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“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

“It’s Time For You To Speak Out Against Trump”: How You’ll Feel If Trump Is Elected And You Did Nothing To Stop Him

Earlier this week, a friend of many years signed on to Facebook and surprised me — and surely many others who know her — by writing a short but powerful post about politics.

Specifically, she addressed that small and vocal percentage of Bernie Sanders supporters who insist they will never vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

My friend’s message to them: If Hillary loses by a narrow margin, you will share the blame.

This is so unlike her. She has plenty of political opinions she shares privately, but on social media, she is relentlessly kind and uncontroversial. She is also, however, so worried about the future of our country.

The ensuing discussion on her Facebook wall was spirited but never ugly. She was lucky. I’m not naming her, nor am I quoting her exact words, because I don’t want angry strangers to read this and hunt for her on Facebook.

Almost daily, I hear from women who want to either explain why they keep secret their support for Clinton or share their regret that they didn’t. We veterans of the misogyny wars — women who are columnists, activists or in a leadership role of any kind — know how ugly it can get when a woman dares to share her opinion. But this campaign season has been a harrowing initiation for a whole lot of women who had no idea just how quickly strangers — and people who are supposed to love them — can turn on a woman for speaking her mind.

Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, which makes this a presidential campaign like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Here in the U.S., I mean. I’ve written many times already about his misogyny, xenophobia and racism. To leaders of countries around the world, he is an abomination. His rhetoric of hate turns rallies into mobs and deceives so many into thinking he actually cares about them.

This is why all of you good women and men who normally steer clear of politics must find ways to influence the debate over who should be our next president. You are the ones who can have the greatest influence in winnowing those margins. Most of the people in your lives don’t care what people like me have to say about elections. They do, however, care what you think.

It can be scary wading into those choppy waters. When I saw my friend’s Facebook post, I thought of a 46-year-old woman who called me at my desk in the Plain Dealer newsroom in September 2008.

I had written several columns during that campaign season about how white working-class voters were reportedly struggling with the issue of race in the presidential election. I come from the white working class, and I knew from raw experience the content of too many of those conversations.

In those columns, I encouraged people like me, who were eager to elect the first black president of the United States, to talk to their loved ones — those who might only watch Fox so-called News Channel but were willing to listen to an opposing viewpoint from someone they love.

That woman who called me was one of the brave souls who took me up on it.

In a trembling voice, she told me she had finally told her beloved father, “Stop.”

I described our conversation in an essay for The Nation the day after the election:

“He said he wouldn’t vote for a black man,” she told me. “And I held up my hand and said, Daddy, stop.”

She said it was the first time in her forty-six years that she had stood up to her father, and that her knees were trembling after she did it. When I asked her what happened next, she laughed.

“Well, after he got over the shock, we talked. And we’re still talking. I don’t know if he’s going to vote for Obama, but at least he understands now why I will.”

Eight years later, I still think about that woman because of the peace she described washing over her after she had stood up for what was right. There’s nothing like it, and there’s only one way to find it.

You may think you don’t have it in you to speak up when someone you know talks about why he or she is voting for Donald Trump.

You’re just one person, you might say.

Multiply you by millions, I say.

I’m asking that you consider how you’re going to feel if Trump is elected and you know you could have done something to stop him.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism; The National Memo, May 26, 2016

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Women Voters | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Really Dumb Politics”: The Stupidest Thing GOP Leaders Have Done Lately? Threaten To Take Away Middle Class Overtime Pay

Talk about a political tin ear! Wednesday, House Republican Leader Paul Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to take away middle class overtime pay.

Speaking as a Progressive Democrat my response is simple: go ahead — make our day. Talk about bad politics.

Here is the backstory. On Wednesday, the administration announced its final rule revising the threshold used to define who is automatically required to be paid time and a half for overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week.

The Wage and Hour Act that was passed in 1938 requires overtime be paid to almost all hourly workers. But there are exceptions for professional, managerial and executive personnel.

To prevent employers from declaring that people who do ordinary jobs are professional, managerial or executive personnel, the law required the Labor Department to set a pay threshold. If a worker makes less than that threshold, he or she cannot be categorized as a professional, manager or executive, no matter what his or her “duties.”

Three decades ago, when the wage threshold was set, 62 percent of all workers made less than that threshold and qualified for automatic overtime, no matter their job classification.

