America's Political Crisis - Some Thoughts on How We Got Here

The worst part about being lied to is knowing you weren't worth the truth.

(attributed to Jean-Paul Sarte among others)

I suppose I could have started this essay without this quote, but in light of the last thirty years, it encapsulates in one sentence just how little the ruling elites across the globe respect the human beings over which they hold power, and whom they exploit with such cruel efficiency. For deceit lies at the heart of what is wrong with our world. A liar passes judgment on each person to whom his or her lie is addressed; i.e., that such people are inferior creatures not worth telling the truth. And a steady stream of lies are what we are witnessing on a daily basis this year.

A person I knew used to divide human beings into three categories: those who prefer to have nothing to hide rather than being obliged to lie, those who prefer lying to having nothing to hide, and finally those who like both lying and the hidden.

Albert Camus

It's easy to lie. At the interpersonal level we all tell lies, to others and to ourselves. I should know, for I have been the recipient of lies, and, in my turn, I have told them. But the trauma of evading the truth at this level, the damage done to others and to one's self, as heart-breaking and self-destructive as it may be, are limited.

Lies created and spread by institutions and organizations at the societal level are far more dangerous. Each day of my life I have been lied to by my government, by the two major political parties and by a subservient media. This should surprise no one, since America, the largest empire on the planet, was founded on lies regarding: (1) individual freedom and equality; (2) American exceptionalism, and (3) that opportunity exists for all here, if only we would have the courage to pursue our dreams. The truth about our country, sadly, is that none of these are true. Our history is hideous.

It includes both genocide against the indigenous people of this continent, and also the passive acceptance of slaveery, an atrocity imposed committed against people of Africa and their descendants done purely out of greed. American slavery is a crime for which present day African Americans still pay a terrible price.

The deceptive myth that America has always been a land of opportunity for all is certainly highlighted by those two great injustices, but there have been who have many others nearly as bad.. For the truth is that, for most of our history, only the most ruthless and vile profiteers, or those born into wealth, have achieved success, at least in terms the world measures.

Only the outcome of a terrible war that devastated the majority of the world's nations, allowed America to dominate the globe in the latter half of the 20th Century. Its position of hegemony is one that those who currently control the reins of governmental power seek desperately to maintain. Sadly, only one generation benefited from that brief era when America alone dominated global trade. Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, with it's the passage of it's limited social programs, support of laws favorable to unions and its regulation of the worst excesses of the financial industry, saved capitalism from itself. In doing so, the New Deal in the post-war era created a large middle class, predominately white, and predominately urban.

Nonetheless, for a time, New Deal programs allowed us to deceive ourselves that we were making progress toward the ideals of liberty and equality set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Yet, even this much ballyhooed "victories" by the civil rights movement, the women's movement and the LGBTQ movement, among others, were illusory and incomplete. Yet they served the purpose of hiding the underlying rot at the heart of our Republic.

However, the time to openly ignore the terrible things being done by our government, at home and abroad, has long passed. The moneyed class, and those who desire power above all else, have regained the upper hand. They now exercise control over our political, judicial and military institutions, and what little progress the New Deal accomplished has been largely rolled back. The middle class as I knew it in my youth has disappeared. We are increasingly a society of haves and have-nots. The flow of economic and social benefits that resulted from the vast economic, military and diplomatic power our nation wielded (and still wields to some extent) was re-directed toward those at the top of the economic pyramid. This led to an ever greater number of Americans living in poverty or residing perilously near its doorstep.

Nonetheless, the elites in positions pf power, through the judicious use of propaganda, disinformation campaigns and outright lies have fooled the great mass of people lower down on the economic scale to passively accept financial stagnation, despite lives beset by misery, suffering and anxiety. They have not revolted, even though every day there are more signs the American economy is a rigged system that favors the richest of the rich. As long ago as the Carter adminsitration, elites began to deploy the same neoliberal economic policies of austerity at home that they long practiced abroad in the "developing world." To prevent a backlash, politicians in both parties allowed large telecommunications corporations to quickly consolidate in their hands all the machinery of manipulation and deception - in short, mass media in all its forms.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Reporters Without Borders ranks the United States 48th in Press Freedom, behind such luminaries as Senegal, Chile, Taiwan and Botswana. Frankly, I would rank us lower. Because it is not merely America's news media that "catapults the propaganda" that our military must be deployed in massive and wasteful resource wars around the globe. The entertainment subsidiaries owned by these same media conglomerates who own the news outlets, also were used to distract the masses. In addition, the giant social media companies that have arisen all operate to manipulate information to keep the lower classes from rising up in protest. In pursuit of short term profits, all forms of mass media in America foster and create false narratives of distraction that we, the American people, ingest daily with our morning coffee.

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

Noam Chomsky

This was no accident. Conservatives and big business long railed against the New Dealers who instituted government regulation of the marketplace that after the Great Depression, as evidenced by the failed candidacy of Barry Goldwater and the red scares of the 50's and 60's. However, in 1971, future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell set forth the framework for dismantling the liberal regulatory regime, initially created by New Deal Democrats, in a memo to the President of the Chamber of Commerce that called for a counterattack by Big Business on government power.

