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Nederlog

Aug 4, 2016

Crisis: Cornel West, Trump Presidency, DNC, Democrats & Super-Rich
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Introduction

1.
Cornel West: Trump Will Be a Neofascist Catastrophe
     and Clinton a Neoliberal Disaster

2. The Idea of President Donald Trump
3. Why the Shake-up at the Democratic National
     Committee Is Doomed

4. With Clinton at Helm, Democratic Party Again a
     'Plaything of the Super-Rich'

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 4, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links (and this is a fairly tame day, in terms of what I could find): Item 1 is about Cornel West's choice for Jill Stein (with which I disagree); item 2 is about Trump's strangeness (to avoid the term madness); item 3 is about Reich on the Democratic Party: it will be led by the super-rich until Citizen's United is undone; and item 4 is about the same fact. Incidentally, this was one of the fastest and smallest Nederlogs this year, which will enable me to do some other things today.

Yesterday was less tame (see item 4 and item 5, if you didn't), but there still are 3 months to go till the American presidential elections.

1.
Cornel West: Trump Will Be a Neofascist Catastrophe and Clinton a Neoliberal Disaster

The first item today is by Robert Hennelly on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Polls indicate that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got a four-point bounce from the heavily scripted Democratic Party Convention. But it is hard to know the depth and intensity of support from Sanders activists passionate enough to earn themselves a place at the convention. Those are the kinds of activists that could help Clinton the most come November. Yet, an informal survey of dozens of Bernie delegates indicates a lack on enthusiasm for the Clinton cause. No doubt, the decision by prominent Bernie booster Cornel West to go for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein won't help.
I must say that I much doubt whether "Sanders activists" "could help Clinton the most come November" but let that be. What do I think of Cornel West's move from the Democratic Party to the Green Party? Here is part of West's own reply:

“Now people say, ‘Brother West, she’s better than Trump.’ That’s true, but Trump is about as low a bar that anybody could ever have,” West told his audience.

“We are in a tough situation. Of course, you know this is a swing state, so you have to make judgments in very wise ways,” West said. “But you don’t want to lie to yourself. Hillary Clinton comes on and says, ‘I have been fighting for children all my life.’ Which children do you have in mind?”

People on welfare, West explained, are “primarily women and children.” The welfare bill Bill Clinton signed, which ended the federal Aid to Families With Dependent Children and replaced it with block grants to the states, West said, “was a bill Ronald Reagan would have not signed.” He added, “It was only signed for political purposes.”

To me this sounds as if West simply doesn't want to face the facts:

The real choice is between Clinton and Trump, and Stein will never win the presidential elections, although she may prevent Clinton from winning. Given the almost certain fact that Stein will not win, and given that West agrees that Clinton is "
better than Trump", he should support Clinton. But he can't, he says, because of facts West indicated.

I agree the choice for Clinton is a choice from two evils, but that is the choice one has. I agree this is an unpleasant choice, but then one often has to make such choices. There is also this:

West was asked by a member of the audience for his election predictions.

“I think Trump will be a neofascist catastrophe and Clinton will be a neoliberal disaster," he answered. "So we are between a rock and a hard place. We have to gird ourselves, fortify ourselves for serious struggle. They are both tied to Wall Street. They are both dangerous in that way.”

What West doesn't seem to see (or isn't willing to admit?) is that the difference between Trump and Clinton is not merely between the extreme
right and a rightist, but also between a madman and a sane person.

And besides, I also think it is not responsible to say you are voting for a candidate who will not win the presidency, while voting for that candidate
will diminish the chances that Clinton will win.

2. The Idea of President Donald Trump

The second item is by Robin Scher on AlterNet (with an abbreviated title: I don't think titles should tell stories):
This starts as follows:

In the past 24 hours, Donald Trump has left many wondering whether he even still wants to be president. Judging by what has come out of his mouth in just one day, it’s becoming harder to tell.

Of course, you could argue this has been Trump’s strategy from the start. His stream-of-garbage/consciousness style has gotten him this far, so why would he stop now? Yet barely two weeks after nominating Trump, a growing number of Republicans are beginning to consider what might happen if he were just ...to quit.

No, Trump will not quit if he isn't forced to quit. And Robin Scher doesn't seem to know much about psychology, but this is a rather strong inference from the thesis - with which I agree, as a psychologist - that Trump has a narcissistic personality disorder.

Here is some more (and Karl is an ABC White House correspondent):

“He is so unpredictable right now,” said Karl on the feelings within the Republican Party. “They are so unable to control his message, that they just don’t know and clearly think it is a possibility, which is why they’re looking at these rules.”

