Monday, February 29, 2016

(Biggest Retailers Close All Over America As Proof of Recovery? (HINT) Middle Class OUT of Money!)  Clinton's Fake Wins Lead to SC Blowout: How Much Money Crossed Hands?  Do You Need To Ask?  (Have You Thought Deeply About Scalia's Finale?)  Van Gogh Glory

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Resigns From DNC Post, Endorses Bernie Sanders
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

"You know what they did with guys like that in the old days?
They carried them out on a stretcher, folks."

And the crowd goes wild.

Just remember:

Candidates like Trump historically emerge from the hatred on the ground engendered by the entrenched wealthy elite trying to extract the last cent (as well as their right to tote any number of arms) before the country goes down.

According to their long-time strategy. Or at least that's what those ground troops have come to believe.

The gun talk is the best as far as Wonderland thinking goes.

As soon as people in the South start to be restricted on weapons buys seriously, let us know. Then we'll start quaking.

Here in the South we're quaking already at the gun nuts with their fancy holsters we run into everywhere (including the library(!) and restaurants and bars!).

Nothing new emerges here. (Except that he's not aging well. Take a close look. Also note that he must have lured wild animals to fill that auditorium.)

But . . . here's some fun.


Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores

Barack Obama recently stated that anyone that is claiming that America’s economy is in decline is “peddling fiction." Well, if the economy is in such great shape, why are major retailers shutting down hundreds of stores all over the country? Last month, I wrote about the “retail apocalypse” that is sweeping the nation, but since then it has gotten even worse.

Closing stores has become the “hot new trend” in the retail world, and “space available” signs are going up in mall windows all over the United States. Barack Obama can continue huffing and puffing about how well the Middle Class is doing all he wants, but the truth is that the cold, hard numbers that retailers are reporting tell an entirely different story.
Earlier today, Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert released a letter to shareholders that was filled with all kinds of bad news.  In this letter, he blamed the horrible results that Sears has been experiencing lately on “tectonic shifts” in consumer spending
In a letter to shareholders on Thursday, Lampert said the impact of “tectonic shifts” in consumer spending has spread more broadly in the last year to retailers “that had previously proven to be relatively immune to such shifts.”
“Walmart, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Staples, Whole Foods and many others have felt the impact of disruptive changes from online competition and new business models,” Lampert wrote.
Funny how a worsening economic scene is hardly mentioned at a Trump rally - just an often-shouted vague promise reminiscent of Reagan and the Bushes to "make American great again!"

With more military spending and bombing and general bullying of the rest of the world's population. And absolutely no talk of Trump's plans to double down on tax cuts, etc., for his upper 1% bracket.

From my reporting hero, Mark Crispin Miller's blog . . .

As he emphasizes the points I was making previously (with the recently released data backing them up).

25 February 2016
Hillary’s “Decisive Victory” in Nevada Is Just One More Big Lie by the Corporate Media
This rightist commentator nails it.
The Media is Lying — Hillary Didn’t Win Nevada
By Wayne Allyn Root
I spent the weekend listening to national media commentators (so called “experts”) gloat over Hillary’s “decisive victory” in Nevada and how she is now on firm footing to win the Democratic presidential nomination. The media is committing fraud - you are being lied to.
Hillary’s razor thin Nevada victory wasn’t a “decisive victory.” It was an embarrassment that required spending millions of dollars to garner a pathetic 6,316 votes in an anemic turnout.

“Decisive victory?” The national media is committing fraud. Hillary once led Bernie Sanders by 40 points in Nevada. She led by 25 points less than 30 days ago. She won by 5 points.
But more importantly, the turnout was embarrassing, especially considering the millions spent on TV advertising. Hillary not only spent millions to draw a measly 6000 votes, overall turnout was down one third from 2008
And she lost by 70 points among voters who voted based on “honesty.” 
Hillary’s victory was more disaster than “decisive.” 
Shouldn’t the national media be reporting how Hillary’s weak, unimpressive, embarrassing victory was achieved? The American people have a right to know there was nothing fair, decisive or ethical about it.
Now let’s look c losely at how she achieved her razor-thin, embarrassing victory. This is the part where serious questions should be asked.  But of course we no longer have a professional unbiased media. We are living in a “Banana Republic” where the media is bought, paid for and in the bag for Hillary Clinton.
Here’s the part missing from mainstream media reporting - Hillary scored her win in Nevada by changing the rules at the last minute and playing “dirty politics” to avoid a humiliating defeat that might have sunk her entire presidential campaign. 
Hillary was losing with days to go. Her team was in panic mode. Remember who this is - Hillary is the most famous woman in the history of politics. Yet she was going down to a humiliating defeat to unknown Vermont socialist kook Bernie Sanders. Her entire dream to win the presidency was in danger of imploding.

