Category Archives: Hillary Clinton

The Use and Abuse of President Donald Trump

In all of the bizarre and ridiculous iconography of our first cartoon President, Donald J. Trump, the photo-op of Trump holding an upside-down Bible in front of St John’s (of Patmos?) Episcopal Church, near the White House, really takes the cake — and, perhaps, eats it, too.  Of course, the whole scene was a fiasco right out of Hollywood, as militarized police and actual military units violently suppressed a considerable throng of protesters, so that the embattled “leader” could awkwardly lurch to the Church for a weird evangelical pose (In the event, the President should have taken a golf cart; Trump’s handlers really dropped the ball on the optics here…).

There are many layers of irony threading through Trump’s churchy photo-op.  For example, the President was wielding a version of the Bible not considered “authoritative” by evangelicals, one of his presumed audiences; and, moreover, in front of a notoriously “liberal” house of worship — not to mention the tyrannical police state tactics used to clear Lafayette Square in D.C. on June 1, 2020.  However, the image that struck me most amidst all of this Hellish hoopla was that of Trump holding a Bible aloft with what appeared to be a cloven hoof-hand, as if the President were posing as the Antichrist poster boy of the Moment.  Yes:  not only is Trump the “worst literal Hitler” figure ever, as C.J. Hopkins has quite correctly noted; now, Mein Trumpf  has achieved — albeit fleetingly — Antichrist status…

Yet, the Antichrist Trump is entirely pathetic; Hannah Arendt’s concept-phrase the “banality of evil” is far too strong in this case.  Antichrist Trump’s expression during the photo-op could be most generously described as dour, although bland, or even blank, would be more accurate.  The President responds to a reporter’s question (one of the reporters not punched in the face by security forces that day) — “Is that your Bible?” by inflectionlessly stating that “It’s a Bible,” in a quiet, hollow, distant, vacant voice.  If Trump in this moment is Satan’s chosen tool, then he appears to have zero enthusiasm — or extremely “low energy” — for the role. (Again, Trump should have taken the golf cart, as that 5-minute walk to the Church from the White House, the sheer physical exertion of it, has clearly de-animated him, our first cartoon President.)

Nevertheless, despite this deflated performance, Trump is far from imperfectly cast as the “Antichrist.”  As all voting evangelicals will remember come November (if there is an election…), Trump has used the Presidency to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which, according to a certain prophetic tradition, is a necessary pre-condition for the Apocalypse, which will herald the Second Coming of Christ.  Certainly, the tone and tenor of our Times have become more “apocalyptic” since Señor “Carnage” wallowed in to the Oval Office through an almost unnatural election in 2016.

Given the hallucinatory goofiness of the Bible’s last chapter, the Book of Revelation, the banality of Donald Trump as Antichrist makes a certain sort of occult sense, this 6-times bankrupt Whore of Babbling on…

However, there is another fictional figure that I believe Trump more uncannily resembles than the anti-hero of Biblically deranged myth-making.  I owe this insight to John Hawkins’ recent DV article “Doublethink!  Doublethink!  It’s Two Thinks in One!” (published on Bastille Day, 2020), which links the Trump phenomenon to Emmanuel Goldstein, the “Two-Minute’s Hate” character of George Orwell’s 1948 dystopian novel, 1984.  Indeed, during the seemingly pre-determined 2016 election run-up, the fanatical, viscerally venomous bashing of Trump had just begun…

Ever since Trump’s curious Electoral College victory, the “2-Minutes Hate” on Trump has been in full-blown, blast furnace Inferno-mode.  One would think that every True-blue Liberal in the Land were Christian as Hell, and that Trump was the Devil incarnate:  the original sinning Root of all Evil.

Who knew that “Liberals” could be so rabid?  Isn’t such zealotry supposed to be the exclusive, gun-guarded paranoid domain of the self-righteous Right? Take an obviously “liberal” Late Night TV comic show host like Stephen Colbert, who once portrayed an unconsciously self-parodying Right-winger. Ironically, it appears that Colbert’s previous comic incarnation got his wish, since the current Colbert is now going on a “4-Years Hate” rant — in 10-minute monologue installments — on Trump.  Such an obsession!

To be fair, Trump’s opponent in 2016 (besides Jill Stein…) was also a relentlessly demonized figure:  her eminence, Hillary “Benghazi” Clinton. Perhaps, in 2016, the choice of “lesser evils” had never been more evil — or, at the very least, more banal…

At that time, just 4 years of “Hate” ago, the diabolical rivals of the two uncontested national political parties squared off in 3 televised debates, the second of which — held at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, October 19, 2016 — produced a most pivotal exchange.  Hillary fired off the opening salvo, a salvo that has echoed throughout Trump’s besieged Presidency:  that the Donald was a “Putin puppet.”  Clinton was the presumed next-President at this point, so close to the Vote, the debate itself a mere formality.  And yet Trump, the apparent political upstart, fired automatically back that Clinton herself, in fact, was the “puppet.”  A brief — if almost tense and meaningful — puppet food fight ensued, on presumably the most elevated American political stage (if the stage had been any lower, then America would have been that much more democratic at that moment — but it wasn’t…).  There was no clear resolution as to whom the “real puppet” was that debate night; that determination would have to wait until election night, a few weeks later, and, lo and behold! — the Fallen Angels sang:  most winning, and puppetest puppet of all, was — Donald J Trump!

In retrospect, after the mashed potatoes had been squeegeed off the camera lenses, it is quite clear that Clinton won this less-than-great Russian puppet debate. Contrariwise, if Clinton’s popular victory — by almost 3 million more votes — had carried her into the Oval Office (as normally it would have), then Trump would have won the “puppet debate.”  As it happened, Trump lost the debate by winning the election…So:  Was it all a bit of typical Clinton manipulation?  Did Hillary Clinton never campaign in key (-Stone) states just to insure that Trump would win them?  If so, then it was a nice strategy: “Nice, nice, very nice,” indeed:  almost ideally designed to deliver a snake-oiling lump like Trump — our highly unlikely Emmanuel Goldstein figure — as “President of the United States of America,” seemingly against all odds…Well, then:  let the “Hisses” begin!

And so they did.  From the perspective of History, which is never what it seems to have been whenever one looks into that vast cauldron of human happenings from time to time, we are now all pandemically thrust into the vagaries of the 2020 American election, whether we wish to be or not.  The 2020 political menu has been firmly established:  it is squarely a choice between Red Meat and the Vegetable — and both items are well beyond their expiration dates.  It’s a difficult choice and, frankly, quite indigestible either way.  “Would you prefer your Racism more or less watered down?” Black Lives Matter — except when it comes to U.S. elections.

Will Credit Card “country Joe” Biden or Golf Resort slick Donald Trump prevail:  this is certainly a question — for FoxNews, MSNBC, NPR, the Guardian, NYT, the Washington Post, and other Major Media “influencers” around the increasingly decreasing airwaves.  It’s all such a tight fit…

Whatever the outcome, which has certainly been fore-ordained, given the two greasy gray “candidates” pre-selected for our gastro-political displeasure, there is no doubt that the World’s mightiest Military in History is waiting in the wings, just in case we all need some regimentally oriented types to figure this thing out, just in case an Electoral food fight breaks out.  I will leave this essay into the capable quotes of a renowned fictional religionist, Bokonon (aka Lionel Boyd Johnson IV — or “LBJ” said another way…), who had this to say about “Caesar,” just in case anyone is confused about the new-fake Caesar, Donald Trump, that Weapon of Mass Distraction: “Pay no attention to Caesar.  Caesar doesn’t have the slightest idea what’s really going on.”1

* (Quote from Chapter 31 “Another Breed” of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle)

  1. Cat’s Cradle Chapter 46, “The Bokononist Method for Handling Caesar”.

Is a Second Trump Presidency a Lesser Evil Than a Biden Presidency?


In this essay I will sketch an outline for an argument that, from a left-wing and especially an environmentalist perspective, a second Trump presidency will be a lesser evil than a Biden presidency. Before doing so, I will discuss my personal views on lesser-of-two-evils voting, protest voting, and the article that led me to stumble onto the argument that voting for Trump is a lesser evil than voting for Biden.

For as long as I can remember I have been opposed to lesser-of-two evils voting. I have not voted for a Democrat for president since the first time Bill Clinton ran. In each of the subsequent presidential elections I have voted for the Green Party candidate.

On the one hand, over the years I’ve been involved in some intense arguments on the topic of lesser-of-two-evils voting. I have a vague recollection of a group argument in which someone was agreeing that lesser-of-two-evils voting was bad and that he would never do so after the upcoming election, but that the upcoming election was an exception because of how unusually bad the Republican candidate was. At that time the Republican candidate was George Bush, Jr. I am confident that this person probably backed off his claim, and voted for Hillary Clinton on a lesser-of-two-evils theory.

On the other hand, I often engage in self-reflection and question my view on the subject of lesser-of-two-evils voting as circumstances change. With an irrationally dangerous, and what I believe to be a mentally ill, candidate like Donald Trump I do question my official stance. While it is probable that I will vote for the Green Party candidate in the next presidential election, I won’t be positive until the time arrives. At this point we don’t know for sure that Biden will be the Democratic candidate. And we can’t be sure that Trump will be the Republican candidate. But Trump is clearly a problem and I note that, since Trump recently threatened to use the military to “dominate” protesters and/or rioters, both Kyle Kulinski and Krystal Ball have moved away from an inclination to not vote for Biden. Thus in the realm I somewhat misleadingly refer to as “left-wing millennial Internet TV,” that leaves Tim Black to hold down the fort.

While I do not know how all advocates of lesser-of-two-evils voting think, the ones I have encountered in person and in the press are implicitly arrogant. Their arrogance is reflected in their assumption that all rational people accept lesser-of-two-evils voting. The view seems to be that if someone votes for a third party they do so for one of two reasons. One is for the purposes of protest voting. The other reason is that the voter does accept lesser-of-two-evils voting but has simply run a different calculus. In other words, the arrogant assumption is that the second reason for voting for a third party, or not voting at all, is that the voter has applied a lesser-of-two-evils analysis and concluded that neither the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate is more or less evil than the other. This can be seen in what amounts to the at times somewhat hostile accusations: “for you there is no difference between the parties,” and “you don’t think there’s any difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.” The lesser-of-two-evils advocates I have seen cannot come to terms with a voter who will concede that the Republican party is generally worse than the Democratic Party, or that Donald Trump is worse than Hillary Clinton, and still not vote for the Democratic candidate. That is, the lesser-of-two-evils advocates that I have encountered simply cannot conceive of a reason to vote for a third party candidate other than on a basis of a lesser-of-two-evils calculus (or as a protest).

I used to think I understood the concept of protest voting. I knew what voting is and I knew what a protest is, and so I figured a person might somehow protest by voting. But then I saw the term “protest voting” applied to people like me who voted for third parties. This confused me because I had never seen my voting Green as a protest. And when I thought about this I realized that I didn’t know what protest voting was.

I thought of my voting in terms of the old fashioned view of liberal democracy that we learned in school. We live in a democracy and can vote for the president. So we study the issues, keep abreast of current events, and vote for the candidate or party that represents our values, political views or interests. In that way, by voting for a Green for president I didn’t see myself as any different from a Democratic or Republican voter.

And the more I thought about the concept of protest voting I began to wonder if such a thing is even possible. After thinking about it, I concluded that it is possible to protest by voting. I think I can do a protest vote by writing in a candidate’s name. So, for example, in the upcoming presidential election I can write in the name “Vladimir Putin” as my choice for president of the United States. That has to be seen as a protest. Even though the vote will not be associated with me personally, the local vote counters will see that there’s been a protest of some kind. And once they see it, the local press might be called in to report the protest. I’ve never tried that, but it might work as some sort of protest.

So my voting strategy is not to protest. As I’ve said, I vote for what I consider the best candidate or party. One of my original additional motivations for voting Green was to help build a true left-wing party. For that reason I did not agree with Ralph Nader’s strategy when he ran for president as the Green Party candidate. Nader’s strategy was to “nudge” the Democratic Party to the left. It’s not my project to nudge the Democratic Party anywhere. I don’t want to have anything to do with the Democratic Party. The point, however, is that my voting strategies have led me to reject lesser-of-two-evils voting.

In recent years I’ve developed an additional reason for rejecting lesser-of-two-evils voting. Lesser-of-two-evils voting allows the Democratic Party to move to the right. That is because if the Republican candidate is more reactionary than the Democratic candidate, then the Democratic candidate can move further to the right and still be the lesser evil as long as he or she does not become as reactionary as the Republican candidate. And the Democratic Party’s move to the right allows the Republican Party to move even further to the right. In other words, lesser-of-two-evils voting sets certain causal forces into operation and the result is to further reactionary values and corporate interests.

I now consider the argument that a second Trump presidency is a lesser evil than a Biden presidency. The argument is based on an article by Thomas Neuberger. In his article Neuberger does not even mention lesser-of-two-evils voting. Neuberger instead addresses the question stated in his article’s title: “What’s the Earliest a Progressive Democrat Can Be Elected President?” The article was originally published at Down With Tyranny. It was republished at Naked Capitalism. To answer the question, Neuberger considers five possible electoral scenarios and then derives four conclusions, or four answers, to the question. While I will list all of the conclusions, I will explain only two of the scenarios Neuberger considers. If I were to explain them all, I’d be repeating the short article. So I have chosen the scenarios that result in the soonest a progressive Democrat could be elected and the scenario that results in the longest period of time that Neuberger considers. These two examples will illustrate Neuberger’s methodology.

In Neuberger’s view the soonest a progressive Democrat can be elected president is in 2024. The scenario that leads to this possibility is that Trump beats Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Obviously with Biden out of the way a progressive Democrat can run and win in 2024. In the longest period of time before a progressive Democrat can be elected we have to wait until 2040. In this scenario Biden beats Trump in 2020 but does not run in 2024. In 2024 a neoliberal Democrat wins in both 2024 and 2028. This president’s neoliberal vice president wins in 2032 and 2036. So we have to wait another four years before a progressive Democrat can run and be elected.

Neuberger’s conclusions are as follows:

“We can run a progressive against a non-incumbent Democrat:

• In 2024 if Biden loses to Trump [in 2020].
• In 2028 if Biden wins [in 2020 and doesn’t run in 2024] and [Biden’s] VP[-cum Democratic presidential candidate] loses in 2024.
• In 2032 if Biden wins [in 2020], his VP wins next [in 2024] but loses in 2028.
• In 2036 or later in all other cases.”

This is a depressing article. Neuberger is, with good reason, a pessimist. Here’s what he says: “In other words, unless the Democratic Party becomes suddenly anti-neoliberal, the answer to our initial question—What’s the earliest a progressive Democrat can be elected president?–is Never or Too Late.” But why the pessimism? Why would it be too late? The answer lies in a political cartoon that appears in both versions of the article.

The cartoon depicts a small island on which someone says, “Be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” About to crash on the island are three successive waves, any one of which will swamp the island. Each wave is massively larger than the one preceding it. The first wave is labeled “COVID 19,” the second is labeled “Recession,” and the third is labeled “Climate Change.” The carton suggests that the island will not survive.

