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Monday, October 10, 2016

The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War

The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War

Krista Kennell | Shutterstock.com

If the British Empire was built on the playing fields of Eton, United States world hegemony gets its training in Hollywood studios and advertising agencies. Selling your product, or yourself, by looking sincere is a cultivated American art. Current top U.S. leaders are expert practitioners.
In the space of a few days, Samantha Power, John Kerry, and Barack Obama all turned in war-winning performances.
Three Deadly U.S. Blows to Hopes of Peace In Syria
Last August 8, on that serious think tank the Charlie Rose show, former acting CIA director Michael Morell said that U.S. policy in Syria should be to make Iran and Russia “pay a price”. Russians and Iranians should be killed “covertly, so you don’t tell the world about it”, he said. Morell proposed that U.S. forces begin bombing Syrian government installations, in order to “scare Assad”. Probably angling for a good job next year, he is on record supporting Hillary Clinton as a “highly qualified commander in chief” and a “strong proponent of a more aggressive approach” in Syria.
Act I – An Act of War
Then, on Saturday, September 17, the U.S. Air Force did exactly what that CIA insider had called for. In sustained air strikes, four U.S. jets bombed a key Syrian Army position that had been defending the town of Deir ez-Zor from ISIS/Daech fighters. More than sixty Syrian soldiers were killed and over a hundred wounded. Daech forces immediately took advantage of the strikes to overrun the government position. In effect, the U.S. Air Force acted as air cover for the Islamic fanatics U.S. to advance against the legitimate army of Syria.
This was not only a violation of the cease-fire painstakingly worked out by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It was an open military aggression by the United States on the territory of a sovereign state.
The Russians immediately called an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to respond to this deadly violation of the truce supposedly intended to facilitate peace negotiations and humanitarian aid. When Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin took the floor to speak, his American counterpart, Samantha Power, draped in her long red mane, walked out to give a press conference that clearly illustrated the difference between Russian and U.S. diplomacy.
Churkin, like Lavrov a few days later, cited facts and analysed the situation rationally. Samantha Power put on a show of evasion and insults.
Why all the fuss? was her opening theme. After all, we halted the attack when we were informed that “it was possible we might be hitting Syrian regime personnel and vehicles”, she stated, adding that “if” we did so, “that was not our intention”. That should settle the question; who could believe that the United States might deliberately attack the regime their politicians have been saying “must go”?
The best defense is offensive, and Power can be most offensive:

“Even by Russia’s standards, tonight’s stunt – replete with moralism and grandstanding is uniquely cynical and hypocritical”, she declared.
Samantha Power, that conniving arriviste whose carefully constructed career has been built on moralism, grandstanding, cynicism and hypocrisy, had all the nerve in the world to turn these epithets against the prime target of her own habitual moralism, grandstanding, cynicism and hypocrisy.
If the air strikes hadn’t been enough to destroy Russian confidence in dealing with the United States, Samantha Power’s contemptuous reaction was sure to do the trick.
Act II – Change the Subject
Next ploy: change the subject. Our little accidental bombing is nothing, Power implied, compared to the alleged fact that “since 2011 the Assad regime has intentionally been striking civilian targets with horrifying, predictable regularity”. Here is the core of the Samantha Power fraud, containing two elements:
1/ While good-hearted bumbling America occasionally kills a few people by accident, the others do it all the time and above all intentionally.
2/ Killing civilians is what war is all about. War is not about battles between armed forces for control of territory. It is not about geopolitical power struggles. It is about “civilian victims”.
At the close of her stunt, grandstanding and scoring cheap points, Samantha Power exhorted Russia to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is implementation of something we negotiated in good faith with them.” Good faith? They are supposed to believe we negotiated “in good faith” an agreement which we just flagrantly destroyed?
Lo and behold, only two days after the U.S. bombing of Deie ez-Zor, the subject was definitively changed when an international humanitarian aid convoy was attacked on its way to Aleppo. Twenty aid workers were killed and the aid mission was halted. Without waiting for any evidence, the unanimous cry went up from Washington that “the Russians did it!”
In the U.N. Security Council this time, John Kerry took the stage. Again, the critical point was the contrast between what we certainly did and what they allegedly did. Yes, we committed “a terrible accident”. But what they (allegedly) did was worse.
“I got to tell you, people running around with guns on the ground, from the air, is a very different thing from trucks in a convoy with big UN markings all over them,” Kerry declared. He was implying that the difference was between an understandable accident, whose victims were “running around with guns”, and an attack on civilians. Yes, but in war, attacking soldiers is the whole point. It can make a difference in the outcome. Hitting an aid convoy is “collateral damage”, as the U.S. calls it when the bombs are American.   By bombing Deir ez-Zor, the United States was taking part in a war in which Syria is fighting for its life.
It cannot be ruled out that Syrian forces attacked the aid convoy because the truce was already broken at Deir ez-Zor and they believed it concealed weapons being transported to Daech. Such things happen. Or the attack could have been carried out by rebels as an act of propaganda, a “false flag”, designed precisely to be used to accuse the adversary. Such things also happen.
It has already been established by careful research  that the notorious Al Ghouta chemical weapons attack, attributed to Assad, was almost certainly carried out by rebels precisely in order to incite the United States to cross the “red line” set by President Obama and bomb Damascus. The War Party which by now controls the Pentagon, much of the State Department, most of Congress, as well as leading media and think tanks, has been castigating Obama ever since for not having seized that opportunity to wage a full-scale “regime change” war against Syria. The critics have never forgiven Obama for accepting the Russian proposal to use the occasion to rid Syria of its chemical arsenal, instead of overthrowing the Syrian government.
But in recent weeks, as the Hillary Clinton campaign grows more frantic, Obama himself has joined the War Party.
Act III – Wallow in Sentimentality
On September 20, President Obama used a Leaders Summit on Refugees to portray the Syrian episode in what increasing appears to be World War III as a sentimental children’s story. Obama read the letter from 6-year-old Alex, who lives in Scarsdale, New York, expressing his wish to adopt Omran Daqneesh, the bewildered 5-year-old boy with a mop of dusty hair whose photo sitting in an orange ambulance seat was iconized across the world. The letter, provided to mass media by the White House, with its childish writing but nearly perfect spelling, was full of touching details about butterfly collections and shared toys. Obama read the letter, as people reached for Kleenexes all over the country, and then commented:
“Those are the words of a six-year-old boy – a young child you has not learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they come from, how they look, or how they pray. We should all be more like Alex. Imagine what the world would look like if we were.”
The little boys are very cute, very sweet. Fortunately, Omran Daneesh’s parents are alive, so there is no need to adopt him. Many other children are dead, notably in Yemen, killed by Washington’s ally Saudi Arabia with arms provided by the United States. Too late to adopt them.
“We should all be more like Alex”, Obama tells his good people. Imagine indeed, if all Americans were as innocent and naïve as six-year-old children. And indeed, that seems to be the goal of government propaganda.
This propagandistic heartstring tugging is aimed at distracting from U.S. involvement in a long-term joint criminal enterprise to overthrow a government that indeed did not discriminate against people because of “how they pray”, and replace it by fanatics who are ready to behead people because of “how they pray”.
An infantilized public will believe that “geopolitics” and “national sovereignty” are just big words that don’t mean anything. An infantilized public will believe that when the United States goes to war, it is all about protecting little children from their bad, mean dictators, whose only aspiration is to “bomb their own people”. They will believe that the world out there is Little Red Riding Hood, threatened by the Big Bad Wolf, and that there really is a Santa Claus.
It will never occur to an infantilized public that the war to destroy Syria has been planned for years – even though someone like General Wesley Clark revealed this years ago. Or that it is carried out to eliminate Israel’s enemies, keep Arabs busy killing each other, and incidentally help Saudi Arabia spread its Wahhabite fanaticism. No, that will never occur to them.
They won’t even notice that the Obama administration has now effectively given up any effort to justify the Nobel Peace Prize so foolishly bestowed on the apprentice president, and is now engaged in a scenario designed to prepare for Hillary’s next successful regime change war in Syria.
And it won’t occur to them that the photo of the little boy in the orange seat was quite deliberately iconized by Western media as part of the campaign promoting the Islamic rebel-connected “White Helmets” for the future Nobel Peace Prize.
Another subtle step in demonizing the “Assad regime” before Hillary takes over to administer the planned coup de grace. The future chuckler-in-chief is looking forward to seeing another head fall. This is called “smart power”.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trump Is the Symptom, Clinton Is the Disease

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

Trump Is the Symptom, Clinton Is the Disease

Open Letter to My Progressive Pal Who Votes for the Lesser-of-Two-Evils

I asked you who is the lesser evil when even the Washington Post posits Hillary Clinton to the “political right” of Trump on international issues?

And you responded: “So I guess I should vote for Trump?”

