Thursday Reads: “The Other Candidate is the Ralph Nader…”

Two sides of the "populist" coin?

Two sides of the “populist” coin?

Good Morning!!

For some time now, I’ve thought that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are very similar in terms of their style and their approaches to politics.

Each of these men offers a vague platform based on simplistic policies with little detail to back them up. Each argues that he and he alone can lead the country to some mythical promised land in which every American will have an equal opportunity to achieve some hypothetical “American dream.”

Each of these candidates claims to be an outsider who is fighting “the establishment” and each holds up a boogeyman that he blames for all our problems. For Trump, it is immigrants, protesters, and the media. For Sanders, it is millionaires and billionaires, Wall Street, and, frankly, the Democratic Party.

Finally, Sanders and Trump are both focused on the needs and anxieties of white men; yet both claim to be friends to African Americans, Latinos, women, and other groups who so far have mostly been supporting Hillary Clinton.

Both Trump and Sanders have been referred to in the media as populists. Dakinikat has made that argument to me as well. They certainly are both demagogues, and they both are damaging the political parties they aspire to represent.

Here are a few of reads on the populist question.

Margaret Talbot at The New Yorker: The Populist Prophet.

Isaac Chotiner at Slate: Is Donald Trump a Populist?

Michael Kazin: How Can Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Both Be “Populist?”

Rosario Dawson makes a heart sign at Sanders rally in San Diego

Rosario Dawson makes a heart sign at Sanders rally in San Diego

Anyway, what brought this on was something I saw last night on Twitter. On Tuesday night Bernie Sanders gave a speech in San Diego. He was introduced by actress Rosario Dawson. I had never heard of her before, but she’s a movie and TV star who played the role of Delores Huerta in a movie about Cesar Chavez.

I saw a clip of Dawson’s speech on twitter and then I went and watched the whole thing on YouTube. It was shocking to me. See the video below.

I transcribed a small part of the video, beginning around 5:00. I’ve highlighted two sections.

We need someone who has bold leadership to understand that with climate change, with health care, with education, with our future at stake, that we need bold leadership from someone we can trust, someone who has stood up for justice his entire life.

They haven’t listened to him but we are. And we need to keep spreading that message because people are voting against themselves. They are hurting themselves and their future, and we need to help them. Because we need to help each other. Because this is about us. Not me. Not one person. It’s not just a party. This isn’t the GOP vs. the DNC. This is about the 99 percent that is too big to fail against the 1 percent.

So when I hear someone ask me, well well well if it comes down to it, will you vote for the other candidate if it’s Trump? (shaking head) I say if you want to beat Trump, vote Bernie. We’re playing chicken here, and we can’t pull back. They are going to have to turn. That candidate is the Ralph Nader, not Bernie Sanders.

As an Independent, he is doing a service to the Democratic Party right now. Democratic Party hasn’t– we haven’t left them; they’ve left us. This is an opportunity to turn the tides and change history. Do we really want someone who encour- who condones mass incarceration, who thinks that the death penalty is OK, who hesitates on environmental injustices and issues, who thinks that regime change is an idea for foreign policy?

No. What we need is bold leadership from a great leader whose time has come. Truly this is a future to believe in. It is not a dream; it is a vision and it is worth going for with all of our might.

To say I was stunned by Dawson’s claim that Hillary Clinton is “the Ralph Nader” of this election is putting it mildly. She–and I assume Sanders and his followers–actually see Hillary Clinton as the spoiler who is preventing the “grass roots” voters from making Sanders President of the United States. They a play a game of “chicken” says Dawson, and the other side must be made to turn aside.

Think about that for a minute. The winning candidate in the primaries is somehow preventing the candidate with much fewer primary victories, pledged delegates, and popular votes from becoming the Democratic nominee.

