Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bernie Politely Asks Dems To Play Nice

It could have been worse. The New York Times could have waited to dump  Bernie Sanders's prayerful op-ed until the long holiday weekend. That it has received such pride of place in the middle of the week, in bold headlines, even rising (albeit temporarily) above Thomas Freedom Friedman's latest elite whine, is proof positive that the Establishment no longer considers Bernie much of a threat.

They decided to humor the guy by reprinting the gist of his stump speech and most important, allowing him to drop a couple of subtle hints that he's supporting Hillary Clinton against Doctor Greater But Less Effective Evil.

Commenter Jay-Ottawa condensed the Sanders op-ed in his usual pithy fashion:
Hey, gang! Bernie's talking on the NYT op-ed page this morning. Allow me to give you the executive summary coming through his bullhorn.

BERNIE: "As I've said repeatedly in all my campaign speeches, this economy sucks. The rich keep getting rich; the rest keep getting poorer. Allow me to reel off the statistics measuring how far the 99% has nose dived (because people just love to hear me rant about the problem). These developments are terrible, terrible, terrible.

"Therefore, don't vote for Trump because he'll lead us into an American version of Brexit. What we've got to do, instead, is make the global economy more fair, be nice and all that. That's why I'm sticking with the Democratic Party and Hillary.

"Anyway, as I ought to say at this point, here's what I intend to do to correct the horrors of globalism:

[silence … his op-ed space seems to have run out at this point….]"
Sanders slugged his op-ed: Democrats Need to Wake Up. If he were more forthright, he would have called it Democrats Need To Divest From the Corporate Oligopoly, or even Democrats Should Just Go the Hell Away and Make Room for a New People's Party.

But that would have been a bridge too far, and might have endangered Sanders's high placement on some of those coveted Senate Committees, where he can play the part of Loyal Opposition to the Clinton White House and to the Republicans who are now flocking to her, right and left far-right.

Still, he made his fear-mongering quixotic plea to the fearless, clueless, careless and heartless Empress-in-Waiting:
Let’s be clear. The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. We need real change.
But we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric — and is central to Donald J. Trump’s message.
We need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism and decreases the possibility of war. We also need a president who respects the democratic rights of the people, and who will fight for an economy that protects the interests of working people, not just Wall Street, the drug companies and other powerful special interests.
 In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. We must create national and global economies that work for all, not just a handful of billionaires.
As of this writing, there were nearly 1500 reader responses to Bernie's column. From "Josh," here's the top-rated comment:
 Bernie, we've read your campaign speech. We progressives agree with your direction. Now please offer policy solutions. Now please work to get support in the houses. Now please campaign to get the right people in at the state and local levels. Now please start drafting legislation. Don't lose the momentum you've built. Your critique of our system is totally accurate. If Hillary is perceived by many as 'fake', you are perceived as a critic that is good at finding flaws but not so good at fixing them. I hope that both of you prove your opponents wrong.
I sneaked mine in toward the back of the pack:
 Bernie, get a clue. When Clinton's Democratic Party platform reps refuse to include the goal of true universal health coverage and refuse to take a stand against the Trans-Pacific Partnership even in what is ultimately a meaningless document, all the editorializing in the world won't sway their allegiance away from Global Oligarchia and into the realm of the common good.

No matter how you slice it, dice it, dress it or poach it, a rotten egg is still a rotten egg. Not only does it still taste awful, it's bound to make you sick.

Bernie: with millions of votes and millions of dollars in small donations, you have amassed some extremely powerful political capital. To continue wasting it on a corrupt political machine which has thwarted, reviled, and dismissed you and your voters at every turn, it's a slap in their faces to continue to associate yourself with Democrats any longer. They'd just as soon grind you to dust as look at you.

Why not take Jill Stein up on her offer and run on the Green Party ticket? I know, I know - you don't want to be a "spoiler." But the Libertarian Party is already polling high enough to be included in the debates, and Stein is now at seven percent, and climbing. Why not make it a four-way race?

Our "official" choice between a neo-fascist loon and a money-grubbing warmonger is not only no choice at all, it's voter blackmail.

So if we start the revolution without you, Bernie, so be it. About 90% of us have nothing left to lose.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lucy & Ethel on the Campaign Trail


I have to confess that when I saw Hillary and Liz in their slapsticky-sweet Sisterhood of the Traveling Power Pantsuits show on Monday, I couldn't help thinking about an old episode of I Love Lucy and wishing for a reprise.

