Monthly Archives: January 2016

Martin O’Malley’s supporters might help Bernie in tight race in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley leads attendees in a song after holding a town hall at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Associated Press photo

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley sings during an appearance in Grinnell, Iowa, last week. O’Malley is polling around 4 percent in Iowa, and his supporters switching their allegiance to Bernie Sanders or to Billary Clinton during tomorrow night’s caucuses could make a difference in the tight race there between Bernie and Billary. 

I was thinking about this last week, when I read that under the Iowa caucus rules, if a Democratic presidential candidate does not have the support of at least 15 percent of the attendees of the caucusing site, then his or her supporters are to then pick another, stronger candidate.

Wouldn’t this help Bernie Sanders? Wouldn’t most of Martin O’Malley’s supporters switch their allegiance to Bernie? I thought, but until today I hadn’t seen this discussed in any news article; until today, I’d seen only the Iowa polls discussed.

This is from Yahoo! News today:

Des Moines, Iowa — [Tomorrow] night, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s tiny band of supporters will be the center of attention in Iowa precincts across the state.

O’Malley had only 3 percent support in the final Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll, but because of the Byzantine rules of the Democratic caucusing process, his supporters could end up deciding the incredibly close race between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In each of the state’s 1,681 caucusing locations, a candidate must get 15 percent of voters to be considered viable during an initial count that’s taken at the beginning of the evening. O’Malley isn’t expected to reach that threshold in the vast majority of precincts, which means his supporters will be up for grabs — they must either choose another candidate, or their vote will not count.

Wooing voters who back candidates that fail to meet the threshold has made a big difference in elections in the state in the past: John Edwards finished a surprise second in 2004 thanks in part to Dennis Kucinich’s supporters defecting to him. And Bill Richardson’s backers joined Barack Obama’s camp in 2008.

The Clinton campaign is arming its precinct captains with special software to help them figure out how to keep O’Malley supporters from defecting to Sanders’ camp, BuzzFeed News reported [yesterday]. Meanwhile, Sanders’ precinct captains are being told to beef up on their O’Malley knowledge so they can entice his fans over to their side and to offer them delegates for the county convention as inducement.

… Mitch Henry, a Democratic activist who was leading a small training for Sanders precinct captains Saturday afternoon in a coffee shop in Des Moines … [said] that he believes most [of] O’Malley supporters’ second choice is Sanders.

“Talking to a lot of O’Malley supporters, there are a lot of ways Bernie lines up on the issues. A lot of them will say the environment [is their top concern], and Bernie is clearly superior to Hillary on the environment,” said Bri Steirer, a precinct captain for the Drake University area.

But the Sanders plan to convince O’Malley fans with delegates and issues may not be able to compete with Clinton’s scheme.

The Clinton campaign has trained its precinct captains to use software that calculates when it benefits Clinton to give O’Malley supporters a few of their votes in order to block them from defecting to Sanders. That means Clinton supporters would help O’Malley become a viable candidate in precincts where she would still carry the day.

A Sanders precinct captain, Darlene Lawler, asked Henry about whether Bernie supporters should be trying to do the same thing — helping O’Malley become viable in cases where it would help Bernie.

“I would not give them three or four people to be viable because you just don’t know what could happen,” Henry said, adding that the “math” can get complicated as the night goes on, and it’s easy to make a mistake.

Clinton’s campaign has an app that will help caucus leaders calculate the risks, however, which means they don’t have to worry about mistakes.

So Team Billary has to resort to dirty tricks? To lie in order to help Billary? (Yes, having Billary supporters pretend to be O’Malley supporters in order to boost Billary and block Bernie is lying.) What a shock!

At any rate, the rules of Iowa caucuses indeed apparently are complicated (and apparently can be subverted too easily by those of low character), and having never participated in a caucus I’m largely ignorant of the process, but, barring dirty tricks by Team Billary, which very apparently at least widely will be attempted, I hope that in the end we can rely on the basic math of the Iowa polling.

Right now, Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polling has Billary Clinton at 47.3 percent, Bernie at 44 percent and O’Malley at 4.4 percent. (The Huffington Post’s average of Iowa polling is quite close: 47.4 percent for Billary, 44.1 percent for Bernie and 4 percent for O’Malley.)

Not only is Bernie within most or all polls’ margin of error, being only 3.3 percent behind Billary, but if Bernie can win over most of O’Malley’s supporters, that could help him beat Billary. In fact, it seems to me that it just might come down to O’Malley’s supporters winning Iowa for Bernie by the majority of them switching their allegiance to him.

I’ve seen no poll of O’Malley supporters as to whether Bernie or Billary would be their second choice, but given the fact that O’Malley’s most useful function in the four Democratic Party presidential debates thus far has been to point out how craven Billary Clinton is, I can’t imagine that it would be natural for the majority of his supporters to now support her.

I mean, Billary has been around for decades; if you haven’t supported her by now, are you going to magically support her tomorrow night in Iowa? Not without a lot of arm-twisting by Team Billary, right?

On that note, I expect Team Billary to engage in plenty of arm-twisting and other dirty tactics tomorrow night, but playing dirty often backfires and has an effect that is opposite of the effect desired. (Look at Billary’s 2008 bid for the White House, for example; that’s a textbook example of that phenomenon.)

In any event, Bernie Sanders’ having polled as well as he has been polling in Iowa for a candidate who couldn’t possibly stop the coronation of Queen Billary is quite impressive. Bernie and Billary are neck and neck in Iowa when she has been on the national stage for decades and is in her second run for the White House but he has been obscure for most of his years in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This demonstrates, I believe, what a weak primary contender Billary is. Again, I know of no one, not one person, who actually is excited by or enthusiastic about Billary.

We’ll see how far this lack of excitement and enthusiasm for her can carry her.

If Bernie wins Iowa tomorrow night, then he no doubt will then win New Hampshire on February 9.

Billary will then play the victim and cry in public again, perhaps even two or three times, and/or she’ll lash out and dash to the right, as she did in 2008, only sealing her fate.

Unfortunately, I pretty much agree with Nate Silver’s assessment of how important winning Iowa is for Bernie. Silver writes that if Bernie loses Iowa (links are Silver’s):

It’s probably over [for him]. Not that I’d expect Sanders to drop out of the race. Nor would I expect the media to stop covering it. Depending on Clinton’s margin of victory, you’d probably see some headlines about her resilience, but others saying the results had “raised doubts” about her campaign.

None of that would necessarily matter. Iowa should be one of the half-dozen or so most favorable states in the country for Sanders; New Hampshire is one of the few that ranks even higher for him.

If Sanders can’t win Iowa, he probably won’t be winning other relatively favorable states like Wisconsin, much less more challenging ones like Ohio and Florida. His ceiling wouldn’t be high enough to win the nomination unless something major changes [such as a federal indictment of Clinton].

On that note, there are many unknowns in terms of how Iowa will turn out, such as how O’Malley’s supporters will break and whether or not there will be any effect from the news that broke on Friday that at least 22 top-secret e-mails were found on Billary’s home-brewed (as in in-her-house) e-mail server.

Will this Friday news be mostly lost in the shuffle? Or will it spook enough Iowa caucus-goers, making them believe or suspect that Billary is too risky to put forth as the party’s presidential candidate? As Silver raises the specter, as I have, what if Billary wins the presidential nomination but then is indicted? What then?

And the Friday news has come too late for its effect, if any, to be reflected in the Iowa polling, it seems to me. Indeed, the final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, widely called the most respected Iowa poll, came out last night, too soon to be able to measure the full effect (if any) of Friday’s news on tomorrow’s caucuses, it very much seems to me.

So we’ll see…

In any event, I count Bernie Sanders’ candidacy a win, whether or not he wins the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

His level of support — 37.2 percent nationwide per Real Clear Politics and 35.8 percent nationwide per Huffington Post — coupled with O’Malley’s admittedly small support (around 2 percent nationally) demonstrates that more than a third and almost 40 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners nationwide aren’t on board with Billary.

If she actually makes it to the White House, Billary wouldn’t have nearly the political support behind her that Barack Obama did when he first sat in the Oval Office in January 2009.

Bernie, on the other hand, win or lose, had the courage and the industriousness with which to take on Billary Clinton, something that no one else of his caliber dared to do. (My best guess is that Elizabeth Warren didn’t run primarily because she didn’t want to step on Queen Billary’s regal cape, didn’t want to be seen as a spoiler within the party. [She might also have calculated, of course, that she couldn’t win the nomination.])

