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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

My strategy for defeating DJT is about putting pressure on the Democratic Party to shift to the left and offer policies demanded by considerable majorities of Americans — POPULISM (minus the racist demagoguery of Trump and the GOP): Medicare-for-All, a $15 minimum wage, free public university, justice reform, gun control, and a Green New Deal, including the modernization of our infrastructure… for starters.

“Hold their feet to the fire!”

The only way we can do that is if we get the Democratic Party’s most progressive members — Justice Democrats, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (the largest caucus in Congress for many years, now, far larger than the Tea Party), the Congressional Black Caucus, and even AOC — to defect, en masse, to a party with an actual progressive platform, and which promises to help the ACLU, SPLC, EFF, Sierra Club, NARAL, Color of Change, Human Rights Watch, and a host of other progressive outfits advance their respective agendas.

These Democrats could defect to the Green Party, which has a bold progressive platform that most Americans would embrace. But the Democratic Socialists of America also seems worthy. And I like what Nick Brana’s been doing with his “People’s Party” organization, giving labor a voice again…

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter *which* progressive party these nominal lefties declare for. Mass-defections would force corporate Democrats to either shift to the left for real or admit that they are the Republicans they’ve been acting like over the last few decades.

(Any honest examination of the last few decades of policy reveals that Democrats have been far more successful at advancing the right-wing/corporate/MIC agenda than their GOP counterparts. They are literally the all-time champs of the far-right’s agenda — not the “lesser,” but the more effective evil, as Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford has asserted… Their rightward lurch explains how Democrats lost the working class and independents.)

The best thing about my strategy is that THE LEFT DOESN’T HARM ITSELF IN THE LEAST if these progressive defectors jump ship but continue caucusing with the Democrats against the GOP.

This hypothetical, principled left — a “Blue” coalition including a number of genuine progressives — would retain its majority in the House.

It’s also a reasonable expectation that the Green Party/DSA/third parties, generally, would get back into the presidential and congressional debates — taking the conversation in an anti-establishment, leftward direction — following a generation of lurching to the right after the Anheuser-Busch Corporation took the debates away from The League of Women Voters.

(We could again conduct an actual conversation, instead of a corporation-programmed “debate” farce: Trump vs. Clinton, reality TV at its worst!)

Infiltration, #DemEnter, has proven a spectacular failure. The Dems keep shifting rightward, making no concessions to the party’s base. If the last two years tell us anything, it’s that #DemEnter has literally no hope of getting the policies that liberals and progressives, both (and a bare majority of conservatives), want advanced. The Democrats are still — more than ever — pledged to the Corporatocracy, permanent war, and fossil fuels.

And “PayGo” guarantees that none of the progressive agenda can pass.

It’s time to stop the wishful thinking — “Next time Hope & Change will be real” — without ever holding the Democrats accountable for the way they tack further and further to the right. It’s time to actually hold the Democrats’ “feet to the fire.”

America desperately needs a strategy for pressuring corporate Democrats to move the party leftward and reform it — while also strengthening the progressive alternatives.

I’ve laid out mine.

(If you’ve got a better strategy for reviving the left in the Age of Trumpism, I’d love to hear it.)

Who remembers the reprehensible “selling baby parts” smear by the sham group, The Center for Medical Progress? It was obviously hacked up (dishonestly edited) video intended to make Planned Parenthood look like monsters. And the group presenting the video, the CMP, was sketchy as hell — no one outside of Breitbart’s readers should have given those claims any credence.

And yet Sec. Hillary Clinton called the allegations in the video “troubling” and called for an investigation… OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD!

That was either before or after she’d selected her far-right, “Pro-Life” running mate. And it was long after Clinton had expressed her willingness to compromise on a woman’s right to choose, using the anti-Choice crowd’s rhetoric when discussing late-term abortions…

With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?

Clinton’s pandering concessions to the right on this issue explain why 95% of Planned Parenthood’s membership exploded with rage on PP’s Facebook page (yielding a 20 to 1 ratio of outraged to approving members) when the organization’s president unilaterally endorsed Clinton over Sanders in 2016 — without giving its membership a chance to weigh in. Silly members, thinking that Cecile Richards would allow them to endorse the candidate with the most sterling Pro-Choice record, Bernie Sanders!

At the time, Sec. Clinton’s appeasement of far-right, misogynist nutjobs reminded me of when President Obama and the Democrats lent critical support to a different right-wing activist’s efforts to kill off ACORN, based on a raft of dishonest claims and another dishonestly edited (and racist) video:

Somehow it goes down easier for reflexive Team Blue voters when it’s a Democrat doing the heavy lifting for the far-right. When Dems expand neocon wars to seven countries, slash Medicare and Social Security, or threaten a woman’s right to choose, their voters simply smile approvingly and go back to sleep… if they noticed the far-right’s agenda taking off under their “liberal” heroes, in the first place!

