Hot August Political Thoughts

Currently, we arguably live in an Oligarchy – A form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. Examples: The Russian Federation, the United States of America.
-Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

A 2014 Study by Martin Gilens, Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, analyzed nearly 1,800 policies enacted by the US government between 1981 and 2002, and compared them to the expressed preferences of the American public as opposed to wealthy Americans and large special interest groups. It found that wealthy individuals and organizations representing business interests have substantial political influence, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little to none. Gilens and Page apply the concept of “civil oligarchy” as used by Jeffrey Winters with respect to the US. Winters has posited a comparative theory of “oligarchy” in which the wealthiest citizens – even in a “civil oligarchy” like the United States – dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection. -Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Political power must be wrestled from the American Oligarchy and it will use every bit of its immense power, including control of corporate media, to maintain its domination. The Oligarchy will not leave meekly and gently in the night. Anyone who thinks this will be easy, or quickly done, is seriously misguided, naïve, or delusional. This a war, not a battle, albeit a just cause for those taking the Oligarchy on.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There are 244 million Americans of voting age. Some 81 percent of us, about 198 million, are women, millennials, or persons of color. Of the remaining 46 million of us who are white males over the age of 35, a decent number are progressive to moderate in their political leanings. Absent a military coup, the eventual demise of the Oligarchy is spelled out in these demographics, if the American People open their eyes and exercise their power in a concerted, sustained, effective manner.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Every political candidate should earn the votes of Progressives through ethical behavior, demonstrated consistency, policy positions that are the closest approximation of voter values and views, demonstrated good judgement, and by running a campaign in a manner that demonstrates respect for voters, an ability to listen, and a recognition that maintaining the status quo in terms of those with extraordinary wealth and/or corporate influence over all levels of government has all but destroyed our Democracy and turned it into an Oligarchy is unacceptable.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There is absolutely no moral, social, or political equivalency between voting for Donald Trump or voting for Hillary Clinton. Nada. Zilch. None.

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Far from it. She is a product of and the embodiment of the Oligarchy. Let me be blunt: She and her Husband have received over $200 million of influence and access payments masquerading as speaking fees and control a massive self-promotion vehicle supported by $Billions that represents itself as a charitable foundation but spends the vast percentage of its budget on administrative overhead and promoting the Clintons.

Clinton is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican who will extend the control of the Oligarchy over economic policies for four years and will have to be constantly thwarted by an engaged electorate to prevent us from entering into further needless wars. Progressives will have to push, cajole, embarrass, and hem in Clinton – a hard but manageable task – to minimize negative impacts on the working class and our shrinking middle class. It will be a difficult four years with many suffering but the nation and the planet will survive.

Trump is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. It is clear his decision-making in matters of virtually any policy topic is irrational, ego driven, and inconsistent. If he ran our economy like he ran his businesses, he would start a trade war, a Second Great Depression, and quite possibly a third World War. His instability, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia would be a cataclysmically divisive force likely not seen in our nation since our Civil War 150 years ago and potentially result in America becoming a pariah nation. His Climate Change Denial will push us to the edge of environmental extinction.

The best we can hope for if Donald Trump is elected is a quick impeachment and removal. Unfortunately, if Trump were removed from office, he’d be replaced by one of the most rightwing politicians in America – Mike Pence (Planned Parenthood rating of 0%, NARAL Pro-Choice America 0%, National Farmers Union 11%, Sierra Club 0%, American Library Association 0%, National Association of Manufacturers 100%, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 0%, Human Right Campaign 0%, Americans for Democratic Action 0%, ACLU 0%, NAACP 5%, American Conservative Union Lifetime Score 99%, Alliance for Retired Americans Lifetime Score 3%, League of Conservation Voter Lifetime Score 4%, American Wilderness Coalition 0%, American Association of University Women 0%, AFL-CIO Lifetime Score 5%, AFSCME Lifetime Score 2%, Source: VoteSmart.org).

At the worse, we could see an attempted or successful Military Coup or the Start of World War Three. There is no way Donald Trump should have access to nuclear launch codes. Seriously.

