Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bernie to work within party for now

(oops lost the link. But it's on Google News at this time)
On Sunday morning, the day after establishment pick Tom Perez was elected by party insiders to the position of DNC Chair, Senator Bernie Sanders appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper. During the course of the interview, something happened that will have those Democrats who are up for reelection in 2018, shaking: In a roundabout way, Sanders said he would not be providing the DNC with his email list, and would instead use it to help progressives running in Democratic primaries.

Sanders has long said he wants to transform the Democratic Party which has always been a game of paying dues and insider politics—and that position threatens the current leadership. If the events of the weekend prove anything, it has started a war. The establishment sent its message to Sanders, and Sanders fired back.

Many have long wondered how Sanders would keep his revolution alive after the election. Now it is becoming clear. It is to be his people powered weapon in a war on the Democratic leadership, with the ultimate purpose of presenting a genuine alternative to the Republican Party and Trump’s brand of corporate populism.

Establishment Democrats have no path to victory against the current administration because they do not have the tools. Trumpism cannot be defeated by corporate-friendly Republican lite.

Not only did 2016 prove the establishment had lost touch with the American people—after all, it had paved the way for a candidate all polling indicated was the weaker choice while touting as an endpoint the grossly incomplete legacy of the presidency of Barack Obama—it shook their donors’ confidence as well. Their candidate lost to Donald J. Trump, and the party suffered massive losses down ballot.

And yet, the leadership—like a corporation which has just had to do a massive recall—has been downplaying the problem and doubling down.

For progressives, this damage control has been taken as unwillingness on behalf of the party to “learn its lesson.” Frustrated, many have been flirting with the idea of changing their registrations. Some already have feeling that the only option left open to them is causing loss after loss.

However, this latest declaration from Sanders should make these voters reconsider. He’s raising an army because wars are often long, and filled with devastating losses. However, for the battles that are lost—this time an election where the voters are exclusively party insiders—there are battles won. Just last month, ‘Berniecrats’ swept California’s Democratic assembly district delegate elections, giving them effective control over the largest state Democratic Party in the country.

The left is finally waking up to its ability to affect change as millennials organize. Establishment Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of Hillary Clinton’s most vocal allies during the primary, are starting to feel the pressure as they plan their reelection campaigns, and Republicans are refusing to do town halls thanks to protester interruptions. Every day there seems to be a protest.

This latest move by Sanders is a promise upheld to his supporters, and a warning to Washington elites: The revolution continues. Get on board or get voted out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Plea to Bernie Sanders

