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Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll from a proud Lefty, Liberal, Socialist Hippie

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hillary's Assault on Bernie Sanders




For  those of you who may have thought Bernie Sanders might have an easy path to the Democratic nomination for POTUS by simply working within the party to secure the nomination, perhaps it’s time you starting looking at the line of attack that will be coming from the Hillary Clinton camp (via her surrogates mostly, of course).

First there was the notion that this first generation American; son of Polish immigrants, might have a negative view of immigrants, as offered by Clinton surrogate, Rep. Luis GutiƩrrez (D-IL) speaking tointerviewer, Larry King:

In an interview that will air Tuesday with Larry King on ORA TV’s PolitiKING, GutiĆ©rrez, who is backing Hillary Clinton for president, first failed to remember Sanders’s name before blasting him for not doing enough to push immigration reform.


“We’ve got the socialist; uh I can’t remember his name. Bernie Sanders,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t know if he likes immigrants because he doesn’t seem to talk about immigrants. But sooner or later, he’ll tell us. I hope he likes immigrants. I haven’t heard him say anything. He’s been kind of quiet and silent.


You might notice he got also got a nice little “socialist” shot in there as well. Then, this morning, Missouri senator, Claire McCaskill took her turn on the MSNBC morning political talk show, Morning Joe by (surprise – surprise) hitting Sanders with the “socialist” label again.

“I think the media is giving Bernie a pass right now,” said McCaskill on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist.”


“I think Bernie is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to become President, and I think Hillary is gonna be a fantastic President,” said McCaskill.


Now I am not compelled in the least to “defend” Bernie against this line of attack except to say that Bernie need make no apologies for his stellar voting record on immigration reform while serving with Rep. Gutierrez in the US House or since moving on to the Senate. As for the socialist labeling, I find it very gratifying that poll after poll continue to show that Bernie’s economic agenda is supported by vast majorities of Americans – including Democrats, Independents, and Republican. Now this obviously begs the question, if Bernie’s policies are accepted by a majority of Americans AND a more recent poll indicates that nearly half of Americans today would vote for a Socialist for president, who exactly are the Clinton camp trying to reassure by this line of attack on Sanders. Perhaps the oligarchs their policies and voting records have promoted and protected?

More to the point, however, I am hoping that those who read this page and hear these attacks on Bernie Sanders become more aware of the critical need to reach out to as many people as we can to join the political revolution that is so necessary at this time in our history. Greens, Socialists, Independents, unaffiliated activists, 1st time voters, disaffected Democrats, young, old, working poor, and all who understand that the status quo is not working for the average American; we must come together not only to help wrest the nomination from the grip of the entrenched moneyed interests of the New Democrats but to recruit and elect as many truly Progressive new members of congress as we can.

Now, there are voices on the left who are working just as hard to keep their constituencies away from Bernie just as there are in Hillary’s camp. They are labeling him a sell-out or a sheep dog trying to move would be leftist activists into the Democratic fold. On one hand this is totally understandable as they are working hard to remain true to their principles and values and see any venturing into the corporate political machine as a slippery slope. However, I am still hoping that at some level they will see that only by working together where we are able will there ever (short of a violent revolution) be a better opportunity to achieve real change in the political structure in this country. Make no mistake, this will require great sacrifice as those who are proud Greens and Socialists will be asked to pledge allegiance to the Democratic Party for at least long enough to help Bernie secure the nomination. However, if we are successful, the entire landscape in American politics will be changed. Is it possible? Bumble bees can fly, right? Is it probable? Far from it, but I would love to be proved wrong.

I am proud to be a part of the Bernie Sanders Revolution. Are you?
 
 


Peace,
Chad (The Left) Shue

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bernie Sanders: A Worker; Not a Savior






So you may ask, “What’s so special about Bernie Sanders? What sets him apart from the others seeking the office of President of the United States?” Well here is just one example of why I am supporting Bernie Sanders. The following is from an email he just sent out to supporters of his campaign:

Chad -


One of the biggest mistakes President Obama made once he was in office was, after mobilizing millions of Americans during his brilliant 2008 campaign, to basically tell those supporters, 'Thank you, I’m going to sit down with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and take it from here.’


