Saturday, February 29, 2020
In a piece in New York Magazine that first looks at the parallels between Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn who lead the British Labour Party to its worst defeat in its history - and the possible catastrophe Sanders will bring to the Democrat Party - Andrew Sullivan then proceeds to look at the disintegration of the gay rights movement in America largely fueled by the far left within the LGBT community who are in the midst of attacking Pete Buttigieg for not being "gay enough."The wrath of these individuals also extends to every white male gay who is derided as either “hetero-normative” (gays who can pass as straights) or “homo-normative” (a person who looks and lives like most socially integrated gay men). The irony is that it is largely these white gay males who fund the gay rights movement even as the far left believes gays need to support women, racial minorities, trans persons, disabled persons rather than a white gay man who somehow becomes part of the oppressor class simply by virtue of the skin color. I've seen this mindset take over Equality Virginia and other LGBT organizations which which have seemingly lost sight of their original agenda and in publications like Out Magazine which seems to cover anyone other than white gay males. Sooner or later, those who have funded the movement will stop writing checks - I have to a large extent - and the far leftists will have nothing left. It's insanity, but appears to be what the far left is best at: self destruction. Here are column highlights:
One of the many problems with the concept of intersectionality is that it largely precludes activism on behalf of any single minority. Any particular identity is immediately overwhelmed by a variety of additional identities that supplant, complicate, or qualify it. And all these identities have their own hierarchy of oppressors and the oppressed, splintering them still further.
And so it is with what was once the gay-rights movement. A simple defense of the rights and freedom of homosexuals — people, biologically male and female, who are attracted to their own sex — has become impossible in an intersectional framework.
First off, critical queer theory deconstructed the old category of homosexual, which once rested on an apparently natural or innate attraction to members of the same sex. Homosexuality, they argued in contrast, is essentially a political act, a social construction, and the goal of queer politics is to subvert all such constructions, to advance wider and wider liberation. So there are homosexuals and then there are “queers.” The former are largely what queer theorists once lamented as “hetero-normative” (gays who can pass as straights) and are now called “homo-normative” (a person who looks and lives like most integrated gay men). The queer category tends to be defined by a desire to deconstruct the whole idea of nature, gender, and sex, embracing subversive alternatives to the family or the couple, and defining themselves by their performance of masculine or feminine roles, which they choose, in a bid to undermine the determinative role of biological sex. Then critical gender theory places women above men in the general hierarchy of oppression (oppression being correlated with status), deconstructing the classic coalition of gay men and lesbians as equals in pursuing homosexual rights.
And then critical race theory adds a racial hierarchy as well, so that white gays are split from and subordinate to black gays, Jews become oppressors (because they have adopted “whiteness”), and Latinos climb up the intersectional ladder, as long as they identify as nonwhite. You can also add a host of other marginalized aspects of the human condition: the disabled, or poor, or undocumented, or HIV-positive … and on and on. When you buy into this vision of our society as defined entirely by oppression of people’s identity and with oppression having a near-infinite number of complicating hierarchies, the idea of a simple “gay rights” movement comes completely unraveled.
And this is key, it seems to me, in understanding why “LGBTQ” activists have revealed such hostility to a figure like Pete Buttigieg. He does not deserve their support because he is white, male, cis, Christian, and has managed to be extraordinarily successful in life as well as politics. That places him quite high up on the oppressor matrix, his gayness notwithstanding.
The first serious, openly gay candidate for the presidency does not represent “progress,” because he actually threatens “queer survival” — whatever that latter term actually means. In fact, Pete is, in their eyes, a regression — not because of his politics (which are very liberal), but simply because of his whiteness, maleness, cis-ness, and extraordinary talent. Queers should support a woman, a racial minority, a trans person, a disabled person, before they should support a white cis gay man.
Here is Strangio elaborating this week on his point:
To all the white LGBTQ people celebrating the ‘milestone’ or ‘history-making’ of Pete, I strongly disagree. Nothing about white people who align with white supremacy to take power represents progress in my view.
Yes, Pete Buttigieg is in “alignment” with “white supremacy.” And that is a far more important thing to know about him than his homosexuality. What Pete has revealed, in other words, is that the gay-rights movement is dead. There are simply too many intersectional identities within the category of being gay to contain them in a movement simply for “gay rights.” What that means is that no gay organization can simply be about gays anymore. It has to be about race, class, gender, ability, immigration status, HIV status, and gender identity.
At some point, well-meaning but naïve white, cis, gay men will come to understand that the movement they are largely funding is dedicated to their demonization and marginalization. And maybe, those not wedded to intersectional ideology will eventually decide to stop cutting the checks that makes this possible.
Friday, February 28, 2020
So far America seems to have dodge a bullet when it comes to the coronavirus. That said, there is absolutely no assurance that this will continue and, if it does not, the Trump/Pence regime's response is frightening, especially since science denying Mike Pence has been put in charge of the regime's response and has censorship power over legitimate experts. Just as disturbing, the regime has indicated that whether one can receive needed treatment if the virus spreads will depend upon one's ability to pay since big Pharma cannot be denied the ability to make huge profits. A piece in the New York Times looks at the disturbing prospects facing America. Here are highlights:
So, here’s the response of the Trump team and its allies to the coronavirus, at least so far: It’s actually good for America. Also, it’s a hoax perpetrated by the news media and the Democrats. Besides, it’s no big deal, and people should buy stocks. Anyway, we’ll get it all under control under the leadership of a man who doesn’t believe in science.
