Putin’s Patsy’s (final part 3) Trumpeteers Unwittingly becoming Traitors

As the political drama around the hacks faded away with the fading away of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, more oxygen was given to the other aspects of the hack, which pundits seemed to miss the significance of at first, but slowly (at least in terms of a 2016 24-hour news cycle) it began to dawn on them: an outside force was trying to alter the outcome of a U.S. election, tipping the scales in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton, in a clear, substantive, and indisputable way.

So people started caring again about who had hacked the DNC servers.

Wait, didn’t people say that it was the Russian government? Does that mean Russia and Putin are messing with an American election? Is this cyberwarfare??

At first, that suggestion seemed conspiratorial and the media and public seemed reluctant to embrace it, as if that narrative was perhaps mostly a plot by Democrats to divert attention away from their internal scandal, another “he said/she said” in a long war of words between Trump and Clinton. Maybe the delay was in part because the story broke over the weekend, maybe it just seemed too fantastical for people to take seriously. But as expert opinion began weighing in, and it seemed to be consistently unanimous when it came to those with direct knowledge of the hack, it became clear that it is very likely that Russia and Putin are messing with the current U.S. election, with American intelligence reaching a consensus with “high confidence” that Russia was the culprit of the crime.

It could be that they are out “to stir the pot” and destabilize the U.S. political landscape; it could also be that they are trying to get Donald Trump elected (many would argue that that itself is tantamount to destabilization).

How are almost certain it’s Russia?

The details pointing to Russia are numerous and clear. The initial findings by CrowdStrike, citing the Russian government-backed hacking groups APT 28 and APT 29, were later confirmed by two other private-sector cybersecurity firms. Relative to other similar cases, the evidence linking the hacking to these two groups was significantly more compelling. Apt 28 often uses a tactic of setting up a domain spelled very similarly to the actual domain in a bid to get users to unknowingly disclose their usernames and passwords. For the DNC hack, APT created misdepatrement.com (as opposed to misdepartment.com), to confuse staff at MIS Department, which managed the DNC’s network. And previous hacks by the group has used the same IP address and malware software, a discovery that helped to point to patterns. This process “sometimes included unique security or encryption keys, a kind of digital fingerprint,” a fingerprint found in other significant attacks, which both government intelligence and private sector experts believe are also tied to APT 28.

Both hacking groups use also approaches and technology “consistent with nation-state level capabilities” and choose foreign military entities and military contractors in a way that “closely mirrors the strategic interests of the Russian government,” according to a CrowdStrike report and echoed by other reports. Another firm noted that the hackers seemed to operate during the Moscow and St. Petersburg time zone business hours and to take holidays during official Russian holidays.

Within on day of the DNC disclosing to The Washington Post in mid-June, a person styling himself Guccifer 2.0 began a WordPress blog and claimed that he, and only he, was behind the hack, and to back up his claim, he posted DNC documents on the blog and leaked others to the press and to WikiLeaks. He chose the name Guccifer to honor an imprisoned Romanian hacker of that same name, who earned; the original Guccifer claims to have hacked Clinton’s private e-mail server that has consumed American politics for the last year, but this claim has not been verified. However, we know Guccifer did hacked Clinton friend and confidante Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mail, which, in turn, revealed the existence of Clinton’s oft-criticized private e-mail server to congressional investigators in the first place.

Kind of crazy how all this ties together, right?

While Guccifer 2.0 claimed Russia had nothing to do with the hackings, his very actions provided investigators with evidence backing up the initial claims that Russia was behind the hackings: metadata from the information he posted had Russian digital signatures and showed that systems running on Russian language setups had accessed the files; one document had been modified by a user named Felix Edmundovich, the letters spelled out in Cyrillic and an obvious homage to Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet Union’s secret police. This information was exposed by a researcher on security issues operating under the Twitter handle @pwnallthethings, who also exposed the fact that error messages in the documents were in Russian; all these imprints were made before WikiLeaks obtained the files. The aforementioned points were echoed by another analyst writing for Ars Technica soon after.

Other telling evidence indicated that Guccifer 2.0 might be little more than a Russian public relations smoke-and-mirrors operation: Guccifer 2.0 made himself accessible to the media for interviews, a rarity for criminal hackers who tend to be paranoid of being caught and therefore reclusive; he strongly asserted that Russia had never penetrated the DNC, but that is something that he would be incapable of knowing as an independent hacker, as he claimed to be; he claimed to be Romanian, but then seemed unable to converse in Romanian without using only short statements and making repeated grammatical mistakes as noted by native Romanian speakers; metadata in his e-mails indicated he sent them from Russian networks, and some evidence even pointed to the use of the same or similar networks used by APT 28. It seems Guccifer 2.0 was concocted by Russian intelligence right after The Washington Post reported that DNC officials and investigators suspected Russia, a tactic of “deception and disinformation” or “denial and deception” that is standard operating procedure for Russia and codified officially in Russian military doctrine. A few such examples were noted in a just-released RAND report:

“Russian propagandists have been caught hiring actors to portray victims of manufactured atrocities or crimes for news reports (as was the case when Viktoria Schmidt pretended to have been attacked by Syrian refugees in Germany for Russia’s Zvezda TV network), or faking on-scene news reporting (as shown in a leaked video in which “reporter” Maria Katasonova is revealed to be in a darkened room with explosion sounds playing in the background rather than on a battlefield in Donetsk when a light is switched on during the recording).”

The Rand Report notes how incredibly common and prolific these propaganda efforts have become since at least Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia and how current, traditional counterpropaganda efforts are falling short in correcting this “firehose of falsehood.” All this just points even more strongly to the Russians being behind the DNC hack.

Hacking and Political Warfare: Russia’s Newest Weapons System, Eagerly Deployed: There’s Something Going On!

Hacking and cyberwarfare are also certainly part of the new Russian way of foreign policy and hybrid warfare, including (mis/dis)information and propaganda operations like those noted above. But another major aspect of Russian policy involves trying to meddle with foreign elections and politics, and the hackings of the DNC can be seen to be part of just such a larger effort. In fact, Paul Manafort can even be thought of as a (indirect?) mercenary general in this exact type of political warfare, where he was on the front lines of Putin’s operations in Ukraine from the Orange Revolution until (and possibly even after) Yanukovych’s 2014 overthrow.

But such operations were hardly limited to Ukraine, as there are other examples in Eastern Europe; lately, Putin has actually been funding right-wing, pro-Russian partiesand demagogues all over Europe, helping to fuel an ongoing continental right-ward drift. Perhaps most notably, this Russian support has been a factor in France, which is lurching even more rightward in the wake of recent terrorist attacks like the one in Nice and where Putin’s chosen candidate, Marine Le Pen, may very well win France’s 2017 presidential election, but Putin has also been trying to destabilize German politics using the issue of refugees to weaken Chancellor Angela Merkel and empower German extremists.

Another factor that must be acknowledged is that Putin is still simmering over Western expansion of NATO, over two Western military interventions against Russian ally Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia in 1990s, against support for Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. Putin also seen the U.S. as having orchestrated the “color revolutions” of the last decade rather than viewing them a natural expression of post-Soviet peoples’ desires to be free from Russian domination and to not be ruled by Putin’s corrupt puppets; Putin similarly blames the U.S. for the 2014 overthrow of Yanukovych. The Russian president also in particular blames the U.S. for massive demonstrations in Russia in 2011 that erupted after fraudulent parliamentary elections. In fact, at the time,he specifically blamed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Seen in this context, the hacking of the DNC, the DCCC, and the voter database used by Clinton’s presidential campaign serve multiple purposes: in the eyes of Putin and many Russians, this is revenge for U.S. support for democracy in former Soviet republics andthe continued post-Cold War expansion of NATO, for perceived U.S. aggressive roles in countering Russian interests, and against Hillary Clinton specifically, who enraged Putinwhen she called him out on Russian election fraud in 2011.

Conclusion: There’s Something Going On!

