Gauis Publius: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton & America’s Endless War

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

Hillary Clinton’s National Security Address (C-SPAN)

I mentioned near the end of a piece called “Blowback, Money & the Washington War Party” that I would compare Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton with respect to its main subject, America and its wars. For context, I’d like to repeat the start of that piece:

In a provocative piece called, “Blowback — the Washington War Party’s Folly Comes Home to Roost,” David Stockman asks, in effect — “Does America have the wars it seeks and deserves?”

Whatever your answer might be, or mine, I think Stockman’s answer is Yes, and he details that answer in an excellent looking-back and looking-forward essay about the U.S. and its Middle East “involvement.” I have excerpted several sections below, but the whole is worth a full top-to-bottom read.

Before we turn to Stockman’s points, though, I just want to highlight two semi-hidden ideas in his essay. One is about money. What Stockman calls the “War Party” in Washington is really the bipartisan Money Party, since the largest-by-far pile of cash looted from the federal budget (in other words, from taxpayers) goes to fund our military and its suppliers and enablers. Which means that most of it is stolen and diverted in some way. Which means that those who do the stealing have a lot of “skin in the game” — the game that keeps the money flowing in the first place.

Recall that what’s now called the Money Party was what Gore Vidal called the “Property Party”: “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.”

Which means the Washington War Party is a bipartisan gig. Thus our bipartisan wars, which for Stockman answers the first part of the imputed question above. Yes, America does have the wars it seeks. …

It concludes with this:

How Will This End?

It’s easy to see that this ends in either of two ways. It will end when we stop sending money and arms into the region — i.e., when we impoverish our wealth-drunk arms industry and starve the fighting — or it will not end.

Which means, it will lead to continuous tears, American ones. And when, again, you factor in the continuing spiral toward chaos guaranteed by continuing global warming, we may look back and say, “Paris was our generation’s Sarajevo.” It’s hard to stop a war when only a nation’s people don’t want it. It’s almost impossible to stop a war when the people unite with the wealthy to promote it.

Which brings me to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, war, and speeches each gave recently. But that’s for later. …

Later is now. I’m providing this context because I don’t want to leave the impression this piece is about Sanders and Clinton. It’s not. This piece is about us, our future, and that of our children … the future of all of us, in other words, who may choose to live in Washington’s endless war-profiteering environment — until that war comes home with a vengeance.

Do we have I choice? I believe we do, for now. I don’t think that choice will persist, will be available forever.

Sanders, Clinton & America’s Endless War

In a piece by Tom Cahill in, which starts with a report of Bernie Sanders’ “socialism” speech, we find this near the middle, a comparison of the foreign policy statements in Sanders’ speech with a speech given at nearly the same time by Hillary Clinton.

First, about Sanders, Cahill writes:

Sanders Acknowledges Error of CIA-Sponsored Coups

Sanders’ [socialism] speech also surprised many viewers with exhaustive foreign policy proposals aimed at reaching peace in the Middle East, while letting Muslim countries lead the fight against ISIS. the Vermont senator cautioned against using the military to force regime change, citing past CIA-sponsored coups in Latin America and the Middle East as examples of forced regime change gone wrong.

“Our response must begin with an understanding of past mistakes and missteps in our previous approaches to foreign policy,” Sanders said. “It begins with the reflection that the failed policy decisions of the past – rushing to war, regime change in Iraq, or toppling Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or Guatemalan President Árbenz in 1954, Brazilian President Goulart in 1964, Chilean President Allende in 1973. These are the sorts of policies do not work, do not make us safer, and must not be repeated.”

To defeat ISIS, Sanders urged the US to form a new NATO-like coalition with Russia and enemies of ISIS in the Middle East, and force Muslim countries to lead the fight with support from the West. …

“Saudi Arabia has the 3rd largest defense budget in the world, yet instead of fighting ISIS they have focused more on a campaign to oust Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen,” Sanders said. “Kuwait, a country whose ruling family was restored to power by U.S. troops after the first Gulf War, has been a well-known source of financing for ISIS and other violent extremists. It has been reported that Qatar will spend $200 billion on the 2022 World Cup, including the construction of an enormous number of facilities to host that event – $200 billion on hosting a soccer event, yet very little to fight against ISIS.”

“All of this has got to change. Wealthy and powerful Muslim nations in the region can no longer sit on the sidelines and expect the United States to do their work for them,” Sanders continued.

Not perfect if you’re strongly pro-peace, but this would nonetheless represent a major shift in both policy and spending, if implemented — something that can be done, I remind you, by our commander-in-chief, acting alone. It may take Congress, or the illusion of congressional approval, to make war. It doesn’t require a single Republican (or war-making Democratic) vote to make peace.

Now about Clinton, from the same piece (my emphasis):

Hillary Clinton: U.S. Should Lead War on ISIS

Sanders’ Georgetown address was a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York[.]

The former Secretary of State outlined her proposal to fight ISIS, which primarily consisted of the US military taking and maintaining a leading role for an undetermined period of time.

“It is time to begin a new phase and intensify and broaden our efforts to smash the would-be caliphate and deny ISIS control of territory in Iraq and Syria,” Clinton said early in the speech. “That starts with a more effective coalition air campaign, with more allied planes, more strikes, and a broader target set.”

“The Iraqi national army has struggled. It is going to take more work to get it up to fighting shape,” Clinton continued. “As part of that process, we may have to give our own troops advising and training the Iraqis greater freedom of movement and flexibility, including embedding in local units and helping target airstrikes.”

Clinton’s entire speech (about 30 minutes) is above.

Endless War or a Move Toward Peace — Last Chance to Decide?

