You are hereElections

Elections


Iniquity, the 0.000006%, and Who Pays $300k to Hear Hillary

The United States' 20 wealthiest people (The 0.000006 Percent) now own more wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households. The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation's entire African-American population — plus more than a third of the Latino population — combined; more wealth combined than the bottom 61 percent of the U.S. population, an estimated 194 million people or 70 million households.

These stats are from the Middle Ages and also from the Institute for Policy Studies which acknowledges that much wealth is hidden offshore and the reality is likely even worse.

What did those 20 wealthiest, most meritorious people do to deserve such disgusting riches? The group includes four Wal-Mart heirs, three Mars candy heirs, and two Koch brother heirs. They earned their wealth by being born to wealthy parents, just like some who want to work for them, such as Donald Trump. One politician is actually one of them: Michael Bloomberg.

These individuals could fund a total shift to clean energy or end starvation on earth or eradicate diseases. That they choose not to is murderous and shameful. It's not their sacred right. It's not cute. And it's not funny when one of them pretends to give his money away by giving it to himself.

The 0.000006 Percent has a tight grip on the media as well, with Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post and Amazon, Sheldon Adelson buying newspapers, Mark Zuckerberg owning Facebook, Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Google, Warren Buffet owning whole chains of newspapers, and again Bloomberg with Bloomberg News.

In the first phase of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, according to the New York Times, 158 wealthy donors provided half of all campaign contributions, 138 of them backing Republicans, 20 backing Democrats. No candidate can easily compete without huge amounts of money. And if you get it from small donors, as Bernie Sanders has done the most of, you'll be largely shut out of free media coverage, and belittled in the bit of coverage you're granted. The media coverage, the debate questions, and the topics discussed are determined by the interests of the wealthy in this national oligarchy.

Then there's the corrupt foundation money and speaking fees flowing into the Clinton family from wealthy sources in the U.S. and abroad. While most Americans are unable to sit through a full presidential debate, Wall Street, Big Pharma, and corporate technology interests have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars supposedly just to hear Hillary or Bill Clinton speak.

According to a new report by Consortium News, Hillary Clinton took in $11.8 million in 51 speaking fees between January 2014 to May 2015. Bill Clinton delivered 53 paid speeches to bring in $13.3 million during that same period. That's over $25 million total, largely if not entirely from wealthy parties with a strong interest in influencing U.S. government policy.

This system of rewarding former politicians is one of the great corrupting forces in Washington, DC, but the revolving door that brings such politicians back into power makes it many times worse.

According to the Washington Post, since 1974 the Clintons have raised at least $3 billion, including at least $69 million just from the employees and PACs of banks, insurance companies, and securities and investment firms.

According to the International Business Times, the Clintons' foundation took in money from foreign nations while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, nations such as Saudi Arabia for which she then waived restrictions on U.S. weapons sales. (Also on that list: Algeria, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar.) I brought this up on a recent television program, and one of the other guests protested that I was not, at that moment, criticizing Donald Trump. But, even if we assume Trump is the worst person on earth, what has he done that is worse than taking a bribe to supply Saudi Arabia with the weapons that have since been used to slaughter children in Yemen? And what does Trump have to do with bribery? He's self-corrupted. He's in the race because of the financial barrier keeping decent people out. But he hasn't been bribed to act like a fascist.

The Wall Street Journal reports that during the same period, Bill Clinton was bringing in big speaking fees from companies, groups, and a foreign government with interests in influencing the U.S. State Department. Eight-digit donors to the Clintons' foundations include Saudi Arabia and Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk. Seven digit donors include: Kuwait, Exxon Mobil, Friends of Saudi Arabia, James Murdoch (son of Rupert), Qatar, Boeing, Dow, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart and the United Arab Emirates. Those chipping in at least half a million include Bank of America, Chevron, Monsanto, Citigroup, and the Soros Foundation. And they don't even get a speech!

Sign this petition:
We urge the Clintons to clear their corrupted image by donating their $25 million in recent lecture fees to organizations legitimately working for campaign finance reform, Wall Street reform, environmental protection, and peace.

Watch this video.

Clinton, Sanders and the Libya War - Jan 5, 2016


During the last Democratic presidential debate Sanders criticized Clinton foreign policy saying that she is "too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.” Clinton responded: "With all due respect, senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. You joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Gaddafi, and you asked that there be a Security Council validation of that with a resolution.” Sanders did not reply. Hopefully he will do it next time when the issue arises again with Clinton or the Republican presidential candidate. The Senate resolution co-sponsored by Sanders calls on Gaddafi to “recognize the Libyan people’s demand for democratic change, resign his position and permit a peaceful transition to democracy.” The resolution urges the United Nations Security Council to consider the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory "to protect civilians in Libya” but it does not call for war and military action to overthrow Gaddafi. The resolution was agreed to Senate on March 1, 2011. Few weeks later, when the US, EU and NATO began the military intervention in Libya, Sanders told Fox News: "I think one of the things many people are upset about is this war took place without consultation of the Congress, without debate within the Congress...I hope the president tells us that our troops will be leaving there, that our military action in Libya will be ending very, very shortly.” Conclusion: Sanders did not support the Libya war.


I do not agree with the Senate resolution which contains the false statement that Gaddafi was killing thousands of people to repress the revolt. The resolution defends the protesters "demanding democratic reforms" but ignores the fact that they included armed Islamic estremists with Al Qaeda in a significant role. In another false statement the Senate resolution hints that Gaddafi personally ordered the terrorist attack that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270. There is no evidence of his involvement. The Libya former Minister of Justice Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who resigned during the  2011 rebellion, claimed to possess documents proving that Gaddafi personally ordered the airplane bombing but later denied making this claim saying he was misquoted. In 2003, Gaddafi paid compensation to the families of the Lockerbie victims, although he maintained that he had never given the order for the attack.


The U.S. military intervention in Libya is Obama's major foreign policy mistake. Decisions taken at the top of U.S., European and Arab circles have caused the immense suffering of the people at the bottom. The establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya proved to be the first step towards an incremental military intervention that lead to the toppling of the Gaddafi regime. Hillary Clinton and her close associates, former US Ambassador Susan Rice and National Security Council aide Samantha Power, lead the charge advocating the Libya war within the Obama administration. Opposed were Secretary of Defense Gates, the national security adviser Tom Donilon and counterterrorism chief John Brennan. In the end a reluctant Obama, who was also pressed by France, Britain and the Arab League, sided with Clinton on Libya. A groundbreaking article by the Washington Times reports that, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli, top Pentagon officials "so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gaddafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis.” The tapes were reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants. The nation’s highest-ranking generals were concerned that president Obama and Congress were being misinformed on Libya. On tape an American intermediary specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Libya said: “You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts.”