By 1971, future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell felt compelled to assert, in a memo that was to help galvanize business circles, that the “American economic system is under broad attack.” This attack, Powell maintained, required mobilization for political combat: “Business must learn the lesson . . . that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination—without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.” ... “Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”

The election of President Reagan, whose dog-whistle racism and populist appeal to the white working class, along with the rise of the fundamentalist Christian Right, allowed these powerful corporate interests to sow discord among various demographic, ethnic and racial groups, and then leverage the divisions within our citizenry to their advantage. Then, as a coup d'grace, the Koch brothers and other business interests began funding the Democratic Leadership Council as an alternative to the the rump New Dealers that still survived in the Democratic Party. That set the stage for a political duopoly.

A political duopoly is defined as a nominally two party political system in which the two factions we view as opposing forces, primarily agree on economic policy at home, and economic, diplomatic and military intervention abroad. Only a small number of social issues remain over which these two parties are permitted to differ, thus creating the illusion that Americans have a real choice in how our government operates. We believe we are a democracy that holds free and fair elections, when nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, upon the the election of DLC darling, Bill Clinton to the Oval Office, the Democratic Party fundamentally changed into a center-right party favoring business interests, discarding support for the poor and working classes, retaining only the hollow rhetoric of FDR and his former New Deal acolytes to keep their voters in line. Regardless of labeling, the Democrats are now a conservative, right wing party on economic issues that is reliant on corporate funding to exist.

This political system based on deceit would have continued indefinitely, except for two events that were unforeseen. One was the appeal generated by the insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic Party's primaries when he alone challenged the center-right establishment's preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. The other? Clinton's own foolish promotion, with the help of willing members in the corporate media, of Donald Trump, a faux populist who used that media attention to defeat all of the mainstream conservative GOP candidates running that year.

After securing the nomination, Clinton and the media then made the error of shunning Sanders and his large and mostly independent base of grassroots support, in order to run the most negative campaign in recent history against Trump, the opponent she chose and believed she could easily defeat. Her failure, and the failure of the Democratic party leadership, to understand Sanders' appeal to millions of eligible voters who felt disenfranchised, led her to abandon the progressive agenda he inserted into the party's platform at the convention. Mistakenly, she foolishly played into Trump's hands by running to his right on many issues. When she lost, the Democratic Party became, in my opinion, an endangered species, and our country became embroiled in a crisis that threatens to blow up the current political system and plunge us into turmoil that will be exploited by the worst right wing factions in both parties.

Despite their best efforts, the leadership of the Democrats were unable to eradicate the appeal of the progressive movement sparked by Sanders 2016 campaign. A number of new progressive candidates arose to challenge old style DLC incumbents. Their victories (most significantly Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's victory over a member of the Democrats' top Congressional leadership) was quickly recognized as an existential threat to the current DNC regime. These "Third Way" or "New Democrats," who hold sway over the party apparatus, rely upon funding from wealthy donors and oligopolies to keep their network of candidates, consultants and neoliberal think tanks (such as the misnamed Center for American Progress, or CAP) viable. Nearly four years of relentless attacks on Trump, but also on the progressives, focusing on a conspiracy theory that Trump won election through collusion with Russia did nothing to grow their base of support among eligible voters. In fact, Democrats in Congress mostly acceded to the budgets proposed by Trump, his continuation of military intervention, and did little to oppose trade deals and tax cuts that primarily benefited large corporations and the rich. The reasons for their ineffectual resistance to Trump's agenda should be obvious. It benefited their donors, even as it harmed the people they claim to represent

The leadership of the Democratic Party never expected their most passionate voters to revolt and create a movement around by a long ignored left-leaning independent politician, Bernie Sanders. The new wave of progressives primarily coalesced around his 2020 bid for the Dem nomination and his platform that includes the progressive policies he and noe they champion. Now that Sanders eads the race for the 2020 nomination. the Democratic establishment, in a panic, turned to a former Republican Mayor of New York City, a billionaire named Michael Bloomberg. This was done despite his racist, sexist and anti-democratic positions, values that stand in direct opposition to those held by the largest block of voters who typically back the democratic party: people of color and union members, as well as the numerous progressives, amny of them young people, who were energized by Sanders' 2016 run, and to a lesser extent, by others who claimed the progressive mantle, such as Warren, Yang and Gabbard.

From what we've witnessed over the last month, it's clear that this crisis within the Democratic party threatens to tear it apart, whether Sanders wins the nomination, or is wrongfully denied it by the DNC and its major donors. Studies done after the 2016 Democratic primaries revealed the extent to which the DNC, controlled by Hillary Clinton, and backed by state parties run by establishment supporters reliant on national leadership, manipulated the primary elections to deny Sanders millions of votes, and quite possibly the 2016 nomination itself. (See, Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries). Now we are seeing a repeat of those same tactics used to defeat him again.

