Friday, April 29, 2016

(Bernie Should NOT Drop Out!)  Election Fraud Gone Wild  (Behind Prince's Low-Profile Generosity to Green Causes)  Alumni World Turns  (Is Hillary Clinton 'Honest'? Does She Need to Be?)  Former Tax Lobbyists Are Writing the Rules on Tax Dodging

Bernie Should Drop Out? Baloney.

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page
27 April 16
ere's what I say to all those who are telling me Bernie should leave the race:  Baloney. He should – and will – fight on, despite the worsening odds of his winning the nomination.

His campaign isn’t and has never been mainly about Bernie Sanders. It’s about a movement to reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests, and thereby have an economy that’s working for the many rather than the few.

That movement has attracted unprecedented support in this election -- from millions of young people, from a record number of small donors, from an upsurge of progressives determined to change the system.

That movement should have every opportunity to be heard and to continue to grow – not just through the upcoming Indiana, Oregon, District of Columbia, and California primaries, but also in the Democratic Party’s platform.

And beyond. Real change takes years to achieve. This movement has just begun.

Don't let the fact that these primaries have already occurred deter your attention.

This is a report on what's happened previously and possibly a warning about the future.

Fraud Watch 2016

2016 Democratic Primary Election Fraud Evidence Hub

Exit Polls Again Do Not Match Reported Results in April 26th Democratic Primaries

April 27, 2016
by truthfirst12013
Report from Richard Charnin – click photo below for blog update:

Election Live Results Observers Catch Sanders Votes Going DOWN – SCREEN SHOT:

Posted on April 26, 2016
by truthfirst12013
Observers are watching the live results come in and documenting the results through screen shots – here is the FIRST big flip. Sanders votes GO DOWN and percentages flip in huge red flag ways – this is in Delaware. Here are the screen shots for SUSSEX COUNTY from Washington Post caught by TWO different posters – First taken by Aimee Rox Coleman (more of these images documented in other participating primary states tonight, we will update as they become available):

(Click on all photos to enlarge)

Another user caught this from the "Guardian:"
Aimee also caught this shot from New York documenting how the results go down for Sanders in New York in that primary last week:

Voters Report Suspicious Irregularities in Three Different Primary States

Posted on April 26, 2016
Another election day, another exercise in subverting democracy – click on photo for US UNCUT report:

Watchdog Group Describes Witnessing Criminal Federal Election Code Violations by Clinton Operatives in Illinois Primary

Posted on April 26, 2016
Story on the Chicago Democratic Primary audit and the criminality it revealed:

Only Voter Suppression Can Stop Bernie Sanders (If We Let It)!

Posted on April 26, 2016
by truthfirst12013
Click on photo to read the "Huffington Post" article:

To Clear the Air, Bernie Sanders Should Challenge NY Vote

Posted on April 26, 2016
Counterpunch:  A logical argument on why exit polls and contradicting results MATTER.  (The US utilizes them as a means of analyzing validity of election results in OTHER nations, just not here) – click photo below for article:

Interview:  John Brakey on Sane Progressive/Arizona Democratic Primary Challenge/Court Case

Posted on April 24, 2016
by truthfirst12013
Audit Arizona and John Brakey (lead Plaintiff) are challenging the results of the Arizona Democratic Presidential Primary Election. Their case is crucial in not only providing redress for the voters of Arizona, the documentation and evidence they have compiled over a twelve year period holds the potential to finally blow the lid off the election fraud that permeates US elections nation wide.

Letter to the Editor:  Did "Hillary for America" Steal Bernie’s Voter Database?

Posted on April 24, 2016
It has been widely reported across social media that many individuals who had never registered with the Clinton campaign for emails or contact have been included in their contact lists. A Hillary Clinton Super Pac hired contractor, NGP Van, is responsible for managing the data of BOTH campaigns, and it reported (that) in October 15, Sanders campaign found the firewall breached.

The DNC tried to smear the Sanders campaign in December when the breach was discovered again, yet, it was THEIR data company and a staff member the DNC recommended to the Sanders campaign that was responsible for the breach. And, we have reports in the past months of Sanders supporters being systemically purged from registration rolls in Arizona, New York, California. Are these stories related? This letter the editor puts forth a plausible theory:
See letter here.

Democracy Now Report on New York Democratic Primary Debacle

Posted on April 23, 2016
Click photo for "Democracy Now" report:

Polling Places Slashed by 66% in Upcoming Rhode Island Presidential Primary

Posted on April 22, 2016
Click the photo to read the "Rawstory" report.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The Story Behind Prince's Low-Profile Generosity to Green Causes

By Katie Herzog, "Grist"
27 April 2016
n the outpouring of media coverage after Prince’s death at the age of 57 last week, fans around the globe began to learn more about the notoriously private star — including that he gave away a lot of money. Van Jones — the activist, author, former Obama administration official, and current CNN commentator — revealed that Prince had secretly funded causes from public radio to Black Lives Matter to the Harlem Children’s Zone. He also conceived of #YesWeCode, an initiative to train black kids for work in tech. And he supported Green For All, a group working to fight climate change and bring green jobs to underprivileged populations.Jones is in the leadership of the latter two organizations.
“I was an Oakland activist giving speeches about the need for green jobs,” Jones told me over the phone, recalling how he first came into contact with the musician 10 years ago. “Prince heard me in the media and sent a $50,000 check to support the work I was doing. But he did all his giving completely anonymously, so I sent the check back.

You never know when someone is trying to set you up — it could have been from Chevron or from a drug dealer or whatever. So then he sent the check back and I sent it back again, and then he sent it back and then I sent it back, until finally a representative called and said, ‘Will you please accept this check? I won’t tell you who it is from, but the guy’s favorite color is purple.’ I said, ‘Well, now you have a different problem:  I’m not gonna cash this check, I’m gonna frame it.’”
Soon after, Prince reached out to Jones, and the two became friends — a friendship that would last until his death. Jones’ role in Prince’s life was, he says, as “his lead guitarist for social impact, for lack of a better term.” Jones helped distribute Prince’s resources when he didn’t want the attention, including providing solar panels for families in Oakland. The families never knew who their benefactor was.
As a Jehovah’s Witness, Prince wasn’t permitted to advertise his good works. But even without his spiritual tradition, Jones says Prince would have been modest about his giving. “He thought it was in poor taste for these celebrities to get millions of dollars and then write a check and have their publicists all over the media bragging about it,” Jones said. “He was like, ‘This is ridiculous. We get enough attention. We’re celebrities.’”
Jones says that what Prince really cared about was humanity. “He cared about life and love and freedom,” Jones says. “His politics were not red. They were not blue. They were purple. He had a mind that let him see answers — musically, spiritually, even politically. Rather than argue about global warming, he said, ‘Let’s help kids put up solar panels.’”
It’s clear in conversation that Jones deeply mourns the loss of his friend. When asked what he will miss most, he takes a long pause, so long I think for a moment that the line has gone dead.
“Everybody will tell you about the songs, but the genius didn’t stop when he walked out of the studio,” Jones says. “He was so hilariously, ridiculously funny. He was Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart–level funny. Dave Chappelle is probably funnier, but he’s the only one. Everybody else, Prince could have eaten their lunch, and half the time with no curse words. That’s irreplaceable. You can’t find that on YouTube or iTunes.”

Bye Bye, Alumni?

This next essay starts out like something you might be uncomfortable agreeing with; it glides after a nanosecond or two into a rant against ignorance, indifference, know-nothingness or know-too-muchedness.

So, you're uncomfortable, but I guarantee you're thinking clearly by the end.

April 27, 2016
Letter from Oxford
Paul Craig Roberts
The letter below came to me from Oxford University where I was a post-graduate.
I do not think it conceivable that the letter was actually written by Oriel College, or any authority at Oxford. This letter was written in exasperation by someone who feels that the civilized world has collapsed around him. This is a letter that the author of the letter wishes had been written.

By presenting the letter, I am not endorsing a make-believe letter or its point of view. My point is different. The world’s most famous university lacks the confidence to defend itself from from unreasonable demands made by students from its former colonies who desire to remove the association of Oriel College with its benefactor, Cecil Rhodes.

Yet, despite insuficient confidence to stand up to foreign students, England has mustered the confidence to align with Washington against the Muslim World and Russia. How do we explain this?

If the British still had enough confidence for an Oxford College to have penned such a letter, the British would not have forsaken their sovereignty and joined the European Union. What saved Cecil Rhodes stature at Oriel College was not Oxford but alumni who said they would cancel bequests of 100 million British pounds if the university succumbed to erasing its history in order to appease foreigners who claim to be offended by it. If they are offended, say the alumni, let them go elsewhere.