Hillary Clinton is a temporary barrier to Progressives defeating the American Oligarchy. Donald Trump is an immediate existential threat to the survival of our nation and planet. They are not equivalent. It is not a close call. Trump must never be elected President.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

We would have been even worse off if it were not for Bernie Sanders and what I would call “The Great Awakening.” A little known, Independent Socialist Senator from the state ranking 49th in population started a national movement that engaged America’s largest Generation (Millennials), generated 13 million votes, made income inequality a widely recognized issue, propelled public awareness of the existential threat of Climate Change, and shook the Oligarchy and Political establishment to its core. Bernie and the Progressive Movement have at least temporarily pushed Clinton towards the left on important economic, social, trade, and environmental issues. Bernie achieved far more success than he or most of those of who are his supporters could have thought truly possible at the onset of his campaign. To his great credit and to the equally great discredit of virtually every other nationally prominent progressive politician in the country, he did what they were too cowardly to do: took on the Clinton Political Machine, Democratic Party power structure, Corporate Media, and the American Oligarchy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. Amazingly, Bernie almost won – earing 46 percent of pledged delegates. Arguably, in a straight-up and fair nominating process, Sanders would have won.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Of course, the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominating process was not straight-up and fair. The 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominating Process was the most overtly manipulative, unethical, corrupt process in modern American Political History. The integrity of the nominating process of two-thirds of Democratic State Parties was shattered by fundraising arrangements with the Clinton Campaign. The Democratic National Committee was essentially a completely controlled and biased appendage of the Clinton Campaign.

Corporate Media essentially parroted Clinton Campaign speaking points from start to finish. Future historians will write that 2016 was the year Corporate Media completely forsook responsible journalism and engaged in wholesale and totally slanted propaganda to maximize profits and help determine a Presidential Race’s outcome. Murrow, Cronkite, Chancellor, Huntley, Brinkley, and Jennings are, no doubt, spinning in their respective graves.

Millions were prevented from exercising their franchise in a purposeful, underhanded, systematic manner. Ongoing investigations and law suits may very well prove actual vote rigging and miscounts in any number of states. Multiple academic researchers have reviewed primary election data and concluded that the results could only been achieved thru widespread vote fraud. Cal-Berkley and Stanford Studies placed the odds that Hillary Clinton won without widespread fraud at only 1 chance in 77 Billion (http://alexanderhiggins.com/stanford-berkley-study-1-77-bi…/).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

So, what are our options in 2016? We have four candidates who will possess the theoretical possibility of being elected President of the United States this November in that they will each be on enough States’ ballots to win 270 Electoral College Votes and the Presidency.
The “Democratic Party Nominee”, Hillary Clinton, is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, who is the clear choice of the Oligarchy.

The “Republican Party Nominee”, Donald Trump, as previously stated, is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. If elected, he has the serious potential to involve us in a constitutional crisis, internal strife not seen since the Civil War, a Major Economic Depression, or even a Third World War or a Military Coup to prevent such a war. A recent poll found one fifth of Republican voters want Trump to drop out.
The Libertarian Party Nominee, Gary Johnson, is a former Republican Governor of New Mexico and was also the 2012 Libertarian Presidential Nominee. Johnson received about one million votes for President in 2012. Johnson’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 8.3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16)).

The Green Party Nominee, Jill Stein, is a Medical Doctor and was also the 2012 Green Party Presidential Nominee. Stein received about 470,00 votes for President in 2012. Stein’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

What are Libertarians? They frequently describe themselves as “Socially Liberal and Fiscally Conservative. I think that is half right – they are Fiscally Conservative but they are not consistently liberals on Social Issues. Critics label Libertarians as “Republicans who smoke pot.” Author Christopher Hitchens acerbically described Libertarians this way: “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement in the U.S. that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” Libertarians are secularized Republicans without the Far Right “Christian” moralistic bullshit, in my humble opinion. David Koch, yes, one of those Koch Brothers, net worth $44.2 Billion, was the 1980 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee. Koch is hardly a progressive on any issue.