Enter Nevada Senator Harry Reid.
Reid “fixed” the results for Hillary by twisting the arms of casino and union bosses
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Do you know who C. Allen Foster, the exceedingly gentle man lawyer (among the upper-crust, well-connected hunter elite) who escorted Scalia to his final prom, is? He holds a leadership position in the International Order of St. Hubertus.[1] The known facts on the mysteries surrounding Scalia's disappearance gradually come out?

Getting closer anyway.

  • Saturday, mid-afternoon: Poindexter calls local judicial officials for inquest and death certificate. After two others refuse, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara heads for the ranch. The sheriff and the marshals there tell her there was no foul play and her presence is unneeded. She turns back and issues a death certificate by phone. All this is arguably legal under Texas law.

  • Saturday afternoon/evening: Marshals eventually move Scalia’s body to a funeral home, but only after a decoy hearse is dispatched to mislead reporters on the scene. (According to The New York Times of Feb. 21, the Marshals Service released a timeline detailing their activities handling Scalia’s death, but a search of the U.S. Marshals website and multiple phone calls elicited no such document or even confirmation of its existence. Sidestepping the way Scalia’s death was handled, a marshals spokesman told the Times: “Our folks never indicated that anything seemed amiss or unusual, but that wasn’t our role…. We weren’t there to make any determination like that, so I’m not going to be drawn into that.”

  • Saturday, around 8 p.m.: County Judge Guevara, having spoken with Scalia’s doctor directly by phone and with his family indirectly (by phone through the lawyer travelling with the justice), satisfies herself that Scalia’s health was marginal and that his family does not want an autopsy. She rules that his heart stopped from natural causes and does not order an autopsy. (So far as is known, no one asked the judge to order an autopsy. One of the justices of the peace contacted earlier said later that if it had been up to her, she would have ordered an autopsy.)
  • Read the whole schmear (so far) here.

    And then Jesse's Crossroads adds fire to the flames highlighting this most important historical background:

    27 February 2016
    Wall Street and The Clintons
    The Clintons turned the Democrats into the Republicans, while the Republicans were turning into a mob.
    Do not be a partisan for either party. Be a partisan for justice. Be committed to fairness, transparency, liberty, and the truth.
    The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustainable recovery.

    The Clintons and Wall Street: 24 Years of Enriching Each Other

    by Richard W. Behan
    February 26, 2016
    For twenty four years the Clintons have orchestrated a conjugal relationship with Wall Street, to the immense financial benefit of both parties. They have accepted from the New York banks $68.72 million in campaign contributions for their six political races, and $8.85 million more in speaking fees. The banks have earned hundreds of billions of dollars in practices that were once prohibited — until the Clinton Administration legalized them.
    The extraordinary ambition displayed in the careers of Bill and Hillary Clinton defies description. They have spent much of their adult lives soliciting money from others for their own benefit...
    Hillary Clinton’s net worth is forty five million dollars; Bill Clinton’s is eighty million. Measured by family wealth, this puts the couple in the top 1% of American households by a factor of 16 (and they claim to have left the White House 'broke').
    The Clintons’ ambition is reinforced by arrogance. Their behavior in the Monica Lewinsky affair is only the most glaring example. Sexual frivolities while holding office are scarcely unusual, having spiced the lives of public figures for centuries, but if the dalliance is exposed, the scarlet official typically resigns in shame and scuttles into obscurity...
    That performance pales, however, compared to the Clintons’ self-serving transformation of the Democratic Party, from the champion of working people to the lapdog of Wall Street — and of corporate America in general. Cleverly the Clintons still pander to the traditional constituency, but in serving its new clientele the transformed party abandoned the less fortunate strata of American society, especially the communities of color...
    Read the entire article at Counterpunch here.

