Friday, February 26, 2016

(Sirhan Denied Parole)  Inevitable Candidate of Editorial Enforcers?  (Berliant Bundler of Junk Food and Contribs for Dems)  SuperDelegates Must Put Big Thumb On Scale:  the Undemocratic Democratic Party

Sirhan Sirhan Denied Parole:  It's a Broken Criminal Justice System
Sirhan Sirhan, the accused killer of Robert F. Kennedy, was denied parole for the 15th time on Wednesday, February 10. After 48 years in prison, he has done everything he could to change his life. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called not only for his release but for a new investigation of his father's death.
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Thank the gods that Craig is BACK! (Don't miss #JoinOrDie on the History channel.)

I've missed Craig Ferguson like crazy since they took him off CBS (by not offering him the "Late Show" after he did the "Late Late Show" exceptionally well with only a robot (love you, Geoff!) and a horse (no, not even a real horse) for 9 years).

And he just (tonight) did a terrific comedy riff on this topic on the "Frenemies" ("History's Biggest . . . ") show.

And History, home of American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and the series on the American Revolution ("Sons of Liberty") is the smart TV that sought Craig's beneficence . . .

And speaking of our current "Sons (and Daughters) of Liberty," our woman at Sardonicky  shares with me some big doubts about those numbers from Nevada (let alone Iowa), and does the high hillary honors (and I should mention just for fun that I am a uuuge fan of Siân Phillips (Livia in "I Claudius") who is the ultimate Hillary prototype). I'm reading her book on life with Peter O'Toole (Public Places) right now. Synchronicity! (Underlines inserted to highlight.)

Do I even need to tell you that after her very marginal victory in Nevada, her Editorial Enforcers are out in full force today, once again declaring that their candidate is Inevitable?  In a break from tradition and a slap in the face to democracy, the "New York Times" is already running Bernie's obituary on the front page. Even though, last I checked, he is not only still breathing, he's tied with her in (elected) delegates and is still ahead in some national polls.

Hillary kind of reminds me of Caesar Augustus's influential wife, Livia Drusilla. If you've ever read Robert Graves'  I, Claudius or seen the BBC version, you know exactly who I'm talking about. In case you missed it, the series is still running on Hulu.
The big difference is that in Roman times, scheming political wives would poison or otherwise destroy their rivals in order to ensure the succession of their own sons. Livia, though, broke the glass ceiling of Caesar's Palace and became empress in her own right. Who needs sons, when you yourself can become the sun around which the planets of the corrupt ruling class and the sycophantic press can mindlessly revolve?

It's the 21st American century, thank goodness. So who needs to kill one's rivals, when you have the "New York Times" to do your character assassination for you?
Of course, you still need heirs. And it's always a yuge campaign selling point to tell the masses how much you love being a Grandma. Livia was a doting Grandma, too. Her grandson was named Caligula.

Read it all here. She's the best!

It occurs to me (once again), that in the Age of Internet, the public's ability to hear so many of the stories about and see the pictures of those behind the political candidates will be a major game changer when everyone descends on the ballot box.

Also, don't miss:

"Dear Millenials" (sic), read the Tweet,"you, are entitled to nothing. You deserve nothing. And nothing is ever, ever free.  t"

This Gingrich-like threat comes not from the GOP.  Rather, it was Tweeted out by Democratic campaign bundler Allan Berliant in conjunction with a closed-door fundraiser he hosted for Hillary Clinton last week. The Empress-in-Waiting was too busy campaigning to attend in person, but she sent the ever reliable Bill in as a sloppy second. Here's a selfie that Berliant posted of his private party. He calls it "Hangin With Bill."
Misery You Can Believe In: No Free Lunch, No Free Tuition

Berliant himself has worked very hard for his money, having married into it.He got his start in nutrition and non-union labor working for Tyson Foods, the Arkansas-based factory farm corporation which helped bankroll theClintons' initial rise to power back in the heyday of the Reagan Revolution.

