The Democratic Debate for 2020, Part 5

Booker, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Warren

W.J. Astore

Last night was the fifth Democratic debate featuring the top ten candidates for the presidency.  These are more “meet and greets” than debates, given the short time for responses and the sheer number of candidates, but they can be revealing.  Rather than focusing on who “won” (here’s a typical “Who won?” article) or the best applause lines, I’d like to summarize each candidate in as few words as possible.  Here goes (in alphabetical order):

1. Joe Biden: Fading.  Biden often misspeaks and relies far too heavily on the dubious legacy of the Obama years.  He has no apparent vision for the future.

2. Cory Booker: Wide-eyed.  Booker tries to convey enthusiasm and optimism, but somehow it hasn’t worked for him.  There’s a growing sense of desperation about his candidacy.

3. Pete Buttigieg:  Salesman.  To me, Mayor Pete looks like he should be going door-to-door, selling Bibles.  The face of young milquetoast moderation within the Democratic party; unsurprisingly, he’s attracted a lot of establishment money.

4. Tulsi Gabbard: Composed.  Tulsi is rarely flustered.  Her poise and sense of calm come through in interviews and on the campaign trail, but doesn’t translate as well in debates.

5. Kamala Harris: Affected.  Harris, a former “top tier” candidate (her words), has watched her support dwindle.  Maybe that’s because there’s something scripted about her.

6. Amy Klobuchar: Establishment.  She has positioned herself as a sensible centrist, which is another way of saying her positions are predictable half-measures that threaten no one in power.

7. Bernie Sanders: Passionate.  Bernie has lost none of his outrage at a rigged system.  He’s still calling for a political revolution.  Good for him.

8. Tom Steyer: Billionaire.  It’s interesting to see a rich guy espouse progressive ideas while vowing to attack climate change.  I don’t think he has a chance, but he’s not your typical politician.

9. Elizabeth Warren: Prepared.  Warren has a plan for everything.  But will her professorial manner translate in a general election?  Her crossover appeal seems limited.

10. Andrew Yang: Different.  Yang thinks for himself and has an eye on the future.  His out-of-the-box thinking adds some intellectual excitement to these often stale “debates.”

Of the ten candidates, Sanders and Warren are identified by the media as the “radical” progressives, whereas Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, and Klobuchar are seen as moderates or centrists.  Gabbard and Yang are non-conformists but in different ways, and Steyer is anomalous in terms of his wealth.

For me, Bernie Sanders remains the clear choice for 2020.

40 thoughts on “The Democratic Debate for 2020, Part 5

  1. In spite of the time difference I watched most of yesterday’s debate and found it generally more interesting than previous ones, as it touched more on international matters.
    It confirmed what irritated me in the previous one (of which I saw little), the infantile self-congratulatory approach of most candidates. ‘I witnessed the drama of gun violence, I was in the army, I supported Obama’s this or that’ and therefore (?) I am the best qualified candidate. As if this was a highschool contest for the most popular student. And as if personal experience in one aspect of life should suffice to understand and effectively manage all of them. Such self-promotion and focus on one’s single strong experience as opposed to a wide policy platform would not inspire my confidence.
    This unfortunately also applies to Tulsi, sorry gentlemen :-). No matter how much I’d love to see an end to imperial regime change wars, I unfortunately doubt that she would be able to take on ‘the system’ and indeed get that done, while in spite of listening carefully to her I still do not know what she really is about on other vital matters.

    Bernie still does not need notes or prepared points which are crammed in at high speed as Biden and Warren do. His priorities and arguments are interiorised and steady to such an extent, that he can improvise. Not to mention his conciliatory approach in spite of his strong convictions and his courage to tackle sticky subjects like the plight of Palestinians.
    He doesn’t seem to necessarily aspire to be president (no truly sane person would), but to use that position to heal the country. Feel the Bern ! :-).

    Warren would be my second best choice. She does have an element of personal ambition and big money support (as far as I know) but also many sound ideas and looks like she would honestly do her level best to get them realised. She can be vice-president in my dream team!

    During a break the US network (MSNBC) showed polling info, Biden was top among over 65 yrs olds with Bernie only a one digit fourth, but among young voters, Bernie was nr one and I think Biden nbr 4, so there’s hope :-).


    1. Yes. Bernie has a sustained, consistent, and principled record on issues that matter to ordinary people. He’s no flash-in-the-pan.

      Tulsi Gabbard didn’t have her best night. Her crossover appeal is probably not enough to keep her in these debates.

      Biden is mired in the past. And he’s never been a great campaigner or debater.

      Warren is smart and committed, but she doesn’t match up well against Trump.

