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If the goal is to defeat Trump, Sanders is a better bet than Clinton

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens write at Wall Street on Parade:

Last evening, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas withdrew from the Republican Presidential race, leaving Donald Trump the presumptive nominee following a large margin of victory for Trump in the Indiana primary. That reality triggered a front page cover today at the New York Daily News with an obituary for the Republican Party.

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has been anticipating Trump’s success for months and pointing out, time and again, that national poll after national poll shows Sanders to be the much stronger contender in a general election against Trump. (Sanders won the Indiana primary yesterday with a 52.5 percent victory over Hillary Clinton’s 47.5 percent share of the vote.)

In a speech to the National Press Club on May 1, Sanders explained his strategy heading into the Democratic Convention on July 25-28 in Philadelphia (see video below). His written remarks (prior to delivery) explained:

“First, those super delegates in states where either candidate has won a landslide victory ought to seriously reflect on whether they should cast their super delegate vote in line with the wishes of the people in their states.

“Let me give you just a few examples:

“In the state of Washington, we won that caucus with almost 73 percent of the vote but at this point Secretary Clinton has 10 super delegates. We have zero.

“In Minnesota, we won the caucus there with 61 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton has 11 super delegates. We have three.

“In Colorado, we won that state with 59 percent of the vote. Secretary Clinton has 10 super delegates. We have zero.

“In New Hampshire, we won that state with more than 60 percent of the vote. Secretary Clinton has six super delegates. We have zero.

“And that pattern continues in other states where we have won landslide victories.

“Secondly, and extremely importantly, Secretary Clinton and I have many differences on some of the most important issues facing the American people. We disagree on trade, on breaking up Wall Street banks, on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, on imposing a carbon tax to combat climate change, on insisting that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes, on fracking and on a number of other issues.

“But where Secretary Clinton and I agree and where every delegate to the Democratic convention agrees is that it would be a disaster for Donald Trump or some other right-wing Republican to become president of the United States.

“Therefore, it is incumbent upon every super delegate to take a hard and objective look at which candidate stands the better chance of defeating Donald Trump. And in that regard, I think the evidence is extremely clear that I would be the stronger candidate to defeat Trump or any other Republican. This is not just the subjective opinion of Bernie Sanders. This is based on virtually every national and state poll done in the last several months.”

We decided to check out those polls. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 May 2016 at 11:13 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Extraordinarily clear potted history of healthcare reform in the US

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It was a long, hard slog.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 May 2016 at 9:02 pm

Hillary Clinton, the most hawkish of the candidates, with an aggressive foreign-policy stance

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Hillary Clinton is in all likelihood going to be the next US president, and her willingness if not eagerness for military action dismays me: Iraq, Libya, Honduras—her positions and actions seem strikingly bad to me, and (in my mind) show poor judgment. The US does not need to expand its attacks on various peoples.

Mark Landler reports in the NY Times:

Hillary Clinton sat in the hideaway study off her ceremonial office in the State Department, sipping tea and taking stock of her first year on the job. The study was more like a den — cozy and wood-paneled, lined with bookshelves that displayed mementos from Clinton’s three decades in the public eye: a statue of her heroine, Eleanor Roosevelt; a baseball signed by the Chicago Cubs star Ernie Banks; a carved wooden figure of a pregnant African woman. The intimate setting lent itself to a less-formal interview than the usual locale, her imposing outer office, with its marble fireplace, heavy drapes, crystal chandelier and ornate wall sconces. On the morning of Feb. 26, 2010, however, Clinton was talking about something more sensitive than mere foreign affairs: her relationship with Barack Obama. To say she chose her words carefully doesn’t do justice to the delicacy of the exercise. She was like a bomb-squad technician, deciding which color wire to snip without blowing up her relationship with the White House.

“We’ve developed, I think, a very good rapport, really positive back-and-forth about everything you can imagine,” Clinton said about the man she described during the 2008 campaign as naïve, irresponsible and hopelessly unprepared to be president. “And we’ve had some interesting and even unusual experiences along the way.”

