The Message, The Messenger, And How Democratic Party Unity Is A Two-Way Street

The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

—Matthew 8:30

A after a recent piece I posted on a reported stupid move being considered by Senate Democrats (“Some Senate Democrats Are, Well, Idiots“), one writer, Jim Hight, told me the following:

Yes, Democrats are their worst enemies. I hope Elizabeth warren takes over the Majority Partly Leader when (and if) Democrats take the Senate. I write “and if” because the party will always lose unless this tiff with the Bernie supporters ends. As long as the in-fighting continues, Republicans will continue to tear the country apart.

Another writer, DG, commenting on Jim Hight’s observation, said this:

…a united party must appear very shortly. Jim Hight suggests Elizabeth Warren as a possible leader to unite the scaredy cats on the left. That may well be a good start but we need more. […]

Of course I voted for Hillary, but I am a Bernie supporter. That is, I very much support his views…we need a very progressive movement. Bernie has started one. You can see it with the protests and marches that are taking place everyday somewhere in this country. It’s an angry, disgusted and desperate cry to stop this dangerous bullshit republican take over before it gets way out of hand. Thank God they are!

I know what I have to say below, which I write with some trepidation, will make some people mad. It will upset some folks. But so be it. I’m here to express my opinion. As a Democrat, I’m here to give you my honest take on what I see and where I think we are going as a party and who should lead us there. Here goes:

It happens that Bernie Sanders was on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Tuesday. Sanders appeared with the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, who is, bless his heart, trying like hell to hold onto the Sanders folks, trying to keep them from bolting from the Democratic Party when it comes time to vote. Sanders and Perez are on what they are calling a “Unity Tour.” Hayes played a video clip of Sanders saying the following:

Our job is to bring millions of people into the political process. Our job is to radically transform the Democratic Party. And when we are united, we are strongest as a party, as a  nation, as a resistance movement.

Hayes then asked Sanders the obvious question:

You’re talking about reforming, reviving, transforming the Democratic Party.  Do you consider yourself a Democrat?

That’s a fair question, isn’t it? Sanders ran as a Democrat in last year’s presidential primaries. His campaign manager said a year ago that Bernie would remain a Democrat after it was all over. And Bernie just said “when we are united, we are strongest as a party.”  But here is how Bernie answered Hayes’ “Do you consider yourself a Democrat?” question:

No. I’m an independent.  And I think if the Democratic Party is going to succeed—and I want to see it succeed —it’s gonna have to open its door to independents. There are probably more independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. It’s got to open its doors to working people and to young people, create a grassroots party. That’s what we need.

With jaw-dropping audacity, Sanders sat right next to the DNC chairman (whom Sanders opposed during the DNC election process) and said that although he, Bernie Sanders, wanted to “radically transform the Democratic Party,” he didn’t want to become a Democrat. He essentially said he is happily married to some gal named “Independent.” It is that gal, Ms. Independent, to whom he owes his fidelity, his first and final allegiance and loyalty. Okay. I get it. In other words, Bernie wants to not only go home to Ms. Independent at night, but he wants to have a girlfriend on the side in the daytime, one whom he isn’t quite ready to leave Ms. Independent for, but nevertheless one whom he thinks he should get to sleep with while he simultaneously demands she radically change her ways and become the girl of his dreams. Apparently, he wants the Democratic Party to become his perfect mistress.

Well, to hell with that nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, I think many of Bernie’s ideas are something that Democrats could hang their hats on, could run on and win on (Hillary actually ran on many of them, which is why Bernie’s call for “radically” transforming the party makes little sense to me). But we need someone to come along and talk a lot like Bernie does, but do so while actually marrying the party, committing to it, warts and all. Bernie isn’t that guy. Weirdly, he thinks he can reform the party from the outside; he thinks he can change her ways while still going home to Ms. Independent at night. He thinks he can still retain what he thinks is his moral integrity even while he is flirting, sometimes with the crude entitlement of a Bill O’Reilly, with Ms. Democrat. He flirts while talking smack, enticing her with his rap about rich people getting away with murder while the lower and middle classes suffer, using his position of power to dominate her, to exploit her weakness, to make her give in to his demands. In Bernie’s case, the Democratic Party was a campaign fling, the handy dame he used to run for president against Hillary Clinton. He used the party when he wanted something, even if it was something many Democrats wanted, too. But Bernie’s would-be mistress is not, and apparently never will be, his wife. Why? Because the Democratic Party is not something Bernie wants to come home to at night and snuggle with. He’s not the snuggling, spooning type. He seems to be, to put it crudely, the O’Reilly of party politics.

