Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bernie Sanders: "Elections Come and Go, Revolutions Never End"

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont talks to supporters during a rally at the University of Washington, in Seattle. (photo: Joshua Trujillo/
Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont talks to supporters during a rally at the University of Washington, in Seattle. (photo: Joshua Trujillo/

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
28 June 16

"It is our responsibility to continue the mission of this movement, beyond this election cycle."
- Nina Turner

ernie Sanders is back on the campaign trail, despite having no illusions about becoming the party nominee. Absent an event beyond his control, he knows he will not be the Democratic Party’s nominee. Sanders has even said he will vote for Hillary Clinton. He does plan, however, to force open the door of the Democratic Party and lead his movement from the inside to transform the party.

The Democratic Party establishment will have a choice: welcome them and change, or ignore them and watch them leave to form or join another political party. If the Democratic Party wants Bernie Sanders' 13 million voters, they will need to show them that they are prepared to represent their interests.

The party establishment has already shown some resistance to the movement. In St. Louis, there were plenty of 7-6 votes against proposals from the Sanders camp. What they are setting up is a floor fight at the convention on the platform. It can be avoided, when the full platform committee meets in Orlando, if the full committee adopts some of the proposals rejected in St. Louis.

Bernie gave the first of a series of speeches entitled: "Where Do We Go From Here" on Thursday at the Town Hall in New York City. Nina Turner opened with a fiery introduction: "In 1910 President Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech that was titled 'Citizen in a Republic.' In that speech he referred to the man in the arena. He said, 'It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood who strives valiantly, who errs and falls short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, but who he actually strives to be, the doer of the deeds.' I’m here tonight to tell you that we have our very own doer of the deeds. 

Senator Bernie Sanders is a doer of the deeds. And as he has said, elections come and go but political and social revolutions that attempt to transform society never end."

Nina is right, Bernie is the spark, but it is up to us to continue this movement.

The political revolution launched by Bernie Sanders will continue long past November. Revolutions are not won overnight and they take a lot of work by a lot of people. Over 20,000 people have answered Bernie’s call to run for political office.

To that end, Sanders is already hitting the campaign trail. This time for down-ticket candidates that he hopes his support — and the support of the movement he launched — will put over the top.

Sanders reminded his supporters that since day one his campaign has been about transforming our country and that transformation will continue. He reminded the crowd of the historic struggles for progressive victories. Sanders said: “Think about 100 years ago right here in New York City, the Triangle [Shirtwaist Factory] fire killed 100 workers, but workers stood up and they fought back all over the country ... workers formed unions. The struggle for a strong trade union movement continues today. Think about the civil rights movement ... they fought they fought and they fought. So if anyone tells you, "Hey, I was out on a demonstration, I’m burned out, we didn’t change the world overnight, I’m giving up," think about the people that decade after decade gave their lives in the struggle, think about the women's movement. Think about the fact that this is what revolution is about."

Bernie talked about the LGBTQ struggles, "the Fight for 15" and other recent struggles. Then he told the audience, "What the system is designed to do, what corporate media is designed to do, is to tell you that we cannot achieve real change — that the only thing we can achieve is incremental change. What our campaign has been about and is about is saying, 'Sorry, we are thinking big. We want real change.'"

Sanders also declared that a well-organized grassroots movement can take on the establishment and defeat it.

I know many of you are shouting "third party" right now. Think about it this way: As long as the system is rigged in favor of the two major political parties, why not use them to advance our cause? They have the ballot line, they have the media coverage. Bernie's plan, similar to the way the Tea Party rose to power within the Republican Party, can accomplish things much faster than trying to build a third party that will be ignored by the media. It will take time and a lot of hard work. Real change comes with struggle and a commitment to justice.

After a similar speech in Albany, NY, Bernie took questions. One young man asked Bernie for advice for someone with a passion for politics. Bernie gave an answer that gave me chills.

Bernie said, "It's not about a passion for politics; it is about a passion for justice."

That is why I continue to trust Bernie and trust this movement. There will be some tactical decisions that I disagree with, but I know deep down that people like Bernie Sanders and Nina Turner are motivated by a passion for justice, not a passion for politics. They will lead us on a path that furthers the progressive cause, not their political careers.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

After 132 hour search ASU team locates meteorites

ASU Now Discoveries graphic

Reporter, ASU Now

On June 2, a chunk of rock the size of a Volkswagen Beetle hurtled into the atmosphere over the desert Southwest at 40,000 miles per hour and broke apart over the White Mountains of eastern Arizona.

A week later, one of Arizona State University’s top meteorite experts was off on a team expedition in the Arizona wilderness on an Apache homeland, braving bug bites, bears and mountainous terrain.

After three nights and 132 hours of searching, they were successful.

“This is a really big deal,” said Laurence Garvie, research professor and curator of the Center for Meteorite Studies in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU. “It was a once-in-a-generation experience.”

It began when Garvie woke up on June 2, checked social media and saw that dozens of people and cameras witnessed a dramatic meteor fall in the wee hours of the morning. He immediately knew it was going to be a long day.

