Thursday, October 31, 2019

Many People Think That It's Likely Trump Had Jeffrey Epstein Murdered


Even in the friendliest of environments-- say the radio show and podcast I do weekly with David Feldman-- people scoff when I express certainty that the Trump Regime had Jeffrey Epstein murdered while he was in federal custody awaiting trial. Just last week, Feldman asked me, with a degree of incredulity if I really believed that Trump had Epstein murdered? I can't believe that anyone rational doesn't!

Epstein's brother hired famed forensic pathologist Michael Baden, a former NYC medical examiner, to investigate the death. He came to the conclusion that Epstein probably didn't kill himself as was more likely to have been murdered. The video above is Baden's appearance on Fox & Friends yesterday. He said "I think the evidence points to a homicide rather than a suicide... Because there are three fractures in the hyoid bone, the thyroid cartilage that are very unusual for suicide and more indicative of strangulation-- homicidal strangulation... I’ve never seen in 50 years of investigating all deaths that occur in prisons in New York state never have two guards fall asleep at the same time, while the video doesn’t work."

The Miami Herald's Julie K. Brown interviewed Baden as well and he told her that "The autopsy did not support suicide. That’s what [the medical examiner, Barbara Sampson] put down. Then Dr. Sampson changed it a week later to manner of death to suicide. The brother has been trying to find out why that changed…what was the evidence?"
The death of Epstein, 66, launched a series of conspiracy theories, mostly centered on whether Epstein was murdered to keep him from revealing information about the rich and powerful men in his social circle who may have been involved in crimes, including sex trafficking.

Sampson, however, ruled out foul play, but her findings did little to quell speculation.

The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said it would shortly release a statement on the issues Baden had raised.

Following the autopsy, it was revealed there were major security lapses at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, and two prison officers were suspended and the warden was reassigned.

A federal investigation, ordered by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, is ongoing.
Barr, a fanatic protector of Trump's own crime wave, is himself a likely suspect. Unless Epstein was a Mossad agent looking for komprmat on prominent Americans from the very start.

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Politico's Zach Warmbrodt wrote this week that "American International Group (AIG)-- once one of the most scorned corporations on Capitol Hill for its pivotal role in the financial crisis-- got a Washington birthday bash on Monday night with help from House lawmakers. Little more than a decade after the U.S. government committed $180 billion to avert the collapse of the insurance giant, AIG used the hearing room of the House Ways and Means Committee to host a 'centennial congressional reception' to mark the New York-based company's first century in business. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) presided over the event, which featured AIG CEO Brian Duperreault and other company leaders. 'We believe in the power of relationships to make a better world for everyone,' AIG said in an invitation obtained by Politico."

And it was a bipartisan party-- with crooked congress members from both sides of the aisle. So far this cycle, AIG has spent $1,400,000 lobbying Congress and has handed out $109,763 in legalistic bribes disguised as campaign contributions (including $2,500 to Chairman Neal). Last cycle they handed out $344,502 in these legalistic bribes-- $107,682 to Democrats and $70,820 to Republicans. These are their top dozen recipients serving in the House today:
Kevin Brady, then chair of Ways and Means (R-TX)- $5,000
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $5,000
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- $5,000
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- $5,000
Antonio Delgado (D-NY)- $3,625
John Larson (D-CT)- $3,625
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- $3,500
Jason Crow (New Dem-CO)- $2,720
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)- $1,938
Elissa Slotkin (New Dem (MI)- $1,753
Mike Sherrill (Blue Dog-NJ)- $1,656
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $1,500

There were senior members from both the Democrats and the Republicans at the festivities-- along with finance industry lobbyists. Members of Ways and Means and the Financial Services Committee who were partying with AIG included Brad Sherman (D-CA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Gwen Moore (D-WI).
The celebration is the latest sign that memories of the 2008 market meltdown have faded in Washington. A display at the event outlining milestones in the company's history jumped from 1999 to 2015 — omitting the financial crisis and taxpayer-backed rescue.

AIG was the focus of widespread public outrage over the massive bailout the company got to stay afloat after it was nearly brought down by risky derivatives trades. At the time, lawmakers demanded that AIG employees renounce their bonuses.

"AIG will live forever in history as the poster child for greed, recklessness and incompetent if not delusional management," said Dennis Kelleher, who advocates for stricter Wall Street regulation as president and CEO of the group Better Markets.

But things have returned to normal for the storied insurer in recent years, as the company shrank itself and paid back the bailout funds. AIG has ramped up lobbying and restarted spending by its political action committee.

In 2017, AIG was successful in convincing federal regulators to undo the company's designation as a "systemically important financial institution"-- a label imposed on the insurer after the Wall Street meltdown that carried with it stricter government oversight.

...AIG has disclosed lobbying on retirement savings legislation under the Ways and Means Committee's jurisdiction. The company's PAC and employees have given more to Ways and Means Committee members in this election cycle than members of other committees, according to committee totals compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

"It comes as little surprise that these lawmakers would host a party for AIG, but it is deeply troubling that Congress would celebrate such a negligent and self-serving financial behemoth," said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for the watchdog group Public Citizen.
Meanwhile, progressive congressional candidates went on the attack over the party with AIG. Kara Voght, reporting for Mother Jones, wrote that "For progressives waging primary challenges against entrenched House Democrats, Monday’s event was a perfect example of what they see as the inappropriate coziness between centrist incumbents and the corporate interests they are supposed to keep in check."
“A lack of [government] involvement in allowing corporate giants to do what they please, set the rules for themselves, is what led to the [2008] collapse,” Alex Morse, who’s running against Neal, tells me. “A decade later, nothing has changed. There’s an open door policy between members of Congress and executives working at these firms, and it’s a slap in the face to the people affected by the financial crisis.” Neal, it should be noted, recently accepted a $2,500 campaign contribution from AIG’s political action committee.

Rachel Ventura-- who is running against Rep. Bill Foster, a Financial Services member who attended the AIG event-- described the gathering as “disturbing.” In a statement, she said that Foster’s presence was “not surprising” and called for an ethics investigation into how the party came to be.

For the last several months, progressive challengers have waged their primary battles on multiple fronts. Support for prized liberal initiatives, such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, and promises to curtail corporate influence have been the bedrock of their campaigns. But so was a sharp rebuke of centrist incumbents who did not share progressive activists’ urgency in impeaching President Donald Trump. Morse had hammered Neal over his lack of support for an impeachment inquiry back in July. “I can’t purport to know the congressman’s strategy, but people are angry and scared,” he told me then. “Our democracy is dying right before us, and we need members of Congress that are there to uphold the Constitution.”
Rachel Ventura, who has been endorsed by Blue America, told her supporters that her New Dem opponent, Bill Foster "voted for the 2008/2009 bailout and he was one of the 33 Democrats who recently voted with Republicans to roll back Dodd-Frank in 2018, relaxing protections for financial consumers and exempting some institutions from stress tests; ultimately opening up the doors to another financial crisis. As a member of the Financial Services Committee, Bill Foster has accepted over $1.4 Million in campaign contributions from commercial banks and hedge fund managers. If you ask me, that’s a conflict of interest. As a US Congresswoman, I will go in the opposite direction. My entire political journey has used the slogan, 'no strings attached.' It is even on my campaign T-shirts. In my congressional campaign I have remained consistent, rejecting all corporate PAC money and super PACs influences. The American people are sick and tired of a congress that is bought and paid for. Bill Foster is no exception. He has tossed aside his lab coat and is just another politician who is more interested in listening to his donors than being a voice for the people."

