Ted Rall

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Updated: 39 min 50 sec ago

Bad Press

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 23:16

When the media and political establishment gang up against Donald Trump by calling him out for racism, idiocy and promoting violence, they’re absolutely right. Given how unpopular and discredited they are, however, they may be pushing some voters into Trump’s column.

11 Classic Cartoons About Free Trade

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 14:44

The Brexit vote has prompted a renewed debate about globalization. Here are 11 of my favorite old cartoons about free trade, especially NAFTA. Looking at these now, I remember that it was nearly impossible to get media outlets to run them.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Who’s Really To Blame for Brexit (and Trump)

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 14:06

At this writing, securities markets and the international community are reeling at the news that British voters have opted to leave the European Union. The “Brexit” has provoked angry reactions from the pro-Remain camp, who accuse Leave voters of stupidity, shortsighted ignorance and, worse, thinly-disguised racism and nativism posing as nationalism.

Political analysts point out that British voters were divided geographically – Scotland wanted to stay, England wanted to leave – as well as demographically. One chart that managed to go semi-viral online displayed high support for the Brexit among older voters, opposition among the young, alongside the actuarial average years remaining that each age group would have to live with the consequences of the vote. The smartest of these pundits focus on the class divide between shiny expensive youth-oriented cities like London, where pro-European sentiments are strong, and England’s version of the Rust Belt, abandoned hellholes where citizens barely subsist in a ruined landscape of shut down factories and widespread unemployment.

“If you’ve got money, you vote in,” a voter in Manchester told The Guardian. “If you haven’t got money, you vote out,” she said.

Amid all the concern about a collapsing British pound and the possible dissolution of not only the European Union – looks like France and the Netherlands may have a similar plebiscite in the near future – but also the United Kingdom, everyone’s out to cast blame. However, no one is pointing at those who are most responsible if (and it’s far from certain) Brexit leads to an economic downturn and/or a political debacle: the West’s incompetent political class, and its idiotic enablers in the corporate media.

The postwar order began to fray during the 1970s, when business leaders and their allies in government started to push aggressively for policies that encouraged the transfer of manufacturing industries to the developing world away from what was then called the First World in preparation for what we now call the information economy. Globalization is the shorthand term for deindustrialization – some call it outsourcing, others prefer the simpler “shipping jobs overseas” – and digitalization of culture and intellectual property.

This essay isn’t about whether globalization is good or bad. It’s about the way a trend that has been consistently declared irreversible has been poorly managed. That mismanagement led to the Brexit, and may elect Donald Trump.

Even during the 1970s, globalization’s downward pressure on wages was easy to foresee. Capital was becoming increasingly fluid, crossing borders with incredible ease in search of places and people where the production of goods and services could be done as cheaply as possible. If you own a factory in Michigan, and you can figure out a way to transport your product to market at reasonable cost, doing the patriotic “made in USA” thing feels like leaving money on the table when you consider what your expenses would look like in Vietnam or Indonesia.

Workers, on the other hand, are confined by international borders, linguistic and cultural limitations, family ties, and just plain inertia, to the nations — and often the regions within those countries — where they were born. If the highest wages in the world are paid in the United Arab Emirates, you can’t just hop on a plane and expect to find a job, much less a work permit. Workers are stuck; capital moves freely. This economic imbalance between labor and management is a significant contributing factor to the decline in real median wages in countries like Great Britain and the United States since the 1970s.

Now let’s say that you’re a high-ranking member of the ruling class: a Fortune 500 CEO, a head of state, a congressman, the publisher of a big-city newspaper. You don’t need a major in history or political science in order to anticipate that subjecting tens of millions of people to long-term unemployment and underemployment is a recipe for social dysfunction and the kind of class resentment that can be exploited by a demagogue or radical populist movement.

You can do one of two things with that knowledge. You can ignore victims of economic dislocation. Or you can help them.

If you ignore them, if you greedily grab up every dollar and pound and euro you can while city after city slowly collapses into alcoholism, drug abuse and rising crime, you know you’re setting yourself up for a future of political instability. It may take a long time, but the chickens will come home to roost. When things turn ugly, it could cost you a pile of cash you amassed during your orgy of greed.

