Tuesday, April 26, 2016

No Longer Feeling the Bern

Unless we all join together in a new anti-war movement and demand an end to global American aggression, there can be no political revolution and no real improvement in our lives here at home. 

In a televised town hall appearance last night on MSNBC, self-described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders doubled down on both his support for President Obama's drone assassination program and for the U.S.'s  continued military escalations in the Middle East. Sanders called the presidential "kill list" perfectly legal, constitutional and necessary. He gave his stamp of approval to Obama's pivot from "no American boots on the ground" in Syria to ordering an additional 250 pairs of them to aid and abet Al Qaeda-linked "rebels" in the fight against ISIS.

Asked by Chris Hayes if he would continue Obama's drone strikes, which to date have killed thousands of innocent civilians ("collateral damage"), Sanders replied: "Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue. There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves."

 He added that as long as the extra-judicial executions ordered by politicians and bureaucrats are done in the current "legal, constitutional way" -- as defined by a couple of government lawyers-for-hire --he sees no problem with it.

Regarding this week's new deployment of hundreds more Special Ops troops to Syria, Sanders toed the company line to a fault. These human killing machines are merely acting as "advisers" to "Muslim troops," he insisted.

Sanders also supports the continued, open-ended deployment of 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. He was not asked about, nor did he address, the White House whitewash of the terroristic American bombing of a charity hospital last fall in Kunduz, resulting in the deaths of nearly 50 medical professionals and patients.

Nor did he speak out against the horrific new "rules of engagement" (secretly in effect since last fall) which allow for more civilian casualties in the air wars on Syria and Iraq and wherever else in the world a bomb falls. The Pentagon has quietly revised its standards for how many children can be ethically obliterated in the name of American exceptionalism.

USA Today reports that the generals have devised a handy little sliding scale with which to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility when they decide to bomb people to smithereens. Human beings in war zones are even ascribed a numerical value: "A strike with the potential to wound or  kill several civilians would be permitted if it prevented ISIL fighters from causing further harm."

The newspaper quotes one general celebrating the Obama administration's belated public pivot to hawkishness, likening it to Lyndon Johnson's no holds barred bombing offensives in Vietnam -- where those special advisers also initially only "helped" the South Vietnamese as the "best and the brightest" mission-crept their way into a bloodbath of epic proportions.

So, Bernie Sanders going on TV and spouting the same old platitudes in order to help us to overcome our "sickly inhibitions" about the latest unfettered war is the last straw for me. I am feeling something, all right. I feel like I've been burned. My feelings, of course, are nothing compared to what millions of people "over there" are experiencing as their homes and their bodies get burned to crisps by our leaders' bombs and drones.

As the great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh remarked the other day about the de facto American invasion of Syria, "Nobody ever seems to object too much when we put more people on the ground."

And sadly, that also appears to be the case with Bernie Sanders.  Now that he has virtually no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, he could have seized the moment last night to condemn war instead of embracing it. I'd been willing to pragmatically give him a bit of a pass on his historic lack of pacifism, in hopes that he might be elected and then pressured to ease out of the bellicose mindset. No more.

So enough with the hand-wringing over Hillary the Hawk and Ted Cruz's dastardly desire to carpet-bomb Syrians to death. President Peace Prize is already doing just fine in that department, and even the Empress-in-Waiting's Democratic primary challenger is effectively helping to grease the skids for her seamless transition to power. She'll just be the latest salesperson for Permawar. She'll just be a little more vocal than her smarmy male cohort in her unabashed enjoyment of it.

The invasion of Libya is probably just an election away. Obama, employing his usual lawyerly parsing, doesn't think such a move is necessary right at the moment, since it might send "the wrong signal" to that country's officials and citizens. He apparently doesn't believe that millions of refugees and hundreds of drowned children are not already enough of a signal.  