And make no mistake about it. Bernie can talk the talk. He can paint a broad picture of the economic and political landscape that most Democrats, but not all, find appealing. He is the Picasso of populism on the left. Mind you, he’s short on details, but, as we found out from Tr-mp’s Russian-aided triumph, details don’t really matter all that much to the electorate these days. You merely have to have a monster to attack. You have to have a villain to gun down (as Chris Hayes suggested during his Bernie interview). You have to Image result for demon and the pigshave a devil to cast out. How you gun down your villain, how you cast out your devil, is the hard part, of course. But Tr-mp’s razor-thin Electoral College win shows us that the “how” doesn’t much matter, doesn’t interest people all that much in the voting booth. What does interest them, what does matter, is that you say you want to gun down the villain, shoot the bad guy; you say you want to cast out the demon from a possessed system and send it into the swine, and then send the swine over the cliff.

Bernie told Chris Hayes:

What the party has got to focus on are the most important issues facing working people – that’s the decline of the middle class; that’s the need to take on the billionaire class and Wall Street and the insurance companies and bring people together, a) against Trump`s absolutely reactionary agenda, and, b) fight for a progressive agenda which, among other things, includes a Medicare for all single-payer program.

As I said, Bernie is short on details on how to get all that done. Fighting for a single-payer insurance system is music to my ears (and music to the ears of 80% of Democrats and 60% of independents. But someone has to write down the actual notes on paper, complete with the lyrics about how to win that fight and make it happen in a reluctant, splintered Congress. Someone has to tell us how that can be accomplished in a country so divided as ours, with an electorate so susceptible to the right-wing propaganda that would surely come with such a fight. Vermont, Bernie’s own state, tried the single-payer route. It didn’t work out too well.

To reiterate, the details are less important, at this stage, than the rhetoric. Tr-mp doesn’t have much of value to teach anyone, but he did educate us on how one can win an election without a 48-point policy plan. You simply pick out a couple of bad guys, like the Wall Street oligarchs whose handprints are all over Tr-mp and his administration, and go after them, relentlessly. If our next presidential candidate and our congressional candidates in 2018 and 2020 can successfully do that—if we get a Democratic Congress, and a legitimate president in the White’s House—then we can, and will have to, talk details later. Maybe all we can get done at first are much-needed improvements to the Affordable Care Act. Maybe we can get more. But we have to get in power first.

All that leads me to what you will see below in a video from Wednesday’s Rachel Maddow Show. All that leads me to Elizabeth Warren. She is a Democrat. She is actually married, willingly, to the Democratic Party. She recognizes the party is not all it should be, but sees it for what it can be, the vehicle for real reform, the vehicle to bring about the necessary change that Sanders and his followers say they want. But she also realizes that one cannot demand change from outside the party. She realizes that one cannot demand that the pursued radically change before the pursuer will half-heartedly commit. Warren realizes, as her support for Hillary Clinton demonstrated last year, that change comes from a committed relationship, not from a one-sided, I’ll-tell-you-what-I-want-before-I-give-you-my-love affair. She’s in bed with the party. She doesn’t have another lover on the side to whom she can go if the Democratic Party lets her down in this way or that.

And that’s why I prefer her to Bernie Sanders. I’ve always had reservations about Bernie because Bernie has so many reservations about the Democratic Party. I’ve always had trouble trusting Bernie because Bernie has so much trouble trusting Democrats. Commenter Jim Hight above says “the party will always lose unless this tiff with the Bernie supporters ends.” He’s probably right. We do have to work it out. We do have to heal the divisions between the Sanders voters and the Democratic Party. But that’s not a one-sided task, not a mending that can be done only by Democrats kneeling at the feet of an independent Bernie Sanders and asking for his forgiveness and promising we’ll do whatever he wants us to do.

Bernie did a lot to hurt Hillary Clinton and, as an unintended consequence, helped elect Donald Tr-mp. Oh, I know he didn’t mean to. I know he finally got on board in the end. But he owes the party some kind of a mild mea culpa, some kind of acknowledgement that, long before he eventually came on the anti-Tr-mp general election campaign team, that he did real damage to the person he had to know, as time and primary elections went by, would be the party’s general election candidate. At the very least he owes it to the party to, for God’s sake, join it. He needs to become one of us. He needs to commit. He needs to stop his flirting. He needs to curb his I-am-entitled-to-reform-a-party-I don’t-belong-to arrogance.

