29 September 2015

Recommend serious study of roundabouts for improved traffic flow at key No Ho intersections.

Hon. Paul Krekroian
LA City Council

Dear Mr. Krekorian:

I would like to suggest that serious study be made of the efficacy and advisability of installing roundabouts, initially at two key intersections in your district. Studies have shown that roundabouts, especially at 3-street intersections, significantly INCREASE traffic flow, and REDUCE accidents. They are in widespread use in the Greater Boston area, for example, and in some locales in West Coast states as well, although not nearly as much as they should be. Mistimed traffic lights, gridlock caused by inadequate left turn lanes, etc. are serious traffic impediments in the Valley, and where you have 3 arteries coming together, the delays can be quite substantial.

The intersections where this should be seriously considered as soon as possible are Vineland/Camarillo/Lankershim and Tujunga/Camarillo/Riverside. In both of these locations, there is obviously plenty of room to build 2-lane abreast roundabouts to replace the current traffic light-controlled intersections. This is both a question of improved traffic flow and improved public safety, and on both issues the roundabout solution promises to deliver significant improvement.

Thank you. The favor of a response would be appreciated.
♦ David Studhalter

25 September 2015

CNN Poll today New Hampshire Democratic Primary, Sanders ahead by 16 points

CNN Poll results released today, 9/25/2015


CNN Poll results released today, 9/25/2015

Democratic Primary, New Hampshire • Only identified Democratic voters polled


Bernie Sanders


Hillary Clinton


Joe Biden


Martin O'Malley


Lincoln Chafee


Lawrence Lessig




Sanders "favorable"  78%

Clinton "favorable"    67%

ratic Primary, New Hampshire


Bernie Sanders


Hillary Clinton


Joe Biden


Martin O'Malley


Lincoln Chafee


Lawrence Lessig




Sanders "favorable"  78%

Clinton "favorable"    67%

What Sanders stands for and how conventional wisdom on his chances to succeed may just be WRONG

I realize that some of my farflung correspondents are not Sanders supporters, and, of course, that is up to them. But in case anyone is just not quite sure just exactly what Sanders stands for (even though he is probably clearer on his issue positions than any recent candidate for high office)... or thinks maybe he has great ideas, but there's "no way" he could get elected, I implore you to take the time to take a look at these 2 links.

Even if you are inclined to support Clinton or some other candidate, you owe it to yourself to at least be informed about what is driving the Sanders insurgency.

Thank you.

Proof of Republican essential nihilism

​I offer as proof of the essential NIHILISM of Republicans Boehner's statement, in announcing that he's pulling a Palin and cutting and running, that he is "proud of what this Majority has accomplished" during his five year tenure. Proud of accomplishing exactly NOTHING? What more proof do you need that all Republicans really stand for is hatred of government and preference for unconstrained exploitation and extraction of wealth by the few while everyone else is left to try to pick up the pieces, while the nation and its historic strength decline and disintegrate. Then these despicable people have the nerve to say THEY are the patriots.​

24 September 2015

Pope's remarks to US Lawmakers today

 "If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort."

—Pope Francis, 9/24/15, addressing US Congress, as widely quoted by
Bernie Sanders,
​ ​
2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate​

22 September 2015

Hillary Clinton opposes Keystone XL

Credit where due, although I must say this is a no-brainer and I suspect Clinton's position depends as much on measurement of the political winds as principle, if not moreso. The reality is that we must, as a civilization, move as rapidly as is feasible away from all forms of fossil carbon use. Programs to accomplish this should be the most important priority of every industrialized nation's government, until it is complete. The construction of the Keystone pipeline would have been sheer madness.

Supporting Sanders or not, you should read this: MOMENT OF TRUTH FOR DEMOCRATS

Apropos, if Clinton wants to prove to Democrats that SHE is the best candidate, she needs to step up and start telling us in detail what HER policy agenda would be. (Obviously, I am a Bernie guy, but I can look at the bigger picture too).

20 September 2015

A Liberty University Alumnus responds to Bernie Sander's speech at his Alma Mater

• This is an example of why I believe Bernie Sanders, if he manages to get the Democratic nomination, will easily win election as President. He appeals to many who you might not think would even consider supporting a Democratic Socialist who supports a woman's right to control her own body and true Universal Healthcare.