Arnau Busquets Guàrdia/POLITICO (Source images by Getty Images)

Interference in U.S. elections and politics would not be unprecedented: the UK intelligence at Churchill’s direction interfered to try to empower Roosevelt against Republican isolationists; South Vietnam played with peace talks to give Nixon an edge in 1968 after it negotiated secretly with Nixon’s campaign; Iran’s ayatollahs may have conspired with Reagan in 1980; and Israel worked to undercut the Obama Administration’s standing in the U.S in 2012 and 2015 over the Iran issue. Russia evenseems to be supporting a secessionist movement in Texas that is still sizable while also only being a fringe minority.

Of course, Russia has categorically denied any involvement in the recent hacks.

As for Trump, he has a lot of questions to answer about Russia, both in terms of him and his family but also about his associates. Trump’s taxes may or may not yieldinformation about his business ties to Russia, and for now, the Trump team denies it has any ties to Russia, but provides no evidence to support this, only repeated assertions.

Even now as I write some of this, Trump is baselessly speculating at a press conference that the entity behind the hacking is “probably not Russia, nobody knows if it’s Russia,” contrary to all the expert analysis given. At this same press conference, he seemed to actually invite Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, even tweeting that call in writingon his Twitter account soon after (and later unconvincingly claiming he was being “sarcastic” after massive shock and outrage ensued).

Since then, just yesterday, one week after the WikiLeaks DNC release, we learned thatthere were new hacks, likely by Fancy Bear/APT 28, of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a congressional fundraising group for Democrats, and of a voter information database used by the Clinton campaign and other Democratic organizations. The U.S. is trying to determine how to respond to these cyberattacks as the FBI and Department of Justice investigate. And there are likely to be more hacks, with WikiLeaks’ Assange promising are more “a lot more” information on American politics coming from files he already has.

To be sure, hacking a U.S. political party’s central leadership organization at the height a presidential election cycle is dangerous, unsettling new territory for an already fraught American-Russian relationship. If Congress is to even retain an ounce of non-partisan credibility, a major investigation must be undertaken as soon as possible, and Republicans must put as much zeal into it as they put into their Benghazi “investigations.”

What we do know is that Trump and his family tried to do business for many years in Russia; that he sought to have a relationship with Putin; that both men have been publicly supporting each other as Trump seeks the American presidency; that Trump is by far the most pro-Russian, pro-Putin of the major presidential candidates of this entire election cycle; that he did business with Russian nationals (some of ill repute) and took massive amounts of money coming from Russia; that his Campaign Chairman has a sordid history of helping Putin allies of ill repute to the detriment both of Western interests and, more specifically, of democracy in Ukraine, help that helped precipitate bloodshed and war; that other Trump campaign staff and advisors have questionable links to Russia; that Russia has a pattern of hacking America and others for political purposes; that Russia has a pattern of interfering in elections; that Putin clearly prefers Trump over Clinton; that all the evidence points towards the hacks being committed by the Russian government; that the Russian government, along with WikiLeaks, had the means and motive to harm Clinton and the U.S. and have thus far acted to do so; and that Russia and WikiLeaks have a suspect relationship.

Thus, taken together, there does seem to be some sort of relationship between Trump, his confidantes, and his presidential campaign on one side, and Putin, Putin-linked Russian operatives, and key Putin-and/or-Russian-oriented business and political operatives on another. It remains to be seen how direct, conscious, and centralized these relationship are, and while the sheer number of connections all but rules out sheer coincidence, the likely relationship can range from direct coordination between Putin and Trump themselves at the top, to between low-level staffers working directly or indirectly for both parties with no knowledge of or approval on the part of higher ups; the intent, also, can range from conspiring to tilt an election and to work in the interests of Russia to simple personal enrichment on the part individuals.

More likely than not, none of these extremes are probably the case, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Given everything I’ve discussed here, it’s possiblethere is some sort of coordinated effort going on between Trump or people in his campaign and Putin or people associated with him. But I wouldn’t be terribly surprised we also have two groups of actors here acting mostly independently yet with common purpose. I also wouldn’t be surprised if some of Trump’s associates, especially Manafort, are part of some sort of deal (tacit or otherwise) to promote Putin’s agenda within Trump’s campaign between several staffers or just himself on one side and Putin’s agents on the other, given Manafort’s and several staffers’ histories. And it’s certainly believable—in fact, almost certain—that Putin would like to see Clinton defeated and Trump in the White House, since it would be hard to envision a leader that would or could play more into Putin’s hands than Trump.

This may yet backfire on and Trump and Putin, since the Russian interference is so obvious that it might cause more Americans to rally against Clinton, riled up by an American presidential candidate being the target of Russian intelligence operations. But that remains to be seen, and for now, America is under attack from Russia in a way never seen before, something that is an objective, bi-partisan, national security issue that should concern all Americans. We may never know all the details, but one thing is for sure: this is one of the most disturbing, worrisome, and troubling developments in a year brimming with disturbing, worrisome, and troubling developments, and there must be both fierce consequences and fierce investigations because, clearly, there’s something going on, to quote Donald. Trump.

Clinton Foundation: Time for Truth About Its Work!

But now it is time to get the actual facts about the Clinton Foundation. It is extremely odd that no one discusses what the fund actually does – that is how sick the American political process has become, that is how much of a stranglehold pseudo right wing journalism has on the very fabric of  America’s political aptitude.It's time the Clinton Foundation were clearly acknowledged for its world impact

Brian Frydenborg – Author‎, International Affairs/Development/Public Policy Professional, Freelance Writer/Journalist/Consultant/Historian

Even if you hate the Clintons, there’s no denying the spectacular amount of charitable work the Clinton Foundation has done and the millions of lives it has improved, even saved.  Despite a disinformation campaign, there is no doubt about the sheer scale and variety of beneficial projects in which the Foundation is engaged, from the inner cities of the United States to the slums of India, from helping women and girls overcome discrimination to providing access to HIV/AIDS medications for patients who would otherwise not have them. Here, in one place, is a brief accounting of all the major work, both direct and indirect, that the Foundation performs all across the globe; here is the real deal on the Clinton Foundation’s work.

Clinton foundation works for health wellness and women welfare. Previously it was named as Clinton foundation but again it got renamed as bill, Hillary, Chelsea Clinton foundation. It is a nonprofit organization. Republicans keep an eagle eye on the foundation and want to prove as a corrupt and opaque foundation. Look at this website to know more.

The diversity and scale of the work make the Foundation a truly one-of-a-kind organization, one that many millions around the world are thankful for and would never characterize as something political or fraudulent.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981)

Efforts to tarnish the Clinton Foundation fall flat.

All photos taken from the Clinton Foundation website

AMMAN — If you listen to many conservatives, the Clinton Foundation is little more than a personal, criminal stash for cash for the Clintons (one big “scam,” to quote Trump).  But like so many other things that conservatives claim, upon closer inspection, efforts to tarnish or call into question the Clinton Foundation fall flat, quite like their efforts to dismiss the good work of the United Nations, even for all the UN’s faults.  In reality, the Clinton Foundation is a massive organization, atypical of most charities but one that does a staggering amount of good all around the world.

Love or hate the Clintons’ politics, it is an objective and indisputable fact that Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton have been involved in programs that have bettered and save the lives of millions of people.  Even without Bill’s political career, his work with the Clinton Foundation would be enough to make him one of the great philanthropists of our time, and Hillary Clinton has been getting increasingly involved, as has Chelsea.

What the Clinton Foundation Is and How It Works

The Clinton Foundation is actually a public charity that mainly does direct charity work, which can be confusing since many foundations primarily funnel money to other charities. While conservative media and political figures (like serial liar Carly Fiorina) have claimed that only a small portion (Fiorina said 6%, hot-air-dispenser Rush Limbaugh said 15%) of the money going into the Foundation goes to charity, this statistic is in reference to the money that the Foundation gives to other charitable groups; the vast majority of its money still goes to charity, its own charitable works, with 87.2% of all funds going directly to either their or others’ program activities/beneficiaries. Unsurprisingly, conservatives myopically failed to do even this basic level of research before making their wildly off-base claims, which is par for the course in these hyperpartisan times.