The unstated premise in all of this is something the reader knows; that some experts say that we have only ten or twelve years in which to solve the problem of global warming or else it will be too late. Twelve years from 2024 is 2036. So Neuberger’s pessimistic conclusion is supported by the idea that a progressive Democrat will not be elected in time to prevent utter catastrophe.

Now some people, further left on the political spectrum than Neuberger, might think he’s being over optimistic. Why do we think a progressive Democratic President will take the necessary radical action? The term “progressive” is vague. But Neuberger explains what he means: “…a true progressive president, a real FDR, an unbought, skillful champion of the people who ‘welcomes the hatred’ of the rich and destructive and means it. Not a pretender; the real thing.” Some on the left will say that if we look at the role of progressive Democrats in passing the economic reform legislation in response to the COVID-19 crisis; they have not, with the exception of Pramila Jayapal, acquitted themselves well. But I have focused on the environmental issue and some progressive Democrats are making bold proposals with regard to environmental remedies. Let’s put aside leftist objections to Neuberger’s faith in progressive Democrats. Let’s beg all questions in Neuberger’s favor. We will assume that a progressive Democratic president is just what we need.

So we now need a progressive Democratic president. But after reading Neuberger’s depressing conclusion my eyes were focused on the line showing the the solution may come as soon as 2024. All that takes is Biden losing in 2020! So then why wouldn’t all enlightened voters, whatever their political views; conservative, centrist, liberal, socialist, communist, anarchist, whatever, vote for Trump? I may not be in the same political space Neuberger is in, but I think he’s raised some good points. To the extent Neuberger’s article has validity, I think it shows that voting for Trump is a lesser evil than voting for Biden.

I will now consider two objections to the thesis that voting for Trump is the lesser evil. The first has been raised by two friends.

The first objection arises from the view of Trump as agent of the Götterdämmerung. The idea is that Trump will become a dictator and so there won’t be an election in 2024. That results in an objection because if Trump becomes “president” in perpetuity, then there will be no action on global warming to prevent the third wave from crashing on the island. There will not be action within the ten to twelve years remaining to stave off catastrophe.

I’ve encountered two versions of the view that Trump is an agent of the Götterdämmerung. The strongest version of the view is simply irrelevant to the issue of lesser-of-two-evils voting. The strong view claims that there will not even be an election in 2020. That’s because Trump will postpone the election based on a claim of some emergency. Another variation of the view is that Trump will allow the election but declare it invalid on the basis of vote tampering by the Democrats if Biden receives more votes. Under either of these two scenarios whom one votes for, or wants to vote for, doesn’t matter. For that reason lesser-of-two-evils theory doesn’t come into play in a meaningful way.

So the objection to my argument is that there is an election in 2020, Trump wins the election, but then sometime between 2020 and 2024 establishes a dictatorship. In an argument with a friend holding the strong view of Trump as agent of the Götterdämmerung I suggested that a dictatorship was not plausible because the highest ranking members of the military probably took their oaths to the constitution seriously. My suggestion was shrugged off. But recent public statements by ex-generals in response to Trump’s threat to use the military to quell civilian riots suggests that the highest ranking members of the military do take seriously their oaths to support the constitution. So if Trump wants to establish a dictatorship, it’s not clear where the power to do so will come from.

The second objection has to do with the courts, especially the Supreme Court. The objection is that Biden is the lesser evil because if Trump is elected he and Mitch McConnell will continue appointing right-wing judges. The result will be the the Supreme Court will nullify any reforms adopted under a future progressive Democratic president and Congress. The court will do this by maintaining the notions that corporations are persons and that property ownership is a form of liberty. If remedial legislation to protect the environment sufficiently interferes with a corporation’s use of property, then the corporation’s liberty has been infringed. Therefore, the legislation is unconstitutional. The effect will be to delay action on the environment until it is too late.

If this objection is valid, then I acknowledge that it refutes the argument that Trump is the lesser evil. But it also fails to show that Biden is the lesser evil. That’s because of what Neuberger’s analysis shows; time is running out. Thus if the objection refutes the claim that Trump is the lesser evil, it also undermines the relevance of the lesser-of-two-evils theory to the upcoming election. That’s because both candidates present such an existential threat to life on the planet that lesser-of-two-evils theory does not determine who to vote for.

Open Letter to the “Sandernistas”: Bernie Caves Again 2020

History Repeats Itself, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

I wrote this article almost four years ago right after the Democratic primaries in 2016. I am reposting it because it demonstrates how, while history changes, the machinations of the Democratic Party are the same, or in this case, worse. What is not relevant in this article is that there are no gender identity politics as there were with Hillary. What is new about Bernie dropping out today is that:

  1. Bernie has conceded four months before the Democratic convention;
  2. Capitalism has gotten worse in the U.S. because of a combination of the trade wars with China, more bad debt pile-ups and now the coronavirus.
  3. In spite of these worsening conditions the Democratic Party has chosen a far weaker candidate than Hillary to run – Joe Biden.

These conditions must make it even more exasperating for the Sandernistas when Bernie does not step up to the plate and disappoints his followers by again caving into the DNC.

Read below what I wrote in June, 2016

*****

Even more power to ya, Sandernistas!

As someone who has been a radical socialist for 45 years, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see so many people under 30 in my college classes and on the streets who declare themselves socialists.

Secondly, I respect how critical your presence has been during this political campaign by showing up at Trump rallies, despite being in the vast minority: arguing, screaming and in some cases fighting with his supporters.

Thirdly, I respect you for fighting at the Democratic primaries in Nevada, causing a ruckus. I am delighted you saw through the mass media’s attempt to keep you away from the polls on the day of the California primary and came out to vote anyway. I admire your willingness to stand in lines and vote and deal with both real official incompetence and planned “irregularities” in vote counting, voting machines that don’t work, as well as many obstacles put in your path. About a month ago I read a political report from the United Nations comparing democratic processes across nations. It stated that the US voting process was ranked 29th in the world in democratic processes. Not so hot for a declining empire that fancies itself the home of democracy. By world democratic standards, future elections in the US should be monitored by representatives of countries that have proven themselves to be ranked in the top ten.

Lastly I am so proud of you for co-creating a political revolution. I have rarely voted in my life because electoral politics is part of a capitalist machine. The two or three times I have voted I’ve been embarrassed about it. During most election cycles I cannot wait for them to end because the air waves are filled with professional windbags, embalmed, hair-dyed, Botox-injected, toupee-wearing mummies and stuffed pheasants jingling with the trappings of Divine Honors. But these last six months have been more exciting for me because of all the rotten centrist candidates: the nobles, the barons, the dukes, the earls and the duchesses have had their royal ball ruined by you and by the Trumpsters. You may not like the Trumpsters and you might not like their motives, but because of their rallies they have driven even worse plutocrats to the margins.  Jeb Bush, fancying himself as being installed as Bush III to the presidency, must have been quite insulted when the Trumpsters blew him, Ted Cruz and the rest of the Republican lizards to the political periphery.

But now you are at a crossroads. After six months of a political revolution the Democratic power elite has heaved its harried, painted, disheveled, roughed-up Queen in a buckboard to the top of a small mountain with its media mafioso, lobbyists, police and military escorts declaring herself to be Queen. Now comes the heavy-duty propaganda.

Here comes Hyper-Identity Politics

– Identity politics softball

The Democratic plutocrats are not worried about winning over the upper middle class women who will take any woman who had been crowned and claim her as a feminist. My partner was invited to appear on a panel today on a supposedly “radical” radio station titled “Feminism is Not a Dirty Word”. On this station they had a rabid supporter of Hillary Clinton and I thought we would share the words from her website. This is only the beginning of what you’re going to be listening to for the next 5 months:

I guess you could call me a sentimental sap. My eyes welled as I sat riveted by the television image of Hillary Clinton claiming the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night as the primary contests results rolled in—the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party in the United States of America. OK, so maybe even a sob happened.

Call me a sentimental sap, but forgive my tears. A woman has just won the presidential nomination of one of our two major political parties. An accomplished woman. A woman who can throw a rhetorical punch. A woman who’s made tough choices. And for the sake of all of the women who come after her, that’s a righteously good thing. We’ve been waiting a long time.

— Adele M. Stan, The American Prospect

This is a warmed over version of what was trotted out as a victory for African Americans in 2004 when Obama was elected. Obama went on to be the most intelligent sounding Republican in many year – a surveillance-crazed, drone-flying, protectionist, war-mongering monster. But he did it with more grace, charm and optimism than any of the usual bible thumping conservatives. And – after all – he is good at basketball.

Let’s face our nightmares. Hillary on stage being crowned and kissed by the first African American president and the First African American Lady, Michelle Obama. Together they stand waving to adoring crowds. We get to watch racial identity politics standing together with gender identity politics. The fact that both have been selected by the one percent in the Council of Foreign Relations doesn’t matter. Class dismissed. The audience goes wild, tears in their eyes. Diversity wins again. We don’t need the Trumpsters to tell us “Make America Great Again”. We have it right here in our beloved Democratic Party. Except the gender and identify political elites do it in a civilized way. They don’t threaten to build walls and kick ass.

What does Bernie Do?

But the worst is yet to come. Bernie Sanders, your hero, is trotted onto the stage. Obama, Michelle and even Hillary embrace him politely. All praise his fire, his bringing “important issues to the table”. They thank him for attracting so many young people like y’all to the Democratic Party. Then it is Bernie’s turn. What will he say? He will thank everyone, and especially you. You fought the good fight. But now it is time to fold up your little tents and join the bigger tent of Hillary and fight against the evil Trump. Some of you will buy this propaganda and believe that the Democratic Party can “find its soul” and be reborn with a born-again Bernie along with all your youthful energy. Many of you will be intimated by hardball identity politics, which I’ll discuss shortly, and give in. If you think this might be the case for you, you can stop reading.

– Identity politics hardball

This is also a delicate political moment since most of you are white, you are in the audiences everywhere and on the stage will be the kings and queens of identity politics: rich, trim, well-spoken and in control of the microphone with the mass media at its beck and call.  As white, male Sandernistas you will be hammered with insinuations that you are a sexist for not voting for Hillary and a racist for not listening to the wise African American heads of state who are much older and smarter than you. White Sandernista women will be told they have betrayed feminism by not supporting Hillary. Black men for Bernie will be chastised for not listening to Obama and other black leaders who have made their nests in the middle rungs of the Democratic Party. For black women it will be insinuated that you don’t know enough not to have the nerve to hesitate, or even turn your back and walk away when such a well-spoken, fit African American lady like Michelle invites you into the Democratic tent. For those of you who are Mexican immigrants you will be ordered to get into Hillary’s tent quickly, because she is the only one standing between you, Trump, the howling Trumpsters and the wall.

Dire straits for radical Sandernistas

For those of you who will not come into Hillary’s tent, you will be in great pain. Bernie is telling you, “you have lost fair and square and you should shake hands and be friends with the illustrious Democratic notables, especially Barbara Boxer, who graciously gave you the finger in Nevada.” And since you are so good at waiting in line at polling booths, if you get into a neat line and be quiet, the great feminist leader Gloria Steinem might sign autographs for you. Many of you will feel angry and betrayed and not know where to turn. You are at a crossroads.

The red (and black) flag is still flying

Since the heyday of the 1960’s, before most of you were born, the real socialist left in the United States has been torn apart by factions. Social Democrats, various types of Marxist Leninists, council communists and anarchists have fought bitterly against each other before, during and after revolutions, in some cases for over 150 years, over the kind of socialism we wanted to bring to the world.  All these groups have also been infiltrated and almost destroyed by the Secret Service.  Since the 1970’s, many of us hung on, isolated, dispirited, and in some cases broken. Some got religion, some became New Age junkies, some were reduced to paranoid conspiracy addicts and others simply gave up. Many of us, however, have never given up. We have hung on as writers, artists, and theatre producers. Others joined unions and stayed in them, continuing to believe that the unions were still the best breeding grounds for socialism. Some, like me, have worked as college teachers, smuggling in socialist ideas under the radar of official course syllabi, and sometimes in private conversations or even open discussions.

Almost five years ago the anarchist inspired Occupy movement gave hope to many of us. At its high point in 2011 the Occupy movement blockaded downtown public space in 150 cities and shut down some of the busiest ports on the West Coast. This, combined with the economic crash of 2008, made things suddenly uncomfortable for the increasingly maniacally, speculating and very nervous capitalist class.

Many of us were amazed to discover, thanks to the catalyst of Bernie Sanders, that more than half of the people your age have declared themselves interested in socialism. But Bernie has taken you as far as he wants to go. You can either find your way yourselves or you can join us.

Many of us have been around long enough politically to understand how the Democratic Party works and have anticipated how they want to use you and trick you into following them. At the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party will show its true capitalist colors. We have other hopes and plans for you. We also know that you represent the possibility of a real socialist movement, which can only happen outside the Democratic Party. As socialists we haven’t seen this opportunity in the United States in 45 years. We are going to insist you deal with us.

In June and July of this year there will be socialist conferences. There is one happening at the same time as the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The day will be a traumatic ride for you: demonstrating in the streets, fighting on the floor of the Democratic Convention and then losing. Yet alongside this bitter disappointment, we long-term socialists are hoping to win you over. We are not easy to get along with. Many of us are angry just from the wear-and-tear of putting up with a declining capitalist system for 45 years. Others do not have good social skills. In fact, I can say I’ve never met so many unsociable socialists as exist in this country. Yet some of us have a great deal of organizational skills. We think strategically and tactically. We are largely self-educated, sometimes fanatical, but we have a great deal of heart, though many are too crabby to show it. We have a great deal of persistence and don’t give up easily. Like you, many of us will come to this convention, paying for it with money out of our own pockets because we have hope that together we can form a national political movement

If you join with us, expect the meetings to be chaotic, slow moving, accusatory and long. Social Democrats, Leninists, council communists and anarchists are like brothers and sisters in a family. We have so much in common but the differences are real and bitter. As your parents, you will see we are not afraid to fight in front of you. Be patient. We are trying. Come make history with us in the next six months. Not the history of queens. But real history, socialist history, 21st century socialism. We are waiting for you.

Moderately Liberal, Extremely Dystopian: Establishment Democrats and Big Brained Centrism

As we approach the middle of March 2020 with Super Tuesday behind us, the moderate candidacy of Joe Biden has gained momentum, notching ten victories. The recent spat of moderate candidates dropping out (Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Bloomberg, Steyer) alongside Elizabeth Warren’s decision to stay in for Super Tuesday (and dropping out right after) boosted Biden into the lead in delegate count, but it is unclear going forward whether he will be able to gain ground or maintain his advantage.

His campaign is essentially a redux of Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, a dystopian offering of neoliberal establishment ideas: essentially the most harmful, bland, out-of-touch, uninspiring, and ignorant set of centrist policies. Biden offers nothing new, substantial, or exciting; and he himself stated to donors last year that “nothing would fundamentally change” under his presidency. By continuing to go with “moderate”, centrist agendas, the Democratic Party establishment, corporate America, and mainstream media reveal they would rather lose to Trump than get behind the progressive choice, Bernie Sanders.