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Jan 2, 2016


Speaking fees meet politics for Clintons, Former president spoke to groups with issues before State Department - WSJ


House Oversight Probes Hillary Speech Fees To Clinton Foundation - Forbes


Letter of House Oversight Committee Chair about the speech fees Mrs. Clinton failed to disclose while she was Secretary of State - house.gov


Watergate Prosecutor op-ed: 'Clinton cannot avoid having to respond to questions about foundation activities and speaking fees’ - CNN


RICO suit against Clinton Foundation trial Jan 20 - Media Circus


Clinton raised $37 million in last 3 months, she also raised $18 million for the Democratic National Committee and state parties - New York Times


Clinton Tops List of Arms Company Donations - teleSUR English


ARCHIVE: Clinton Foundation amends its tax return forms from four separate years due to errors in the reporting, admits to millions in foreign cash - Fox Nation


ARCHIVE: Clinton Foundation refiles ‘fraudulent financials’ with IRS - WND


ARCHIVE: Report of Wall Street Analyst: The Clinton Foundation Refiled, but the Errors Remain - Charles Ortel


ARCHIVE: Watchdog group FACT calls for probe of Clinton relationship with firm tied to son-in-law - Fox News


ARCHIVE: 41 years. $3 billion. Inside the Clinton donor network - Washington Post


ARCHIVE: Clinton close relationship with businessman who used offshore tax havens and paid IRS $250 million to avoid charges of tax evasion - Breibart


ARCHIVE: Judicial Watch Sues Treasury for Records on Hillary Clinton-Russian Uranium Scandal - marketwired.com


ARCHIVE: Long line of felons worked with nonprofit American India Foundation co-founded by Bill Clinton - Daily Mail Online


ARCHIVE: Clinton Foundation Running Private Equity Fund in Colombia - Washington Free Beacon

 

---------------------------------------------------

State Dept releases more Clinton emails: Hundreds are classified - AP


Email shows Soros regrets supporting Obama, complains he has never met with the President but can ‘always' get meeting with Hillary - Daily Caller


Hillary emails show ties to Rahm, Blumenthal, Clinton Foundation - Washington Examiner


That time Hillary Clinton's pollster told her to resign calling remarks by Obama 'the stupidest thing ever said by a president in foreign policy' - Washington Examiner


In email Sid Blumenthal floated rumor that Gaddafi supplied his troops with Viagra in order to rape rebel women, it was then voiced by Susan Rice during a UN’s Security Council meeting - Daily Caller


Hillary Clinton: I never told Benghazi victims' families the terror attack began over an anti-Islam video, Four of them say she is lying - Daily Mail Online


ARCHIVE: Journalist Friedman details Clinton's crucial mistake over Libya: Ignoring Pentagon and NSC advice and supporting Sarkozy in bombing Gaddafi and seeking regime change - PRNewswire


VIDEO ARCHIVE: Architects of disaster: The destruction of Libya, Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Hoekstra offers an analysis of a disastrous foreign policy decision - heritage.org


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Identity Berned

Every time I write about a book about Bernie Sanders, somebody sends me a better one. If this keeps up, by the time his campaign is over I should be reading the best book ever written and be completely out of touch with reality. The latest is The Bern Identity by Will Bunch.

These books don't make me like Bernie Sanders any more or less, or for that matter take seriously any more or less the idea that a likable personality is particularly relevant. But they do inform me about Sanders and about his supporters. Bunch's is the most substantive, best researched, and most coherent book of the bunch so far.

Bunch admires Bernie for learning the lessons of the 1960s and, for the most part, never selling out. Bunch finds this remarkable, almost unique. And, of course, it is that among U.S. Senators, and among the gang of misfits occupying the two stages at the freak shows we call presidential primary debates. But there are many thousands of people who woke up during the 1960s and never went to sleep. Many of them have worked for peace and justice ever since with hardly a burnout. One could pick any number of them and stack their accomplishments up quite impressively against those of Bernie Sanders.

Yes, I agree that Bernie's injecting of a little bit of sense into corporate television is important and very hard to measure. Yes, I have no doubt that there's a bit more integrity and relevance in Bernie's background than there was in the legend of the African-American community-organizing author come to save us while shrewdly pretending not to. But Bernie holding the biggest political rallies in some big cities since Eugene McCarthy may not be an unmixed blessing.

I've written before about Bernie volunteers professing to be motivated by policies that their candidate explicitly opposes. Yet I cannot stay untouched by the excitement Bunch depicts at massive Bernie rallies he's attended. It's wonderful for people to suddenly discover that something might be possible, to suddenly give a damn, to suddenly do a tiny something about it. But it's also miserable to consider that they have been so well trained to do this only as cheerleaders for a candidate.

Surely that's not the lesson of the 1960s in which the civil rights and antiwar and other movements organized around issues and imposed change on the entire bipartisan political structure -- just as major change has usually been brought about. Yes, elections were hugely important in the Sixties, but they were secondary. Now they are Everything. The peace movement shut down in 2007 because there was to be an election in 2008, and it won't start up again until a Republican moves into the White House. Elections are terrific -- I'd love to see a fair and open one in the United States some day -- but there is a danger in the new myth that they are all that there is.

Bunch's book celebrates Bernie Sanders as having stayed true to his Sixties politics all these years, while the public moved away and has finally returned to him. I think there's something to that, but would offer a few caveats. First, there have always been millions of people wanting progressive policies, and they have been effectively shut out by the media, by the Democratic Party, and by an increasingly corrupted political system. Second, the other candidates have moved so far right that Bernie is closer to where a middle of the roader sits. Third, Bernie is fundamentally rightwing on militarism, and nobody wants to analyze that problem in any depth.

On the first point, I recommend Ted Rall's book on Bernie, the first half of which is a history of the Democratic Party's flight to the right.

On the second point, let's be honest, there are many people who could be doing more or less what Bernie is doing right now in the Democratic Primary. Most potential candidates sat this one out, either because Hillary Clinton claimed such a lock on the nomination or because committing to support her should she win was too revolting a decision to make in order to run as a Democrat. The media completely whites out third-party candidates like Jill Stein, and the public has been convinced they're useless. And yet, even as the Republicans ape Hitler and Mussolini, Hillary Clinton tries to position herself to their right. Bernie is a brilliant, dedicated, relatively honest candidate who has been given an opening by a combination of circumstances, not least of them perhaps the media's notion that an undecided primary is better for ratings as long as there's no risk of someone like Sanders actually winning.

On the third point, Bunch's history of Sanders' life suggests that it's not entirely new for him to give far less interest to peace than to domestic matters. There's no account of Sanders growing outraged over the war on Vietnam, rather over President John Kennedy's opposition to the Cuban revolution. Sanders registered as a conscientious objector, but he organized against racial discrimination and against restrictions on having sex on campus. Bunch seems not to notice the elephant that's not in the room. He says a Sanders speech is a laundry list of liberal issues in which everyone will hear whatever they're waiting for. Not if you're waiting to hear about peace.

Bunch doesn't hide the shortcomings. He notes that the Sanders campaign staff forced the removal of a banner advocating rights for Palestinians, that in 1983 peace activists protested a GE weapons plant in Burlington demanding conversion to peaceful manufacturing and Mayor Sanders had them arrested in the name of preserving 3,000 weapons-making jobs, and that in recent years Sanders has supported the production of the F-35 also in the name of jobs for Vermonters.

In 1972 Sanders wrote, as Bunch quotes him, that the daily U.S. military budget was greater than the annual state budget of Vermont. At $4 billion today, the state of Vermont is slightly over one day's military spending (taking annual military spending to be $1.2 trillion) but it has been a long time since Sanders has demanded conversion to peaceful spending. Instead, he has accepted the truly sociopathic notion that jobs (and jobs of a particular sort, as if a good socialist doesn't know that the same dollars could produce more jobs if spent on peace) justify militarism. Imagine how that sounds to the 96% of humanity never mentioned by Sanders, except when citing the successes of European nations whose radically lower military spending he seems not to have noticed.