When a Democrat kills off a progressive organization that for decades provided assistance to impoverished, mostly POC — registering voters, etc. — their “LOTE” bots simply swoon and return to the Party Talking Points and corporatocracy-approved messaging: “Democrats protect minority voters’ rights, defending POC from the GOP…” (Hilarious.)

Sorry, ACORN. You die now!

(Thanks, President Obama.)

And when Democrats disenfranchise millions of poor, marginalized voters in their corrupt primaries, or help Wall Street wipe out the post-Civil Rights Era economic gains of African-Americans, Team Blue just smiles, gulp their lattes, and go back to pretending that “Bad Cop” has no partner:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of the only DC politicians left who opposes war and fights political corruption, just made a public statement that she is beginning to explore a run for president. Hooray! That’s about the best news I’ve heard since Sen. Sanders threw his hat into the ring in 2015! Only now the establishment’s rat-f***ers are out in full force, looking to draw blood — because Rep. Gabbard is an actual progressive, an actual liberal, not just another posturing, corrupt fraud, cozy with Wall Street and down with endless war.

Today, I am writing to counter the U.S. political/media establishment’s latest attempts to smear the reputation of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (the smears are not new; they began the moment Gabbard began defying the powers that be; they’ve been refuted before, it’s time to refute them again):

Establishment Smear #1: Rep. Gabbard is “not progressive.”

Fact-check says “BULL$**T.” (The PTB must have been thinking of their boy, Beto.)

While Rep. Gabbard came from a very socially conservative family — and took bigoted, socially conservative positions when she was a teenager and young adult — she has unequivocally repudiated those positions, not just with her words, but with her actions.

During her years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard has never espoused or defended the regressive views of her youth — quite the opposite. She has a 100% voting record in support of reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights. She supports single-payer/Medicare-for-All healthcare, free tuition for higher education, racial justice, gun control, the Fight for $15, and the Green New Deal…

In fact, Rep. Gabbard supports just about every progressive position going — something the political operatives behind the “anti-progressive Tulsi” smear know all too well (the establishment is rushing to sabotage her candidacy because she’s a progressive who champions policies favored by majorities of Americans… you know, a “far-left radical”).

When it comes to foreign policy, Rep. Gabbard stands head and shoulders above the rest. She is about the only Democrat left who genuinely opposes war. A veteran of the U.S. military who served two tours in Iraq, Gabbard knows, firsthand, how counterproductive and immoral the West’s post-9/11 GWOT has been. In the U.S. Congress, there are no more vocal opponents of the neocon agenda than Rep. Gabbard — which is why our genocidal foreign policy establishment views her as a threat.

Establishment Smear #2: Gabbard is an ally of Narendra Modi, the neo-fascist prime minister of India.

Fact-check says “BULL$**T.”

Rep. Gabbard is the first-ever Hindu member of the U.S. House of Representatives — so yes, she has received donations from Hindu nationalists, including individuals who have also contributed to the Modi. That said, Gabbard doesn’t espouse or defend Hindu nationalist views or Modi’s government (which, conversely, was embraced by President Obama’s administration when Modi was first elected and which continues to boast warm relations with the U.S., now that Donald Trump is in the White House).

The Intercept’s latest anti-Gabbard offensive was neatly dismantled by the article’s “most respected” commenters, including “NavyVeteran,” whose indictment of TI’s xenophobia earned him/her “most respected” comment in the thread:

“I might consider analyzing this article a bit further later, but had to stop and comment on this passage: ‘Nearly one-third of Gabbard’s overall donations — $1.24 million — came from more than 800 individual donors with names, according to an expert consulted by The Intercept, that are of Hindu origin’

“‘Names… that are of Hindu origin’
“‘Names… that are of Hindu origin’
“‘Names… that are of Hindu origin’

“How exactly is this not xenophobic? Are all people with names ‘of Hindu origin’ necessarily Hindu nationalists? Do all people with Hindu sounding names support Modi?”

So much for the smears. Back to the candidate…

If Tulsi Gabbard’s history tells us anything, it’s that she consistently, courageously opposes fascism. Her commitment to democracy helps us understand why she quit the corrupt, primary-rigging DNC in 2016 (at great risk to her future political career). Her opposition to modern fascism is also evident in her crusade to end the bloody neocon wars that have ended millions of lives.