What is now the Clinton Foundation began in 1997 as an organization that began helping then-President Clinton set up his presidential library, but since then it has grown to be a global foundation that encompasses eleven initiatives, has raised over $2 billion for charity and development work, and now raises about a quarter of a billion annually.

Let’s look at these eleven parts, and a twelfth that was recently ended:

Clinton Foundation:

2014 expenses: $249,545,030 (12.3% overhead, including management, administrative, and fundraising expenses; 87.2% directly to program activity/beneficiaries; and 0.5% to make up for shortfalls in donation pledges)

Clinton Foundation revenue - 87.2% goes to program activity/beneficiaries, while 0.5% covers shortfalls in donation pledges

Clinton’s Presidential Center (library) (1997-present)

2014 expenses: $13,501,618 (5.4% of Foundation total)

Clinton’s Presidential Center (library (1997-present))

Presidential libraries serve as something of a combination of a museum and an archive for the particular presidency they showcase. The Clinton Foundation was formed in 1997 to help raise money for Bill Clinton’s presidential library, which it did to the tune of $165 million over some years plus over $11 million in the form of grant of land from Little Rock, Arkansas, on which the library was built (in comparison, Reagan’s library cost $60 million at the time it was built, and George W. Bush’s presidential library cost about $250 million). Clinton’s library, which includes the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service and provides year-round educational programs and camps for students of all ages, has benefited the city of Little Rock greatly, as well.

 Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative (2002-2013)

The Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative began in 2002 by helping small businesses in Harlem and grew to focus on promoting entrepreneurs and small businesses in cities across America.  Through partnerships with successful entrepreneurs who acted as mentors and major business institutions like Booz Allen Hamilton and UBS, the Initiative specialized in providing consulting and mentoring to small businesses and small business owners. The 2012 annual report for the Clinton Foundation noted that the Clinton Economic Initiative had provided 75,000 hours of pro bono consulting and mentoring hours, over $15 million in pro bono consulting, that 92% of businesses that received assistance from its Entrepreneur Mentoring Program said that that assistance had helped them deal with the recession, that all these businesses assisted had an average of a 16% increase in workforce, and over 600 volunteers provided long-term pro bono services for small businesses in nine different U.S. cities. Another example of the type of work the Initiative engaged in, as highlighted in the 2009 annual report, was helping to provide banking services to struggling populations in America that were underserved by the banking industry. The program was shuttered in 2013 because the Foundation found that the efforts were too labor intensive and dependent on many too outside factors to be replicated on the larger scale the Foundation had hoped for it.

Clinton Health Access Initiative* (2002-present, *now affiliated but separate entity)

2014 expenses: $143,041,357 (57.3% of Foundation total)

The Clinton Health Access Initiative began in 2002 as a big push to provide HIV/AIDS patients with low-cost access to lifesaving drugs

The Clinton Health Access Initiative began in 2002 as a big push to provide HIV/AIDS patients with low-cost access to lifesaving drugs, and since then has expanded to include treatment for malaria and vaccine access, among other programs; nearly 10 million people have received access to lifesaving treatment at low cost through the Initiative since 2002, to name its most significant achievement.  It now operates directly in more than 33 countries benefiting over 70 countries overall.  Its 2014 annual report noted that it was also heavily involved in assisting Liberia with its recent Ebola epidemic.

Clinton Alliance for a Healthier Generation (2005-present, *now affiliated but separate entity)

2014 expenses: $16,436,262 ($2 million from Clinton Foundation, 0.8% of Foundation’s total expenses; rest is (presumably) raised by Alliance on its own, outside of the efforts of the Foundation)

The Alliance for a Healthier generation was founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association in 2005 to fight America’s childhood obesity epidemic

The Alliance for a Healthier generation was founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association in 2005 to fight America’s childhood obesity epidemic by providing alternatives to soft-drink sodas in schools and other facilities used by children, all through making deals with the soda industry. It is the nation’s largest effort to fight childhood obesity, and in large part because of the Alliance’s efforts, the calories of drink products sent to school locations fell 90% from 2004-2010. Through 2015, the program has spread to help affect 18 million students in over 31,000 schools in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, as well as over 6,300 locations used by children outside of school grounds. There is also an effort to help students improve health in other ways, engaging over 56,000 doctors and health professionals.  The Alliance also engages companies like McDonald’s to improve the level of healthier offerings within their product lines, in McDonald’s case covering 85% of its worldwide sales.

Clinton Global Initiative (2005-present)

2014 expenses: $23,544,381 (9.4% of Foundation total)

The Clinton Global Initiative began as way for President Clinton to bring together world leaders and thinkers as only he can together in one place and to get them to make substantive commitments towards tackling major global problems.

The Clinton Global Initiative began as way for President Clinton to bring together world leaders and thinkers as only he can together in one place and to get them to make substantive commitments towards tackling major global problems.  Through 2015, it has engaged over “180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media, which has resulted in $90 billion in commitments representing over 3,100 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries,” spanning issues as diverse as job creation, training, education, human rights, gender equality, health, medicine, conservation, ecology, endangered species, and international development, among others.

180 Heads of State improving the lives of 430M people.

 Clinton Climate Initiative (2006-present)

2014 expenses: $8,293,416 (3.3% of Foundation total)

The Clinton Climate Initiative has been working for years to address fundamental drivers behind dangerous manmade climate change

The Clinton Climate Initiative has been working for years to address fundamental drivers behind dangerous manmade climate change using easily replicable and cost-effective methods that the Initiative is spreading throughout the U.S. and the world.  The Initiative’s Forestry Program is helping governments together with other partners to better manage their forests and forested lands and to help plan and enact forest restoration, with major programs in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Indonesia. The Islands Diesel Replacement program helps small island countries transform their energy sectors into ones that involve far more clean energy and far more sustainable practices, and also assists with waste and water management, which all, in turn, spur new jobs and markets for the green energy sector.  An energy-consumption-reduction program and a Home Energy Affordability Loan (HEAL) program that both began in Arkansas have both spread to six other states—California, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin—and allowed both employers and employees to greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce costs, with the HEAL program alone helping over 5,600 people and both programs together reducing U.S. carbon emissions by over 33,500 tons every year.

Clinton Development Initiative (2006-present)

2014 expenses: $4,482,714 (3.3% of Foundation total)

The Clinton Development Initiative has been helping small farmers in Tanzania, Malawi, and Rwanda

The Clinton Development Initiative has been helping small farmers in Tanzania, Malawi, and Rwanda by leveraging knowledge, resources, and partnerships to help over 105,000 small farmers improve their efficiency and access to markets.  In addition, its Trees of Hope program in Malawi has helped over 2,300 farmers plant more than 2.6 million trees to help offset their carbon footprint and create a new opportunity in tree farming, where it is also helping local farmers and their families by establishing local health clinics.  In Rwanda, the Initiative recently helped to create two local businesses based on producing soy in one case and coffee in the other that are combined expected to create hundreds of jobs and help 150,000 farmers with their livelihoods.  With a New Seeds to Sale Project in Myanmar, the Initiative also helps to reach some 15,000 farmers there over the first 3 years of implementation.

 Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (2007-present)

2014 expenses: $7,358,967 (3% of Foundation total)

The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership seeks to implement the best of nonprofit/for-profit approaches to help emerging-market-nations around the world deal with major gaps in supply chains/distribution chains...

The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership seeks to implement the best of non-profit and for-profit approaches to help emerging-market-nations around the world deal with major gaps in either supply chains or distribution chains in ways that improve both the social and financial situations of poorer, underserved populations by bringing them into one of three-market driven approaches: supply chain enterprises, distribution enterprises, or training center enterprises in the hopes of providing economic opportunities through which people can find social mobility and lift themselves out of poverty.  Distribution enterprises can make a huge difference in rural areas where many small villages and towns and farmers often find it very difficult to obtain basic supplies.