Support for Bernie Sanders is strong across all national polling, yet in past debates, his moderate rivals continued to shoot themselves in the foot by offering up the most ridiculous arguments against progressive causes. Regardless of his success, Biden has learned nothing and absorbed no lessons from his fellow moderates’ failures or the excitement and promise offered by the progressive wing of his party. He is a living fossil. Like his corporate-backed counterpart moderates, his whole shtick is based on presenting himself as the lesser of two evils, offering the most milquetoast set of policies, and attempting to make voters fearful of Sanders’ incremental reforms by casting them as socialist and authoritarian.

By representing Sanders’ social democratic policies as “dangerous” as well as his supporters as being rude on social media because they actually care and are passionate about changing the direction of this country, the centrist hydra of campaign rhetoric and establishment media devolved into offering an infantile, McCarthyite debating style.

Much like the centrist triad of Biden, Buttigieg (who suspended his campaign March 1st), and Klobuchar (also suspended March 2nd), who are equal parts sell-outs, windbags, and sycophantic brown-nosers to the ruling class, the professional class choice, technocrat, pseudo-progressive Elizabeth Warren as well as what I’d call the “Silicon Valley candidate” Andrew Yang also represent the epitome of “big-brained centrist” thought.

Basically, this term represents the attitude of mainstream liberal as well as conservative candidates, commentators, and their supporters who believe they truly understand the world better than anyone else due to what they consider their meritocratic success, and use all sorts of neoliberal fallacies, deliver paeans to pragmatism and bipartisanship, mock social democratic reforms with calls to be “reasonable”, and generally act as puppets of corporate and imperial power. Of course, it should be obvious that those who harp on achieving “realistic goals” are those that view anything involving a transformation of society involving redistribution of wealth from the rich to the working classes as prima facie unrealistic.

As for Steyer and Bloomberg, they too fall prey to neoliberal notions of rugged individualism; i.e., that their economic success is due to their own “hard work”, and were so completely out of touch that they cannot realize the electorate is not prepared to substitute one billionaire for another, no matter what party they represent, or what good they claim they’ve been able to accomplish in their philanthropic endeavors.

All of the candidates, except for Bernie Sanders, completely debased themselves when asked if the candidate with the most delegates should get the Democratic nomination. That’s how democracy is supposed to work, right? The person with the most votes should win, no? Not if you want to suck up to the ruling class, who are deathly afraid of Sanders’ redistributive agenda.

Climbing corporate and political hierarchies as well as the fake meritocracy in this country inflates politicians’ egos and warped the ability to self-reflect on their own abilities and intelligence. In psychology, this is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect, defined as: “a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their skills.”

Terrifyingly, one of the consequences of this effect is that many of the afflicted exude rare confidence due to their overestimation of their skills that can be mistaken for dedication, passion, expertise, and conviction. While truly intelligent people constantly question and doubt their own ideas and preconceived notions, lesser intellects rigidly cling to dogmas in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This was summed up best by Yeats, when he wrote: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

In politics and social relations, this effect is compounded because the awareness of the suffering of others is blunted the higher you go on the socio-economic scale. The effect of ascending political hierarchies is not much different in a capitalist economy, because the higher you go the more beholden you are to elite interests. As studies have shown, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) declines significantly the higher you look on the corporate ladder. CEOs and business owners tend to have more sociopathic, narcissistic, and psychopathic traits.

This is why it is so hard to change the minds of the privileged and affluent: it is not simply a matter of intellect and rational argumentation to help bring change to another’s belief system. If only logical persuasion worked that effectively! One must also help cultivate awareness, a sense of interconnectedness with the less fortunate, the environment and the universe, and a way to empathize with poor, vulnerable, and minority communities. One can prove empirically over and over how a socialist economy, universal healthcare, and a society of free association of producers would significantly improve the lives of people around the world. Those in denial still won’t believe you, because their self-awareness and sense of empathy for the poor, dispossessed, and vulnerable has atrophied.

It is at this stage in history that the nihilism of rich liberals and conservatives as well as the professional-managerial class reaches truly epic proportions, threatening the survival of humanity and most species on the planet. The real material conditions and problems of working people are abstracted as inequality rises. The obvious cause of the immiseration of the population and the devastation of the environment, capitalism, is obscured. Conservatives and republicans are even more delusional due to their slavish devotion to the status quo and political and economic hierarchies, as well as their mythical belief that the capitalist “free market” can solve all manner of problems. Further, conservatives view any government intervention to regulate corporate monopoly power and lessen environmental degradation as an infringement on their rights, or inane arguments that sensible environmental regulation will hurt the economy are used.

The only option left for moderate liberals is to succumb to the dystopian vision of neoliberal thought which dominates center-left and center-right thinking, because it is all-pervasive. Even mild progressives who stray even a bit to the left (such as Warren) are instantly and predictably vilified by the press, by billionaires who literally cry in public in protestation of her wealth tax. This leads the opportunistic and ambitious (Warren, just like Obama before her) to tack to the center in order to secure donors to stay in politics and keep their jobs.

The moderate candidates know their ideas are viewed as trash by a significant amount of voters, so identity politics, as well as rhetoric and euphemisms about “structural change” are predictably trotted out. Neoliberal is now a dirty word, so liberal politicians deflect as much as possible and claim their policies are “pragmatic” and are willing to work across the aisle and compromise, in contrast to the “uncompromising” style of Sanders. These are the big-brained centrists, who let their ruling class donors do all their thinking for them as to what constitutes an acceptable and “realistic” policy.

Big-brain centrism is also a term to describe a type of neoliberal wonkery which emphasizes that only technocratic policy, which echoes the Third Way of Blair and Clinton, a centrism in which the patina of “progressivism”, economic “pragmatism”, and the appearance of caring for marginalized groups dominates. Increased political representation of minorities is a wonderful thing, but the moderate democrats will never grow a spine and ask for economic redistribution from billionaires to poor people of color. Only “moderates” can deliver the best model for liberal democracy, and everyone to their left, even the mild-mannered reformism of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is an “extremist” or a “populist”. Of course, this hodge-podge of power-hungry politicians, clueless think-tank sycophants, and conniving corporate vampires are totally beholden to elite interests, as they represent a class of smug affluent liberals and republicans who pray to the Almighty Dollar.

The big-brained liberals are hypnotized by the concept of bipartisanship, which is what Obama tried and failed to do for eight years. For the centrists, the idea that the two-party system is become more polarized is an unmitigated disaster, leaving only “far-left” politics in fashion (we wish!) alongside far-right politics (accurate). True progress can only be made “in the middle”, what some like to call “radical centrism” and politicians should not pander to their constituents with “empty promises” and “populist rhetoric.” What this radical centrism misses is the rightward shift in economics and federal policy which has been underway for 40+ years, and the consequent shift in the Overton Window: the range of ideas that are considered acceptable in US politics. In the 1960s, for instance, Sanders’ reformism would have been seen as standard, middle-of-the-road liberal set of policies, rather than today, where social democratic agendas induce shrieking from rich know-nothings and talking heads who insist that Bernie is an authoritarian communist.

In this Beltway bubble-world, Sanders is simply the converse of Trump, a dangerous left-wing populist, who, in words of Buttigieg, “wants to burn this party down.” What Sanders simply wants is to bring the US into the 21st century by adopting the social democratic policies of Scandinavia and most European nations. Yet, this is unacceptable to the “realistic” and “electability” thought-police. Big brain centrism is what it would look like to put Thomas Friedman and David Brooks in a room together and let them try to come up with federal policies. Their policies and worldview probably would not look very different from some of the ideas and concepts of each of the recent candidates, presented below.

The main thing to recognize is that all the moderate candidates, Warren included, are careerists. It’s not about helping others, it’s about them. If and when politics no longer is a viable career path for them, they will be happy to sell themselves as consultants, lobbyists, mainstream media propagandists, sit on corporate boards, and rack up speaking fees to parrot back to the ruling classes what acceptable discourse and policy is, within a capitalist and imperialist framework.

To see more examples of what I mean by Big-Brained Centrism, we will look at a statement, tweet, or policy idea from many of the moderate candidates, even the ones who have dropped out. We’ll start with a statement from Andrew Yang, because it might be one of the best examples of big-brained idiocy.

Yangonomics: “Beware the Technocracy”, The Accelerationist Candidate

Andrew Yang’s entire campaign and many of his tech/start-up supporters represent exquisite examples of the big-brain mindset. In his final debate, he stated:

The entire capitalism/socialism dichotomy is completely out of date. The fact is when people were talking about these economic models they did not foresee the technology getting stronger, more powerful, and capable of doing the work of thousands of humans…what we have to do is get the markets working to improve our way of life…instead of following GDP and corporate profits off a cliff, we should be measuring our own health and wellness…the way forward is a new human-centered version of capitalism that actually uses the markets to improve our families lives.

This is absolute garbage, cloaked within the progressive notion of redefining national well-being and taking easy shots at corporate greed. Capitalism is utterly and inexorably based on over-consumption and chasing profits over everything else; there is no way to make it “human-centered”

If we were to take him at his word of meeting in the middle, a fair response would be that the closest version of a compromise solution for the “outdated dichotomy” is the social democratic and redistributive agenda of Bernie Sanders. More importantly, Yang is attempting to erase two hundred years of public debate as to the distinctions between two radically different economic models and the invaluable contributions of generations of activists, scholars, and citizens. Perhaps he believes that by virtue of being a “successful entrepreneur” and business owner, he can see things the rest of us can’t.

As for the “no one could have foreseen technology getting stronger…” give me a fucking break. You have to be drop-dead naïve or just plain ignorant to think this. You don’t think people who built the first trains, light bulbs, cars, worked in the first mills and factories, etc., couldn’t see how these inventions and new methods of production would reshape the world? Indigenous peoples, radical artists, environmentalists, communists, and anarchists have been warning about the negative impacts of industrial-scale technology for generations. In Western literature, towering figures like William Blake and Henry David Thoreau as well as many others prophetically warned of the dangers posed by the Industrial Revolution.

What happened, of course, is that the monopoly power of capital never allowed for the more efficient distribution of resources to make lives better for the working classes, because there is little money to be made by helping and caring for people and the environment. Capitalism relies on parasitical master-servant relationships, exploiting nature and the working classes for as many resources and as much labor as possible in order to produce the most profit in the shortest amount of time.

Contrary to Yang’s ahistorical word salad and his implicit assumption that people in the past were stupid, those who lived hundreds of years ago were just as intelligent as today (if not more so) and realized exactly where this was leading. In a very good piece for The Guardian, Yanis Varoufakis explains how Marx and Engels predicted our crisis over 150 years ago:

Anyone reading the [Communist] manifesto today will be surprised to discover a picture of a world much like our own, teetering fearfully on the edge of technological innovation. In the manifesto’s time, it was the steam engine that posed the greatest challenge to the rhythms and routines of feudal life. The peasantry was swept into the cogs and wheels of this machinery and a new class of masters, the factory owners and the merchants usurped the landed gentry’s control over society. Now, it is artificial intelligence and automation that loom as disruptive threats, promising to sweep away ‘all fixed, fast-frozen relations’. ‘Constantly revolutionising … instruments of production,’ the manifesto proclaims, transform ‘the whole relations of society’, bringing about ‘constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation’.

Like the rest of the moderate candidates, Yang is a product of his insular milieu, his ideology molded by anti-communist/Cold War/red scare propaganda and the fevered dreams of Tech-mogul capitalists. Being an entrepreneur apparently means one does not have to read or understand political economy, or basic history; one is a political expert simply based on the ability to “create jobs.” He is the Silicon Valley candidate, those true believers in unrestrained automation who believe they understand the economy better than everyone else because they’ve spent the most time sitting through meetings about “corporate synergy.”

“Sensible” policy must be in the center, as one of his slogans suggests: “Not Left, Not Right, Forward.”  Yang, Warren, and Mayor Pete were considered “the smart candidates” by the media and many liberals. Primarily because they mirror back upper-middle class narcissism and promise not to disturb the security and comfort of the affluent.  This just goes to show how simpleminded and anti-intellectual mainstream political commentary has become. Capitalism has had over 200 years to develop the chance to become “human centered.” It cannot because it is fundamentally set up to serve the profit motive over basic needs of people. Capitalist markets have always skewed the vast majority of benefits to the upper classes, with pipe dreams of wealth “trickling down” to the masses.

Yang could have made much more progress had he tacked harder to the left, but instead he falls prey to his belief in “human-centered capitalism.” His UBI proposal was popular; yet as an affluent business owner and stand-in for the entrepreneur class, he could not manage to go against his donors as well as his own interests by creating a framework for price controls to fight against inflation and parasitical price-gouging. Despite his concern over AI and automation leading to massive job loss, he does not fundamentally address the exploitative relationship between employer and employees, or understand how increased digital and robot-led production will lead to new levels of coercive labor monopolization of the means of production.

One Mike Weinstein explains Yang’s worldview quite well here, in a piece titled “Beware the Technocracy”:

Yang speaks the language of the ruling class, one of inscrutable economics to uphold the narrative of technology as savior. His aim is cloak this in popular socialist ideas such as universal healthcare and income. Yang promotes this package as a self-proclaimed ‘human-centered economy’. It’s worth noting that the robot antagonists in The Matrix had a human-centered economy, too.

Andrew Yang is a privileged tech-bro, but he had one thing going for him, he was earnest, somewhat open-minded, and willing to listen to others. In this piece, his interviewer sketches out the basics of accelerationism to Yang, implying that this is the first time Yang has heard of the idea, and Yang responds with interest, wanting to know more. Yang, unlike the rest of the moderates, might be a know-nothing; but at least he can have a human conversation, and is at least open to learning about new ideas.

His refusal to include a social safety net for the needy, disabled, and elderly that could stand to lose under his UBI, as well as his refusal to endorse Medicare for All, is further proof of his myopia, however. See this summary of his thought, published in Big Think, or this one, at Ted.com, both of which specialize in big-brain centrism. Yang also proposed to raise revenue for the UBI via a value-added tax, which is a tax on consumption and disproportionately hurts low-income workers, rather than a more sensible wealth tax.

Warren: Feel-good candidate for the Professional-Managerial Class

Elizabeth Warren also tacked to the center, repeatedly describing herself as “capitalist to her bones”. While the act of adopting progressive liberal values and rhetoric mixed with pro-capitalist corporate-speak worked in the past, for instance, for Obama and even for Jimmy Carter before him, there is no popular “middle ground” to occupy now in the Democratic Party. The 2008 economic crisis advanced political consciousness in such a way that mainstream liberals now see the ground shifting underneath them. Either you are a firm Democratic establishment centrist, or you’re in the progressive/social democratic/democratic socialist camp.

Warren, straddling both sides of this fault line, could not seem to pick a lane. Her attacks on the banks and her wealth tax proposal would seem to mark her as a progressive, but her professional-managerial class (PMC) background pulls her to support the Clinton/Obama technocratic way of governing. Politics is about having big ideas and pointing out the systemic problems in society (which Bernie Sanders has, and does) and finding ways to implement them; not about having a series of band-aid solutions and incoherent plans for “structural change” without examining the root cause of our maladies: capitalism. No one wants to hear flip-flopping about a “transition plan” to shift to Medicare for All in three years. People want to know that you will fight for them on day one, because every day that you hesitate poor and homeless people literally die in the streets because of lack of access to health care; also men, women, and children are killed each day due to our imperial and frankly genocidal foreign policy, which she demonstrated hardly any basic knowledge of, or real interest towards.

