Monday, June 26, 2017

Assange on the Future of the Democratic Party + Seymour Hersh's "Trump's Red Line"

UPDATE II: As an old Naderite, I have to include this passage from Jon Schwartz's interview with Ralph about the floundering Democratic Party which was published yesterday in The Independent:
RN: [Another] millstone is they could never contrast themselves with the Republicans on military foreign policy – because they were like them. They never question the military budget, they never question the militarized foreign policy, like Hillary the hawk on Libya, who scared the generals and ran over [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates who opposed her going to the White House to [push for] toppling the regime, metastasizing violence in seven or eight African countries to this day.
So they knocked out foreign and military policy, because they were getting money from Lockheed and Boeing and General Dynamics and Raytheon and so on. Even Elizabeth Warren when she had a chance started talking about maintaining those contracts with Raytheon. Here’s the left wing of the party talking about Raytheon, which is the biggest corporate welfare boondoggle east of the Pecos.
[Another] millstone is: Nobody gets fired. They have defeat after defeat, and they can’t replace their defeated compadres with new, vigorous, energetic people. Labor unions, the same thing. They [stay in positions] into their eighties no matter how screwed up the union is. You don’t get fired no matter how big the loss is, unlike in the business community, where you get fired.
The last millstone is, they make sure by harassing progressive third parties that the third party never pushes them. I’m an expert on that. They try to get them off the ballot. We had twenty-four lawsuits in twelve weeks in the summer of 2004 to get us off the ballots of dozens of states by the Democratic Party. Whereas if we got five percent, six percent of the vote they would be under great pressure to change their leadership and change their practice because there would be enough American voters who say to the Democrats, “We do have some place to go,” a viable third party. They harass them, they violate civil liberties, they use their Democrat-appointed judges to get bad decisions or harassing depositions. Before [third parties] finally clear the deck one way or the other it’s Labor Day and they’ve got an eight-week campaign.
There are some people who think the Democratic Party can be reformed from within by changing the personnel. I say good luck to that. What’s happened in the last twenty years? They’ve gotten more entrenched. Get rid of Pelosi, you get Steny Hoyer. You get rid of Harry Reid, you get [Charles] Schumer. Good luck.
Unfortunately, to put it in one phrase, the Democrats are unable to defend the United States of America from the most vicious, ignorant, corporate-indentured, militaristic, anti-union, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-posterity [Republican Party] in history.
End of lecture.

UPDATE: Here's more fuel for Assange's gloomy prediction. From this morning's Significant Digits by Walt Hickey:
An Associated Press study of U.S. House races found that Republicans may have gained up to 22 additional seats in the 2016 election due to redistricting. The AP’s analysis also found four times as many states with GOP-skewed state legislative maps as Democratic-skewed ones. [The Associated Press]
Democrats are not just in a straight up-or-down popularity contest with the GOP; they're also having to contend with scientifically engineered  gerrymandering which provides an enormous structural advantage to the Republican Party.

That's why it is at least an even-money bet at this point that McConnell gets Trumpcare through the Senate. Because though it would seem like certain apocalypse for the party come 2018 if it destroys Medicaid, Republican leadership is no doubt pitching the strength of its gerrymander as a fail-safe.


Julian Assange has posted six reasons why the Democratic Party is doomed. The last two read as follows:
5. GOP/Trump has open goals everywhere: broken promises, inequality, economy, healthcare, militarization, Goldman Sachs, Saudi Arabia & cronyism, but the Democrat establishment can't kick these goals since the Russian collusion narrative has consumed all its energy and it is entangled with many of the same groups behind Trump's policies.
6. The Democratic base should move to start a new party since the party elite shows no signs that they will give up power. This can be done quickly and cheaply as a result of the internet and databases of peoples' political preferences. This reality is proven in practice with the rapid construction of the Macron, Sanders and Trump campaigns from nothing. The existing Democratic party may well have negative reputational capital, stimulating a Macron-style clean slate approach. Regardless, in the face of such a threat, the Democratic establishment will either concede control or, as in the case of Macron, be eliminated by the new structure.
Point six reveals Assange's unfamiliarity with the arcane nature of U.S. election law. A viable third party in the United States is next to impossible because ballot access is determined by each of the 50 states; some of the requirements -- look at Texas -- are clearly prohibitive.

Macron's En Marche! is a poor example because it was an Establishment response to the collapse of the Socialist Party. The analogy would be more accurate if Sanders actually succeeds in capturing the Democratic Party. Then Mike Bloomberg might dig into his deep pockets and fund a U.S. version of En Marche! with Julian Castro as his Macron.

If the neoliberal Establishment maintains its control of the Democratic Party, which, based on a reading of Andrew Cockburn's latest in Harper's, "It’s My Party: The Democrats struggle to rise from the ashes," seems a safe bet, then we're going to have to go through a repeat of the 2016 Democratic primary; at which point, Bernie will have to decide if he has the chutzpah to go the third-party route. A lot will depend on who the neoliberal Establishment nominates.

But if the Democrats continue their present neo-McCarthyite course, and the Republicans manage to push through a version of Trumpcare which guts Medicaid, then Sanders should be able to win control of the party outright.

To catch a glimpse of the hurricane the Republicans are whipping up read Jordan Rau's "Medicaid Cuts May Force Retirees Out of Nursing Homes." Half of all U.S. births are paid for by Medicaid, and it pays for 64% of all nursing home residents:
Under federal law, state Medicaid programs are required to cover nursing home care. But state officials decide how much to pay facilities, and states under budgetary pressure could decrease the amount they are willing to pay or restrict eligibility for coverage.
“The states are going to make it harder to qualify medically for needing nursing home care,” predicted Toby S. Edelman, a senior policy attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “They’d have to be more disabled before they qualify for Medicaid assistance.”
States might allow nursing homes to require residents’ families to pay for a portion of their care, she added. Officials could also limit the types of services and days of nursing home care they pay for, as Medicare already does.
Trumpcare amounts to an enormous tax increase for the working class. Working people will have to assume an even greater financial burden to maintain parents in assisted living. The resulting shock and rage should be enough to sweep out the Wasserman-Schultz crowd.

Andrew Cockburn's Twitter feed includes a shout-out to Seymour Hersh's latest, "Trump‘s Red Line," published yesterday by Die Welt. The DIA and CIA knew that no sarin was used at Khan Sheikhoun because they knew exactly what the Syrian mission was -- what the objective was; what sort of munition the Syrian warplane was carrying -- because the Russians had informed them in advance.

Democrats need to drop the McCarthyism and find their anti-war voice.

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