      But there’s still almost a year to go in this tedious process …


      1. What you both say about Tulsi Gabbard is correct: “she doesn’t translate well at the debates”. But never forget who ALSO didn’t; yeah “him”: “Lock her up! Crooked Hillary!” etc. Elite politicians, I HOPE! may have finally met their well deserved demise. What I like about the fraudulent “Impeachment” hearings, is decent, simple, Americans are finally understanding what US “foreign Aid” is really all about – lining the pockets of US politicians. Can this “democracy” blah, blah, blah. VP Biden & his son made a fortune on the overthrow of Ukraine.
        Widowed mothers and heartbroken girlfriends may be listening to the antiwar candidate, just like the “Deplorables” listened to Agent Orange. But I guess their chances are better with Tulsi.
        Sanders is a nice old fart – like me- but hardly 21st Century Presidential material. btw, he’s no “Socialist”, nor is Maduro or Morales. They’re for social fairness; 5% tax to help the poor is nothing. And if these Oligarch idiots would look at things LOGICALLY & FINANCIALLY, it’s cheaper than tanks on the streets. Old Bernie says nothing…
        GO TULSI! GO!


  2. Harris tried to bury Gabbard for keeps; I didn’t care for that. Gabbard will obviously NOT be the machine’s choice because she had the guts to, again, call out Hillary and the whole Regime Change multi-administration Crew. I’m more than a little tired of Biden pitching himself as the only guy black folks should go for!! Gimme a break, Joe! I like Steyer (though generally I don’t “pal around with” billionaires, see?), but he’s probably too serious to make the cut. Loved it when Biden piped up to say he, too, recognizes the severity of the climate crisis. Yeah, that’s why his son was on the board of directors of Ukrainian FOSSIL FUEL operation Burisma, huh???


  3. Again, my thanks for the views and impressions of those who watched this latest joint press conference billing itself as a “debate.” For my part, I spent the day reading articles from selected Internet venues and laboriously typing up transcripts for some audio podcast interviews that, in my opinion, shed necessary light upon certain candidates and their positions on matters of concern to me. For example, I caught this at The Grayzone:

    Elizabeth Warren endorses Trump’s economic war on Venezuela, then soft-pedals far-right Bolivia coup, by Ben Norton, the (November 20, 2019)

    The introductory abstract reads:

    In a nauseating interview on Pod Save America, Elizabeth Warren endorsed suffocating US sanctions on Venezuela, backing Trump’s strategy to stop their “ability to have an economy” while parroting neocon regime-change myths. She then whitewashed the far-right military coup in Bolivia.

    Given that this article came out the same day as the joint-cattle-call “debate,” it would interest me to know if Tulsi Gabbard had the time to fit a response into her anti-regime-change critique. Probably not. In my opinion Representative Gabbard could have — and should have — really scored on Elizabeth Warren as just another Joe-Biden-like imperial corporate flunky whom the CIA and Pentagram would bully and bamboozle with no sweat or strain whatsoever. Anyway, I look forward to seeing what Tulsi Gabbard has to say about this as she continues with her important, principled, and focused campaign into the future.

    Now, back to transcribing anti-war libertarian Scott Horton’s audio interview with Jimmy Dore.


    1. I caught that interview, Mike, between Scott and Jimmy. Good stuff. Feel free to share any highlights you deem fit.


  4. I give Tulsi props for mentioning the military-industrial complex, and also for her slap-down of Mayor Pete when he (once again) brought up her meeting with Assad. But she didn’t shine in other segments of the debate, and that’s partly because it wasn’t a debate. You could tell many of the answers were well rehearsed. Candidates would be posed questions, and they’d quickly pivot to their prepared answers, which were often off-subject.

    It’s dispiriting watching Joe Biden, who has never done well in this forum and who is only getting worse. “Moderate” candidates like Buttigieg are already on-the-make and on-the-take.

    I feel like Biden and Warren would have little chance against Trump but for different reasons. Bernie has a chance because the man is genuine, principled, and tougher than he looks. Tulsi is unique in her crossover appeal, attracting support from Libertarians and some thinking conservatives who are fed up with Trump.

    Get ready for Hillary to ride to the rescue in 2020 when Biden falters in Iowa and New Hampshire. I’m only half-kidding.


    1. “D’accord,” as our French cousins say.
      Hillary will become more and more visible and the media will go to her for commentary on the state of the Party and the weakness of the current crop of presidential aspirants which she will, of course, provide with great reluctance and always close with how she fears not only for the party but for The Fate of This Great Nation of Ours.
      At some point, reminders of how she won the popular vote rather handily in 2016 will become more and more frequent.
      In the meantime, the Democrats will manage to botch the impeachment process before it gets to the Senate, if they haven’t already by waiting too long to get started and focusing solely on Ukraine/Russia while ignoring everything else Trump has done during this travesty of an Administration.
      And in the end, the movers & shakers of the DNC will show up on Hillary’s doorstep on cue, and offer the nomination which she will accept for “the good of the Nation.” The people she alienated last time but who had begun coming back to the Democratic fold will once again say, “Not a chance,” and quicker than you can say “Four more years!” we’ll have four more years.
      But the DNC won’t care because win or lose, they’ll still be around, casting blame everywhere but on their own sorry selves. And hey: in four years, they’ll get to do it again.


