William Blum’s health is failing

Posted on August 31st, 2017 in Politics,War by Robert Miller

I have always admired William Blum ever since he left the State Department many years ago, in 1967 to be precise.  He wrote a blockbuster book Killing Hope, the story of the the CIA and military involvement since WW II,  in which Osama bin Laden recommenced that all Americans should read the book. He is sick now and has failing kidneys.  He will have to undergo dialysis for the rest of his life. I have always appreciated the education that I got for reading his books. I will remember him for the rest of my life.  You can reach  by going to his email address, which is

bblum6@aol.com

His website is the anti-empire report which you can access here

William Blum 

WilliamBlum.org
I’m back

It has recently been reported that Senator John McCain has an aggressive brain tumor. Not long ago I would have thought: “Good. It’ll be great to be rid of that neanderthal reactionary bastard!”

Not now. My kidneys are gone and I’m on (rather unpleasant) dialysis for the rest of my life. My separated-from German wife is in Germany and can’t fly because of the danger of blood clots forming and lodging in her lungs or heart. I’m an avid reader of medical news and almost every day I get choked-up and depressed by the never-ending heart-breaking stories of incurable pain and suffering of the old and the young.

So I wish the senator a good recovery, if that’s possible. Probably no more possible than his politics recovering. He just condemned all the neo-Nazi actions in Charlottesville, this man who went out of his way to pose for friendly photos with neo-Nazis in Ukraine and jihadists in Syria.

So far the dialysis does not seem to have helped, at least not with my two main symptoms: deep-seated sleepiness at home, resulting in repeated naps, making my writing difficult; and getting out-of-breath and having to stop and rest after a very short and slow walk outdoors. I’m curious about whether any of my readers knows of anyone with a medical problem that was clearly relieved by dialysis. It may be my advanced age of 84 that blocks any improvement. But, supposedly, the dialysis keeps me alive in the absence of functioning kidneys. Incidentally, nine of my readers and friends have offered me a kidney for transplant, but I can’t find a hospital willing to perform it; again it’s my age, though I’m very willing.

At least I still have my eyesight and my hearing. My mind is okay. I have all my limbs and am not paralyzed. And I’m not in pain. Much to be thankful for.

It’s also very nice to have gone past the hangups my condition thrust upon me and to be back writing my report for the first time in five months. During the recent American presidential campaign I wrote that if I were forced to vote and also forced to choose between Clinton and Trump I’d vote for the Donald. (As it turned out I voted for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.) I stated two reasons why I’d choose Trump over Clinton: presumably, a lesser chance of nuclear war with Russia and a lesser chance of the American government closing down the Russian TV station, Russia Today (RT), broadcasting in the US. There was at the time, and now again, growing Congressional pressure to do just that and I’m very reliant on the station. Because of such matters I was willing to overlook Trump’s many and obvious character defects, which I summed up with the endearing word of my people back in Brooklyn –- “shmuck”. But by now the man’s shmuckiness has been writ so large that little hope for him can be maintained.

What is keeping Donald Trump from drowning in the very cesspool of his own shmuckiness is a gentleman named Kim Jong-un. Who would have believed that a single historical period could produce two such giant shmucks, men who tower over their pathetic contemporaries? There’s only one explanation for this remarkable phenomenon. Of course. It’s Russia. Moscow is using the two men to make America look foolish. And Russia, it may soon be revealed, gave North Korea its nuclear weapons. Did you think that such an impoverished, downtrodden society could produce such scientific marvels on its own?

Is there any act too dastardly for Vladimir Putin?

We don’t know yet whether Trump’s son, daughter or son-in-law made any deals with Kim Jong-un. Stay tuned to Fox News and CNN.

Those stations, amongst others, put out a lot of fake news, but when it comes to news of North Korea nothing compares to the fake news of 1950. Did you know there’s no convincing evidence that North Korea did what they’re most famous for –- the June 25, 1950 invasion of South Korea, which led to the everlasting division of the Korean peninsula into two countries? And there were no United Nations forces that observed this invasion, as we’ve been taught. In any event, the two sides had been clashing across the dividing line for several years. What happened on that fateful day in June could thus be regarded as no more than the escalation of an ongoing civil war. Read my chapter on Korea in Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II for the full details of these and other myths.

