Bernie Sanders Just Won Two of His Biggest Endorsements in a Long Campaign

Even before Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by a wide margin in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, the political and media elites that police American democracy were busy writing Sanders out of the running.

This is what happens in American politics. From the earliest stages of the primary process, pundits and political operatives try to wrap things up in tidy little boxes of conventional wisdom. Again and again the message is delivered: everything is finished but the final counting up of delegates, despite the fact that the vast majority of states have not voted. The pressure to conclude the competition disempowers voters and damages the discourse, and candidates have every right and reason to resist the rush to shut the competition down before it has really begun.

But resistance is futile if a candidate gets no encouragement to challenge the emerging narrative.

That is one of the reasons why a once-crowded Republican presidential race is a whole lot less crowded these days.

Something has upset the rush to write off Sanders, however. It seems that a good many Democrats, including several prominent partisans who just endorsed the insurgent, are disinclined to embrace the conventional wisdom.

Clinton had a very good Saturday in South Carolina—which provided her with a decisive win and a signal that she may well sweep states across the south. It would be silly to see her as anything less than the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. The March primary schedule offers her plenty of openings to solidify than status, and that had headline writers declaring that “Sanders supporters may soon have to choose between Clinton and Trump.”

Yet, the primary schedule goes on through June 14, with a number of states that are friendly to Sanders voting in April and May and the biggest prize for both candidates (California) up for grabs on June 7.

Sanders says he can go the distance. And his supporters signaled that they are ready for the long run.

Immediately before and after South Carolina’s primary voting, Sanders spoke to huge crowds in Dallas and Kansas City and Tulsa and Oklahoma City: communities where few would have predicted even a year ago that a democratic socialist would attract thousands of cheering supporters. At the same time, the senator won two of the highest profile endorsements of his run.

On Friday, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, announced his support for Sanders, writing that the senator is “leading a movement to reclaim America for the many, not the few. And such a political mobilization—a ‘political revolution,’ as he puts it—is the only means by which we can get the nation back from the moneyed interests that now control so much of our economy and democracy.”

The longtime associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton explained that his endorsement had to do with issues, as opposed to personalities.

“I have the deepest respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton, and if she wins the Democratic primary I’ll work my heart out to help her become president. But I believe Bernie Sanders is the agent of change this nation so desperately needs,” he wrote, while focusing on the issue that has animated the Sanders insurgency. “This extraordinary concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the very top imperils all else – our economy, our democracy, the revival of the American middle class, the prospects for the poor and for people of color, the necessity of slowing and reversing climate change, and a sensible foreign policy not influenced by the ‘military-industrial complex,’ as President Dwight Eisenhower once called it. It is the fundamental prerequisite: We have little hope of achieving positive change on any front unless the American people are once again in control.”

Two days after Reich made his announcement, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, endorsed Sanders. And the next day, Congressman Alan Grayson, D-Florida, announced that he, too, would back the senator from Vermont.

The announcement by Gabbard was particularly dramatic, in that the congresswoman quit a party leadership post in order to free herself to campaign for Sanders.

A Democrat from Hawaii, Gabbard is an proudly independent member of the House Democratic Caucus who does not mind stirring controversy or breaking with leadership. She has sparred with the Obama administration over foreign policy, she has sparred with congressional Democrats over defense policy, and she sparred with the party leaders over debate policy—making headlines early in the 2016 race by stepping up, as a vice chair of the DNC, to demand more forums featuring the presidential candidates.

On Sunday, Gabbard announced that: “I have taken my responsibilities as an officer of the DNC seriously, and respected the need to stay neutral in our primaries. However, after much thought and consideration, I’ve decided I cannot remain neutral and sit on the sidelines any longer,” she said, while making the case the foreign policy concerns led her to choose Sanders over former Secretary of State Clinton.

