Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sanders Surging

Is the below-the-fold front page feature a warning to Hitlary? 

"Bernie Sanders will use proximity to N.H. to his favor" by James Pindell Globe Staff  July 01, 2015

He will?

CORNISH, N.H. — On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders was at home in Vermont, where he spent the day on constituent work before turning in for a good night’s sleep. The next morning, he had no problem getting to New Hampshire for a 10:30 a.m. campaign event.

As Sanders begins to surge in early polls, one of his inherent advantages is that it takes him nearly no time or money to get to neighboring New Hampshire, the state that holds the nation’s first presidential primary. And once there, the voters, issues, and culture are not foreign to him.

They don't like socialists, but whatever.

Since the 2012 presidential election, no Democratic presidential hopeful has spent more time campaigning in New Hampshire than Sanders, who has spent 15 days in the state.

It’s paying off. Sanders trails Hillary Rodham Clinton by just 8 points in New Hampshire, according to a University of New Hampshire poll last week. And everywhere Sanders goes there, he draws large crowds.

He was down 33 in April.

Sanders’ first campaign trip to the state, in April 2014, came about when his staff learned the conservative Koch brothers were funding an event in Manchester featuring several potential Republican presidential candidates. As a counterpoint, Sanders announced his own event in the same city on the same day. Getting him there was not difficult.

Different primary.

For some presidential candidates who already hold public office, spending time in New Hampshire can leave their constituents at home feeling underserved and neglected. A poll showed that 70 percent of New Jersey residents believed their governor, Chris Christie, should resign if he ran for president.

I think he should anyway on general principle. All of AmeriKa's political cla$$ traitors should (sorry for the campaign rhetoric).

The geographical closeness of Vermont and New Hampshire means this isn’t much of a problem for Sanders. On a Saturday early in June, Sanders milked cows in Vermont at Brattleboro’s “Strolling of the Heifers” event — and then traveled a half-hour to Keene, N.H., where he held a town hall meeting.

The proximity “allows me to spend time with my family and serve the people of Vermont and on the presidential campaign,” Sanders said in an interview.

Sanders also stressed the shared cultural experiences of the neighboring states.

“Those in New Hampshire and Vermont have close relationships,” Sanders said. “Our kids sometimes go to the same schools.”

But they have completely different political outlooks, New Hampshire being rather libertarian and purply while Vermont falls into the nut-crunch deep blue territory. Or so I've been told.

Among those who could vouch for that is Clinton’s national campaign manager, Robby Mook. He grew up in Norwich, Vt., but attended Hanover (N.H.) High School, and both of his parents worked in New Hampshire.

Sanders, who was raised in Brooklyn and has lived in Vermont since the 1960s, uses his local Vermont roots on the campaign trail in the Granite State. While campaigning in the state last weekend, he noted that three of his grandchildren live in Claremont, N.H. He also explained that when it came to gun control laws, New Hampshire and Vermont have shared rural traditions.

RelatedVermont Democrats seek to toughen background checks for guns

"The bill is expected to draw strong opposition in a state that has some of the most lenient firearms laws and highest gun ownership in the country."

That will cause problems for Bernie below, especially in light of the South Carolina shooting (or whatever). Nevertheless, the restrictions passed -- and down goes another political myth.

How much Sanders will be able to draw on the cultural overlap will be tested in the months before the February presidential primary.

“Politically, the first thing you need to know is that Vermont is not New Hampshire, period,” University of Vermont political science professor Garrison Nelson said. “There are people elected in New Hampshire that would never see the light of day in Vermont and vice versa.”

Still, Nelson noted that Vermont does share a media market with much of western New Hampshire, and that helps with Sanders’ name recognition.

There is also a shared culture of town hall meetings, and most decisions are made on the local level — not at their small state capitals.

That is usually ascribed to Confederate states and that other party when it comes to parlor tricks, 'er, politic$.

The pair are the only states in the nation with two-year terms for governor. They rank first and second as the least religious states in the country. Politicians from both political parties tout their environmental credentials. And economically, both states are heavily reliant on tourism.

