Biden Is Back as the DNC Prepares to Lose Again

biden
Prepare for lots of malarkey

W.J. Astore

Last night’s election results show a big delegate haul for Joe Biden, as the Democratic National Committee (DNC) conspired to eliminate Biden’s main challengers for the “moderate” vote, Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar.  That conspiracy worked, boosting Biden to wins and cutting into Bernie Sanders’s haul of delegates.  When the results from California are final, Biden and Sanders may be roughly equal in delegates, setting up a two-man race that’s reminiscent of Hillary-Bernie in 2016.

As my wife quipped this morning: The elections are rigged.  No Russians required.

Speaking of rigged elections, the DNC is putting its thumb on the scale yet again by changing the rules so that Tulsi Gabbard won’t be allowed to debate, even though she qualified with a strong showing in American Samoa.  Here’s how Caitlin Johnstone put it:

The establishment narrative warfare against Gabbard’s campaign dwarfs anything we’ve seen against Sanders, and the loathing and dismissal they’ve been able to generate have severely hamstrung her run. It turns out that a presidential candidate can get away with talking about economic justice and plutocracy when it comes to domestic policy, and some light dissent on matters of foreign policy will be tolerated, but aggressively attacking the heart of the actual bipartisan foreign policy consensus will get you shut down, smeared and shunned like nothing else. This is partly because US presidents have a lot more authority over foreign affairs than domestic, and it’s also because endless war is the glue which holds the empire together.

And now they’re working to install a corrupt, right-wing warmongering dementia patient [Joe Biden] as the party’s nominee. And from the looks of the numbers I’ve seen from Super Tuesday so far, it looks entirely likely that those manipulations will prove successful.

All this means is that the machine is exposing its mechanics to the view of the mainstream public. Both the Gabbard campaign and the Sanders campaign have been useful primarily in this way; not because the establishment would ever let them actually become president, but because they force the unelected manipulators who really run things in the most powerful government on earth to show the public their box of dirty tricks.

Just so.  The DNC and its machine, including the corporate-owned mainstream media, have been fighting since day one to smear and red-bait both Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders.  They will do most anything to deny the nomination to Bernie, handing it to Joe Biden, a man who is well past his prime, and who will almost certainly be humiliated and then defeated by Donald Trump.

But, to quote Jimmy Dore, the Democratic establishment would rather lose to Trump than win with a truly progressive candidate like Bernie Sanders.

Even Donald Trump knows the score.  He tweeted that: The Democrat establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders, AGAIN! Even the fact that Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race was devastating to Bernie and allowed Sleepy Joe to unthinkably win Massachusetts. It was a perfect storm, with many good states remaining for Joe!

So, I hope Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard join forces and run together as third-party candidates.  For if the choice is between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, that’s really no choice at all.

Update: Mike Bloomberg has dropped out, endorsing Joe Biden.  Surprise!  In a truly democratic party, news that a Republican-leaning, Stop&Frisk billionaire endorsing Biden would be a big negative.  But not in Biden’s moderate right Democratic Party.

Warren will probably drop soon and likely will endorse Biden.  She’s probably negotiating her price right now, just as Mayor Pete and Amy K. did.

But here’s the reality: A moderate right party (the Democrats) will not defeat a hard right party (the Republicans) in November.  Not with Joe Biden at the helm.  Just think of the enthusiasm gap between these two rightist parties.

Grim news, but there you have it.

Progressives are getting screwed again — by the Democratic Party

bernie
Feel the Bern

W,J. Astore

Bernie Sanders, it’s now clear, won the Iowa caucus vote.  The predictable response of Tom Perez, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC): Hey, it’s time to stop!  Let’s count the votes again!  Maybe we can come up with a new total where Bernie doesn’t win.

Incredibly, the corruption isn’t even hidden anymore.  It’s entirely in the open.  The DNC will do anything to stop Bernie Sanders.  Not because he won’t win against Trump.  No — it’s because DNC members won’t be able to protect their perks, power, and privileges with Bernie as the Democratic candidate for president.  Because Bernie simply won’t play their game.  In a system rife with corruption, Bernie is as incorruptible as they come.

Again, the DNC would rather lose to Trump in November than win with Bernie.  It truly is that simple.

Meanwhile, Tulsi Gabbard, who’s running strong in New Hampshire while calling for fundamental reform of the Democratic Party, is being treated as a non-person by the DNC.  No appearances on CNN.  No special rules for her so she can appear at the DNC-sponsored debate on February 7th.  But of course the DNC can make special rules so that billionaire Michael Bloomberg can and will appear in that same debate.