The response to terrorism

I still get emails criticizing me for the stand I took against Islamic terrorists earlier this year. Almost every one feels obliged to remind me that the terrorists are acting in revenge for decades of US/Western bombing of Muslim populations and assorted other atrocities. And I then have to inform each one of them that they’ve chosen the wrong person for such a lecture. I, it happens, wrote the fucking book on the subject!

In the first edition of my book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, published in 2001, before September 11, the first chapter was “Why do terrorists keep picking on The United States?” It includes a long list of hostile US military and political actions against the Islamic world during the previous 20 years.

So I can well see why radical Muslims would harbor a deep-seated desire for revenge against The United States and its allies who often contributed to the hostile actions. My problem is that the Islamic terrorist actions are seldom aimed at those responsible for this awful history –- the executive and military branches of the Western nations, but are more and more targeted against innocent civilians, which at times includes other Muslims, probably even, on occasion, some who sympathize with the radical Islamic cause. These random terrorist acts are thus not defendable or understandable from any revenge point of view. What did the poor people of Barcelona have to do with Western imperialism?

Civilians are of course much easier to target, but that’s clearly no excuse. As I’ve pointed out in the past, we should consider this: From the 1950s to the 1980s the United States carried out all kinds of very harmful policies against Latin America, including numerous bombings, without the natives ever resorting to the uncivilized, barbaric kind of retaliation as employed by ISIS. Latin American leftists generally took their revenge out upon concrete representatives of the American empire: diplomatic, military and corporate targets – not markets, theatres, nightclubs, hospitals, schools, restaurants or churches.

The terrorists’ choice of targets is bad enough, but their methods are even worse. Who could have imagined 20 years ago that an organization would exist in this world that would widely publicize detailed instructions on how to choose a truck to drive down a busy thoroughfare and directly into crowds of people? What species of human being is this?

What is needed is a worldwide media campaign to make fun of the very idea that such men, along with suicide bombers, will be rewarded by Allah in an afterlife; even the idea of an afterlife can of course be derided; yes, even the idea of Allah, by that or any other name, can be derided; at least the idea of such a cruel God. Appealing to jihadists on simply moral grounds would be even more useless than appealing to Pentagon officials or Donald Trump on moral grounds. The jihadists have to be deeply ridiculed; the small amount of human empathy and decency still remaining in their heart of hearts has to be reached through embarrassing them before their friends and family. Femmes fatalescan be used against young Islamic men, most of whom, I’d venture to say, have sizable sexual hangups. Bombing them only increases their numbers.

Some thoughts on the question that will not go away: Capitalism vs. socialism

“The whole art of Conservative politics in the 20th century is being deployed to enable wealth to persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power.” –– Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), Labour Party (UK) minister

The fact that Donald J. Trump is a champion –- indeed, a model, or as he might say, a huge model –- of capitalism should be enough to make people turn away from the system, but the debate between capitalism and socialism continues without pause in the Trump era as it has since the 19th century. The wealth gap, affordable housing, free education, public transportation, a sustainable environment, and health care are some of the perennial points of argument we’re all familiar with.

So many empty houses … so many homeless people –- Is this the way a market economy is supposed to work?

Twice in recent times the federal government in Washington has undertaken major studies of many thousands of federal jobs to determine whether they could be done more efficiently by private contractors. On one occasion the federal employees won more than 80% of the time; on the other occasion 91%. Both studies took place under the George W. Bush administration, which was hoping for different results.  The American people have to be reminded of what they once knew but seem to have forgotten: that they don’t want BIG government, or SMALL government; they don’t want MORE government, or LESS government; they want government ON THEIR SIDE.

As to corporations, we have to ask: Do the members of a family relate to each other on the basis of self-interest and greed?