Bloomberg has poured between $200 - $300 million of his $60 Billion dollar fortune already into his campaign, flooding the TV airwaves with ads attacking Sanders and buying influence by contibuting millions to vsrious party organizations and figures among the Dem elites. Other establishment supported candidates such as Biden, Buttegieg and Klobachar have also joined in what appears to be a coordinated effort by all concerned against the Sanders' campaign. Unsurprisingly, corporate media has been consistently hostile to Sanders, even going so far as to suggest he's a Stalin-like figure leading a mob that would execute prominent intellectuals and journalists, or, alternatively, comparing his supporters to Nazi brownshirta,a mob of gangsters terrorizing the American people on the internet, if not in real life.

Waiting in the wings is Hillary Clinton, already rumored to be a potential Vice presidential option for Bloomberg. She has smeared Sanders and other progressive figures such as Tulsi Gabbard, as "Russian Assets," continuing the new McCarthyism by Establishment Democrats have used to smear both Republicans and Progressive Democrats alike, a tactic of vilification that has made political discourse in the USA even more toxic and divisive, again playing into the hands of Donald Trump.

What is the solution to this crisis? Frankly, I see no clear path to salvage the Democratic party. Its center-right leadership and consultant class, by enabling Trump's worst actions as President, has ripped away the veil behind the propaganda machine that had, until recently, so effectively masked the operation of our political duopoly. I can only say I fear for the future, regardless of how this crisis is ultimately resolved. It seems clear that the US government is edging ever closer to devolving into an out and out despotic regime in which electoral offices will be fought over by competing factions of oligarchs, supported or opposed by factions within the military/industrial/intelligence complex. Bernie or Bust, in my mind, has taken on a whole new, and much darker meaning as a result of current events playing out before our eyes.

No one can predict with confidence any resolution of this crisis that doesn't end in significant disruption to the very foundation of our political system. The last time we faced such polarization among the populace was as a result of factional strife in the lead-up to the Civil War. Absent something that unifies the country, as occurred after Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, I cannot foresee a positive outcome, though I continue to hope for a miracle that offers our country and the world some glimmer of hope that we're not doomed as a species because of the greed and shortsightedness of the planet's oligarchs.

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Comments

Wally's picture

Yea, I'm disgusted by Bloomberg and his ilk, but waking up this morning and seeing that new A+ rated NPR-PBS-Marist poll with Bernie soaring to a double digit lead, I honestly haven't felt so optimistic in a long, long, long time. In fact, I'm taking the rest of the day off from politics. Yee-hah!

But yea, ugh, Bloomberg. I hope that he doesn't get 15% of the vote anywhere coz that means he gets delegates.

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Steven D's picture

@Wally But feel I must continue to point out that pessimism regarding a Sander's victory is not unjustified.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

PriceRip's picture

@Steven D , that no one will be able to deny it. Then and only then will we be able to do what needs to be done.

          Without a figurative landslide we will not have a clearcut case for what needs to occur. I am speaking from nearly four decades of real life experience, NOT theory!

RIP

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Steven D's picture

@PriceRip And I expect it to be even more blatant this year. To date, I think it has been and will only continue to get worse.

For a sign of things to come, just read the Lost Democracy study I believe I linked to in the essay.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

@Steven D
recalibrate what blatant wrt to election rigging means to ordinary voters. At least half of those that consider themselves Democrats deny that deny any rigging at all took place in the 2016 Democratic primary. Ordinary Republicans didn't care and therefore, most were unaware of it. Had it been as blatant as you seem to think, Trump would have made use of it in the general election and he didn't.

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edg's picture

@Wally

Does that poll get Bloomberg into this week's Nevada debate? I heard he only needed one more poll with 10+% to qualify.

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@edg
How serendipitous that NPR was able to release it just in time. Surely Bloomberg has no preexisting ties to NPR and/or Marist College. (Anybody know what polling companies Bloomberg News used for the polls it published? Found one for Selzer & Company)

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@Marie Bloomberg now has to come out from behind all his ads and begin defending his past record in public in real time and mostly unscripted. Let's see if his live public performance can hold up to scrutiny.

I think he'll have a lot to answer for, and for the first time voters will get a look at someone trying to defend the indefensible, all in his nasally, whiney NY accent. Let's see if he's quite as popular after the 2 hours is finished. I'm very skeptical that Dem debates will be to his advantage.

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@wokkamile
at this point Bloomberg is the latest hot new thing and bombarding voters with ads.

We've seen this story before. In 1992 Perot got up to 40$ with Bush and Clinton splitting the remaining 60%. Then people began to see his spots and general nuttiness. He dropped out and later dropped back in in time for the debates. He still managed to get near 20% in the general election.