“I think it’s most important for us, as we look at our choices as to who our next commander in chief will be, (to) recognize the necessity to have a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment,” Gabbard explained in an appearance NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, has been especially outspoken in her criticism of regime-change strategies that she suggests are dangerous and ineffective. To that end, she has introduced legislation seeking to focus U.S. policy on defeating Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria, as opposed to a dual strategy that seeks to combat terrorist groups while also trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. She has, as well, been a sharp critic of Clinton’s proposal for a no-fly zone in Syria—which President Obama and Sanders also oppose.

In a video released Sunday, Gabbard painted the Democratic race as a stark choice between competing approaches to international and domestic challenges.

“We need a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment, and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety and security of the American people, and who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change. Such counterproductive wars undermine our national security and economic prosperity,” added the veteran of two deployments to the Middle East. “As these elections continue across the county, the American people are faced with a very clear choice. We can elect a president who will lead us into more interventionist wars of regime change, or we can elect a president who will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. It’s with this clear choice in mind that I am resigning as vice-chair of the DNC so that I can strongly support Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.”

Grayson, a popular figure with grassroots Democrats who has often clashed with party leaders on questions of policy and political style, is mounting an insurgent bid this year for his party’s Senate nomination in Florida (and getting plenty of pushback from top Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid). The congressman conducted an online poll asking who he, as a Democratic National Convention super-delegate, should support in the presidential race. “The response has been absolutely overwhelming. Almost 400,000 Democrats voted at GraysonPrimary.com. More than the number who voted in the South Carolina primary. More than the number who voted in the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucus combined,” wrote Grayson in a Monday message.

Grayson said that 86 percent of those who responded to his appeal encouraged him to back Sanders, calling the result: “More than just a landslide. An earthquake.”

Only question I have is why Assistant Democratic Chairperson from Hawaii had to resign to support Bernie, but Chairperson Ms. Wasserman supports Hillary but has intention of resigning.

By John Nichols

Why Let Red States Choose the Democratic Nominee?

The establishment media is declaring Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party nominee. Since when do red states choose the nominee? Will Hillary Clinton win South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Iowa, or Texas in November? She might win Virginia, Arkansas, Nevada – and probably would win Massachusetts.

So Hillary Clinton has won one blue state and it’s game over? Not so fast.

Massachusetts was essentially a dead heat. Minnesota went to Sanders, and of course Vermont, another blue state, went to Bernie.

Oklahoma will go red in November. Colorado and New Hampshire are purple and Hillary’s Nevada and Virginia could go either way.

Can we put the brakes on here and have some primaries in the blue states before we decide who the Democratic nominee is?

Hillary Clinton’s margins in the South were impressive and have helped her to build a substantial lead in the all-important pledged delegates. But let’s put it into perspective: it was the South. It was Republican country. The Dixiecrats are Republicans now.

Let’s face it, the Democratic Leadership Council’s goal has been achieved again. By front-loading the nomination process with southern states they have given the momentum to a moderate candidate. It is a system rigged against a progressive insurgent candidate.

It will be an uphill climb, but the race is far from over.

Bernie Sanders will have to find some states that he can win by large margins or it will be difficult to catch Hillary Clinton.

Bernie  issued the following statement after winning primaries and caucuses in Vermont, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Minnesota:

The political revolution has begun.

Ten months ago, when our campaign started, not many people thought we would get this far or do this well. Not many people outside of Vermont even knew who I was. That was then.

Tonight, voters in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Minnesota have joined the people of Vermont in showing America that a political revolution is spreading across our country, that people want to take on the billionaire class and make our government work for all Americans and not just the top 1 percent.

Today, we head to Maine and Michigan. Our campaign is just getting started. We’re going all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and beyond.

Tomorrow, I look forward to a contest this fall between democracy and demagoguery, between ordinary Americans and the oligarchs. I look forward to the chance for our people-powered campaign to show Donald Trump that the United States of America belongs to all of us and not just billionaire bullies.