​Hi my name is Jim. I am the guy who recently posted onto Reddit under the Sanders4President Subreddit that I'm a Liberty University Alumni, and that I support Bernie, and think that he's a good spokesman for justice.

I thought I would take a second to, sort of, unpack that, because I could tell there's a lot of people, both Evangelical conservative folk and more liberal Bernie-supporting folk, who are very confused that I could occupy both worlds. So, I thought, I'll take a few seconds and explain myself, and maybe that will be helpful for the conversation.

So a little bit about me. I am not a current student at Liberty. If I was, I actually wouldn't have been able to post onto that Reddit board and say that I'm supporting Bernie. There is an Honor Code at Liberty University, and while it's not always enforced, if you support a candidate who is pro-choice or pro-gay marriage, you can be punished by the University, up to and including expulsion from the school. So as a graduate of Liberty University, I'm in a good position to represent folks that might go there and people from the Evangelical tradition, but not be within the world that they can, you know, punish me for my opinion.

So I got my Bachelors degree in Religion from Liberty University, and I also got my Masters degree from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. In 2004 I worked for the George W. Bush campaign. I spent about 8 years as a Conservative pastor. And also as a schoolteacher at a conservative Christian academy. And today I serve my community as a therapist and also a pastoral counselor, somebody that folks from churches might go see to get counseling whenever they want to see somebody who's both a clinical counselor but also a pastor.

So I serve all those roles. I think I'm pretty much a card-carrying Evangelical Christian. I still subscribe to a conservative evangelical theology. And what that means, a lot of people get confused when they hear the word 'conservative,' they assume you mean politically. 'Conservative theology' means that I believe the Bible is trustworthy, I think that God inspired it, Jesus was absolutely real, and really died on the cross, and really did resurrect three days later; and I am an Evangelical Christian in that way.

So, how did I come to find myself supporting Bernie Sanders? How did that evolution take place? How could it be that in 2004 I was working for the George W. Bush campaign, and today in 2015, as a double Liberty University graduate, under Jerry Falwell—when I went to school, Jerry Falwell was the Chancellor—how is it that I could be now supporting Bernie Sanders, who's a very progressive, very liberal guy; he describes himself as a 'democratic socialist.' How do I find common ground on those two things?

Well a lot of people I think falsely believe that in order to do that you have to give up one of your sides. Either you have to not really be a progressive, and you're just an Evangelical who just likes Bernie, or you have to not really be an Evangelical, and just secretly be a Progressive who's faking it and pretending to be an Evangelical, but wouldn't actually pass the litmus test of being an Evangelical.

I pass both tests, I am very much 100% legitimate in both camps, and I want to explain why that's not a mythological thing, that's not a disconnect. Some people call that a contradiction, or hypocrisy, it is absolutely not. I believe that my views are 100% consistent. And so I think that the shock value for that comes in beginning to appreciate that the Bible and Jesus, in my opinion and in my very moderate reading of the Bible and the words of Christ, leads us to a Progressive worldview. And that is shocking to a lot of people, especially folks back home in the Evangelical community, they hear that and go, "What are you talking about? That's heresy—" it's like, hold on. Hear me out. There is a Biblical argument for voting for Bernie Sanders, believe it or not, and I'm gonna walk you through it really quick on some key issues.

So that first issue that I'd kind of point your attention to is kind of what Bernie brought up during his speech at Liberty. Basically, the wealth inequality problem—and see a lot of us, on the Evangelical side think that what Jesus really cares about is gay marriage and abortion. And of course, the great irony is if you read the red letters of Jesus, there are no statements on abortion. There are no statements on gay marriage. Now, that's not to say the Bible doesn't speak about these things, but it certainly is to say that Jesus, founder and master of our faith, did not see fit to make these high-priority topics. It's not to say he doesn't care. But it is to say that we need to be careful not to 'major on minors.' We should be focused on the things Jesus did talk about.

So what did Jesus talk about?

So here's the interesting thing. When I was watching Bernie Sanders talk at Liberty University, I was just really shocked, and something kind of magical happened for me, because as I watched that guy stand up on that stage, here's what I saw. I saw a wild-haired Jew crying out in a hoarse voice, in a very forceful and forth-speaking way, he was convicting the Christian leaders and religious leaders in that University and calling us out for being complicit in the abandonment of those who suffer: "The least of these." And siding with the powerful and the rich and the masters of this world. And he was convicting us, and calling us out. And we scorned him, and we stared him down, and with sour faces we thought, "Who is this whacko? And why do all these people seem to follow him, seem to like him? This wild-haired Jew, crying out from the wilderness of the political Left, in his hoarse voice?"