Speaking in very broad terms … slavery gave way to feudalism … feudalism gave way to capitalism … capitalism is not a timelessly valid institution but was created to satisfy certain needs of the time … capitalism has outlived its usefulness and must now give way to socialism … the ultimate incompatibility between capitalist profit motive and human environmental survival demands nothing less.

The system corrupts every important aspect of our lives, including the one which takes up the most of our time -– our work, even for corporation executives, who demand huge salaries and benefits to justify their working at jobs that otherwise are not particularly satisfying. Several years ago, the Financial Times of London reported on Wall Street’s opposition to salary limits:

Senior bankers were quick to warn the plans would cause a brain drain from the profession as top executives seek more rewarding jobs out of the public eye. Unlike other careers where job satisfaction and other considerations play a part, finance tends to attract people whose main motivation is money. … ‘The cap is a lousy idea,’ complained one top Wall Street executive. ‘If there is no monetary upside, who would want to do these jobs?’

As for those below the executive class … When they work, it’s too often just any job they can find, rather than one designed to realize innermost spiritual or artistic needs. Their innermost needs are rent, food, clothes, and electricity.

For those concerned about the extent of freedom under socialism the jury is still out because the United States and other capitalist powers have subverted, destabilized, invaded, and/or overthrown every halfway serious attempt at socialism in the world. Not one socialist-oriented government, from Cuba and Vietnam in the 1960s, to Nicaragua and Chile in the 1970s, to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to Haiti and Venezuela in the 2000s has been allowed to rise or fall based on its own merits or lack of same, or allowed to relax its guard against the ever-threatening imperialists.

The demise of the Soviet Union (even with all its shortcomings) has turned out to be the greatest setback to the fight against the capitalist behemoth, and we have not yet recovered.

How could the current distribution of property and wealth reasonably be expected to emerge from any sort of truly democratic process? And if this is the way regulated capitalism works, what would life under unregulated capitalism be like? We’ve long known the answer to that question. Theodore Roosevelt (president of the United States 1901-09) said in a speech in 1912: “The limitation of governmental powers, of governmental action, means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations who can only be held in check through the extension of governmental power.”

And what do the corporate elite want? In a word: “everything” … from our schools to our social security, from our health care to outer space, from our media to our sports.

“We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.” – William James (1842-1910)

A few years ago, when George W. Bush came out as a painter, he said that he had told his art teacher that “there’s a Rembrandt trapped inside this body”.  Ah, so Georgie is more than just a painter. He’s an artiste.
And we all know that artistes are very special people.
They’re never to be confused with mass murderers, war criminals, merciless torturers or inveterate liars.
Neither are they ever to be accused of dullness of wit or incoherence of thought or speech.

Artistes are not the only special people.
Devout people are also special: Josef Stalin studied for the priesthood.
Osama bin Laden prayed five times a day.

And animal lovers: Herman Goering, while his Luftwaffe rained death upon Europe, kept a sign in his office that read: “He who tortures animals wounds the feelings of the German people.”
Adolf Hitler was also an animal lover and had long periods of being a vegetarian and anti-smoking.
Charles Manson was a staunch anti-vivisectionist.

And cultured people: This fact Elie Wiesel called the greatest discovery of the war: that Adolf Eichmann was cultured, read deeply, played the violin.
Mussolini also played the violin.
Some Nazi concentration camp commanders listened to Mozart to drown out the cries of the inmates.
Former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadzic, convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, was a psychiatrist, specializing in depression; a practitioner of alternative medicine; published a book of poetry and books for children.

Members of ISIS and Al Qaeda and other suicide bombers are genuinely and sincerely convinced that they are doing the right thing, for which they will be honored and rewarded in an afterlife. That doesn’t make them less evil; in fact it makes them more terrifying, since they force us to face the scary reality of a world in which sincerity and morality do not necessarily have anything to do with each other.

Dick Gregory, 1932-2017

“Mayor Daley and other government officials during the riots of the ’60s showed their preference for property over humanity by ordering the police to shoot all looters to kill. They never said shoot murderers to kill or shoot dope pushers to kill.”