From the day Donald Trump was elected, some of us worried how his administration would deal with a crisis not of its own making. Remarkably, we’ve gone three years without finding out: Until now, every serious problem facing the Trump administration, from trade wars to confrontation with Iran, has been self-created. But the coronavirus is looking as if it might be the test we’ve been fearing.
The story of the Trump pandemic response actually began several years ago. Almost as soon as he took office, Trump began cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading in turn to an 80 percent cut in the resources the agency devotes to global disease outbreaks. Trump also shut down the entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council.
Experts warned that these moves were exposing America to severe risks. “We’ll leave the field open to microbes,” declared Tom Frieden, a much-admired former head of the C.D.C., more than two years ago. But the Trump administration has a preconceived notion about where national security threats come from — basically, scary brown people — and is hostile to science in general. So we entered the current crisis in an already weakened condition.
The first reaction of the Trumpers was to see the coronavirus as a Chinese problem — and to see whatever is bad for China as being good for us. Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, cheered it on as a development that would “accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”
The story changed once it became clear that the virus was spreading well beyond China. At that point it became a hoax perpetrated by the news media. Rush Limbaugh weighed in: “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.
And in case you’re wondering, no, the coronavirus isn’t like the common cold. In fact, early indications are that the virus may be as lethal as the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed as many as 50 million people.
Financial markets evidently don’t agree that the virus is a hoax; by Thursday afternoon the Dow was off more than 3,000 points since last week. Falling markets appear to worry the administration more than the prospect of, you know, people dying.
At that point the administration appears to have finally realized that it might need to do something beyond insisting that things were great. But according to The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman, it initially proposed paying for a virus response by cutting aid to the poor — specifically, low-income heating subsidies. Cruelty in all things.
On Wednesday Trump held a news conference on the virus, much of it devoted to incoherent jabs at Democrats and the media. He did, however, announce the leader of the government response to the threat. Instead of putting a health care professional in charge, however, he handed the job to Vice President Mike Pence, who has an interesting relationship with both health policy and science.
Early in his political career, Pence staked out a distinctive position on public health, declaring that smoking doesn’t kill people. He has also repeatedly insisted that evolution is just a theory. As governor of Indiana, he blocked a needle exchange program that could have prevented a significant H.I.V. outbreak, calling for prayer instead.
And now, according to The Times, government scientists will need to get Pence’s approval before making public statements about the coronavirus.
If the facts don’t make Trump look good, he and his allies attack the messengers, blaming the news media and the Democrats — while trying to prevent scientists from keeping us informed. And in choosing people to deal with a real crisis, Trump prizes loyalty rather than competence.
Maybe Trump — and America — will be lucky, and this won’t be as bad as it might be. But anyone feeling confident right now isn’t paying attention.
South Carolina votes in its Democrat primary this weekend and Virginia and numerous other states vote on Tuesday in so-called Super Tuesday. I greatly fear Democrats may commit political suicide in terms of the general election in November if Bernie Sanders is not stopped. Meanwhile, if by some fluke he were to defeat Donald Trump, I fear the populism of rage that Sanders represents. He and his supporters are the far left version of Donald Trump and his MAGA followers: compromise is impossible and those who disagree are the enemy and to be destroyed. Neither far right or far left represent how a pluralistic democracy should function. And then there is Sanders' disturbing praise for brutal communist regimes that destroyed countless lives and literally murdered political and class opponents. A column in the New York Times looks at what can only be viewed as a moral flaw and disturbing harbinger of what a Sanders regime unleashed might look like. I will vote on Tuesday and I assure you, it will not be for Sanders. Here are highlights from the Times:
A few months ago, I wrote a column saying I would vote for Elizabeth Warren over Donald Trump. I may not agree with some of her policies, but culture is more important than politics. She does not spread moral rot the way Trump does.
Now I have to decide if I’d support Bernie Sanders over Trump.
We all start from personal experience. I covered the Soviet Union in its final decrepit years. The Soviet and allied regimes had already slaughtered 20 million people through things like mass executions and intentional famines. Those regimes were slave states. They enslaved whole peoples and took away the right to say what they wanted, live where they wanted and harvest the fruits of their labor.
And yet every day we find more old quotes from Sanders apologizing for this sort of slave regime, whether in the Soviet Union, Cuba or Nicaragua. He excused the Nicaraguan communists when they took away the civil liberties of their citizens. He’s still making excuses for Castro.
To sympathize with these revolutions in the 1920s was acceptable, given their original high ideals. To do so after the Hitler-Stalin pact, or in the 1950s, is appalling. To do so in the 1980s is morally unfathomable.