Both Warren’s wealth tax and her climate plan were considerable tamer than Sanders’ plans. If you’re going to challenge corporate power, even within the confines of US electoral politics, you can’t excite the “populist” liberal-left with halfway measures. Voters were canny enough to see through her fence-sitting, hence her relative lack of support, even within her home state of Massachusetts.

One of Warren’s most glaringly dystopian plans was for “fighting digital disinformation”. There is a glimmer of a good idea hidden in the concept, in that she proposed penalties for those who engage in voter suppression. The real doozy is that she plans to criminalize “disinformation” and wants the corporate social media behemoths like Facebook and Twitter to censor and moderate political speech, as well as leaving the door open for government censorship of news. In this she parrots the desires of the Democratic establishment who, of course, are deeply entwined with the Military-Industrial-Intelligence complex. Liberal establishment figures have become emboldened since 2016: for instance Hillary Clinton views anyone who disturbs her as being aided by Russia; such as Trump, but also Jill Stein and Tulsi Gabbard, absurdly. Liberals such as Warren aim to increase paranoia in the populace, consciously or not, surrounding the idea of “foreign meddling” and seek to weaponize the election interference narrative against any politicians who do not support the ruling class. This is why Bernie Sanders was told his campaign was being aided by Russia, in effect to smear his entire campaign. The real targets in the “interference” narrative are leftists who want to redistribute wealth.

Agent Pete

Pete Buttigieg represents a special type of stupid. First, Buttigieg’s policies (or lack thereof) show just how worthless a Rhodes scholar-level education truly is, just like it showed for Cory Booker. Just like Kamala Harris, Buttigieg is the offspring of a worldly and erudite Marxist professor who didn’t learn a thing; in Mayor Pete’s case, he decided to rebel against his father and work for the machine in the killing fields of Afghanistan and the corrupt scandal-ridden firm McKinsey.

There is much more to the Mayor Pete back-story regarding his intelligence and national security connections. He worked in Naval Intelligence in Afghanistan alongside the CIA. He penned an op-ed in The New York Times with a friend about visiting Somaliland and meeting with “local leaders.” He keeps a map of Afghanistan displaying its mineral resources in his study (the alarm bells should be going off). He wrote in his book about visiting a “safehouse” in Iraq. Many foreign policy and national security figures backed his candidacy. And yes, thanks to Left Twitter, #CIAPete was blowing up on social media.

Whether or not Mayor Pete is a spy asset or not does not really matter. What matters is he thinks like them, and shares their worldview of supporting US imperial and economic domination at all costs.

How do we know this is true? Buttigieg had a line in a recent debate about “being inclusive” by taking donations from billionaires. Who honestly thinks taking money from billionaires is to make society more inclusive? Only a little slug willing to completely debase himself to his ruling-class overlords would admit this publicly; even Biden at his most incoherent would never blurt this out.

Listening to Pete talk in general was just bewildering. He imitates Obama’s style at every turn, yet cannot match his soaring oratory and simply does not answer questions or deliver any tangible idea of what he will offer. He is the platitude candidate; every time he speaks it’s like opening a fortune cookie, as he’s full of vague truisms.

One of the most dystopian plans of Pete was a “National Service Program”.  Predictably, it is framed with patriotic, nationalistic rhetoric. The goal would be to increase the service program with the end goal being a “universal, national expectation of service” (from his website) while also claiming it will be “strictly optional”. High school and college students are already exploited enough in the classroom and at their jobs, and funding a plan so that young people can put a gold star on their resume pretty much sums up Pete in a nutshell. Here’s his justification:

In the great unwinding of American civic society underway, and at a time when Americans are experiencing record-low trust in fellow citizens and American institutions, few — if any — single policy solutions carry the promise of democratic renewal more than national service.

A simple rebuttal would be to ask what is causing the “unwinding” and “record-low trust”. It’s obviously inequality, corruption in government, corporations which are legally bound to choose profits over people, little to no regulation of technology and fossil fuel corporations, monopolization in virtually every sector of the economy, lack of health care and a living wage. There is no indication that this plan would solve any of these issues, because the Oxford-educated Mayor cannot be bothered to think critically. Or, rather, an Oxford education blinds one to the fact that capitalism is the root cause of our systemic crises. Typical of elites, he confuses class conflict with national frailty and disunity, much like Trump. He is a true believer in the system, and projects his privileged fake-meritocratic upbringing onto everyone around him with a call to service. Any national service plan with Pete at the helm feels like a plan for assimilating youth into our Death Star corporate-driven empire; for creating a “McKinsey Youth” for America.

Steyer and Bloomberg: Upholding a Nation Run for Plutocrats, by Plutocrats

Today one must be for the poor and working classes to gain mass political popularity, like Sanders; or conversely offer a proto-fascist program of a return to national greatness, like the racist, money-worshipping, chauvinist Twitter troll, like Trump. That is why the elites are even more afraid of Sanders, because he and more crucially his base offer a clean break and a qualitatively better and more egalitarian organization of society.

The super-rich must be excluded from the political process because they will always put the interests of capital above the common good, and refuse to see how their actions directly contribute to the impoverishment of workers and the degradation of the environment. Any intervention by them, in the name of philanthropy or donations to politicians, proves that their money buys political power, social control, and makes a mockery of any notion of “democracy” in this nation. This is called an oligarchy. Which reminds me, Mike Bloomberg should no longer be addressed as “Mayor Bloomberg”; “Plutocrat Bloomberg” or “Oligarch Bloomberg” would be more appropriate.

Amy’s Rage

Amy Klobuchar is a lot of things. She is undoubtedly driven, hard-working, and passionate about her work. The problem is the work she does is inherently bad for most people and she did not have any good policy ideas that differentiated her from the other centrists. Her other problem is that she has extreme anger issues.

Klobuchar is an abusive boss and her employees described her offices in Minnesota and D.C. as a “hostile work environment.” The most she’s addressed this is by stating she’s “tough” and has “high expectations” for her staff. The clues to her barely-bottled rage are under the surface, as this article in The Atlantic opines: her childhood spent with a neglectful, alcoholic father severely messed her up.

This is not an uncommon situation, with a subset of leaders put into positions of power that were traumatized in childhood. Many become highly-driven over-achievers in the corporate and political worlds: it’s easier to run from the ghosts when you’re showered with accolades and money. Many also burn with rage, are vengeful and prone to irrational outbursts, consider any slight or unavoidable accident a personal affront, and crave domination and control over others. Much like management in large corporations, her former staff describes a brutal hierarchical and tyrannical environment where the smallest mistake could set her off into tantrums or the throwing of office supplies, forcing staff to do demeaning work involving her personal effects, and would regularly condescend and shame her employees openly in person and through email. We already have an authoritarian in the White House who needs psychological counseling. Klobuchar should not be attempting to seek power: like the rest of the corporate and political ruling classes, she should be seeking professional help.

Biden: Senior Moments

Let’s just get it out of the way: Joe Biden is seriously slipping upstairs. I suppose that’s not an anomaly anymore for presidential politics, as we have dealt with cognitive decline before with Reagan in his second term. We’ve dealt with not-so-bright presidents too: the entire George W. Bush presidency, and now Trump. If Biden becomes the nominee and president it will be a national, collective senior moment. I don’t really have the words to describe a head-to-head Biden-Trump debate, other than it being extremely depressing, and that I would predict an increase in sales of alcohol. It would break the country on some visceral level. Nominating Biden could end the Democratic Party for good, so maybe there would be a silver lining.

Interestingly, Biden spoke to donors in 2019 and stated that “no one’s standard of living would change” and “nothing would fundamentally change” if he became elected. It would make for an honest slogan, at least. Vote Biden in 2020: Nothing will change.

When moderate democrats say “be realistic”, say it back to them: be realistic, Biden would surely lose to Trump. Only Sanders has a shot at defeating him, as Trump would absolutely eviscerate Biden and run circles around him. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Trump is as broken a person as they come; but he is smart enough to harp on Biden’s mental decline and his son’s shady job as a board member of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, a position he had absolutely no expertise in.

Oh Canada!?: Trudeau Marches for Climate

The most ridiculous and absurd example of big-brain centrism comes from our neighbor to the North, however. In September of 2019, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in a climate protest in Montreal. He tweeted: “Today we marched for our planet, our kids, and for their future.” It did not seem to dawn on him that his fellow citizens were marching to protest the lack of action his government was taking to battle global warming. You’re their leader, Justin. If you want to take action, use every available mechanism in your own government to make a change. The people put you in power to do exactly that. Was he protesting himself? Was he admitting that even as PM he is as powerless as the average citizen to fight the fossil fuel industries? Under his administration, Albertan oil sands continue to be extracted, and new pipeline expansion is in place against the will of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations tribe who are currently protesting.

The Moderates Serve the Ruling Class

Just to stick with Trudeau’s nastiness for a moment, everyone should read this article on the First Nation protestors in Canada fighting the Coastal GasLink Pipeline expansion. If you feel called, watch the embedded video. The RMCP point their rifles at nonviolent protestors- police who operate under the orders of Justin Trudeau. Make no mistake, Biden would be no different in the US. He serves at the behest of the ruling classes. It doesn’t matter if it’s Obama with Occupy Wall Street and the Dakota Access Pipeline, Trump, Trudeau, or a possible Biden regime: they all will intimidate and if necessary kill their own citizens who use direct action to resist fossil fuel expansion and corporate rule. It’s all a sick twisted game to protect the property of the rich for the “sensible”, “highly-esteemed”, blue-check mark politicians and media flunkies.

Even if the moderate liberals gave one single solitary fuck about average working people, the environment, future generations, and the citizenry they pander to, they are too weak-minded because they insist everything be done at the glacial pace (as glaciers are now in rapid retreat in many parts of the world this metaphor may no longer be useful, thanks to them) of bipartisan electoral politics, and will compromise with conservatives at every turn to water-down absolutely any and every possible progressive or radical legislative reforms.

Like Trudeau, they all want to have it both ways: to be seen as a progressive, “woke” politician; a radical climate protestor in his case, while at the same time being central figures of the establishment, upholding an inhumane system, walking corpses who prop up the status quo, absolute tools of corporate and imperial rule. Which in the end means that they really only care about themselves: their fame, power, glory, and their money.

Bernie Sanders has his own serious flaws, most especially in regards to foreign policy. Yet he is the only candidate who speaks to the need to create a better, kinder, more reasonable and egalitarian nation; and the best chance to popularize socialism right now, however ill-suited he may be to the task.

Even Hillary Clinton weighed in on Sanders recently and said “nobody likes him, no one wants to work with him.” It might be worthwhile for citizens and neoliberal imperialists like Clinton, Biden, Trudeau, and the rest to question what it means to be “popular” and what positive “work” has actually been accomplished in a Congress which hasn’t cracked a 30% approval rating in over 10 years.

There are a couple of references from pop culture which sum up the sad but true nature of the centrist liberal and conservative politicians. Their commitment to strengthening capitalism at all costs leads to a hollow shell of a life. The first quote is from the movie Casino Jack, a fictionalized version of the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s life. When the walls are closing in on him, his wife reminds him there will be no one to help: “We have no friends, Jack, none. All we have are people we do business with.”

The second set of quotes, which I’ll end with, are from rap legend Tupac Shakur. In the song “Holler If You Hear Me”, 2pac warns of the perils of compromising one’s beliefs for material gain:

To the sellouts livin’ it up/

One way or another you’ll be givin’ it up.

In the last verse, 2pac has a prophetic line, alluding to black militancy, manufacturing consent and the return of the repressed in American society. His words remain eerily prescient, and remind me of the way moderate liberals and conservatives view the rise of Bernie Sanders and socialism in the US today as dangerous:

And now I’m like a major threat/

‘Cause I remind you of the things you were made to forget

Fire and Brimstone at the O.K. Corral, known today as the Democratic Party

Yes, Putin’s hackers would love to see Trump reelected. And it’s also true that unknown to us there may be a new Giuliani-led team of huckster guerrillas sealing dirty deals behind the scenes in order to bring the Democratic Party (DP) down.

But no matter how true these things are, responsibility for the party’s current predicament — i.e., that it’s doing a lousy job of preparing for the November showdown with Trump — lies in its own hands.

As CNN’s Chris Cillizza pointed out by summarizing the obvious, tensions have mounted within the DP as the party struggles over its direction in the lead-up to its convention and the 2020 election.

The rise of Sanders — and the considerable concern within elements of the Democratic Party about nominating a democratic socialist — means that this primary season is going to be very long and likely very nasty, as the party dukes it out over what its present and future should look like.1

Of course, when Cillizza suggests there is “concern within elements of the Democratic Party” about Sanders’ growing strength, the elements to which he refers are the DP’s leaders.

Regarding these leaders and their acolytes, and contrary to what their sound-alikes in the media insist, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which develops party strategy and oversees its organizational activities, isn’t primarily worried about Sanders’ electability and democratic socialism. Instead, its panic has been ignited by fear of the dialogue the Sanders’ movement has already started about not only how to jettison Trump, but also about what’s wrong with US politics in general. This second part of the dialogue — the one which concerns the funding and control by elites of the current two-party political system — is not a discussion the DP leadership wants to have with us — i.e., its rank and file, its non-member sympathizers and potential independent converts. Instead, they resist such dialogue at all costs.

Given this, it was no surprise recently when James Carville, Bill Clinton’s former campaign manager and current party gadfly at large, did his best to undermine Sanders’ status as a top-tier candidate, not by debating him on the issues, but by trying to frighten voters away. To do this, hyperbolic language was his choice of weaponry as he denigrated Sanders’ supporters as an “ideological cult” and proclaimed, “There’s no chance in hell we’ll ever win the Senate with Sanders at the top of the party.”2

During the same span of a few weeks, Klobuchar and Buttigieg participated in the official primary debates by imitating two ventriloquist’s dummies sitting on the DNC’s lap while mouthing for viewers the CNC’s anti-Sanders sentiments. In keeping with the CNC’s mindset, these sentiments were frequently expressed in a recycled red-baiting style unearthed from the US’s smear-tactic arsenal from before the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, thirty years ago. Consequently, Klobuchar denounced the Vermont senator simply because “having a Democratic socialist on the top of the ticket” is anathema to her, unacceptable.3 No discussion  of his capacity to lead a mass movement against Trump, no pondering why polls show him as the “most trusted” candidate, only that his candidacy is unacceptable by definition — i.e., as determined by notalgists interested in resurrecting old cold war models for how to defame those with whom you disagree.

During the debates and elsewhere, Buttigieg also played his role of ventriloquist dummy well.  Referring to Sanders’ so-called socialist radicalism, he warned that the DP doesn’t need a “candidate who wants to burn this party down”4 with his allegedly alien ideas.

Why such fierce resistance to Sanders?

The simple answer is that the more the Sanders’ movement grows, the more we all (the DP rank and file and also the public) learn about how much the DP leadership itself, not outside forces, is responsible for the party’s current instability and loss of national appeal. Hence, the reason for the DNC’s desire to undercut the pro-Sanders upheaval’s success.

Take the DP’s apparent failure to learn anything from the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections, each of which was groundbreaking in its own way. In both campaigns a first-time presidential candidate won. In both campaigns the candidate employed untraditional methods to secure victory.