“When the white Christian missionaries went to Africa, the white folks had the bibles and the natives had the land. When the missionaries pulled out, they had the land and the natives had the bibles.”

“The way Americans seem to think today, about the only way to end hunger in America would be for Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to go on national TV and say we are falling behind the Russians in feeding folks.”

“What we’re doing in Vietnam is using the black man to kill the yellow man so the white man can keep the land he took from the red man.”

 

Notes

  1. Washington Post, June 8, 2005 and March 23, 2006
  2. Financial Times (London) February 5, 2009
  3. Washington Post, November 21, 2013

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to williamblum.org is provided.

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Roger Smith to the rescue

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in Science,Secrecy in Government,Trump Mania,War by Robert Miller

I have never read an article by Roger Smith, but if you are a liberal or inclined in that direction, then what Roger Smith has to say, will warm the cockles of your heart. You can read his article in it’s entirety at the Washington Spectator here. The title of his article is “What Americans Really Believe.”

You have to read his missive in it’s entirety; I have not copied it verbatim as I normally do because I was unsuccessful in getting the figures copied and duplicated to my satisfaction. There are many criticisms of his conclusions. For one thing there is a tendency for American voters to delay deciding who they will vote for, until the last few days of the election and then they have a tendency to vote with their emotions rather than the kind of objectivity that Roger Smith assumes is operating consistently throughout all of our lives.  But it is a good read and a must read if you consider yourself to be a “Liberal” or “Progressive.” What follows is the brief introduction to Roger Smith’s introduction.

Roger Smith

What American Really Believe

Since the dawn of the internet and the concurrent surge of Fox News and right-wing talk radio, the various forces on America’s right and far right have cleverly and disingenuously labeled themselves “conservatives.” They have then successfully cemented two “big lies” in the consciousness of a majority of the American public: first, that the media in this country is an almost total captive of card-carrying “liberals” who impose their views through reporting as well as opinion; and second, that a solid majority of Americans shares the radical Social Darwinism that has been successfully peddled since the dawn of Reagan as conservative views.

The first falsehood can be—and has been—easily debunked by simply examining the even-handedness that selfsame American media applies to what it labels “Right” and—absurdly—“Left.” But the second big lie is more insidious, and has found its most receptive host among its intended target, liberals or, as current parlance now requires, “progressives.” It is the pervasive belief that America is a “conservative country.” What follows should effectively demonstrate the falsity of that view—by the carefully weighed and collated opinions of the American public.

I am not relying on my opinions. As a long-time observer of American politics, an occasional minor participant in Democratic campaigns, and a consumer of market research in my professional life, I have opinions on most issues of importance. But however strongly I may hold them, they represent what marketers call a “mother-in-law” survey. They are of zero value in assessing what the broad public thinks.

Instead, the following exegesis represents a deep dive into years of attitudinal polling results that reveal what Americans currently think on a broad range of major issues, and how that thinking may have evolved over the past several decades. There is a key distinction between election polling and issues polling. The first is subject to large imponderables: future unknown events that could change minds; legitimate mind-changing; and, of course, outright dissembling to the pollster. Asking people what they believe on a given topic is essentially removed from these variables.

I have relied on Pew Research and Gallup as my primary sources, as they offer unmatched depth of questioning in a consistent matter over decades on a uniquely wide range of issues. Occasionally, I’ve relied on other polling organizations—WSJ/NBC, CNN/ORC, NYT/CBS—when their polls presented the most on-point data. And in all cases, the most recent polling results have been cited, with historical periods selected to reveal the most significant attitudinal shifts.

What I found will surprise even close observers of the American political scene. The results conclusively demonstrate that Americans, in their deepest political/social beliefs, are thoroughly liberal in most of their views and moderately liberal in the balance. They are not the “conservatives” described by the relentless propagandists of the right. Further, while these collective views have decidedly tilted toward the more moderate-to-progressive in recent years, this reality about what Americans actually think (as opposed to whom they vote for) has been consistent since Barack Obama began his presidential campaign and on some issues well before that.