The Democratic Party supposedly stands for diversity.  Tulsi is a woman of color and a serving officer in the Hawaii Army National Guard.  Bloomberg is a conservative “stop and frisk” white oligarch who endorsed George W. Bush.  And who does the DNC favor in its quest for diversity?

Again, incredibly, the corruption isn’t even hidden anymore.  It’s crystal clear — and damning.

What is to be done?  Support Bernie and Tulsi.  Condemn the DNC and its corporate bosses.  And if some corporate tool becomes the nominee this summer, as is likely, think back to these days when it became so obvious (yet again) that, once again, the Democratic establishment is only truly determined when it’s out to screw its own progressive base.

Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and the Democratic Party

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Tulsi Gabbard in NH.  Yes, she can snowboard

W.J. Astore

In 2016, Bernie Sanders had a winning message and Hillary Clinton didn’t.  But Bernie’s message favored the working classes, not Democratic donors, so he was blocked and then sidelined.  Even so, Bernie loyally campaigned for Clinton, who lost to a political novice, celebrity TV host, and lifelong con man.

In 2020, Bernie Sanders has a winning message and the other leading candidates (Biden, Warren, Buttigieg) don’t.  Bernie’s message still favors the working classes, not the Democratic donors, so efforts are underway to block him again.

Consider Tom Perez, head of the DNC, and his selections for various committees for the convention.  They are the usual suspects: Clintonites, Obama followers, members of the military-industrial complex, big pharma and insurance companies, and so on.  Here’s a useful and funny video from Jimmy Dore that breaks it down:

 

Polls project that Bernie will win Iowa (Feb. 3) and New Hampshire (Feb. 11).  What will the DNC do next to torpedo Bernie’s chances?

Small wonder Bernie advocates for a political revolution.  But we’re not going to have one of those in America, not with the Democratic-Republican Party in charge.

A few more items.  Consider these two articles at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR):

Corporate Media Are the Real ‘Sanders Attack Machine,’ by Julie Hollar

It’s Media—Not Bernie Sanders—That Have an Antisemitism Problem, by Alan MacLeod

The latter article details the mainstream media’s efforts to paint Bernie Sanders — who, if elected, would be America’s first Jewish president — as an anti-Semite!  Here’s an excerpt:

Have you heard the news? Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders is antisemitic. Yes, yes, he’s Jewish, and has a long history of anti-racist activism—but that doesn’t matter.

So goes the story in several prominent media outlets, who accuse him of leading “the most antisemitic [campaign] in decades” (Washington Examiner, 12/13/19). While unable to point to Sanders’ own actions or words, the national press has associated him with hatred of Jews by attacking those around him. Throughout 2019, for example, Sanders supporter Rep. Ilhan Omar was constantly labeled antisemitic across the media for comments she made about the undue influence of the US/Israeli lobbying group AIPAC on American politics (e.g., New York Times, 3/7/19; Wall Street Journal, 7/12/19; Washington Post, 8/20/19).

Fox News (1/9/20) claimed Sanders would be “the most anti-Israel” president ever, conflating criticism of Israel and/or the Netanyahu administration with antisemitism.

Of course, corporate Democrats aren’t just against Bernie Sanders.  They’re against any candidate that threatens their privileges and power.  This includes Tulsi Gabbard, who is being boycotted by CNN even though she’s polling well in New Hampshire.  Consider the following:

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. — Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii says she’s still waiting to hear from CNN about why she wasn’t invited to take part in a series of town halls the cable news network is holding next week in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.

“We have reached out, I think, more than once, and we received no explanation. I don’t even think we’ve gotten a response to date about why they’re excluding the first female combat veteran ever to run for president, the only woman of color in the race,” the four-term congresswoman and Iraq War veteran said Tuesday in an interview with Fox News.

Could it be any more obvious?  The fix is already in.  It’s always in.  The Democrats will do anything and everything in their power to block real change.

I know it’s unlikely, but I would love to see Bernie/Tulsi create a third party and run against Trump and whichever corporate tool the Democrats nominate.  Please, Bernie, if the DNC screws you again, don’t be a “team player.”  Give us a real choice — and pick Tulsi or someone like her as your running mate.

The Senate Trial of Donald Trump

Senate Impeachment Trial Of President Donald Trump Begins
Chief Justice John Roberts.  Ten years ago, he gave us Citizens United.