But the threshold has not been materially increased for 30 years. As a result, only 8 percent of all employees now qualify for automatic overtime. And, not surprisingly, many companies have driven a Mack truck right through the “professional, executive and managerial” loophole. As a result many employees, like some who spend most of their days making sandwiches at Subway, are classified as “managers” and required to work 50- or 60-hour weeks with no overtime pay. In fact, they are often put on fixed — if tiny — “salaries” so they get no pay for overtime at all.

The disappearance of overtime protections is precisely one of the rules of the economic game that has been rigged by the CEO class to assure that virtually all of the new income growth in America has gone to the top one percent.

So Wednesday, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Sherrod Brown went to Columbus, Ohio to announce that the threshold would be raised from $23,000 — where it has been stuck for years — to $47,500.

This is a huge victory for the middle class and all ordinary workers, and it is likely to benefit more than 12 million American families. It will once again make certain that workers are actually paid for their overtime.

But to hear the Republicans, this was a gigantic Obama overreach that will stifle job growth and hurt small businesses. This is the same thing they say whenever we increase the minimum wage or take other steps to make certain that ordinary people get to keep a bigger share of economic growth that they themselves create. But Republican predictions of doom never turn out to be true.

Of course the reason it never turns out to be true is that economic growth — and with it, job growth — is actually fueled by putting more money into consumer pockets rather than in the offshore accounts of corporate CEOs.

But putting the economics of the case aside — for the GOP this is really dumb politics. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or political guru to tell you that trying to take away the overtime pay of ordinary voters will not make them happy — no matter how happy it makes the GOP’s corporate givers.

If there is one thing that this election season has made crystal clear: ordinary voters are plenty unhappy about the fact that their incomes have flatlined at the same time CEO salaries and bonuses have soared. It makes no sense to them that per capita Gross Domestic Product has shot up 48 percent over the last 30 years and yet their incomes have stagnated. And they are figuring out who is to blame — the .01 percent that rigged the rules of the economic game so they could keep virtually all of that gain for themselves.

But Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have convinced their rank and file that they are better off being dragged around by their noses by corporate bigwigs who give them money than they are by paying attention to the needs of ordinary voters.

Newsflash: want to know why the GOP rank and file has turned on the GOP elite? It’s because they have time and time again failed to deliver for the white working class men who they have used as cannon fodder in their quest to give more tax breaks for the rich.

So now this brilliant GOP leadership has threatened to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to pass resolutions overturning the new overtime rule — and in effect take away people’s overtime pay. But when they do, President Obama will veto their resolution, and there is no way Democrats will give the GOP the votes to override his veto of this very popular new regulation.

Instead, Democrats plan to have a field day reminding voters that their GOP representative voted to take away their overtime pay.

Sometimes, as the famous organizer Saul Alinski once said: you can count on your enemy. This time, the Republican’s blind allegiance to corporate orthodoxy and rightwing ideology will lead them into a bloody political ambush. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving crew.

 

By: Robert J. Creamer, The Blog, The Huffington Post, May 20, 2016

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Middle Class, Mitch Mc Connell, Overtime Pay, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Statement Of Mathematical Fact”: Come On, Bernie, Time To Level With Your Dreamers

Soon and very soon, Bernie Sanders is going to have to help his most ardent fans confront the fact of his defeat. How he does so will help to determine his legacy.

That is not meant to disparage the campaign or the candidate, despite the vitriol that’s sure to start flooding into my Twitter timeline right now. It’s a statement of mathematical fact. As of today, no matter what happens in Kentucky (or Oregon, or Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, D.C. or even mighty California), Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee.

Clinton is 94 percent of the way to the 2,383 required delegates, having won 54 percent of the total pledged delegates so far, to Sanders’s 46 percent. She needs only 35 percent of what’s left, while Sanders needs 65 percent, and a literal miracle. If you throw in superdelegates, as they stand today, Clinton needs just 14 percent of the remainder to win, versus an astounding 86 percent haul Sanders needs.

Everyone covering this race knows these facts, and the only question is how to manage the communication of them in a way that respects the ongoing democratic process.

