Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Review of A Review of "What Happened"

Mediumite Jamie Pow has written a review of Hillary Clinton's "What Happened." I began a response, ran long--you know the drill--and I decided to post it as an article:

There’s this idea I often entertain, one that inevitably ends up reinforced by every bit of Clinton apologia I encounter: Show me someone who admires Hillary Clinton and I'll show you someone who doesn't really know anything about Hillary Clinton. The someones in this formulation are obviously ordinary folks who may have some kind thoughts toward her, rather than her personality cult, which doesn’t care a whit about the truth, but I never seem to find anything that suggests to me its wrong.

Your article is just the latest in a very long line of articles that reinforces it, and by addressing it in this way, I’m extending to you the benefit of the doubt on which of those categories of someones into which you fall. Simply put, what you're uncritically repeating here is the same nonsense Clinton and her circle have been programming into her cult all along. You write about Clinton being an introvert. That may be true or, as is more likely the case, it may just be nonsense put out for public consumption as a rationale for her compulsive secretiveness and resistance to public accountability but in either event, it isn't a personality trait of any real importance. The one that matters, the one that is behind this book tour, just as it's been behind her presidential races and everything else she's ever done in politics, is that she’s a narcissistic elitist, one who, in this instance, thought she was entitled to become president.

She’s never taken any real responsibility for anything. Narcissists don't. People who run for president do so because they have certain things they want to do. Clinton ran for president because she wanted to be president. It was all just vanity. The authors of "Shattered" covered what a dilemma this represented for Clinton's team, tasked with trying to come up with a way to sell a candidacy that had no rationale. Clinton really "can't let go of her belief that she would have made a very good president." A narcissist can't.
"'For me, political campaigns have always been something to get through in order to govern, which is the real prize,' she admits."
That’s an extraordinary statement. Even politicians with that level of contempt for the constituents they're supposed to be representing at least pretend they care. This is Clinton, for ever so brief a moment, dropping any pretense. For her, politicking isn't a sincere effort to sell a platform; it's just an obstacle to be overcome in order to rule, which she wants to do because she thinks she's great. You write that "Hillary Clinton can't reinvent herself to the American electorate. She can only re-introduce herself." But, in fact, she's reinvented herself dozens of times over the  years. Last year, Domenico Montanaro wrote a good article at NPR on Clinton's constant "evolution" on the "free trade" pacts backed by her donors. She always says she's against them whenever an election looms then "evolves" into supporting them once in office. Multiply that by every other issue and you have Clinton, a politician who regularly sheds personae the way a snake does its skin, taking on whatever new flesh she thinks will advance her ambitions, always careful to avoid anything bold that may thwart them, and who is utterly contemptuous of those who elect her. In her six-figure speeches to her Wall Street cronies, she casually explained her belief in the virtues of being a two-faced phony, saying politicians need "both a public and a private position" on contentious issues in order to be successful.[1]

You cite an example of this, quoting Clinton: "I'm a progressive, but I'm a progressive who likes to get things done." Clinton, of course, became a political figure on the coattails of her husband, a conservative Southern "New Democrat," the first chairman, in fact, of the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC, long despised by progressives and now mercifully extinct, was a corporate-backed project that overtly sought to convince Democrats to abandon progressive values and move to the right. Bill Clinton embraced destructive right-wing priorities on crime, welfare, "free trade," deficit reduction, foreign interventionism and so on, and when it came to these policies, there was never any daylight between he and Hillary. Bill honed Dick Morris's "triangulation" strategy for selling all of this, which involved throwing progressives under the bus in order to portray "both sides" as extremists and position oneself as the sensible center, and both he and Hillary have used this same strategy in every national campaign in which they've participated. Clinton's 2016 Democratic primary persona was Sanders Reduced, a watered-down version of Sanders who insisted she was a progressive and that Sanders was an unrealistic extremist. "I take a backseat to no one," Clinton declared in July 2015,"when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values." But then on another occasion in September, she confessed to being a "moderate" and a centrist and extolled the virtues of this. Then it was back to playing at being a progressive again; when, at a Democratic debate, she was asked about Sanders' contention that she wasn't progressive enough, she offered that line about being "a progressive who gets things done," then went on a question-dodging, triangulation attack against Sanders aimed at portraying him as an entirely unreasonable purist on this point. Now, after contesting this so viciously, she's back to being a "moderate" again. "I think we operate better when we're kind of between center-right and center-left..." As I've written in the past, Clinton is an unprincipled opportunist whose instincts, in a liberal party, are conservative. All of this jockeying she does is sheer mendacity offered in contempt of the electorate by a pol whose only real cause is herself.

That same mendacity is on display in Clinton's criticism of media coverage of the election, which you cite:
"When it comes to the content of reporting, Trump had the easier time in the run-up to the election. Citing a study from Harvard's Shorenstain Center, public policy discussion constituted 10% of all news coverage before the election. Controversy over Clinton’s emails dominated, and received far more sustained attention than any of Trump's 'scandals'."
There are a raft of problems with this.

--Clinton complaining about the serious shortage of policy coverage beggars belief. Clinton didn't run an issues campaign. This was her game:
"Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran TV ads that had less to do with policy than any other presidential candidate in the past four presidential races, according to a new study published on Monday by the Wesleyan Media Project."

"Clinton’s team spent a whopping $1 billion on the election in all — about twice what Donald Trump’s campaign spent. Clinton spent $72 million on television ads in the final weeks alone.

"But only 25 percent of advertising supporting her campaign went after Trump on policy grounds, the researchers found. By comparison, every other presidential candidate going back to at least 2000 devoted more than 40 percent of his or her advertising to policy-based attacks. None spent nearly as much time going after an opponent’s personality as Clinton's ads did... Beyond overall ad spending, the study also breaks down the content of the attack ads aired on behalf of each candidate... About 90 percent of Clinton's attack ads went after Trump as an individual--compared with just 10 percent that went after his policies, the study found."
This chart puts the matter in its historical context:

Clinton likes to portray herself as some sort of policy wonk. You run with this, writing, "It's easy to get a sense of [Clinton's] frustration with Trump--for his obvious lack of appreciation for any policy detail," but Clinton has never shown any real interest in policy; her stated positions on this-or-that have always been dictated by whatever seemed safe and politically beneficial to her at the moment. She performed quite badly when Sanders forced her to discuss actual issues and in the general, she simply discarded any sustained effort at talking policy. You don't get to ignore policy then complain about press coverage that reflects this.

