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Nederlog

Aug 26, 2016

Crisis: "Our Revolution", American Veterans, Israel, Clinton Wins (??)
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Introduction

1.
"Our Revolution"? Bernie Sanders Launches New
     Organization, But Key Staffers Quit in Protest
2. How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home
3. What Israel’s Actions Have Wrought
4. Clinton Wins in A Cakewalk? Don't Bet the Ranch on It
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, August 26, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about "Sanders' supporters" who run from Sanders' "Our Revolution" (and I try to explain); item 2 is about American veterans and the Veterans' Administration, and both are under attack by the rich; item 3 is about Israel, Zionism and discrimination (I try to explain a few things, but I don't expect any amelioriation until Netan- yahu looses power); and item 4 is about the supposed cakewalk to the presi- dency for Hillary Clinton, that I indeed think is a fairly dangerous delusion.

1. "Our Revolution"? Bernie Sanders Launches New Organization, But Key Staffers Quit in Protest

The first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders and his supporters have launched a new political organization called Our Revolution. It seeks to support the next generation of progressive leaders, empower millions to fight for progressive change and elevate the nation’s overall political consciousness. More than 2,600 watch parties were held across the country last night to witness Sanders launch the new organization. But reports have emerged of political tumult within Bernie Sanders’s own team. Over the weekend, eight key staffers abruptly resigned in a dispute over the group’s leadership and legal structure. For more, we speak with Larry Cohen, incoming board chair of Our Revolution, and with Claire Sandberg, former digital organizing director for Bernie Sanders’s campaign, who resigned as the organizing director for Our Revolution.
I say. This sounds .... (I am looking for the right term)... strange to me. I have more reasons than I will discuss here, but it seems to me that there are
now two kinds of "Sanders supporters" who claim to be Sanders supporterts but are not:

(1) those who say they are, but refuse to follow Sanders' decision to support
     Clinton (after he was defeated) because he fears Trump very much, and
(2) those who say they are, but now refuse to follow Sanders' decisions to
     try to gather a lot of money for Sanders' Our Revolution.

I have written about the first group. I think they are quite mistaken, for Trump is much more dangerous than Clinton, although I agree neither candidate is good and both are in fact rich who also are pro rich, but then that is the only choice one has: between a bad candidate and between a mad neofascist candidate (for that is what I think he is).

Also, I must say I dislike a lot of the shows of moral purity of the anti-Sanders
"Sanders supporters": I do not think it is much to ask from your supporters to
vote for the least evil and the non-fascist alternative, and I think those who show of their moral purity by absolutely refusing to vote for Clinton either are too much concerned with their own pure self image, or don't understand most politics is a dirty game in which one is often forced to vote for the least evil.

Now we have more
"Sanders supporters" who refuse to follow Sanders, and in fact walk out. I will give only one quotation (and skip several quotes from Sanders and the opinions of Larry Cohen: if you want to read then click the above dotted link), and again start this by saying I find this quite strange:

AMY GOODMAN: Claire Sandberg, you were a part of the Bernie Sanders campaign. You were the organizing director for Our Revolution. But right before it launched last night, you and more than half the staff quit. Why?

CLAIRE SANDBERG: Yes. (..) So, last Monday, as the staff of Our Revolution was preparing for a very busy week, gearing up for the launch event last night, we learned that Jeff Weaver would be stepping in to run, actively manage, Our Revolution, which was a decision that was met with unanimous concern among the entire staff at Our Revolution. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Jeff Weaver was the campaign director of Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaign.

CLAIRE SANDBERG: Yes, Jeff was the campaign manager at the organization. And all of us who worked on the campaign who moved over to Our Revolution did so based on the promise that Jeff Weaver would not be involved in Our Revolution or that his role would be strictly constrained as a legal adviser or a board member who would have somewhat of a token role.
(...)
AMY
GOODMAN:
Why is that, Claire?

CLAIRE SANDBERG: Well, Jeff has gone on the record admitting that he wanted to form the organization as a 501(c)(4) for the express purpose of accepting billionaire money, which of course flies in the face of what all of our supporters were so excited about, that we were taking a country back from the billionaire class without the use of billionaire money, $27 at a time.