Dear parent of dead children in Yemen just blown up by U.S. weapons, let me assure you that the money Saudi Arabia paid for those weapons -- if not the "contributions" to the Clinton family -- produced a lot of jobs. And while we could have had even more jobs by investing in something useful like green energy that would keep you from baking to death in the years to come, the fact is that I don't really give a damn.

Militarism is at least half of what Congress spends money on each year. It's not my personal quirky interest. Is it OK that Bernie excuses Israel's crimes because he's Jewish? Should we overlook his support for guns because he's from Vermont? These are debatable, because he's so wonderful on so many other things. But continuing down the path of sociopathic militarism is not an option if we are to maintain a livable planet. Bernie voted against the 2003 attack on Iraq, but then worked against those in Congess trying to block funding for it. Was that the right compromise? Was that authenticity?

Of course, the military spending debate is usually about the wars that add 10% or so to the standard military spending. When it comes to those, Sanders wants Saudi Arabia to start paying for them. But there are problems with that scheme. First, Saudi Arabia gets its money by selling the world the poisonous fossil fuels that will destroy it. Second, Saudi Arabia buys the biggest pile of its weapons from the United States, which thereby contributes to the mass slaughter -- and everyone knows it. Third, Saudi Arabia is one of the largest sources of funding and support for the people that Bernie imagines it funding a war against. Fourth, continuing these insane wars in the Middle East will continue to spread violence around and outside of that region, including to the United States, regardless of what share of the bill the United States is asking Saudi Arabia to pick up. That cycle of violence will only end by taking a different approach, not by continuing down the same road with a different billing scheme.

The great hope that comes to the smarter people at rallies for good candidates under corrupt electoral systems is that they are building a movement that will outlast the campaign. But when has that actually happened? And how can such a candidate-focused movement not bow before the candidate's own compromises?

The election book we really need is the one that explains the minor role elections play in social change. The next-best election book that we need, the one I keep looking for, is the one that outlines what each candidate proposes to do if elected. What would their proposed budgets look like? Which nations would they bomb first? Does Bernie think military spending is too high or too low? Who knows! I expect the question not to come up in the next dozen Bernie books, but I'll keep looking.

Bern the Feel

If you have to obsess over a political candidate who's ocassionally allowed on television, please do so with Ted Rall's book on Bernie. This is not John Nichols' interview of Bernie in which he forgets that foreign policy even exists. This is not Jonathan Tasini's almost worshipful book in which he selectively includes the best and omits the worst of Bernie Sanders' record.

And this is not even just an honest look at the facts about Bernie (which Rall sees as far more positive than negative). What sets this book apart is not that it's a cartoon, but that it's an argument for placing Bernie Sanders in a particular position in U.S. history, namely as the restoration of liberalism to a Democratic Party that hasn't seen it since the McGovern campaign.

In fact, a huge chunk of the book is not about Bernie at all, but is a history of the rightward drifting of the Democratic Party over the decades. Another big chunk is a history of Bernie's childhood and career. Both of these sections are well done. Then comes the "Return of the Democratic Left," the supposed rebirth of leftism within the Democratic Party.

Rall suggests this as a possibility, but I'm pretty sure he finds it quite a bit more likely than I do. Rall says that in order to win, Bernie has to create the impression that he can win. Well, of course, in a certain sense he could. Polls show him defeating Trump, for whatever polls are worth, and defeating him by more than Hillary Clinton would.

But is that what Bernie has to do to win? I should think he would have to convince the media gatekeepers that he favors corporate power, that he would have to win over the corrupt super-delegates, that he or a team of lawyers or a movement of activists would have to clean out the bureaucracy of the corrupt Democratic National Committee.

I remain convinced that the media is keeping Sanders and Trump around for ratings and will destroy them as soon as it chooses, and never chooses to do such a thing as early as the December of the year before the election. In part, I attribute a lot more power to the media in general than Rall may. He tells the story of the rise and fall of Occupy without mentioning the media that fundamentally created it and largely destroyed it. I also am of course aware that history is not quite as simple as a fairy tale.

"Here for the first time in 40 years was a candidate running for the Democratic nomination who was talking about bread and butter issues," writes Rall of Sanders. But such candidates have of course existed. The year 2004 doesn't make it into Rall's history, or the name John Kerry, but in that year I worked for the campaign of Dennis Kucinich who also ran in 2008. His campaigns failed badly, but Jesse Jackson's campaign of 1984 won more states than Sanders has yet won.

Sanders is doing remarkably well, but when people's televisions tell them they must vote against him, will they disobey? The U.S. public has become intensely obedient. I think it's worth keeping a few things in mind:

1. The U.S. government mostly produces weapons and wars. Militarism is at least half of discretionary spending every year. Rall honestly notes various wars that Bernie has supported. But neither Rall nor anyone else has the slightest idea whether Sanders thinks military spending should stay at 50% of the budget, drop to 5%, or rise to 90%. Such basic policy questions are not asked.

2. Most serious political change has never come through elections, it has come through popular movements that influence or overwhelm whoever happens to hold power.

3. If Bernie is tossed under the bus by the caucus and primary voters, in predictable obedience to their televisions, the cause of saving the earth will not be lost. You will not be required to go into deep mourning. An interesting distraction will have been set aside, nothing more.

4. Understanding all of that, it'd certainly be better for Bernie to win than any of the other Democrats and Republicans. And it would mean the sort of Rooseveltian transformation of the Democratic Party that Rall sees coming.



Focus: Clinton and Sanders and the Quinnipiac Poll - Dec 23, 2015

I am going to compare the attitudes of the Independents, Democrats and Republicans towards Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Quinnipiac poll released today. Clinton has a very solid lead among Democrats while Sanders is the choice of Independents who instead dislike Clinton by a large margin. Republican swing voters may lean to vote for Sanders, not for Clinton.

If the primary for President were being held today, 61% of Democrats would vote for Clinton and 30% for Sanders. Among Democrats, Clinton gets 82% favorable opinion and 13% unfavorable; Sanders gets 69% favorable and 8% unfavorable. Only 3% of Democrats have not heard enough about Clinton while 21% have not heard enough about Sanders. Democrats overwhelming think that Clinton has the ‘right experience' compared to Sanders, 82% by 12%. Also they regard Clinton as a 'strong leader' compared to Sanders, 69% to 21%. Moreover 57% of Democrats say that Clinton ‘cares' about their problems, only 34% say the same about Sanders. Being honest and trustworthy is a characteristic won by Sanders over Clinton, but it is not a priority for the Democrats.

Focus: Democratic Presidential Debate - Dec 20, 2015

 

I urge Sen. Sanders to be friendly and accommodating with Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate regarding the data breach. He should admit that a serious mistake was done by his campaign staff and say that he will do everything to remedy the damage done to the Clinton campaign including an investigation and disclosure of the incident. This way he will avoid arguing with Clinton and spending debate time on this issue. Clearly the wrong is on the Sanders camp who should have not search and retrieve the Clinton campaign data. At stake is not only Sanders reputation as honest and trustworthy but also as a leader who can manage a crisis situation in a balanced and objective manner.