Gimme Shelter: Fleeing Trump to the Democrat’s Big Tent

You are right that there are differences between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. No one recognizes that better than the ruling elites who are tripping over each other to join the Clinton bandwagon.

Mainstream Republicans, such as Romney and the Bush bunch, are gravitating in droves to the better Republican who happens to be a nominal Democrat. To the right of them, practically the entirety of the neo-conservative establishment is converting to born-again Hillaryistas.

Charles and David, the ultra-libertarian Koch brothers and Republican Party kingpins, have rejected Trump, cutting him off from a major source of funding. Another billionaire politico and sometimes Republican, Michael Bloomberg gave Clinton his endorsement at the Democratic National Convention.

Refugees fleeing the land of the GOP are finding succor in Clinton’s big tent. Clinton’s New Democrats are actively courting the conservatives being pushed out of the GOP by the embarrassing Mr. Trump.

The ruling elites are practically unanimously opposed to Trump for two reasons: he’s unreliable and he is not a good snake oil salesman for their cause. Those of us to the left of Attila the Hun also oppose Trump, but not for the same reasons. See, for instance, Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate Gloria La Riva’s description of Trump as a “disgusting bigot, the embodiment of the worst excesses of the capitalist system.”

First, the ruling elites find Trump untrustworthy to carry their water. Maybe Trump will come around on “free trade” issues or maybe he won’t. But with Clinton they have a proven faithful servant.

Back in 2008, when Wall Street demanded a bailout with no strings attached, mainstream Republican President Bush devotedly accommodated the banksters as did Democratic presidential candidate Obama. But Republican presidential candidate McCain thought that some conditions should be put on this gift of free money from the American tax payers.

That is when former CEO of Goldman Sachs and architect of the bailout, Hank Paulson – incidentally serving as Bush’s treasure secretary – blackmailed McCain to either genuflect to Wall Street, or Paulson would come out publically for Obama. Wall Street got the bailout and later trillions of dollars more under Obama’s “quantitative easing.” The financial elite migrated en masse to the new Democrats.

That migration continues with Hillary Clinton, Wall Street’s anointed retainer. Unlike in the past when the big financial interests hedged their bets by contributing to both Democrats and Republicans, the smart money is going to the donkey party in 2016.

Second, Wall Street understands that not only will Clinton be more compliant, but she will also be better at legitimizing their class rule. Trump with his open chauvinism and nativism would be too obvious and could provoke a greater resistance to the neoliberal project. It’s not that the ruling elites are squeamish about racism and imperialism, but they are adverse about making it so plainly obvious.

Sympathy for the Devil: Voting for Clinton

Absent the few Bernie-or-busters, the net result of the Sanders candidacy has been to deliver a new generation of voters into the Democratic Party. A Pew poll predicts 90 percent of unwavering Sanders supporters plan to vote for Clinton in November. There they join the great majority of African American voters as a captured constituency to be flagrantly ignored by Clinton.

Given the logic of the lesser-of-two-evils voting, these citizens have no recourse but to suck it up as Clinton rushes to the right to woo the remnants of the Republican Party. Gallup polls reports Republicans want leaders who stick to their beliefs, while Democrats more readily accept compromise.

December’s Children: Opposing Neoliberalism by Voting for It

The lesser-of-two-evils defense dictates that we vote for Clinton – despite all her admittedly bad stuff – for fear that a Trump presidency would dismantle public health care, attack the unions, and stack the Supreme Court to the right. This argument fails on two counts: it perpetuates a drift to the right with no prospect of reversal and it creates the conditions for an even more noxious phenomenon than Trump come 2020.

On the first count, you say that you’ll hold your nose and vote for Clinton in November and then in December you’ll lobby against her. But Clinton isn’t stupid. As long as she knows that lesser-of-two-evils adherents will still vote for her, she’ll continue feinting to the left and moving to the right. Unions will still be targeted, because Clinton knows Wall Street will abandon her if she doesn’t deliver low wages and high profits.

Bill Clinton was able to end welfare as we know it, pass the NAFTA “free trade” scam, enable the incarceration of multitudes of poor people of color, conduct “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia to achieve regime change, etc. This was a rightist Republican agenda, which the Republicans could not enact. Yet a slick Democrat could deliver precisely because the lesser-of-two-evils adherents voted Bill Clinton into a second term.