      1. butsudanbill — I agree with much of your comment, but…After having been highly critical of her, I now think Pelosi has managed this rather well, waiting for info on the Ukraine extortion affair to surface. A resolution to proceed with impeachment trial in the Senate should certainly pass in the House. Trump will be acquitted at trial, of course, thanks to GOP majority. But as I’ve been saying for ages, as a matter of principle (I admit I’m dreadfully old-fashioned, maybe even quaint!), the impeachment effort is essential, because so thoroughly earned. Yes, I believe Hillary WILL be “persuaded” (kicking and screaming, ya know?) by the Dem. Establishment to ride to the rescue and squelch these flaming “socialists” seeking the nomination. However, even I did not grasp in 2016 how abominable a Trump presidency was going to be. Now that the electorate has had its collective eyes opened to this, that segment that is not Trump’s base just might be able to hold their collective nose and vote for the former FLOTUS and Senator from New York after all. That will leave progressives with nothing to celebrate, but darn it all, Trump really must go!!


  5. Bernie is sincere, he has credibility that nobody else can match. His views are long held and his efforts in Congress speak the courage of conviction. He doesn’t irritate anyone (except the 1%). He dared to say the Palestinians are people, too. He is the opposite of Trump in every way and if he becomes the nominee, the voters will have a historic contrast from which to choose. He would appeal to people who wouldn’t otherwise vote Democratic. He offers hope, real hope, unlike Obama who rode on appearances rather than substance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “He [Bernie Sanders] dared to say the Palestinians are people, too.”

      Yes, Senator Sanders did say that about the state-less Palestinian people: a true, but rather innocuous — if not stupefyingly vapid — remark that, one would think, applies to all human beings without exception and should hardly qualify as particularly “daring.” For his part, Jimmy Dore has a short video clip (Bernie: Treat Palestinians With “Dignity & Respect”!) which approvingly picks up on Senator Sanders’ remark, but adds to it that the real story concerns why anyone would possibly consider such a banal observation at all newsworthy:

      “The biggest story is that that was a story. It makes news that he says that. That’s how bad we’ve been treating the Palestinians. That’s what a strangle-hold the AIPAC lobby and the Israeli lobby have on our politicians, that they won’t even say that. And when one of them does say that, it makes news.”

      More on this particular video clip (and others) in later comments.


      1. But of course Bernie felt he absolutely had to preface his remark with “I support Israel!” And this IS a requirement for US pols, as we well know. Will this save Bernie from being excoriated by the rabid Zionist lobby? Hell no! Boy, do these guys love Jews…as long as they’re over in the Middle East and not seeking membership in the local chi-chi country club!!


  6. The USA has long targeted Evo Morales President of Bolivia for years. Morales was a champion of the indigenous population, and a leftist, who in a nutshell resisted foreign Imperialism and was not shy about condemning it.

    Even though he was recently re-elected there were charges of election irregularities. Side Bar – as if we in the USA do not have election “irregularities” – Think gerrymandering, voter suppression, purging of voter roles, etc.

    The USA immediately approved the military coup against Morales and he was forced to flee to Mexico.

    Before the coup, Evo attempted to nationalize its large lithium reserves, an element necessary for electric cars. Since the coup, Tesla’s stocks have skyrocketed.

    Now here is where the Pastor Pence influence toxicity seeps in:
    His replacement, Jeanine Añez Chávez, “I dream of a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rites,” the opposition senator tweeted in 2013, “the city is not for the Indians who should stay in the highlands or the Chaco!!!”

    Chavez declared herself interim president while holding up a large bible, though she failed to get the required quorum in the senate to do so. Next to her stood Luis Fernando Camacho, a member of the Christian far-right. After Evo’s resignation, Camacho stormed the presidential palace, a flag in one hand and a bible in the other. “The bible is returning to the government palace,” a pastor said on a video while standing next to Camacho. “Pachamama will never return. Today Christ is returning to the Government Palace. Bolivia is for Christ.”

    FYI > Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also known as the earth/time mother.

    Unlike Luis Fernando Camacho, who stormed the presidential palace, a flag in one hand and a bible in the other in Bolivia, Pastor Pence and Betsy DeVos are already there in the White House.

    Corporate Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are candidates MSDNC and CNN are pushing hard. Perhaps at some point as butsudanbill above posted the cries in the McMega-Media and the 1% will be heard by $hillary and she will make her self available. She will be like Heavy weight Champion Jim Jeffries called out of retirement as the Great Democratic Party Hope. She will be defeated again.


    1. Thanks (I think?) for the scoop on the Bolivian opposition. Truly nauseating. But fascists often present themselves as God’s servants. Spain under Franco, puppet rulers of “south” Viet Nam back in the day, the “Phalange” in Lebanon, etc. As I understand it, not only Morales but the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela presented themselves as Christians. Just not of the kind approved in Washington, D.C. obviously. Thank goodness Venezuela has withstood the recent US-sponsored coup attempts! There is some hope for this world yet!!


    2. In the Jimmy Dore video clip that I referenced above, I caught a puzzling remark by J.D. about Bernie’s Sanders’ apparent tactical move to the Left on foreign policy due to the challenge that Tulsi Gabbard presents in that area. J.D. said:

      “Tulsi’s been out-Lefting him on foreign policy. And now he got to her left on that and he got to her left on Bolivia.”