If Bernie Sanders doesn’t make it to the White House — if he fails at the level of the Democratic Party presidential primary race or if he wins that race but doesn’t become president in November — he will, I surmise, be the left’s Barry Goldwater; recall that Goldwater lost the 1964 presidential election badly, but that his right-wing politics ushered in Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and both George Bushes.

Bernie Sanders himself might not get us to the promised land, but at the very least he has set us upon its path.*

*I would be thrilled if Elizabeth Warren were our first female president, whether she were preceded by a President Sanders or not. (If Bernie wins the 2016 nomination, I hope that he and Warren strongly consider her as the vice-presidential candidate.)

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Bernie and Billary agree to four more debates, including one before N.H.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and rival candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speak simultaneously at the NBC News - YouTube Democratic presidential candidates debate in Charleston

Reuters photo

Billary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are pictured at the Democratic Party presidential debate earlier this month in South Carolina. The two front-runners have agreed to four additional debates, one wedged between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and three more after the New Hampshire primary.

Politico reports today that Bernie Sanders and Billary Clinton have agreed to four more debates, which would bring the total number of 2016 Democratic Party presidential debates to 10.

The Democratic National Committee (that is, Debbie Wasserman Schultz) would have to approve the additional debates, however.

The first proposed new debate would be sandwiched between the Iowa caucuses on Monday and the New Hampshire primary on February 9. This additional debate would help Billary, especially if Bernie wins Iowa — something that Nate Silver says is more unlikely than likely to happen yet still is quite possible, given that the two have been neck and neck in Iowa recently but that Billary is up around four points right now and has the support of the establishment, yet if Bernie can get his more-enthusiastic-but-younger supporters to turn out, that could win it for him.

(Right now Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polls has Billary at 3.4 percent ahead of Bernie, while the Huffington Post’s average of Iowa polls has Billary up over Bernie at 4 percent right now.)

Indeed, an additional debate sandwiched between Iowa and New Hampshire would do more good for Billary than it would for Bernie, given that Bernie has been leading Billary in New Hampshire by double digits for some time now. (Right now RCP’s average of New Hampshire polls has Bernie at 14.3 percent ahead of Billary, and HuffPo’s average of New Hampshire polls has Bernie beating Billary there by 13 percent.)

Especially if Bernie wins Iowa, another debate before New Hampshire could, I surmise, harm his chances there. Recall that in 2008, Billary came in at third place in Iowa and then turned on the waterworks and won New Hampshire (because The New Feminism is all about attacking others for their sexist or even supposedly sexist stereotypes — but employing blatantly sexist stereotypes oneself when it benefits oneself).

On the balance, though, the addition of three more debates after New Hampshire should help Bernie, because the Democratic National Committee/Debbie Wasserman Schultz thus far has scheduled only two debates after New Hampshire: on February 11 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and on March 9 in Miami, Florida.

In addition to the debate wedged between Iowa and New Hampshire, the Bernie and Billary camps have agreed to additional debates in March, April and May, Politico reports.

If the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary season is stretched out, like 2008’s was (recall that Billary didn’t finally concede to Barack Obama until June 2008), the three extra debates after New Hampshire, bringing the total post-New-Hampshire debate total to five, would benefit Bernie.

Indeed, scheduling only two debates after New Hampshire apparently was Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s tactic to expose her precious Billary to as few debates as possible after the earliest-voting states.

So while I’m hoping for the four extra debates — even though live-blogging the debates, as I have been doing, can be a bit of a pain in the ass — I’m not holding my breath that the Democratic National Committee/Debbie Wasserman Schultz will say yes to them.

The process has not been very democratic thus far.

P.S. In other news today, the New York Times quite stupidly has endorsed Billary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. (This endorsement comes on the heels of the resurfacing of E-mailgate — news yesterday that Billary’s home-brewed e-mail server contained at least 22 top-secret e-mails. Yeah, it’s really smart to endorse a candidate who might be indicted any day now…)

Can you say “establishment”? The establishmentarian New York Times had endorsed Billary in 2008, too, and we know how well that turned out.

What so many people forget (or ignore) is that the corporately owned and controlled mass media want a corporation-friendly president. Therefore, their endorsements reflect what’s best for them, not what’s best for the majority of the American people.

The Times once again has perceived the most corporation-friendly candidate to be Billary Clinton. Let’s hope that the Times is as right this year as it was in 2008.

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Bernie wisely avoids probable trap

Bernie Sanders is quite wise to refuse to participate in a debate in New Hampshire that hasn’t been blessed by the Democratic Party establishment (the Democratic National Committee, which actually is just a one-man show in Debbie Wasserman Schultz [yes, I wrote “man” on purpose]).

Reports The Associated Press:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is pushing Bernie Sanders to participate in a newly proposed Democratic debate — one not sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee — to be held just days before the New Hampshire primary.

But Sanders, who has surged ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire polls, has no plans to do so, his campaign said.

“The DNC has said this would be an unsanctioned debate, so we would not want to jeopardize our ability to participate in future debates,” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver said.

[The DNC/DWS proclaimed before this primary debate season began that any candidate who participates in a debate not sanctioned by the DNC will be disqualified from participating in all future DNC-sanctioned debates. There are only two more DNC-sanctioned debates in the Democratic Party primary season: February 11 in Wisconsin and March 9 in Florida.]

Television network MSNBC and the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, announced [announced or proposed?] the new debate [yesterday], citing “overwhelming” calls from voters for another forum prior to the state’s February 9 primary.

The proposal comes as Clinton and Sanders are locked in a tight race in first-to-vote Iowa and Clinton is trying to close the gap on Sanders in New Hampshire. Clinton’s campaign had pushed for fewer debates earlier in the campaign, but now says she will participate in the forum if her competitors do.

“Hillary Clinton would be happy to participate in a debate in New Hampshire if the other candidates agree, which would allow the DNC to sanction the debate,” Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign said he plans to attend.

The DNC has sanctioned six debates and said in a statement [last] night it plans to “reconvene” with the candidates after voting in Iowa and New Hampshire to talk about further debates.

Weaver said Sanders hopes there will be at least three or four more debates following the two remaining scheduled debates planned in Wisconsin and Florida. He said the process required a “rational, thought-out schedule of debates, not just ad hoc debates scheduled when a network decides they want to have one.”

The Sanders camp is quite correct not to fall for this trap.

Unless the DNC officially sanctioned the proposed debate before the February 9 New Hampshire primary, by its own established rules for this primary debate season, the DNC easily could disqualify all three candidates from any future debates even if all three candidates agreed to participate in the unsanctioned debate before New Hampshire votes.

Given how tight Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Billary Clinton are, it’s entirely possible that what Billary wants is just one last debate, which would come just before New Hampshire, where Bernie Sanders is leading her by double digits (see here and here).

Recall that Team Billary won’t shut up about their supposed post-Iowa-and-post-New-Hampshire “firewall.” If such a “firewall” truly exists, then politically, Team Billary wouldn’t need any more debates after Iowa and New Hampshire – yet Bernie Sanders would. So how convenient it would be for him to be banned from all debates after Iowa and New Hampshire weigh in!

And it’s not just that Bernie Sanders already has New Hampshire in the bag and so politically he doesn’t need a debate before New Hampshire votes; again, it’s that neither Billary nor Wasserman Schultz can be trusted. Wasserman Schultz, who sorely needs to be replaced, has been trying to rig the game for Billary from Day One.

So let Team Billary make its elementary-school-playground-level taunts that Billary will debate before New Hampshire but Bernie Sanders won’t!

Unless the DNC officially sanctioned a debate before New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders would be a fool to participate in it – and he is no fool.

P.S. Martin O’Malley, who can’t get out of the low single digits in any of the polls, of course has less than nothing to lose, so he’ll agree to anything.

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Barack Obama, in semi-endorsing Billary Clinton, says, ‘No, we can’t!’

It’s an interesting question, but we of course don’t know the answer. The fact that some Democrats are asking themselves the question is indicative of how low Barack Obama has sunk in their estimation.

Barack Obama apparently has indirectly endorsed Billary Clinton as his successor, but most of Bernie Sanders’ supporters are just as through with the center-right Obama as they are with the center-right Billary and want to take the Democratic Party back to its progressive roots, so will Obama’s quasi-endorsement actually help Billary much? We’ll find out a week from today, when Iowans caucus; right now, Bernie and Billary are neck-and-neck in the first state to weigh in in the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary season.

Apparently we Berners were just dying to know what President Barack Obama thinks of the race for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

“Bernie [Sanders] came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose,” Obama told Politico in a podcast. “I think Hillary came in with the both privilege — and burden — of being perceived as the front-runner … You’re always looking at the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before — that’s a disadvantage to her.”

