Sanders Takes the Campaign Against CAP to Eleven

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

One of my biggest concerns about the 2016 Sanders campaign was that, at least at the beginning, it was too easily forced to apologize for attacks on supposed “allies of progressives” in the Democratic ecosystem — because “unity.”

The prime example of that occurred when Sanders accused the Planned Parenthood Action Fund — not Planned Parenthood the health care organization, Planned Parenthood AF, the highly Clintonist political action committee, which had early-endorsed Clinton despite Sanders’ excellent record on women’s issues — of being “part of the establishment.”

He was immediately accused by the rest of the establishment, falsely, of attacking Planned Parenthood clinics. And he backed down, unwisely in my view. (For more on that episode, read the first few paragraphs of this piece.)

Well, the highly Clintonist, highly corporate establishment is at it again, in the form of the corrupt Center for American Progress (CAP) and its online publication ThinkProgress. (For more on their corruption, see also here and here.) ThinkProgress published a video critical of Sanders, as Lee Fang (who also delves into their corruption) explains here:

In response to that video Sanders sent CAP a letter, saying in part:

Center for American Progress leader Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas. I worry that the corporate money CAP is receiving is inordinately and inappropriately influencing the role it is playing in the progressive movement. (emphasis mine)

Team Sanders then went a whole lot further than that in a public fundraising letter, parts of which are reproduced below. Note the expansion of the “corporate money” point from the CAP letter, and also the directness (emphasis mine throughout):

“We are under attack”

Sisters, Brothers, and Friends –

Just like that, our campaign is under attack from the corporate establishment.

This week, an organization that is the epitome of the political establishment — the Center for American Progress (CAP) — unleashed and promoted an online attack video against Bernie.

And behind the scenes on the day Bernie introduced his Medicare for All bill, they held a conference call with reporters attacking the bill.

That is the Center for American Progress’ real goal. Trying to stop Medicare for All and our progressive agenda.

CAP’s leadership has been pretty upfront about their disdain for Bernie — and for all of us. They see our political revolution as a threat to their privilege and influence. …

The Center for American Progress is an organization whose massive annual budget is bankrolled by billionaires and corporate executives that profit from finance, pharmaceutical companies, fossil fuels, and sending American jobs overseas.

Last year alone, they took funding from financial giants like Bank of America and Blackstone, whose CEO was chair of Trump’s business council and is a leading Republican donor.

Before that, they cashed checks from companies like BlueCross Blue Shield, Pfizer, WalMart, and defense contractors like General Dynamics and BAE Systems.

They also took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel pumping United Arab Emirates while the country was bombing innocent civilians in Yemen – a war Bernie has led the fight to end.

The Center for American Progress has deep connections to the economic and political elites who have done so much damageto working families in every zip code. And what we must do today is send a message that we are prepared to fight back against those who are working day and night to defeat our movement….

In solidarity,

Team Bernie

That’s powerful stuff, no-holds-barred truth-telling. Note the many bells it rings:

  • “corporate establishment”
  • “epitome of the political establishment”
  • “real goal … stop Medicare for All and our progressive agenda”
  • “threat to their privilege and influence”
  • “massive annual budget is bankrolled by billionaires”
  • “deep connections to the economic and political elites who have done so much damage to working families”
  • “working day and night to defeat our movement”

The letter also names a few of the companies and countries that bankroll CAP — Walmart, Bank of America, Blue Cross, Blackstone, the UAE. He could have listed a great many more. There are countless stories emerging from former ThinkProgress writers about CAP leadership squelching aggressive reporting because their reports were negatively affecting CAP fundraising. Read this twitter thread by former ThinkProgress reporter Zaid Jilani to see some of those. There are others as well.

Bernie Sanders is not backing down this time. Unlike 2016, this will be a battle with the enemy named out loud and its deeds detailed. Looks like the fight, the one our country has been avoiding for years, is finally on.