The 2016 Libertarian Platform calls “for the repeal of the income tax” and the abolishment of “all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.” Their platform also indicates “an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union…” and supports “restoring and reviving a free market health care system…” and “phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” Libertarians “oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production…” and “favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.” Libertarians maintain “Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems.” Rather Darwinian and survival of the fittest, these Libertarians, but they’ll let folks smoke pot.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!
The Green Party really isn’t a National Political Party at all yet – it’s more of a shell of a Presidential Candidate nominating process with fragmentary cells of supporters lightly scattered about the country and wrapped around a progressive and enlightened political platform reminiscent of a 21st Century version of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Think of what the Democratic Party Platform would look like to a progressive without any corporate warping and distortion and you’d probably have something that would look very much like the Green Party Platform. The Green Party is basically a philosophical pure version of the Democratic Party in terms of ideology, if the Democratic Party didn’t have any meaningful infrastructure and was free of all the corporate bullshit, bad influences, tremendous policy warping resulting from said bullshit and influences.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The “Ten Key Values” of the Green Party Are Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community Based Economics, Feminism and Gender Equity, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus and Sustainability. The Green Party Platform includes “A Call to Action”, a Preamble, the “Ten Key Values” and detailed sections on “Democracy”, “Social Justice”, “Ecological Sustainability”, and “Economic Justice and Sustainability.” Most members of the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and certainly “Berniecrats” would be very comfortable with the 2016 Green Party Platform.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The times, they are a changing, and the Green Party may quickly start to transition from a noble concept to a functional political party with an influx of Sanders Supporters abandoning the Democratic Party. Some observers frequently opine that most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton. Others say Berniecrats are flocking to Jill Stein and the Green Party. Who is right? Well, maybe, in a way, both.

The nuance that most observers seem to miss is that tens of thousands of Sanders activists, the folks who did the grassroots organizing for Bernie, are indeed moving to support Stein and the Green Party. The movement of hardcore activists from the Sanders Campaign to the Green Party isn’t uniform or evenly distributed, but it is significant.

This isn’t to say that Berniecrats are leaving the Democratic Party in masse – they aren’t. Here in Washington State, the majority of incoming Precinct Committee Officers (PCO’s) could accurately be labelled Berniecrats. In my home county, home to the State Capital of Olympia, two thirds of incoming PCO’s are Berniecrats.

Nationally, Senator Sanders and his supporters are creating multiple organizations, including “Our Revolution”, a National Network of Sanders Activists who likely will heavily influence and frequently run Democratic Party Organizations for years to come. Bernie may have been denied the nomination in 2016 but the Movement he catalyzed and changing demographics are converging in a manner that likely will mean Progressives will regain control of much of the Democratic Party in the near future.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

But the Democrats likely won’t be the only Progressive Political Party of consequence in America in the near future. The rise of the Green Party, powered by the influx of former Sanders supporters, is imminent.

Will the “Berning of the Greens” be enough to turn the Green Party into a full-fledged, functional Third Party in less than three months? No. Could the Green Party be a full-fledged, functional Third Party in 2020? Yes, but only if they do some serious organizing and get their collective shit together about building slates of candidates for local, state, and federal offices across the country.

The Green Party’s biggest weakness is that it has been almost exclusively focused the Presidential Elections, only recruiting and running candidates for lower tier races in a very limited number of jurisdictions in a small number of states. This has got change if the Greens want to be taken seriously. People want their pot holes fixed, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and dependable public services. The old saying that “All Politics are local.” Is mostly true and the Green Party and its membership needs to show it can get voters’ garbage picked up and run cities and states before it will be trusted by most folks with leading the Free World and controlling the Nuclear Launch Codes, regardless of how wonderfully progressive they are. For an American Political Party to be viewed as credible in a nation with 321 million citizens and a $19 Trillion economy, it must not only think globally, it must act locally and be able to govern effectively in all the myriad and mundane ways citizens expect. I’m being real here.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I see a certain irony, and a whole lot of Karma, in that if Bernie had won the Democratic Nomination, it would have revitalized and democratized the Democratic Party, likely locked in Millennials, the largest generation in history, into strongly voting Democratic for decades, diminished the significance of the Green Party, and hastened the demise of the Republican Party as a relevant factor in Presidential Contests. Control and domination, not fair play and party building, were more important to the Corporate Wing of the Democratic Party. Consequently, the Democratic Party has alienated, in some cases permanently, large numbers of Millennial activists and other Bernie Supporters and the Green Party has an opportunity to achieve a level of national political relevance that has so far eluded it.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering if this is where Joe says which candidate for President everyone should vote for. God knows damn near every person on Facebook with an opinion on the subject has been telling everyone else who they should support. I’m not going to do that. The reality is if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to make up your own mind and 99 percent of voters are going to go thru whatever decision processes they use and do just that. My circle of friends and family is large enough that some will vote for each of the four main Presidential candidates and I’m not going to like or love any of them any more or any less based on who they vote for. If the Creator, Evolution, or the quantum chance of our being in this portion of the Multiverse made free will possible for our species, the rest of us ought to do the same for each other.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I will share who I’m voting for and my reasoning: readers may agree, disagree, or ignore as they wish.