And if you're an Evangelical listening to me today, you already know where I'm going with this. When I heard Bernie speaking in that way, when I saw that guy on stage at Liberty University, I saw John the Baptist. I saw the wild-haired, roughly-clothed John the Baptist, eating honey and wearing camel's hair, and crying out to the religious leaders, the Pharisees of his day, calling them corrupt and complicit with those who have all the power and all the money and all the wealth, and for abandoning the people that God loves, that God cares about. For the Pharisees, who were siding with those who already have power and wealth and saying that they will be the last in the Kingdom of God, and that the weak, and the meek, and the simple, and those who need help—they are first in the Kingdom of God.

And I saw that guy, that John the Baptist figure, who is standing up and saying "There is coming a messenger, there is coming a messenger who will bring equity and justice to the poor, and to the weak, and who will stand for 'the least of these.'" That's the wild-haired Jew that I saw up on that stage. I saw, and felt, the same voice coming from the Bible when I read about John the Baptist, who cried out in the desert to the Pharisees, warning them that Jesus was coming, the messenger of God. And that he was coming to restore justice, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and to value 'the least of these' when the Pharisees had failed.

And as I heard Bernie talking, and as I listened to his cries for justice, I remembered, suddenly, what Jesus had actually said in the Book of Luke, when he unravels the scroll in the synagogue, and he quotes the Book of Isaiah, which says that the Son of God was coming. And then he says, "This has been fulfilled in your presence here today." He quotes the book of Isaiah which says that the Son of God is coming to bring justice, and Jesus says "it is now come to pass in your presence." And he says, "I have come to bring Gospel to the poor."

Gospel—is that word we Evangelical Christians have based everything on. Gospel means 'good news.' And Jesus said "I have come to bring good news to the poor." To restore sight to the blind, to stand with the suffering, to set the captives free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.


As I heard Bernie Sanders crying out to the religious leaders at Liberty University, in his hoarse voice, with his wild hair, this Jew, and he proclaimed justice over us. He called us to account for being complicit with those who are wealthy and those who are powerful and for abandoning the poor, 'the least of these' who Jesus said he had come to bring good news to. And in that moment, something occurred to me, as I saw Bernie Sanders up there, as I watched him I realized: Bernie Sanders, for President, is good news for the poor. Bernie Sanders for President is good news for the poor. Bernie Sanders is Gospel for the poor. And Jesus said, "I have come to bring Gospel—good news—to the poor."

And lightning hit my heart in that moment. And I realized that we are Evangelical Christians, that we believe the Bible. We believe in Jesus. We absolutely shun those who attempt to find nuance and twisted and tortured interpretation of scripture that they would use to master all other broader interpretations, to find some kind of big message that they want to flout. We absolutely scorn such things. And yet somehow, we commit to the mental gymnastics necessary that allows us to abandon 'the least of these,' to abandon the poor, to abandon the immigrants, to abandon those who are in prison. I listened to Bernie Sanders, as he said he wanted to welcome the immigrants and give them dignity. As he said he wanted to care for the sick children, and mothers, and fathers, who do not have health care. As he said he wanted to decrease the amount of human beings who are corralled like cattle in the prisons. As he said he wanted to do justice for those who have nothing and live homeless. And I remembered the words of Jesus, who warned his disciples that there will be judgment, and on that day he will look to his friends, and he will say 'Blessed are you, for you cared for me, for I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick, and you cared for me; I was hungry, and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was in prison, and you came to visit me; I was homeless, and you gave me shelter." And the disciples said, "Jesus, when did we do any of those things for you?" And he said, "If you have done it for 'the least of these,' you have done it for me."

And those words echoed in my heart. As I listened to that crazy, hoarse-voiced, wild-haired Jew, standing in front of the religious leaders of the Evangelical movement, calling us to account, as a Jew once did before. Telling us that he intends to care for 'the least of these.' To clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick, to set the prisoners free.