Apparently these folks have convinced themselves that Hillary’s wins are the result of conspiracies against Bernie. You can see this all over the internet where Sanders supporters are claiming there has been “voter suppression” and fraud in Iowa, Nevada, Arizona, and who knows where else. They believe that the DNC is somehow manipulating the primaries to give Hillary the nomination and they are convinced that the only candidate who can win in November is Bernie Sanders. Based on what? Don’t bother to ask. Their answers don’t make any more sense than those of Donald Trump’s supporters.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader

In Dawson’s speech, she also claimed that Hillary is in favor of mass incarceration and regime change and that she doesn’t care about environmental justice. Does she even know that Hillary is the one who reached out to the mayor of Flint and sent staff members to find out what she could do to help? Does she know that Hillary’s first speech as a candidate was reforming the criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration? Probably not.

The people who follow Bernie Sanders are every bit as much “low-information voters” as those who follow Donald Trump. If they do know anything about Hillary’s real policies, they probably don’t care. They want Bernie to be president and if minority voters, women, and other groups don’t vote for Bernie, it’s because they don’t know what’s good for them.

I can’t believe this crazy philosophy isn’t coming from the top. From the things I’ve heard said by Jeff Weaver and Tad Devine, I have to believe this is coming from them and from Bernie Sanders himself. Maybe they even wrote Dawson’s speech for her.

If all these weren’t bad enough, Dawson also posted a piece in Huffington Post today in which she attacks Delores Huerta!  It’s written in the form of an “open letter” to in response to a post Huerta wrote on Medium in February.

Delores Huerta

Basically, Huerta’s post argues that Bernie is a “Johnny come lately” on immigration reform.

Bernie Sanders has positioned himself as a champion of the immigrant community. From the letter he sent to Barack Obama last week, to the work he, his campaign, and surrogates have done attacking other candidates’ positions, you would think that he has been a lifelong champion on issues that matter to Latinos and immigrants. But here’s the truth: Candidate Bernie Sanders, advocate for immigrants, is not the same as Senator Bernie Sanders.

Let’s start with the letter he sent to President Obama. Bernie, candidate, decried the deportation raids — which he should. But in 2006, Bernie, congressman, actually voted…to create and fund two of the programs he criticizes in the letter.

Furthermore, in 2006, he voted for a bill pushed by James Sensenbrenner, one of the most anti-immigrant members of Congress, that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to be detained indefinitely pending deportation. This bill was widely viewed as a desperate attempt by Republicans to boost their reelection prospects that year by cracking down on immigrants, and the ACLU called it “inhumane.” Bernie voted for it anyway. (You’ll note that he was running for Senate — as an independent.)

In fact, in 2011, Harry Reid, and other Senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to end the deportation of DREAMers. You can probably guess who didn’t sign that letter.

In 2007, he voted against Senator Ted Kennedy’s immigration reform bill.

Heck, here’s how much of a johnny-come-lately he is. During this campaign, he defended the vote with the same talking points.

“What I think [Wall Street is] interested in is seeing a process by which we can bring low-wage labor of all levels into this country to depress wages in America, and I strongly disagree with that.” -7/30/15

Militia members "guarding" the Texas border.

Militia members “guarding” the Texas border.

Huerta also notes that Sanders supported a bill to protect the militia members who took it upon themselves to patrol the Mexican boarder.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the Minutemen. You know — the anti-immigrant militias who patrol the border trying to stop undocumented people from coming to do their jobs. You would think that such a self-appointed lifelong advocate for the community would vote against anti-immigrant vigilantes. You would be thinking wrong. Bernie voted to protect them — and provided a weak excuse as to why. This point is especially egregious. Anyone claiming to be an advocate for the community shouldn’t have voted for this. Period.

That’s all true. Even though Sanders claims the militia amendment was part of a much larger bill, it did actually pass on a stand-alone vote.