“One thing everybody understands is that this job right here, you don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing,” Obama also said, apparently a reference to Bernie Sanders’ dogged focus on income inequality.

(Obama also made what strikes me as a surprisingly sexist comment about Billary: “She had to do everything that I had to do [in the 2008 primary race], except, like Ginger Rogers, backwards in heels. She had to wake up earlier than I did because she had to get her hair done. [WTF?] She had to, you know, handle all the expectations that were placed on her.”)

Anyway, Bernie Sanders needs no lectures or lessons from Barack Obama, and we Berners know exactly the difference between Bernie Sanders on one hand and Billary Clinton and Obama on the other: Obama in 2008 campaigned much like Bernie is campaigning now, with ubiquitous, unrelenting promises of “hope” and “change,” but once we progressives put Obama into office, he governed like a Clinton — a center-right sellout.

We Berners get that, and in Bernie Sanders we see the potential president that Obama promised to be but never has been. (And we see Billary as Even More of the Same.)

Far from being a “bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before,” Bernie has substance, whereas it’s Billary who constantly is trying to divert the voters’ attention to other, shiny objects, to anything but herself, her character and her record. Her coziness with Wall Street? 9/11! An attack on her is an attack on Barack Obama! Bernie has attacked Planned Parenthood! Bernie actually is part of the establishment! Quick! Look! Over there!

Bernie has lofty ambitions, but having been in Congress since 1991, I think he knows much more about its workings than did Obama when he became president — Obama had been in Congress (the U.S. Senate) for only four years before he was elevated to the White House. He hadn’t completed even one full term as U.S. senator.

Bernie has been the longest-serving independent (a self-described democratic socialist) in the history of Congress, having served in the House of Representatives from 1991 through 2006 and having served as a U.S. senator since 2007. I’m sure he knows what it’s like to feel to be at least somewhat on the outside looking in, but with the passage of time, his brand of progressively populist politics has become more and more popular.

Bernie always has been ahead of his time, and time will tell whether or not the nation’s electorate finally has caught up to Bernie.

It’s interesting for Obama to apparently refer to Bernie as a “bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before” when in 2008 that’s exactly what Obama was, replete with dreams from his father and the audacity of hope. When he first ran for the White House, Obama hadn’t accomplished anything other than having given a lauded speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he still was a state senator in Illinois. (At that time he was running for the U.S. Senate, but hadn’t been elected to it yet.)

It’s true that Bernie Sanders has focused like a laser on income inequality. Aside from climate change, that probably is our No. 1 problem, so I’m fine with Sanders’ having focused on it. I don’t believe that he’s a one-trick pony, that as president he couldn’t and/or wouldn’t tackle any other issue; I believe that he’s just been like a dog that won’t let go of that bone, and in this case it’s a good thing.

Obama conveniently omits the fact that Billary is a scandal magnet and that there’s no corporation that she doesn’t love (as long as it gives her campaign contributions, anyway). And he omits the fact that people just don’t like her (which isn’t true of Bernie).

And the American electorate has had it with political dynasties, which is why Jeb! Bush never will be president, and why Billary just might lose both Iowa and New Hampshire here in the near future, sending her campaign into a tailspin from which it will only crash and burn, à la 2008.

Yes, Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polls right now has Bernie at 0.8 percent ahead of Billary, while Huffington Post’s average of Iowa polls right now has Billary over Bernie by 1 percentThey’re quite neck-and-neck in Iowa, apparently, and so there’s a good chance that Bernie will take Iowa a week from today, and if he does, he almost certainly will take New Hampshire, where RCP now has him up over Billary by 12.8 percent and HuffPo has him up over her by 12 percent.

Obama had said that he wouldn’t endorse in the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary, but in effect, he just has. And if Bernie wins the party’s presidential nomination, it will demonstrate that the center-right Obama is just as out of step with the Democratic voters as is Billary.

Thing is, Obama’s brand of Democrat (just barely to the left of Billary) apparently is on the way out, so it’s not like his indirect endorsement of Billary is going to help her. The hopey-changey Obama is not a whole lot more popular among us Berners than Billary is.

We’re still hungry for that hope and change that Obama only promised us. He cynically gave up (if he ever even had meant to even try to carry through on his campaign promises of 2008 at all), but we haven’t.

“Yes, we can!” Obama had proclaimed in 2008, and it’s Bernie Sanders’ message today.

Now, along with Billary, Obama is proclaiming, “No, we can’t!” He’s actually telling us that Billary Clinton is the best that we can do.

We’ll see which message wins Iowa a week from now.

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Bernie Sanders is right, of course, about the establishment and its evils

Sanders attracting voters who seek more than protest vote

Associated Press photo

The Des Moines Register yesterday endorsed Billary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, but it also had endorsed her in 2008 and she came in third place there. To be this out of touch and out of step with those whose best interests you are supposed to serve is what it means to be part of the establishment. (Speaking of Iowa, where Iowans will caucus just eight days from now, Real Clear Politics’ average of recent Iowa polls right now has Billary up over Bernie by 7.2 percent, but the Huffington Post’s average has Billary up by only 3 percent. RCP has Bernie up over Billary in New Hampshire by 12.8 percent, and HuffPo has Bernie beating Billary in New Hampshire by 11 percent. The New Hampshire primary is on February 9.) Bernie Sanders is pictured above campaigning in Fort Dodge, Iowa, last week.

This past week the Billarybots once again attacked Bernie Sanders — the degree to which they attack him is indicative of how likely it’s looking that Billary Clinton might lose at least the early states in the Democratic Party primary contest — and this time it was over his having stated to Rachel Maddow recently that “Some of these groups [that have endorsed Billary Clinton for president] are, in fact, part of the establishment.”

Once again, Bernie just spoke the truth.

I should start by defining such terms as the “establishment,” “establishmentarian” and “establishmentarianism,” at least in terms of what those words mean to me (and I do suspect that “establishmentarian” and “establishmentarianism” won’t be found in any dictionary, but perhaps only on this blog and in a few cases elsewhere).

My definition of “establishmentarian” would be a description of an individual or a collection of individuals (an organization) that perhaps once started out being truly helpful to and representative of the common person, but that, over a period of time, became calcified, insulated and probably corrupt (I define “corruption” broadly, as the abuse of power, which may or may not involve actual technical criminality), and stopped being nearly as helpful to and representative of the common person it is supposed to be helpful to and representative of as it started being helpful to and representative of those relative few who are in charge of the organization (usually pulling in a hefty salary).

I can name many examples. The Democratic Party comes to mind immediately. Not all of its individual members are, of course, but its national apparatus, the Democratic National Committee, certainly is establishmentarian.

If it weren’t so out of touch and out of step with those whom it’s supposed to serve and represent, it (well she [DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz]) wouldn’t make such unpopular, tone-deaf decisions as to try to deprive the Bernie Sanders campaign access to its own voter data in order to even further rig the game for Billary Clinton.

My union, Service Employees International Union, stopped being representative of its membership long ago, as I have written. SEIU today is all about those at the top of its food chain. We dues-paying cash cows at the bottom remain — dues-paying cash cows at the bottom. SEIU endorsed Billary over Bernie without giving us dues-paying members a vote in the matter at all.

The Human Rights Campaign, to which I used to give money in the wake of the passage of Proposition Hate here in California — yes, on Election Day in November 2008 we elected our first non-white president, but here in California, my constitutional right to marry whom I please was voted down by haters — is incredibly establishmentarian.

I stopped supporting the Human Rights Campaign some years ago after it became crystal clear to me that it’s a group of pro-corporate hacks who don’t care whatsofuckingever what damage mega-corporations do to human beings or to the planet, as long as the offending corporations just say that they’re pro-gay — and, of course, give money to HRC. (If your initials are “HRC,” you are a whore for corporate cash. Just sayin.’)

In October 2009 I blogged an open letter to then-HRC President Joe Solmonese. (You can read it here.) In that letter I blasted Solmonese for HRC’s support of awful corporations, and I see from the home page of HRC’s website that things haven’t changed — on HRC’s home page are little ads for numerous corporations (I’d write “evil corporations,” but that’s fairly redundant), including Bank of America, British Petroleum, Chevron, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Northrop Grumman, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Prudential and Shell. (Its full[er] list of corporate sponsors [which it calls “corporate partners” — so they are partners in crime? — is here.)

It’s a rogue’s gallery of bad actors that HRC partners (in crime) with, and since HRC’s corporate sugar daddies (perhaps the diabetes-loving Coca-Cola and PepsiCo especially could be called “sugar daddies”) look just like a list of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s corporate sugar daddies, can it come as any surprise that HRC endorsed HRC?

