|Progressive Calendar 05.03.15 /3||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 3 May 2015 12:58:05 -0700 (PDT)|
*PROGRESSIVE CALENDAR 05.03.15* 1. Matt Tiabbi - Give 'Em Hell, Bernie 2. Paterick Walker - Bernie Excites Progressive Passion; Hillary, Our Vomit Reflex 3. ed - Hillary poem --------1 of 3-------- *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 players. 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 is. 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. --------2 of 3-------- *Bernie Excites Progressive Passion; Hillary, Our Vomit Reflex* bernieforpres5315 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.” --------3 of 3-------- HILLARY 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, Hillary -ed ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grove of Shove
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