Remember Dawson is well aware of Huerta’s long history of work for the rights of immigrant workers, because she actually portrayed Huerta in a film. In her open letter, she begins by praising Huerta’s work. Then she writes:

I, too, believe in the American ideal of reasonable and robust debate between opposing viewpoints in order to move a discussion forward and ultimately arrive at a sensible resolution. This becomes impossible, or at least unnecessarily difficult, when one of the parties involved is purposefully trying to obfuscate the facts. I recognized that very same tactic that the mainstream media has been using when I read your opinion piece, where the details of Bernie Sanders’ voting record and positions were misrepresented and, again, when you and America Ferrera spread the false story on Twitter that Bernie supporters chanted “English only” at a Nevada caucus. Though it was debunked by multiple media outlets and video evidence, neither of you have corrected, apologized for, or taken down the posts. It’s race baiting, misleading, divisive and inaccurate and I hope you both will rectify that immediately. Regardless of either your interpretations of the event, the guidelines strictly prohibited any form of communication with caucus participants by campaigners once the caucus was called to order!

The democratic process, as it was intended, is quite simple: Present your facts, track records and plans, move forward honestly and openly, debate, call out discrepancies, explain and educate, then let the American people decide whom they would like to lead the country based on such answers. By distorting and omitting facts you do not give us, the American people, a transparent picture. You cheat us out of making an educated and well-informed decision and dishonor our voting process and democracy itself.

Rosario Dawson, right, and Dolores Huerta arrive  at the north american premiere of  the film "Cesar Chavez" during the SXSW Film Festival on Monday, March 10, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

Rosario Dawson, right, and Dolores Huerta arrive at the north american premiere of the film “Cesar Chavez” during the SXSW Film Festival on Monday, March 10, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

Wow! So now Huerta is a liar who is deliberately trying to “obfuscate the facts.” Dawson then goes on to argue with each of Huerta’s points, she wraps it all up by attacking Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton’s track record goes directly against what you and every other activist before and after you has fought for: the rights of the people based on the Declaration of Independence and the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those are principles that Hillary did not uphold when taking away American citizens’ freedom by voting for the Patriot Act, twice; by not treating all men as equal when going against same-sex marriage until 2013; and when she sold out her own citizens by taking money from lobbyists and promoting the rise of the private prison complex. This has led to modern-day slavery for the impoverished, and especially for Latino and African American communities. She has put corporations and special interest groups before the people of this great country by voting to bail out banks and not her constituents. She does not uphold the sanctity of life when endorsing wars, condoning fracking or the death penalty.

Yet these same communities are voting in large numbers for Clinton. Why. I guess we know, because Dawson explained in her San Diego speech that people who vote for Hillary are voting against their own interests and they need “help” from Sanders supporters.

And then there’s this condescending bit:

Dolores, I am surprised, dismayed, and concerned that you would do your legacy such a disservice by becoming an instrument of the establishment, rather than joining this movement to create a better America like you once inspired us to do.

I write this letter in the hopes that we can continue to have a robust and honest conversation based on the facts and on the actions that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have taken during their legislative careers.

Somehow I don’t think Delores Huerta is going to respond to Dawson’s lecture all that well.

Now, I saw on Twitter this morning that Al Giordano and Tom Watson believe the “open letter” was written by someone from the Sanders campaign, and that makes sense to me.

But still, this sort of thing is not doing Sanders or the Democratic Party any good at all. Someone with some serious power needs to get Bernie under control. He should stay in the primary fight as long as he wants, but he should not be attacking the integrity of the leading candidate and her surrogates.

Let me know what you think. And remember this is an open thread. Feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic below.

Lazy Saturday Reads: Weather, Spring Fever, Boston Bombing, Ukraine, and True Detective Spoilers

Calvin&Hobbes fireplace

It’s Saturday!!

Another snowstorm is coming, but it’s not yet clear how bad it will be or how much snow will fall in which areas. From the Weather Channel: Ice Storm Possible for Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley; Snowstorm for West, Midwest, Northeast.

After a brief reprieve from blockbuster winter storms in the Midwest and East – and a much-too-lengthy reprieve in California – Winter Storm Titan is will lay down a swath of heavy snow from California to the East Coast, and also a swath of sleet and freezing rain from the Plains to the Mid-Atlantic States.

