Friday, September 25, 2015

More of Hillary's Prominent Allies Are Dishonest about Bernie

As rising support for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) brought an end to the first-place status of ex-sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in polling about the two earliest contests in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, namely the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, the number of well-known backers of the former secretary of State who have hurled invalid attacks on the ex-mayor of Burlington spiked.

In Politico, ex-representative Barney Frank (D-MA) argued liberals should support Clinton, whom Sanders trails in nationwide polling.  Next is a candid paraphrase of one part of the former state legislator's column, followed by quotes of it and by rebuttals.

Clinton (Dept. of State)
Frank:  The momentum behind Sanders is preventing Clinton from having a cakewalk to the top of the ticket!  To incite such an inconvenience to the queen quintessential candidate of the establishment essence of the Democratic Party by compelling her to work for a nomination to again reside in the White House is just bad form.  Ergo, you pesky peasants populists ought to learn that competition is overrated and stop causing the former first lady's campaign to campaign.  It has better things to do before the coronation convention, like raise an obscene amount of corporate money, which would be useful against the Republican standard-bearer, whose operation will also have an obscene amount of corporate money but who we will allege is somehow more beholden to the economic elite than Clinton is.

Reality:  Whoever will attain the Democratic nomination, regardless of what his attainment of it will have cost his campaign, does not deserve to win the presidency if he will find arduousness in the attempt to vanquish whichever menace the Republicans put forward.

Frank:  "[T]he most effective thing liberals... can do to advance our... goals on health care, immigration, financial regulation, reduction of income inequality, completion of the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination, protection of women's autonomy... and other critical matters... is to help Clinton win our nomination early."

Reality, issue by issue:  Sanders, endorsed by National Nurses United (the largest organization of nurses in this country), is in the plurality of Americans that backs the proposal of Medicare-for-All, a.k.a. single-payer.  Clinton is not.  In 1993, then-Rep. Bernie Sanders led a concerted effort to persuade Clinton to embrace that idea while she chaired the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, which was impaneled by her husband, who was chief executive of this land at the time.  However, she nixed the solution and presented a mainly corporatist concoction: the "Health Security Act," which the then-president sent to Congress but which died in committee in each house of it.

Sanders remains a proponent of Medicare-for-All.  But Clinton, in her original quest for the presidency, lurched to the right on health care coverage by offering the thrust of what congressional Republicans had counter-proposed 14 years earlier.

Obama (Peter
Souza / White House)
As then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) ran against Clinton in 2008, he warned that her plan for an individual mandate, i.e. a financial penalty for the choice not to buy private health-insurance, would create "a situation, which we see... in... Massachusetts, where people... choose to accept the fine because they still can't afford [health insurance] even with the subsidies."  He added, "The insurance companies don't mind [the proposal for government to] make sure everyone has to purchase their product."

By the way, despite having knocked that element, Obama codified it as president when he signed the "Affordable Care Act," which is similar to the Republicans' old bill and was penned by a former executive of the most colossal health-insurance corporation in the United States.

Sanders voted against, and Clinton voted in favor of, construction of the fence along the border between the United States and Mexico.  As for the question of whether to allow driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, Clinton has been in favor, been opposed, and been both simultaneously.

Sanders proposes a breakup of the financial institutions of at least the size that, amid the meltdown of 2008, was of the smallest to be described by its executives as "too big to fail" and to thus receive a federal bailout.  Specifically, he backs a bill to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, which was one of the measures President Franklin Roosevelt signed to prevent another financial crash of the type that had triggered the Great Depression.

Gore (Dept. of State)
Sanders voted against the repeal of that law.  Clinton favors the repeal.  Al Gore, who was vice president when the repeal was signed, has called it "a big mistake."  For his first term in that role, Gore served alongside Robert Reich, who was secretary of Labor then.  Reich has also condemned the repeal and has denounced Pres. Obama's choice not to pursue restoration of Glass-Steagall when Democrats were the majority in both houses of Congress.  Additionally, Reich has asserted that unless the restoration is achieved, those "too big to fail" banks, which are 35% larger than they were immediately before the meltdown, will provoke another on as vast a scale.

Sanders voted against, and Clinton voted in favor of, the aforementioned bailout, which contained $120 million for Signature Bank, on whose board of directors Frank sits.  Maybe Frank's acceptance of a total of nearly $4.5 million from the finance, insurance and real-estate sector for his last 11 campaigns helps him relate to Clinton, who accepted a total of over $31 million from that sector for her previous bids for office.

Seven months after the Bankruptcy Reform Act was pocket-vetoed with Clinton's approval, she voted in favor of what was basically the same bill, which failed once more to become law.  In 2005, Clinton made another change of position on this issue but was absent when the Senate again passed that legislation, against which Sanders always voted.  It proceeded to be signed by George W. Bush and became a principal agent of the foreclosure crisis by majorly compounding the difficulty of 1) declaration of bankruptcy and 2) renegotiation of credit-card debt.