The future independence of universities is in doubt, especially those dependent on alumni support. Old grads are turned off by the erasure of what they remember. Recent grads are not experiencing the same success. A university degree no longer brings the same economic success that it did in the 20th century. A financialized and offshored capitalism has heavily redistributed income and wealth to the One Percent. One consequence is that the alumni donor base will shrink.

Moreover, the older generation of graduates, who made their money in the past, is constantly reminded by fund-raising materials that the college or university that they attended has been replaced by something else. What they experienced is gone. Oxford colleges were segregated by gender and attended mainly by British. Today they are gender-integrated and multi-cultural.
Judging from photos in fund-raising materials, at Oxford the British appear to be a minority.

Instead of warm and fuzzy feelings, old grads feel dispossessed. The psychological effect on those who experienced a different Oxford environment is similar to returning to the site of your grandparents farm and finding a subdivision, a bedroom community for a once distant city. The creek you explored is now inside a pipe buried under back yards, and the trees you climbed are cut down. You feel a loss. This is what many alumni feel when they experience the transformation of their educational institution. They experience a loss of association, which is not a racist or sexist response.

As survivors of an era in which economic success was more broadly based pass away, colleges and universities will turn increasingly to corporations and the One Percent for funds. These donors will extract a price. Colleges and universities will be suborned, as the media and politicians are today, to serve the powerful interests on which they are dependent.

We might think that this is what the Oxford alumni are doing when they threatened to withhold bequests, but it is not. The alumni are not saying what is to be taught and not taught or how things are to be explained. The alumni are saying that it is impermissible to destroy history by throwing it into Orwell’s memory hole. Oxford alumni have had to accept so much change and now the physical image itself, the historical landmarks, are to be thrown away. The result is that nothing any longer corresponds to their memories. Their association with their college and the university becomes severed.

There is no doubt that the British and US governments have ground under their feet many peoples. But history is history. We have to live with it and try to make the future better. We cannot substitute for history our view of what should have happened.

Here is the letter that indicates more British confidence than actually exists.

This letter is a response from Oxford to Black Students, some of whom are attending as Rhodes Scholars, who are demanding the removal of the statue of their and Oxford’s benefactor, Cecil Rhodes.

Interestingly, Chris Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes), The Chancellor of Oxford University, was on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 yesterday on precisely the same topic. The Daily Telegraph headline yesterday was “Oxford will not rewrite history”.
Patten commented ““Education is not indoctrination. Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been according to our contemporary views and prejudice.”
Rhodes Must Fall
“Dear Scrotty Students,
“Cecil Rhodes’s generous bequest has contributed greatly to the comfort and well being of many generations of Oxford students – a good many of them, dare we say it, better, brighter and more deserving than you.
“This does not necessarily mean we approve of everything Rhodes did in his lifetime – but then we don’t have to.
Cecil Rhodes died over a century ago. Autres temps, autres moeurs. If you don’t understand what this means – and it would not remotely surprise us if that were the case – then we really think you should ask yourself the question:
‘Why am I at Oxford?’
“Oxford, let us remind you, is the world’s second oldest extant university. Scholars have been studying here since at least the 11th century. We’ve played a major part in the invention of Western civilisation, from the 12th century intellectual renaissance through the Enlightenment and beyond. Our alumni include William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, William Tyndale, John Donne, Sir Walter Raleigh, Erasmus, Sir Christopher Wren, William Penn, Samuel Johnson, Robert Hooke, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, Emily Davison, and Cardinal Newman. We’re a big deal. And most of the people privileged to come and study here are conscious of what a big deal we are. Oxford is their alma mater – their dear mother – and they respect and revere her accordingly.
“And what were your ancestors doing in that period? Living in mud huts, mainly. Sure we’ll concede you the short-lived Southern African civilisation of Great Zimbabwe. But let’s be brutally honest here. The contribution of the Bantu tribes to modern civilisation has been as near as damn it to zilch.
“You’ll probably say that’s ‘racist.’ But it’s what we here at Oxford prefer to call ‘true.’ Perhaps the rules are different at other universities. In fact, we know things are different at other universities.

We’ve watched with horror at what has been happening across the pond from the University of Missouri to the University of Virginia and even to revered institutions like Harvard and Yale:  the ‘safe spaces;’ the blacklivesmatter; the creeping cultural relativism; the stifling political correctness; what Allan Bloom rightly called ‘the closing of the American mind.’

At Oxford however, we will always prefer facts and free, open debate to petty grievance-mongering, identity politics and empty sloganeering. The day we cease to do so is the day we lose the right to call ourselves the world’s greatest university.
“Of course, you are perfectly within your rights to squander your time at Oxford on silly, vexatious, single-issue political campaigns. (Though it does make us wonder how stringent the vetting procedure is these days for Rhodes scholarships and even more so, for Mandela Rhodes scholarships.) We are well used to seeing undergraduates – or, in your case – postgraduates, making idiots of themselves. Just don’t expect us to indulge your idiocy, let alone genuflect before it. You may be black – “BME” as the grisly modern terminology has it – but we are colour blind. We have been educating gifted undergraduates from our former colonies, our Empire, our Commonwealth and beyond for many generations. We do not discriminate over sex, race, colour or creed. We do, however, discriminate according to intellect.
“That means, inter alia, that when our undergrads or post grads come up with fatuous ideas, we don’t pat them on the back, give them a red rosette and say:  “Ooh, you’re black and you come from South Africa. What a clever chap you are!” No. We prefer to see the quality of those ideas tested in the crucible of public debate. That’s another key part of the Oxford intellectual tradition you see:  you can argue any damn thing you like but you need to be able to justify it with facts and logic – otherwise your idea is worthless.
“This ludicrous notion you have that a bronze statue of Cecil Rhodes should be removed from Oriel College, because it’s symbolic of ‘institutional racism’ and ‘white slavery’ — well even if it is – which we dispute – so bloody what? Any undergraduate so feeble-minded that they can’t pass a bronze statue without having their ‘safe space’ violated really does not deserve to be here. And besides, if we were to remove Rhodes’s statue on the premise that his life wasn’t blemish-free, where would we stop?

As one of our alumni, Dan Hannan, has pointed out, Oriel’s other benefactors include two kings so awful – Edward II and Charles I – that their subjects had them killed. The college opposite – Christ Church – was built by a murderous, thieving bully who bumped off two of his wives. Thomas Jefferson kept slaves:  does that invalidate the US Constitution? Winston Churchill had unenlightened views about Muslims and India:  was he then the wrong man to lead Britain in the war?
“Actually, we’ll go further than that. Your "Rhodes Must Fall" campaign is not merely fatuous but ugly, vandalistic and dangerous. We agree with Oxford historian R.W. Johnson that what you are trying to do here is no different from what ISIS and the Al-Qaeda have been doing to artefacts in places like Mali and Syria. You are murdering history.
“And who are you, anyway, to be lecturing Oxford University on how it should order its affairs? Your rhodesmustfall campaign, we understand, originates in South Africa and was initiated by a black activist who said in one of his lecturers ‘whites have to be killed.’ One of you – Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh – is the privileged son of a rich politician and a member of a party whose slogan is ‘Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer.’ Another of you, Ntokozo Qwabe, who is only in Oxford as a beneficiary of a Rhodes scholarship, has boasted about the need for ‘socially conscious black students’ to ‘dominate white universities, and do so ruthlessly and decisively.’

“Great. That’s just what Oxford University needs. Some cultural enrichment from the land of Winnie Mandela, burning tyre necklaces, an AIDS epidemic almost entirely the result of government indifference and ignorance, one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates, institutionalised corruption, tribal politics, anti-white racism and a collapsing economy. Please name which of the above items you think will enhance the lives of the 22,000 students studying here at Oxford.
“And then please explain what it is that makes your attention grabbing campaign to remove a listed statue from an Oxford college more urgent, more deserving than the desire of probably at least 20,000 of those 22,000 students to enjoy their time here unencumbered by the irritation of spoilt, ungrateful little tossers on scholarships they clearly don’t merit using racial politics and cheap guilt-tripping to ruin the life and fabric of our beloved university.
“Understand us and understand this clearly:  you have everything to learn from us; we have nothing to learn from you.”
Oriel College, Oxford


It's contagious.

