Why Bernie’s Revolution Has Just Begun

With each primary victory—and each close call—Sanders has shown us our own strength.

Source: AlterNet

Author: D.D. Guttenplan/The Nation

Emphasis Mine

Well, we’ll always have Michigan….

A week after Bernie Sanders stunned pollsters with a victory that nobody predicted, lifting his campaign—and his supporters’ expectations—those hopes came crashing down to earth yesterday with defeats in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina. Hillary Clinton’s late-breaking win in Missouri gives her a clean sweep on a night that was meant to mark the turn in the tide for Sanders, who poured time and money into Ohio, where Clinton took every big city on her way to a convincing 14-point victory, and Illinois, where Sanders hoped to profit from dissatisfaction with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Clinton ally. Though voters did punish Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez for her handling of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, favoring challenger Kim Foxx by a margin of 2 to 1, Clinton carried Cook County by a comfortable 8 points.

Yes, it’s true that the rest of the primary calendar is more favorable to Sanderswho has won more states, garnered many more votes, and has a larger share of the delegates than any of the Republicans challenging Donald Trump. Whose presumptive grasp on his party’s nomination is denied almost daily by the same media who have been burying Sanders—when they could be bothered to write about him—from Iowa onward. We never said this was going to be easy—or a fair fight.

Hillary Clinton has always been the favored candidate of the party establishment. And unlike 2008, when the powerful Cook County portion of that establishment broke for Obama, a favorite son, this time the establishment remains unified in the face of the Sanders insurgency. Which would be reason enough for Sanders to carry on his fight all the way to Philadelphia, even if it really were mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination—a point we are still unlikely to reach before California votes on June 7. The strength of Sanders’s challenge, and the enthusiasm of his supporters, have already pulled Hillary Clinton off dead center on police violence, trade policy, access to education, and making the wealthy pay their share of taxes. 

As long as he stays in the race, and stays true to his beliefs, Sanders will keep winning those arguments, even if Clinton’s willingness to steal her opponent’s best ideas—and even some of his best lines—help her to win voters who will be crucial in defeating Trump in November. Turnout remains the Democrats’ Achilles’ heel: In Ohio, where Trump came second, he still got more votes than either Democrat. Clinton herself seems to get this, and yesterday declined to endorse calls for Sanders to drop out. Any other course would leave Trump in sole possession of the media for the next four months.

Speaking of the Donald, it also seems odd that while his impact on the Republican party is endlessly analyzed, almost nothing has been said about the way Trump’s likely nomination has influenced Democratic primary voters. My own guess is that fear of Trump probably carried Clinton over the line in Illinois and Missouri.

Keeping Clinton from reverting to a neoliberal default isn’t the only reason for Sanders to stay in the race—or the most important. As Sanders has always said, his aim is “a political revolution.” Winning the nomination would be nice, but is neither necessary nor sufficient to bring that about. Building a nationwide, durable network of mobilized, active supporters prepared to keep working for universal healthcare, a living wage, ending Wall Street welfare and America’s endless wars—including the drug wars—in numbers great enough to Occupy the Democratic Party and take it back from its corporate funders is absolutely crucial. So, too, is the difficult work of stitching together movements like #BlackLivesMatter, Fight for 15, immigrant rights, climate justice, and voting rights into a coalition prepared to march together, vote together, and transform our politics—and our country. Yet that is the task we face.

Are the odds against us? Of course. That’s what it means to live inside a rigged system. But remember where we were only a few months ago. With each primary victory—and each close call—Sanders shows us our own strength. With each packed rally we see the claim that socialism is un-American exposed as a lie, that a world where no one starves, healthcare is not rationed by wealth, and energy companies aren’t allowed to rape the earth for profit and leave the rest of us to take the consequences is not only possible but popular.

Why cut off that momentum? Especially when, as Daniel Cantor of the Working Families Party points out, Sanders actually keeps getting stronger: “Bernie’s North Carolina performance was 15 points better than his South Carolina performance last month, and 5 points better than his Virginia performance two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the margin in Cook County, Illinois, is half of that in Wayne County, Michigan.”

So we fight on—to July, November, and beyond. For the nomination, so long as that remains a possibility. For our country—which may in November face as stark a choice as any in our lifetimes. And for our future, which is far too precious a prize to abandon for the sake of a few thousand votes.


Why Scalia’s Death Is a Huge Blow to the Right-Wing Agenda in Washington

The impact of Scalia’s death will be felt immediately in a number of pending high-profile cases.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Bill Blum/TruthDig

Emphasis Mine

Justice Antonin Scalia is dead, and his passing is nothing less than a legal and political earthquake. It will have a huge impact, not only on the court’s present term but on the course of constitutional law.