Yes. I am an Evangelical Christian. I believe in the Bible. I follow Jesus. When I look at Bernie Sanders, and I hear the things that he's saying, it's like he's ripping them out of the pages of scripture. I would have to try to avoid the meaning of those words. I would have to bury my head in the sand to continue to support conservative policies. I am religiously conservative but I am not politically so. And I think here is the heart and soul of it:

When we chose to follow Jesus, we decided that the Kingdom of God, and the men and women and children of this world, were more important than us. And that accidentally made us all liberals. The day we decided to follow Christ, and the day we decided that we value other human beings more than ourselves, we accidentally became liberals.

And so there is no contradiction between being a Bible-believing Christian and a Bernie Sanders supporter.

I follow the teachings of Christ: to care for 'the least of these.' And I believe that just as John the Baptist once cried out in the desert for justice, and called the religious establishment to account, and hearkened unto the day that Jesus would walk among us, and declare equity and justice and good news for the poor; and just as that day came, that Jesus stood in front of the multitudes at the religious institution and said "I have come to bring gospel to the poor," I believe that Bernie Sanders now stands in front of us, wild-haired and hoarse-voiced, and he now declares justice for the poor. He declares good news for 'the least of these.' He has come to bring gospel. And I wouldn't be much of a Christian if I didn't stand on the side of gospel for the poor. Because the last time I checked, that's where my master Jesus stood, and I'll stand with him. And for now, that means I stand with Bernie Sanders.

Rewritten Sanders Flier

After getting some feedback on my "Is Bernie Sanders a Socialist" flier, I rewrote it.

19 September 2015

Is Bernie Sanders a "Socialist?"

I think it's important to distinguish between "social democratic" and "socialist" parties and labels. Sanders is clear, when you ask him about specifics, that what he's talking about is social democracy; where most of the economy is private, but the tax and regulatory systems are structured so that basic economic fairness is assured; and, as well, those areas where the private sector does NOT serve the public adequately (such as passenger rail, the post office, parks and recreation, education (at least a parallel system to private education, free at all levels), health care funding, retirement and disability security, investment in basic science and technology advances, state of the art infrastructure, including renewable energy conversion on a fast track, etc., ... then the public sector is adequately funded and structured to provide those services. I believe that the MAJORITY of Democrats would like to see this become the official policy and agenda of the Democratic party. Then, possibly, the bankruptcy and lunacy of their current policies having at last become so manifest that only the fringe can deny it, the Republicans can morph into a Center Right party like Angela Merkel's... which would occasionally gain the ascendancy without having the ability or even really the desire to dismantle the mixed system that will serve the American people well and become tremendously popular, as such systems have in a long list of countries.

Oh, which, you ask? How about...
South Korea
Scandinavian countries
...and to a significant extent many others. 

15 September 2015

Bernie Sanders's Liberty University Speech 9/14

MSNBC saw fit to preempt its usual prime time programming to broadcast Trump's hate-filled bloviation, but here is the speech from yesterday that really speaks to the hopes, fears, and aspirations of the American people.

The 25 Reasons one Plain Dealer Columnist gives for preferring Sanders to Clinton

H. A. Goodman, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, writes out his 25 reasons for supporting Sanders over Clinton. I've made clear that I will vote for Clinton if she's the nominee. And I put less credence in the "email scandal" than Goodman; I suspect virtually everything that is "classified", retroactively or not, in her e-mails was probably not that big of a deal. I also draw a much sharper distinction between the Republicans and her than he does; to me there is a huge gap between all Democrats and the most moderate Republican. Having said that, of the declared Democratic candidates, I find her LEAST Progressive, and LEAST satisfactory. I will support Bernie up until such time, if it comes, that he decides to withdraw. But to my non-Bernie friends and acquaintances, I say: DO NOT underestimate Bernie Sanders.


From Huffpo. By H. A. Goodman. 9/15/2015

The 2016 presidential election will be studied for generations, primarily because it's a turning point in U.S. history. Will the Democratic Party shift even further to the right, or will Democrats nominate a true progressive? Below are 25 reasons I'm voting only for Bernie Sanders in 2016. And these reasons not only highlight my value system, but also what I believe (or assumed) the Democratic Party had always stood for as well.

1. President Hillary Clinton will have a neoconservative foreign policy. Bernie Sanders says "I'll be damned" if Americans lead the fight against ISIS.