    We look, alas, for a ray of hope from our favorite editor at the Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford:

    "Black Power" has been turned on its head on the electoral front, put at the service of corporatists like Hillary Clinton. "Paralyzed by fear of the White Man's Party, Black voters find a false sense of power in clustering around the perceived 'winners'" on the Democratic Party menu. "The mantra is, effectively, 'All Power to the Democratic Party!'" – brokered, of course, by the Black Misleadership Class.

    And, to rest your weary eyes and unsettled mind . . . take an art break. I know I need it.

    Sunday, February 28, 2016

    (SC Serves Dims Purposes)  Which Is the Real Electability Gamble?  Sanders or Clinton?  Tony Blair Endorses Clinton (Enough Said!)

    I loves me some Zandar (the not stupid). . . where they've uncovered the fact that the SC race was decided months ago.

    Which as an SC ex-resident myself I could have guessed.

    Nothing is left to chance when run by the bosses there.

    And why in the rational world would anyone want their choice for President of United States to be decided by voters in South Carolina?

    How really stupid do we want the U.S. citizenry to appear to the world?

    Saturday, February 27, 2016

    Last Call For Ths Is Sparta(nburg)!

    And the Associated Press called the SC primary for Clinton within minutes of the polls closing.  She will win by 35 points or more, and the exit poll numbers are murderous for Sanders.  Here's the big one (click on chart to enlarge or click on title link):

    In SC, black voters were a massive two thirds of primary voters, and black women were 40%.  That is gigantic.  Bernie still won white voters though, splitting white women evenly and winning white men by more than 2-to-1.

    And here, voters in SC overwhelmingly want to continue President Obama's policies, and of those who did, 80% voted for Clinton.  And finally:

    This race was over months ago.  Sanders never had a chance here.

    Amidst the hubbub of the Dims, try to remember how little this primary means about anything important.

    Bernie knew it was meaningless. And thus he expended very little effort on this already stacked deck.

    Real meaning can be gleaned from looking at the statistics stacking up nationwide.

    Don't miss the boat.

    The Bernie Boat.

    With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?

    By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
    27 February 16
    any Democrats will tell you that there has rarely, if ever, been a more menacing or evil presidential candidate than Donald Trump. “Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory,” pronounced Vox’s Ezra Klein two weeks ago. With a consensus now emerging that the real estate mogul is the likely GOP nominee, it would stand to reason that the most important factor for many Democrats in choosing their own nominee is electability:  meaning, who has the best chance of defeating the GOP Satan in the general election? In light of that, can Democrats really afford to take such a risky gamble by nominating Hillary Clinton?
    In virtually every poll, her rival, Bernie Sanders, does better, often much better, in head-to-head match-ups against every possible GOP candidate. Here, for instance, is a compilation of how Clinton does against Ted Cruz in recent polls:  She trails the Texas senator in all but one poll, and in the one poll she leads, it is by a paltry 2 points:

    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)
    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)

    By stark contrast, Sanders leads Cruz in every poll, including by substantial margins in some:

    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)
    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)

    A similar story is seen in their match-ups against Trump. Although they both end up ahead in most polls, Sanders’ margin over Trump is generally very comfortable, while Clinton’s is smaller. Clinton’s average lead over Trump is just 2.8 percent, while Sanders’ lead is a full 6 points:

    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)
    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)

    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)
    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)

    Then there’s the data about how each candidate is perceived. Put simply, Hillary Clinton is an extremely unpopular political figure. By contrast, even after enduring months of attacks from the Clinton camp and its large number of media surrogates, Sanders remains a popular figure.
    A Gallup poll released this week reported that “29 percent of Americans offer a positive observation about Clinton while 51 percent express something negative.” As Gallup rather starkly put it:  “Unfortunately for Clinton, the negative associations currently outnumber the positive ones by a sizable margin, and even among Democrats, the negatives are fairly high.” Sanders is, of course, a more unknown quantity, but “the public’s comments about Sanders can be summarized as 26 percent positive and 20 percent negative, with the rest categorized as neutral, other or no opinion.”
    In fact, the more the public gets to see of both candidates, the more popular Sanders becomes, and the more unpopular Clinton becomes.