Sanders is hardly the first person from New England who was able to spend a lot of time running for president in New Hampshire. So did Massachusetts presidential candidates John F. Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney — and have several New Hampshire primary victories to show for it. This year, former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee has shot YouTube videos of himself simply getting into his car and driving to New Hampshire for an evening event.

New Englanders haven't been doing very well in presidential campaigns lately, and I think I know why now. 

Related: The Chafee of the Democratic Presidential Primary

If you care to sift through it.

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean knows a thing or two about running for president from Vermont. Dean, who has endorsed Clinton in the presidential primary, said his memories of crossing the Connecticut River into New Hampshire were “just delightful experiences.”

You can take a look at the map.

“In just two hours, you could be off and running in New Hampshire. That is a huge advantage,” Dean said.

Still, Dean says that the real advantage for Sanders isn’t how close he is to New Hampshire, but that he’s a natural politician for New Hampshire’s style of politics.

“Bernie’s real advantage is that he will answer every question and shake every hand,” Dean said.

Then he's gonna go to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota, and New Mexico and California and Texas and.... YEEEEHA!

That's his wild card?


"Draft Warren backers flock to Sanders campaign" by James A. Kimble Globe Correspondent  June 12, 2015

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — The Elizabeth Warren bumper sticker on Burt Cohen’s car is gone — and he’s replaced it with one touting Senator Bernie Sanders for president.

Related: Warrenting the 2016 Democratic Nomination For President

I love Globe sources, don't you?

“The thing was Liz Warren made it absolutely clear she was not going to run,” said Cohen, a former state senator from New Castle. “I always liked Bernie, so that made it easy.”

Some progressive Democrats in New Hampshire are on the hunt for a new candidate to support for president in 2016. Run Warren Run, a grass-roots campaign aimed at drafting the senator from Massachusetts into the presidential race, officially suspended its efforts last week. The draft campaign had recruited more than 200 volunteers in New Hampshire, according to officials, and its closure is expected to drive an influx of Warren supporters to other Democratic candidates seeking an alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I suspect a good number of them will end up supporting Bernie Sanders,” said Larry Drake, who chairs the Portsmouth Democratic Committee and the Rockingham County Democratic Committee. “Their positions on a lot of things are the same or pretty close.”

Sanders recently drew scores of people to a campaign stop at South Church in Portsmouth, and he had an even bigger showing last weekend at the Keene Recreation Center.

Those are rent-a-crowds coming from the campaign contributions of selected Jewish oligarchs who will remain anonymous in my pre$$.

“I think the reason he draws such big crowds is that he has been involved in politics for 40 some years,” said Cohen, who introduced Sanders at the Portsmouth event. “He is talking to the real issues people want to talk about. He is not poll driven. Unlike others, he is a populist. The other candidates are going to stay away from populism because they will upset their big donors.”

So was Andrew Jackson, and we have seen how real populists (Ralph Nader?) are treated.

Drake said while many Democrats he knows are already backing Clinton, some voters in his party are still shopping around.

Oh, yeah? Me, too! And so far the political cla$$ condescension hasn't sold me on a candidate.

“My feeling is that there is definitely a group of Democrats that were with Hillary from the start,” said Drake, who is not supporting a candidate during the primary. “There was no question of it. If she was going to run, they were going to support her. But there is definitely a sector out there of people who weren’t completely with her and are looking around.”

Drake believes Sanders is getting a stronger response than many expected, making him a powerful draw for the undecided voters within his party.

Except he's an independent. Can't even get that right.

Kurt Ehrenberg, a veteran political organizer, was the most visible departure from the Run Warren Run effort when he left his post as New Hampshire director on May 20 to become a state coordinator for the Sanders campaign.

“We’ve been talking about it for months,” Ehrenberg said of the move. “They just weren’t ready to start staffing up in the state until last month.”

Ehrenberg said he is preparing to hire more staff for the Sanders campaign, but could not say whether he would hire people who had been working on the Warren effort. He said throughout the Run Warren Run campaign, he met people who were enthusiastic about potential presidential bids from either Warren or Sanders.