--The corporate press as a virtual monolith supported Clinton from the day she officially entered the race. Mediumite Andrew Endymion and I just had a good exchange on this point, covering the ugly details. Press hostility to Trump was, likewise, near-universal. It's true, as Clinton now says, that the press boosted Trump throughout the 2016 cycle--he was a freak-show, which means ratings, which translates into insanely disproportionate wall-to-wall coverage, even if most of it is negative. Clinton can hardly complain about this either though, as it was the official policy of her campaign from the beginning to elevate Trump and get the press to do the same (another revelation that came to light via Wikileaks).

--Clinton now complains about the sustained coverage of the email controversy but the only reason that stuck around and kept returning to the news was that Clinton insisted on lying about it at every turn. She would lie, the lie would be exposed and she would offer a new one in place of the old, beginning the cycle again. "[D]o you know what the big deal was about Hillary Clinton's emails?" you write. "It seems to me that it all came down to her being able to keep her single Blackberry, access all her email accounts on it, and not having to carry two phones." It's impossible to believe you've followed any aspect of this story if you've honestly reached that conclusion. Those emails are, by law, public records. Back in 2007, then-Sen. Clinton condemned the Bush administration for its inappropriate use of a server controlled by the Republican National Committee to conduct official government business. Less than two years later, the ever-secretive Clinton who had just been chosen as Secretary of State established a private email server in her own home so she could have exclusive control of her own official correspondence. The mere fact that she established such a set-up is a major scandal. Clinton ignored repeated warnings that her Blackberries were security risks. The server itself was a massive security risk. She never requested approval of it and the responsible officials made it very clear she wouldn't have gotten it if she had. Clinton left the State Department in February 2013 without turning over any of her emails and, in fact, she didn't turn over any until December 2014, after the Benghazi special committee had requested them and State didn't have them. She printed up 30,000 pages of them, deleted the rest, the server was wiped and she began a long string of lies that kept the story in the news throughout the campaign. Endymion:

"No, she did not turn over all work-related emails. Yes, she did send classified information. No, there has never been a Sec State who set up a private server in his or her basement to establish exclusive control over all correspondence. No, Comey didn’t call her 'truthful.' The story wouldn’t die because Clinton wouldn’t let it and nobody else was under any obligation to kill it."

She lied about there being nothing marked "classified" in her emails. When confronted with the fact that some were plainly marked, she claimed she didn't know what those markings meant! And on and on. You can't behave like this then complain that the story you're keeping alive via this behavior is still being covered.

This writer doesn't get very excited about the mishandling of classified material. While there are obvious dangers in it and Clinton's behavior was, in the face of them, really reckless, stupid and probably criminal, this is happening inside a government obsessed with secrecy that routinely overclassifies just about everything. That's more my concern. Clinton set up that server to skirt public records requirements. That alone is enough to damn her in this matter but her own view, reflected in everything you quote from her, is that she never did anything wrong in any of this, just made a stupid decision in setting up that server then was unreasonably victimized by everyone. That's how narcissists are. 

I don't know you but I’ve assumed, for the purposes of this piece, that you're genuinely ignorant of most of what I’ve just described rather than just another Clinton cultist mouthing the programming. I would urge you to delve much more deeply into these matters before writing on them any further. You say you admire Clinton but there simply isn't anything terribly admirable in malignant narcissists. Don't too easily throw your own good name away on one.



[1] Those Wall Street speeches were full of damaging information that probably would have sank her primary campaign. and like the two-faced phony that she is, she concealed them from public view, trying to dance around every demand for them with doubletalk until Wikileaks acquired and released partial transcripts of them.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Clinton Happened & She Lied About That Too

The 2016 Democratic primary/caucus season ended over a year ago but for much of this year, I've found myself writing articles here debunking the unhinged ravings, ludicrous lies and delusional dipshittery of a small but incredibly devout and vocal contingent of Clinton loyalists intent on perpetually re-fighting that contest. Like any other personality cult, these hardcore Clintonites typically haven't proven themselves to be, shall we say, very big on independent thought; for the most part, their oeuvre is a significant but ultimately limited collection of fables and fictions programmed into them last year by the Clinton campaign and its surrogates and that they all recite like robots with little innovation. The relative ease with which their talking-points can be debunked doesn't seem to have made a dent in the cult's dogged, usually quite passionate, insistence on them. The open hostility with which the cultists greet facts that contradict their cherished myths is an extreme manifestation of a common human failing that, in contemporary American politics, finds its only other comparable expression among the fringe right. While polling suggests the cult is quite small,[1] a disproportionate number of cultists hold positions of power and influence, giving them a lofty perch from which they can sow discord and commit mischief.

This week, the Cult Queen herself will be feeding her followers (and as many bystanders as she can manage) a new book about the election entitled "What Happened." As internet quipsters have been quick to note, rarely does one see both a question and its complete answer depicted on the cover of the book itself. That this effectively removes any need to purchase the book probably doesn't bode well for its long-term sales potential but the Clinton cult, ever ravenous for new pronouncements from their Glorious Leader, will no doubt give it a boost upon its initial debut, and no doubt publicly crow about its great sales too (while they last). In an effort to stimulate interest, Clinton and her surrogates have been doling out advanced excerpts from the text in recent days and while America has undeniably suffered a serious wound via the election of Donald Trump, these snippets have only reinforced the extent to which America most definitely dodged a different but also deadly bullet when Clinton lost.

In one critical respect, there isn't really any difference between Clinton and Trump: both are driven by a particularly malignant narcissism. Both package lies and historical revisionism into aggrievement fantasies they pitch to their respective personality cults, cults made up of people who don't care about the truth anyway. As with Trump, Clinton, by Clinton's narrative, is always the victim and is never really responsible for anything.[2] These characteristics--perpetuating a heavily fictionalized narrative of victimhood while dodging any real responsibility--have, in fact, been her preeminent and defining ones throughout her time in the national spotlight. Like her husband before her, she's been subjected to various attacks over the years that were genuinely unfair, misleading, nonsensical and though this writer doesn't like either of them, I've spilled a lot of ink defending both on those occasions when it was merited, but as public servants, they are, to put it as charitably as possible, extremely flawed and I'll stand for no nonsense from Hillary's creepy cult of Kool-Aid guzzlers who, at her persistent behest, insist on treating every criticism of her as the equivalent of "Obama was born in Kenya." When Clinton first reemerged into the public spotlight earlier this year, she was absolutely brimming with people to blame for her latest loss. She'd offer some perfunctory comment about how she took responsibility for her actions then launch into her real litany: it was James Comey, it was sexists, it was the Russian conspiracy, it was the Democratic National Committee, an entity that, in reality, violated its own chartered neutrality at every turn in order to stack the primary season in Clinton's favor. It was absolutely anyone but Hillary Clinton.[3] Her close associates adopted the same approach, as has the cult, resulting in a stream of articles here in response. At the end of May, Clinton granted a long interview at Recode and was asked what mistakes she made during the campaign. In perhaps the defining moment of her political career, she hemmed, hawed and was ultimately unable to come up with anything. That's Clinton, a narcissistic elitist who takes no real responsibility for anything and thought she was entitled to the presidency.