And as Trevor Timm writes in The Guardian
Libya is now engulfed in chaos and the number of Isis members is skyrocketing, largely thanks to the US and allies bombing the country and overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. There are already drones flying over the country and special forces have already been in and out in the past year to conduct special forces missions. You can picture administration members soon arguing: we must invade the country to save it from the last time we bombed it."
Bernie Sanders will not be mounting any third party challenge, he says, because he doesn't want to end up like Ralph Nader. To me, there are worse things than ending up like Ralph Nader. What's worse is being complicit in mass killing.

And anyhow, Ralph Nader ending up like Ralph Nader continues to be a very good thing. He's spearheading (h/t "annenigma") what he calls an "historic civic mobilization" beginning with a four-day strategy session to be held next month at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Participants will receive professional training in how to effect revolution from the ground up, in their own communities.

The third day (May 25) of the Breaking Through Power convention will be exclusively dedicated "to the enhancing of peace over the waging of war."

"Revitalizing the people to assert their sovereignty under our Constitution is critical to the kind of government, economy, environment and culture that will fulfill human potential and respect posterity," Nader says. "The participating citizens will be asked to support the creation of several new organizations. One will be a Secretariat to facilitate action to stop illegal wars and their quagmires (e.g. the wars on Iraq and Libya and their brutal aftermaths)" by some of the same retired military and diplomatic officials and other activists who so stridently protested during the Bush administration before dissent was quieted in the belief and hope that peace would finally be given a chance under the Obama administration. 

I'm feeling the Ralph.


annenigma said...

Yup, I'm feeling the Ralph more than the Bern. Bernie is sounding like Killary Obama these days, as if he's already conceded, at least informally, and is in effect now amplifying her general campaign. His poor ego couldn't stand the thought of being forever demonized by the Democrats like they've done to Ralph Nader. When Bernie taunted Hillary saying that she was probably feeling 'nervous' before the NY primary, and when he threw back 'not qualified' at her, I knew he had an ego problem.

I submitted a comment to NYT which didn't get printed, maybe because it was too off-topic for the article about the primaries, or maybe it was too much on point about why we'll probably end up with a President Trump if Hillary is nominated. Actually, Trump doesn't scare me as it does most people, and I was heartened when I read this morning that many in the CIA, intelligence community, and military brass are threatening to quit if he's elected. Yay! I'd vote for him just for that to happen.

Here's the comment:

Let's talk RISK. Someone needs to splash cold water on the Democrats and remind them that taking a gamble on an establishment candidate during these powerfully anti-establishment times is RISKY.

What's even RISKIER is a nominee who has an active FBI investigation hanging over her head. Any other candidate would have been told to suspend their campaign until that risk was eliminated.

The Democrats already know that Hillary is a big gamble. That's why they've HAD to shove her down our throats. It's why the corporate media HAD to black out/marginalize Bernie. It's why the DNC HAD to put their thumb on the scales with the debates. It's why the Dem establishment HAD to close ranks to support her. It's why so many election procedures/results HAD to be screwed up, to put it charitably.

The Clintons have an attraction to RISK. We saw it with Bill's sexual escapades and Hillary tends towards other risky behavior, such as keeping a home server for Gov't business, co-mingling personal, Foundation, and Gov't emails, using the Foundation to pass-through campaign funds, etc. Takings big RISKS is how they've gotten ahead, but it often ends up blowing up in their faces.

Yes, gamblers do win a lot because they're always gambling, but they can also lose everything and take others down with them.

We need to talk seriously about her RISKINESS. Bernie definitely should, because he's the one who's going to be blamed when she loses in November.

Anonymous said...

That makes me queasy, Karen, and I am feeling extremely let down by this. I am going to hope Bernie followers will put his feet to the fire regarding these crimes against humanity. He's got the home agenda down and needs no prodding there. Sociopath that she is, Clinton has no sensitivity or ability to empathize and would probably just cackle through any figurative flames cast at her feet.

Reluctant Democrat

Dave Madeloni said...

Two words: Jill Stein....
"Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament."

Karen Garcia said...


I voted for Jill last time, and will have more to say about her in the coming weeks and months. I will not ever forget her arrest and imprisonment during one of the Rombama debates last time. It was the Binders Full of Women episode, in which Obama allowed how he and Romney aren't too far apart on their views about Social Security.