During the debate, Hillary Clinton hawkish foreign policy should be denounced as posing a great danger for US and the world as demonstrated on Iraq, Libya, Syria, Russia and Ukraine. On the other hand her domestic policy of limited reforms is weak and inadequate. Sen. Sanders should emphatically call for adding more Democratic debates and on TV prime time to give the voters essential information on the candidates’ reactions to the fast breaking pace of evolving US and world events. Today's debate, running against Christmas shopping, an NFL game and the opening weekend of the new "Star Wars” movie, will limit the number of potential viewers. The Hill reports that with current averages the 12 Republican debates will reach about 200 million viewers  compared to about 75 million for the 6 Democratic events. The current DNC debate schedule clearly favors frontrunner Hillary Clinton shielding her from more challenging questions and answers. In general limiting debates is a detriment to the national discussion and hampers Democrats’ ability to build excitement for their issues. 

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Focus: Sanders and the Clinton Data Breach - Dec 19, 2015


According to news reports listed below, Sanders campaign staff conducted searches of data stored by Hillary Clinton's campaign and saved some of the files related to 10 early primary states, including Iowa and New Hampshire. "The staffers who secured access to the Clinton data included national data director Josh Uretsky, who was fired on Thursday, and his deputy, Russell Drapkin. The two other usernames that viewed Clinton information were “talani" and "csmith_bernie," created by Uretsky's account after the breach began. Though the Sanders campaign initially claimed that it had not saved Clinton data, the logs show that the Vermont senator’s team created at least 24 lists during the 40-minute breach, which started at 10:40 a.m., and saved those lists to their personal folders. The Sanders searches included New Hampshire lists related to likely voters, "HFA Turnout 60-100" and "HFA Support 50-100," that were conducted and saved by Uretsky. Drapkin's account searched for and saved lists including less likely Clinton voters, "HFA Support <30" in Iowa, and "HFA Turnout 30-70"' in New Hampshire.”


If this is true, Sen. Sanders owns an apology to the Democratic National Committee and to Hillary Clinton. Sen. Sanders should order a full investigation. All the staff involved should be removed from their jobs, fired or disciplined. It is possible that Sanders was unaware of the Clinton data breach and the staff members involved acted on their own without orders or knowledge from above. Sanders should abide by the DNC recommendations that, in order to regain access to the his voter file, he should provide "a full accounting of whether or not this information was used and the way in which it was disposed.”


Reports: 4 Sanders Staffers Searched Clinton Data And Saved Files - talkingpointsmemo.com


More on the Clinton Data Breach and Theft by the Sanders campaign staff - Democratic Underground


DNC's full statement on the voter data breach by the Sanders Camp - talkingpointsmemo.com


VIDEO: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Defends Suspending Sanders Access To DNC Data System - RealClearPolitics


Statement by IT company NGP VAN on DNC data security and privacy - blog.ngpvan.com


Sanders campaign manager Weaver threatens to sue DNC - TheHill


Statement by Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders 2016 Campaign Manager - Bernie Sanders


VIDEO: Bernie Sanders campaign manager Weaver threatens to DNC to court if data access not restored - YouTube

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

In Midst of ExxonMobil Climate Denial Scandal, Company Hiring Climate Change Researcher

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Caught in the crosshairs of an ongoing New York Attorney General investigation exploring its role in studying the damage climate change could cause since the 1970's and then proceeding to fund climate science denial campaigns, ExxonMobil has announced an interesting job opening. 

Focus: Terrorism and the U.S. Presidential Campaign - Dec 13, 2015

 

NYT/CBS poll shows that terrorism is voters' top pick for the biggest issue facing America. It may be a temporary trend due to the shocks of the San Bernardino and Paris tragedies. "Last month only 4% of Americans said terrorism was the most important problem.... Now nearly one in five -- 19% -- believe it is. Previous recent NYT/CBS polls found the economy was the top challenge." Terrorism is taking center stage in the presidential campaigns. Hillary Clinton vows to defeat Islamic State if elected and will outline her strategy for homeland security next week. The Independent reports today that Islamic State has released a new video; digitally altered footage shows IS tanks advancing towards the Colosseum in Rome and St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is also filmed.

 

To be successful against terrorism, U.S. and Europe must forge a new partnership with Russia on equal terms to address the world conflicts and security threats. Russia should not be treated as an adversary or worse as an enemy. Putin should be respected as world leader, not disparaged. The new partnership could involve also China which usually teams up with Russia on foreign affairs. The Bernie Sanders proposal to create a new international organization like NATO, that will include Russia and Arab nations, may be the way forward securing world stability and peace. Sanders says: "We must create an organization like NATO to confront the security threats of the 21st century, an organization that emphasizes cooperation and collaboration to defeat the rise of violent extremism and importantly to address the root causes underlying these brutal acts. We must work with our NATO partners, and expand our coalition to include Russia and members of the Arab League.”

 

Next January talks between the Assad government and the Syrian opposition may take place if the parties agree. A Nov 13 statement from the International Syria Support Group, which includes among others U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, calls for a Syria constitutional reform process leading to presidential elections under U.N. supervision within 18 months. Opposition groups, meeting this week in Saudi Arabia, insist as a precondition for talks that Assad and his aides quit power "with the start of the transition period." This is a non-starter because Russia and Iran do not accept the removal of Assad from power before the new presidential elections. The balance of power in Syria favors Russia and Iran. Russian massive military intervention in Syria is a game changer. Its top priority is to defend its historical ally, to preserve the Syrian state institutions from collapsing and avoid an Iraq and Libya scenarios. It sends a message to those who want regime change by military means that they will not succeed.

 

According to some reports State institutions and private donors in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf nations provide weapons supplies and cash flows to the jihadi terrorists in Syria, allow oil trade with them and influx of foreign fighters. They may also provide training, transport, logistical support and medical assistance. This is in the contest of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran which fuels the conflict between the Sunni and the Shia. It is also a struggle for the control and distribution of oil and gas. In addition Turkey opposes the formation an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria which could be replicated within its own land. Until these nations aid and abet jihadi terrorism, there will always be security risks in the Middle East and beyond. References:

State Sponsors Of The Islamic State: The Turkey, Saudi, Qatar Connection

America's Allies Are Funding ISIS

Report: Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State

ISIS gets men and $800 million from Turkey

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

Focus: Bernie Sanders, gun control and hunting - Dec 11, 2015

 

I urge Bernie Sanders to stop talking about hunting in the framework of his gun control plan. He comes from rural Vermont where hunting is common. He says, "In Vermont, New Hampshire and all over this country we have a lot of people who hunt. I support people's rights to hunt, it's part of our cultural heritage. But people do not go hunting with assault weapons.” He adds, "I can understand if some Democrats or Republicans represent an urban area where people don't hunt, don't do target practice, they're not into guns. But in my state, people go hunting and do target practice.” He could just avoid this reference to hunting altogether while talking about gun control. Video of Sanders speech which calls for gun safety legislation after the San Bernardino massacre and does not mention hunting. 