The establishment media is also transfixed on the turnout. I guess they expect 2008 every year. In 2008 the Democrats doubled their turnout from 2004. In 2016 turnout is ahead of 2004, and in the few blue states that have voted Democrats have out-performed the Republicans. In fact, in Minnesota Bernie Sanders got more votes than all the Republicans combined.

So the lesson here is take everything CNN, MSNBC, and the rest of the corporate media say with a grain of salt. They want an establishment candidate to win. They are happy with Citizens United: it allows corporations and super PACs to buy a lot of airtime. Think about it.

 

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

How Do SUPERDELEGATES Work???

In the name of democracy, the United States has a fairly convoluted election system. There are caucuses and primaries Then come conventions and nominations. Then the general election and the electoral college. And then, finally, a new president will be sworn in next January. There are hundreds of steps in the process of electing the president, but do they really safeguard democracy and the power of the vote? When it comes to superdelegates, like the ones up for grabs at the Democratic National Convention, the answer is no.

Generally, primaries and caucuses work by proportionately awarding party delegates to candidates based on how votes are cast. In the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton received 49.9 percent of the votes, and therefore 23 of the 44 delegates for the state, while Bernie Sanders received 49.6 percent of the vote and got the remaining 21 delegates. If Sanders and Clinton split New Hampshire 66 percent to 33 percent, respectively, then Sanders will get 16 of the 24 delegates, while Clinton will get the other eight. Seems simple enough, right?

But that’s where superdelegates come in. In the Democratic Party, superdelegates are current or former party leaders, including governors, senators, representatives, and former presidents and vice presidents. These superdelegates, 712 in all, aren’t bound by primaries or caucus results to cast their votes — they can vote for whomever they want at the party convention in July.

Right now, this means that Clinton has a huge advantage. Sanders has never been a registered Democrat, whereas Clinton has been a part of the party machine since she was the first lady of Arkansas. Among the superdelegates, 359 have already publicly supported Clinton over Sanders. So despite his massive populist appeal, the Democratic elite might be unbeatable. Even if all 340 remaining uncommitted delegates join the 14 who have already pledged their support for Sanders, he’s still entering the convention at a disadvantage.

Sure, 712 is less than one third of the 2,382 needed to win the nomination, but it’s more about the principle of elitism than the numbers. The superdelegates have certainly earned the right to weigh in on the nomination, but that doesn’t give them the right to support whichever candidate they choose. It’s similar to the electoral college — if the popular vote doesn’t really guarantee the victory of one candidate over another, like in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, then why does the popular vote exist at all? Do the American people really pick the presidential nominees, or do the party leaders actually do the deciding?

The democratic ideal behind the popular vote seems lost when taken in the context of this arrangement. Anyone considering the efficacy of their vote should be deeply troubled by the current system. When all the superdelegates cast their votes at the convention in Philadelphia this summer, the full scale of the misrepresentation may become apparent.

Obama’s proposed gas tax would fund high-speed rail, public transit

President Barack Obama late last week unveiled the details of his proposed $10-a-barrel oil tax to fund “cleaner” transportation options, including rail and public transit.

The fee, which would be paid by oil companies, would be phased in over five years, according to a fact sheet issued by the White House. The tax is part of Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal, which is slated to be released in full tomorrow.

Obama’s proposed plan would make public investments and create incentives for private-sector innovation to reduce reliance on oil and cut carbon pollution from the country’s transportation sector, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the fact sheet.

The plan would invest nearly $20 billion per year above current spending to reduce traffic and provide new ways for people to get to work and school, the fact sheet said. In particular, proceeds from the tax would help expand transit systems in cities, suburbs and rural areas; make high-speed rail a viable alternative to flying in major regional corridors; invest in new rail technologies like magnetic levitation (maglev); modernize the country’s freight system; and expand the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program.

Additionally, Obama is proposing the creation of a new “Climate Smart Fund” that would provide bonus funding to states that use existing formula funding to cut transportation-related carbon emissions. States could do so by encouraging better land use planning, investing in clean vehicle fueling infrastructure or increasing use of public transportation.

