accomplished in his campaign. I have more than 850,000 donors, most of them give less than $100. I am very proud of that.
And I just want to make one point. You know, we have our differences. And we get into vigorous debate about issues, but compare the substance of this debate with what you saw on the Republican stage last week.
This is just one example of how both Sanders and the media allow Hillary Clinton to get away with murder. She contemptuously refuses to comment on her corruption, whether it be donations from polluters or her refusal to release transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street. After she smarmily deflects the question by petting Sanders and reminding us that Republicans are much, much worse, neither Sanders nor Anderson vigorously insist that she actually answer the questions and accusations. That she would prefer not to is honored and respected. When she snidely responded she'd release her speech transcripts if the Republicans do, for instance, Sanders should have accused her of embracing the alleged ethics and playground tactics of the GOP. "I'll show you mine if Donald shows me his" displays nothing but cynicism and contempt for the American voter.

To be fair to Bernie, he did call Hillary out for NAFTA and welfare reform. But he also should have told the viewing audience that Marian Wright Edelman, whom Hillary constantly name-drops as proof of her undying devotion to children, actually cut the Clintons off decades ago when they condemned millions of mothers and children to poverty. He appeals to nationalism when the problem is global. He seems willing to go only so far in his attacks. He is especially loath to attack President Obama, who actually cut funding for lead testing in every year of his tenure, and only partially restored CDC funding for lead amelioration in this year's budget. He didn't mention that Obama himself refused to visit Flint after a recent visit to nearby Detroit, where he chest-thumped about the auto bailouts and mouthed only one tiny sentence about the water crisis. Why doesn't Sanders demand that the president deploy the Army Corps of Engineers to make immediate repairs to the Flint infrastructure? Why wait until a Sanders presidency for an immediate federal response? Delivering water in toxic plastic bottles is no solution. It's only a photo op for pandering politicians and cable outlets.

Needless to say, the corporate press's ridiculous main complaint about Sanders today is that at one point in the debate, he'd rudely asked Clinton to stop rudely interrupting him. There are  reports that the Clintonoids, irked at Bernie's staying power, want to goad him into becoming another Rick Lazio. Lazio was the weak, last-minute GOP opponent replacing a cancer-stricken Rudy Giuliani in her first Senate run; his campaign finally imploded when he "invaded her space" by approaching her podium at one of the debates. She played the victim card then, too... and she won.

The media are also complaining about Bernie's rather muddled answer to a Don Lemon question about racism, in which he seemed to park all black people into ghettos. A Tweet frenzy duly erupted from the faux-outraged media/political class. They really, really can't stand it when he tries enhance their race trope with his own message of an all-encompassing economic inequality. And he acts unreasonably flustered whenever they bring it up.

And thus is the underlying class/plutocratic cause of the Flint water crisis largely ignored in favor of sniping over partisan and identity politics. Both Sanders and Clinton shockingly demurred when asked about bringing criminal charges against the culprits, who hail from both political parties. They want to wait and see how it all plays out. They want Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who ignored the poisoning for well over a year, to simply resign from office. They didn't mention that the mayor of Flint herself is a Democrat. Ditto for the emergency manager, appointed by Snyder, who orchestrated the catastrophe by piping in corrosive water from the filthy Flint River to save money in the name of austerity.

As I have previously pointed out, the catastrophe in Flint can be legally classified as genocide under the standards laid out by the United Nations. A state or a ruler does not have to actually kill people, or even have the intent of killing people, to be guilty of genocide. A pattern of depraved indifference and damage to human life also qualifies as genocide. Henry Giroux rightly calls the Flint crisis an example of domestic terrorism. Flint is just the latest, most blatant example of what happens when democracy dies, and corporations rule.

Let us now bow our heads, contemplate what Reagan wrought, and then get back up and fight. Getting sucked in to endless presidential racehorse elections is anathema to bottom-up democracy... even when you like and support one of the candidates.


Jay–Ottawa said...

Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. Will that do?

It's sad to behold, but to one degree or another politicians are cons. They must be; it is the essence of the work. They are there to trick us into doing something for them (and their pals) as if it were in our interest, or in the common interest, to give them what they want.

