Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Joe Biden lies about being arrested while fighting for civil rights. Bernie Sanders WAS arrested while fighting for civil rights.

Above: Bernie Sanders being arrested in Chicago, 1963, for protesting segregation. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Joe Biden, a.k.a., Lyin' J'Biden

Joe Biden is a non-stop liar. He's been able to cover up his habitual lying (and his anti-working class congressional and vice presidential history) by creating the false persona "Middle-Class Joe." Biden has recently been telling lies about how he was arrested in South Africa trying to see Nelson Mandela. He's telling these lies in order to shore-up his crumbling African American support in South Carolina. African Americans should be outraged by Biden's behavior. (See, for example, "Biden’s ridiculous claim he was arrested trying to see Mandela," Washington Post, February 25, 2020.) 

Joe Biden has hurt African Americans (as well as the entire working-class) by supporting the job-exporting NAFTA, by restricting debt-relief, and by repealing Glass-Steagall. The repeal of Glass-Steagall was one of the primary factors behind the 2009 recession, an economic calamity that disproportionately hurt black Americans.

And now Biden has the nerve to lie to African Americans about being arrested while trying to see Nelson Mandela?? And Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) is apparently going to endorse Biden?? Dear God, this is all just too much to bear. 

(As an aside: Will tonight's presidential debate moderators confront Biden about his Nelson Mandela lie? Or, will they give him a pass? It will be interesting to see, because the Mainstream Media is part of the American Power Establishment that really, REALLY wants to see a center-right candidate like Joe Biden win the White House.) 

The real arrest of Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders actually WAS arrested while fighting for civil rights, as the Chicago Tribune has reported. On January 13, 1964, Sanders was fined $25 (about $200 in today dollars) for leading (yes, leading) a protest against racial discrimination in Chicago's public schools, and for resisting arrest ("Race Protest Cases of 159 Are Decided," Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1964, p. 6).

Dear older African Americans: Please join with the nation's younger black citizens--as well as millions of whites, Latinos, American Indians, Asian Americans, and others--and support Bernie Sanders. He has been fighting for equal rights and economic justice for 60 years. Joe Biden is a Johnny-come-lately, and is cynically using an outrageous lie to get your vote. 

This is our best chance to take plutocracy's boot off our necks. Please help us.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

As Mayor Pete goes full corporate, and condemns the idea of a political revolution, America's suicide rate goes up for the 13th straight year

Above: Pete Buttigieg, the ultimate cardboard cut-out politician; one of the most astonishing empty-suit candidates to ever run for the White House. Photo courtesy of CNN, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Mayor Pete's post-defeat speech: A case study in nonsense

After getting pulverized in the Nevada Caucus, Pete Puttigieg gave one of the most absurd speeches I've ever heard. For example, in condemning Bernie Sanders, he said: "We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new and broad and big-hearted American coalition."

Mayor Pete has almost no support from his own generation (in fact, they despise him). Mayor Pete has almost no support from non-white voters. Heck, Bernie even matched (and perhaps even beat) Pete with moderate voters in Nevada! Oh yeah, and the white vote too!

And Mayor Pete is going to try and teach Bernie how to be more inclusive?!? How to build a coalition? Are you kidding me??

Mayor Pete's post-defeat speech is a disqualifier. It shows that he doesn't have the wisdom or intellectual capacity to know why he's failing. Or, perhaps it's even worse than that; perhaps he's running a con on the American people, trying to trick them into thinking he has a broader coalition. Either way... we don't need someone like that in the White House, again

If Mayor Pete had any integrity, he would have said, "Damn, we got our asses kicked by Bernie!" And then he could have thrown in the obligatory, "We'll soldier on!!" 

Here's the truth: Nevada showed that Bernie has a broader, more inclusive group of supporters than any other candidate. In fact, it's not even close. The Mainstream Media was thoroughly bewildered last night, their eyes spinning, jaws dropping, and repeated moans of "does not compute" coming out of their gaping and propaganda-spewing pie-holes. They just couldn't comprehend why so many Nevadans decided to vote FOR their economic and health interests.