“Since Bernie got into the race, I think people have gravitated toward his campaign pretty quickly and strongly because he is a candidate and she is not,” Ehrenberg said. “The more she adamantly was saying she is not running for president, the less enthusiastic people were to support a noncandidate.”

Ehrenberg said volunteers are organizing house parties across New Hampshire for Sanders, making $40 donations on his website, and offering to knock on doors to drum up support.

“Bernie has really touched a nerve here in New Hampshire. Our job is to manage it and move forward,” Ehrenberg said.


Cohen said a number of issues, including government spying at home, economic fairness, and the direction of foreign policy, have been among the things that drove his choice to support Sanders.

“It’s really getting to the root of problems and not putting one finger to the wind and seeing where the wind is blowing,” he said.

Jerry Curran, an Amherst resident and Warren-for-presidential supporter, said he believes progressive Democrats are looking for a candidate who reflects Warren’s values.

“For me, getting money out of politics is the way to winning back our democracy,” said Curran, director of the New Hampshire Sierra Club. (His organization has not officially backed a candidate.)

I $uppo$e that is true, but how do you do it when both parties depend on that teat? That's I call all this a $hit-$how fooley.

Curran said he recently attended a Sanders appearance in Concord and had trouble getting inside, but the audience was more than just baby boomer progressives like himself.

“It was young, old, racially diverse,” he said. “It was pretty amazing. That’s the crowd I want to see.”


Globe even gave him a platform:

"The war on the middle class" by Bernie Sanders   June 12, 2015

Here is the reality of the American economy. Despite an explosion in technology and a huge increase in worker productivity, the middle class continues its 40-year decline. Today, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages and median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well. Today, 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent, while the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. In the last two years, the wealthiest 14 people in this country increased their wealth by $157 billion. That increase is more than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans – combined.

Over the last 40 years, the largest corporations in this country have closed thousands of factories in the United States and outsourced millions of American jobs to low-wage countries overseas. That is why we need a new trade policy and why I am opposed to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership now before Congress.

Large corporations and their lobbyists have created loopholes enabling corporations to avoid an estimated $100 billion a year in taxes by shifting profits to the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. That is why we need real tax reform which demands that the very wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.

Corporate America has mounted vigorous anti-union campaigns, making it harder for workers to collectively bargain for decent wages and benefits. That is why we must make certain that workers are given a fair chance to join a union.

Meanwhile, US companies are buying back billions of dollars of their own stock in a way that manipulates stock prices, hurts the economy and, by the way, used to be against the law.

Related: Buying Back Stock

Instead of putting resources into innovative ways to build their businesses or hire new employees, corporations are pumping their record-breaking profits into buying back their own stock and increasing dividends to benefit their executives and wealthy shareholders at the expense of their workers. It is a major reason why CEOs are now making nearly 300 times what the typical worker makes. We must demand an end to stock buybacks.

We also must do a lot more to rebuild the middle class, check corporate greed, and make our economy work again for working families.

We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next several years. With 70 percent of the economy dependent on consumers buying goods and services, the best way to expand the economy is to raise wages and create good jobs to increase the purchasing power of the American people.

We need to pass pay equity for women workers. It is not acceptable that women receive 78 cents on the dollar compared to male workers doing the same job.

We need to make certain that every worker in this country receives guaranteed paid sick leave and vacation time.

We need to encourage business models that provide employees the tools to purchase their own businesses through Employee Stock Ownership Plans and worker-owned cooperatives. Workers at employer-owned companies are more motivated, productive, and satisfied with their jobs.

It is time to say loudly and clearly that corporate greed and the war against the American middle class must end. Enough is enough!

What middle class? That horse already out the barn, Bern!


And look who else got time on the Bo$ton Globe opinion page:

opinion | Barack Obama Why America needs the Export-Import Bank

Yes, the same Barack Obama that is president of the United States pushing for the Ex-Im corporate welfare. He must have wanted equal time

It's not the first time a liar has graced the Globe's op section, and I doubt it will be the last.