She leaned forward as she spoke, gesturing with her hands and laughing easily. In talking with reporters, Clinton displays more warmth than Obama does, though there’s less of an expectation that she might say something revealing.

Clinton singled out, as she often would, the United Nations climate-change meeting in Copenhagen the previous December, where she and Obama worked together to save the meeting from collapse. She brought up the Middle East peace proc­ess, a signature project of the president’s, which she had been tasked with reviving. But she was understandably wary of talking about areas in which she and Obama split — namely, on bedrock issues of war and peace, where Clinton’s more activist philosophy had already collided in unpredictable ways with her boss’s instincts toward restraint. She had backed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recommendation to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, before endorsing a fallback proposal of 30,000 (Obama went along with that, though he stipulated that the soldiers would begin to pull out again in July 2011, which she viewed as problematic). She supported the Pentagon’s plan to leave behind a residual force of 10,000 to 20,000 American troops in Iraq (Obama balked at this, largely because of his inability to win legal protections from the Iraqis, a failure that was to haunt him when the Islamic State overran much of the country). And she pressed for the United States to funnel arms to the rebels in Syria’s civil war (an idea Obama initially rebuffed before later, halfheartedly, coming around to it).

That fundamental tension between Clinton and the president would continue to be a defining feature of her four-year tenure as secretary of state. In the administration’s first high-level meeting on Russia in February 2009, aides to Obama proposed that the United States make some symbolic concessions to Russia as a gesture of its good will in resetting the relationship. Clinton, the last to speak, brusquely rejected the idea, saying, “I’m not giving up anything for nothing.” Her hardheadedness made an impression on Robert Gates, the defense secretary and George W. Bush holdover who was wary of a changed Russia. He decided there and then that she was someone he could do business with.

“I thought, This is a tough lady,” he told me.

A few months after my interview in her office, another split emerged when Obama picked up a secure phone for a weekend conference call with Clinton, Gates and a handful of other advisers. It was July 2010, four months after the North Korean military torpedoed a South Korean Navy corvette, sinking it and killing 46 sailors. Now, after weeks of fierce debate between the Pentagon and the State Department, the United States was gearing up to respond to this brazen provocation. The tentative plan — developed by Clinton’s deputy at State, James Steinberg — was to dispatch the aircraft carrier George Washington into coastal waters to the east of North Korea as an unusual show of force.

But Adm. Robert Willard, then the Pacific commander, wanted to send the carrier on a more aggressive course, into the Yellow Sea, between North Korea and China. The Chinese foreign ministry had warned the United States against the move, which for Willard was all the more reason to press forward. He pushed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, who in turn pushed his boss, the defense secretary, to reroute the George Washington. Gates agreed, but he needed the commander in chief to sign off on a decision that could have political as well as military repercussions.

Gates laid out the case for diverting the George Washington to the Yellow Sea: that the United States should not look as if it was yielding to China. Clinton strongly seconded it. “We’ve got to run it up the gut!” she had said to her aides a few days earlier. (The Vince Lombardi imitation drew giggles from her staff, who, even 18 months into her tenure, still marveled at her pugnacity.)

Obama, though, was not persuaded. The George Washington was already underway; changing its course was not a decision to make on the fly.

“I don’t call audibles with aircraft carriers,” he said — unwittingly one-upping Clinton on her football metaphor.

It wasn’t the last debate in which she would side with Gates. The two quickly discovered that they shared a Midwestern upbringing, a taste for a stiff drink after a long day of work and a deep-seated skepticism about the intentions of America’s foes. Bruce Riedel, a former intelligence analyst who conducted Obama’s initial review on the Afghanistan war, says: “I think one of the surprises for Gates and the military was, here they come in expecting a very left-of-center administration, and they discover that they have a secretary of state who’s a little bit right of them on these issues — a little more eager than they are, to a certain extent. Particularly on Afghanistan, where I think Gates knew more had to be done, knew more troops needed to be sent in, but had a lot of doubts about whether it would work.”