      This last part caught my attention. Just how did Bernie get to Tulsi’s left on Bolivia? So I did a quick search and came across this tweet:

      Tulsi Gabbard (‏Verified account) @TulsiGabbard:

      What happened in Bolivia is a coup. Period. The United States and other countries should not be interfering in the Bolivian people’s pursuit of self-determination and right to choose their own government.

      I see that statement as totally consistent with Tulsi’s principled focus on ending U.S. meddling in the affairs of other countries and it would have astounded me if she had said anything different. Good news that Bernie feels a pull to the left on foreign policy due to Tulsi’s obviously growing effect, but someone needs to school J.D. on this particular misstatement. He usually does better and treats Representative Gabbard’s campaign fairly.

      Again, I can take any combination of Bernie and Tulsi for the P&VP nomination of the Democratic party. None of the other current candidates — or rumored late (i.e., “opportunistic”) additions to the campaign — interest me in the slightest. America already has more than enough Clinton-Obama “moderate Republicans” in what little remains of FDR’s brilliant Depression-Era political creation. Time to get rid of them, not add more.


      1. The real acid test, I think, is the attempted overthrow of President Maduro in Venezuela. Another wretched failure, thus far, for the bully boys in Washington D.C. I haven’t tuned in every word spouted by every Dem. candidate (who but The Terminator, perhaps, would have the iron stomach needed for that?!?), but I seem to recall at least some (probably most) putting Venezuela on the list of nations suffering from wicked, just plain no damned good, evil despots and dictators. This is cant for imperialist politicians who wish to become the Big Cheese of the biggest bully on the planet. Long live the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela!!


    1. Allow me to “flip-flop” your query: Given that certain elements in the US are itching for such a war, regardless of the risk of use of nuclear weapons, who might be reasonably reliable to THWART the launching of such insanity? Wars do not “erupt” as if they have wills of their own.


  7. Toward the end of the Jimmy Dore Show video clip that I have referenced above (about the “Palestinians are people, too” quote from Bernie Sanders,) J.D. takes note of how Tulsi Gabbard made Mayor Pete drink his own spoiled milk after he attempted to slime her (she has gotten quite used to this) for “appearing on Fox News” and “meeting with “dictators,” and such.

    Jimmy Dore: “So, now Tulsi totally nails him and this is the quote [that] NBC news tweets out. Remember there couldn’t be a news organization more in bed with the CIA – except probably the Washington Post – this is the quote:

    “What you’ve just pointed out is that you would lack the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends to ensure the peace and national security of our nation.”

    J.D.: And who do they attribute it to? They say:

    “Mayor Buttigieg slams Rep Gabard during #DemDebate”

    J.D.: No. It was the exact opposite. Are they that incompetent? No. They’re not. They’re not that incompetent. That’s not an accident. Was it an accident when they did it to Bernie with Elizabeth Warren? How weird that the accidents always only go one way?

    [shows tweet from Secular Talk – Kyle Kulinski]:

    “Remember the last debate when multiple outlets reported that some of Bernie’s best lines were Warrens? Well now we have Mayor Pete getting credit for Tulsi’s line against him.”

    So the Corporate Media just flat-out lie in order to marginalize those political candidates they fear the most. Not exactly news any longer. Anyway, as another nail in Mayor Pete’s dialectical coffin, J.D. ends the video with a tweet from Glenn Greenwald who had this to say about Democratic presidential candidates offering to meet with foreign leaders of every possible persuasion:

    Obama, 2007: “I’d be willing to meet, without preconditions, during the first year of (my) administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, to bridge the gap that divides our countries.”

    Tulsi Gabbard grows more self-assured and capable with every tedious, tendentious slur that the likes of Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg spit at her. They have nothing else and this has become increasingly obvious to those with eyes to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If Sanders, by some miracle, manages to win the primary and become the Dem candidate then I’m sure we’ll see smears and lies from the corporate media that will make what has gone on so far seem like effusive praise in comparison. The corporate wing of the Dem party and the DC pundits, think tanks and “intelligentsia” will also be declare an all out holy war on his campaign. The worst case scenario for these people isn’t four more years of Trump, it’s a Sanders presidency. They are dead set against his policies and if he were to win it would make it blindingly obvious that they don’t control access to the office anymore and that contrary to what they have been saying over the years, neoliberal vampire-squid friendly policies aren’t a necessity for “electability.” I thank everyone in the US who is working on behalf of Sanders (and Gabbard) despite the odds – if you win I think there is still a chance of pulling the nation out of what seems to be a death-spiral. One that’s going to take a lot of other countries down with it. At the moment though, the only way I can see Sanders winning is if he gets such overwhelming support that any backroom tricks to give the nomination to someone else (and remember that the party has essentially claimed in court that they have no obligation to run a fair primary or even follow their own rules and that they can just send a few powerful people into a room and they can choose whoever they want for the candidacy) will potentially result in the destruction of the party. And even then, I think many of them would prefer that to Sanders being the candidate. Being Canadian I can’t do anything myself to support his candidacy except words of support.


