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Super-delegate and caucus reforms making the party democratic again

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The Democratic National Committee voted yesterday to strip the so-called super-delegates of their anti-democratic power. This means that in 2020, should Bernie Sanders decide to run for president again, the deck won’t again be stacked against him from Day One by constant reports of how many super-delegates, the vast majority of them self-serving party hacks, already have promised to vote at the party convention for an establishmentarian, center-right, Repugnican-Lite, pro-corporate, DINO sellout candidate. (Above: Demonstrators urge the DNC to strip super-delegates of their power at the DNC’s summer meeting that just wrapped up in Chicago.)

The best news for the Democratic Party in a long time came yesterday, when the Democratic National Committee overwhelmingly voted to effectively eliminate the power of the so-called super-delegates.

Against the wishes of a minority of dead-ender DNC assholes who had come to savor the fact that their votes for the presidential nominee have counted much, much more than the votes of us mere peasants, the DNC yesterday demonstrated its new-found realization that if the party wants to save itself, it actually needs to be democratic. (Who knew?)

The party is, however, taking baby steps toward reform. “Saturday’s vote officially [bars] the super-delegates from voting on the first ballot to choose the party’s presidential nominee unless a candidate has secured a majority of the convention using only pledged delegates, whose votes are earned during the primary process,” explains CNN. The super-delegates may vote in a second round of voting if no victor emerges with a majority of delegates in the first round, so while their undue influence has been reduced sharply, the petulant, spoiled babies were thrown some pacifier. (The equivalent of super-delegates in the Repugnican Party must vote the way that the people of their respective states voted, so even the Repugnican Party doesn’t have an anti-democratic, aristocratic system of super-delegates.)

And while I’ve written before that presidential caucuses, which are plagued with irregularities (that is, opportunities for cheating), should be dumped altogether and replaced with presidential primary elections, the DNC yesterday also voted to encourage (again, baby steps) states that still hold caucuses to switch to primary elections, and voted to require states that still hold caucuses to allow some form of absentee participation, given that it’s forever been unfair that those who for whatever reason cannot get to a caucus have not been able to participate in the democratic process.

The dead-enders within the DNC (all or the vast majority of them Billarybots) probably view these positive reforms as being for the benefit of Bernie Sanders, and while he did push for these reforms, having been the victim of the corrupt, calcified, anti-democratic DNC himself, these reforms are good for the people and are good for democracy — and thus are good for the party.

On that note, McClatchy reported (in an article titled “Loyal Democratic Donors: We’re Done with the DNC Until They Get Their Act Together”) just a few days ago:

While Democratic donors have eagerly opened their wallets ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, helping Democratic candidates and groups largely outraise their Republican counterparts, one notable exception has stood out: The Democratic National Committee — the party’s signature organization — has posted its worst midterm fund raising totals in more than a decade.

The DNC has so far taken in $116 million before the November midterm elections — $9 million less than it had taken in at this point in 2014 and more than $30 million less than it had taken in at this point in 2010, the last two midterm cycles.

By contrast, the Republican National Committee has nearly doubled the DNC’s haul this cycle, bringing in a total of $227 million. And of the six major federal committees of both parties, the DNC has by far the most debt ($6.7 million) and the least amount in its bank account ($7.8 million).

After 2016’s defeat of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump, many of the group’s most consistent donors are putting their money elsewhere. A McClatchy analysis found that more than 200 donors who had given more than $1,000 to the DNC in each of the past two midterm elections have failed to pony up any cash to the DNC this time around, despite continuing to support other Democratic groups and candidates. …

Indeed, many if not most ordinary (that is, non-super-wealthy) Democratic donors now give through the wildly successful Democratic fundraising website ActBlue, where they — we — can decide ourselves to which Democratic candidates to give money and how much.

I have given almost $4,500 in a series of donations over the past several years through ActBlue (my average donation is $13) because, frankly, I don’t at all trust the center-right, pro-corporate DNC with my money. (The No. 1 recipient of my donations via ActBlue has been Bernie Sanders, to whom I’ve given more than $1,000, and Elizabeth Warren is at No. 3, with almost $250. At No. 2 [$275] is Kevin de León, who I hope unseats DINO U.S. Sen. Dianne “Cryptkeeper” Feinstein in November.)

“The [DNC’s] poor [fundraising] showing could limit the DNC’s ability to provide support, such as direct financial contributions or get-out-the-vote assistance, to candidates and state parties in November. And it puts them at a disadvantage heading into the 2020 presidential cycle where the committee will play an even larger role,” notes McClatchy, but, again, Democratic candidates are getting money via ActBlue, which is a much more democratic venue anyway. (ActBlue’s home page right now reports that since it began in 2004, it has collected more than $2.5 billion in donations to Democratic candidates and groups.)