National Weather Service Doppler radar in Flagstaff swept the area and turned up three strong radar returns on White Mountain Apache tribal land.

“This thing exploded in the atmosphere,” Garvie said. “When the stone breaks up, things just start dropping. ... By simple physics we can estimate where these things are on the ground.”

A lot of meteorite hunters immediately knew where it had fallen, but tribal lands are closed to the public, unless hiking or fishing with a permit. “People were excited, but it wasn’t on public land,” Garvie said.

White Mountain Apache tribal land near where the meteorite strewn field was found.
The ASU team was granted permission by the White Mountain Apache Tribe to go onto their land to search for the meteorites.
Photo courtesy of Laurence Garvie

A day or so after the fall, after Garvie had stopped being bombarded for interview requests from the press, he and Jacob Moore, assistant vice president of tribal relations at ASU, contacted the tribal council of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
“(Moore) was absolutely pivotal to this,” Garvie said.

With tribal permission granted, the Arizona State University–White Mountain Apache Tribe Meteorite Expedition, as Garvie dubbed it, took off for the mountains. Tribal chief ranger Chadwick Amos and Game and Fish director Josh Parker met the team nearby to help them with their search.

Garvie, two grad students from the Center for Meteorite Studies and three professional meteorite hunters invited by the center took off in three high-clearance four-wheel-drive trucks. They brought food and water for a week in case they got stuck.

Like most backcountry roads in Arizona, it was a hairy two-track.

“We drove 5 miles an hour,” Garvie said. They blew a tire (their last spare) at one point. “We drove a mile an hour after that,” he added. “We took 1.5 hours to travel the 7-mile dirt road to our first campsite.”

Everyone was bitten by either cactus or insects. Bears wandered through camp one night. On the way out, they rescued two lost hikers. Because the mountains are tinder dry, they couldn’t have campfires, so they ate canned chili, nuts and jerky. One guy put Reddi-Wip on everything. “It was a real adventure,” Garvie said.

The terrain is beautiful, but rugged. You might want to hike to a point 1,000 yards away, but it involves traversing twice that to get there.

After three nights camping and 132 hours of searching, the team found 15 meteorites, ranging in size from a medium-sized strawberry to a pea. “These are pristine things that were in space a few days ago,” Garvie said.

ASU research professor Laurence Garvie holds a newly found meteorite.
Laurence Garvie, curator of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies, on Tuesday displays the meteorite he found on his recent trek into the White Mountain Apache tribal area. His team found 15 meteorites from the June 2 fireball that broke up over Arizona. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Searching consisted of walking slowly and scanning small patches of bare ground where it would be possible to see a small, black, rounded rock, according to Garvie.
Graduate students from the Center for Meteorite Studies, Prajkta Mane and Daniel Dunlap, both found meteorites.

Dunlap found one the size of a pea in a clump of grass. “Oh man, I can’t believe this is happening,” Dunlap said he thought when he saw it. “Oh my God, is that one? It is!”

“It was an amazing feeling,” he said later.

Mane also found her first meteorite.

“It was crazy,” she said. “You study these things in the lab, but to go into the field with experienced people and find one was really amazing.”

It was the third recovered meteorite fall this year in the United States. The other two were in Mount Blanco, Texas, and Osceola, Florida. All three finds were enhanced by Doppler radar. Without the Doppler data, the White Mountain finds would likely not have been recovered, Garvie said.

“Like all discoveries, something of this magnitude bridges the gap of earth science,” said Ronnie Lupe, chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. “They say meteorites crashing down upon the Earth's surface is relatively common; however, to have them land on tribal lands is significant in discovery.”

The three citizen scientists — Robert Ward, Ruben Garcia and Mike Miller, all well-known to the center — discovered meteorites and handed them off to the collection. It was a condition of their joining the expedition, and they gladly accepted, attracted by the thrill of the hunt.

“I really want to stress how important they were,” Garvie said.

It was the second time Garvie has personally found a meteorite. He didn’t expect to find anything on the expedition. “I was hoping,” he said.

Finding a meteorite can be hard, but not impossible, Garvie said. “If you just went out to the western deserts of Arizona and looked really hard, you might find one every few days,” he said.

The meteorites the team found are ordinary chondrites. Chondrites are stony — non-metallic — meteorites that have not been modified from melting or differentiation of the parent body. It was only the fourth recorded fall in Arizona history.

“Every new meteorite adds a piece to the puzzle of where we came from,” Garvie said. “We need to stress how grateful we are to the White Mountain Apache Tribal Chairman Ronnie Lupe for giving us access. This area is normally totally off limits to non-tribal members.”

The meteorites will remain the property of the tribe; the ASU center will curate them. Moore said the university was honored to work cooperatively with the tribe on such a rare scientific discovery.

“They have extended tremendous cooperation in the work the ASU scientists are doing on the White Mountain Apache tribal lands,” said Moore.

Lupe thanked everyone involved for being mindful of tribal lands and their laws and ordinances.