  • Saturday: The main event east of the Rockies will begin to unfold as snow spreads east across portions of the Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. For parts of the Northern Rockies, this will just be a continuation of snow from the previous, weaker disturbance. Widespread snow is likely across Wyoming, but will gradually wind down over western and southern Montana. Farther south the snow will be more tied to higher elevations. (See inset map for details.)
  • Sunday: The more significant part of Winter Storm Titan begins with snow, sleet and freezing rain becoming heavier. A stripe of significant ice accumulation is likely Sunday and Sunday night from the Ozarks through into the Mid-South region, Ohio Valley and West Virginia with snow farther north from the central Plains into the mid-Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley. These threats spread into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Sunday afternoon and night.
  • Monday: Snow/sleet tapers off in the Ohio Valley Appalachians, but should linger in the Appalachians and along parts of the I-95 Northeast corridor much of the day, before ending off in the evening. Ice/sleet areas early in the day in the Mid-Atlantic states should changeover to snow Monday morning.

Calvin&Hobbes snow

Whatever. Winter is almost over. It’s March 1, and there are signs of spring–at least down at Fenway South in Ft. Myers, Florida (and many other spring training locations). Yesterday the Red Sox played their first Grapefruit League game against the Minnesota Twins, losing 8-2. But who cares? A hot new pitching prospect shut down the Twins for two innings, striking out four–a good sign for the upcoming season. Baseball is back, opening day is a little over a month away, and that means spring is coming!

OK, I know I’m being really provincial, but I’ll bet you’re seeing signs of Spring too. What is giving you hope for the end of this long, cold winter? Even the folks down south have suffered greatly this year.

One more Boston story. The FBI is claiming that accused Boston bomber Dzhohar Tsarnaev “made a damaging statement” in a visit with one of his sisters recently. Of course they won’t even give a hint as to what he said, so I don’t know what to make of it. The Boston Globe:

The filing said that Tsarnaev, despite the presence of the agent, who was legally allowed in the room, “was unable to temper his remarks and made a statement to his detriment which was overheard by the agent.”

The filing did not say what the statement was.

The filing was made as part of an ongoing battle between the prosecution and defense over special administrative measures, special prison restrictions, that have been imposed on Tsarnaev.

The defense says the prosecution is refusing to turn over information they need and that the FBI is monitoring their meetings with Tsarnaev and preventing them from developing their defense strategy. I think the feds need to keep in mind that they will have a Massachusetts jury–very few people here support the death penalty, and most potential jurors will be troubled by FBI efforts that might prevent a fair trial. After all, we just recently went through the Whitey Bulger trial, in which we heard endless tales of FBI abuses and we’re still waiting for an explanation as to why an agent from the Boston office shot Ibragim Todashev down in Orlando last May.

We’re coming up on the 2014 Boston Marathon, and we still have almost no explanations of what really happened during the Marathon bombing and the shootout in Watertown a few days later. And then there’s the Waltham triple murder, which the FBI is trying to pin on two dead guys–Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Ibrigim Todashev. Susan Zalkind summed up many of the questions in this month’s Boston Magazine coverstory: The Murders Before the Marathon. There wasn’t a whole lot of breaking news in the article, but it’s a very good summary of events so far.

There’s a lot happening in Ukraine. I’ll just give you a couple of links to check out, because I’m not qualified to comment on the situation–other than I’m sick of everyone expecting the U.S. to get involved in every crisis.

The latest from ABC News: Putin Asks Parliament to Use Military in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked parliament Saturday for permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine, moving to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea.

Putin’s motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev….

He said the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. Putin sent the request to the Russian legislature’s upper house, which has to approve the motion, according to the constitution. The rubber-stamp parliament is certain to approve it in a vote expected Saturday.

In Crimea, the pro-Russian regional prime minister had earlier claimed control of the military and police there and asked Putin for help in keeping peace, sharpening the discord between the two neighboring Slavic countries.

Calvin war

President Obama warned yesterday that there would consequences for military intervention in Ukraine, but he didn’t specify any actions he would take. At this point, I think these warnings are just being ignored, because there is seldom any follow-up. As I said earlier, I don’t want to get involved in any more foreign conflicts. Let Europe deal with it if they want to. We have plenty of problems here at home that require government action.