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First Vote Towards Impeaching The Deranged Tyrant Passes


Damage Control by Nancy Ohanian

On Wednesday, after Jared Golden (D-ME) finally issued a last-minute-- albeit tepid-- statement backing the impeachment inquiry-- just as South Carolina Blue Dog Joe Cunningham had done Tuesday-- the only Democrats left opposing even the inquiry were GOP-lite reactionaries Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY) and Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK). One irreverent senior member of Congress confided in me that Pelosi told Peterson they didn't need his vote to pass the resolution and that he was excused from voting for it. (His district has an R+12 PVI and Trump beat Hillary by over 60 points there. MN-07 is closer to the Dakotas in every way than to the Twin Cities.) "As long as he’s willing to be the 218th vote for her as Speaker, that’s all she wants from Collin. The rest are scum." Brindisi and Horn have tough districts as well; Van Drew doesn't. [Just before the vote, Horn announced that she would vote for the resolution, a big shock all the way around. Finally, Brindisi did the right thing as well.]
NJ-02 (Van Drew won with 52.9%)- R+1 (Trump beat Hillary 50.6-46.0%)
NY-22 (Brindisi won with 50.9%)- R+6 (Trump beat Hillary 54.8-39.3%)
OK-05 (Horn won with 50.7%)- R+10 (Trump beat Hillary 53.2-39.8%)
In the end, the only Democrats to vote with Trump were Jeff Van Drew and Collin Peterson. But not one Republican stood up for America today... not one. [Independent Justin Amash (MI), voted with the Democrats.] It passed 232-196.

Goal ThermometerMike Siegel held Trumpist hardliner Michael McCaul to a 51.1% win last year. McCaul doesn't seem to have gotten the message. "Today McCaul demonstrated how he is a shameless hypocrite without core values," Mike told us right after the vote. "For weeks he has written op-eds and made public statements, arguing that the impeachment inquiry was a 'star chamber' that 'defies democracy' and was 'illegitimate' because Democrats had not held a record vote on the process. Today, House Democrats gave him an opportunity to endorse the process he was asking for, and he flatly refused. This guy stands for nothing. His days in Congress are limited."

Kathy Ellis is running against an even more clueless Trump tuchas-licker, far right crackpot and closet case Jason Smith. Smith has never opposed Trump on anything and never will-- always chasing Trump against his own constituents without a second thought. "No one is above the law, and it's time to hold the President accountable for his suspicious and unethical actions," said Ellis this morning after the vote. "Rep. Smith has always been and will continue to be a rubber stamp for the President's agenda. It comes as no surprise that he voted no on moving forward with impeachment. I would have voted the opposite-- because I believe the people of the 8th District deserve to know the truth about what our President is doing."

Jason Butler, the progressive pastor running for a House seat held by Trump ally George Holding reminded us that "Yes, Trump is popular in North Carolina, but impeachment is not a popularity contest. This is about Holding’s role as a U.S. Congressman to uphold his constitutional responsibility to ensure that President Trump be held accountable for his actions to harm the United States. As the old adage goes, those who are guilty fear the truth. Holding is not only shielding the people from the truth-- but possibly protecting a President who has broken the law."

Dana Balter, the progressive taking on Trumpist John Katko in the Syracuse area sent out a statement to her supporters after the vote: "Over the past month, it has become increasingly clear to the American people that the President of the United States abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure a foreign government to interfere in our elections. John Katko made clear with his vote today that he’s not interested in knowing the truth about President Trump’s egregious abuses of power. Nor is he interested in upholding his own oath to protect and defend the Constitution despite the fact that the very foundation of our democracy is at stake. In a stunning betrayal of the people he’s supposed to represent, Congressman Kakto chooses, yet again, to put partisanship ahead of the national security."

Trump-- as well as his Republican enablers who have now clearly and undeniably been seen putting party (and the golden calf Trumpanzee) before country and before national security-- have been whining for exactly what was passed today and yet, not one of them voted for it. Hours before the roll call, AP predicated a near party line vote, reiterating that "there was no doubt that the Democratic-controlled body would approve the eight pages of procedures on Thursday, with each side likely to lose a handful of defectors, if any... Both parties’ leaders were rounding up votes as Thursday’s roll call approached, with each side eager to come as close to unanimity as possible. Republicans said a solid GOP 'no' vote would signal to the Senate that the Democratic push is a partisan crusade against a president they have never liked. McCarthy R-CA) said he’s unaware of any Republican even 'leaning toward voting for it.' Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a moderate who some thought might be open to backing the Democratic rules, said he would oppose them. He complained about the secrecy that Democrats have used and said he had not been pressured by GOP leaders or Trump, with whom he had a drink at a Republican fundraiser Tuesday night. 'You really can’t roll back the clock' from the time the investigation began last month, Upton said.

State Rep. Jon Hoadley is running for the seat Upton has been in entirely too long. "The Rule of Law," he told us right after the vote this morning, "is the cornerstone of American democracy and should not be a partisan issue. President Trump used military aid to pressure Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 elections, and then tried to cover it up. Congressman Upton's vote against holding the President accountable today is just another example of his willingness to put his political party before the people of Southwest Michigan. Congressman Upton has changed. Who represents our district needs to change, too."

Omaha progressive Kara Eastman noted that-- no surprise-- Don Bacon voted against the resolution today. "As usual, Donald J Bacon put his party before country today when he voted against an inquiry to determine if the President committed unconstitutional acts. This shows that his commitment is to the President and not to his district. The one bright spot of his otherwise dangerous vote is that people are calling and emailing our campaign nonstop to volunteer and donate."
Democrats were also hoping to demonstrate solidarity from their most liberal elements to their most moderate members. They argued that GOP cohesion against the measure would show that Republicans are blindly defending Trump, whatever facts emerge.

“It will show the other party has become the party of Trump. It’s really not the Republican Party any longer,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI).

Democrats’ chief vote counter, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, said he believed “less than half a dozen” from his party would oppose the package. One Democrat whose vote was unclear, New York freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi, said he’d not been pressured by party leaders to back the measure and said, “This is a decision I have to make.”

Republicans said they’d use the vote to target freshman Democrats and those from districts Trump carried in 2016. They said they would contrast their support for the rules with campaign promises to focus on issues voters want to address, not on impeaching Trump.

The House GOP’s campaign arm sent emails to reporters all but taunting some of those Democrats including freshman Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH). “Pappas wants to be a one-termer,” one said.

GOP leaders called the rules “Speaker Pelosi’s sham process designed to discredit the Democratic process” in their daily impeachment email to lawmakers.

National polling indicates most Americans favor impeachment and the number seems to grow every day. For example, a poll of registered voters in Pennsylvania released this morning by Franklin and Marshall, shows that the crucial battleground state that Trump won in 2016, is unlikely to be in the Trump column next year. Just 37% of registered voters believe Trump has done a good enough job to deserve re-election, while 59% say it is time for a change. And 57% support the impeachment process-- 47% strongly. In contrast, only 37% strongly oppose the process. Swing district Republicans are in for a hard time, particularly Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Scott Perry (PA-10) and perhaps Mike Kelly (PA-16).