I think Jill will get more exposure this cycle, now that the United States has been made safe for socialism. Credit where due: Bernie at least introduced the concept, and it is here to stay.

annenigma said...

This sucks. I don't get to vote until June 7th and it's over already.

Possum Lodge said...

My question is would the Military Industrial Complex allow him to be elected if he said anything much different. Bernie the Senator with MIC industry jobs in his state is one thing. Bernie the Commander in Chief, once he gets his own security in place could be an entirely different animal.

Erik Roth said...


Part of the way the U.S. Empire's elections are rigged is the corporate media's censorship of third-party candidates, despite their nationwide campaign efforts.
The Green Party, running Dr. Jill Stein for President—on a platform more progressive than Bernie Sanders—has been totally ignored by the establishment.
Abby Martin sits down with Dr. Stein to look at how her career in medicine helped her diagnose America's "multi-organ failure," and why her ideas pose such a threat to Empire.

Abby Martin, teleSUR: This video chronicles the Clintons' rise to power in the 1990s on a right-wing agenda; the Clinton Foundation's revolving door with Gulf state monarchies, corporations and the world's biggest financial institutions; and the establishment of the hyper-aggressive "Hillary Doctrine" while she was US secretary of state.

“We don’t want a bigger piece of the pie. We want a different pie.” ~ Winona LaDuke

Jay–Ottawa said...

Ugh! Now we know why Bernie Cinders kept putting off the day when he would have to lay out his foreign policy. It's even worse than I imagined. The good socialist from Vermont wasn't sheepdogging. He was serving the DNC faithfully as the Compleat Angler of antiwar Democrats and Independents.

How did he do that? He hooked millions on the line with his trash talk about Wall Street. Most of the berned, sadly, will stay trapped in the net for Hillary during the general campaign.

You have to admit Bernie did good work and landed a big catch while fishing for Hillary. If ever Hillary gets into the White House, she'll owe Bernie big time and will bless him with an all-is-forgiven hug and a great big cabinet post. Based on Karen's head-jerking report about Bernie's come clean moment on MSNBC, a good spot for Bernie the Stealth Hawk just might be Secretary of Defense.

Mark Portier said...

Since we're in the mood for epitaphs, here's another. It is a draft transcript of my proposed 2016 commencement address:

Dear Graduates: As a fifty-year-old man, I want not just to congratulate you on your achievement today, I want to thank you for something. I want to thank you for the one reason, the only reason, that I stand alive before you right now.

Did you know that when I was a little kid and got sick, my pediatrician came to my house, to my bedside, with medicine — and that my parents paid him out of pocket for those appointments? That’s what we called “healthcare.” Did you know that there was a morning and an evening newspaper delivered to my house every day, in addition to a weekly newspaper, all of them independent, family-owned, locally-owned, with staffs of investigative reporters? That's what we called “news." Did you know that my father paid for me to attend a private university on his warehouseman’s salary, where I graduated with two degrees and zero debt? That’s what we called “higher education.” All these things were true less than fifty years ago. They were true for all of us in 40s, 50s, and 60s, and had been true for those just before us, for the people who fought for these things to become true, in the first place.

These things of which I speak were true for a short while, until people my age became adults, around the time you were born. We came up with the idea of a healthcare system that requires you — by the tax code, by law — to pay thousands of dollars a year in premiums to middlemen, whether or not you even see a doctor, and then pay thousands more in deductibles if you do. We came up with the idea of replacing investigative reporting with a stream of infobits; where instead of a newspaper that presents you with a few deeply researched stories a day that will give you insight into the institutions that form the basis of your life, we stream clickbait into your devices, designed only to keep you clicking and clicking and clicking. We also came up with the idea of making higher education a profit-machine, where we killed tenure, introduced low-wage adjuncts, and gutted your curriculum. You are paying four times as much for your diploma today as I did thirty years ago, with entry-level wages and starting salaries relatively the same as what they were back then, among the jobs we haven’t yet shipped overseas. We even poisoned what once was a clean, potable water supply, pouring out of taps and faucets everywhere, so that we could filter the poisoned stuff, put it into single-use plastic bottles and sell it. To you.