I will not make that mistake.


What we’re building together as part of this campaign is not just about electing a president. No one person, not me or the best president you could imagine can make the changes we need by him or herself.


What's necessary to make change happen is a mobilized grassroots movement. That’s especially true when a few wealthy billionaires and corporations have their sights set on buying our elections.

If we’re going to accomplish what we want for this country, it won’t happen by negotiating with Mitch McConnell — it will only happen when millions of Americans get out and make their voices heard.

We have a chance to do that today.


Last week, the House of Representatives stopped a bad trade deal that would have continued the approach that forces American workers to compete against workers in nations that have near non-existent minimum wages, where independent labor unions are banned, and where people are thrown in jail for expressing their political beliefs.


But make no mistake, Wall Street, corporate America and their representatives in Congress will try again to pass this bad trade deal … as soon as tomorrow.


This is our chance to make our voices heard. Click here to enter your information and be automatically connected to your member of Congress. Urge your member of Congress to hold fast and vote against any legislation that would allow the president to “fast track” the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP follows in the footsteps of other unfettered free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that have been supported by corporate America and that cost America millions of decent-paying jobs.


Since 2001, nearly 60,000 manufacturing plants in this country have been shut down, and we have lost almost 5 million decent-paid manufacturing jobs. NAFTA alone led to the loss of almost three-quarters of a million jobs — the Permanent Normalized Trade Agreement with China cost America four times that number: almost 3 million jobs. These agreements are not the only reason why manufacturing in the United States has declined, but they are important factors.


The TPP would also give multinational corporations the ability to challenge laws passed in the United States that could negatively impact their “expected future profits.” Take, for example, Phillip Morris, a company using this process to sue Australia and Uruguay for passing legislation designed to prevent children in those countries from smoking. Or a French waste management firm suing Egypt for over $100 million for increasing the minimum wage and improving labor laws.


Virtually every major union and environmental organization in the United States is against the deal that Congress could vote on again tomorrow. Major religious groups are as well because they know what it could mean for some of the poorest people on the planet.


Click here to be automatically connected to your member of Congress and urge her or him to vote against legislation that would enable the implementation of the TPP.


Not a lot of presidential candidates would use their campaigns to influence legislation being considered in Congress. Some candidates haven’t even expressed an opinion on this critical issue, which, frankly, I don’t really understand.


But as I’ve said before, this campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or Jeb Bush -- it’s about the needs of the American people.


And we need a new approach to trade in this country — one that benefits working families and not just the CEOs of multinational corporations.


Make your voice heard,


Bernie Sanders


 

A couple of things that I would point out about this email; first, there is no “money grab.” Not once in this email am I asked to send him money. Compare this to the last email you may have received from any candidate to any office. Next; Bernie Sanders is speaking plainly and clearly in that he cannot bring about any change on his own. He is asking for the people to take part in their government; make their voices heard; stand up and be counted. No “pie in the sky”, “Elect me and your problems are over.”

The phrase that Howard Dean burned into my brain during his 2004 campaign; “You have the power!” still resonates within my whole being. Bernie Sanders is asking us to use that power and offering suggestions on where to direct our actions. I would suggest that the first place you can direct your power and your energy is at BernieSanders.com
. Sign up and offer your support (ok, a few dollars wouldn’t hurt if you can spare them). Plan to attend your Democratic caucus and/or vote in your primary to prove that votes still outweigh dollars. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Ask them to join the Bernie Sanders Revolution.

The thing that sets Bernie apart? Bernie will fight with us; not for us. He will stand with us so long as we will stand united to say, “Enough is Enough!” It’s time to make our government be ‘of, for, and by the people’ once again.

I have joined the revolution….will you?

 


 

 

Peace,

Chad (The Left) Shue

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Please Sir, I Want Some More






So last night Rachel Maddow mentioned this article from Dion Nissenbaum and Gordon Lubold at the Wall Street Journal, published yesterday, June 9, 2015:


U.S. Prepares Plan to Send Hundreds More Trainers to Iraq


 

EXCUSE ME????????