Link to Huffington Post page

The Progressive Movement At The Crossroads: An Open Letter To Bernie Sanders

Dear Senator Bernie Sanders,
Prior to 2015, I was an Independent voter who had voted Democrat in every presidential election I had been old enough to participate in. I considered myself to be performing my civic duty by voting once every four years for the least-bad presidential candidate. I had never voted in a primary election nor a midterm election and I had never donated to nor volunteered for a political campaign. In my mind, there were no candidates worthy of that sort of support, none who represented my views on the issues facing our nation; so the lesser-evil became the only sensible option. In short, I was politically disillusioned and disengaged. 
All of that changed when you announced your candidacy in 2015.   
I was an early supporter of your campaign for the Democratic Party nomination and a founding member of your “Super Pack” of small-dollar donors, donating $10 a month starting in August 2015. During moments of the campaign when the odds seemed particularly stacked against you, your positive, progressive, politically revolutionary message shone through as a beacon of motivation and hope. In those moments, and there were more than a few, I would donate $50. I attended multiple rallies, voter registration drives and phone-bank sessions in the months leading up to the first primary contest. You inspired me, and millions of progressive Democrats and Independents alike, to stand and fight for a brighter political future. You showed us we are not alone in our values, that we can be a powerful force for change when we stand together. I cannot thank you enough for waking us up.
That being said, the chicanery of the Democratic National Committee leadership to subvert your campaign, as revealed in leaked DNC emails, combined with widespread voter suppression efforts by party officials and mainstream media outlets was, to say the least, hard to bear. For months, many millions of your supporters (the vast majority of whom followed your lead and voted for Hillary Clinton in the end) were crying out for the party elites to realize what was plain to see: You were the only candidate who could beat Donald Trump because of your strength with working class and Independent voters. National polling just days prior to the general election showed you crushing Trump by double-digits in a hypothetical matchup, whereas Clinton remained in a statistical tie. We are all now living with the results of the Democratic Party establishment’s colossal error in judgement.
Since the election, I’ve been searching for signs within the Democratic Party leadership indicating a lesson has been learned and the necessity for substantial reform is recognized. Unfortunately, those signs have been few and far between. The Democratic punditry is quick to place blame on any number of outside factors but loath to introspect. Due to seeming intransigence and lack of contrition by party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and others, party membership has reportedly dropped by 14 million in just over three months. 
The progressive movement you inspired, the “political revolution”, has thus reached the crossroads. The members of the Democratic National Committee must choose if they are willing to reform and be the vehicle for progressive change or not. That choice is fast approaching this week in the form of the DNC chair selection (February 23rd - 26th). 
You, of course, have been leading the push to reform the Democratic Party away from neoliberal corporatism and back into the party of working people. Your choice to implement that reform as the next DNC chair is Keith Ellison. Regardless of my own feelings about Congressman Ellison, he was an early supporter of your candidacy for president and was also a member of your platform delegation. He has clearly earned your trust and support. 
Ellison’s main opponent, Tom Perez, is a progressive the likes of Hillary Clinton. His recent admission at the DNC forum about the primaries being rigged along with the subsequent twitter retraction demonstrate both his blatant political opportunism and his quick capitulation to establishment elites in one fell swoop.
The selection of DNC chair is eerily echoing the Democratic primaries. The parallels are all present: progressivism vs neoliberalism, reform vs status quo, grassroots vs establishment. It even includes a premature, anonymous accounting of support, similar to the AP announcement of an inevitable Clinton nomination the day before the California primary.  
Many progressives, like myself, see this as the last chance for the Democratic Party to change its present course at the national level. For others, the last chance already came and went with the tainted primary race. Although their support may never return, ours can and will if real structural changes are implemented within the party. The first step toward that change, I think you would agree, is for DNC members to select Keith Ellison as chair. 
If Perez is selected, however, your brand of progressive reform will have been rejected once again by the Democratic Party establishment, proving that, even in the wake of a devastating election loss and a national repudiation of the status quo, they are incapable of reform. They would be demonstrating the definition of insanity by doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. 
The herculean goal of reforming the Democratic Party is commendable and I truly hope still achievable, but if it’s proven otherwise, I would implore you to reconsider the idea proposed by your former campaign staffer, Nick Brana, to form your own party. The integrity of your ideas and ideals which you’ve expressed long before, during, and since the 2016 campaign inspired and united so many of us, who had all but given up on the political process, to get involved and be the change we wish to see. A party with such a powerful message as yours, with your honest leadership and the enthusiasm of the nation’s young people and progressive Independents would be a formidable, viable electoral force, indeed.
Those of us who have followed your lead to this point are eager to see evidence of your message being heeded, but we will not support a party if it doesn’t support us or share our values. We cannot gain significant power within a party whose leaders actively sabotage progressive candidates. Although I know you will always stand up for us, I hope that you will also stand with us outside the Democratic Party if its establishment refuses to change. Whether or not that is the case will become clear this week in Atlanta as members of the DNC choose their next leader and thus the future of the progressive movement within the party.  
A Progressive Voter