That's the Clinton on display in the recent advance excerpts from her upcoming book and even in the way in which she's released that material. The first release was a fairly inconsequential snippet in which she complained about Donald Trump repeatedly invading her personal space during one of their debates and for this, she even released a recording of her reading the passage in question, but the next round of excerpts, which went public a few days ago, was devoted to attacking Bernie Sanders and adding he and others to the growing list of people Clinton has blamed for her loss. Clinton's underlings have never shown much hesitation about blaming Sanders and his supporters but she, herself, had largely avoided it and the public release of this material was classic Clinton; wanting it out there and to have people focused on it but not wanting to be responsible for people focusing on it, she delegated the explosive stuff to surrogates, who released it through social media, while she, herself, declined any public comment on it.

The excerpts themselves are a phantasmagoric reimagining of the 2016 campaign, recasting it into Clinton's favored mold, a self-serving lie made up of lies. This is how Clinton, in one of the excerpts, describes policy debates with Sanders:

"Jake Sullivan, my top policy advisor, told me it reminded him of a scene from the 1998 movie There’s Something About Mary. A deranged hitchhiker says he's come up with a brilliant plan. Instead of the famous 'eight-minute abs' exercise routine, he's going to market 'seven-minute abs.' It’s the same, just quicker. Then the driver, played by Ben Stiller, says, 'Well, why not six-minute abs?' That’s what it was like in policy debates with Bernie. We would propose a bold infrastructure investment plan or an ambitious new apprenticeship program for young people, and then Bernie would announce basically the same thing, but bigger. On issue after issue, it was like he kept proposing four-minute abs, or even no-minute abs. Magic abs!"

In the real world, of course, Clinton, who sheds personae the way a snake does its skin, crafted an iteration of herself for the 2016 primary season as an attenuated version of Sanders. Throughout the period she bore that flesh, she was the one who was aping Sanders' proposals, usually suggesting watered-down versions of them then presenting hers as more realistic, his as pie-in-the-sky. This is Dick Morrisean triangulation tactics, wherein one throws one's own base under the bus in order to make it appear as if "both sides" are extreme and to position oneself as the sensible "center." Both Clinton and her husband have used these same tactics in every major political campaign in which they've participated. Even accounting for the squish factor that typically accompanies the unprincipled Clinton's endorsement of any given policy at any given time, Clinton's new Sanders-inspired proposals were often at direct odds with positions she'd previously expressed on the same issues.

--Bernie Sanders introduced his plan for free tuition at state colleges and universities in May 2015. Three months later, in August, Clinton proposed a significantly watered-down (and pretty awful) version of it. A year after that, during the general election campaign, she introduced another new one, one that was a lot closer to the proposal Sanders had made from the very beginning.

--Sanders had long opposed the Keystone XL pipeline. In 2010, Clinton said she was "inclined to" support it. Sanders used the issue against her on the campaign trail and in Sept. 2015, she suddenly turned against it.

--Sanders had always opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clinton helped create it, called it the “gold standard” of trade deals, pimped it for years then, as Sanders was criticizing her on it, cynically came out against it only in October 2015.

--During the 2008 presidential race, Clinton had opposed raising the cap on earnings for Social Security and had repeatedly attacked then-candidate Barack Obama for proposing this. Sanders has always supported raising the cap and favors expanding the program. As usual, Clinton opted to peddle a watered-down version of the latter, extending some minor benefits, and promised only to "protect" the program from Republicans. Sanders criticized her and by April 2016, she'd half-heartedly come around to supporting raising the cap.

--Sanders called for a $15/hour minimum wage from his first major presidential campaign event. "The minimum wage must become a living wage," he said in May, "which means raising it to $15 an hour over the next few years." At her first major campaign rally--three weeks after that--Clinton called for raising the minimum wage but didn't say how high. When, at the end of July, she finally suggested a number, it was yet again diminished Sanders: she endorsed legislation to raise it to $12/hour. "Let's not just do it for the sake of having a higher number out there,” she said, offering her usual triangulation tactic, "but let's get behind a proposal that actually has a chance of succeeding." Then in November, she began flat-out saying she supported $12, but out of the other side of her mouth, she offered a friendly tweet to the Fight For 15 campaign, the goal of which was a $15 minimum wage. Leaked Democratic emails later revealed the cynical behind-the-scenes calculations that went into the tweet, Clinton trying to reap the political benefit of siding with Fight For 15 without actually endorsing its goal. That same cynical calculation underpinned Clinton's evolving statements on the matter; as she began to say $15 was simply too high in some places in the U.S. and would be economically harmful and to insist she supported localities raising their minimum wage above the $12 federal level she favored--a convenient view for a would-be president whose potential office would play no role in such local matters. In April 2016, she introduced a new position. At a Democratic debate, she was asked if she, as president, would sign a $15 minimum wage if congress passed it. "Well, of course I would," she insisted, and then offered a master-class in multi-mawed mendacity in which she suggested she'd always supported $15. "That's what I will do as president, go as quickly as possible to get to 15... [I]f we have a Democratic congress, we will go to 15!"

--Back in 2008, Clinton attacked then-candidate Barack Obama as soft on crime because of his criticism of harsh mandatory minimum sentences (which, up to then, she herself had either supported or opposed depending entirely on which day she was asked). In 2015, when Sanders argued for simply eliminating such sentences, Clinton found religion on the issue and came out in favor of reducing them.

--In the new excerpts, Clinton specifically writes of a "bold infrastructure investment plan" she introduced, "then Bernie would announce basically the same thing, but bigger." The facts: Sanders introduced his infrastructure investment plan, the "Rebuild America Act," in Jan. 2015, a few months before he officially entered the presidential race. The Act aimed to spend $1 trillion over 5 years on much-needed infrastructure improvements. It was over 10 months later, at the end of November, before Clinton finally got around to introducing her own infrastructure investment plan. And--stop me if you've heard this before--it was another scaled-down take on Sanders' own, spending only $275 billion over 5 years.

Examples of this are legion, significant examples of Sanders doing the opposite, as Clinton now describes, are non-existent. As the primary season unfolded, Clinton even started trying to copy Sanders' angry populist tone, a radical departure from her usual comportment that was noted by multiple media outlets at the time. This was her primary-season persona: Sanders Reduced.

