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Nederlog

 April 2, 2016

Crisis: Sanders vs Clinton *2,  Michael Hudson, Oliver Stone, Superdelegates
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Bernie Sanders Took Money From the Fossil Fuel Lobby,
     Too — Just Not Much

2. ‘Days of Revolt’: Wall Street Criminals and the Future of
     Our Economy (Video)

3.
Oliver Stone Makes Impassioned Plea for Sanders:
     'Hillary Clinton Has Effectively Closed the Door on Peace'

4.  Superdelegates Are One Reason Why the Way We
      Choose Our Presidential Candidates Is Wrong

5. Greenpeace, Sanders Hold Ground Against Clinton in
     Fossil Fuel Feud

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, April 2, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 links: Item 1 and item 5 are both about the lies of Hillary Clinton; item 2 is about Part 2 of an interview Chris Hedges had with Michael Hudson; item 3 is about a pessimistic Oliver Stone (who has some right to be pessimistic); and item 4 is about superdelegates: Unchosen democratic supremoes who try to keep from power anyone who is not like democratic supremoes: How the Democratic Party tries to keep Bernie Sanders from being elected their presidential candidate.

1. Bernie Sanders Took Money From the Fossil Fuel Lobby, Too — Just Not Much 

The first item is by Zaid Jilani on The Intercept - and you may be scandalized:

This starts as follows:

A GREENPEACE ACTIVIST confronted Hillary Clinton during a campaign stop Thursday: “Thank you for tackling climate change. Will you act on your words and reject fossil fuel money in the future from your campaign?”

Clinton replied angrily: “I have money from people who have worked for fossil fuel companies. I have never … I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I am sick of it.”

The Clinton camp later issued an explanatory statement, concluding that the “simple truth is that this campaign has not taken a dollar from oil and gas industry PACs or corporations.”

In case you doubt: I have quoted this literally except for a video that is between the second and third paragraph.

In fact, if you believe Hillary Clinton, you may as well believe not that black is white, but that black is the second differential of Julius Ceasar [1]:

The Bernie Sanders campaign countered by pointing to a Greenpeace tally that says she has collected “$1,259,280 in bundled and direct donations from lobbyists currently registered as lobbying for the fossil fuel industry.”

Additionally, Greenpeace found “$3,250,000 in donations from large donors connected to the fossil fuel industry to Priorities Action USA,” the main Super PAC backing Clinton’s campaign.

Sanders, by contrast, has signed a pledge to reject fossil fuel dollars.

Altogether, Clinton received $4,509,280 from lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry or from large donors connected to the fossil fuel industry.

This is what Hillary Clinton means when she says that she (bolding added) "
has not taken a dollar from oil and gas industry PACs or corporations": Not a single one, do you hear?!

But then there is Bernie Sanders:

But Sanders, too, is apparently accepting money from the fossil fuel lobby. According to an Intercept examination of online records of lobbyist disclosure of political contributions, the Sanders campaign took in $24 from Nathen Causman, a lobbyist for the LNE Group, whose clients include American Municipal Power Inc.
So you see, Sanders received over 24 times as much from the fossil fuel lobby: He received $24 (which Causman in the article defends by saying these express his personal preferences), whereas Clinton - if you believe her - took less than one dollar.

You might incline to believe that
$4,509,280 might be a little bit more than $24 (personally given, not as part of a lobby) but then here is the ever truth-telling Hillary Clinton to set you right:

Clinton has repeatedly argued that money from corporate interests does not influence her policymaking. “You will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received,” she said during a February Democratic debate.

You have her word for it and she never ever lies: Not only did she receive less than one (1) dollar from the lobbyists for the fuel industry, she also insists
that this less than one (1) dollar did not influence her votes on bit.

(In case you say I am not reporting faithfully, I plead guilty. I just find it more credible that a person lies who receives
$4,509,280. But yes, I forgot that Hillary - honest to God, and her husband will support me and her - never ever lies. For more, see item 5.)

2. ‘Days of Revolt’: Wall Street Criminals and the Future of Our Economy (Video)

The second item is
by Chris Hedges on The Real News:

This is Part 2 (of 2). This part starts as follows:

CHRIS HEDGES: Hi, I'm Chris Hedges. Welcome to Days of Revolt.Today we're going to carry out part two of my discussion about where we're headed economically, with economist Michael Hudson. He's worked on Wall Street, taught economics, and is the author of Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy. Welcome, Michael.