The Human Rights Campaign is a bunch of gay fascists, by which I mean the dictionary-definition of the term “fascist” (mostly, in this case, a coziness with corporations out of a lust for power). The corporatized zombies of HRC are soulless sellouts and they’re most definitely establishmentarian, because they have zero conscience — and because their organization isn’t democratic, but is top-down.

In the wake of the latest establishmentarian smears on the daring-to-tell-the-awful-truth Bernie, the journalistic website The Intercept has published a great article detailing how organizations arrived at their decision to endorse Billary (over Bernie) for president. The aforementioned SEIU and HRC both are included in the helpful chart in the article. Here is a copy-and-paste of that chart:

How Organizations Endorsed:

Organization Who They Endorsed Their Endorsement Process
American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Hillary Clinton Executive council vote following polling of membership
Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Hillary Clinton Executive board vote informed by membership poll
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Hillary Clinton Executive board vote after collecting member feedback
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Hillary Clinton Executive council vote after non-binding survey of membership in summer 2015
Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence Hillary Clinton Did not respond to requests about how decision was made
Human Rights Campaign Hillary Clinton Board of directors vote
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Hillary Clinton Executive board vote
League of Conservation Voters Hillary Clinton Board of directors vote based on recommendation from political committee
NARAL Pro-Choice America Hillary Clinton PAC committee, staff, and president decision
National Education Association (NEA) Hillary Clinton Executive board and PAC council vote
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Hillary Clinton Executive board vote
United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) Hillary Clinton Executive board and president’s collective decision after focus groups and polling with members
American Postal Workers Union Bernie Sanders Executive board vote
Communications Workers of America (CWA) Bernie Sanders Three-month process involving meetings, discussion, culminating in an online vote
Democracy for America Bernie Sanders Open online vote
MoveOn Bernie Sanders Open online vote
National Nurses United Bernie Sanders Executive council vote after internal poll showed overwhelming support for Sanders
Working Families Party Bernie Sanders Open online vote followed by national advisory board action

The apt title of The Intercept article that includes this chart is “Bernie Sanders Gets Group Endorsements When Members Decide; Hillary Clinton When Leaders Decide.”

When a democratic and inclusive process is used, Billary usually doesn’t win. What does that say about her? 

Again, note that both SEIU and HRC made top-down decisions. There was no vote by the membership, by those who fund the salaries of those at the top. (Well, in HRC’s “defense,” apparently a huge chunk of their budget comes from their corporate partners in crime, but SEIU’s budget comes from members of the working class.)

SEIU and HRC weren’t going to risk an actually democratic process choosing the “wrong” candidate, you see. What does that say about SEIU and HRC (and the many other establishmentarian organizations that operate just like they do)?

Ditto, of course, for the also-anti-democratic Democratic National Committee, which is why we saw 25 presidential primary debates in 2008 (and 15 in 2004 and nine in 2000) but have only six in this cycle. (And three of the four debates thus far have been on a Saturday or Sunday night.)

Bernie Sanders specifically has been criticized for his having mentioned on Rachel Maddow’s show the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood (both of which recently had endorsed Billary over him) as being “part of the establishment.” He also mentioned them as having been cozy with Billary for years, and that’s absolutely true; if you check out my 2009 post about how craven HRC is, you will see a photo of then-President Solmonese being quite cozy with Billary.

I don’t know much about the internal workings of Planned Parenthood, but Planned Parenthood, which is not listed in The Intercept’s chart above, also apparently made a top-down decision to endorse Billary, its first-ever endorsement in a presidential primary contest. That certainly gives it a whiff of establishmentarianism to me.

That said, I have supported Planned Parenthood, as not only do I support women’s right to make their own reproductive choices, but population control is necessary for everyone’s quality of life. (As a gay man, I won’t be inseminating any woman soon, so my benefit from PP is indirect and not immediate, and for me my support for PP has been about the good of the collective. [Also, we gay men also are targets of the patriarchy, so I don’t see women’s issues as being detached from me, and while I detest the toxic identity politics that so many so-called “feminists” employ these days — such as to ignore Billary Clinton’s evil and to support her primarily or even only because she apparently possesses the XX chromosomes — I do consider myself to be a feminist.])

I have donated to Planned Parenthood recently — before its misguided presidential endorsement of Billary earlier this month. At least pretty much every time that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have attacked PP on the national stage, I have given PP a donation.

I don’t know when (or perhaps even if) I’ll donate to PP again, truth be told. PP apparently endorsed Billary primarily because she is a woman — not entirely unlike the Human Rights Campaign’s crime of ignoring the abuses of its corporate sponsors and just going with the selfish, short-sighted identity politics (if the corporate sponsors harm human beings and even the entire fucking planet as their business model, so what? They say they’re gay-friendly, and that’s all that matters!).

The hacks in charge of HRC, PP, SEIU, et. al. perhaps truly believe that Billary has the best shot at winning the White House. I disagree with them — and so do the polls, which find Bernie doing better against Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio than does Billary — and the fact that an organization would endorse a candidate who says she supports the commoner but does the bidding of her corporate sponsors makes me believe that the endorsing organization, too, is more about its corporate sponsors/partners in crime than it is about the welfare of those whom it is supposed to serve.

I will leave you with a final textbook example of establishmentarianism: The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s largest newspaper, yesterday endorsed Billary Clinton and Marco Rubio as their parties’ presidential nominees.

That might sound like a real fucking coup for both Billary and Bootstraps, until you read these little tidbits from Reuters: “Since beginning the practice [of endorsing presidential candidates] in 1988, only three of the nine candidates the newspaper has endorsed have left the state with the most votes” and “The Register previously endorsed Clinton during her 2008 presidential run … [but] Barack Obama ultimately won the Iowa caucus and Clinton finished third behind John Edwards.”

The Register very apparently is out of touch and out of step with Iowans. I mean, the proof is in the pudding.

Again, that’s what it means to be establishmentarian: To have lost your way somewhere along the way to the point that you no longer represent the best interests of those whose best interests you’re supposed to represent, but you represent only your own selfish interests.

When and if Bernie Sanders or someone else calls you out on it, you can counterattack and deflect all you want, but eventually, one day, the truth will set us commoners free of you and the harm that you have been causing us through your self-serving betrayal of us.

P.S. Kudos to the inclusive, democratic groups — like the Communications Workers of America, National Nurses United, MoveOn and Democracy for America (I belong to both MoveOn and Democracy for America, and I wish that I belonged to a real union) — that gave their membership a meaningful say in their presidential endorsements.

You can’t have just one or a relative few (or even a literal few) people at the top of an organization make the endorsement and then claim that that endorsement reflects the wishes of the membership as a whole.

Such oligarchic — establishmentarian — endorsements are meaningless. They are power grabs, not democracy.

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No-brainer: Bernie would be better for black Americans than would Billary

Updated below (on Friday, January 22, 2016)

Cornel West, rapper Killer Mike and Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina, before the Democratic Party presidential primary debate. (“BernieSoBlack” is shown “whitesplaining” in the video grab above, I’m sure…) MLK famously proclaimed, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” In today’s degraded environment of toxic identity politics, however, many judge Sanders not by the content of his character, but by the color of his skin. (Here’s a video of Cornel West’s endorsement of Sanders, by the way. West is an electrified speaker whom I once had the privilege of hearing speak.)

It’s deeply unfortunate that the contest between Billary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination largely is being painted as a contest between black Americans and white Americans who vote for Democrats, but that’s what it has come to.

Of course, we have Billary to thank for this in no small part; in the last Democratic Party presidential primary debate she did her best to equate any and all criticisms of her by the Sanders camp as a direct assault on Barack Obama. It’s classic Clintonian race-baiting and it’s classic Clintonian triangulation, but for the low-information voter – Billary’s base – apparently it works.

Bernie Sanders also has come under unfair attack by black slacktivists themselves. Only Black Lives Matter* slacktivists commandeered a public appearance by Bernie in Seattle in August, calling the white people gathered there “white supremacist liberals.” Nice! (Seriously — that’s the way to treat your allies and to maintain a coalition against the right wing!)

Bernie having dared to speak about his history of support of black Americans – and liberal Jewish Americans like Bernie have been instrumental in the civil rights movement (some died in the South fighting for civil rights for black Americans) – quickly was belittled as “BernieSoBlack.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaa!

