Progressive Calendar 05.03.15 /3
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 3 May 2015 12:58:05 -0700 (PDT)

1. Matt Tiabbi        - Give 'Em Hell, Bernie
2. Paterick Walker - Bernie Excites Progressive Passion; Hillary, Our Vomit
3. ed                      - Hillary poem

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*Give 'Em Hell, Bernie*
By Matt Taibbi, *Rolling Stone*
29 April 15

Many years ago I pitched a magazine editor on a story about Bernie Sanders,
then a congressman from Vermont, who'd agreed to something extraordinary –
he agreed to let me, a reporter, stick next to him without restrictions
over the course of a month in congress.

"People need to know how this place works. It's absurd," he'd said. (Bernie
often uses the word absurd, his Brooklyn roots coming through in his
pronunciation – ob-zert.)

Bernie wasn't quite so famous at the time and the editor scratched his
head. "Bernie Sanders," he said. "That's the one who cares, right?"

"Right, that's the guy," I said.

I got the go-ahead and the resulting story was a wild journey through the
tortuous bureaucratic maze of our national legislature. I didn't write this
at the time, but I was struck every day by what a strange and interesting
figure Sanders was.

Many of the battles he brought me along to witness, he lost. And no normal
politician would be comfortable with the optics of bringing a Rolling Stone
reporter to a Rules Committee hearing.

But Sanders genuinely, sincerely, does not care about optics. He is the
rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person. If he's motivated
by anything other than a desire to use his influence to protect people who
can't protect themselves, I've never seen it. Bernie Sanders is the kind of
person who goes to bed at night thinking about how to increase the
heating-oil aid program for the poor.

This is why his entrance into the 2016 presidential race is a great thing
and not a mere footnote to the inevitable coronation of Hillary Clinton as
the Democratic nominee. If the press is smart enough to grasp it, his
entrance into the race makes for a profound storyline that could force all
of us to ask some very uncomfortable questions.

Here's the thing: Sanders is a politician whose power base is derived
almost entirely from the people of the state of Vermont, where he is
personally known to a surprisingly enormous percentage of voters.

His chief opponents in the race to the White House, meanwhile, derive their
power primarily from corporate and financial interests. That doesn't make
them bad people or even bad candidates necessarily, but it's a fact that
the Beltway-media cognoscenti who decide these things make access to money
the primary factor in determining whether or not a presidential aspirant is
"viable" or "credible." Here's how the Wall Street Journal put it in their
story about Sanders (emphasis mine):

It is unclear how much money Mr. Sanders expects to raise, or what he
thinks he needs to run a credible race. Mr. Sanders raised about $7 million
for his last re-election in Vermont, a small state. Sums needed to run
nationally are far larger.

The Washington/national press has trained all of us to worry about these
questions of financing on behalf of candidates even at such an early stage
of a race as this.

In this manner we're conditioned to believe that the candidate who has the
early assent of a handful of executives on Wall Street and in Hollywood and
Silicon Valley is the "serious" politician, while the one who is merely the
favorite of large numbers of human beings is an irritating novelty act
whose only possible goal could be to cut into the numbers of the real

Sanders offers an implicit challenge to the current system of national
electoral politics. With rare exceptions, campaign season is a time when
the backroom favorites of financial interests are marketed to the
population. Weighed down by highly regressive policy intentions, these
candidates need huge laboratories of focus groups and image consultants to
guide them as they grope around for a few lines they can use to sell
themselves to regular working people.

Sanders on the other hand has no constituency among the monied crowd.
"Billionaires do not flock to my campaign," he quipped. So what his race is
about is the reverse of the usual process: he'll be marketing the interests
of regular people to the gatekeeping Washington press, in the hope that
they will give his ideas a fair shot.

It's a little-known fact, but we reporters could successfully sell Sanders
or Elizabeth Warren or any other populist candidate as a serious contender
for the White House if we wanted to. Hell, we told Americans it was okay to
vote for George Bush, a man who moves his lips when he reads.