In light of all of this, like I said, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for not recognizing me for what I am: a predator upon you. Your would-be enslaver. Your enemy. For that is what I am, that is what we are, all of us here on the dais, today, and many of us out there behind you: Your mothers and fathers. Your aunts and uncles. We are waging a war against you, in the smartest way warriors know how to make war. We do it, boys and girls, without or bombs or guns. This war doesn’t have a name. Yet. And it won’t unless you recognize it for what it is, and people like me for who we are. And, until you do, like I said, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for not coming up here, rushing the podium, right now, and slitting my throat and the throats of everyone alongside me.

Happy graduation to you.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Gee, Mark, you're going to be channeling austerians Paul Ryan and Rand Paul for the graduates?

So it's really the older people, like you, the fifty year old, and me, the way past fifty, who messed up everything for the kids and should apologize to the world? Because it's a generational war, not a class war?

In that case, we have every reason to tear away those geezer entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. And to think we also give them senior discounts on bus tickets.

All this time, we thought it was the power mad and money mad who screwed and continue to screw all generations.

I'm writing it down: Age is the root of all evil.

annenigma said...

Interesting commencement address, Mark!

Don't forget to mention the company pensions our parents collected upon retirement in addition to their social security. Medical insurance also went along with that at very affordable rate. I recall my mother's premium in the later 1990's was $45 every 3 months through GTE-Sylvania. Now health insurance is more like $45 every 3 days through the 'Affordable' Care Act!

Those were the good old days before Capitalism usurped Christianity as the national religion and the CEOs made themselves demigods. Now it's becoming a global religion thanks to the metastasis through the arms of the Military-Industrial Complex. Those evil twins have their names but they're too sacred to be criticized. Shut up and sit down, heretics!

When I think of those conjoined twins, I can't help but think of the virus, that 'non-living' life form (like a 'corporate person') that is such a genius of deceit that it invades cells and wraps itself in the host dna to fool the host into accepting its presence and not attacking it. It then uses the cell as a 'Homeland', shall we say, from which it launches further invasions on the rest of the body.

Now think of how the MIC started out embedding its corporate production facilities into every Congressional District to ensure a steady supply of money from Congress, then it spread itself abroad in the form of 'foreign aid' which is predominantly arms sales, to hundreds of countries. That's how this disease spreads.

Pope Francis has a lot to say about Capitalism and economic dependence on war. It's tragic that the only people honest and courageous enough to talk about this, other than the Pope, are not given a national voice by the corporate media or the two major political parties.

Pearl said...

We are all reaching the boiling point in our frog pots but only those of us who are thin skinned will survive because we will hop out before it is too late. However, we may very well find ourselves very alone, surrounded by near dead creatures with no one to listen to our rantings.

Carl Bernstein made an interesting comment on CNN today about reaching the voting finale with the winning leaders of each party creating a highly violent battle for power. He seemed to relish the thought without indicating his favorite.

I deeply appreciate all the interesting comments to Karen's outstanding column which was beyond food for thought. It was a real wake up call.

Pearl said...

#FeelTheBern Goes #UpInSmoke http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/27/feelthebern-goes-upinsmoke/

I hope it will not end this way.

Pearl said...

An astounding number of highly critical comments to Blow's column about Bernie Sander's legacy in the readers picks column. The vast majority supported Bernie's idealogy whether or not he wins the nomination and considered his legacy to be successful in the long run. Hope that will be the case

Valerie said...