The majority of black Americans’ Democratic presidential candidate of choice (at the moment, anyway) is Billary Clinton, her actual record and her husband’s actual record be damned (again: low-info voters are her base). Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie notes:

… Minority voters — and black Americans in particular — are the firewall for Clinton’s candidacy and the Democratic establishment writ large. As long as Clinton holds her lead with black Democrats, she’s tough (if not impossible) to beat in delegate-rich states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio and Texas.

Even with momentum from wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s hard to see how Sanders overcomes Clinton’s massive advantage with this part of the party’s electorate. That’s not to say he won’t excel as an insurgent candidate, but that — barring a seismic shift among black Democrats, as well as Latinos — his coalition won’t overcome her coalition.

This, in itself, raises a question. Why are black Americans loyal to Hillary Clinton? What has she, or her husband, done to earn support from black voters? After all, this is the era of Clinton critique, especially on questions of racial and economic justice.

The Crime Bill of 1994 super-charged mass incarceration; the great economic boom of the 1990s didn’t reach millions of poor and working-class black men; and welfare reform couldn’t protect poor women in the recession that followed. And the lax regulation of the Clinton years helped fill a financial bubble that tanked the global economy and destroyed black wealth. …

Indeed.

But Bernie Sanders has been singled out as the one to scapegoat as not being nearly good enough on black issues. (It’s true that Vermont, which Sanders has represented in Congress for decades, is in the top-three whitest states, but that isn’t exactly Bernie’s fault, and that doesn’t mean that Bernie isn’t an inclusive politician. I mean, how to explain the many white supremacists in the South if your argument is that one must be around a lot of black Americans in order not to be a white, anti-black racist?)

Recently Bernie was asked if he supports reparations for black Americans. (I’m pretty sure that no one has dared to ask Queen Billary this question. [If so, I haven’t seen it reported anywhere.]) Bernie responded:

No, I don’t think so. First of all, its likelihood of getting through Congress is nil. Second of all, I think it would be very divisive. The real issue is when we look at the poverty rate among the African-American community, when we look at the high unemployment rate within the African-American community, we have a lot of work to do.

So I think what we should be talking about is making massive investments in rebuilding our cities, in creating millions of decent-paying jobs, in making public colleges and universities tuition-free, basically targeting our federal resources to the areas where it is needed the most and where it is needed the most is in impoverished communities, often African-American and Latino.

Bernie is quite correct; there is no way in hell, of course, that reparations for black Americans would pass Congress any congressional session soon, and our best and probably our only politically possible avenue to try to reverse the lingering effects of slavery and its aftermath is to try to help significantly all of those who are struggling (which is what democratic socialism, to which I subscribe, is all about).

And, of course, there is no viable presidential candidate currently publicly supporting reparations. (Certainly the Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton is not!) No one wins the White House without enough of the “swing voters,” the “independents,” and one sure way to lose them is to publicly support reparations. That’s the ugly political reality for now and for some time to come, as best as I can discern it.

(Indeed, there was a time until quite recently when publicly supporting same-sex marriage, which only this past June finally was declared to be a constitutional right, at least was perceived as a sure way to lose the White House — ask Barack Obama and Billary Clinton, who didn’t publicly support same-sex marriage, at least on the national stage, until 2012 and 2013, respectively.)

For the record, I support reparations for the American descendants of slaves on principle,** even though I don’t know how slavery that went on for generations and the continued race-based oppression that for generations has followed slavery’s official end ever could be made anything even remotely approaching right.

But actual, non-theoretical reparations would have to be doled out in the real world, and I don’t see how that could be done fairly and justly. (That important consideration should have been part of Bernie’s answer to the question about his support for reparations for black Americans, and it is unfortunate that it was not, in my not-so-humble opinion.)

Yes, Japanese Americans in the late 1980s received some reparation for their internment during World War II; but World War II was much more recent than was American slavery, which ended, at least legally, a full 150 years ago. It was much easier to prove which individual, still-living Japanese Americans had been wronged by the U.S. government than it ever could be to sort out which black Americans alive today are the descendants of slaves and to calculate how much the damage of slavery set them back in their lives of today.

On that note, how, exactly, would we determine who gets reparations and who pays those reparations (and how much)?

Barack Obama, to name one prominent example, and who knows how many other black Americans are not the descendants of slaves. Would they get reparations because white privilege nonetheless affects them also?

Should I have to pay reparations (that is, anything above and beyond any reparations that would be paid for from all Americans’ tax dollars, as the Japanese-American internment camp reparations of $20,000 per individual were paid for) because I’m a white man?

I’m white, but I’ve never heard of any of my ancestors having lived in the deep South. My parents’ families moved to Arizona no later than in the 1950s from Missouri and from Texas. (Texas usually but not always is considered to be part of the South, but I consider it to be more a part of the Southwest, which is not to say that it’s not an incredibly backasswards state, because it is, and both Texas and Missouri were slave states at the time of the Civil War.)

Nor have I ever heard of any remarkably rich forebears of mine (I would think that if there had been any filthy-rich whiteys in my family’s history, I would have heard about it by now), and I certainly never have heard of any actual slave-owning forebears of mine. But even if I do have any Southern forebears, this PBS educational resource states:

The standard image of Southern slavery is that of a large plantation with hundreds of slaves. In fact, such situations were rare. Fully three-fourths of Southern whites did not even own slaves; of those who did, 88 percent owned 20 or fewer. Whites who did not own slaves were primarily yeoman farmers.

Practically speaking, the institution of slavery did not help these people. And yet most non-slaveholding white Southerners identified with and defended the institution of slavery. Though many resented the wealth and power of the large slaveholders, they aspired to own slaves themselves and to join the privileged ranks.

In addition, slavery gave the farmers a group of people to feel superior to. They may have been poor, but they were not slaves, and they were not black. They gained a sense of power simply by being white.

I wholly acknowledge this sociopoliticoeconomic phenomenon of white privilege. White privilege incontrovertibly is, as they say, a thing.

But where it comes to doling out reparations in a way that is just, equitable and fair – even assuming that Congress would pass and that the president would sign such legislation – again, how, exactly, do we determine who receives and who gives, and how much? Could it be the case that if I’m white I’m automatically “guilty” and therefore I must dole something out (above and beyond my normal tax dollars, I mean)? Could it more or less come to that? Wouldn’t that be just another form of racial profiling? Is that racial profiling actually “justice”?

I mean, I hope that I have no slave owner as a forebear, whether he or she owned “just” one slave or many slaves, but if even I don’t know whether I do or not, how could you know? No, you (the advocate for white people paying reparations) primarily or even solely would be going off of the color of my skin – something that you say is wrong.

In any event, even Barack Obama never publicly has stated that he supports reparations, so why is Bernie Sanders being burned at the stake for his truthful, honest answer on the issue?

That mostly was a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: I believe that Bernie Sanders is perceived by the Only Black Lives Matter slacktivists and their sympathizers as just another old white man (and all old white men, and all white men, in general, of course, are bad, you see – not that that’s a racist notion or anything), even though it wasn’t until relatively recently in American history that Jews like Bernie were even included in the definition of “white” (and again, even though liberal Jews have been instrumental in positive social change in the United States).

So it’s anti-white black racism (yes, just like white privilege and anti-black white racism, that is a thing, too) and it’s toxic identity politics: BernieSoWhite! (He shouldn’t be white, you see, but, if he must be white, he must feel awful and guilty about it, and he must be perpetually apologetic about the fact that he was born with pale skin, you see. [Really, get with the new race politics already! It’s not your Grandpappy’s civil rights movement anymore!])

The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders’ proposals, if manifested, would lift all boats. He is advocating for all Americans.

Political weather vane on crack Billary Clinton, on the other hand, pays lip service to certain historically oppressed groups, such as women, blacks and other racial minorities and gay men and lesbians, in a cynical (and quite successful) ploy for their campaign cash and their votes. (I feel a blog piece about the establishmentarian, calcified Planned Parenthood’s and the establishmentarian, calcified Human Rights Campaign’s stupidly, blindly recently having endorsed Billary for the White House coming on, but I won’t give birth to it today.)

Nothing in Billary’s political history (or her husband’s) indicates that in exchange for their votes (and their campaign donations), she’ll actually do very much for the downtrodden. (After all, she is quite comfortable!) She’s even more or less promising to be the third and perhaps even the fourth term of the fairly do-nothing Obama administration.

I don’t know if our nation and our planet can survive another four or eight years of much happy talk without much actual action (although, to her credit, perhaps, compared to Obama circa 2008, Billary has cut down, way down, on the happy, hopey-changey talk).

I believe that as president, Bernie Sanders would try to lift all boats (well, not any of the yachts). How much success he would have in the face of mind-blowingly-well-funded political opposition to an actually aggressively progressive political agenda I don’t know.