It's worth noting that how this translated in a political environment in which people want the Sanders policies was as a barrage of defeatist rhetoric feeding an uninspiring campaign of diminished expectations aimed at squashing the energizing hope-and-change candidate then arising and being carried out by a politician who, on the first day she entered the race, was already disliked by more of the public than liked her. This blended with the notion, well-cultivated by the Clinton camp, of Clinton's inevitability to drive down interest in the Democratic contest. Clinton couldn't draw a crowd--often had trouble filling high-school gymnasiums. "Over the last year, in at least a dozen states," reported NBC in May 2016, "Clinton has dedicated hours and hours to events so small that members of the media often match or outnumber the attendees." Ratings for the Democratic debates were a joke compared to the Republicans (though that was partially engineered by the DNC in collaboration with the Clinton campaign). Turnout for Democratic primaries and caucuses was down. Facing an opponent who started the race as a virtual unknown and with the underhanded assistance of a Democratic National Committee intent on keeping him that way, Clinton mostly just skated to victory on name-recognition and Establishment connections, drawing the votes of older Democratic die-hards in mostly poorly-attended contests and the backing of the party good ol' boys club, the anti-democratic superdelegate contingent.

That, one suspects, won't be going into Clinton's book.

This, on the other hand, is in it:

"Throughout the primaries, every time I wanted to hit back against Bernie's attacks, I was told to restrain myself. Noting that his plans didn't add up, that they would inevitably mean raising taxes on middle-class families, or that they were little more than a pipe dream--all of this could be used to reinforce his argument that I wasn't a true progressive. My team kept reminding me that we didn’t want to alienate Bernie's supporters. President Obama urged me to grit my teeth and lay off Bernie as much as I could. I felt like I was in a straitjacket."

Another instance of Clinton blaming others and refusing to own her own decisions--her underlings and President Obama put her in a straightjacket--and for anyone who actually lived through the 2016 campaign, the idea that Clinton ever showed any restraint in her handling of Sanders is just ludicrous. She and her surrogates disregarded nearly every ethical consideration[4] in throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him. A few items:

--Sanders, the life-long feminist, faced a constant barrage of accusations that he was actually a sexist and that his supporters were just a bunch of sexists too, dubbed "Bernie Bros," in a bit of garbage recycled from Clinton's 2008 campaign (when Obama supporters, charged with the same offense, were labeled "Obama Boys").

--Sanders the life-long champion of civil rights, was race-baited, said to be only a candidate of white males who disregarded minorities. At perhaps the lowest point of the campaign, John L. Lewis, civil rights legend and Clinton surrogate, suggested that Sanders hadn't really participated in the civil rights struggle at all and that the Clintons had--both assertions entirely fictional (Lewis apparently had an attack of conscience and quickly walked back these comments).[5]

--The Clintonites red-baited Sanders, following the noxious lead of the likes of Breitbart and the New York Post.

--Clinton falsely accused Sanders of supporting all manner of deplorable causes and legislation. When Sanders advocated a universal healthcare plan, Clinton insisted Sanders wanted to repeal Medicare, Obamacare and other health policies and leave those negatively impacted by this with nothing so he could start over and try to pass his own plan, one over which she falsely insisted he would allow Republican governors a veto.

--Sanders' supporters were falsely accused of carrying out a violent, chair-throwing riot at the Nevada Democratic convention, a lie spread throughout the press by the Clinton-supporting chief of the Democratic National Committee, who added, as her own touch, the false suggestion that Sanders hadn't condemned any and all violence.

--The Clinton camp fed oppo research personally attacking Sanders to sympathetic press outlets, which then published the material under the premise that if Sanders were to win the nomination, this is what Republicans would use against him.

--At one point, the Clinton camp launched a campaign aimed at presenting Sanders as unqualified to be president, then when Sanders responded, the Clinton camp and its sympathetic press outlets came down on him like a ton of bricks, claiming Sanders had called Clinton unqualified.

--While Sanders ran an issues campaign free of sleaze, part of the Clinton camp's attack on him was to propagate the laughable fiction that Sanders was running a very negative campaign against Clinton. In January, Clinton dispatched aide Joel Benenson to assert that Sanders was "running the most negative campaign of any Democratic presidential candidate" in history! He offered a fantasy version of the Sanders campaign wallowing in personal attacks. "He's out on the campaign trail every day raising issues about her personally, her character." In March, Benenson was at it again, claiming the Sanders campaign had "spent about $4 million on negative ads... This is a man who said he'd never run a negative ad, ever. He's running them. They're planning to run more... [H]e's running a very negative campaign against us." In reality, Sanders had run no negative ads at all, and, in fact, never ran one.[6] (Clinton also vowed never to run negative ads, then she and her surrogates ran anti-Sanders ads throughout the campaign). Among Clinton cultists, the image of Sanders running a very negative campaign against Clinton persists to this day.

--In the book excerpts, Clinton complains that "some of his [Sanders'] supporters, the so-called Bernie Bros, took to harassing my supporters online. It got ugly and more than a little sexist." Clintonites have turned that charge of "sexism" into a daily attack, thrown around as ubiquitously as some rightists use "socialist" and applied to anything and everything until it's just as meaningless (and, more importantly, just as much a hindrance of any serious discussion of actual sexism as the "socialist" nonsense is to talk of actual socialism).[7] That one's supporters are allegedly harassed online isn't a serious grievance--anyone who has outspoken political views and participates in discussions of them on the internet gets the same treatment--but the reason this Clinton complaint is worthy of note is because there was only one campaign in 2016 that was actively fielding a massive army of internet trolls whose job was to harass supporters of the other candidate: Clinton's own. Super PACs can accept unlimited donations but are legally barred from coordinating with political candidates, which, in practice, is usually a big joke that's practically never properly enforced but Correct The Record, David Brock's Clintonite troll operation, boldly skirted campaign finance laws and openly collaborated with the candidate to attack her opponent's online supporters. Given Clinton's complaint, the CTR trolls probably aren't going to make it into her book either.

Clinton's current effort to consign her constant resort to this sort of slimy fuckery to the same Memory Hole as her triangulation-driven mimicry of Sanders is an example of the same ethical bankruptcy that led her to carry on in such a way in the first place. While Clinton was wallowing in this slime, Sanders ran a principled campaign based on issues. While Clinton wanted to be president for no other reason than simply a narcissist's desire to be president,[8] Sanders had the most ambitious agenda of any pol since the '60s. Sanders said right from the beginning that he considered Clinton a friendly acquaintance and wasn't going to run a negative campaign of personal attacks against her. It's a policy he followed to his own significant detriment (because if he'd actually gone after Clinton, he would probably be president today). When he criticized Clinton, he was pointing to legitimate disagreements he had with her.