Berliant left the company around the same time that Bill and Hill left the White House. He then started a new, Cincinnati-based firm called BestEXPress.
Originally limited to the simple marketing of name brand junk food, it has since expanded into "manufacturing" its own culinary products, with mass-produced frozen pizza for school cafeterias its homegrown appetizing specialty. But its main function remains searching out the most advertised packaged food on the market, repackaging it, and then selling it at a markup to time-strapped consumers as a brand-new product.

Berliant works very hard shopping for high-nitrite Oscar Mayer bologna, Tyson mystery meat, and high-fat Pillsbury Doughboy rolls to sell to all those lazy "Millenials." (He obviously didn't work too hard in school actually learning how to spell. It's Millennials, Berliant! Three Els and two Ens. If you're going to insult and castigate an entire generation of people, the least you can do is spell their cohort correctly and learn proper comma etiquette!).

. . . In an interview with the "Cincinnati Enquirer" published in 2001, Berliant talked about his company's ethos: Convenience, Convenience, Convenience.

“The industry flat out has not been meeting the needs of a changing consumer world. Companies have put out low-quality low-end products. We bring higher-quality products and the comfort of brand to consumers. With the brands come an expectation of quality.”

While the unhealthy food is designed to appeal mostly to those lazy kids he seems to so despise, adults scrambling from one crappy part-time job to the next can find that a Berliant ready-to-eat meal is as close as the neighborhood 7-11 or gas station vending machine. They can eat and gain comfort from brand names all in one meal-bolt. Prepackaged breakfast, lunch and dinner is a billion-dollar-a-year business. Sales are ballooning as fast as the waistlines of low-wage workers, stressed out on both cortisol and empty calories.
I imagine that if Hillary Clinton is elected to the White House, all of Michelle Obama's good work on healthy eating might be in danger of going right down the tubes. That is, if the research by Gilens and Page is correct, if it's true that political donors tend to get whatever they want. Perhaps Hillary, as a "pragmatic progressive" will split the difference and put pizza and vending machines back in lunchrooms as long as the kids are willing to work hard and clean the cafeteria and the bathrooms after they eat. It will certainly save on unionized janitorial overhead. Plus, it will bring back fond memories of the time when Bill triangulated with that daddy of all millennial-haters, Newt Gingrich, to end welfare as we know it.

One of the places where Bill sent those welfare moms was his old sponsor, Tyson Foods. The women were "sanctioned" - the Clintonoid euphemism for threatened cut-off of their benefits - to go to work at this low-wage food factory and other "Direct Job Placement" centers in order to trim the welfare rolls. As Hillary bragged in her memoir, the "trimming" involved slashing mothers from public assistance at a rate of 60 percent. Poor women with very young children were, and are, "lifted out of poverty" by facing the choice between working and starving.

As the late Christopher Hitchens wrote in his blistering anti-Clinton polemic, "No One Left to Lie To," (published before he tragically went over to the dark side of neoconservativism):

Supplied by the state with a fearful, docile labor force, the workhouse masters are relatively untroubled by unions, or by any back-talk from the staff. Those who have thus been "trimmed" from the welfare rolls have done no more than disappear into a twilight zone of casual employment, uninsured illness, intermittent education for their children, and unsafe or temporary accommodation. Only thus - by their disappearance from society - can they be counted as a "success story" by ambitious governors, and used to qualify tightfisted states for "caseload-reduction credits" from the federal government.
The chairman of Tyson, Hitchens wrote, was so thrilled with all the new cheap labor afforded by Clinton's Welfare "Reform" that he transformed his man-cave into a facsimile of the Oval Office, with even the doorknobs shaped in ovals to resemble chicken eggs.
As Tyson alum and loyal Hillary Clinton bundler Allan Berliant puts it to the youth of America:  "You are entitled to nothing. You deserve nothing.  And nothing is ever, ever free. Work For It!"
Nothing will ever, ever change in Clinton World, no matter how populist and progressive Hillary Clinton makes herself out to be.
She is marketing herself the same way that Berliant markets his junk food. She collects ideas and borrows sentences from the Bernie Sanders campaign, repackages them up into slick infomercials, and then passes them off as her own creation. 