"Sanders urges Clinton to speak on trade stance" by Ken Thomas Associated Press  June 12, 2015

WASHINGTON — Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called on Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday to state where she stands on President Obama’s trade agenda now that Congress is considering it.

‘‘I think our trade policies have been disastrous,’’ Sanders said during a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. ‘‘Secretary Clinton, if she’s against this, we need her to speak out right now. Right now. And I don’t understand how any candidate, Democrat or Republican, is not speaking out on this issue right now.’’

I have $ome ideas.

The House has started debate on fast-track authority, which would let the administration complete a trade deal with Pacific countries that Congress could accept or reject, but not change. The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership would lower trade barriers among 12 nations.

Clinton, a former secretary of state, has expressed concern that the deal may allow currency manipulation and fall short on health and environmental protections. But she’s said she wants to see the agreement in its final form before judging it. Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, vigorously oppose the deal.

Related: O'Malley On the Move

Clinton aides did not immediately comment on Sanders’ remarks. Clinton has been under pressure to oppose Obama’s plan from labor unions and liberal groups, which say it would ship jobs overseas and undermine health and environmental standards.

Sanders, who launched his presidential bid in late April, has drawn large crowds to his events in Iowa and New Hampshire, and estimates he has raised $8 million for his presidential campaign, based on about 200,000 contributors donating an average of $40.

That is the narrative the pre$$ is using to cover for the Jewish oligarchs that are backing him.

The Vermont independent, who sides with Democrats in the Senate, predicted he can raise $40 million to $50 million in time for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary early next year.

All in $40 increments? Then he should sweep into the White House!


You know, if you were that against why didn't you filibuster the old fashioned way like Jimmy Stewart? 

Oh, right, Democrats changed that rules when they lost their filibuster-proof (if allowed by Joe Lieberman) chamber and had a simple majority before losing it the last time.

Now on to that other issue that took attention away from fast-track pa$$age:

"Unlike rivals, Bernie Sanders has lighter touch on gun control" by Annie Linskey and Tracy Jan Globe Staff  June 19, 2015

WASHINGTON — Senator Bernie Sanders has built his insurgent presidential campaign by trying to outshine Hillary Rodham Clinton on populist economic issues.

Uh-oh. He must be on the wrong side of this issue! 

But political reaction to the racially motivated mass murder in a Charleston, S.C., church this week highlighted an area where he’s out of synch with most liberals: gun control.


Sanders, an independent from Vermont, a rural state where support of guns and hunting is part of the political culture, has amassed a mixed record on proposed gun restrictions in his years as a congressman and senator.

The self-avowed democratic socialist once earned a C- rating from the National Rifle Association — not a high mark for a Republican contender, but one that sets him apart as practically gun friendly among the Democrats vying for the party’s 2016 nomination.

The issue isn’t one that Sanders typically discusses on the stump. But after Wednesday’s church shooting, gun control has bounced back to the national agenda.

Clinton responded by saying the country must “face hard truths about race, violence, guns, and division.” Martin O’Malley, a former Maryland governor and another Democrat in the presidential race, said the slayings should “call all of us to action” on gun control.

Sanders made no mention at all of firearms or gun regulations in the immediate wake of the attack that killed nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church . Instead, he focused on the alleged motive, calling it a “tragic reminder of the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation.’’ Sanders also canceled a planned trip to South Carolina over the weekend.

Another reminder.

On Friday afternoon, in response to questions from the news media and an audience member at a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, Sanders said additional gun control should be considered, but noted there are deep differences between rural and urban areas on the issue, according to Michael Briggs, a Sanders spokesman.

Sanders, 73, doesn’t own a gun, added Briggs, and he shot a one once — as a Boy Scout.

The senator’s views more closely reflect a general progun attitude in his home state, said Ed Cutler, president of the Gun Owners of Vermont.

“Even the liberals have guns up here,” Cutler said.

He added that he has met with Sanders several times, and the senator has shown little interest in gun-related legislation. In one instance, Sanders even refused to touch an empty magazine Cutler had handcrafted to demonstrate how easy they are to make, he recalled.