Hillary Backs New Allied War in Libya

s Paris, London, and Washington send special forces and covert agents into Libya to set the stage for a new allied intervention, Hillary backs the coming war.

Secretary of State in 2011, she led the earlier effort to convince a wary President Obama to intervene against Gadhafi, defeating her usual ally, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who saw no core American interest in Libya. Like George W. Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq, Hillary’s intervention in Libya was a war of choice that the United States had no good reason to fight – and a lot of good reasons not to, as her eagerness for a second war now confirms.

The New York Times on Sunday gave a detailed account of how she convinced Obama in “what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as secretary of state.” It is, said the authors, “a working portrait rich with evidence of what kind of president she might be, and especially of her expansive approach to the signal foreign-policy conundrum of today: when and how the United States should wield its military power in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.”

Having skillfully won the earlier battle in Washington, Hillary ultimately lost the war in Libya. The fall of Gadhafi “seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton,” the Times wrote. “Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge.” Add the destabilizing spread of Gadhafi’s enormous store of weapons to Syrian and sub-Saharan Africa, and Libya’s role in helping promote the refugee crisis in Europe, and no one can avoid the big question: Did Hillary screw up? To which she has found the perfect dodge. It’s too early to tell, she told a Congressional committee in October.

Or, as she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, we intervened at the time to prevent the dictator from massacring the people, and now we’re going in “to try to help the Libyan people realize the dream that they had when they went after Gadhafi.”

“You know, the United States was in Korea, and still is, for many years,” she explained, channeling a favorite argument of Republican senator John McCain. “We are still in Germany. We are still in Japan. We have a presence in a lot of places in the world that started out as a result of conflict. And if you think about South Korea, there were coups, there were assassinations, there was a lot of problems for the Koreans to build their economy, to create their democracy.”

Remembering myriad details of her much-vaunted foreign policy experience, Hillary appears never to have asked why intervening in the former colonies of North Africa and the Middle East so consistently fails. The best answer I can find comes in Delphic fashion from oft-quoted Washington cynics. In Iraq, they tell us, the United States intervened and occupied – and things went to hell. In Libya, the United States intervened but did not occupy – and things went to hell. And in Syria, the United States neither intervened nor occupied – and things still went to hell.

In other words, the problem is not in in how we intervened, but that we intervened. This puts Hillary on the wrong side of history, at least as seen by large numbers of people in the region’s former European colonies. The anti-colonial sentiment appears less fervent in sub-Saharan Africa, where US Special Forces are often seen working closely with their French counterparts. But no one doubts that al-Qaeda and Daesh-affiliated groups gain strength by being the only groups truly willing to fight against a return of Western colonialism. Having failed to learn these lessons, Hillary remains the have-gun, will-travel paladin of liberal imperialism.

The new war in Libya, which she now supports, seems largely invisible to American media. But, it became headline news here in France on Thursday, when Le Monde broke through official secrecy and revealed that French special forces and clandestine agents were operating in Libya in close cooperation with their Americans and British allies.

The French Minister of Defense was furious and launched a secret investigation into who leaked the secret information to Le Monde. My guess is that the major leaks came from within the French military, where many officers feel over-extended by their current interventions in Syria and Africa.

“Things are on the way now for a major operation in Libya,” explained Gen. Dominique Trinquand, the former head of the French Military Mission to the United Nations and a frequent commentator on the government-owned France 24. “You prepare an operation. So you send either special forces or people under cover into the country…. They are mainly spotting important targets for the future” and “establishing liaison with people who will fight against Daesh.”

Some of these troops – French, British, or American – called in the drone attack on the Libyan city of Sabrathan, which reportedly killed up to 40 people. The target, now claimed by a Pentagon spokesman, was a Tunisian national, Noureddine Chouchane, whom authorities in Tunis accused of masterminding murderous attacks last year at the Bardo museum (22 deaths) and a tourist resort (38 deaths).

