The Very Dishonest Viability Argument

Supporters of Hillary Clinton monitored caucus results in Iowa as the night wore on. (photo: CNN)
Supporters of Hillary Clinton monitored caucus results in Iowa as the night wore on. (photo: CNN)


Marc Ash | Reader Supported News | February 7, 2016

very pro-Clinton nomination argument contains or is built around the viability argument. Expressed by an inner-child, it goes something like this: “Bernie Sanders should stop causing trouble … Hillary Clinton is more electable … If Bernie Sanders doesn’t stop it, he will open the door for the Republican nominee.”

Or, to quote Clinton digital media strategist Peter Daou, “With Bernie Sanders As Their Nominee, Democrats Can Kiss the Presidency Goodbye.”

That is fundamentally dishonest, and patently anti-democratic.

But that’s not the most insidious thing about the viability argument. What really makes the viability argument so toxic is that it undermines the all-important ideological debate.

What the viability promulgators are saying, in essence, is you can’t afford an ideological debate, you have to hide your political perspective away, because if you don’t the Republicans will gain control of the country.

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Who Is Slanting Our Presidential Debates?

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (photo: Lynne Sladky/AP)
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (photo: Lynne Sladky/AP)


Ronnie Dugger | Reader Supported News | February 7, 2016

iving candidates for President of the United States, including the seated president when seeking re-election, one minute or a minute and a half to answer questions from reporters on national TV is not a debate.

Standing up in a row a political party’s candidates for President for a reporter to single out any one of them to answer any question that reporter selects and words is not a debate.

A reporter or his or her network or newspaper deciding who among a party’s, say, three candidates for President goes onstage on national TV alone first, second, and last is not a debate.

A news organization or a political party deciding which confirmed candidates for President can or cannot take part in an official “debate” on the people’s publicly-owned airways is an unconstitutional misuse of our publicly-owned airways.

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The “Bernie Bros” Narrative: A Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism

Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to volunteers on Friday at a campaign field office in Muscatine, Iowa. (photo: Max Whittaker/NYT)
Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to volunteers on Friday at a campaign field office in Muscatine, Iowa. (photo: Max Whittaker/NYT)


Glenn Greenwald | The Intercept | Reader Supported News | January 31, 2016

he concoction of the “Bernie Bro” narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic – and a journalistic disgrace. It’s intended to imply two equally false claims: (1) a refusal to march enthusiastically behind the Wall-Street-enriched, multiple-war-advocating, despot-embracing Hillary Clinton is explainable not by ideology or political conviction, but largely if not exclusively by sexism: demonstrated by the fact that men, not women, support Sanders (his supporters are “bros”); and (2) Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive and misogynistic in their online behavior. Needless to say, a crucial tactical prong of this innuendo is that any attempt to refute it is itself proof of insensitivity to sexism if not sexism itself (as the accusatory reactions to this article will instantly illustrate).

It’s become such an all-purpose, handy pro-Clinton smear that even consummate, actual “bros” for which the term was originally coined – straight guys who act with entitlement and aggression, such as Paul Krugman  – are now reflexively (and unironically) applying it to anyone who speaks ill of Hillary Clinton, even when they know nothing else about the people they’re smearing, including their gender, age or sexual orientation. Thus, a male policy analyst who criticized Sanders’ health care plan “is getting the Bernie Bro treatment,” sneered Krugman. Unfortunately for The New York Times Bro, that analyst, Charles Gaba, said in response that he’s “really not comfortable with [Krugman’s] referring to die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters as ‘Bernie Bros’” because it “implies that only college-age men support Sen. Sanders, which obviously isn’t the case.”

It is indeed “obviously not the case.” There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while 1/3 of Iowa women over 45 support him. A USA Today/Rock-the-Vote poll from two weeks ago found Sanders nationally “with a 19-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton, 50% to 31%, among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34.” One has to be willing to belittle the views and erase the existence of a huge number of American women to wield this “Bernie Bro” smear.