I’m not suggesting to you what to want. If you really want to enrich billionaire arms manufacturers and their enablers in and out of office, that’s up to you. If you want to give a well-organized foreign fighting force yet more reason to encourage the same acts in the U.S. as their local sympathizers perform in Europe, that’s also up to you. If you want to remove American fingerprints — and national entanglement — from foreign feuds, that’s also your choice as well.

I merely want to point out that for once, there is a choice, and you can make that choice by choosing between these two candidates, just as you can choose, using these two candidates, whether to aggressively reign in carbon use or continue to serve the wealthy who serve up global warming.

Withdraw from foreign wars, or expand into them? Sanders or Clinton? The day is coming soon when this will have mattered, and not just on late-night comedy shows. It’s entirely likely that within the term of the next president, our foreign policy chickens will come home to roost.

Me, I’d prefer those chickens not be armed.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. If you’d like to help him, click here. This page also lists every progressive incumbent and candidate who has endorsed him. You can adjust the split in any way you wish.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


    1. James Levy

      Lesser, perhaps, or incrementally better, if you wish to formulate it that way. I see Sanders as a clear improvement, but still way short of good. Is he good enough for me? For now, yes. Certainly in the primary he is. I’ll wait for the general to see where I’ll vote.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘Sanders urged the US to form a new NATO-like coalition with Russia and enemies of ISIS in the Middle East, and force Muslim countries to lead the fight with support from the West.’

        *yawn* Same old, same old yankee interventionism.

        The sole reason for supporting Sanders is not for his tired old interventionist shtick, but to deprive the Sheldon Adelson Republiclown Party of across-the-board control of Kongress and the presidency (a disturbingly likely prospect).

        No candidate, including Sanders, is going to confess that endless U.S. interventionism in the middle east serves the Lobby’s objective of keeping Israel’s enemies divided and destabilized.

        1. susan the other

          When, why, and how did the brand of globalism we have now (supra national corporatism) become an article of faith for the global economy? Why can’t we have a different form of globalism, not one based on profiteering which is just war in a different uniform, a suit and tie? The environment could unite us, Naomi Klein style. Equality could too because a global effort against inequality would eventually have to end the looting and aggression of international corporatism and feudalism. Isn’t it an irony that all the great corporations and capitalist geniuses pretending to manage the world can’t fix the mess they made without taxpayers? And consumers? If citizens in every country stopped buying things we’d win the planet back in a month. The only thing we need besides dedication is local survival safety nets.

          1. RBHoughton

            Well said Susan. One giant step in the right direction. We take up a duty of stewardship to the planet and forsake our predilection for killing everything.

          2. Malcolm MacLeod,MD

            Susan the Other and RBHoughton: Yours is the only way to go,
            and the sooner we get started the better. I don’t trust Bernie, but
            I really disapprove of Hillary. There is no reason why we cannot
            get the government we so badly need.

          3. Norb

            The activists that most feared by the corporate powers that be are animal rights activists and native peoples movements. I think this is because they put life and the proper care of the environment first. They talk in terms of spiritual right and wrong. An exploiter cannot refute their arguments honestly so they must be ruthlessly put down.

            The way forward is to live responsibly with care and stewardship. A movement to live well with less would go a long way to reversing the evils of consumerism. Also, becoming more self reliant- rejecting corporate products- affords better local survival.
            Boycott and rejection is a very powerful tool. No wonder the next phase is to pass laws requiring participation in the corruption. A free people saying no can be an unstoppable force.

        2. different clue

          Perhaps enough pressure could get Sanders to advance to the point of understanding that the R + 6 should be left alone to solve the rebel problem in Syria without any American input at all? Perhaps it is still hard for Sanders to accept that the DC FedRegime together with the other Western regimes and Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. form an Axis of Jihad which actively works to Wahhabify Syria and turn it into an Islamic Emirate. The issue of “ISIS” as such is basically a red herring and a diversionary confusion-initiative. As Russian foreign minister Lavrov correctly pointed out a little while ago, all the terrorists in Syria are alike and the only good terrorist is a dead one.

          I hope Bernie advances to the point of accepting Putin/Assad/etc. reality-based understanding that the only hope of eventual peace for Syria is the comprehensive extermination-in-detail of every piece of rebel scum operating within Syria’s borders. And that these rebel scum are SUPPORTED by the Sunni Arab countries which Sanders somehow thinks are going to “fight against” ISIS. ISIS is a perfect illustration of everything Saudi Arabia believes in, for example. So don’t expect Saudi Arabia to “fight against” ISIS.

    2. Massinissa

      In the primary, at least, I will vote for him. I dont know if I would vote for him in the general.

  1. Eureka Springs


    Clinton: Boiler plate. Serving up more war crimes, madness and misery.
    Sanders: Crock pot. Either clueless to a dangerous fault or evasive in attempt to see just how stupid his supporters really are. Either way it’s pro war crime to vote for what he’s saying.

    Both are saying our hubris must go on!

    When several Republican (Trump, Cruz and Paul) candidates have at least on occasion sounded far more rational and dare I say peaceful than anything I could possibly project out of Clinton or Sanders here….

    Dr. Jill Stein on Nov. ’16.

    1. Rostale

      Helping Bernie Sanders to win the primary won’t keep you from voting Jill Stein in November, and Bernie Sanders running as the Democratic candidate for president would completely change the dialogue of political discussion in this country.

      Even if he still supports militaristic policies, having a presidential candidate who is willing to state that global warming is the largest threat to national security will start moving the overton window to a place where a green party platform will not seem alien to so many americans.

      1. Eureka Springs

        “militaristic policies”

        Why talk about global warming without considering the nasty side effects of our militaristic policies? Seems rather self-defeating to me.