    Here’s Quinnipiac explaining that dynamic in one graph just a few days ago:
    This Huffington Post chart, compiling recent polls, shows not only that Clinton is deeply unpopular among the electorate, but becomes increasingly unpopular the more the public is exposed to her during this campaign:

    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)
    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)

    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)
    Polling data. (photo: The Intercept)

    Or look at the same metric for critical states. In Ohio, for example, Sanders’ favorability rating is +3 (44-41 percent), while Clinton’s is negative 20 (37-57 percent).

    Then there’s the particular climate of the electorate. While it’s undoubtedly true that racism and ethno-nationalism are significant factors in Trump’s appeal, also quite significant is a pervasive, long-standing contempt for the political establishment, combined with enduring rage at Wall Street and corporate America, which — along with the bipartisan agenda of globalization and free trade — have spawned intense economic suffering and deprivation among a huge number of Americans.

    This article by the conservative writer Michael Brendan Dougherty is the best I’ve read explaining the sustained success of Trump’s candidacy, and it very convincingly documents those factors:  “There are a number of Americans who are losers from a process of economic globalization that enriches a transnational global elite.”
    In this type of climate, why would anyone assume that a candidate who is the very embodiment of Globalist Establishment Power (see her new, shiny endorsement from Tony Blair), who is virtually drowning both personally and politically in Wall Street cash, has “electability” in her favor? Maybe one can find reasons to support a candidate like that. But in this environment, “electability” is most certainly not one of them. Has anyone made a convincing case why someone with those attributes would be a strong candidate in 2016?

    Despite this mountain of data, the pundit consensus — which has been wrong about essentially everything — is that Hillary Clinton is electable and Bernie Sanders is not.

    There’s virtually no data to support this assertion. All of the relevant data compels the opposite conclusion. Rather than data, the assertion relies on highly speculative, evidence-free claims:  Sanders will also become unpopular once he’s the target of GOP attacks; nobody who self-identifies as a “socialist” can win a national election; he’s too old or too ethnic to win, etc. The very same supporters of Hillary Clinton were saying very similar things just eight years ago about an unknown African-American first-term senator with the name Barack Hussein Obama
    Perhaps those claims are true this time. But given the stakes we’re being told are at play if Trump is nominated, wouldn’t one want to base one’s assessment in empirical evidence rather than pundit assertions, no matter how authoritative the tone used to express them?
    It’s possible to argue that electability should not be the primary factor. That’s certainly reasonable:  Elections often are and should be about aspirations, ideology, and opinion-changing leaders. But given the lurking possibility of a Trump presidency, is now really the time to gamble on such a risky general election candidate as Hillary Clinton?

    Saturday, February 27, 2016

    The Legacy of Malcolm X (What A Party! Those Crazy Republicans Arouse an Incredulous Lincoln)  Christie Capitulates  (Bill Maher Doesn't Laugh)

    It's hard to believe there was a time when we had "enemies" who were so sane.

    And no one would have voted for him, would they?

    I actually would have.

    And I have a nifty Black Panther story I might impart later.

    As a matter of fact, there was a day when I told my students that they should read The Autobiography of Malcolm X if they wanted to read one of the best autobiographies ever written.

    Maybe that day has returned?

    The Legacy of Malcolm X

    By Ahmed Shawki, Jacobin

    22 February 16

    Malcolm X died fifty-one years ago today, just as he was moving toward revolutionary ideas that challenged oppression in all its forms.

    acial segregation was not the law in the postwar North, but it was the reality. In virtually all aspects of life, Northern blacks encountered racism and segregation. Blacks who left the South found themselves forced to live in huge urban ghettos and educate their children in inferior schools. Skilled or professional jobs were reserved for whites. Blacks were constantly subject to white authority, especially police harassment.

    Almost a quarter of blacks said they had been mistreated by the police, and 40 percent said they had seen others abused. Any illusions held by Southern blacks about the liberal North were not held by those already living there. And while Northern blacks were inspired by the struggles in the South, their conditions made them receptive to a movement independent of — and quite different from — the one led by Martin Luther King Jr’s Southern Christian Leadership Council.
    In the first years of the civil rights struggle, the most significant organizational expression of this new movement was the Nation of Islam. By the late 1950s, the group’s membership reached an estimated one hundred thousand, with Malcolm X as its most prominent member.