That’s what happened during the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan dismantled the post-World War II social safety nets. Precisely at a time when the UK and the US needed more welfare, national healthcare and public education programs, they slashed them instead. Those austerity policies continued under Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, David Cameron, and – against reason and common sense – under Barack Obama after the 2008 economic meltdown.

The British and American political classes made a conscious decision over the last 40 to 50 years not to lift a finger to help those who lost their jobs to deindustrialization and globalization. Go back to college, they say. Get retrained. But most Americans can’t afford college tuition — the jobless least of all! We need(ed) a GI Bill for the dispossessed.

Even this week, many establishment types continue to criticize aging pensioners and unemployed workers over age 50, denigrating them as selfish, clueless, unwilling and unable to adapt themselves to the new – brutal – world in which we find ourselves.

No doubt: nativism and racism played a role in the Brexit vote. England is an island nation with an island mentality. Though only a few thousand Syrians entered the UK last year, with nary a passport check, images of refugees riding the roof of trains from France through the Chunnel felt like an invasion to some Britons. But bigotry shouldn’t let us ignore the economic factor. When jobs are plentiful and salaries are rising, no one minds immigration. Xenophobia grows in the soil of scarcity.

What did the elites think? Did they really believe it was possible to make so many people so desperate and so angry for so long without a risk of them lashing out?

Donald Trump is not a brilliant man. But the political classes could learn a lesson from him. He knows that an awful lot of people are angry. And he knows why.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography “Trump,” comes out July 19th and is now available for pre-order.)

No Fly/No Gun

Sun, 06/26/2016 - 23:14

Democrats occupied the floor of the House of Representatives to demand that people on the federal “no fly” list be denied the right to buy firearms. But the no fly list is maintained by the incredibly incompetent TSA. Why should they get to decide whether you have your Second Amendment rights?

Why Doesn’t She Change?

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 23:09

Supporters of Hillary Clinton tell the progressive supporters of Bernie Sanders that they have to change their politics, or compromise them, or ignore them, in order to join them in their fight to defeat the dangerous Donald Trump. But no one seems to ask: if Hillary Clinton wants our votes, why doesn’t she change her politics to suit us? Isn’t that what politicians do? Instead of pandering to the people, she panders to corporations.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Mass Shootings Are The New Normal. Get Over It.

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 10:01

What is wrong with Americans?

Okay, that’s a very open-ended question with many potential answers.

What I’d like to talk about this time is: why is it that Americans only begin to get serious about a problem after it’s too late to solve it?

Currently, I’m thinking about the latest, depressingly predictable response to the Orlando massacre.

As usual, right-wingers like Donald Trump want to restrict immigration. But even setting aside the obvious moral and practical economic objections to nativism, how would that prevent future mass shootings (in part) in the name of the Islamic State? Orlando shooter Omar Nateen wasn’t an immigrant. He was born in Queens, New York; his parents were from Afghanistan. If the Republicans’ goal is to get rid of potentially self radicalized Muslims, it’s too late. There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States. Many are full-fledged citizens.

Any group of people that numbers in the millions includes some who are mentally ill, some who are politically radical, some who are religious fundamentalists, and some who are some combination of all three. Since it’s illegal to deport U.S. citizens, millions of whom are Muslim, a few of whom are crazy – and the United States insists on pursuing an endless “war on terror” against Muslim countries – there’s no way that a policy of reduced immigration can prevent future attacks by homegrown Islamists.

On what passes for a Left, Democrats like Hillary Clinton are pushing for tighter restrictions on guns. As usual.

Indeed, it’s hard to argue that civilians require military grade weapons like the semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle used to kill 49 people at the Pulse nightclub. Hunters don’t use them. If the AR-15 is legal, why not hand grenades? Had Nateen been forced to use a pistol or long gun instead, his bullets would have been smaller, the death toll lower. Some of his victims might have been able to overpower him as he tried to reload.

Here again, however, it’s too late to fix the problem. The cat is out of the bag. Two years ago, the national sport shooting foundation estimated that there were between 5 million and 8.2 million assault-style rifles in American homes. Sales of these weapons always spike after mass shootings, so it’s a safe bet that that number has risen by at least 1 million or two since then.