        What better time than now to cut off all relations (covert and overt) with all our so-called allies Turk, Saudi, Israeli, Qatar? (If I were prone to militaristic policy I would say bomb them first!) Including closing of all foreign bases and an end to NATO. Outlaw paid militia. Join the International Criminal Court and line up prosecutions of our own criminals… there’s a huge backlog of laughing war profiteers out there.

        Upwards of a trillion dollars a year…. the death, the waste, the pollution, the lawlessness in any decent meaning of lawlessness as a term. Virtually all of those $ resources could be turned into green energy projects… and clean-up of what must be terribly toxic MIC waste sites around the world. Plus it would put the kibosh on a planned trillion more on updated nuke arsenal over the next decade or so.

        Overton window can and should be moved by not giving Sanders or anyone else MIC weasel room. Pink mist should be the old black.

        What, ten million Syrian refugees? But Saudi just needs more skin in the game, says Sanders. Demonstrating to me he wants to stay involved/manage it somehow. Totally ignoring or lying about who IS-qaeda is. All evidence suggests looking first and foremost at USA Saudi Turk Israel. And though we can all look back at consistent evidence over many decades… all one need to do is look at things from Libya forward.

        No more militaristic policy.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘he wants to stay involved/manage it somehow’

          Exactly. This is the central delusion of U.S. policy since Mossadegh’s overthrow.

          How’s it workin’ out for us? [rhetorical question]

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Agreed. It’s one thing to observe -factually- that Sanders’ momentum has halted, by some mix of his own devices and those of an antithetical MSM and a traitorous corporate centric DNC, it’s another thing not to at least try to get him nominated. If that were to happen, no matter how unlikely, the national discussion would virtually have to deal with Sander’s platform and it is hard to even imagine just how healthy that would be.

        Of course, the fact that a nominated Sanders would not only drag the national dialog left, but almost certainly win the Presidency, is strong motivation for the corporate world to intervene vigorously in all the different ways it can. A Sanders candidacy frightens them far more than narcissistic neoliberal Trump who would have little to no chance of winning against a hyena and only slightly better prospects of winning against HIllary. A Sanders’ nomination might even frighten them more than winning the Presidency itself, since the nomination would have the effect of opening the flood gates to actual alternatives to the status quo. Once opened, those would be very hard to close.

        1. Lambert Strether

          FWIW, I think Sanders numbers have plateaued for a very simple reason: He’s not reaching enough voters. We’ll see how that goes when we are nearer the caucuses, and after the Sanders campaign has made more attempts to peel away from some of Clinton’s constituencies (which it’s trying hard to do).

          Again, my litmus test is this: Sanders has said it will take a movement to get his platform accomplished. So where is it? A movement implies staff, branding, events, etc. And professionals know how it’s done; Dean 2004 and Obama 2008. So where is it?

        2. Oregoncharles

          If Republicans can cheat in the election, as they’ve certainly done, so can Democrats.

          Palast actually says that they have, for instance, in Georgia to seem less entirely African-American.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Democrats have; that’s how Obama won the Texas Caucus in 2008 (with caucus votes being quite different from the simultaneous popular vote; links on request, but I blogged it at the time, as did several others).

      3. Carla

        The Democrat Party will not nominate Bernie Sanders. Period. Not gonna happen so quit holding your breath.

        In my state, we declare party membership by requesting a ballot of our chosen party in the primary. Obama cured me of ever — EVER — asking for a Democrat ballot again. I’m Green and clean for life — thanks, Barry!

        1. Vatch

          If the Green party has a primary in your state, I understand why you wouldn’t want to vote in the Democratic primary. But the Greens don’t have primaries, so you’re missing a chance to to have a very small influence over the choice of the Democratic candidate (or the Republican candidate). If enough leftists decide that it’s not possible for the Democrats to choose Sanders, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

          In 2008 I voted for Obama (a mistake, of course, but a vote for McCain would also have been a mistake). In 2012, I changed my ways, first by voting in the Republican primary, mostly so I could have a say in the nomination of candidates for some lesser offices. I voted for Huntsman in the primary, because he wasn’t a total lunatic like Santorum. In the general election I voted for Green candidate Stein. In 2016, I will vote in the Democratic primary, and then I’ll wait to see who’s been nominated by the various parties.

          1. Carla

            I guess I was not sufficiently clear in my previous comment. I refuse to declare that I am a registered Democrat (after all, I am not); since voting in a party’s primary registers one as a member of that party in the state of Ohio, I will not ask for a Democrat primary ballot.

            1. Vatch

              So what if you appear on a list as a registered Democrat? Will this cost you money? Does Ohio require registered whatevers to donate money to the Whatever Party?

              It certainly won’t affect for whom you vote in the general election. You’ll still be able to campaign for Green Party candidates. If you have extra cash, you’ll be able to donate to them.

      4. Susan E

        I am a little confused by Bernie’s insistence that we are “doing the work for” countries like Saudi Arabia and should make them pay for going after ISIS, when Saudi Arabia is on the side of ISIS, and their citizens kept ISIS going monetarily in the early days and probably today as well (even if they are now getting their money from oil fields now). When do we get a candidate who acknowledges that our “allies” are funding our enemies because they feel it is in their best interest to do so? Why would they ever join our fight, when they have already joined the fight on the other side?

    2. Lambert Strether


      To defeat ISIS, Sanders urged the US to form a new NATO-like coalition with Russia and enemies of ISIS in the Middle East, and force Muslim countries to lead the fight with support from the West. …

      If one accepts America’s imperial role, that’s a reasonable play. (If one imagines that our ruling class is long conflict investment, then all that matters is conflict, period; there’s no policy reason for the conflict needed, except as window dressing.)