 

Once approved by the White House, the added force would represent the Pentagon’s latest effort to strengthen a foundering training mission that has yet to produce many victories. The last U.S. troop increase came in November, when Mr. Obama ordered up to 1,500 new troops to Iraq, which now hosts 3,080 U.S. advisers, trainers and support personnel.


 

Advisers? Where have I heard that term before in relationship to US foreign policy? Oh yeah, that would be that other little skirmish we were involved in in the 60s. Three Thousand advisers? Well thank God we don’t have “boots on the ground.”

 

So just for a bit of clarification; as the article notes, the “training mission” would seem to be foundering just a bit. I mean, we’ve only been at the task of “training” the Iraq army for some 10 years now. And what kind of results are we seeing? Well there is this:

 

Iraqi troops abandoned dozens of U.S military vehicles, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces when they fled Islamic State fighters in Ramadi on Sunday, the Pentagon said Tuesday…


 

… This repeats a pattern in which defeated Iraq security forces have, over the past year, left behind U.S.-supplied military equipment, prompting the U.S. to destroy them in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces.


 

What to do…what to do? I know. Let’s send in more “advisers.”

 

Hello, President Obama, I think you’ve finally found a ‘stupid war’ to believe in. But, on the bright side, you may have finally found some common ground with Lindsey Graham. Hope you're still keeping that Nobel Prize nice and shiny for your presidential library.

 

Peace,
Chad (The Left) Shue


 

Sunday, June 07, 2015

NO TPP



And now a word or two about TPP or the Trans Pacific Partnership: Vote  No! Ok, maybe a few more words are in order.

Now obviously I am no expert in international trade so I can only react to what I have read or heard from the various sources in the media or on my news feed. On one hand, living in Washington State (“The most trade dependent state in the country”) I am told by my two state senators that this deal is critical to our state’s economy and future job growth. We are the home to Boeing, Microsoft, and huge Agri-Business concerns. And then there is President Obama who keeps saying that what this deal will do for Washington it will also do for the rest of the country and that if we don’t pass the legislation (which includes Fast Track Authority that will make any deals negotiated by the Executive Branch virtually untouchable by Congress except by up or down vote) China will be writing the rules of future trade with the 11 Asian-Pacific countries who are encompassed in this agreement.

But, then there are the loud voices of the Progressive Left (of which I consider myself a member) who are saying, “Wait! There is too much ambiguity in this legislation (which is still considered secret from public viewing – although portions have been released via Wiki-Leaks) and much of what we have seen gives us cause for concern.” Folks like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Bernie Sanders (my choice for POTUS in 2016) and various Labor and Environmental leaders have been doing everything in their power to stop this legislation from moving forward. Of course, the comparisons to NAFTA, CAFTA, and other recent trade deals which have created thousands of plant closures and job lay-offs in this country while goods and services have been moved to lower labor rate countries with abysmal human rights and environmental records.

The rallying cry from the supporters appears to be, “Who you gonna trust; President Obama or a bunch of folks with a political agenda?” I mean, after all, Obama has no more elections to win so why would he pursue a policy that could cause any harm to the American worker? That’s a fair question so let’s look at that aspect.

In order to get a clearer perspective of President Obama’s “negotiating skills” we can look closely at his first term. One of his strongest campaign promises was to fight for and bring about universal healthcare for all Americans, and while he did stop short of saying he would push for a “Single Payer” system, he did speak decisively for a “robust public option.” Upon entering office however, his style became exposed as one of, “let’s just see what Congress comes up with, and take what we can get.” There was, in fact, no “fight” from the White House and a genuine willingness to discard any form of public option just to achieve a result that he could deliver to the American People as, “We got the best deal we could.” The end result, while certainly achieving some commendable goals such as increasing coverage for millions who had been without and bringing premiums down overall and, perhaps most important for some, removing the bond between your job and your healthcare coverage; has still left millions without access to quality medical care outside of an emergency room and has probably lock us into the “for profit” healthcare system for years to come.

