AMAL & THE NIGHT CONTRIBUTORS

Hillary Message
Hillary Clinton will grant you an audience for a mere $353,400

Clear your social calendar folks, on April 15–the day us little folks sweat over getting their tax returns in–venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who you may know better for his “Uber for Jetliners” fame, will be hosting a humble little shindig for Goldwater Girl Hillary Clinton.  While Shervin is hosting the soiree, the real celebrities raising money for Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be George and Amal Clooney, who are big supporters of the Hill.

It is one of those affairs where, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it; but since everybody but EVERYBODY with a net worth over $10 Mill will be there, we will let you in on the ticket prices anyhow.  For the top tier tickets, which includes sitting at the head table with former Walmart Board Member Hillary and Hollywood royalty, it is a mere  $353,400 a ticket, and that includes Slick Willie as well as Slick Hillary, so you see it is a bargain indeed–why its like having your own Goldman Sachs speech event!

Now for the hoi polloi who can only come up with $100 grand per person, why they will let you into the “Host Reception” which still features the Clintons and the Clooneys.  It is economy class but, what the hey, some of the glamour may yet rub off on you

But lest you think this is just for the One Percenters, the Clintons –always thinking of the little people,–will for a mere $30,000 cash in hand, will let you have your photo taken with Her Majesty Hillary.  After which the bouncers will grab you by the scruff of the neck and eject you out the back door, and please don’t scuff the steps as you tumble down them.

hillaryClintonWhatDiff
Hey! Que sa dice!

Now, in all fairness, all this is perfectly legitimate and legal and both billionaire Pishevar and the Clooneys are no doubt sincere and dedicated in their support of Hillary Clinton.  Unlike the vote rigging in Arizona, or the insider sabotage in Massachusetts, or the odd discrepancies in exit polls vs recorded vote in a number of Hillary’s wins, this is all on the up and up and legal.

But compare this with the Sanders fundraisers: $27 from a housewife here, $10 from a college graduate up to their ears in student loan debt, smaller change from a kid’s piggy bank.  The populist and plebian nature of the Sanders campaign contrasts sharply with that of Hillary’s diligent courting of Wall Street and the Billionaire Class.  Oh, by the way, Queen Hillary still won’t reveal the text of her speeches made before Bear Stearns and other Bankster Wall Street firms.

The-Godfather-620x349
Hillary and I will make you an offer you can’t refuse. Capish?

 

Now, interestingly, the money she is raising from all these well-heeled West Coast types does not go directly into her campaign coffers–she has plenty of special interest and PAC money for that.  No, Ms. PAC Woman will be giving the largesse from this exclusive tea party to The Hillary Victory Fund, which will in turn dole out money to the DNC and assorted state party groups, ostensibly to help get a full slate of Dems elected to Congress this fall.  This is indeed a worthy goal; but if you don’t think that all that money going to party stalwarts isn’t going to grease the palms of “Super Delegates” to assure they vote for Hillary, regardless of what their state’s voters want–well, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.  And you won’t have to pay $353,400 for it.

As for the Bay Area party-goers, no doubt a few precious minutes with Bill and Hill may be worth the price of admission to some without any quid pro quo, but what do you want to bet that, having kissed the Godfather & Godmother’s rings, once they assume the throne in the White House, these millionaire and billionaire acolytes will be coming around for favors?  Hey, Yo! I got an offer youse can’t refuse!

George and Amal Clooney have been sincere and dedicated supporters of human rights and more recently of the refugee rights of those who have been forced to flee the horrific war in Syria.  This is not to question their honesty or sincerity: but are they aware that it was none other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who goaded President Obama to directly intervene in Syria with the goal of regime change to start with?  Or that her other hawkish interventionist policies as both Senator and Secretary have been equally disastrous?  And we won’t even get into her covert support of murder squads in Central America.  America and Obama are far better off with Kerry as Secretary of State, although the damage hawkish Hillary has done can’t be undone.

Much of the blame for the refugee crisis can be laid directly at the perfectly pedicured feet of Wall Street Hillary.  Her blunders as Secretary of State have been carefully overlooked by the mainstream media, since she touts her foreign affairs expertise as her main claim to fame; yet her record in that sphere is awful, even without the GOP fabricating lies about it.

For more on this exclusive Billionaire Bonanza, read the Gawker article or see the Secular Talk spot on it.

Don't Forget the Cannolis
And Don’t Forget the Cannolis!

 

 

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Bernie gets a Dove; Hillary gets the Bird

Why is this man smiling? Guess.
Why is this man smiling? Guess.

It is apparently harder to rig caucus results than primaries, since they are based on people actually showing up and registering their views on the condidates. Hence Bernie Sanders Easter Saturday Sweep.