“Firearms is not his issue,” Cutler said. “He doesn’t know a whole lot about them.”

Sanders voted against the landmark Brady bill, which required background checks and a waiting period before purchasing a firearm. He supported legislation allowing guns to be transported on Amtrak trains. He voted for a measure to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits in cases of shootings.

At other times, Sanders has supported gun control measures, including voting for a ban on assault weapons and supporting President Obama’s gun control package in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead in Connecticut.

Another staged and scripted fiction using crisis actors. I know that enrages some, but if you do the research that's where it leads.

The National Rifle Association awarded Sanders an F rating in 2002 when he ran for reelection in the House of Representatives. The grade changed to a D+ in 2004; a C- in 2006 when he ran for the Senate; and, most recently, a D- for his 2012 reelection as senator.

In contrast, Clinton and O’Malley have both consistently earned failing grades from the organization. The NRA has yet to issue ratings for the 2016 elections.

Previously, Clinton has supported banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and expanding background checks. O’Malley oversaw sweeping new gun control legislation in Maryland after the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, a package that prompted one gun manufacturer to leave the state.

They can come here then!

Members of the Republican presidential field generally oppose gun control measures.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has an A+ rating from the NRA, and backed the now-famous “stand your ground” law in 2005 that expanded the rights of people to use deadly force when feeling threatened in their homes or in a public place. While running for governor in 1998, however, he backed a Florida law mandating background checks for firearms purchased at gun shows. 

He's getting out in front on another issue, too.

The NRA lobbied against a bill to close a loophole that allows gun buyers to avoid background checks following the Sandy Hook shootings. GOP Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas — who are all running for president — opposed the measure, which failed.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a rival for the party’s nomination, also has an A+ endorsement from the National Rifle Association. He signed a law, which he called the “castle doctrine,” that provides protections for gun owners who shoot home intruders. He’s also signed legislation allowing permit-holders to carry concealed firearms into public buildings, including the Wisconsin State Capitol.


Bernie's bark is worse than his bite. 

At least he has the vets behind him:

"Bernie Sanders’ surge is partly fueled by veterans" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  June 28, 2015

DES MOINES — Vermont’s Bernie Sanders railed against the Vietnam War. He voted against invading Iraq — both times. He wants to cut the defense budget.

He might not be a friend to the military, but many veterans believe he’s gone to war for them. And that’s why they’re out there cheering for a socialist as he launches a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Ron Paul had veteran support and it didn't amount to sh**.

There’s the former Marine who drove about six hours to hear Sanders speak in Des Moines. There’s another former Marine, this one a registered Republican, going door-to-door to collect signatures so Sanders’ name will appear on the ballot in Indiana. Entire Reddit threads are dedicated to how veterans can best pitch Sanders to other veterans.

“He is revered,” said Paul Loebe, a 31-year-old who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan during eight years of active duty and spends three hours a day updating a Facebook page promoting Sanders to veterans. “He’s very consistent with where he stands. He’s the first politician that I’ve believed in my life.”

I spend about five here, and I'm getting nowhere.

Sanders battled over veterans issues as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee from 2013 until early this year, giving him an easy pitch to a crucial voting bloc of veterans, particularly in South Carolina where veterans make up more than 11 percent of the voting-aged population. There’s stiff competition for these voters, with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton wooing them this month during a round table in Nevada.

Even the leaders of veterans groups who praise Sanders acknowledge that the 73-year-old Democratic socialist isn’t an obvious champion for the flag-waving set of former military officers and enlistees. When asked if the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which recognized Sanders with its Congressional Award in March, had ever bestowed the honor on a socialist before, the group’s Washington executive director, Bob Wallace chuckled a bit.

“No. No. No,” said Wallace, a man who won three Purple Heart medals during Vietnam. “What you have to do is put aside his other interests.”

Enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders’s populist message is evident with crowds swelling at events and supporters pushing the slogan “Feel the Bern,” a play on the senator’s first name. It’s difficult to know, beyond anecdotal evidence, how much of this support comes from veterans.