      1. As far as I can read the Dem. Party Establishment, they still want to run Biden. It’s just a question of will old Joe put his foot in his mouth enough times in next few months for Dems to feel he can no longer present as a credible candidate. I have my own share of “senior moments” these days, but I’m confident I could present myself more coherently to the public than Biden!


  8. I am an ear-witness to it having been Kamala Harris who said Gabbard had been “on Fox News for four years.” What does that even mean? Fox occasionally condescended to interview her because her views diverge from Dem. mainstream? The attack made it sound like Gabbard was a hired commentator on Fox!


    1. As a very small contributor ($125 so far) to Tulsi Gabbard’s presidential campaign I recently got an email containing a video showing eight minutes of her performance at the recent debate. As you said, Greg, Kamala Harris did the attack job on Tulsi’s Fox Noise appearances (and looked like a peevish shrew doing it). Personally, I’ve seen Tulsi on Tucker Carlson Tonight a few times where she has got a respectful hearing. I also understand that Bernie Sanders, too, has appeared on the Fox network where he received a positive audience reaction. So what? Regular Fox viewers could stand a little cognitive stimulus, as could those brainwashed and browbeaten consumers of MSNBC and CNN disinformation.

      You would think that the Democratic party, if it seriously wanted to rebuild its former strength among the American working class, would make every effort to recruit Fox News viewers, both Republican and Independent, at every opportunity. But nooooooooooooooooooooo. Not those self-obsessed “geniuses” at the DNC. They can’t even remember John Podesta and the ludicrous “Pied Piper” strategy of building up Donald Trump as the “easiest” opponent for You-Know-Her to vanquish; Or Senator Chuck Schumer predicting that the Democrats’ run-to-the-right game plan would win two Republican women voters from the Philadelphia suburbs for every working class white guy they lost in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. And then, to top it off, Bill Clinton’s other half (of “two for the price of one”) had the idiotic idea of writing a book about it all entitled “What Happened” while forgetting to add a question mark that would have explained her utter and complete bewilderment in a single symbol.

      From the composure and aplomb with which Tulsi fields these tedious and repetitive smears by the corporate Dems and CIA stooges, I almost get the sense that she has come to enjoy the ease of swatting them away, just for practice. On the other hand, from the video footage I saw, Harris and Buttigieg both looked like they had swallowed a suppository intended for insertion at the other end of the digestive tract. Just like with You-Know-Her’s deranged defamation of Tulsi and Jill Stein as “Russian assets,” these spiteful attacks by DNC’s corporate minions seem to have made Representative Gabbard more visible and credible, rather than less. So, naturally, they will continue.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Recruit Fox “News” devotees to the Democratic Party platform? Hoo-boy, there’s a challenge!! An army of “deprogrammers” would be required to bust them out of the cult! And what the hell is the Dem. platform? Well, the POTUS wannabes are wrestling with that question in these “debates.” Joe Biden presents himself as Mr. Friend of Labor, the traditional Dem. pose. And that’s all it is, a pose. Has he ever joined striking workers on a picket line, or for more than a quick photo-op at any rate? Bernie remains (unless I’ve missed something along the way) the only candidate vigorously calling out corporate greed as our fundamental problem. (And that ties in perfectly with the climate crisis, of course.) People say they’re turned off by his manner of speaking, which is a throwback to Eugene V. Debs, et al. So be it. [I guess I should concede that Sen. Warren calls out greed, but only in healthcare arena.] I think the Dem. faithful have become quite alarmed over the spectacle of all this wrangling on stage, and the ad hominem attacks that inevitably arise. “Can’t we just unite?” pleads Cory Booker. But, as a candidate since fallen by the side of the road–might’ve been Beto O’Rourke–pointed out in one of the early “debates,” this is a winnowing process. If everyone signs on to the same platform, shall we pick a name out of a hat to settle on a preferred candidate? Of this we can be certain: Bernie remains in the race because of the polls. The DNC does NOT want to run a candidate who has ANYTHING favorable to say about “democratic socialism”!! And so, Madam Pantsuit waits in the wings. She’s rested! She’s rejuvenated! She’s ready!!


  9. CNN says a Giuliani associate may come forth to testify that none other than Devin Nunes, one of Trump’s top attack dogs in the House, himself went on a mission to Ukraine, or somewhere in Europe, seeking dirt on Biden! As of almost-midnight Nov. 22, no such story appears on NY Times website. The Old Gray Lady needs some Geritol, perhaps??


  10. Interesting story in The Guardian about how the Democratic field lacks “star power.”

    What they mean is there’s no false messiah like Obama. If you want “star power,” look to Bernie and his ideas, which the American people favor (e.g. universal health care, higher wages, a Green new deal to attack climate change, student debt relief, etc.). Or look to Tulsi and her principled opposition to imperial wars.

    Instead, the DNC favors Biden or Buttigieg or Klobuchar etc., candidates who have no chance against Trump.

    There are “stars” who are running — just not the ones the DNC wants to see.