I have dealt with Part 1 here. There I also referred you to Michael Hudson, on Wikipedia, because I thought (and think) his economic argument was given
a bit better there than it was in conversation.

This part is more political, and I will quote a bit more from it, and start with this:

HEDGES: (...) I want to look first at the self-identified liberal class within the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama. It often uses the language of economic justice, and will even chastise Wall Street rhetorically, but has been as committed to this neoliberal project as the Republicans.
HUDSON: The key of demagogic politics is to realize that the people who are really backing you are your campaign funders. Your job as a politician is to say, I can deliver this constituency to you backers. Obama was a genius at doing what Donald Trump is trying to do today: taking a constituency. That's his column A: a focus group listing everything the constituency wants. They want debt relief. They want better jobs. They want higher minimum wage.
HEDGES: And not trade agreements like NAFTA and [...]
HUDSON: Right. And then column B, that he didn't tell them, was what the campaign backers on Wall Street want. Obama was picked essentially by Robert Rubin, who then became head of Citibank after having come out of the Goldman Sachs. Obama was picked by Rubin of Wall Street to promise was he was going to really do. It was what any president today is going to do: A politician's job is to deliver whoever voted for you to your backers, who are on Wall Street. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, but especially if you are a Democrat that's really the Wall Street wing of the American political system. The Republicans are for the corporate monopoly, oil and gas wing of it.

Here are some supplementary comments to the above potted history (which is correct to the best of my knowledge):

First, Obama also is a Third Way guy, as are Clinton and Blair. This itself means that he supported the turning to libertarian/conservative ideas and values Clinton and Blair did (which was done by them - it seems to me - to ease their personal chances for being elected and then getting many millions from the very rich, which Clinton and Blair in fact did).

Second, the focus groups, which gave Obama most of the things he had to say so that he would win, is mostly a product of psychiatry-turned-commercial  (which used the technique to find out what housewives wanted in the fifties and sixties, in order to sell them the most and make the highest profits). It is used by politics since the nineties to inform politicians what they should say to make the best chance of being elected. (And no, truth is not a relevant norm at all.)

Third, I did not know that Obama was selected by Robert Rubin (who - I agree - is a very bad and very greedy man, who also deregulated the banks under Clinton). In any case, also given the previous clarifications about what politicians say to get elected, I think it is true that the real job of a politician when elected is to do what his financial backers want him to do. (I mean: That is why the very rich gave the politicians millions: To get what they want, and
not because they like the color of their eyes.)

Fourth, I think it is also correct that the Democrats are mostly supported by Wall Street and the Republicans by oil and gas, and indeed that was so since the last century, also in spite of the fact that both corporate groups always hedge their bets, and take care that "the other party" also gets money from them.

Next, there is this on the real job of most (American) prominent politicians now, which is fundamentally deceiving the people who elect them to trust the politicians that the politicians will do as the people want them to, and as the politicians said they will do.

They are almost always mistaken, for "the people" have only votes and no big money:

HUDSON: Or whether it would be Hillary today, or Trump. Their job is to bail out Wall Street and make the people pay, not Wall Street. Because Wall Street is the people who select the politicians who know where their money is coming from. If you have a campaign contributor, no matter whether it's Wall Street, or locally if it's a real estate developer, you all know who your backers are.The talent you need to have as a politician is to make the voters think that you're going to be supporting their interests.
HEDGES: And what's that great Groucho Marx quote?
HUDSON: The secret of success is sincerity. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Putting Groucho Marx's quote otherwise: A successful politician is a successful liar. More specifically, successful politicians do as their rich backers want, and say what their electorate wants to hear (which is generally the opposite of what their backers want), and get away with it. (Incidentally, this
is made a lot easier by an unfree press, that is bought by - roughly - the same rich backers as support the politicians and their lies.)

Here is some about the money involved and some about Obama:

HUDSON: So the Federal Reserve has given Wall Street $4.5 trillion. That $4.5 trillion could have been used to write down the debt. And then we wouldn't have a problem. Then everybody would have a lower costs of living. The $4.5 trillion could have been spent into the economy.
HEDGES: We could have saved people from being foreclosed and driven from their homes.
HUDSON: Yes. But that wasn't what Obama did.
HEDGES: Even though he promised that he would. And then he turned around, he earmarked some money to save people who were being pushed out of their homes. And then he never spent it.
HUDSON: That's right. It wasn't spent.