Sanders has previously courted veterans as part of an electoral strategy, campaigning in 2006 for Senate with triple-amputee Max Cleland, the former Democratic senator from Georgia and Veterans Affairs administrator. Sanders has done little on the trail to seek out veterans for his 2016 bid.

But veterans interviewed for this story were well versed in Sanders’s record, aware that, as Veterans Affairs chairman, he pushed to restore cost of living raises, expand education opportunities, and add new dental care benefits.

The effort came within a few votes of passing the Senate, but was blocked by Republicans concerned about the $24 billion price tag.

Veterans also credit Sanders for striking a deal with Republicans to pass a smaller — $16 billion — package aimed at erasing the lengthy wait times at veterans hospitals. Passing it earned Sanders top awards from the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Military Officers Association of America.

I will be dealing with the VA below.

For Louis Celli, at the American Legion, Sanders’s progressive views make some sense in the context of advocating for veterans’ programs. “Who better than a socialist to advocate for veterans’ health care?” he asked.

Ironically, the VA is a socialist model.

Passing the fix showed something else about Sanders: He was willing to make a deal. It’s a notion that runs counter to commonly expressed concern — even among some attendees at Sanders’s rallies — that the senator’s far left views prevent him from working with others.

Last summer, the bill fixing wait times at hospitals appeared to be heading for defeat. Faced with possibility that Congress would adjourn without enacting it, Sanders joined forces with John McCain, the Arizona Republican and GOP presidential nominee in 2008.

Sanders dropped his opposition to a provision that let veterans who live far from VA hospitals use private doctors. In exchange, he got an additional $5 billion to hire more staff and build more facilities, according to a member of Sanders’s staff.

McCain said working with Sanders involved “very stimulating conversations, and the occasional four-letter word.”

“He advocates vigorously for what he believes in, and so do I,” McCain said. “I can’t say it was the most enjoyable experience, but it was certainly one of the most interesting.”

Veterans are a group long courted by politicians. In the early primary states, New Hampshire is home to 113,000 veterans, Iowa has 226,000, Nevada has 227,000 and South Carolina has 392,000 — according to US Census figures.

Clinton held a round table for veterans in Nevada on June 18. She unveiled a detailed plan that would make changes to the GI Bill meant to protect veterans from what her campaign called “deceptive practices” by for-profit colleges and universities who target veterans but fail to provide a quality education.

Clinton, as is her custom at campaign events, didn’t take questions from the audience.

You know why, right?

Sanders typically does.

After speech at Drake University, the Vermont senator asked for questions. Tyson Manker was right there in the front row. He stood up, identified himself as a former Marine who drove six hours for the event, and said: “Mr. Sanders, I look forward to the day I can call you Mr. President.”

Not me.


About that VA:

"$2.5b in red, VA cites increased use" Associated Press  June 26, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs said Thursday that it faces a budget shortfall of more than $2.5 billion, mainly because of increased demand by veterans for health care, including new life-saving treatments for hepatitis C.

They were just given $17 billion!

Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson told a House committee that VA health care sites experienced a 10.5 percent increase in the workload for the 12-month period that ended in April.

The VA needs flexibility from Congress to close the budget gap, Gibson said, adding that the agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes, and other significant moves.

The VA wants to use money from the new Veterans Choice program to pay for the increased health care, Gibson said. The program, the centerpiece of a VA overhaul approved last year, makes it easier for veterans to receive federally paid medical care from local doctors. Congress approved $10 billion over three years for the program as it responded to a scandal over long waits for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records to cover up the delays.

Representative Jeff Miller, Republican of Florida and chairman of the veterans affairs panel, called it ‘‘disturbing’’ that VA officials waited nearly nine months into the budget year to announce such a large budget gap.

The VA in some ways is a victim of its own success in responding to the wait-time scandal, Gibson said. The VA completed 7 million more appointments for care in the past year, compared to the previous year, he said, but veterans still face increased wait times in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and other sites.


Related'Cash Strapped' VA Forgot It Had $43.1 Million Stashed Away

Maybe the psychic could find it.