So let’s put the flurry of attacks on Rep. Gabbard in their proper political context:

Gabbard, a U.S. military veteran, is anti-neocon and anti-tyranny, with the battle scars to prove it. She’s risked her political future, more than once, on principle. Furthermore, Gabbard is a charismatic progressive championing the most popular domestic agenda in the country (Bernie Sanders’ agenda)… and she’s just announced her interest in the presidency.

IOW, she is a target.

Over the years, this independent-minded progressive has earned the hatred of our reactionary right-wing (corporate) media and neo-fascist political establishment. The neocons are simply trying to destroy Tulsi Gabbard before her campaign gets any momentum. Too bad that establishment Democrats won’t tolerate an actual progressive as their candidate and have to stoop to such smears.

But after the shenanigans of 2016, nothing should surprise us.

In his latest writing about the brewing 2020 election circus, Pulitzer-winning journalist, lecturer, teacher, and author Chris Hedges continues to demonstrate the remarkable political acumen we’ve come to expect from him:

“The corporate media ignores issues and policies, since there is little genuine disagreement among the candidates, and presents the race as a beauty contest. The fundamental question the press asks is not what do the candidates stand for but whom do the voters like. As for now, Warren—the only nationally known Democrat except Julian Castro to form an exploratory committee for a presidential bid—is not winning this popularity contest. A CNN/Des Moines Register Iowa poll—yes, polling in Iowa already has begun—puts her fourth, with only 8 percent of support among the Democrats surveyed, behind Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke.

“Our corporate rulers do not need to denounce democracy. Democratic laws, such as who can fund campaigns, have been subverted from within, their original purposes redefined by the courts and legislative bodies to serve corporate power.”

[Hedges later resumes his analysis of the corporate media…]

“The goal is entertainment. Politicians who are good entertainers do well. The poor entertainers do badly. The networks seek to attract viewers and increase profits, not disseminate information about political issues. Voters have little or no say in who decides to run, who gets funded, how campaigns are managed, what television ads say, which candidates get covered by the press or who gets invited to presidential debates. They are spectators, pawns used to legitimize political farce.

[And proceeds to quote the acclaimed American political philosopher Sheldon Wolin…]

“’At issue is more than crude bribery,’ the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin writes in ‘Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.’ ‘Campaign contributions are a vital tool of political management. They create a pecking order that calibrates, in strictly quantitative and objective terms, whose interests have priority. The amount of corruption that regularly takes place before elections means that corruption is not an anomaly but an essential element in the functioning of managed democracy. The entrenched system of bribery and corruption involves no physical violence, no brown-shirted storm troopers, no coercion of the political opposition. While the tactics are not those of the Nazis, the end result is the inverted equivalent. Opposition has not been liquidated but rendered feckless.’”

[Hedges goes on to quote Matt Taibbi, another fairly astute commentator on modern American politics…]

“The differences between the right-wing media and the liberal media are minuscule. As Taibbi writes in ‘Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus,’ they are ‘really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism’… ‘Elections are about a lot of things, but at the highest level, they’re about money,’ Taibbi writes. ‘The people who sponsor election campaigns… want tax breaks, federal contracts, regulatory relief, cheap financing, free security for shipping lanes, anti-trust waivers and dozens of other things… They donate heavily to both parties, essentially hiring two different sets of politicians to market their needs to the population.'”

[No doubt. Hedges concludes with his own observations about the dismal place to which American politics has devolved…]

“Trump is the epitome of the human mutation produced by an illiterate, dumbed-down age of electronic images. He, like tens of millions of other Americans, believes anything he sees on television. He does not read. He is consumed by vanity and the cult of the self. He is a conspiracy theorist. He blames America’s complex social and economic ills on scapegoats such as Mexican immigrants and Muslims, and of course the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, in turn, blames Trump’s election on Russia and former FBI Director James Comey. It is the theater of the absurd.”

I have lost track of how many zillion times I’ve encountered this metaphor since Trump blundered into the world of U.S. politics (with the assistance of the 2016 Clinton campaign and the Bernie-disappearing media it controlled).

And although I think the Trump:Nazi comparison is ultimately simplistic and reductive — forgiving all manner of appalling crimes against humanity committed by Trump’s predecessors — I concede that the analogy is apt enough, considering Herr Drumpf’s demagoguery alone.

But while we’re comparing Trump to Hitler, we might also take into account the way the current resident of the Oval Office has been saber-rattling against Russia (however unfashionable it might be to ponder our nation’s Reich-like aggression, in these neo-McCarthyite times).