Even if Hillary Clinton were to succeed beyond her wildest dreams, assault weapons were banned permanently, what about those millions of AR-15’s already in circulation? Would she be willing to send jackbooted federal thugs door to door to search every home until every last one of them, or at least the lion’s share, were rounded up and melted down? Of course not.

The truth is, this ship sailed back in 2004 when Congress allowed the federal ban on assault weapons to expire without being renewed. Congress’s failure to act over the last 12 years has transformed the United States into a nation awash in military hardware.

Mass shootings are the new normal. Get over it.

“It’s too late to do anything about it, now let’s act” mania appears to have become as much of a part of our national character as the myth that everyone is a member of the middle class.

Progressives and liberals who form the base of the Democratic Party, most of whom supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries, are engaged in a robust debate over whether to switch over to Hillary Clinton this fall, support a third-party candidate like Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, or stay home on election day. It’s the same old question: Do you vote for the lesser of two evils? Isn’t that voting for evil?

Democrats for Clinton are trying to convince Bernie Sanders voters that November represents an existential threat, that if Donald Trump is elected everything we know and love about America will be destroyed. They don’t get it.

What the Clintonites don’t understand is that it’s already too late. Yes, if Donald Trump gets in, there’s a strong danger that what’s left of American democracy will yield to something radically new and terrifying, full-fledged authoritarianism. But Hillary Clinton also represents something horrible: a continuation of the neoconservatism that led to the invasion of Iraq, has made the United States a target of Islamist terrorism, complete capitulation to the banking class whose power structure relies upon the vast majority of American workers toiling for longer hours and shrinking wages – in effect, the last nail in the coffin of the idea that ordinary people have the right to imagine themselves and their children living better than they have in the past.

The existential battle isn’t in November. It was a couple of weeks ago, when Hillary Clinton appeared to nail down the Democratic presidential nomination. Whatever happens now, whether authoritarian Trumpism or steady-as-she-goes downwardly mobile Clintonism, we are screwed.

Perhaps no issue better illustrates my point than climate change.

I remember watching Jacques Cousteau on television in the 1970s, when he repeatedly warned that the oceans (along with the rest of the planet) were warming, and that it would soon – might already be – too late to stop it. The politicians and corporate executives, of course, ignored him and the other scientists who said the same thing. Now, finally, the political class is giving lip service to the crisis, though action remains in short supply.

The fact is, Cousteau was probably right. It was probably too late to save the planet back then. It’s certainly too late now. The climate science is clear. The polar ice cap is never coming back; Antarctica is melting away. The process can’t be reversed. Even if every internal combustion engine in the world stopped running tomorrow morning, human beings have pumped too much energy into the closed system that is our atmosphere to reverse global warming.

My intention isn’t to bum you out. All I’m saying is, let’s stop focusing on problems we can’t do anything about and work on those we still can.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography “Trump,” comes out July 19th and is now available for pre-order.)

That Man Is Dangerous

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 23:20

President Obama says Donald Trump is a dangerous man. But what about him? He murders people by remote control. He plots assassinations. He tortures. He kidnaps. He spies on everyone. How much worse could Trump be than him?

A Choice of Two Warmongers

Wed, 06/15/2016 - 23:41

Donald Trump dodged the draft during the Vietnam War by claiming to have “bone spurs.” But now he’s pretending to be a ferocious militarist. Hillary Clinton has never met a war she didn’t like – Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya – but she has to pretend to be a liberal in order to get Democrats to vote for her. What a choice!

SYNDICATED COLUMN: What Hillary Must Do to Win Over Bernie Voters

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 13:28

   Unless you follow politics closely, you could be forgiven for thinking that Hillary Clinton has locked up the Democratic presidential nomination. This is not true. She still doesn’t have the requisite number of delegates. That could, and probably will, happen next month when her lead in superdelegates puts her over the top at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia – when the superdelegates actually, you know, cast their actual votes.

The media, however, doesn’t want you to know that Bernie Sanders is still in the race. And so, based on that flimsiest of measures – an opinion survey of superdelegates who are allowed to change their mind at any point before July’s DNC – they’ve called the Democratic race for Clinton.

This completely illogical reasoning logically leads pundits to the question of the month: how can the Hillary Clinton campaign convince progressive supporters of Bernie Sanders – whose race was largely based on the assumption that Clinton is so far to the right that she might as well be a Republican – to vote for her?

