Category Archives: Bernie Sanders

Paul Street: Bernie Sanders, the Company Man

“As I pointed out back in July of 2015, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (“I”-VT)  is not the independent left politician many progressives claim he is.  He’s a Democratic Party company man.

That has been clear from his long Congressional record of voting with the neoliberal, dollar-drenched Democrats and accepting their seniority-based committee assignments. It was clear when he came out to Iowa City in December of 2014 to give a speech so focused on  the terrible Republicans that a professor had to remind him that corporate and imperial Democrats are a problem too. It was clear when he decided to the run for the U.S. presidency as a Democrat and promised to back the Democrats’ eventual nominee (Hillary Clinton).

It was evident when he failed to go for the jugular against “the lying neoliberal warmonger” (LNW) Hillary Clinton during the primary race.

It was transparent when he submitted with only mild protest to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) rigging of the Democratic Party primaries and Caucuses for the LNW.

It was manifest when he instructed his followers to line up behind the corrupt, two-faced, miserable, and arch-corporatist war hawk Hillary and her atrociously dull center-right running mate in the general election.

It is clear from Bernie’s recent agreement to go on an eight-state “unity tour” with Clinton Democrat Tom Perez, who defeated Sanders’ “progressive Democrat” ally Keith Ellison in the election for chairmanship of the DNC.

And it is unmistakable with his participation in the Democrats’ noxious and dysfunctional attempt to paint out Donald Trump as a tool and/or ally of Russia.

Russiagate is, among things, a false-flag fabrication designed to help the DNC and the Democratic Party elite avoid responsibility for blowing the election.  The “dismal Dems” (Doug Henwood’s phrase) went with a wooden, Wall Street-captive, and (sorry) crooked candidate who couldn’t mobilize enough working- and lower-class and minority voters to defeat the hyper-poisonous and widely hated Trumpenstein. And they fixed the intraparty game to ensure the defeat of Sanders, who would have bested Herr Donald. (Sanders would certainly have mobilized enough working class and rural voters to prevail.  All the match-up polls during the primary season had Sanders trouncing Trump one-on-one and doing far better than Hillary against the Clockwork Orangatun. Even I, one of candidate Sanders’ earliest and most insistent online radical left critics, would have had to vote for Bernie over Trump).

The “Moscow Stole It” narrative is a fancy version of “My Dog Ate My Homework” for a Democratic Party that abandoned the working class and the causes of peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability decades ago. The “inauthentic opposition” party (as the late Sheldon Wolin rightly described the Democrats of the neoliberal age) would rather not take a long, hard, and honest look at what it has become.  It does not want to concede anything to those who dream of turning it into an authentically progressive organization.

The “Russia Did It” charge works on both scores.  It has therefore proven irresistible to establishment Democrats determined to stave off demands from leftish-progressive-populist types in their own party.

According to the leading U.S. social-democrat and Bernie backer Bhaskar Sunkara last January, “There were positive steps [during the 2016 presidential campaign] in the direction of addressing the need for a class-based, populist approach, even if it meant alienating some of the business interests in the Democratic tent in the wake of the November defeat. Among a lot of Democrats,” Sunkara told The Washington Post last January, “it seems like that conversation has been halted. I blame the focus on Russia, largely.”

To make matters worse from a progressive perspective, Russiagate is a losing strategy, even a “conspiracy trap” (Masha Gessen) for progressives. since there’s no real smoking-gun proof and few voters can or will follow the bouncing ball of complex allegations and counters. It directs public attention onto something Trump isn’t, a Kremlin tool, rather than what he really is: an arch-plutocratic pre-fascist racist, sexist, and nativist and a super-militarist enemy of the poor and working-class majority.  It’s given Trump a free pass on numerous policies and actions over which a remotely genuine opposition party would be crucifying him

It has already (as I predicted here exactly two weeks ago) helped egg the Orange Tinted Beast into a reckless military action conducted in part to prove that he is not a Russian puppet or ally – the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria.

If it were to succeed in unseating Trump, moreover, it would set a dangerous new precedent of potent “intelligence community” (CIA) interference in domestic U.S. politics at the highest level.