With ActBlue, we, the people, decide where to put our money. We can bypass the center-right, pro-corporate, anti-democratic Democratic Party bosses, which is wonderful. And that’s how it should work: If avenues are blocked, then we, the people, must create our own, alternate but equally if not even more effective, routes around the obstacles.

For years and years, the DNC weasels took our support, including our money and our votes, for granted. Where else were we commoners going to go? While the DNC continued to rot in order to preserve the undue power of a relatively few weaselly insiders, we, the people, have been doing our own end runs.

Because the DNC and the party establishment as a whole fell asleep at the wheel years ago, we, the people, took over, such as via ActBlue and by supporting progressive (that is, actually Democratic) candidates whether the center-right, Repugnican-Lite party big-wigs wanted us to or not. (Bernie Sanders, of course, is the largest example of that, but there have been many others.)

It has been a long struggle, and it is not over, but we progressives are taking back the Democratic Party, bit by bit. And when — and if — the DNC can be trusted again, its reputation and thus also its fundraising will improve.

In the meantime, yes, it’s time to look to the 2020 presidential election cycle.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll reported last week puts Bernie Sanders against Pussygrabber in a hypothetical presidential match-up at 44 percent to 32 percent, so anyone who says that Bernie Sanders can’t beat Pussygrabber, as he could have and probably would have in November 2016, is, of course, full of shit; Bernie has a double-digit lead over Pussygrabber in the nationwide polling already, just as he had a double-digit lead over Pussygrabber in the nationwide polling leading up to the 2016 Democratic Party National Convention.

Joe Biden also beats Pussygrabber by 12 points in the Politico/Morning Consult poll, 43 percent to 31 percent, so 2020, it seems to me, could be a lot like 2016 if both Bernie and Biden run; it would be the progressive champion against the party establishmentarian.

However, as Biden already has run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination and lost twice (in 1987 and in 2007), I don’t see him as strong a candidate as some would assert. He would be the anti-Bernie vote, but I don’t think that that would be enough. Also, Billary Clinton was the holdover from the Clinton-Obama years, and wouldn’t Biden, as the holdover from the Clinton-Obama years, remind a lot of voters of Billary’s colossal failure in 2016?

In the Politico/Morning Consult poll Elizabeth Warren comes in a No. 3, still beating Pussygrabber but by a much smaller margin, only 34 percent to 30 percent, with 36 percent undecided.

Billary Clinton was within only a few percentage points over Pussygrabber in the nationwide polling averages for a very long time, all the way up to Election Day, and look how that turned out.

If we want Pussygrabber out, we need to select, as the Democratic Party presidential nominee, the one who polls the best against him; we (well, the Billarybots and other zombies) fucked up big-time in 2016 by passing up Bernie Sanders for the candidate who polled much worse against Pussygrabber than Bernie did.

I’ve noted many times that while I like Liz Warren, and would be fine with her as a vice-presidential candidate, I think that as a presidential candidate she’d be painted as a female Michael Dukakis, another clueless egghead from Massachussetts, and I think that while Billary Clinton did not face much actual sexism, Liz actually would.* (That said, if it’s between Biden and Warren, I pick Warren, who is my No. 2 choice behind Bernie. I still cannot support Biden, not for the primaries.)

Also in the Politico/Morning Consult poll, Pussygrabber beats U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Attorney General Eric Holder and others by 2 percentage points to 10 percentage points, so unless their polling improves drastically, these second- and third-tier candidates are non-starters for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination for me, and we can’t allow craven identity politics to sink us in 2020 like they did in 2016.

(“Bernie bro,” “brogressive” and the like only backfired, as Billary wasn’t a victim of sexism, but only suffered appropriately and deservedly due to her utter unlikeability due to her inherently corrupt nature and shitty character, which enough voters sure sensed if they couldn’t articulate.)

Methinks that 2020 is going to be a bumpy ride, with identity politics vs. electability once again rearing its ugly head, but at least the road is made a bit smoother because the so-called super-delegates have been defanged and because quaint but corruptible caucuses apparently are on their way out.