As president he would need, as he has said repeatedly, enough Americans, millions of Americans, rallying behind him to push through a progressive agenda in a Congress that long has been beholden to Big Money. And Americans’ favorite pastime is to sit on our asses and complain while we let someone else do all of the work.

But I believe that as president Bernie Sanders would try, and would try hard. (What I have held against Obama the most is that I don’t believe that, even with both houses of Congress in the Democrats’ control in 2009 and 2010, he even much tried to push through a progressive agenda, when he still could have; after the House of Representatives went to the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in the election of 2010, the window of opportunity slammed shut for the remainder of Obama’s time in the White House.)

So: Which is the true “white supremacist liberal” – the presidential candidate whose actual history and political ideology actually indicates that he truly would try hard for all Americans, especially downtrodden Americans, or the pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic candidate whose actual history and political ideology indicates that she promises one thing for political gain but then does another – and who lectures us at length on what can’t be done, tries to induce us to accept her unacceptable incrementalism, all the while neglecting to tell us that she won’t even try to do these things she promises because it would upset her Big Political Donors if she dared?

Kudos, though, I suppose, to Billary for her Machiavellian success in duping the majority of black Americans into believing that she would be our “third” “black” president (recall that Bill Clinton was our “first black president,” which, I suppose, would make Obama our “second,” and Billary, by marriage, our “third”).

Again, Billary similarly has duped many if not most feminists (hello, Planned Parenthood!) and gay men and lesbians (hello, Human Rights Campaign, whose initials just coinky-dinkily happen to be Billary’s, too!) into believing that she would be better for them than Bernie Sanders would be, and/or that while she can win the White House, Sanders cannot. (The polls say quite otherwise – indeed, they have Sanders doing better than Billary against Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – and they say otherwise because while Queen Billary is largely despised by the American electorate as a whole, Bernie is not.)

Black Americans have the right to embrace Billary Clinton and by so doing to vote against their own best interests and to shoot themselves in the foot, and they have the right to hold out on Bernie Sanders if they wish. (Goddess knows that I’m holding out on Billary – I won’t give her a penny and certainly not my vote, no matter which demon emerges from the fire and brimstone as the Repugnican Tea Party’s presidential candidate.)

But black Americans who call themselves Democrats (or who tend to side with Democrats, anyway) reject Bernie Sanders primarily if not solely because he’s an older white man — not because as president Billary would do more for black Americans than would Bernie. Because, of course, she would not. (Again, she is promising a continuation of the Obama years, under which, ironically, most black Americans’ lives have not improved much at all.)

Let’s at least be honest about that much.

Update (Friday, January 22, 2016): Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie returns to this topic today. Among many other things, he notes:

… The Sanders revolution is multiracial and multicultural, but — like any political victory in present-day America — it depends on white Americans. It’s why he can’t support reparations. They’re too alienating to the white voters he needs to transform the nation’s politics. …

Yup.

To blame Bernie Sanders for this fact — to criticize him for not promising or even proposing something that no other viable presidential candidate would dare to even propose — is patently unjust and unfair bullshit. He does operate within political constraints.

(Bouie correctly adds that “it’s important to see that the forces that make reparations impossible can also, in diminished but powerful form, curtail [Bernie’s progressive] agenda too.” Absolutely. That doesn’t mean that you don’t try to push a progressive agenda [which apparently is Billary’s “strategy” — to not even try], but it does mean that you be aware of the potential roadblocks, that you remain aware of your political reality.)

That Bernie so often is singled out for special criticism while others — perhaps especially Billary Clinton — get off scot-free for the same exact “sin” — contributes to my strong sense that many if not even most of Bernie’s critics on racial (and some other) issues just don’t like him primarily because he’s not of their own race and/or gender.

Again: It’s toxic identity politics more than it’s anything else.

*Yes, the tone and the stance of many if not most of the Black Lives Matter “activists” apparently is that they care only about the welfare of their own group, the selfishness and short-sightedness of which is pretty fucking off-putting. (I, a gay man, for example, apparently am expected to be markedly gung-ho for the Black Lives Matter slacktivists when they historically haven’t been very supportive of my rights. Um, yeah, support needs to be a two-way street.)

And because most members of the Only Black Lives Matter crowd are sad imitations of those who came before them, and are burning bridges instead of building them, therefore apparently doing more damage than good on the whole, I can only think of them as slacktivists. Real activism is hard, selfless work — it’s not reckless, selfish, short-sighted hit jobs.

**Ta-Nehesi Coates, an advocate of reparations (perhaps the most well-known such advocate), proclaims most recently on his platform, The Atlantic:

… Reparations is not one possible tool against white supremacy. It is the indispensable tool against white supremacy. One cannot propose to plunder a people, incur a moral and monetary debt, propose to never pay it back, and then claim to be seriously engaging in the fight against white supremacy. …

I agree with at least some of this, but again: Reparations are one thing in theory, as an abstraction. But what about practicality? In practicality, we’d have to determine many things:

Who pays reparations and who does not? And how much do those who must pay reparations pay? Would these reparations come out of the U.S. Treasury, so that everyone who pays federal taxes pays reparations (meaning that many if not most black Americans would be funding at least part of their own reparations…), and/or would we (try to) extract reparations from those whom we deem especially guilty, perhaps certain corporations and certain wealthy individuals, especially if there is a clear link to their and/or their forebears’ having profiteered from slavery in the past?

Or is it good enough that if you’re white you “owe” reparations — because white privilege?

And who receives the reparations? Do they have to prove that an ancestor was a slave? (If so, what constitutes adequate proof?) Or is it good enough that they are black and that blacks are victims of white privilege? And how do the recipients of reparations receive their reparations? A check or a debit card from the federal government, I presume, but would it be one lump sum or would it come in installments? Would there be any limitations on how the reparations could be spent, or would they simply be payouts to be spent by the recipients as they wish?

Do I, a gay man, receive any reparations because it was not until just this past June that the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that it is my constitutional right to marry a member of my own sex? Do I receive reparations for that oppression and for other anti-gay treatment that I have received during my life?

Can I get reparations from the 70 percent of black Californians who voted in favor of the now-unconstitutional-we-know anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition Hate in November 2008?

How am I to be made whole after I spent 47 years as a second-class citizen whose constitutional guarantee of equality under the law routinely was shit and pissed upon by the heterosexual, heterosexist, homophobic majority?

I’m not being flippant; aren’t there a lot of groups of people out there — women (who couldn’t vote everywhere in the nation until 1920and do we issue back pay to millions and millions of women for the gender pay gap that still exists today?), Latinos (whom also have been chronically underpaid for their work, whom millions of Americans [mostly right-wing whites] don’t want to vote today [claiming that if you are Latino you’re probably an “illegal”] and who now are the nation’s largest racial minority), Native Americans (’nuff said), non-heterosexuals, non-gender-conforming individuals, atheists, Jews, Muslims, et. al., et. al. — who have a valid claim to reparations?

If we give black Americans reparations, then out of fairness don’t we also owe reparations to other historically oppressed groups of people?

These are not teeny-tiny questions. And in a democracy, especially one as messy as ours, what kind of agreement could we get on the answers to these questions?

These are my problems with the proposal of reparations for black Americans, and I suspect that they are Bernie Sanders’, too.

But it’s easier, and more politically convenient — and certainly more dramatic — to just claim that Bernie and his supporters are “white supremacist liberals”!

Especially when the main problem that the Only Black Lives Matter slacktivists (many if not most of them very apparently black supremacists themselves) have with Bernie and with his white supporters is that we were born white.

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Live-blogging the fourth Dem debate

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, right, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speak during the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas. Taunted by Republicans to declare war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” Democrats are turning to an unlikely ally: George W. Bush. President Barack Obama, under pressure to be more aggressive on terrorism, regularly cites his predecessor’s refusal to demonize Muslims or play into the notion of a clash between Islam and the West. As Clinton put it, “George W. Bush was right.” And, Sanders visited a mosque this month in a show of solidarity that evoked Bush’s visit to a Muslim center just days after 9/11. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Associated Press photo

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former U.S. Secretary of State Billary Clinton spar during the first Democratic Party presidential debate in October. Polls right now have Billary with only a 4-point lead over Bernie in Iowa, which caucuses on February 1, and Bernie with a 6-point lead over Billary in New Hampshire, whose presidential primary election is on February 9.

The fourth Democratic Party presidential debate of this cycle is scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, via NBC. The debate takes place in South Carolina, which is friendly ground for Billary, who is big in the South, since she isn’t a progressive but is a Repugnican Lite.

