May 19, 2016

Crisis: American "Democracy", Bill Clinton, Endless War, Endless Propaganda
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Will 712 Democratic Officials Decide 2016 Election?
     Uncovering the Secret History of Superdelegates

2. Bubba's Toxic Economic Legacy:
3. Anti-War Democrats Try to Repeal Authorization for
     Endless War

4. Copps’s Plea for You and Me

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 19, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about the state of "democracy" in America's Democratic Party: taken over by non-elected super- delegates; item 2 is about Bill Clinton's enormous economic know-how (that gave extremely much to the very rich, but who knows that, among the present American voters?); item 3 is about an attempt (after a mere 15 years) to end the authorizations of endless wars, started under Bush Jr. and continued - "Change!", "Change!", "Change!" - under Obama; and item 4 is about honesty about who pays for the 45 bits of propaganda most Americans receive, relative to 1 bit of media information: There is endless propaganda without honesty in the USA, regardless of the American law: The rich want it that way, and nobody discusses this (in the main media).

And there is less than yesterday, but this is normal variation.

1. Will 712 Democratic Officials Decide 2016 Election? Uncovering the Secret History of Superdelegates

The first item is b
y Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
The relationship between the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Democratic Party leadership has been challenging from the start of the 2016 election campaign, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the primaries with a more than 400-delegate lead by securing support from superdelegates—the 712 congressmembers, senators, governors and other elected officials who often represent the Democratic Party elite. Now a new article from In These Times by Branko Marcetic uncovers "The Secret History of Superdelegates," which were established by the Hunt Commission in 1982. We are joined by Jessica Stites, executive editor of In These Times and editor of the site’s June cover story, and Rick Perlstein, the Chicago-based reporter and author of several books, including "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America."
That was the introduction.

Note that it takes a bit over 1200 delegates to win the presidential candidacy, which means that Hillary Clinton started with a 400-delegate lead, none of whom was elected (in the election of a presidential candidate).

I quote one more bit:
JESSICA STITES: (...) And basically, what had prompted this were the losses of Carter and McGovern, and so this fear that the Democratic Party wasn’t nominating sort of electable, winnable candidates. And so, these sort of party insiders sat down and said, "What do we do?" And their instinct was, "Well, we need to take control. We need to take control of the nominating process. We’re worried that sort of if we let the people decide through primaries, they’re going to pick the wrong person." And so they instituted the superdelegate, who could act as a corrective, essentially, to the popular vote by, at the convention, casting votes for whomever they chose. And what really the sort of psychology you saw there—and this comes up a lot in the transcripts—is this fear of the activist or the outsider candidate that might disrupt the party, might not work with the Democrats the way they want once that person comes to the presidency, and so in this sort of sense that the elites kind of know best, and "we have a particular political acumen."
There is considerably more in the article, but this is what it comes down to:
The Democratic Party relies on a completely NON-democratic procedure to nominate only those candidates that the arrived elite of the Democratic Party approves.

And indeed this may cost Bernie Sanders the presidential candidacy, together with massive discriminations by the former free press, that no longer is free (just as the Democratic Party only is "democratic" for candidates approved by the elite).

Bubba's Toxic Economic Legacy:

The second item is by Conor Lynch on AlterNet, and originally on Salon:
This starts with the following subtitle (after a very long title):
Hillary Clinton recently stated that her husband would be a key player on economic policy. That's not good news.
I agree, though it seems to me very good news for the very rich and for the CEOs of the big banks, though indeed bad news for the rest.

Then there is this (after a considerable amount that I skip):

But even more importantly, it should be recognized that the economic policies of Clinton not only exacerbated the bubbles (and made the later crashes worse), but undermined the longterm economic interests of the working and middle classes.
Yes, indeed! And here is why this is so:

It was, after all, the Clinton administration that oversaw widespread financial deregulation, repealing Glass-Steagall, which contributed to the rise of too-big-to-fail financial institutions, and signing the Commodity Futures Modernization Act into law, which ensured that the derivatives market that eventually led to the financial crisis was not regulated. The first financial institutions to benefit from Glass-Steagall’s repeal were Citicorp and Travelers Group, two companies that merged to form Citigroup, where Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin—who pushed for the legislation—would go on to receive $126 million in compensation (after the bank was bailed out by the federal government). Clinton also signed legislation (Riegle-Neal) that removed restrictions on interstate banking, leading to a rapid decline in local commercial banks.

Beyond financial deregulation, Clinton passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which undermined manufacturing jobs and unions, while benefiting the biggest corporations who could shift production to Mexico; he signed the aforementioned welfare reform, which led to a system rife with racial bias and left more in deep poverty; and he reappointed Alan Greenspan as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

In brief, it was especially Bill Clinton who liberated the American economy from the constraints that kept the rich legally in their place (though still very rich). Clinton liberated almost everything for the rich, and seems to have gotten the same reward as the - horrible, egoistic, extremely greedy - Robert Rubin did (namely a mere $126 million dollars, in Clinton's case for a few speeches for bankers).

The article ends as follows:

To sum it all up, Bill Clinton’s economic legacy should repel all progressives who believe in economic justice and fairness. Bubba did a lot as president to advance the interests of big banks, and precious little to help the working class and poor in the long run. Which begs the question: Who is Hillary trying to appeal to with Bill’s neoliberal economic legacy?

The question is good, but only for the minority that is well informed, and not for the majority of the others, who mostly vote on the basis of their political faith in some candidate, without having good rational reasons for doing so. It is this majority Hillary tries to reach, and naming Bill as her prominent economic advisor ("Didn't the economy prosper under Bill?!") may well help her (and see item 4).