I say all this not to cancel Sanders for past misjudgments. I say all this because the intellectual suppositions that led him to embrace these views still guide his thinking today. I’ve just watched populism destroy traditional conservatism in the G.O.P. I’m here to tell you that Bernie Sanders is not a liberal Democrat. He’s what replaces liberal Democrats.
Traditional liberalism traces its intellectual roots to John Stuart Mill, John Locke, the Social Gospel movement and the New Deal. This liberalism believes in gaining power the traditional way: building coalitions, working within the constitutional system and crafting the sort of compromises you need in a complex, pluralistic society.
Populists like Sanders speak as if the whole system is irredeemably corrupt. Sanders was a useless House member and has been a marginal senator because he doesn’t operate within this system or believe in this theory of change.
He believes in revolutionary mass mobilization and, once an election has been won, rule by majoritarian domination. This is how populists of left and right are ruling all over the world, and it is exactly what our founders feared most and tried hard to prevent.
Liberalism celebrates certain values: reasonableness, conversation, compassion, tolerance, intellectual humility and optimism. Liberalism is horrified by cruelty. Sanders’s leadership style embodies the populist values, which are different: rage, bitter and relentless polarization, a demand for ideological purity among your friends and incessant hatred for your supposed foes.
A liberal leader confronts new facts and changes his or her mind. A populist leader cannot because the omniscience of the charismatic headman can never be doubted. A liberal sees shades of gray. For a populist reality is white or black, friend or enemy. Facts that don’t fit the dogma are ignored.
A liberal sees inequality and tries to reduce it. A populist sees remorseless class war and believes in concentrated power to crush the enemy. Sanders is running on a $60 trillion spending agenda that would double the size of the federal government. It would represent the greatest concentration of power in the Washington elite in American history.
These days, Sanders masquerades as something less revolutionary than he really is. He claims to be nothing more than the continuation of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. He is 5 percent right and 95 percent wrong.
Sanders also claims he’s just trying to import the Scandinavian model, which is believable if you know nothing about Scandinavia or what Sanders is proposing. Those countries do have generous welfare states, but they can afford them because they understand how free market capitalism works, with fewer regulations on business creation and free trade.
There is a specter haunting the world — corrosive populisms of right and left. These populisms grow out of real problems but are the wrong answers to them.
I’ll cast my lot with democratic liberalism. The system needs reform. But I just can’t pull the lever for either of the two populisms threatening to tear it down.
My fear is that if Sanders is the Democrat nominee, many will simply not vote. They may hate Trump yet see Sanders as a leftist version of what they hate in Trump. And by not voting, they help assure Trump's reelection. I pray Democrats wake up before it is too late.
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Bernie Sanders remains unrepentant for his praise of brutal totalitarian regimes, especially that of Fidel Castro. Given Sanders' "my way or the highway" mindset, one cannot help but wonder if Sanders doesn't admire forcing change even when the populace doesn't want, particularly if it promotes his left wing ideology. A piece in the Miami Herald from 2016 looks at the number of Cubans murdered by Castro's brutal regime:
The late and widely respected University of Hawaii historian R. J. Rummel, who made a career out of studying what he termed “democide,” the killing of people by their own government, reported in 1987 that credible estimates of the Castro regime’s death toll ran from 35,000 to 141,000, with a median of 73,000.
This is the regime Sanders has lauded. A column in the Washington Post looks at the myth that Castro's regime greatly reduce illiteracy. Tell the families of those murdered or forced into exile that a meager increase in literacy was worth the blood bath. If Sanders is so wrong about the Castro regime - and the Soviet and Sandinista regimes - what else is he wrong about? Democrats are insane if they give Sanders their party nomination. The only one who benefits is Donald Trump and his horrible regime. Here are Post column excerpts:
Unfazed by the howls of indignation — honest or feigned — over his recent praise of communist Cuba, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has reaffirmed his admiration for the Castro regime’s social policies over the past few days. He has done so while simultaneously insisting that he’s “very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba.”
But can the achievements of any monstrous regime ever be praised? Is it really possible to separate the cruelty of any dictatorship from any of its policies? In the case of communist Cuba, a further question arises: Is it possible to believe any of the claims it makes for its own achievements, given that it generates its own statistics and promotes its own version of history?
And anyone who would care to do some fact-checking, as did The Post’s Glenn Kessler a few years ago, will quickly discover that the Sanders version of Cuban history is far from accurate.
First, consider the issue of literacy in Cuba before Castro came along. Was pre-Castro Cuba a nation of illiterates, and Castro’s literacy campaign as great an accomplishment as Sanders avers? Not at all. A Cuban census from 1953 found that 77.9 percent of the island’s total population was already literate, and that in urban areas the literacy rate was 88.9 percent: among the highest in Latin America and higher than in some benighted rural counties in the United States. Seven years later, in 1960, according to data compiled at Oxford University, the literacy rate for the entire island was 79 percent.
So the scope of Castro’s 1961 literacy campaign, much admired by Sanders, is more myth than reality. Moreover, the image of pre-Castro Cuba as a primitive society rescued from poverty and illiteracy by a so-called revolution is a deceitful caricature, one brilliantly conceived by the Castro regime to make its brutality seem less offensive — merely “authoritarian” rather than monstrous.