Although Trump and Obama were polar opposites philosophically, there is one characteristic they shared — i.e., a gut instinct which told them that in the current era a history-making campaign isn’t rooted in selecting safe-bet candidates, but rather on building a grassroots movement around a candidate whom people on the ground, as opposed to party leaders, believe can best articulate their views.

This idea that masses of voters — i.e., grassroots volunteers and activists — should drive the campaign is the exact opposite of the so-called “pragmatic” candidate approach suggested by the DP leadership. Their tactic stresses that the best way to get out the vote in 2020 is to cautiously select a lowest-common-denominator candidate whose lack of controversial characteristics hopefully will preordain her/his victory.

Yet in spite of the fact that this method (epitomized by the Never-Trumpers) didn’t work against Trump in the 2016 primaries nor against Obama in the 2008 primaries when he was attacked by the more traditional establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, the DP leadership and its media enablers are currently pushing the DP in precisely this direction. As noted above, this is because of their anti-Sanders animosity, an animosity which, as it grows ever more fanatical, reveals a disturbing possibility: that the party’s centrist cabal would rather lose the 2020 election than accept the party’s reinvigoration with new blood and new ideas.

If one didn’t know better it might seem as if the party’s leaders have accidentally forgotten the lessons to be learned from the 2008 and 2016 election. But there’s nothing accidental about what has happened. On the contrary, the DNC has willfully refused to apply those lessons to the current situation because those lessons raise questions about the DNC’s character.

So, let’s look at 2008 and 2016 to see what aspects of those elections make the DNC uncomfortable.

Obama’s first presidential run wasn’t structured like a typical electoral campaign. Instead, it drew its organizational form from two non-electoral mass movements that preceded his presidency by decades — i.e., the post-WW2 civil rights/black power movement and the pre-WW2 labor movement, both of which had strong leaders but, just as importantly, a coordinated yet highly decentralized mass of supporters who weren’t merely passive followers but rather people who turned themselves into activists for the purpose of improvising innovative new strategies to further their cause. It was this aspect of these movements that Obama, through the use of high-tech (smartphones, laptops, etc.) incorporated into his campaign, thereby uniting tens of millions of supporters nation-wide and encouraging them to launch their own activist groups — ultimately, approximately 35,000 were created — for the purpose of brainstorming and coming up with innovative ways to further the campaign by creating a wave of energy that Obama eventually could ride into office.5

Of course, none of this could have happened without some initial excitement for Obama at the beginning, a catalyst to get the movement off the ground. What triggered this was Obama’s stature as a “different” and charismatic candidate, one characterized by a variety of outsider attributes — e.g., if elected he’d be the first black president; he was the lone antiwar voice among primary foes like Biden and Clinton until they finally adopted a similar position but (unlike Obama) did so for mostly partisan reasons; he represented a generational and philosophical break with the old Washington, heralding the birth of a new political age; and, as the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg suggested, he was, in terms of swag, a trend-unto-himself, a blend of Miles Davis’ “cool” and Bobby Kennedy’s “earnest, inspiring heat.”6

This combination of against-the-odds hip candidate and frustrated voters hungry for substantive change resulted in a level of campaign activism that unleashed, according to a perceptive Wired magazine article, the “creativity and enthusiasm” of grassroots backers to such an extent that “In many ways, the story of Obama’s campaign was the story of his supporters.”7

This view was also espoused by Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democratic Network (NDN), who considered Obama’s victory a grassroots upsurge which employed “very modern tools, spoke to a new coalition, talked about new issues, and along the way . . .  reinvented the way campaigns are run.”8

Along with the DP’s rank and file, the DNC was jubilant about Obama’s 2008 win. However, through its actions since then, the DNC, although still celebrating Obama as a party icon, has resisted the use of his first presidential run as a model for other campaigns. At the heart of this unwillingness is the campaign’s grassroots-centered, mass-movement-building character and the DNC’s fear that, if used as a paradigm for other campaigns, it will continue to shift, as the 2008 campaign did, the political emphasis away from the party’s alleged center, the DNC, and toward its periphery, a still-forming army of free-thinking activists who, the leadership fears, will start a wide-ranging discussion within the party about the party’s strategy failures over recent decades and how these errors must be corrected so the party can rethink its future.

This distaste for the new was implicit in the DNC’s prioritization of Hillary Clinton’s campaign over Sander’s movement in 2016. It’s also been on display this year in a variety of ways, including the DNC’s rewriting of its primary rules in the midst of the primaries for the sole purpose of allowing a billionaire to join the contest in the hope that he might prove to be a more effective challenger to Sanders than the other candidates, who haven’t yet risen to the challenge.

Now to the 2016 election and Trump.

Like Obama, although in a right wing populist manner, Trump also launched an outsider campaign. Understanding better than Clinton how fed up voters were with politics-as-usual in Washington regardless of which party controlled the White House, Trump’s candidacy quickly became a rowdy carnival which mocked both (1) Democratic neo-liberalism’s failure to deliver over recent decades on promises made to many of its core constituents (i.e., the poor, women, labor and people of color), and (2) the Republican Party establishment which he derided with scathing language as elitist and condescending toward those whom he called (in his convention nomination speech) “the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.”9

Given this assault against not only the DP but also against his own party’s leaders, many prospective voters heard Trump’s flamboyant denunciations of the political class as a cry for radical people-empowering change. Consequently, as detailed by Anthony J. Gaughan, “Trump’s populist rhetoric and open contempt for civility and basic standards of decency enabled him to connect”10 with a core of supporters in a visceral way because of their rage against what they believed was a bipartisan federal government elite which, no matter how loudly they debated each other along party lines, ruled the nation together on the basis of a shared desire to perpetuate their power at the public’s expense.

Although Trump is a racist president who displays no hesitation in his attacks on latinxs, blacks, darker-skinned immigrants, Muslims (from the Middle East, Africa, etc.), a significant percent of his appeal during the 2016 campaign cycle wasn’t merely race-based and anti-immigrant, but was also rooted in US class divisions, particularly the working class’s loss of economic power. In pursuing this track, he talked about aspects of recent history DP leaders didn’t want (and still don’t) to discuss openly. Consequently, Trump repeatedly harangued audiences with assertions that labor’s supposed protector, the DP, had played a major role in undermining workers’ economic security over previous decades.

Many of these workers instinctively understood him because of their firsthand experiences of abandonment by the DP. In spite of this, the party refused to reevaluate or openly discuss the decisions which caused this abandonment. Consequently, the DNC continued to lead the party deeper into ineffectiveness and self-unawareness. Therefore, if the party wants to win the 2020 presidential race, it must first understand what events in party history precipitated this alienation from so many working families. Only then can it select a candidate and platform that may reverse this trend.

First, let’s survey how the party drove a wedge between itself and the working class. To do this, we can look at the period 1978-2017, which provides a good glimpse into this evolving tension, covering, as it does, a time span during which organized labor and union benefits (e.g., healthcare, pensions, workplace protections, wages, etc.) suffered a catastrophic stretch of major blows and losses.

During this cycle, three Democratic presidents — Carter (a single term), Clinton and Obama (two terms each) — supported labor in minor ways but, more importantly, played an active role in boosting policies which pushed unions into an irreversible tailspin by slashing their memberships by over fifty percent from approximately one-quarter of the workforce down to 11.9 percent.11 Tragically for working people today,  both those who do and those who don’t belong to unions, organized labor’s era-defining shrinkage from 1979-2017 radically reduced the number of better paying working class jobs available to job-seekers and thereby became a driving factor in what is now one of the nation’s hottest-button issues: the continually increasing income equality between oligarchs and everyone else.

How did this happen?

Let me begin with Carter, the first Democratic president during this time-frame.

Carter’s deregulation of three significant industries — air travel (Airline Deregulation Act, 1978), the railways (Staggers Rail Act, 1980) and commercial trucking (Motor Carrier Act, 1980) — weakened the earnings, workplace protections and job security of those industries’ workers. But this wasn’t all. Carter also supported the Chrysler bailout which seemed on the surface to benefit the company by keeping it afloat while simultaneously preserving union jobs. Unfortunately for the corporation’s workers, however, the bailout agreement included a labor-management “cooperation” component, that saved the company and its shareholders but cost workers 60,000 jobs12 while those who retained their jobs endured heavier workloads, speedup and diminished benefits.

Making the Carter-sponsored bailout even worse was the fact that it set in motion a series of labor-management cooperation contracts within the industry in the 1980s. Although these contracts often specified job savings and company commitments not to close plants, the contracts were filled with sufficient loopholes to offset these apparently “airtight” promises. For instance, in 1984 the United Auto Workers leadership in its Contract Highlights,1984 told the membership that the proposed contract which they were submitting to them for ratification contained “an unprecedented job security program with far reaching protections against job loss.” Yet in 1986, two years after its 1984 ratification, GM showcased what “job security” really meant when it announced plant closures which would entail 30,000 lost jobs.13

Carter’s role in laying the groundwork for the DP’s transition away from labor also undermines today’s DP narrative that Ronald Reagan in 1981 started a new anti-labor epoch — one which still hasn’t ended — when he fired 11,000 air traffic controllers. But as the facts show, this isn’t correct. It’s  Carter, the president who preceded Regan, who gets the credit.

Bill Clinton later followed in Carter’s footsteps.

Clinton’s support of NAFTA was a giant slap in the face to organized labor and the working class. It signaled the DP’s embrace of pro-corporate trade legislation that Republican presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush had supported before him, but were unable to get through Congress. In keeping with this, NAFTA’s repercussions moved the DP further to the right on union issues and job security than ever before. Under NAFTA, ultimately 700,000 jobs were relocated to Mexico,14 pressuring US workers who still had jobs to make wage, benefits  and safety concessions in order to keep them. A new template had been created:  all demands for greater worker protections were now met with the same corporate reply:  either shut up and accept what you have or we’ll relocate elsewhere and you’ll have nothing. More openly than at any time in the previous half-century the DP shifted away from labor and embraced Big Money and Wall St.

As part of this shift, and also as a continuation of Carter’s affection for deregulation, Clinton teamed with Wall St. to placate its desire for a relaxation of the economic fetters that allegedly stifled it. Hence, his vigorous support of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, “one of the most far-reaching banking reforms since the Great Depression,”15 which loosened restraints on companies in the financial sector (commercial banks, securities companies, insurance firms, etc.), thereby allowing them to more easily build concentrations of wealth through investing in each other, program and activity sharing, and consolidation. All this helped pave the way to the bubble economy that burst in the late 2000s, wreaking tens of millions of lives, many of them already on life support as the result of the downturn in workers’ wages and the loss of better-paying jobs.

But the DP’s process of distancing itself from  labor wasn’t over yet.

The situation, though, did look like it had improved when Obama campaigned in 2008 as a devoted labor supporter. As he told the  Building Trades National Legislative Conference in April of the that year, “Politics didn’t lead me to working folks; working folks led me to politics.”16  This sentiment in combination with the swag in his walk and charismatic I-know-what-you-feel style attracted many workers to his campaign. It paid off during the election. He clobbered McCain by 18 percentage points among union voters.

Unfortunately, during his two-term presidency Obama frittered away that support with a lackluster performance on a variety of labor-related issues. The bold strategizing of his 2008 campaign was gone. As with other issues he ran on — e.g.,  antiwar promises, the fight against racist police violence, the need to reign in Wall St. — once in the White House he brought neither an organizer’s inventiveness nor an inspiring speaker’s rousing words to his proclaimed desire to support labor.

One example of this was that although in 2011 Obama ostensibly backed the tens of thousands of Wisconsin workers and their supporters who staged giant rallies to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union right-to-work law, his opposition was soft, although the law itself was anything but soft. As Robert Samuels described in the Washington Post, the law decimated local unions, eviscerated their memberships and required “most public employees to pay more for health insurance and to pay more into retirement savings, resulting in an 8 to 10 percent drop in take-home pay.”17 Consequently, workers and unions nationally were frightened that Walker’s success, if unchallenged, could spread momentum for similar efforts in other states.18  In spite of this, Obama’s support for the protestors showed its true colors when he ignored the unions’ and other demonstrators’ requests that he come to Wisconsin to stand with them in solidarity. He stayed away instead.

In a similar vein, Obama did little to show any pro-labor political will when it came to his support of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a federal bill designed to help workers by limiting companies’ power to disrupt union organizing attempts at their workplaces. But as in Wisconsin, his support was lethargic.19  He refused to place the full weight of his presidency behind the bill and fight for it tooth and nail. He continued to back EFCA, but not hard enough to pass it without major concessions or make any enemies.

In contrast to this, however, Obama was perfectly willing to make enemies on the labor side by aggressively placing his full weight behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), his attempt to forge a NAFTA-like trade agreement for nations with borders on the Pacific ocean. Not surprisingly, the TPP was opposed as vehemently by labor as its NAFTA model had been and for the same reason:  failure to adequately protect workers’ jobs. It was one more step on the DP’s road away from the working class.

The  labor-related patterns just described — Carter’s, Clinton’s, Obama’s — provide a brief schematic of how the post-1960s DP evolved from its once strong relationship with labor (1930s-1950s) to a more token one that has lost its hold not only on white workers but on workers of color also. Consequently, it wasn’t the Republican Party but the DP itself that orchestrated its 2016 defeat, a loss not in small part traceable, as I have just shown, to the party’s methodical pursuit of policies over the last five decades that purposefully abandoned its allegiance to labor, thereby leaving an angry restless working class looking (justifiably) for a fight. Ironically, many of these previous DP sympathizers, having thrown up their hands in disgust with the DP, voted against Hillary Clinton who was one of the many DP leaders who didn’t merely passively watch, but actively worked to bring about, the party’s ever-increasing distance from the working class.

Not only have tens of millions of working families been backed into a dark economic corner as a result by the policies that created this mess, but tens of millions more have suffered the additional, but interrelated, burdens produced by being the target of racial, gender, cultural, religious and other forms of bigotry.

Yet in spite of there being so many of us who are tired of Washington’s elites — worn out by their love affairs with Wall St., their comfort with wage-gaps, their endless white supremacist solutions to everything, their chronic political double-talk, their two main parties’ refusal to think outside of the box and come up with daring but creative ideas to solve the problems facing us —  in spite of all this, in spite of our numbers and our anger, we remain unheard.

And so here we are. It’s fire and brimstone time at the OK coral, and the OK coral is the Democratic Party.

In this article — no, it’s more of an outcry than an article — I’ve discussed issues the current DP leadership refuses to address. I’ve mentioned these issues because without understanding them in some detail, we can’t be successful in the current struggle to take the White House. The DNC’s lack of introspection is the death knell of this struggle. They can’t be allowed to dictate the outcome of the primaries and/or the type of campaign the nominee should run. The voters must lead the leaders, not the other way around. We the people must be in control, not a self-preserving party elite.

In conclusion —

At the beginning of this piece I mentioned that in 2020 the DP can’t afford to run a non-mass-movement type of campaign in its battle to oust Trump and take over the White House.  Such campaigns, which are premised on choosing a lowest-common-denominator candidate least likely to ruffle anyone’s feathers, aren’t in sync with the times, nor are they energetic enough — inspired! enough — to bring to fruition our goal:  a revolution.