I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s debate, using California (Pacific) time (we’re three hours ahead of Eastern Time).

This is the final Dem debate before the Iowa caucuses on February 1, which are 15 days from today.

Right now, Real Clear Politics’ average of polls has Billary Clinton’s national lead at 12.7 percent over Bernie Sanders’, and the Huffington Post’s average of polls has Billary up by 16 percent nationally.

However, the nation won’t vote on one day, but states will vote over the course of several weeks; and the earlier states’ results will affect the subsequent states’ results in a domino effect.

On that note, RCP’s average of Iowa polling right now has Billary at only 4 percent ahead of Bernie. Ditto for HuffPo. Team Billary must be panicking, and I’m expecting Billary to act desperately tonight, because she has to be desperate, and when she’s desperate, as she was against Barack Obama in 2008, she incredibly stupidly attacks her primary opponent from the right, apparently not understanding the Democratic Party primary voter (and caucus-goer).

Also, as Rachel Maddow recently put it when she had Billary on her show, Team Billary as of late has been attacking Bernie, who “doesn’t have an enemy in the world in the Democratic Party.” (Kudos to Maddow for not kowtowing to and cowering before Billary’s Being A Woman!; every legitimate criticism of Billary that a male dares to utter immediately is branded by the Billarybots as “sexism” or “misogyny” or “mansplaining” or the like.)

Recent polls (which I’ll define as reputable nationwide polls taken within the past month) unanimously show that Billary is disliked by more people than she is liked, whereas the opposite is true for Bernie, so yeah, a candidate whose favorability already is upside down attacking his or her opponent whose favorability already is right-side up probably is making a mistake.

But I digress. (That said, I hope that Billary is a raging harpy tonight; it will only harm her further.)

In New Hampshire, RCP right now has Bernie beating Billary by 6.2 percent, and HuffPo has Bernie beating her by 6 percent, so I’d be surprised if Bernie doesn’t win New Hampshire, regardless of the outcome of Iowa.

Again, I rather doubt that Billary could survive losing both Iowa and New Hampshire to Bernie.

If Bernie accomplishes that, we will see a nationwide phenomenon in which weak Billary supporters (and there are, I surmise, millions of them) seriously and significantly will reevaluate their choice of Democratic Party presidential candidate.

And, again, if Bernie wins both of the first two states, Billary no doubt will act in ways which will only make even more people dislike her. (Seriously, she’ll act much like Ellie Driver does when she loses her remaining eyeball. That isn’t attractive.)

5:45 p.m. (again, I’m using Pacific Time): The debate is scheduled to begin in 15 minutes.

5:56 p.m.: The talking heads of NBC (including Chuck Todd, whom I’ve never liked) are blathering about Bernie Sanders’ “electability” (specifically, his supposed lack thereof) even though the polls have shown for some time now that Bernie does better overall against the top three Repugnican Tea Party presidential wannabes (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) in hypothetical match-up polls than does Billary Clinton.

Facts won’t topple the corporately owned and controlled media’s conventional “wisdom.” (And shockingly, the corporately owned and controlled media wouldn’t want a president who calls himself a “democratic socialist.”)

6:02 p.m.: The candidates are on stage now. Billary already has had some water. She must be nervous

6:04 p.m.: The opening statements are largely an obligatory tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. (due to tomorrow being MLK Day and due to the setting of the debate; I prefer spontaneously heartfelt statements to politically obligatory ones…). Bernie kind of went too quickly from MLK to his standard stump speech yet once again. (At least he’s consistent.) The maudlin Martin O’Malley reminds us of the massacre that happened in Charleston in June.

6:07 p.m.: Bernie gives “healthcare for every man, woman and child as a human right,” a $15 minimum wage, and fixing our crumbling infrastructure as the top three priorities of his White House administration were he to be elected.

Billary says she’d make pay parity between men and women one of her top three priorities, as well as renewable energy and infrastructure improvement, and says she’d improve/build on “Obamacare,” but doesn’t go nearly as far as does Sanders on that issue.

O’Malley lists strengthening labor unions among his three top priorities. I like to hear that, but he won’t win. He’s still mired in low single digits.

6:11 p.m.: Bernie reminds us that the National Rifle Association has given him a rating of “D-” for his support of its priorities, and he basically (correctly) calls Billary a liar for claiming otherwise.

6:13 p.m.: Billary retorts that Bernie has voted in favor of the NRA many times. Whether that’s true or not, as this is an awfully new-found “concern” of human weather vane on crack Billary’s, I can’t see it as anything more than politics. People have died from guns so that Billary could use their deaths to try to win the White House. Craven.

Martin O’Malley says both Bernie and Billary have been “inconsistent” on gun legislation.

Gun control is low on my list of priorities. It’s not unimportant, but we have bigger fish to fry, and I see its being raised as a big issue as an attempt by the Democratic establishment and the Billary campaign (which are the same thing, pretty much) to crowd out the more important topic of income inequality, which kills far more people than do guns (just less dramatically).

6:16 p.m.: Now the topic is white cops killing black males. The moderator brought up Walter Scott, who was shot in the back by a white cop in South Carolina as he was fleeing the cop.

Billary says one out of three black men end up incarcerated, and asks us to consider how we’d feel if one out of three white men ended up behind bars.

Bernie echoes this, stating that we disproportionately have black and Latino men behind bars, and that only China has more individuals incarcerated than does the United States.

6:19 p.m.: The moderator (Lester Holt) asks Bernie how he can win when Billary has minority support that bests him by two to one. Bernie says that when the members of the black community become more familiar with him, just as with the general population, his support among them will increase. (I concur, although I acknowledge that there are some who aren’t smart enough to vote in their own best interests, and so they’ll buy Billary’s bullshit that she’d be better for minorities than would Bernie. Never mind her husband’s “welfare reform,” NAFTA, “criminal justice” “reform,” etc., all of which have harmed minorities and which she would continue as president.)

6:23 p.m.: Bernie says that the death of anyone in police custody automatically should be investigated by the federal government. I concur. He also calls for the demilitarization of our police forces and says that the composition of our law-enforcement agencies must reflect the composition of the communities that they serve. Yup.

6:25 p.m.: Discussion on opioid overdoses and the “war on drugs” now. Bernie adds that the pharmaceutical industry shares responsibility for widespread addiction to opioids and adds that we need to improve mental health care services.

6:31 p.m.: Billary says she is committed to universal health care. She calls Obamacare a “path to universal health care.” She again says we need to “defend,” “improve” and “build on” “Obamacare.”

6:32 p.m.: Bernie again asserts that health care is a right to every human being. Twenty-nine million Americans still have no health insurance, he says, adding that the United States pays more per person for health care than does any other nation. (Yeah, that would be because of the profiteering that we see in wealth care — er, health care — here in the United States.)

6:34 p.m.: Billary again defends “Obamacare” and accuses Bernie of recently changing his plan for health care for all. “To tear it up and start over again” is “the wrong direction,” Billary proclaims of “Obamacare.” This is getting heated.

Bernie adds that not only are 29 million Americans not insured, but that many are under-insured and can’t afford their co-pays. Yup. Bernie says he has no plan to “tear up” “Obamacare.”

6:36 p.m.: Billary keeps repeating that Bernie wants us to start all over again on health care, and that we can’t do that. Sure, we can. How inspiring is Billary’s mantra, however, that we can’t. Bernie says we need to have “the guts to stand up” to the private health-care insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry. Yup.

6:39 p.m.: Billary keeps saying we have to beef up “Obamacare.” She rejects Bernie’s plan for “Medicare for all,” saying that we couldn’t achieve that under Barack Obama, so we can’t achieve it now. Bullshit.

6:41 p.m.: Bernie says that the Democrats and Repugnicans can’t get along in Congress is a red herring for the fact that Big Money prevents most of the members of Congress from voting in the people’s best interests. Yup.

6:44 p.m.: The maudlin O’Malley is parroting the canard that we all really can hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” We can’t. We shouldn’t. And we won’t. There are irreconcilable differences between the right and the left. There is no middle ground, for instance, on such issues as same-sex marriage (which is a constitutional right) and women’s constitutional right to control their own reproductive organs. And a “middle ground” on such a universal issue as climate change, which needs action, not even more foot-dragging in the name of “moderation,” will result in misery and death for millions if not billions of human beings around the globe (as well as the continued extinction of species and irreversible adverse planetary changes).