Jacob Heilbrunn, in a New York Times article titled The Next Act of the Neocons, writes, "It's easy to imagine Mrs. Clinton's making room for the neocons in her administration." Also quoted in The New York Times, conservative historian Robert Kagan says, "If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue, it's something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else."

In addition to voting for the Iraq War (and pushing for the disastrous bombing of Libya) while calling this decision a "mistake," her quotes in an Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg confirm that President Hillary Clinton could be a liberal Dick Cheney in the White House:

This is what Clinton said about Obama's slogan: "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."

"You know, when you're down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you're not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward," she said. "One issue is that we don't even tell our own story very well these days."

"The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad--," Clinton said.

As if the lessons of bombing Libya during Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State weren't enough, Clinton would have armed the Syrian rebels had she been president. The problem with this is not only that half the Syrian rebels are jihadists, but also that it would have pushed the U.S. into the Syrian civil war, while we were still embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If anyone wonders why I wrote an article last year on a certain GOP Senator, saying that I'd vote for that person (I'm, of course, voting for Bernie and that piece was written from a purely anti-perpetual war standpoint), the fact that Vox says Clinton's words on foreign policy sound "super hawkish," is one of the main reasons I wrote that piece.

America has suffered enough from a neoconservative foreign policy and one look at icasualties.org highlights this reality.

In contrast, Bernie says, "I'll be damned" if America leads the fight against ISIS (calling for others to put ground troops in the region, not us) and puts American soldiers and veterans first, as evident by his recent Congressional Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

2. Bernie Sanders has always been against Keystone XL. Clinton once supported the controversial pipeline and now won't answer questions.

3. Bernie Sanders has always been against the Trans Pacific Partnership. Hillary Clinton supported the trade deal 45 separate times according to CNN.

Unions that back Hillary Clinton should remember Reason # 10 as well.

4. The Vermont Senator voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and stood up for gay rights when polls were against this issue. Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, opposed gay marriage up until 2013.

Don't claim to be outraged by Kentucky's Kim Davis if you're voting for Hillary Clinton. Both had the same views on gay marriage, only Davis didn't "evolve." Like The Guardian says, Hillary Clinton's views evolve on gay marriage, just in time for presidential campaign.

5. Bernie Sanders has a Racial Justice Platform. Hillary Clinton ran a 3 AM ad with a "racist sub-message" in 2008. South Carolina Congressman James E. Clyburn denounced Bill Clinton's remarks about Obama in 2008 and stated the Clinton's were "committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win."

6. Clinton's encounter with Black Lives Matter exemplifies her outlook on race. In an interview with NPR, Daunasia Yancey, the founder of Black Lives Matter Boston, called Hillary Clinton's racial justice record "abysmal."

As for commentary on Clinton's meeting with Black Lives Matter, Benjamin Dixon and Yvette Carnell explain how Clinton politicized her meeting (and in effect, hurt the movement's momentum) with Black Lives Matter representatives.

7. Bernie Sanders has advocated breaking up the banks and reinstating a Glass-Steagall Act. Clinton does not advocate either policy objective.

It's no secret that Wall Street is in Hillary Clinton's corner and few believe the populist rhetoric from the former Secretary of State. Bernie Sanders, however, is a genuine reformer who eagerly takes on the "billionaire class."

8. Hillary Clinton is constantly involved in scandal and either the victim of a "surreal witch hunt" according to James Carville, a conspiracy among intelligence agencies (a Clinton spokesman says the government has "competing views" on what is classified, apparently making it alright for a retroactively classified email to be on a private server), or controversy.

Bernie Sanders can type an email without a nationwide scandal.

9. Bernie Sanders will not take money from billionaires. Hillary Clinton accepted $100,000 from Donald Trump in donations for her foundation and Senate runs in New York.

It's difficult to debate the potential GOP nominee and tell the country you're different, when you've accepted $100,000 from the billionaire.

10. Four of Clinton's top five donors since 1999 are Wall Street firms. Bernie Sanders is running a grass roots campaign.

11. Hillary Clinton is against the decriminalization of marijuana. Bernie Sanders supports the decriminalization of marijuana.

12. It's true that Republicans have an irrational hatred of Clinton and that the Benghazi attacks have been unfairly leveled at Clinton. However, most of Clinton's scandals are based on her own decisions, not the irrational behavior of others. Not everything is Benghazi.