Every four years mainstream political writers and commentators push Democrats to the right after the primaries, arguing that swing voters decide presidential elections. Like trickle-down economics, however, that doesn’t seem to have been true any time in the recent past. Political parties seem to perform best when they motivate their base to turn up at the polls. Given the fact that Republican voters are congenitally more likely to fall in line behind their nominee even if he turns out to be a potato – or, this year, a proto-fascist – than Democrats, it’s obvious to everyone that Hillary Clinton will need as many Bernie Sanders supporters as possible in November if she indeed becomes her party’s nominee.

Obvious to everyone but Hillary.

Last week, NBC’s Lester Holt asked her about Sanders: “Can you name one idea that he’s put forward that you want to embrace? That he has really changed your position on?”

Her answer: a big fat negatori.

“Well, it’s not that so much as the passion that he brought to the goals that–his campaign set,” said Clinton.
Granted, I can’t think of anything she could do to get me to vote for her. But there are millions of Sanders voters who could be convinced not to sit home on election day, support a third-party candidate like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, or defect to Donald Trump. She’ll need those voters if there are any more Orlando-style terrorist attacks (great for Trump’s fear-based campaign) or, for that matter, after presidential debates in which I expect Trump to savage her.

Maybe Debbie Wasserman Schultz can schedule those debates for the middle of the night on Kazakhstani state television.

Except when she’s hanging out with investment bankers and Walmart board members, Hillary Clinton reflexively refuses to compromise. If she continues her “I have nothing to learn from Bernie and he’ll be lucky to get a speech at the convention” attitude, however, better get prepared for President Trump.

What do Bernie Sanders supporters want? As Trump says, everything is negotiable. So let’s negotiate!

“Add back the public option to the Affordable Care Act,” Howard Dean suggests to Hillary in the New York Times. “Let Americans vote with their feet about whether they want to be in a single payer or the current system.”

The problem with that is, big insurance companies bribed her with $13 million in campaign contributions to get her to say that single payer “will never, ever come to pass.”

Dean wants Clinton to back Sanders’ “massive overhaul of the criminal justice system, starting with emptying for-profit prisons and juvenile detention centers.”

Nice idea, except that here too, she’s owned: she collected as many big donations from lobbyists for the for-profit prison industry as Marco Rubio.

He also wants her to embrace Bernie’s push for reforming Wall Street – but how likely is it that someone who made over $100 million giving speeches to scumbags in the financial services industry will turn against her backers?

“She should release the transcripts of her speeches and explain any of the objectionable things she said in them,” says Stephanie Rioux. If Clinton were going to show us her speeches, it would already have happened.

It may not feel like it now, but Hillary Clinton is in a pickle.

Her supporters keep citing her willingness to support Barack Obama after her defeat in 2008 as an example Bernie Sanders ought to emulate now. But Clinton and Obama were ideologically virtually identical. Both were members of the right-wing Democratic Leadership Council. True, Obama pretended to oppose the Iraq war, which Clinton supported. But Obama wasn’t in the Senate in 2003. When he did get the chance to vote on Iraq, he voted six times out of six in favor of funding it. And he continued the war long after he took office.

Conversely, there’s a huge gap between Clintonism and Sandersism. Bernie Sanders is essentially a Democrat circa George McGovern in 1972: he favors big government antipoverty programs, socialized medicine, and a limited role for the US military overseas. He’s skeptical of free trade agreements, and hasn’t met a Wall Street banker that he likes. Hillary Clinton isn’t just against all that – she’s diametrically opposed, essentially a Republican circa George W. Bush in 2003, many of whose advisers she shares.

“Sanders supporters…are motivated not by animosity toward Hillary Clinton but by a sophisticated analysis and belief that the system is irreparably broken and compromised,” says Sanderista Jonathan Tasini. Actually, only the second half of that sentence is true. As anyone who has attended a Bernie rally can tell you, there’s plenty of animosity toward Clinton.

So what does Hillary Clinton do if she wants to win?