According to the latest Morning Consult state by state Trump Tracking, Trump's disapproval numbers continue to grow. These states (with their net approvals) should be particularly worrisome for GOP congressional incumbents:
Pennsylvania- minus 8
Virginia- minus 6
North Carolina- minus 3
Georgia- plus 1
Florida- minus 2
Ohio- minus 5
Michigan- minus 10
Wisconsin- minus 11
Minnesota- minus 11
Iowa- minus 14
Nebraska- minus 2
Montana- minus 3
Utah- minus 2
Arizona- minus 4
Nevada- minus 12

Washington congressional Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse all did themselves and their constituents a disservice today by clinging to Trump in the face of so much evidence mandating an impeachment inquiry. Just before the vote, Jim Brunner at the Seattle Times reminded readers that "In March of 1974, then-Washington Attorney General Slade Gorton broke with fellow Republicans with a public call for President Richard Nixon’s resignation amid revelations of abuse of power related to the Watergate scandal. More than four decades later, with Congress poised to take a key vote Thursday to formalize an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Gorton is once again at odds with most in his party, who have dismissed the Ukraine investigation as a partisan witch hunt. 'I reached the conclusion that there are a dozen actions on this president’s part that warrant a vote of impeachment in the House,' Gorton, the former U.S. senator, said in an interview this week at his Clyde Hill home... Gorton says he won’t back Trump in 2020."

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The Future of Surveillance: 500,000 AI Facial Scans Per Month in China


An abandoned panopticon prison in Cuba (source). Being publicly observed, or the knowledge that they may be being observed at any one time, keeps prisoners under control.

by Thomas Neuburger

All regimes with an overriding need to control their populations — including the U.S. and China — depend on public surveillance as a key element in their control mechanism. "Public surveillance" has two senses, and both of them apply.

"Public surveillance" means surveillance of the public, of course, but it also means publicly-acknowledged surveillance of the public. That is, the observed know they are being observed, or they might be being observed, whether or not they see the observer. The act of acknowledged observing is itself the instrument of control. (The state police, the Stasi, of East Germany accomplished this with an extensive network of citizen-spies. Everyone knew their neighbors were observing them; no one knew when a neighbor would betray them to the state.)

As Ed Walker observed some years ago: "In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault writes about the way discipline is enforced. He uses the image of the Panopticon, a prison invented by Jeremy Bentham. ... The prison cells are arranged in a circle, and a guard tower stands in the center. Bentham suggested that the guards should be shielded from the view of the prisoners, so they wouldn’t know when they were being observed, but would know that they might be observed at any moment. He also suggested that it didn’t matter who was looking at the prisoners, as long as someone was looking."

I would add that if the observation tower is shielded by a one-way mirror, it doesn't even matter if the tower is populated, so long as prisoners think it could be.

Surveillance of citizens is rampant in China, of course, but also in the West. It's impossible to watch any British mystery or police drama, for example, without some propagandistic reference to evidence from CCTV footage, as though mass surveillance were not only not unusual, but a benefit to society.

And it's hard not to imagine that every word spoken into a U.S. telephone, typed into a U.S. email message, or sent via Skype or any other U.S.-based electronic services is not either observed or collected for later observation by the modern NSA — the eyes and ears of the U.S. security state — whose motto, after all, is "Collect it all."

There's no question that close observation of U.S. citizens is great and that it will increase. The only question is how it will increase and how quickly.

What's the future of U.S. security surveillance? For that, we look to China. Via Paul Mozur writing at SFGate:
One month, 500,000 face scans: How China is using AI to profile a minority

The Chinese government has drawn wide international condemnation for its harsh crackdown on ethnic Muslims in its western region, including holding as many as 1 million of them in detention camps.

Now, documents and interviews show that authorities are also using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority. It is the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling, experts said.

The facial recognition technology, which is integrated into China’s rapidly expanding networks of surveillance cameras, looks exclusively for Uighurs based on their appearance and keeps records of their comings and goings for search and review. The practice makes China a pioneer in applying next-generation technology to watch its people, potentially ushering in a new era of automated racism.

The technology and its use to keep tabs on China’s 11 million Uighurs were described by five people with direct knowledge of the systems, who requested anonymity because they feared retribution. The New York Times also reviewed databases used by the police, government procurement documents and advertising materials distributed by the companies that make the systems.
Lest you think this is just a story about the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to perpetuate the evils of racial bias, think again.

Close and aggressive policing in the U.S. is not just for black neighborhoods, even though that's where it most often occurs. Here's what happens to white people, for example, when they too cross the line drawn by the state:

Agents of the national security state pepper-spraying the faces of submissive Occupy protesters at UC Davis

As this technology becomes more refined, it can be used to identify anyone anywhere they can be observed, and each observation will then be added to the ever-growing database file kept on that person. To what purpose? Any purpose the U.S. national security state wishes to put it to.

The future of mass surveillance may be in China, but it won't stay there for long.

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There Are Two Kinds Of Politicians In America-- Those Who Insist On Including Health Care As A Human Right And Those Who Insist It Isn't


I start writing my posts by 5 AM and I keep doing it, on and off, 'til around 5PM, just in time for Chris Hayes' show. But by 9 every morning, the candidate calls start coming in. They can take a big chunk out of my day, especially from new candidates I don't know. But I've come up with a way to cut them short:

"If you're elected and the Democrats maintain a majority in the House, as looks likely, H.R. 1384, Pramila Jayapal's Medicare-For-All act will come up for a vote. You'll have to either vote for it, vote against it or abstain. Do you support Medicare-for-All. If they say "no" the interview is basically over. I don't hang up but I do start cutting it short and moving towards saying good-bye and good luck. If they say "yes, but...." it's also a signal that this could be over quickly.

Yesterday, CNN reported that there are 400,000 more children uninsured since Trump took office. Keep these two words in the back of your mind: "Republican enablers." Yesterday, Tami Luhby reported that "The number of uninsured children ballooned by more than 400,000 between 2016 and 2018, an unprecedented decline in health coverage for the youngest Americans... Roughly 4.1 million children were uninsured in 2018, up from a low of 3.6 million in 2016, according to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, citing US Census Bureau data. Their uninsured rate jumped to 5.2% last year, up from 4.7% in 2016.
The trend is particularly troubling because it comes during a period of economic growth when more Americans are gaining employment, said Joan Alker, the center's executive director. She fears even more children will lose coverage if the economy falters.

"Much of the gains in children's coverage that came about as a result of the Affordable Care Act have now been reversed," Alker said.

The national uninsured rate for all Americans also rose last year for the first time in nearly a decade, according to the Census Bureau. It increased to 8.5% in 2018, up half a percentage point a year earlier. Some 27.5 million people were uninsured last year, a jump of 1.9 million.

Several factors have contributed to the bump in uninsured rates for children, the center says. They include: efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid, delays in funding the Children's Health Insurance Plan, the effective elimination of the individual mandate penalty, cuts to Affordable Care Act enrollment outreach and advertising and an increase in state-based eligibility checks for Medicaid.

Also, the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration has discouraged parents from enrolling eligible children in public programs, leading to a rise in uninsured Latino children in particular.