*I agree with fivethirtyeight.com’s Perry Bacon Jr.’s sentiment when he writes:

… How comfortable should we be, as a society, with discouraging members of traditionally marginalized groups from pursuing political office because other Americans might have a negative view of those potential candidates’ gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics (or some combination of these characteristics)? After all, a candidate can change her ideology if her platform isn’t appealing to voters — but many of these traits are immutable. …

I agree that of course it’s not fair to punish the victim for the voters’ prejudices and biases and bigotry, but when push comes to shove, it does come down to whether or not you want to win the fucking election. In the 2020 presidential election, for a great example, which is more important: booting Pussygrabber from the Oval Office (presuming that he’s still there, of course) or making a point?

And there are plenty of reasons to reject Kamala Harris and Cory Booker that have nothing to do with race, such as their history of coziness with corporations, their lack of leadership and accomplishment in the U.S. Senate, and their lower name recognition and popularity — and thus their lower polling — than the top-three front-runners Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

Of the two, I’m more fond of Harris than of Booker, but she has not been in the Senate for even two full years yet, for fuck’s sake. It’s way too early to talk about her being president. As I have noted before, I think I’d be OK with her as the vice-presidential candidate for 2020, but that’s as far as I can go.

In 2016, aside from the copious intra-party rigging that was done in her favor, apparently the idea was to make Billary Clinton the nominee — even she didn’t poll nearly as well against Pussygrabber as Bernie Sanders did — in order to make a point (namely, that the Democrats could nominate a woman [likability and popularity of said woman entirely aside]). How well did that turn out?

If we make that mistake again, we deserve whatever we get.

And I’m no hypocrite; I personally always have disliked DINO Billary Clinton but love Elizabeth Warren, but if it looks like Warren can’t beat Pussygrabber, then we go with the stronger candidate who can. It won’t be enough for me that Warren is a woman.

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Millions murdered Trayvon Martin

These editorial cartoons pretty much sum it up, methinks.

I haven’t written much, if anything, about the Trayvon Martin case, since I usually don’t blog about incidents of shootings, stabbings, rapes, etc. unless they have a wider significance.

But the Trayvon Martin case, of course, does have a wider significance.

I don’t know which individual on that fateful night of February 26, 2012, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, physically posed the larger threat to the other, the 17-year-old Martin, who was black, or the then-28-year-old half-Latino-and-half-white George Zimmerman. (Yes, in this case, the race of the individuals involved has mattered.)

But the indisputable facts are that Zimmerman had a gun and Martin did not, and that Zimmerman shot Martin dead.

The indisputable fact is that Zimmerman was playing cop in a gated community (those two words, “gated community,” speak volumes as to the sociological context of Martin’s death*), and that such vigilantism should be illegal in all 50 states.

There is a reason that actual cops, in order to become actual cops, in most instances have to demonstrate a minimum amount of intelligence and a minimum amount of psychological health: Because you don’t want morons and/or those who have head issues walking around communities with guns, playing cops.

And I can’t see that Zimmerman wasn’t racially profiling Martin: What’s a young black man doing in this gated community? (Let’s fucking face it: The No. 1 function of a gated community is to keep certain “undesirables,” who more often than not have darker skin, out and away from the wealthier and usually lighter-skinned denizens of the gated community.)

Oh, wasn’t that Zimmerman’s mindset? Would Zimmerman have pursued, with his loaded pistol, a young white man who was dressed as a preppy?

And once you have made yourself into a pseudo-cop, don’t you want to “have to” play the role at some point? So wouldn’t you be looking for such an opportunity?

Zimmerman was just acquitted in Martin’s shooting death, but, it seems to me, Zimmerman was guilty at least of manslaughter. In a saner and more just state, such as my state of California, Zimmerman most likely would have been found guilty of at least manslaughter, I surmise. However, the backasswards state of Florida (along with other backasswards states) allows yahoos to walk the streets with guns, and to use those guns to “stand their ground.”

That’s Wild-West bullshit.

Martin wasn’t pursuing Zimmerman on that night. Zimmerman, playing cop, was pursuing Martin. Zimmerman was acting offensively, not defensively. He wasn’t “standing his ground” against an unprovoked attack on his person. No, he was playing cop.**

The state of Florida, along with George Zimmerman, killed Trayvon Martin, along with the gun-nut lobby and, of course, the institutional racism that of course still persists and will persist in the United States of America for some time to come. Martin’s murderers number in the millions.

These “stand your ground” laws need to go, or at least need to be modified to make clear that you aren’t “standing your ground” if you are the fucking aggressor — especially if you are the armed aggressor against an unarmed (or hell, even armed) individual who has made no threatening advance toward you in public. (“In public” is key there; no, I do not assert that an individual does not have the right to defend his or her own home against an actual intruder, for instance, and for actual self-defense I do support the Second Amendment.)