You know, the one where BFFs Lucy and Ethel show up at a gala event wearing identical outfits? And how their raucous rendition of the Cole Porter tune "Friendship" gradually devolves into chaotic cat-fighting hilarity? Retro and pre-feminist, to be sure. But even in these modern times, it's still considered a fashion faux pas for two women to be caught wearing the same thing at the same elite affair. Or, as Cosmo put it in a recent spread on sartorial redundancy in high places, awesome and awwwkward at the same time. Shallowness yesterday, shallowness today, shallowness forever.

Watching that Lucy episode when I was a kid in the early 60s, I couldn't for the life of me understand why Lucy and Ethel would throw such a hissy fit over something so stupid as matching apparel. I thought it was stupid mainly because the pouffy dresses with the fake vines cascading down the front like snakes were so damned ugly and unflattering on both of them. But back in the 50s, when the series first aired, fashion was one of the few things then allowed to individually define the repressed, stuck-at-home middle class woman.

 I did learn a very valuable lesson in irony from watching that episode. I learned that it is indeed possible to sing "Friendship, Friendship, It's the Perfect Blendship" even as you subtly elbow your fellow humans out of your way before ripping them to shreds. This tactic was honed to perfection by the Clintons. Just ask Lani Guinier, or Peter and Marion Wright Edelman, or Joycelyn Elders.

So, perhaps Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren dressing nearly identically and doing fist bumps at their first campaign event together was to cover up their historical disagreements and to make a unifying political statement in the form of a cohesive, rather than competing, fashion statement. If there were any subtle Lucy/Ethel elbow-jabs or squeals of pain, they were well-hidden beneath the deafening audience hysteria, the high fives, and the hugs. After all, the campaign theme this week is #$tronger Together. These are two powerful, professional women who have so, so moved on from those medieval times when Ricky Ricardo wouldn't let his wife be in the show, and when Fred Mertz couldn't bear to even talk to his wife without also gruffly mentioning her weight and her age.

Instead of making the Democratic campaign about the issue that most threatens our democracy - the class war - Liz and Hill are reprising the battle of the sexes that was the implicit theme in every single episode of I Love Lucy.

Hill and Liz might not be total ideological soulmates as regards the economy, but they are every bit as facilely united in their disdain for Donald Trump as Lucy and Ethel were in their serial attempts to escape their domestic confines and thwart their chauvinistic spouses in a search for glorious independence. In fact, all Warren and Clinton could kvetch about on Monday was mean old Donald Trump. Donald Trump was the whole obfuscatory theme of their show in the buckle of the Clinton/NAFTA-decimated Rust Belt.

Forget the looming, job-destroying Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Hillary helped to write and which Liz used to loathe, when they can distract voters by making fun of Trump's ridiculous hat and his thin, withered, senile and unmanly skin! Forget Hillary's multi-millions in paid private chitchats with predatory bankers when they can deflect the conversation to Donald Trump's regressive lying, cheating, woman-hating ways!

Goldman Sachs and Citigroup might fraudulently take your home away from you, but Donald would do you even worse. "He'd crush you in the dirt!" yelled Elizabeth Warren to a solidarity chorus of boos and You Go, Girls.

This election - like all elections - is nothing but a TV show (A Special Place in Hell for Women Who Don't Support Other Women: teleplay by warmonger Madeleine Albright). So of course the diva would invite the rising star to be her regular guest player and stand-in, if not her permanent sidekick. After all, this isn't, ahem, meant to be seen as a remake of All About Eve.

 So relax, everybody. All you cash-strapped voters stuck out there in Precariatville need do pack up your troubles, sit back, and root for Hillarity Ricardo and Ethelbeth Mertz. Or is it Hillary Mirth and Lizzy Ricardo? As Hillary herself once scoffed about the who, what, when, why and how of Benghazi: "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

What is so vitally important in all our lives is Donald Trump's collection of dorky baseball caps with their "Make America Great Again" logo. Responding to his diss of her as a silly Pocahontas because she once allegedly claimed aboriginal ancestry on a college application, Liz retorted: "You want to see goofy? Look at him in that hat!"

(Don't look over here at Hillary, for goddessake. It might remind you that she is under active FBI investigation for her illegal email arrangements and possibly also for her family's money-laundering charity slush fund.)

 Since Clinton forever seems to be in a self-inflicted Lucy-like jam, Warren will take her hand. In a bit of a Berning mess, Hillary sent out the S.O.S. (But if she does end up in jail, I doubt that Liz would go so far as to post her bail.)  It's friendship, friendship, a perfect blendship... for the TV cameras. Their outfits bleed together so perfectly that at times you think you're seeing a two-headed woman. Even their hairdos are style and color-coordinated.