This is all, of course, wishful thinking because ... well, Donald Trump. “Even if people don’t like me, they have to vote for me. They have no choice,” Trump said Tuesday to a group of supporters in Ashburn, Virginia. He added, “Even if you can’t stand Donald Trump, you think Donald Trump is the worst, you’re going to vote for me.”

Despite Trump’s insurmountable narcissism, if he does continue on his current trajectory the chances are increasingly likely he’ll lose come November. FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast shows that in the past week Clinton has risen from being the underdog to having a 68 percent likelihood of winning.
I say. I wish I could believe that, but all I know is that it is the beginning of August, while the elections are in the beginning of November. And as I said above: I think it is very unlikely that Trump will quit unless he is forced to quit.

3. Why the Shake-up at the Democratic National Committee Is Doomed

The third item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

The shake-up at the Democratic National Committee after an embarrassing breach of its email system continued Tuesday with the departure of three senior officials.

But purging the DNC of top officials won’t remedy the DNC’s problems. Those problems aren’t attributable to individuals who didn’t do their jobs. To the contrary, those individuals probably fulfilled their responsibilities exactly as those jobs were intended to be done.

The DNC’s problems are structural.

The Democratic National Committee – like the Republican National Committee – has become little more than a giant machine designed to suck up big money from wealthy individuals, lobbyists bundlers, and corporate and Wall Street PACs.
I'd say that the DNC's problems sound more as if they are not structural, but amount to the diagnosis that the DNC is completely corrupt. And I think that is also probably correct (though I agree that there also are structural problems).

Here is Reich's proposed solution:

As long as this is its de facto mission, the DNC won’t ever be kindly disposed to a campaign financed by small donations – Bernie’s, or any others. Nor will it support campaign finance reform. Nor will it be an institutional voice for average working people and the poor. It won’t want to eliminate superdelegates or support open primaries because these reforms would make Democratic candidates vulnerable to non-corporate interests.

What’s needed is structural reform. The DNC has to turn itself – and the Democratic Party – into a grass-roots membership organization, with local and state chapters that play a meaningful role in selecting and supporting candidates.

I agree to all that, but I also agree with Robert Reich's own judgement (a bit further down) that "Unfortunately, I doubt this will happen" - which leads to the conclusion he asserted in the title of this article.

And I agree with the conclusion, on which there is a little more in the next and last item:

4. With Clinton at Helm, Democratic Party Again a 'Plaything of the Super-Rich'

The fourth item today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

It appears that nothing is holding her back now that Hillary Clinton has officially become the Democratic nominee for president. With "cash machine" Tim Kaine by her side, the Democratic ticket's fundraising operation is in full swing, and the money—Big Money—is pouring in.

On Tuesday, the campaign announced a record take of $90 million last month for the candidate and the Democratic Party, not including that brought in by the Super PACs supporting her bid. Republican nominee Donald Trump raised a reported $80 million last month.

Actually, that is not much more than Trump gathered, or so it seems.

Here is part of the reason that the "Democratic Party" is "Again a 'Plaything of the Super-Rich'" as the article's title says, and also a possible reason this might be avoided in the future:

Clinton herself has promised to introduce a constitutional amendment to "overturn Citizens United" during her first 30 days as president, saying she will "fight for other progressive reforms, including small-dollar matching and disclosure requirements."

But as the Center for Public Integrity's Carrie Levine and Michael Beckel recently pointed out, that is not stopping the nominee, nor the Democratic establishment, from aggressively courting corporations and the mega-rich.

Cataloging the endless displays of corporate sponsorship, high falutin luncheons, and other examples of how last week's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was ultimately a "playground," for lobbyists, Super PACs, and outside political groups, they write: "Democrats have a light year to go before ever reaching that goal."

I agree with this: Until Citizens United has been undone, the Democratic Party will be a plaything of the super-rich. Here is Robert Scheer, who argues the same:

Underscoring how murky the world of politics and big-money influence is now, an investigation by the Sunlight Foundation published last week found that at least 63 of the Democratic superdelegates are also registered lobbyists.

"For all of the Democrats' denunciation of Citizens United
and the role of big money, that is what saved Clinton in this campaign, and the fat cats toasting over at the Ritz-Carlton were delighted with the outcome," Robert Scheer wrote this week.

"It is the Democrats, first Barack Obama and now Clinton, who turned their backs on public financing because, thanks to their sellout to Wall Street, they can look to big money to smash populist sentiment, as expressed so dramatically this time by the incredible outpouring of small contributions that financed the Bernie Sanders campaign," Scheer continued, referring to the notorious $27 donation average boasted by the Sanders campaign.

"Follow the money," he added, "and it is obvious that the Democratic Party as much as the GOP is now the plaything of the super-rich."

Yes, indeed. And the differences also exist: The Republicans are extreme rightists while the Democrats are rightists; the Republicans are led by an insane presidential candidate while the Democratic candidate is sane.

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