In 2016 several of the GOP candidates rose and fell during the primary. At least two, Rubio and Carson, were beating Clinton in polls, and that was after two or three GOP debates. (Trump was always cordial, civil, and respectful towards Carson -- a bigger idiot than Trump -- because Carson owned a big bloc of loyal Christians and Trump needed Carson's endorsement and voters.)

So, which candidates can risk going after Bloomberg tomorrow and do they have the requisite skill set to do so effectively?

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@Marie the other candidates don't go after him. They have no choice, imo, but to get aggressive and use all the Bloomberg material that's out there to inform the public about who he is and what he really stands for.

Bernie, Boot, Amy and Liz will have this opportunity. I expect Bernie to go after "multibillionaires trying to buy the election" but let's see what else he has in his arsenal.

Meanwhile, the MSM chatter about the campaign has in the past week become only about Bernie and Bloomie. The formerly hot Bootajudge and moderately climbing Klobbachair are being shut out of the discussion. Liz too. They will want to get back into the game, and for 2 of those 3 they will want to elbow aside the small guy trying to run them off the road in the centrist lane they all occupy.

I don't think Liz will get results attacking Bernie -- she's tried that and it has backfired. The Bernie Bros attack will not resonate and can be easily rebutted.

I almost forgot Biden. He's not even an afterthought lately. Death watch for his campaign as I see it, and will he wait until ST to drop out.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@wokkamile His speeches are on the feeds of his support groups on Facebook. You can see this.

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"Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

@Cassiodorus continue hammering Bloom. The way this is shaping up, it's coming down to a Sanders v Bloomie race as the other moderates and Liz fade away. And the effectiveness of $1b spent on campaign propaganda should not be underestimated. I don't think Bloomie will prevail, but he's definitely a threat. Fortunately, Sanders seems to have a very good campaign team working for him, and thank goodness for that.

Politics is not beanbag, and a vigorous attack on MB's Republican attitudes is more than fair game, just as calling out Trump's dubious, shady and sordid character was a legit issue in the last cycle.

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@wokkamile
Biden, Buttig, and Klob. My assessment is that Buttig and Klob were way-stations in IA and NH for those exiting the Biden lane and on their way to the BloomLane. Some bumps in Warren's NH lane caused drivers there to swerve right to those way-stations. Once soft support leaves-- and it doesn't get much softer than the additional fifteen points that Pete and Klob picked up in NH -- little if any comes back.

Biden won't deviated from his "I've done it and can do it again," aka the experience pitch, even though it hasn't been working well for him.

Amy's running for VP and Pete is in for long-term status elevation; so, they'll keep their powder dry.

On policy, Warren is better positioned to throw punches at Bloomberg. However, she's only effective when the target responds with a similar level of emotionality and Bloomberg will act unflappable; thus, a possible draw. She could go for a knock-out punch, if not landed she's out.

Bernie isn't going to directly profit from dips in Bloomberg's numbers. Slightly racheting up his standard pitch and cleaning landing a couple of punches on Bloomberg should nudge some Warren and Biden remaining soft support his way.

Probably more wait and see if Bloomberg flops all on his own.

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@Marie roughly as soft as Biden's 2019 gaudy numbers reflected. And I wouldn't recommend that Bernie wait around for Mike to organically begin losing that support. Sometimes these things need nudging along. As with the Bernie camp going after Biden on Joe's past position on SS/Medicare cuts. Dem candidates usually don't benefit from sitting back and hoping for a desirable outcome.

And Bernie could directly take away some soft Mike support -- MB is enjoying gaudy polling numbers based mainly on Name Id/Electability factors, which can shift quickly if given a push.

As for Amy, she may be indeed hanging around to get VP, but I don't see her as a good or smart pick by Bernie or Bloomie. Too white for both, and too uninspiring. Boot has slightly more charisma, but like Amy suffers from his unbearable whiteness of being. As all the remaining viable candidates are white, I think they will be compelled, find it advantageous, to select a POC as a running mate.

As far as dropping out, there are the timing and $ factors. Wait too long, well after the campaign is lost and voters have drifted away, and it becomes a bit of a sad spectacle, not a resume enhancer. Running out of $ is also relevant, and there are only two richuns in the race who can easily self-fund.

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@wokkamile
sort I what I expect to see from them in tonight's debate and why. Wasn't making suggestions as to how they could/should play it.

For the most part, they've all been playing "wait and see" throughout the debates to date.

You made me smile with this: "...as soft as Biden's 2019 gaudy numbers reflected. " It puzzled me as to why Biden's numbers were so strong and hardly ever moved from June-December 2019. Soft is probably an overstatement in this instance. My guess now (tomorrow might be different) is that these poll responders didn't want to say, "don't know" or "undercided" because I haven't been paying much attention, but haven't seen anyone that grabs me; so, Biden became their placeholder until they must make a decision.