So, go on over to Sardonicky's blog and read more of her sparkling pithy prose. It'll knock you out. It did me.
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Did the Cuban-American Republicans take out the Dutch-American Republican in tonight's debate?

An even bigger, more vicious clown car carrion crew emerges with spread claws.

The public stands alerted:

Rubio dredged up scores of past scandals that have touched Trump in his decades in business, some of which will likely be new to viewers tuning in to Thursday’s debate.

Rubio bashed Trump for having a line of clothes manufactured in Mexico and China. He brought that argument home after Trump said he’d make Mexico pay for a wall along the southern border by declaring a trade war.

“You’re declaring a trade war on your own ties and suits,” Rubio said. “Why don’t you make them in America?”

He savaged the real estate mogul for “bankrupting four companies,” running a “fake university” that he’s now being sued over, and for being born into a wealthy family.

“If he hadn’t inherited $200 million you know where he’d be right now?,” Rubio asked. “Selling watches in Manhattan.”

Cruz also got into the action, alleging that Trump had paid a $1 million fine for hiring illegal immigrants and accusing him of “funding” the Gang of Eight immigration bill by donating to the senators who crafted the legislation.

The Texan blasted Trump for donating to Democrats “who advocate for far left judicial activists,” and accused Trump of supporting “socialized medicine.”

It was far from clear that the attacks by Rubio and Cruz would hurt Trump, who was quick on his feet an on several occasions, delivering his own stinging comebacks.

Responding to Rubio’s accusation that he had hired illegal immigrants, Trump said: “I've hired tens of thousands of people, you've hired nobody."

And after Cruz bashed Trump for donating to some of the lawmakers who crafted the Senate immigration bill, Trump shot back by noting that Cruz has not been endorsed by even one of his colleagues in the upper chamber.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Trump said.

In one exchange, Trump stood stoically as Cruz rebuked him for “funding liberal politicians for 40 years.”

“I funded you,” Trump said dryly.
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Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

- William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"
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Lamar W. Hankins

Superdelegates and the Undemocratic Democratic Party

February 16, 2016

It is as though the Democratic Party has declared that the rabble who vote are not to be trusted with the fate of the party.

SAN MARCOS, Texas — I’ve never liked the idea of superdelegates, those elected officials and other VIPs (usually former politicians and party officials) who automatically become delegates to the Democratic National Convention to select the presidential nominee. It always struck me as undemocratic to give such people, who already have enormous power, the right to boost their power through this scheme.

To be clear, I considered myself a member of the Democratic Party (there is no Democrat Party — that’s an invention of the Republicans) until the primary in 1992, when Bill Clinton was selected as the nominee. What turned me off to Clinton and the party was his use of the race card and the pro-death penalty issue during that primary campaign. He took a couple of days off the campaign trail to return to Arkansas so he could be there for the execution of the black and mentally defective killer Ricky Ray Rector, who was unable to understand the meaning of execution.

Clinton’s “dog whistle” use of race and the death penalty to garner votes was more than I could accept from a candidate for president.

Nevertheless, I grew up as a sympathizer of the Democratic Party. My congressman was the moderately liberal Jack Brooks. When I went to college, I was represented by the LBJ-influenced Jake Pickle. When my family moved to Houston in the 1970s, we were represented in Congress by Barbara Jordan and then Mickey Leland before his untimely death.

My luck ran out when we moved to Bryan-College Station and became the unfortunate serfs of Phil Graham. Living in San Marcos has resulted in representation by an array of Republicans (Greg Laughlin, Ron Paul, Lamar Smith) and by Lloyd Doggett for a brief period. San Marcos has been flipped around quite a bit in the redistricting shenanigans of the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature.

Until 2015, Democratic Party caucuses were one of the most interesting playgrounds of the political-minded in Texas. I participated in many Democratic caucuses over the years and was a delegate to the county or district conventions several times. When the superdelegate system started after 1968, I wasn’t thrilled, but there was little for the rank-and-file to do about it. The exact number of superdelegates has varied through the years. This year, superdelegates make up about 15% of total delegates, around 712, though I could find nothing about this at the Democratic National Committee website.