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59 comments

    1. Kurtismayfield

      They would rather use the powder on the left than on Republicans. This is all you need to know about their policies.

      Reply
  1. ChuckT

    Go get ’em Bernie! This is what will get/keep people coming out for him in droves.

    The more corporate interests try to tear him down the stronger he gets. Their fear is palpable.

    Reply
    1. cuibono

      that is an interesting dynamic here. the normal attack mechanisms will backfire.
      I smell a rat today wit this fox news appearance though. Why did they let so many Bernie supporters in the room?

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        A hypothesis, perhaps barmy, is that FOX doesn’t read the temper of the times any better than the R (or, for that matter, D) establishment and wants to “elevate” Sanders in the interest of having him be DJT’s opponent in 2020.

        Another possibility might be to give ammunition to the D establishment in order to promote disunity among the Ds. But the “progressive in name only” Ds were going to snipe at Sanders anyway; I’m happy about the exposure he got to FOX’s constituency.

        Reply
      2. Lee

        This was in a county that went for Obama and then for Trump. They are anti-establishment voters. Their antipathy is bipartisan. My kind o’ folks. Yes, folks, I use the word “folks” because I am one, unlike some prominent persons who use the term but who never were or for a very long time have not been one.

        Reply
      3. Lee

        This over at Daily Kos:

        Fox crowd roars in approval as Bernie explains how M4A is more stable than private insurance
        https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/04/16/1850603/-Fox-crowd-roars-in-approval-as-Bernie-explains-how-M4A-is-more-stable-than-private-insurance

        And, FWIW, Bernie keeps kicking butt in their semi-monthly straw polls over there. There is a whole lot of anti-progressive, push-back but the Sanders Swarm is gathering strength on that centrist platform.
        https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/4/15/1850407/-Daily-Kos-Democratic-Primary-Straw-Poll-Tax-Day

        Reply
  2. ambrit

    I commented about this on another thread to the effect that this is the beginning of a “Night of the Long Knives” quality power struggle in the Democrat Party.
    Glad to see the Sanders campaign being proactive about the dirty dealing that is being used to try and stop them.
    Now for Sanders to start framing the struggle as being between “Their” Democrat Party and “Our” Democrat Party. Sanders really needs to pull off what Trump managed to do in the Republican Party; a hostile takeover.

    Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But it will only turn out better in the medium-run if “Our” DemParty can exterminate “Their” DemParty. Then at least We will Have a DemParty which is “Ours”. If any secret Neera Tandecrat agents and embeds are allowed to remain in “Our” DemParty, they will re-infect it and make it “Their” DemParty all over again.

        Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Exactly right. Unlike Trump, however, Bernie will have to do it with the entire corporate and political establishments against him. And not even a “left” Fox News in his corner. It will truly be us against (all of) them.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Did Trump take over the Republican party or did the Republican party take over him? Winning the presidency is only part of the battle.

      Reply
      1. earthling1

        No, Ambrit is right on the mark. Trump pulled a “hostile takeover” against 16 establishment Republicans, the best of the best Republicans!
        Even rank and file Rs are fed up with DC.
        A true American Revolution is primed and needing only a spark.
        TPTB are very scared.
        They very much need a distraction.
        A false flag event is what they need right now.

        Reply
    3. Carey

      Thanks for this fine comment. After the corporatist Dems do what they will do at their (correct word) convention next year, I think what will stand out is the
      organizing for the common good. I sure hope so; we and the biosphere do not
      have that much time left.

      Reply
    4. JBird4049

      Night of the Long Knives” quality power struggle in the Democrat Party.“

      I might be really overly… sensitive, but I get queasy when I hear that phrase used as it usually refers partly to the infamous Night of the Long Knives in 1934. Considering just how crazy American politics and society already is, and how bad it might become, perhaps we should use care with such phrases?

      Having said all that, I plan on having popcorn when the political infighting really gets going as people start throwing others overboard merely trying to save their lucrative careers. Maybe a good beer too.