I started out thinking Bernie was running as a Democrat in order to have his ideas heard. It seemed to be working. Who knew how many sleeping lefties there were out there who could put down their social media for a moment and get involved in politics? Before Bernie, I had been thinking there were only a handful of the Liberal Intelligencia still alive and kicking. But as his campaign took on more and more life and he managed to pick up a decent share of delegates, I figured no matter his weaknesses, he is a far better choice than Hillary. Sure I won't get the foreign policy I want but at least he will keep us out of horrific trade deals and go after the big banks and multi nationals. I even had fantasies about him appointing Elizabeth Warren to his cabinet. But now that it is clear he isn't going to win and now that his foreign policy convictions are out in the open - harsh and stark - I am going to defect to the Greens.

My big reservation about the Greens is the way they have treated Ralph Nader. I have always felt the Ralph and it really ticks me off the way he has not been given the status he has earned for years of relentless work on behalf of progressive issus.

I am excited to hear he won't be silenced. I hope a lot of those idealistic followers of Bernie will attend these meetings and become a political force to be reckoned with. I am only sorry I am in Australia and can't attend the meetings that are sure to come.

Great essay, Karen.

Valerie said...

I am on someone else's computer and I don't know what happened to my second paragraph. It was meant to say: I have always felt there was something fishy about the way Ralph seemed to be marginalised suddenly by the Greens. It was as if there was a split in the party and Ralph was suddenly a persona non grata. I don't have anything against Jill Stein but she doesn't have the warmth, razor intelligence or charisma that Ralph had and still has. He was so humble yet strong in his convictions. It really ticks me off the way he has not been given the status he has earned for years of relentless work on behalf of the progressive issues the Green party professes to stand for.

annenigma said...

Too bad that spoiler Al Gore and his warmonger running mate, Joe Lieberman, stole the election from Ralph Nader. Our country would have been so much better off now.

annenigma said...

Ted Cruz is smart by naming a running mate. By doing so he is doubling/amplifying his message. After all, Hillary's been doing all along that by using Bill, who would in effect, if not in name, be her co-President and VP if she won. So he's effectively her running mate on the campaign trail already and that's a huge unfair advantage. I've heard many people say they're actually voting for him more than her.

So Bernie's now the only one who isn't amplifying his message by having a double, a running mate. He should name a VP, if only he could find anyone gutsy enough to stand up to the Clintons. Tulsi Gabbard comes to mind. Win or lose, Hillary is going to make him pay for challenging her as an independent in her own party, so he might as well go for the gusto now. it would be his Hail Mary pass.

Bernie doesn't have to play by their rules, but he does. Would someone please free him from that establishment box he lives in? Maybe he's an old dog who just can't learn new tricks or doesn't want to because he's looking to keep his Senate seat and committees.

Back to Nader: Does anyone think Gore-Lieberman would NOT have gone to war over 9/11? Does anyone think Nader would have?

Anonymous said...

Below is the link to a tyt network youtube published 4/26 (<30min) regarding what Bernie supporters are to do if Bernie is not nominated. I believe Bernie's response is somewhat redeeming for Bernie from a progressive point of view if we accept that he continues to
shun a true outside the establishment box leadership role.


Valerie said...

I agree with the video link from Anonymous - Bernie cannot control his voters. Sure some are inexperienced enough to buy into the Lesser of Two Evils fallback line not realising that this has been the mantra of the Democratic Party for the last five elections. But my predicition is that many will go over to the Greens.

It's a funny thing with the Democratic Party. When Gore lost the election, instead of the DNC looking at its pro-corporate policies and moving back toward the Left, they scapegoated Ralph Nader and blamed his followers for the lost election. My best friend is STILL going on about how Ralph was a spoiler. As if ANY candidate is ENTITLED to my vote. While I am not convinced we even have a functioning democracy in terms of our votes actually being counted accurately, I hope people will stick to their ideals and vote accordingly. By the way, the most ardent Hillary supporters I know who hate Nader and Sanders and definitely will hate Jill Stein as she picks up steam, are all rich. The Obama/Clinton status quo suits them just fine. They want the social stuff like gay rights and the right to an abortion, but Free Trade and the big banks and a casino stock market have served to make them rich so why would they care about the welfare of the working class? Oh, and they all can afford Obama Care so they think he is a hero in that department.