Second, consider the real purpose of Cuba’s literacy campaign. Can it be totally disassociated from the repression that accompanied it, as Sanders would like you to think? Far from it. At the very same time that it was teaching illiterate Cubans to read, the Castro regime was busy stifling all freedom of expression. It banned any books that displeased it, shut down all newspapers and magazines, and flooded schools with texts that were pure propaganda. It turned each and every school on the island into an indoctrination camp in which no deviation from Marxist orthodoxy was ever allowed.
In other words, the literacy campaign was designed to enhance a totalitarian state’s control of its people. The fact that it lent a falsely benevolent sheen to Castro was an added bonus, but there is no denying that the Maximum Leader taught Cubans to read so that their thinking could be more carefully controlled by his propaganda machine.
Try to imagine Sanders or any other leftist ever insisting that it is “unfair” to deny the Third Reich praise for some of its accomplishments, such as the building of the Autobahn.
The “good” things Sanders finds in communist Cuba should seem immensely disturbing to Americans, even frightening. His vehemence in defending these “good” things, which in truth are hollow victories stained with blood, should also set off alarms, for this peculiar obsession reveals more than some character flaw.
Sanders’s insistence on finding positive things to say about Fidel Castro might be the clearest indication he has yet given American voters of his own sources of inspiration, and of his vision for the future of the United States.
|Three Virginia Democrats who could lose |
their seats if Sanders wins the 2020 nomination.
In 2018 Democrats picked up three (3) congressional seats in moderate districts where the Democrat candidates ran as moderates and disavowed more extreme positions of the far left in the Party. Now, with the potential of a Bernie Sanders nomination, all three House members are seeing their prospects for reelection threatened by the potential of a radioactive top of the ticket. While Bernie Sanders and his followers - who seemingly have imbibed large amounts of Kool-Aid laced with a mind altering drug - remain in denial as to Sanders toxicity in many parts of the country, Democrats in touch with reality are terrified a Sanders nomination would allow Republicans to not only retain the White House and and control of the Senate but also allow the GOP to recapture the House of Representatives. It is insane to nominate a candidate whose only chance of winning is that voters might hate Trump more. It could set the stage for a repeat of 2016 when many voters (foolishly, in my view) stayed home because they disliked both candidates. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the disaster that a Sanders nomination would be for Virginia Democrats. Here are excerpts:
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) wasted no time in denouncing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders this week after he said he would skip the annual conference of the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee.“Senator Sanders’ comments only contribute to the divisive rhetoric often used when discussing the issue of Israel’s right to exist,” Luria said in a statement Tuesday that rocketed around social media.
Her swift reaction was an example of the tactics she and other centrist Democrats may use to try to steer clear of the senator from Vermont, a self-described democratic socialist, if he wins their party’s presidential nomination.
Analysts say Sanders could endanger down-ballot incumbents, especially moderates such as Luria, a Navy veteran who ousted a Republican in a swing district in 2018 and helped Democrats win control of the House.
Already, GOP candidates and groups targeting the once deep-red Virginia districts held by Luria, Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Rep. Jennifer Wexton have tried to link the freshman lawmakers to Sanders and others in the party’s left flank. Luria, who has endorsed former vice president Joe Biden, won’t risk being painted as a Sanders acolyte — especially when it comes to one of her signature issues: Israel.
In 2018, Luria, Spanberger and Wexton appealed to moderate Democrats and Republican-leaning independents by promising to work with Republicans and vote independently of their party.
Sanders, who favors starkly liberal positions such as a single-payer health-care system, free public college and a national $15 minimum wage, could force them to go on the defensive and undermine their efforts to win a second term.
“The Democratic nominee doesn’t matter much except if it’s Sanders,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.
Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, said Spanberger and Luria have the most to lose with Sanders at the top of the ticket. Sanders plans to barnstorm Virginia ahead of the primary, with rallies in Richmond on Thursday as well as in Wexton’s hometown of Leesburg and Virginia Beach, in Luria’s district, on Saturday.
“The voters in their district turned Democrat because each of them ran as political centrists,” Rozell said. “But the voters could turn right back again if they perceive that the Democratic Party is captured by the ideological extreme wing.”
[T]he National Republican Congressional Committee is already taunting her [Luria] about Sanders, asking in a mass email Tuesday: “Is she ready to reverse course and refuse to support the socialist and upset her socialist base?”
Spanberger and Wexton have not made endorsements in the presidential contest and have no plans to at the moment. Spanberger, a former CIA officer, said she has already cast her absentee ballot; she declined to reveal her choice or rule anyone out.
Rob Jones, one of several Republicans vying to challenge Wexton in November, suggested last week that because Wexton often votes the same way as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a top Sanders surrogate, Wexton must support Sanders.
Wexton balked at that logic, and said: “I will not be supporting Bernie Sanders in this primary.” She said she favors a candidate who will work to lower health-care costs, reduce gun violence, strengthen the middle class and bolster the federal workforce.
In 2018, Wexton defeated the Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock, who Rozell noted was in a similar bind when it came to Trump. Comstock disavowed Trump, who was deeply unpopular in Virginia, and even called for him to drop out of the 2016 presidential race after the disclosure of the 2005 video of him making lewd comments and bragging about groping women.
