"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Perfect Target For Republicans”: Clinton Should Have Exposed Sanders When She Had A Chance

Here’s my basic problem with Bernie Sanders. To put it bluntly, once a Trotskyite, always a fool. Personal experience of Sixties-style left wing posturing left me allergic to the word “revolution,” and the humorless autodidacts who bandy it about. The Bernie Sanders type, I mean: morally superior, never mistaken, and never in doubt.

I’ll never forget the time in 1970 that several “radical” colleagues my wife had invited for dinner denounced our record collection as racist. Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Flatt and Scruggs. Never mind that we also owned B.B. King, Lightning Hopkins, Beethoven and British rock albums. A taste for country music made us, pardon the expression, politically incorrect.

Also professionally doomed. I needed to resign before they fired me. I had no interest in either of the academic community’s ruling passions: Marxist sentimentalism and real estate.

How Bernie missed becoming an English professor at some picturesque New England college, I cannot understand.

Anyway, here’s where I’m going with this. To me, the Clinton campaign’s high-minded refusal to expose Senator Sanders has been a big mistake, needlessly allowing this unelectable crank to pose as a serious candidate far too long—and enabling Bernie and his impassioned supporters to translate the old GOP anti-Hillary playbook into left-wing jargon.

In consequence, Clinton has found herself in a one-sided fight against her own degraded image. Some of it is  her own damn fault. Accepting preposterous fees to speak to Wall Street bankers and then keeping the speeches secret is no way to run for president.

But realistically, Sanders lost any chance of prevailing after he lost New York and Pennsylvania badly. Word has yet to reach him. Meanwhile, it has become common to see Clinton described as “evil,” a “war-monger” and worse on social media, while the Sanders campaign whines that it was cheated. The damage to progressive chances in November from this kind of poisonous rhetoric is hard to overstate.

In The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky puts it this way: “The guy who’s going to end up with about 300 fewer pledged delegates and more than 3 million fewer votes doesn’t get to say ‘you beat me, but you must adopt my position.’ It’s preposterous and arrogant, which of course means he will do it.”

Has leading the Children’s Crusade gone to Sanders’ head? No doubt. However, my larger point is that he’s always been this guy, and Democrats have been needlessly polite about it.

Is it impolite to point out, like Slate’s Michelle Goldberg, that in “1980, Sanders served as an elector for the Socialist Workers Party, which was founded on the principles of Leon Trotsky. According to the New York Times, that party called for abolishing the military budget. It also called for ‘solidarity’ with the revolutionary regimes in Iran, Nicaragua, Grenada, and Cuba; this was in the middle of the Iranian hostage crisis.”

No, that’s not objectionable because it’s undeniably true. No doubt Sanders has an explanation for such heterodox, albeit politically poisonous views. Fine — so why hasn’t he been forced make it?

In 1976, Bernie urged the University of Vermont student paper to “contrast what the young people in China and Cuba are doing for themselves and for their country as compared to the young people in America…It’s quite obvious why kids are going to turn to drugs to get the hell out of a disgusting system or sit in front of a TV set for 60 hours a week.”He wrote stern letters to the FCC protesting shows like “Gunsmoke” and “I Love Lucy.”

Ancient history? Perhaps. But also 30 years after George Orwell’s epochal novel Animal Farm, and around the same as Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” was winding down after giving millions of Chinese youngsters a swell chance to serve their country in slave labor camps.

As I say, show me an American Trotskyite, and I’ll show you a damned fool.

But again, shouldn’t Bernie have had to explain it?

Let’s pass over Sanders’ newspaper columns fantasizing about rape and suggesting that cervical cancer is caused by sexual frustration.

“Basically,” writes Will Saletan “if you were designing the perfect target for Republicans—a candidate who proudly links socialist economics to hippie culture, libertinism, left-wing foreign policy, new-age nonsense, and contempt for bourgeois values—you’d create Bernie Sanders.”

With so distinguished a record of crackpot opinions, maybe it shouldn’t surprise that Bernie has also misjudged the Democratic electorate. Salon’s Amanda Marcotte is correct: Sanders didn’t lose because establishment Democrats cheated. He lost because his Thomas Frank-influenced theory that strong majorities of white working class voters would respond enthusiastically to left-wing economic populism turns out to be wrong. The “revolutionary” turnout Bernie kept predicting never materialized.