Of course, none of that has stopped the magical thinking, and in some quarters, the rage and even conspiracy theorizing of hardcore Sandernistas who refuse to accept that the war is lost. Case in point, the cantankerous Nevada Democratic convention in Las Vegas this weekend at which stalwart liberal California Sen. Barbara Boxer was booed and shouted down for the crime of calling for civility and party unity, and a fight literally broke out on the convention floor over the setting of rules and the election of 43 delegates and three alternates to go to the July 25 national convention in Philadelphia.

Indeed, there’s nothing quite like firing up Twitter only to be inundated by Bernie-hair avatars shrieking about hundreds of thousands—no, millions—of would-be Bernie voters falling victim to a supposed national voter suppression campaign that is the “real reason” he isn’t winning. The culprits, in this alternate reality, are the Democratic National Committee, which does not set the rules for individual caucuses and primaries. They are run, respectively, by state parties and state legislatures, but according to the theory, they’ve been gamed by nefarious Hillary Clinton operatives in the parties, who have been programmed by “The Establishment” to deny Bernie his rightful nomination.

And then there’s Sanders, his wife Jane’s and some of his prominent surrogates’ dismissals of the heavily African-American Southern primaries won by Hillary Clinton as irrelevant red states that are too conservative, too “brand loyal” and too unacquainted with their own best interests to have voted the “right way”; nearly all-white red caucus states like Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and nearly all-white, red primary states like West Virginia notwithstanding.

The rush to conspiracy theories, appropriation of the real, ongoing struggles against actual voter suppression including voter ID laws, and the embrace by some on the Sanders left of every scurrilous accusation against Hillary Clinton, from the ’90s to Benghazi, is jarring. And the memes are especially vicious among the youngest Sandernistas, whose abject, #BerntheWitch hatred of Secretary Clinton is reaching World Net Daily proportions. In fact, some supposed leftists have taken to tweeting out actual WND, Breitbart, and Daily Caller links to prove their case.

And while this likely represents a small minority of Sanders supporters, much like the Hillary PUMAs and “Obama bros” in 2008, the Sanders campaign and the candidate have done little to try to shut it down.

In 2008, Team Obama pushed out foreign policy adviser Samantha Power and sidelined Obama national co-chair Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for slagging Hillary Clinton as a “monster” and mocking her New Hampshire tears, respectively. Obama himself directed his team and supporters to lay off the Clintons, while the Clinton campaign ultimately forced out Geraldine Ferraro over her racial bitterness, and wouldn’t let the PUMA faithful anywhere near the Denver convention, to the point where some of them turned on Hillary herself as a traitor to the cause.

By contrast, Sanders and his team have seemed at times to encourage the bitter-enders to fight to the proverbial death, with the campaign itself vowing to contest the nomination right onto the convention floor. It’s not clear what Team Sanders hopes to achieve, beyond a platform battle in Philadelphia that will make for a great TV spectacle, but won’t change the outcome.

Meanwhile, a reality show vulgarian with a penchant for fight club rallies, tasteless broadsides against “flat-chested women” and a singular ability to excite white nationalists (including his own longtime butler) with his anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican rhetoric is quickly consolidating the Republican Party behind his nomination. And some Democratic operatives are starting to worry that Sanders’s zombie campaign is preventing Hillary Clinton—who possesses some real flaws as a candidate, from her inability to deliver a big speech to the ongoing drag from her paid speeches and her private email server—from focusing her full attention and resources on the real target.

If Sanders does hope to have a future in Democratic Party politics, he will eventually have to tell his supporters the truth: that he simply lost the primary contest, despite a hard-fought race. He’ll have to walk back some of his sharpest anti-Clinton rhetoric, and find some way to become a bridge to the voters who have become so fervently devoted to him.

It’s tough to imagine the Vermont senator actively embracing Clinton, who is considerably more hawkish on foreign policy, and less ambitious on domestic affairs than he. But Sanders has a particular credibility with white working-class voters and young, mostly white collegians. Sanders’s particular resonance with the white working-class,a group that has bedeviled Democrats over the last 50 years, and whose skepticism of free trade makes them a prime target for Donald Trump, could prove to be his most valuable asset to his newfound party. Sanders has proven to be an effective attacker when he sets his mind to it. If, as he says, he wants to do everything in his power to prevent a Trump presidency, nothing is preventing him from using his capital now, to try to prevent those voters in his camp from bolting to Trumpville by training his fire on the Republican nominee.