To place my decision in context, in 38 years of voting, I’ve only knowingly voted for a Republican for any public office once in my entire life and I’ve regretted that vote for almost four decades and tried to make amends for that vote. I have voted in nine Presidential Elections in my life and nine times, I voted for the Democratic Candidate. In the language of politics, I am referred to as a “Strong Democrat” and a “Perfect Voter” (vote every election).

Unless there appears to be chance that Donald Trump might actually carry Washington State and it’s 12 Electoral College Votes, something highly unlikely, given all available political information, Washington’s voting history, and current polling data, I am planning on voting for Democratic candidates for all other elective offices and for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump would be an existential threat to the nation and planet. To avoid that risk, I would force myself to vote for the Oligarchy’s candidate and a functionally Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, Hillary Clinton, if Trump were leading or within striking distance of Clinton in Washington when it was time to cast my ballot.
Absent the possibility of a Trump win in Washington State, I will vote for the candidate who, imperfect as she may be, presents both the opportunity to vote for my progressive values and beliefs and the opportunity to send a message to the Oligarchy. I will vote for Jill Stein.

Let me be blunt, the Oligarchy will win this round in the battle for our future and Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States. No objective review of the available evidence and polling data would suggest otherwise. Even the Republican oriented Rasmussen Reports is projecting Hillary Clinton at 348 Electoral College Votes, well above the 270 needed to win the Presidency.

For Jill Stein to have had a chance to win in 2016, she would have had to have most or all of Sanders Supporters pivot their support to her and that clearly didn’t happen. If she had surged above 10 percent in the polls after the Democratic Convention, and progressed to rise to force her inclusion in the Presidential Debates, stellar debate performances on her part would have changed the political equation and she would have had a chance to be truly competitive. That didn’t happen and Stein won’t win in 2016.

However, short of a dramatic change in the polls that indicate Trump could take Washington State, I won’t validate the blatant, systematic manipulation and corruption of the Presidential nomination process by the Democratic Power Structure, Corporations, and Corporate Media with a vote for Hillary Clinton. Absent the existential threat of a Trump victory, I won’t go there.

I will cast a vote for Stein to support the germinating seed that is the Green Party in 2016 and I will work within the local Democratic Party, where Berniecrats have a clear majority, to progressively shape local and state Democratic politics, candidates, and campaigns. Call this an Inside/Outside Strategy.

The Second American Revolution continues. We Progressives need to play the long game to defeat the Oligarchy and generate a rebirth of true Democracy. Success will not occur in one election cycle – neither did getting to the point we are at as a nation. With persistence, hard work, and sustained effort, we will get to a point where we defeat the Oligarchy and have two National Progressive Political Parties, a revitalized Democratic Party and a vibrant, fulling formed Green Party. This is Our Revolution. Stand Up, Speak out, Fight On.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

For Bernie Sanders, it's all about the base and the bucks, class struggle

Well it's pretty clear we need more revenue
I can make it make, make it, and turn the nation blue.
Cause I gotta message, message the people chase.
And all the right policies in all the right places.

I hear conservatives calling for liberty.
You know their stuff ain't real: corporate hegemony.
If that what's you like, vote for Hillary, 
Cause she's corporate and hawkish from her bottom to her top.

Pope Francis he told us to fight against their lies.
He says the rich always want more booty to hold at night.
You know I won't be no Blue Dog corporate Democrat.
So if that's what you're into vote for Hillary the plutocrat.