    In formal terms, the ideas of the Nation of Islam were profoundly conservative. The organization combined elements of orthodox Islam with ideas of its own making, preaching a doctrine of hard work, thrift, obedience, and humility. Seeing economic independence from white society as crucial, the organization also encouraged its members to “buy black.” The Nation of Islam established dozens of businesses, owned farmland, and built mosques in most major Northern cities. The organization did not condemn capitalism, only whites. Indeed, many Black Muslims looked to emulate the success of white capitalists.

    Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad called for establishing an independent black state — in the United States or elsewhere. But beyond pressing for demands or defending their interests, the organization was hostile to political involvement. That such an inward-looking religious sect was capable of substantial growth is a testimony to the widespread bitterness of large numbers of urban blacks. To hundreds of young recruits, the Nation of Islam represented self-respect, self-reliance, and pride.

    The bold and articulate Malcolm X quickly became a pull for more militants to join the Nation of Islam, with appeals designed to highlight the hypocrisy of white elites. In response to the charge that the Nation was racist, Malcolm said, unapologetically, “If we react to white racism with a violent reaction, to me that’s not black racism. If you come to put a rope around my neck and I hang you for it, to me that’s not racism. Yours is racism, but my reaction has nothing to do with racism.”

    Malcolm X rejected the view that integration into American society was either possible or desirable and viewed the federal government and the Democratic Party not as allies, but as part of the problem. And he was sharply critical of liberals who talked about racism in the South, but had nothing to say about conditions in the North, saying, “I will pull off that liberal’s halo that he spends such efforts cultivating!”

    Malcolm X was also sharply critical of the civil rights movement’s leaders. Far from leading the struggle, he saw them as containing it.

    He went on to attack the whole premise of nonviolence that underlay the Southern desegregation movement. Instead, he argued for black self-defense: “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts a hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That’s a good religion. In fact, that’s the old-time religion. . . . Preserve your life, it’s the best thing you’ve got. And if you’ve got to give it up, let it be even-steven.”

    Technically, Malcolm X was only amplifying the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, and indeed always prefaced any of his speeches with the phrase “Elijah Muhammad teaches . . .” But Malcolm X had turned these ideas into an indictment of the system, increasingly breaking out of the straitjacket of the Nation of Islam.

    While Muhammad shunned politics, Malcolm was becoming more political. One Muslim complained, “It was Malcolm who injected the political concept of ‘black nationalism’ into the Black Muslim movement, which was essentially religious in nature.”

    Aware that the growing politicization of the movement was having an effect on the Nation of Islam, including its leading spokesperson, Elijah Muhammad had taken measures to reassert his control.

    A police attack in Los Angeles in 1962 drove home the bankruptcy of the Nation of Islam’s politics. In April 1962, a Black Muslim had been killed and several wounded by the Los Angeles police department. Malcolm X immediately flew out to Los Angeles to direct the organization’s response. The Nation of Islam preached self-defense, and the police murder seemingly called for retaliatory action. But Elijah Muhammad prevented his followers from organizing a sustained self-defense campaign.

    Verbal radicalism, often extreme in its denunciations of whites, was acceptable in an earlier period when members of the Nation of Islam were establishing their reputation as opponents of the system. But the explosion of anger among blacks demanded more than words; it demanded action, and that was one thing Elijah Muhammad would not countenance.

    Out of the Nation of Islam

    Malcolm X’s break with the Nation of Islam finally came in December 1963. Responding to a question from the audience at a meeting in New York City, Malcolm attributed John F. Kennedy’s assassination to the hate and violence produced by a society that whites themselves had created.

    Although the statement was consistent with the hostility Black Muslim ministers had expressed to the US administration in the past, Elijah Muhammad nevertheless informed Malcolm that he would be suspended for ninety days so that “Muslims everywhere can be disassociated from the blunder.” It soon became clear that the suspension was in fact an expulsion.

    On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X formally announced his break with the Nation of Islam. The Black Muslim movement, he said, “had gone as far as it can because it was too sectarian and too inhibited.” He advocated greater engagement in the black struggles exploding around the country, warning that the Black Muslims could find themselves “one day suddenly separated from the Negroes’ frontline struggle.”

    In order to become involved in the civil rights movement, Malcolm drew the conclusion that he needed to separate politics and religion, saying, “we don’t mix our religion with our politics and our economics and our social and civil activities — not any more . . . We become involved with anybody, anywhere, anytime and in any manner that’s designed to eliminate the evils, the political, economic and social evils that are afflicting the people in our community.”