I say: Nevadans, you inspire me!

Mayor Pete thinks we only need minor, marginal changes

Lately, Mayor Pete has been going after Sanders' supposedly radical policy proposals, essentially telling us that we only need a few minor changes around the margins. And you can be sure that, during the next debate, he's really going to harp on this, mocking the "political revolution" to the extreme. 

With all of the problems that Americans are facing--for example, inescapable debt; stagnant wages; retirements that have gone the way of the Dodo Bird; unaffordable prescription medicine; medical bankruptcy; harsh debt-relief restrictions; homelessness; Forever War; growing white nationalism; political corruption, etc.--it is truly amazing that Mayor Pete thinks we don't need a political revolution.

And this past Friday, we learned that the suicide rate increased for the 13th straight year (see my blog post, "Suicide rates since 1900: Indifference, progress, and now back to indifference," March 7, 2019). In 2018 (the most recent year that we now have data for), the suicide rate increased to 14.78 per 100,000 in population. 48,344 people took their lives. And so here are the rates since 2005, showing the steady increase in American misery:

2005: 11.0
2006: 11.2
2007: 11.5
2008: 11.9
2009: 12.0
2010: 12.4
2011: 12.7
2012: 12.9
2013: 13.0
2014: 13.4
2015: 13.8
2016: 13.9
2017: 14.5
2018: 14.8

Now, people kill themselves for a variety of reasons, but we know that financial stress is a leading cause; and Americans have been under constant financial stress in America's ruthless economic caste system for decades. It's a system that takes sadistic pleasure in the suffering of others, labeling them "parasites" and "takers," wagging a finger at them, and ordering them to get new skills (after they've already re-tooled themselves several times before).

Meanwhile, the children of the rich do whatever they please, easily coasting through life on nepotism and connections.

Is it any wonder then, that more and more people have decided that checking out, at the end of a gun barrel, or from the top of a bridge, or with a mouthful of pills, is preferable to dealing with this ghoulish American economy?

You're wrong Mayor Pete. A lot more American lives will be lost if we don't have a political revolution - lost by suicide, lost by the withholding of healthcare from the poor, and lost by inner city violence fueled by a consistent, generations-long lack of economic opportunity.

Ignore Mayor Pete... and join the political revolution instead.

"It's true that at one point calling yourself a 'democratic socialist' would be a bridge too far for many voters, including Democrats. But that was before people began to realize how unmoored the American capitalist system is from any sense of ethics or morality."

Saturday, February 22, 2020

America's corporate and billionaire-controlled Mainstream Media is meddling in our elections, far more than Putin and Russia ever could

Above: A Bernie Sanders campaign sticker. Image scanned from a personal copy.

Bernie and the Russians: Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

The Washington Post, citing "people familiar with the matter," broke a news story yesterday, about Putin and Russia allegedly trying to help the Bernie Sanders campaign, and how Bernie was briefed about this a month ago. The story was released, quite conveniently, a day before the Nevada Caucus.

The Mainstream Media's hostility towards Bernie Sanders is legendary (see the recent, excellent article, "Why Does Mainstream Media Keep Attacking Bernie Sanders as He Wins?" GQ, February 12, 2020). There is no doubt in my mind that the Washington Post and/or the "people familiar with the matter" released this information to sabotage Bernie and his supporters, right before the important Nevada Caucus today. 

They want to sow doubt in the minds of Nevadans. They want Nevadans to think, "Well, if Russia supports Bernie, I guess I shouldn't."

And it seems to be having the desired effect (though hopefully only to a small degree, and hopefully only in people who were not seriously planning on voting for Bernie anyway). 