You know it's all about the base and the bucks, class struggle.
It's all about the base and the bucks, class struggle.
It's all about the base and the bucks, class struggle.
It's all about the base and the bucks.

The incredible venality and cruelty of Big Pharma

The Denver post is reporting:

A bold federal effort to curb prescribing of painkillers may be faltering amid stiff resistance from drugmakers, industry-funded groups and, now, even other public health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was on track to finalize new prescribing guidelines for opioid painkillers in January. The guidelines — though not binding — would be the strongest government effort yet to reverse the rise in deadly overdoses tied to drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet.

But this highly unusual move — the CDC rarely advises physicians on medications, a job formally assigned to the Food and Drug Administration — thrust the agency into the middle of a long-standing fight over the use of opioids, a powerful but highly addictive class of pain medications that rang up over $9 billion in sales last year, according to IMS Health.

 

Over-prescription of opioids is causing an epidemic of addiction and overdoses.   And the high price of drugs in America and the stranglehold that Big Pharma has over Congress are reasons for outrage.

In The Truth about the Drug Companies, a former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine writes of the drug industry, “Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine. Instead of being a free market success story, it lives off government-funded research and monopoly rights.” See also The Horrifying Hidden Story Behind Drug Company Profits.

The corruption of Big Pharma is an disgusting. The profit from human suffering. The public should be protesting.

 

 

InspireSeattle: Nick Licata's Observations of ALEC

Hi everyone!  Below is an invitation to our next InspireSeattle Social, Sunday November 15th at 5:30PM at Dave and Pat Griffith’s home.  We have scored again and will have a great speaker, Nick Licata to discuss his Observations of ALEC.

PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE FROM OUR USUAL DAY AND TIME! 

Remember – IT’S A POTLUCK!!

Come join us!   www.inspireseattle.org

InspireSeattle

Invites YOU to join us at our Social Forum:  Sunday, November 15th at 5:30PM.

Main discussion topic for this evening:  Nick Licata’s Observations of ALEC

Do you know ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) or son of ALEC, ACE (Alliance for Choice in Education)?  ALEC is the source of some of the most egregious legislation over the last decade.  ALEC is the marriage of corporate influence with state and local legislators (mostly Republican) who devise “model” legislation which is often adopted word for word in state legislatures.  Some examples are “stand your ground” laws, restrictive voter requirements, and privatization of education.

Our own City Councilman Nick Licata attended and blogged about this year’s ALEC assembly.  No, he hasn’t gone over to the dark side, but he will tell us about how ALEC operates and about a new progressive version.

Please join us for this important discussion!

Guest Speaker:  Nick Licata 

Nick Licata grew up in a working class family where neither parent graduated from high school.  Though he couldn’t read until age nine, he was the first of his relatives to attend college.  At Bowling Green State University he led the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society and was elected student body president.

Despite being outspent and with the mayor, council and newspapers supporting his opponent, Nick was elected to the city council.  Elected to five terms, he was named by the Nation as “Progressive Municipal Official of the Year” and twice named “Best Local Politician” by the Seattle Weekly.  In 2003 Licata authored the children’s novel Princess Bianca and the Vandals.  Nick has a new book in progress on how to be a social activist.

About InspireSeattle:

InspireSeattle is a progressive network of Seattle-area people sharing ideas and supporting action.  InspireSeattle’s vision is to create connection throughout our community and better community through activism.  InspireSeattle’s mission is to provide a fun, supportive gathering for people who care deeply about our community, our country and our planet. We embrace progressive policies that improve our society and protect our environment.  We discuss current issues, share ideas and activism efforts while striving to inspire additional action.  Visit us at www.inspireseattle.org.

When:  Sunday, November 15th at 5:30PM.  NOTE THE DAY AND TIME and please try to be on time!!!

Where:  Dave and Pat Griffith’s place, 2561 12th Ave. West, Seattle  WA  98119, (206) 285-2452

Google map:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/2561+12th+Ave+W,+Seattle,+WA+98119/@47.642487,-122.3750827,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x54901575abc590a7:0x6e8181ffe60c3d96

By Bus:  You can take the #1 which stops about 3 blocks away, or the #2 which stops 6 blocks away or the D Line which requires a hike up three blocks of steps.