Clinton insisted on treating one of those disagreements as merely some sort of personal attack, a theme to which she returns in these new excerpts. "Because we agreed on so much," she writes, "Bernie couldn’t make an argument against me in this area on policy," this area being campaign finance, "so he had to resort to innuendo and impugning my character... When I finally challenged Bernie during a debate to name a single time I changed a position or a vote because of a financial contribution, he couldn’t come up with anything."

The key theme of Sanders' entire campaign was the desperate need to reform the corrupt bribery-and-donor-service system that so completely dominates politics and government. A few years ago, Wall Street, a particularly generous financier of politicians, spectacularly crashed the U.S. economy, dragging America to the verge of ruin, and not only were none of the responsible parties ever prosecuted, the subsequent efforts at regulatory reform were watered down to uselessness. There's nothing in place today to prevent the malefactors from doing exactly the same thing again. That's a problem. And the even bigger problem is the power of Wall Street over the state that allows for that, and that's the kind of power, wielded by a vast plethora of entrenched interests far beyond just the financial sector, that Bernie Sanders was directly challenging.

Hillary Clinton's largest campaign contributor was Wall Street. Moreover, the Clintons have, for decades, been key figures in moving the Democratic party toward embracing the bribery-and-donor-service system. Like Bill before her, Hillary's entire political career had been spent aggressively raising money from oligarchs with deep pockets and vested interests in government policy.

Sanders, by contrast, was funding his campaign with small donations from ordinary people, averaging $27. The reason he attracted such a large and enthusiastic following is because he was passionately advocating a slate of issues that were very popular but that weren't being properly represented in the allegedly democratic political process. In January 2016, after months of various press outlets insisting Sanders was selling a way-out-there assemblage of radical ideas, Mitch Clark and I undertook what we intended to be as comprehensive a survey as anyone had ever done of the polling data on Sanders' major issues. We found that on almost every item, the Sanders' view had not only majority public support but usually overwhelming support, often even drawing majority support from Republicans.

These progressive issues are what people want, that thing that's supposed to matter in a democracy. They're winners; the numbers are very clear on that point. The biggest reason every Democratic pol hasn't embraced them long ago is all the money poured into the process by the oligarchs, who are opposed to them and who buy the pols to game the system in their own favor at everyone else's expense.

Sanders challenged the oligarchs' right to rule over our politics in this manner and as a part of that, challenged Clinton on her close association with those oligarchs, particularly Wall Street. Clinton talked about getting tough on Wall Street on the campaign trail, particularly when she was trying to sound more like Sanders, but this is what was going on at the same time:
"Even as Hillary Clinton has stepped up her rhetorical assault on Wall Street, her campaign and allied super PACs have continued to rake in millions from the financial sector, a sign of her deep and lasting relationships with banking and investment titans.

"Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — more than 10 percent of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by The Washington Post.

"The contributions helped Clinton reach a fundraising milestone: By the end of 2015, she had brought in more money from the financial sector during her four federal campaigns than her ­husband did during his ­quarter-century political career.

"In all, donors from Wall Street and other financial services firms have given $44.1 million to support Hillary Clinton’s campaigns and allied super PACs"
Really sounds like someone preparing to get tough on critical Wall Street oversight, eh? And we're apparently also to believe these financial firms donate that kind of money because they see it as a patriotic duty. Or something. And the fact that they always seem to get their way when it comes to government policy, well, that's probably just a coincidence. When Clinton insists she'd never "changed a position or a vote because of a financial contribution," she's intentionally framing the issue in an absurdly narrow way. During the campaign, she took this even further and repeatedly suggested no one in government ever voted a certain way because of contributions, which is not only laughably false but undermines the entire case for campaign finance reform, a reform effort she claims, out of the other side of her mouth, to support. Clinton's narrow frame, it's also worth noting, isn't one Sanders ever advanced. Sanders made it very clear, whenever he would address this matter, that his critique wasn't about Hillary Clinton being owned by Big Money interests; it was about the entire government being dominated by such interests. If a congressman sits on a banking committee charged with oversight of banks, he gets huge contributions from banking. If he sits on one of the committees charged with regulating healthcare, he gets big donations from the healthcare industry. Those on the armed services committees are generously financed by the defense industry. The major interests give to both sides to cover their bets. That's how the system works and the problem with that is self-evident. If Clinton wasn't doing what those Wall Street firms wanted, they wouldn't be pouring all that money into her.

In that last equation, replace her name with that of nearly any elected official in government and for the donor, fill in whatever powerful interest one likes and therein lies the problem, a political system that has been hijacked by billionaires and special interests who spend whatever it takes to drown out the voices of ordinary Americans, one where big money has an outsized influence that has discouraged everyday Americans from participating in the political process, where hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate and special interest money buy elections and distort democracy, where government works for the wealthy and well-connected, not the people. And if all of that sounds familiar, it's all paraphrased or directly quoted from Hillary Clinton herself, on those occasions when she wasn't running around pretending as if those same concerns were illegitimate and just a personal smear against her and trying to undermine the entire premise of the campaign finance reform she had so long pretended to support.[9]

To note the obvious, there's no way to square Clinton's demagoguery regarding Sanders impugning her character with the years she's spent parroting this rhetoric, and the only way criticizing her own record during a primary campaign is somehow, as she insists, inappropriate is if one works from the premise that she was entitled to the nomination. As for her image, the public perception of the undue influence of money in politics and the general antipathy toward that influence has been well-established by pollsters; if Clinton was genuinely concerned about how she would be perceived, she wouldn't have spent so much of her life so enthusiastically participating in that system--something Sanders' crowd-funded campaign proved pols didn't have to do--or trying to undermine the effort to reform it. Sanders' "attacks," Clinton now whines, "caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump's 'Crooked Hillary' campaign." Presumably, Clinton's own decision to go out of her way to alienate progressives at every turn[10] wasn't, in her view, what made it "harder to unify" the party--though one can, on that complaint, add to the list of those Clinton blames the voters who weren't smart enough to realize she was entitled to their votes--and her compulsive lying, her extolling to her Wall Street cronies the merits of being a two-faced phony[11] and her conspiring with the Democratic National Committee to tilt the primary/caucus season in her favor while aggressively prostituting her potential future administration to every Big Money interest willing to drop a few hundred-thou in her collection-plate played no role in creating the "Crooked Hillary" campaign. Because Hillary is never responsible for anything.