“The findings of these meteorites belong to the White Mountain Apache Tribe as it was found on tribal lands; whatever is found is ours,” he said. “Tribal resource advisers play a major role in assisting this team as they proceed on tribal lands; they will have a major role in guidance of our traditional and cultural values as these values are one with the land.”

Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the Center for Meteorite Studies and a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, said she was proud that the cooperation between everyone involved yielded such an amazing find.

“A fresh meteorite fall is always a fantastic opportunity to learn something new about the origin of our solar system and planets,” Wadhwa said. “I am really proud of the great teamwork between our ASU personnel, the meteorite collectors and members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe that made it possible to collect pieces of this meteorite for the benefit of science.” 

Top photo: ASU graduate students Daniel Dunlap and Prajkta Mane consult their notes while looking for meteorites in the White Mountain Apache tribal lands. Photo courtesy of Laurence Garvie

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

War on Weed Is Winding Down - and It's "High" Time

Marijuana. (photo: Getty Images)
Marijuana. (photo: Getty Images)

By Ellen Brown, Ellen Brown's Website
The war on cannabis that began in the 1930s seems to be coming to an end. Research shows that this natural plant, rather than posing a deadly danger to health, has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. But skeptics question the sudden push for legalization, which is largely funded by wealthy investors linked to Big Ag and Big Pharma.

n April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana. That makes nearly half of US states. A major barrier to broader legalization has been the federal law under which all cannabis – even the very useful form known as industrial hemp – is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be grown in the US. But that classification could change soon. In a letter sent to federal lawmakers in April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to release a decision on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of 2016.

The presidential candidates are generally in favor of relaxing the law. In November 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing the plant, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. Hillary Clinton would not go that far but would drop cannabis from a Schedule I drug (a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse) to Schedule II (a deadly dangerous drug with medical use and high potential for abuse). Republican candidate Donald Trump says we are losing badly in the war on drugs, and that to win that war all drugs need to be legalized.

But it is Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein who has been called “weed’s biggest fan.” Speaking from the perspective of a physician and public health advocate, Stein notes that hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from chronic pain and cancers are benefiting from the availability of medical marijuana under state laws. State economies are benefiting as well. She cites Colorado, where retail marijuana stores first opened in January 2014. Since then, Colorado’s crime rates and traffic fatalities have dropped; and tax revenue, economic output from retail marijuana sales, and jobs have increased.

Among other arguments for changing federal law is that the marijuana business currently lacks access to banking facilities. Most banks, fearful of FDIC sanctions, won’t work with the $6.7 billion marijuana industry, leaving 70% of cannabis companies without bank accounts. That means billions of dollars are sitting around in cash, encouraging tax evasion and inviting theft, to which an estimated 10% of profits are lost. But that problem too could be remedied soon. On June 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to prevent the Treasury Department from punishing banks that open accounts for state-legal marijuana businesses.

Boosting trade in the new marijuana market is not a good reason for decriminalizing it, of course, if it actually poses a grave danger to health. But there have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US. Not that the herb can’t have problematic effects, but the hazards pale compared to alcohol (30,000 deaths annually) and to patented pharmaceuticals, which are now the leading cause of death from drug overdose. Prescription drugs taken as directed are estimated to kill 100,000 Americans per year.

Behind the War on Weed: Taking Down the World’s Largest Agricultural Crop
The greatest threat to health posed by marijuana seems to come from its criminalization. Today over 50 percent of inmates in federal prison are there for drug offenses, and marijuana tops the list. Cannabis cannot legally be grown in the US even as hemp, a form with very low psychoactivity. Why not? The answer seems to have more to do with economic competition and racism than with health.

Cannabis is actually one of the oldest domesticated crops, having been grown for industrial and medicinal purposes for millennia. Until 1883, hemp was also one of the largest agricultural crops (some say the largest). It was the material from which most fabric, soap, fuel, paper and fiber were made. Before 1937, it was also a component of at least 2,000 medicines.

In early America, it was considered a farmer’s patriotic duty to grow hemp. Cannabis was legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800s. Americans could even pay their taxes with it. Benjamin Franklin’s paper mill used cannabis. Hemp crops produce nearly four times as much raw fiber as equivalent tree plantations; and hemp paper is finer, stronger and lasts longer than wood-based paper. Hemp was also an essential resource for any country with a shipping industry, since it was the material from which sails and rope were made.

Today hemp is legally grown for industrial use in hundreds of countries outside the US. A 1938 article in Popular Mechanics claimed it was a billion-dollar crop (the equivalent of about $16 billion today), useful in 25,000 products ranging from dynamite to cellophane. New uses continue to be found. Claims include eliminating smog from fuels, creating a cleaner energy source that can replace nuclear power, removing radioactive water from the soil, eliminating deforestation, and providing a very nutritious food source for humans and animals.

To powerful competitors, the plant’s myriad uses seem to have been the problem. Cannabis competed with the lumber industry, the oil industry, the cotton industry, the petrochemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry. In the 1930s, the plant in all its forms came under attack.