The contemporary US is too haywire to be healed by a caution that masks itself as traditionalism, but which is actually a fear of innovative thinking and breaking with the past.

No matter how loudly many DP centrists and leaders shout otherwise, they possess less of a political movement-building mentality than they do a preserve-the-status-quo mentality. They want to win, but to win with the least amount of personal time wasted and the least amount of systemic change, and so their vision entails marching to victory along the route of least resistance.

As a strategy, such a vision entails trying to figure out beforehand the most practical and statistically likely candidate to win the election and then, once she or he is chosen, to funnel the candidate into a campaign run by “safe” establishment thinkers.

Even the quickest look at 2008 and 2016 shows that running for the presidency in this way ignores the level of distrust among the population at large for the standard way of doing things.

No matter what its advocates say, the “safe-bet” candidate scenario favored by the  DNC isn’t in the party’s best interest — unless DNC members know something we don’t:  that if Sanders or another left candidate wins the nomination, party honchos along with most of the current candidates would rather lose the election than unify behind such a candidate, and will therefore undermine such a candidate’s campaign to make sure such a defeat occurs.

We can’t allow this. Not if we want to break free of the we’ll-promise-everything-but-do-nothing mindset the DNC brings to the challenge of improving the nation and the world.

  1. Chris Cillizza. “John King: Sanders Has the Most Cherished Gift in Politics.” CNN. February 23, 2020.
  2. Bill Scher. “Hey Moderates, It’s Time to Compromise—with Yourselves.” POLITICO. February 12, 2020.
  3. Devan Cole. “Klobuchar: People Want Plans Not Pipedreams.” CNN. February 16, 2020.
  4. Kit Norton. “Sanders Spars with Bloomberg and Buttigieg in Nevada Debate.” VTDigger. February 20, 2020.
  5. Sarah Stirland, Andy Greenberg, Lily Newman, Garrett Graff, and Gilad Edelman. “Propelled By Internet, Barack Obama Wins Presidency“. WIRED. Accessed February 14 2020.
  6. Hendrik Hertzberg. “The Spat.” The New Yorker. February 3, 2008.
  7. Sarah Stirland, Andy Greenberg, Lily Newman, Garrett Graff, and Gilad Edelman. “Propelled By Internet, Barack Obama Wins Presidency“. WIRED.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Donald J. Trump. “Full Text: Donald Trump 2016 RNC Draft Speech Transcript.” POLITICO. July 21, 2016.
  10. Anthony J. Gaughan. “Five Things That Explain Donald Trump’s Stunning Presidential Election Victory.” The Conversation. November 9, 2016.
  11. Eric Levitz. “Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die.  Intelligencer. January 26, 2018.
  12. Andrew Glass. “Reagan Fires 11,000 Striking Air Traffic Controllers.” POLITICO. August 5, 2017.
  13. G.M. and Suzuki.” The New York Times, May 17, 1986.
  14. NAFTA’s Impact on U.S. Workers.” Economic Policy Institute. 2013.
  15. Timothy A. Canova. “The Legacy of the Clinton Bubble.” Dissent Magazine. 2016.
  16. Barack Obama. “Barack Obama Speaks to Building Trades Legislative Conference” (text of speech). Realclearpolitics.com. 2020.
  17. Robert Samuels.  “Walker’s Anti-Union Law Has Labor Reeling in Wisconsin.” The Washington Post, February 23, 2015.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Richard A. Epstein. “Obama’s Welcome Silence On The Employee Free Choice Act.” Forbes, July 11, 2012.

The Fallacy of the Appeal of the Centrist Democrat

I have watched for the past couple months as Bernie Sanders has risen in the polls and then proceeded to do well in the first primary and caucuses as these people have done everything to try and kneecap his success. The amount of negative press about Sanders that has been pumped out by all of the mainstream “liberal” media during this period of time is truly breathtaking. They don’t make any effort whatsoever to disguise their biases which is really ironic when they have all been prescribing themselves as the necessary antidote to the alternate reality the Trump administration is trying to create.

There is no problem with journalism examining candidates. That is why their viewers and readers turn to those outlets. The problem is that they have collectively targeted one candidate in this primary competition and chosen to smear him mercilessly. A truthful press requires objective, unbiased opinions. The deluge of anti-Sanders propaganda from all forms of the mainstream media (print/web/TV) has proven that they lack such an impartiality.

It is not surprising that most of the media is anti-Sanders; they are either corporations themselves or owned by corporations or venture capital. Sanders’ policy proposals threaten to put an end to the “no-taxes for corporate America” scheme that has been getting progressively worse with each administration since Reagan. It’s also not surprising to hear it from the people who are paid to talk on the TV set or write the hit-pieces because a lot of them are Republicans themselves. What is surprising, though, is to observe the audience that has been so critical these past three years about the propaganda on Fox News (and the Trump supporters who buy into it) fall into the same trap.

There has been a really great grift they have perpetrated on their casual viewers and readers since the Trump election. It’s essentially a bait and switch that deceives them into believing that because they share one common enemy all their views must line up. They have used the notion that since the Never-Trump Republicans (getting paid to share their opinions on “liberal” cable news) don’t like Trump, and the liberals tuning in don’t like Trump, that they should share the same opinions on who the Democratic Party should nominate to go against Trump.

The great irony of this is that there is a whole audience of liberal TV viewers who are listening to George W. Bush, McCain, etc. advisers and strategists giving them advice about which Democrat can win and lose an election against Trump. These people would have told you that Jeb was going to be the nominee in 2016, and they would have worked hard to help him beat Hillary, you can be certain of that. The whole reason they are on the TV set is because they were wrong and their candidates lost after which they publicly opposed the Dear Leader. Now they are the 6% of Republicans that don’t support Trump and the notion is that we need to appeal to them?!

There is a whole group of liberals, or people who used to be liberal, who are being deceptively turned into neocons by a bunch of Republican pundits spreading their poison through the media. This can be best observed following the results of the SC primary, and as a lifelong Democrat it is frightening to see. The take-away from this is that the enemy of your enemy isn’t always your friend. Such is true about these hucksters, who might share a mutual disdain for Donald Trump, but they almost certainly love his policies and all the judges he has been able to nominate. They are not on our side.

Following the SC Primary there has been a return to totally delusional and disingenuous analysis of the democratic primary. (They had to bite their tongues for a moment post-NV) Everyone reading this knows that Joe Biden won the primary by a large margin and Sanders came in second. This victory by Biden has given these newsrooms the license to move the goalposts yet again to push another phony message. From one of the perennial bad actors, the New York Times, there was this notification sent out: “Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary, reviving his campaign and establishing himself as a leading rival to Bernie Sanders.” From another, Politico, there was this: “Joe Biden racked up his first 2020 win in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, a big boost heading into Super Tuesday.”

Those stories were blasted out within 3-5 minutes of the polls closing on Saturday evening. There were no actual numbers other than exit polls at the time indicating Biden had won but they wanted to get that message out pronto. An exit poll isn’t official; it is simply an extrapolation of data gathered, often by news outlets, from voters as they leave polling stations. When the ballots were actually tallied Biden did have a big win, but this is proof that these outlets had these stories locked and loaded before a single vote had actually been counted.

Getting into the nitty-gritty about the results and the race overall the fake news gets even worse. As evident in both those messages, they were pushing the message that Biden had revived his campaign from winning in the state where he put all his resources. In an apparent nod to the Hillary contingent, they pushed the storyline that he had won more of the combined popular vote from the first four races than anyone else.

The argument about Biden having the most votes is the epitome of illusory; his SC win is the only reason he holds the largest share of the popular vote. It’s deceitful because its sole purpose is to imply that he is the most popular candidate but the win in SC accounts for 80% of his share of the popular vote. If he were the most popular candidate, then he would have done well in all of the first four states. He didn’t. It is supremely duplicitous when contrasted with the argument they have made since last winter that Sanders doesn’t have broad appeal.

Here is the reality — Biden came in fourth place in the Iowa Caucuses, finishing 11% points behind Sanders, who won the popular vote and tied for the state delegate equivalents. In NH he finished in 5th place, 17% points behind Sanders. In Nevada he came in 2nd place, finishing 27% points behind Bernie Sanders. In Nevada, not only did he have the backing of the state Democratic Party and his friend Harry Reid shilling for him, he had the benefit of the most powerful union in the state attacking Sanders’ trademark policy in the weeks before the primary. Even with all of those things working in Biden’s favor, Bernie Sanders still won by 27% points.

As you can see there, Biden’s results in those three different states were 4th, 5th, and 2nd. As I write this, there are still 50 states in our union and 5 inhabited territories and having broad appeal means doing well in more than one place. Not to take anything away from Biden, he won South Carolina by a wide margin, but Sanders tied for first in Iowa in delegate count and won the popular vote, won in NH and NV, and came in 2nd in SC. Overall that signifies a much broader appeal by the pundit’s own rubric.

What really signifies Sanders’ broad appeal, though, is the grassroots movement behind his candidacy. There hasn’t been anything like it in modern American political history. This is truly where the brainwashing from the corporate media shows its greatest impact. There is a large cohort of people out there who genuinely still believe that he has limited appeal because that is what they are being told in their media echo chamber. These are a lot of the same “resisters” who called Fox News a feedback loop of misinformation for the past three years.

The Sanders campaign sent out an email this morning revealing that they had received “more than $46.5 million from 2.2 million individual donations” in the 29 days of February. There is no analog to that in the American political sphere. No one else has that power to raise money in small dollar donations from individuals all over the country. No one else has that type of movement. I can promise you that every political candidate wishes that they had the fundraising ability that Sanders has. Those donations signify actual individuals donating their hard-earned dollars to support a candidate because they believe in that person.

In addition to that financial support, people are flying to states to canvass in support of Sanders, and people who can’t afford to contribute from their paychecks are making phone calls and canvassing locally. Biden can’t even get enough people to volunteer to canvass for him. There is a serious disconnect between the people that believe this drivel they read and watch and the political movement that is happening on the left.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, I guess, since they are watching the same networks that are responsible for giving us Donald Trump. While they watch former Republicans and Hillary strategists now blaming Bernie, they seem to forget that these people blamed James Comey, Jill Stein, Russian Interference, and so on for her losing. Meanwhile they are feeding the beast that is responsible for the whole thing — the mainstream media.

Trump probably would have lost because while he did have a base of supporters, they weren’t politically active and didn’t contribute much to his campaign. That didn’t matter, though, because he received over $3 billion worth of free media coverage and some estimates are as high as $5 billion. So please, liberals, go ahead and keep watching the networks that created the monster where they constantly try and kneecap the only guy with the movement to beat Trump.

The Devil’s Comb Over

It is this author’s analysis that the effect of the Donald Trump presidency has been, somewhat paradoxically, to put wind in the sails of a kind of patriotic liberalism, reaffirming confidence in the forms and functions of US governance. Since Trump’s election, the calling words have been “not my president,” “not my country,” “this isn’t the America I know”–and the protagonists in the valiant anti-Trump struggle has been Robert Mueller, the FBI, Nancy Pelosi, the CIA, and NATO. With the theatrics of Trump’s supposed move to withdraw US forces from Syria, which of course never materialized (and, without going too afar of this piece, which was never the primary thrust of US policy in Syria), the Democrats raised a furor over this disastrous misstep that supposedly threatened US national security. In the realm of the media, liberals have re-affirmed the trustworthiness of the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media against the foil of Trump’s “fake news.” In short, there has already been a substantial rightward swing in mainstream politics that has been achieved in the “resistance” against Trump–as if the ruling class aren’t all co-conspirators behind closed doors.
International Dispatch, December  30, 2019

If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. ‘When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect’.
— Confucius, The Analects -13 (Legge tr.)

In order to allow narcissistic identification, the leader has to appear himself as absolutely narcissistic…
— Theodor Adorno, Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda, 1951

The entrance of Michael Bloomberg into the race for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the presidency is giving more proof to George Carlin’s old saying “It’s big club, and you ain’t in it”. The ruling class, the billionaire class, now control the electoral process as never before. Or they control it with less subterfuge. The narrative that is being imposed on this race for the nomination is that of ‘socialist’ Bernie Sanders, aka outsider, vs the establishment. Now the most significant aspect of this narrative is the constant insistence on changing the meaning of key words. Sanders, for example, is not even remotely close to the conventional and accepted meaning of socialist. The dictionary definition for socialist reads “a person who advocates or practises socialism.” Miriam Webster defines socialism as
“any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” And the second definition reads “a system of society or group living in which there is no private property.”

But we are at a place in the evolution of language in which dictionaries are hardly foolproof in terms of accuracy. The so called Urban Dictionary includes this in its definition: “A socialist will usually distance himself from communist dictators like Stalin, and instead claim loyalty to the original ideas of Marx and Lenin. Unlike a communist, a socialist need not to be an atheist.”

The mind reels. But the take-away here is that the disappearing of the actual meaning of socialism serves the interests of the ruling class. The system would never actually allow a real socialist to enter the debates or gain any visibility in media and certainly the DNC would make short work of shutting down any such idea. Of course, no socialist would be part of the Democratic Party.

One also hears a lot about ‘the left’. Usually this refers to either supporters of Sanders, or sometimes (often actually) Elizabeth Warren and very often Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Illhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib; aka The Squad. For a clear example of just how NOT socialist AOC is, read Jacob Levich’s February 14th article at Counterpunch.

On November 16, four days after the military coup that destroyed Bolivian democracy, Ocasio-Cortez met with a group of pro-Áñez, pro-Camacho activists led by one Ana Carola Traverso. Traverso’s connections to the Bolivian coup plotters have been extensively documented online.
— Jacob Levich, Ocasio-Cortez to Constituents on Bolivian Coup: Drop Dead

This is hardly surprising as the entirety of the Democratic Party stood and applauded the fascist interloper and flunky of the U.S. State Department Juan Guaido when introduced at the State of the Union address. The entirety of the Democratic Party has been supportive of the new fascist regime in Bolivia. Save for Bernie Sanders..but…while Sanders did manage to finally choke out the words “coup”, he has for the most part remained silent on the issue since he first called it a coup (a week after the coup actually took place). That said, he did meet with Gustavo Guzman, the legitimate ambassador of Bolivia, which is more than anyone else in his party did. On the other hand Sanders referred to Hugo Chavez as “that dead communist dictator”. So without belabouring the point, Sanders is a liberal democrat, a sort of new age FDR progressive. But he is not an anti imperialist, and was and remains a cheerleader for Bill Clinton’s illegal assault on the former Yugoslavia. And then there is this.

So, okay, Bernie is a Democratic Socialist (like in Norway and Denmark). Except he’s not even that. Would that he were. Bernie has been too often fully on board with defense spending (that helps his home state of Vermont) and with U.S. military coercion and threats abroad. His criticism, such as it is, of American militarism sounds much like Obama’s before he was elected (and even like Trump’s before he was elected). Sanders is an economic nationalist with barely suppressed racism that crops up in fears about Mexican workers stealing jobs.

The take-away here is that Presidents are not Czars or Kings, they are simply the brand of the moment — and while they exert style and emphasis, they never really change U.S. foreign policy for that foreign policy has not changed in sixty years. One cannot support wars abroad, fought on behalf of the U.S. ruling elite, and then claim to battle them at home.