      Of course, I don’t accept that. Clinton v. Sanders reminds me of Freud’s comment about psychotherapy turning hysterical misery into ordinary unhappiness. But even so, there’s a lot of unhappiness to go around, and on a global, grandiose scale.

      BEWARE: I may have to start moderating for outright endorsements. (Readers will note neither Yves nor I have endorsed anybody). I’ve seen blogs torn apart by battles over candidates, and I don’t want that to happen to Naked Capitalism.

  2. EoinW

    Given the Obama experience, I’m not so sure there is a true choice. More like the illusion of a choice. heck even if Rand Paul became President I’d expect him to go against his promises, as Obama did and Sanders will do.

    Now where there may still be a choice is in the American colonies. How long could Washington’s endless wars last without the support of the Quisling leadership of its allies? I’m talking about a leader saying: “you stop attacking other countries or we impose a trade embargo.” Maybe that’s unrealistic but any moral leader of a western country would make this stand. Too bad we only vote in psychopaths. But, unlike America where it is too late, other countries still have the possibility of electing anti-war leaders – like the UK Labour Party.

    This in my opinion is the last chance to stop Washington democratically. An aggressive anti-American stance which creates costs that even the War Party can’t sustain. After all, those who have started these wars going back to Yugoslavia have paid zero cost. Even in 2008 I thought that Obama’s election would be a blow for peace chances. Bush and the Republicans were making it difficult for other leaders to obediently follow the Empire. Eight years of McCain might have succeeded in finally isolating Washington. Instead we got Obama and the illusion of change. That gave our Quislings the politcal cover to run back to the Empire. it’s been full steam ahead ever since then.

  3. tommy strange

    Well written thoughtful piece. I do hope Bernie gets through the fixed primary, cuz he can win the general easily, especially since the economy is going to tank even deeper by then. I do know that the only real change can happen through a bottom up libertarian mass force (anarchist, democratic con federalist, etc), but we are NOT doing that now, and I am aghast we are not even organizing for ‘it’…and so…. Clinton has the record of a completely right wing arrogant fool that would still even bomb Iran. Just imagine that one obvious possibility and what that would cause.
    My one cynical add is that just because the ‘law’ says the president can do this or that, doesn’t mean Bernie will be able to. Most of the democratic party will be against him. And an immediate impeachment process could very easily happen against him. No, he doesn’t have to die in a plane crash, or be (JKF was not )assassinated by the CIA …the powers that run this country could just impeach him.
    Still, I really want him to win. My hate is pure for the neo liberal democrats. My compromise ideologically is easy for me to stomach. Go Bernie. Meanwhile, lets organize for a better world, outside of the corrupt political machine.

      1. roadrider

        Then I guess you have solid evidence to account for the actions of Allen Dulles, David Atlee Phillips, William Harvey, David Morales, E. Howard Hunt, Richard Helms, James Angleton and other CIA personnel and assets who had 1) perhaps the strongest motives to murder Kennedy 2) the means to carry out the crime, namely, their executive action (assassination) capability and blackmail the government into aiding their cover up and 3) the opportunity to carry out such a plan given their complete lack of accountability to the rest of the government and their unmatched expertise in lying, deceit, secrecy, fraud.

        Because if you actually took the time to research or at least read about their actions in this matter instead of just spouting bald assertions that you decline to back up with any facts you would find their behavior nearly impossible to explain other than having at, the very least, guilty knowledge of the crime.

  4. JTMcPhee

    The body– all the organs, fluids, nerves, hormones, etc. — of a person when some of whose cells have turned on the whole, gone destructively rogue and metastatic — well, even as those cells link and proliferate and multiply and trick the dying carcass into growing ever more and larger conduits to deliver blood to the tumors, the “person” searches for treatments and maintains hope and a grim determination and positive mental attitude, hoping for a cure that will restore homeostasis and return the tissues to their proper function. Bear in mind that cancers are cells that have shucked off the restraints on and regulation of growth, in favor of SIMPLY MORE, unconcerned about the death of the body that feeds them. And those cells usually have figured out how to hide from the body’s regulatory processes. In the Actual World Battlespace, aircraft and “units” carry devices that let them (nominally) Interrogate Friend or Foe, so they won’t or are at least less likely to be killed by “friendly fire.” Somatic cells get identified a similar way, and the immune system cuts the psychopathic cells out and recycles them. “The Military” of course employs the same spoofing and fraud tricks that cancer cells use, in addition to the ever-growing diversion of life resources into tumor growth, so the immune system is suckered into thinking they are benign. The related disease processes, corporatization and financialization, have pulled the same trick. (Cancerous livers and pancreases and pituitaries keep sort of functioning, putting out hormones and converting nutrients and filtering and stuff, until they don’t, or they die with the rest of the body as some other essential-to-life function fails and stops.)

    There’s what, maybe half a million “Troops” invested in the Imperial Project overseas and at home. Their expertise is in killing, destabilization, raising up Sepoy armies and “national police forces,” on the idiotic assumption that the latter two will be under the orders of the High Command. Even if these sh_ts did not just “bowstring” a Bernie Sanders, a hugely brave man imo, if “we,” whoever that is, speaking of agency, somehow arrange to “disengage” and demobilize, these creatures that exist at all levels of the chain of command will then do what? Get good paying jobs back home, become good citizens? Or go join up with the Eric Princes and other private mercenary or “national” armies, to keep a paycheck and benefits and keep doing what so many of the get off on? Let alone the other tumors like the rest of the Imperial and other-nation state security types? And of course the Elites that rule us and happily will kill us because “Apres nous le deluge…”

    Yah, “We” as agents have to try, to “reform” the aberrant cells. But looking at the patient’s chart, the electrolytes are way out of whack, cachexia is well advanced, and the tumors are pressing on and colonizing the vital organs… I personally don’t think “we” can do better, but who knows?