Because of the unique personas and peculiar histories of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, this year’s election was not, I suspect, decided by ideology per se, but on the complex elements of personality and narrative, and by angry and alienated blue-collar voters desperate to change how Washington works.

I recall precisely the day I realized just how badly we had been deceived by right-wing agitprop: November 24, 2014. Republicans had just completed their second quadrennial sweep of off-year elections, adding 13 House seats to bring them to a modern-day record of 247 members. The Senate was flipped from a Democratic majority with 55 members into a Republican majority with 54.

That day I picked up the Wall Street Journal, read the results of a WSJ/NBC post-election poll and had my Eureka moment. Respondents were asked to give their views on a range of issues that had been prominent in the Congressional elections. Here are some of the results of that post-election poll, after eliminating those who offered no opinion.

The attitudes of a substantial majority of voters seemed wildly out of kilter with the near-total support for Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, et al. But it was the final poll question that was most revealing: “How do you feel about the Congressional elections that just ended?” Reflecting on the landslide just delivered to a party that opposed every one of these positions polled, 53 percent of respondents pronounced themselves “happy” with the outcome, and only 40 percent said they were “unhappy.” While campaign spending limits were not raised in this WSJ/NBC poll, a Gallup poll earlier that year—four years after Citizens United came thudding down—had found that 80 percent of respondents favored strict limits on campaign spending, a finding that, per The New York Times, was true “regardless of political philosophy, party identification, age, educational attainment, sex or income level.”

It is results like these that make it tempting to agree with Bill Maher’s trenchant remark that “the true axis of evil is the stupidity of our population and the brilliance of our marketing.” However, in this article it is the wisdom of 50-plus percent that by definition will rule. By topic, here is what 20 years of polling tells us our fellow citizens think.

 

polling results are available to show that the general public doesn’t buy these tired shibboleths, already disproven by comparisons of neighboring states with differing minimum wages. In July of 2015, a group called the Small Business Majority polled the owners of small businesses around the country. The results showed that 60 percent of them supported raising the hourly minimum wage from its present $7.25 to $12, with 75 percent of those in favor saying they “strongly supported” this 60-plus percent increase.

Taxation Fairness—One issue that has faded from its former prominence in the minds of voters is tax reductions, long ago brilliantly rebranded by the right as “tax reform.” Trump uncovered an obvious lack of enthusiasm among angry working-class whites for any further reductions in marginal tax rates on the rich and the super-rich. Yet this has not dimmed the enthusiasm of the Republican Party, and indeed Trump himself, for proposing substantial, upper-bracket-weighted tax reductions. Yet 64 percent of all respondents (and 52 percent of those identified as Republicans) are “bothered a lot” that corporations “don’t pay their fair share” of taxes. And 61 percent of all respondents, including 45 percent of Republicans, were equally bothered that “Wealthy People” don’t pay their fair share.

Of more amusement value than surprise was the 33 percent of Republicans who responded that they were “bothered a lot” that “Poor People” didn’t pay their fair share. Yet a Gallup survey released on Tax Day of this year confirmed that tax reduction has declining potency as an issue. It found that 51 percent of those polled considered their own taxes “too high”—down from 65 percent giving that response in 2001. This indicates, I believe, that back in the heyday of Republican tax-cutting, the average voter viewed such plans as “great—my taxes will be cut.” Today, it is far more likely to be heard as: “They want to cut some fatcat’s taxes, not mine.”

Global Warming/Climate Change—The right has cleverly pitched its opposition to combating climate change as a defense of economic growth. Their argument that progress on one front can only be achieved by a serious cost on the other is even more wrong than usual, yet provides some cover for the climate-change denial that is almost required of every Republican officeholder. Yet this easily refutable position has been met with a strange unwillingness by Democrats to go beyond bland nostrums about the need to treat the issue seriously, leaving unanswered the claim that addressing climate change can only come at unacceptably high direct and indirect economic costs, or that the carbon cap-and-trade scheme once offered by Republicans only became anathema when championed by President Obama.