Below you will find the entire episode of Wednesday’s Rachel Maddow Show. I could have chopped it up, but I decided to use the whole thing for two reasons. One is that her opening, pre-Warren segment will piss you off and make you realize why Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are absolutely right about who it is that currently runs and ruins the system, using wealth as their tool. The second reason is that you will see why Elizabeth Warren, as reluctant as she is to become a national candidate to run against Tr-mp in 2020 (she has a Senate election in 2018, which takes priority), is someone who is a real Democrat, someone who really believes the party can be the vehicle to do the things that both she and Bernie, and so many progressives, believe should be done. Rachel’s interview with her, and the way Warren conducted herself and answered the questions, shows why her fidelity to the Democratic Party and her belief in its potential means much more to me than Bernie sitting next to the chairman of our party and refusing to commit to it.

Here is last night’s segment in full. You owe it to yourself, as a Democrat, as an independent, or simply as an interested observer of politics, to watch it all:

If You’re Not Yet Scared About What’s Happening Here And Around The World, Watch This And You Will Be

Invest 20 minutes of your time watching the opening segment of The Rachel Maddow Show from last night, March 29. You won’t regret it, unless you are one of those who don’t want to worry that we are at a pivotal and dangerous moment in world history:

“It Is Enough To Make You Swear”

Last night I was researching yet another piece on the disgraceful Republican effort to suppress the vote (I have written about it many times because it profoundly pisses me off, and in the mainstream press Republicans mostly get a pass) and, voilà, on comes Rachel Maddow with a segment on the same thing. Oh, well. I will go on with what I was doing and steal some of St. Rachel’s stuff, including noting the success Republicans have had in reducing voter participation. But first, here are a few headlines and information from the accompanying stories:

Republicans Are Trying to Make Sure Minorities and Young People Don’t Vote This November

In a way, Barack Obama can be blamed for this. In 2008, his historic campaign inspired record turnout, drawing more people to the polls than the country had seen in 40 years. Almost all of the record increase came from black, Hispanic, and young voters, who tended to vote Democratic. Republican governors and GOP-controlled state legislatures, not surprisingly, saw this as a problem. They responded by throwing up a host of new obstacles to voting that disproportionately affect black, Latino, and low-income voters.

Chart of the Day: Kansas Successfully Reduces Voting Rate of Blacks, Young People

Here is a graphic Rachel presented on her show that helps explain the motivation of muck-the-vote right-wingers behind those preceding stories:

2012 exit poll on young voters and blacks

You can see why Republicans went to a lot of trouble to make it harder for young folks and black folks to vote. And we must not forget that Hispanics gave President Obama 71% of their votes in 2012, after he received 67% of their votes in 2008. It was, of course, the 2008 election that first put the fear of Obama’s Allah into Republicans, who saw how powerful those young people, blacks, and Hispanics can be, when it comes to electing Democrats and shutting the door on reactionary politics.

In 2010, capitalizing on a backlash against The Scary Negro in the White’s House, Tea Party-energized Republicans took control of the entire legislature in 25 states, for a gain of 11. The last time they controlled that many statehouses was in 1952. Republicans decided to put to use their new-found state political power by throwing electoral spike strips in front of constituencies who would surely flee from the right-wing governance the GOP was about to unleash. And, as Saint Rachel pointed out, they have been successful. Here is a map she presented:

voting restriction states since 2010

Regarding that depressing reality, Maddow said this:

This is meant to be a Republican-tilted system of voting. If you care about small “d” democracy and the right to vote and everything that went into securing it, it is enough to make you swear.

Yep. I have done a lot of swearing since 2010. I can’t think of anything Republicans have engineered, and they have engineered a lot of bad things—including now politicizing Ebola, for God’s sake—that is worse than their attempts to make it difficult for people to vote. Obviously, they know their message doesn’t have majority appeal. But rather than tailor their message to attract a majority, they would rather retain their parochial vision and use raw and rare political power to discourage their political enemies from exercising what should be, in a still-experimental democracy, their sacred right to vote.

There is some good news in terms of the court battles over these dishonorable and anti-democratic tactics adopted by Republicans. On Thursday night, the U.S. Supreme Court—over the objection of its most committed reactionary members, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito—blocked Wisconsin’s voter ID law from going into effect for the upcoming election. The same night we learned that a federal judge in Texas—an Obama appointee; it matters who gets to appoint judges—struck down that state’s voter ID law, known as SB 14.