W.J. Astore

The Senate trial of Donald Trump is a colossal waste of time and energy.  Why?  The result is a foregone conclusion: Trump is not going to be removed from office.  Nevertheless, the mainstream media is obsessed with gavel-to-gavel coverage of what is mostly a non-event.

As my wife said to me yesterday, where is all this energy and outrage from Congress and the media about homeless people living in the streets?  So many of whom are suffering from mental and physical illnesses of various sorts?  Where is the attention to people who can’t afford to pay for their prescription drugs?  What about all the veterans committing suicide?  What about all the corruption that is systemic and endemic across Congress and the Executive branches?  Where’s the attention to that?

The presence of Chief Justice John Roberts in the Senate provides a salutary reminder that a decade ago, the Supreme Court issued its “Citizens United” decision that declared corporations are citizens and that their “speech” in the form of money in politics is protected.

That decision is yet another example of America’s legalized system of political corruption.  Why can’t we get Congress to change that?  Where’s the media coverage of electoral corruption?  The outrage about corporate money in politics?  There isn’t any, since the mainstream media is complicit in the corruption.

To repeat myself: Ten years ago this week, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are citizens.  Except for a few ultra-rich “citizens” like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, that meant corporations had (and have) superhero-like powers, but with none of the humility of Peter Parker (Spiderman), whose gentle Uncle Ben reminded him that, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Our superhero corporations just want the power, thank you very much, and our government and its three branches willingly bow down and serve them.

Where’s the trial for that offense against the republic?  Bang the gavel, John Roberts.

Bonus Lesson: Democrats!  Want to remove Trump from office?  Nominate a coherent and charismatic candidate for the presidency, have a compelling platform, and inspire people to get off their duffs and vote in November.

What Do Leading Democrats Believe In?

pelosi
Would you buy a used car from them?

W.J. Astore

Give me five minutes, and I can tell you exactly what Bernie Sanders believes in.  Single-payer health care for all.  A $15 minimum wage.  Higher taxes on the richest Americans.  College education that doesn’t bankrupt families and leave students with crushing debt.  Criminal justice reform.  Investment in infrastructure and renewable energy.  He gives specifics, and he’s walked a principled walk for decades.

But what does the Democratic Partly leadership believe in?  As this article at Truthdig put it, “Nancy Pelosi Believes In Nothing.”  Of course, she does believe in something: her own power and privilege, which she seeks to maintain and expand.  But principles like those held by Bernie Sanders?  Forget about it.

I’ve been reading Matt Taibbi’s “The Great Derangement,” a terrific book that came out in 2008, and Taibbi nails it in this passage (pages 243-4):

The Democrats’ error was in believing that people wouldn’t notice this basic truth [that the party’s ideology is driven by power and nothing more] about their priorities. They were wrong on that score. In fact, a Quinnipiac poll taken around that time [2007] found the approval rating of Congress had fallen to 23 percent. Other polls saw the number plummet to the teens. The rating of the Democratic Congress was even lower than [George W.] Bush’s, and it was not hard to see why. Bush was wrong and insane, but he stood for something. It was a fucked-up something, but it was something. The Democrats stood for nothing; they viewed their own constituents as problems to be handled, and even casual voters were beginning to see this.

If you substitute Trump’s name for Bush’s in the above quotation, it makes even more sense.  “[Trump] was wrong and insane, but he stood for something. It was a fucked-up something, but it was something.”

This is the biggest issue for corporate Democrats: What do you stand for?  For so many in the establishment, what they stand for is themselves.  The perpetuation of their own power and privilege.  This is the biggest reason why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.  It was always all about her.

Another quotation from Matt Taibbi made me laugh out loud even as I winced at the harsh truth of it (page 190):

You don’t elect politicians to commit crimes; you elect politicians to make your crimes legal. That is the whole purpose of the racket of government.

In this case, the “you” in question are all the banks, corporations, and other vested interests that essentially buy our politicians.  Until we get big money out of politics, this corruption will persist.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t take corporate money.  Neither does Tulsi Gabbard.  But most of the current batch of Democratic candidates for president in 2020 do take money from big corporate and financial donors.  And that should tell you what they believe in: their own power and privilege, and little else.

Speaking of Bernie Sanders, I recently read a depressing article in the Nation by Eric Alterman who argued Bernie can’t win in 2020.  Why?  Supposedly because Americans won’t elect a socialist, and also because Trump and the Republican attack machine will convince Americans he’s simply too radical.