I think that knowing how prone to violence Hillary is (and the policies of her backers like Charles Koch and Robert Kagan) tells us all we need to know about her judgment and leadership.

And don't tell yourself that she doesn't agree with them on certain issues (that would turn your hair white).

Is Hillary Clinton 'Honest'?

By Robert Parry, Consortium News
26 April 16
Hillary Clinton’s defenders object to the widespread public view that she is a liar by noting she scores reasonably well on the accuracy of her policy statements, but that is missing the point, says Robert Parry.

ew York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has offered a curious defense of Hillary Clinton’s “honesty,” refuting the public’s widespread view that she is a liar by narrowly defining what it means to be “honest” and arguing that she is less dishonest than she is a calculating and corner-cutting politician.
Kristof writes, “as we head toward the general election showdown, by all means denounce Hillary Clinton’s judgment and policy positions, but let’s focus on the real issues. She’s not a saint but a politician, and to me this notion that she’s fundamentally dishonest is a bogus narrative.”

Kristof cites, for instance, that half of her campaign statements, as evaluated by PolitiFact, were rated either true or mostly true, comparable to how the group assessed statements by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Ted Cruz and much better than Donald Trump’s 22 percent. Leaving aside the “conventional wisdom” bias of this mainstream media organization, Kristof does seem to have a point. In a narrow definition of “honesty,” former Secretary of State Clinton may be “truthful” or kind of truthful half the time.

But Kristof misses the larger point that the American people are making when 56 percent of them rate her negatively and many call “crooked” and “dishonest.” They seem to be commenting on her lack of authenticity and perhaps her resistance to sincerely acknowledging major errors in judgment. She only grudgingly apologized for her pro-Iraq War vote and still insists that her bloody “regime change” scheme for Libya was a good idea, even as the once-prosperous North African nation slides into anarchy and deprivation – with the chief beneficiary the head-choppers of the Islamic State.

A Nixonian Quality

Many Americans sense that there is a Nixonian quality to Hillary Clinton – her excessive secrecy, her defensiveness, her rigidity, her unwillingness to acknowledge or learn from mistakes. Even when she is forced into admitting a “mistake,” such as her violation of State Department rules when she maintained a private email server for official correspondence, she acts as if she’s just “apologizing” to close off further debate or examination. As with Richard Nixon, there’s a feeling that Clinton’s apologies and rationales are self-serving, not forthcoming.

Yet, while it’s true that Nixon was a deceitful character – his most famous lie being when he declared “I am not a crook” – I would argue that he had some clear advantages over Clinton as President. He was a much more strategic thinker than she is – and sometimes went against the grain of expectations as encapsulated in the phrase “Nixon goes to China,” meaning that Nixon could open up to communist China precisely because he was viewed as such a hardliner who would never do such a thing but who finally judged that the move was in America’s interests.

While it’s impossible to say whether Clinton would seize unexpected openings as President, she showed none of that creativity, subtlety and courage as Secretary of State. She marched down a straightforward neocon line, doing precisely what Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted in the Middle East.

Clinton tried to sabotage President Barack Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran and favored military solutions to Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. She also followed a rightist approach in backing the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted an elected progressive president who had offended some of the Honduran oligarchs and outside corporate interests.

Lack of Self-Criticism

In addition, Clinton appears to have learned nothing from her support for the catastrophic Iraq War and has argued against “conflating” her Iraq decision with her Libya decision. But that suggests that she is incapable of learning a lesson from one mistake and applying it to a similar situation, an almost disqualifying characteristic for someone who hopes to become President.

Being a successful President requires extracting painful lessons from one mistake and making sure you don’t make the same mistake again. But Clinton’s personal arrogance or defensiveness (it’s hard to figure out which is dominant) prevents her from that sort of self-criticism.

Indeed, her ritualistic (and politically timed) apology for her Iraq War vote in 2006 came across less as an honest recognition that she had done something horribly wrong than that she had to say something to appease a furious Democratic electorate as she mounted her first run for President against anti-Iraq War candidate Obama.

After losing to Obama and becoming his Secretary of State, she privately hedged her Iraq War apology by saying privately that she thought that President George W. Bush’s “surge” in Iraq was successful and admitting that she had only opposed it in 2007 for political reasons, according to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his memoir, Duty.

On Oct. 26, 2009, as Gates — a holdover from the Bush administration — and Clinton joined forces to pressure Obama into approving a similar “surge” for Afghanistan, Gates recalled a meeting in which Clinton made what he regarded as a stunning admission, writing:

“The exchange that followed was remarkable. In strongly supporting the surge in Afghanistan, Hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary [in 2008]. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’

“The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” (Obama’s aides disputed Gates’s suggestion that the President indicated that his opposition to the Iraq “surge” was political, noting that he had always opposed the Iraq War. The Clinton team has not challenged Gates’s account.)

But the exchange, as recounted by Gates, indicates that Clinton not only let her political needs dictate her position on an important national security issue, but that she accepts as true the superficial conventional wisdom about the “successful surge” in Iraq, which claimed the lives of about 1,000 American soldiers and a much larger number of Iraqis but failed its principal mission of buying time for the Iraqis to resolve their sectarian differences.

So, when one considers Hillary Clinton’s “honesty” more should be in play than simply whether she accurately describes her policy positions half the time. Honesty, as most people would perceive it, relates to a person’s fundamental integrity, strength of character, readiness to acknowledge mistakes and ability to learn from them. On that measure, the American people seem to have sized up Hillary Clinton pretty well.

[For more on this topic, see’s “Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon.“]

(Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.)

Former Tax Lobbyists Are Writing the Rules on Tax Dodging

By Lee Fang, "The Intercept"
27 April 16
he secret tax-dodging strategies of the global elite in China, Russia, Brazil, the U.K., and beyond were exposed in speculator fashion by the recent Panama Papers investigation, fueling a worldwide demand for a crackdown on tax avoidance.

But there is little appetite in Congress for taking on powerful tax dodgers in the U.S., where the practice has become commonplace.

A request for comment about the Panama Papers to the two congressional committees charged with tax policy — House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee — was ignored.

The reluctance by congressional leaders to tackle tax dodging is nothing new, especially given that some of the largest companies paying little to no federal taxes are among the biggest campaign contributors in the country. But there’s another reason to remain skeptical that Congress will move aggressively on tax avoidance:  Former tax lobbyists now run the tax-writing committees.

We researched the backgrounds of the people who manage the day-to-day operations of both committees and found that a number of lobbyists who represented world-class tax avoiders now occupy top positions as committee staff. Many have stints in and out of government and the lobbying profession, a phenomenon known as the “reverse revolving door.” In other words, the lobbyists that help special interest groups and wealthy individuals minimize their tax bills are not only everywhere on K Street, they’re literally managing the bodies that create tax law:

  • Barbara Angus, the chief tax counsel of the House Ways and Means Committee, became a staff member in January of this year after leaving her position as a lobbyist with Ernst & Young. Angus, registration documents show, previously helped lobby lawmakers on tax policy on behalf of clients such as General Electric, HSBC, and Microsoft, among other clients.
  • Mark Warren, a tax counsel for the tax policy subcommittee of Ways and Means, is a former lobbyist for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade group that includes Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Walgreens, and Unilever. Warren, who joined the committee in November of last year, previously lobbied on a range of tax policies, including tax credits and “tax relief.”
  • Mike Evans became chief counsel for the Senate Finance Committee in 2014 after leaving his job as a lobbyist for K&L Gates, where he lobbied on tax policy for JP Morgan, Peabody Energy, Brown-Forman, BNSF Railway, and other corporate clients.
  • Eric Oman, the senior policy adviser for tax and accounting at the Senate Finance Committee, previously worked for Ernst & Young’s lobbying office, representing clients on tax policy.
A request for comment about the role of former lobbyists now working as staffers was also ignored by the committees.

Wealthy individuals and corporations routinely squirrel away vast sums of money in jurisdictions like Delaware or Wyoming to avoid taxation, a major factor in the current state of affairs that allows those at the top of the economic pyramid to pay an effective tax rate that is often lower than the middle class. Verizon, Boeing, and General Electric, to name a few, paid no federal income taxes in recent years, despite earning a hefty profit margin. The Tax Justice Network ranks the U.S. as the third most problematic tax haven country, a ranking even worse than Panama.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Open Season for Avid Gun Users  (Trump Wears Idiocy As Badge of Honor?)  Killing Health Care Behind Your Back  (Kochs Destroy World Without End Amen?)  NC Voting Laws Proudly Suppress Minorities  (DE Set Up to Hide Big Boys $$$$$$)  Bad Smell Pervades Global Economy  (Election Stealing? Why Bernie May Have Actually Won New York)  The Endgame of 2016's Anti-Establishment Politics  (Starhawking Brings Immiseration to Most Women in the Privilege Game) Lee Camp and Max and Stacy Bring the Game Home  (Happy Bloomsday) PBS Wholly Privatized?