Noting that the right to vote “defines our nation as a democracy,” U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos didn’t shy away from describing what Republicans in the Texas legislature were doing when they passed their squash-the-Democratic-vote law:

The Court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. The Court further holds that  SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax.

One day, perhaps not too far in the future, we won’t have to battle the kind of reactionary nonsense that Judge Ramos struck down. But for now, the fight must continue because Republicans have no shame. They fear young people, blacks, and Hispanics. They see them as their enemies. And they will, apparently, try anything to keep their enemies from the battlefield.

What Would Ronaldus Magnus Do?

The segment below from Saint Rachel Maddow pretty much says it all about the irresponsibility of not raising the debt ceiling and how none other than Ronald Reagan dealt with the half-nuts in his own party who thought about using the threat of default as a political instrument in the 1980s. Democrats should talk about this, leftish bloggers should post this, liberal columnists should write about this, until we are safely, if we can get safely, past this artificial, ideologically-inspired crisis.

And by the way, Democrats should dope-slap the next dumb-ass journalist who says John Boehner an Mitch McConnell have “tough jobs.” They don’t. People who shovel asphalt for a living without health insurance have tough jobs. There ain’t a damn thing tough about keeping the country from defaulting, from stopping the ideological terrorists from blowing up the economy.

All Boehner has to do is allow a clean debt-ceiling bill to come to a vote in the House—it will pass with Democratic votes and a handful of sane Republicans—and all McConnell has to do is tell his Tea Party colleagues to STFU and let the bill pass, all the while encouraging yet another handful of sane Republicans to vote with Democrats to overcome a filibuster.

After all, the worst that can happen to either of them—loss of their jobs—is nothing compared to what will happen to the country if the suicide bombers get close enough to the full faith and credit of the United States to blow it up.

And if the two Republican leaders aren’t patriotic enough to risk their government jobs for the well-being of the country, may they be forever cursed with listening to never-ending audio loops of IQ-killing Sarah Palin and Ivy League-deflating Ted Cruz defending Jesus-loving Rush Limbaugh’sgreat time in the Dominican Republic,” compliments of a secret supply of Satan-sanctioned, sausage-swelling, slut-seducing Viagra. Amen.

Watch:

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Dismantling Democracy

If you don’t already hate, and I mean passionately hate, what the modern Tea Party-dominated Republican Party stands for (but not the Tea Partiers themselves), then you will after you watch a segment posted below from Rachel Maddow’s Monday night show.

This short segment featured the remarkable 81-year-old Democrat Ellie Kinnaird, who resigned her seat in the state senate—which she held for 17 years. The segment demonstrates how Republicans in North Carolina (and in similar ways, elsewhere) are systematically dismantling democracy by making it much more difficult to vote, all because young folks and people of color don’t buy into the virtue-of-selfishness philosophy of Republicans and don’t want to vote for them.

But the segment with Ellie Kinnaird also demonstrates that it is possible to fight back, to fight for democratic values, no matter your age:

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The Sin Of St. Rachel Maddow

Just before President Obama was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday (at a 200-acre resort in Palm Springs, to which neither you nor I will ever be able to resort), NBC news reported this:

The U.S. secretly traced a massive cyberespionage operation against the 2008 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain to hacking  units backed by the People’s Republic of China, prompting  high level warnings to Chinese officials to stop such activities,  U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News.

This leak, obviously, had a purpose, which was to publicly highlight the ongoing, but mostly secret, complaints from the U.S. about Chinese computer-hacking. We were essentially trying to embarrass the Chinese because behind-the-scenes efforts to get them to stop hacking our information systems and stealing our secrets wasn’t working. All well and good, as far as I’m concerned. We should be embarrassing authoritarians everywhere.

For their part, the Chinese, desirous of some American good will before Xi Jinping met with President Obama, granted passports to family members of the blind Chinese activist, Chen Guangcheng, who is here in the United States, far from the tyranny that still characterizes the Chinese government.

Now, keep that last line in mind: China, despite its incremental turn towards capitalism, is still, especially compared to the United States, a bastion of communist bullies who watch over the population truly like Big Brother. But given the news and the punditry of the last few days, you wouldn’t know that. You would think that President Obama is a despot ever bit as despotic as Xi Jinping or any other tyrant in the world wishing to “spy” on his people.