Democratic candidates should consider what the mass of voters, rather than Republican climate-change-deniers, think about this subject. Some 59 percent told WSJ/NBC pollsters in 2014 that they felt strongly enough about climate change to support limiting carbon emissions. When asked by Gallup this year whether they worried about global warming “A Great Deal” or “A Fair Amount,” 64 percent answered “A Great Deal,”while 36 percent who responded said they worried “Only a Little” or “Not at All.” This would appear to be an arena where voters would respond favorably to serious proposals that show how to reconcile economic growth with a reduction in man-made carbon emissions.

INTERNATIONAL ISSUES

Attitudes Toward Free Trade—Thanks to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, in their very different ways, an issue that had been considered a fringe motivator became a subject of public debate this election year. A poll of economists, who obviously have some grasp of the subject matter, would yield a 90 percent-plus vote in favor of “free trade.”

To the average citizen, the concept is less clear. Pew Research conducted a poll in August asking a fairly simple question: Do You Think Free Trade Is Good or Bad? The result was a near-even split between 37 percent saying “Good” and 39 percent selecting “Bad.” Rather telling was the 24 percent who opted for “Don’t Know.” Republicans and Republican-leaners fell into a 61 percent “Bad,” 32 percent “Good” split, while Democrats and Democratic-leaners came out at 58 percent “Good,” 34 percent “Bad.” This issue does not, however, present a clear-cut right-left division, as free-trade opponents occupy both extremes of the political spectrum.

Increased Defense Spending—Getting at underlying public attitudes toward America’s military posture at a given moment is not simple, with views often being influenced by which party occupies the White House. But how Americans see either increasing or decreasing defense spending is a reasonable proxy for whether a given individual wishes to see the United States expand or contract its overseas involvement. Snapshots taken by Pew Research this year and in 2011 provide a particularly useful insight into this issue, as 2011, in retrospect, can be seen as the high-water mark of support for American withdrawal from its extended overseas commitments. In comparison, this year’s primary season saw strong demands by all 16 Republican presidential hopefuls, save Rand Paul, for a large increase in defense spending.

 

While support for either reducing defense spending or maintaining it at current levels fell from 83 percent to 64 percent in the past five years, those two choices were still favored by 80 percent of Democrats and a solid majority of Independents. Clearly, ISIS and the Syrian crisis have diminished the public’s ardor for a retrenchment in our overseas commitments. But the most striking conclusion to be drawn from these numbers is that, even today, only one out of three Americans wants to see an increase in defense expenditures—a fundamental tenet embraced by Trump and almost all Republicans.

Who Do Americans Trust to Handle Foreign Policy?—This question had always been the Democrats’ achilles’ heel. In 1994, voters rated Republicans the safer choice, by 47 to 28 percent over the Democrats. In 2000, before 9/11, the GOP advantage stood at a narrower but still comfortable 37 percent to 30 percent. It took George W. Bush, and the widely accepted conclusion that the Iraq War was a disaster, for Democrats to come out on top by 2008, with a striking 48 percent to 35 percent advantage. But by this September, the Republicans had regained the upper hand, as Gallup found 47 percent of Americans trusting them better to handle foreign policy, versus 40 percent naming the Democrats.

THORNY ISSUES

Abortion—It is now 43 years since Roe v. Wade came down. After an initial 10-year period of surprisingly passive acceptance of the decision as the law of the land, the right—particularly the evangelical right—in the 1980s discovered its usefulness as a wedge issue. This has led to a hardening of positions on both sides. The right has done an effective job of dishonestly presenting its viewpoint as that of a growing majority, while using dishonest political coinages such as “partial-birth abortion,” and defining advocates of a woman’s right to choose as supporters of “abortion on demand.”

Looking at the polling data back over decades, one quickly sees that asking people to self-identify as either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” is a fool’s errand. But one can come to some solid conclusions about public opinion on this complex subject if one breaks responses regarding the desired legality of abortion into not two groups but four:

Those who favor abortion being:
• Always legal
• Legal under most circumstances
• Illegal in most cases
• Always illegal

Over the years, Gallup has found little variance in support for the two camps—when the first two categories are combined and weighed against the combination of the second two. Thus, Pew Research found that 57 percent of Americans polled in 1996 and 56 percent in 2016 said abortion should be legal either “Always” or “In Most Cases,” while those who responded that it should be either “Illegal Always” or “In Most Circumstances” totaled 40 percent in 1996 and 41 percent now. Thus the pro-choice camp has maintained a steady and solid advantage. Even the heated topic of federal funding of Planned Parenthood, despite the intense recent efforts of its opponents, gets a 58 percent thumbs-up.