Privatizing Social Security was next on the Bill Clinton’s chopping block. But Monica Lewinsky, my favorite Democrat, thwarted that plan. Now it is Hillary Clinton’s “turn” to continue that legacy.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: A Clinton Presidency 

On the second count, there is a curious relationship between the Clinton and Trump candidacies. In short, Trump is the symptom; Clinton is the disease. In other words, the conditions that have allowed for a candidacy such as the likes of Trump were the product of neoliberal policies personified by the likes of Clinton.

Trump has been able to tap into a genuine sense of powerlessness and dispossession among the American people. These sentiments are materially based on rising income inequality. We are working longer hours – surpassing even the Japanese work week – and we are more efficient than ever, but our living conditions are stagnating or depressing.

This time around, we got a repugnant blowhard like Trump. But we don’t have to worry about him getting elected in 2016. The ruling elites will take care that he will be lucky to win Alaska. Trump’s already fatally shaky presidential prospects will be enormously even less impressive as the corporate media continues to whittle him and his big hands down.

But what will the prospects be after four years of Clinton’s police and security state, imperial wars without end, austerity for working people, and free money bonuses for Wall Street? Come 2020, the conditions – as the US heads into a deeper and more damaging recession – for an even more ominous and threatening rightist reaction will be created by Clinton’s neoliberal agenda. The lesser-of-two-evils adherents will again admonish us to re-elect Clinton for fear that an even more dangerous demagogue is running against her.

Wild Horses: Breaking with the Two-Party Duopoly

Every four years the American people are treated to a beauty contest, euphemistically called elections, where only two billionaire-sponsored contestants are allowed to compete, thanks to the exclusively private Commission on Presidential Debates. Little wonder that someone as unpopular as Hillary Clinton will win on the basis of (I’m not making this up) congeniality, because her recognized opponent in this dichotomized universe of two-party politics is Trump. Bottom line, Clinton’s biggest asset is Trump.

So the choice dictated by with the lesser-of-two-evils strategy is either Big Sister or Big Hands, because it’s a two-horse race. But now is the time to vote for someone who reflects our politics and begin the protracted process of building an opposition movement outside the two corporate parties.

Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate succinctly sums it up: “[voting for] the lesser evil paves the way for the greater evil.”

Roger D. Harris is on the state central committee to the Peace and Freedom Party. Read other articles by Roger.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dr. Jill Stein: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Dr. Jill Stein: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Published  Updated 12:56 pm EDT, May 2, 2016 
Dr. Jill Stein, Jill Stein President, Jill Stein Green Party

Stein at a Green Party press conference. (Getty)
Jill Stein is a physician, activist, and two-time Presidential candidate. In 2012, she ran for President on the Green Party ticket, receiving more than 450,000 votes, and plans to do the same in 2016.
Stein has received extra attention in 2016 as the Presidential hopes of Socialist-turned-Democrat Bernie Sanders have started to look more and more dire. Stein has supported Sanders in the 2016 election cycle despite nominal opposition as a fellow candidate, and several in the “Bernie or Bust” faction of Sanders supporters are considering her as an option to participate in the general election. While it’s almost impossible for a third party to win the election, Stein says her target is 15 percent of the vote, a number which would grant her access to Presidential debates where she could spread the Green Party message.
Here’s what you need to know:

1. She’s a Harvard-Trained Doctor

Dr. Jill Stein, Jill Stein President, Jill Stein Green Party

Stein speaking to supporters in Washington, DC. (Getty)
Stein was born and raised in Chicago, and attended Harvard’s undergraduate and medical schools before starting a private internal medicine practice in 1979. According to the bio on her campaign website, issues Stein saw in her medical practice inspired her to pursue a political career:
As a practicing physician, Jill became aware of the links between toxic exposures and illness emerging in the 1990s. She began to fight for a healthy environment as a human right, assisting non profits, community groups and Native Americans combating environmental injustice and racism in dangerous exposures like lead and mercury in air and water pollution, incinerators and land fills, toxic waste sites and more. She helped lead the fight to clean up the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts, raising the bar nationally to a cleaner standard for coal plants. She helped close a toxic medical waste incinerator in Lawrence, MA, one of the poorest communities in New England. She played a key role in rewriting the Massachusetts fish advisories to better protect women and children, Native Americans and immigrants from mercury contamination. She also helped preserve the moratorium on new toxic trash incinerators in Massachusetts.
Stein began working with the Greater Boston chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a doctors’ group formed “to address the health consequences of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction…the health consequences of environmental pollution and degradation, and also the reduction of violence and its causes.”