“He [Trump] wins, she loses,” Rozell said. “Remarkable.”
On Super Tuesday, I urge voters to vote for anyone but Sanders. Sanders must be stopped at all cost. #neverSanders.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Donald Trump uses perhaps the most openly racist calls to racial bigotry seen since the days of the segregationists in the late 1950's and 1960's. He has been aided in his racist propaganda by white supremacists and white evangelical Christians - a group that hates everyone other than themselves - lead by charlatans and scamvangelists who have used racial resentment and manufactured dangers to gain political power for themselves and, just as importantly, to line their own pockets with money. The question for Democrats and truly moral people is how to counter hate and racism and persuade a large segment of voters that racism and Trump's divide and conquer agenda does not truly further their interests or well-being. A lengthy column in the New York Times looks at this difficult issue and the difficulty in finding a counter argument that will convince the "presuadables" that toxic racism is bad for America. Here are highlights:
Stung by the success of Trump’s anti-immigrant, racist campaign themes in 2016, left-of-center advocacy groups — think tanks, unions, progressive academics and Democratic consultants — are developing tools this year to counter the continuing Republican assault on liberal values, based on the optimistic assumption that the reservoir of white animosity is not so deep that Trump is assured re-election.These efforts on the left challenge the long history of Republican success in exploiting race . . . . That history points to the relentless power of racial resentment in American politics. Despite polling that shows greater acceptance of racial equality, this issue is as potent a source of political strength for Trump today as it was for Nixon a half century ago.
There are myriad studies, as I have noted (along with many others) that show the continuing effectiveness of race and immigration as wedge issues. These studies continue to appear at an alarming rate.
Take “The Trump Effect: An Experimental Investigation of the Emboldening Effect of Racially Inflammatory Elite Communication” published earlier this month by four political scientists:
We find that exposure to racially inflammatory statements by Trump caused those with high levels of prejudice to be more likely to perceive engagement in prejudiced behavior as socially acceptable.
In other words, if the president of the United States denigrates Muslims, or Hispanics, or African-Americans, then anyone can.
A forthcoming paper by Desmond King and Rogers M. Smith, political scientists at Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania, “White Protectionism in America,” makes a strong case that Trump, unlike his Republican predecessors in the White House, has gone far beyond rhetoric and token gestures to substantively address the concerns of his anti-immigrant and socially conservative supporters.
Now let’s look at some of the Democratic and liberal thinking focused on undermining Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy.
The authors, Simon Greer, founder of Cambridge Health Ventures, and Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the foundation, note that
Working-class Americans do not want to be lectured about what their motivations are, and ascribing misogyny or racial animus to any group of potential voters is not a winning strategy for building a coalition.
One of the authors’ central arguments is that liberals have ceded to conservatives a monopoly on such themes and values as faith, family, country and law and order. They have done so because Republicans have “added a meanspirited twist to these mainstream values” as a way of attacking women’s and gay rights, blacks, antiwar protesters and single mothers.
[A] paper that was published last year, that voters are less concerned with candidates’ specific policies than with the values they espouse:
We found that a presidential candidate who framed his progressive economic platform to be consistent with more conservative value concerns like patriotism, family, and respect for tradition — as opposed to more liberal value concerns like equality and social justice — was supported significantly more by conservatives and, unexpectedly, by moderates as well.
Voelkel and Willer conclude by citing the “progressive paradox,” that Americans “support many core progressive economic policies at high levels, yet rarely elect progressive candidates, a paradox widely discussed in academic and popular literature.”
The Race-Class project . . . . . according to the report, these middle ground voters “have concerns about ‘reverse racism’ and discrimination against whites;” a sizable majority agree “focusing on race doesn’t fix anything and may even make things worse;” and “persuadable adults believe that people of color who cannot get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition.”
In other words, these persuadable voters provide fertile ground for conservative appeals to racial resentment.
The most effective liberal-Democratic message read:
America’s strength comes from our ability to work together — to knit together a landscape of people from different places and of different races into one nation. For this to be a place of freedom for all, we cannot let the greedy few and the politicians they pay for turn what you look like, where you come from or how much money you have into reasons some of us matter and others don’t. It’s time to stand up for each other and come together. It is time for us to pick leaders who reflect the very best of every kind of American. Together, we can make this a place where freedom is for everyone, no exceptions.
For the Democratic Party, race and immigration remain crucially important in terms of both values and policy. The key question is whether the party is structurally capable — under an extraordinary barrage of hostility directed by Republicans at African-Americans and immigrants — of finding politically effective ways of addressing race and immigration. Has the left wing of the party become so discouraged, so defensive — and so embattled — that it now perceives a critical mass of whites as intractably hardened and unswervingly opposed to minority interests? If moderates and progressives are locked in on either side of such a chasm, what will it take to make peace?
Sadly, Bernie Sanders' "my way or the highway" message does not telegraph the most effective liberal messaging. In a different manner, he is almost as divisive as Trump.