Its demonization accompanied the demonization of Mexican immigrants, who were then flooding over the border and were widely perceived to be a threat. Pot smoking was part of their indigenous culture. Harry Anslinger, called “the father of the war on weed,” was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Administration. He fully embraced racism as a tool for demonizing marijuana. He made such comments as “marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others,” and “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” In 1937, sensational racist claims like these caused recreational marijuana to be banned; and industrial hemp was banned with it.

Classification as a Schedule I controlled substance came in the 1970s, with President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. The Shafer Commission, tasked with giving a final report, recommended against the classification; but Nixon ignored the commission.
According to an April 2016 article in Harper’s Magazine, the War on Drugs had political motives. Top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman is quoted as saying in a 1994 interview:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. . . . We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
Competitor or Attractive New Market for the Pharmaceutical Industry?
The documented medical use of cannabis goes back two thousand years, but the Schedule I ban has seriously hampered medical research. Despite that obstacle, cannabis has now been shown to have significant therapeutic value for a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, lung disease, anxiety, muscle spasms, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis pain.

New research has also revealed the mechanism for these wide-ranging effects. It seems the active pharmacological components of the plant mimic chemicals produced naturally by the body called endocannabinoids. These chemicals are responsible for keeping critical biological functions in balance, including sleep, appetite, the immune system, and pain. When stress throws those functions off, the endocannabinoids move in to restore balance.

Inflammation is a common trigger of the disease process in a broad range of degenerative ailments. Stress triggers inflammation, and cannabis relieves both inflammation and stress. THC, the primary psychoactive component of the plant, has been found to have twenty times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.

CBD, the most-studied non-psychoactive component, also comes with an impressive list of therapeutic uses, including against cancer and as a super-antibiotic. CBD has been shown to kill “superbugs” that are resistant to currently available drugs. This is a major medical breakthrough, since for some serious diseases antibiotics have reached the end of their usefulness.

Behind the Push for Legalization
The pharmaceutical industry has both much to gain and much to lose from legalization of the cannabis plant in its various natural forms. Patented pharmaceuticals have succeeded in monopolizing the drug market globally. What that industry does not want is to be competing with a natural plant that anyone can grow in his backyard, which actually works better than very expensive pharmaceuticals without side effects.

Letitia Pepper, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is a case in point. A vocal advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use, she says she has saved her insurance company $600,000 in the last nine years, using medical marijuana in place of a wide variety of prescription drugs to treat her otherwise crippling disease. That is $600,000 the pharmaceutical industry has not made, on just one patient. There are 400,000 MS sufferers in the US, and 20 million people who have been diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives. Cancer chemotherapy is the biggest of big business, which would be directly threatened by a cheap natural plant-based alternative.

The threat to big industry profits could explain why cannabis has been kept off the market for so long. More suspicious to Pepper and other observers is the sudden push to legalize it. They question whether Big Pharma would allow the competition, unless it had an ace up its sleeve. Although the movement for marijuana legalization is a decades-old grassroots effort, the big money behind the recent push has come from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company and producer of genetically modified seeds. In May of this year, Bayer AG, the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical company, made a bid to buy Monsanto. Both companies are said to be working on a cannabis-based extract.
Natural health writer Mike Adams warns:
[W]ith the cannabis industry predicted to generate over $13 billion by 2020, becoming one of the largest agricultural markets in the nation, there should be little doubt that companies like Monsanto are simply waiting for Uncle Sam to remove the herb from its current Schedule I classification before getting into the business.

. . . [O]ther major American commodities, like corn and soybeans, are on average between 88 and 91 percent genetically modified. Therefore, once the cannabis industry goes national, and that is most certainly primed to happen, there will be no stopping the inevitability of cannabis becoming a prostituted product of mad science and shady corporate monopoly tactics.
With the health benefits of cannabis now well established, the battlefield has shifted from its decriminalization to who can grow it, sell it, and prescribe it. Under existing California law, patients like Pepper are able to grow and use the plant essentially for free. New bills purporting to legalize marijuana for recreational use impose regulations that opponents say would squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, would heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and could wind up replacing the natural cannabis plant with patented, genetically modified (GMO) plants that must be purchased year after year. These new bills and the Monsanto/Bayer connection will be the subject of a follow-up article. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 27, 2016

George Will Leaves GOP: 'This Is Not My Party'

Conservative columnist and pundit George Will. (photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Conservative columnist and pundit George Will. (photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By Harper Neidig, The Hill
ongtime conservative columnist George Will says he has left the Republican Party because of Donald Trump.

“This is not my party,” he said during a Friday speech to the Federalist Society, according to the conservative-leaning outlet PJ Media.

Will said he has switched his Maryland voter registration to "unaffiliated."

When asked in an interview later what message he had for GOP voters, Will suggested they resign themselves to not winning the presidency in November.

“Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House,” he said.