The times are pretty bad and call for clear-sightedness and truth without restraint. Karen notes that on the Democratic side--both Sanders and Clinton––they would prefer not to speak the truth, or if they do begin with truth they prefer not to take it as far as it needs be taken. They would prefer not to, and nobody within their hearing is able to coax the whole truth out of them, not even by each other against each other. Is Bernie too soft for the weight class he stepped into, or intentionally throwing the match? I doubt there's a third explanation.

To remain a naïf among voters one must become selectively blind and partially deaf and very forgetful. Otherwise, how can you put up with the con every day? Researchers tell us that holding down a belly full of anger and resentment all the time is not good for our physical and mental health. So you either take a comfortable place in the con, or get sick physically and mentally, or rocket off to Mars.

Diogenes made a life out of going around with a lamp raised high in search of an honest person. No record of his ever finding one. Perhaps for that reason Diogenes went down in the history of philosophy as one of the founders of Cynicism.

Cynicsm is in store for us all if we continue to trudge through the campaign all the way to another gray November day. That's what happens to people who pay too much attention to the con for too long. No matter which of the candidates now in the running does take the White House, we'll all meet around a circle of chairs on January 21, 2017. I'll start off the session: "Hi, my name is Jay and normal people tell me I'm hopeless because I can't find an honest man or woman in politics. Please help me."

Pearl said...

Karen: We can find all kinds of criticism for Bernie but they are ones that overlook the messages (yes more than one) and how the dots connect and which I thought he enlarged on yesterday. Battling a slimy Gorgon like Hillary who has pulled the wool over too many eyes has to be done carefully. The issues you feel Bernie should be hitting her with would find her totally prepared to twist with a presentation that would be effective. He knows all the skeletons in the closet but too much criticism and he will become even more of a rabble rouser and slightly demented man who doesn't praise God and his teachings enough which Hillary is adept at. I think what will put her in office is her lengthy speeches about her religious beliefs wherein I would like to believe are mere exaggerations for the public mind rather than her real beliefs that expose her true single minded medieval thinking that excludes many voters who dare not attack her on this un(holy) issue.

She has the cleverness of people who are obsessed and I will not go further into where this leads to lest I be sued for character assassination. I like Bernie's naivety, coupled with profound thinking which is what connects with young people whose minds are not yet set in popular concrete.
Slips like a ghetto remark and others are not important and relay a picture in limited time as more blacks do live that way rather than poor whites. And yes, there are many Black citizens who have risen above their limits and ignore those left behind. Those are some of the ones who are protesting not those in the ghettos.

There is something so compelling and profound in what Bernie says, especially when on a one to one with an interviewer (or a video about his Socialist and personal beliefs)that really tugs at one's psyche. Let him be naïve, make some so called mistakes but the reality of his persona not clothed in perfect political language is unforgettable and more often than not, exposes the scripted reactions of a Hillary.

Martin Luther King, clothed in genuine religious clothing, seemed more brave especially in his political statements which were often ignored, but he and Bernie were minted in the same cauldron. His reference to his relatives that were murdered in the holocaust equals the unspeakable acts against black slaves to this day. These were real men (Mensh)who made and create real change eventually and we have to pay attention to the important notes we hear. It is reverberating to a large extent now and has to be supported. And let us not forget how MLK was silenced as Bernie is through the media. Bernie has passion for others, Hillary has obsession for herself just like Donald Trump.

annenigma said...

Hi. My name is Anne. I'm a hope-aholic. I've been clean for a couple of weeks, ever since what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas - you know what I mean, Boss Harry? Ever since then I've been suffering from a bad case of the collywobbles. Help me, Lord!

I've been through this before so you'd think I would have learned the last time not to fall prey to hope-dealers, especially those in politics. They're worse than preachers! I had a hint that I was falling into addiction again when I realized my dealer Bernie was running a traditional top-down campaign for a bottom-up political revolution, and even mimicked the style of his campaign on my former drug dealer, a real shady dude named Barry, even down to his campaign sign and slogan. I'm having flashbacks and they're not good. Last time I woke up under his bus with a wicked hangover that never seems to have fully left.