Free trade concentrates wealth by facilitating corporations' transference of jobs from their own country to places where workers can be exploited to a greater extent.  Clinton has supported and opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement.  She voted in favor of free-trade pacts with Singapore, Chile, Australia, Morocco and Oman.  With regard to the one with Peru, she missed the vote but announced support for it.  With respect to the free-trade pact with Colombia and the one with South Korea, Clinton has supported and opposed each.  Sanders voted against eight of those nine pacts, the exception being the last listed, on which he missed the vote but against which he spoke.

("Democracy Now!")
Clinton has voiced support for, but now has a vague stance on, the TPP.  The Obama administration has inexplicably classified that proposed free-trade agreement and lets members of Congress read it only without carrying any electronic device, without writing notes they would bring out of the room, and without any staff member who lacks a security clearance.  Sanders has always voted to hinder the TPP.

Clinton supported the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996," a.k.a. "welfare reform," which intensified extreme poverty among children.  Sanders voted against that law.  He proposes a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2020.  Clinton's platform replaces that $15 with $12, which would be a poverty wage for households of at least four people.

The payroll tax applies exclusively to the first $118,500 of one's annual income.  Sanders calls for lifting that cap so more money would be collected from the wealthy and could then be utilized to strengthen Social Security.  On this idea, Clinton declined to take a stance, then stood in opposition, then returned to having no stance.

By endorsing Sanders's current candidacy, several divisions of the AFL-CIO -- which is this country's largest federation of labor unions -- have rebelled against its usual obsequiousness toward corporatist politicians.

Since 1972, Sanders has been on record in favor of removal from law all discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Accordingly, he voted against the "Defense of Marriage Act," which prohibited federal recognition of any same-sex marriage and which allowed each state to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages granted elsewhere.

Frank (Congressional
Pictorial Directory)
In Clinton's first public appearance as a senatorial candidate after she took residence in the Empire State, she said she would have voted in favor of that law, which was later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor.  Clinton did not endorse marriage equality until 2013, which was after its national inevitability became obvious.

Clinton was predictably a cosponsor of the "Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2005," which then-Sen. Richard Santorum (R-PA) introduced.  Other cosponsors of it included then-Sen. Samuel Brownback (R-KS), then-Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK), then-Rep. William Todd Akin (R-MO) and then-Rep. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (R-LA).  That potential amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have, as Mother Jones reported, created a plausible defense for those who refuse "to perform key aspects of their jobs -- say, pharmacists who won't fill birth-control prescriptions, or police officers who won't guard abortion clinics."

Frank:  "[H]er position on the war [in Iraq] is a legitimate concern...  The question then becomes whether this was a manifestation of a general tendency to support unwise military intervention, or the case of joining every other Democratic senator who had serious presidential ambitions in voting for a war the Bush-Cheney administration had successfully hyped as a necessary defense against terrorism."

Reality:  Whether a decision results from wrongheadedness or from self-interest, the consequence is the same.  Hence, the question is whether either is acceptable from someone who asks to be the most powerful person on Earth.

Clinton neglected to read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq before she voted to authorize Bush to invade it in violation of the United Nations Charter and, therefore, of the United States Constitution.  Clinton's oath of office was to "defend the Constitution," not to serve herself.  The excuse Frank makes for Clinton is an attack on the rule of law.

Sanders voted against said authorization and that of the Gulf War.  Clinton voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice to be secretary of State even though she obviously had lied in order to, as national security advisor, sell the invasion of and occupation of Iraq.

Sanders (Cmte. on Health,
Education, Labor & Pensions)
Until Clinton declared her first candidacy for president, she voted in favor of every allowance to prolong that occupation.  In the same period, Sanders voted against four such measures.  Clinton did not favor any step toward impeachment of Rice and/or Richard Cheney and/or Bush for offenses related to Iraq or to anything else.  Sanders cosponsored a resolution that would have formed a select committee to investigate the Bush-Cheney administration's misconduct about Iraq and then "make recommendations with regard to grounds for possible impeachment."

Sanders opposed escalation of the occupation of Iraq.  Clinton also did, but simply for the sake of her then-imminent presidential candidacy.  Not until nearly a decade after most voters realized the invasion was wrong did she call her vote to permit it a mistake.

Clinton voted in favor of, and Sanders voted against, authorization for Bush to invade Iran.  Citing unproven danger, Clinton illegally threatened an invasion of that country.  On her advice, Obama escalated the occupation of Afghanistan, which he did without a clear purpose, and ordered an illegal and counterproductive invasion of Libya.

Sanders sharply questioned the escalation in Afghanistan, conveyed the grievance about Obama's choice to invade Libya without congressional consent, urged him to withdraw from there as quickly as possible, and bemoaned the cost of that intervention.  Clinton advised Obama to illegally invade Syria.  Sanders opposed that idea.