      Reply
  3. rob

    If any democrat wants to be real, they have to attack other democrats, because the democrats suck.
    As a political party, they are so pathetic, they lost to donald trump.
    The republicans are vile , and mornic.that is how they appeal to their base…..
    So if anything is to be done to try and break the stalemate, it must be the debate of ideas. Not the battle of personalities , we have now.
    The republicans have no real ideas, just worn out tropes. The democratic leadership, go around “saying”, they are progressives ( pelosi interview),but really they are as tired in their way of thinking as the republicans….
    Both groups are not worth a thing.
    when pelosi pointed out AOC had a group of five… she was being dismissive… saying she was steering a bigger ship… democrats of all stripes. even the republicans who won seats as democrats…. but really… her and her band of good for nothing democrats, doesn’t count for anything near the five new democrats who are out spoken, and have the good character to be on the right side of history..
    I for one, would vote for anyone who battles the democratic blob of a machine. and anyone who doesn’t have a problem with the democratic party, is un-electable.

    Pelosi needs to go.
    So sanders should fight the democratic corporatists in the senate, if he is trying to be real. It is about time…… he needs that “audacity of hope” thingy.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” Ideas” can be a good tire iron. It takes a good strong “personality” to swing the tire iron effectively.

      I hope not one single “Our” Democrat ever uses that Obama trope ” the Audacity of Hope”. That phrase is now radioactive and dripping with Obama’s fecal waste matter.

      Reply
  4. ChrisAtRU

    THIS … THIS … THIS … Sooooo happy to see this. I feel this is a big moment for Team Bernie – it’s the first shove back at the bully … before you bloody their mouth.

    #WellDone #GoedZo

    Reply
  5. integer

    Worth a read:

    The Rematch: Bernie Sanders vs. a Clinton Loyalist NYT

    …Ms. Tanden’s mother, Maya Tanden, says that her daughter “can be very aggressive.”

    “She’s not going to let anyone rule over her,” she said, “and she has loyalty to Hillary because Hillary is the one who made her.”

    “That’s what she does — she shows up at rich people’s places because she needs funds from them,” Ms. Tanden’s mother said. “That place runs on Neera Tanden.”

    Lol.

    Reply
    1. antidlc

      “… she shows up at rich people’s places because she needs funds from them,”

      And that is the problem right there.

      Contrast that to Bernie’s fundraising with an average $27 (or whatever it is) contribution.

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        The “$27” ‘brand’ is brilliant. Many or perhaps even most small donors will pick that option at the online contributions page and so matter how many larger donations come in, the smaller ones will always overwhelm the larger ones and keep the average very close to the mode.

        So many very intelligent things going on in the Sanders campaign. I so so hope that he is the D nominee.

        I think I’ll go back to that link and contribute another $27 right now.

        Reply
        1. earthling1

          The $27 donation has become a badge of true Progressives. Every donation check I write is $27, indicating “I’m one of those bros”.
          Whether it is The March of Dimes, the ACLU, or individual candidates, it sends a message more indelibly than the lapel flag pin.
          Another variation is the 27 cent check I’ve mailed to crap Democrats to show my distain for them.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            A twenty seven cent check? Now that’s funny. I wish I had thought of that.

            Some people could send 27 cent checks. Other people could send packets of 27 1-cent checks. Different other people could send two-cent checks. ” Here’s my two cents.”

            Reply
          2. Carey

            The DCCC and the DSCC keep soliciting me for bucks, and
            since (only lately) their envelopes are postpaid, I’ve been sending two pennies, and some choice words to go with them. Not that
            it matters, but Sanders’s threat to their gravy
            train surely does.

            Sanders / Gabbard 2020

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Now that you have offered the idea, perhaps other people can weaponize it and disseminate it. If a million people each sent the DCCC and/or the DSCC one of their post-paid envelopes with two pennies in the envelope, it might start costing the DCCC and/or the DSCC some real money to keep harvesting all those double-pennies.