I started getting a familiar queasy feeling after Nevada when I realized that Bernie might cut off my supply by going out of business and dumping me on that cutthroat dealer, Lady Killary. She's got a list of victims a mile long, longer even than Barry's Kill List. You can never tell what kind of product she's selling you, but you can be sure she'll make a ton of money off it and it'll be tainted. Word on the street is that she cuts the product to stretch her profits.

My resolve to quit my hopey drug was strengthened when I recently heard Bernieman tell a crowd that we needed to energize enough people to keep the White House in November. Keep, not win. It was then that I realized he was speaking as a newly minted Democrat and was reassuring the Democratic Party, not us. He didn't even have the decency to tell us that he converted to that (other) satanic cult back in November!

But I'm getting through my withdrawal and even my hearing is recovering - I can detect political bullshit once again, like when I heard Bernie say that Whites could never know what it's like to be poor. That's not just an insult to poor Whites, but to all Blacks who know pandering when they hear it.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Oh Annie, you do explain it to the Hopeys. You've caught my mood exactly. I'm so glad I came tonight to be with you kind people.

I've been thinking. The surest, and perhaps the only, way of loosening money from the grip of plutocrats, so that it trickles down into the pockets of us working people, is to have on a regular basis a very super rich man, or a rich man's designated man or woman, run for office. In this way it can be said that politics helps as it prepares to hurt.

The rich trickle down the green stuff that helps pay for my cigarettes. The populists just puff up balloons of hope. And in no time, POP! As we know, it doesn't matter who wins; that stuff is decided up there in plutocrat heaven. It's the process that brings in the dough. The trick is to benefit from getting a slice of the action, I mean some of the trickle down, but not so much that you get infected by the hopey messages again.

Have you heard? Just before I walked in Michael Bloomberg announced that after careful study he will not spend a billion dollars on a campaign to buy himself the White House. Damn! This is not the job stimulus we were waiting for. The stock market may sag tomorrow. Our local economies depend for survival on year 'round politics to set up telephone banks, print signs and bumper stickers, drive taxis for politicians on a mission, fill hotel rooms, film attack ads for TV, etc., etc.

Bloomberg, you,,,you,,,you cheap-o. This news is depressing. I need a drink.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen...terrific post. It's like some kind of reality therapy. Condense it for Times comments and get it out there to expose all the B.S. I am going to read that debate transcript---soon...but not yet.

Annenigma, a great satire. Should be in New Yorker with Andy Borowitz.

Ste-vo said...

Karen, you wrote: "There are reports that the Clintonoids, irked at Bernie's staying power, want to goad him into becoming another Rick Lazio."

I are re-reading "No One Left to Lie To," by Christopher Hitchens. He uses that term all through the book! I burst out laughing when I read it.


Pearl said...

The other day Blow had an article in the nytimes 'The End of American Idealism' which listed all his serious concerns (including Hillary Clinton) without offering any solutions.
Many commenters criticized him strongly for not joining in with citizens who are fighting for change with many positive comments about Bernie's efforts and dreams.
Rema Regis had a very thoughtful comment on this topic.

I felt that some of the responses to Karen's column sounded like Blow's sour attitude, emphasizing the hopelessness of the current state of the union and trashing all the aspirants to office including Bernie and his shortcomings.

There were many excellent realistic comments (over 800 I believe) to Blow from very knowledgeable writers which raised my spirits and validated the feelings I expressed above. Perhaps I misinterpreted the recent responses from others on Sardonicky which, like the mainstream press, downgraded Bernie's statements in the debate.
I watched the debate again which they repeated last night and found much to support in Bernie's comments with stronger attacks based on the larger picture. Some of the questions posed by the interviewers were on target and the differences in the responses of the two candidates were very clear which is the good result of a serious debate.
It is a plus when many voters are willing to strongly support the dreams and waves of the future that Bernie represents which diminishes the role of a Trump on the other side which Hillary may not be able to control.

Bill Sprague said...

So much shrieking but you write a good blog. You drop names in your own way and that's ok, too. Your politics are sane. You have true things to say about Mr. Sanders and you have true things to say about Hellary. But there's one thing that really counts: money wins every time. It always has and it always will. Let them eat cake. Sure. Let's have a revolution in the streets and march arm in arm. That'll fix things! Money wins every time. Wall Street will be with us forever.