I was watching CNN, to see their reaction to the story (which I knew would be borderline drooling) and, sure enough, they were questioning why Bernie didn't come forward sooner with the knowledge that Russians were allegedly trying to help his campaign. And this question is being asked countless times across the Internet. For example, in response to the Huffington Post article, "Russia Wants To Help Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump. Only Trump Is Helping Russia," one commenter says: "So  Bernie has known about this for a month and only comes clean when after the news breaks [sic]. Transparency doesn't seem to run in his campaign."

The absurd implication is clear: "Bernie didn't come forward sooner because he secretly wants the Russian help."

But if you read the Washington Post article carefully, you see that the Post's sources are "speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence" [emphasis added] which backs up Bernie's response as to why he didn't come forward sooner: "Because I go to many intelligence briefings which I don’t reveal to the public."

Why is this a story... right at this exact moment? Trust your instincts.

We need to ask, (a) who leaked this sensitive intelligence information to the Washington Post and what was their motivation? And (b) why did the Post publish this story right before the Nevada Caucus? If you think something stinks here, you'd be right. There are entrenched, powerful forces in the U.S., loaded with money and loaded with contempt for Bernie's goal of making America a more fair and caring place. It seems to me that this was a strategically-thrown hand grenade - thrown to discourage Nevadans from supporting Bernie Sanders on this very important day.

Yes, Russia is certainly meddling in our elections - just as nations, including the United States, have been meddling in each other's elections for centuries. However, the interference by Putin and Russia are no match for the interference by America's corporate and billionaire-controlled Mainstream Media, whose repeated efforts to brainwash us, distract us, distort our perceptions, and rip every ounce of inspiration from of our hearts, is utterly maniacal.

We should disobey the political, media, and financial elite.

Bernie 2020!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Our national discussion on socialism is almost entirely pointless... because there is no consensus on the meaning of socialism

Above: FDR signs the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935. Is Social Security socialism? And, if it is... is it the kind of socialism we like? Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

The Bogeyman Socialist candidate

During last night's debate, NBC's Lester Holt said: "Senator Sanders, my next question is for you. Our latest NBC News 'Wall Street Journal' poll [was] released yesterday. Two-thirds of voters said they were uncomfortable with a socialist candidate for president. What do you say to those voters?"

Bernie responded, essentially, by likening his brand of socialism to the Nordic Model, and also criticizing socialism-for-the-rich (which is, ironically, one of the main components of American-style capitalism). 

In other words, Bernie does not promote the government takeover of private enterprise, except in very rare situations, for example, our sociopathic private health insurance industry - an industry that is wasteful in-the-extreme, and causes tens of thousands of premature deaths every year among low-income Americans (see, e.g., "Sanders Applauds New Medicare for All Study: Will Save Americans $450 Billion and Prevent 68,000 Unnecessary Deaths Every Year," Common Dreams, February 15, 2020). 

And then this morning, CNN political editor Zachary Wolf referred to the same poll that Holt referred to, and wrote, "two-thirds of all voters -- Democrats plus everyone else -- said they would be uncomfortable with a socialist President" ("No, Bernie Sanders, most voters aren't comfortable with socialism," CNN, February 20, 2020).

Wolf also referred to an earlier NPR / PBS News Hour / Marist poll that showed similar results.

But here's the thing: Those surveys didn't define "socialism." And this is a problem, because a recent Gallup poll highlighted that there is no national consensus on what "socialism" means.

Here are the foundation-free questions

The NBC News Wall Street Journal survey asked: "Now, NOT thinking about any specific candidates, I'm going to list several types of people who might run for president. For each one, please tell me whether that type of candidate is someone you would (a) be enthusiastic about, (b) be comfortable with, (c) have some reservations about, or (d) be very uncomfortable with." 

The survey asked for responses about several categories before asking about "A socialist." 7% of survey respondents were "enthusiastic"; 21% were "comfortable"; another 21% had "some reservations"; 46% were "very uncomfortable"; and 5% were not sure.  

The NPR / PBS News Hour / Marist survey asked: "Overall, do you have a favorable or an unfavorable impression of socialism?" 28% had a favorable view, 58% had an unfavorable view, and 14% were unsure.