I've written a lot about the ugly sense of entitlement that emanates from Clinton and her cult, and that entitlement is the beating heart of Clinton's attack on Sanders in these book excerpts. It's an attack we've often heard from her cult since the primary season itself, the notion that Sanders' entire campaign was illegitimate, a fraud, nothing more than a scam launched and carried out with ignoble motives that succeeded only in causing a lot of damage for no good reason. In her telling, Sanders wasn't honorably representing the views of a legitimate constituency. Instead, she insists she and Sanders had few real policy differences and he was just following her around like some malevolent imp peddling those bigger-and-louder "magic abs" copies of her own proposals and helping Republicans win. "[H]e isn’t a Democrat," she writes, offering up a tired, terminally out-of-touch line she's had her followers spewing for two years. "He didn't get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party." To a woman who begins with the premise that she was entitled to the presidency, how could it be otherwise?[12]

That's the subtext of everything in these recent excerpts: "How dare someone stand in the way of my coronation?" With Clinton, it's all about Clinton, always. This time, that could be her undoing. Some Democrats have fretted in recent days that the divisiveness of the text will only serve to reopen old wounds and to the extent that it has any influence, that's certainly true. In fact, it already has, as massive battles over the excerpts have broken out across social media. But consider this: Clinton has packaged for public consumption a divisive text, something that can do harm to her party[13] and to her professed causes--well, the causes she professes on some days--and is a gift to the Trumpanzee right, and it's all entirely self-serving; every significant assertion in these excerpts is either a direct lie or is such a complete misrepresentation that there isn't any point in making any distinction between it and a lie. It's a petty wrecking-ball that exists for no other purpose than to serve Clinton's narcissism. One can confidently predict it will completely destroy whatever positive place in history she may still have had prior to it; posterity never cherishes this kind of garbage. In the here-and-now, maybe it will just feed her cult and sow further division but maybe--just maybe--it will prove to be the camel-crippling straw that finally undoes her in the eyes of those more rational souls who have continued to want to extend to her a modicum of respect, finally showing them the  truth about this malignant creature and beginning the process of letting the name "Clinton" pass into its proper place in history as the future answer to a trivia question no one remembers.



 [1] Perhaps the best indicator is an extreme dislike of Bernie Sanders; polls show about 3% of Democrats have a strongly unfavorable view of the senator.

 [2] Trump had, within weeks of his election, already started holding what were billed as 2020 campaign rallies, opportunities to hear his followers scream his name and cheer him on, and he's devoted significant portions of every one of these events to both rehashing the dubious glories of his 2016 victory and to extended bouts of beta-male whining about the press, Democrats, anyone not cheering him on and how mean and unfair they all are to poor widdle him. This reached its latest crescendo of comicalness a few days ago when, at one of his rallies in Arizona, Trump opted to relitigate the outraged reaction to his disgraceful response to the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. White nationalists, Nazis, fascists had organized a rally in Charlottesville to protest the removal from public grounds of a statue of Robert E. Lee and one of the fascists had driven a car into a crowd of anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, murdering one and injuring many. Trump's initial response was to condemn both sides, as if there were two sides to such a thing. The furious reaction this provoked led Trump to eventually make a second statement in which, reading from a teleprompter remarks prepared for him, he finally condemned the fascists, but being made to speak ill of that portion of his fan-club was apparently more than he could stand; twenty-four hours later, he was walking it back and doubling down on his earlier comments, insisting that "very fine people" were marching with those fascists, ranting and raving about alleged violence from the "alt-left" and even repeating the fascists' rhetoric about "changing culture" re:the matter of the statue. At his Arizona rally a week later, Trump, as is his custom, decided to to whine about the furor his behavior caused. He complained about "truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories... I'm really doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are." And then he recounted at great length his statements on the matter. But while he brought the proceedings to a complete standstill for an extended period in order to read them aloud, he carefully left out all of the comments that had caused the uproar in the first place. The parallel to Clinton's book is, well...

 [3] The list of people and things Clinton has blamed for her loss has become quite lengthy; as a drinking game, it long ago hit deadly alcohol poisoning levels.

 [4] In one of the leaked Democratic emails, a DNC official contemplated putting out the (false) story that Sanders is an atheist. This, at least, was one line that was never crossed.

 [5] It's particularly odious that Lewis made those comments when he and several other black legislators had come out to support Clinton on the eve of the Democratic primary in South Carolina, a state with a large black population and that was then being looked at as a test of how Clinton was able to hold together that portion of the Obama coalition.

 [6] When Benenson made these particular remarks, Sanders was seeking further debates with the elusive Clinton, who was dragging her feet on agreeing to them, as usual, and I suppose one could interpret this nonsense as merely making a hostage of further debates and trying to use it to blackmail Sanders into shutting up.

 [7] The Clintonites have been doing the same thing with the charge of "racist" lately, using it against the progressive left--the one committed anti-racist political faction.

 [8] In "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign," Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes document the difficulty Clinton's team had in coming up with a way to sell a presidential bid that was based only on Clinton's desire to be president. "Hillary didn't have a vision to articulate," they write, "and no one else could give one to her." During a conference with her speechwriting team, "her marching orders were to find a slogan and a message. The absence of any talk about her actual vision for the country or the reasons voters should choose her stunned some of the participants. 'There was never any question, and no adviser prompted discussion of, "why you, why now?" one of them recalled." Allen and Parnes write of "a root problem that confounded everyone on the campaign and outside it. Hillary had been running for president for almost a decade and still didn't really have a rationale." The authors quote one of Clinton's top aides: "'I would have had a reason for running or I wouldn't have run.'"

[9] And Clinton is still full of shit on this matter: earlier this year, even as she announced she was writing the upcoming book, the one in which she repeats her demagoguery about Sanders impugning her integrity, she also announced she was founding a new dark-money group to pump into the system even more secret, unaccountable money from powerful interests looking to hijack the democracy--just about the last thing in the world American politics needs.

[10] Clinton went out of her way to alienate progressives at every turn. During the primary season, Rachel Maddow asked her what she'd be willing to grant the progressives to get their support and her answer was that she wouldn't give them anything; she went on a rant about how "I am winning!", going on about the extent to which she was winning, attacked Sanders and talked about how her views on issues were so much better than his and that's why she was winning and looked utterly disgusted that anyone would even suggest she needed to do anything to earn the votes of progressives--her entitlement mentality in all its ugly glory. While she and her surrogates were making a mantra of their talk about the need for unity, she chose Tim Kaine as her running mate over the furious objections of progressives. When Dirty Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign over the Wikileaks revelations about DNC efforts to tilt the primaries, Clinton immediately hired her into the campaign. Clinton’s general-election strategy was geared toward courting Republicans, spending her time in red states that would never vote for her, running ads aimed at attracting Republicans and touting endorsements of her campaign by a seemingly endless menagerie of rightist figures, even a war-criminal like John Negroponte (Clinton lobbied to get an endorsement by another right-wing war-criminal Henry Kissinger, who had, to her delight, endorsed her in the Democratic primaries, but he declined to endorse anyone in the general). Chuck Schumer openly asserted Democrats would be able to pick up Republicans to replace every Democratic vote they lost. Clinton burned every bridge she crossed then acted like an entitled child stamping her foot when some took offense at that.