I must be color-blind, or maybe my TV set is defective, because according to CNN, Liz donned royal blue and for Hillary, it was the very appropriate wearing of the deep purple. Hillary wouldn't want the proles to mistake who's the queen in this show, and who's merely the lady-in-waiting. But I'm sticking with my two heads on one body scenario anyway, because I prefer comedy and horror spoofs to schlocky political stories that serve the status quo.

"Imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office the next time America faces a crisis," Clinton told the crowd, grimly nodding her head up and down in that annoying way that she has of punctuating every sentence. "Imagine him being in charge when your jobs and savings are at stake. Imagine him trying to figure out what to do in case of an emergency."

Imagine Hillary telling the truth and admitting that the real unemployment (U-6) rate in the United States is close to 10% when you factor in the millions who have simply given up looking for work. 

Imagine her acknowledging that a fifth of Americans actually have no savings at all to worry about, while 62% have less than $1,000 stashed away for an emergency expense. Imagine Hillary being even remotely aware of how hard life is for the bottom 90% whom she is supposedly trying to woo.

Imagine Hillary with her trigger-happy finger at the ready at all times to answer any emergency, surrounded by her sycophantic chorus of bloodthirsty neocon pals. Imagine her being in charge of continuing the Neoliberal Project she and Bill started, in which your jobs disappear, your wages plummet, the inequality soars and universal health care is forsaken for the plutocratic profits gleaned by the waging of permanent war.

Fasten your seat belts. Because whether the car is driven by Goofy Don or it's driven by Reckless Hillary, this won't be just another bumpy ride. We must all brace ourselves for the inevitable crash.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Getting the Wanky Wonky Willies

 The world might be going to hell in a hand basket, but the battle royale  between the wealthy vulgarian and the wealthy elitist continues.

"I don't think anybody should listen to me, because I haven't really focused on it very much," bragged Donald Trump, preparing to cross the pond to play at his swanky Scottish country club. As he held court on the green, several swastika-emblazoned golf balls whizzed past his Secret Service detail, landing with laser-focused precision at his feet.

"Get em outta here," he growled, apparently mistaking the balls for the ballsy protester who threw them.

True, Trump had been unnecessarily restricting his vast and chronic ignorance to the ramifications of the Brexit vote. But how refreshing and rare for any presidential aspirant to admit to being as disengaged as the poor wanker next door.

Can you imagine Hillary Clinton ever advising voters not to listen to her? This woman is such a self-professed, hyper-focused wonk that her campaign has even started a fan club called Wonks for Hillary.

Whether you live in an ivory tower or only aspire to claw your way up to one, Hillary is here to help. Or at least a flack named Jacob Liebenluft, late of the Obama administration, is here to set you on a much easier glide path to Wonk Nirvana.

His email tells the whole snobby story: 
Friend --
 In an election that has often seemed like it’s about anything but policy -- Donald Trump seems to prefer name-calling and empty slogans -- I’m proud that Hillary is a bona fide policy buff. Yesterday, she even proudly declared the policies on our campaign's website to be “a little wonky,” and then she told us why that’s important to her:
“I actually sweat the specifics because they matter,” she said. “Whether one more kid gets health care may just be a detail in Washington -- but it’s all that matters to that family worrying about their child.”

Hillary thinks carefully about how best to solve the problems facing American families, and she’s not afraid to get in the weeds to figure out which policies will really make a difference.
If you’re a policy nerd like Hillary, we’d love to invite you to a special new group: Wonks for Hillary. Add your name now to be one of the first to join, and we’ll keep you updated on key policy rollouts throughout the campaign -- and even invite you to join exclusive calls with policy advisors like me.

From health care expansion to investing in our infrastructure to gun violence prevention, Hillary has specific plans that dive deep into the root causes of these issues, and propose smart, targeted fixes that will implement changes people can really see and feel in their communities.

We’re running against a dangerous opponent whose policy ideas include legalizing torture and banning immigrants based on their religion. Hillary is going to keep fighting him the best way she knows how: by rolling out plans that will actually help Americans. When you join Wonks for Hillary, you’ll be able to talk articulately about those plans to anyone who’s interested -- and learn in-depth exactly how Hillary will help Americans as our next president.

Add your name to join Wonks for Hillary today:
(whereupon they get right down in the noxious weeds and direct you to a very wankish Gimme page.)