Washington and Alaska have gone solidly for Bernie Sanders, fulfilling expectations that, once the Dems got over canvassing the solid South, the weight of popular opinion would shift inexorably to the Sanders campaign.

Of course, as usual, the corporate media have done their best to downplay the results and keep emphasizing Hillary Clinton’s lead, but the truth is that without her political machine manufacturing false wins through electronic hacking, she would not now be the frontrunner, even with the deep South solidly behind her. Discrepancies between exit polls and electronic vote tallies in Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri and now massive vote rigging in Arizona, have all put a cloud over the Democratic Party’s establishment and their stop-at-nothing to get Wall Street Hillary as their standard bearer.

Despite all the Republican bellyaching over Trump, the truth is that the other GOP candidates in the clown car are no better and when he takes the candidacy (or else) like good little clones all the party stalwarts and mindless voters will line up behind Umpa Lumpa Trumpa and vote for him. In contrast, the Democrats pin all their hopes on a record turn-out to overcome the Republicans vote suppression tactics. But while that strategy will work with Bernie Sanders at the helm, Hillary Clinton simply cannot generate the enthusiasm and idealism necessary to succeed.

In too many primaries this season, voting irregularities favoring Goldwater Girl have occurred.  Can her vote hackers outsmart Karl Rove's GOP voter hackers this fall?
In too many primaries this season, voting irregularities favoring Goldwater Girl have occurred. Can her vote hackers outsmart Karl Rove’s GOP voter hackers this fall?

The Democratic Party abandoned the rural states and abandoned the blue collar workers and let the Republicans savage Unions for decades; Gays got marriage equality thanks to the Ultra-Conservative Supreme Court (think about that one for a minute) and so they will not turn out in large numbers; there is no Black Hope running for the White House, so don’t expect the kind of turnout among them that we saw in 2008 and in the deep South, where Hillary did so well in the primaries, it is guaranteed that the GOP will keep as many Blacks from voting as possible.

Yes, Hillary will get the party stalwarts, some of them; she will get the aging 70’s women’s libbers who will vote for her because simply because of her gender and ignore her Wall Street connections and her support of Honduran murders squads. But millennial women and progressive females who seem to be paying close attention to what the candidates really stand for and will do, are going to vote for Sanders in large numbers but are unlikely to turn out for Goldwater Girl.

The Corporate Media wants us to believe it is a done deal with Wall Street Hillary (CNN’s parent company is one of her biggest contributors, surprise, surprise) but perhaps a higher power has different ideas about the 2016 Election, as witnessed at the Sanders Rally recently in Portland: Sanders Portland Rally. We shall see.

Bernie is visited by the dove of peace; Hillary and Wall Street get the bird.
Bernie is visited by the dove of peace; Hillary and Wall Street get the bird.

 

 

 

Legacy Voters and the Looming Demise of Neo-Liberal Democrats

Since the Reagan Era, the Democratic Party, despite having once been the standard bearer of the basic values of the New Deal, has continually failed to live up to anything remotely resembling its responsibility to the American public.  The reasons for this have been obvious for some time, yet the party establishment continues to turn a blind eye to its own fundamental flaws.

The fundamental changes began in the late sixties, in particular with the 1968 Democratic Convention.  That event was a disaster for the New Deal Democrats in a number of ways.  First off, the convention marked the last gasp of the Democratic Party Dixiecrats.

Ever since the advent of the New Deal there had been an inner struggle in the Democratic Party between its Progressive Wing and the Segregationists.  In 1968 the Segregationist "Dixiecrats" left and joined the GOP.
Ever since the advent of the New Deal there had been an inner struggle in the Democratic Party between its Progressive Wing and the Segregationists. In 1968 the Segregationist “Dixiecrats” left and joined the GOP.

Ever since FDR there had been an uneasy coalition of Southern Democrats, who espoused white supremacy but remained with the party for the benefits that the New Deal conferred on the South: rural electrification, the TVA, Federal road programs and other perks of being part of party which promoted national recovery; all this outweighed its increasingly progressive stands regarding its tilt towards civil rights for Southern Democrats.  Also, the Democratic Party wasn’t the hated party of Lincoln—in essence they continued to vote Democratic because they were legacy voters.   But when the party began seating integrated delegations for certain Southern states, the Segregationist wing finally walked out of the Democratic Party—and walked straight into the Republican Party.  Since that time GOP has continued to use “dog whistle” politics to rally racists to their party, without overtly espousing racism.