The reason I find this strange is that it sounds completely ridiculous to me, and indeed as if Sandberg is hiding a completely different set of reasons for half of the staff dropping all work on Our Revolution.

That is: I just don't believe this is the real reason - and in case it is I think it is again a rather ridiculous show of moral purity: "We won't accept any contribution of any billionaire (no matter how carefully conditioned), because
we "Sanders supporters" want to win out battles with contributions of $27 dollars at a time." Really?!

I am sorry, but if this is the real reason, all I can conclude is that you are not
Sanders supporters; you are much more concerned with your own self image about your own moral purity than with doing realistic politics; and it seems you don't realize or you deny that much of politics is a dirty game.

And as to the billionaires: If some want to contribute millions to Sanders' Our Revolution, I'd welcome them, though I would tell them (if I were - for example - Sanders) that I am grateful, but they will not be rewarded with any
chance to influence Our Revolution except by giving money.

On that understanding, I fail to see what could be wrong with also soliciting for big money, for Our Revolution does need a lot of money, if only because the opposition has a lot more.

2. How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home

The second item is by Ann Jones on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

A friend of mine, a Vietnam vet, told me about a veteran of the Iraq War who, when some civilian said, “Thank you for your service,” replied: “I didn’t serve, I was used.” That got me thinking about the many ways today’s veterans are used, conned, and exploited by big gamers right here at home.

Near the end of his invaluable book cataloguing the long, slow disaster of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, historian Andrew Bacevich writes:

“Some individuals and institutions actually benefit from an armed conflict that drags on and on. Those benefits are immediate and tangible. They come in the form of profits, jobs, and campaign contributions.  For the military-industrial complex and its beneficiaries, perpetual war is not necessarily bad news.”

Bacevich is certainly right about war profiteers, but I believe we haven’t yet fully wrapped our minds around what that truly means. This is what we have yet to take in: today, the U.S. is the most unequal country in the developed world, and the wealth of the plutocrats on top is now so great that, when they invest it in politics, it’s likely that no elected government can stop them or the lucrative wars and “free markets” they exploit.

I mostly agree: Veterans are right to conclude they were used (deceived by propaganda) rather than that they served (an honest end, honestly stated),
and I also think Ann Jones is probably right in writing that "
the wealth of the plutocrats on top is now so great that, when they invest it in politics, it’s likely that no elected government can stop them or the lucrative wars and “free markets” they exploit".

My reasons to believe the last proposition are rather indirect, and include the fifteen years of continuous wars engaged in by the USA; the enormous power
enormous wealth give; the egoism and greed of very many; the systematic
misadministration of trillions by the Pentagon; the great profits of the American suppliers of arms; and considerably more that includes Powell Jrs
call to the rich to organize themselves to defend their own interests and riches, and 35 years of deregulations that much increased the riches of the few rich, while contributing nothing to the many poor.

Also, this is a fairly long article, and I will skip a lot. First, here is a statement that in fact goes mostly back to the Supreme Court's decision that money = votes (and yes, I know they did not quite put it like that, but that is what it
comes down to):

While the contest between Trump and Clinton fills the media, the big money is evidently going to be aimed at selected states and municipalities to aid right-wing governors, Senate candidates, congressional representatives, and in some cities, ominously enough, school board candidates. The Koch brothers need not openly support the embarrassing Trump, for they’ve already proved that, by controlling Congress, they can significantly control the president, as they have already done in the Obama era.

Yet for all their influence, the Koch name means nothing, pollsters report, to more than half of the U.S. population.
I think this is correct, but my reasons are again indirect, though I agree that one very important consequence of enabling and allowing that big money could go into politics is that it did, and did so in a very thorough way, and tries to buy influence in far more political institutions of many kinds than merely Congress, and that it also has mostly succeeded (for there are few motives stronger than getting a lot of money, in the present world, and hence very many can be corrupted).