The rest of the field …

In a statement issued January 29, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, called for a massive effort to impose internet censorship during the 2020 presidential election. Elizabeth Warren, proponent of economic nationalism, campaigning in Las Vegas She also pledged that a President Warren would push for “tough civil and criminal penalties” on social media platforms and web sites that publish misleading information about when, where and how to vote, or that engage in any conduct to suppress or discourage voter participation.{ } Warren called on Facebook, Google, Twitter and other social media platforms to step up their efforts against “disinformation” and “fake” or “manipulated” content. Who decides what is false content, however, she did not specify—but obviously, that would be the corporate-controlled media monopolies and the US intelligence agencies.
— Patrick Martin, WSWS, 2020

So what is the electoral theatre, really ? In the end it serves the system by changing the meaning of language, by normalizing ruling class rights and interests, and by normalizing a hierarchical class system. And this bleeds into the climate discourse as well, where Cory Morningstar has so thoroughly catalogued the billionaire and corporate designs for purchasing what is left for sale of the planet. The electoral circus is more about its secondary effects than about who is going to win.

A quick look at Pete Buttigieg reveals youth (he is 37), openly gay (which has not seemed to impact his numbers in either direction, somewhat surprisingly) and a history in Navel Intelligence (where he worked targeting for drone assassinations in Afghanistan). He is the mayor of a smallish midwestern city where most of his accomplishments were to assist gentrifiers (South Bend has among the highest eviction rates in the country). The rest of his platform is generic and opaque, at best. It should be noted that his early career rather mirrors that of Obama. Buttigieg worked for Cohen Associates, run by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Then worked for McKinsey & Company, a billion dollar a year consulting firm. His background is that of an overachieving (Oxford and Harvard) and driven company man.

Amy Klobucher has failed to gain even a tiny bump from her split New York Times endorsement. Which in and of itself is something of an accomplishment (negative though it may be). But Klobucher is a perfect laboratory created *centrist* candidate (normalizing the change in the meaning of words, again). Former prosecutor (like Kamala Harris, with just as an intense law and order record), comparatively young, worked for corporate law firm, and dutifully signed off on all Party policy.

As county attorney, Klobuchar oversaw the systematic cover-up of police murders and violence. During her approximate tenure as county attorney, the city of Minneapolis paid out $4.8 million in legal settlement fees for 122 police misconduct incidents. Meanwhile, during this same period, local police and Hennepin County sheriffs killed 29 people. Klobuchar did not once file criminal charges against police for misconduct, even when they killed people. Instead, she put such cases for decision by a grand jury, a process which was heavily criticized for its secrecy and for having the reputation of allowing testimonies in favor of police.
— George Gallanis, WSWS,  2019

Centrist means, today, right wing Democrat, or not quite full blown Nazi Republican, a law and order racist, and reflexive Imperialist. Klobucher also had her own Willie Horton in the person of Myon Burrell. This is all without even touching on the massive defense industry donations to her campaign or her rabid (even by DNC standards) support for Israeli crimes.

I don’t think anyone needs a rundown on Joe Biden at this point. He seems to be peacefully sailing off into the mental and literal sunset of his public life.

Who is left? Well, Michael Bloomberg. A man who is on record (for decades, literally) making openly racist comments, proves that extreme 1% wealth can buy you almost anything. An interesting foot note to all this is the overlap with Trump on the Central Park 5 case and how both Trump (who took out an ad at the time in the New York Times calling for the execution of the five young men) and Bloomberg who was mayor and zealously encouraged the prosecution, stood stoutly for white supremacism. In fact, Mayor Bloomberg and the City spent ten years and over 6 million dollars fighting against the civil rights lawsuit brought by the five men before finally giving up. He recently said, when questioned about the case…“I just don’t remember”.

But Bloomberg has always been openly contemptuous of the lower classes, and of blacks and latinos in particular.

His history of slamming public workers and of taxing the middle class instead of the rich make that clear. So too did his cracking down severely on dissent (his NYPD’s violent night-time rousting of the Wall Street Occupation provided the model for similar violent crushing of Occupy encampments across the country), and his making Wall Street and Lower Manhattan the most video-surveilled jurisdiction in America.
— Dave Lindorff, Counterpunch, 2020

Bloomberg has authorized his 2,000-strong field staff — the best that money can buy — to double their spending in post-Iowa arenas. He has spent almost twice that much – around $200 million – on advertising, and tens of millions more in building a campaign infrastructure and buying endorsements from a host of Black political prostitutes, including Chicago Rep. Bobby Rush, Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser and San Francisco mayor London Breed. Indeed, Bloomberg’s billions have bought him more mayoral endorsements in top 100 cities than any other candidate. This is how you buy the Democrats, who are actually much more of a brand name than a political party.
— Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report, 2020

Ralph Nadar recently complained that the Democrats don’t go after Trump the way he goes after them. But the problem is that Trump … mentored by Roy Cohn… knows how to create a teflon image. He admits to be immoral, to being a gangster essentially, he brags about it. You can’t call him anything he hasn’t already called himself, and bragged about himself. For this returns us to the real effects of the electoral circus. The Trump presidency has accelerated the erosion of literacy and meaning in language. And Americans have long been imbued with the inclination to just accept winners AS winners, to view winning as an achievement free of other factors. Couple that to the destruction of public education, the effects of screen habituated voters distracted from most everything of an historical nature, and you get a public indifferent to global politics. How many Americans know who the Yellow Vests are? How many know there is a general strike in France? How many know about the destruction of Yemen (begun under Obama) and how many know the real story of Syria? Stories surface about faked gas attacks blamed on Assad and nobody cares. Stories about the DPRK surface, lurid propaganda demonizing that small country and the truth is now utterly irrelevant to most Americans. How many care in the least about the rise of far right parties in Europe? How many know the hyper nationalism of Modi’s regime in India? The answer is very very few.

We see that the object is being treated in the same way as our own ego, so that when we are in love a considerable amount of narcissistic libido overflows on the object. It is even obvious, in many forms of love choice, that the object serves as a substitute for some unattained ego ideal of our own. We love it on account of the perfections which we have striven to reach for our own ego, and which we should now like to procure in this roundabout way as a means of satisfying our narcissism.
— Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 1921

Americans want to see themselves as winners. Nobody in America is working class, they are *middle class*. Adorno wrote of the psychology of the fascist leader in a paper from 1951. It is hugely relevant for today.

The fascist leader must be both Superman and everyman, or as Adorno noted with Hitler, part King Kong and part suburban barber. And this is Trump and a good part of his appeal. He is both a clear *winner*, wealthy, rich, and powerful — but also a slouch, paunchy, with a ridiculous comb over and tanning salon face. He is like you or me or Joe the mechanic. But he is also PRESIDENT, rich and surrounded by beautiful trophy women.

Even the fascist leader’s startling symptoms of inferiority , his resemblance to ham actors and asocial psychopaths, is thus anticipated in Freud’s theory. For the sake of those parts of the follower’s narcissistic libido which have not been thrown into the leader image but remain attached to the follower’s own ego, the superman must still resemble the follower and appear as his “enlargement .” Accordingly , one of the basic devices of personalized fascist propaganda is the concept of the “great little man,” a person who suggests both omnipotence and the idea that he is just one of the folks, a plain, redblooded American, untainted by material or spiritual wealth. Psychological ambivalence helps to work a social miracle. The leader image gratifies the follower’s twofold wish to submit to authority and to be the authority himself.
— Adorno (Ibid.)

Now, of course, the reality here is that Trump is not doing much that Obama did not already do (or Bush or Clinton). The significance is in how he is doing it. The way he is doing it. That Trump will almost certainly win a second term suggests a good many Americans see themselves in Trump. And hierarchical structures are compatible with the sado/masochistic personality — hence the need to constantly punish those beneath you, the weakest and most vulnerable, as well as any ‘hated outside’ group. This need to find others to blame is tied to what Rene Girard wrote of scapegoats, but also to all religions finally, and is not (risking a digression here) unrelated to the insistence of the overpopulation alarmists and neo-eugenicists, who see threat in the poorest and desperate peoples of the planet.

The narcissistic gain provided by fascist propaganda is obvious.It suggests continuously and sometimes in rather devious ways, that the follower. simply through belonging to the in-group , is better, higher and purer than those who are excluded. At the same time, any kind of critique or self-awareness is resented as a narcissistic loss and elicits rage .
— Adorno (Ibid.)

Trump is the delivery system for fascist aesthetics. Obama was the inverse, in a sense. His was the last expression of the button downed repressed white male — a not insignificant irony (or not) given his fame as the first black President. But just as Hillary would have been the first woman president who gave expression to the quintessential militarist authoritarian male, Obama was paradoxically the liberal ideal of a white leader — and I quote here Molly Klein from a short piece on Laurence Lessig’s fawning video promo on Obama.

We can confirm this by listening to and reading the best and brightest – this guy, Lawrence Lessig, is imagined to be not only a grown up, an actual adult, but an expert of some kind, savvy and slightly dissident, a bright guy and a sincere one – advising us on how to cast the role of Prez for the next hundred episodes in the four year series pre-order of Leader of The Free World. Lawrence Lessig easily explains that Barack Obama would be better television. So. That’s that. But he doesn’t even seem to comprehend that this is what he is saying. That he is speaking of a spectacle as if it were all there is. It sounds just like he is spitballing for a season of The West Wing – the policies yeah yeah, who cares, they’re fine, they’re the norm, there’s no choice anyway, there is no alternative. But this doesn’t matter for our nationwide casting session because the policies are not part of the drama anyway – they’re not featured in the Free World storyline. You don’t cast a lead role like The Prez in a hit show like New Free World Order according to some trivia like policies. What matters is the Prez should be compelling and likeable. And a good actor. He should embody. He should symbolise. He should convince. He should have a certain charisma and image.

For this is electoral theatre. It is the Spectacle and it exists as a form of reality TV. That Trump is a former reality TV star is hardly beside the point.

Trump is additionally the accumulative embodiment of the loss of taste and decorum — the end of the gentry or aristocracy in some sense. His is the vulgar stamped ‘authenticated’.

Allow me a final quote from Adorno here…

The leader can guess the psychological wants and needs of those susceptible to his propaganda because he resembles them psychologically, and is distinguished from them by a capacity to express without inhibitions what is latent in them, rather than by any intrinsic superiority. The leaders are generally oral character types, with a compulsion to speak incessantly and to befool the others. The famous spell they exercise over their followers seems largely to depend on their orality: language itself, devoid of its rational significance, functions in a magical way and furthers those archaic regressions which reduce individuals to members of crowds. Since this very quality of uninhibited but largely associative speech presupposes at least a temporary lack of ego control, it may well indicate weakness rather than strength.
— Adorno (Ibid.)

This is another reason Trump won’t lose. You can’t parody him, can’t out talk him, or out shout him.

Sanders cannot win the nomination. Bloomberg is there to see to that if for no other reason. And even if he weren’t the popularity of Sanders in the youth demographic hardly matters. Bernie is not Eugene Debs. He isn’t going to fight for you. Bernie feels like a guy who has already lost once (and didn’t fight it). Even in the recent Iowa caucuses Bernie got stitched up, and said nothing.

Nadar points out, rightly, regarding the Democrats, in an interview with Jeremy Scahill..

They want to continue dialing for corporate dollars. They want to continue Obama’s record setting fundraising from Wall Street which exceeded his Republican opponents. Imagine, he got more money from Wall Street than John McCain in 2008. He even got more money from Romney’s venture capital firm. So, that’s the internal struggle. This business about socialism, that’s just a cover but they’re willing to immolate themselves this year, and let Trump win by basically stereotyping any kind of progressive legislation as socialism.
The Intercept,  February, 2020

Calling it socialism, which it isn’t, means that actual socialism isn’t even in the discussion. Turning fake socialism into a pejorative means real socialism is rendered the ‘unspeakable’ crime.

Warren wants the intelligence community to censor dissent. This is a so-called liberal democrat. Remember it was Obama who invented the whole ‘fake news’ meme. Trump did not invent ICE raids, either, or detention centers for children of immigrants. Nor did he invent targeted drone hits. That’s all Obama. No, Trump is the bringer of golden curtains in the oval office, the golden fake tan (increasingly scary) and the golden comb over. He is the tribute to both orality and anality. That Boris Johnson so reflects Trump is startling. A third generation dupe of Trump on one level, but BoJo is also the death rattle of the British ruling class made manifest. Corbyn was Britain’s Bernie. And Bernie will suffer a similar fate. For this is a new fascist age.

The persistently anal character of the Devil has not been emphasized enough…equally persistent is the association of the Devil with a sulphurous or other evil smell…the origin of which is plainly revealed in the article Di Crepitu Diaboli..in an 18th century compendium of folklore.
— Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death, 1959

Brown also notes the magical origins of the feces/money connection in terms of usury and interest. But that’s too large a digression for here. Suffice it to say that Trump is a shiny golden walking talking piece of shit, rather literally. And he is the mouth that spews forth abusive diarrhoea, a racist Imperialist scapegoating orality — in short, fascism. And this will mark an age of acute ambivalence, too, as Adorno took note of in passing. The fascist, the leader, will always betray himself by his weakness. And no leader in American history is so obviously weak as Trump. But that is where we are.

Adorno also noted at the end of the essay…”It may well be the secret of fascist propaganda that it simply takes men for what they are: the true children of today’s standardized mass culture, largely robbed of autonomy and spontaneity…”

In terms of instinctual economy, the irrationality of Trump feels rational. For a while anyway. Obama, Bush Jr, and Clinton (Bill) were all figures that sold a certain aspect of the irrational. But it has come all come together in Trump. But it is worth reminding one, again, this is style. Of course, style is important. The way of Trump, that matters. Aesthetics matter. Maybe more now than ever, in fact.

The decisions belong to guys like Mike Pompeo — and I personally find Dominionist Pompeo the scariest man in Washington. And the global billionaires. To the think tank wonks and defense industry insiders. But it now goes through Trump via those golden curtains.

My personal prediction is for a brokered convention in which Hillary Clinton emerges with the nomination. And Bernie will tell his followers to get on board, to do the right thing. And Hillary will lose badly, maybe the worst loss ever. And she will have a massive mental breakdown. And with growing homelessness and precarity, with fewer and fewer jobs, the implementation of martial law will be upon us, and FEMA camps and debtors prison and a new Victorianism of savagely enforced social hierarchies.

I hope I am proved wrong.

Paranoid Groundings and Technocratic States: Hillary Clinton versus Mark Zuckerberg

It is another one of those contests and disagreements where the contestants should all loose, or at the very least, be subjected to a torturous stalemate.  Hillary Clinton remains the nasty sprinkle on the Democratic Party in the United States, ever hopeful that some door might open to enable her to come sliding in, taking the reins to what she regards as her possession: the White House.

Not winning in 2016 against Donald Trump, a person considered less electable than most cartoon characters, requires more than sessions of therapy and good dozes of mind numbing medication.  Clinton’s therapy has been one of self-denial and accusation of others, strained through a device that gives her miraculous exoneration for her own failings.  That device lies in the realm of information, because this individual, renowned for her own sharp slant on it (remember those fictional sniper bullets she apparently dodged during a visit to Bosnia in 1996?), feels she has been terribly hard done by.  The US may have attempted to thrown off aristocracy in becoming a republic, but it has done a good job of finding sawdust substitutes.