"Dog Whistle" Politics: using code words to appeal to racists that may sound innocuous but lets the target audience know you're one of them.
“Dog Whistle” Politics: using code words to appeal to racists that may sound innocuous but lets the target audience know you’re one of them.

 

Once upon a time, the Republicans had also benefited from their own legacy voting block—African Americans.  For generations, the GOP was still the party of Lincoln to African Americans, even though the party had sold them out in 1876 to Southern whites, promising to end Reconstruction in order to retain the presidency.  Then, in 1927, a massive flood of the Mississippi River inundated large parts of the deep South: 27,000 square miles of land was inundated up to a depth of 30 feet.  200,000 Blacks were flooded out of their homes and lived in relief camps for long stretches of time.  While Whites and Blacks alike were affected, Blacks were neglected by the white leadership of the South.  The Republicans made promises to African Americans to help them recover from the widespread destruction of their homes and livelihood, but many of the promises made by President Herbert Hoover to Blacks were broken.  This caused widespread disillusion among a core constituency of legacy voters of the GOP and Hoover lost to FDR in 1932.  From 1932 onward, Blacks began voting Democratic—not initially because the Democrats were all that much better, but because the Republicans had abandoned them.  As time went on, however, the Democratic Party sided more and more with African Americans needs and wants.

Hillary Clinton talks the talk but walks with the banksters and Wall Street oligarchs.
Hillary Clinton talks the talk but walks with the banksters and Wall Street oligarchs.

Today we see a Democratic Party which, like the GOP of the 1920’s, has neglected and abandoned not one, but several of its core constituencies.  In the 1980’s blue collar workers began voting Republican—the so-called Reagan Democrats—not because the Republicans were doing all that much more for them, but because the Democrats had taken them for granted and were doing nothing to secure their loyalty with positive programs.  Worse still, many Democrats, seeing the perceived ideological success of the Reagan presidency, decided to abandon the ideals of the New Deal and started cozying up to the big money of Wall Street and started promoting anti-labor, job killing programs such as NAFTA (thanks for nothing Bill Clinton).  These so-called Neo Liberals retained the superficial trappings of the party: nominal support of civil rights, paying lip service to women’s rights, and the preservation of Social Security and Medicare, if half-heartedly.  But more and more, Neo-Liberals have been anything but liberal and more and more the docile lap-dogs of Wall Street banks.  In effect, they have turned the Democratic Party into what has been dubbed “Republican Light” and as more than one political pundit has observed, why should voters turn out for a watered down Republican agenda, when they can simply vote for the real thing?

"Goldwater Girl" Hillary worked for Conservative Barry Goldwater in 1962 even as Bernie Sanders was fighting for Civil Rights in Chicago.
“Goldwater Girl” Hillary worked for Conservative Barry Goldwater in 1962 even as Bernie Sanders was fighting for Civil Rights in Chicago.

Americans of African Descent turned out for Obama in 2008 and 2012 in record numbers, largely based on his race, but also for his promises of real economic change.  In 2008 Obama promised all Americans a fundamental change in the way politics would be done in DC; the Republicans vowed to block him at every turn.  Sadly, the Republicans have largely succeeded, while most of Obama’s promises have been broken.

Even when he had a majority in Congress, President Obama did next to nothing to pursue the Progressive promises he had made to the American people.  His political opponents labeled him a “radical leftist” and socialist, but in truth, Obama proved to be yet another Neo-Liberal, yet another Wall Street Democrat.  To be sure, he passed some healthcare reforms; but it was the program first proposed by the Conservative Heritage Foundation—basically Romney care writ large.

On other fronts, Obama proved himself even less progressive and less reformist: his appointee for Attorney General was a Wall Street lawyer who refused to prosecute any of the criminal actions of the banksters and corporate thieves who nearly brought about world fiscal collapse.  His Secretary of Education, it also turns out, was a big promoter of privatization of public schools—something which enriches private corporations at public expense and leaves public education worse off than if nothing had been done.

With Obama no longer around to turn out the Black vote, unless the Dems can offer solid economic and political reasons for them to go to the polls, it is likely African Americans will sit out the 2016 elections.  Hillary Clinton has the endorsement of many Black leaders, true; but her Neo-Liberal policies will do nothing to help African Americans and may well prove very harmful to them economically.

Bernie Sanders in 1962 organizing a protest against police brutality in Chicago.
Bernie Sanders in 1962 organizing a protest against police brutality in Chicago.

Democrats of this Neo-Liberal stink tank school put great faith in demographics; they look at the growing numbers of Hispanics and other minorities and assume that these ethnic groups will automatically vote Democratic in coming election cycles.  This is a delusion; if you do not give them a reason to support your party they will not go out and vote.  The Neo Liberals want to have their corporate cake and get to eat it as well.  They are so very, very, wrong.