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
|A woman in Milan, Italy where a coronavirus outbreak has occurred.|
While Donald Trump and his sycophants are ignoring the advise of experts and saying that the coronavirus has been contained and that no outbreaks are likely in the USA, medical experts are telling a very different story. Indeed, some are saying that Americans need to be prepared for major disruptions with schools closed, businesses shut down, and potentially areas quarantined. From its huge drop over the last two days - roughly 1900 points - the stock market is believing the medical experts and not the liar-in-chief in the White House. Just as disturbing is the reality that the Trump/Pence regime has been cutting funding to the CDC and eliminating health officials who speak the truth based on scientific fact and knowledge during the regime's misrule. A piece in the New York Times looks at what medical experts are saying in contrast to the lies of the Trump/Pence regime. Here are article excerpts:
Federal health officials starkly warned on Tuesday that the new coronavirus will almost certainly spread in the United States, and that hospitals, businesses and schools should begin making preparations.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.
She said that cities and towns should plan for “social distancing measures,” like dividing school classes into smaller groups of students or closing schools altogether. Meetings and conferences may have to be canceled, she said. Businesses should arrange for employees to work from home.
“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.
Shortly after the news conference, stock markets plummeted for the second day as investors dumped stocks and turned to the safety of government bonds. The S&P 500 fell by more than 3 percent, following a 3.4 percent slide on Monday — the worst day for the American markets since February 2018.
In contrast to his own health officials,
PresidentTrump, traveling in India, played down the threat, saying, “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country.”
[G]iven the outbreaks in more than two dozen countries, officials at the C.D.C. seemed convinced that the virus’s spread in the United States was inevitable, although they did not know whether the impact would be mild or severe.
“We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus,” Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, told a Senate panel on Tuesday. “And we need to be realistic about that.”
Globally, public health officials are confronting a multipronged threat. China’s battle to contain the epidemic has shown signs of success, with a plunge in the rate of new infections.
But this has been overshadowed by new clusters of infections in Iran, South Korea and Italy. The emergence of these new hubs underscored the lack of a coordinated global strategy to combat the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 80,000 people in 37 countries, causing at least 2,600 deaths.
In Iran, a spike in coronavirus infections — including to the top health official in charge of fighting the disease — has prompted fears the contagion may spread throughout the Middle East. In Italy, one of Europe’s largest economies, officials are struggling to prevent the epidemic from paralyzing the commercial center of Milan.
[L]awmakers from both the Democratic and the Republican parties grilled Mr. Azar and other members of the administration at the Senate hearing, apparently unconvinced that the Trump administration was prepared for the outbreak that the C.D.C. is forecasting.
Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, grew exasperated when the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad F. Wolf, could not say how many people were expected to become infected.
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, asked the health secretary whether he thought the United States currently had enough health masks in stock.
Hospital officials were assuming the efforts to contain the virus would delay, not prevent, a pandemic — sustained transmission of the coronavirus on more than one continent.
“We are really staging it, from a minor issue of small numbers of patients, to a full-blown community spread,” said Dr. Mark Jarrett, the chief quality officer at Northwell Health, which operates 23 hospitals on Long Island and elsewhere in New York.
Hospital administrators nationwide anticipate a wave of patients that could strain their intensive care units and isolation rooms. Many are starting to conserve medical supplies, including specialized masks and ventilators.
W.H.O. officials have also warned that the world is unprepared for a leap in infections, which could overwhelm medical resources in many countries. They also cautioned that new cases could suddenly resurge in China, as the government struggles to get people back to work.
And there are persistent doubts about the accuracy of infection figures reported by the Chinese government, raising the possibility that the true magnitude of the outbreak remains under reported.
|Sanders in Russia.|
In addition to, in my view, an over weaning ego, Bernie Sanders shares another trait with Donald Trump: he never admits that he is wrong or that there are other legitimate perspectives. In his recent 60 Minutes interview, Sanders had an opportunity to disavow his past flirtations with and laudatory comments about brutal communist regimes in Russia, Cuba and Nicaragua, but, being Sanders, he did not do so. Now, his opponents for the Democrat primary are focusing on this aspect of Sanders past that could prove radioactive in a general election - especially in crucial Mid-West states - and which the Trump campaign will laser focus upon. To me it is yet another reason that a Sanders nomination could see Trump, even hated as he is by so many, being reelected and the nation sliding more and more toward fascism - something Sanders and his base claim to oppose. A piece in the Washington Post looks at this very damaging baggage that Sanders carries. Here are article highlights:
The mayor of tiny Burlington, Vt., was back from Nicaragua and eager to share the good news.The country’s Soviet-backed government — forged via armed rebellion — was cutting infant mortality, reducing illiteracy and redistributing land to peasant farmers. Its Sandinista leaders, branded terrorists by the U.S. government, impressed him with “their intelligence and their sincerity.”
Three years later, Bernie Sanders was fresh off the plane from Moscow, reveling in the beauty of the land and the contentedness of the people.
And a year after that, he returned from Cuba having tapped into a revolutionary spirit “far deeper and more profound than I understood it to be.”
With Sanders now surging to the top of the Democratic presidential field, those three-decade-old impressions introduced a volatile new element in the race Monday as rivals reacted to Sanders’s decision to defend his remarks, not disclaim them.