For the reasons that I have just laid out, I support the NAACP’s and other black community leaders’ push to have Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice file federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman, even though such an action probably would touch off a race-based firestorm, given that the U.S. president and the U.S. attorney general are black.

(President Barack Obama is conflict-adverse, however, perhaps especially when it comes to issues of race — recall that he quickly and summarily threw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, all of whom are black, under the bus when they came under attack from the white-supremacist right wing — so I certainly don’t expect the Justice Department to file federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman, regardless of how appropriate doing so might be.)

However, the seeking of justice for the very apparent race-based murder of Trayvon Martin needs to go waaay beyond George Zimmerman. It needs to encompass the entire state of Florida and every other state with the so-called “stand your ground” laws, which are a white supremacist’s or other racist’s wet dream: the opportunity to commit race-based murders while claiming self-defense.

If you believe that the U.S. Department of Justice should file civil-rights charges in the Trayvon Martin case, you can sign this petition and/or this petition. I have signed both of them.

*On that note, I very much look forward to the upcoming sci-fi film “Elysium,” starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and written and directed by “District 9” creator Neill Blomkamp, whose 2009 “District 9” apparently was a statement on the white-on-black racism in South Africa.

From the previews, “Elysium” appears to be a bold statement on the direction in which the United States of America — as well as other nations, too, of course — with their haves and their have-nots, are going.

**A friend of Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel, infamously testified that while she was talking to Martin on his cell phone shortly before he was killed, Martin reported that he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker.”

While I don’t know that I’d call George Zimmerman a “cracker,” as he looks Latino to me, and technically isn’t a “cracker,” I imagine that on the night of February 26, 2012, he indeed looked “creepy-ass,” pursuing his victim with a loaded pistol while playing cop. He probably looked crazed, because he apparently was.

And Rachel Jeantel, was treated horribly in the courtroom, was treated as though her English was not clear when it was quite clear if you actually just listened to the words that came from her mouth. Her mistreatment smacked of racism, and that the court allowed this mistreatment of her is yet another indication that there is a huge fucking problem in the state of Florida — and so that, again, it would be quite appropriate for the U.S. Justice Department to act on this.

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UN looking into legality of slaughter of bin Laden

Was this past weekend’s assassination of Osama bin Laden legal?

Unsurprisingly, in the articles that I’ve read online, Americans tend to say that of course it was — he was an “enemy combatant” with whom we were “at war”; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder actually called, quite speciously, bin Laden’s assassination “an act of national self-defense” (and not, say, a revenge killing); and besides, Barack Obama had said when he was campaigning for president that if we got bin Laden in our sights then he would order him killed (as though if you simply warn someone that you will do something illegal, such as rape her or murder him, if you get the opportunity to do so and then do so, then your actual act is not illegal because hey, you’d given him or her a warning!) — while those outside of the U.S. are much less likely to make such a certain pronouncement, expressing problems with the facts that bin Laden was unarmed and that the raid on his compound was conducted without the consent or even the prior notification of the government of the sovereign nation of Pakistan. Bin Laden should have been captured, if at all possible, and put on trial, since everyone, even the likes of bin Laden, has the right to due process, these dissenters have expressed.

One of these dissenters, Kent University international lawyer Nick Grief, called bin Laden’s killing what it apparently was: an “extrajudicial killing without due process of the law,” and he noted that even Nazi war criminals were brought to trial at the end of World War II.

Louise Doswald-Beck, former legal chief for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that bin Laden was not an enemy combatant but that “He was basically head of a terrorist criminal network, which means that you’re not really looking at the law of armed conflict but at lethal action against a dangerous criminal.”

Another British lawyer, Michael Mansfield, said, “The serious risk is that in the absence of an authoritative narrative of events played out in Abbottabad, vengeance will become synonymized with justice, and that revenge will supplant due process. … Whatever feelings of elation and relief may dominate the airwaves, they must not be allowed to submerge core questions about the legality of the exercise, nor to permit vengeance or summary execution to become substitutes for justice.” [Emphasis mine.]

And it looks as though the United Nations is investigating the legality of bin Laden’s assassination. Reports The Associated Press today:

Geneva – The United Nations’ independent investigator on extrajudicial killings* has called on the United States to reveal more details of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideaway to allow experts to assess the legality of his killing.

South African law professor Christof Heyns said in a statement [today] that Washington “should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards.”

Heyns says “it will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture Bin Laden.”