2. She Ran for President in 2012 & Massachusetts Governor Twice

In 2002, Stein “foolishly accepted” a Green Party nomination for Governor of Massachusetts. She garnered roughly 3.5 percent of the vote, making her the highest-polling third-party candidate and showing, she claims, that the people were “hungry for discussion.” Stein followed up her showing with runs for the Massachusetts Congress and Secretary of Commerce and two terms on the Lexington Town Board. She ran for Massachusetts governor again in 2010, finishing fourth with 1.42 percent of the vote.
In 2012, Stein announced her run for President of the United States. She received so little support that one campaign event attendee, upon hearing “Jill Stein for President,” asked her, “…of what?” Relegated to third-party debates like the one seen above with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, Stein finished with less than 1 percent of the vote. This result nonetheless made her the most successful female Presidential candidate in US history.

3. She’s Been Arrested Twice on the Campaign Trail

In 2012, Stein was locked out of the 2012 Presidential debate, as all candidates who are not polling at least 15 percent. Stein showed up at the Hofstra debate anyway, as seen above, and was arrested for trespassing upon attempting to enter the hall. Stein spoke about the issue to The Guardian:
We are on the ballot for 85% of voters. Americans deserve to know what their choices are. The police said they were only doing job. I said, ‘This is about everyone’s jobs, whether we can afford healthcare, whether students will be indentured.’ There are critical issues left out of the debate.
“Ninety million voters are predicted to stay home and vote with their feet that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney represent them. That’s twice as many voters than expected for either of them.
Later in 2012, Stein was arrested at a Keystone XL Pipeline protest site after attempting to bring food and candy to protesters. Stein was attempting to help resupply a tree blockade of the pipeline’s intended route, where protesters climbed trees intended to be cut down to stop progress on land-clearing.

4. She Offered to Support Bernie Sanders in 2016 Despite Running Against Him

Dr. Jill Stein, Jill Stein President, Jill Stein Green Party

Stein at her 2016 announcement. (Getty)
Stein stated in an open letter to Democratic contender Bernie Sanders that she would be open to working with him “outside the Democratic Party” to lead a “revolution” in American politics:
It’s critical that the break-through work of your campaign not be thwarted by a corporate political machine.
In this wildly unpredictable election where the old rules are giving way one by one, can we think outside the box and find new and unexpected ways to synergize beyond obsolete partisan divides?
In this hour of unprecedented crisis – with human rights, civilization, and life on the planet teetering on the brink – can we explore an historic collaboration to keep building the revolution beyond the reach of corporate party clutches, where the movement can take root and flourish, in the 2016 election and beyond?
Sanders has not responded to her offer, and is committed to contesting the Democratic convention. Many in the Sanders camp, meanwhile, are thinking of supporting Stein in the likely event that Sanders does not make it to the general election ballot. Stein’s “Green New Deal” is similar to the Sanders “political revolution” on the subjects of healthcare, education and minimum wage.

5. She Supports GMO Labeling & a ‘Moratorium’

Dr. Jill Stein, Jill Stein President, Jill Stein Green Party

Stein at a rally in 2016. (Getty)
On the subject of genetically modified food, Stein’s platform includes the following provisions:
Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.
Stein, who prepared her own organic meals on the campaign trail in 2012, doubled down in a Treehugger interview:
Our campaign is not only for labeling but also a moratorium on GMOs until such a time as they are established as safe, for the environment, for our health—and there are many red flags out their now in the health literature that there may be substantial risks to GMOs. The public deserves to have these risks studied and understood, before we are all subjected like guinea pigs to the potential risks here. If a president wanted, she could instruct the EPA to actually take this into their purview, as part of protecting the health of the environment and public health.
Current scientific consensus posits that GMOs are safe and generally as nutritious as organic food.

Anthony Bennett is a Heavy contributor, and writes for U.S. and international audiences in a variety of media and subject areas. He can be reached at anthony.bennett@heavy.com or at @AJBSaysThings on Twitter. 
May 2, 2016 12:56 pm

Think You’ve Got It Locked, Hillary? Meet Jill Stein.


Think You’ve Got It Locked, Hillary? Meet Jill Stein.

The Green Party candidate insists it’s her year to get noticed—and she may make it onto 47 state ballots.

Jill Stein

After an anxiety-inducing and divisive primary, Democrats are starting to breathe easier. Bernie Sanders, while not formally conceding to Hillary Clinton, has turned his fire on Donald Trump. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the darling of the left before Sanders, has effusively endorsed Clinton. So at last the presumptive nominee can hope to gather in all those unhappy Bernie voters and lead a united Democratic Party in the fall, right?