Hunting hurts of the feelings animal rights supporters and in general of pet owners who amount to great numbers. Besides the ethical question of killing animals for recreation, it is also politically convenient not to alienate these voters. According to a poll, more than three in five Americans (62%) have at least one pet in their household, with ownership highest among the two youngest generations tested (65% among Millennials, 71% among Gen X). What's more, 95% of pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family. In addition growing percentages of pet owners frequently or occasionally buy birthday presents for their pets (45%) and cook for them (31%), let their pets sleep in bed with them (71%) and buy them holiday presents (64%).


Animal rights is now a mainstream movement like civil and human rights, environmentalism, feminism, etc. This is an article by Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): Why Sport Hunting Is Cruel and Unnecessary.


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Focus: Bernie Sanders - Dec 8, 2015


Sen. Sanders should consider the option of running as independent candidate in the presidential elections if Hillary Clinton is nominated by the Democratic party. The nomination of Clinton is not yet a fait accompli. Something may happen to turn the tide against Clinton and in favour of Sanders. But she may lock up the nomination with the help of the Democratic party machine, superdelegates, the endorsements of top Democratic politicians and major unions, super PACs, the Democratic National Committee, a favorable coverage by some big media outlets, etc. It may well be that Sanders will not win the Democratic nomination by virtue of  his superior political platform and his activism; there are powerful interests that are opposing and trying to torpedo his candidacy. This is an aspect of the corrupt and rigged electoral system Sanders is talking about. There is also the possibility of a political cover up of Clinton misconducts regarding the private email server, the dealings of the Clinton Foundation and the Benghazi attack.

 

I believe that Sanders can win the November elections unlike past independent and third party candidates. First of all he has the backing of a progressive mass movement which will largely stick with him until the end. There is no other candidate that can represent it. Sanders is very popular; one more proof is that he has won the online readers’ poll for TIME Person of the Year, 'topping some of the world’s best-known politicians, activists and cultural figures as the most influential person of 2015 among those who voted.’ Sanders has the funding that will allow him to endure a protracted campaign. Democrats who will vote for Clinton in the November elections are a minority. A Gallup poll shows independents are the largest sector of the electorate, they are a key factor to win the Presidency. By running as independent Sanders will have more time to present his case to the American people, to make himself known to those that have not ‘heard enough’ of him, to gain political legitimacy and reputation as national and world leader.

Focus: Hillary Clinton and Wall Street - Dec 8, 2015


Clinton pens NYT op-ed 'to rein in Wall Street', does not go as far as Sanders who calls for breaking up the biggest banks - Guardian


Clinton offers new 'exit tax' on US-foreign company mergers - AP


Hillary Clinton Op-Ed: How I’d Rein In Wall Street - The New York Times


The NYT readers aren't buying Hillary Clinton's "How I’d Rein In Wall Street” - Althouse


Clinton's Commitment to Wall Street Crackdown Questioned - Fox Business


The US financial industry should listen to leftwing reformers, and reinstate the Glass-Steagall act - FT.com


Why this financial industry insider is rooting for Bernie to take the whole thing apart (AUDIO) - Public Radio International


VIDEO ARCHIVE: FDIC’s Hoenig talks about his proposal to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act and regulation of the financial industry - Bloomberg Business


ARCHIVE: Shoot Bank Of America Now—-The Case For Super Glass-Steagall Is Overwhelming - David Stockman's Contra Corner


Clinton opened State Department to fundraisers, campaign staff and corporate donors - AP


Hillary Clinton defends her meetings with corporate executives and Wall Street donors while Secretary of State, says she can't be bought (VIDEO) - Newsmax


Opinion: let's have a look at how hard it is to buy Hillary - Frontpage Mag


ARCHIVE: Wall Street has made Hillary Clinton a millionaire (VIDEO) - CNN


Clinton Super PAC Donor Is Former Goldman Exec and Foreclosure Crisis Profiteer - theintercept.com

 

A Revolving Door Helps Big Banks’ Quiet Campaign to Muscle Out Fannie and Freddie - The New York Times


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Dec 6, 2015

 

According to this article, "Ninety-one percent of Democratic respondents to Quinnipiac’s poll said they thought Hillary had “strong leadership qualities,” and 96 percent said they thought she had the right experience. About 30 percent less of those respondents thought the same about Bernie.” Clearly the Democratic voters did not get the message that Hillary Clinton record and experience as leader is abysmal. I am talking about foreign policy which is my field, not domestic issues. From Iraq to Libya to Syria she has been pro-war and pro-regime change through violent means. 


Unfortunately Obama followed her advice on Libya when she urged the President to wage a war against Gaddafi. To date she defends her position and characterizes it as “smart power at its best.” The spectacle of what is Libya today is in front of our eyes: oil field shutdowns, economic decline, disintegration of central authority, soaring number of refugees some of them dead on the sea before arrival to the countries of destination, rising power of armed militias including the Islamic State and Qaeda which pose a security risk to Africa, Europe and also United States. Her "leadership qualities" were again tested on Benghazi when the State Department denied repeated requests by Ambassador Stevens and others to improve security of the American compounds in Libya, when Clinton failed to send any assistance to protect Stevens and his aides while they were under attack, never speaking at all to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey to request such military assistance.


On Syria she promoted the hardline strategy of massively arming the Syrian rebels in their struggle against Assad, establishing a Libyan-style no-fly zone and coordinating the action with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are fomenting the war and supporting the Islamic estremists . This time Obama said no to Hillary, leaving open the door to a diplomatic political solution of the Syrian crisis. Given her past “experience", is she going to pursue regime change also in Venezuela and other Latin American countries?


Clinton takes a tough line on Russia, refusing to recognize its legitimate interests in Ukraine and Syria. Her animosity towards Putin is well known likening the moves of the Russian President to the actions of Adolf Hitler and faulting European leaders for being “too wimpy” about challenging him. Regarding the Russian military intervention in Syria she said: "I think it's important too that the United States make it very clear to Putin that it's not acceptable for him to be in Syria.” According to the Washintgton Times, Hillary Clinton’s hawkish position on Russia troubles even the GOP. With this foreign policy record what kind of world are we going to live under President Clinton?


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Focus: Sanders's chief strategist Tad Devine - Dec 3, 2015


I checked the Twitter account of Tad Devine, the chief strategist of Bernie Sanders. I was surprised by some of his tweets. 


On Dec 2 he tweets a Washington Post article which talks about the future of the Democratic Party without delving into the substance of the crucial issues affecting society. No distinction between the the Clinton and Sanders plans. Just a reference to the "progressive economic agenda that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have begun to talk about in their campaigns.” Why Sanders’s chief political strategist called attention to this article?


He Tweets"Iowa (IA) Poll - November 25, 2015 - Clinton Leads Iowa Dem Caucus, | Quinnipiac University Connecticut https://t.co/jed8huwkRK”. In his tweet, Devine does not mention 42 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the same poll, compared with 51 percent for Clinton. Furthermore the poll shows that 47 percent of Democrats say Sanders can best handle the economy, while 42 percent say Clinton is best on this issue. 


On Nov 7 he retweeted: "Clinton proposes changing marijuana from a Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 drug so researchers can study impact of medical marijuana.” Why he did not reply that changing marijuana from a Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 is weak proposal compared to Bernie Sanders' support for repealing federal prohibition. Quoting Sanders, marijuana must be legalized “if we are serious about criminal justice reform and preventing many thousands of lives from being impacted because of criminal convictions for marijuana possession."