The Affordable Care Act helped improve children's coverage rates by increasing the likelihood that children would be enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP when their parents obtained insurance, simplifying enrollment, funding outreach efforts and establishing the individual mandate, which required most Americans to be insured or pay a penalty. Congress set the penalty to $0 starting this year.

...Fifteen states, led by Tennessee, Georgia and Texas, saw the number and/or rate of uninsured children increase.
Yesterday, Senate Democrats forced a vote on repealing an anti-healthcare rule implemented by the Trump Regime. With Medicare open enrollment starting tomorrow, the Senate voted to allow inadequate junk plans to be sold instead of actual health insurance. Vox reported that under Trump’s rule, "states could request a 1332 waiver, which would enable them to buy and offer plans that Democrats see as low-quality options, including plans that could discriminate against patients with preexisting conditions-- rolling back one of the key accomplishments of the ACA. To undo the rule, Democrats forced a vote on a resolution of disapproval, a measure that can be used to overturn administration regulations with a simple majority in the House and Senate. Trump, however, has the ability to veto this measure. The resolution wound up falling short of the votes it needed, with a vote of 43-52, a sign that not enough Republican lawmakers were willing to break with their party on this front."

All of the Democrats present-- even the reactionaries like Sinema and Manchin-- voted for the resolution but they were joined by just one Republican-- Susan Collins of Maine. All of the other Republicans voted no, including the 2020 electorally vulnerable incumbents-- Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cory Gardner (R-CO), David Perdue (GA), Dan Sullivan (AK), Joni Ernst (IA), Martha McSally (AZ) and Steve Daines (MT).

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

A skeleton in a MAGA hat. The definition of irony! Or, is it just a symbol for a horrible truth?

Problem is those 62 million who cast their votes against themselves and for a Putin-directed Trump regime will never see the irony. They have no interest in the world of the living. They are the brainwashed conned, the self-hating zombie walking dead, and proud of it. But, we're stuck with them stumbling mindlessly among us as they try to drag humankind faster and deeper into the abyss.

As for the monstrously psychotic Trump himself, he doesn't need a costume. Whether he wants to torture children or set up sick, twisted meetings between parents and the killers of their children, he just paints his face orange as a pumpkin, adds a little white around his dead eyes, puts on one of his stupid red clown ties and ill-fitting suits, fixes his freaky hair just so and he's good to go. Melania? She doesn't need to do anything at all. There's nothing real about her to begin with.

Happy Halloween, folks. Hopefully, it won't be the last.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

As Bob Dylan Could Have Said About The Status Quo Joe Campaign, "He Not Busy Being Born Is Busy Dying"


I left the U.S. in 1969. The idea of Nixon being the president was too much for my 20 year old sensibilities. I traveled the world and eventually wound up living in Amsterdam. While I was in Afghanistan my sensibilities were further assaulted while a northern Democrat, Louise Day Hicks-- from Boston no less-- ran on a racist platform and was elected to Congress. She only remained for two years before being defeated by a non-racist Democrat. (Ten years later I felt as mortified when a Jewish woman, Bobbi Fielder, in the San Fernando Valley-- that's part of Los Angeles-- ran on a similarly racist platform and was also elected to Congress. At least she was a Republican, but a Jew?? She served 3 terms and just died, age 81, last March.

1969-- moi
Around the same time Hicks was making a spectacle of herself in Boston, Joe Biden was dipping a toe into politics himself. He admits that back them he "thought of myself as a Republican." The Delaware GOP tried recruiting him to run for office but he was hesitant because didn't like Nixon. Because of that antipathy for Nixon, he registered as an Independent. After he went to work for a local Democrat, Sid Balick, he switched his registration to Democrat and soon after began running for office, appealing to white resentment of black people.

Earlier this week, Benjamin Hart and Olivia Nuzzi asked at New York Magazine, Why Do Joe Biden’s Supporters Like Joe Biden? Good question; I've hated him since he first started serving in Congress as a racist and conservative.

Hart mentioned to Nuzzi that her cover story on Biden asserts that he has "a personal and deep a connection" with his fans, "especially those who have experienced personal tragedy, which the former vice-president is, sadly, well versed in. For months, pundits have speculated Biden was on the brink of collapsing in the polls, and this has continued not to happen. His connection to President Obama is often cited as a reason for his staying power. Does that underrate his actual skills as a retail politician?"

She told him she thinks "there’s a lot of denial about the reality of the Democratic electorate, which is more moderate and older than the loudest voices on Twitter. And those loud voices have extraordinary influence over our thinking in the media and over the tone of the coverage. And some of those voices are members of the media themselves. And what you don’t really have is much patience for or room for voices from people who look and sound like Biden’s voters in this space. So I think maybe it’s hard to keep things in perspective."
Ben: But do you think there’s more to the connection between Biden and his voters than “he’s moderate” and “he was Obama’s vice-president”? There’s a notion that the people who like him just do so out of a kind of default setting, not because they actually feel that fondly toward him.

Olivia: It’s hard to say. When you see people share emotional stories with him or hug him or stare into his eyes-- that doesn’t seem like they’re doing it because they’re so jazzed to be in the presence of someone they think is “electable.” At the same time, I think people get excited to meet a celebrity. They also get excited to meet somebody close to Barack Obama.

Ben: There’s also a fairly widespread notion that if Biden had run four years ago, he would have had a good chance to win the primary and then would have wiped the floor with Trump. He is certainly showing his age more in several ways now, but, as you write, it’s not as if his previous presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2004 were great successes. There was a reason Obama preferred him not to run in 2016, after all. Do you think his decline has been that precipitous, or is it just slightly exacerbating stuff that was already there?

Olivia: The latter, I think. I’d also note that his stated public reason for not pursuing the nomination last time around was because he had just lost his son Beau to brain cancer.

Ben: You write of Biden’s team: “For many of these staffers, the campaign feels like it should be a coronation. Joe Biden 2020 isn’t a labor of love or ideology. It’s about the proper order of things. It’s about who’s entitled to what.” I saw at least one Biden ally pushing back on this idea. Are there no senior advisers who genuinely think Biden’s policy vision would be the best for the country moving forward? Or is that just a kind of afterthought?

Olivia: I wouldn’t say there are none. It’s not as though every single senior member of the Biden campaign anonymously spilled their guts to me (though I would love that. Call me!) But certainly, my reporting suggests that the prevailing attitude is what I wrote in the story. And of course, I don’t expect any Biden allies will be publicly confirming the negative aspects of my reporting.

Ben: Indeed.

Biden’s initial response to the Ukraine scandal involving his son was a bit halting, not least because he really likes to keep his family separate from politics. But if he wins the nomination, he’ll have to deal with the full fury of Trump and his allies every day. Did you get the sense from your glimpse at the campaign that it’s equipped and ready to handle that kind of thing?

Olivia: So there’s this scene in the story where we’re in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Biden is giving a speech about climate change (under the beating sun in the middle of an 85 degree day. I’m still mad about it). And that was the day after the news of the whistle-blower leaked. So after the event ends, all the press assembles by the door to the building Biden had retreated into, as we normally do, to wait for him to come out so we can ask him questions. And we waited for, I think, an hour and a half, so long that a campaign aide brought out a tray of little cups filled with water so we wouldn’t die. And I’m standing there thinking, Surely, he’s looking forward to stepping out here and going off on Trump. I mean, why wouldn’t he?!