  5. TG

    Speeches, schmeeches. Words are wind. Look at the record.

    Hillary Clinton is a monster. The issue is not Bernie vs. Hillary. The issue is how could any sane American even consider voting for Hillary Clinton, against any candidate, even Trump (yes really).

    As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton made America de-facto allies of extremist groups including Al Qaeda. You know, the guys that blew up the trade center towers on 9/11? Yes really. No it’s not in her speeches – she just actually did it. And here was Libya, and it’s leader wasn’t a saint, but he mostly did good for his people – highest standard of living in Africa! – and he’d made nice with US the last few years, and helped against terrorism etc. And Hillary allied with extremist jihadist nut jobs and trashed the place, and now it’s like something out of a Mad Max movie and the average Libyan sorely misses Gaddafi, and ISIS is spreading, and refugees are spilling out all over and there is no end in sight etc.

    Somehow we have to get past the notion that anyone treated as ‘serious’ by the New York Times is actually serious, and look at their record. Press releases are not reality. Trump may be an arrogant loudmouth, and Bernie not a saint, etc., but Hillary should be beyond the pale.

  6. roadrider

    Yeah, Sanders sounds more reasonable but he’s still endorsing the “War on Terrah!” and making it sound like we’re engaged in some kind of noble effort but being undermined by our so-called allies. The part about being undermined is true but his overall stance ignores the elephant in the room – not only did our our military/covert paramilitary misadventures lead to the emergence of Al-Qaeda an ISIS but our continued association with the repressive, oligarchic petro-states in the Gulf fuel the growth of Islamic extremism and sectarian violence in that region. Sanders recognizes part of that problem but his prescription is far from a cure.

    This post encourages support for Sanders but count me out. I get that Sanders is better than Clinton on many issues but I can’t support him in the primary because 1) I’m no longer a Democrat and can’t vote in the primary even if I were so inclined (and no, I’m not going to re-register as a Democrat just to do that) and 2) Sanders has already endorsed Clinton (he’ll support her if she wins the primary) so how seriously should we take their policy differences?

    1. Carla

      I agree. The fact that Sanders has pledged to support Clinton fatally undermines his candidacy. Here in Ohio, arguably the most “progressive” member of the U.S. Senate, Sherrod Brown, endorsed Clinton several weeks ago.

      I’m telling ya, the Democrats will never allow a Sanders win. Votes don’t matter.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Again, there’s no way to win running as a Democrat without pledging to support the Democratic candidate. There just isn’t. (And nobody said the support couldn’t turn out to be nothing more than a ritual pledge, right?)

        And what’s the better option? Creating a third party is not on*, and the Greens have their own candidate (and the Greens have also been ill-treated by star candidates parachuting in; if I were a Green, I don’t think I’d support Sanders).

        So IMNSHO the whole “ZOMG!!!! He pledged to support Clinton!!!!” is a test of ritual purity, nothing more. It has no relevance to electoral politics at all.

        The more important issue is whether Sanders is building up a parallel structure to the Democrats. The small donations says yes. A real movement (my litmus test) would shout yes.

        That would bypass the whole endorse/not endorse discussion, and totally f2ck the Democrats, too, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

        * Start with ballot access.

    2. Vatch

      Sanders has already endorsed Clinton (he’ll support her if she wins the primary)

      Bernie Sanders has been in the Congress for more than 2 decades as an Independent. This year, he suddenly starts campaigning in the Democratic primaries for the Presidency. Some Democrats, especially life long Democrats, view this with suspicion. “What’s this carpet bagger doing in our primaries?”, they think. To alleviate their fears of an outsider poaching on their territory, he pledges to support the ultimate Democratic candidate for President. This allows undecided Democratic primary voters to feel a little more comfortable about voting for Sanders. If he manages to win the nomination, the Clinton supporters will be more likely to vote for him in the general election.

      Just because Sanders has pledged to support the Democratic candidate in the general election doesn’t mean that his supporters are obligated to do so. If Sanders is not the Democratic nominee, I will very likely vote Third Party, as I did in 2012. And you can do the same.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I don’t think his pledge to support the nominee undermines his candidacy at all. First, it’s pro forma and carries no force. Besides, it was also absolutely required to even join the contest at a high level. If he wanted to have any impact on this election cycle, he had very literally no choice about it. To think otherwise seems more than a little naive, which seems to be an ongoing problem generally with the American left. Sanders is *almost* everything one could realistically ever hope for in a legacy party candidate with a real shot, and yet a significant portion of the left inevitably goes straight into the back corner of the drawer looking for reasons not to support him–or even to go further and declare him unfit. Worse yet, those saying this stuff offer no viable plans or alternatives at all. It’s really astonishing to me and perhaps explains why the left is ever so easy to marginalize and push around.

  7. TedWa

    Since Bernie has voted against pretty much all our involvement in the ME, I wonder if what he’s saying is that if the ME doesn’t care enough to get rid of ISIL, then why should we? For those doubting his character, please do read up on him more. He’s not there for show, he gets things done and does it for the people. What more could you ask for than a candidate that refuses to take Wall St money and dark money fomr Super-Pacs? I mean, really – what more could you ask? If he wins out goes citizens united. The TBTF banks will be broken up. SS will be solid for a 100 years and the things that matter to the people the most – will be his goal. He’s no phony and he’s no psychopath like the past 2 Presidents or his adversary in this run up. I see no guile in the man. When he says he’s going to do something he gets it done. No one in Congress has been able to cross party lines and get things done for “we the people” like Bernie Sanders. Look up his record.