3. Anti-War Democrats Try to Repeal Authorization for Endless War

The third item is b
y Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
After years of bombings and a new, protracted conflict in the Middle East, the U.S. House on Wednesday is expected to vote on a measure that could end or extend President Barack Obama's "blank check" for war, which is now currently used to sanction attacks against the Islamic State (or ISIS).

The legislation, proposed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), "would require the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, which Congress passed to allow operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, within 90 days of the defense policy bill’s enactment," Washington Postexplains.

Included in a roster of other defense policy measures, Lee said last week that she wants to "force a debate on this war and repeal the 2001 blank check for endless war that got us into these perpetual wars."

As I write this, it is early Thursday, but I do not know the outcome of this new legislation. I expect that it will be defeated, though I agree with the legislative
proposal (in so far as I know about it).

Two reasons this is important is that it seeks to end the "
"blank check" for war" (which this year functions for 15 years!) and that the questions Barbara Lee wants to see discussed are good.

Here they are:

(..) Lee issued a memorandum titled "Unanswered questions about yet another war in the Middle East."

Noting that the "U.S. mission in Iraq and Syria creeps closer and closer toward all-out war," Lee asks the following questions:

    1. Since 1991, the U.S. has spent trillions of dollars, dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs and lost thousands of brave servicemen and women in Iraq. Do you feel any safer? Are we any safer?
    2. The last four U.S. Presidents have bombed Iraq. Will Congress allow a fifth President the same blank check to continue this open-ended war?
    3. How many Americans or associated military personnel are actually in Iraq and Syria? How many contractors? How many sneakers on the ground?
    4. For 25 years, the Pentagon has pursued a “bombs, bombs, bombs” agenda in the Middle East. Why will it be successful this time? Why hasn’t the Pentagon made the case that more bombings will bring stability and security?
    5. ISIL is an heir to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Do we have a plan to support the needed political reforms in Iraq and Syria that will prevent an ISIL heir from emerging?
    6. For months, the U.S. has been training and equipping different factions.  Do we know who these individuals are? Can we guarantee that their training and new weapons won’t be used against U.S. troops or our interests? How much does this program cost?
    7. In January, both Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell called for an AUMF debate and vote. Why have neither moved anything to the Floor? Why have they decided to take potshots at the President for their own inaction and inability to control their caucuses?
I think these are good questions, and I would like to see the answers they received in the House, although (as said) I am not optimistic about Lee's attempt to end the endless wars that Bush Jr. and Cheney started, 15 years
4. Copps’s Plea for You and Me

The fourth and last item of today i
s by Ralph Nader on his site:
This starts as follows:

The plain-spoken, public-spirited former Federal Communications Commissioner, Michael Copps, is indignant—and for good reason: The FCC is not enforcing the law requiring the “dark money” super PACs and other campaign cash conduits to reveal, on-the-air, the names of the real donors behind all political advertisements, which are now flooding the profitable radio and television airwaves.

It is bad enough that political ads far overwhelm political news stories. One study of the 2014 election campaign found Philadelphia stations gave 45 times more air time to political ads than they devoted to their news stories which were designed to inform viewers about the candidates. Political ads have become a huge cash cow for the television and radio stations that use OUR public airwaves free of charge. We citizens, who are the owners of the public airwaves, receive no rent payment from these tenants. (Thanks to a corrupted Congress!)

I say! And while I know Philadelphia is only a small part of the USA, I take it
that the situation in the rest of the USA is similar - which is to say that the
American voters get something like 45 : 1 = Propaganda : Information. In case you don't understand this: The average voter gets something like 45 bits of political propaganda for 1 bit of information.

Also, Ralph Nader is quite correct that the public airwaves belong to the people, and quite correct the people are not paid for the - totally sickening - oceans of propaganda (advertisements, etc.) that are poured out over them.

But not only do the media give 45 bits of propaganda for 1 bit of information,
while not paying their viewers a single cent for all the amounts of utter bullshit and crap that they are served with, they also are thoroughly corrupted by the rich:

Well, as Michael Copps writes, “Broadcasting and cable companies fear that honest ads might lead to fewer ads and less money in their coffers. Corporate and dark money interests hide in the shadows of anonymous attacks. Even our major newspapers shy away from covering this issue, perhaps looking more toward their bottom-line interests than the public interest. Some of them own other media properties…”

That is, although it is the law that political advertisements need their sources revealed, the rich don't like that, and don't do it. And the broadcasters, the
cable companies, and the paper press do not cover the issue, because this
will loose them money
advertisements/propaganda - which are essentially lies, exaggerations, deceptions, falsehoods and intentional misstatements).

Here are first a statement of the relevant American law that is now systematically ducked, without their being paid any attention to, followed
by a statement of the former
Federal Communications Commissioner, Michael Copps:

Apart from recent exertions on net neutrality, the FCC has been subservient to big media companies and their docile Congressional allies who don’t want to properly enforce the 1934 Communications Act, which stipulates that radio and television broadcasting companies adhere to the legal standard of the
“public interest, convenience and necessity” in presenting programming. That standard implies a fair balance between serious content and entertainment/advertisements. The FCC, mercilessly harassed into slumber by members of Congress, has been AWOL from its legal duties.

On the bigger picture Copps writes, “Big money is corrupting our electoral process, strangling our civic dialogue, and endangering American self-government. The agency, the FCC, should respond to the petitions and complaints that have been filed and indicate if it is going to live up to its obligations.” Law and Order anyone?

And that's it - and indeed Copps first statement covers a lot more than the FCC:

“Big money is corrupting our electoral process, strangling our civic dialogue, and endangering American self-government."

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