13. Hillary Clinton hasn't explained the political utility in owning a private server as Secretary of State.

14. I want a female president; however, I want her to be Elizabeth Warren.

15. I don't want my president to have an ongoing FBI investigation during her first term.

16. Hillary Clinton hasn't explained whether or not her server was safer or better protected than the U.S. government's server.

17. It is a fact that Clinton had classified and "Top Secret" emails flowing through her server.

18. Many of Clinton's classified emails were "born classified," meaning they weren't classified retroactively.

19. Five intelligence agencies thus far are now a part of the email saga. They can't all be part of a right-wing conspiracy.

20. Economically, Bernie is more progressive in tackling wealth inequality while Clinton addresses the issue, but continues raking in Wall Street money.

21. Bernie Sanders was active in the Civil Rights movement and also endorsed Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns.

22. Edward Snowden says it's "ridiculous" to think Clinton's email setup was secure. Freedom of Information Act expert Dan Metcalfe calls Clinton's email defense "laughable." Neither one is a part of a right-wing conspiracy.

23. Swing states do not trust Hillary Clinton and 55 percent of Americans, according to CNN, have an "unfavorable" view of Clinton.

24. I want a true progressive as president, especially in terms of the greatest powers of a president: getting America into wars and shaping foreign policy.

25. I trust Bernie Sanders. I do not trust Hillary Clinton or the GOP.

Finally, inherent in all 25 reasons above is the fact that Clinton's positions are too far to the right, therefore too closely related to the GOP's views on war, Wall Street, foreign policy, and other key issues, for me to accept in a president.

Ending perpetual war in American foreign policy is my biggest concern, therefore Bernie Sanders is my only choice in 2016. Also, Clinton rarely answers questions without carefully crafted wording; ambiguous to the point she can act in any manner she chooses once attaining the presidency.

As for other key issues, Clinton sides with the GOP (and away from most Americans) on the most controversial topics, which is why polling trajectory shows Bernie Sanders will win the Democratic nomination, in addition to the presidency.

14 September 2015

Bernie Sanders needs our help to change policy in America

​Please watch this Bernie Sanders video. E-mail yourself the link and watch from home if you don't have time. Thank you. (This is a public dropbox link I maintain, but the video is produced by the Bernie Sanders campaign).

Please spread the word. Freely share this link, or download the video and share with anyone you think would benefit from knowing about it. 

Krugman on Corbyn and Labour politics in Britain: must read

Krugman in NYT this morning is must read, on what the implications of Corbyn's triumph over Labour's Conservative Wannabes will mean for Britain. It's hard not to think about the not-quite-perfect analogy with the struggle between the Clintonians and the Sanders Wing of the Democratic Party here. (Here, the Progressives have already had some success in pulling the whole party towards a more forward thinking stance, and, it must be said, Sanders is not nearly as far to the left as Corbyn... for better or worse.

Money quote: "In short, the whole narrative about Labour's culpability for the economic crisis and the urgency of austerity is nonsense. But it is nonsense that was consistently reported by British media as fact. And all of Mr. Corbyn's rivals for Labour leadership bought fully into that conventional nonsense, in effect accepting the Conservative case that their party did a terrible job of managing the economy, which simply isn't true."

It's unusual to see someone making a convincing case that, for once, the US Media seems to be actually a little better at NOT reporting Right Wing propaganda as fact than the British media.

13 September 2015

Thinking about the Iran deal

​So, the Republicans are saying it's "Obama's Foreign Policy Obamacare" (as if that were a bad thing; Obamacare isn't ideal, but it's pretty much an unqualified success as far as it goes, as any honest analyst must admit). That it will be "the Democrats' to defend." Etc.

This is typical deceitful and delusional Republican thinking. First, the alternative to this deal was obvious: Nothing. The Iranians would, relatively soon, have developed a nuclear weapon. Whose interests would that have served? Analysts from Republicans Lawrence Wilkerson and Colin Powell, to the finest minds of all the P5 plus one intelligence and foreign service apparatuses, all agree that the deal is a good one, and actually better than seemed feasible just a few months ago.

So maybe the Republicans are right. It is Obama's Foreign Policy Affordable Care Act: a triumph that will form part of the president's legacy and help ensure the Democratic Party's nominee is elected next year. Nothing, after all, succeeds like success.