  11. This is interesting (from a puff piece on Buttigieg):

    “In the spring of 2000, his senior year, he [Buttigieg] won the Profiles in Courage essay contest, sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation. His subject was then-U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, now a senator and one of his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

    He praised Sanders’ political courage in calling himself a “socialist” and for representing Kennedy’s ideal of “compromises of issues, not of principles.” He also wrote that Sanders’ conviction and energy could bring people together in a political climate in which cynicism reigned.”

    Even Mayor Pete supports Bernie! 🙂


    1. I was pretty much liking ‘Mayor Pete’ (very bright, presented himself well) until…until…he ripped off his civvies, swelled up his puny chest, and revealed himself to the world as Mr. Macho Military Man, dressed in full combat gear! (Using metaphor here.) Though I suspect, as an intel officer, he didn’t get very close to flying bullets in Afghanistan. So what was his role? Was he targeting alleged/suspected terrorists for assassination by drone or otherwise? Hmmm. He has no Purple Heart to display, a la Lt. Col. Vindman. Now Pete works furiously to assure the Establishment that he poses no threat whatsoever to them. (Surely he wouldn’t try to pack his Cabinet with gay men and lesbians, right?) Indeed, he’s eager to represent their interests. Perhaps he’ll promise a definitive military victory in Afghanistan, etc., if only we (the electorate) will give him the chance??


  12. As I noted above, I caught an interesting audio interview between libertarian Scott Horton of and Jimmy Dore, working-class leftist comedian and social/political commentator on youtube. I spent some time typing up a sort-of transcript from which I’ll pick and choose favorite parts. Those who want to catch the whole thing can check out: 11-15-19: Jimmy Dore on the Moral Bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, by Scott, The Scott Horton Show (Nov 19, 2019).

    To begin with, I’ll jump right to the end for this rather insightful observation:

    Jimmy Dore: “One of the saddest things about Russia-gate is that the Left has exalted the “intelligence community” which has always been the enemy of the Left and will continue to be. And so the FBI infiltrates Peace organizations and dismantles them and smears them and slimes them and keeps them out of power. That’s what the FBI does. They’re not your friend because you both happen to hate Donald Trump at the moment.”

    I tried this out on Facebook with some of my old high school classmates back in the U.S. who have bought into Trump Derangement and Russia-gate hysteria — now combined in the so-called “impeachment inquiry” — without a thought concerning where this will lead in terms of further authoritarian suppression of anti-war voices in the United States. I’ll report on anything of note that comes from this experiment.


    1. As a follow on to Jimmy Dore’s comment above about the ultimate consequences in store for the Left when they short-sightedly endorse “intelligence community” and FBI violations of our Fourth Amendment guarantees of freedom from such totalitarian government oppression, consider:

      Republicans & Democrats Agree: Give Vast Snooping Powers to The U.S. Government, by Alex Christoforou, The Duran (November 24, 2019).

      Even in our polarized and right vs. left political paradigm, there is one thing both republicans and democrats can agree on: The federal government should have vast snooping powers and conduct mass surveillance on everyone. They simply disagree over who should be in charge of abusing those excessive powers [emphasis added].

      The impeachment circus did one thing successfully. It took attention from the government’s mass surveillance programs that are constantly expanded. As Reason proposed: If Democrats really feared Donald Trump’s exercise of the powers of the presidency, why would they propose extending the surveillance powers of the controversial Patriot Act?

      House Democrats have successfully slipped an unqualified renewal of the draconian PATRIOT Act into an emergency funding bill – voting near-unanimously for sweeping surveillance carte blanche that was the basis for the notorious NSA program.

      Does anyone who watched these dreadfully empty “debates” recall any of the “moderators” or Democratic party hopefuls mentioning any of this?


      1. But of course, to vote against “The Patriot Act” is to appear “soft on terrorism”! Islamic fundamentalism being the successor to the International Communist Conspiracy. And as you’ve frequently pointed out yourself, Michael, Americans seem peculiarly prone to becoming frightened! (That is, steered or herded into such a condition to the benefit of the real bad guys, the United States Ruling Class.)


  13. Moving right along with my transcript excerpts from the Scott Horton interview with Jimmy Dore, consider this Addendum Number One:

    [begin quote]

    Jimmy Dore: “Can I ask you a question first, because I’ll forget. “Why do you think that people who consider themselves on the Left are pushing such a thing as Russiagate? How does that negatively affect the anti-war movement?”

    [2:15] Scott Horton: “Of course, it’s terrible, right? It’s effective as a psy-op on the Leftist mind, I guess, or the liberal mind in America as the Obama presidency was. Hey, if the guy you love is the one waging the war, then you should probably button your lip for the next eight years, and that worked real well. But then, to have the entire set of accusations against the Republican president — and complete hate figure — Donald Trump being associated with his lack of patriotism and lack of loyalty to the foreign policy agenda of his predecessors, so to speak, and his underlings in the executive branch, is a whole other level.