Then there is the issue of the “Bush Tax cuts of 2001 that were set to expire in 2011. Candidate Obama insisted that he would end the tax cuts for anyone making over $250,000. While most Progressives had been pushing for simply allowing the entire package of tax cuts (enacted at the same time Bush was launching the country into what now seems as perpetual war) to expire and return to the rates of the Bill Clinton Administration; Obama explained that the political climate would not allow him to go that far. In fact, at the end of the “negotiation” the cap was raised to $350,000 and the effective rate still set lower than the Clinton rate. Bernie Sanders launched a one man filibuster against the new tax package at the time.

But the issue here is trade so let’s look at the US-South Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS) that took effect in 2011 under President Obama. At the time, the president was saying essentially the same things as today. This deal will benefit the entire country; jobs will be created and markets will open for American goods. Well, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, rather than increase in jobs for the US, the early reports are that the trade deficit between the US and South Korea has climbed to some $11.8 Billion and job LOSSES somewhere around 75, 000.

Finally there is the matter of former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, and current Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. As part of her job duties as Secretary of State, Clinton was deeply involved in crafting language and doing direct negotiations with the various nations who would be involved in TPP. In fact, while in that office she was quoted as saying the TPP would be considered the “Gold Standard” for international trade for years to come. You might think that her voice of support for the deal would make Obama’s job that much easier in selling it to the Democratic Party – who appear to be his greatest obstacle to passage of the deal. However, now as a presidential candidate, Clinton has actually taken a “wait and see” approach to the package; saying she would need to review it (as if it has somehow magically morphed beyond recognition since she handed off her previous job to John Kerry.

As I state previously, I am no expert on international trade but I didn’t just fall off the turnip wagon either. As a thinking Progressive American, I am left to choose between all of the Progressive leaders I have long placed my faith in; members of Congress, Labor and Environmental leaders; top scholars from around the country, and a questionable track record from previous attempts, or in the vast majority of the Congressional Republican Caucus, the US Chamber of Commerce (the mouthpiece for American mega Business), a handful of Democratic Congressmen from heavily trade dependent states, and a president hell bent on leaving a legacy of “accomplishment” no matter how dubious.

Sorry Mr. President but you and Mitch McConnell are on your own here. On the bright side, maybe you two have finally found your area of compromise. No to TPP!

Peace,

Chad (The Left) Shue

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Does Bernie Have a Race Problem?






It is obviously very early into the 2016 presidential campaign season and so many things are simply areas of speculation and wishful thinking for both the candidates and their supporters. For instance, while it is beyond speculation that Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win the Democratic Party nomination and then the White House, it is just as much wishful thinking on her supporters’ part that she will simply be awarded the prize simply because she is Hillary Clinton. I think that an area of wishful thinking for Bernie Sanders supporters is that his message of economic populism and fairness will resonate with all who hear it and he will easily win the support of Progressives of every stripe and march off to the Democratic nomination. The great thing about it being so early into the process is that there is much to learn and time to adjust to potential deficits. This brings me to something I see as a serious challenge for Bernie; how can a man from a small state which is between 94% and 96% white, appeal to communities of color in a way that won’t be seen as simply pandering for votes?

I read a Vox piece last week that, I believe, provided a pretty good analysis of Bernie’s challenge in this area. Written by Dara Lind and entitled, Why Bernie Sanders doesn't talk about race,” the piece describes the issue and talks about Sanders’ background and how it has, perhaps, created a sort of tunnel vision around the greater concerns of the communities of color in this country. Lind writes:

A lot of people are very excited about Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. It's not hard to figure out why: there are a lot of those progressives out there who are very concerned about economic inequality, the rise of the super-rich, the financial industry, and the role of money in American politics.


But there's a reason I say "those progressives" instead of just "progressives": because not everyone in the Democratic base shares those particular passions, or those passions alone. For other progressives — many of them black or Latino — economic inequality is important, but so is racial inequality. They're extremely concerned about racial bias in policing, and about ending mass incarceration. They're concerned about the treatment of unauthorized immigrants, and about protecting voting rights (an issue like campaign finance where progressives are worried the integrity of the political system is at stake — and where the outcome doesn't look good for them).