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Cassiodorus's picture

When she lost, the Democratic Party became an endangered species

The Democratic Party is by no means an endangered species. The fact that, under Obama, the Democratic Party gave up all branches of the Federal government plus 900-plus state legislative seats is nothing to endanger the Democratic Party. They exist to allow people to pretend that there is an easy alternative to Republican (read: elite) rule, one not involving revolution, and people are desperate to pretend thusly. A real endangered party would look like what the American Whig Party looked like in 1854 -- its electoral defeat inspiring two new alternative parties, the Republican Party and the American (Know-Nothing) Party. Thus when the 1856 election rolled around there were three Presidential candidates gaining electoral votes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1856_United_States_presidential_election

Nothing like that is happening now.

Also, can we stop calling them "centrists"? They are, as Eric Schechter said on Facebook, not the center of anything. Rather, they're the apologist wing of the elite -- they exist to fool you into thinking there is an alternative to elite ideology, and so they lie from time to time as suits their electoral purposes. It's just business.

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"Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

@Cassiodorus I agree with you on both points, but especially #2. By calling these right wingers "centrists", it keeps the overton window moving to the right. I also think it implies some sort of reasonableness that these people do not have. I just call them what they are, right wingers. I don't expect the world to start doing that however.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus

The only other person I've heard say that (except for me) is Alan Grayson ("So that's what passes for centrist these days.")

Obviously, everybody knows it, but people rarely point it out, I guess because we have resigned ourselves to accepting at least some of the lies.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Raggedy Ann's picture

history after this election. I have every expectation that they will cheat Bernie no matter what. I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect I am not. I will not vote blue no matter who - especially after watching those George Webb videos.

This is why Bernie says we need an unprecedented voter turnout - so they cannot steal millions of votes - thousands, maybe, but not millions. I don't know - I trust no party, no elite, no oligarch. The system is rigged. Period.

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“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

RantingRooster's picture

And it comes with an instruction manual...

Drinks

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11 users have voted.

"Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance;" - Thomas Paine, Common Sense

PriceRip's picture

@RantingRooster

Buffalo Springfield For What Its Worth 1967 : Caution, opens in new window.

John Lennon Imagine : Caution, opens in new window.

RIP

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Raggedy Ann's picture

@RantingRooster
I will join the revolution. Revolters unite!

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“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

Every election, the picture becomes sharper that there are factions of the elites in the Capitalist Party, and they battle to control us by presenting their false narratives. All to get the one thing they need, enough of our votes.

That's why Bernie has to be stopped. If he wins, all factions of the Capitalist party will have to show their true stripes when they fail to support him if he wins. Maybe then a third party will be born. If they hate Stein and Nader for supposedly siphoning off votes, let's really give them something to hate and fear. We've been held hostage long enough, sick at heart, holding our noses and going for the lesser of evils. It's time to turn the tables.

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on this point:

After securing the nomination, Clinton and the media shunned Sanders and the large and mostly independent movement he energized, in order to run the most negative campaign in history against Trump.

It needs to be noted that the biggest mistake Clinton made wasn't vastly underestimating the appeal to the GOP of Trump (as most experts did), but HRC's failure to bring the Sanders wing back into the fold for the general with a pick of Bernie (or a similar prog pol) for VP. Would have given her a few million more votes and the presidency.

Second, I must have missed HRC's "most negative campaign in history". I recall it as a bland affair that sought to go after mod Rs in the suburbs. Were there some vicious personal attacks by her against the Donald that I have forgotten? Something akin to Donald calling her "crooked Hillary" and leading chants of "Lock her up!" Or the constant attacks over her stupid emails -- did Hillary counter with attacks on his shady business practices?

Most negative? Not remotely as negative as Poppy's brutal personal attack campaign against Dukakis or GWB's Swift Boat operation against Kerry. 2016 was mild compared to 2000 too and the GOP campaign against Gore.

Re HRC and VP: it was a rumor presented by the always reliable GOP hack Matt Drudge. Not even Mike Bloomberg the plutocrat would be so stupid as to double down on his centrism with a Hillary pick, which he knows would only add more controversy and negativity to his campaign should he be lucky enough to be the nominee. Hillary as anyone's VP is not happening. This is GOP propaganda.

The path to salvage the DP? Elect more progs and good libs to office. The trend is currently in that direction, but it will take more than one election cycle. With a Bernie nomination and election victory, more progs and libs will be added to Congress and the tenor of the party, the Overton window, will be shifted more leftward where it belongs. That's the path to remaking the party, this election cycle and the next and the next. We only need to put forward good candidates unapologetic about their Dem principles and stop permitting the DNC to constantly feed us more tepid centrists who run away from strong Dem values.

Eventually there will be enough prog-lib people in positions of power to insist that the DNC change. With a Bernie nom and election victory -- very doable if enough people turn out -- that day will soon be upon us.

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Steven D's picture

@wokkamile @wokkamile Link: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/8/14848636/hillary-clinto...

Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran TV ads that had less to do with policy than any other presidential candidate in the past four presidential races, according to a new study published on Monday by the Wesleyan Media Project.

Clinton’s team spent a whopping $1 billion on the election in all — about twice what Donald Trump’s campaign spent. Clinton spent $72 million on television ads in the final weeks alone.