Next, part of the story is - in fact - about how the American Veteran Administration got abused by manipulated and false information from large
pharmaceutical corporations on prescription opioids, which were originally sold on the basis of the falsehood that they were not addictive:

Those painkillers were also dispatched to the war zones where our troops were physically breaking down under the weight of the equipment they carried. By 2010, a third of the Army’s soldiers were on prescription medications—and nearly half of them, 76,500, were on prescription opioids—which proved to be highly addictive, despite the assurance of experts like Rollin Gallagher. In 2007, for instance, “The American Veterans and Service Members Survival Guide,” distributed by the American Pain Foundation and edited by Gallagher, offered this assurance: “[W]hen used for medical purposes and under the guidance of a skilled health-care provider, the risk of addiction from opioid pain medication is very low.”

That is what many medical doctors (who somehow also earned a lot from their prescribing these opioids) did claim.

Here is what happened, and it goes in two moves. First the addiction of very many veterans to the opioids that they were prescribed with the promise that
these were not addictive:

By that time, here at home, soldiers and vets were dying at astonishing rates from accidental or deliberate overdoses. Civilian doctors as well had been persuaded to overprescribe these drugs, so that by 2011 the CDC announced a national epidemic, affecting more than 12 million Americans.  In May 2012, the Senate Finance Committee finally initiated an investigation into the perhaps “improper relation” between Big Pharma and the pain foundations. That investigation is still “ongoing,” which means that no information about it can yet be revealed to the public.

And second, once they were addicted, the move of many veterans to a cheaper opioid, which is as effective, and that happens to be illegal heroin:

Meanwhile, opioid addicts, both veterans and civilians, were discovering that heroin was a cheaper and no less effective way to go.  Because heroin is often cut with Fentanyl, a more powerful opioid, however, drug deaths rose dramatically.

Next, I again skip a lot, and turn to a different tack, which is the attempt to replace the Veterans Administration by a quite different organization, which is - you are amazed, no doubt! - much more run by private corporations (rather than the government):
In other words, instead of funding added staff and speeded-up service, the commission recommended the creation of an entirely new, more expensive, and untried system. Then there was the fine print: as in the plan of Concerned Veterans of America, there would be tightened qualifications, out-of-pocket costs, and exclusions.  In other words, the commission was proposing a fragmented, complicated, and iffy system, funded in part on the backs of veterans, and “transformative” in ways ominously different from anything vets had been promised in the past.
There is again considerably more that I leave to your interests. The article ends thus:

The plutocrats who corrupted veterans’ health care and now want to shut it down, and the plutocrats who profit from this country’s endless wars are one and the same. And they have bigger plans for us all.

Yes indeed - and the very rich have enormous amounts of money with which they can corrupt most, which they are now allowed to do since 2010 by the Supreme Court.

And this is a recommended article, in which there is considerably more.

3. What Israel’s Actions Have Wrought

The third item is by Lawrence Davidson on Consortiumnews:

This has a subtitle:
Israel’s repression of the Palestinians is often rationalized by the historical abuse of the Jews, but Israel’s misconduct is having the disturbing effect of stirring up new anti-Semitism, observes Lawrence Davidson.
Yes and no: Yes, it did create new anti-Semitism, but then there also were Zionist organizations who simply styled anyone who disagrees with Netanyahu's government as "anti-Semites" also if they are Jews who are not anti-semitic but are anti-Netanyahu or who disagree with Israel's treatment of Gaza.

The article starts as follows:

It has been 71 years since the end of the Holocaust. Initially, the world took that horror as a serious lesson, and the international community created laws against acts of genocide. Those who, even after the public revelation of the Nazi killing fields, still held anti-Semitic opinions kept them to themselves, and as time passed, this particular form of bigotry seemed to be fading away.

Actually, that is not quite so, at least in Holland, which was very brave in WW II - except that it served the SS better than the resistance [1], while over a 100.000 mostly poor Jews were rounded up and arrested with the help of a few rich Jews (in the Jewish Council) and who were then all murdered in German camps of destruction. (The rich Jews survived, with
their riches also. They may not have known the Jews were intended to be exterminated, but most were.)