She’ll have to sell out some of her big corporate donors – and she’ll have to do it in a big way. If she goes big, she could appoint Bernie Sanders as her vice president – a sure path to victory – or as an economic czar, like giving him both the secretary of the treasury and the head of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Failing that, she’ll have to adopt at least a few of Bernie’s major platform planks. But here’s the rub. Even if she does, are Bernie’s supporters naïve enough to think that she would follow through?

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography “Trump,” comes out July 19th and is now available for pre-order.)

 

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Trump and Clinton

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 06:41

After a self-radicalized American shooter massacred 49 patrons at an Orlando gay nightclub called Pulse and retroactively associated himself with ISIS, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for his actions. That’s how ISIS works: you do what you want in their name, then they claim you. Now Donald Trump is threatening sanctions against Muslim immigrants, and Hillary Clinton claims to have a plan to racially profile potentially self-radicalized lone wolves. Both favor bombing Muslim countries. Trump and Clinton are serving ISIS’ interests. Will they claim them?

Worst Case Scenario

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 23:43

Here we are, faced with two terrible choices for president this fall (unless there’s a miracle and Bernie Sanders somehow manages to become the Democratic nominee): a lunatic racist Republican versus a wild-eyed interventionist-warmonger who loves big corporations.

Herstory, for Real

Thu, 06/09/2016 - 23:12

Hillary Clinton’s probable victory in the Democratic presidential nomination is said to mark an important historical achievement for women. Certainly, she would become the first woman in the United States to be the nominee of a major party. From a broader historical vantage point, however, there’s nothing novel about a woman marrying a powerful political leader and achieving power as a result, which is what happened in Clinton’s case. It’s time for the system to reward women who achieve power of their own accord.

A Glorious Triumph of Feminism

Thu, 06/09/2016 - 05:45

Hillary Clinton seems poised to become the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major American political party. It’s supposed to be a major symbolic moment, at least in terms of identity politics. But it feels hollow, largely because of something most commentators hesitate to say in public: if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton, she wouldn’t be where she is now. Why can’t a nation of 319 million people find a woman president who didn’t marry her way into the job? Because the system still won’t allow it.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: How the Media Manipulated the Democratic Primary

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 08:25

Though it might not always seem like it, the news media is composed of human beings. Humans aren’t, can’t be, and possibly shouldn’t be, objective. Still, there’s a reasonable expectation among consumers of political news that journalists of all political stripes strive to be as objective as possible.

At their minimum, media outlets ought to be straightforward about their biases.

They certainly shouldn’t have, or appear to have, their thumbs on the scales.

Unfortunately, all too often, it appears that the political system is rigged – and that the major media companies play an important role in gaming the system. That’s what has happened throughout this year’s Democratic primaries, in which the vast majority of corporate media outlets appear to have been in the bag for Hillary Clinton, the establishment candidate, against self-described “democratic socialist” insurgent Bernie Sanders.

Examinations of coverage have confirmed the impressions of cable news junkies that Sanders has been the victim of a blackout, thus depriving him of a chance to make his case to voters. When the chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, scheduled the first round of Democratic debates at times the party hoped nobody would be watching – again, a seemingly obvious ploy to deprive Sanders of exposure – corporate media outlets had little to say about it.

Then there has been the media’s complicity in spreading Clinton campaign talking points that bore little relation to the truth.

MSNBC and other DNC-aligned media outlets kept pointing out that Clinton won 3 million more votes than Sanders. True, technically. But that’s pretending that caucus states didn’t exist. Sanders did better than Clinton in caucuses.

Most recently, they conflated pledged delegates – those won by a candidate based on votes cast – with superdelegates, the Democratic politicians and party officials who will be able to vote however they want at the convention this coming July. Back in November, an Associated Press survey found that Hillary Clinton – unsurprisingly – enjoyed the support of the vast majority of the superdelegates. Assuming that the superdelegates will not change their minds, the AP called the Democratic race for Hillary Clinton on Monday, the night before a set of important primaries, including California. Does anyone doubt that calling a race over as the effect of depressing voter turnout?

It’s impossible to quantify that effect, to know how many people didn’t bother to show up at the polls because they were told it was all over. In California, however, Hillary Clinton won 56% of the vote in a state where polls showed the two candidates neck and neck. (California’s state election officials also did their best to keep voters away from the polls.)