Actually, it's as scary for Hillary to call herself a policy buff as it is for Donald to brag about his willful wanky ignorance. The dictionary definition of "buff" is a person who is very interested in something, not a person who is particularly accomplished at something. For example, you can be a jazz buff without knowing how to read music or play an instrument. In other words, Hillary is an obsessed fan. She's such a foreign policy buff that she convinced Obama to bomb Libya without first figuring out what would happen in the aftermath: like epic instability and the drowning deaths of thousands of refugees.

And the political definition of "wonk" is anything but flattering. According to Merriam-Webster, a wonk is "a person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures." In plain, vulgarian English (Wanklish) we can thus surmise that Hillary Clinton can't see the forest for the trees. She's an annoying nitpicker, and proud of it. If you're with her, you might as well consider Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder a positive personality trait.

And she has obviously learned nothing from Brexit or examined the root causes of the rise of neofascism, both here and abroad:
 From health care expansion to investing in our infrastructure to gun violence prevention, Hillary has specific plans that dive deep into the root causes of these issues, and propose smart, targeted fixes that will implement changes people can really see and feel in their communities.
She won't actually dig out the twisted roots of neoliberalism, cause of the worst wealth and social inequality in modern history. Instead, she'll get out her dainty little can of Roundup and spritz a bug over here, a withered leaf over there. Instead of espousing true single-payer health care, she'll urge sick people to shop around on the marketplace and maybe, eventually, decades from now, allow 50-somethings to "buy into" Medicare. She'll forge ahead with such "smart, targeted fixes" as implementing Republican-inspired and Clinton/Obama administration-approved "Promise Zones" in  a pitifully few select blighted communities out of a whole country full of misery and despair. And she'll call it a buff, rousing success. 

Promise zones don't actually provide direct government cash aid or jobs to the targeted communities. That's up to the unaccountable private businesses getting the government aid, the generous tax breaks and other incentives to "invest" in poor people.

Mark Partridge, a professor of urban-rural poverty at Ohio State University, told The Christian Science Monitor that such programs are by their very nature difficult to assess and measure, given the variables involved. Even a policy buff finds it hard to compare Chicago to Appalachia. So maybe the feel-goody vagueness is the whole point.
A caveat for any good news is: How much of it was because of the program,” says Dr. Partridge. “Did the program work or was this place just poised for takeoff?”
Analysts have also express concern that it can be hard to tell whether a program’s benefits reach the poorest people, rather than flowing largely into the hands of the business owners who get the tax credits, says Partridge. Another concern is that one neighborhood’s program might in fact penalize surrounding communities, drawing jobs, investment, and people away from nearby places not incorporated into the initiative and effectively “shifting the problem around the map,” he says.
Being a Wonk for Hillary also means subjecting yourself to a rigorous re-education regimen. The first step is getting in touch with your feelings.
“I respect the fear, the anxiety, even the anger that a lot of people are feeling,” Clinton told The Washington Post in her first extended interview on economic issues since clinching the nomination, “because the advance of globalization and technology has really replaced or undermined the future for many jobs.”

What people are feeling,” she added, “is that the economy failed them, their government failed them. They just are looking for somebody who will explain, in a way they will accept, what’s happened. So Trump comes along and he blames immigrants and he blames minorities and he blames women, and people are responsive to that because these are hard times that folks are going through.”
The Wonksplainer forgot, however, to mention that it was she and Bill who implemented many of the policies (NAFTA, welfare reform, financial deregulation) that are driving people to Trump. She ascribes the problem to generic "globalization," a process akin to the weather. Technology also arrived on the oligarchic scene fully formed in the transnational governing scheme known as the Technocracy. 

The Clintonian appeal to wonkitude is so elitist and so headache-inducing that you can't really blame the desperate Trumpophiliac next door for embracing his simple sloganeering promise to Make America Great Again. No math skills, no white papers, no charts, no statistics are ever required. All you need is a chainsaw and a dream to tear up the whole Zone.

And unfortunately for Hillary, she's unwittingly opened herself right up for even more wanky Trumpian ridicule. Here's the dictionary definition of "wonky" --
adjective: wonky; comparative adjective: wonkier; superlative adjective: wonkiest
  1. crooked; off-center; askew.

    "you have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth"
    • (of a thing) unsteady; shaky.

      "they sat drinking, perched on the wonky stools"
    • not functioning correctly; faulty.