I know, for my family of communists and anarchists were among the few who went into the real resistance (and were heavily punished by the Nazis). And not only that:

I have heard from several sources that I trust that in Holland in the fifties, after WW II, and after the murder of 6 million Jews was widely known, anti- semitism was much more active than it was before WW II, and it is quite false - in Holland at least, were over 1% of the total population was murdered because they were claimed to belong to "an inferior race" - that those who "held anti-Semitic opinions kept them to themselves". It is true they did not get into the press, but it is simply false that they were not stated, and indeed part of the reason they were fairly freely stated is that there were far fewer Dutch Jews who might have protested. [2]

The above continues as follows:

And, indeed, that might have been its fate if it weren’t for the strange fact that some of the victims of anti-Semitism, in this case a subset of the Jews known as Zionists (those devoted to the founding of a Jewish state), proved susceptible to catching the disease of their oppressors. The Zionists took up their own form of virulent bigotry against Palestinians, and in reaction, this encouraged a new round of anti-Semitism.

I think this is too simple-minded. First of all, it was a (proper) subset of the subset of Zionists, and I think it is also a bit mistaken to hold them responsible for the anti-semitism their actions may have helped unleash,
simply because anti-semitism hadn't died.

Next, I should say that a considerable part of this article discusses the opinions of Joy Karega, that I completely skip. Then there is this:

Indeed, we now have the situation where the more anti-Palestinian the Israelis become, the more anti-Semitism they engender. Of course, the Zionists (mistaking longevity for permanence) have always claimed that anti-Semitism is an eternal quality of the Christian West, as if it were something genetic. This is nonsense, but it does allow them to maintain the claim that anti-Semitism would be an ever-growing and threatening reality regardless of their own bigoted behavior.

Again I must disagree.

First, I am not an anti-Semite at all, and neither were my parents and their parents. (My father, at least, did get punished to the concentration camp in 1941 in part because he was against the German anti-Semitism, and precisely the same held for his father, who was murdered in such a camp.) But I disagree with Nethanyahu, and I disagree with Israel's treatment of Gaza, and someone who accuses me of anti-semitism for these reasons is regarded as a fanatic or an idiot by me.

Second, I don't think at all that anti-Semitism is "genetic", but I think it is fair to say that Christianity has caused quite a bit of anti-Semitism, for a very long time also, and for religious reasons. This is simply a fact, as it also is a fact that it did not succeed in many cases, while it did succeed in quite a few.

Finally, this is from near the ending of the article:

On the other hand, as noted at the beginning of this analysis, much of this sort of anti-Semitism has been encouraged by the actions of yet another sort of bigotry that is organized and institutionalized. That is the bigotry inherent in the ideology of Zionism and the practice of ethnic cleansing by the Israeli state. This sort of bigotry does threaten the rights, and often the lives, of Palestinians living under Israeli rule.

Hm... I don't think all Zionists are or were bad, and it is quite understandable
why they did want an Israeli state after WW II. I don't agree with how this was realized, but then again Israel in the beginning and until the middle Sixties was
quite different from what it is now.

But I agree many Palestinians are abused in and around Israel. And I am afraid this will simply continue, at least as long as Netanyahu is the strong man in Israel.

4. Clinton Wins in A Cakewalk? Don't Bet the Ranch on It

The fourth and last item is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

If you listen to the media and the pundits, most are predicting a surefire Clinton victory – if not a landslide.  One of the reasons for this misplaced optimism is that they seem to believe Sanders’ revolutionaries are all prepared to join hands with the PACster politicians and DLC types dominating the Democratic Party and sing Kumbaya.

For example, Brent Budowsky, who knows the progressive beat as well as anyone had this to say in Tuesday’s Observer :

Make no mistake, the overwhelming majority of Sanders supporters during the primaries are supporting Clinton, who should win between 90 percent and 95 percent of Sanders supporters in November—or more.

Budowsky is not alone – this is pretty much conventional wisdom among the media.

Perhaps, but I think a simpler explanation comes to a similar conclusion:
Who believes Hillary will win, believes the present polls will continue until November 8 - and who believes that must be, at the very least, very naive, though indeed there are quite a lot of them.

I am not one of them and neither is John Atcheson, but as I suggested, I think
my explanation is more general and more adequate.

Here is what John Atcheson does think:

I think this is dead wrong. It could be true that 90 to 95% of the former Bernie supporters who show up at the polls will support Clinton – although I doubt that – but I believe a huge number of the “newly engaged” and the progressives who did support him will simply not show up, and a significant proportion of those that do will either vote 3rd party or write in Sanders.