The Partnership in one instance found almost 3,000 women in one of the most remote parts of Peru and trained and equipped them with the help of major corporations to be able to sell many basic, in-demand products to their own communities; these women are expected to double their income within a year of beginning the program. Supply chain enterprises help small farmers in developing countries obtain ways to get their products to the right markets and improve their business as a result as well as help developing markets fill their shelves with appropriate and better quality products.  A Partnership enterprise in one region of India was able to help small farmers get cashew products to new customers, and another Partnership program set up many small farmers with PepsiCo’s local juice operations; along with efforts to help local farmers become more efficient and produce better crops, the Partnership hopes to see these farmers’ incomes double within 5 years and to spread these models to encompass some 15,000 local farmers in the region in the near future. Another project is helping over 12,000 peanut farmers in Haiti get their crop to markets.  Finally, training center enterprises help to provide youth in developing countries the skills needed to get decent jobs in places where there is often a skills mismatch.  One such enterprise in Cartagena, Colombia, is training some 20,000 young people to be able to find jobs in the hospitality industry.  The Partnership will be expanding to new regions and countries soon, and thus far has helped to train and empower more than 450,000 people in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia.

Clinton Health Matters Initiative (2012-present)

2014 expenses: $3,696,323 (1.5% of Foundation total)

The Clinton Health Matters Initiative works in the United States to reduce the occurrence of preventable health problems, conditions and diseases

The Clinton Health Matters Initiative works in the United States through a wide variety of public and private, local and national entities to reduce the occurrence of preventable health problems, conditions and diseases, while also working to bridge inequality in health and healthcare access and to improve access for all Americans. Its national-level programs focus on “employee health, military and veteran health, health disparities, access to nutrition, access to sport and physical activity, and prescription drug abuse,” while a variety of local and regional programs (mainly focusing on working through many hundreds of partners to help some 8 million people in specific regions in the U.S.: California’s Coachella Valley, Central Arkansas, Northeast Florida, the Greater Houston Area, and, most recently, Adams County, Mississippi) combine with the national programs to be projected to be able to benefit some 85 million Americans. The initiative has also created over $200 million in partnerships with various organizations to help improve Americans’ health, is helping to innovate new technology to improve healthcare across the country and access to information about health and healthcare, is improving substance abuse and mental health programs on over 60 college campuses, is pioneering fitness programs, is working with 40 different organizations to improve employee wellness, and is bringing together experts from many different organizations to plan new ways to tackle health problems in America.

The following programs fall under the “other” category as listed in the Foundations’ financial statements/annual reports, as is (presumably) the $2 million grant that goes to the Clinton Alliance for a Healthier Generation; the “other” category comprised $13,789,165, or 5.5% of the Foundation’s 2014 expenses; minus the Alliance grant, these below programs would be part of $11,789,165, or 4.7% of the Foundation’s 2014 expenses.

Clinton Foundation in Haiti (2009-present)

The Clinton Foundation in Haiti began in 2009 as a way to specifically help the beleaguered Caribbean nation.

The Clinton Foundation in Haiti began in 2009 as a way to specifically help the beleaguered Caribbean nation, but when a major earthquake devastated the nation in 2010, the program focused for some time on disaster relief, recovery, and rebuilding but is now back to its original intent: helping to empower the people of Haiti through education and economic opportunity by engaging a wide range of actors.  Since its inception, the program has raised some $36 million for Haiti (including $16.4 million in for immediate relief after the earthquake tragedy), and has also been instrumental in bringing about $120 million in direct investment to Haiti, including in Haiti’s agricultural, artisan, and environmental sectors, helping some 117,000 Haitians and creating some 11,200 jobs.

 No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project (2013-present)

The No Ceilings: Full Participation Project, led by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, aims to bring women and girls around the world to points of full participation and equal opportunity in their societies using data-driven methods.

The No Ceilings: Full Participation Project, led by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, aims to bring women and girls around the world to points of full participation and equal opportunity in their societies using data-driven methods.  To this end, the Project partnered with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to produce a detailed global report on the status of women and girls worldwide, identifying specific areas of concern that can be targeted by various organizations around the world.  As part of this process, the Project began a global conversation about the status of women involving over 12,000 people, and conducted a survey about the status of women of over 10,000 people in over 150 countries.  The Project also teamed with The Brookings Institution to secure pledges from over 30 partners to provide $600 million to help girls get access to and do well in secondary school, which has since been increased to $800 million through 50 partners with plans to reach 15 million girls.  Another initiative plans to facilitate access to mobile technology for women in Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Arab Gulf States in order to help empower disempowered women in those locations.

Too Small to Fail (2013-present)

The Too Small to Fail project, also led by Hillary Clinton, seeks to help different parts of society to come together to provide health/growth environments for children

The Too Small to Fail project, also led by Hillary Clinton, seeks to help different parts of society to come together to provide solid heath and growth environments for children from when they are born to age 5, focusing in particular on interactions involving talking, reading, and singing.  Such interactions foster vital early brain and language development among our youngest children, ensuring that they enter school not in a mental state behind that of their follow classmates and in a better position to succeed in life.  This helps to fight the “word gap” in which lower-income kids by age 4 hear an average of 30 million fewer words than their better-situated counterparts, causing their brains and language skills to develop more slowly.  With partners like Sesame Street, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Univision, Text4baby, and Scholastic, Too Small to Fail was a major force in efforts to donate some 500,000 books, reach 700,000 parents regularly with parenting information and tips through text messaging, use television programming to get important information and tips out to parents, get over 20,000 families to take pledges, and distribute 62,000 literacy toolkits to pediatric professionals.

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In addition:

In America, the Clinton Foundation has also helped to organize thousands of volunteers for “Days of Action” that have resulted in over 18,000 hours of volunteer service since 2012, at first in response to Hurricane Sandy and later to include other projects. There is also the Job One initiative, designed to help young Americans find meaningful employment in the wake of the Great Recession; so far, the initiative has secured promises from 13 companies to focus on mentoring and hiring young people, has generated commitments worth $37 million, and expects to be able to help some 150,000 young Americans in the near future.

*****

All in all, The Clinton Foundation is a unique thing in the world, one of the world’s largest charities on its own, but then transcending even that status when the extensive action it has led indirectly through its special partnerships and relationships is taken into account, amplifying its already staggering scale of impact on people all over the world.  It’s time the media and even the Clintons’ critics clearly acknowledged this basic truth.  And for Trump to criticize the Clinton Foundation, when nothing he has done has even come close to a fraction of this level of charity, is shameful.

The Clinton Foundation is a unique thing in the world, one of the world’s largest charities on its own, and then some.

GOP Convention 2016—Trump receives responses to his RSVP

Trump sends out his invitations—RSVP… répondez, s’il vous plaît…

RNC--where the Trumpeteers have nowhere to hide

And the responses came pouring in..

I have lunch that day, I will be celebrating my birthday, Alaska is just too far away, I have an X-ray that day, I cannot stand to be close to him any way, fly fishing seems better on a summers day, my voters can not bear for me to be away, I am just too busy OK?, I have tickets to the ballet, I can better help staying around here to pray, I must work on every weekday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, my diary is full on that day, that day, that day and that day—but I send my regrets anyway – as long as every realizes that I would not be seen dead with you on any day.

There must be 101 ways To leave your lover Invitation to Crazy Town - DENIED
You Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

  1. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) “Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal”
  2. H.W. Bush Sr. Too old to come
  3. G.W.Bush Jr    Too busy scrubbing bush in his non-ranch suburban home
  4. Jeb Bush, 2016 Republican presidential candidate  “Trump is not the future of the Republican Party”
  5. Mitt Romney, If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.
  6. Sarah Palin sulking over not being VP – Alaska is a long way from ClevelandSorry I can't today Don
  7. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) “Shelby lying low as GOP convention draws near”
  8.  Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)Lisa Murkowski is a senior senator from the Alaska United States, she is a member of the Republican party. She is serving the position since 2002. She is a moderate Republican member of the Senate and a swing voter. She is the daughter of former senator and governor of the state, Frank Murkowski. Click to Read More Here

     will be traveling her state by bush plane.