And Bernie Sanders doesn't speak to those concerns. He didn't mention those issues in his campaign launch yesterday or in his email announcement to his supporters last month and they're not on the issues page of his website.


This isn't an accidental oversight. These simply aren't issues Sanders is passionate about in the way he's passionate about economic injustice. When my colleague Andrew Prokop profiled Sanders last year, he pointed out astutely that Sanders's career has been "laser-focused on checking the power of the wealthy above all else." Sanders believes in racial equality, sure, but he believes it will only come as the result of economic equality. To him, focusing on racial issues first is merely treating the symptom, not the disease.


To be honest, I can see where this analysis would be striking pretty true because, as a White Progressive, I have found myself expressing the very same sentiment about “rising tides” and, having never been racially profiled or had a friend or family member (to my knowledge) beaten or shot for being black or Latino, it is pretty easy for me to say that simply leveling the economic playing field will be a cure for all that ails us. But I can appreciate that point could get lost on someone who is constantly concerned that they or a loved one may not make it home from school, work, or looking for work on any given day simply because of how they look or the neighborhood they are in at the time. And here’s the thing that may be Bernie's tripping point, being a Democratic-Socialist brings with it an assumption of equality for all. From Andrew Prokop’s profile on Sanders:

Even as a student at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, influenced by the hours he spent in the library stacks reading famous philosophers, (Sanders) became frustrated with his fellow student activists, who were more interested in race or imperialism than the class struggle. They couldn't see that everything they protested, he later said, was rooted in "an economic system in which the rich controls, to a large degree, the political and economic life of the country."


So is this a real or only perceived challenge for Bernie? Is this something he (and his supporters) needs to address sooner rather than later in the campaign? I have heard him speak directly to black youth unemployment and to his involvement in introducing community policing to the streets of Burlington, Vermont but only when specifically asked about the events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and NYC. Therefore, I wonder if it isn’t important and proper that he start finding a way to elaborate on his fight for economic justice so that everyone who hears him can relate the reward of the struggle to their own situation. And, while I know he is well versed in his language about economic fairness, I wonder if he can be equally at home speaking to the parallel issue of social equality.

As I say, I believe that his strong commitment to Democratic-Socialism and his tie-ins to the various European and Scandinavian countries that practice it would indicate a strong commitment to "human equality = racial and gender equality" but will he begin to put an genuine effort into explaining that commitment and the way his platform will bring about results on that front? There is no doubt that the communities of color in this country have been on the frontlines of the revolution (too often standing alone). Sadly, as this Vox piece points out, the Democrats, at least on the Federal level, have failed in providing the type of effective leadership needed to move the agenda forward. From a purely political perspective, Lind has made the assertion that, because of Bernie’s perceived shortcomings in this area, Hillary Clinton may have an early advantage. In noting that Clinton has already advanced talking points on mass incarceration and immigration reform, Lind writes:

Of course, unlike Sanders's decades-long record of economic progressivism, Clinton is moving to the left on issues that she hasn't historically been a progressive leader on (to say the least). But she's doing so because she appears to recognize that the party has changed since she was a first lady or a senator, and because she wants to win the nomination and the presidency, she needs to move to meet it. Sanders is running to make the same points he's always made: that the rich are too powerful in America and the government needs to fix it. Clinton is running to win as many votes as possible. She doesn't embody any single progressive passion the way Sanders embodies economic populism — but it looks like she's responding to the progressive concerns Sanders has mostly ignored.


I believe that Bernie only needs to see and acknowledge his lack of direct outreach to this very large section of the American public that he has spent his career fighting for and he will respond in the direct and honest way with which he has responded to everything else he has been challenged by. And, most importantly for the campaign, his sincerity of purpose will far outshine Hillary’s “finger to the wind” rhetoric and will bring millions more to his camp as the revolution continues.

 


 

Peace,
Chad (the Left) Shue