"“Sewer Socialist” Bernie Sanders’ Anti-Russian Propaganda

by Caleb Maupin
New Eastern Outlook

The presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders — an anti-Russia, Israel-supporting politician from Vermont — revives an archaic feud among leftists. The old debate about “sewer socialism” is back.

In the early part of the 20th century, there was a broad movement of people in the United States who advocated the overthrow of capitalism. Among them were many revolutionaries like Eugene Debs, William Z. Foster, Lucy Parsons, and Paul Robeson.

However, there was another current of people who called themselves “socialists” but had no interest in revolution. They were called “sewer socialists.” The term originated in reference to Victor L. Berger, a “socialist” who ran on a platform of improving the city’s sewer system and eventually became the mayor of Milwaukee. The sewer socialists did not want to overthrow capitalism, but simply to be elected to local public office and improve government policy. They wanted to make a global system built on exploitation of people all over the world a little more comfortable for those living within the western economic centers.

The battle between these two poles of the left movement – with the revolutionary and anti-imperialist wing of socialism on the one hand and the “sewer socialist” wing on the other — played out on a global level. Commenting on the debate, Russian socialist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin described the trend this way: “The bourgeoisie of an imperialist ‘Great’ Power can economically bribe the upper strata of ‘its’ workers by spending on this a hundred million or so francs a year, for its superprofits most likely amount to about a thousand million… this little sop is divided among the labour ministers, ‘labour representatives’… labour members of War Industries Committees… labour officials, workers belonging to the narrow craft unions…”

In the modern United States, it isn’t sewer socialism but “Vermont socialism” that plays the role of the ‘Labor Ministers.’ US Senator Bernie Sanders is running for president, and openly describes himself as a “socialist.” Despite using this word to describe himself, with many well intentioned anti-capitalist activists supporting him, Sanders’ platform in reality articulates a strategy for strengthening global monopoly capitalism and its expanding militarism.

Big Oil’s Campaign Against Russia

Currently, Wall Street is doing all it can to suppress Russia, a rising competitor on the global markets. US oil and natural gas corporations in particular want to attack and isolate the Russian Federation, as hydraulic fracking floods the market and drives down oil prices and profits. As Russia stabilizes and expands, continuing to export more and more natural gas, big business desperately needs to purge the country’s oil from the global market.

In service of the western oil and natural gas cartels, US agents overthrew the democratically elected government of Ukraine. The orgy of street violence in Kiev that deposed Yanukovich was conducted with the direction of the CIA and billions of dollars in US funding. In Ukraine, the intervention of the United States has pushed a formerly peaceful country into civil war and installed a fanatically anti-Russian government. Russia now faces a hostile, US-aligned regime directly on its doorstep. Civil war is unfolding as the peoples of eastern Ukraine have taken up arms against it.

US-funded terrorists are waging a campaign of death and destruction in Syria, another Russian-aligned country. Hundreds of thousands have already been killed. The US and its allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan continue to pour money into the so-called “Free Syrian Army” — a group that openly tortures, kidnaps, and beheads innocent people, and has a history of collaborating with ISIS.

Despite giving demagogic anti-corporate speeches, Sanders brags that he is even more in line with big oil’s anti-Russia campaign than President Obama. “The entire world has got to stand up to Putin. We’ve got to deal with sanctions, we’ve got to deal with freezing assets,” he declared in a TV interview with FOX news host Bill O’Reilly.

In the same interview, he declared: “You’ve got to totally isolate them politically. You’ve got to totally isolate them economically… You freeze assets that the Russian government has all over the world… International corporations have huge investments in Russia, you could pull them out…”

A “Socialist” who Loves War and Israel

Sanders is very much a friend of the military industrial complex. In his home state of Vermont, Sanders “rarely misses a photo opportunity with Vermont National Guard troops when they are being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.” While criticizing Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Sanders consistently votes for the massive US military budget. In fact, Sanders is vocally very supportive of Obama’s drone strikes program, and has worked to bring US military research corporations into his home state to set up facilities.