So... how do Americans define socialism?

Views on socialism are all over the map

In September 2018, Gallup asked: "What Is Your Understanding of the Term 'Socialism'?" 23% said "equal standing for everybody, all equal in rights, equal in distribution"; another 23% had no opinion; 17% said "Government ownership or control, government ownership of utilities, everything controlled by the government, state control of business"; 10% said "Benefits and services - social services free, medicine for all"; and 32% had various other responses, ranging from "modified communism, communism" to "liberalism in politics" ("The Meaning of 'Socialism' to Americans Today," Gallup, October 4, 2018).  

As you can see, there is nothing even remotely resembling a consensus about what socialism means. One person might think socialism is food stamps; another might think, "no, actually it's full-blown communism!!"

So when a survey asks someone about their feelings about socialism, without defining socialism (at least for the purposes of the survey) the responses mean little or nothing. We have no idea what the respondents are approving or rejecting. And this has important implications. For example, if someone says, "I don't like socialism," it does not necessarily mean that they would not vote for Bernie Sanders... because they might think that Bernie Sanders is not really a socialist, at least not in terms of how they would define socialism. Indeed, I don't want a pure socialist to be president of the United States... but I also don't think Bernie Sanders is a pure socialist, not even close. He is simply trying to create a better balance between private fortune and the common good. And that's precisely what America needs right now, because the American Dream has been squashed by the greedy 1%.

Vote your values, not for (or against) labels with ambiguous meanings

Since there is no national consensus about what socialism means, it is probably best to ignore the mainstream media's repeated attempts to conjure up fear around Bernie Sanders - the Scary Socialist Bogeyman! Instead, compare the policies of the various candidates, and their character and authenticity, and vote for your values, and vote for the policies that you think will help you and your fellow citizens the best.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Amy Klobuchar is a socialist

Above: U.S. Senator, presidential candidate, and socialist Amy Klobuchar. Public domain photo, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Amy doesn't like socialism (or so she says)

During the February 7th, 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate, when the moderators asked if anyone had a problem with "a Democratic Socialist on the top of the ticket" (i.e., Bernie Sanders), Amy Klobuchar raised her hand.

On Morning Joe (MSNBC), Monday, February 10, Klobuchar again expressed her concern about a socialist being president... and then immediately went into a discussion of how she was going to fix public colleges (socialism) with increased Pell Grants (socialism).

Yesterday, on CNN, Klobuchar once again expressed her frustration about having a socialist (Bernie) running for the White House.

The problem with Klobuchar's anti-socialism declarations, is that she herself is a socialist.

Socialism, Klobuchar-style

Here are some of the things that Klobuchar says she will do if elected president, taken from her campaign website and her "Amy for America" infrastructure page (my snarky comments in parenthesis). 

"a public option that expands Medicare or Medicaid" (This is creeping socialism. Why not dismantle Medicare and Medicaid and let the corporate-types take care of us? After all, they're very sweet-hearted people who would surely do us no harm, right?)

"keep Social Security and Medicare strong" (Why not privatize Social Security and let the good folks on Wall Street do away with take care of our retirements?)

"raising the minimum wage" (That sounds Marxist... shouldn't we let the invisible hand of the market determine wages?)

"increasing teacher pay and funding for our public schools" (They do that in Cuba and Venezuela, don't they??)

"champion tuition-free one- and two-year community college degrees" (Oh dear Lord... tuition free?... that's so pie-in-the-sky...

"Boost federal infrastructure investment... more than $650 billion in federal funding for  infrastructure" (Tssk, tssk, tssk, that's socialism again... instead, let's just have private sector toll roads, where we pay wealthy shareholders for the privilege of driving on their roads.) 

"expand the Housing Choice Voucher program" (Lenin and Trotsky would approve of this.)

"instituting universal background checks" (The government has no business doing this... let the free market handle mass shootings.)