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Slow Boiling Domestic Coup

With members of the CIA and NSA leaking materials on Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian officials, we are witnessing a slow boiling domestic coup that will transform American governance and the Executive Branch’s relationships with intelligence agencies. It remains to be seen whether these moves signal broader attacks on the Presidency by agencies long accustomed to taking out administrations threatening the Agency’s perceived interests.
This moment tells us more about the CIA revolting against a particular administration than it does about Trump’s people engaging in unusually diabolical-illegal activities designed to undermine an outgoing administration. We know enough about Reagan’s pre-election dealings with Iran to know that the CIA and NSA knew about these transactions, yet these agencies were content to remain silent; apparently glad to see Carter ousted and welcoming a new era of unparalleled “peace time” military and intelligence spending. Similarly, American intelligence agencies knew of Nixon’s efforts to sabotage the Paris peace talks before the 1968 election, and the CIA did nothing to undermine a new president who was going to give the agency the war it wanted. The leaking of Flynn’s information tells us little new about how incoming administrations act, but it suggests something new about US intelligence agencies willingness to take out an administration not to their liking.
To be clear: I see nothing wrong with the leaks themselves. I like intelligence leaks. I think they are generally good for democracy and reveal important truths about power. I am not worried about leaks, I am worried about the CIA and other intelligence agencies making a significant power grab that is not being critically considered. This is a move that no future president will soon forget, and that will make him or her think twice before crossing these agencies.
The left’s widely shared disdain for Donald Trump makes the current rushing national wave of schadenfreude understandable, yet there are few on the left who appear worried about what this domestic CIA coup portends for American democracy. Because of the long history of liberals’ attractions to using the CIA, perhaps we should not be too surprised at this elation, but we need to cautiously think beyond this moment.
It is no secret that many at the CIA hold disdain for Flynn. His years at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and in command of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) coincided with efforts to move many of what had been CIA operational activities and covert operations away from CIA to DIA. With the CIA attacking the Trump administration so soon after the election with leaks of the Russian hacking report there were clear public fissures appearing between the Agency and the new Executive.
I assume that there are lots of reasons why many at the CIA and NSA wish to undermine the Trump administration—I even assume I may share a few of these reasons with them. While the agency is comfortable with much of the corporate looting that Trump appears ready to unleash, few in the agency like the sort of instability that Trump generates—and I suppose some within may take his ongoing barbs and attacks on Agency incompetence seriously.
As it is to many of us on the left, it is obvious to me that Trump is the most dangerous, unqualified, and reckless US President I have ever seen—much less imagined. And while it seems as if he will soon enough seize some opportunity to declare a national security disaster granting himself new unlimited powers, I know no reason to trust the CIA and other intelligence agencies any more than we trust Trump.
This attack on the Executive Branch is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The most historically interesting element of this moment is the rarity of seeing the CIA operating, in real time, not in its usual historical role as a covert arm of the presidency (which Congressman Otis Pike argued was its primary function), but as the sort of rogue elephant that Senator Frank Church and others long ago claimed it is. As members of the Republic, no matter what momentary joy we might feel watching this rogue elephant canter towards our incompetent Commander and Chief, we must not ignore the danger this beast presents to one and all.
We should welcome calls to investigate Trump, Flynn, Bannon, Pence and others within the administration, but we need to also investigate and monitor the CIA for this latest in its long history of attempted coups.
David Price a professor of anthropology at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington. He is the author of Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State published by CounterPunch Books.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Where we stand, according to me

We live in a time where the American experiment is pretty much on life support. Both political parties have surrendered to big money interests and are fighting each other based on right or left ideology to control the social system, much like gangs in prisons. With decreasing resources. So long as they don't challenge their masters, they are allowed to do as they please. This keeps the populace distracted from the coup that's been enacted on our country and so far keeps them subservient. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Lady Gaga

I enjoyed the half time show. Lady Gaga began with "This Land is Your Land," written by Woody Guthrie. This morning I saw two articles describing the song as a "protest anthem." While it is so that Woody wrote some protest songs, I never considered this one to be among them. It celebrates this land and is all inclusive. Barry Goldwater, Mr Conservative, had it played at his rallies, in 1964. But, the original version goes like this, and I have to change my position. It is a protest song.

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island; 
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters 
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway, 
I saw above me that endless skyway: 
I saw below me that golden valley: 
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps 
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts; 
And all around me a voice was sounding: 
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling, 
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling, 
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting: 
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there 
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing." 
But on the other side it didn't say nothing, 
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people, 
By the relief office I seen my people; 
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking 
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me, 
As I go walking that freedom highway; 
Nobody living can ever make me turn back 
This land was made for you and me.

© Copyright 1956 (renewed), 1958 (renewed), 1970 and 1972 by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. & TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)

It's usually sung with these lyrics:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

sunday's GAME

I grew up hating professional sports. The most agonizing afternoon I could imagine was to watch sports and football in particular. I saw it, from what little I paid attention to, as the quarterback giving a guy the ball; the guy would plow head on into a wall of players and be stopped in his tracks; repeat; repeat; kick. Then, the other team's turn. One day, in 1964, a shipmate offered to bet me five dollars some team would beat a team called The Steelers. I accepted and gladly won the five. So, I watched a game at the next opportunity. The Steelers looked beautiful out there, destroying some hapless opponent. The score was something like 50-14. I was hooked, from that day to this.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tax Time

Trying to get worked up to do taxes. Not certain I will manage today. I do this online. Last year I used the HR Block app. Did it free and printed a copy to mail in. Reason I send paper is, they see your information as they receive the form, so they can sign off on it right away. Sent electronically, they have just your submission to view. A few years later they go through your information again, looking up W2 forms and such. If they find a mistake that costs you money, it has already racked up two years' interest. This happened to me for the 2015 return. I am super careful now, but taking no chances.