6:47 p.m.: When asked why Bernie has the support of young people by two to one over her, Billary stated that she’ll do her best to appeal to Bernie’s supporters. I’m one of Bernie’s many, many supporters who won’t cast a vote for or give a penny to Billary, no matter what — and that’s because while Obama said “Yes, we can,” she says “No, we can’t.” (She apparently says this for the benefit of her huge campaign contributors.) And, of course, I cannot and will not support her because she’s no progressive. She’s a pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic, centrist sellout.

6:48 p.m.: On break now. Twice O’Malley has tried to break in, but moderator Lester Holt won’t let him. Hee hee. I still wish that O’Malley would drop out already, but I don’t expect him to; he needs a job, apparently, and he apparently still is angling for veep.

6:52 p.m.: The topic is Wall Street and the big banks now. Bernie reminds us that he doesn’t take money from the big banks and doesn’t take speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. Bernie says we have to “break up these huge financial institutions” and bring back the Glass-Steagall Act.

6:53 p.m.: Billary now says that Bernie Sanders’ criticism of her having taken money from Wall Street actually impugns Barack Obama, since Obama also has taken money from Wall Street. (The “argument” there, I suppose, is that if someone else has committed the same wrong that you did, then you did not commit a wrong after all.) This is more bullshit Clintonian triangulation. This is classic Billary.

6:55 p.m.: Billary continues her line that Bernie has attacked Obama. Billary is so unpopular herself that she must try to damage Bernie by alleging that Bernie has attacked the much more popular Barack Obama. Pathetic.

6:57 p.m.: O’Malley says that Billary’s proclamation that she’d be tough on Wall Street is “not true.” He says that like Bernie and unlike Billary, he supports the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, and he totally calls her out on trying to use Barack Obama as a human political shield, just like how in a previous debate she actually tried to use 9/11 as her justification for her coziness with the Wall Street weasels. Wonderful.

7:00 p.m.: Billary tries to deflect from her Wall-Street-boosting corruption yet once again, stating that we should look at the Repugnicans and how they are supporting the Wall Street weasels. Jesus fuck, this woman’s character is abysmal.

7:02 p.m.: Bernie says he has documented how we would pay for his ambitious agenda, including making Wall Street pay its fair share. Billary vows that as president she would not raise taxes on the middle class and also says that she has detailed how she would pay for all of her proposals.

7:04 p.m.: Bernie says that Billary’s criticism of his “Medicare-for-all, single-payer program” is a “Republican” criticism. Well, yeah, she’s a Repugnican (Lite)… Bernie says his health care plan would give Americans a significant net savings by lowering their cost for private health care. Yup. You can pay more in taxes for health care and pay much less (or even zero) for private health care and end up ahead. It’s called math.

7:08 p.m.: Climate change now. Bernie says climate change is settled. Agreed. It’s called science. For future generations we must switch from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, Bernie says.

O’Malley says we can achieve sustainable energy by 2050. Billary attempted to chime in on this important issue but just got cut off… Break now.

I’m still torn on O’Malley’s continued presence at these debates. It’s great when he calls Billary out, such as for her latest pathetic kick of trying to triangulate among her, Bernie and Obama, since she apparently feels that she has to piggyback on Obama’s popularity, but O’Malley doesn’t poll at even 3 percent nationally.

7:17 p.m.: Iran now. Bernie calls for “normalized relations with Iran.” He states that the agreement that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is a good one, and that we need to move in the direction of better relations with Iran.

Billary says we have to continue to watch Iran, that we have to watch Iran for a longer period of time before we can normalize relations with Iran.

Now Syria. Billary says she opposes American ground forces in Syria. She says she supports supporting existing militaries in the Middle East in combating the problems in Syria and in combating ISIS.

Bernie says he opposes “perpetual warfare” in the Middle East. “As president I would do everything in my power to avoid” such a(n increased) quagmire, he says.

O’Malley says, as Bernie has said, that overall he supports Obama’s current strategy in the Middle East. And he had to get maudlin again, saying that we never should refer to a soldier as “boots on the ground.” Seriously, who advises Martin the Maudlin?

7:24 p.m.: Bernie says the wealthy nations in the Middle East, like Qatar, need to do more in the Middle East to oppose ISIS and other terrorists.

7:26 p.m.: Billary is bragging about her foreign-affairs chops (she was, after all, secretary of state, and spent a lot of time advising the more popular Barack Obama in the Situation Room!).

Bernie says our first priority in the Middle East must be to destroy ISIS, and then to focus on Syria’s dictator.

7:29 p.m.: Lester Holt apparently more or less blamed the annexation of Crimea by Russia on Billary’s having been secretary of state. Meh. I don’t want Billary in the Oval Office, but I’ve always viewed Crimea as belonging to Russia, not to Ukraine. Billary has called Vladimir Putin a “bully” whom always must be stood up to.

7:32 p.m.: O’Malley is speaking in favor of privacy rights as guaranteed to us by the Constitution. Yup. O’Malley says the government must obtain a warrant to violate our privacy, and that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a privacy violation from the “front door” (that is, a more old-school privacy violation) or from the “back door,” such as via our increasingly more technologically advanced electronic devices. Yup. Yup. Yup.

Bernie says that our public policy hasn’t caught up with our technology, and I agree. We don’t give up our constitutional rights solely because we do things electronically these days. Fucktards who don’t respect others’ constitutional rights have refused to recognize this, so our laws must be updated to fully protect us from those who would violate our constitutional rights.

Billary is cut off again for the break. It does seem to me that all three candidates should have the opportunity to respond to every question, but the NBC moderators are not allowing this.

7:39 p.m.: Billary is given is a chance to address the question, but doesn’t speak in favor of our privacy rights. Hmm…

7:40 p.m.: O’Malley has attacked Donald Trump’s vilification of Muslim Americans, kind of out of nowhere. One of O’Malley’s debating tactics apparently is to try to link anecdotes to issues, but it comes off as more amateurish than anything else.

7:42 p.m.: Billary is asked how much of a role Bill Clinton would have in her economic agenda. She claims that she is undecided, but says she would use him as a “goodwill emissary” around the nation to boost her economic agenda.

7:43 p.m.: Bernie says a White House stacked with Wall Street weasels won’t accomplish much for the nation’s economy. Yup. Bernie says that his Treasury secretary wouldn’t come from Goldman Sachs. Ouch. And yup.

Bernie was baited into talking about Bill Clinton’s sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky. Bernie called Bill Clinton’s behavior in that “deplorable,” but emphasized that he didn’t want the discussion to be about Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior. Yup. (Billary, unsurprisingly, agrees…)

The corporately owned and controlled media embarrass themselves, the way that they patently pander to the lowest common denominator.

7:50 p.m.: As the debate draws to a close and the candidates are asked if there are any statements they’d like to make that they haven’t yet made, O’Malley remarks that the debate hasn’t tackled such important issues as immigration reform and the treatment of Puerto Rico by the financial weasels. He now launches into his anodyne closing statement.

Billary says she is “outraged by what’s happening in Flint, Michigan.” She points out that the city’s population, disproportionately poor and black, has been drinking contaminated water, whereas rich denizens of a city would not.

Bernie says the Repugnican Tea Party governor of Michigan should resign.

Bernie says that nothing will improve in the United States of America until Citizens United is reversed, super-PACs are abolished, and there is meaningful campaign-finance reform. Yup. Agreed: The hands of the members of Congress are tied by their Big-Money donors.

Another President Clinton would do little to nothing to solve this overarching problem. It would be more of the same: More promises, yet nothing in our lives actually improves.

7:57 p.m.: The debate is over. Like the previous three debates, I don’t see this debate changing a whole lot. That is, if you were a Billarybot before this debate, I’m sure that you’re still a Billarybot, and if you were a Berner before this debate, I’m sure that you’re still a Berner. If I had to declare a winner of this debate, I’d say that it was Bernie, but of course I’ve supported him for months, so take that for what it is.

The NBC commentators are discussing right now how Billary wrapped herself in Obama tonight. Yup. This might come back to haunt her.

Not only was it classic Clintonian triangulation, but Bernie Sanders’ supporters largely if not mostly are those of us who never forgot — and never abandoned — Barack Obama’s ubiquitous but undelivered-upon promises of “hope” and “change.”

We haven’t seen the much-promised change (not enough of it, anyway),  but we haven’t lost all hope; we still believe, after several years of disappointment, that Yes, we can. But here is Billary saying No, we can’t.

I’m not saying that she’s entirely wrong about what is and what is not achievable in D.C., but I do know that if we start off with the motto of No, we can’t, then we probably can’t (or at least we probably won’t).

Which is exactly what Billary Clinton’s Big-Money campaign contributors want us to believe: that no, we can’t. They want us to believe that so that we won’t even try.

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