But then he comes out, barges past the press, and steps into his waiting car. That’s not in itself an uncommon occurrence, for Biden or any other candidate to ignore the press, of course. But at that moment, I couldn’t understand the delay in reacting to what seemed like a story that ultimately broke in his favor. What I’ve learned is that Biden is terribly cautious-- as funny as that may seem given his reckless speaking style and debate style. And he waits a long time to make any decision. And he is not a very sure person; not these days, anyway, with so much hanging on by a thread. So that’s why you don’t get him calling for impeachment until like three weeks later in New Hampshire at the last second, because he’s never sure quite what to do.

Ben: Sometimes, that really comes off as a strength, as when other candidates immediately line up to take a position that may not be so well-thought-out, and he doesn’t jump into the fray.

Olivia: Totally. But I think it also contributes to the feeling that he’s a little out of it-- not quite sharp, not agile.
The new CNN poll that came out yesterday shows Bernie winning the first primary-- in New Hampshire-- among likely Democratic primary voters. And it shows Biden in third place with negative momentum, battling with Mayo Pete for the conservative lane in the Democratic Party:
Bernie- 21%
Elizabeth- 18%
Status Quo Joe- 15%
Mayo Pete- 10%
Yang- 5%
Amy Klobuchar- 5%
Tulsi- 5%
Steyer- 3%
Kamala- 3%
Biden had a 9% drop since July, the biggest movement in either direction for any candidate. People are getting to know him as someone who is more  (less?) than just Obama's vice-president and a guy who lost family members and experienced tragedy in his life. (Kamala Harris is also losing ground rapidly). Tulsi jumped from 1% to 5%, likely because of her very strong anti-Hillary remarks. Here are some other results from the polling:

Bernie- 66% favorable to 23% unfavorable
Elizabeth- 63% to 25%
Biden- 55% to 30%
Mayo Pete- 55% to 15%

Asked who they would NOT consider voting for under any circumstance:

Status Quo Joe- 11%
Elizabeth- 11%
Marianne Williamson- 9%
Bernie- 7%
Tulsi- 5%

Most likeable:

Bernie- 27%
Status Quo Joe- 20%
Mayo Pete- 14%
Elizabeth- 10%

Most progressive:

Bernie- 47%
Elizabeth- 18%
Yang- 6%
Status Quo Joe 5%
Mayo Pete- 4%

Best able to handle healthcare:

Bernie- 33%
Elizabeth- 17%
Status Quo Joe- 15%
Mayo Pete- 7%

Best able to handle the Climate Crisis:

Bernie- 30%
Elizabeth- 15%
Status Quo Joe- 9%
Mayo Pete- 4%

Best able to handle gun policies:

Bernie- 14%
Elizabeth- 14%
Status Quo Joe- 12%
Beto- 8%
Mayo Pete- 6%
Yesterday Tyler Pager reported at Bloomberg News that Biden is in danger of a humiliating loss in Iowa, coming in either 3rd or 4th, primarily because of "a poorly organized operation that has failed to engage with voters and party leaders. With fewer than 100 days until the Feb. 3 caucuses, Biden is failing to spend the time with small groups of voters and party officials that Iowans expect and his campaign’s outreach has been largely ineffective, according to 11 senior Democrats in the state. They worry that could send Biden to a crippling loss behind Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, who have highly organized campaigns in Iowa, said the Democrats." [Bloomberg, a multibillionaire, frowns on mentioning Bernie in his company's communications.]

The Iowa caucus is not really pollable in any reliable way, but what we do know is that in the 2016 caucuses, Bernie and Hillary were essentially tied. The most recent Iowa poll-- this one by Civiqs-- of likely caucus participants, breaks down like this, very bad news for Biden:
Elizabeth- 28%
Mayo Pete- 20%
Bernie- 18%
Status Quo Joe- 12%
Klobuchar- 4%
Kamala- 3%
Steyer- 3%

Yesterday the NY Post published a report that David Axelrod, Obama's former top advisor, said Biden is running his campaign "as if he were in the federal witness protection program, and also trashed his 'bewildering' defense of son Hunter’s controversial business dealings in foreign countries. They have him in the candidate protection program,” Axelrod said in a profile of Biden in New York magazine, headlined “The Zombie Campaign."

Axelrod said, "I don’t know if you can do that. I don’t know if you can get through a whole campaign that way. Either he can hack it or he can’t hack it. If you’re worried the candidate can hurt himself talking to a reporter, that’s a bad sign... Perhaps he can [hang on]. But that’s generally not the way the physics of these things work. Generally, you’re either moving up or moving down. Warren is clearly moving up. There’s no sign that he is."

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Are There Too Many Multimillionaires In Congress-- Out Of Touch With Ordinary Americans' Concerns?


Almost nothing passes unanimously in the House. I was surprised that H.R. 4695, the bill imposing sanctions on Turkey over the invasion of Syria-- which did pass yesterday with a 403 to 16 veto-proof majority still had 15 die-hard Trumpists-- like Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) and Pence's brother (R-IN)-- willing to vote know to please Señor Trumpanzee.

But that same day, the House managed to pass a bill-- a significant, consequential and important one-- unanimously. Katie Porter (D-CA) of Orange County wrote the Help America Run Act. When it becomes law, it will make it easier for working parents to run for federal office, clarifying that candidates are permitted to use campaign contributions to pay for child care, elder care, dependent care, and healthcare premiums and passed the House with unanimous, bipartisan support.

House Administration Committee Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said "The Help America Run Act is a simple, cost-free, commonsense measure to make America’s representatives look more like the everyday Americans we are here to represent. Americans caring for their children or parents today must weigh the option of running for office to serve the nation against the risk of losing coverage. It is precisely those everyday Americans that I want to see join us at the decision-making table. I’m proud to join Representative Katie Porter, the very first single mother of young children ever to serve in U.S. Congress, in supporting this important legislation. The ranking Republican on the committee, Rodney Davis (D-IL), agreed and urged, successfully, his party to back it. Though the NRCC is targeting Katie Porter as one of the top 5 democratic freshmen they want to replace, Davis publicly said that "I commend my colleague, Rep. Katie Porter, for this important legislation that I believe will allow more hardworking Americans to run for Congress. Strong candidates should not be limited by their circumstances to the point that it prevents them from representing their communities in Congress. Representatives of this body should come from all backgrounds to allow for equal representation of all who make up this great nation."

Katie, one of the most active of the freshman class, said "As a single working mom myself, I am acutely aware of the challenge it can be to balance running for office and taking care of a family. I’m proud to be a member of a historic freshman class that more closely reflects the diversity of the people we represent, but there’s still more work to be done. I’m pleased that a large number of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have come together to help break down the barriers for Americans who want to serve their communities in federal office."