Then I think back to the 47 Republicans who signed Tom Cottons letter, in violation of the Logan Act, to Iranian leaders, basically saying: Don't trust the US Negotiators, don't place any credit in the government of the United States. Kissinger and Reagan (allegedly) said things similar to this to foreign leaders behind closed doors (shamefully). But this was out in the open, in a letter made public the same day. So much for partisan dissension "stops at the water's edge." I will say, as I said at the time: this was not a peccadillo. It was treason. ​

11 September 2015

Clinton v. Sanders on foreign policy

To a friend who expressed the opinion that Sanders is weak on foreign policy, while Clinton's plan to have a strong military and quick readiness (as expressed in her Brookings Institution speech; I saw it as codewords for an essentially NeoCon worldview), I replied with the following:

I don't see it that way at all. I thought her Brookings Institution Speech betrayed her strong neocon credentials. She is farther to the right on foreign policy than Obama, who largely continued the Bush foreign policy. Sanders is emphasizing domestic agendas, as probably befits a presidential campaign at this point, but he has read Chalmers Johnson, Lawrence Wilkerson (a Republican, but someone who understands how international power politics works), Brent Scowcroft (ditto), and Steve Clemmons, and he knows that continued land presence in the Middle East, and attempting to prop up the regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, while maintaining an irrational double standard as regards terrorism sponsorship and human rights for Iran as opposed to our supposed "allies", Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (both Sunni and both worse than Iran by any reasonable measure)... are all mistakes that need to be ratcheted back and reversed long term. Clinton may have a lot of experience as secretary of state, but her accomplishments hard to identify, and some of the projects she was involved in, such as the TPP, are clearly antithetical to the interests of working people. Kerry has accomplished far more in a shorter period of time than she did. And I keep thinking, who do I really trust on foreign policy? Someone who saw through the lies and voted against the Bush II Iraq invasion (Sanders) or someone who didn't (Clinton)? Sanders is the obvious answer. Her experience just shows that her judgment is suspect, and I sorry to say that some of the decisions she's made even in the present campaign show that to be the case as well.

And I have to disagree with the implication that she is more or less equivalent to Sanders on domestic policy too. Her position on Keystone (refusal to say), TPP (supports, called it the "best trade deal ever," but is now being coy), $15 min. wage (no support), Glas-Steagall restoration (not supporting), and other enhancements to Dodd-Frank (sound of silence); not to mention her refusal to endorse Medicare for All, breakup of the 5 "too big to fail = too big to exist" banks, major infrastructure investment, which economists and tax experts like Krugman and David Cay Johnson agree is a "no brainer" (she has failed to articulate any such plan); or universal free public higher education (she has equivocated on this), are all MAJOR distinguishing features of their respective DOMESTIC agendas.

I will support the eventual Democratic nominee (as I certainly hope her supporters will also say). But for now, I find Clinton is the LEAST desirable, from a general Progressive point of view, of all the likely Democratic candidates (Her, Sanders, Biden, O'Malley, Lessig). And I actually believe a pretty good case can be made that she is less electable than Sanders or Biden, at least, as well. Her negatives, which are a better predicter of outcomes of elections than issues positions in polling, are awful.

10 September 2015


Robert Reich posted this on FB:​

"I don't understand it," a political reporter I've known for years told me this morning. "A new poll shows Sanders leading in Iowa. He's leading in New Hampshire. It makes no sense."

"It makes sense to me," I said.

"Well then, explain it to me."

"Bernie is speaking about what's true and important – the plundering of our economy and the pillaging of our democracy by big corporations and Wall Street and billionaires."

"But that's been going on for years," he said. "Why now? Why are Americans suddenly waking up to it?"

"Because it's reached a tipping point." I explained. "There hasn't been this much inequality of income, wealth, and political power since the Gilded Age of the 19th century. Americans are fed up."

"But they're disillusioned with politics. Few even vote. So why are they suddenly becoming involved now? How do you explain the crowds?" he asked.

"Because in Bernie they're discovering someone who isn't afraid to tell the truth or to propose big solutions."

"Maybe you're right," said the reporter. "But I'll believe it if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire."

"Stay tuned," I said.

What do you think?

​Tell ya what I think. I think people oughtta start getting used to President Sanders. Cause the grassroots movement behind him is picking up speed.