Format 

It’s a potluck:  so please help out and bring something to eat and to drink!

5:30 to 6:30:  Social time!  Eat, drink, relax, and catch up with some other local progressives

Formal discussion and guest speakers, 6:30 to 8:30

Other Announcements – got any?

Rules of Engagement!

1.  So that everyone has a chance to participate, please keep your comments short

2.  Raise one’s hand to ask a question in lieu of shouting out

3.  Respect the points of views of others

4.  No arguing of politics during the formal discussion – save that for afterwards! 

Bernie Sanders is a social democrat, not a socialist

There’s some confusion about whether Bernie Sanders supports capitalism.

During the first Democratic debate, correspondent Anderson Cooper asked Sanders, “You don’t consider yourself a capitalist, though?”  Sanders replied, “Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t.”

That didn’t bother me, because my reading was that Sanders wasn’t saying he opposes all capitalism. It’s just casino capitalism that he opposes.

But there is evidence that Sanders doesn’t consider himself to be a capitalist at all.  According to Bernie Sanders Isn’t Socialist Enough for Many Socialists, which appeared on bloomberg.com:

On Meet the Press on Sunday, the Democratic presidential candidate was asked by host Chuck Todd whether he was a capitalist.

“No,” Sanders responded. “I’m a democratic socialist.”

But then the article goes on to record the laments of socialists such as Stephen Durham, of the Freedom Socialist Party, who said, “He isn’t an anti-capitalist! He is for reforming capitalism, not changing capitalism.”  That’s what I thought Sanders wanted, and I’d approve of that: reforming capitalism.

Kathleen Parker of  the Washington Post also refers to Sanders’ declaration on Meet the Press that he is not a capitalist.  She says in The Sanders-Trump magical mystery tour,

That Sanders is a socialist [sic — he’s a democratic socialist] is no secret. He has said so often enough, and his proposed policies aimed at worker- and consumer-owned economic institutions confirm as much.

His answer was shocking, nevertheless, because surely no one hoping to become president would dare admit wanting to fundamentally change the nation’s economic system. A few regulations here and there, sure. But wholesale socialism, albeit alongside a political democracy, however that works?

This isn’t quite right either. Sanders isn’t a “wholesale socialist.” He’s a democratic socialist. But Parker’s point about “a few regulations here and there” — or a lot of regulations — is what I was expecting.

In short, I wish Sanders had said during the debate and on Meet the Press, “I believe in capitalism, provided it’s well regulated and fairly taxed. Unconstrained capitalism is brutal.”

After all, democratic socialist countries like those in Scandinavia have corporations, private wealth, and a market economy.  Nokia is Finnish.  Volvo is Swedish. But in Scandinavia the corporations are well regulated, and corporations are highly taxed. That’s precisely what we need for a humane, fair, and innovative society.

Bernie

For I am a progressive Democrat, not a Socialist. I believe corporations should be regulated and taxed, not destroyed. Corporations are often efficient at innovating and at producing quality products.

What is democratic socialism? According to the wikipedia article, “Democratic socialism is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy (usually multi-party democracy) with social ownership of the means of production.”

The Democratic Socialists of America website says,

Democratic socialists do not want to create an all-powerful government bureaucracy. But we do not want big corporate bureaucracies to control our society either. Rather, we believe that social and economic decisions should be made by those whom they most affect.

Social ownership could take many forms, such as worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as possible. While the large concentrations of capital in industries such as energy and steel may necessitate some form of state ownership, many consumer-goods industries might be best run as cooperatives.

Sigh. I’m starting to wonder if Elizabeth Warren would have been a better candidate to challenge Hillary.  Either that or Sanders should clarify what his economic ideology amounts to.

So I’m confused.  What exactly does Sanders believe?

The Washington Post reports, in What is a democratic socialist? Bernie Sanders tries to redefine the name, that Sanders said during a recent speech in New Hampshire, “What democratic socialism means to me, is having a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country.”

That meaning of democratic socialism is pretty general and inclusive. It would be compatible with regulated capitalism.

The article continues:

In this campaign, in fact, some observers believe that Sanders is even wrong to call himself a “democratic socialist.”