              Reply
    2. antidlc

      “Mr. Sanders’s team remains convinced that the Democratic establishment worked behind the scenes to deprive him of the party’s nomination in 2016..”

      Well, yeah, it;s true.

      Reply
    1. ChrisAtRU

      It’s exactly what both sides of the broken political duopoly feared. Trump’s tweet on the subject bears testament to the latter. The pre #BernieFoxTownHall agita from pearl-clutching Dem cultists online serves as evidence of the former.

      Bernie’s in it to win it.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        “Crazy Bernie” may not be the verbal killshot headshot that Trump thinks. There are working class people here and there who remember ” Crazy Eddie”.

        Perhaps Scott Adams will have to revise his theories of persuasionology.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Yes, “pay attention to your betters’ self-interests, for your own sakes!” doesn’t seem to be flying these days. Imagine that.

          Reply
  6. Michael C.

    Sanders is staying away from some issues, such as Assange arrest and Venezuela, which has caused some complaints from the Left. Personally, I think he is being tactical and smart in that he is attempting to reach the largest portion of the electorate. I doubt that he or his staff is ignorant on these type issues, but he is set on a goal and does not want to let issues that might divert his direction toward that goal. Or am I being unduly naïve? I am pretty skeptical of all politicians, but his consistent history gives me some confidence that he will be straight on these issues if elected/.

    Reply
      1. Grant

        Saying something about two radically different people doesn’t logically lead to the same thing. Obama was great at giving speeches, was a historic candidate and did try to (in a vague way) make it sound as if he wanted to change the system. He didn’t. He pretended to want to re-negotiate NAFTA, but when the Canadians freaked a bit, his campaign assured them that it was just talk, cause it was. It was obvious before he took office, to anyone paying attention, that Obama was a neoliberal that wouldn’t change much of anything. But Obama in 2008 is not Bernie then or now. Obama in 2008 is Beto or mayor Pete now. Empty platitudes, totally cut off from the struggles of working people, paid to not structurally change what needs to structurally change by people that benefit from the system as is. Obama was just much better at being that empty slate than the 2020 version of him. I can almost smell the mayor Pete book deal though, and I am sure he can too.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Thanks for this comment. I tried to read yesterday’s New York piece
          on the Democrats’ Folksiest Heartland Hope, but between that
          mcPhoto at the top, and the conversational, we’re-all-in-this
          together tone of the writer, stopped after a couple of paras.
          The #resistance are all so tired; do they not realize that?

          Regarding Mister Obama’s speeches, to me they reeked of
          hollowness. He had the gestures and cadences down, though.

          Reply
          1. earthling1

            I think Mike Gravel would be a pylon of where the true left SHOULD be.
            If we can get him on the debate stage to drag the overton window back where it belongs it would help make Sanders, and Gabbards views more mainstream and palpatable.
            A simple $1 donation could get him on that stage.
            Imagine the gut retching of Pelosi et al upon hearing of what the Democrat Party used to sound like.
            They would have to waste time countering Gravels remarks, rather than tear down Sanders, Gabbard, or even Warrens policies.
            For just a buck we could hear what an ol’ time Democrat was made of.

            Reply
            1. Carey

              I sent Gravel a few bucks and hope others do the same.

              Not a fan of his favoring of Open Borders, though, since
              the carrying capacity of the NA Continent is maybe
              one-third of the present population.

              Reply
          2. Grant

            +1

            Chomsky said that Obama was a blank slate and pointed out how his campaign won awards for marketing, for good reason. As a talented orator, he had a way of pleasing lots of different people. The ones paying attention to policy, especially on the left, were not happy with him or his ideology, but lots of people then were zombies and didn’t think critically. Some of those people, I would think, are behind mayor Pete and Beto now. Both of those people do have specific policies in mind, and they know it. They know that they can’t get elected with their policies of choice. So, whatever skills they have at saying a lot while saying nothing, it is to mask their true intentions. In mayor Pete’s case, his goals are entirely personal. He wants more money, fame and power, and those with money and power now (Neera Tanden, the corporate media, the CAP) will push him going forward. If he fizzles out, book deal, gig at the CAP, constant presence in the media, and who knows, maybe the media will name him the clear front runner in a few years. Yuk.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Obama himself said, ad I quote: “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” – ”The Audacity of Hope.”