    I support Bernie on a monthly basis and will continue to do so. I voted Jill Stein last time and while that was a vote with a clear conscience, I knew there was no chance. Here we the people have a chance. Come on now, NO SUPER-PAC MONEY OR MONEY FROM WALL ST !! What does that say? Is he for you or against you? I’d say it screams that he is on our side. Jill Stein? Great. But there’s no way she can win. The media and TPTB won’t cover her and won’t let her debate. I can vote for Bernie with a clear conscience because I took the time to see what the man is about.

    1. cwaltz

      I think if you read the first part of his speech that you can draw the conclusion that he thinks they are doing what we did(essentially funding a group of “rebels” to promote their own interests) and that he feels it is a mistake and ISIS is a consequence of it.

      I wish someone could ask him what would happen if Saudi, Qatar and these nations make the choice NOT to lead in taking on ISIS. I’m curious to see what he’d answer.

      1. cwaltz

        I also notice that he’s missing a nation in there that should be working with the Muslim nations to address ISIS.

    2. Carla

      What more could I ask? For starters, I’d ask for a candidate who didn’t promise to support Clinton when she gets the nomination, which she will.

      1. TedWa

        I could be wrong but to me he’s playing politics and pacifying the democrats when he says that. Would he get any dem support if he didn’t say that? Would he even be allowed to debate if he didn’t toe the democratic line? I would however like to see him stand up to HRC more forcefully and I have hope that will happen, soon.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Well, yeah. Sanders has got to get the idea out of his head that Senate comity applies on the campaign trail. Clinton certainly doesn’t have any such notion.

          At the same time, he’s got to stick the shiv in while not losing the loveable old coot nature. That’s doable; it’s just rhetoric; professionals figure such things out.

    3. roadrider

      I can vote for Bernie with a clear conscience because I took the time to see what the man is about.

      Does that include his support for Netanyahu and the Israel lobby or his endorsement of drone warfare?

      I think Sanders is sincere but he’s already promised to endorse Clinton which means he’s OK with her agenda even if he personally disagrees with much of it (kind of a loyal opposition thing). The Democratic Party is opposed to his candidacy and they’re rigging the primary process in favor of Clinton as much as they can.

      1. TedWa

        Which is why he has to bridge the gap between his being an independent and showing the democrats, including the party talking heads, that he’s one of them. He might say it but I doubt he’d mean it.

      2. 3.14e-9

        Bernie Sanders was the first senator to announce that he would boycott Netanyahu’s speech in Congress, and he is the only senator who does not take any money from the pro-Israel lobby. He was one of a small majority in the Senate who did not sign the resolution last summer to approve of Israel’s bombing of Gaza — and he didn’t vote for it (there was no vote) or otherwise agree to it. The “unanimous consent” thing that Chris Hedges jumps up and down about and others parrot as “proof” that Sanders is pro-Israel is a procedural rule in the Senate, and there was no way to “object” to it, other than not signing the resolution in the first place. That’s what he did, even though more than three-fourths of this colleagues signed on. And he has criticized Israel. You’d just never know it by reading Hedges and the CounterPunch crowd.

        As for endorsing Hillary, that remains to be seen. He said that in the beginning when he and everyone else thought maybe he’d get a few votes from the fringe. Circumstances have changed dramatically, and he’s got millions of supporters who have said they will not vote for Clinton, period. So we’ll see whether he sticks with the party — which, goddess knows, has done everything in its power to block him and to which he owes nothing — or whether he’ll find another alternative.

      3. Lambert Strether

        ” he’s already promised to endorse Clinton which means he’s OK with her agenda ”

        No, it doesn’t. Comments with a little more realpolitik, a little bit less pious naiveté, mkay?

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    To me, temporarily setting aside issues about what Bernie is willingly or unwittingly being used for, Bernie can stand on his own. It’s not a question of better than or less than; Sanders is sincere enough and has sufficient track to convincingly represent a huge if cumbersome shift in orientation, in the bully pulpit and eventually in policy.

    It also seems to me that many who might be considered “purists”, because there is no way in hell they would vote for Hillary, or for any one who constantly betrays thier promises and their constituents, don’t view Sanders by comparative value, but rather as realistic choice for starting to turn a very big ship onto a different course.

    But this brings up a thread regarding purists that is worth some discussion. One of the charges against purists I have found most troublesome since Obama was elected is that of being unwilling and unable to compromise. It struck me to be the contrary; many who came to refuse Democrats altogether didn’t do so because those Democrats wouldn’t hew exactly to ALL of their beliefs and wishes, but because those Democrats consistently, again and again, proved traitorous to their own promises on issues that crossed a significant line such as the right to dispute one’s guilt in a court of law or the notion that a president can assassinate at his or her own whim with no judicial review, or a willingness to dismantle what remains of the social safety net, or a willingness to fall in line with jingoistic cries for the war machine that are existentially lethal to the country.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          I would hazard that the the thank you is for clarifying that “purist” is a prejudicial term frequently based on non factual assumptions.

          As to Bernie, I’m confused. I don’t see a problem with him running as Democrat, but I do see a problem with the lack of fight because statements like “Hillary is my friend”, or “Joe Biden is my friend” or I will fully support HIllary if nominated are simply way too close to Obama’s statements like, “Let’s look forward not backward.” and “Bankers are my friends.” I don’t see the window being moved leftward. In my neck of the woods I see Bernie being perceived as kind and gentlemanly but ineffectual and when people say, “I like Bernie but he really doesn’t have a chance”, I get the impression it’s that sense he is not really taking the fight to the establishment that motivates them, not his actual chances of winning – so to me there is a down-side to Sanders running in this particular way because rightly or not it does get associated with his ideas.