From Reuters: West voices alarm on Crimea, calls on Russia to respect Ukraine sovereignty.

A week after violent protests forced Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovich to abandon power in Kiev, Ukraine’s new leaders say Russia is trying to take control of the southern Crimea region, which has a majority ethnic Russian population.

France, Britain and Germany issued calls for de-escalation in Crimea hours after U.S. President Barack Obama warned that military intervention in the region would be deeply destabilizing and “carry costs”.

“France is extremely concerned by the reports from Crimea, which describe significant troop movements,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. “We call on the parties to abstain from acts that could raise tensions and affect Ukraine’s territorial unity.”

It does appear that Putin is intent on reviving the Cold War. I hope he’s not successful.

Tomorrow night we’ll get an other episode of True Detective–there are only two to go. I gathered a bunch more links in the past couple of days. Some of them have spoilers, so be careful. 

This is an older post, but it provides some very good background on the weird aspects of the story. From Grantland’s Molly Lambert, Carcosa or Bust: The Satisfyingly Weird Mysteries of ‘True Detective’. Just a taste:

Hallucinatory spirals, talk of “black stars” rising in the sky, dead women trussed up like ancient horned gods and tattooed with mysterious symbols, all supposedly in reference to Robert W. Chambers’s fairly obscure weird fiction classic The King in Yellow? Damn, True Detective, you’ve given me a lot to absorb.

Where is the show going with its recently clarified Lovecraftian ties? Does it even really matter, when the ride is this great? The most satisfying part of a mystery is rarely its resolution. Sustained anticipation is much of the thrill. Like earlier TV mysteries Twin PeaksThe X-Files, and Lost, True Detective is a show with its own internal mythology, which taunts both the protagonists and viewers with signs just beyond our comprehension. When some bits of information are guaranteed to be important later, every single bit of information feels like a potential clue. Attempting to read a show scene by scene and pluck out exactly what will prove crucial from a galaxy of visual and verbal details can feel absolutely maddening….

You can spend endless amounts of time pondering True Detective’s more concrete questions, let alone the existential ones. Are the wooden triangles strewn around the sites of the ritualistic murders pagan symbols, bird traps, or neither? Given creator Nic Pizzolatto’s professed affection for weird fiction, were Reggie Ledoux’s gas mask and the reference to a “green-eared spaghetti monster” meant to invoke Cthulhu, the giant octopus monster that signals cosmic doom in the work of seminal horror writer H.P. Lovecraft? Is the mystery even going to get solved?True Detective’s flashback structure accentuates the gaps in our knowledge. Everything we know is gleaned from flashbacks and interrogations, but there’s no guarantee that future information won’t flip our perspective. Hell, there’s no guarantee that Rust and Marty’s flashbacks are accurate. After all, if we can see Rust’s subjective hallucination of birds assembling into a spiral in the sky, who’s to say we’re not seeing other events from his subjective perspective too? This kind of theorizing, not baseless but impossible to prove conclusively, will make you feel like True Detective’s detectives. Maybe the show’s obsessions with madness, reality, and truth really are contagious.


Then read Lamberts latest post: Five Things to Consider for This Week’s Episode of ‘True Detective’. She has some good questions.

A guy at Reddit did some sleuthing and came up with some photos posted by True Detective crew members. Here’s a link to a lot of photos, some from the upcoming episodes. I looked at them, and got some sense of what’s coming, but not much more than I got from the teaser trailer. They didn’t ruin the suspense for me. Just be warned if you want to stay completely in the dark.

A few more links to explore as we wait for tomorrow night to roll around:

Rolling Stone: The Dark Thrills of ‘True Detective’

Forbes: The Business Of HBO’s ‘True Detective’

Slate: The True DetectiveGlossary

Complex Pop Culture: Pictures of You: “True Detective” and the Dilemma of the Dead Woman’s Photograph

International Business Times: ‘True Detective’ Season 1 Spoilers: What’s On The Video Tape In Episode 7? Theories On Hart’s Daughter And Connection To The Yellow King

Now what’s on your mind today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!!