Pacifying Raqqa: ‘Staggering Loss of Civilian Life’ During US-backed Siege of Raqqa
Hell's Fire Reigns Down From the Skies: I think of Dresden and Tokyo and know there is nothing new in burning living persons in their beds . . .
Fed Raises Interest Rates Again, Based on Nothing in Particular
Well, the Fed has gone ahead and raised interest rates, as expected: “The labor market has continued to strengthen,” the Fed said in an upbeat statement ...

Did anyone see this coming?

What's To Be Done About Trump?

I'm pretty sure no one thought this would be the answer:

What Did They Expect? Open Season For Murderous Thug G.O.P.
The office of Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) received a threatening email with the subject line “One down, 216 to go…,” shortly after a shooter opened fire on GOP lawmakers who were at a congressional baseball practice, according to her office.

Although the following is a probability:

'Trump Is an Idiot, but Don't Underestimate How Good He Is at That'
The fact that Naomi Klein predicted the forces that explain the rise to power of Donald Trump gives her no pleasure at all. It is 17 years since Klein, then aged 30, published her first book, No Logo – a seductive rage against the branding of public life by globalising corporations – and made herself, in the words of the New Yorker, “the most visible and influential figure on the American left” almost overnight. She ended the book with what sounded then like “this crazy idea that you could become your own personal global brand”.
Speaking about that idea now, she can only laugh at her former innocence. No Logo was written before social media made personal branding second nature. Trump, she suggests in her new book, No Is Not Enough, exploited that phenomenon to become the first incarnation of president as a brand, doing to the US nation and to the planet what he had first practised on his big gold towers: plastering his name and everything it stands for all over them.

Klein has also charted the other force at work behind the victory of the 45th president. Her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, argued that neoliberal capitalism, the ideological love affair with free markets espoused by disciples of the late economist Milton Friedman, was so destructive of social bonds, and so beneficial to the 1% at the expense of the 99%, that a population would only countenance it when in a state of shock, following a crisis – a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, a war.
Klein developed this theory first in 2004 when reporting from Baghdad and watching a brutally deregulated market state being imagined by agents of the Bush administration in the rubble of war and the fall of Saddam Hussein. She documented it too in the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami in Sri Lanka, when the inundated coastline of former fishing villages was parcelled up and sold off to global hotel chains in the name of regeneration. And she saw it most of all in the fallout of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, when, she argued, disaster was first ignored and exacerbated by government and then exploited for the gain of consultants and developers.
Friedmanites understood that in extreme circumstances bewildered populations longed above all for a sense of control. They would willingly grant exceptional powers to anyone who promised certainty. They understood too that the combination of social media and 24-hour cable news allowed them to manufacture such scenarios almost at will. The libertarian right of the Republican party, in Klein’s words, became “a movement that prays for crisis the way drought-struck farmers pray for rain”.
In 2008, the year after The Shock Doctrine was published, Klein believed that the financial crash would prove a reckoning for this cynical philosophy. That the ways in which the Wall Street elite had enriched itself through manipulation and deregulation would finally be exposed in plain sight. In retrospect, it seems, the monumental frailties of the system, its patent vulnerability, allied with concerns over terrorism and a global refugee crisis, only made populations more desperate and fearful. They appeared to crave anyone who could suggest simple solutions to apparently intractable problems. Anyone who said that they could turn back the clock to “make America great again” and who had the branded cap to prove it.
Speaking at her home in Toronto last week, Klein suggested to me that Trump’s novelty was to take the shock doctrine and make it a personal superpower. “He keeps everyone all the time in a reactive state,” she said. “It is not like he is taking advantage of an external shock, he is the shock. And every 10 minutes he creates a new one. It is like he has these lasers coming out of his belt.”
She wrote the book very fast, much faster than is her usual habit, because she feared that the further into a Trump administration America travels, the less scope there might be for resistance, for building an alternative. In this she believes that there are important precedents for people to understand.
She points hopefully to the example of Spain in 2004, when after the Madrid train bombings the prime minister, José Maria Aznar, announced that a state of emergency and special state powers were necessary. The people, remembering Franco, took to the streets to reject that analysis and kicked the government out, voting in a party that would pull Spanish troops out of Iraq. She is fully aware, too, of the alternative in Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdoğan’s successful plea for dictatorial powers following the chaos of the failed coup in 2016. Klein’s book sets out those examples in advance of any comparable shock in America, and makes the case for collective resistance in the event of crisis. “I hope none of it happens [in the States] and none of it is useful,” she says, “but just in case, I wanted to have it out there as soon as possible.”
. . . “I think he is a showman and that he is aware of the way that shows can distract people,” she says. “That is the story of his business. He has always understood that he could distract his investors and bankers, his tenants, his clients from the underlying unsoundness of his business, just by putting on the Trump show. That is the core of Trump. He is undoubtedly an idiot, but do not underestimate how good he is at that.”
Beyond that he has, presumably wittingly, “surrounded himself with some of the world’s most expert crisis profiteers”. Men who have made billions out of meltdown and financial crisis, such as Wilbur Ross, the “king of bankruptcy” who is now Secretary of Commerce, or the various crash-plutocrats recruited from Goldman Sachs and elsewhere. (“In any other moment,” Klein says with a laugh, “the very fact that the CEO of Exxon Mobil is now the secretary of state would be the central scandal. Here we have a situation where there is so much else to concern us it is barely a footnote.”)
. . . Her overriding anxiety is that while the liberal left wrings its hands over the ways that the US election was lost, and gets embroiled in Russian conspiracy theories, not enough attention is being paid to the conspiracy happening in plain sight:  the dangers of kleptocracy, and the broken promises to the working class.
“I am not saying Russia is not important,” she says, “but Trump’s base is very well defended against that: ‘the liberal media is out to get him’, ‘it’s fake news’, and all the rest.” While we are all clicking and fixing our eyes on the never-ending Trump show – the handshake with Macron, the hand-holding with May – he is, she argues, enacting policies that are systematically moving wealth upwards, and crucial questions are not being asked loudly enough:  Is your social security safe? Is your healthcare safe? Are your wages going to be driven down? “He benefits so much from that focus away from economics.”
Klein has not been surprised how, at a time of economic downturn and mass migration, nationalism has once again proved such a potent force in successive elections in the west. She makes the argument that the only thing that can rival those forces of white nationalism and xenophobia is a justice-based economic populism on the left. What Hillary Clinton’s campaign proved, she suggests, is that when you run a centrist free-market candidate against “fake populism” it’s a recipe for disaster.
Doesn’t the election of Macron in France prove that pragmatic centrism is still a viable force if the right candidate emerges to express it?
Klein believes the jury is out on that question. “The fact is Le Pen did better in that election than she ever should have. I think the issue is what happens if Macron governs with the kind of austerity that has fuelled these forces, and his shine wears off? What happens the next time around?” The analogy that Le Pen equals Donald Trump is not exact, she says. “It is more Le Pen equals David Duke [former leader of the Ku Klux Klan]. If David Duke got the percentage of the vote that Le Pen got, we would be terrified, as well we should be.”
. . . “I have good days and bad days,” she says. “Or good parts of days and bad parts of days. It is undeniably terrifying that at this moment of such intense gravity for the planet this figure of such extreme stupidity has risen to power. But that means that there is more urgency to find solutions.” She laughs. “Will that do as my message of hope?” she asks.

Donald Trump Tells Senators To Kill Healthcare For Millions Without Being ‘Mean’
Donald Trump wore his human mask briefly Tuesday. Nobody took him seriously, though. What a joker! 
Trumpcare will make health insurance too expensive again for the 40 million people who were uninsured in 2008. (photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images) 
Trumpcare will make health insurance too expensive again for the 40 million people who were uninsured in 2008. (photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Why Are 13 Republican Men Writing the Health Care Bill in Secret?
Literally behind closed doors, 13 Senate Republicans (all men) are writing a piece of legislation that could upend the entire US health care system and deprive millions of Americans of access to care. Like their counterparts in the House, Senate Republicans have eschewed any element of legislative transparency. I asked Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who as she reminded me is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, if she knows anything about the pending legislation. She told me she has “no idea what’s in the bill. Doors are locked, window are sealed. There’s been no public debate, no hearings, no committee process, no opportunity for a fresh set of eyes to read” as to what Republicans might be proposing.
From a mere good governance perspective this is simply astounding. The US health care system represents around one-sixth of the nation’s GDP. More than 140 million Americans rely directly on some form of public health care — be it Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or the Obamacare exchanges.