Superdelegates are officially undeclared delegates, but many quickly choose a candidate to support. Hillary Clinton is reported to have wrapped up the support of a majority of the superdelegates this election cycle, even though primary voting has just begun.

Superdelegates assure that the party establishment has an outsized voice in the decisions of the Democratic Party. To demonstrate how this is working this year, we can look at the recent vote in New Hampshire. The Democratic Party allocated 32 delegates to New Hampshire this year, with eight of them set aside as superdelegates.

Bernie Sanders was the overwhelming winner in the February 9 primary, getting 22% more votes than Hillary Clinton. He was allocated 15 delegates; Clinton received 9. But because six of the superdelegates declared their support for Clinton, she has come out of New Hampshire with the same number of delegates as Sanders – 15. The other two superdelegates have not yet declared whom they will support for the nomination.

It is possible, then, that Sanders, the overwhelming winner in the popular vote, could come out of New Hampshire with 15 votes and Clinton with 17, if those other two superdelegates decide to support Clinton. Such a result, even if Sanders captures the remaining two superdelegates, is decidedly undemocratic.

It is as though the Democratic Party has declared that the rabble who vote are not to be trusted with the fate of the party. The Democratic Establishment must be allowed to put its collective thumb on the scale to prevent the people from having their way.

Of course, this issue of who should be allowed to vote has been around since the beginning of this country, when only white, male landowners 21 or older were allowed to vote in most states. These decisions left out most women, blacks, native Americans, those without sufficient education, those with insufficient length of residency in the jurisdiction, those with certain religious beliefs, and those who did not own land.

Fortunately, the country as a whole has seen the error of its ways and corrected most of these injustices, though it took nearly 200 years to get to where we are today. Even now, the Republicans (mostly) are doing everything they can to prevent many people from voting through voter suppression and voter restriction legislation and administrative actions that target the poor, minorities, those who don’t register sufficiently in advance of an election, and those convicted of certain crimes.

The disenfranchisement of convicted felons is not uniform among the states, however. In Maine and Vermont, felons while still in prison retain their right to vote. In Florida, Iowa, and Virginia, felons and ex-felons permanently lose their voting rights. In the last two decades, seven states have repealed lifetime disenfranchisement of felons and two states have given probationers the right to vote.

In 21 states, there is a path to reinstating voting rights for felons. Many other states have waiting periods after a sentence is completed before voting rights are reinstated for non-violent felons. In Texas, those who have been incarcerated have their voting rights restored after they complete their full sentence, which includes probation, parole, and prison. For state-by-state information on felon voting rights, go here.

It is strange in a so-called democracy that the Supreme Court views the right to vote as a privilege, while the right to keep and bear arms is absolute, though some regulation is permitted. The same is true for speech, assembly, freedom of religion, etc. Only our right to vote is not a right, though it is mentioned five times in the Constitution.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote is given short shrift by the courts, perhaps because of its absence from the original Bill of Rights. But it is also apparent that Americans today remain ambivalent about their understanding of democracy. There remains a distrust of the rabble to have their way. And the establishment in general, and the Democratic Party establishment in particular, have found ways to protect their interests from being challenged by the people.

John Adams expressed his view about the danger in allowing universal suffrage in a letter to James Sullivan in 1776:

Depend upon it, sir, it is dangerous to open So fruitfull a Source of Controversy and Altercation, as would be opened by attempting to alter the Qualifications of Voters. There will be no End of it. New Claims will arise. Women will demand a Vote. Lads from 12 to 21 will think their Rights not enough attended to, and every Man, who has not a Farthing, will demand an equal Voice with any other in all Acts of State. It tends to confound and destroy all Distinctions, and prostrate all Ranks, to one common Level.
Following Adams’ lead, the Democratic Party establishment continues to want to keep a distinction between the mass of the people and the establishment’s special place of privilege in the party and in society. To do so is undemocratic and unworthy of the politicians’ claim that the United States is an exceptional country, unsurpassed by any other.

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