But the lapdog mentality is deeply ingrained and most Beltway scribes
prefer to wait for a signal from above before they agree to take anyone not
sitting atop a mountain of cash seriously.

Thus this whole question of "seriousness" – which will dominate coverage of
the Sanders campaign – should really be read as a profound indictment of
our political system, which is now so openly an oligarchy that any
politician who doesn't have the blessing of the bosses is marginalized
before he or she steps into the ring.

I remember the first time I was sold on Bernie Sanders as a politician. He
was in his congressional office and he was ranting about the fact that many
of the manufacturing and financial companies who asked him and other
members of congress for tax breaks and aid were also in the business of
moving American jobs overseas to places like China.

Sanders spent years trying to drum up support for a simple measure that
would force any company that came to Washington asking for handouts to
promise they wouldn't turn around and ship jobs to China or India.

That didn't seem like a lot to ask, but his fellow members treated him like
he was asking for a repeal of the free enterprise system. This issue drove
Sanders crazy. Again showing his Brooklyn roots, Bernie gets genuinely mad
about these things. While some pols are kept up at night worrying about the
future profitability of gazillionaire banks, Sanders seethes over the many
obvious wrongs that get smoothed over and covered up at his place of work.

That saltiness, I'm almost sure of it, is what drove him into this race. He
just can't sit by and watch the things that go on, go on. That's not who he

When I first met Bernie Sanders, I'd just spent over a decade living in
formerly communist Russia. The word "socialist" therefore had highly
negative connotations for me, to the point where I didn't even like to say
it out loud.

But Bernie Sanders is not Bukharin or Trotsky. His concept of "Democratic
Socialism" as I've come to understand it over the years is that an elected
government should occasionally step in and offer an objection or two toward
our progress to undisguised oligarchy. Or, as in the case of not giving tax
breaks to companies who move factories overseas, our government should at
least not finance the disappearance of the middle class.

Maybe that does qualify as radical and unserious politics in our day and
age. If that's the case, we should at least admit how much trouble we're in.

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*Bernie Excites Progressive Passion; Hillary, Our Vomit Reflex*

Many progressives feel extremely passionate about the newly announced 2016
presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Hopefully, enough Sanders
supporters will make it so other opponents do not have a chance.

Published: May 3, 2015 | Authors: Patrick Walker |
*NationofChange | Op-Ed*
The 2016 Democratic presidential race is not a normal one, and should not
be treated as such. Any election pitting Bernie Sanders against Hillary
Clinton is a watershed one, and as a progressive whose heart leaped up on
learning of Bernie’s forthcoming announcement, I wanted to share my
passionate perceptions of what’s at stake. Not because my personal feelings
and perceptions are especially important, but because I sense sharing a
common grasp of events—a common optic—with an important bloc of progressive
voters, one more keenly attuned to current realities than most others. And
one the Democratic Party ignores at its extreme peril.

So, my words here are written with the conscious aim of finding that bloc
of voters, in a sense creating it by getting its latent members, who
tacitly share so much common ground, to acknowledge themselves as part of a
voting bloc—indeed, of a latent political movement. For that latent
movement’s biggest enemies—to its left and to its right—are those who shrug
off the 2016 race and Bernie’s watershed candidacy as “business as usual.”
Like the “inevitable” mass genocide of climate change, the 2016
presidential race need be “business as usual” only if we passively accept
it as such. To stave off that miasmic self-fulfilling prophecy,
progressives who share the sentiments about Sanders and Clinton invoked in
this article’s title need only self-identify as a voting bloc and organize
on that basis.

These are not normal times, and everything I write here is premised on the
stark abnormality of our era. Indeed, “stark raving abnormality” would have
been better wording, for there’s a genuine madness about a political era in
which the seriously abnormal—in the sense of dysfunctional or diseased—is
blandly accepted as the norm. And in which users of Orwellian language—on
Facebook pages where their own aims should be anathema—can blithely
castigate defenders of the pages’ own express aims as “trolls.”