      "your sense of judgment is a bit wonky at the moment"

Friday, June 24, 2016

"Berxit" Begins

No, that isn't a typo. I'll be writing more about Brexit (a/k/a "The Failed Neoliberal Project Comes Home to Roost") in a later post.

This is about a different exodus.  Bernie Sanders made "Berxit" all but official this morning, telling MSNBC that he'll definitely be voting for Hillary Clinton this November.

But be heartened, Bernie-or-Busters. Just as it will take Prime Minister David Cameron a little while longer to finally skulk off in abject defeat, so too will Berxit be a gradual process. Just as Cameron doesn't want to upset the Market God by bolting from Number 10 too precipitously, before his successor is officially named, so too does Bernie not want to completely alienate his own supporters before his big prime-time consolation speech at the Philadelphia convention late next month.

These things must always be eased into delicately. Sanders has been giving none-too-subtle hints of his coming endorsement of Clinton, announcing just the other week that Priority Number One in his "revolution" will be "joining with" Clinton to defeat Donald Trump. How much more nuance can we stand?

That "joining" has now gingerly advanced into voting. The voting will soon evolve into endorsement and an official nomination ceremony. The nomination will morph into a honeymoon of Internet fund-raising, and TV ads, and campaigning for - or perhaps even with - Hillary on the stump. It's not so much a revolution, it's a transition toward lowered expectations.

I don't know about you, but I much prefer my band-aids to be ripped off in one quick tear. All of this incremental teasing the adhesive off of the scab that Sanders is playing at just prolongs and intensifies the agony.

You see, just because he is voting for Hillary. Bernie still doesn't want you to think that he's abandoned you, let alone dropped out of the presidential race. He delivered yet another barn-burner of a speech to supporters on Thursday, ticking off each and every progressive policy demand for inclusion in the Democratic platform. He titled it "Where Do We Go From Here?" in apparent homage to the last book written by Martin Luther King Jr before he was assassinated. King, too, tempered his own radicalism by urging pragmatism to the "militant" Black Power movement leaders. Change doesn't happen overnight, he said, nor does it happen with any one politician's election. And violence never gets you anywhere. Of course, King was writing in the days of the Great Society and the civil rights legislation born of his own brilliant activism. Neoliberalism -- control of societies and economies by unelected oligarchies and banks -- was still a distant nightmare back in the 60s.

Bernie Sanders just seems to be having a clumsy time evolving from his role as a presidential candidate who raised millions of dollars and won millions of votes into the perceived role of non-affiliated radical movement leader, following in the footsteps of Dr. King.

Although King, too, had urged his often-disappointed followers to run for public office, he had never sought or held office himself. He was never co-opted by the Democratic Party. And not only didn't he ever vow personal political fealty to Lyndon Johnson, he spoke out vociferously against Johnson's militarism, imperialism, and the Vietnam War.

Bernie is not speaking out against war. Although a vague critic of "regime change" and CIA dirty tricks, he actively supports President Obama's drone assassination program and has voted for billions of dollars in military appropriations in his capacity as senator. Posing as an outsider his entire political life, he is nonetheless a consummate insider -- despite what his colleagues and the mainstream media like to pretend. He's voted with Democrats more than 90 percent of the time.

Yet the pundits are still complaining about Bernie's continued "failure to concede". 

What does Bernie even want? is their tired, constant and agonized refrain. For every day that he stays in the race, he's only hurting Hillary and boosting Trump, for crying out loud!

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times delivered the latest appeal (published only hours before Bernie went on Morning Joe to all but smother Hillary with kisses), urging him to stop it already with the wishy-washiness. A girl can't wait forever for the engagement ring, especially if she is "less adept at campaigning." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Hillary from Rosenthal, but still:
Bernie Sanders is making his exit from the Democratic primary campaign in such slow motion that it’s starting to feel like he might still be in the race at Christmas.
Rosenthal then pivots to the standard media Bernie-diss of comparing him unfavorably to civil rights icon John Lewis, a "real" revolutionary who continued the struggle this week by staging a sit-down strike against gun violence (and paradoxically supporting the continuation of the anti-democratic No Fly List while he was at it.) Lewis still has the scars on his head to prove his bona fides. All Bernie has is a head of wispy white (white! white!) hair. This is identity politics run amok, served up by the Times to obfuscate the class war of the feral rich against the rest of us.

"The chilling scene in the House was just a taste of what Sanders followers will risk if they do not throw their undeniable enthusiasm behind Clinton and other Democratic candidates, and the G.O.P. holds Congress and wins the White House in November," Rosenthal scolded.

