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War, Peace, and Bernie Sanders

War, Peace, and Bernie Sanders
by
Robert C. Koehler
CommonDreams.org


Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaking in 2013 at the Civil Rights Luncheon during AFGE's annual Legislative Conference. (Photo: AFGE/flickr/cc)

It’s the day after the big vote and I’m doing my best to dig Tulsi Gabbard’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders out from beneath the pile of Super Tuesday numbers and media declarations of winners and losers.

As a Boston Globe headline put it: “Clinton and Trump are now the presumptive nominees. Get used to it.”

But something besides winning and losing still matters, more than ever, in the 2016 presidential race. War and peace and a fundamental questioning of who we are as a nation are actually on the line in this race, or could be — for the first time since 1972, when George McGovern was the Democratic presidential nominee.

Embrace what matters deeply and there’s no such thing as losing.

Gabbard, an Iraq war vet, congresswoman from Hawaii and “rising star” in the Democratic establishment, stepped down as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to endorse Sanders — because he’s the only candidate who is not financially and psychologically tied to the military-industrial complex.

“As a veteran of two Middle East deployments, I know firsthand the cost of war,” she said, cracking the mainstream silence on U.S. militarism. “As a vice chair of the DNC, I am required to stay neutral in democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high.”

Because of Gabbard — only because of Gabbard — the multi-trillion-dollar monstrosity of U.S. militarism is getting a little mainstream media attention amid the reality-TV histrionics of this year’s presidential race, the Donald Trump phenomenon and the spectacle of Republican insult-flinging.

Continued:
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/03/03/war-peace-and-bernie-sanders

Larry Fink and His BlackRock Team Poised to Take Over Hillary Clinton’s Treasury Department

Larry Fink and His BlackRock Team Poised to Take Over Hillary Clinton’s Treasury Department
David Dayen


Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 for three speeches, but an even bigger Wall Street player stands ready to mold and enact her economic and financial policy if she becomes president.

BlackRock is far from a household name, but it is the largest asset management firm in the world, controlling $4.6 trillion in investor funds — about a trillion dollars more than the annual federal budget, and five times the assets of Goldman Sachs. And Larry Fink, BlackRock’s CEO, has assembled a veritable shadow government full of former Treasury Department officials at his company.

Fink has made clear his desire to become Treasury Secretary someday. The Obama administration had him on the short list to replace Timothy Geithner. When that didn’t materialize, he pulled several members of prior Treasury Departments into high-level positions at the firm, which may improve the prospects of realizing his dream in a future Clinton administration.

And his priorities appear to be so in sync with Clinton’s that it’s not entirely clear who shares whose agenda.

Clinton, for her part, has refused to rule out a Treasury Secretary drawn from Wall Street.

Continued:
https://theintercept.com/2016/03/02/larry-fink-and-his-blackrock-team-poised-to-take-over-hillary-clintons-treasury-department/

Clinton Promises 'Absolutely, Absolutely' Nothing to Worry About in Wall Street Speeches

Clinton Promises 'Absolutely, Absolutely' Nothing to Worry About in Wall Street Speeches

New York Times editorial joins those urging Democratic presidential candidate to release transcripts of controversial speeches
by Jon Queally, staff writer

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/02/26/clinton-promises-absolutely-absolutely-nothing-worry-about-wall-street-speeches


Hillary Clinton has now said voters have no reason to worry about what's in the paid speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms. (Photo: AP)

From the New York Times editorial board to a Republican-friendly super PAC, it appears unease is widespread over Hillary Clinton's continued refusal to release transcripts of recent paid speeches she gave to some of Wall Street's most powerful firms.

In a sharply-worded editorial in Friday's print edition, the Times described Clinton's excuses for not releasing the transcripts as those of a "mischievous child, not a presidential candidate"—arguing that "public interest in these speeches is legitimate" and that by "stonewalling" their release "Mrs. Clinton plays into the hands of those who say she’s not trustworthy and makes her own rules."

However, in an interview with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough that aired Friday morning, Clinton again defended her relationship with Wall Street and said the voting public has no need to worry about what she may have said in the speeches that earned her millions of dollars.


Full story:
From the New York Times editorial board to a Republican-friendly super PAC, it appears unease is widespread over Hillary Clinton's continued refusal to release transcripts of recent paid speeches she gave to some of Wall Street's most powerful firms.

In a sharply-worded editorial in Friday's print edition, the Times described Clinton's excuses for not releasing the transcripts as those of a "mischievous child, not a presidential candidate"—arguing that "public interest in these speeches is legitimate" and that by "stonewalling" their release "Mrs. Clinton plays into the hands of those who say she’s not trustworthy and makes her own rules."

However, in an interview with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough that aired Friday morning, Clinton again defended her relationship with Wall Street and said the voting public has no need to worry about what she may have said in the speeches that earned her millions of dollars.