Just as Blacks deserted the Republicans because the party had abandoned them, the majority of middle class Americans, as well as all those minority demographic groups Neo Liberals assume will vote their way, are at the very least likely to stay home and allow the reactionaries of the newer, uglier GOP to continue to rule.  Sadly, many adherents to the Tea Party who call themselves Conservative don’t understand that the party they serve is out to savage their own Social Security, Medicare and VA benefits; by the time they wake to their mistake, it may well prove too late to undo.  So it is very important for some alternative to the reactionary right to be presented to voters, and so far the Democratic Party has failed dismally at that task.  If all the Dems can offer is the same old Neo-Liberal lies such as Goldwater Girl Hillary offers, the party has only a marginal chance of winning the White House and no chance of taking back Congress to actually get things done.

The future of the Democratic Party—if there is one—lies with listening to the voices of insurgents such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  People of all backgrounds, races and age groups are flocking to Bernie Sanders’ banner, not because he is particularly charismatic or charming—he is not—but because of the policies and issues he espouses.  Bernie Sanders policies are not radically new, far from it; they are a basic reaffirmation of the New Deal agenda and its Progressive predecessors, adapted for the modern day.  This is what voters are responding too and will turn out in record numbers for; not the failed policies that have transferred the wealth of the middle class to the 1% who seek to turn our nation into an oligarchy.

Bernie Sanders being arrested in a non-violent Civil Rights demonstration in 1963.
Bernie Sanders being arrested in a non-violent Civil Rights demonstration in 1963.

So long as the Dems remain wedded to Wall Street and economic abominations such as the TPP, the party will fail. Eventually, if both parties continue to kowtow to the Wall Street oligarchs, the banksters, and the neo-fascist Koch suckers, new parties will arise to replace them.  Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.

 

 

 

Ben Carson and Biblical Economics: Bible Econ. 101

What the Bible says and what Ben Carson wants it so say are two very different things.
What the Bible says and what Ben Carson wants it so say are two very different things.

The foundation of Dr. Ben Carson’s political following rests on his credentials as a Conservative Christian ideologue; any of the pathological lies he utters about his personal past are ignored as the “Secular Humanist” Media, or alternately the imaginary “Liberal Media” distorting what their Good Christian Crusader may say, no matter how absurd or inconsistent it seems to all those not brainwashed into Religious Right dogma.  So the fact that Doctor Ben has used fetal stem cells in past research is ignored, so long as he states he is against the use of fetal stem cell research.  Likewise, when in the debates he states he is opposed to raising the minimum wage, even when last April he was for it, well, that’s just more of the Liberal Media trying to confuse us with facts.  It is therefore irrelevant to his supporters that Doctor Ben is a pathological liar: he is a Good Christian (so he says) and that’s all they know and need to know.

Trying to cite facts to the true believers of the Religious Right is akin to how trying to argue with traditional Leninist/Stalinist true believers used to be: they have their dialectic and everything that does not fit into it is willfully ignored.   So, when the Religious Right starts citing chapter and verse to justify trickle down economics and social Darwinism and all the other long disproved Republican propaganda masquerading as economics, it is useless to try to argue modern realities with them; their biblical dialectic won’t allow it.  However, like many Bible thumpers who claim to take the Good Book literally and are fond of using it for their economic and political beliefs, Ben Carson and the Religious Right are notoriously selective when it comes to citing examples from the Bible.  It goes back to the old adage: the Devil can quote the Bible to suit his purposes.  It is therefore quite legitimate to call Doctor Ben out when he justifies his wrong-headed ideas by basing them on the Bible, when in fact the Old and New Testaments do not support or justify those ideas.

Let’s start with Doctor Ben’s latest honker about the pyramids being ancient granaries and then move on to his more dangerous theories.  Now I make no claims to being a Biblical scholar, nor a theologian for that matter; but I did spend a few years of my mis-spent youth studying Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology, including both Egyptology and the history of Eretz Israel.  I was taught by eminent Egyptologists such as Dr. Helene Kantor and Professor Klaus Baer, as well as other stellar luminaries of the Biblical history and Assyriology, and while I cannot claim to aspire to their expertise in the subject, I did manage to stay awake in their lectures to understand that what Doctor Ben and his followers believe is utter garbage.  Firstly, the Story of Joseph, as recorded in the Old Testament, was written to about the eighth century BC, although it refers to events preceding the Exodus, which most scholars place towards the end of the New Kingdom, sometime towards the end of the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age (anywhere between the 14th and 12th centuries BC give or take).  Now admittedly, since academics still debate about the date of Exodus, there is a bit of wiggle room here—but not a lot.  The Pyramid Age—when the pyramids were constructed—was the Old Kingdom (ca. 2700-2100 BC), nowhere near in time to either the Story of Joseph or Exodus.  The other fact is that the pyramids were primarily the tombs of the ancient kings of Egypt and while their also held the king’s treasure trove, they were never, ever used as granaries, either in the Old Kingdom or later: FACT NOT THEORY.