Asked about his favorable reviews of Fidel Castro’s Cuba in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on CBS on Sunday night, Sanders said the communist leader deserved criticism for “the authoritarian nature” of his government — as well as praise where it was due, including for “a massive literacy program.”
The comments offered instant fodder for opponents who had already been sharing the old clips and highlighted the risk to a candidate with a track record of sympathy for communist and socialist governments that is unlike any other recent Democratic nominee.
Rivals seized on the brand-new video to portray the senator from Vermont as naive — a possible preview of attack lines in Tuesday night’s debate and of the barrage Sanders is likely to endure in the general election if he makes it that far.
“Fidel Castro left a dark legacy of forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people,” former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg tweeted. “But sure, Bernie, let’s talk about his literacy program.”
Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg compared Sanders to President Trump, tweeting that after four years of giving dictators a pass, the United States needs “a president who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad.”
Sanders has promised to remake the party in his far-left image as a “democratic socialist,” and he argues that his vision for a political revolution is best exemplified by thriving democratic, first-world societies like Denmark.
Yet in the 1980s, during the dying days of the Cold War, Sanders indulged a fascination with far more disruptive and divisive strains of a socialist ideology he has embraced throughout his adult life.
Returning home from visits to some of the United States’ most avowed enemies, Sanders offered some criticism but also plenty of praise in Vermont community television recordings.
Now, Sanders’s comments are coming back to life as opponents say his warm feelings toward his hosts decades ago make him vulnerable to attack and reveal a soft spot for left-wing despots.
“If people are going to vote for socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, they need to understand what socialism means historically. And it’s not Scandinavia,” said Marion Smith, executive director of the congressionally authorized Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
Smith recently tweeted a clip from a 1988 news conference in which Sanders lauds the Soviet Union for its chandelier-filled transit stations and its “palaces of culture.” Smith demanded an apology for what went unmentioned.
“He turned a blind eye to what was known about the ongoing systematic human rights abuses, the suppression of religious and ethnic minorities, the jailing of dissidents,” Smith said. “He was very clearly joining the ranks of the useful idiots who believed in the propaganda of the Soviet Union and carried it to the West.”
Sanders’s infatuation with revolutionary left-wing movements, particularly those in Latin America, was long-standing, and it became a key feature of his first stint in elected office.
Sanders has recalled feeling “very excited” by Castro’s 1959 revolution, which played out during his teens. “It just seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against rather ugly rich people,” he said in 1986.
Watching the video decades later, Latin America scholar Richard Feinberg said Sanders appeared to have had “a rather simplistic” view of the developing world, as well as an overly rosy assessment of Nicaragua’s leaders. But the reason for Sanders’s attraction, he said, was clear.
“In Nicaragua, he found his equivalents to his view of the United States . . . allegedly a small group of wealthy people at the top versus the struggling, noble poor,” said Feinberg, . . .
Trump and the GOP must be salivating at the prospect of a Sanders nomination.
Monday, February 24, 2020
When not upsetting Democrats and aiding GOP talking points with remarks that sound at least partly supportive of Castro's Cuba and and inability to state what his signature "Medicare for All" program would cost, Bernie Sanders- and his more strident supporters - is also alienating needed voters with what might be described as an arrogant purity test that gives no ground to other views and suggests that those not in agreement are somehow morally deficient. It's as if one must either fully embrace Sanders' most extreme views and policies or somehow be classified as a right wing Republican in disguise. The result is that many simply do not like the man - I for one do not and see his ego as toxic as Trump's just in a different way - and it could cost Sanders (and Democrats, if he ends up being the nominee) dearly. It is a dangerous tactic to believe that hatred of Trump alone will be enough to force Democrats, independents and what's left of liberal Republicans to all vote for Sanders if he is the Democrat nominee (even though he is not a Democrat except when convenient). A piece in the New York Times looks at this damaging phenomenon. Here are column highlights:
The last four presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — are four very different politicians. But they have one crucial similarity: They all tried to appeal to voters who weren’t obvious supporters.
The art of peeling off voters — those in the middle or those who aren’t ideological — may be the most important skill in politics. It doesn’t require a mushy centrist policy agenda, either.
[P]olitics is inescapably performative. Voters respond to signals. They respond to gestures of respect from politicians who are willing to say, in effect: We may not agree on everything, but I see you and understand what matters to you.
The newly energetic American left has largely rejected this approach, choosing instead to believe a comforting myth about swing voters being extinct and turnout being a cure-all. It’s a big mistake.
[T]he left is hurting its own ability to win elections and enact sweeping change, by insisting on an orthodox version of progressivism.
To put it another way: Can you think of one way that Bernie Sanders is signaling respect to voters outside of his base?
Sanders has evidently decided that progressives will no longer accept impurities — or even much tactical vagueness. He, along with Elizabeth Warren, has embraced policies that are popular on the left and nowhere else: a ban on fracking; the decriminalization of border crossings; the provision of federal health benefits to undocumented immigrants; the elimination of private health insurance.