You’d think all this Russia madness would have really pissed off Bernie Sanders, official leader of the nation’s progressive Democrats. You might think that Bernie would have called bullshit on the establishment Dems’ whole preposterous Bear Ate Our Homework narrative. You might fancy him saying something like this: “Look, it’s not like Gucifer, WikiKeaks, and the Kremlin   or whoever made it up that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC rigged the primary election against me.  That really happened – and if it hadn’t, my fellow Americans, Donald Trump would not be your president today!”

You might imagine that Bernie would have used his big barrel-chested Brooklyn truck driver’s voice to denounce a failed xenophobic and neo-McCarthyite conspiracy ploy that distracts attention both from Trump’s real threats evils and from the Democrats’ responsibility for putting a dangerously unhinged right-wing uber-narcissist in the White House. You might picture him denouncing the “deep state” “intelligence community’s” meddling in U.S. politics.

You might visualize the anti-plutocratic Senator mockingly asking, “just what great American democratic process is it that was supposedly subverted by the Russians?!” Even mainstream liberal political scientists like Marin Gilens and Benjamin Page have demonstrated and acknowledged that the U.S is now essentially a corporate-financial oligarchy in which the working-class majority’s policy preferences are largely irrelevant regardless of which party or what party configuration holds sway in Washington.

Dream on. None of this has happened because Bernie Sanders continues to insult the Eugene Debs poster that sits in his office by being a Democratic Party company man. And that has meant playing along obediently with Russiagate.

At a CNN town hall last January 10th, Sanders unaccountably proclaimed that “the evidence is overwhelming” that Russia interfered “to help elect the candidate of their choice, Mr. Trump” and “to undermine in a significant way American democracy.”

In a YouTube video last February, Bernie pronounced that “the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia played an active role in the 2016 election with the goals of electing Donald Trump has president…the Trump campaign had repeated contacts with the senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”  Sanders worried about a “dossier” showing that Russian agents had damaging evidence on Trump’s private life – evidence he said the Kremlin could use to “blackmail” the White House.  So, what if it’s all pretty much trumped-up speculation fed by shady “deep state” suggestion and innuendo?

Sanders has at the very least fellow-travelled along with the dollar-drenched, demobilizing, and dullard Democrats depressing descent into CIA-serving conspiratorialism regarding the Kremlin’s allegedly relevant interference in our supposedly democratic political process.

Along the way, Bernie has recently played along with Trump’s dog-wagging pretext for illegally chucking 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base. He has joined in the establishment chorus of reflexive support for the highly questionable claim that Syria chemical-bombed innocent civilians.

Recently I asked my “social media” correspondents if any among them had been following Sanders’ positions and statements on Russiagate. Was I correct in suspecting that he’d been pretty much following the party line?  One journalist wrote to say “I don’t think so.. when this was all blowing up a few weeks ago, instead of talking about Russiagate, he was marching with Nissan workers in Mississippi and said such struggles are the most vital right now. Also, he criticized more Democrats for not showing up.”  The journalist sent me a link to an interview in which Sanders explained why he went to Dixie to help workers fight for a union. Sanders said the following:

“What matters most to the people is whether or not they’re going to have a decent standard of living; whether they can feed their kids; send their kids to college; have childcare; get some time off. And that’s what this struggle is about. It’s what workers here at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi are going to have dignity; are going to have decent wages and decent benefits. It’s very basic and at a time when the middle class of this country is shrinking, when so many people in my state, here, all over the world, all over this country are working longer hours for low wages. This is a fight that has to be engaged and has to be won.”

When the interviewer asked Sanders whether the fight for economic justice “is a big enough priority right now for the Democratic Party as a whole?” Sanders said this: “what priority is more important than making sure that we expand the middle class, that people have decent wages, decent benefits, and decent healthcare? The Democratic Party has got to be in the middle of this struggle in Mississippi, in Vermont and all over this country.”

It’s good that Sanders went to support auto workers in the Deep South.  It’s admirable that he called for decent wages and benefits for workers across the country.  It’s true that Sanders is a New Deal pro-labor and anti-poverty pro-single payer and anti-plutocratic progressive Democrat.

But so was my grandfather in the middle 1960s, when he participated in the federal War on Poverty program in Harlan County while arguing Lyndon Johnson’s mass-murderous side for the U.S. war on Southeast Asia in debates with antiwar radicals at the University of Kentucky.  What my grandfather and countless other Great Society liberals didn’t understand was something Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to warn them about on April 4, 1967, one year to the day before King’s assassination (or execution): the U.S. desperately needed to slash its giant and murderous military system and drop its attachment to global empire if it wanted to be fiscally and morally situated to solve its vast domestic social and political problems.