          On the other hand, if he could be nominated, he would be running against his “traditional” enemy and I suspect that would help him take the gloves off. If so, he would have a far greater chance of getting his point of view heard and the disinfectant nature of speaking truth to power would have it’s day – of enormous value. So I support him, but I think he is blowing it and fair or not this has a harmful effect on the message and thus on moving the discussion leftward.

          There is almost certainly going to be increased pressure for a leftward “movement” but I think Sanders part in it is going to be a mixed bag at best. Hope I’m wrong on that and I STILL think it worth trying to get him nominated at this point in time.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Of course Obama and the Democrats have consistently betrayed their voters. Heck, go back to Pelosi in 2006 taking impeachment off the table, or the Democrats in 2000 rolling over when Bush was selected in Bush v. Gore. I mean, water is wet.

      I just don’t see any downside in Sanders running as a Democrat. No downside at all.

      1) Sanders wins the nomination. Is that so bad?

      2) The regulars screw Sanders over so badly that the Democrats split. Is that so bad?

      3) Sanders actually starts a movement. Is that so bad?

      4) Sanders puts single payer and free college on the national agenda. Socialism gets on the national agenda.* Is that so bad?

      5) Sanders runs on small contributions ONLY, with no SuperPAC money, achieving unheard of success totally against conventional wisdom. Is that so bad?

      To be fair, there’s the sheepdog scenario (again, a terrible metaphor, put about by the Greens, which implies conscious collusion by Sanders, for which there’s very little evidence). If that comes true, is that so bad? No, because we’re not any worse off than we were before, and see #4 and #5 above.

      I just don’t see how Sanders running is anything other than a net positive. The left really does need to figure out how to take yes for an answer.

      * Please name another politician who has or could have achieved this.

  9. jim

    As far as the the questioning of the motives of the San Bernardino shooters: Why doesn’t the NSA just look at all their cell calls, texts, emails etc .I mean, they’ve all been recorded, wasn’t that the whole reason for that? If these agencies can’t do their job then slash their budgets.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Oh no no no — the remedy is obviously to give those sh_ts MORE money. MORE intrusive tools, etc.

      One foolishly supposes that they give a rats ass about what the most of us care about and Fear…

    2. wally

      “…as the the questioning of the motives of the San Bernardino shooters…”

      Don’t forget that there were two religious-wacko motivated shootings last week. Religion and guns is worse than booze and driving.

    3. different clue

      That was not the reason. That was only the excuse. If another “Occupy” type movement gets started, watch how fast the various levels of government crush it down and stamp it out . . . guided by NSA-gathered information. Then you will see what all that money was spent for.

  10. GlassHammer

    Are we assuming that the Pentagon, DoD, etc… are just going to accept new guidance from the top? (That sounds like wishful thinking to me.)

    And if they (Pentagon, DoD, etc…) resist new guidance, what is going to be done about it? Curretly more Americans trust the military than any institution or politician. I highly doubt anyone could swing public opinion against the Deep State at this point in time.

    1. Daryl

      It seems to me like the major sovereignty-violating actions of the US Gov’t happen with the approval of the executive branch. The military and intelligence services generally don’t speak out or publicly act against the president’s policies. They do leak a bunch of shit everywhere (the mysterious “high-ranking anonymous Obama official” who seems to pop up whenever the president’s policies need to be opposed), but that you can live with.

      It is a real problem, one that makes me nervous. We know exactly where corporations go when their iron grip on democracy loosens:

  11. EndOfTheWorld

    I wonder if there is a real chance Jesse Ventura will be nominated by the Libertarian Party at their convention in May or June and put him on the ballot in about 48 states. He says he’s interested and he’s got my vote. I agree Bernie has no chance to win, partly because he’s just too humble and polite. He was a great athlete in high school, but he never talks about it. That would get him some support in sports-minded Iowa.

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        I read an article on the internet somewhere where some businessman said he spent a lot of his time during high school looking at the rear end of Bernie Sanders because Bernie was the best high school distance runner in NYC. That’s all I know. I don’t know exactly how good Bernie was, but I’d like to find out.

        1. John Wright

          Some searching had Sanders at 4:37 for the mile while the high school record was 4:12.

          Here’s a quote attributed to him:

          SANDERS: I came in third in my junior year in the New York City public school one mile. I think my best was 4:37, which is not superstar, but it’s pretty good.

          This would be around 1958.

          Note that Louis Zamperini (Unbroken) held the HS mile record for many years at 4:21.2 set in 1934.

          I tend to discount the character building aspect of athletics. An Olympic Athlete I took a college class from mentioned that the pressure to take PED (performance enhancing drugs) is tremendous if one is #2.

          Very much like politics, looking for a victory margin.

          And one of the best middle distance runners I ever saw (Jim Ryun running the 1500 meter 3:33.1 record in 1967 in the LA Coliseum, a record that lasted until 1974) proved to be a less than successful conservative Republican US house rep from Kansas.

          I still have the ticket stub from the 1967 meet.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            4:37 is a very good time for a high school kid. Yeah Bernie wants to talk about nothing but the issues issues issues 24/7. I still wish he could beat Hillary but it’s a big machine he’s running against.

      2. EndOfTheWorld

        Also, Cornel West introduced him as a ‘long-distance runner’. One time he let his teammate win because the guy had never won a race, supposedly.