Not if Dr. Jill Stein has anything to say about it.

The longtime Massachusetts environmental activist and presumptive Green Party nominee (the Green convention is not until August 4) is hungrily eyeing disgruntled Sanders voters—many of whom have been saying that even now, with the nomination all but locked up, they still won’t vote for Hillary. And Stein appears to know her audience, declaring on CNN right after the California primary that she represents “a plan B … to continue to fight that revolution.”

She is also undaunted by the Democratic coalescing around Clinton. Asked in an interview with Politico Magazine this week whether the Warren endorsement presents a problem for her, Stein suggested that the Massachusetts senator lacks the progressive credibility to sway Sanders voters: “Elizabeth Warren has very good proposals regarding Wall Street, but she really has not been leading the charge for single-payer health care … and is pretty much a war hawk in alignment with Hillary Clinton.” (Stein is not the first voice on the left to criticize Warren’s foreign policy record as militaristic.)

You may be wondering: The Green Party? What’s that—one of those European lefty outfits? And do they have a prayer of getting more than a fraction of the vote? As of today, Stein is but a blip. Eighty-seven percent of voters don’t know enough about her to register an opinion in a late May Quinnipiac poll. And Clinton’s lead over Trump appears big enough to weather a little left-wing erosion. But with a recent Bloomberg poll showing that only 55 percent of Sanders voters are ready for Hillary, the conditions exist for Stein to spark a larger exodus–if she can raise her profile and if Democrats can’t unify at next month’s convention.

And while the Greens have been under the radar in America for the past several years, they proudly claim at least 100 municipal officeholders, and from 2007 to 2015 they controlled the mayoralty of the 100,000-person city of Richmond, California. Now, like the Libertarian Party, the Green Party sees its moment in this season of widespread discontent, when both Clinton and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump begin the general election campaign with record-high unfavorables. Stein’s platform is nearly identical to Sanders’, only more pacifist (the two diverge on the use of military drones) and more ambitious (beyond providing free college, Stein would cancel all existing student debt).

And Stein may be making big strides toward being treated like a legitimate presidential candidate. In her 2012 Green Party run, she appeared on only 36 state ballots. But her campaign’s ballot access coordinator told Counterpunch last week that “we fully expect to get on the ballot in all but three states due to our petition drives” and will then litigate the “onerous” requirements in the three remaining states in hopes of hitting 50.

That’s not bluster. Ballot Access News publisher Richard Winger told Politico Magazine in an email he expects Stein to reach 47 as well. If so, Stein would break the ballot access record for the Green Party, topping the Ralph Nader 2000 effort by four states.

She is beginning to register in the polls as well, at least when the polls mention her, hitting 5 percent in a NBC/SurveyMonkey poll and 4 percent in Ipsos/Reuters. Does that hurt Hillary? Maybe. The inclusion of Stein in the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll helped trim a 7-point Clinton lead over Trump down to a tighter four, whereas in Ipsos/Reuters, an already comfortable 9-point lead was bumped up to 10.

Sanders has drawn fire from Democrats for staying in the race despite lacking the delegates to win the nomination, but Stein may be even more politically brash than Bernie. Not only does she lack Sanders’ squeamishness about tipping the race to the Republicans, she is burying the tentative approach to presidential campaigning tried by 2004 Green candidate David Cobb. Following the 2000 election, when many blamed Nader for contributing to Democrat Al Gore’s defeat in Florida, Cobb pioneered a “safe-state” strategy—hunting only for votes in deep blue and deep red states, thus successfully protecting the Greens from the “spoiler” label. But he wasn’t successful in winning votes, garnering only 120,000 votes compared to Nader’s 2.9 million.

Stein defiantly told Politico Magazine she has a “No Safe State strategy,” because “there is no safe state under a Democratic or Republican future.” She’ll be stumping in Pennsylvania later this month.

Stein’s willingness to antagonize Democrats goes beyond her travel itinerary. She laces into Clinton and the Democratic Party on a regular basis in her media appearances and on her Twitter feed.

“While it's horrifying to hear the draconian things that @realDonaldTrump is talking about, we've actually seen @HillaryClinton doing them,” she blasted last Thursday. On the online show The Young Turks, hosted by Sanders backer Cenk Uygur, Stein characterized Clinton’s record as anti-feminist: “I think it’s an offense to the concept of feminism to say that Hillary Clinton—and her advocacy for war, for Wall Street and for the ‘Walmart Economy’—represents feminism.”