  9. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) he is planning to trek the Grand Canyon
  10. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) he has to mow his lawn
  11. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) he will be in Florida campaigning and meeting with voters
  12. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)  will be conducting town hall-style meetings in Idaho
  13. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) will be on a “listening tour” in his state.
  14. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) will be campaigning,
  15. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) will use the time to hone his “fly fishing.”
  16. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) will be campaigning
  17. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) Under the circumstances we have, I’m going to be campaigning in the state
  18. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) says he has attended four conventions
  19. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)  will not be going for personal and family reasons.
  20. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)  just want to reconnect with constituents
  21. Sen. Lindsey Graham, former presidential candidate just want to reconnect with constituents
  22. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) essentially called Trump a racist and said he’s open to embracing the Libertarian Party
  23. Sen:Still Deciding: Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), “other things going on and I’ve got to weigh where I can do the most good.”  Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)* Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)   Sen. John Thune (R-SD)*
  24. Ohio Governor John Kasich If I’m going to show up at the convention, and I’m not going to be saying all these great things about the host…
  25. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R-Md.)  I hate the whole thing.
  26. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R-Mass.)  Anybody who is using the Orlando shooting as a tool in a political fight isn’t “thinking straight,
  27. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley Trump supporters aren’t all racists.
  28. Former NJ Governor Tom Kean Sr. Trump was a loose cannon who should “listen to people and stop tweeting at 11 o’clock at night.”
  29. New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Like my Democratic opponent, I will support my party’s nominee in the fall,”
  30. Utah Rep. Mia Love, I have not been supportive of Mr. Trump, and I’m not really excited to go back to a convention that’s centered around him
  31. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told reporters he had “a longstanding appointment downtown.”
  32. Mark Salter, former aide and speechwriter for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “The GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level. I’m with her.”
  33. David Ross Meyers, former White House staffer under George W. Bush’s former communications adviser for the Senate Republican Leadership
  34. Eliot Cohen, counselor of the Department of State during President George W. Bush’s administration
  35. Max Boot, foreign policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, Council on Foreign Relations fellow “I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than I would vote for Donald Trump,” Boot told the New York Times on March 2. “There is no way in hell I would vote for him. I would far more readily support Hillary Clinton, or Bloomberg if he ran.”
  36. Ben Howe, contributing editor to the conservative website RedState—She’s not flipping crazy like Trump is
  37. Jamie Weinstein, senior editor, Daily Caller: there is little threat another Clinton presidency would end the American system as we know it. You can’t be so sure with Trump.
  38. Robert Kagan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution The neoconservative foreign policy commentator called Trump the GOP’s “Frankenstein monster” who is “strong enough to destroy its maker” “The Republicans’ creation will be.”
  39. Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush he doesn’t appear to want to learn about issues.
  40. Rep.Scott Rigell R-Va I reject Trump as our nominee based on his judgment, temperament and character, all of which point to a reckless, embarrassing and ultimately dangerous presidency.   Just this past Sunday, Trump’s poor judgment was on display.  He failed not once, not twice, but three times to denounce the KKK and its onetime leader, the infamous racist, David Duke.  Looking a bit confused when asked about the KKK and Duke, Trump pleaded ignorance.  What void must exist in the heart of a person who when asked about the KKK has to struggle for even a moment as to what his position is?
  41. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) “I will not support Mr. Trump. That is not a political decision, that is a moral decision”
  42. Patrick Ruffini, Republican strategist and early #NeverTrump adopter
  43. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
  44. Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ)
  45. Tim Miller, former spokesman for Jeb Bush, adviser to Our Principles, an anti-Trump super PAC
  46. Peter Wehner, GOP strategist
  47. Liz Mair, GOP strategist
  48. Rick Wilson, Republican operative “I will never vote for Donald Trump, not even if it means he forms a third party and runs as the narcissist sociopath he truly is.”
  49. Former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)
  50. Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-M.N.), Congressional Leadership Fund chairman
  51. Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) “He loves torture!” Paul said.These Senators would've come, but the pool was so nice...
  52. Stuart Stevens, top strategist, Romney 2012
  53. Kevin Madden, former Mitt Romney communications director
  54. Ken Mehlman, former Republican National Committee chairman
  55. Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard
  56. Erick Erickson, conservative commentator, former editor of RedState, founder of The Resurgent
  57. Steve Deace, conservative commentator and radio talk show host
  58. Mark Levin, conservative radio host
  59. Brian Bartlett, GOP communications strategist
  60. Jay Caruso, contributing editor at RedState
  61. Linda Chavez, conservative columnist
  62. Mindy Finn, GOP media strategist and president of Empowered Women “For me, it’s secondary to his menacing character. So I wouldn’t support Trump if you paid me his net worth. I refuse to carry his flag. I challenge you to do the same.”
  63. Jon Gabriel, editor-in-chief of Ricochet “If the keys are handed to a would-be strongman, I have no choice but to step out of the car and walk my own way,” he wrote. “If that makes me a bad Republican, so be it. I seek to be a good American.”
  64. Stephen Hayes, senior writer at The Weekly Standard “Casual dishonesty is a feature of his campaign.”
  65. Glenn Beck, host of The Glenn Beck Program and founder of TheBlaze
  66. Dave Yost, Ohio auditor of state
  67. Ruth Guerra the RNC’s national director of Hispanic media, serving as a top surrogate for the party as it looked to make inroads with Latino voters and making frequent TV appearances in English and Spanish to try to lead outreach.
  68. Katrina Jorgensen the communications chair for the Young Republican National Federation. “I want no part of a racist, fascist, hateful presidency.”
  69. Nathan Wurtzel, Make America Awesome Again super PAC
  70. George Will, Washington Post columnist and Fox News commentator
  71. Bruce Carroll, creator of GayPatriot.org Carroll said on Twitter, “I will oppose ALL candidates of any political affiliation who align.”
  72. Mona Charen, senior fellow at Ethics and Public Policy Center
  73. Dean Clancy, former FreedomWorks vice president
  74. Rory Cooper, GOP strategist, managing director of Purple Strategies, Senior Advisor to the Never Trump PAC
    Daniel Vajdich,  senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, national security policy adviser to the Ted Cruz campaign
  75. Bob Dold (R-Illinois) “Donald Trump’s hateful words towards wide swaths of our country, from women to Latinos to veterans and Muslims, disqualify him from ever serving as president of the United States
  76. Michael Graham, conservative radio host
  77. Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.)
  78. Connor Walsh, former digital director for Eric Cantor, founder of Build Digital
  79. Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at National Review
  80. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
  81. Alan Goldsmith, former staffer, House Foreign Affairs Committee   There is speculation that the key note speakers may not make it to the right Cleveland
  82. Stephen Gutowski, Free Beacon staff writer 
  83. Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist
  84. Doug Heye, former communications director for the Republican National Committee*
  85. Brad Thor, conservative author
  86. Charlie Sykes, radio show host
  87. Erik Soderstrom, conservative blogger
  88. David French, National Review writer
  89. Jennifer Rubin, conservative opinion columnist for the Washington Post
  90. Quin Hillyer, conservative columnist
  91. Former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-PA)
  92. Iowa state Sen. David Johnson “I will not stand silent if the party of Lincoln and the end of slavery buckles under the racial bias of a bigot.”
  93.  Chase, Ford, JPMorgan Chase, Motorola, Walgreens and Wells Fargo For the first time in years,such  corporate sponsors have declined to participate
  94. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
  95. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.)
  96. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.)
  97. Nine of Arizona’s 58 Republican delegates originally slated to go to the GOP convention in Cleveland next month are skipping the event
  98. Ivanka Trump’s Rabbi will be a no show after all …
  99. Tim Tebow also nixed Trump’s invitation yesterday…
  100. Tom Brady- that Quarterback Guy who loves Stupidparty
  101. I will not be attending.

Close Your Eyes. Keep Them Closed

This test is even crazier than the one with the dress. You have to follow the rules though. Whenever you are instructed to close your eyes and keep them closed you have to do it. Okay?