"modernize our military to stay one step ahead of China and Russia" (The military is a government-run organization, providing security services, i.e., socialism. We should clearly get rid of the Armed Forces, and let billionaires create a private security force for America... answerable to no one but the very rich. What could possibly go wrong?

Do we really want "Amy the Socialist" in the White House?

As you can see, Amy Klobuchar is a socialist. Now, some people might say, "Well, those things aren't really socialist." Maybe they are, maybe they aren't ("socialism" has a fairly malleable definition, as do all political and economic philosophies). But the things Klobuchar is calling for are similar to the things Bernie is calling for - just in watered-down, milquetoast form.

If Amy Klobuchar has a problem with a Democratic Socialist being in the White House... then she should end her socialist campaign today.

Bernie 2020!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

American Wages: Propaganda so intense and successful, that even Joseph Goebbels would be amazed

Above: Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. It was Goebbels' job to convince the German population that war and acts of evil were morally good. Goebbels once said, "No one can say that your propaganda is too crude or low or brutal, or that it is not decent enough, for those are not the relevant criteria. Its purpose is not to be decent, or gentle, or weak, or modest; it is to be successful... Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths." Photo by Heinrich Hoffman, provided courtesy of the German Federal Archives and Wikipedia, used here under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

The propaganda

During his 2020 State of the Union speech, Donald Trump said, "After decades of flat and falling incomes, wages are rising fast -- and, wonderfully, they are rising fastest for low-income workers, who have seen a 16% pay increase since my election. This is a blue-collar boom."

A few days later, writing in the Washington Times, right-wing "journalist" Charles Hurt claimed that the Trump economy had resulted in "a record stock market, wages soaring and unemployment plummeting" (emphasis added).

This type of propaganda about wages has been going on ever since Trump became president.

The truth

According to the latest Real Earnings Summary by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released just a few days ago, "Real average hourly earnings [for all workers] increased 0.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, from January 2019 to January 2020." (Note: Real earnings are earnings adjusted for inflation, and are a much better indicator of financial health & stability than nominal wages.)

Does 0.6%, over the course of a year, impress you? It doesn't impress me at all. And this anemic wage growth has existed since Trump became president (and before). 

Even worse is "total real compensation." Dr. David Salkever--Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County--notes that "total real compensation slipped 0.22% from the end of 2016 to September 2019." (NoteTotal real compensation is both wages and benefits adjusted for inflation.)

There is some wage growth at the bottom of the economic ladder, as Trump states, but that is due to the many minimum wage increases recently implemented in cities and states across the country (see, e.g., "Minimum Wage Hikes Fuel Higher Pay Growth For Those At The Bottom," NPR, January 9, 2020). Isn't that ironic? Trump and his toadies are taking credit for something facilitated by minimum wage increases, yet minimum wage increases are something that right-wingers have always despised. They've told us for decades and decades that minimum wage increases will obliterate the economy.

It's true that the stock market is booming, but most working-class Americans are not heavily invested in the stock market (see, e.g., "We All Have a Stake in the Stock Market, Right? Guess Again." New York Times, February 8, 2018); and how much the working-class is invested, for example, through their 401Ks, is dependent on how good their wages are (i.e., how much they can actually put in those 401Ks), and those wages are stagnant! (See, "Here’s proof that 401(k) plans are not working for most Americans - can you guess who they ARE working for?" MarketWatch, January 29, 2020.)   

Propaganda wins?

The above facts about the economy--for the working-class--may mean little or nothing in the face of aggressive and years-long right-wing propaganda about the supposed "blue-collar boom." For example, "Americans' views on their personal financial situation have been climbing since 2018 and are now at or near record highs in Gallup's trends" ("Record-High Optimism on Personal Finances in U.S.," Gallup, February 5, 2020).

But the financial situation for most working-class Americans is, in fact, not getting better. Even for those who have seen minimum wage increases, those increases are not enough to purchase homes, new cars, or good health insurance, or to invest in the stock market or build up retirement savings.