Sanders Should Challenge the Foreign-Policy Status Quo

Sanders Should Challenge the Foreign-Policy Status Quo

We desperately need to overturn a foreign policy that grows ever more divorced from the interests and security concerns of the vast majority of Americans.

By Katrina vanden Heuvel

Global economic troubles threaten our economy, a cold war heats up with Russia, the Middle East is aflame, and 2015 was the hottest year on record, as climate change accelerates. Despite this, the presidential campaigns have offered little more than foreign policy by bumper sticker.

In the Republican race, particularly now that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has ended his campaign, the debate has descended into bellicose posturing, xenophobia, fervid denunciations of all things Obama and, of course, climate change denial. The candidates vie to rip up the Iran deal, rev up a new cold war with Russia, fan the flames in the Middle East and walk away from the progress made in Paris on climate.

Democrats have a genuine opportunity to offer a sorely needed new, real security agenda. Yet we’ve seen little evidence of it. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has made a stirring argument about our rigged economy and our corrupted politics, electrifying young voters and unsettling the party establishment’s favorite, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. But Sanders has said little about foreign policy, apparently viewing it as a distraction from his core economic message.

Continued: http://www.thenation.com/article/sanders-should-challenge-the-foreign-policy-status-quo/

Hillary Clinton and the Syrian Bloodbath





TASOS KATOPODIS via Getty Images

In the Milwaukee debate, Hillary Clinton took pride in her role in a recent UN Security Council resolution on a Syrian ceasefire:

But I would add this. You know, the Security Council finally got around to adopting a resolution. At the core of that resolution is an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva, which set forth a cease-fire and moving toward a political resolution, trying to bring the parties at stake in Syria together.


This is the kind of compulsive misrepresentation that makes Clinton unfit to be President. Clinton's role in Syria has been to help instigate and prolong the Syrian bloodbath, not to bring it to a close.

In 2012, Clinton was the obstacle, not the solution, to a ceasefire being negotiated by UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan. It was US intransigence - Clinton's intransigence - that led to the failure of Annan's peace efforts in the spring of 2012, a point well known among diplomats. Despite Clinton's insinuation in the Milwaukee debate, there was (of course) no 2012 ceasefire, only escalating carnage. Clinton bears heavy responsibility for that carnage, which has by now displaced more than 10 million Syrians and left more than 250,000 dead.

As every knowledgeable observer understands, the Syrian War is not mostly about Bashar al-Assad, or even about Syria itself. It is mostly a proxy war, about Iran. And the bloodbath is doubly tragic and misguided for that reason.

Continued: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/hillary-clinton-and-the-s_b_9231190.html

Hillary Clinton and the Syrian Bloodbath

Hillary Clinton and the Syrian Bloodbath
Huffington Post
Jeffrey Sachs
Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/hillary-clinton-and-the-s_b_9231190.html

In the Milwaukee debate, Hillary Clinton took pride in her role in a recent UN Security Council resolution on a Syrian ceasefire:

But I would add this. You know, the Security Council finally got around to adopting a resolution. At the core of that resolution is an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva, which set forth a cease-fire and moving toward a political resolution, trying to bring the parties at stake in Syria together.


This is the kind of compulsive misrepresentation that makes Clinton unfit to be President. Clinton's role in Syria has been to help instigate and prolong the Syrian bloodbath, not to bring it to a close.

In 2012, Clinton was the obstacle, not the solution, to a ceasefire being negotiated by UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan. It was US intransigence - Clinton's intransigence - that led to the failure of Annan's peace efforts in the spring of 2012, a point well known among diplomats. Despite Clinton's insinuation in the Milwaukee debate, there was (of course) no 2012 ceasefire, only escalating carnage. Clinton bears heavy responsibility for that carnage, which has by now displaced more than 10 million Syrians and left more than 250,000 dead.

As every knowledgeable observer understands, the Syrian War is not mostly about Bashar al-Assad, or even about Syria itself. It is mostly a proxy war, about Iran. And the bloodbath is doubly tragic and misguided for that reason.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the leading Sunni powers in the Middle East, view Iran, the leading Shia power, as a regional rival for power and influence. Right-wing Israelis view Iran as an implacable foe that controls Hezbollah, a Shi'a militant group operating in Lebanon, a border state of Israel. Thus, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel have all clamored to remove Iran's influence in Syria.

This idea is incredibly naïve. Iran has been around as a regional power for a long time--in fact, for about 2,700 years. And Shia Islam is not going away. There is no way, and no reason, to "defeat" Iran. The regional powers need to forge a geopolitical equilibrium that recognizes the mutual and balancing roles of the Gulf Arabs, Turkey, and Iran. And Israeli right-wingers are naïve, and deeply ignorant of history, to regard Iran as their implacable foe, especially when that mistaken view pushes Israel to side with Sunni jihadists.