Bernie just can't win, no matter how valiantly he tries to passive-aggressively throw both himself and his supporters under the neoliberal bus. The pundits will probably still be asking him what the hell he wants 20 years from now. If there is, in fact, such a thing as 20 years from now in a United States of America.

Even in the wake of the mass outrage and disgust and despair evidenced by the Brexit vote and the rise of Trumpism on this side of the pond, they just don't seem to get it. They're still unwilling to acknowledge their own complicity in the creation of the worst social and economic inequality in modern history. 

Brexit, Berxit: The leaders of the free world are still stuck in the desolate room which Jean Paul Sartre described so brutally in No Exit. Nobody's willing to acknowledge the reasons for their own damnation, other than to say "mistakes were made." Even when salvation in the form an open door is offered to them, they refuse to leave, preferring instead the safe misery of each other's own dead company. "Hell,"wrote Sartre, "is other people."  

Our planet is alternately frying and drowning from a lethal overdose of capitalism, yet the smartest people in the room still waste precious time kvetching about a rapidly cooling Bern.

Their own insecurity is showing. Panglossian denial of the awful reality no longer suffices.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

$it-Down $tunt

It's an election year, and the Democrats need a new fundraising peg. So what better way to represent their constituents than to abandon their soft leather chairs for a soft thick carpet in a camera-ready show of solidarity against all the poor slobs being swept up willy-nilly in the Homeland Security surveillance dragnet? We have to keep guns out of the hands of those "potential" terrorists, dontcha know. They're guilty until proven innocent.

To hear the mainstream media tell it, this pseudo-strike by a bunch of liberal millionaires in the House of Representatives is a courageous act of civil disobedience against the malign forces of the Sovereign State of Republicantia. Those GOPers are such demented sadists they won't even pass a bill keeping guns out of the hands of whatever "Others" the Deep State decides to put on its secret and deeply undemocratic No Fly List.

Therefore, led by Civil Rights icon John Lewis, the House Democrats one by one lowered their pampered butts to the House Floor, their suddenly reanimated spines creaking in protest. They had their selfie-taking cell phones courageously charged and ready to document every fraught moment. And when Top Speaker Cop Paul Ryan summarily banned C-span cameras from the premises, the congress critters defiantly clicked on their Face Time apps so as to be able to communicate their marathon struggle on live TV.

It would have been considered politically incorrect to say that this act of limousine liberal disobedience was "a shot heard round the world," but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did her best Ralph Waldo Emerson imitation nonetheless, gushing: "It was a discussion heard round the world!"

The New York Times, totally embedded, breathlessly reported on the revolutionary "insurrection":
As Paul Ryan left the speaker’s chair, Democrats shouted: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
There were scenes of chaos across the floor as Republicans tried to resume regular business. At one point, Democrats began singing “We Shall Overcome” — altering the lyrics to say “We shall pass a bill some day” — as Republicans shouted in outrage.
The only thing marring the civil disobedience verisimilitude has been the strange lack of riot cops, truncheons, tear gas and water cannons. The irony is that the same Democratic Party which orchestrated the 2011 crackdowns of the Occupy Wall Street camps don't perceive the irony of it all. They are not threatened by the Capitol Police: they're protected by them.

The irony is that their party convention next month has been labeled a National Security special event. Any protesters attempting to breach the fence protecting the official bigwig activists will be subject to bodily harm and arrest. The congress-critters conveniently passed a special law a couple of years ago (HR 347) protecting their pampered butts from just such a populist eventuality. Whenever the pols lurch forth from beneath their Dome, going out in public to raise money and make promises from afar to the proles, the Secret Service is legally allowed, by whatever means necessary, to keep any malcontents from getting too extremely loud or incredibly close.

Of course, there never were any Congressional sit-down strikes by Democrats protesting such sadistic austerian measures as food stamp cuts and the end of long-term unemployment insurance in the wake of the financial collapse.  There were no outbursts of We Shall Overcome when it came time to appropriate a trillion-plus dollars for endless wars and their associated drones, bombs, guns and bullets.

As Glenn Greenwald reported in The Intercept this week, the mass shooting in Orlando has been the perfect excuse for hawkish Democrats like Senator Dianne Feinstein to double down on the brutal, violent and lucrative War on Terror while cynically hiding the real agenda under the wedge issue of domestic "gun control."