Sanders may have opposed the Vietnam War and the U.S. proxy wars in Central America (good for him) during his young adulthood and middle age, but during the post-Cold War years, “Bernie and the [F-35] Jets” Sanders fell badly into the Empire trap that King tried to advise liberals against.

It’s a little tough to take Sanders’ outrage against Bashar al-Assad’s war criminality (real and alleged) all that seriously given candidate Bernie’s support for Barack Obama’s drone war program, rightly described by Noam Chomsky as “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.” And that kind of moral and policy hypocrisy is no small part of why many of us on the actual (“radical” and “hard”) U.S. left refused to do principle-trashing cartwheels for Bernie’s presidential candidacy.

And notice what Sanders did NOT say in that interview.  He did not say, “no, economic justice is not a big enough priority for the Democratic Party right now.”  He certainly did not say anything about how the Russia madness has helped keep dismal dollar Dems mired in the neoliberal nothingness that explains much of how the Republicans’ absurd control of all three branches of the federal government and most of the state governments in a nation whose populace hates the Republican Party.

Bernie Sanders is a major party company man.

A recent essay sent to me bears the title “Is Bernie Sanders Distancing himself from ‘Russiagate’?” The author answers in the affirmative because the Senator recently said the following at a rally in Boston:

 “Some people think the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks. I don’t agree, because I’ve been there…..Let me tell you something else some of you might not agree with.  It wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic party lost the election…We need a Democratic party that is not a party of the liberal elite but of the working class of this country, we need a party that is a grassroots party, where candidates are talking to working people not spending their time raising money for the wealthy and the powerful. And when we do that, when we transform the Democratic party, we transform America.”

The author says that “Sanders’s comments appear to distance him from the Democratic Party’s current orthodoxy: that Hillary Clinton lost the election because of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

The critical word there is “appear.” It’s good that Sanders wants to see the emergence of a real opposition party that is “not a party of the liberal elite but of the working class of this country, …a grassroots party.”  It’s super that Sanders criticized the Clinton’s campaign’s noxious neoliberal and identity-politicized shaming of the nation’s white working class and rural majority. He’s right to note that the dismal dollar Dems lost the election more than the radical reactionary Republicans won it.

But no, Sanders’ comments in Boston contain no explicit distancing from, or criticism of, Russiagate or of the warmongering, Pentagon-feeding imperial doctrine that informs the neo-McCarthyite anti-Russia rhetoric of the nation’s foreign policy establishment.  Sanders’ speech gives no indication that he will break radically from the Pentagon system and the U.S. global Empire to seriously confront poverty and inequality at home and abroad. Sanders gave no reason why we should believe against all historical evidence that the Democratic Party is a fit vehicle for the transformation – the “political revolution” (can we have a social one too Bernie?) – he claims to seek.  And if “the hot air factory from Vermont” (as Alexander Cockburn once called Sanders) is so critical of the Russia-blaming Democratic Party these days, why is he about to go on a big “unity” soiree with DNC chair Perez, who comes from the party’s reigning, Russia-obsessed LNW wing?”

To read full article by Paul Street -> http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/14/bernie-sanders-the-company-man/

Disillusioned Bernie Sanders Supporters Pay Attention

Pay attention all those who thought Bernie Sanders was going to be THE change you wanted to see. Remember that now disillusioned whole generation of young voters in 2008 who believed Obama was going to be the change they wanted to see? Look how they betray those young people? Time and time again this happens. But should it be any surprise at all?

FACT: Nothing good can come from these two corrupt major parties. They are just two sides of the same coin. The members of those parties who are selected as presidential candidates are simply corporate representatives of the oligarchy. They do not have our interests in mind, no matter how often they might say “I feel your pain”.

So why do we keep falling for it?

Anyone who represents or is subsumed into either major party, as Sanders has been, is gone. Their career appears to be more important than their word.

So let them go. Let it all go.

DON’T let an individual’s predictable flakiness push you to be apathetic.

STOP voting for the “lesser of two evils”. GO BEYOND the failed corrupt political system. It’s not about personality politics, it should be about REAL nonviolent grassroots change.