The idea of this color test is to see if you can see things differently when you close your eyes and then reopen them.

There has been a lot of outrage in America for the past several years about the deaths of unarmed people of color. Many have been angry that nothing is being done about it. Many others have been outraged that people are upset in the first place. Those defending the killers insist that each of those who were killed deserved it for one reason or another and find ways to excuse each event as it comes up.

I think that the problem in America, however, lies with the people in the middle. Those who have no opinion either way are the ones who perpetuate the problem. When you see these stories on the news and think “Gosh. That’s awful,” and don’t give it another thought until you go to work and hear someone say that Tamir Rice shouldn’t have been allowed to be in the park with a toy gun from a person who will rationalize that if his mother hadn’t let him go to the park he would still be alive today, you are the problem. If in this moment you do not demand a coherent thought out of the person defending a killer, you allow them to believe that their hate is justified, or at least tolerated.

Unfortunately, we are always going to have racists.

A racist is a person who discriminates against people based on caste, creed or color. He even believes his race is superior to other and starts hating people based on this. It may take many forms and can happen anywhere the historical example of racism is segregation in the United States. To learn more click find more.

We will always have bigots. And homophobes. And assholes. And cranks. They will always exist and we will always have to deal with them. They can, however, go with the rest of us into an evolved society where their hatred is diminished. My answer (which is very naive, I know. I am adorable and I can’t help it), is for all Americans who have heard the news about these killings and then gone on in their day having never given them another thought to spend just 5 minutes taking this test.

Jordan Davis

 

Imagine your white little brother standing in front of that flag instead of Jordan Davis. Now imagine he is 17 years old and in a car at a gas station with his friends back in the day while listening to Metallica too loudly. They were being rowdy like 17 year old boys are supposed to be. Now imagine some black guy pulled up and told his girlfriend in the seat next to him that he hated that awful shit white music and yelled at the kids. The boys yelled back at him. So that black man shot at your little brother. 10 times. He’s dead now.
                                                                                               Close your eyes.  Keep them closed. Can you see that?
Walter Scott

Imagine your white uncle standing in front of that flag instead of Walter Scott. Now imagine he gets pulled over for a broken tail light the day before Easter. He is the one in the family who has a good heart but seems to screw up a lot. The whole family is coming in tomorrow and he knows he has a warrant against him because he is behind on his child support. He decides to take off and make a run for it so he doesn’t spend Easter in jail. That would certainly ruin Grandma’s day, wouldn’t it? The black police officer takes off after him and shoots him in the back. Repeatedly. Until he is dead. And then tries to create a scenario where it was your uncles fault.

               Close your eyes. Keep them closed.  Can you see that?

 

Eric Garner

Imagine your white father holding and feeding your baby in this picture instead of Eric Garner. Now imagine that he is standing on the side of a building and police officers ask him if he is selling cigarettes. They ask your dad this every time he is standing outside. He is getting really sick of it. Your dad asks the police why they don’t just leave him alone. One officer, completely unprovoked, put your father in a choke hold and took him down while he was literally begging for his life. As he is beginning to struggle he tells the officer that he can’t breathe. The officer does not refrain. Your father is choked to death. On camera. Surrounded by many police officers. Who said he was trying to sell a cigarette. The black police officer who murdered your father gives a gleeful wave to the camera while his body is being taken away. Handcuffed.

    Close your eyes. Keep them closed.  Can you see that?

 

Tamir Rice

Imagine your white son with that unbearably sweet face in this picture instead of Tamir Rice. Now imagine that he is in the park playing with a toy gun. His gun, like most made today, looks real. He is doing what children do with toy guns, pretending to shoot it. A gentleman who is not quite sure about the situation calls the police and tells them it looks like he may be a child and he is unsure if the gun is even real. The police show up and in less than 2 seconds, the officer in the passenger seat gets out of the car and shoots your son. On this day after shooting your son, he also tackles and detains your daughter when she runs to see what has happened to her little brother. He is doing this while he is neglecting to give aid to your son who is still alive. Your son dies the next day. This black police officer, you will later learn, had been released from his previous law enforcement position because he was deemed too emotional and immature regarding his use of weapons. That information doesn’t really help you now, though. Does it? Your son is dead.

   Close your eyes. Keep them closed.  Can you see that?

It is a lot easier to live in a happy world when you allow for easy answers from the people who would really rather not allow changes in our society. I realize that. It is easier to just say that Jordan Davis should not have talked back to his elder or Walter Scott should not have run or Eric Garner should not have tried to sell cigarettes or Tamir Rice should not have been playing with a toy gun. But society will stay right here as long as you allow that to happen. From now on, every time you hear another story of an innocent unarmed person of color being murdered (and tragically, you will because we aren’t demanding better of ourselves), take a quiet moment, close your eyes and imagine that the innocent unarmed person who this story about is white. And someone you love. And their killer is black. Then ask yourself why you have to rewrite the scenario for yourself. When you realize that you do not have a rational answer for that question, you will start to be a part of the solution.

The Mathematics of Misogyny in America

Misogyny In the USA by the Numbers. The UN plan to present the full report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2016.

Rampant Sexism, fake Christianity and invented Christian values will lead to Misogyny—as UN inspectors were destined  to discover. As in so many areas America is not only far from being number one—but they are falling down the international tables:

The United States falls to 27th place in ranking the global gender gap, compared to 19th in 2010.

So the US is flailing pretty badly. I wonder why. Here the best and  worst states for work place environments for women:

Stupidparty beats out the Democrats in ranking the worst states for a workplace environment.

  1. The US is currently ranked 62nd globally when it comes to the gender gap in health and survival.
  2. The US is currently ranked 54th globally when it comes to the gender gap in political empowerment.
  3. Although women hold about 52 percent of all professional-level jobs,
    1. Only 14.6% of executive officers
    2. Only 8.1% of top earners
    3. 6% of Fortune 500 CEO’s .Nowadays, women are working and earning equal to men. This is really a great thing to feel proud. But, in many countries women going for work is not safe. Let us why not find out more on the women empowerment in the society. Women are the backbone of the family as well as the society. So, the men should give equal rights to the women to participate in every thing and share their suggestions.

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-women-equality/5835/#Sheryl-Skaggs

Now note that America is ranked an outrageous #62 when it comes to the gender gap in health and survival. Let us look at maternity-related death rates. Whilst every other Countries have seen significant reductions, America’s death rates are sky rocketing!

Maternity-related deaths are on the rise in the U.S.

This is America’s Peer Group for maternity-related deaths:

The U.S. is in a state of deterioration with regards to maternity-related deaths.

Yes, we are becoming a third world country—but why:

Stupidparty trumps all in the ranking of the worst state to have a baby in.

A delegation of human rights experts from Poland, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica spent 10 days this month touring the United States so they can prepare a report on the nation’s overall treatment of women. The three women, who lead a United Nations working group on discrimination against women, visited Alabama, Texas and Oregon to evaluate a wide range of U.S. policies and attitudes, as well as school, health and prison systems.

So having visited Barbados (just guessing) the United Nations was anxious to assess the next worst country on the list. These three women visit Alabama, Texas and Oregon. I guess this is not going to end well….

Human rights experts not only exposed the misogyny of the U.S., they experienced it firsthand in some places.

“The delegates were appalled by the lack of gender equality in America. They found the U.S. to be lagging far behind international human rights standards in a number of areas, including its 23 percent gender pay gap, maternity leave, affordable child care and the treatment of female migrants in detention centers.”

But their visit to Alabama would prove to be the most memorable. They were interested in seeing how women were treated regarding their reproductive rights. In normal countries—i.e anywhere other than the US, a woman would simply go to her doctor and get assistance. But not here, where women are headed into a cattle pen and prodded with electric shock therapy. Well not quite—perhaps women in Mississippi.