Such, for example, is my recent experience on an Occupy page—not in any
obvious way a false-flag one—where I was branded a troll for my biting
criticisms of Obama over TPP. As if Occupy’s formation had not been
strongly catalyzed by disgust at Obama’s bank bailouts sans reform, and as
if the Trans-Pacific Partnership were not the exact sort of malign,
corporate-bonanza coup against “the 99%” Occupy was organized to fight. And
as if, worst of all, Obama’s executive-branch DHS and FBI had not played a
central role in the fusion centers used to crush Occupy, almost surely with
his knowledge and consent, and quite plausibly at his direction.
Notoriously unfocused and all-embracing as Occupy is, no fighting political
movement can tolerate such infiltrating trolls (or off-the-charts cases of
Stockholm syndrome!) and expect to survive. Yet the establishment Democrat
troll in question scarcely batted an eyelash in branding me the same.

I digress, but do so for sake of a crucial aim. See, knowing the
progressive voter bloc I court to be active in social media, I suspect I
relate an all-too-common experience. Indeed, such Orwellian distortion is
no isolated personal Facebook incident at all, but the absurdist nature of
today’s establishment or “centrist” Democrats—the sort represented by
Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee—writ large. For, as
Orwell noted, where planned policy is rationally indefensible, representing
merely the aims of the powerful (and in our case their power is due to
money), the language used to defend it must become correspondingly
distorted and absurd. Hence, the mere candidacy of Hillary Clinton must be
one long exercise in absurdity, since it’s hard to imagine more irrational
policy than electing a president committed to taking $2.5 billion in
campaign donations when, by popular and scholarly consensus, Big Money’s
influence on policy is deemed to be the root of our political evils.

And inevitably, critics of such absurd Democratic policy (and its twisted,
indefensible linguistic rationale), must be subject to censorship and
caustic verbal abuse, since the full-dress fascist solutions of
imprisonment, exile, or execution would destroy the legitimacy of a
purported progressive party and are, in any case, not yet generally
available. Hence, citing Facebook again, progressives’ frequent experience
of being banned as “too liberal for liberal pages” (liberal, as opposed to
progressive, being the term more frequently associated with Democrats
who’ve given up fighting economic inequality). Or, to cite a
Hillary-specific case—in terms precisely mirroring Adolph Reed’s case (just
linked to) of liberals sacrificing economic to identity politics—there’s
the draconian censorship of HRC Super Volunteers, Hillary’s self-appointed
language Stasi, who seeks to ban the most common, anodyne (and generally
true) criticisms of Clinton as “sexist.” (Deeply offended by Super
Volunteers’ attempted gag order, I couldn’t resist a very un-PC belly laugh
at a conservative’s malicious send-up of Hillary as “Ovary;” don’t
language-Stasi identity liberals know they invite such malice?) Or
lastly—in a case that out-Orwells Orwell—there’s Barack Obama’s nasty
pooh-poohing of progressives critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as
Sarah Palin airheads fretting over “death panels,” when he well knows that
beyond such progressive political stalwarts as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth
Warren, and Sherrod Brown, opponents include such intellectual heavy
hitters as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich, William Black,
Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges, and Naomi Klein.

The shamelessness of “centrist” Democrats defending indefensible
plutocratic policy—speaking bullshit to defend bullshit—now knows no
limits. And a servile, corporatist mainstream media is only too glad to
echo them, leaving the crassest distortions unchallenged.