Will has been an outspoken critic of Trump, writing in a column in April that the presumptive GOP presidenetial nominee is imperiling Republican chances of maintaining its majority in the Senate.

“At least half a dozen Republican senators seeking reelection and Senate aspirants can hope to win if the person at the top of the Republican ticket loses their state by, say, only four points, but not if he loses by 10,” Will wrote.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Real Wolf of Wall Street: Why Donald Trump Is So Popular With the Richest Investors

Donald Trump. (photo: Bill Clark/Roll Call)
Donald Trump. (photo: Bill Clark/Roll Call)

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

Top investors who back Trump don't care about the economy; they (wrongly) think he can make them richer
n Wednesday, hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, Ted Cruz’s former sugar daddy, announced that he had formed a Super PAC for wealthy Republicans who were too cowardly to own up to being Trump supporters. It’s subtly called the “Defeat Crooked Hillary Pac” and it being sold as a way for rich donors to contribute without having to sully their reputations by associating with that awful Donald Trump. Mercer  hired professional Clinton character assassin David Bossie to head up the project, which is perfect. His Clinton stalking goes all the way back to the 1990s with his organization called Citizens United. Yes, it’s that Citizens United.

One wonders who they think they’re fooling by pretending that trashing Hillary Clinton does something other than help Donald Trump but it turns out the donor class isn’t always as bright as they like to think they are. After all, as the New York Times pointed out in its big Atlantic City expose the other day, supposedly sophisticated Wall Street investors repeatedly gave Donald Trump vast sums of money which he squandered even as he personally made a fortune. It took four bankruptcies before they finally wised up that the man wasn’t a business genius, he just played one on TV.

Some still believe it.  Take this fellow quoted in Adam Davidson’s scathing profile of Trump’s business ventures in the New York Times Magazine:
Andrew Beal, a billionaire banker and investor, called me the other day to talk Trump. I had been leaving messages for every prominent business executive I could find who has publicly expressed support of the Republican candidate.
Before I could ask my first question, Beal told me he wanted to get something out of the way. He knew that I would ask about specifics. “Everybody wants to be real specific,” he said. But Beal’s support for Trump has nothing to do with specifics. He grants that he doesn’t know much about Trump’s policy goals or about whom he might choose for key economic positions. He doesn’t even think Trump knows. And that, he explained, is exactly why he supports him. “All these politicians with all these specific plans,” he said. “I think it’s total [expletive].”
His point was that business doesn’t run this way: If you’re hiring someone to be a chief executive, you don’t ask them to lay out every decision they’ll make, years ahead of when they’ll make it. You hire someone whom you trust, and you let them run things. Beal says he knows that Trump will do the right things to make the economy perform better. “You’re going to say, ‘How?’ ” he told me. “I don’t know how. I know that sounds crazy. That’s how the real world operates.”
That would be one of the so-called Masters of the Universe who allegedly keep the engine of capitalism working with their strategic insight and keen grasp of complex issues. When you read something like that you realize how easily all those rich investors got taken in by Trump.  It turns out they’re even more clueless than those poor dupes who ran up their credit cards to attend Trump University. They were dazzled by The Donald like everyone else.

And  he’s not the only one. Get a load of New York magazine’s Michelle Celarier’s rundown of the cast of characters who got together Tuesday night for a high-dollar fundraiser at Le Cirque in New York. It was hosted by hedge fund billionaire John Paulson and raised between five and seven million dollars:
The bigger gift among Paulson and his fellow hosts might have been attaching their names to the event in the face of a generally souring view of Trump — too erratic, too offensive — among the top ranks on Wall Street. At least in the case of Paulson, there may have been a business motive for supporting Trump: As of last July, the presumptive GOP nominee was an investor in Paulson’s funds at a time when others were fleeing because of poor performance. But whatever his reason, the hedge-fund titan is now officially part of the small band of financiers publicly throwing their support behind Trump — others include investors Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross, Cerberus’s Stephen Feinberg, hedge-funders Robert Mercer and Anthony Scaramucci, and former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin — even as many of their peers question whether doing so will prove to be reputational poison.
That’s a Wall Street wingnut rogues gallery with Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci (who I wrote about here) as co-sponsor of the event and Stephen Feinberg, a gun nut so extreme that he probably even scares Wayne LaPierre a little bit. And this was the event that reportedly brought Ted Cruz’s richest fanboy Robert Mercer fully on board the Trump train.

One wonders if any of them were shaken by this Moody’s analysis released on the day after the fundraiser:
“The economy will be significantly weaker if Mr. Trump’s economic proposals are adopted. Under the scenario in which all his stated policies become law in the manner proposed, the economy suffers a lengthy recession and is smaller at the end of his four-year term than when he took office,” the report said. “By the end of his presidency, there are close to 3.5 million fewer jobs and the unemployment rate rises to as high as 7 percent, compared with below 5 percent today. “During Mr. Trump’s presidency, the average American household’s after-inflation income will stagnate, and stock prices and real house values will decline.”
That doesn’t sound like such a great America, does it?
A Bloomberg/Morning Consult national poll on investment, tax and economic issues shows voters with money in the market pick Trump over Clinton, 50 percent to 33 percent, as the person they think will be better for their portfolio. Those with more than $50,000 invested answer the question almost identically as smaller investors…
“Donald Trump has made his business experience a key point in his campaign, and it seems to be resonating with voters,” said Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, a Washington-based media and technology company.
Some of this is driven by partisanship with six in ten self-identified Democrats saying they’ll be for Clinton and six in ten Republicans for Trump. Indies split two to one for Trump. The big difference is obviously that there are many more Republican investors than Democrats.