Today, one of the Republicans’ standard “G’s”—God, Gays, and Guns—has been turned into a solid negative for them.

So where does that leave politicians seeking to balance reasonable policy and political risk? I think it lies in winning over most of the group that wishes to see abortion limited to only a few circumstances (the biggest single sector at an average 36 percent over the past five years) and who are repelled by the absolutist stance of nearly every major Republican politician. This year’s GOP platform avoided spelling out the landmine issues of abortion in the cases of rape or incest, but 59 percent of people polled think abortion should always be permissible in these two extreme circumstances. At the same time, the ironclad opposition by many on the left to any restrictions on abortion is a liability for candidates. The banning of “partial-birth abortion” (or its correct medical description “late-term abortion”), which is already prohibited in 16 states, is supported by 64 percent of potential voters, including 59 percent of Democrats. The reluctance of many progressives to recognize that steady advances in neo-natal science make the failure to support third-trimester bans in all cases except the life of the mother a time bomb for Democrats.

Gun Control—There is no issue where defining the morally correct position and the politically effective stance is a harder needle to thread. You may ask if people favor such measures as requiring background checks at gun shows or for online sales (85 percent do), or if sales to the mentally ill should be banned (a surprisingly lower 79 percent say yes), or if there should be a federal database of gun sales (70 percent are in favor). But these statistics regarding support for specific forms of gun control legislation reveal little about where people actually stand. To discern that, we are grateful once again to Pew Research for asking in July of 2015: Which is more important to you: 1) to control gun ownership or 2) to protect the right to own guns?  When forced to choose, 50 percent considered control of gun ownership more important, while 47 percent responded that protecting gun rights was more important.

Capital Punishment—While there is not yet majority support for the liberal position of abolishing state executions, recent polling shows it is tantalizingly close. A poll released by Pew this September showed only 49 percent of respondents favoring capital punishment, with 42 percent opposed—a dramatic swing from the 80 percent support, 16 percent opposed split in 1995. Solid majorities of both Independents and Democrats oppose capital punishment, with only the 72 percent of Republican supporters keeping the overall total marginally in favor of its retention. Eleven states, comprising 26 percent of the nation’s population, have since 2000 either legislatively abolished capital punishment or subjected it to a moratorium imposed by government. (Note: In the November election, Nebraskans voted to overturn their legislature’s abolition of the death penalty, while Oklahoma voters resoundingly endorsed its retention. California sent a mixed signal, defeating a ban on executions while narrowly passing a ballot measure that moderately reformed the process. California, with 750 inmates on death row, has not executed anyone since 2006.)

 

CONCLUSION

There is a clear conclusion to be drawn from this deep dive into the polling data regarding what Americans truly believe about an enormous range of issues: despite the right wing having cleverly and dishonestly sold the public on the idea that this is a “conservative” country, the clear majority is most definitely progressive. The most eager purchasers of this skewed view of our polity have been Democratic politicians and the Democratic Party itself. While Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council may have been reading the tea leaves more or less correctly in 1995 when they moved the party toward the center, there is unquestionably a solid majority support for broadly progressive views in America today. This means that there should be a solidly progressive electoral majority, enough to not just elect a Democratic President, but also a Democratic majority in the Senate. The House, due to brilliant post-2010 GOP gerrymandering, requires by expert estimate about a 7 percent greater Democratic vote just to ensure a 50-50 split, and that may be a bridge too far for at least one or two more election cycles. Should we ever again have a “normal” election, it is my hope—and my belief—that these realities about what Americans truly believe will, at long last, assert themselves.