For the most part, only the top 1% to 10% are doing very well in modern America, enjoying record-breaking personal fortunes. The belief of so many working-class people that their financial situation is just fine and dandy is, quite simply, an astonishing accomplishment of propaganda - so astonishing, that even Joseph Goebbels would be amazed. 

The reality is going to hit these working-class Americans like a ton of bricks someday... perhaps when they experience a serious health problem, and start receiving the medical bills... or perhaps when they try to retire, and realize that $7,800 is not enough to enjoy one's Golden Years with.

"Older Americans are more likely than ever to find themselves in bankruptcy court, seeking protection from creditors... their rate of bankruptcy has increased between 200 and 300 percent since 1991."

--Business Insider, August 8, 2019

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Culinary Union's exclusive healthcare model, and its "me, me, me" mentality, are EXACTLY why we need Medicare-for-All

From the Culinary Health Center: "Exclusively Ours: The Culinary Health Center is for the exclusive use of Culinary Health Fund participants."

Above: Humboldt County General Hospital, in Winnemucca, Nevada, 1940, built with funds from the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA). All across America, the New Deal constructed hospitals and health clinics for ALL Americans. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

The "me, me, me" mentality of the modern selfish American

Nevada's Culinary Union doesn't like the idea of Medicare-for-All, and has been telling its members that Bernie Sanders is a threat to their Cadillac healthcare system (see, e.g., "In new flyer, Culinary Union warns members Sanders would ‘end’ their health care if elected president," The Nevada Independent, February 11, 2020; and "Culinary union circulates flyer attacking Medicare for All," Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 8, 2020).

Members of the Culinary Union appear to be living in a happy little bubble world, insulated from the pain, suffering, and death that occurs outside their company town. Their exclusive (meaning, YOU are not allowed) health center offers urgent care, pediatrics, dental care, a pharmacy, and more.

Of course, some Culinary Union members probably feel that Medicare-for-All is a good thing, but the leadership at least seems to feel that the continuance of their exclusive Cadillac coverage would be better than providing good, affordable coverage for all Americans. And this is one of the central problems with our healthcare and health insurance systems - it divides us up and pits us against one another. Some people have employer-based coverage, some have Medicare or Medicaid, some get insurance through Obamacare, some have Tricare, some have nothing at all, etc. And all of these groups are eyeing each other suspiciously, fearing that an advantage to one is a detriment to another.

We need to get away from this divided, hate-generating, but shareholder-enriching set-up, and move to a universal system, where we're all in this together, looking after each other, as a healthy citizenry should.

The Culinary Union's exclusive healthcare model, and its "me, me, me" mentality, are EXACTLY why we need Medicare-for-All. As they are enjoying their superb healthcare,"about 34 million people report knowing of at least one friend or family member in the past five years who died after not receiving needed medical treatment because they were unable to pay for it" (Gallup, November 12, 2019).

There are millions and millions of Americans who don't have health insurance; who have inadequate health insurance; who can't afford their prescription medicine; who are turned away by doctors who refuse to treat poor people; who are forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills; and so on and so on.

One Culinary Union member, Elodia Munoz, said: "We love our Culinary healthcare. We want to keep it. I don't want to change it. Why should I change it?"

I'll tell you why, Elodia: Because you're exclusive healthcare system, and those like it, are built on the neglect, suffering and death of other Americans. Understand?

So, you'll have to forgive me if I have little patience for people who are enjoying Cadillac healthcare services and refuse to share. Of course, they'll say, "Well, we support a public option, or expanded Medicaid, or 'Medicare-for-all-who-want-it'." Bullsh*t. We are so, SOOO past those empty promises.

We're sick and tired of the insincere, focus-group-tested, calorie-free, billionaire-endorsed, "hope and change" garbage coming from the likes of Obama, Clinton, and Buttigieg. They are false promises, designed to sedate us--decade after decade--while the 1% continue to hoard the nation's income, wealth, opportunity, and healthcare.

"We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are... The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health."

--President Franklin Roosevelt, Second Bill of Rights speech, 1944