One of the big problems in Congress is that few working class candidates can afford to run. That has a lot to do with how many millionaires there are in Congress. And remembers, millionaires tend to be more conservative than normal people. Here are a bunch of the richest members of the House:
Gil Cisneros (New Dem-CA)- $266 million
Mitt Romney (R-UT)- 250 million
Rick Scott (R-FL)- $232 million
Greg Gianforte (R-MT)- $135.7 million
Michael McCaul (R-TX)- $113.0 million
Mark Warner (D-VA)- $90.2 million
Dean Phillips (New Dem-MN)- $77 million
Vern Buchanan (R-FL)- $73.9 million
Kevin Hern (R-OK)- $36-$92 million
Mike Braun (R-IN)- between $35- $96 million
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)- $70.0 million
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)- $58.5 million
Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN)- $50.1 million
Paul Mitchell (R-MI)- $37.7 million
Scott Peters (New Dem)- $32.0 million
Don Beyer (New Dem-VA)- $31.2 million
Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)- $28.4 million
Roger Williams (R-TX)- $27.7 million
In 2012 the Center for Responsive Politics reported that, for there first time more than half the 534 members of Congress had an average net worth of $1 million or more (268 of them). The median net worth for the members of Congress was $1 million. They have different problems and experiences of life than the vast majority of Americans do.

Illinois single mom Rachel Ventura is very much the kind of working citizen-candidate Katie Porter's bill is meant to assist. She's running for a Chicagoland seat occupied by a wealthy New Dei, Bill Foster, who represents the interests of other wealthy people, not of working families. This morning, Rachel told us that "It's a sad day when you look up and realize that your congressman is worth $10 million dollars and that he is not the richest one. Sadly, he is only the 34th richest member of Congress and it should scare people that 33 others have accrued more wealth than he has. Running for office as a single mother is not easy and I am glad to see that Katie Porter is proposing some modest solutions. I applaud these efforts, but honestly, we need to overturn Citizens United with a constitutional amendment and pass serious campaign finance reform that makes it easier for qualified candidates to run. Creating a system where our representatives can reflect what the country's make up in gender and race is, will create a government of shared values and diverse policy. In contrasts, how in the world can a multi-millionaire identify with working people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and why would we ever trust the super wealthy to do what is in our best interest when they are padding their campaign coffers with corporate cash?"

UPDATE: Montana

State Rep. Tom Winter is the progressive Democrat running for Montana's at-large open congressional seat this cycle. "Our Congress," he told me, "is now older and richer than ever before. Is it surprising that working people haven’t gotten a raise since before I was born when the people running things look like Greg Gianforte-- old enough to be my grandfather, and rich enough to be his boss? I get asked all the time: How can a young Democrat really relate to a voter from Glendive, Montana? And I always turn it around: Has anybody ever even tried? They’ve done it the easy way with all this fake cowboy posturing from our rich elected officials-- Gianforte, Rosendale, the whole political establishment in this state. Their clean boots get us nowhere, and their trophy ranches don’t relate to those of us who work for a living.  Our working communities deserve representatives who will work for them. That’s what Democrats used to do-- work for working people. That’s what I’ll do in Congress."

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Whatever You Wanted To Know About Bernie And Why He's Running And What He Plans To Do In The White House


John Harwood did an excellent interview with Bernie for, of all places, CNBC. Bernie explains what Democratic Socialism means-- basically working towards completing what FDR started. "what I'm trying to do in this campaign is pick up where Roosevelt left off and say that economic rights must be considered human rights." You should watch it in full. Believe me, this isn't the kind of interview you're going to ever see from Maddow on MSNBC.

Harwood wrote that "Four years ago, his message of dramatic change to remedy income inequality and other economic ills won a large following in his fight against Hillary Clinton for the nomination of a party he does not even formally embrace. The results encouraged him enough to try again for 2020, even at age 78. This race poses different and perhaps more formidable challenges. The political independent faces not only a moderate, conventional front-runner in former Vice President Joe Biden, but also a powerful fellow liberal in Sen. Elizabeth Warren brandishing ideas nearly as ambitious as his. In debates and on the campaign trail, Warren has expanded her support this year; polls suggest Sanders has not."
John Harwood: One health question as we start. Has what you went through affected you emotionally, how you think about life or what’s important?

Bernie Sanders: As somebody who has had great endurance as a kid-- I was a long-distance runner, thank God I’ve been healthy as a horse-- it was a little bit shocking to me when the doctor there told me, “Hey, you’re having a heart attack.” I could not believe that that was the case.

I don’t want to be overly political in saying this, but my life is political. I went into the hospital and I didn’t worry about whether I could afford to pay. I have good insurance. And I’m sitting there, and thinking somebody else here has that same discomfort, and they’re sitting and thinking, “Should I go into the hospital and end up with a large bill? Maybe it’ll get better tomorrow, maybe I’ll forget about it.” Some of those people die or suffer permanent health damage. That’s one of those things that I thought about.

John Harwood: You recently distinguished yourself from Senator Warren-- she’s a capitalist to her bones, and you’re not.

Bernie Sanders: That’s how she has defined herself.

John Harwood: Is that just a marker of you being a little more progressive, or do you think that has real practical significance?

Bernie Sanders: I think it does, in a couple of ways. At this particular moment in history-- where the average worker has not seen a real inflation accounted for wage increase in 45 years despite an explosion of technology and productivity, where you have a political system which is totally corrupt and owned by billionaires, where you have massive amounts of corporate corruption, I think the time is now, if we’re going to save this country, for a political revolution.

It’s not just more regulation. It’s about involving millions of people, working people, young people, people who believe in justice, in the political process, to tell the corporate elite that enough is enough. We’re going to change the system politically, economically. We’re going to change the value system of this country. We’re not going to worship corrupt billionaires anymore, we’re going to respect teachers and child care workers and cops and firefighters and small business people. That’s what our campaign, uniquely I believe, is about.

John Harwood: Do you have any problem with the work that she’s done in the past, advising corporations-- Dow Corning, Dow Chemical-- on legal problems?

Bernie Sanders: I’ll let the American people make that judgment. I have never worked for a corporation myself. I’ve never carried their baggage in the United States Senate.

People have the opportunity to look at my record. It’s not last year, not two years ago-- I was for “Medicare for All” when I was mayor of Burlington in the 1980s. During my career, I have taken on every powerful corporate interest, whether it’s the drug companies, the insurance companies, fossil fuel, Wall Street. I’ve been doing this for 30 or 40 years. These are not new ideas for me.

John Harwood: You identify as a democratic socialist. You got the endorsement of Representative Ocasio-Cortez over the weekend. How far do you think you can take the United States of America toward democratic socialism?

Bernie Sanders: It depends on what we mean by democratic socialism. What I am trying to do, in many ways, is pick up where Franklin Delano Roosevelt left off. In a not widely publicized State of The Union speech he gave in 1944, this is what he said in so many words: “We have political rights. You have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion. All of that’s great, but what we don’t have are guaranteed economic rights.”

So you could vote, but you also have the privilege of sleeping out on the street. You can protest, but you also have the freedom to work 60 or 70 hours a week at starvation wages. You have the freedom not to have health insurance, not to be able to send your kids to college. What I’m trying to do in this campaign is say that economic rights must be considered as human rights.

John Harwood: Do you also embrace the part of FDR that said adversaries hate me and I welcome their hatred?

Bernie Sanders: Absolutely. You can judge a person by the friends they have. You can judge a candidate for president by the enemies they have.

There was a guy who was head of Third Way, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. He said, “Bernie Sanders is an existential threat to the Democratic Party.” I agree with him. I am. I want to convert the Democratic Party, to break its dependency on big money and corporate interests, and make it a party of working-class people, of young people, of all people who believe in justice.