Post-election Afterword: I completed this article months before the election, expecting a different outcome. Neither I nor the editor expected to find ourselves having to justify how the views of a clear majority of Americans on nearly every major political, economic, and social issue could possibly be rationalized with the results of the election, which Trump won in the Electoral College, although trailing Hillary Clinton by approximately 2.8 million votes.

My hope is that this presentation of the underlying views of a majority of Americans will enable readers to oppose the false prophets of further accommodation with the right, and to arm themselves with the knowledge that time, demographics, and the American people are on the side of progressives. Reconciling the views of Americans with how they vote I will have to leave to others. —R.S.

Now go read the original article which you can find here


 

Roger Smith worked at the precinct level in New York in the 1960s on both of John Lindsay’s successful mayoral campaigns and in 1972 co-chaired the spectacularly unsuccessful “Wall Street for McGovern” organization. He also worked for Senator Frank Church’s presidential bid in 1976. During the ’70s, he wrote a series of financial articles for Playboy under the nom de plume John B. Tipton. Over the past two decades, his journalistic focus has been on the media and entertainment industry, including a biweekly column in Variety on the economics of all aspects of entertainment—“It’s Only Money”—from 1999-2001. His politics have been unapologetically liberal all these years.

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I Am Sad Today

Posted on November 10th, 2016 in Politics,Science,War by Robert Miller

Two nights ago, we witnessed the election of a man who assaults women, and someone who is a practitioner of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. All in one bundle: you get one and you get them all. Donald J. Trump is not known for his compassion for the average Joe Blow. I think he is repulsed by the very people who supported him throughout this historic election: he doesn’t have a history of helping those less fortunate than himself. In fact, if anything, he has a history of stiffing the very workers hired to make his buildings for him. Here is what we have to look forward to in the coming weeks and months and years of his presidency: we will see the radicalization of the Supreme Court, the suspension of the Paris climate accords (he can’t do anything about this for 4 years, but after the grace period he is free to run his own game), the resumption of drill-baby-drill. Of these, I am mostly distressed about the president-elect, turning his back on climate change, because we only have a little time left, before the doomsday clock rushes in and takes all of our options away. Trump is so taken by his inflated image of himself, that he will be robbed of the capacity to act quickly and decisively in the best interests of the United States and our precious democracy. Suddenly, I see our democracy as being highly fragile and in need of life support. How did we get here?

I am dumbfounded as to how this happened, but in many ways, I do not blame the people who elected him. The dividing line for the election was sharply on the line of those who have prospered from globalization and those who have not.  I blame the level of inequality that has grown, once we embarked on the period of financilization and globalization which began in the 1990’s and the greed we have manifested in this country. Will this be end of America as we have known it, will our annihilation as a democracy be laid  on the doorstep of greed and avarice. Will we long for the country we had just one a day prior to the election. At the same time, I hate to think about our future and I wonder how we will come to regard those who elected him. I think we will have further animosity between the Trumpites and the Clintonites. Donald Trump has promised to renounce the trade deals represented by NAFTA and the new one referred to as TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). If he succeeds in doing this, the prices of household goods for this followers with go up in cost. Those more affluent will be able to afford this increase; thereby creating an additional level of income inequality.

Tony Schwartz, the co-author of The Art of The Deal, who got to know Trump by hanging out with him while writing the book, refers to the him as a “sociopath.” I am truly sorry about what we are about to go through, I am numbed beyond capacity to imagine all of problems that await us with a Trump presidency. Where all the trends were pointing to a more progressive era, with Bernie Sanders stroking the notes of a new progressive era, we have now taken such a hard right turn, I am breathless and speechless at the same time.  I am not breathing normally since the election and I suspect that applies to some of you as well. I wish I had more soothing news to report, but this is the time to batten all the hatches. In many ways we are all alone. The Republicans control the House and the Senate and with the election of Donald Trump, they now control the White House. They appear equipped to do anything that want, and there is little we can do about it. But we need to hunker down and do all we can to preserve our democracy. At the same time the Democratic party has made a let us down big time, and I wonder if a third party is now long overdue.

 

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