The dish served up to interviewers and journalists regarding Clinton’s defeat is always the same: I would have won had I not encountered the roadblocks of that impossible James B. Comey and “Russian WikiLeaks”.  She remains obsessed by rites of self-purification that ignore the inner workings of the parasitic machine she and her husband created, marked by an inability to understand the blue collar revolt that fell into Trump’s lap.

Having isolated the cause of defeat as mind controlling “fake news” and “misinformation”, a seedy strategy that ignores the information that was discomfortingly accurate in a populist election (in bed with Wall Street profiteers, the problems with free trade, foreign interventions), she sees the enemy as those who dish out information she does not like.  Those who provide such material must be motivated.  They must have an agenda against her, however mummified she seems to be.  More to the point, having such an agenda miraculously dispenses with the need to confront the details.

This leads to her latest splenetic spray.  Her claim made in an interview with The Atlantic sounds like a lingering old home rant, somewhat demented, totally resentful.  Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are in Trump’s pocket, she claims.  This is far from a useful designation, because the only pocket Zuckerberg has ever been in is his own, and, my, does it go deep!  She claims to have a ring side seat to reading his mind, suggesting “that it’s to his and Facebook’s advantage not to cross Trump.  That’s what I believe.  And it just gives me a pit in my stomach.”

The approach is very much in the mould of Clinton, and builds upon the idea that facts are supposedly immutable, accept when they apply to you.  But the failed candidate insists that she has found this one fact: that Facebook is “not just going to re-elect Trump, but intend[s] to re-elect Trump.”  The Atlantic is thrilled to suggest a scoop on the Zuckerberg view on this.  Senator Elizabeth Warren, for instance, is not favoured because she nurses notions of regulating Facebook.  What a stunner of a revelation!

The tech behemoths have been besieged by opponents who insist they are anti-democratic and authoritarian.  There are neither, being shallow information streams that merely reflect the corrugated perversions of their users, the voyagers on the Internet who do not seek to be enlightened so much as reassured.  More importantly, much of that material is generated by users themselves.  “Facebook is, in a sense, the world’s first technocratic nation-state,” argues Adrienne LaFrance.  Missing here is the understanding that it is more akin to a city-state of information, having monetised it for use and encouraged citizen users to participate.  It is of little concern to FB where such material goes; the quality of merchandise might be shonky, yet still find a buyer or user.

What Zuckerberg’s opponents never supply is a way of circumventing the tendency inherent in such companies: that they feed instinct, desire and interest.  In doing so, a confusion arises; entertainment is muddled with political sensibility; information that is merely opinion serving as engagement.  It has nothing to do with reasoned debate, whatever the utopians might have thought.

What is popular is what is extreme; what ranks in searches and information is what is controversial not necessarily what is accurate.  Facebook merely performs a role Roman emperors were familiar with and what the dark lord of the press world Rupert Murdoch always practised: give the people what they want, because their self-respect only rises as far as the next supplement will take them.  Do readers of trashy but election turning paper The Sun wish for a critical debate format on political candidates?  Does the consumer of the Facebook “feed” desire counter-narratives and a range of sources to reach a decision?  The answer to both is a resounding no.  The decisions are already made, prejudices merely re-enforced.

Zuckerberg, like Clinton, has his own confusions about democratic practice.  He is only to be trusted the way a press mogul should be.  “In general, in a democracy, I think people should be able to hear for themselves what politicians are saying,” suggests the billionaire sociopath.  The principle, for all that wimpy enthusiasm, is a hard one to dismiss.  But he confuses how his platform, through its algorithmic bazaar, has become the means to merely reassure people about their set views rather than change them. Facts have nothing do with it.

There are others, of course, that also exercise Clinton’s concerns.  This is a person filled with vengeful regret, and it shows.  She has taken against Democratic Presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard, accusing her, in the very counterfeit news she despises, of being a “Russian asset”.  Gabbard has returned the serve in the way that public figures in the US love: through the courts.  A defamation suit has been filed.  Clinton also keeps the dagger sharp for Bernie Sanders, suggesting that “nobody likes him” (old habits die hard for Clinton) for being something she knows all too well: a career politician.

Such ruminations are not helpful for either Clinton or the Democrats.  They are, however, most useful for Trump, who has, better than his opponents, found the means to deploy the mechanisms of information, accurate or otherwise, in his favour.  The issue is not Zuckerberg, however attractive he seems as a target.  What social media has done is provide the mass dissemination tool that makes distraction the norm and correction impossible.  There is no dialogue in such a debate, because the debate has changed within a matter of hours, if not minutes.  Either ban Facebook and its emissaries, or let it be.  The path to regulation is already proving hopelessly messy and will, in time, prove dangerous.

Chomsky and other Liberal Intellectuals ask us to Join them in Throwing in the Towel  

Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Leslie Cagan, Ron Daniels, Kathy Kelly, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters, and Michael Albert wrote an Open Letter to the Green Party, asking them to support the 2020 Democratic candidate regardless who wins the nomination. It was in response to an article well worth reading by Howie Hawkins, “The Green Party Is Not the Democrats’ Problem“.

It has become too common over the last 15 years to see used-to-be anti-imperialists, or at least harsh critics of the US government’s brutal policies at home and abroad, fold under corporate America’s unrelenting onslaught on humanity and the planet. It is reminiscent of how the mass Marxist Social Democratic parties capitulated to the impending imperialist massacre of World War I, or how the Western nations caved in to Hitler from 1937 on until they saw their bigger enemy, the Soviet Union, take the full fury of Nazi forces and began beating them back.

Digging under the case Chomsky et al. present, we uncover a mother lode of cowardly unwillingness to organize, to mobilize, and do what is necessary to fight back. For instance, we have seen them capitulate on opposition to US invasion of Syria, with Chomsky even calling for US troops to continue the occupation. We have seen them acquiesce to the US-NATO war to overthrow Qaddafi, where the “Libyan revolution” has brought slave markets in the country.

But let us look at what they say. The Greens should not run in states that take votes away from the Democrat nominee able to beat Trump. This argument is founded on a considerable amount of traditional Yankee arrogance, an assumption that Greens are nothing more than disenchanted liberal Democrats who should come back home in a time of need. There is little evidence that Green voters would have voted for Hillary against Trump if there were no Green candidate. Some may have, just as some may have voted for Trump, and probably a great number would not have bothered to vote.

They also have a good dose of that liberal middle class arrogance that Hillary was the lesser evil to Trump and his deplorables.  Of course, we can never know what Hillary or any other loser would have done as president because they never won. It does seem pretty clear, though, that the national security state would have been happy with her functioning as their obedient champion in the White House. But now we have Trump, who openly attacks national security state war-mongering and their corporate media fake news. It also seems likely Clinton would have involved us in a new war, which Trump periodically makes noises about but so far has avoided.

Hillary would also have been the lesser evil for the liberal elite by making the US empire more “respected” at home and abroad – that is, making the brutal operations of the empire more palatable for them. She would have made liberals prouder about what America supposedly stands for in the world, just as they were proud of the America of President Obama, as “the shining city on the hill.”  Thinking the US empire represents a force for good in the world is a heartfelt need for American liberals.

For anti-imperialists the opposite is the case: what tears off the mask US imperialism wears, what shows the empire’s selfish greed and inhumanity to the world are important steps forward for people’s political education. In that, Trump, not having gone through the standard politicians’ dog-training school to learn how to cover up one’s greed, lies, and crudeness, has done a worthy job in showing to the world the true nature of the empire.

So long as liberals can think US imperialism is slowly improving, slowly reforming its excessive abuses, so long as they can rationalize some of its abuses, and so long as they can live comfortably inside the system, that for them is good enough.

But reality tells us US world hegemony is coming to an end. China is slowly putting it out of business, and shocking to liberals, is providing a vastly superior example of how to deal cooperatively with other countries, how to eliminate poverty, how to combat climate change.  We are into the period where, as an empire declining in productive wealth, the US must become more nakedly a bully to maintain its control. It must rely more and more on endless war, on economic warfare, on corporate media disinformation, having less wealth available to buy acquiescence.

Both Clinton and Trump knew that and were on board with it. Clinton used traditional feel good liberal rhetoric. Trump was outspokenly “America first,” and “white people first”. Any lesser evilism Chomsky et al. find in the Democrats exists fundamentally in the domain of rhetoric.

How to explain this ongoing liberal-left capitulation to corporate America’s Democratic Party agenda?  The working classes, the great opposing power to capital, have not fought the corporate rulers and been defeated. They have not yet begun to fight. When they have been aroused and well led, as in the 1930s and 1940s, they took on the biggest corporate giants, General Motors, US Steel, the coal barons, the US government and martial law, and beat them. In the late 1950s and 1960s working people rose up and crushed the entrenched 75-year-old Jim Crow system. However, the US working class today, the only giant powerful enough to combat corporate control, still remains for the most part quiescent, leaderless. It will again emerge from the shadows and make history.

Liberal-left intellectuals do not identify themselves primarily as allies of this one great countervailing power to corporate America.  Probably they don’t even see it. Rather, they see a progressive milieu which can function as a pressure group in the orbit of the Democratic Party against what they see as a right-wing milieu around the Republican Party and Democratic Party bosses.  As a result they operate from a perspective of weakness, and feel the popular force behind them continually diminishing since the last mass social upsurge, in 2002-3 against the war in Iraq.  Consequently they have slowly and steadily shifted rightwards over the years. However, mass movements and mass struggles come in waves followed by periods of quiescence, and inevitably a great new wave will appear.

Response to Chomsky et al.


I just read the open letter by Noam Chomsky, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kathy Kelly, Ron Daniels, Leslie Cagan, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters, and Michael Albert calling on the Green Party not to run a candidate this year.

This helped me to come to a decision. I was seriously thinking of sitting this one out but my response to the above is: Fuck You! and I will now vote for whomever the Green Party nominates.

The authors above utilize so many clichés that it’s getting beyond ridiculous and frighteningly dangerous. This is the most important race in our history. You have to vote for the lesser evil. The Democrats and Republicans are not the same. Nader and Stein were spoilers. Democracy is only for the 2 parties. You vote your conscience, interests, and values and you let the Republican win. Can’t they come up with something original by now that can’t be taken apart so easily?



Let’s start off with the original sin of the Green Party. They cost Gore the election in Florida with their 97,000+ votes. With a margin of losing by 543 votes, surely of those 97,000 + at least 544 could have ‘seen the light’ and voted the way they were ‘suppose’ to vote. So do we ignore the fact that 12% of Floridian (about 200,000) Democrats voted for Bush in Florida?

Chomsky et al. pointed out all the other factors, including the Supreme Court stopping the elections, in which the Democratic Party accepted without a fight, but no mention of the thousands (57,000 according to NAACP v. Harris) wrongfully purged from the rolls. Where was the Gore campaign or the Democratic Party to fight that?



The bottom line is that the Gore campaign lost because it ran an awful campaign and refused to accept responsibility, much like Clinton in 2016. He lost his state. Bill Clinton was asked to keep a distance, and Arkansas went for Bush as well. And it wasn’t until he started to take more progressive positions that Gore started to eat into Nader’s base. Besides, how many millions of Democrats nationwide voted for Bush? Don’t mess with numbers unless you have them all to work with, not just those you cherry pick.

So even with the numbers that they shell out to “prove” how the Green Party spoiled the election, overall, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

One of the most insidious, and extremely anti-democratic and nearly authoritarian arguments that Chomsky et al. make is the one that how a person votes should be based on who owns those votes. It matters little if a person votes for their interests, values, or their conscience. Party trumps the individual. The “founding fathers” opposed the idea of political parties, but that’s where we are today. Yet it has taken on such a controlling factor over the citizenry that these powerful institutions have supplanted the role of the individual. Together, the two parties represent less than half the registered voters and even less of all eligible voters, yet have a near absolute control of the electoral process. It is these two parties that control who votes and in particular, which party, which particular point of view for Wall Street, can be represented in an election.



In many ways, the 2016 disaster for the Democrats mirrored the 2000 debacle. There is little doubt that Hillary Clinton was a horrible campaigner and candidate, probably even more so than Gore. And like the previous election, it wasn’t their fault they lost to Trump. Chomsky et al. pin it all on Jill Stein taking votes away from Clinton in Pennsylvania and other ‘guaranteed’ states for her. It is true that if the Stein votes in these states went to Clinton she would have won. Where in the letter does it say if the Gary Johnson votes went to Trump, he might have even won a plurality? Of course that’s not included, as it would be too much of a balanced argument to make.



The authors make their best attempt at gas lighting by pointing out the refusal “to acknowledge the special danger of Trump.” Clearly, Hillary Clinton was harmless. Hillary Clinton loved all people equally, especially our “predators” and “deplorables.” What was the joke back in 1980 about what glows in the dark in the Middle East? Answer was: Iran minutes after Reagan is sworn in. How many of us feared the same for Russia with a Clinton win? How many saw Trump as taking on the establishment and corporate power when his opponent exemplified the very same? Sure. Trump was and is dangerous as he marketed himself as the opposite of Clinton when in many ways he was merely an extension of her and so many of his crimes were similarly committed by Clinton and Obama. (Trump’s emoluments, the Clinton Global Initiative. Trump murdering Soleimani; Clinton/Obama murdering Gadaffi and young son, and many civilians through drone attacks. Trump’s open racism; Clinton and her “predators” and support of mass incarceration of people of color. Etc.)

Another problem with the letter is the analysis of the strength of the Green Party. Yes the “safe state” strategy of David Cobb nearly destroyed the Green Party nationwide, but the Stein campaign brought ballot access back to where it once was. The open-letter authors acknowledge that if the Green Party plays it safe again in this election, they “will pay a price for not running in contested states.” Their gas lighting admonition is that Greens should “notice the infinitely bigger price that millions and even billions of people will pay for Trump winning.” No acknowledgement of how the Democratic Party pretty much gave us Trump through the pied piper strategy, or the rigging of the election against Sanders, and of course their choice being the only person in America who could lose to Trump, but this time, don’t be fooled. The Democrats are the real deal and the antidote to Trump. And with their Democrat to win, there will be peace and love between the bald eagle and the bear. (Even Sanders has proven to be a Russophobe.)

Lastly, this is an election. It’s a way for a citizen in a free country to voice their choice for president. Despite the electoral process being rigged against any choice but Wall Street’s, who the Democrats nominate will be a factor in who wins in 2020. Choose Sanders, and it’s almost guaranteed many grassroots Greens will vote for him. For example, here in the state of Maryland, we actually had a state chair for the Green Party brag about how he switched parties just so he could vote for Sanders in the 2016 primary. As treacherous as that was, being an actual spokesperson for the Party, the rank-and-file Greens, here in Maryland as well as elsewhere, are very much in Sanders’s camp, and it’s their right to be so. If the nomination goes to Biden because of the Democrats’ repeated treachery against their own progressive voters, then it begs the questions: Is this even a democracy worth fighting for? Trump will win in a landslide, but of course it will be the Green Party to blame. It always is.