He swept the white-bread college campuses and the cow states. End of story. The urban proletariat? Not so much. Who can be shocked? Campus radicals have been trashing “establishment” Democrats and fantasizing about a working class insurrection all Bernie’s life.

The revolution remains imaginary.


By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 1, 2016

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Trump’s Eerie Echoes Of The Ayatollah Khomeini”: We’re In A National Stupor, Drunk On Anger, Deaf And Blind To The Truth

For weeks, Donald Trump’s words “Win, win, win! We’re gonna win so much you’re gonna get bored with winning!” had been swirling in my head. They had become a rhetorical riddle my mind would not quit turning over. The eyes, stunned by what had all the trappings of a debut, proved easier to fool. But the ears suspected an encore performance they had heard before—the repetitive speech, the stunted and imperfect sentences where eloquence had been expected. Both in construct and theme, in the promise to deliver the undeliverable, for inherent to the nature of winning is the notion of exclusivity, the necessary absence of collectivity, Trump’s voice had a familiar echo.

Then a friend forwarded a clip of an archival link from February 1979. It was a short interview the late ABC News anchorman, Peter Jennings, had conducted with the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. They were aboard an Air France flight that was taking the leader to Tehran, where delirious millions had lined the streets to welcome him after 14 years in exile.

The Ayatollah who had brought the pious and the secular together was billed as the ultimate trifecta—at once a Shiite saint (an imam, a position to which he was elevated upon landing), the local equivalent of Mahatma Gandhi for opposing the monarchy, and the most visible heir to the lyrical tradition which had produced Rumi and Omar Khayyam.

Taking my lead from the nation, I was ripe to fall in love with the leader despite all that was unlovable about him—the dark robe, the unruly gray beard, the ascetic eyebrows that never parted. Still, glued to the television, I was yearning to hear what that homebound repository of public hope had to say.

“Please kindly tell us,” asked Peter Jennings, “how you feel about your return to Iran?”

“Nothing!” said our turbaned Odysseus.

The suave translator, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, hailed as “one of his own” by the very imam who ordered his execution a few years later, turned “nothing” into “no comment” for the camera.

Jennings persisted: “Is he sad, happy?”

Again, no comment!

“Nothing!” should have alarmed everyone. That unfeeling answer foretold the unfeeling man who thereafter proved capable of carrying out some of the most heartless acts in modern Iran. The Ayatollah could not have been more forthcoming. The trouble was that we, Iranians, were in a national stupor, drunk on anger, deaf and blind to the truth even as it marched across our television screens and brazenly spoke to us. That anger led to a collective ecstasy whose tide Iranians rode into a historic deception.

Hours after landing, the Ayatollah gave his first speech in Tehran’s major cemetery, of all places. His choice of a venue also foreshadowed the decimation that would follow. But our intoxication would not yield to thinking, nor lift by reason.

There was no trace of Rumi in that speech. If anything, Rumi was turning in his grave hearing the Persian syntax so wildly violated. That day, the Ayatollah promised: “We will build homes. But don’t be satisfied with just that. We will make water and electricity free for the poor. We will make public transportation free for the poor. But don’t be satisfied with just that. … We will build this world, and the after-life.”

He also promised to (38 years later I still cringe) “whack the government in the mouth.” In subsequent speeches, he dubbed the United States the Great Satan and put forth his foreign policy agenda for dealing with the world’s greatest power: “It [America] can’t do a damn thing!” That belligerent gesture brought Iran to a nadir in its diplomatic history, to the notorious hostage crisis of 1979.

The heedless students who scaled the walls of the U.S. compound that November have since regretted their act, for they learned that wrecking relations takes only hours, while building them takes decades.

The protesters who chant “build that wall” at rallies throughout America are bound for a similar lesson.

For the same reasons the Ayatollah openly detested the educated, Mr. Trump loves the uneducated. Needless to say that neither public transportation, nor water and electricity ever became free for any Iranian, just in the same way that all Americans are unlikely to turn into winners. Americans often ask why Iranians, who seem to be so far above their regime, do not revolt to overthrow that regime. The answer, in great part, is that the hangover from the previous one gone so awry still lingers.

A few years ago, I swore allegiance to the flag of the United States and promised to protect it against any threats. I see one now. Therefore, this essay.


By: Roya Hakakian, The Daily Beast, March 29, 2016

March 30, 2016 Posted by | Ayatollah Khomeini, Donald Trump, International Relations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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