Incidentally, a trillion dollars = a thousand billion dollars = a million times a million dollars. Therefore $4.5 trillion is a whole lot of money.

Then there is this on the probable future of most non-rich men and women:

HEDGES: Right. And you say in the book that really, the only option left is a form of debt slavery or revolt.
HUDSON: That's exactly it. But the enzymes that the parasite have inculcated via the control of the media tell people it's not Wall Street's fault, it's not the parasite's fault, it's your fault. The victims haven't been able to make enough money to pay the One Percent, the victimizers. That's financial affluenza after kills an economy.
HEDGES: But is it working? I don't think the lie of neoliberal economics is being swallowed by larger segments of the population, including the people gathered around Trump.
HUDSON: That's right. They know that something's wrong, but they don't know what it is, because nobody's spelling out how the economy actually works. That's why I wrote my book, to say here's what's happening. The reason I was able to warn about the crisis a year before it happened was that I had the charts that were published in Harper's. My charts were cited in the Financial Times as the only charts by those who did foresee the crisis and said just how and why it would happen.

And indeed Michael Hudson was one of the very few economists who saw the crisis of 2008 coming before it arrived.

So...

HEDGES: And in essence, we become a kind of nation of sharecroppers.
HUDSON: That's exactly right, having to shop at the company store.
HEDGES: At the company store.
HUDSON: Yes.
HEDGES: Well, that lays it out. I think it illustrates the point that we need a vision to counter the vision of predatory, parasitic capitalism. If we don't get a vision very soon, we're in for a dark age.
HUDSON: And the job of the politician is to promise the nice vision, and then double-cross the constituents.
HEDGES: Well, so far unfortunately, they've done it very well.

I do not know whether Hedges or Hudson referred (also) to "Sixteen Tons" that contains the line "I owe my soul to the company store", and was originally published in 1946, but this is a link, and it is well worth listening to. (You also get the lyrics, which I've known since the 60ies: Quite good.)

3. Oliver Stone Makes Impassioned Plea for Sanders: 'Hillary Clinton Has Effectively Closed the Door on Peace'

The third item is b
y Oliver Stone on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming... The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way... We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction... because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening... Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight. — Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk, The Art of Power

I’ve been in deep despair these last few months about our political landscape. This quote from Thich Nhat Hanh recently elevated my spirit, and I share it with you. Because I am — we are — still here! Though it’s clear that the die is cast and that Clinton will win — that is, if you believe in numbers and materialism, but I don’t, not completely.

I don't believe I am as pessimistic or as despairing as is Oliver Stone, but I don't say he is wrong. And one reason I may be less pessimistic is that I have no children (because I fell ill at 28, and still am). Another reason may be that Oliver Stone knows a lot more about the USA.

Here is some more:

We’re going to war — either hybrid in nature to break the Russian state back to its 1990s subordination, or a hot war (which will destroy our country). Our citizens should know this, but they don’t because our media is dumbed down in its “Pravda”-like support for our “respectable,” highly aggressive government. We are being led, as C. Wright Mills said in the 1950s, by a government full of “crackpot realists: in the name of realism they’ve constructed a paranoid reality all their own.”

I like C. Wright Mills (<- Wikipedia) indeed since the late 60ies (Mills died at 45 in 1962). If you are going to read anything by him, which is strongly recommended, start with his "The Sociological Imagination" (<- Wikipedia).

There is this on Hillary Clinton:

Hillary’s record includes supporting the barbaric “contras” against the Nicaraguan people in the 1980s, supporting the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia, supporting the ongoing Bush-Iraq War, the ongoing Afghan mess, and as Secretary of State the destruction of the secular state of Libya, the military coup in Honduras, and the present attempt at “regime change” in Syria. Every one of these situations has resulted in more extremism, more chaos in the world, and more danger to our country.

If this isn't fair, it is fair enough, in my opinion. And there is this on Bernie Sanders:

This is why I’m praying still for Bernie Sanders, because he’s the only one willing, at least in the name of fiscal sanity, to cut back on our foreign interventions, bring the troops home, and with these trillions of dollars no longer wasted on malice, try to protect the “homeland” by actually rebuilding it and putting money into its people, schools, and infrastructure.