Of course, Sanders could refuse to do that, perhaps concluding that he would lose too much credibility with the rather angry movement he’s built, and go right on hitting Hillary Clinton instead. But he risks winding up an isolated figure in Philadelphia, surrounded by his diehards but scorned by Democrats who blame him for weakening the nominee, tolerated by Camp Clinton only because they have to, and unable to win meaningful platform concessions from a party that could well view him as an enemy invader, rather than a bluntly critical, but ultimately valuable friend.

Only time will tell how Sanders chooses to play out the end of his campaign.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, May 18, 2016

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Don’t Fall For The Media Distortion About Trump”: A Wildly And Destructively Inaccurate Portrait Of Us As A People

The evidence is in, and it shows that the dominant media narratives about 2016 are wrong. Our country is not roiled with across-the-board discontent, and Donald Trump is not the most important voice in our politics. Turmoil in one of our political parties is being misread as reflecting a deep crisis well beyond its boundaries.

The most revealing and underplayed development of the week is Gallup’s finding that President Obama’s approval rating hit 53 percent (not once, but three times). This was its highest level since April 2013. If the people of the United States had lost all confidence in their institutions, the president wouldn’t be enjoying such a surge in popularity.

Compare the current incumbent, first, to George W. Bush. His approval rating at this point in his presidency was 32 percent, on its way down to 28 percent a few weeks later. And in a comparable period in 1988, Ronald Reagan’s approval stood at 50 percent. Note that the incumbent party was routed in 2008 but comfortably held on to the White House 20 years earlier.

And the demography of Obama’s support explains why a relentless media focus on Trump and the Republican primaries entirely warps the message coming from Americans as a whole. Obama’s approval rating is at 89 percent with Democrats and 50 percent among independents. But it stands at only 12 percent with Republicans and 9 percent among conservative Republicans. Yet the voices of conservative Republicans are being amplified beyond all reason by the obsession with Trump and the GOP’s struggles.

Sure, conservatives really don’t like Barack Obama. But that’s not news, and we certainly didn’t need Trump to bring it to us.

And speaking of Trump, the sharp partisan differences in attitudes toward him again signal the folly of viewing this year’s political events through a lens trained almost entirely on one party. A March 16-21 Quinnipiac poll found that Trump was viewed favorably by 62 percent of Republicans but only 34 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats. His overall favorability rating: 33 percent.

In the case of Obama, many independents are on the same page as Democrats. In the case of Trump, affection is mostly a Republican phenomenon — and even there, Trump has far less sympathy in his party than Obama has among those in Democratic ranks. Trumpism is not sweeping the nation. It has a strong foothold only in the Republican Party, and not even all of it.

Now only Pollyanna or Candide would conclude that everything is going swimmingly for our country. The Trump rebellion in the GOP and the Bernie Sanders revolution among Democrats both reveal the discontent of Americans who have been left out in our return to prosperity. If there is a bipartisan message in 2016, it is that our ruling classes have ignored the plight of those being hammered by technological change and globalization.

But Trumpism is a very poor guide to what needs to be done. Those hurting include both middle-aged white working-class voters, particularly men, and African Americans who — as the sociologist William J. Wilson showed in his pioneering book “When Work Disappears” — were particularly disadvantaged by deindustrialization. At a time when we need to address legitimate grievances across our lines of division, Trump is driving a racial and ethnic wedge through the country.

As Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee pointed out in an important analysis of the data on the contest so far, “racial attitudes uniquely predict support for Trump,” including “racial resentment and explicit racial stereotypes.”

This doesn’t mean that we should write off the pain many Trump supporters feel. Nor should we ignore Trump’s challenge to conservative economic orthodoxy. But in the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump, the backlash around race and how he is courting it deserve far more scrutiny — even if this means The Donald might turn down a television network’s offer to do yet another telephone interview, in his pajamas, if he wishes.

At the least, the media might start asking whether the president’s popularity and Trump’s relative lack of it tell us something very important about what is happening in our nation that is being utterly lost in the clamor of Trumpism. We are allowing a wildly and destructively inaccurate portrait of us as a people to dominate our imaginations and debase our thinking.

If you will forgive me for borrowing from the man obsessed with talking about “winners,” someone here is a “loser,” and it’s not Barack Obama.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 30, 2016

April 1, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Media, President Obama | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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