    In the same speech, he described himself as an adherent of black nationalism.

    A Budding Anti-Imperialism

    Soon after, Malcolm was to take the first of two trips to Africa. These trips had an important impact on his ideas. He met with several important African heads of state — including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt — and was influenced by the ideas of “third worldism.” In general terms, this was the view that the world was dominated by two superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union — and that the developing countries of the world represented an independent alternative.

    When Malcolm X returned to New York, he announced the formation of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), modeled after the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which brought together the different African heads of state. The OAAU was a black nationalist organization that sought to build community organizations, schools, black enterprises, and voter registration campaigns to ensure community control of black politicians.

    After his visit to Africa, Malcolm began to argue that the black struggle in the United States was part of an international struggle, one that he connected to the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

    He also began to argue in favor of socialism. Referring to the African states, he pointed out, “All of the countries that are emerging today from under the shackles of colonialism are turning towards socialism.”

    He no longer defined the struggle for black liberation as a racial conflict. “We are living in an era of revolution, and the revolt of the American Negro is part of the rebellion against the oppression and colonialism which has characterized this era,” he said. “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of black against white, or as purely an American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiters.”

    Malcolm no longer believed all whites were the enemy, but he maintained the need for separate all-black organization:  “Whites can help us, but they can’t join us. There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity. There can be no workers solidarity until there is first some racial solidarity. We cannot think of uniting with others, until we have first united ourselves.”

    But Malcolm’s new conception of the struggle also led him to question his previous understanding of black nationalism. In January 1965, Malcolm admitted that this previous understanding of black nationalism “was alienating people who were true revolutionaries, dedicated to overthrowing the system of exploitation that exists on this earth by any means necessary.”

    Lost Promise

    During this period Malcolm’s political ideas were evolving rapidly — a development cut short by his death. By that time, Malcolm X had already become one of the most important radical black figures in the United States, and his influence was growing, especially among younger activists.

    Malcolm X was gunned down just as he was beginning to “think for himself,” as he put it, and to express a radical program for black liberation. His premature death and the subsequent suppression and decline of the black movement have made it easier for second-rate reformists to claim Malcolm as theirs. But anyone who listens to Malcolm’s speeches or reads any of his writings can be in no doubt as to his trajectory, which is summarized well in his famous “Ballot or the Bullet” speech, given April 3, 1964, in Cleveland:

    No, I’m not an American. I’m one of the twenty-two million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the twenty-two million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So, I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver — no, not I. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.
    It is impossible to predict how Malcolm’s politics would have developed had he lived. He had embraced ideas that put him squarely on the left of the black nationalist movement. His hostility to the system and the twin capitalist parties, his commitment to end racism, and his identification with anti-imperialism, represented an enormous contribution to radical politics.

    What A Party

    February 26th 2016, 10:56 pm 
    The day isn’t over yet, but so far: 
    • Marco Rubio called Donald Trump a “con artist,” mocked his spelling errors on Twitter and suggested that Trump wet his pants during Thursday’s Republican presidential debate.
    • Trump replied in kind, calling Rubio a “nervous basket case,” a “nasty guy” and a “baby,” and saying that before the debate Rubio “was putting on makeup with a trowel.” (Oh, Donald, you bitch.) Trump also mocked Mitt Romney– the Republican candidate for president 2012– for walking like a penguin and said he wouldn’t accept an endorsement from Romney even if he offered it.
    • New Jersey Governor (and former presidential candidate) Chris Christie endorsed Trump  for president, despite previously  ridiculing Trump’s signature positions in favor of banning Muslims from entering the US and building a wall along the Mexican border for which Mexico will somehow be made to pay. Which raises the question: what position is Christie angling for in a hypothetical Trump administration?

    A reminder that Christie once had a touch of integrity:  here he is in 2011 defending against “the crazies” his appointment of a Muslim to be a state judge:

    • Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, another former candidate for president, is as conservative as they come, and he sums it up as well as anyone could. 
    “My party has gone batshit crazy.”
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Is Pure Fantasy

    Noam Chomsky:  Donald Trump Is a Natural Product of Neoliberalism

    I can't tell if the Michael Hayden part was more or less funny than the Frannie Lebowitz segment.

    Mark Ruffalo is always, of course, a big plus.

    What say you?

    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.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    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.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    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.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    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"
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    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.