WTF?  Americans are desperate for leaders who believe in something rather than nothing.  That’s why Trump won in 2016.  Again, in the spirit of Taibbi, Trump may be batshit crazy, but he does take a stand, e.g. “Build the wall.”  The best way to defeat Trump in 2020 is to go bold: to nominate a candidate with strong core beliefs.  A candidate who connects with young and old and who inspires enthusiastic participation.  That’s Bernie.

But perhaps Jimmy Dore, the comedian/political commentator, is right: establishment Democrats like Pelosi would rather defeat Progressives like Bernie Sanders than win the presidential election against Trump in 2020.  Because if Trump wins, they can continue to serve (and profit from) corporate interests while posing as being anti-Trump, i.e. they can continue life as they know it, with all the power and privilege that comes with it.

As my wife quipped today, “They don’t let their beliefs get in their way, do they?”  Which is another way of saying they really have no beliefs at all.

The Absurdity of America’s Afghan War

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W.J. Astore

The ongoing absurdity of America’s Afghan War was captured in two headlines today from my New York Times feed.  Here’s the first:

NEWS ANALYSIS
Taliban Talks Raise Question of What U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Could Mean
By MARK LANDLER, HELENE COOPER and ERIC SCHMITT
A hasty American withdrawal, experts said, would erode the authority and legitimacy of the Afghan government, raising the risk that the Taliban could recapture control.

Think about this.  What kind of “authority” and “legitimacy” does an Afghan government have if that authority and legitimacy can be fatally undermined by a “quick” withdrawal of U.S. troops over 18 months?  The Taliban, meanwhile, does not pose a serious threat to the United States, and anyway who are we to say which group should rule in Afghanistan?

Here is the second headline:

To Slow U.S. Exit, Afghan Leader Offers Trump a Cost Reduction
By MUJIB MASHAL
A letter from President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan to President Trump is among the strongest signs yet that Mr. Ghani is worried about an American withdrawal.

So, all of a sudden, faced with the prospect the U.S. military may finally end its quagmire war and the $40 billion or so it spends in Afghanistan each year, Afghan governmental leaders are finally suggesting ways to reduce the cost of the U.S. occupation.  Shouldn’t that tell us something about the nature of U.S. efforts there, as well as the motives of America’s putative allies?

No matter how grim the news, no matter how high the price, America’s foreign policy experts favor forever war rather than a negotiated settlement.  That’s my grim conclusion from these headlines today.

Speaking of grim news: I just received some data from SIGAR, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.  These data points suggest no real American progress in Afghanistan.  Indeed, the Taliban is stronger, the Afghan government is weaker, corruption is increasing, and so too is the drug trade, even as the U.S. military drops more and more bombs and missiles.  And we should keep doing this?

From the SIGAR report (RS is Resolute Support, ostensibly a NATO mission to support the Afghan government, but of course commanded and driven by the U.S.):

— The Afghan government’s control or influence over the population declined this quarter. According to RS, as of October 31, 2018, 63.5% of the population lived in areas under Afghan government control or influence, down 1.7% from the previous quarter. The insurgency slightly increased its control or influence over areas where 10.8% of the population lives. The population living in contested areas increased to 25.6% of the population.

— According to Resolute Support, as of October 31, 2018, the Afghan government controlled or influenced 53.8% of the total number of districts. This represents a decrease of seven government-controlled or influenced districts compared to last quarter and eight since the same period of 2017. 12.3% of Afghanistan’s districts are now reportedly under insurgent control or influence. 33.9% of districts are contested.

— USFOR-A reported that the assigned (actual) personnel strength of the ANDSF [government defense/security forces] as October 31, 2018, was 308,693 personnel – or 87.7% strength. ANDSF strength decreased by 3,635 personnel since last quarter and is at the lowest it has been since the RS mission began in January 2015.

— According to U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT), U.S. air assets in Afghanistan dropped 6,823 munitions in the first 11 months of 2018. This year’s figure was already 56% higher than the total number of munitions released in 2017 (4,361), and is more than five times the total in 2016.

— The Department of Justice (DOJ) reports that the Afghan government has made insufficient progress to investigate and prosecute corruption cases. DOJ also reported that the Afghan government has not yet demonstrated sufficient motivation or action to deter future corrupt actors, or to convince the Afghan people that the government is serious about combating corruption.

— Narcotics trafficking remains a widespread problem, with CSTC-A observing senior Afghan security force leaders and civilian provincial authorities often controlling narcotics trafficking networks in the western, southwestern, and northern regions.

Can anyone see a light at the end of the Afghan tunnel?