Also part of the build-up to war, Italy has given the Americans the go-ahead to fly their drones into Libya and against Daesh targets elsewhere in Northern Africa from an Italian base in Sicily.

No one has said exactly when the new war will move into the open, but as Marine Corps general Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joints Chief of Staff, said back on January 22, the decision on whether and when to begin decisive military action would probably come in weeks, but not hours. Meeting with the French military chief Gen. Pierre de Villiers, Dunford publicly declared that President Obama had given authorization for military action. At least officially, the justification was to stem the growth in power of the Islamic State in Libya before it spread throughout North Africa and the sub-Saharan countries.

It will be fascinating to see how a new war with Hillary’s blessing will affect the presidential primaries.

 


A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”

UPS Blows Out Q4, Cites Ecommerce Growth, Automation, Tight Controls

fter facing overcapacity and under-capacity issues the past couple of peak seasons, UPS hit the nail on the head in 2015.

The company reported $2.17 billion in operating profit for the fourth quarter of 2015, up 17.1% from 2014 and the highest ever for the period, and a whopping 193.8% increase in net income to $1.33 billion, as ecommerce business helped drive a record 612 million parcels during peak season, another record. This was 47 million more packages than the prior year.

“Although the industrial side of economy has slowed, the explosive growth of ecommerce continues to create great opportunity,” UPS CEO David Abney told investors and analysts on a conference call.

The company’s domestic package, international package and supply chain and freight units all reported double-digit profit increases in the quarter vs. 2014, even as the company hired about 93,000 seasonal workers – another record – to handle peak demand.

UPS is now doing about half its business in residential deliveries, i.e. ecommerce orders, which grew to 60% during peak season, said Chief Commercial Officer Alan Gershenhorn.

Abney said that greater collaboration with UPS customers, pricing controls, investments in automation and network optimization efforts – like moving up its peak demand day at the tail end of the holiday rush to smooth out volume – helped drive both top- and bottom-line growth.

“This year, our customers worked more closely with us than ever and I want to thank them for making adjustments and being flexible,” he said. “Together, we delivered a successful peak season.”

On the control side, Abney said UPS worked to tighten its dispatching, reduce special sorts and implement just-in-time hiring to cut costs. The company also expanded capacity, including its 8,000 UPS Access Point locations in the U.S., and completed several network automation projects.

“These investments provide year-round benefits,” Abney said. “In fact, our automated air facilities were essential in servicing nearly 13% growth in U.S. domestic air volume during the quarter. The flexibility of our integrated network also gave us the control needed to seamlessly move volume between air, rail and ground to maintain excellent on-time service.”

Abney also said the company also leaned on its “control tower” management process to handle unplanned volume surges by efficiently utilizing available network capacity. In 2015, the process was expanded beyond the U.S. to Canada and Europe. “Our goal was to find a solution that worked for our customers and UPS,” he said. “Working together, we were able to service more than 90% of these last-minute requests.”

Gershenhorn said there were some shipping requests turned away in the final days of peak seasons, but some came from “dual-source customers who chose not to make longer-term business commitments to UPS.”

Asked about growing reports that Amazon is moving heavily into logistics operations, with some speculating it plans to muscle out the major carriers because of past seasonal snafus, Abney said the ecommerce giant remains a major customer and ally. The latest evidence of this initiative is Amazon for the first time listing itself as a transportation service provider in its annual 10K filing.

“We have a mutually beneficial relationship,” he said. “And our goal with Amazon or any other big customer is to continue to show our value through the integrated network and through our technologies and to have a value proposition that’s difficult to match. We do add capacity and for large customers such as Amazon, we do it though we ensure we have the proper economic return. And at the same time, we also ensure the integrity of our network for all customers by planning and forecasting our volumes.”

He added none of this will affect UPS’s competitive pricing dynamics, here or abroad.

By