Into this mephitic, nauseating morass of Orwellian language defending vile
Democratic policy—one’s reminded of Big Daddy’s speech from Cat on a Hot
Tin Roof about the “powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity”—walks
independent, blunt-spoken outsider Bernie Sanders. Who, miracle of
miracles, will actually run as a Democrat. Unfunded by Big Money, and,
therefore, free of the stifling, obnoxious constraints on speech and
behavior such money brings. Not running as a hapless third-party candidate,
excluded from nationally televised debates, but as a high-visibility
candidate in a major “duopoly” party capable of winning national elections.
For progressives who feel, like veteran Democratic operative Bill Curry
that the Democratic Party has lost its soul, Bernie’s candidacy seems the
creation of a fresh party life, where an actual, uncorrupted soul is
created afresh with that life. Not paradise itself—the obstacles to Bernie
winning are humungous—but a culminating event in a surging wave of populism
that has included Occupy Wall Street, Fight for 15, the Black Lives Matter
protests, and the rise of Democrats’ “Warren wing.” As many progressives
are already saying, “At last, a candidate who represents us!”

Many progressives are, in short, feeling deeply passionate about a Sanders
candidacy, sensing a hope we’ve long been denied—and Democrats had better
take notice. See, such a breath of fresh air is Bernie, such a stark
contrast to the “odor of mendacity” reeking from the party’s Obamas and
Clintons, that even a Bernie loss to Hillary is unlikely to be “business as
usual.” My own sense is that for progressives, voting for Hillary in the
general election after supporting Bernie in the primaries won’t feel like
“holding your nose and voting for Hillary,” but rather like “choking back
your vomit and voting for Hillary”—or even “gouging out your eye and voting
for Hillary,” given the sheer amount of dubious policy history and
oligarch-donor baggage we’ll be forced to overlook. Especially with Bernie
as contrast.

Consequently, Democrats should expect that a Sanders loss to Clinton will
not entail “business as usual” lesser-evil voting. Already, many
progressives are pledged never to vote for Clinton under any circumstances.
For me, living in a red state (Georgia) that Clinton can’t conceivably win,
I’ll have zero qualms of conscience about keeping that pledge; given the
sheer, evil craziness of today’s Republicans—which “centrist,” corporatist,
warmongering Democrats sleazily use as cover—I waffle over whether
progressives in swing states should be held to that pledge. But I’d
recommend that progressives in red states vote for Jill Stein in the likely
event Hillary’s nominated; progressives have everything to gain—in this era
of burgeoning populism—by registering our disgust with Hillary Clinton.

So, in conclusion, I hope progressives who feel as I do—passionately
excited by Bernie’s candidacy, and ready to vomit at the thought of Clinton
as president—will unite and self-identify as a voting bloc. I strongly
suspect participants in Pitchforks Against Plutocracy, a burgeoning
electoral movement I co-founded, will respond to this appeal;
nonparticipants who share that feeling might wish to join. But in any case,
joining a group with similar aims is a very smart idea; many decent ones
exist. For only by recognizing ourselves as a voting bloc and strategizing
together will pro-Bernie, anti-Hillary progressives obtain something
genuinely new from his unprecedented candidacy and stave off the deadly,
planet-destroying miasma of “business as usual.”

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Hi, Hillary here,
Bill’s way better half
and I’m going to be
the first US president
with breasts.
Oval Office breasts.
Koch Brothers breasts.
Owned by them.
To the left, Charles.
To the right, David.

Here’s the deal.
The Kochs give me two
bottomless baskets of cash.
So I sign over my boobs.
and the Court says each breast
has a vote owned by the Kochs.
So it’s two votes for them,
one vote for me.
We seldom disagree, but if we do,
they win – but hey, that’s only fair.
I’m flattered that they wanted
to extend their tar-sands hands
across the aisle and put them
all over my breasts.

As they were
checking out the merchandise,
they confessed they had hoped
both my breasts would be right,
even far right - or even, on my back,
pointing in the direction
we’ll take the country.
An operation?
I said there are some things
even I will not do for money
but tell me, America,
should I reconsider?

Your friend and bosom buddy,



                                                     Grove of Shove
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