Here's what the millionaire civil rights sit-down strike is really all about:
Led by their propaganda outlet, Center for American Progress (CAP), Democrats now want to empower the Justice Department — without any judicial adjudication — to unilaterally bar citizens who have not been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime from purchasing guns.
Worse than the measure itself is the rancid rhetoric they are using. To justify this new list, Democrats, in unison, are actually arguing that the U.S. government must constrain people whom they are now calling “potential terrorists.” Just spend a moment pondering how creepy and Orwellian that phrase is in the context of government designations.
 What is a “potential terrorist”? Isn’t everyone that? And who wants the U.S. government empowered to unilaterally restrict what citizens can do based on predictions or guesses about what they might become or do in the future? Does anyone have any doubt that this will fall disproportionately on certain groups and types of people?
It's political theater designed to embarrass and provoke the Greater Evilists, who are so evil and beholden to the NRA that they're even willing to put guns in the hands of terrorists on watch-lists! It's even worse than the Democrats and Republicans joining together to sell billions of dollars' worth of arms to despots in places where they still chop people's heads off to teach them a lesson. The Dems' championship of the "No Fly, No Buy" legislation might prevent a death or two, but it's essentially a tainted band-aid with the adhesive removed.  It's also a blatant display of racial and ethnic profiling, since it would mainly target Muslims and any other "Others" who are spotted wearing turbans, having darker skins and speaking with accents.  

We shouldn't be applauding these Democratic poseurs, who've wasted no time blasting out their buck-raking emails fast and furious, urging us to show "solidarity" with them by donating our dwindling dollars to their campaigns:
They snuck in phones, took to Facebook and Twitter -- they have shown determination and grit in the face of nonsensical obstruction.

I've met too many families who've suffered after losing someone to gun violence. I've seen their pain and their frustration. I've held them while they cried, and mourned with them in their loss.
So today, as this remarkable piece of activism continues to unfold, I am so proud of my fellow Democrats. I want them to know I'm by their side. If you are, too, add your name today:
Thank you,


Select an Amount

 We should be calling them out for the hypocrites they truly are.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Smart Money, Stupid Money, and Flatulence

Let's cut to the cheese, I mean the chase. This presidential contest, at which we the plebeians are reduced to mere spectators, has officially devolved into a battle between elitism and vulgarity.

The headlines in the mainstream media blast out the story that the Clintonites desperately want you to hear. This is a battle between piles of cash. There's good, plentiful cash and then there's bad skimpy cash. None of it will ever actually be yours, or even used to improve your lives, but they do want you to root for it anyway.

And at this point, the smart liberal money (elite Clinton) is beating the stupid reactionary money (vulgar Trump.)

Trump is getting crushed, not by the allegedly superior and more humanitarian policies of Hillary Clinton, but by her big fat mean Money Machine. It really is a Dollarocracy, people!

Trump Starts Summer Push With Crippling Money Deficit  jeers the headline in today's New York Times:  
Mr. Trump began June with just $1.3 million in cash on hand, a figure more typical for a campaign for the House of Representatives than the White House. He trailed Hillary Clinton, who raised more than $28 million in May, by more than $41 million, according to reports filed late Monday night with the Federal Election Commission.He has a staff of around 70 people — compared with nearly 700 for Mrs. Clinton — suggesting only the barest effort toward preparing to contest swing states this fall. And he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday, after concerns among allies and donors about his abili a competitive race.
Nothing insults and weakens a narcissistic tycoon more than accusing him of being flat broke. Not accusations of bigotry, or misogyny, or xenophobia, or con artistry, or sprayed-on tan, or fake hair. In Trump World, honest and direct personal groveling before members of one's own class is tantamount to panhandling and an admission of failure. It's a slap in the face to the Art of the Deal. It's a blow to Trump's super-ego, or more accurately, to his super-id. His self-worth is based entirely upon his net worth. And his net worth is looking more and more like a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme by the minute.
Fund-raising efforts for Mr. Trump have been hampered by the candidate’s own erratic public comments. He has repeatedly said he will pay for his own campaign even as his volunteers fan out around the country to solicit six-figure checks, confusing allies and potential donors alike.
“Two days ago, he said, ‘I may fund it myself,’” Mr. (GOP Operative Ed) Rollins said. “Donors are all being cautious about what’s going to happen here.”
And if Hillary Clinton is labeled a rich elitist candidate in the process, solely defined by her bank account, that suits her just fine. It deflects attention away from the essential vulgarity of her own rise to power, her subsequent self-enrichment from her family foundation, political influence-peddling, paid speeches, and various venal SuperPacs.