Along those lines, Trump has been: arming the West’s neo-Nazi proxies doing most of the killing for our puppet government in Ukraine; expelling scores of Russian diplomats and closing the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg; continuing Obama’s belligerent sanctions against Russia (and threatening new ones); conducting military exercises on Russia’s border; and proceeding with Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s massive investment in “usable” nuclear weapons.

So let’s at least try to be intellectually honest and morally consistent: When it comes to embracing the very essence of fascism — world-destabilizing, mass-murdering lawlessness and destruction — what U.S. presidents, these days, aren’t metaphorical Nazis?

Consider the history: The Third Reich is notorious for murdering millions of innocents in a mostly Jewish holocaust, arguably the greatest war crime of the last century.

But haven’t you noticed the mostly Muslim holocaust that’s been taking place over the last few decades, the result of Western wars? In case you haven’t, you should consider the fact that several million Arab/Muslim human beings were killed under Trump’s three predecessors alone, and two of those predecessors were “liberal” Democrats.

You should also consider the fact that 75-90% of the dead in modern wars are civilians, women and children, specifically. Because in the Global War On Terror (GWOT) era, all military-age-males are automatically deemed combatants, whether armed or unarmed, guilty or innocent.

Consider the question objectively:

Was Bill Clinton being the opposite of a Nazi when he killed between 550,000-880,000 Iraqi babies, tots four and under, per the World Health Organization?

(Beyond the hundreds of thousands of babies who died under Clinton’s brutal sanctions, it is likely that scores, if not hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis — pregnant women, children five and older, the ailing and elderly, etc. — also died from lack of potable water. Only no one counted them. That’s how “liberal” modern Western institutions are! Our governments butcher the innocent and our politicians and media work overtime to keep the populace ignorant!)

President Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, unflinchingly defended the draconian sanctions responsible for those hundreds of thousands of deaths — even as they were condemned by the international community, even as they only served to strengthen Saddam’s iron grip over Iraq.

Was Sec. Albright demonstrating her profound liberal values and moral convictions when she deemed those deaths “worth it”?

Clearly, she was not. In truth, Sec. Albright, a staunch, neoliberal Democrat, was acting as a dutiful propagandist for a genocidal policy, like a good… (hmm, what’s the word?) Nazi.

End Part I

It’s rare that Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) impresses me favorably, but I’m grateful (overall) for his recently published op-ed. With regard to several points he makes, I couldn’t agree more. For instance:

“President Trump is receiving an onslaught of criticism for his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Congressional Democrats should not pile on without offering an alternative vision.”


“Trump’s Syria decision… is in compliance with U.S. and international law. The presence of U.S. troops in the Syrian civil war was never authorized by Congress. We are also violating international law by invading Syria without the approval of the United Nations.”

Well said, Congressman!

But it’s worth noting that we’re also “violating international law” by bombing Syria — murdering hundreds of civilians at a time, as the U.S. did in Raqqa. Furthermore, it was a violation of international law when our rogue nation flooded Syria with Salafist militants keen to overthrow Assad from without (I’m referring to the Bush/Bandar-birthed Mujaheddin 2.0 — responsible for scores of WMD attacks and scores, if not hundreds of thousands of deaths).

Sadly, Rep. Khanna also covers for the neocons when he refers to the invasion of Syria as a “civil war.” That is some serious propaganda there — and on whose behalf? Only the worst mass-murderers since the Nazis.

From its very inception, the catastrophically destructive war in Syria has been a proxy war between the United States (coordinating with the Saudis, Turkey, and Israel) and Iran — and ultimately between the West and the Sino-Russian alliance, with Russia presently backed into a corner.

And that proxy war was initiated by Washington, DC, and Riyad with suicide bombings and the violent co-option of Syria’s Arab Spring. The West sidelined Syria’s indigenous resistance and flooded the country with al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, CIA/MI5-recruited Wahhabi radicals who would soon be purging whole Syrian towns of minorities, including Kurds, Christians, Shi’ites, Alawites, Yazidis…

*        *        *

But Rep. Khanna is on point when he writes that “Trump… deserves credit for standing up to the war hawks within his own administration who started inventing rationales for remaining in the country: countering Iran and seeing an end to the Assad regime. That is the definition of mission creep.”

Well said, Congressman! (Even though you’ve deliberately obscured the fact that it was your party’s president who invaded Syria and greenlit that “mission creep” in the first place — resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and some 10 million refugees.)