But only 25 percent of advertising supporting her campaign went after Trump on policy grounds, the researchers found. By comparison, every other presidential candidate going back to at least 2000 devoted more than 40 percent of his or her advertising to policy-based attacks. None spent nearly as much time going after an opponent’s personality as Clinton’s ads did. [...]

Beyond overall ad spending, the study also breaks down the content of the attack ads aired on behalf of each candidate. It says about 70 percent of Trump’s ads “contained at least some discussion of policy.” About 90 percent of Clinton’s attack ads went after Trump as an individual — compared with just 10 percent that went after his policies, the study found. [...]

Evidence suggests that negativity in advertising can have a backlash effect on the sponsor (Pinkleton 1997) and that personally-focused, trait-based negative messages (especially those that are uncivil) tend to be seen as less fair, less informative and less important than more substantive, policy-based messaging (Fridkin and Geer 1994; Brooks and Geer 2007).

In stark contrast to any prior presidential cycle for which we have Kantar Media/CMAG data, the Clinton campaign overwhelmingly chose to focus on Trump’s personality and fitness for office (in a sense, doubling down on the news media’s focus), leaving very little room for discussion in advertising of the reasons why Clinton herself was the better choice.

Trump, on the other hand, provided explicit policy-based contrasts, highlighting his strengths and Clinton’s weaknesses, a strategy that research suggests voters find helpful in decision-making. These strategic differences may have meant that Clinton was more prone to voter backlash and did nothing to overcome the media’s lack of focus on Clinton’s policy knowledge, especially for residents of Michigan and Wisconsin, in particular, who were receiving policy-based (and specifically economically-focused) messaging from Trump.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

@Steven D after Trump on the issues -- he'd never held office before, and his policy proposals, if they can be called that, were either vague in the extreme or over the top ridiculous, like the border wall being paid by Mexico. On the latter, they were ripe for ridicule.

Also nothing there that comes close to calling Trump a "crook" as he did about Hillary, or calling to "Lock him up!" -- there is just no comparable Hillary campaign equivalent, no clear takeaway or memorable line other than the deplorables one, which wasn't directed personally at DT but his backers. And for many of these low-information, poorly educated and often bigoted voters who probably prefer the authoritarian type leader, that was true, though politically unwise to utter outside the family dining room.

Generally, when you have little or no record to attack, and no tax returns that have been disclosed, you are left with the candidate's prior statements and conduct and whatever is left. What Trump had previously said and done was shouting out to be brought to people's attention. Similar with Bloomberg today.

That's not so much negative campaigning as shining a light on who the candidate is for all to see. It would have been extreme political negligence not to use that material, and often. Hillary's fault wasn't in the advertising in some states nor in her overall tone (in sharp contrast to the nasty notes sounded by the bully Donald) but in her major mistakes as noted elsewhere.

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@wokkamile part of the electorate deplorables BEFORE THE ELECTION was pretty negative, not to mention just plain stupid if one is still trying to get votes, and has nothing to do with attacking other candidates, which as we should all see by now is used by our owners to give us the impression of choice.

As for electing more progressives, do you really think we have another decade before any dent is made in our neo feudal economy? I sure as hell don't. And that waiting around also plays right into the hands of the plutocrats who own this country entirely - sure, give the plebes a little bit of hope, tell them to be PATIENT and keep on putting all their hopes into that voting booth while we continue the plunder them. It's worked for them so far, why not go for it again. In a country that focuses all its attention on political "races" it will continue to work. Reform of the Democratic OR Repugnant party is a joke on all of us, but we keep playing along, regardless that the outcome is NEVER in our favor.

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

Raggedy Ann's picture

@lizzyh7
Calling all of us Bernie Bros has the same effect - or should.

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“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

@Raggedy Ann work for Sanders, has a bit already. But that deplorable remark had a nice double edge to it - as one friend said to me "well, they ARE deplorable" and for anyone not racist of course she was right in a way. And the pink pussy hat crowd (sorry, but I have to use that as it still pisses me off so much since they are so damned FAKE) loved her saying Trump voters were deplorable, probably many of them repeated it ad nauseum. And that helps to divide and conquer, pisses off the person who contemplated voting for Trump and with Her negativity already off the charts, it probably got a few more votes for Trump in just that way.

It was incredibly stupid but then again, that woman is anything but stupid. It probably helped Trump get elected as much as any other ugly thing Her said. So I am not sure it will have the same resonance, you know? The pink pussy hat crowd already sees "Bernie Bros" as the problem, so will that help or hurt Bernie? Hard to say really. I hope it helps, of course. I hope he gets enough numbers to make their rigging even more blatant than 2016. I hope it backfires as badly as did Liz Warren's idiotic stunt.

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

Raggedy Ann's picture

@lizzyh7
you or your friend about them being deplorable. Categorizing them is just as bad as saying Bernie Bros. Sometimes we are all deplorable.