Beginning with his appointment to the high court in 1986, Scalia was the intellectual leader of what I and many other legal commentators have termed a conservative “judicial counterrevolution,” aimed at wresting control of the nation’s most powerful legal body from the legacy of the liberal jurists who rose to power in the 1950s and ’60s under the leadership of then-Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Scalia was a key architect of the jurisprudential theories of original intent and textualism, and the author of numerous landmark opinions. Among his most important rulings was the 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which held for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to bear arms.

But Scalia was also an unvarnished, intemperate and intolerant ideologue, railing against same-sex marriage, voting rights, Obamacare, affirmative action and other progressive causes. In recent years, often finding himself in dissent, he became unhinged at times, ridiculing his more moderate colleagues for engaging in what he called analytical “argle-bargle” and “interpretive jiggery pokery,” and for doling out legal benefits to allegedly undeserving litigants that he called “pure applesauce.”

The impact of Scalia’s death will be felt immediately in a number of pending high-profile cases, transforming anticipated 5-4 conservative rulings into 4-4 stalemates. Under the court’s rules, 4-4 decisions carry no precedential weight and leave intact the lower-court rulings under review.

This means that proponents of affirmative action (Fisher v. Texas), as well as public-employee unions (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association), can expect constitutional reprieves, because the circuit court rulings issued in their favor will be allowed to stand. It also means that supporters of abortion rights (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt) and immigration rights (United States v. Texas) will have an easier path toward overturning adverse lower-court decisions.

Scalia’s passing will also alter the prospects for overturning some of the court’s most conservative recent rulings — not only on the Second Amendment but on campaign finance, environmental regulation and the constitutionality of the death penalty, among others.

Politically, Scalia’s passing will unleash a pitched battle on two fronts: first, in the fight to name his successor, and second, as an issue in the upcoming presidential elections.

(N.B.: will this motivate Democratic voters?)

In the coming weeks and months, we can expect to hear a rising and increasingly hysterical chorus of Republicans demanding that President Obama refrain from nominating Scalia’s successor. Indeed, if initial press reports are any indication, the trench warfare has already begun.

But with roughly 11 months remaining in his term, Obama undoubtedly will move forward. Anyone he names will surely be more liberal than Scalia, and anyone he names will tip the balance of the court. Those who remember the televised hearings on the nominations of Justice Clarence Thomas and former Solicitor General Robert Bork can expect clashes in the Senate Judiciary Committee (which conducts hearings on Supreme Court nominations) that will make those bygone proceedings seem genteel.

At the same time, the future of the Supreme Court — always an issue in presidential campaigns — will move front and center. Assuming that GOP senators will filibuster any Obama nomination — as I think probable — voters will be asked to contemplate what the future of America will look like with a court molded by a President Trump or Cruz, or a President Sanders or Clinton. The choice facing voters will be stark.

I take no joy in the death of Antonin Scalia. But speaking as a progressive and as a staunch defender of human rights and as one who believes our Constitution is a living document that must be read expansively over time, I can’t say I will mourn his absence from the bench.

We have an opportunity to repair some of the damage Scalia and his right-wing brethren have done. Our task now is to take advantage of the opening.

See: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-scalias-death-huge-blow-right-wing-agenda-washington?akid=13972.123424.wi7mbf&rd=1&src=newsletter1050646&t=4

Separate, and NOT Equal: Incomes in Post New Deal America

Having waited several months to get “unequal democracy” by Larry M. Bartels from the library, I was able to handle the differed gratification when the book finally arrived: it is a treasure.  To most who read this blog, the basics are hardly news, but the supporting facts are deep. 

  o Income inequality has been increasing in the USA dramatically since the mid 70’s

  o It is the product of polices of a system dominated by the interests of the wealthy.

  o Elected officals often ignore the interest of the poor and working poor.

  o The differences have been more dramatic under GOP presidents.

  o  Bush/GOP ‘tax cuts’ of 2001 and 2003, together with the erosion of the minimum wage, have widened the have/havenot gap.

  o Few Americans are aware of how vast the disparity is.

Mr. Bartels, of Princeton University, also offers an explanation of why voters often appear to vote against their interests: deception and disingenuousness, not values: “Do abortions and gay marriages matter when the cupboard is bare and the sheriff is auctioning off the furniture in the front yard?”

Some of this situation has changed since the Great Uprising of  November, 2008, because the majority were motivated, regeristered, and mobilized to vote, but the inequality is still there.

Stay tuned…

Published by Princeton University Press, 2007