Here is where Khanna shamelessly signals his support for a continuation of the neocons’ appalling agenda:

“One alternative to an immediate withdrawal in Syria… would give us time to prepare local forces and to deploy intelligence platforms and networks…”

Let’s just break that down, shall we: 1) “Deploy intelligence platforms” likely means expanding U.S. covert CIA/JSOC/drone-surveillance operations and outsourcing yet more military operations to unaccountable, mass-murdering privateers like Erik Prince; and 2) “prepare local forces” almost certainly means re-arming the genocidal terrorists whose lives the Syrian government has repeatedly spared… at Washington’s behest (we can’t have Assad killing our covertly-created proxies, can we?).

Apparently, Rep. Khanna is determined to breathe new life into the neocons’ failed regime-change policy in Syria!

And what does that ethnic-cleansing, suicide-bombing, WMD-employing policy look like from outside of the American bubble? Absurd. Filled with contradictions (Washington has gone from officially supporting al-Nusra, which turned out to be al Qaeda, to officially supporting the “White Helmets,” who turned out to be al Qaeda, to officially supporting al-Sham, which turns out to be al Qaeda… The U.S.A.F. has repeatedly bombed soldiers fighting ISIS and helped the terrorists acquire strategically important ground.

Just as the 1980s Mujaheddin were a U.S. creation, so, too, is the 21st-century Mujaheddin — again, with the Saudis as our partners.

(It is a very sad commentary on the U.S. political class that Donald “Birther” Trump was the only presidential candidate in 2016 — in a very crowded field — to acknowledge that the U.S. is back in the business of creating and deploying genocidal armies.)

*        *        *

Here, Rep. Khanna is back on track:

“We have spent more money in Afghanistan than we did in the Marshall Plan and continue to spend more than $40 billion each year. Our military approach has not worked. After the 2008 surge, the Taliban now exerts influence or maintains control over 70 percent of Afghan territory instead of just 40 percent.

“There should be a short timeline for bringing home our troops to allow for a smooth transition. We should engage in direct talks with the Taliban and seek a negotiated settlement, involving regional actors such as Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China and India.”

Absolutely brilliant! I agree with every word!

But then Khanna backslides, abysmally, into reaffirming the Bush/Cheney/Obama (Nixon) view of presidential power and American “exceptionalism” (i.e., “If the President does it, then it’s not illegal.”):

“We should also retain the right to strike terrorist cells that directly threaten our homeland…”

Rep. Khanna has signaled his willingness to further cement into U.S. practice the radical powers claimed by Bush/Cheney (expanded later by Pres. Obama) — including rendition, torture, indefinite detention, drone warfare, including signature strikes and “Kill Lists.”

Khanna is fundamentally agreeing that international law, including the Geneva Conventions, has indeed been rendered “quaint” and “obsolete” by this “new (GWOT) paradigm” (paraphrasing the “torture memo” authored by John Yoo).

The “Justice Democrat” is vouching for a radical interpretation of presidential authority that first Nixon, then Bush/Cheney asserted publicly — in both instances, met with a chorus of derision and outrage.

(But that was before President Obama officially retired the rule of law. Now, when “some folks” are “tortured,” we simply look forward — to yet more neo-fascism.)

I’ll add that it’s a nice touch that Ro has also adopted the “homeland” phraseology of the Bush administration — which GWB’s speechwriters unwittingly appropriated from… Adolf somebody.

*        *        *

Here’s another instance of Rep. Ro Khanna speaking out of both sides of his mouth: “…we will pass the War Powers Resolution, which would remove U.S. forces from hostilities in Yemen except to fight terrorism as allowed by the 2001 war authorization.”

Let me get that right: We’re to remove U.S. forces… except whatever forces are allowed by the 2001 AUMF!??

– Would that be the same 2001 AUMF that’s already been used to justify mass-slaughter across the globe (millions of dead, 70-90% of whom have been women and children)?

– Would that be the same 2001 AUMF that’s excused every Congress-free war crime that any “Commander in Chief” (even Trump) deems necessary?

*        *        *

Since ‘tis the season to be jolly, I’ll do my best to end on a positive note.

THANK YOU, Rep. Khanna, for your closing words of wisdom: “let us… find common ground in a foreign policy of greater restraint, one that would entail responsibly extricating ourselves from bad wars.”

Yes! Let us!

Trump is so rarely right about anything. When he is, it’s up to the few remaining sane people in the country to support those policies.

Doing so does not amount to supporting the current resident of the Oval Office. In the present instance, it simply amounts to opposing the bloody neocon agenda… at long last!

Also, now that Trump has successfully cajoled Congress into repealing some of the more draconian “tough on crime” laws from the 1990s, including “three strikes you’re out,” we on the left shouldn’t reflexively begin strenuously defending the New Jim Crow laws passed by “tough on crime” Bill Clinton.

That would be foolish… RussiaGate foolish (neocon agenda-supporting foolish).