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The Supreme Court Approaches Judgment Day

Bill Blum | Truthdig | January 27, 2016

  The Supreme Court justices during a 2010 hearing. From left: Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. (Dana Verkouteren / AP)

I know you’ve heard this before, but this time the future of the Supreme Court really is up for grabs in the coming presidential election. By the time November rolls around, three of the justices—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy—will be octogenarians. Right behind them, Justice Stephen Breyer will be 78.

Unless Father Time goes on permanent leave or the laws of nature are suspended, all four could resign on short notice, allowing the next occupant of the White House to appoint their successors.

Since the average tenure of justices appointed since 1970 has exceeded 26 years, the next president will have the opportunity to reshape the nation’s most powerful judicial body for a generation or more. And with the power to reshape the court will come the power to redefine the meaning and application of the Constitution.

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Flint’s Water Crisis Is a Warning to Us All

Sonali Kolhatkar | Truthdig | January 27, 2016

Carlos Osorio / AP

By now most Americans have heard about the water crisis in Flint, a Michigan city of about 100,000 with a majority black population and high levels of lead in its water. With companies like Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola offering to donate millions of bottles of water to the city’s residents, there is a danger that the story of Flint will be seen as a calamity that turned into a saga of hope through charity.

The prevailing story is that a bankrupt government, desperate to save a few million dollars, switched the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River and thereby ended a contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). The river water contains toxins and also lacks appropriate chemicals, resulting in Flint’s aging pipes leaching dangerous levels of lead into the water supply. Residents were also exposed to E. coli and Legionnaires’ disease from the tainted water. Additionally, the pipes are now permanently damaged, putting the cost of repair at a much higher number than the initial savings.

But some are suggesting that the switch in supply had a more perverse motivation than saving money. A Detroit news website called the Motor City Muckraker obtained information that revealed DWSD made several offers to sell Flint water at reduced rates that “would have saved the city $800 million over 30 years.” According to the Muckraker, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released internal correspondence from 2014 and 2015 after the story broke but “he refused to release e-mails from 2013, which would have showed why state officials decided to make the switch.” The report’s author speculated that perhaps “Snyder was motivated by a desire to break up DWSD and ultimately privatize it.”

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Will the LGBT Community Be Able to Retire?

David Rae | Huffington Post | January 27, 2016

Is there a Pending LGBT Retirement Crisis?

While the LGBT community is benefiting from increasing financial prosperity and legal recognition, many economic challenges hit us harder than they do for straight citizens. Like everyone else, we are currently facing a retirement planning crisis but one that may well go beyond the risks of the rest of America.

By David Rae, Certified Financial Planner™, Accredited Investment Fiduciary™

News flash, baby boomers did not die before they got old. In fact, an estimated 10,000 boomers turn 65 every day. Unfortunately, we’re in the midst of pending retirement crisis because many people in this country do not have a plan to cover their basic living expenses through what could easily be 30 years of retirement, not to mention medical costs or the inevitable challenges that come with advancing years. The ripple effect of this lack of a financial safety net, and trust me, Social Security is not going to come to the rescue here — for such a huge population could well spell an economic catastrophe in the years to come.

As a group the LGBT community faces a slew of additional retirement issues, and appears to be even less prepared than some of our straight counterparts, whose fiscal responsibility is nothing to write home about to begin with.

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How the Nazis got away with persecuting gay men long after the Holocaust

Stefanie Gerdes | Gay Star News | January 26, 2016

When World War Two ended, one of the prime concerns of the British, American and Russian forces was to liberate Germany and Austria of all traces of Nazism and the Third Reich.

But despite concentration camps being liberated and prisoners being freed, not all of them were really allowed to walk free.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, some of the men interned for their homosexuality were immediately sent to prison again, forced to serve the Nazi sentences.

It didn’t matter if they had, theoretically, already served their time in Hitler’s camps – they were still considered criminals, even by their liberators.