It’s a bit mind-boggling how this notion that the GOP (even under Trump) is better for the economy continues in spite of so much evidence proving the contrary. By any measure, whether it’s the stock market, GDP, reducing inequality, unemployment, poverty or racial economic progress the country does better economically under Democrats. Of course, the really wealthy ones aren’t really concerned about the economy in general. Many of them, like Trump donor John Paulson make fortunes from other people’s misfortunes. (He made a killing on the mortgage meltdown in 2007 although now he’s down to his last 13 billion or so.) What they care about is their own tax rates and any regulations that may impede their freedom to gamble with the economy as they see fit. On that score, the Republicans are much more responsive to their personal needs and so is Donald Trump.

In fairness, there are many Wall Street types who are appalled by Trump even as they loathe and despise Democrats like Clinton and Obama for being mean and calling them fat cats and forcing them to adhere to some regulations after they crashed the world economy with their reckless gambling. They really would prefer a nice, easy Republican like Mitt Romney who wouldn’t have a slavering mob of left-wing populists breathing down the new president’s neck watching his every move for signs of favored treatment for the 1%.

Instead, they are stuck with Trump, a man so obnoxious and ignorant that even though he’s more or less “one of them” they recoil in horror at the prospect of supporting such a cretin.  Luckily, there will be vehicles like the “Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC”  available for them to express their dislike of both candidates without having to take responsibility for the result.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bernie Sanders: I Will Vote for Hillary Clinton - to Stop Donald Trump

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. (photo: Getty Images)
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. (photo: Getty Images)

By Dan Roberts, Guardian UK
The Vermont senator continues his slow march toward concession and attacks Trump over his ‘campaign of bigotry’ and climate change denial
ernie Sanders crossed a verbal watershed in his slow march toward conceding the Democratic nomination contest on Friday by confirming he would vote for Hillary Clinton in November’s election.

Despite previous assurances that he would work with her to defeat Donald Trump, the remarks are the first time the leftwing Vermont senator has explicitly supported his Democratic adversary.

It may also help encourage his millions of supporters to more fully back the presumptive Democratic nominee after a period in which some have appeared reluctant to accept the legitimacy of the primary process.

Asked if was going to vote for Clinton in November, Sanders told a CNN interviewer: “Yes – I think the issue right here is, I’m going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump.”

He added: “We do not need a president whose cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, is insulting Mexicans and Latinos, and Muslims and women, who does not believe the reality of climate change when virtually every scientist who has studied this issue understands we are at a global crisis. This is not somebody who should become president.”

Only the night before Sanders had declined to refer to Clinton or formally concede defeat during a speech in New York in which he stressed that his “political revolution is just getting started”.

But the more conciliatory comments on Friday morning appear consistent with a gradual withdrawal in recent weeks, first marked in comments outside the White House after a meeting with Barack Obama on 10 June in which he said he was prepared to work with Clinton following defeat in the California primary.

In an interview with C-Span this week, Sanders also acknowledged “it doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee” when asked if he would be speaking at the party convention.

While appearing grudging or ambiguous to some Clinton supporters, Sanders campaign insiders say the gradual change of tone reflects a desire to exert leverage over the policy platform at the convention and migrate his huge base of backers onto a more lasting journey to reform the party’s agenda.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Best Is Yet to Come

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Mark Peterson/Redux)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Mark Peterson/Redux)

By Naomi Klein, The New Republic
24 June 16
n the surface, the battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders looks like a deep rift, one that threatens to splinter the Democratic Party. But viewed in the sweep of history, it is evidence of something far more positive for the party’s base and beyond: not a rift but a shift—the first tremors of a profound ideological realignment from which a transformative new politics could emerge.

Many of Bernie’s closest advisers—and perhaps even Bernie himself—never imagined the campaign would do so well. And yet it did. The U.S. left—and not some pale imitation of it—actually tasted electoral victory, in state after state after state. The campaign came so close to winning that many of us allowed ourselves to imagine, if only for a few, furtive moments, what the world would look like with a President Sanders.

Even writing those words seems crazy. After all, the working assumption for decades has been that genuinely redistributive policies are so unpopular in the U.S. that they could only be smuggled past the American public if they were wrapped in some sort of centrist disguise. “Fee and dividend” instead of a carbon tax. “Health care reform” instead of universal public health care.

Only now it turns out that left ideas are popular just as they are, utterly unadorned. Really popular—and in the most pro-capitalist country in the world.