But while Stein potentially has a bigger pool of leftist voters to chase compared to four years ago, she also has stiffer competition: the Libertarian Party ticket of former Republican governors Gary Johnson and William Weld.

Stein and Johnson are potentially in each other’s way in the pursuit of the third-party candidate’s holy grail: an invitation from the Commission of Presidential Debates to square off against the two major party candidates, which hasn’t happened since Ross Perot in 1992.

The Commission says it will invite only candidates who average 15 percent in "five national public opinion polling organizations selected by CPD.” But the commission hasn’t determined yet which five it will use or, more importantly, whether it will use three-way or four-way trial heats to gauge support. That would potentially make a huge difference. Johnson just hit 12 percent in a three-way race tested by Fox News (one of the five polls used by the commission in 2012), putting him in striking distance. But in four-way polls that include Stein, Johnson’s number has ranged from 4 to 9 points. The better Stein does, both in polls and ballot access, the harder it will be for polling outfits tapped by the commission to exclude her. In this respect, Stein is a major threat to Johnson’s hopes for a campaign breakthrough.
The appeal to Sanders supporters will be critical for both the Greens and the Libertarians. While the Libertarians are often viewed as an escape hatch for disaffected conservatives, Johnson also has been sharpening his pitch to the Feel-the-Bern crowd. And, so far, he has a bigger media platform than Stein’s on which to make it. Last month he made it onto the coveted set of NBC’s Meet the Press, and he can probably expect the bookings to keep coming thanks to his credible presidential résumé. The former two-term New Mexico governor has more elected-executive office experience than anyone other presidential candidate running, as does his veep. (Stein, conversely, is like the Ben Carson of the left—a citizen-doctor who argues she’s the right person to administer “political medicine.”)

Johnson, in an interview with Politico, hit on the themes that make him a plausible choice for the #NeverHillary left. But he also made clear there are ideological places he will not go, which may limit his appeal.

“We’re the same when it comes to social issues, marriage equality, woman’s right to choose, legalize marijuana, let’s stop dropping bombs,” said Johnson of Sanders. He even offers to solve the problem of “crony capitalism” noting that “government can play a role in leveling that playing field.”

But the libertarian is no socialist. “We do come to a ‘T’ in the road when it comes to anything free,” said Johnson, not even bothering to dance around the subject. “Somebody’s got to pay for what is free.”

And while Johnson sounded critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in an earlier Politico interview, in this later one he appeared to support it. “It is my understanding that the TPP does advance free trade,” he said. “Is it a perfect document? Probably not. But based on my understanding of the document, I would be supporting it [though] in a perfect world there wouldn’t be a document like that, there would just be free trade.” The statement makes him the only candidate in the four-person field indicating he would ratify the pact, which may raise his stock with anti-Trump free trade Republicans but muddles his case for the Bernie camp.

Johnson also drew a bright line between himself and Stein: “She is on the giveaway side. She is on the controlling the economy side, which in my opinion, that’s where you get crony capitalism.” Stein shot back that the Libertarian Party believes “there should be no restrictions on your freedom to put your money into the political candidate of your choice. … it will be very hard to end crony capitalism if you can continue to buy your way into whatever influence and position you want with government.” (Johnson has said he believes in “100 percent transparency” but not limits on donations.)

The two third-party candidates are not expending a lot of energy attacking each other, though Stein threw a little extra shade Johnson’s way regarding his campaign schedule: “I don’t know if Gary Johnson is out there doing a campaign actually. I think he’s talking to press a little bit, but I don’t think they hold events.” (A Johnson spokesman said the campaign is “underwater” with media requests but is looking to arrange an event in Washington, D.C., “in a few weeks due to demand from interested voters and media alike.”)
Johnson is also standing in Stein’s way on another big front: the goal of winning 5 percent of the national popular vote, which would give a big boost to a third party by qualifying it for federal public campaign funds in the next presidential election. With Stein presently polling at or just under that threshold, she may conclude a sharper attack is necessary to prevent him from scooping up voters she desperately needs.