Writing a bill that could impact the health care coverage of so many Americans without even a whiff of transparency is policy-making at its absolute worst. That the basis for this effort is the oft-repeated Republican lie that Americans need to be rescued from access to affordable health care coverage provided by Obamacare makes it so much worse.
Yet all of this practically pales next to breathtaking hypocrisy of the GOP’s legislative machinations.
For eight years, Republicans incessantly complained that Democrats rammed Obamacare through on a party-line vote and made no effort to bring Republicans into the process. Like pretty much all of the GOP’s claims about Obamacare, this is a lie. Democrats repeatedly tried to work with Republicans, so much so that some on the left would argue it hamstrung the entire effort.
Even in the face of GOP obstructionism, amendments proposed by Republicans were voted on and added to various iterations of the legislation, and the support of Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, in the Senate Finance Committee, helped bring Obamacare to the floor of the Senate. But the truth of the matter is that Republicans never had any interest in working with Democrats on health care reform and, in the end, opposed it en masse.
This time, Republicans aren’t even pretending to involve Democrats. According to Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, “We know there’s not going to be bipartisan support for this.” Since Democrats won’t support eviscerating a bill that has helped tens of millions of Americans get health insurance coverage, Lankford, says, “There’s not a reason to do this through a committee hearing process.”
One might argue that informing the American people about far-reaching congressional legislation — and, in particular, the potentially 23 million who might lose health insurance because of this repeal effort — is what legislators are supposed to do. But of course, the GOP’s health care plans have nothing to do with policy and everything to do with politics.
(Bill Moyers) While He Was Tweeting:  Goodbye to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau 
One of President Trump's key campaign promises was to dismantle much of the protection put into place after the 2008 financial crisis. Part of the proces...
In Trump's Withdrawal From the Paris Accord, the Koch Brothers' Campaign Becomes Overt

North Carolina's Voting Laws Are Conspicuously Suppressing the Vote

Charles Pierce
26 April 2016

And yet they were just upheld by a Bush-appointed judge.
I keep thinking that all this village chattering about how everyone must come together and back Hillary in the election next November is akin to asking for people who are militantly against supporting certain political positions (seeing them as evil) to dishonor themselves in the service of ideals that can only rank as lesser evilism.
Something that only politicians see as appropriate today.

The Bad Smell Hovering Over the Global Economy

This Industry Is Literally Making a Killing

Trump, Clinton Both Refuse To Explain Why They Share Same Address In Delaware

Reportedly dozens of Fortune 500 companies — Coca-Cola, Walmart, American Airlines, and Apple, to name a few — use Delaware’s strict corporate secrecy laws and legal tax loopholes by registering the North Orange Street address for official business.

. . . “It’s easy to set up shell companies here, no questions asked.”

. . . While the legitimacy of taxes as a concept may be up to personal interpretation, what matters in Clinton’s use of the so-called Delaware loophole, in particular, is her constant harping on the need for corporations and elite individuals to pay their fair share.

As Rupert Neate explained for the "Guardian," being registered in the tiny state allows “companies to legally shift earnings from other states to Delaware, where they are not taxed on non-physical incomes generated outside of state.”

In fact, some have claimed — all revelations of Panamanian documents aside — the use of tax-friendly locations inside the U.S. makes it the biggest tax haven in the world, with Delaware, alone, costing other states some $9 billion in lost taxes over the past decade.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Investigative Journalism:  Why Bernie May Have Actually Won New York

submitted by turn-trout
Even after Tuesday’s voting debacle, many have assumed that even without election-day mishaps, Hillary Clinton would have won New York. Fairly reasonable, right? After all, it was a decisive sixteen-point win in her home state.

Not so fast; I’m going to present a series of facts that should lead the rational observer to be suspicious of these results. Before we begin, I want you to know that I am a staunch Sanders supporter; therefore, I will do my best to remove my “Bernie bias” from the equation (please join me in keeping a close eye on my personal beliefs, lest they color my analysis or cause me to omit relevant counter-evidence). We’re going to examine the situation using a device called Occam’s razor, which essentially says to choose the simplest theory that covers all of the bases.

Let’s look at what we know.

This is not a Sanders vs. Clinton issue. This is about the sanctity of our democracy.

Exit Polls

An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations. Unlike an opinion poll, which asks for whom the voter plans to vote, or some similar formulation, an exit poll asks for whom the voter actually voted. Pollsters – usually private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters – conduct exit polls to gain an early indication as to how an election has turned out, as in many elections the actual result may take hours or even days to count. Exit polls have historically and throughout the world been used as a check against, and rough indicator of, the degree of election fraud.

After all votes are tabulated, exit polls are “adjusted” to match recorded results. According to NPR, for this election cycle, a firm called Edison Research conducts the polling used by major networks. Exit polling has not been conducted for every contest thus far. Here are the unadjusted exit polls against the final results (significant discrepancy | state flip; data source):
State Sanders Margin of Victory, Actual Results Sanders Margin of Victory, Exit Polls Difference (in Clinton’s favor)
Arkansas -38.1 -31.4 6.7
Alabama -60.4 -44.7 15.7
Tennessee -34.2 -25.4 8.8
Virginia -29.3 -24.8 4.5
Georgia -43.4 -31.0 12.4
Texas -32.6 -22.7 9.9
Massachusetts -1.4 6.4 7.8
Oklahoma 11.1 4.3 -6.8
Vermont 72.7 73.6 0.9
Mississippi -66.8 -56.4 10.4
Michigan 1.7 6.2 4.5
North Carolina -14.5 -12.7 1.8
Florida -31.9 -27.9 4.0
Missouri -0.2 3.8 4.0
Ohio -13.9 -3.8 10.1
Illinois -1.8 2.3 4.1
Arizona* -8.2 25.0 33.2
Wisconsin 13.4 27.2 13.8
New York -16.0 -4.0 12.0

Side note:  although Edison Research did not conduct exit polling in Arizona, a local newspaper called the Daily Courier did – but only for Yavapai County. Official results have Clinton winning the county 52.9-44.7; however, the Courier’s exit polling had Sanders crushing her 62-37. Possible explanation:  heavy early voting advantaged Clinton; nonetheless, Arizona was a quagmire.

Excluding Arizona (because only one county was polled), Sanders has suffered an average 6.92% deviation among all contests with exit polling. In particular, assuming that New York exit polling was conducted correctly, the statistical likelihood of a 12% deviation from exit polling is 1/126,000. Theoretically, the results would be equally likely to deviate in either direction; the probability that the 18 of the 19 exit polls above swung to Hillary’s advantage is 0.000038 (that is, fewer than four in one hundred thousand elections would roll this way due to chance).
  1. The exit polls didn’t really reflect public sentiment; something is wrong with their methodology. Possible explanations include:
    • (a) Bernie supporters are more enthusiastic; therefore, they’re more prone to tell the pollster all about their selection.
    • (b) Exit polls have consistently underestimated the strength and turnout for Clinton strongholds (underweighting).
    • (c) Exit polls don’t include early voting, where Clinton excels (I could write a whole article on early voting alone; however, for the purposes of this argument, let’s just assume that everything checks out).
  2. Election fraud. A few ways this could occur:
    • Weighted voting could be coded into tabulation machines; essentially, a Sanders vote counts for 0.7, while a vote for Clinton is normally counted.
    • After voting is finished, the machine could just toss out a certain number or percentage of votes for one candidate and award them to their opponent. This happened in Chicago; we will explore this later.
    • A certain percentage of votes could simply be changed during processing; anecdotally, one of my New York friends reported that her vote was changed from Sanders to Clinton. The poll worker refused to let her rectify the ballot.
    • Curious to learn about even more ways in which the average American could, theoretically, be disenfranchised? Dive down the rabbit hole.
Through Occam's Razor

Let’s examine what each hypothesis requires us to assume. Hypothesis 1) only requires accidental fault on behalf of Edison Research in designing polling methodology. At first glance, hypothesis 2) seems far more improbable; after all, a literal conspiracy would have to be taking place. Note that hypothesis 2) need not directly implicate the Clinton campaign; indirectly-hired agents (or even a few rogue Clinton supporters acting outside the law to help her win) would fulfill the necessary conditions.