John Harwood: Would it be your intention to appoint democratic socialists to big positions in your administration?

Bernie Sanders: Well, you’re going a little bit too crazy on the word here.

I will appoint people who believe in the working class and the working families of this country, who are prepared to stand up to the incredibly powerful corporate interests, that today dominate our economic and political life. I will appoint an attorney general, who for the first time in modern history, will go after the white-collar crime, which I believe is rampant. Instead of arresting kids whether they are selling marijuana, maybe we go after some of the crooks on Wall Street or in other major industries. I will appoint an attorney general who is prepared to enforce the antitrust laws that are on the books, that have been neglected for so very long.

So when I talk about democratic socialism, let’s be clear, what does it mean? Let’s not get people overly nervous about it.

John Harwood: The DSA website said, “We can’t eliminate private corporations in the short term, so we have to confront them.” Would it be your intention, in the medium or long term, not to have private corporations?

Bernie Sanders: No, that’s not my intention. What is my intention, though, is to make sure that workers have representation on those large corporations. We’ve presented the Corporate Accountability Act. Not terribly radical-- it exists in one form or another in other countries, including Germany. Instead of just being a cog in the machine, what about giving that worker some power and responsibility in terms of the shaping of that corporation?

Should Wall Street and a handful of members of a board determine whether a factory remains in the United States or whether it goes to China? Should a handful of wealthy board members determine whether or not there is a stock buy-back, whether workers get decent wage increases and decent benefits?

John Harwood: You’re not impressed by the statement that Jamie Dimon and the Business Roundtable put out saying that, “We are going to take considerations broader than just profit into our practices.” You don’t think they’re serious?

Bernie Sanders: No. Of course not.

John Harwood: If you require that 45% of the board be workers, a required distribution of profits to workers, if you ban stock buybacks, do you accept that would have a slowing effect on economic growth?

Bernie Sanders: It’s not good enough just to look at economic growth. That has been the biblical stature that corporate America has been looking at-- we have growth, we have growth. The average worker is no better off than he or she was 45 years ago. In the last 30 years, the top 1% have seen a $21 trillion increase in their wealth. The bottom half of America’s seen a decline in their wealth. Half the people today are living paycheck to paycheck.

The question is, is our economy working for the people here? Is it working for ordinary Americans? Do people feel secure? Do they know that when they get sick, they can go to a doctor in a hospital? Do they know that their kids, everything being equal, can have a better standard of living?

John Harwood: How do you factor in the fact that modern global capitalism has substantially reduced poverty in other parts of the world?

Bernie Sanders: When you talk about the global economy, you’re right. Thank God. The terrible, terrible poverty in the developing world, some of that is receding. That’s great. On the other hand, you are looking at an unbelievable and grotesque level of global income and wealth inequality. You are seeing in country after country, the incredible power of large multinational corporations and Wall Street in determining the future of those countries. You’re also seeing in many countries a movement toward increased authoritarianism and away from human rights and democracy.

John Harwood: On Wall Street reform, you say you want to end “too-big-to-jail.” You said the other day that Sherman Act violations by monopolists ought to have the potential for criminal indictments. I wonder if you think that principle also applies to cases like the Boeing CEO. He’s been stripped of his position as board chairman, the head of the Max airplane was fired. Is that the kind of case that criminal law is relevant to?

Bernie Sanders: This is the kind of discussion that we need as a nation, and that will take place when I’m president. I’ll give you three examples.

In 2008, Wall Street drove this country into the worst economic recession in modern history. Wall Street has paid tens and tens of billions of dollars in fines for their illegal activity. Wasn’t a mistake. They were selling subprime mortgages that they knew were worthless.

How many of these Wall Street executives went to jail?

John Harwood: I don’t think any.

Bernie Sanders: No, and that is why the American people are disgusted with what goes on in Washington, D.C. They see a kid selling marijuana, gets picked up by the cop. That kid will have a criminal record the rest of his life. And a Wall Street executive that causes a massive tragedy for our economy, no punishment.

Another example-- the pharmaceutical industry. They’re not only greedy, they are corrupt. They are engaged in collusion and in price-fixing. Right now, as you know, state attorneys general are mounting a massive lawsuit against the opioid manufacturers. What they are saying is, these guys knew exactly what they were doing. They were selling an addictive product all over this country. Many have died. How do you define that behavior? I call it criminal.

One more example. How do we define, how do we describe the behavior of the fossil fuel industry?

John Harwood: You tell me.

Bernie Sanders: All right, I will tell you. They have known, for a very long time, the executives of Exxon Mobil and other fossil fuel industries knew that the product that they were producing was causing climate change and in fact helping to destroy this planet.

John Harwood: You put them in the same category as tobacco executives.

Bernie Sanders: Exactly. If you are producing a product and you don’t know that it’s causing harm, that’s forgivable. But if you are like the tobacco industry-- we go before Congress, we swear that all of our research has shown that there is not a problem with tobacco causing cancer or heart disease. They lied. My father died because he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. Millions of people are in the same boat. These are liars. These are criminals. By the way, they’re still selling their bloody products all over the world. Same thing with fossil fuel.

We need as a nation to do something we have never done before, and say to these corporate executives who have so much power, we’re tired of your greed and we are tired of your corruption. I support and respect business people who produce new products, create jobs. God bless them. I do not respect or support criminals who are killing people, who are harming people, and are lying about what they’re doing.

John Harwood: Let me ask a question about real-world governance rather than campaign rhetoric. Joe Biden said earlier this year, nothing really fundamental has to change. You have proposed enormous changes. Would the practical results of a Biden administration really be that different from the practical results in a Sanders administration, given the fact that there are so many constraints on things getting done in Congress?

Bernie Sanders: John, you’re forgetting one very important thing: I am a different type of politician, and my administration will be unique in modern American history at least going back to FDR.

You talk about the fact that nothing much really big ever happens. And there’s truth to that. But what you’re missing is that right now you have a Congress and a White House that are dominated by a corporate elite who have unbelievable amounts of money and influence over the political and economic life of this country. I’m not going to be dominated by those guys. I will take them on and I’ll beat them.

The way we beat them is with the understanding that real change has never taken place without millions of people standing up and demanding that change. That is the history of the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay movement, the environmental movement. I will not only be commander in chief of the military, I will be organizer in chief. I will be organizing with a strong grassroots movement.

We already have the nucleus. It’ll be involving the labor unions, the African American communities, the Latino community, the young people of this country. All people who believe in justice, working-class people, who are prepared to stand up and fight and take on the corporate elite. And when you do that, John, then you’re not talking about incremental changes.

John Harwood: But even if you get elected, even if it’s successful to the point that Democrats win a small majority in the Senate, is Joe Manchin going to vote for your program? Is Jon Tester going to vote for your program?

Bernie Sanders: Yeah. Damn right they will. You know why? We’re going to go to West Virginia.

Your average politician sits around and he or she thinks, “Let’s see. If I do this, I’m going to have the big money interests putting 30-second ads against me. So I’d better not do it.” But now they’re going to have to think, “If I don’t support an agenda that works for working people, I’m going to have President Sanders coming to my state and rallying working-class people.”

You know what? The 1 percent is very powerful-- no denying that. The 99%, when they’re organized and prepared to stand up and fight, they are far more powerful.