Both candidates vehemently reject the notion that they are “spoilers.” But whether or not they end up impacting the final result of the presidential race, they may end up being spoilers for each other.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I’m for “Jill, Not Hill”

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

I’m for “Jill, Not Hill”

When detractors accused the great English economist John Maynard​ Keynes of being inconsistent in his views, he reputedly replied, “When my information changes, I change my mind. What do you do?”
In a June 2015 op-ed, I wrote, “If the race in Pennsylvania or New Jersey is extremely close, I can imagine voting for Clinton for only reason: The Krusty the Clown clone emerging as the GOP candidate will be worse…” I was,​ of course, voicing the by now well-rehearsed “lesser of two evils”​ position, a topic adroitly analyzed by both David Swanson and Mike Albert in recent days.
The Republican clown was an easy call. Trump is a buffoon and a vulgar racist, a dumbed-down version of Ronald Reagan, low-hanging fruit that requires almost no effort from liberals to mock. Now, however, even with the prospect of a Trump presidency looming, I can no longer stomach the idea of voting for the slick, media-swaddled, neoliberal militarist,​ Hillary Clinton.

Even before we knew the DNC conspired to arrange a rigged, totally fraudulent Democratic primary to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination, I’d begun to find wisdom in Keynes’s adage. As the information accumulated, it became undeniable that Clinton was and remains​ not only almost innately dishonest, but an​ unapologetic neocon ​warmonger, advocate for the virulently anti-worker ​Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in bed with notorious despots, enabler​ of $50 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, ​and ​darling of Goldman Sachs and the corporate ruling class.
​A few examples: ​

​First, as the astute​ political writer​ Paul Street​ observes, it’s ironic that​ Trump wants to build a wall to keep out migrants and refugees while these people are coming in large measure due to disastrous U.S. policies championed by Hillary Clinton.
Second, Trump has no track record in foreign policy, although his rhetoric is alarming. Clinton surrounds herself with close advisors and confidants like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. And here is a peek into the foreign policy orientation we can expect from a Clinton presidency: When asked by CBS News reporter Leslie Stahl about one-half million Iraqi children who died as a result of U.S. sanctions (including denying them medicine), Albright responded, “We think it was a price worth paying.” Albright gave a glowing endorsement speech for HRC at the convention.

​Finally, shouldn’t it give one pause that Charles and David Koch, the far ​right-wing, wealthiest political activists in the country, refuse to support Trump because he’s insufficiently supportive of ​the “free market”? ​The Koch bothers prefer Hillary, as does the Karl Rove-led billionaires’ faction, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal​ and George Soros. The donor class is appalled by Trump’s criticism of ruinous trade deals like NAFTA, endless regime change wars, and power exercised by “big business.” Fittingly, on the convention’s final day, the fat cats arrived at their luxury suites in Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, or, as the headline in the New York Times declared, “After Lying Low, Deep-Pocketed Clinton Donors Return to the Fore.”
​Elite liberals are ​relying on fear to get folks to oppose Trump. Why? ​Because they’ve nothing to offer other than​ “Hillary isn’t Trump.” ​The Democratic Party establishment ​can never admit that their ​party’s policies have created ​the ​anger, inequality and ​helplessness​, the genuine grievances, upon which Trump has capitalized. It’s a certainty that Hillary Clinton will continue to embrace those policies.
What about electing the first female president? Those obsessed with identity politics above all else will never be persuaded. But Martin Luther King, Jr., ​resolutely proclaimed that judgments should only​ be about the content of one’s character​. Or, as the political scientist Michael Parenti once observed, it’s what’s between one’s ears, not between one’s loins, that matters. Employing these criteria, Hillary Clinton fails on every account.
​Where does that leave a conscientious voter who cares deeply about America’s future? Believe me, I get the argument about “lesser evil” voting. Clinton and Trump are not identical. But how does one parse degrees of evil?
For the sake of argument, let’s​ assume that Trump is more evil. For me, Hillary Clinton is still too evil to earn my vote.
To succumb to the “lesser evil” call, each and every time, indefinitely guarantees a “lesser evil-ism” political system. Or, to channel the poet Langston Hughes, when do we stop deferring the dream that “another world is possible” and begin insisting that new possibilities are taking shape right now?
​Barring any “new information​,” I plan to vote for Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate ​for president. ​Does she have a chance of winning? Of course not, but m​y hope is that a good showing will improve the chances of a decent candidate in the future. ​ We​ must play the long game. ​In the meantime, we must continue to engage in both local level political activity and non-electoral protest at all levels in order to build a movement to make this outcome possible.  
Gary Olson is professor and chair of the political science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. He is the author of Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture, and the Brain (New York: Springer-Verlag, 2013). He can be reached at: olson@moravian.eduRead other articles by Gary.