Yet Clinton did not pursue that route. Instead she joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and right-wing Israelis to try to isolate, even defeat, Iran. In 2010, she supported secret negotiations between Israel and Syria to attempt to wrest Syria from Iran's influence. Those talks failed. Then the CIA and Clinton pressed successfully for Plan B: to overthrow Assad.

Continued: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/hillary-clinton-and-the-s_b_9231190.html

Caucus turnout: Robust, record-setting and surprising

Source: Des Moines Register

Iowa’s 2016 caucus attendance was a doozy.

Republicans counted more than 180,000 caucusgoers, topping their 2012 attendance record of 121,503 by an estimated 60,000 people.

And while Democratic numbers weren’t completely tallied at the time of this publication, all indications pointed to a robust performance, although not likely to top the roughly 240,000 total who showed up in 2008 to vote for a Democratic rock-star field led by Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

The turnouts shunned conventional wisdom that high participation would equate to a Donald Trump victory, said Kedron Bardwell, the chairman of the political science department at Simpson College.

“It’s not what people were expecting in terms of what would happen if we had an increased turnout,” Bardwell said. “This is a dynamic kind of effect. If people anticipate that Trump is going to win, it also motivates the people that want anybody but Trump.”

Read more: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2016/02/02/caucus-turnout-robust-record-setting-and-surprising/79626128/

How The Iowa Democratic Caucus Works, Featuring Legos

Liberals No Longer Amused by Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Campaign

Liberals No Longer Amused by Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Campaign
by Kevin Gosztola

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/01/21/liberals-no-longer-amused-bernie-sanders-presidential-campaign


[font size=1]"It is one thing to vote for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, who are more than happy to serve the moneyed elite, if you actually believe in what she stands for as a presidential candidate," writes Gosztola. "But it is quite another thing to delude people into voting for her simply because it is your view that Bernie Sanders’ vision is difficult to make a reality." (Photo: Charlie Leight, Getty Images)[/font]

The objective of the week for liberals appears to be to make clear Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is some kind of pariah. Despite how his candidacy has transformed into a phenomenon over the past months, establishment liberals maintain the U.S. senator from Vermont should not be considered a “serious” candidate. They believe it would be a huge mistake if a Democrat with unapologetic socialist leanings won the nomination, especially over Hillary Clinton.

But these cases against Sanders are really arguments against citizens voting their conscience. The uncertainty and dismissiveness toward Sanders serves to silence any critics of the corporate-driven politics entrenched in the Democratic Party. It suggests a fear that Democrats might actually stand against corporate power for a change.

"What [the liberal establishemt] argument really amounts to is an argument that Democratic Party politicians and the operatives who run their campaigns would be uncomfortable with talking openly about socialism because that would alienate the corporate interests they have cozied up to in order to win elections."

The New York Times reports “alarmed Hillary Clinton supporters” are warning Sanders “would be an electoral disaster who would frighten swing voters and send Democrats in tight congressional and governor’s races to defeat.” Supporters cast Sanders as “unelectable” and attempt to present him as the Republicans’ favored nominee because super political action committees run by operatives like Karl Rove would supposedly prefer to see the Republican nominee run against Sanders.

Continued at CommonDreams.org
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/01/21/liberals-no-longer-amused-bernie-sanders-presidential-campaign

Skewed Courts Team Up with Debt Predators to Screw Nation's Poor

Skewed Courts Team Up with Debt Predators to Screw Nation's Poor

'Rubber stamping debt buyer suits threatens the rights of poor people and ultimately undermines the basic integrity of the courts.'
by Jon Queally
CommonDreams.org

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/01/21/skewed-courts-team-debt-predators-screw-nations-poor


Courts across the United States have allowed multibillion-dollar corporations to secure judgments against alleged debtors en masse without providing meaningful evidence to support their claims, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Thursday .(Image: © 2016 Brian Stauffer for Human Rights Watch)

Courts across the United States are systematically failing poor and low-income individuals as predatory financial companies buy up large portfolios of past debt and then win profits by targeting vulnerable people who may or may not be responsible for the alleged delinquencies.

That's the key conclusion of an in-depth investigation conducted by Human Right Watch HRW), and published Thursday, which scrutinizes how courts handle hundreds of thousands of lawsuits brought every year by debt buyers – firms that specialize in purchasing bad debts which they then try to collect for themselves.

"Courts should find ways to assist alleged debtors who don’t have legal representation instead of stacking the odds still further against them." —Chris Albin-Lackey, Human Rights Watch


The report charges that courts are rubber-stamping lawsuits brought against people by these companies but that due-diligence is woefully lacking and too little is being done to protect the rights of those being sued.

"Courts should be treating debt buyer lawsuits with heightened vigilance," said Chris Albin-Lackey, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. "Rubber stamping debt buyer suits threatens the rights of poor people and ultimately undermines the basic integrity of the courts."

Continued:
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/01/21/skewed-courts-team-debt-predators-screw-nations-poor
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