Sanders LEADING in Iowa: time to pick up speed!

​I am enough of a realist to know that early leads in Iowa and New Hampshire have almost no predictive value for the nomination, and that the Clinton campaign has resources and strategies aplenty that will translate to momentum, especially in the South, almost on autopilot. But I still take note and satisfaction from this new poll showing MY CANDIDATE, Bernie Sanders, LEADING Clinton in Iowa.

Now the grassroots movement behind him has to PICK UP SPEED and work like hell if we hope to translate these gains into real political momentum.

Bernie: lay out your foreign policy for us!

 It's time for Bernie Sanders to give a major foreign policy speech. Domestic policy is properly the focus of the campaign, and he's said quite a few things about militarism and adventurism in the Middle East, etc., but the presidency is necessarily concerned to a great extent with foreign affairs, and Sanders needs to get out in front and use his famous direct, commonsense approach to lay out for the American people exactly what his vision for navigating the minefield that American relations with the rest of the world has become in the last 16 years... and yes, I have to include the Obama years, since Obama failed to institute a really complete departure from the prior administration's policies.​

02 September 2015

Auden: September 1, 1939

A Facebook friend posted this on, you guessed. Anyway, it's haunting and strangely appropriate to our moment in history as well.

"September 1, 1939"

by W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973)

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

♦ David Studhalter

Doyle McManus on Clinton's hawkishness

​To my friends and farflung correspondents who do not want more war in the Middle East but who cling to the fantasy that Clinton is some kind of progressive, I would cite this from Doyle McManus in the L. A. Times today (in an article about the prospect of Biden entering the Democratic race):
"​Biden and Clinton aren't far apart when it comes to domestic issues, but that's decidedly not true when it comes to international affairs.
"Clinton was on the hawkish side of Obama's team. She supported a big surge of US troops into Afghanistan in 2009; Obama opted for a smaller surge with a time limit. In 2011, she called for US military intervention in Libya; Obama went along. In 2012, she urged him to send military aid to Syrian rebels; Obama resisted (after Clinton left office, he changed his mind).
"Biden was on the opposite end of all three debates. He didn't think adding US military force in Afghanistan would solve the country's problems. He didn't think Libya was central enough to US interests to justify airstrikes. And he was skeptical about the idea of arming Syrian rebels."

 McManus says this about the candidacy of Bernie Sanders:
"To some degree, Democrats already have a choice on foreign policy: Bernie Sanders is, if anything, even less enthusiastic about military intervention than Biden. (Sanders voted against the Iraq war in 2002.) But foreign policy hasn't been the centerpiece of Sanders's pitch Biden would do well to campaign on the issue in part because Democratic primary voters are more likely to agree with his skepticism than Clinton's 'indispensable nation' approach."

While I do not necessarily endorse McManus's view here, the Sanders campaign should perhaps take note, and the candidate should perhaps focus more on foreign policy, making clear that non-intervention absent compelling US national interest is an essential element of his platform. If we get involved in more multi-trillion dollar land wars in Asia, the ambitious domestic development agenda that Sanders proposes to revive our domestic economy and production, will be seriously hampered.

​ ​

And Mikulski makes 34

It is, I believe, a real shame that we are at this pass, where the Iran nuclear deal, which serious experts almost universally regard as one of the most masterful pieces of international diplomacy in a long time, has faced an almost "Henry Cabot Lodge killing the Versailles pact in 1919"-level hit job in Congress. (Thanks largely to the pro-Netanyahu Right Wing AIPAC lobby; not, please note, pro-Israel; many well informed Israelis, including high level experts in or formerly in Shin Bet and Mossad, recognize that this agreement is in Israel's interests).

I actually agree, in principle, with those, like Rand Paul, who argue that this kind of agreement is really a treaty, and in a functional government, it would easily pass a 2/3 ratification vote (think SALT, which was negotiated with a real potential existential enemy). But in the weird world of Bipolar Politics we live in now, where there is only one rational-actor party, the outcome, now assured by the override proof committed minority in the Senate with Barbara Mikulski's announcement of support, is a salvation. The alternative to this agreement, as every honest analyst knows, is nothing, and the fact that the agreement will now go into effect has to be regarded as dodging a bullet. The last thing this country needs is another goddamned land war in Asia, for crying out loud.