That’s because there are official Democratic Socialists — both in other countries and in the United States — and they generally want something more aggressive than he does. The Democratic Socialists in the United States want a system where workers or the government own factories and other means of production. (This is different from a communist system, in which the government owns everything in the people’s name.)

Sanders doesn’t want that. Instead, what he wants is to take existing federal programs — many established by Democrats like Franklin D. Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson — and super-size them.

For example. Sanders wants Medicare for all.

“He’s not a democratic socialist,” said William Galston, an expert on domestic politics at the Brookings Institution. “He’s a social democrat. Seriously.”

Social Democrats, a separate entity in the field guide to leftists, are generally more moderate. By those definitions, then, Sanders is actually making his own life harder, by mislabeling himself.

This seems right to me. I wish Sanders would be clearer — and more strategic — about his choice of words.

David Stockman on the corruption of capitalism and the GOP

I’m reading David Stockman’s book The Great Deformation — the Corruption of Capitalism in America. Stockman was Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He criticizes the GOP for its militarism and its whoring for the rich. He says there was no need to bail out Wall Street. The speculators who would have lost out deserved to lose and the contagion wouldn’t have spread beyond the canyons of Wall Street. The Great Deformation

Progressives would agree with much of what Stockman has to say.

“[T]he Republican Party was hijacked by modern imperialists during the Reagan era. As a consequence, the conservative party cannot perform its natural function as watchdog of the public purse because it is constantly seeking legislative action to provision a vast war machine of invasion and occupation.” (p 688)

“The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility. They’re on an anti-tax jihad — one that benefits the prosperous classes.”  “How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich”. Rolling Stone.

But Stockman is a true conservative.  He doesn’t believe the government should be involved in bailing out business or stimulating the economy.  He opposes Keynesian macro-economic policies and thinks that government does more harm than good when it meddles.  He also opposes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the minimum wage.

“At the heart of the Great Deformation is a rogue central bank that has abandoned every vestige of sound money. In so doing, it has enabled politicians to enjoy ‘deficits without tears’ by monetizing massive amounts of public debt.”

Stockman calls the bailout, the stimulus, and the Fed’s printing of money “a de facto coup d’etat by Wall Street” whose purpose was to re-inflate the financial bubble.

“The Detroit-based auto industry was debt-enfeebled house of cards that had been a Wall Street playpen of deal making and LBOs for years, including my own. ”  He thinks the there needs to be a rollback of the “preposterous $100,000 per year cost of UAW jobs.”

Stockman spent twenty years after leaving the White House in the leveraged buyout business.  He was indicted for fraud when a business he invested in went bankrupt. After a two year battle, prosecutors decided to drop charges. Stockman says the business failure was due to stupidity (his) and market decline, not fraud.

In the last chapter, Stockman proposes the following radical policy changes which, he admits, have almost no chance of being enacted in the current political climate.  Some of the changes (such as overturning Citizens United, the establishment of federally funded elections, and a wealth tax on the rich) would be eagerly welcomed by progressives. Other changes (such as the elimination of Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes) would be strongly opposed by progressives.

  1. An end to the Feds expansionist monetary policy and a return to a gold-backed dollar.
  2. An end to deposit insurance and an end to Fed’s lending federally insured money to speculating banks.
  3. Adopt “Super Glass-Stegall II”, erecting a wall between investment banking government funds (“insured deposits or access to the Fed discount window”).
  4. An Omnibus Amendment that limits Congress members to a single term of six years in office and eliminates the Electoral College (“bringing the nation into the modern world of one person, one vote”).
  5. Require Congress to balance the budget, except in case of a declared war.
  6. End Keyesian macroeconomic expansionism and allow the free market to set wages and levels of production.
  7. Abolish social insurance bailouts, and economic subsidies.
  8. “Eliminate the Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture, HUD, Homeland Security, the SBA, DOT, and the Ex-Im Bank.” Also eliminate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mae, the FHA, the homeowner’s tax deduction, and subsidies for Amtrak.
  9. “Erect a study cash-based means-tested safety net and abolish the minimum wage.”
  10. Abolish all forms of health insurance, including Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare, and replace them with “cash-based transfer payments.”  Also eliminate tax subsidies for employer-funded health insurance. All these forms of insurance, says Stockman, mostly serve to prop up the corrupt medical-industrial complex. “The cancerous growth of the medical care complex would be halted and reversed.”  He believes the free market will devise innovations to provide efficient care. “The one necessary concession to socialism would be a system of federally licensed catastrophic insurance funds would automatically cover the means-tested safety-net population.”
  11. “Replace the warfare state with genuine national defense.”
  12. Establish a 30% wealth tax on the rich in order to reclaim the trillions they extorted from the US Treasury and the middle class. “Needless to say, $14 trillion of national debt reduction could never be achieved under any known ordinary fiscal device; it would require a one-time wealth tax, essentially a recapture of part of the windfall wealth gain that has accrued to the top of the economic ladder during the age of bubble finance.”
  13. Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment (income taxes) and finance “the beast” via consumption taxes.