As a highly rated ally of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Sanders has consistently voted and spoken out in support of Israel. When criticized for it, he often replies with standard Israel lobby talking points, saying things like, “Hamas is sending missiles into Israel… some of those missiles are coming to populated areas…” Other than vaguely saying that Israel may have “overreacted,” he blatantly supports and defends Israeli military policy.

Sanders openly believes that the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation is “terrorism,” and that the existence of a “Jewish state” on Palestinian land is somehow ethical. In his 2013 interview with Playboy, he declared: “The Palestinians must fulfill their responsibilities to end terrorism against Israel and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

A Friend of the Rising Police State

As a loyal ally of military corporations, he not only supports their war against people in Ukraine, Syria, and Palestine, but also their profitable activities at home. Big business is making huge profits from a prison industrial complex as well as the rapid expansion of the role of police in US society. As police patrol the halls of elementary schools, and “stop and frisk” people on the streets without probable cause, it is young African-Americans who are their primary targets.

Sanders has never been an opponent of the prison industrial complex or the rising incidents of police violence. In Michael Moore’s 2009 film “Capitalism: A Love Story,” Moore interviewed Sanders and asked him to explain what it meant to be a socialist. Sanders responded with a vague, populist rant in which he portrayed the police as victims: “We’ve become very religious in worshipping greed. We put on the front pages of magazines guys who have made millions of dollars, we ignore the cops… who every day are doing so much in improving the lives of people.”

More recently, in response to the massive uprising against police brutality and mass incarceration in the United States, Sanders has declared: “Look, the issue here is…. I was a mayor for eight years, and being a cop is a very, very difficult job. But the word has got to get out that when police act inappropriately, and of course in this case there has to be a thorough investigation.” Sanders gives standard, Obama-style talking points on the issue, saying he supports “body cameras” and wants more community cooperation and involvement with police departments.

Inevitably, whenever the issue of police brutality is raised, Sanders changes the subject to economics. In response to the Baltimore uprising after the killing of Freddie Grey, Sanders declared, without ever even mentioning Grey’s name: “In the neighborhood where this gentleman lives, as I understand it, the unemployment rate is over 50 percent, over 50 percent. What we have got to do as a nation is understand that we have got to create millions of jobs, to put people back to work, to make sure that kids are in schools, and not in jails…. so they’re not hanging out on street corners.”

No one can deny that unemployment is a huge problem, especially for Black and Brown communities in the United States. However, Eric Garner wasn’t choked to death by a bill collector. The direct issue at hand is the fact that police officers have essentially been given a “license to kill” by the courts, and routinely face no penalty after blatantly and intentionally killing people of color.

By diverting the conversation to economics and not calling out the police in harsh terms, and then using racially loaded phrases like “hanging out on street corners,” Sanders is essentially saying: “If only Black people had more economic opportunities, they wouldn’t be worthless, low-life criminals who the police have to kill.”

A Bigger Slice of Empire?

Often Bernie Sanders is asked what it means to be a socialist. He does not respond with a call for public management of the economy, “workers’ control of the means of production,” a workers and farmer’s government, or any of the definitions of “socialism”  used by socialists historically. Instead, he talks about Norway, Sweden, and other US-aligned imperialist countries. He emphasizes that these countries have a national health service, and provide free university education. […]

Sanders’ political viewpoint, based on his experience of decades in governing his home state — where only 1.2% of the population is Black — has been: “If we give white middle class Americans a bigger slice of the pie, they will be far more willing to line up with Wall Street against Russia, China, Iran, and the Palestinians.”

Lenin accurately described leaders like Sanders as “opportunists and social-chauvinists,” saying, “They are defending the temporary privileges of a minority of the workers…” Back in 1916, Lenin urged his followers to “go down lower and deeper, to the real masses… teach the masses to appreciate their true political interests, to fight for socialism and for the revolution.”

The following year, Lenin and the Bolsheviks were victorious. Capitalism, along with its mischievous and demagogic defenders like Bernie Sanders, was overthrown in Russia. That was nearly 100 years ago. How this battle will play out among 21st-century leftists remains to be seen.



Sen. Bernie Sanders Predicts He’ll Win the White House

Woman shot Vt. firearms teacher, police say