However, taken alone, slanted exit polls aren’t sufficient to push hypothesis 2) through Occam’s razor. After all, not only did Oklahoma buck the trend by favoring Sanders in a significant way, a few other states are within reasonable deviation (a few percentage points). Furthermore, hypothesis 1a) is supported by Sanders’ stronger performance at caucuses (average:  65.1%; caucuses require you to try to convince your peers and spend a good few hours at the affair) than at primaries (average:  41.3%; primaries just require you to fill out a ballot – much less enthusiasm is required).

The Smoking Gun

If only we had solid evidence – perhaps revealed under sworn affidavit – of the type of conspiracy suggested by hypothesis 2). Guess what – we do. On April 5th, the Chicago Board of Elections allowed citizens to present their results from their 5% audit of the machine count – an effort “to audit the audit.”

What we saw was not an audit. We are really concerned… There was a lot of hiding behavior on behalf of the Board of Elections employees to keep us from seeing the actual votes… What many of us saw was... that the auditors miss votes, correct their tallies, erase their tallies to fit the official results. There’s a lot of pressure that’s pushing them towards complying with the Board of Election’s results… In our packet, we have a bunch of affidavits. In one particularly egregious example… they had to erase 21 Bernie Sanders votes and add 49 Hillary Clinton votes to force the hand-count of the audit to the official results… We would like an independent audit.
Numerous affidavits attest that according to the hand-counted results for one Chicago precinct, Bernie Sanders won 56.7% of the vote. However, according to the official machine-tabulated results, he lost with 47.5% of the vote – an 18.4% swing. Remember, Illinois exit polling gave him a 2.3% lead; however, he lost the state by 1.8% (in large part due to Chicago). This confirmed case of election fraud cannot be explained just by hypothesis 1); at least for Illinois, hypothesis 2) is now the simplest theory that fits all of the facts. Furthermore, it would be logical to be more wary of repeat occurrences in other states.

The Empire Strikes Back

With that in mind, let’s examine the New York results. Sanders outperformed his benchmarks upstate, where ES&S (the company that bought Diebold, which was famous for handing George W. Bush the presidency in both 2000 and 2004 and has been charged by federal prosecutors for “a worldwide pattern of criminal conduct”) voting machines are not used. However, he got slaughtered in the Queens, Kings, Nassau, Bronx, Richmond, and New York counties, where those machines are used. Although these counties pose challenges to him demographically, he underperformed his already-low benchmarks for those areas. Correlation is not causation; it’s entirely possible that he actually did underperform.

Also, it’s important to note that not all discrepancies crop up in areas served by ES&S; for example, the aforementioned Yavapai County employed technology by Unisyn Voting Solutions, and we know that Cook County’s results were modified (in at least one precinct) by Sequoia-manufactured machines.

The unadjusted exit poll tells an incredibly different story than do the final results. I recommend reading this exposé on how the exit poll was contorted in an impossible fashion to fit the tallied results:

Apparently, the last 24 respondents to exit polls yesterday were all Latina or black female Clinton voters over 44, and they were all allowed also to count more than double while replacing more than one male Sanders voter under 45.

So, now that it’s entirely plausible that results in New York were modified, what would the race look like if the 52-48 exit poll held up? Easy:  Bernie would have incredible momentum right now. But wait a minute… weren’t there more problems in New York (aside from its draconian registration-change deadline:  October 9th – 193 days before the primary – which screwed many Bernie-loving independents out of voting for him en masse)? Yes, there were.

125,000 registered Democrats were removed from the voter rolls in Brooklyn alone, rendering them unable to vote
. Meanwhile, registration increased in all of the other boroughs. Polls were late in opening, machines were down, and over two hundred unsworn affidavits were filed through Election Justice USA, decrying their wrongful purging (13 of the plaintiffs are named in the filing here).
TWC news reports that over 10,000 provisional ballots were cast in Erie County alone; it’s not unreasonable to infer that hundreds of thousands of voters were forced to cast affidavit or provisional ballots because their registrations had been purged. Note that while Brooklyn was hit hardest, the other boroughs were not left unscathed.
Perhaps these registrations were accidentally removed. OK, but NPR reports that entire city blocks were taken out of the database. Demographically speaking, if the voters were randomly purged from the Brooklyn rolls, Clinton would be the injured party. We have no proof one way or the other, just reasonable suspicion; that’s why independent investigation is required.
I’m a democracy supporter first and a Sanders supporter second; if Clinton lost votes due to the purge, I fully support her gaining the additional delegates. However, given the Chicago incident, we would do well to be suspicious – is it really too hard to imagine that, if some party were willing to modify the votes themselves, they’d also be willing to remove likely Sanders voters from the rolls?
Here is the crux of the matter:  if hypothesis 2) is true for New York and election fraud really did occur, and if Sanders' voters were targeted by the voter purge, then Sanders could find enough votes from the hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots to push him from 52C / 48S to 49.9C / 50.1S. Bernie Sanders could have won New York, and if we don’t demand every vote be counted (by hand), we will never know the truth.

More Trouble Ahead
Mayor de Blasio issued a statement condemning the purge and urging action. Additionally, the comptroller announced an audit of the Board of Elections in a sharply-worded letter. The comptroller is a delegate for Clinton; de Blasio also supports her. To be sure, I’m just pointing out potential conflicts of interest; it’s entirely possible that both men will do everything in their power to impartially resolve the situation.
New York may well be the most heavily suppressed election this cycle, but it’s neither the first – a similar purge raised hell in Arizona, nor is it the last. One month ago, /u/Coelacanth86 warned not just of New York, but of similar incidents occurring in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and California; anecdotal reports of these unauthorized registration switches in New Jersey have also emerged. Despite record-breaking enthusiasm this election cycle, Rhode Island announced they will only open 1/3 of their polling places for their primary on the 26th – a decrease of 18.6% from 2008.

In Conclusion
Isn’t it a bit odd that after weeks of being campaigned by both candidates in a heavily-hyped, incredibly important election, New York had the second-lowest percentage of turnout of Democratic primaries this year, coming in just after Louisiana?
That “low turnout” is because hundreds of thousands of provisional and affidavit ballots have yet to be counted.
What if Bernie does better in caucuses not only because his supporters are enthusiastic, but it’s much harder to game the vote? Right now, we only have one verified instance of election fraud and a handful of what could be described as extremely lucky breaks for Clinton. It’s possible that the incident in Chicago was isolated to just that precinct; it’s also possible that a series of such events has decreased Sanders’ delegate count (if the primary results were faithful to their exit polls, Sanders would only be behind by roughly 1.3 million votes – half of Clinton’s current lead).
The only way to put this matter to rest is to audit all primaries to date with the help of an independent firm. I believe this bears repeating:  this is about the sanctity of our democracy.

Sanders campaign:  please ask for an independent audit.

. . . a moderator at the non-partisan /r/CAVDEF (Coalition Against Voter Disenfranchisement and Election Fraud). Please come join us!

Our goal is to document irregularities, fraud, and suppression while providing resources for individuals who have been disenfranchised to find acknowledgement and legal remedies.

And not that anyone needs a memory refresher about who the players still are . . .

The Endgame of 2016's Anti-Establishment Politics

By Robert Reich, Roberts Reich's Blog
25 April 16
ill Bernie Sanders’s supporters rally behind Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination? Likewise, if Donald Trump is denied the Republican nomination, will his supporters back whoever gets the Republican nod?

If 2008 is any guide, the answer is unambiguously yes to both. About 90 percent of people who backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries that year ended up supporting Barack Obama in the general election. About the same percent of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney backers came around to supporting John McCain.

But 2008 may not be a good guide to the 2016 election, whose most conspicuous feature is furious antipathy to the political establishment.

Outsiders and mavericks are often attractive to an American electorate chronically suspicious of political insiders, but the anti-establishment sentiments unleashed this election year of a different magnitude. The Trump and Sanders candidacies are both dramatic repudiations of politics as usual.

If Hillary Clinton is perceived to have won the Democratic primary because of insider “superdelegates” and contests closed to independents, it may confirm for hardcore Bernie supporters the systemic political corruption Sanders has been railing against.

Similarly, if the Republican Party ends up nominating someone other than Trump who hasn’t attracted nearly the votes than he has, it may be viewed as proof of Trump’s argument that the Republican Party is corrupt.