Remember when Bernie Sanders told us he would endorse Hillary Clinton if he wasn’t selected as the presidential nominee. Well he kept his word.

So it’s time to pay attention and act and not fall into a kind of “learned helplessness” which benefits the oligarchy.

It’s not about the individual nor the spectacle. This does not have to be like the Roman empire just before its collapse.

Continue supporting the nonviolent grassroots movement.

We can do one of 4 things –

1) vote for the “lesser of two evils” (that’s a disaster)

2) Be apathetic (they want you be apathetic)

3) Consider a third option that is in keeping with your values because there are more than 2 parties.

4) engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to express your outrage at this incredibly violent, dangerous and corrupt system.

For more info : Watch here

 

Voting for Empire is the Sole Option for Democrats and Republicans

Voting for Empire is the Sole Option for Democrats and Republicans
By Peter Phillips
 
The presidential primaries offer a single choice for both Democrats and Republicans to vote for empire and permanent war. This year’s entertainment spectacle, what we call democratic elections, is a particularly gross circus of meaninglessness, misinformation, sound bites, and lies. Both parties are in support in the continuation of the US/NATO global empire of permanent war and the protection of the capital of the global 1%. Even Bernie Sanders calls for drone strikes and continued war on Isis and other evil terrorists.
 
Neo-fascists, racists, and misogynistic people are finding new voice with Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Neo-conservatives and fundamentalists found hope with Ted Cruz. Moderates, liberals and women see Hillary Clinton as a chance for Supreme Court balance and gender equality, and left-leaning liberals are cheering for democratic socialist Sanders to save our economy by breaking up big banks and restoring trust in government.
The mobilization of millions of young people in support of Sanders offers them a hope of real change, similar to the false hope millions expressed eight years ago. None of the candidates above offer any solutions for the permanent war on terror, US/NATO presence in 130 countries, massive wasteful spending on arms, neo-liberal economic policies, governmental austerity, global refugees, and human rights for the three billion people living on less than $3 a day. None of the above suggests reinstatement of Habeas Corpus, an expanded Bill of Rights, complete electronic privacy, full governmental transparency, or the bail out of the $1 trillion student loan debt.
 
The US/NATO global empire is primarily in service to the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC) not the people of the United State or the installed President in Washington. These few thousand people controlling global capital amount to less than 0.0001 percent of the world’s population. The TCC, as the capitalist elite of the world, dominate nation states through international treaty agreements and transnational state organizations such as the Work Bank, Bank for International Settlements, and the International Monetary Fund. The TCC communicates their policy requirements through global networks such as the G-7, G-20, and various non-governmental policy organizations like the Word Economic Forum, Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberger Group. Presidents and Presidential candidates listen to the TCC or they will not be allowed into office. Rigged elections, assassinations, and October surprises are in the tool kit of the TCC and deep state powers.
 
The TCC represents the interests of several hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires who comprise the richest people in the top one percent of the world’s wealth hierarchy. A few thousand inside the TCC manage over $100 Trillion of capital. Ironically, this extreme accumulation of concentrated capital at the top creates a continuing problem for the TCC, who must continually scour the world for new investment opportunities that will yield adequate returns (7-10%).
 
The TCC are keenly aware of both their elite status and their increasing vulnerabilities to democracy movements and unrest from the bottom. As a result of these class insecurities, the TCC works to protect its structure of concentrated wealth with military might. Protection of capital is the prime reason that NATO countries now account for 85 percent of the world’s defense spending, with the US spending more on military than the rest of the world combined. Fears of rebellions motivated by inequality and other forms of unrest push the US/NATO global agenda in the war on terror. Mass media owned by the TCC continues to promote the fear of terrorism as a form of hegemonic mind control.
 
The concentration of global capital, permanent war, and deliberate destabilization of economies is designed to pit working people against each other and protect global capital. The ultimate goal of capital is the building of a privatized neo-feudal police states, where individual countries are population containment zones and capital is free to go unrestricted anywhere in the world.
 
Democracy-occupy movements are emerging as a counter to centralized global capital. Knowing the war on terror is a fraud designed to keep us quiet is one step towards challenging the 1%. We need to collectively seek solidarity with working people worldwide in an unrelenting movement for democracy, human rights, peace, and equality.
 
Peter Phillips is a Professor of Political Sociology at Sonoma State University and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored.