Monthly Archives: September 2014

Bernie Sanders for President 2016 (thus far, anyway)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, joined by Congressional Democrats, and others, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, calling for an amendment to the Constitution aimed at curbing special interests' financial clout in elections. From left are, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, Margery F. Baker, executive vice president for policy and program at People for the American Way, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sanders, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives return to Capitol Hill today after a five-week vacation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Associated Press photo

Progressive U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, probable 2016 presidential candidate, speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month geared toward overturning the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, which declared that corporations are people and as such have the “First-Amendment” right to spend lavishly on political candidates who will do their bidding.

Independent/democratic socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the sole individual on the planet who thus far has raised the prospect of running as an actually progressive presidential candidate against pseudo-progressive/Democrat in name only Billary Clinton. (It’s not about Billary, he has claimed, but oh, methinks, ’tis.)

“A, I don’t know if Hillary Clinton is running, and B, I don’t know what she is running on,” Sanders said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. “But this is what I do know: I know the middle class in this country is collapsing. I know the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider. I know there is profound anger at the greed on Wall Street, anger at corporate America, anger at the political establishment — and anger, by the way, at the media establishment. The American people want real change, and I’ve been taking on the big-money interests and special interests all of my political life.

“The issue,” Sanders added, “is not Hillary Clinton.” But since Sanders’ actually progressive agenda is antithetical to Billary’s actual agenda – whether she’ll cop to possessing her actual center-right, pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate, pro-Wall-Street-weasel, pro-military-industrial-complex agenda or not – it is about Billary.

I’m fine with having our first female president, but I don’t want just any female president, just so that we can say that we finally have had our first female president. We’ve been there, done that with our first black president, haven’t we?

I want a progressive president. The other demographics – skin tone, the possession of ovaries or testes, age, religion, etc. – I don’t much give a flying fuck about. I’m a gay man, and sure, from a purely selfish, tribalistic standpoint I suppose that it would be great to have our first openly gay male president (and if he is married, perhaps our first First Husband in the White House, too), but if he were a wingnut or even a so-called “centrist” or “moderate” (translation: sellout), no thanks; give me the actually progressive heterosexual president instead, hands down.

I’d be fine with Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Masschusetts as our first female president, but although she put a book out not long ago, she seems unlikely, to me, to run against Billary in 2016.

That’s because the unspoken but very understood rule within the Democratic Party establishment is that you don’t run against Billary, even though she has zero charisma, zero accomplishments, and her unlikeability (under which falls her apparent inability to generate an iota of actual human warmth) means that she’d be a risky candidate to put up against the Repugnican Tea Party not only in 2016, but in any presidential election year. (Besides, as I have noted, Billary acts like a Repugnican Lite, and why would the voters choose Repugnican Lite when they can vote for an actual, full-bodied Repugnican?)

After seeing Barack Obama’s ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change” crash and burn, my bet is that the voters are hungry, starving, for an actually progressive Democratic — that is, real Democratic — presidential candidate right about now.

For millions of actual progressives like me, if we’re going to just coronate Queen Billary already, there is no reason whatsoever for me to pay attention or to become involved in the 2016 presidential race in any way (except, of course, to blog about how awful Billary is). That “At least Billary isn’t a Repugnican!” isn’t an effective talking point for the Democrats anymore, because she essentially is a Repugnican. She ran to the right of Obama in 2008 and she’s running to the right of him again — and he’s already right of center.

And I truly want a truly progressive candidate to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. No, I don’t just want Billary to be forced by a progressive/actually Democratic challenger, during the upcoming presidential primary season, to pretend to be the populist that she never has been and never will be, only to go on to the White House to govern like her husband did or like Obama has: as a Democrat in name only, driving yet another nail in the coffin of the Democratic Party. I want Billary “Crown Me Already!” Clinton to be denied the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2016 just as she was in 2008. I want her pathetic, sorry, right-wing, self-serving, pro-plutocratic ass to be defeated once again. (Again, though, should she emerge as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, I can see the Repugnican candidate beating her.)

Bernie Sanders stated yesterday that he’s still considering which course of action would be better for him, should he decide to run for president for 2016 (and it sounds to me like he already has decided that he will): to run on the Democratic Party ticket (although he isn’t a Democrat, as an independent/democratic socialist he always has caucused with the Democrats in D.C. [what other choice has he really had?]) or to run on an independent ticket, a la Ralph Nader.

Given the uphill battle of running as an independent presidential candidate in all 50 states, it seems to me that Sanders would run as a Democrat.

Either way, if it comes down to Bernie or Billary, I’m going with Bernie.

No way in hell am I going to hold my nose and suppress my gag reflex while I cast a vote for Billary Clinton. I want to feel good (not guilty and dirty) about my vote, and I would feel great voting for Bernie Sanders — hell, if for no other reason than that for a long time now, it has looked as though no one else left of center would have the cajones to challenge Queen Billary in 2016, with the conventional thinking being that because she came in at second place in 2008, 2016 automatically is rightfully all hers.

A run for the White House by Sanders — especially as a Democrat, but again, I would support him as an independent — would represent to me a glimmer of hope, the possibility that the teeny-tiny ember that is all that is left of what the Democratic Party used to be still, even at this late hour, even after what Bill Clinton (with Billary) and what Barack Obama have done to the party, can be stoked to its once-flaming glory.

P.S. A Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren or Warren-Sanders ticket would, I think, be my dream ticket for 2016. And I’d still entertain a return to the presidential arena by Howard Dean, although that seems unlikely.

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From ‘audacity’ to a whimper

President Barack Obama will go down in American history something like this…

I have to agree wholeheartedly with the assessment by Michael Moore (who has been too absent from the public arena during Barack Obama’s presidency) that the American history books will mention only (or at least primarily) that Obama was the nation’s first black president. It’s sad that history will remember Obama more for the color of his skin than for the content of his character, but that’s his fault, not history’s.

In fairness, the history books also probably will mention Obamacare (for good or for ill or fairly neutrally), but what else is there to say of the Obama years?*

Allegedly with great audacity and with the dreams of his father behind him, Obama came in with a bang – “HOPE”! and “CHANGE”! “CHANGE”! and “HOPE”! – but he goes out with a whimper.

It’s ironic that Obama’s opposition to the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War – which only ever was meant for war profiteering (such as by Dick Cheney’s Halliburton) and for Big Oil to retake the oil fields of Iraq – helped him into office in 2008 and that now Obama seems poised to end his second term with another war in Iraq (and possibly in Syria).

Yes, of course this time (further) war in Iraq (and in Syria ) can be justified, I think. The Islamic Slate (a.k.a. ISIL and ISIS) – at least in its current incarnation as a rapidly metastasizing, deadly cancer – needs to be stopped. The mass murder and the oppression of those who disagree with certain fascist, religious nutjobs – be they “Christian” fascist nutjobs, “Jewish” fascist nutjobs, “Hindu” fascist nutjobs, “Muslim” fascist nutjobs, whatever – should be met with opposition.

Credible news reports are that the Sunni Islamic State has been slaughtering and oppressing Shiites and other non-Sunnis in large swaths of Syria and Iraq. (No, the Islamic State did not become a problem only when it beheaded two U.S. citizens in propagandistic snuff videos.) Any such mass slaughter and oppression anywhere in the world should be stopped if at all possible, regardless of the United States ’ many missteps and failures to act in the past. (And it should not be the United States playing World Cop all of the fucking time.)

As far to the left as I consider myself to be, I do not believe in absolute, blind pacifism. I don’t believe that in most cases force or the credible threat of force should be the first resort, but nor do I believe that force or the credible threat of force should be taken off the table altogether. It can be a useful tool, and sometimes, the only effective one. And my gut response to the Islamic State, frankly, is: Pound. Them. Into. The. Sand. (With that said, gut responses do not necessarily make for sound actual foreign policy, as we learned with the debacle that was the unelected reign of the illegitimate Bush regime.)

The problem with the unelected Bush regime’s Vietraq War, again, is that of course it never was meant to “liberate” the Iraqi people from the evil Saddam Hussein (who was a “good” dictator until he stopped taking marching orders from the American elite, which then made him a “bad” dictator) – unless you want to call the more than 100,000 Iraqis who died as a result of the Vietraq War “liberated.” No, it was meant to further enrich the cronies of the BushCheneyCorp.

Such treasonously crying wolf, of course, makes it all the harder to sell the American people on military action in the same region, even when military action actually is called for this time – as President Obama surely knows right about now.

And, of course, while the Repugnican Tea Party traitors (redundant) never met a war that they didn’t love (as long as it’s others who are doing all of the dying, of course), they’ll find ways to criticize and condemn Obama no matter how he conducts things militarily in the Middle East. Because if the president is a white Repugnican guy (even one who got into the White House without even having won the highest number of votes of the American people), then to criticize his military actions abroad at all is nothing short of terrorist-lovin’ treason, you see, whereas if the president is a Democrat, and especially not a white, male Democrat, then to criticize his every fucking move is one’s God-given patriotic duty, you see.

So, of course, Obama can’t win, no matter what he does or does not do, but he should have known this political fact from Day One, and so from Day One he should have pushed through a progressive agenda instead of having tried to persuade the Repugnican Tea Party traitors to join him in “Kumbaya” around the campfire in D.C. (You don’t even bother to try to negotiate with terrorists; they cannot be reasoned with.)

Yes, I do believe that having assertively pushed a progressive agenda in the first two years of his first term would have been a winner for Obama. Had he even tried to have delivered upon his campaign promises, he could have been something like the second coming of FDR. He entered the White House with that kind of support behind him, more or less.

Yes, reportedly a majority of Americans deem Obama’s presidency to have been a failure, but these polls that are unflattering to Obama, it seems to me, widely are interpreted, incorrectly, to mean that the majority of Americans embrace the right-wing worldview. But if a pollster were to ask me (or any other actually progressive American) if Obama’s presidency has been a success or a failure, I (or he or she) would say, without even having to think about it, a failurenot because I at all agree with the right-wing worldview and agenda, but because I believe that Obama utterly squandered his chance, especially in 2009 and 2010, to push through an actually progressive agenda, while both houses of Congress still were held by his own party.**

Whereas the unelected Bush regime spent “political capital” that it never even fucking had (I remember when the Bushies called Bush’s “re”-election by only 50.7 percent of the popular vote in 2004 to be a “mandate”), Obama was too timid or too lazy or too stupid (or some combination of these things) to even touch his actual stockpile of political capital in 2009 and 2010, and his failure to have done so will go down in history (history that is thoughtful and critical, anyway) as one of the biggest missed opportunities by a U.S. president to accomplish the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of Americans.

And I judge Obama’s presidency to be a failure because, of course, you judge a politician based upon his or her actual accomplishments in office compared to the campaign promises that he or she made in order to get elected to that office. (Yeah, as cynical as I might be, I’m still not ready to let any politician off the hook for having violated, blatantly, his or her own campaign promises.) Based upon his own relentless campaign promises of “hope” and “change,” of course Obama’s presidency – which has delivered primarily more of the same, not “hope” or “change” – has been a failure.

Of course, pretty much any Repugnican president – John McCainosaurus, Mittens Romney or any other Repugnican – would have done even worse in the Oval Office than Obama has done (except, perhaps, for the 1 percent, for the richest Americans), but that doesn’t let Obama off the hook with me; I judge Obama by actually progressive Democratic (that is, actually Democratic) standards, not by the low bar that has been set by the right wing (probably especially by George W. Bush). And speaking of the devil, of course Obama has been a better president than Gee Dubya was – for starters, Obama actually was democratically elected in the first fucking place, for fuck’s sake – but saying that President X is or was better than was “President” George W. Bush is saying exactly nothing.

And how is Obama poised to end his second and final term? At (further) war in the Middle East, with a new/old enemy this time, the Islamic State. (I write “new/old” because just as the “tea party” is comprised of the same old fascists who were around long before they started to call themselves the “tea party,” the Islamic State apparently is comprised, largely if not mostly, of the same old Islamofascists who were around before Obama ever took office. Of course, it was the Bush regime’s woefully-misguided-to-put-it-mildly Vietraq War, more than anything else, that contributed to the genesis of the Islamic State that we see today.)

I have to wonder if Barack Obama is trying to do Billary Clinton a favor right now, trying to make the Democratic Party look Tough! On! Terrorists! — just in time for the 2016 presidential election. But if more war in the Middle East (and exactly how it should be executed) is going to be the centerpiece of the 2016 presidential election, don’t the chickenhawk Repugnicans play the war card a lot better than do the Dems?

Because of that, how could the Dems expect to win the White House again in 2016 by posing as warhawks, as Billary already appears to be doing?

Didn’t someone once remark that when given the choice of voting for a Repugnican candidate or a “Democratic” candidate who acts like a Repugnican, the typical voter will vote for the genuine Repugnican?

The theofascist Islamic State needs to be checked, for sure, just as would any other insane group of murderers and fascists at home or abroad, but at the same time, potential blowback from military actions that always should be considered aside, Team Obama and Team Billary need to be careful, methinks, not to give the war-drum-beating chickenhawks of the Repugnican Tea Party political validation – and thus political victory – by also beating those tired, old war drums (only less convincingly, in the eyes of the voters, than the chickenhawks do) between now and Election Day in November 2016.

*Obama lost me, forever, after he just fucking sat on his hands while British Petroleum filled the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of crude oil in 2010, and after he failed to visit the state of Wisconsin even once in early 2011, when Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott Walker successfully attacked the right of the workers of the state to collectively bargain.

Candidate Obama had promised in 2007: “Understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain, when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you, as president of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that someone’s standing in their corner.”

Again, Obama showed up in Wisconsin not once. In his first term Obama failed to lead on a huge environmental issue and he failed to lead on a huge labor-rights issue, part of a pattern of failure that his presidency has been. (As I have noted, while I [stupidly] voted for Obama in 2008, I did not vote for Obama again in November 2012, but voted for the Green Party candidate instead.)

**Indeed, I’m not the only leftist who deems Obama’s presidency a failure; the Washington Post notes of its own (with ABC News) recent nationwide poll that “Those saying Obama has been a failure include one in four Democrats (25 percent), nearly three in 10 liberals (29 percent) and the vast, vast majority of conservative Republicans (92 percent). Nearly one in five liberals (18 percent) say they feel ‘strongly’ that Obama has been a failure.

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