John Harwood: You’ve been running for president for five years. If there were a latent political revolution waiting to happen, wouldn’t we see more of it by now?

Bernie Sanders: Let’s talk about that. Think about the ideas that I introduced four years ago. Four years ago, $15 an hour minimum wage-- “radical and crazy.” Four years ago, Medicare for All, health care as a human right-- “Bernie, that’s un-American.” Seventy-one percent of Democrats now support that. Climate change is a major threat.

John Harwood: That’s more people talking about it, not stuff having gotten through the process. Bernie Sanders: How’s it going to get through the process when Donald Trump is president, who is beholden to his billionaire friends? And when Mitch McConnell runs the Senate?

But the House of Representatives did pass a $15 an hour minimum wage. The House of Representatives did pass significant election reform, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s waiting. The ideas that I am talking about are by and large supported by the American people.

As president, I help bring our country together by talking about issues that Republicans agree on. Republicans think that we should not have a trade policy that sends good-paying jobs to China and Mexico. I agree with that. We can bring people together around an agenda that works for working families, not just the 1%.

John Harwood: One of the constraints has been fiscal. Senator Warren is producing plans to pay for Medicare for All. You’ve identified revenue sources for about half of it. Do you think it’s important to identify revenue sources for the other half? Or do you believe, as those who subscribe to modern monetary theory believe, that we’ve been a little bit too constrained by concerns about the deficit?

Bernie Sanders: We’re trying to pay for the damn thing. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is my view that the wealthiest people in this country, the top 1/10th of 1% should be paying substantially more than they’re paying right now. You have an insane situation. Let my Wall Street friends there tell me why it makes sense.

John Harwood: You have Wall Street friends?

Bernie Sanders: No, I don’t. That was just a metaphor. I was trying to sound nice.

But you know, please, defend for me Amazon, owned by the wealthiest guy in the country, making $11 billion in profits last year and not paying a nickel in federal income taxes. I want to hear the defense. John, I don’t hear it. There is no defense. And it’s not just Amazon, it’s dozens of these corporations.

John Harwood: But you still have more revenue to go to make it fully paid for, yes?

Bernie Sanders: The fight right now is to get the American people to understand that we’re spending twice as much per capita, that of course, we can pay for it. We’re paying it now in a very reactionary, regressive way. I want to pay for it in a progressive way.

You’re asking me to come up with an exact detailed plan of how every American-- how much you’re going to pay more in taxes, how much I’m going to pay. I don’t think I have to do that right now.

John Harwood: You think it’s foolish that Senator Warren is trying to?

Bernie Sanders: I’m not saying it’s foolish. All that I’m saying is that we have laid out a variety of options that are progressive. We’ll have that debate. At the end of the day, we will pay for every nickel of Medicare for All, and it will save the overwhelming majority of the American people, who will no longer pay premiums.

John Harwood: Would you envision that at the end of a Sanders administration, the deficit would not be larger than it is now?

Bernie Sanders: Under Trump, what we have seen is a huge increase in the deficit. I think I will do a lot better than Trump.

Every major proposal that we have brought forth-- whether it’s Medicare for All, dealing with climate change, transforming our energy system, making public colleges and universities tuition-free and eliminating all student debt in America-- that’s all paid for.

John Harwood: Congress has not been able to raise the gas tax by pennies to fix crumbling roads and bridges. You’ve got a wealth tax, which is enormous. Congress has not been able to pass card-check unionization. You’re proposing a huge increase in the clout of organized labor. How are those things even conceivable in 2019?

Bernie Sanders: OK, it’s a good question. It’s a fair question. But you’re looking at status quo politics. I often use a statement that Nelson Mandela made: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

These ideas-- “Oh my God, it can’t be done.” Imagine everybody in America having health care. Duh-- that’s what exists in every other country on Earth. Why is that so impossible?

Imagine the United States leading the world in transforming our energy system and saving the planet for our kids and grandchildren. “Oh my God, it’s impossible.” Really? What’s the alternative?

You’re right in saying that these are big ideas. I concede that. You’re right in saying that we have more or less a dysfunctional Congress. I agree with you.

But where you’re not right is understanding that if you and I were sitting here 25 years ago, and I said to you, “You know John, I think that gay marriage will be legal in every state in this country”. What would you have said to me? You would have said, “you’re crazy.”

John Harwood: Yes, I would have.

Bernie Sanders: I grew up at a time when African Americans could not vote, right? Kids could not go to a local school, could not drink at a water fountain. And change took place. Martin Luther King Jr., others, they stood up and they fought. 100 years ago, women did not have the right to vote, because as we all know, women’s place is in the house; 100 years ago-- not a long time.

Change can take place when you motivate people, when you get people organized when they stand up for justice. That’s what I believe.

John Harwood: If you’ve got a one-shot in your first year...

Bernie Sanders: Wrong question! I know where you’re going. You’re going to ask me to prioritize.

John Harwood: Yes.

Bernie Sanders: No. Once you get moving, you can move. I think that the American people can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time.

We must save the planet. That’s not an option. We have got to combat climate change. America’s got to lead the world.

I will demand that every American has health care as a human right. I will not allow hundreds of thousands of bright young kids not to be able to go to college because they lack the income or 45 million people to be suffering from large student debt.

John Harwood: You don’t accept that you’ve got to pick one to start?

Bernie Sanders: No. That’s old thinking.

John Harwood: Last question. When we did this interview four years ago, you ended it by saying, “don’t underestimate me.”

Bernie Sanders: Did I say that, John?

John Harwood: You did.

Bernie Sanders: And you underestimated me.

John Harwood: I confess that I did. But right now, I think a whole lot of people are discounting your chances, or in your view may be underestimating you. What would you say to them?

Bernie Sanders: When I became mayor of the city of Burlington way back when in 1981, a local reporter said, “Well the odds of Sanders winning against the five-term incumbent, running as an independent, are about 100 to 1.” I won. Last time around, taking on the entire Democratic establishment, we ended up winning 22 states and got more young people’s votes than Trump and Clinton combined.

The ideas that I talked about four years ago seemed so radical and extreme. Today they’re kind of mainstream ideas, right?

Don’t underestimate me.
Goal ThermometerEveryone should vote for Bernie, except the selfish and most greedy, self-interested billionaires. Everyone else should. Great again? Making America great again? There's no one else but Bernie to do that who's running for president. This 2020 ActBlue thermometer on the right is a place where you can contribute to Bernie's campaign; I did; you should too. And you can also contribute to progressive congressional candidates who support him and his platform and will help him pass the programs he's talking about. I want to repeat a comment Washington state candidate Rebecca Parson gave me for why she endorsed Bernie: "I am backing Bernie because he's the best choice for the working class. He's been saying the same things for decades, even when it was inconvenient, because he believes them. Unlike all other presidential candidates, Bernie supports federal rent control (as a renter myself, this is massive); supports true, single-payer, non-wishy washy M4A; wants to cancel ALL student debt; and can actually beat Trump. And unlike all other candidates, his theory of change is one that will result in a true transformation of this country instead of surface-level reforms. Bernie's theory of change is the 'inside-outside strategy,' and unlike Obama, he won't abandon the grassroots when he's in the White House. For all these reasons and more, I endorse and support Bernie all the way."

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