As a journalist, I’m reluctant to categorically argue that the AP ought to have held its statistical analysis of the race until after Tuesday’s vote. News ought not to be suppressed. When you have it, you ought to report it. Similarly, I’m not sure that the New York Times was wrong to report the AP story. However, I do question the editorial wisdom of running it as a banner headline. The United States is a democracy. We elect our leaders based on votes actually cast by real people, not polls. Even after Tuesday’s vote, Hillary Clinton still didn’t have enough pledged delegates to claim the Democratic nomination. Since those superdelegates aren’t going to vote until July, she won’t be able to really claim the nomination until then.

Agreed, it’s a silly system. But it’s the system the Democrats have. They – and the media – ought to abide by it. Besides which, think how embarrassing it will be if the Justice Department indicts Hillary between now and July. There’s a lot to be said for leaving things hanging.

The thing that disgusts me most about this system – besides the perpetual state of war, the manufacturing of mass poverty, the prison industrial complex, the miserable state of the justice system, the fact that it’s impossible to make a decent living working 40 hours a week – is that it doesn’t even pretend to follow its own rules in a consistent way. Consider, for example, how the New York Times couldn’t wait to report its “Hillary Clinton becomes first woman nominee from a major political party” story until after the primaries in California et al. Would one or two days have made a big difference? (Well, yes. Sanders might have won California.) If the idea is to get the story out first, no matter what, even if it suppresses the vote, I can respect that. But then they ought to be consistent.

It was a very different story back in 2004. A few weeks before the general election in November, the New York Times researched and came to the conclusion that George W. Bush, the incumbent, may have cheated in at least one of the presidential debates against Sen. John Kerry. Photographs of the debate clearly showed a suspicious bulge in Bush’s shoulder; the Times did report the story as a light he-says-she-says piece. But then experts concluded that the tongue twisted former governor of Texas had been using a receiver paired with an earphone in order to get advice and retorts to carry from an unknown co-conspirator.

Editors at the paper decided to hold a serious exposé until after the election so that its coverage would not affect the results. Then they killed it. Four more years of Bush followed.

Actually, the corporate media’s policy is brutally consistent. If holding a story benefits the forces of reactionary conservatism, it gets held. If releasing it does so, it gets released. Time after time, the system exposes itself for what it is.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography “Trump,” comes out July 19th and is now available for pre-order.)

This is How We Unify the Party

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 23:47

So this is how American political parties are supposed to unify at the end of the primaries: everyone is supposed to vote for the winner, even if that winner is anathema to everything most members of that party believe in. Best system anyone ever invented, eh?

First They Came for the Chairs

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 23:49

The media went crazy over false reports that Bernie Sanders supporters threw some chairs at a Democratic convention in Nevada. They deplored the burning of Make America Great Again hats at a Trump rally. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton personally destroyed several Middle East nations…yet the media doesn’t have anything to say about that.

Tronc

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 10:06

Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, has changed its name after 168 years to Tronc.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Trump or Hillary: We’re Screwed Either Way

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 07:01

After disaster strikes, it often turns out that there were several contributing factors behind it. Looking back, though, there was usually one key moment when One Really Bad Decision was made — when catastrophe might have been avoided had the people in charge done something different.

This feels like that moment.

Unless something dramatic happens soon, either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will win the presidency this fall. Either candidate would be a disaster.

Yes, either.

You already know why Trump is dangerous. He’s savagely ignorant of politics, history and, surprisingly considering his profession, economics. He advocates violence on a vast scale: against protesters, against other countries, against millions of children whose only crime was to be brought to the United States by parents who snuck them over the border. He’s a rude, boorish, hostile, aggressive jerk — not a personality you want in charge of nuclear launch codes, or talking to other people in other countries who have their own launch codes. He’s so incurious and anti-intellectual that he makes George W. Bush look like Slajov Zizek.

Yet Hillary is just as scary.

Hillary Clinton is taking foreign policy advice from the last people anyone wants near a sitting president: those crazy neo-conservatives. We’re talking about extreme right-wing nuts like Robert Kagan, Max Boot, Richard Perle — the same exact lunatics who convinced Bush to invade Iraq. Henry Kissinger, who belongs in prison at The Hague, is on Secretary Clinton’s speed dial. She brags about it!