His statement echoed similar appeals from other UN officials, human rights groups and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

U.S. officials say the raid is legal under U.S. and international law.

Of course “U.S. officials say the raid [was] legal under U.S. and international law.” How often does the perpetrator of a crime admit it?

In any event, it’s not like the U.S. is going to respect any adverse finding by the UN anyway. The UN Security Council would not rubber-stamp George W. Bush’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War, but the Bush regime went ahead and launched it anyway in March 2003. The U.S. respects the UN only when it is convenient for the U.S. to do so, which is one of the many reasons that the U.S. is so hated throughout the world: its blatant hypocrisy and double standards.

I still believe that the assassination of Osama bin Laden was meant, at least in part, for Barack Obama’s political gain. I believe that Obama wanted to show that he’s just as bad a bad-ass as George W. Bush tried to pass himself off as, and also, what’s better to counter the charges that Obama is not really an American and actually is Muslim than to snuff out Osama bin Laden, to take him dead or alive dead?

The so-called “swing voters” are susceptible to such wingnutty charges that Obama isn’t a citizen and that he’s actually a Muslim, and it’s the support of the “swing voters” (he’s screwed his progressive base) that Obama so very badly wants for his re-election.

Weirdly, though, in the White House photo of the gathering in the Situation Room during the operation to assassinate bin Laden that everyone has dissected to death —

In this image released by the White House and ...

— to me, Obama doesn’t look like the leader of all of it. To me, he looks like he’s just kind of shrinking in the corner, a bit bewildered and perhaps overwhelmed by all of it, and hell, just from this photo, Secretary of State Billary Clinton appears to be more in charge than Obama does. Obama appears in the photo to be an onlooker at most.

In any event, Osama bin Laden is dead, which even Al-Qaeda has acknowledged, and it’s not like there will be formal repercussions for the U.S. government for once again very apparently having violated international law.

But it will be interesting to see for how long the U.S. can maintain its position as the global bully. Bin Laden’s actions significantly weakened what he believed to be the “great Satan,” the American empire, costing the United States at least $3 trillion, pundits are saying. (Of course, much if not most of that $3 trillion went to greedy war profiteers, not for the actual benefit of the U.S., and much of it simply disappeared and remains unaccounted for to this day.)

And as China is poised to become the world’s No. 1 economy within the next decade, as the U.S. economy continues to teeter on the brink of collapse, how long will the U.S. be able to call the shots globally?

It is in the long-term interests of the United States of America — and any other nation’s — to follow the rule of law. It is easier and more convenient, in the short run, to circumvent the law, but to circumvent the law often bites you in the ass later, often (if not usually) costing you more than if you had just done it right the first time.

Because he was not put on trial, but was assassinated, Osama bin Laden is now, to many in the Muslim world, a martyr whose manner of death only proves his assertions about American abuse of power against Arabs and Muslims to be correct. We Americans can, and should, fully expect bin Laden’s death to be avenged. And then we’ll avenge that. This tit-for-tat bullshit bloodshed can go on for years and years and years, which is exactly what the war profiteers and the weasels of the military-industrial complex want.

And just as the United States was somewhat recovering from its reputation as the global asshole that the treasonous members of the unelected Bush regime earned it, Barack Obama, by mimicking George “W. for Wanted Dead or Alive” Bush, has taken us backasswards again.

Can we at least take away that Nobel Peace Prize that he so prematurely was awarded while the UN investigates the legality of his unilateral order to assassinate bin Laden?

P.S. Reuters reports a little more thoroughly today of the United Nations’ looking into the legality of bin Laden’s assassination. Reuters reports today:

Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism … and Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that in certain exceptional cases, deadly force may be used in “operations against terrorists.”

“However, the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially-decided punishment,” the independent experts said in a joint statement.

“In respect of the recent use of deadly force against Osama bin Laden, the United States of America should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards,” they said. “It will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture bin Laden.”

Scheinin, a Finnish law professor who teaches in Florence, and Heyns, a South African human rights law professor, report to the UN Human Rights Council, whose 47 members include the United States. …

Navi Pillay, the top UN human rights official, also called this week for light to be shed on the killing, stressing that all counter-terrorism operations must respect international law.

“We’ve raised a question mark about what happened precisely, more details are needed at this point,” her spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing in Geneva [today].

*Those Obama apologists and American jingoists who take exception to the word “assassination” (as though only, say, an American president could be assassinated) at least cannot argue that bin Laden’s killing was indeed, at the least, an extrajudicial execution.

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