This rubbish, unfortunately, has infected the minds of a lot of people I respect, people on the left, people who I have sainted on this blog. In this case, I’m talking about St. Rachel Maddow, who ended her Friday broadcast with this commentary on the Obama-Xi meeting:

…the Chinese government on the occasion of [Xi Jinping’s] visit to the U.S., they decided to finally give passports to the family members of this Chinese dissident who took refuge in our country from Chinese persecutions. Now his mother and his brother can visit him here, all of a sudden because of this, because of this meeting.

[She shows a video clip of Obama meeting with Xi Jinping] This was the scene in Palm Springs about 90 minutes ago, President Obama greeting the Chinese president, and they sat down for the first of their big, important meetings.

And this is kind of how these things are supposed to go on the sidelines of these meetings, right?  On the occasion of a high profile meeting with the President of the United States, on that occasion, you know what? Kindnesses towards dissidents should suddenly become possible. Other countries should think we expect that. Contact with us, desire to have good relations with us, is supposed to drive other countries towards better human rights policies and better civil rights policies, because that’s what we are supposed to stand for.

So far, so good. St. Rachel is acting the saint, saying everything right, analyzing the situation perfectly. Then, as many on the left are wont to do, she gives in to temptation and commits the sin of Big Brother-is-watching-us hysteria:

So the timing is tough right now, right? We like to think of ourselves as the good guys, where the international cost of doing business with United States of America is that you have to be less evil. It would be a lot easier for the United States to pull off this attempted embarrassment of the Chinese government over them hacking our politicians, were it not for the coincident revelations floating out of our own media this week about our own government mercilessly hacking us.

There it was. In front of God and everyone. Rachel Maddow committing the sin of a ridiculous comparison between the United States government’s data aggregation policy—authorized by Congress and overseen by the judicial branch—and an authoritarian communist country actually spying on its people. There she was implicitly putting President Obama and Xi Jinping in the same “hacking” boat.

If it weren’t for St. Rachel’s many virtues, if it weren’t for her former wind-driven-snow pureness, I would have to take back the halo I have put over her noggin. For now, though, it is prayer she needs. Lots of it. Prayer that she, and other liberals and progressives, will come to their senses and realize that what has been revealed so far in what is now being called the “NSA scandal,” is not Big Brother watching over us in order to then force us to get our minds right. That is what Big Brother is doing in China, not the United States.

And until someone shows me how aggregating data, a policy designed to help the government uncover terrorist plots, is a massive violation of the civil rights of Americans, I will continue to reject the notion that President Obama, or President Bush before him, is using the National Security Agency as a spying apparatus designed to arrest Americans and put them in prison or under house arrest like the Chinese do.

Finally, for those of you out there who buy into the notion that your government is out to spy on you and catch you looking at porn, or secretly emailing your mistress, or worshiping a very strange god, or whatever it is you don’t want the government to catch you doing, consider this recent report from NBC News:

The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials. 

First, imagine the Chinese government admitting such a thing and rectifying such a mistake. And then imagine the Chinese government allowing that story to be widely dispersed in China.

Then start praying for St. Rachel and other liberals who are embarrassing themselves by way of this—so far—phony NSA “scandal.”

The Associated Press “Scandal” In Ten Minutes

If you, like me, were a little hazy on the details surrounding the Justice Department’s peeking into the telephone records of Associated Press reporters, the good news is that after you see the segment below from St. Rachel’s show on Thursday night, you will be up to speed.

Just keep in mind that, especially in these days of high-tech communications, there will always be a tension between the government’s absolute mandate to keep the people safe from foreign enemies and the absolute necessity of a free press:

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Missouri Among The States That May Have To Allow Felons To Possess Assault Rifles

“The question next week is going to be, Who runs the United States Senate? Do the people really run this place or does the NRA run it?”

—Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to Rachel Maddow

wworthless Republicans!” is all I can say to this:

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Pass this “Moms Demand Action” video on to citizens who might get inspired to do something about the pusillanimity in Congress regarding sensible gun laws:

Vietnam, Iraq, And How We Can’t Trust What We See

I am still trying to process what I learned in the segment below, put together by Rachel Maddow.

If you have read anything about Richard Nixon, you know it is entirely believable that he helped prolong the Vietnam War in order to first win the presidency in 1968. But even knowing something about the strange and cynical mind of Richard Nixon didn’t prepare me for the following. It is a must watch:

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Finally, here is the segment that followed, featuring Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s former chief of staff:

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“We’re Gonna Try To Take This Country Back For The Lord”

In case you didn’t see the following segment from Rachel Maddow’s show on Friday, she pretty thoroughly covered the frightening attempt by Arkansas conservatives, and conservatives elsewhere, to set the clock back to Back Alley Standard Time:

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