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Tennessee lawsuit would invalidate every marriage since June out of spite

 | America Blog | January 26, 2016

As far as this group of conservatives is concerned, prohibiting same-sex marriage is more important than allowing opposite-sex marriage. So much so that it’s necessary to invalidate every marriage performed since June, and put the government’s entire role in issuing marriage licenses on hold, until the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges.

From ThinkProgress‘s Zack Ford:

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

Just one day after a Tennessee House committee rejected a bill to nullify the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, the head of the state’s top conservative organization filed a lawsuit hoping to, at the very least, stall same-sex marriage. And he has the support of several state lawmakers.

David Fowler, head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), filed the state suit in Williamson County, asking County Clerk Elaine Anderson to cease issuing marriage licenses until the suit is resolved. His contention relies on a mix of odd technicalities relating to the impact of the Obergefell decision on Tennessee law, particularly the idea that the state’s entire marriage statute was invalidated. He argues that because lawmakers would never have passed a marriage law inclusive of same-sex couples, there is no longer any law stipulating marriage for any couple, and thus all marriage licenses issued in the state since last June are void. This, he fears, exposes the pastors who join him as plaintiffs to liability, because a separate Tennessee statute dictates that it is a Class C misdemeanor to solemnize a wedding between two people not legally eligible to marry, punishable by a $500 fine.

As Ford notes, Fowler doesn’t go to very much effort to hide the fact that his lawsuit is part of a broader effort to get Obergefell overturned. He even laid out his strategy in a flowchart on FACT’s website. Not doing much to help himself in the court of public opinion, Fowler has also claimed that this same strategy could have been, and perhaps still could be, used to pick apart Brown v. Board of Education. Rather than integrate the schools, Fowler argued, states could have simply stopped offering public education altogether.

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Malheur Wildlife Refuge Takeover Is No Wounded Knee

Ammon Bundy, right, shakes hand with a federal agent guarding the gate at the Burns Municipal Airport in Oregon on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (photo: Keith Ridler/AP)
Ammon Bundy, right, shakes hand with a federal agent guarding the gate at the Burns Municipal Airport in Oregon on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (photo: Keith Ridler/AP)


Dennis J. Bernstein | Reader Supported News | January 24, 2016

or forty years now, Leonard Peltier, leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), has been imprisoned as a result of the armed raid by the federal government on Indian land at the historic Wounded Knee in 1973. Bill Means, veteran of the Vietnam War and the standoff at Wounded Knee, said, “The Feds didn’t serve us coffee and pizzas. They came heavily armed, ready to do battle, and opened fire before they asked the first question.” Means is a co-founder, along with Leonard Peltier, of AIM, and is now on the board of the International Indian Treaty Council.

“The laws are recast and enforced in order to suppress any type of minority movement,” said Means, “to shift all the power of recognition to the white community. So that when the posse comitatus or bunch of racist ranchers take over a piece of land, they do it in the name of their country, and they become immune to the criminal laws of the United States.”

Means reflected on how this scenario might have played out quite differently, if it had been AIM that decided to lead an armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. “We know exactly what they’d do. We experienced that back in 1973,” Means told me in a January radio interview. “We were immediately surrounded by over 7 or 8 federal jurisdictions: FBI, U.S. marshals, U.S. Border Patrol, BIA police. I’m missing a few, but you can understand the type of response we get as Indian people.”

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On the Corrupting Influence of Money in Politics, Bernie Sanders Is Dead Right

Eliza A. Webb | Truthout | January 24, 2016

With the Iowa caucus barely a week away, President Barack Obama is weighing in on the role of money in politics, a major platform of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Obama is seriously considering taking executive action to curb the flood of money into politics by requiring corporations to disclose their political contributions.

This puts him in stark agreement with Sanders, who, at the January 17 Democratic debate, argued that money in politics is the major reason Congress cannot enact change desired by the American people.

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