    And so I’m sure that you saw the polls – I think you covered the polls – which show that liberals believe in the CIA far more than conservatives do now. And, of course, conservative skepticism only extends to the CIA’s persecution of their political hero in this circumstance, on that side.

    But as far as how bad it has been for liberalism, it’s terrible. But that’s why I like you and other principled Leftists so much who are not partisans but instead are principled and put the worst things first and keep them there and refuse to be cowed by things that, I guess, should seem like an easy way to get a political enemy but in fact aren’t true and are damaging to, especially, our relationship with Russia, which is the most important thing in the whole world. So is that a long enough answer?”

    [end quote]

    So, again, the two right-wing U.S. factions of the Single Global Corporate Oligarchy do not disagree on the imposition of draconian totalitarian oppression in the United States (a somewhat larger Ukraine or Bolivia). They just disagree about which abuser should get paid the most for brandishing the whip.


    1. It irritates me when mainstream Dems are proclaimed “the Left.” They are only “left” relative to how extremely far-right the Republicans have moved in recent decades. Fairly recently I got around to reading “Naming Names,” about the McCarthyist witch hunt against “reds” in the entertainment industry in the late 1940s/early 1950s. (Donald Trump, take note: THAT was a REAL witch hunt!) The author made this observation, which I’d never really cobbled together in my own head but which immediately struck me as totally on the money: the role of liberals is to keep the real leftists suppressed.


      1. I haven’t read the book “Naming Names,” Greg, but by now it should appear intuitively obvious how the Democratic party enthusiastically carries out its established role of crushing any “leftist” — or “bottom-ist” — movements that might arise to trouble the placid dreams of the Ruling Corporate Oligarchy whose preferred minions, the Republicans, will unleash the vicious soldiers, cops, and guards if it comes to that, but would prefer to let the Democrats subvert their own and take the blame instead. The late Sheldon Wolin has described this phenomenon exceedingly well in his book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism:

        “… inverted totalitarianism has evolved a politics to support its imperial ambitions.”

        “While the Republican Party is ever vigilant about the care and feeding of its zealots, the Democratic Party is equally concerned to discourage its democrats.
        The timidity of a Democratic Party mesmerized by centrist precepts points to the crucial fact that, for the poor, minorities, the working class, anticorporatists, pro-environmentalists, and anti-imperialists, there is no opposition party working actively on their behalf. And this despite the fact that these elements are recognized as the loyal base of the party. By ignoring dissent and by assuming that the dissenters have no alternative, the party serves as an important, if ironical, stabilizing function and in effect marginalizes any possible threat to the corporate allies of the Republicans.”

        I find it a truly awesome display of effective totalitarian propaganda that this glaring betrayal of the working class by the Democratic party — loyally serving as the Republican party’s junior varsity — has not resulted in open rebellion and revolution before now.


  14. Addendum Number Two — more on the short-sided stupidity of the “Left” attacking Donald Trump and the Republicans from even further to the Right. How ironic that the right-wing Republican — rookie politician, real-estate con man, and out-of-work cable TV game show host — winds up by default on the left of the right-running Democrat and closer to the increasingly impoverished working class of the country. Anyway …

    [begin quote]

    Jimmy Dore: “… The only thing I would add to that is that, when it first started happening, I tried to tell people on the Left who were doing it: What this is eventually going to do is going to come back to bite us in the ass when we oppose a war. And that’s how it has always been. So look what has happened. There is one candidate running who is in the military currently serving in the illegal wars that these people engineered who tells the truth about them, and who speaks a moment of Peace on national television and she’s immediately slimed by a former First Lady, Secretary of State, and nominee of the party as a “Russian asset.”

    Now, because you push this along on the Left, anybody who challenges –- and then she [You-Know-Her] went along and said it was Jill Stein, too — anybody who not only challenges war but even challenges the two-party duopoly that has had a stranglehold on this country, then you’re also a Russian. So you can’t even be an environmentalist, you can’t even think outside the two party [duopoly] – anybody who strays is going to be used now as a billy club to keep you in line, and that’s exactly how it’s being used. And who is it used against? The Left. Of course. And what people don’t realize [is that] Russia-gate is attacking Trump from the Right.

    [5:33] And so when you say, ‘Oh, He didn’t bomb Syria enough, what you’re actually doing is [advocating] bomb more, which as a Lefty, you’re supposed to be intrinsically against that stuff and always suspicious of that. And of course why? Who gets killed? People. People get killed.

    And especially at [radio station] KPFK which the whole point of KPFK, Pacifica, is anti-war, was founded as anti-war. And to hear people on the Left attacking Trump from the right and wanting him to be more bellicose and saber rattling shows you how deleterious and destructive Russia-gate can be to the Left, which is why they should stop it. They should have stopped it. And they should continue to stop it if they haven’t.

    [end quote]

    Enough with the ludicrously labelled “Left” attacking the Right from further to the Right. That seems like Genghis Khan accusing Attila the Hun of “insufficient barbarianism.” American “democracy” at work wrecking the world.