I agree, though in fact I am again less concerned with Sanders' (former) supporters than I am with the unreliability of polls; the fact that there still
is more than 2 months to go; the fact that a lot may happen in these 2 moths; and the fact - at least: I consider it a fact and many others do - that Trump is quite possibly the worst presidential candidate there ever was in the USA.

Then there is this:

Most of the pundits and even many of the Democrats themselves ascribed the 2014 shellacking to their favorite fantasy – that the majority of Americans are right-of-center and liberal issues like Obamacare sunk the Party. The fact is, the majority of Americans are left of center, and except for a brief blip in the 70’s and 80’s, they have been since World War II.    

In reality, “none of the above” won in 2014, and the Democrats lost because instead of running on progressive values they ran from them, and progressives – disgusted and with no one to vote for -- stayed home in droves.

As a result, 2014 ended up with the lowest voter turnout in over 70 years.

Hm. I think in one sense both "the pundits" and "many of the Democrats"
who think that the majority of the Americans is "
right-of-center" are remarkably ignorant about what Americans think and want, for I agree with
Atcheson that the majority is left of center (and there are many pieces of research that show this quite clearly).

Then again, I think John Atcheson may be overestimating the degree of democracy in the USA (and see here): It is quite difficult these days for
any genuine democratic leftist to find a politician who - really - is defending
the leftist wishes of genuine democrats. There are some (Sanders is one, and there are a few others) but not many.

But Atcheson is right about the reasons: The Democratic Party has mostly given up on progressive values, and runs a rightist pro rich platform, and
one of the few "good" things one can say about that platform is that it is neither as rightist nor as a crazy as the platform of the Republicans (who are turning more and more racist, and who deny climate change and environmental dangers: both crazy ideas, according to me).

Finally, there is this from near the end of the article:

Even now, after Trump has lurched from disaster to disaster for a month-and-half, Hillary is only holding a slight double-digit lead over Trump.

Beyond that, campaigns are ideal times to get buy-in on a candidate’s agenda.  Clinton’s whole appeal to voters at this point is “I’m not as bad as Trump,” so an enormous opportunity to set a proactive agenda is getting squandered.

I agree with the first of the quoted paragraphs, and I think the reason is
(especially) that Clinton is neither liked nor trusted by many ordinary voters,
even when they like the Democrats considerably more than the Republicans.

And I also agree this is neither very heartening, nor is there any assurance Clinton will remain ahead and win the elections.

But I disagree mostly with the second paragraph: I don't like Clinton; I think she is pro rich like her husband was; I don't like much of her program; but she is a lot less bad than Donald Trump, and she also has prepared many policy statements that I may not agree with, but that are both to the left of Trump and are also nominally quite sane.

And while I think there is considerably more to Clinton than "
I’m not as bad as Trump", as far as I am concerned that is true, which ought to be a sufficient reason, for those who dislike or fear Trump, to vote for the only alternative: It will be bad, but it will not be as horrible as a Trumpian presidency.

---------------
Notes

[1] To the best of my knowledge (i) the great majority of Dutchmen in WW II collaborated - willingly or not - with the Nazis; (ii) there were few who went into the Resistance, and the only groups who did so, as groups, were the Dutch Communist Party (<-Wikipedia, in English: reasonable article) and several (considerably smaller) groups of Protestants; therefore (iii) there were considerably less Dutchmen in the real resistance than volunteered for the SS (six times as much, I read); while (iv) in Holland over 100.000 "Jews" (nearly all poor) were arrested and subsequently murdered by the Nazis, with the help of some rich Jews, who were spared, and who also remained rich, and did not even have to face any judge after WW II ended.

Incidentally, my reason to write "Jews" is that being Jewish is a religion and not a race, with which the Nazi Dr. Goebbels disagreed: According to him the Jews were a race, and an inferior one, that ought to be exterminated. So those who were rounded up were rounded up for - nonsensical - racial reasons, even though many, and probably most, were not religious Jews. (Quite a few were, as well, but they were not rounded up for that reason.)

[2]
Also, this stopped in 1967 with the Six-Day War which was rapidly won by the Israelis, after which extremely many Dutch cars suddenly sported the slogan "We stand behind Israel" (pasted against their back window).

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