As Hillary Clinton makes another run for president, it can be tempting to view her hard-edged rhetoric about the world less as deeply felt core principle than as calculated political maneuver. But Clinton’s foreign-policy instincts are bred in the bone — grounded in cold realism [?? says who? – LG] about human nature and what one aide calls “a textbook view of American exceptionalism.” It set her apart from her rival-turned-boss, Barack Obama, who avoided military entanglements and tried to reconcile Americans to a world in which the United States was no longer the undisputed hegemon. And it will likely set her apart from the Republican candidate she meets in the general election. For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has.

“Hillary is very much a member of the traditional American foreign-policy establishment,” says Vali Nasr, a foreign-policy strategist who advised her on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the State Department. “She believes, like presidents going back to the Reagan or Kennedy years, in the importance of the military — in solving terrorism, in asserting American influence. The shift with Obama is that he went from reliance on the military to the intelligence agencies. Their position was, ‘All you need to deal with terrorism is N.S.A. and C.I.A., drones and special ops.’ So the C.I.A. gave Obama an angle, if you will, to be simultaneously hawkish and shun using the military.”

Unlike other recent presidents — Obama, George W. Bush or her husband, Bill Clinton — Hillary Clinton would assume the office with a long record on national security. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 April 2016 at 1:23 pm

No, Bernie’s Taxes Don’t Show That He’s a Hypocrite

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 April 2016 at 11:02 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

In 180 seconds, Bernie gives you something to think about

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 April 2016 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

U.S. acknowledges Israel’s unlawful killings, excessive force, torture, discrimination against Palestinians

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I don’t think this report would have seen the light of day under a President Hillary Clinton, who has declared her allegiance to supporting Israel regardless of what Israel does (cf. this report). Ben Norton reports in Salon:

A new report by the U.S. State Department thoroughly details how the Israeli government discriminates against Palestinians in almost every aspect of society.

In its 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor acknowledges the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.”

The U.S. also confirms that Israeli government forces are responsible for unlawful killings and the use of excessive force and torture against Palestinians.

In the occupied territories, the State Department reports on Israel’s “abuse of Palestinian detainees, including children, particularly during arrest and interrogation; austere and overcrowded detention facilities; improper security detention procedures; demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property; limitations on freedom of expression, assembly and association; and severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement.”

The report documents Israel’s violent repression of Palestinian journalists and peaceful activists. It also addresses the hundreds of attacks on Palestinian civilians each year by extremist Israeli settlers, who are guaranteed almost complete impunity.

The 124-page report is divided into multiple parts, distinguishing Palestinian citizens of Israel from Palestinians living under illegal military control in the occupied territories.

It also separately documents violations of human rights by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Yet, while U.S. government officials and media outlets frequently publicly speak about crimes committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, rarely are the Israeli government’s own crimes so openly acknowledged.

The following is a detailed summary of the lengthy report’s key findings, organized according to the type of human rights violation.

Killings and excessive force

The U.S. State Department report documents “excessive use of force by Israeli Security Forces in a number of their interactions with Palestinian civilians, and arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity.”

In 2015, Israeli forces killed 149 Palestinians, roughly half (72) of whom were not attempting to attack Israelis.

Israeli forces killed 22 Palestinian civilians before Oct. 1, when the wave of violence increased. Another 127 Palestinian civilians were killed after Oct. 1. (The State Department did not mention a U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report that found that Palestinians were injured 14,000 times in 2015.)

Some of those killed or injured were children. The report cites an example in March 2015, in which an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was shot in the stomach during a weekly protest.

Acknowledging “human rights abuses related to actions by Israeli authorities,” the report also notes that Israeli occupation forces regularly use live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets to clampdown on Palestinian protests, which have killed civilians.