It’s not just that Sanders has won 20-plus contests, all while never disavowing his democratic socialism. It’s also that, to keep Sanders from hijacking the nomination, Clinton has been forced to pivot sharply to the left and disavow her own history as a market-friendly centrist. Even Donald Trump threw out the economic playbook entrenched since Reagan—coming out against corporate-friendly trade deals, vowing to protect what’s left of the social safety net, and railing against the influence of money in politics.

Taken together, the evidence is clear: The left just won. Forget the nomination—I mean the argument. Clinton, and the 40-year ideological campaign she represents, has lost the battle of ideas. The spell of neoliberalism has been broken, crushed under the weight of lived experience and a mountain of data.

What for decades was unsayable is now being said out loud—free college tuition, double the minimum wage, 100 percent renewable energy. And the crowds are cheering. With so much encouragement, who knows what’s next? Reparations for slavery and colonialism? A guaranteed annual income? Democratic worker co-ops as the centerpiece of a green jobs program? Why not? The intellectual fencing that has constrained the left’s imagination for so long is lying twisted on the ground.

This broad appetite for systemic change did not begin with Sanders. During the Obama years, a wave of radical new social movements emerged, from Occupy Wall Street and the Fight for $15 to #NoKXL and Black Lives Matter. Sanders harnessed much of this energy—but by no means all of it. His weaknesses reaching certain segments of black and Latino voters in the Democratic base are well known. And for some activists, Sanders has always felt too much like the past to get overly excited about.

Looking beyond this election cycle, this is actually good news. If Sanders could come this far, imagine what a left candidate who was unburdened by his weaknesses could do. A political coalition that started from the premise that economic inequality and climate destabilization are inextricable from systems of racial and gender hierarchy could well build a significantly larger tent than the Sanders campaign managed to erect.

And if that movement has a bold plan for humanizing and democratizing new technology networks and global systems of trade, then it will feel less like a blast from the past, and more like a path to an exciting, never-before-attempted future. Whether coming after one term of Hillary Clinton in 2020, or one term of Donald Trump, that combination—deeply diverse and insistently forward-looking—could well prove unbeatable.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trump, His Virus and the Dark Age of Unreason

Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump. (photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty)
Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump. (photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty)

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Moyers & Company
17 June 16
 He's the latest in a long line of American demagogues but has come closest to the White House. That makes him the most dangerous of them all.

There’s a virus infecting our politics and right now it’s flourishing with a scarlet heat. It feeds on fear, paranoia and bigotry. All that was required for it to spread was a timely opportunity — and an opportunist with no scruples.

There have been stretches of history when this virus lay dormant. Sometimes it would flare up here and there, then fade away after a brief but fierce burst of fever. At other moments, it has spread with the speed of a firestorm, a pandemic consuming everything in its path, sucking away the oxygen of democracy and freedom.

Today its carrier is Donald Trump, but others came before him: narcissistic demagogues who lie and distort in pursuit of power and self-promotion. Bullies all, swaggering across the landscape with fistfuls of false promises, smears, innuendo and hatred for others, spite and spittle for anyone of a different race, faith, gender or nationality.

In America, the virus has taken many forms: “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, the South Carolina governor and senator who led vigilante terror attacks with a gang called the Red Shirts and praised the efficiency of lynch mobs; radio’s charismatic Father Charles Coughlin, the anti-Semitic, pro-Fascist Catholic priest who reached an audience of up to 30 million with his attacks on Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal; Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo, a member of the Ku Klux Klan who vilified ethnic minorities and deplored the “mongrelization” of the white race; Louisiana’s corrupt and dictatorial Huey Long, who promised to make “Every Man a King.” And of course, George Wallace, the governor of Alabama and four-time presidential candidate who vowed, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Note that many of these men leavened their gospel of hate and their lust for power with populism — giving the people hospitals, schools and highways. Father Coughlin spoke up for organized labor. Both he and Huey Long campaigned for the redistribution of wealth. Tillman even sponsored the first national campaign-finance reform law, the Tillman Act, in 1907, banning corporate contributions to federal candidates.

But their populism was tinged with poison — a pernicious nativism that called for building walls to keep out people and ideas they didn’t like.

Which brings us back to Trump and the hotheaded, ego-swollen provocateur he most resembles: Joseph McCarthy, US senator from Wisconsin — until now perhaps our most destructive demagogue. In the 1950s, this madman terrorized and divided the nation with false or grossly exaggerated tales of treason and subversion — stirring the witches’ brew of anti-Communist hysteria with lies and manufactured accusations that ruined innocent people and their families. “I have here in my hand a list,” he would claim — a list of supposed Reds in the State Department or the military. No one knew whose names were there, nor would he say, but it was enough to shatter lives and careers.