By the way, Stockman isn’t the only former Reagan economic adviser to argue against GOP tax policy. Former Labor Secretary Barry Bluestone thinks the GOP tickle-down economic policy is a failure. He says “The wealthiest people spend maybe 30% of their income. Poor people spend 100%, working people spend 98%, so as we move money away from working families towards very wealthy families, we take more and more consumption out of the economy, means slower and slower growth, means higher and higher an extended unemployment.”

TPP Protest, Federal Office Bldg, Seattle, Tues Nov 11, 5PM

Both parties may be counting on us to be exhausted and out of the loop when it comes to this ghastly Trade Agreement which has been kept out of the public eye. And in the spirit of compromise, it could easily be passed to show a country weary with gridlock that compromise is possible. Furthermore our representatives from WA believe that TRADE is good for our State which it is. BUT now is not the time to compromise on this potential corporate take-over.

Why can’t our trade negotiators deliver a trade policy that raises living standards in communities at home and abroad? Following the 2014 elections the U.S. government is going to make a push to pass the new mega-trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, using Fast Track. This agreement, negotiated by corporate lobbyists while the public is kept in the dark, threatens everything from food safety and access to medicines to green energy policy, internet freedom, and labor rights. It also gives corporations ‘investor-states’ rights so they can sue localities, countries, states for depriving them of their hypothetical profits if they insist on sticking to the democratically-determined laws and regulations.

Everything we work for [GMO labeling, environmental protection, food-safety laws] can be overturned or cost us millions of dollars in ‘damages’ we will pay to these corporations!!! We need a new, transparent, accountable, and democratic process, not an antiquated and extreme Fast Track procedure. Help us send a message that Washingtonians want trade policy that lifts up people and the planet, not just the corporate bottom line!

As if pushing Fast Track for a secretive pact weren’t bad enough, the corporations behind the TPP are now hoping to sneak the Fast Track vote into the Lame Duck session — after the elections, when political accountability is at its lowest. The good news is that we’ve stopped Fast Track before and we can do it again. If we all speak out loudly enough, we can derail Fast Track this November and into the future. Join groups across Washington State and the U.S. to Stop the Sneak Attack on Democracy!

Rep. McDermott, Stop the Sneak Attack on Democracy! a Light Brigade Action
http://pol.moveon.org/event/moveonaction/142598
Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014
5 – 6:30 PM
Federal Building, 915 Second Ave, Seattle

We will be outdoors, so dress for the weather. We will have light boards, flashlights, petitions, and more information on how to stay involved and next steps in the campaign!

The November 8 – 14 Week of Action against Fast Track comes as President Obama and other heads of state visit Asia to discuss the TPP, and right as the Lame Duck session of Congress begins to get underway. It’s a time of year when a lot of people take a break after the elections, and start getting ready for the holidays. We need your help remaining vigilant so that Fast Track does not sneak through then or ever.

And if you can’t make this event – Sign our PETITION to Stop Fast Track and the TPP!
• Here is the link to our petition: https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-we-urge-you-to-publicly-oppose-fast-track-and-promote-a-more-transparent-and-accountable-process-2?just_created=true
• We ask that you circulate this link to your contacts so that we can gather as many signatures as possible.

Stop the TPP -- the ultimate corporate power grab