    1. Of course it was a nauseating spectacle, but were we really surprised to see Democrats wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth over Trump’s THREATENED reduction of US troop strength on Syrian soil? I’m still waiting to see the video of the first American soldier or civilian security contractor setting foot back on US soil and NOT simply being replaced over there thru rotation of units/personnel.


  15. Addendum Number Three — Getting Bernie Sanders into the foreign policy mix.

    Scott Horton: “He’s been great in the Senate on Yemen but I’ve got to admit to you that I don’t know much about his campaign so far. Is he really running on that stuff?

    Jimmy Dore: “That’s always been his weakness. He’s better than everyone else, but that’s because everyone else is horrible. I’m like you, I’m an anti-war guy, so I’m more attracted to Tulsi in that way, and I think her voice in the primary … I’m supporting her because I think her voice needs to be heard because she does speak so clearly on foreign policy. So, whether or not she will get the nomination, I think it is important for her to pull Bernie to the Left on that. So that, among other reasons, I think it’s important for Tulsi to be in the race, be on the debate stage

    [21:40] Bernie’s problem in foreign policy is that for whatever reason [he] will repeat the CIA [false premises] for invasion and then say we shouldn’t invade. Like for instance, He’ll say that Maduro in Venezuela ‘is a brutal dicator’ and ‘the people are suffering’ and he’s ‘torture’ and all that stuff BUT we should leave it up to the people.’ Well … all that stuff is garbage. That’s all CIA talking points because they need to set up a [loaded premise] of “Hey. It would be immoral of us NOT to help those people.” And so if you agree with the [implications of the premise] that this guy’s a dictator, that the people are starving while he’s eating steak, that he’s oppressing them and jailing them and torturing them and then you DON’T do something, well then, YOU’RE immoral. So it makes the case much harder to oppose an interventionist war if you [first] repeat the CIA talking points, and that’s what Bernie does

    So Bernie will accept the framing: ‘Oh, Assad is a dictator who gasses his own people.’ So if you accept that and now DON’T want to go help these people, then YOU’RE the bad guy. And so you lose the argument right away. That’s what he does. Tulsi doesn’t do that. She [instead] says “Hey. We need to stay the hell out of Venezuela. Our history of intervening in South America is horrible.” So there. Done. You don’t have to get into that debate about is he a good guy or is he a bad guy. That doesn’t matter.

    The point is that every time we intervene, it makes everything worse. So she doesn’t want to be the policeman of the world, which we shouldn’t be. The only reason we claim we’re the policeman of the world is because where we want to go to police has natural resources that we want to steal and give to an American corporation.

    [end quote]

    It bears repeating here that, as George Orwell advised in “Politics and the English Language: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. He meant by this that accepting and repeating — as factual presumptions — frequently enunciated, popular, loaded canards like “brutal dictator” and other ad hominem slurs, already concedes AND REINFORCES the main point of argument that one ostensibly opposes. As a result, when you finally get around to mentioning why you DON’T agree with what you have already repeated, others don’t even hear your counterpoint, let alone appreciate or share it. Tulsi Gabbard seems to understand this — at least when it comes to “some,” “selected” imperial wars [more on those later] — while Bernie Sanders seems infuriatingly oblivious to this dialectical truth.

    A final note: For those who may have some interest in this business of debunking standard media narratives that claim to constitute some sort of evidence, I recommend the writings of the Australian rogue journalist Caitlin Johnstone. She does truly great work on how to see through and defend oneself against the prevailing corporate war propaganda.


    1. Thanks for posting all this, Mike. I heard the interview, but reading it as well serves to reinforce its points.

      Tulsi and Bernie are both needed, but even they don’t go far enough in rejecting the permanent war state. Tulsi says she’s a hawk in the war against terrorism, and Bernie bows before Israel and supports the F-35 jet fighter because a squadron is based in his home state. So: Even principled politicians like Bernie and Tulsi believe that they have to meet the Complex, if not halfway, at least partially so that they can maintain their viability and show that they’re “serious.”

      Only someone “crazy” like Jill Stein can suggest radical ideas like reducing “defense” spending by 50%. Oh, I forgot: she’s a Russian asset …


    2. President Maduro’s chief offense is to try to carry on the policies of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. (Well, okay, make that his secondary offense. The real first offense is, of course, that he’s not willing to give away Venezuela’s plentiful and very valuable resource, crude oil.) I suppose boobus Americanus (H.L. Mencken’s designation for who we now might call Joe Six-Pack) would tell us Venezuela is a Communist Dictatorship. Thus, Bernie would jeopardize himself by openly speaking in defense of the administration down there. Likewise, though he might criticize Trump’s restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba–which were a vindictive blow, from this most vindictive POTUS, at Obama’s somewhat-loosening thereof–he certainly won’t speak in favor of the Cuban Revolution. I seem to recall one or more of the Dem. candidates pointing out that it would help lessen the jam-up at the border of folks fleeing regimes in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. if US policy was made less supportive of said repression. And that is a cogent observation, to be sure. But, bottom line: Bernie Sanders understands why our healthcare system is such a mess, but he is by no means a Socialist with a capital ‘s.’ God forbid, here in the US of A, right?!?


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