    1. different clue

      If Ventura got on all the state ballots as a libertarian, that might draw some support away from Trump. But I don’t know how much. Perhaps pollsters could do a study.

  12. TedWa

    I’m sorry but all your arguments against Bernie Sanders pale in comparison to him and only him running for office and not accepting any money from Wall St, Super-Pacs or even corrupt pharmaceutical companies. See every angle you can about him but don’t ignore what’s right in front of you. He won’t take any dirty money and thus be beholding to corrupt entities, Period. If that isn’t on your side I don’t know what is.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Splitting hairs, here, but isn’t that also true of Trump? I gather he isn’t soliciting money at all.

      Yet another interesting parallel.

  13. EndOfTheWorld

    Yeah, but the only problem is he ain’t gonna win. His real shot was to run as a third party candidate from the git-go. So what will he have gained when all is said and done? Oh, he’ll get to give a speech at a phony convention. If Jesse Ventura gets the Libertarian nod he will also be in that category of not getting donations from big corporations, believe you me.

      1. Malcolm MacLeod,MD

        Lambert: I am a very old man, and occasionally think of obvious
        solutions that are avoided because of peril. We are a nation of
        elephants brought to heel by a psychopathic mouse.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I don’t think it’s a matter of peril.

          C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre. C’est de la folie applies to all ages, does it not?

          No avoidance of peril by the Light Brigade, eh?

      2. EndOfTheWorld

        You don’t know that. We do know he has no chance of winning the Dem nomination, unless HilClin gets indicted or gets really really sick or dies.

  14. Oregoncharles

    Just sayin’: This is a Sanders campaign pitch, something we’re not supposed to do in the comments – at least for other campaigns. Is this a precedent?

    That said, I agree with him: even on foreign policy, Sanders is a far cry better than Clinton. That’s probably why he’s polling at 30% (same as Trump on the other side) among the right-wing residue of the Democratic Party.

    Ironically, he’d probably win if nominated. Wouldn’t that be a miracle. If anyone sees a way around the barrier he faces, I’d like to see it. So would Bernie.

    In the meantime, his supporters need to be thinking hard about what they’ll do after the nomination. Those who’ve weighed in here obviously have, but I assume there are a lot more than that reading.

    And an afterthought: he may have hoped, but he has to have expected this. Granted, as Lambert keeps pointing out, he’s waging an educational campaign – just as Greens do, on the national level, but with more attention. What he’s really accomplished is to spotlight just how conservative the Democratic Party really is. Where does that take us?

    And where do we go when the Republicans gain complete control of the Federal gov’t, handed over by Hillary Clinton? My family has their eye on Ecuador.

    1. Lambert Strether

      On your first paragraph, yes (though I dunno, we might want to edit out the sentence at the bottom). I think a cross-poster can endorse without creating a ginormous sh*tstorm of factional infighting in the NC comments section; focus on the content, not the endorsement. I saw such a sh*tstorm happen in 2008, and I think 2008 is going to be a walk in the park compared to 2016.

  15. SamInSC

    The Sanders boosterism and Trump alarmism around here has become unbearable. Might as well be Orange Satan! NC use to be the last refuge.

    I know my comment won’t get posted just like when I previously made the valid point that Sanders twice supported and continues to enthusiastically support Obama. He voted* for ACA which – if anything – is the death knell for any future prospects for single payer. Now that Hillary is running, it’s all bros before hoes again… i can tell you that in the carolinas, Sanders support comes almost exclusively from hipster beardo bros gentrifying neighborhood after neighborhood. Because gay marriage. Because weed.

    * What equivocation do we have for the Bern? That he was too ignorant to know that the two inevitables of erecting govt sanctioned toll booths for insurance companies would be upward pressure on premiums and downward pressure on coverage quality? That he had to to support his bro Obama? That SOMETHING had to get passed, even if it’s long term effect would be to kill any prospect of single payer, as people come to hate “goverment healthcare” under ACA?

    1. different clue

      You know your comment won’t get posted? Why . . . it just did. What else do you know that ain’t so?

      About “alarmism about Trump around here” . . . you haven’t heard any from me, nor will you.

      I wonder how true your reporting about where Sanders’s support comes from really is. It sounds like part of the Clinton narrative to me . . . setting up any non-supporters of Clinton for accusations of “Missojinnee!” . . . just exactly like the accusations of “RAY-CISS!” used against Obama non-supporters.
      I am tempted to think the Hillary cabal has learned from a master how to cast identity-aspersions.

      1. SamInSC

        I think it’s charming how any criticism of Bernie is distorted into ad hominem of being a Clinton supporter. For the record, I’m not.

        More interestingly, is how Bernbots cannot justify their golden boy’s vote for ACA the crux of my previous comment*. Passage of ACA was a seminal moment: it demonstrated that any politician, however tangentially related to the Democratic Party – from the whipping post Blue Dogs, to the venerated progressives, to the unimpeachably virtuous “independent socialists” – walked in lockstep with Obie when he needed the votes. Whether it’s blind obedience, or disqualifying ignorance/myopia of the basic concept of incentives with regard to the insurance toll booths – we’ll never know because Bernie, BernBots, and their Orange Satan conduits refuse to address it. Look over there! Ted Cruz!

        * My related point of Sanders’ enduring allegiance to Obie is on the record, specifically, last time Bernie was on Stephanopoulos’ show. And if he “has to” effect himself as a zealous Obie sycophant, should we really take him at his word on policy? If Hillary is to blame and is disingenuous about TPP, isn’t it also true that, as SoS, she served at the pleasure of Obie, who is somehow absolved of blame among Bernie supporters?

Comments are closed.