This is actually what happened:

“We were harassed. There were two vigilante men waiting to insult us,” said Frances Raday, the delegate from the U.K. The men repeatedly shouted, “You’re murdering children!” at them as soon as they neared the clinic, even though Raday said they are clearly past childbearing age.  “It’s a kind of terrorism,” added Eleonora Zielinska, the delegate from Poland. “To us, it was shocking.”

The U.S. is one of three countries in the world that does not guarantee women paid maternity leave. The recommended time is 14 weeks. Lack of accommodation— “Unthinkable in any society, and certainly one of the richest societies in the world.”

Women are 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than in other high-income countries.

Most of those murders are perpetrated by an intimate partner.

They had some pretty obvious suggestions, but it is like talking to a three year old:

 “Some states have introduced gun control laws regarding domestic violence, refusing to give perpetrators of domestic violence the right to possess firearms,” Raday said. “This should be a national policy, not an isolated state policy.” Deh!

They recommended that the U.S. include passing campaign finance reform that would allow more women to be elected into office, because the networks that raise money for political candidates are mostly dominated by men:

Stupidparty contains far fewer women in congress than do Democrats.

They suggested raising the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects women.

They suggested a federal law to stop the slew of new abortion restrictions in the states that are shutting down women’s health clinics across the South.

“Religious freedom does not justify discrimination against women, nor does it justify depriving women of their rights to the highest standard of health care,”

The biggest shock for this team was the realization the that women did realize what they were missing. They plan to present the full report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2016.

Here are some example of Sexism

–Corporate managers ignoring an idea if suggested by a woman, but then praising a man as being a brilliant person if they suggest the same idea;

–The GOP House holding a hearing on birth control—and all the people who testify are men;

–Multiple police departments talking you out of reporting a rape;

–Being told that women don’t belong in technology (there was a massive lawsuit in Silicon Valley over sexism recently).

–Country radio stations’ song lists are 90% male singers;

–In Indiana and other places, women are threatened with arrest and imprisonment for miscarriages;

–If men express their opinion, it is freedom of speech; if women express it, they are being too uppity;

–Being a woman IT manager at work, being asked again for the IT manager after you say you’re the IT manager;

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/foreign-women-assess-us-gender-equality_566ef77de4b0e292150e92f0

Stupidparty Misogyny: 

She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.” -Rush Limbaugh on Sandra Fluke wanting her insurance that SHE pays to cover the cost of her birth control.

If a woman is raped… We have hospital emergency rooms,” Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R) insisted. “We have funded what’s called rape kits that will help the woman, basically clean her out. And then hopefully that will alleviate that.

As a man, would it interest you to know that Dr. Brownstein just published an article that links the pill to prostate cancer?” state Rep. Jeanine Notter (R)

Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a ‘surgical procedure,’” state Rep. Terri Proud (R-AZ) wrote to a constituent.

Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, a Bush appointee, said in an article published circa 1997: “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.

Here is the attitude of just one of the Stupidparty Presidential candidates—supposedly the sensible one.

 I have already discussed birth control and abortion at some length. The irrefutable conclusion is that those who seek to prevent birth control, and those that a fundamentalist about abortion, end up creating far more abortions, maternal deaths, poverty and disease. Such a position is a heinous crime. But such crimes are only perpetrated by one party. But in order to show a stunning pattern of misogyny  I will simply focus on one issue—rape:

SP Disciples vote for the following types of leaders.

Much of the political rhetoric surrounding issues of rape misses the point entirely, and furthermore marginalizes women

Ron Paul, SP Rep. Texas 14th: 
“If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room, and I would give them a shot of estrogen or—” i.e., in support of emergency contraception to prevent a rape pregnancy (February 3, 2012).
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/ron-paul-and-honest-rape

Todd Akin, SP former Rep. Missouri 2nd: 
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.”

Paul Ryan, SP Rep. Wisconsin 1st, Chair of the House Committee on the Budget, VP choice:
He personally believes rape is “a method of conception” and not an excuse to allow abortion. Ryan also confirmed that he remained very proud of the Ryan/Akin–sponsored “forcible rape bill.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KazMQGqX_dI

Steve King, SP Rep. Iowa 4th:
In the context of the House bill, he was asked, “what if someone isn’t forcibly raped and for example, a 12-year-old who gets pregnant? Should she have to bring this baby to term?” King: “Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way and I’d be open to hearing discussion about that subject matter.”

Steve King continues to spread nonsense about Planned Parenthood and voter fraud—all in the same breath:

“Harry Reid can defend those ghoulish and ghastly and gruesome practices that Planned Parenthood is advocating along with child prostitution and illegal immigration. He can play defense on that. They didn’t do very well in the Senate when they tried to defend ACORN. I don’t think they’ll do any better this time.”

Rep. Steve King Pledges “Smackdown” on Planned Parenthood

Maybe he should check out studies like from the Guttmacher Institute, which found at least half of all babies born to minors are fathered by adult men.)
http://www.thewire.com/politics/2012/08/steve-king-never-heard-anyone-getting-pregnant-statutory-rape-incest/56014/

Eric Cantor, SP Rep. Virginia 4th and House majority leader:
A reporter asks, “Is rape less heinous to some women?”
(Cantor threatened to kill efforts to remedy particularly high levels of rape on Indian reservations.)

“In other words, for Cantor, limiting the authority of tribal courts is more important than making sure rapists are prosecuted and women are protected from domestic violence. And now that the elections are over, and the GOP received the message that they need to do a better job of appealing to women and minorities, is good to get that clear”
Cantor: Rape is less heinous to some women

Cartoons of the day: Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment

Richard Mourdock, SP Sen. candidate Indiana:
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” October 23, 2012 (one day after being endorsed by Mitt Romney).
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20054737

John Cornyn, SP Sen. Texas:
“Richard and I, along with millions of Americans believe that life is a gift from God”—coming to the defense of Richard Mourdock on October 24, 2012.
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/263761-nrsc-chairman-cornyn-defends-mourdock-after-abortion-comments

Nikki Haley, SP Gov. South Carolina:
On her Facebook page she referred to the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault as “special interests”; objecting to this, Rep. Bakari Sellers said battered and raped women are not “distractions.”

John Koster, SP state candidate Washington:
Says abortion should not be legal, even when it involves “the rape thing.”
http://www.katu.com/politics/local/176665741.html

Roger Rivard, SP State Rep. Wisconsin:
“Some girls rape easy.”
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/paul-ryan-withdraws-endorsement-controversial-rape-statement-article-1.1181094

Linda McMahon, SP Sen. candidate Connecticut:
“It was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in an emergency rape.” October 15, 2012.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/1251150337

Rick Santorum, SP presidential candidate, angel candidate in waiting: 
“I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape—but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you . . . rape victims should make the best of a bad situation”—January 2012.

Tom Smith, SP Sen. candidate Pennsylvania:
Pregnancy from rape is similar to “having a baby out of wedlock.
http://www.businessinsider.com/tom-smith-rape-gaffe-out-of-wedlock-republican-senate-todd-akin-legitimate-2012-8

Larry Taylor, SP State Sen. Texas:
On the subject of rape and incest exceptions he stated “that he heard lots of testimony that amounted to ‘making bad choices’ and then wanting to ‘walk away from them.’”
http://www.austinchronicle.com/blogs/news/2013-07-11/we-re-not-gonna-take-it-hb-2-passes-senate-committee/

 Clayton Williams, SP gubernatorial candidate Texas:
“If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy.”
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/106317/five-other-politicians-whove-said-idiotic-things-about-rape

Chuck Winder, SP State Sen. Idaho:
“I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on”—March 2012
http://bobcesca.thedailybanter.com/blog-archives/2012/12/republican-partys-year-in-quotes-rape-edition.html

Scott Brown, SP former Sen. Massachusetts:
in 2005 sponsored legislation allowing doctors and nurses to turn away rape victims if they objected to emergency contraception.
http://www.alternet.org/story/145133/why_does_republican_senate_candidate_scott_brown_hate_rape_victims

 Lawrence Lockman, SP State Rep. Maine:
“If a woman has [the right to an abortion], why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?” Lockman wrote. “At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t [in most cases] result in anyone’s death.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/28/lawrence-lockman-rape-_n_4874586.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

Brian Nieves, SP State Sen. Missouri:
Most late-term abortions are not really undertaken to save a mother’s life but are “a matter of convenience.”
http://www.examiner.com/article/gop-sen-an-abortion-to-save-a-mother-s-life-is-simply-a-matter-of-convenience

Trent Franks, SP Rep. Arizona 8th:
Incidences of pregnancy from rape is “very low.” (No scientific evidence supports this myth.)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/the-claim-that-the-incidence-of-rape-resulting-in-pregnancy-is-very-low/2013/06/12/936bc45e-d3ad-11e2-8cbe-1bcbee06f8f8_blog.html

 Ryan Fattman, SP State Rep. Massachusetts:
Undocumented immigrant rape victims “should be afraid to come forward.”