              Reply
    1. deplorado

      I think you are not being unduly naive. Watch some of Bernie’s videos from the 80ies. He is very clear eyed about what he’s dealing with – and has always said the same thing. He is being realistic, tactical and smart – raising powerful issues where there is clear daily pain for the common person that can bring a powerful response – is anyone really surprised about the Fox audience reaction? (Im only surprised they didnt stack the room with fakes who would boo him… ).

      The foreign policy issues are not so clear cut for the common working class person (please understand that!) and would muddle the message. He finally sees an opening and he is going for it. He knows what he’s doing.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If enough of the Purity Leftists, and the spiteful jealous Black Agenda Report type Marxists condemn Sanders loudly enough enough times, that could raise Sanders’s credibility even higher among normal decent people.

      It could let Sanders begin to re-widen the split between the PE Left ( Political Economy Left) and the COW Left ( Coalition Of Wokeness Left). ( If that would allow for the long term stamping out and crushing of the COW Left and the Jonestown Marxists, so much the better. Let the COW Leftists weep with their beloved Hillary. Let the Jonestown Marxists sulk and mutter in their little dusty corners).

      Reply
  7. John

    The other thing about Fox is that the owner Murdochs are amoral and apolitical. They go where the money is. Totally neoliberal. That is all they care about. They know the money train is coming to a very complex junction and are setting up to go with the money, whether corporate or little people’s.

    Reply
  8. voteforno6

    I think this touches on what could be the most important aspect of a Sanders presidency – it’s not so much the policies (they are important), but the people that would be brought into government. This letter is an indication that the usual suspects will not be running the show. In that regard, it could be similar to Reagan’s time in office, except way, way better.

    Reply
  9. Arizona Slim

    Just got another email from Bernie’s campaign. Here it is:

    Subject: A serious threat to our campaign

    The New York Times has an article today with the headline “‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Are Agonizing Over His Momentum.”

    “From canapé-filled fund-raisers on the coasts to the cloakrooms of Washington, mainstream Democrats are increasingly worried…” the article begins.

    “The Bernie question comes up in every fundraising meeting I do,” said one fundraiser.

    “It has gone from being a low hum to a rumble,” said an operative.

    “He did us a disservice in the last election,” said another.

    “You can see him reading the headlines now,” Mr. [David] Brock mused: “‘Rich people don’t like me.'”

    Mr. Brock — who smeared Anita Hill and who led an effort to stop our political revolution four years ago — is almost correct. They don’t just hate Bernie Sanders. They hate everything our political revolution embodies. They hate Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, breaking up big banks, free public college for all.

    That is why, in the next 48 hours, we are launching a fundraising drive that I hope will send an unmistakable message to the political establishment about the strength of our political revolution.

    That’s why I’m asking you today:

    [Link to donation site] Make a $27 contribution to our campaign as part of our emergency 48-hour fundraising drive to fight back against the “anti-Sanders” campaign being hatched by the financial elite of this country. [End link]

    They may have “canapé-filled fundraisers.” We have each other.

    In solidarity,

    Faiz Shakir
    Campaign Manager

    Reply
    1. Joe Well

      I love that email! Thank you for sharing.

      And I love particularly that it was signed by the Campaign Manager and not Senator Sanders himself. It really gets old to get email after email supposedly written by famous people. This also shares the limelight, which is great for the future.