“The continued frequent use of live ammunition [is] a serious concern,” it states, adding that there “were numerous reports of [Israeli forces] killing Palestinians during riots, demonstrations, at checkpoints, and during routine operations; in some cases they did not pose a threat to life.”

Israeli officials made no response to numerous reports by Israeli human rights organizations regarding Israeli soldiers using excessive force, the State Department confirms.

The report furthermore documents Israel’s “disproportionate force and indiscriminate fire” in its summer 2014 war in Gaza, “resulting in unnecessary and excessive civilian casualties.”

Citing human rights reports, the State Department recognizes the Israeli military’s “heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighborhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations and caused widespread destruction of homes and civilian property.”

The Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, often attacked medical teams and facilities and denied medical evacuations, the report notes.

Children paid a large toll in the war. 535 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza, nearly 68 percent of whom were 12 years old or younger, the report notes.

It also cites human rights organization that “found overwhelming and repeated evidence that Israeli forces committed grave violations against children amounting to war crimes,” including “direct targeting of children by Israeli drone-fired missiles and attacks on schools.”

Institutional discrimination . . .

Continue reading.

Clinton, of course, defends all the practices listed later in the report and has no patience with anyone who finds any fault in the actions of the Israeli government.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 April 2016 at 1:51 pm

Reporters Who Haven’t Noticed That Paul Ryan Has Called for Eliminating Most of Federal Government Go Nuts Over Bernie Sanders’ Lack of Specifics

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Dean Baker writes at Beat the Press:

The Washington press corps has gone into one of its great feeding frenzies over Bernie Sanders’ interview with New York Daily News. Sanders avoided specific answers to many of the questions posed, which the D.C. gang are convinced shows a lack of the knowledge necessary to be president.

Among the frenzied were the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, The Atlantic’s David Graham, and Vanity Fair’sTina Nguyen, and CNN’s Dylan Byers telling about it all. Having read the transcript of the interview I would say that I certainly would have liked to see more specificity in Sanders’ answers, but I’m an economist. And some of the complaints are just silly.

When asked how he would break up the big banks Sanders said he would leave that up to the banks. That’s exactly the right answer. The government doesn’t know the most efficient way to break up JP Morgan, JP Morgan does. If the point is to downsize the banks, the way to do it is to give them a size cap and let them figure out the best way to reconfigure themselves to get under it.

The same applies to Sanders not knowing the specific statute for prosecuting banks for their actions in the housing bubble. Knowingly passing off fraudulent mortgages in a mortgage backed security is fraud. Could the Justice Department prove this case against high level bank executives? Who knows, but they obviously didn’t try.

And the fact that Sanders didn’t know the specific statute, who cares? How many people know the specific statute for someone who puts a bullet in someone’s head? That’s murder, and if a candidate for office doesn’t know the exact title and specific’s of her state murder statute, it hardly seems like a big issue.


There is a very interesting contrast in media coverage of House Speaker Paul Ryan. In Washington policy circles Ryan is treated as a serious budget wonk. How many reporters have written about the fact this serious budget wonk has repeatedly proposed eliminating most of the federal government. This was not an offhand gaffe that Ryan made when caught in a bad moment, this was in his budgets that he pushed through as chair of the House Budget Committee.

This fact can be found in the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis of Ryan’s budget (page 16, Table 2). The analysis shows Ryan’s budget shrinking everything other than Social Security and Medicare and other health care programs to 3.5 percent of GDP by 2050. This is roughly the current size of the military budget, which Ryan has indicated he wants to increase. That leaves zero for everything else.

Included in everything else is the Justice Department, the National Park System, the State Department, the Department of Education, the Food and Drug Administration, Food Stamps, the National Institutes of Health, and just about everything else that the government does. Just to be clear, CBO did this analysis under Ryan’s supervision. He never indicated any displeasure with its assessment. In fact he boasted about the fact that CBO showed his budget paying off the national debt. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 April 2016 at 8:59 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, Media


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