On Nov 15 he tweeted a New York Time articleAs Mayor, Bernie Sanders Was More Pragmatist Than Socialist. I am not going to comment on this because I have no knowledge of Sanders mayorship. Maybe Sanders should take a look at it to see if it is truthful.


I checked the political work of Tad Devine on Wikipedia. He worked for Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis in the field of delegate tracking and selection in their nomination campaigns. Later he served as a senior strategist to the campaigns of Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Without entering into the merits of each presidential candidate, it is a long string of failed campaigns. Regarding the 2008 Democratic presidential primary he was noncommittal about Obama and Clinton supporting neither candidate.


Devine also advised foreign leaders which I will not mention except Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2002. Protesters, angry for his gas policy, sparked a rebellion which forced him to flee to the U.S. Reportedly more than 60 people died and hundreds were injured as the military cracked down on opposition protests. De Lozada was the architect of the energy sector privatization and an unpopular income tax recommended by the IMF. To date Devine defends the former Bolivian President.


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

Regime change in Chicago!: Cover-Up of a Police Murder Requires Resignation of Chicago Mayor Emanuel

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bold yet belated move when he fired his embattled police superintendent in the wake of a national uproar surrounding the release of a chilling video that captured the police killing of a teen--a ward of the city of Chicago.

Almost a Century Ago, another Democratic Socialist Ran for President of the United States—from His Prison Cell

In the early twentieth century, roughly a century before Bernie Sanders’s long-shot run for the White House, another prominent democratic socialist, Eugene V. Debs, waged his own campaigns for the presidency.

Warmongers & Peacemongers: Learning How Not to Rule the World

By John Grant

 

[Al Qaeda’s] strategic objective has always been ... the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.

Bernie Sanders Mentioned the Military Budget

If U.S. President were not a mythical position but a serious job, the job interview would include asking the candidates their basic plans of action. This would start with, "What will you encourage Congress to spend a couple of trillion dollars on each year?"

At the moment, about half of federal discretionary spending is spent on one thing, militarism. A basic budget proposal from each candidate would tell us whether they think military spending should go up or down. Some of the Republicans have blurted out that they want it increased. Marco Rubio has lamented a failure to spend $100 billion more, suggesting that he would push for that increase. Rand Paul has denounced that idea, suggesting that he'd maintain or reduce military spending. But none of them has actually laid out a proposed budget in even the roughest terms.

The Democrats have avoided the subject even more. When forced to talk about the military, Senator Bernie Sanders has talked about waste and audits but left us completely in the dark as to what level he thinks spending should be. This is odd, because he talks about creating significant new spending all the time, for things like free college. But he never proposes to pay for such projects by pinching a bit from the military; he always proposes to tax billionaires -- which is always criticized by the media as severely and nonsensically as a proposal to cut the military would be.

CBS hosted a debate this weekend, and I thank them for actually posting a full transcript and a full video that can be fast-forwarded. This allows an interested person to not actually watch the god-awful thing, but to read it and watch the bits that the transcriber marked "unintelligible" or the bits that require particular attention.

Here are a few segments worth paying attention to:

SANDERS: "I think we have a disagreement. And-- the disagreement is that not only did I vote against the war in Iraq, if you look at history, John, you will find that regime change-- whether it was in the early '50s in Iran, whether it was toppling Salvador Allende in Chile or whether it was overthrowing the government [of] Guatemala way back when-- these invasions, these-- these toppling of governments, regime changes have unintended consequences. I would say that on this issue I'm a little bit more conservative than the secretary."

That's new and useful. If the U.S. were to stop overthrowing governments, most of the U.S. military could be dismantled. Here's where Sanders finally mentions the military budget:

SANDERS: "Let me pick up an issue that-- a very important issue that we have not yet discussed. This nation is the most powerful military in the world. We're spending over $600 billion a year on the military. [He means just in the Department of so-called Defense alone, not counting Homeland Security, State, Energy, etc.] And yet significantly less than 10% of that money is used to be fighting international terrorism. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars maintaining 5,000 nuclear weapons. I think we need major reform in the military making it more cost effective but also focusing on the real crisis that faces us. The Cold War is over and our focus has got to be on intelligence, increased manpower, fighting international terrorism."

The upside here is that Sanders pointed out the military price-tag -- and perhaps the idea of reducing or eliminating the nukes. The downside is that he didn't suggest cutting militarism. He didn't suggest moving money away from militarism. He only proposed to move money, from place to place, within the field of militarism. When asked later about taxing people to pay for college, Sanders failed to mention cutting military spending.

Wanting "cost-effective" military spending, of course, means getting good killing power for your buck. Sanders wants to kill; he just wants to spend as little on it as possible. Whether he ultimately wants military spending reduced, increased, or kept at its current level we just don't know. He talks up foreign evils and the need to fight them enough that one could as reasonably guess he wants an increase as a decrease. But one way in which Sanders wants to be "cost-effective" is by getting other nations to fight wars. Since most of these other nations are armed largely with U.S. weapons, he may also think this is good for business:

"The-- the secretary's obviously right. It is enormously complicated. But here's something that I believe we have to do is we put together an international coalition. And that is we have to understand that the Muslim nations in the region, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, all of these nations, they're gonna just have to get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground. They are gonna have to take on ISIS. This is a war for the soul of Islam. And those countries who are opposed to Islam, they are gonna have to get deeply involved in a way that is not the case today. We should be supportive of that effort. So should the UK, so should France. But those Muslim countries are gonna have to lead the efforts. They are not doing it now."

Elsewhere in the debate he said the U.S. should "lead." Here he wants the "Muslim nations" that "are opposed to Islam" to "get their hands dirty." Saudi Arabia is slaughtering children in Yemen with U.S. weapons, beheading children at home, funding the terrorists Bernie wants it to take the lead in destroying, and shipping poison to the world in the form of oil that will render Saudi Arabia uninhabitable this century. That's not "dirty" enough?

The potential plus side of Sanders always saying he wants someone else to fight wars, even if he doesn't understand who would fight on which side, is that it suggests he might not want the U.S. to fight as many wars. If you contrast that with Hillary Clinton's eagerness to be the toughest militarist on the planet, Bernie wins. If you contrast it with a sane sustainable foreign policy, he loses. If you try to figure out what he actually wants to do in any sort of detail, you clearly have not understood what the point of these horrible debates is.

Obama Administration Approves Pipeline Expansion Set to Feed First Ever Fracked Gas Export Terminal

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Obama Administration has quietly approved expansion of a major pipeline carrying fracked gas destined for the global export market.

Are Americans too passive?: Ben Carson and the Cult of First Responders

By John Grant


Dr. Ben Carson rocked the presidential campaign TV circus by suggesting the victims of the Roseburg, Oregon, shooting were too passive in responding to the lunatic gunman who shot and killed his writing professor and eight classmates. Carson received derision from the left and from liberals like Chris Matthews; on the right, he was defended by Bill O’Reilly and others.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Campaign 2016 as a Demobilizing Spectacle

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

What Congress Should Ask Hillary Clinton

There are dozens of Hillary Clinton scandals that I have no wish to minimize. But how is it that her habits of secrecy themselves attract more interest than the secrets already exposed?

Here is someone who has allowed shipments of weapons to countries that effectively paid her bribes. Last May the International Business Times published an article by David Sirota and Andrew Perez with the headline "Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton's State Department."