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“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

@Raggedy Ann with calling them that, I should have said what they are voting FOR is deplorable in its way. But yeah, the name calling, as tempting as it might be in moments of anger, is very counterproductive. It's just divide and conquer. I briefly considered voting for Trump purely out of spite at the Democrats but I just couldn't go that far. I've argued a lot with that friend and she's coming around to the truth more every day, lol. She had a pink pussy hat and I did snark on that relentlessly. If she still wears it I do not hear about it!

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

@lizzyh7 on the deplorables.

And note too I didn't say "wait around" for good times to come politically. I said it's not going to be done, not progressive paradise achieved in one election cycle. And a new day can't arrive if we passively sit around waiting for it to happen. It's going to take more involvement and activism and smart organizing. Good things don't happen by just sitting around. The Rs came back from Nixon by being active and aggressive, and they've continued that for decades, as they seek to achieve their One Man Rule MAGA utopia.

Meanwhile on the D side, the party apparatus still runs campaigns like this is 1992, going after suburban moderate Rs and soccer moms and thinking they are the key. We don't even have a clue about how to reach voters, or to GOTV -- voting levels for certain key groups in the party are notoriously poor, and this has been going on for decades as the party chases more moderate Rs. Maybe as important as anything, there has been insufficient work done to combat and highlight GOP voter suppression and election theft. Stacey Abrams group is finally one such endeavor, but way too late.

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snoopydawg's picture

@wokkamile

was a deliberate FU to Bernie's supporters. It's almost like she wanted to lose by picking him. The blandest blue dawg she could find outside Joe Manchin.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
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@snoopydawg but also it seemed to me it was Hillary feeling her oats and thinking who she would be most comfortable with ideologically and personally working with in the WH. She assumed disposing of Trump would be just a matter of a few months showing up for light campaign duty.

The choice of TK was intended to be a safe one as she thought the election was safely in her hands.

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@wokkamile
exact same page on this point.

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@snoopydawg
any slack, but Kaine wasn't an FU to anyone. Not a politically savvy choice on her part -- but she's never been politically savvy. It fitted so well with her and her decision-making that I fully expected Kaine to get the nod. (She would have preferred Evan Bayh, but his 2011-16 lobbying career would have further highlighted her recent money making.) There's no magic formula for choosing a VP, but #1 on my list is that visually the ticket should look like a team, and not two left feet. Gore and Kerry flubbed on that. #2 fill in some shortcoming in the nominee. For Bill Clinton and GWB that was DC/congressional experience and for Obama, it was political experience in general. For JFK it was TX and LA.

While Podesta and others on Hillary's team appreciated her shortcomings, I doubt that she recognized any. She wanted a VP that she was comfortable with and would remain in the background of her administration; Kaine fit that. The pickings for her were very slim at both the state and federal level. Plus, Gore's experience in the Clinton administration is too well known to make it a desirable position in a second Clinton administration. She also expected Kaine to help bring in NC and FL; that was the unwise component.

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Centaurea's picture

@wokkamile

in my opinion, was in underestimating the degree to which a large percentage of Americans despise Hillary Clinton.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

mimi's picture

@Centaurea
in 1992 !!! (Gosh that's an oldie now)

and that was all I needed to see to know what kinda 'girl' she was.
I speak only for myself, because I like to eat cookies.

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@Centaurea Her Unfavorable/Favorable ratings were well under water.

But Trump's were 8 points deeper under water.

Well, she did win the PV by 3m, which in every other country in the world gets you elected. Not to mention possibly hundreds of thousands of votes lost to GOP election rigging.

She could have made it too much to steal had she run a better campaign, starting with picking her VP.

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Centaurea's picture

@wokkamile

A large percentage of Americans detest Hillary, to the extent that they would get up off their deathbed and crawl 5 miles on their hands and knees, in a snowstorm, naked, in order to vote against her.

Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not much. The Dems, and Hillary herself, seem to be in complete denial about this fact.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

earthling1's picture

I can tell you put a lot of effort in to it. Thank you for that.
I don't want to criticize in any way, but add to some of the issues you raise.
I'll start with the term "redistribution of wealth".
In my view this should be "return of wealth" as it was embezzled from the American people to begin with. Through unfair usuary and tax policies and the un-American war on labor unions, which cheat working Americans out of enormous amounts of wealth.
In no way are wages keeping up with inflation and bit by bit we are all falling a little further behind.
The next issue is in the use of "President of the Chamber of Commerce".
Here we have an organization that is formed of a collection of corporations, companies, and business interests, that elect a president and relevant officers to service the interests of the whole group in the halls of government and regulatory agencies.
To keep this organization humming along, they pay dues.
Just like any other organization, be it the American Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or the American Petroleum Institute of America, they all are based on the democratic form of governance. They are for all intent and purposes, unions.
Just like our own Union of American States, otherwise known as the United States of America, we all pay dues (taxes) to keep our organization humming along. And we also elect a president and other relevant officers to represent us on issues of governance and on the world stage.
As you noted in the Powell Memo;
"Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”
My question is, why are labor unions seen as not worthy of existing in this sphere of organizations? They are singled out as Socialist. Are not these other organizations Socialists too?
It seems to me that silencing of the labor movement has been the turning point in the redistribution of wealth and the consolidation of power of capitalist interests.
With regard to centrists, IMHO there is no longer a right-centrist-left axis. It has become Capitalists vs the unwashed masses.
Reading through some of the Conservative sites I find wide agreement on issues of war and taxes. Infrastructure and climate. Money and the rigging of elections.
The unwashed masses are no longer right and left. They are growing closer together against TPTB that have a stranglehold on our government.
Anyway, a great essay Steven. Would like to hear the thoughts of you and others on some of my concerns.