For many progressives, each of these issues has become a moral litmus test. Any restriction of immigration is considered a denial of human rights. Any compromise on guns or health care is an acceptance of preventable deaths.
And I understand the progressive arguments on these issues. But turning every compromise into an existential moral failing is not a smart way to practice politics. It comforts the persuaded while alienating the persuadable.
F.D.R. and Reagan understood this, as did Abraham Lincoln and many great social reformers, including Frederick Douglass, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. Strong political movements can accept impurity on individual issues in the service of a larger goal: winning.
But progressives are still a very long way from achieving the changes they seek. Republicans control the Senate, and a conservative majority runs the Supreme Court. Trump has an excellent chance to win re-election and usher in a dark era for American progressivism.
Faced with the potential of either large gains or historic losses, progressives would be wise to stop believing only what they want to believe. Don’t cherry-pick polls to claim that most Americans actually favor a ban on private insurance. Don’t imagine that millions of heretofore silent progressive supporters will materialize on Election Day. In the 2018 midterms, Sanders-style candidates lost swing districts, while candidates demonstrating respect to swing voters won again and again.
Beating Trump in November will be even harder. And uncomfortable compromises will make it more likely.
For Sanders, that may mean walking back his position on fracking, which threatens his chances in must-win Pennsylvania. It could also mean repeating some of his earlier arguments about the need for border security and immigration restrictions. Many working-class voters, including people of color, agree with that.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
As the highly flawed Democrat presidential nomination process seems at this point headed towards nominating a candidate who is almost assured to lose in November, 2020, a piece in Salon looks at the ongoing civil war in America where Trump and white supremacists and religious extremists are actively engaged in a war turning back time and undo the progress of the last five decades. Should Trump be re-elected and worse yet, Republicans recapture control of the House of Representatives, by 2024 America will be unrecognizable and the verdict is out on whether democracy will have survived. I try to be optimistic, but at the moment, it is difficult not to be highly pessimistic about the future. Here are highlights from Salon:
In what amounted to a casual aside at his rally in Colorado Springs on Thursday night, Donald Trump drew the battle lines in this election as clearly as I've heard them drawn yet. Facing another of his virtually all-white audience in the city that is headquarters to multiple fundamentalist sects and several Christian megachurches, Trump waved his arms and asked, "By the way, how bad were the Academy Awards this year?" The crowd jeered loudly. "Did you see it? And the winner is … a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that all about?" he went on with undisguised disgust.Trump may as well have waved a Confederate battle flag. The crowd knew exactly what he meant. "Make America Great Again" now had a point of origin, and the greatness they yearned for had not been expressed by the Oscar win of "Parasite" director Bong Joon-ho or, God forbid, the election of Barack Obama, but by Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara.
Trump is letting us know that he and his base don't think of this as an election. It's a civil war. They want to turn the clock back to the time that Negroes knew their place and women were happy making biscuits in the kitchen and employers could pay their workers anything they wanted and the question of who got to vote was decided by a few white men in a smoke-filled room.
Look around you. With William Barr at the Justice Department and Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and Senate Republicans voting in lockstep with Mitch McConnell, living in Donald Trump's America feels like the South won the Civil War. If we don't get our shit together and drive him from office at the ballot box in November, we'll lose this one, too.
Trump made use of an enemy foreign power, Russia, to win election in 2016, and if what the intelligence community told the Congress this week is correct, he's in the process of doing it again. There won't be any investigation of foreign interference this time.
Republicans voted in lockstep to acquit him and nothing happened. There were no consequences for Trump, and now he's unbound. He's going to accept Russian help with his campaign right out in the open, and he'll stand up at one of his rallies and look into the cameras and say, "I did it, and fuck you."
Donald Trump is who he always was: a mobbed up grifter from New York who learned from his father that you can welch on debts, pay people off and game the system, and when you get caught, walk away. If you're outrageous enough about it, people will be so stunned they are unwilling or unable to act. . . . I never believed in your democracy, I never believed in your capitalism, I never believed in your establishment, and look what I did! I got elected president! Fuck you! I'm going to take everything I want! I'm going to fly Air Force One anywhere I want, and I'm going to play golf more often than Arnie Palmer, and I'm going to bellow racism and lies at my rallies, and I'm going to jack up the Secret Service for rooms at my resorts, and I'm not going to pay a fucking cent and what are you going to do about it? I'm going to call Vladimir Putin on the phone and I'm going to get him to help me steal another election, and fuck you."
That's Trump's philosophy in a nutshell: do whatever you want and say "Fuck you." He's getting away with it the same way he got away with stiffing contractors and welching on bank loans and going into bankruptcy and taking out more loans and when they come due saying "Fuck you."
I think we stand a chance to beat him, but we'll have to dig ourselves out of a deep, deep hole when he's gone. Some of us never will: The children ripped from their mothers' arms at the border, the voters who will go to the polls and be turned away, the poor who will go hungry when their food stamps are cut, the land and water and air that will be despoiled, the species that will go extinct, the companies that will fail, the women whose health clinics will close, the hopes that will be dashed and gone away forever.
Trump has cut the heart out of America. He's turning our democracy into a dictatorship, and he's not finished.