Many Sanders supporters will gravitate to Hillary Clinton nonetheless out of repulsion toward the Republican candidate, especially if it’s Donald Trump. Likewise, if Trump loses his bid for the nomination, many of his supporters will vote Republican in any event, particularly if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton.

But, unlike previous elections, a good number may simply decide to sit out the election because of their even greater repulsion toward politics as usual – and the conviction it’s rigged by the establishment for its own benefit.

That conviction wasn’t present in the 2008 election. It emerged later, starting in the 2008 financial crisis, when the government bailed out the biggest Wall Street banks while letting underwater homeowners drown.

Both the Tea Party movement and Occupy were angry responses – Tea Partiers apoplectic about government’s role, Occupiers furious with Wall Street – two sides of the same coin.

Then came the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in “Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission,” releasing a torrent of big money into American politics. By the 2012 election cycle, forty percent of all campaign contributions came from the richest 0.01 percent of American households.

That was followed by a lopsided economic recovery, most of whose gains have gone to the top. Median family income is still below 2008, adjusted for inflation. And although the official rate of unemployment has fallen dramatically, a smaller percentage of working-age people now have jobs than before the recession.

As a result of all this, many Americans have connected the dots in ways they didn’t in 2008.

They see “crony capitalism” (now a term of opprobrium on both left and the right) in special tax loopholes for the rich, government subsidies and loan guarantees for favored corporations, bankruptcy relief for the wealthy but not for distressed homeowners or student debtors, leniency toward corporations amassing market power but not for workers seeking to increase their bargaining power through unions, and trade deals protecting the intellectual property and assets of American corporations abroad but not the jobs or incomes of American workers.

Last fall, when on book tour in the nation’s heartland, I kept finding people trying to make up their minds in the upcoming election between Sanders and Trump.

They saw one or the other as their champion:  Sanders the “political revolutionary” who’d reclaim power from the privileged few; Trump, the authoritarian strongman who’d wrest power back from an establishment that’s usurped it.

The people I encountered told me the moneyed interests couldn’t buy off Sanders because he wouldn’t take their money, and they couldn’t buy off Trump because he didn’t need their money.

Now, six months later, the political establishment has fought back, and Sanders’s prospects for taking the Democratic nomination are dimming. Trump may well win the Republican mantle but not without a brawl.

As I said, I expect most Sanders backers will still support Hillary Clinton if she’s the nominee. And even if Trump doesn’t get the Republican nod, most of his backers will go with whoever the Republican candidate turns out to be.

But anyone who assumes a wholesale transfer of loyalty from Sanders’s supporters to Clinton, or from Trump’s to another Republican standard-bearer, may be in for a surprise.

The anti-establishment fury in the election of 2016 may prove greater than supposed.

April 20, 2016

Starhawking the Privilege Game

The last two posts here on "The Archdruid Report," with their focus on America’s class system and the dysfunctional narratives that support it, fielded an intriguing response from readers. I expected a fair number to be uncomfortable with the subject I was discussing; I didn’t expect them to post comments and emails asking me, in so many words, to please talk about something else instead.

Straight talk about uncomfortable subjects has been this blog’s bread and butter since I first started posting just shy of ten years ago, so I’ve had some experience with the way that blog readers squirm. Normally, when I touch on a hot-button issue, readers who find that subject too uncomfortable go out of their way to act as though I haven’t mentioned it at all. I’m thinking here especially, but not only, of the times I’ve noted that the future of the internet depends on whether it can pay for itself, not on whether it’s technically feasible.

Whenever I’ve done this, I’ve gotten comments that rabbited on endlessly about technical feasibility as a way to avoid talking about the economic reasons why the internet won’t be able to cover its own operating costs in the future of resource depletion and environmental blowback we’re busy making for ourselves.

It’s not just hard questions about the future of the internet that attracts that strategy of avoidance, mind you. I’ve learned to expect it whenever some post of mine touches on any topic that contradicts the conventional wisdom of our time. That’s why the different response I got to the last two posts was so fascinating. The fact that people who were made uncomfortable by a frank discussion of class privilege actually admitted that, rather than trying to pretend that no subject so shocking had been mentioned at all, says to me that we may be approaching a historical inflection point of some importance.

Mind you, frank discussion of class privilege still gets plenty of avoidance maneuvers outside the fringe territory where archdruids lurk. I’m thinking here, of course, of the way that affluent liberals right now are responding to Donald Trump’s straightforward talk about class issues by yelling that he and his followers must be motivated by racism and nothing else. That’s partly a standard bit of liberal rhetoric — I’ve discussed the way that the word “racist,” when uttered by the privileged, normally functions as a dog whistle for “wage class” — but it’s also an attempt to drag the conversation away from what policies that benefit the affluent have done to everyone else in this country.

In some parts of the current Neopagan community, that evasive maneuver has acquired a helpful moniker:  “Starhawking.” With apologies to those of my readers who may find the behavior of one of America’s smaller minority religious communities uninteresting, I’d like to recount the story behind the label. Here as so often, a small example helps clarify things; the reduced scale of a social microcosm makes it easier to observe patterns that can be harder to see at a glance on the macrocosmic scale.

Those who haven’t had any contact with the Neopagan scene may not know that it isn’t one religion, or even a group of closely related religions; rather, it’s a grab-bag of profoundly diverse faiths, some of which have less in common with one another than Christianity has with Shinto. Their association in a common subculture comes not from shared beliefs or practices, but solely from a shared history of exclusion from the religious and cultural mainstream of American society. These days, something like half of American Neopagans participate in some flavor of eclectic Paganism, which emerged out of the older British traditional witchcraft in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most of the rest fall into two broad categories:  one consists of older initiatiory traditions such as the British traditional witchcraft just named, while the other consists of recently revived polytheist faiths worshipping the gods and goddesses of various historic pantheons — Norse, Greek, Egyptian, and so on.

There’s a great deal of talk about inclusiveness in the Neopagan scene, but those of my readers who know their way around small American subcultures will have no trouble figuring out that what this means is that eclectic Paganism is the default option almost everywhere, and people from other traditions are welcome to show up and participate, on terms defined by eclectic Paganism, so long as they don’t offend the sensibilities of the eclectic Pagan majority. For a variety of reasons, most of which are more relevant to my other blog than this one, those sensibilities seem to be getting more easily offended of late, and people from the minority traditions have responded in a variety of ways. Some have simply walked away from the Neopagan scene, while others have tried, in an assortment of forums, to start a conversation about what has been awkwardly termed “Wiccanate privilege.”

One such discussion was under way at a large San Francisco-area Neopagan event in 2014 when Starhawk put in a belated appearance. For those who aren’t familiar with her, she’s one of the few genuine celebrities to come out of the US Neopagan scene, the author of The Spiral Dance, one of the two books that basically launched eclectic Paganism — the other is Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon — and a notable political figure over on the leftward end of the spectrum. According to people I know who were there, she proceeded to insist that the conversation should not even be happening, because all Pagans need to unite to save the Earth.

Mind you, there were plenty of other conversations going on at that event that had nothing to do with saving the Earth, and neither she nor anyone else seemed to feel any need to try to silence those conversations — just the conversation about privilege. That’s Starhawking:  the rhetorical tactic of insisting that some other issue is so important that the privilege of the speaker must not be discussed. To be fair to Starhawk, she didn’t invent it; it’s all over contemporary discourse in America, quite often in contexts where the stakes are considerably higher than they will ever be in the Neopagan scene.

Madeleine Albright’s recent insistence that every woman in America should vote for Hillary Clinton or fry in hell comes out of exactly the same logic. Issue A in this case is the so-called “glass ceiling,” the habit of excluding women of the privileged classes from the upper reaches of power and wealth. Issue B in this case is the fact that putting Hillary Clinton into the White House will only benefit those women who belong to the top end of America’s class structure, since the policies Clinton has supported throughout her political life have brought impoverishment and immiseration to the vast majority of American women, i.e., those who belong to the wage class and the lower half or so of the salary class.

When Starhawking comes from the leftward end of the affluent class, it’s almost always framed in terms of another kind of bias — racism, sexism, or what have you — which can be used, along the lines detailed last week, to blame the sufferings of one underprivileged group on another underprivileged group. When it takes place on the other end of the political spectrum, as of course it does all the time, other issues are used to drown out any discussion of privilege; among the favorites are crime, Christian moral theology, and the alleged laziness and greed of people on public assistance. The excuse differs but the rhetorical gimmick is the same.