Since I am a life-long atheist, I don't pray, but I agree that Bernie Sanders is by far the best presidential candidate.

4. Superdelegates Are One Reason Why the Way We Choose Our Presidential Candidates Is Wrong

The fourth item i
s by Michael Winship on AlterNet and originally on Moyers and Company:

This is about superdelegates and the pretensions of the Democrats that they are democrats. No, they are not, or not quite, or not very much:
One of the more troubling aspects of the Democrats and their nomination process is something we touched upon in last week’s piece: the 712 or so “superdelegates,” about 15 percent of the total (and 30 percent of the majority needed to win the nomination) who will cast ballots at the July convention in Philadelphia. They include President Obama and Vice President Biden, 239 Democratic members of the House and Senate, 21 sitting governors, 437 Democratic National Committeemen and women, and a category referred to as “distinguished party leaders” – former presidents and veeps, ex-congressional leaders and erstwhile presidential nominees.

These superdelegate VIPs are chosen not by the voters in this year’s primaries or caucuses but selected by the party solely for their status as members of the Democratic upper crust.
For this simply means that if Hillary Clinton will be presidential candidate, 1 out of 3 of the votes for her that determined this outcome was not voted for  democratically, but was in fact by authority only.

How did this come about? As follows:

This whole superdelegate thing started back in 1984, when, after the devastating presidential defeat of George McGovern in 1972 and President Jimmy Carter’s landslide reelection loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980, it was determined that experienced party stalwarts should be made delegates to fend off fringe efforts to divert the mainstream.
That is one way of reading it (although it seems a bit strange to me to call these nominees by the existing authorities "delegates"), and here is a slightly clearer and more direct formulation:
Nevertheless, the perceived wisdom has become that, “Lest those pesky Democratic grass-roots activists and loser-lover types be inclined to drive the party over a leftward-hanging cliff, the establishment is supposed to step in to ensure that we nominate the electable candidate.”
In any case, Michael Winship concludes:
But like so many of those rules, superdelegates symbolize something that has to go: the entrenched, inside-the-Beltway embrace of power and influence by the Democratic illuminati that does little for the poor and middle class and everything for the one percent that writes the big checks.
I say yes and no: Yes, because that would be far more democratic; no, because it seems to me that the Democratic Party works in majority (not: all of them) for "the one percent that writes the big checks" since the early 1990ies anyway - and see item 2.

5. Greenpeace, Sanders Hold Ground Against Clinton in Fossil Fuel Feud

The fifth item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Environmental group Greenpeace has responded to Hillary Clinton's frustrated interaction with a climate activist on Thursday, when the former secretary of state said she was "sick of" the Bernie Sanders campaign claiming she has taken fossil fuel money to fund her presidential campaign.

"I do not have—I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies," Clinton said after being confronted by Greenpeace activist Eva Resnick-Day at a campaign rally in New York. "I am so sick—I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I'm sick of it."

As I explained in item 1 Hillary Clinton gets "so sick" because few people (apart from her extreme fans) are capable of believing that someone who received over $4.5 million dollars could not and would not lie for that amount of money.

But no, Hillary Clinton, in Hillary Clinton's opinion, never lies, not even for over $4.5 million dollars:

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign doubled down on defense, stating that she "has not taken a dollar from oil and gas industry PACs or corporations. The simple fact is that the Sanders campaign is misleading voters with their attacks."

As the Huffington Post reported last year, Clinton's biggest campaign bundlers are fossil fuel lobbyists. Reporters Kate Sheppard and Paul Blumenthal wrote in July that "fossil fuel interests have pumped $3.25 million into the largest super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle. The Clinton campaign has received donations from industry lobbyists including ExxonMobil's Theresa Fariello."

As I pointed out in item 1 she got more than a million dollars more. And she may be confused in another way:

And as Greenpeace campaign director Molly Dorozenski pointed out on Thursday, Clinton is "conflating Greenpeace with the Sanders campaign, but we are an independent organization.... Earlier this year, we asked both Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders to sign our pledge to #fixdemocracy, and while Sanders signed, Clinton did not."

Anyway... this is why I can't very seriously refute a liar like Clinton.

--------------------------
Note
[1] In case you don't understand it: That is the point. Hillary Clinton doesn't try so much to say that black is white, which is a more or less straight lie, as that she is trying to convince people of complete and utter nonsense. (Also see item 5.)

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