In the end, McCarthy was brought down. A brave journalist called him out on the same television airwaves that helped the senator become a powerful, national sensation. It was Edward R. Murrow, and at the end of an episode exposing McCarthy on his CBS series See It NowMurrow said:
“It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”
There also was the brave and moral lawyer Joseph Welch, acting as chief counsel to the US Army after it was targeted for one of McCarthy’s inquisitions. When McCarthy smeared one of his young associates, Welch responded in full view of the TV and newsreel cameras during hearings in the Senate. “You’ve done enough,” Welch said.

Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?… If there is a God in heaven, it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further.”

It was a devastating moment. Finally, McCarthy’s fellow senators — including a handful of brave Republicans — turned on him, putting an end to the reign of terror. It was 1954. A motion to censure McCarthy passed 67-22, and the junior senator from Wisconsin was finished. He soon disappeared from the front pages, and three years later was dead.

Here’s something McCarthy said that could have come straight out of the Trump playbook: “McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.” Sounds just like The Donald, right? Interestingly, you can draw a direct line from McCarthy to Trump — two degrees of separation. In a Venn diagram of this pair, the place where the two circles overlap, the person they share in common is a fellow named Roy Cohn.

Cohn was chief counsel to McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the same one Welch went up against. Cohn was McCarthy’s henchman, a master of dark deeds and dirty tricks. When McCarthy fell, Cohn bounced back to his hometown of New York and became a prominent Manhattan wheeler-dealer, a fixer representing real estate moguls and mob bosses — anyone with the bankroll to afford him. He worked for Trump’s father, Fred, beating back federal prosecution of the property developer, and several years later would do the same for Donald. “If you need someone to get vicious toward an opponent,” Trump told a magazine reporter in 1979, “you get Roy.” To another writer he said, “Roy was brutal but he was a very loyal guy.”

Cohn introduced Trump to his McCarthy-like methods of strong-arm manipulation and to the political sleazemeister Roger Stone, another dirty trickster and unofficial adviser to Trump who just this week suggested that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was a disloyal American who may be a spy for Saudi Arabia, a “terrorist agent.”

Cohn also introduced Trump to the man who is now his campaign chair, Paul Manafort, the political consultant and lobbyist who without a moral qualm in the world has made a fortune representing dictators — even when their interests flew in the face of human rights or official US policy.

So the ghost of Joseph McCarthy lives on in Donald Trump as he accuses President Obama of treason, slanders women, mocks people with disabilities and impugns every politician or journalist who dares call him out for the liar and bamboozler he is.

The ghosts of all the past American demagogues live on in him as well, although none of them have ever been so dangerous — none have come as close to the grand prize of the White House.

Because even a pathological liar occasionally speaks the truth, Trump has given voice to many who feel they’ve gotten a raw deal from establishment politics, who see both parties as corporate pawns, who believe they have been cheated by a system that produces enormous profits from the labor of working men and women that are gobbled up by the 1 percent at the top. But again, Trump’s brand of populism comes with venomous race-baiting that spews forth the red-hot lies of a forked and wicked tongue.

We can hope for journalists with the courage and integrity of an Edward R. Murrow to challenge this would-be tyrant, to put the truth to every lie and publicly shame the devil for his outrages. We can hope for the likes of Joseph Welch, who demanded to know whether McCarthy had any sense of decency. Think of Gonzalo Curiel, the jurist Trump accused of persecuting him because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. Curiel has revealed the soulless little man behind the curtain of Trump’s alleged empire, the avaricious money-grubber who conned hard-working Americans out of their hard-won cash to attend his so-called “university.”

And we can hope there still remain in the Republican Party at least a few brave politicians who will stand up to Trump, as some did McCarthy. This might be a little harder. For every Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham who have announced their opposition to Trump, there is a weaselly Paul Ryan, a cynical Mitch McConnell and a passel of fellow travelers up and down the ballot who claim not to like Trump and who may not wholeheartedly endorse him but will vote for him in the name of party unity.

As this headline in The Huffington Post aptly put it, “Republicans Are Twisting Themselves Into Pretzels To Defend Donald Trump.” Ten GOP senators were interviewed about Trump and his attack on Judge Curiel’s Mexican heritage. Most hemmed and hawed about their presumptive nominee. As Trump “gets to reality on things he’ll change his point of view and be, you know, more responsible.” That was Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Trump’s comments were “racially toxic” but “don’t give me any pause.” That was Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Republican African-American in the Senate. And Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas? He said Trump’s words were “unfortunate.” Asked if he was offended, Jennifer Bendery writes, the senator “put his fingers to his lips, gestured that he was buttoning them shut, and shuffled away.”

No profiles in courage there.  But why should we expect otherwise? Their acquiescence, their years of kowtowing to extremism in the appeasement of their base, have allowed Trump and his nightmarish sideshow to steal into the tent and take over the circus. Alexander Pope once said that party spirit is at best the madness of the many for the gain of a few. A kind of infection, if you will — a virus that spreads through the body politic, contaminating all. Trump and his ilk would sweep the promise of America into the dustbin of history unless they are exposed now to the disinfectant of sunlight, the cleansing torch of truth. Nothing else can save us from the dark age of unreason that would arrive with the triumph of Donald Trump.