Doctor Ben thinks Big

While Doctor Ben’s whacko theories about the pyramids may seem amusing, it points to a mind that is not only profoundly ignorant, but also refuses to learn differently.  His pyramid theory was not just an off the cuff remark; the other night Steven Colbert’s researchers dug up an old clip of Carson as a young man also proclaiming the same theory.  Apparently this man holds onto mistaken beliefs like a bulldog gnawing an old bone: facts that get in the way of his contrived theories are ignored.  This man is dangerously ignorant.

Dr. Ben one with demented Tea-baggers
Dr. Ben one with demented Tea-baggers

If one were to use the Story of Joseph for something other than its moral teaching value (its original intent) there is, however, a lesson in economics to be learned from the Bible tale.  Pharaoh, as you may recall, had a strange dream where seven lean cows devoured seven fat cows; Joseph was summoned to interpret the odd dream and divined that Egypt would have seven years of plenty followed by seven lean years of famine.  So, according to the story, on Joseph’s advice, the Pharaoh did indeed build granaries to house the surplus—not give it away to corporations and billionaires—and when the lean years came, (as they always do) the food was distributed to the population.  The Story of Joseph, therefore, is a classic example of the virtue of deficit spending during an economic downturn.  The Greeks told a lot of false tales about the ancient kings of Egypt that we still hear, but whatever you may think of them, at least the ancient kings of Egypt looked after their people and made sure the poor did not starve—and if you want to look to the Bible for economic policy, the Story of Joseph is as good a starting place as any.

Doctor Ben has also cited the Bible as his authority for instituting a flat tax when he becomes King—I mean President.  Here again, he has done a bit of selective reading when it comes to the OT.  Yes indeed, the ancient Israelites did have a Tithe—a flat ten percent tax—on agricultural products; but they also had a Temple Tax, plus a non-agricultural Tithe—whereby you gave ten percent of your income to the poor!  The Temple Tax was a small fixed amount regardless of income limited to adult males over 20; whereas the tithes were based on your income; that is, AN INCOME TAX.  Now the tithes were actually proportional, which is to say PROGRESSIVE INCOME TAXES, since those who were poor were either relieved of paying the tithe or allowed to pay a lesser percentage than 10; conversely, those who were wealthy were obligated to pay 20% of their income instead of the standard rate.  There were a number of other duties and customs as well: for example, there was the custom of gleaning, whereby the poor were allowed to go through the fields after harvest and collect the grains which had fallen to the ground and to take away whatever they could carry on their person.  Unlike modern America, where law and politics are totally divorced from morality, despite the hypocritical utterings of the Religious Right, to the ancient Israelites the Law was fundamentally moral in nature and social justice was engrained into every aspect of it—kind of what we would call Socialism today.

If the Pyramids are granaries then of course Easter Island statues were Goliath's toys.
If the Pyramids are granaries then of course Easter Island statues were Goliath’s toys.

Now, if we go to the New Testament, what we find is not Socialism, but outright Communism in early Christianity.  Do phrases like “give up all your worldly goods to the poor and follow me” or “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to inherit the Kingdom of God” ring a bell?  In fact there is a passage in the New Testament where it explicitly states that the early Christian communities held their property in common.  This is where the old communistic tradition in Christianity comes from: be they the Benedictines (who ran my old alma mater) or the Protestant Amana Colony of Iowa, or splinter sects like the Shakers (good music, but the celibacy was a little rough on the early American pioneers so they kind of petered out).  By comparison, Marxism is just a recent fad compared to the Socialism/Communism of the Old and New Testament.

Now I am not telling anyone to go thou and do likewise: the Bible is a collection of texts intended for spiritual instruction and moral guidance; it is not an economics textbook, still less is it a biology or climatology textbook.  Evolution and Global Climate Change are scientific facts, not opinions; if your theology conflicts with scientific fact, the problem is not with the Bible, OT or NT, but with your interpretation of those ancient sources of wisdom.  Don’t put that one on God; and don’t use God and the Bible to justify a hypocritical belief system which puts billionaires’ privileges ahead of the common good.  You don’t have to use the Bible as your guide to economics, but then again, there are worse guides to go by for economic guidance—just don’t cherry pick what suits you.