As the article recounts, Clinton approved a massive weapons sale to Saudi Arabia, almost certainly involving weapons since used to bomb innocent families in Yemen, despite official State Department positions on Saudi Arabia and, I might add, in apparent violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

"In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise she has overseen with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing -- the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 -- contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release.

"The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton's State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire, an International Business Times investigation has found.

". . . American [military] contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements."

Among the nations that the State Department itself criticized for abusive actions (and most of which Clinton herself criticized for funding terrorism) but which donated to the Clinton Foundation and gained clearance for U.S. weapons purchases from Clinton's State Department were: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. In 2010 the State Department criticized Algeria, Algeria donated to the Clinton Foundation, and . . .

"Clinton's State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country. The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as 'toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment' after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year."

Also, "The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria's donation until this year -- a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration."

Companies whose weapons sales Clinton's State Department approved to nations it had previously refused included these donors to the Clinton Foundation: Boeing, General Electric, Goldman Sachs (Hawker Beechcraft), Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, and United Technologies.

Clinton's State Department, we can observe in the WikiLeaks cables, spent a great deal of time pushing foreign nations of all sorts to buy weapons from the above companies. Here's Fortune magazine in 2011:

"Perhaps the most striking account of arms advocacy . . . is a December 2008 cable from Oslo that recaps the embassy's push to persuade Norway to buy Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) instead of the Gripen, a fighter jet made by Sweden's Saab. The cable reads like a Lockheed sales manual. 'The country team has been living and breathing JSF for over a year, following a road to success that was full of heart-stopping ups and downs,' wrote the American official. He lists helpful suggestions for other diplomats looking to promote weapons: work 'with Lockheed Martin to determine which aspects of the purchase to highlight'; 'jointly develop a press strategy with Lockheed Martin'; 'create opportunities to talk about the aircraft.' 'Promoting economic security and prosperity at home and abroad is critical to America's national security, and thus central to the Department of State's mission,' the department spokesman wrote in an e-mail."

The Washington Post reported in April of last year:

"On a trip to Moscow early in her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton played the role of international saleswoman, pressing Russian government officials to sign a multibillion-dollar deal to buy dozens of aircraft from Boeing. A month later, Clinton was in China, where she jubilantly announced that the aerospace giant would be writing a generous check to help resuscitate floundering U.S. efforts to host a pavilion at the upcoming World's Fair. Boeing, she said, 'has just agreed to double its contribution to $2 million.' Clinton did not point out that, to secure the donation, the State Department had set aside ethics guidelines that first prohibited solicitations of Boeing and then later permitted only a $1 million gift from the company. Boeing had been included on a list of firms to be avoided because of its frequent reliance on the government for help negotiating overseas business and concern that a donation could be seen as an attempt to curry favor with U.S. officials."

Secretary of State Clinton dramatically increased U.S. weapons sales to the Middle East. Between 2008 and 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service, 79% of weapons shipments to the Middle East were from the United States.

Fun as it might be to watch long hours of Congress members asking Clinton why she destroyed emails or how an ambassador bringing peace, love, and happiness to Libya (and Syria) ended up dead, wouldn't it make more sense to ask her something like this:

Secretary Clinton, the Pope recently asked a joint session of this Congress to end the arms trade, and we gave him a standing ovation. Granted, we're a bunch of hypocritical creeps, but my God woman, look at your record! Is there any amount of human life you wouldn't sacrifice for a buck? Can you think of anything that could be found in anyone's secret emails that would be worse than what we already know about you? There is a precedent for impeaching high officials after retirement. They can be stripped of the Secret Service and of the right to run for any federal office. If an intern were to crawl under that table we'd impeach you by Friday. What in the world are we waiting for?

All right. All right! We're a bunch of partisan jack asses who will just get you elected if we try any such thing, and we'd gum it all up anyway. But we're going to keep you here until you answer us this question: how did you get THAT kind of money out of these nasty foreign dictatorships? I mean, seriously, can your people sit down with my staff one day next week? Also, what about drinks, just you, me, and a few of the top people at Boeing? Is that too much to ask?

Do Individual Politicians Matter?

It is entirely possible that President Al Gore would not have attacked Afghanistan or Iraq. President Henry Wallace might very well not have nuked Hiroshima or Nagasaki. President William Jennings Bryan almost certainly would not have attacked the Philippines.

Presidents are pushed into war and held back from war all the time, but they also do some pushing and pulling of their own. Within days of Germany's surrender in World War II, Winston Churchill proposed recruiting German troops into a new UK/US war on the Soviet Union. The idea went nowhere with his own government or allies, except to become the Cold War. But every crazed idea he'd had for years prior to that moment had been deemed acceptable and acted upon, and someone else might not have had the same ideas.

Do the sorts of powerful insiders epitomized by the Council on Foreign Relations usually get their way? Is the United States an oligarchy? Are small differences between electoral candidates magnified and exaggerated? Do both major political parties in the United States back essentially the same sort of militarism? Does a quasi-permanent shadow government within the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, etc., sometimes circumvent and overrule presidents? Yes, of course, all of those things are true. But individuals also matter.

They would matter less in a democracy. If Congress decided on war as the U.S. Constitution requires, or if the public voted on war as the Ludlow Amendment would have required, or if the United States gave up war as the Kellogg-Briand Pact mandates, then the militarism in the mind of one individual would not decide the fate of so many lives and deaths. But that's not reality now.

A President Lincoln Chafee or a President Bernie Sanders or a President Jill Stein, rather than a President Hillary Clinton or a President Donald Trump, would be one factor among many weighing to some degree against the likelihood of more and larger and more dangerous wars. Whether the chance and possible benefit of electing a better president is worth diverting resources from other anti-war work into the national circus of election obsession is a separate and much more complex question.

This point, that individuals matter, is made in the new book Why Leaders Fight by Michael Horowitz, Allan Stam, and Cali Ellis. They go up against the academic tradition of attempting to explain war decisions through whatever process can most resemble the physical sciences. That tradition has steered far clear of anything as messy as a human being, preferring to ponder game theory or to hunt for non-existent correlations between war and population density, resource scarcity, or anything else that can be quantified.

Having brought the individual back into consideration, the authors of Why Leaders Fight immediately attempt to make that resemble as closely as possible a mathematical equation. Was this national ruler someone who had been in the military, and was he or she in combat? What was their first experience with war? What is their education level? What is their age? What previous job did they hold? Were they raised by good parents? Were they raised wealthy or poor? What was their birth order? Et cetera.

Will all such data ever allow a calculation to reliably predict war mongering or peacefulness? Of course not.  Will examinations of enough past leaders along these lines open our eyes to some areas for concern or reassurance? Perhaps. But can such scientistic studies reach the level of being a better guide to what a political candidate might do than is an examination of what that candidate has done and said? I doubt it.

A careful reading of candidates' platforms, speeches, and casual remarks, including what is given prominence and what is omitted, and weighed against what they've actually done in the past, takes one quite far. Add in who's funding them, what party they've sworn allegiance to, how they relate to government and media insiders, how they relate to foreign leaders, how they handle mistakes, how they deal with crises, and one can -- I think -- predict fairly accurately which candidate is going to be a minor or major weight against a war that powerful interests demand, and which candidate is going to be easily pushed into war or, in fact, rush to create one at the earliest opportunity. It's not as though George W. Bush and Harry Truman and William McKinley hadn't advertised what sort of things they planned to do.