One of the things that makes that gimmick viable is the ambiguous nature of the language that’s used to talk about the various candidates for Issue A. “Crime,” for example, is a nice vague abstraction that everyone can agree to oppose. Once that agreement has been obtained, on the other hand, it descends from the airy realm of abstraction into some very questionable specifics — to note a relevant example, none of the politicians who boast about being “tough on crime” have shown any interest in locking up the kleptomaniacs of Wall Street, whose billion-dollar swindles have done far more damage to the nation than any number of muggings on the mean streets of our inner cities.

In the same way, words like “racism” and “sexism” are abstractions with a great deal of ambiguity built into them. There are at least three things conflated in labels of this kind. I’d like to unpack those for a moment, in the hope of getting a clearer view of the convoluted landscape of American inequality.

The things I want to pull out of these portmanteau words, and others like them, are privilege, prejudice, and acts of injustice. Let’s start with the last. Police officers in America, for example, routinely gun down black teenagers in response to actions that do not get white teenagers shot; a woman who gets hired for a job in the US today can expect to get, on average, roughly three-quarters the pay that a man can expect to get for doing exactly the same job; two people who love each other and want to get married have to run a gauntlet of difficulties if they happen to be the same gender that they would not face if they were different genders. Those are acts of injustice.

Prejudice is a matter of attitudes rather than actions. The word literally means pre-judgments, the judgments we all make about people and situations before we encounter them. Everybody has them, every culture teaches them, but some people are more prejudiced — more committed to their pre-judgments, and less willing to reassess them in the face of disconfirming evidence — and some are less so. Acts of injustice are usually motivated by prejudice, and prejudice very often results in acts of injustice, but neither of these equations are exact. I’ve known people who were profoundly prejudiced but refused to act on their prejudices because some other belief or commitment forbade that; I’ve also known people who participated repeatedly in acts of injustice, who were just following orders or going along with friends, and didn’t care in the least one way or the other.

Then there’s privilege. Where prejudice and acts of injustice are individual, privilege is collective; you have privilege, or don’t have it, because of the categories you belong to, not because of what you do or don’t do. I’ll use myself as a source of examples here. I can walk through the well-to-do neighborhoods of the town where I live, for instance, without being hassled by the police; black people don’t have that privilege. I can publish controversial essays like this one without being bombarded with rape and death threats by trolls; women don’t have that privilege. I can kiss my spouse in public without having some moron yell insults at me out of the window of a passing car; gay people don’t have that privilege.

I could fill the next ten posts on this blog with a listing of similar privileges I have, and not even come close to running out of examples. It’s important, though, to recognize that my condition of privilege isn’t assigned to me for any one reason. It’s not just that I’m white, or male, or heterosexual, or grew up in a family on the lower end of the salary class, or was born able-bodied, or what have you; it’s all of these things and a great many more, taken together, that assign me my place in the hierarchy of privilege. This is equally true of you, dear reader, and of everyone else. What differentiates my position from yours, and yours from everyone else’s, is that every station on the ladder has a different proportion between the number of people above it and the number of people below. There are, for example, plenty of people in today’s America who have more privilege than I do, but there are vastly more people who have much, much less.

Note also that I don’t have to do anything to get the privileges I have, nor can I get rid of them. As a white heterosexual man from a salary class background, and the rest of it, I got assigned nearly all of my privileges the moment I was born, and no matter what I do or don’t do, I’ll keep the vast majority of them until I die. Ths is also true of you, dear reader, and of everyone else:  the vast majority of what places you on whatever rung you occupy in the long ladder of privilege is yours simply for being born. Thus you’re not responsible for the fact that you have whatever level of privilege you do — though you are responsible, of course, for what you choose to do with itYou can exploit your privilege to benefit yourself at the expense of the less privileged — that is to say, you can engage in acts of injustice. The more privilege you have, the more your prejudices affect other people’s lives and the more powerful your acts of injustice become. Thus advocates for the less privileged are quite correct to point out that the prejudices and injustices of the privileged matter more than those of the unprivileged.

On the other hand, privilege does not automatically equate to prejudice, or to acts of injustice. It’s entirely possible for the privileged — who, as already noted, did not choose their privilege and can’t get rid of it — to refuse to exploit their privilege in this way. It’s even possible, crashingly unfashionable as the concept is these days, for them to take up the old principle of noblesse oblige:  the concept, widely accepted (though not always acted on) in eras where privilege was more openly recognized, that those who are born to privilege also inherit definite responsibilities toward the less privileged. I suppose it’s even possible that they might do this and not expect lavish praise for it, though that’s kind of a stretch, American culture today being what it is.

These days, though, most white heterosexual men from salary class backgrounds don’t think of themselves as privileged, and don’t see the things I enumerated earlier as privileges. This is one of the most crucial points about privilege in today’s America:  to the privileged, privilege is invisible. That’s not just a matter of personal cluelessness, or of personal isolation from the less privileged, though these can of course be involved. It’s a matter of enculturation. The mass media and every other aspect of mainstream American culture constantly present the experience of privileged people as normal, and just as constantly feed any departure from that experience through an utterly predictable set of filters.

First, of course, the experience of the unprivileged is erased — “That sort of thing doesn’t actually happen.” When that fails, it’s dismissed as unimportant — ”Well, maybe it does happen, but it’s no big deal.” When it becomes clear that it is a big deal to those who have to cope with it, it’s treated as an occasional anomaly — “You can’t generalize from one or two bad examples.” When that breaks down, finally, the experience of the unprivileged is blamed on the unprivileged — “It’s their own fault that they get treated like that.” If you know your way around America’s collective non-conversation about privilege, in the mass media or in everyday conversation, you’ve seen each one of these filters deployed a thousand times or more.

What makes this interesting is that the invisibility of privilege in modern America isn’t shared by that many other human societies. There are plenty of cultures, past and present, in which privilege is right out there in the open, written into laws, and openly discussed by the privileged as well as the unprivileged. The United States used to be like that as recently as the 1950s. It wasn’t just that there were Jim Crow laws in those days formally assigning black Americans the status of second-class citizens, and laws in many states that gave women second-class status when it came to a galaxy of legal and financial rights; it was all over the media and popular culture, too. Open any daily newspaper, and the society pages splashed around the difference in privilege between those people who belonged to the elite and those who didn’t.

For a complex series of reasons rooted in the cultural convulsions of the Sixties, though, frank talk about privilege stopped being socially acceptable in America over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. That didn’t make privilege go away, of course. It did mean that certain formal expressions of privilege, such as the Jim Crow laws just mentioned, had to be scrapped, and in that process, some real injustices did get fixed. The downside was the rise of a culture of double-talk in which the very real disparities in privilege in American society got fed repeatedly through the filters described above, and one of the most important sources of those disparities — class differences — were shoved completely out of the collective conversation of our time.

The habit of Starhawking is one of the major rhetorical tools by which open discussion of privilege, and above all of class privilege, got thrust out of sight. It’s been used with equal verve at all points along the political spectrum from the far left straight across to the far right. Whether it’s affluent liberals insisting that everyone else has to ignore their privilege in order to get on with the task of saving the Earth, affluent conservatives insisting that everyone else has to ignore their privilege in order to get on with the task of returning America to its Christian roots, or — and this is increasingly the standard line — affluent people on both sides insisting that everyone else has to ignore their privilege because fighting those horrible people on the other side of the political spectrum is the only thing that matters, what all these utterances mean in practice is “don’t talk about my privilege.”

That sort of evasion is what I expected to field from readers when I started talking about issues surrounding class privilege earlier this year. I got a certain amount of it, to be sure, but as already mentioned, I also got comments by people who acknowledged that they were uncomfortable with the discussion and wanted me to stop. What this says to me is that the wall of denial and double-talk that has closed down open discussion of privilege in today’s America — and especially of class privilege — may be cracking at last. Granted, "The Archdruid Report" is well out there on the cultural fringes of American society, but it’s very often the fringes that show signs of major social changes well before the mainstream ever hears about them.

If it’s true that the suppression of talk about privilege in general, and class privilege in particular, is in the process of breaking down, it’s not a minute too soon. The United States just now stands in the path of a tidal wave of drastic change, and current patterns of privilege are among the many things that bid fair to be upended once it hits.

What Connects Brexit, the DUP, Dark Money and a Saudi Prince?

The story of a massive donation to the DUP is like a John le Carré novel – but voters need facts, not fiction

Happy Bloomsday!

For our internal Daedalus:

Why we should stand up for Aosdána this Bloomsday

Joyce taken up to Monto as inner-city Dublin celebrates ‘Ulysses’