      Reply
  10. Jen

    Well, just moments after reading the NYT article in question, which is quite a doozy, this popped up in my in box:

    “The New York Times has an article today with the headline “‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Are Agonizing Over His Momentum.”
    “From canapé-filled fund-raisers on the coasts to the cloakrooms of Washington, mainstream Democrats are increasingly worried…” the article begins.
    “The Bernie question comes up in every fundraising meeting I do,” said one fundraiser.
    “It has gone from being a low hum to a rumble,” said an operative.
    “He did us a disservice in the last election,” said another.
    “You can see him reading the headlines now,” Mr. [David] Brock mused: “‘Rich people don’t like me.'”
    Mr. Brock — who smeared Anita Hill and who led an effort to stop our political revolution four years ago — is almost correct. They don’t just hate Bernie Sanders. They hate everything our political revolution embodies. They hate Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, breaking up big banks, free public college for all.
    That is why, in the next 48 hours, we are launching a fundraising drive that I hope will send an unmistakable message to the political establishment about the strength of our political revolution.
    That’s why I’m asking you today:
    Make a contribution to our campaign as part of our emergency 48-hour fundraising drive to fight back against the “anti-Sanders” campaign being hatched by the financial elite of this country.

    They may have “canapé-filled fundraisers.” We have each other.
    In solidarity,
    Faiz Shakir
    Campaign Manager

    Forgetting nothing, learning nothing. One of the true, primal joys of Bernie’s 2016 campaign was hitting the donate button every time the dollar dems dumped on him.

    Reply
    1. Chuck T.

      Likewise. I’m giving every time they dump on him, and again every time he hits back. At this pace, $27 may get to be too expensive. A good problem to have I’d say.

      Reply
  11. XXYY

    From the NYT piece today:

    The matter of What To Do About Bernie and the larger imperative of party unity has, for example, hovered over a series of previously undisclosed Democratic dinners in New York and Washington organized by the longtime party financier Bernard Schwartz. The gatherings have included scores from the moderate or center-left wing of the party, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader; former Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., himself a presidential candidate; and the president of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden.

    Noted, esp. Buttigieg’s name in this horrible “what to do about Bernie” group. He is looking like the new Hillary (or Bill?) at this point.

    Reply
  12. K Lee

    We are living through another globalist rise in fascism, only this time they’re not invading other countries militarily (so much), they’re invading our bodies (EMF 5G radiation, GMOs, opioids, too many vaccines), desecrating the sky, soil and water, declaring economic warfare on other nations and the war on free press.

    The question is: Will our CIA-controlled government allow a progressive to win the presidency? It’s been 60 years…

    The CIA has taken over the US government and the assassination of 4 progressive leaders within 5 years in the 60’s was the coup.

    Remember when Chuck Schumer said: “Let me tell you. You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

    “The assassination of the top four leaders of the political left in the five year period – President John Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968 – represented nothing less than a slow-motion coup on the political scene.

    If anyone wishes to understand what has happened to the United States since this coup, and thus to its countless victims at home and throughout the world, one must understand these assassinations and how the alleged assassins were manipulated by the coup organizers and how the public was hoodwinked in a mind-control operation on a vast scale.

    It is not ancient history, for the forces that killed these leaders rule the U.S. today, and their ruthlessness has subsequently informed the actions of almost all political leaders in the years since. A bullet to the head when you seriously talk about peace and justice is a not so gentle reminder to toe the line or else.

    But the way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time,” writes Pease, “and too few recognize this. We can’t fix a problem we can’t even acknowledge exists.” Nothing could be truer.”

    Reply
  13. stevelaudig

    Center for American Progress [Clintonist and anti-Sanders] takes a lot of money from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation

    This Peter G. Peterson

    “His particular targets are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which he calls “entitlement” programs and which he wants to cut back in a manner that would strike deeply at the middle class.”

    https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2012-oct-02-la-fi-hiltzik-20121003-story.html

    No one is stopping CAP from openly declaring itself as Republican as its behavior declares for it.

    Reply

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