Frank:  "There is... no chance... for Sanders to win a national election."

Reality:  The day Frank's piece was published, a CNN/ORC poll of registered voters nationwide commenced.  Upon completion, it showed Sanders trouncing Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, 59% to 38%, which would be the biggest victory in the popular vote in a general election for president of this country since 1972.  To boot, Sanders exceeded Trump by 5 percentage points more than Clinton did in that survey, which debunks almost all of the rest of Frank's piece.

In Business Insider, ex-rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) -- whose wife is employed by Clinton -- claimed that Sanders, who has won elections only when he ran independently of any party, had not explained his decision to seek the Democratic nomination.

Weiner (CPD)
"After a career of steadfastly insisting the Democratic Party was not his home, ...he wants to be not only a member of the party but its standard-bearer," the former NYC councilman stated.

In Vermont, parties exist as organizations with ballot lines but voter registration does not offer party enrollment.  If a candidate in any primary of a given party has never identified with it but represents its electorate better than his opponents who have long embraced that party do, the situation is an indictment of the party's establishment far more than of the candidate in question.

"Is Bernie's newfound party affiliation just a practical decision to run in a party that can win rather than risk being a Nader-esque spoiler on a third party line in November?" 

That question was answered months before Weiner asked it.  For instance, in March, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sanders "promised he does not aim to be a spoiler.  And he could run as a Democrat."  (In order to stay on topic, I postpone, until a future entry, my explanation of how Ralph Nader did not spoil the 2000 presidential election.)

The article quotes Sanders reasoning, "The difficulty of a candidacy as an independent is that... to get on the ballot in all 50 states... is virtually impossible...  The advantage[s] of a candidacy in the Democratic [process include]... to be in debates with other candidates [and to] attract more media attention."

Weiner's commentary continued, "That's a fair calculation, but doesn't it wipe away Bernie's three decades of standing as a principled Socialist?  Many times over the course of his career, Bernie has repeated... that his independence made him more able to speak truth.  He forcefully argued that his identity was as a Socialist..."

A false premise is generated by capitalization of "socialist" in this matter.  Sanders remains a socialist, i.e. a person whose ideal is a strand of socialism.  For as long as he has lived in the Green Mountain State, he has never been a Socialist, i.e. a member of or candidate of any party that has "Socialist" or a variant thereof in its name.  Sanders's truthfulness and policies are consistent with what they were before he began to contend for the Democratic nomination.

"[H]is battle cry on behalf of American workers is almost as good as that of... Clinton."

Cuomo (
What is Clinton's battle cry on behalf of American workers?

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) told reporters, "I don't think there's any comparison between Hillary Clinton's credentials and qualifications and positions, and Bernie Sanders's," which is a valid statement, given that Clinton pales in contrast to Sanders.

Nonetheless, because the former state attorney general meant the reverse, a juxtaposition of the résumés the two candidates have amassed in public office is appropriate.  Sanders spent eight years as mayor of the largest city in his state.  Clinton has never been chief executive of any government.  Sanders was a member of the House of Representatives for 16 years.  Clinton never served in that chamber.  Sanders has been a senator for longer than Clinton was.  Although Sanders has not headed the Department of State, Clinton has had difficulty citing what she accomplished in it.

Cuomo, who was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Clinton's spouse, did not specify any issue on which Clinton supposedly has a better position than Sanders does.  But one was named by Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT) when "Clinton's campaign dispatched Malloy to New Hampshire," as The Stamford Advocate reported, "to help shore up her support with liberals" who have noticed how conservative she is.

The ex-mayor of Stamford is quoted saying on gun regulation, Clinton's "position among the Democrats is a lot more popular than" is Sanders's, as if popularity determines rightness.  Malloy's lone example: the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1994, against which Sanders voted due solely to his concern about the aspect under which:
  • during the five years the legislation allotted for creation of a nationwide capacity for instant background-checks, no transfer of any handgun from any licensed gun-seller to anyone lacking an applicable permit could occur until at least five days after the seller had requested for the local police to conduct a background check on the potential purchaser, and
  • the police department in question would be required to reasonably attempt to honor that request.
Malloy (Jocelyn
Augustino / FEMA)
The said aspect was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Printz v. United States.

[CORRECTION:  With reliance upon Politifact's misinterpretation of the amendment that allotted five years, I wrote Sanders backed an amendment that would have prevented federally-mandated waiting periods.  The latter amendment never existed.]

Moreover, as a candidate for re-election to the Senate, Sanders was rated at merely 8% by the National Rifle Association.  Plus, in October, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence released a scorecard that documents that ever since Sanders began his first successful bid for Congress, his campaigns had not received any money from any organization listed on the scorecard as one that lobbies on behalf of corporate manufacturers of guns.

Clinton has supported and opposed a national registry of guns.  But I concede that any candidate who takes every position is sure to have the most popular one.

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