[11] Shortly before she was officially a presidential candidate, Clinton had accepted six-figure speaking fees for speeches she'd given to Wall Street bigwigs. Sanders made an issue of it in the campaign and demanded she release the transcripts of those speeches. She stalled, tried to talk her way around the matter at every turn and refused to release them. Partial transcripts of them finally came to light after the primary season as part of the hacked Democratic emails released by Wikileaks. They were full of damaging information that probably would have sunk her primary campaign. Among them, she explained politicians need "both a public and a private position" on contentious issues in order to be successful.

[12] When he lost, Sanders endorsed her and even after all her shitty behavior and that of the DNC in league with her, he campaigned hard for her. She offers token gratitude to him for that ("I appreciate that he campaigned for me in the general election. But...") but this is how she actually thanks him.

[13] In the last, she gives us a direct mirror of what Trump and so much of the right tried to do to Obama via the birther "issue"; she presents the Democratic party as a tribe, wraps herself in its flag and insists Sanders is something alien and destructive to it:

"I appreciate that he campaigned for me in the general election. But he isn't a Democrat--that's not a smear, that's what he says. He didn't get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party... I think he was fundamentally wrong about the Democratic Party--the party that brought us Social Security under Roosevelt; Medicare and Medicaid under Johnson; peace between Israel and Egypt under Carter; broad-based prosperity and a balanced budget under Clinton; and rescued the auto industry, passed health care reform, and imposed tough new rules on Wall Street under Obama. I am proud to be a Democrat and I wish Bernie were, too."

In the real world, polls throughout this year have shown that Sanders enjoys around 80% support from Democrats. In order to alienize Sanders, Clintonites constantly harp on this idea that that Sanders "isn't a Democrat," which is so entirely out of touch with the political reality it's comical; at present, about 40% of Democrats--defined as those who always vote Democratic--identify themselves as independents.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A More Thoughtful Letter to an Angry Clintonite

Some recent comments by the Senate Democratic Leader has prompted Clintonite Hillary Schwartz to write "An Angry Letter To Chuck Schumer," in which she asserts that the New York Senator has thrown Hillary Clinton under the bus. Her subject line: "When You Throw Hillary Clinton Under the Bus, You Throw Millions of Her Supporters Under It Too, Especially Women." A brief response:

Get over yourself. When you assert, "I speak for millions of women," you’re not going to get--or earn--anything but ridicule from anyone worthy of being taken seriously. To clear the air on the subject under discussion, this is the allegedly terrible thing Chuck Schumer said:

"'When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia--you blame yourself,' Schumer (D-N.Y.) told The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe and David Weigel. 'So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.'"

That’s not riding some wave of "Hillary hate"; it’s what's known as taking responsibility. For Clintonites who have never learned about that, it's what adults do when they screw up, as Democrats have so royally screwed up in recent years.

Now, if it's any consolation, Schumer is probably just putting on a show when it comes to reform. For the moment, he can tell which way the wind's blowing but if he were serious, he would have offered a much more forthright acknowledgement of the colossal mistake that was Clinton and, more broadly, Clintonism, as embraced by Obama.

You write:
"Unfortunately, you are following the lead of Bernie Sanders whose outreach on behalf of the Party is 'Democrats suck.' That is not a winning pitch, other than for him."
Unfortunately for you, we have numbers on this and they tell a very different story. From the big Harvard/Harris survey:

This is a couple months out of date at this point but I have the graphic handy and the numbers haven't changed that much since. On the other hand, the numbers have changed a great deal since your talking-points were minted around 2 years ago. Bernie Sanders enjoys massive support among Democrats. You play the usual game of pretending as if Sanders was just the candidate of middle-class white guys; these numbers correct that. In the same poll, he's not only more popular with women than with men, he's significantly more popular with women than Hillary Clinton (Sanders has 58% support among women, Clinton only 45%). He's even more popular among those who voted for Clinton than Clinton herself (81% of Clinton voters say they have a favorable view of Sanders vs. 76% with a similar view of Clinton). So you're not actually speaking for anyone when it comes to this pointless hypersensitivity about Democrats taking any responsibility for their mistakes. You talk about having been "thrilled to vote for HRC" but HRC was hated by most people--on election week, she was polling at 55% unfavorable. You're complaining about Schumer allegedly rolling over the Democratic base but this is the Democratic base, and you’re not representative of it.

Democrats have been brought to one of their lowest levels in the very long history of the party. Doing nothing isn't an option. Sanders' message isn't "Democrats suck." It's that Democrats need to proactively embrace a progressive agenda. That's not only entirely sensible, it's essential for Democrats if they ever want to dig themselves out of the very deep hole in which they find themselves at the moment.[1]

Like so many Clintonites, you freely assign nefarious motives to Sanders with absolutely nothing to support your claims--the ludicrous notion that he's "not interested" in helping the party and is merely "playing both sides of the fence… to boost himself." Sanders has a progressive agenda he's pursued significantly longer than most people reading these words today have even lived. If, after all that time, he hasn't proven that agenda is the thing to which he’s committed, no one has ever proven such a thing of themselves. Sanders wants the Democratic party to reform so it can win and enact that agenda. Said agenda is incredibly popular, enjoying not only overwhelming support within the Democratic party but widespread support from the general public. Some good news for those who want it: Sanders is also the most popular politician in the U.S. at the moment. No positive purpose is served in smearing him with this garbage and no end is served except to harm the progress of that agenda. Donald Trump and his Trumpanzees will certainly appreciate that. No one of good conscience should offer it a moment's kind thought.

Here are the facts of life: Clinton was not only a bad candidate, she was an historically bad one who launched her campaign when polls were already showing more people disliked than liked her, ran one of the all-time awful campaigns and lost to the most unpopular major-party presidential candidate in the history of polling. She and those who supported her--and Schumer himself was a key member of Team Clinton--have saddled us with Trump. Democrats are now looking to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild. You can be a part of that process or write things like your "open letter," which is basically a declaration that you're part of the problem instead. Choose wisely. This time.