She’s in the pocket of AIPAC, the Washington lobbying firm that leans on politicians to support Israel’s most disgusting atrocities, like the recent Gaza War — which puts us square under the crosshairs of radical Islamist groups. Under a second Clinton Administration, the Forever War will continue and expand. There will be more drones. More political assassinations, like the murder of Osama bin Laden, which she can’t stop crowing about. She will provide many more reasons for people in other countries to hate the United States. Just what we need.

It certainly isn’t what we want. Most Americans think Bush-Obama’s “war on terrorism” is a mistake, and that the terrorists are winning.

At a time when we need to wind down interventionism and refocus on our long-neglected needs here at home — infrastructure, jobs, healthcare — we get Dubya in a pantsuit.

Speaking of jobs, Hillary Clinton seems determined to make sure there isn’t a single American left working in America. With the exception of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Clinton consistently supports job-exporting “free trade” pacts. (She backed TPP too before pressure from Bernie Sanders prompted her to change her mind.)

Ah, Bernie.

Hillary and her pet Democratic Party are planning to claim victory in the Democratic primaries over Bernie on Tuesday, June 7th. This is, of course, bull feces; neither candidate will have enough pledged delegates after the votes are counted Tuesday to claim the nomination. Hillary’s claim is based on her assumption that she will carry the majority of superdelegates, those establishment conservatives who make up a fifth of the total delegate count.

Thing is, the superdelegates won’t actually vote until the convention, which takes place in Philadelphia in mid-July. The Clinton campaign is relying on a November 2015 AP poll, which showed her with a commanding superdelegate lead over Sanders. A poll isn’t a vote. Moreover, it’s an old poll. A lot has happened since November, like the inspector general issuing a damning report about Hillary’s private email server, Sanders winning primaries and caucuses he was expected to lose, Sanders pulling in countless five-figure crowds at his rallies, and other polls showing Sanders beating Trump but Hillary, not so much.

Superdelegates can change their minds. In June 2008, when she was running against Barack Obama, Hillary urged them to do exactly that. As it played out eight years ago, they switched from her to him instead.

Much has been made of Sanders’ alleged hypocrisy: his only path to the nomination, Clintonistas smirk, is convincing superdelegates — a system that he opposes — that he’s a stronger candidate against Trump. Well, poo. I dislike capitalism, yet I charge money to media outlets that publish my column. Am I a dastardly hypocrite too?

Oh, and psst— Hillary Clinton was against the superdelegate system in 2008.

The base of the Democratic Party is moving inexorably left. Whether or not she beats Trump, handing the nomination to a right-winger like Hillary Clinton over an undeniably more viable leftie like Bernie Sanders could alienate so many liberals and progressives that it could destroy the Democrats’ future as a national political party. And if she loses — which now seems likely — we get Trump.

This is one of those weeks, or two of them, when it’s still possible to prevent a terrible thing from taking place.

On Tuesday night, the news media should refrain from declaring Hillary the victor. She won’t be. She can’t be. It’s not over until July, so that’s what they should report.

Between now and July, Democratic superdelegates should search their hearts, read the head-to-head matchups, and consider switching to Sanders who, for whatever flaws he has, is a real liberal — he’s not a Democrat, but he’s more of a Democrat than she is.

And the Department of Justice should stop running out the clock. Hillary Clinton is not one for mercy: she thinks the heroic Edward Snowden should be tried for treason, and she’s still for the death penalty. She ought to be held accountable for the email scandal. Indict her. Try her. Let the jury — and the voters — decide her fate.

Which will be the opposite fate of ours.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography “Trump,” comes out July 19th and is now available for pre-order.)

 

 

Progress with an Asterisk

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 23:38

In American politics, all progress is symbolic. And even by symbolic standards, it’s empty. Like, why would the first woman president have to be one of the few women in public life to have achieved fame and political power via marriage rather than her strengths?

People Who Bother You in Bathrooms

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 23:34

After North Carolina passed HB2, the “Bathroom Law” designed to prevent transgendered people from bothering cis people in restrooms, I began thinking about the universe of high-profile Americans who really do cause mayhem in johns. Mostly, they’re Republican senators, coaches, and Republican Congressman who are also coaches.