She has no Trumpian qualms. After all, she heartily admitted that she and Bill were "dead broke" when they left the White House, just barely scraping by with a new estate in Westchester County and multimillions in book advances, not to mention a Senate seat representing Wall Street for Hill and the lucrative speaking circuit for Bill.

Her virtue, they want all of you poor slobs out there to know, lies in her superior ability to handle her money and get an endless supply it by expertly stroking and grooming an endless supply of eager donors. Trump's vice is not only his mishandling of his own possibly fraudulent fortune, it's also his inability to hire the right people to handle, and get, the billions in campaign cash that he so desperately needs to win. Schmoozing well with others doesn't come naturally to a media bully whose main claim to fame is firing people when he's not kicking them out of his Nuremberg-style campaign rallies.

Hillary knows how to take advantage of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. As leaked DNC documents show, her bundlers are even furnished with a delicate script to help coax the mega-rich from their money. Donald hasn't  figured how to flatter too many people besides himself yet, and time's running out. Therefore, as the media narrative has it this week, he should be disqualified on the basis of his puny finances as well as on the basis of his policies (whatever they really are; he hasn't figured that out either.) The handful of wealthy donors who select the candidates, win the elections and buy the government policies and tax breaks they want, certainly don't want to invest in an incompetent or lying gasbag with attention deficit disorder.

 The self-dealing benignity of the educated wealthy has been an integral part of the mythology of American liberalism since the founding of the Republic - just as dissing greater-evil barbarians like Trump has always been part of their public relations campaign to hold on to power. They claim to abhor his boorish divide-and-conquer rhetoric, even as they themselves are just fine with the status quo of Planned Political Gridlock for Plutocratic Gain. Similarly, the smart Founders justified owning other human beings by simply pointing across the pond at those vulgar Brits, who had the poor inhumane taste to banish people to workhouses and debtors' prisons.

Not that everything is calm and cool in Clintoncashland, of course. Otherwise it wouldn't be Clintonian. Even with her premature "clinching" of the nomination, Hillary is strangely still paranoid about Bernie Sanders.

On Monday, for example, the New Jersey Democratic Committee unceremoniously purged its own former chairman just because he is a Bernie Sanders delegate. The booted official, State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, wryly called the move ironic, given that right before he was dumped, the committee had been discussing ways to unify Clinton and Sanders supporters.

This move came right on the heels of the Congressional Black Caucus vowing to fight Sanders's proposal to abolish the super-delegate system, in which both elected officials and unelected donors and lobbyists get weighted votes to put establishment candidates over the top in intra-party contests. The CBC is also vehemently against holding open primaries in states that currently bar Republican and independent voters from casting ballots in Democratic primary contests. "We wouldn't want to have to run against our own constituents," protested Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), somewhat feebly and undemocratically.

Apparently, Hillary's campaign slogan of "breaking down barriers" doesn't quite extend to opening doors to more marginalized voters. 

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped marginalia plan to fight the political hot air with some potent gas of their own. Vulgarity is as vulgarity does, as my mama used to say. So former Green Party vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala has announced an epic Fart-In to counteract Hillary's acceptance speech next month in Philly.

Honkala, a single mom who has personally dealt with poverty and homelessness, told Truthdig
“We will be holding a massive bean supper for Bernie Sanders delegates on American Street in my Kensington neighborhood on the afternoon of July 28,” she said. “We are setting up a Clintonville there, modeled on the Hoovervilles of the 1930s where the poor and unemployed built shanty towns. The Sanders delegates, their bellies full of beans, will be able to return to the Wells Fargo Center and greet the rhetorical flatulence of Hillary Clinton with the real thing.”

Honkala said she would issue an invitation to Sanders to join the bean supper, which she is calling Beans for Hillary. She has asked donors to send cans of beans to 1301-W Porter Street, Philadelphia, Pa., 19148.
“Any remaining beans will be served to the homeless, although we will, of course, be urging Sanders delegates to eat as much as possible,” Honkala said.
This kind of flips the noxious advice to hold your nose and vote for the lesser evil right on its butt.

How about making the Evils hold their own noses for a change?  

 Jonathan Swift, writing under the pseudonym Don Fartando, may have been the first to warn the proles of the severe health hazards of bottling up your gas. He  wrote a satiric pamphlet, called "The Benefit of Farting" way back in 1722, to counter a scolding sadistic screed published by the austerians of the wealthy ruling class, advising the poor on "The Benefit of Fasting."

Confronting the bombastic Clintonian winds of war with a mass outbreak of popular bumbast might be just the therapy that everybody needs.

The Fart of the Deal