[1] You write:
"I understand the urgency of having a more cohesive and strong economic message, as well as boosting support, but how about surrounding it with an overall positive message by going straight to the plans that the Democrats have and what the Democrats have and are fighting for? Must you do an anti-sell with the sell?"
Despite your implication, Schumer and the congressional Democrats are already rolling out the broad outlines of that positivist economic message. It's still early days, so somewhat sketchy and experience has dictated one should be fairly cynical about the commitment of these Democratic leaders to any genuine reform but at least on paper, they’re making steps in the right direction. Your suggestion that they simply not address what got them to their present sorry state is a non-starter.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Exposing Faux-Progressive Clintonite’s Latest Anti-Sanders Scam

Another piece from Medium: In my last few months on Medium, I've frequently challenged the claims of a clique of hardcore Clintonites who seem to be fairly concentrated here. Essentially a cult of personality built around Clinton herself, the writers of this clique are intent on perpetually scourging both Bernie Sanders and progressives in the name of Hillary Clinton. Because Clinton herself sometimes posed as a progressive, this scourging is, perversely, often even done in the name of progressivism.

In the latter category falls "Progressivism: Bernie's Doing It Wrong," the latest screed by Val Perry (previously, Val Perry Rendel). Perry is an obsessed Clintonite crackpot, if not the worst on Medium certainly the most unhinged. Her view of Clinton: "We love her... she's goddamn brilliant and fearless and formidable and terrifying." I first came across Perry in April, in an ugly rant entitled "Fuck Bernie Fucking Sanders" in which she expressed her venomous, completely irrational hatred of Sanders and his supporters and declared her intention to make ceaseless war on both until they go away. She ended with a statement of the principle that would guide her in the conduct of this war: "See you on the low road." I dismantled that article and some others that followed. Those debunkings have mostly occurred secondhand, as Perry blocked me pretty quickly, something she seems to do to any more-than-semi-articulate critic.

Perry is a loon, a demagogue and as congenital a liar as the "President" she claims to despise,[1] all traits on display to various degrees in her new piece, which sees her spinning up a new variation on a tactic Clinton used during the Democratic primary campaign. Boring background stuff: The appropriations bills that fund the federal government are massive and contain thousands of items. When congress considers them, amendments are added and taken away, deals are cut, compromises are made, items both good and bad end up attached to them and at the end, congressmen and senators must vote yea or nay on the entire package, each member having to decide whether the good in them outweighs the bad. Hillary Clinton was a senator--she knows how this works. Despite that, she would, in commenting on Bernie Sanders' congressional record, dig through those massive appropriations bills, pull out one item and insist Sanders had voted for or against that item based on his vote on the entire package of which it was a part. Even as sycophantish a pro-Clinton outlet as the Washington Post condemned Clinton for this practice.

By this method, Perry, in her latest trip down the low road, sets out to prove Sanders isn't really a progressive, a theme she's hit in the past.[2] She provides a list of all the alleged anti-progressive things Sanders has done while in congress. Relevant here is the fact that Perry aggressively blocks articulate critics of her material; while she provides links for each item on her list, she relies on her adoring readers not to check them. If one looks into them, one finds that same Clinton-style scam from last year. Perry's assertion that Sanders "opposed legislation banning imports from forced child labor," for example, leads one to an appropriations bill from 1998 that funded the entire Treasury Department. The claim that Sanders "opposed allowing breastfeeding on federal grounds" leads to the Treasury Department appropriation for 2000. Perry Reader Daniel Sullivan pointed out that, in reality, Sanders stands up for women who breastfeed in public. Sanders has championed banning the importation of products from forced child labor for years.

Anyone who goes looking for anti-progressive votes by Sanders isn't going to come up with much and in silent recognition of this, Perry carries Clinton's tactic further and pads her own list with the same item repeatedly. Follow this: Perry's claim that Sanders "opposed federal funding to help the homeless," that he "opposed additional funding for rural housing and development," that he "opposed funding for assisting prospective homeowners with AIDS," that he "opposed legislation requiring federal agencies to create and enforce anti-sex discrimination politics," that he "opposed funding going towards investigations of unfair trade practices," that he "opposed increased education funding," that he opposed "increased funding for poor students," that he "opposed legislation increasing financial aid," that he "opposed increased agricultural funding,” that he "opposed increased funding for prominent farming communities," that he "opposed funding for drought assistance" and that he "opposed increased food safety and inspection"--all of these claims--are all based on a single Sanders vote against a single appropriations bill from 2003. There are 29 items on Perry's list and that one vote accounts for 12 of them. The claims that Sanders "opposed increased funding for nutritional programs for women, infants and children" and "opposed legislation marketing overseas agricultural practices" (how's that for a big progressive issue, eh?) are, likewise, based on a single vote on a single Agriculture Department funding bill from 1995.

Perry also includes Sanders' proposal that the U.S. withdraw from the World Trade Organization. The WTO is, of course, another of those grant-superpowers-to-multinationals orgs--Sanders proposal there was a progressive one. It's noteworthy that this is the sole item on the list wherein Perry deals with something Sanders has proposed; everything else is just assertions about things he allegedly opposed, which seems a rather curious way to judge the credentials of a progressive.

I’ve referred to this as Perry's list but while publishing it under her name, she doesn't actually take responsibility for it. Instead, she asserts "someone has compiled his [Sanders'] list of greatest hits, reproduced here for your edification." The "someone" is unnamed. Looking over what I've just covered here, readers can make of that what they will.

Perry's central thesis in this piece, that Sanders isn't a progressive, is, of course, ludicrous. A short trip over to Vote Smart will reveal to the uninitiated that Sanders has sterling ratings from liberal interest groups and exceptionally poor ones from their conservative counterparts.[3] Among other things, Sanders has gotten a 95%-100% liberal rating--usually 100%--from Americans For Democratic Action every year since 1996, with the exception of 2011 (when he was at 80%). At the same time, he holds a whopping 6% career score from ADA's rightist counterpart, the American Conservative Union. Zipping over to Progressive Punch, one finds Sanders has a 96.96% progressive rating.[4] By any serious estimation, he's one of the most progressive members of either house of congress and has been for the entirety of his stay there and Perry's assertion to the contrary is sheer crackpotism.



[1] While I deal with a few specifics here and in my other rebuttals aimed at her, one must, to get the full flavor of her mania, read her.

[2] And she goes about it in pretty much the same way she has in the past, accusing Sanders, in her opening, of "telling black folks they don't know what's best for 'em," of "dismissing racial justice as 'identity politics'" and of "throwing abortion rights down the toilet." And, of course, Sanders has done none of those things. Sanders was dismissive of Southern states during the primary/caucus campaign--the basis for Perry's claim regarding "black folks"--because those states are overly conservative and don't contribute anything toward a general-election win. Sanders has stood for racial justice all of his life. On abortion, Sanders holds a 100% lifetime record from both Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

[3] The usual caveat about interest-group ratings: they're always framed to make their own players look better. "Better" is relative though, whereas Sanders' ratings are impeccable.

[4] I'm not a fan of Progressive Punch's system, which is convoluted and built on very questionable premises.