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

Steven D's picture

@earthling1 I spent less time than I should have, to be honest. Much of this was just an off the top of my head rant from memory. I agree that language matters and "centrist" doesn't really reflect their political ideology which is neoliberal/austerity economics, cuts to social programs and "free trade" agreements to benefit corporations. Probably should have called them neoliberals instead, but Centrist is the most commonly used term at the moment.

I understand also that "redistribution of wealth" has become a demonized term. In retrospect, I should have used a different phrase, such as the one you suggest.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

PriceRip's picture

          … and wordsmith it into a mighty sword.

          Thanks for doing your part, @Steven D .

RIP

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

snoopydawg's picture

@earthling1

This has led us to the gig economy and 'independent contractors' instead of employees so they don't have to be paid decent wages or be covered by insurance including workers competing and no social security or FICA taxes. Plus companies are going with part time workers and 1 person doing the job it used to take 4-5 people to do. Walmart just cut its work force and doing that.

One Walton female dawg heir is worth $500 billion according to the article I read on this. Walmart gets tax breaks and subsidies and since they don't pay living wages the government steps in with food stamps and then Walmart gets rewarded by them when they shop at their stores. This seems to be triple dipping for every company that does this.

We the people are getting to the boiling point, but they were smart enough to do what they have done over decades instead of all at once. This way it didn't affect the current generation, but every one after got screwed just a tad bit harder.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
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PriceRip's picture

@earthling1

pay dues (taxes) to keep our organization humming along

          is like a tiny hole in the screen door letting that particularly irritating fly, or mosquito into the room.

RIP

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2 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

earthling1's picture

@PriceRip ygm
Exxon stops paying their dues and they get booted from the APIA.
Doctors stop paying and they get booted from the AMA.
I stop paying and I get booted from the union.
Stop paying your taxes and what happens?
No, you don't get thrown out of the country, you get put in prison.
Watta ya gonna do?

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

@earthling1

It seems to me that silencing of the labor movement has been the turning point in the redistribution of wealth and the consolidation of power of capitalist interests.

It started with the 1946 mid-term election when Republicans took control of the House and Senate and in 1947 passed the Taft-Hartley Act. Truman vetoed it, but in a breakdown of the New Deal coalition, congress overrode the veto. Truman ran on this in '48, he won and Democrats retook Congress, but failed to repeal Taft-Hartley. Industrial unionization fell very slowly after this but it was made up by public employee unionization which isn't as robust as industrial collectivism. Plus, corruption among labor leaders increased. The last strong labor voice was Walter Reuther who died in a 1970 plane crash. Altimeter likely sabotaged.

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snoopydawg's picture

I kept nodding my head while reading each new point you covered here.

I am listening to JFK and the unspeakable and I'm coming to understand the power in this country that operates behind the curtain of the kabuki theater that we call congress.
The PTB will not give up their power easily and we have seen to what extent they will go to keep it. They killed JFK in front of us as they did MLK, RFK, Malcolm X and countless others just so they could continue their murderous ways. They killed 3,000 of us to start their war of terror and I'm afraid what they will do to keep Bernie out of their White House.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
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snoopydawg's picture

We just witnessed how far the different factions of our government would go when the Obama factioned intelligence agencies pulled out the stops to keep Trump from the WH. And when that failed we saw the CIA factioned democrats try again with the bogus Ukraine Gate impeachment that also failed bigly. That Trump is just rolling over and taking it boggles my brain.

If Bernie does win this then just how far will they go to keep him from getting his agendas passed? Will people fall for the next false scam? Unfortunately they probably will.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg give them opportunity to censor and label anyone who dissents a terrorist or communist or whatever label they use. The gift that keeps on giving. I imagine Trump has been fully briefed on just how much he can complain. He'll go along, he knows who writes the checks, so to speak.

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

snoopydawg's picture

@lizzyh7

Trump might have wanted things different than what they were or he was in on the gig the whole time. I just keep going back to the nagging feeling that he was selected over her so he could do what he's doing. He's just taking the country where it's been going for decades, but he is doing it faster than they could get away with.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
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earthling1's picture

@lizzyh7
already told Trump,
"We know where Barron goes to school".

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.