Academics bent on making the social sciences into real by-god sciences left out more than the individual politician after all. They left out the wider culture. An older politician eager to make his or her mark before their time is up won't create wars in a culture that honors making peace. An official whose childhood and background statistics suggest they will take great risks would have to take none at all to go along with the routine militarism of the current U.S. government, but would challenge the whole military industry and the whole communications industry by attempting nonviolent solutions to crises. Disarmament is considered risky in U.S. culture, making questionable the expectation that risk-taking personalities will promote militarism. In other words, the interpretation and weighting of the data has to change so drastically with the culture that one is better off just looking at the culture.

President Obama would have heavily bombed Syria in 2013 if not for the weight of U.S. culture against it. President John McCain would not have been free to develop a kill list and a drone murder program without the sort of intense public opposition that meets Republicans who do such things. There can be no question that individuals matter, especially large numbers of individuals actively demanding something. Nor can there be any question that one of those individuals who matter is you.

Bernie Drones and Bernie Volunteers

The "senior digital organizer" of Bernie Sanders for President volunteers Aidan King, has this to say:

"I was so excited about Obama. And I still think he's done amazing things. But I wanted more follow-through," says King, listing "drone strikes, kill lists, NSA spying on Americans, the expansion of Bush-administration policies, a failed drug war, failed foreign policy," and the increasing influence of money in politics as his main concerns. "I put a lot of stake in authenticity," he says. "And I've been exposed to Bernie's politics and his honesty since I was in diapers."

Was this last week? Was Senator Vitter there?

Because here's Senator Sanders announcing yet again this week, as he's done before, that as president he would murder people with drones. (Yes, he only favors the good drone murders, not the bad ones, exactly what Obama says too.)

There's actually no knock on Sanders' honesty here. There's no indication of inconsistency, no reason to imagine he's lying. He may be 100% USDOD-grade authentic. But what about his staff and volunteers? And what about journalists? Is it responsible journalism to publish an article on people working for Bernie in order to end drone murders and not include any mention of the fact that Sanders is in favor of them? Is it responsible, for that matter, to be reporting on candidates' volunteers prior to and instead of ever reporting on what those candidates would do if elected? The Nation does lots of great reporting, but its interview of Sanders pretended 96% of humanity and 54% of the federal budget didn't exist, and the magazine has never made up for that by reporting on Sanders' foreign policy. So all a Nation reader gets is the golly gee report on the dude just out of diapers who is putting in long hours to end drone strikes by electing Bernie.

"I was so excited about Obama." There's an opening remark that reveals a similar level of misguided ignorance in the past. "And I still think he's done amazing things." One has a heck of a time imagining what those are and how they outweigh what comes next. "But I wanted more follow-through." More follow through? On what? He then lists drone strikes, kill lists, NSA spying on Americans, the expansion of Bush-administration policies, a failed drug war, failed foreign policy, and the increasing influence of money in politics." He surely doesn't want more follow through on any of these crimes and abuses and outrages. He wants them halted.

And so do I. So why should I give the poor guy a hard time? Millions and millions of people aren't doing a damn thing for the world. They're sitting on their butts watching TV while Rome burns. Several political candidates openly want to radically enlarge the military (yet again) and launch any number of wars. Why pick on Bernie?

I'm not picking on anyone. I'm well aware of such obvious facts and numerous others. I think such facts are good things to know, no matter what you decide to do about them. I'd just add a few more. You want to spend the next many months calling people on the phone and telling them Bernie is against drone murders, knock yourself out. I just think you should do it with open eyes. You shouldn't actually believe what you're saying.

I'm also of course, as we all are, painfully familiar with the argument that Bernie simply must secretly agree with the progressive views of his volunteers, but that in order to get elected he has to put on a pretense of sucking a good bit, whether it's to please the public or the media or the military industrial complex depending on the variation. We were told the exact same thing about Obama. It didn't work then and it won't work now. You can't pretend someone secretly agrees with you and then expect him to keep the promises you fantasized.

If you look at the facts and adopt for just the moment the crazy hypothesis that you're more or less right about Bernie's authenticity but wrong about his closet anti-militarism, you'll find that he's nowhere near as bad as Obama was, is, and shall continue to be for well over a year more. No mere human is going to out warmonger Hillary Clinton, though Jim Webb and a whole crowd of Republicans will try. You can make more or less the same argument you make to yourself to justify volunteering for Bernie, after facing the facts, as you made before.

So why do I care?

Because there are activists working night and day, strategically, courageously, with pure principles and endless dedication to actually end drone murders, and they need your help, and they need it now. They have built the awareness of these horrors that has led to volunteers wanting to end them. But volunteers volunteer in the wrong places. Instead of joining the peace movement and educating, organizing, lobbying, protesting, reporting, suing, artistically moving, and nonviolently resisting drone murders and the militarism that is risking war with Russia prior to the next corporate-bought election in the U.S. -- instead of following the path that has tended to effect change over recent centuries and needs to do so in Paris next month if the climate is to have any hope, they instead dedicate themselves to one candidate or another, start making apologies for them, start living out fantasies about them, and start arguing with other peace activists who are working their fingers to the bone for some other candidate, or with activists who haven't gone all election yet in a year that has no election in it.

If we ever have real elections we'll need people to work on them, and there's always a chance working on them now will help bring that about, and if you'd asked me months ago I'd have said the media would never let Sanders get this far. So, if you want to do the election thing, go ahead. Do it with Sanders who disagrees with you. Do it with Jill Stein who agrees with you. Do it with one of the others. But do it with a bit of honesty and with awareness that it's not the only thing you could be doing.

Tomgram: Nomi Prins, How Trump Became Trump and What That Means for the Rest of Us

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Talk Nation Radio: An Actually Great Candidate

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-an-actually-great-candidate 

Mike Ferner is a candidate for mayor of Toledo, Ohio.

See http://www.mikeferner.com

Mike Ferner grew up in rural Ohio, working on farms much of his youth.  After 12 years of Catholic education and a head full of John Wayne movies, he enlisted in the Navy right out of high school in 1969.

During three years as a hospital corpsman he nursed hundreds of wounded soldiers returning from Viet Nam, an experience that radicalized him for life starting with his discharge as a conscientious objector.  

Mike has been an independent member of Toledo City Council and a candidate for mayor of his city; an organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Communications Director for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy and has served as national president of Veterans For Peace.

Just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he lived there for a month with a Voices in the Wilderness delegation, returning in 2004 for another two months as an independent journalist and wrote "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq" (Prager 2006).  His activism includes several arrests for “disturbing the war,” including disrupting a session of Congress. 

His current interest is learning how the Populists organized the largest democratic, mass movement in U.S. history and how to apply that to work he’s doing with Move to Amend.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Speaking Events

David Swanson at St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT, October 5, 2016.

David Swanson in Fairbanks, Alaska, October 22, 2016.

Find Events Here.

CHOOSE LANGUAGE

Support This Site

Donate.

Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.

 

Sponsors:

Speaking Truth to Empire

***

Families United

***

Ray McGovern

***

Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.