Kathleen Passidomo, SP State Rep. Florida:
“There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gang raped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute.”
http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/what-kind-sick-society-likens-11-year-old

 Dennis Nolan, SP State Sen. Nevada: 
Was caught on tape allegedly offering to bribe the witness in a rape trial to change her story. (You can listen to the audio here.)

Sen. Nolan has now posted an open letter on his campaign website, claiming he feels “compelled to believe the sex was consensual” because the 16-year-old victim had been “very sexually active” prior to the rape, and because (“as a side note,” he says) 42% of Nevada teenagers have been sexually active before age 16.

Sanders Derangement Syndrome, the Liberal Tea Party, & How Nevada Riot Pretty Much Sums Up Team Bernie

Bernie Sanders still has work to do, to ensure that his crusade lives on.

Ideally this will help lead to Hillary figuring out how to pick her VP—as explained here. While I am totally comfortable with Bernie Sanders not officially endorsing Hillary until the convention, I have been mightily pissed off with the “Bernie or Bust” crowd. What is most depressing is that these people do not simply rehash right wing conspiracy theories, but they argue just like StupidParty disciples.

This lack of originality, lack of intellect from people who regard themselves as just so progressive is simply pathetic. It is not like Bernie Sanders is remotely radical—and yet his more fanatical supporters think they are brilliant in touting single payer healthcare, etc. No you are not brilliant at all—you would have to be a very simple person not to understand that single payer is far more mathematically sound.

This is not revolutionary, it is basic common sense.

If you and Bernie are so brilliant—how come you allowed this issue to be framed as a tax increase when in fact it would save society and it’s citizens a ton of money?  So to “Bernie or Bust” people: I have the laid out this linked irrefutable challenge—plus I have this clear message to such people who are simply too self satisfied and arrogant to bother to read such content.

The Mathematics of Stupidity

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981)
June 20th, 2016

Sanders supporters may have Sanders Syndrome, and Democrats are right to worry.

JERUSALEM — Having seen a full range display from the Sanders campaign recently in a number of telling ways, and, specifically, having gone through in detail the events surrounding the Nevada Democratic Party’s state convention controversies, we can now describe how the whole Nevada situation is an excellent prism through which to understand Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters on a more general level.  Specifically, this means we can break down the very real phenomenon I am labeling Sanders Derangement Syndrome.

If there’s one thing that I am learning during this election cycle is that in many ways the far-left and the far-right do not “cancel each other out,” they simply both make things much worse in their own, sometimes similar, ways and can even feed off of each other, much like Hamas and Likud and other like-minded non-moderates feed off of each other in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sanders and the Rise of the Tea Party of the Left

There were times during the Bush years and some of the Obama years when I really questioned whether Democrats had any spine, and I even considered registering as an independent a few times.  But with the rise of the Tea Party, I increasingly grew proud to call myself a Democrat because of the Republican Party’s descent into extreme irrationality and silliness and the Democrats’ refusal to follow suit, with my party choosing rationality and compromise over hostility to facts and favoring results over “principles”.

But now I look at Sanders and his Sandernistas, and I have become horrified: they truly have become our own version of the Tea Party, cocooned in an alternative reality of “alternative” “news” media outlets like AlterNet.org, Salon.com, and USuncut (among others) that constantly praise Bernie Sanders as the second coming and political Messiah for America, preventing the permeation of much of anything that does not fit their worldview or agenda; such outlets constantly demonize Hillary Clinton and moderates in the most extreme manner while buoying false hopes and delusional expectations.  Wrapped snug as babies in this blanket of generally one-sided coverage, Sanders supporters have become hostile to facts, context, and nuance; they are brimming with anger and ideology at the expense of being level-headed and exhibiting any shred of practicality, and are determined to push their views without compromise and to both “Bern” the system in the hopes of a clean start and “Bern” those with whom they disagree as punishment for holding different views.

This type of nonsense brought the Republican Party to the brink of self-destruction this spring, helped to bring about the rise of Donald Trump and see to his successful hostile hijacking of the Party “Establishment” and apparatus, and history shows us that the Tea Party may have cost Republicans control of the Senate and may have been a deciding factor in Romney’s 2012 defeat at the hands of Obama.

I tremble for the damage this type of nonsense might do to the Democratic Party. I am a proud Democrat today in part because I am so proud of their pragmatism, respect for data and context, and willingness to compromise; the Sandernista wing of the Democratic Party rejects all of this. Furthermore, Sanders and his people are engaging in a series of behaviors that are dangerous for the health of democracy.  And all this and much more was on display throughout the Nevada state convention drama, which is fully emblematic of Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters.

 

Sanders Derangement Syndrome

Specifically, we have the clear symptoms of Sanders Derangement Syndrome:

1.) Sanders and his fans exhibit blatant hypocrisy:

a.) Bernie and his supporters claim to be champions of democracy, but have no problems favoring undemocratic means when it suits them

Just to recap what we discussed in Part I: Clinton won Nevada by over 5%, and Sanders supporters didn’t have any problem disenfranchising the voters of Clark County (home of Las Vegas and most of the state’s delegates) when Clinton’s supporters failed to organize at the subsequent county convention, giving Sanders more state delegates from there going to the state convention even though Clinton won the county by almost 10 percentage points.  Some Sanders supporters happily talked about their (mistaken) prospects of being able to win the state in defiance of the voters.  In the same vein, Sanders has been complaining about the undemocratic nature of superdelegates for months, but now has no problem courting them to pick him and overturn the clear majority of voters, who have favored Clinton over Sanders by a margin of about three million votes as of May 19th no matter how you calculate it (and even if superdelegateswere allocated proportionately to the votes, he’d still be losing by a lot).

And while Bernie is happy to complain about superdelegates and closed primaries(primaries where, e.g., only Democrats can vote in a Democratic primary), he has said precious little about caucuses, which are abominations of democracy that involve public peer pressure, favor the passionate and outspoken, and discriminate against the working class, producing a result that generally does not actually represent the will of voters statewide like primaries do.  As a case in point, the Washington State caucuses produced a Bernie win over Hilary, 74% to 27%, with 230,000 participants, which was the basis for how the state awarded its delegates; in a nonbinding primary, Clinton won over Sanders, roughly 52%-47%, with over 800,000 participants, and that contest was obviously a better representation of the will of the people, with people being able to vote all day, quickly, and privately, and with far, far more people voting.  Likewise in Nebraska, where Sanders won 57%-43% with about 33,000 participants in that state’s caucus, and which was the basis for the state awarding its delegates; in the non-binding state primary, Clinton won 53% to 47% with over 80,000 participants.  It’s pretty easy to see why Sanders is so quiet on caucuses: like most politicians, he’s pretty mum on things that benefit him (note to Sanders supports: this is something that particularly irks non-Sanders supporters since his mantra is basically “I’m a holier-than-thou political white knight, not like other politicians!”).  In fact, mostly because of caucuses favoring passionate Bernie-supporting-types and being less democratic and having far lower voter turnout than primaries, Sanders has earned many more delegates than he would have otherwise and more delegates than the percent of the vote he has won, rending laughable the claim that the overall system is “rigged” against him.

b.) Sanders and his supporters condemn most other politicians and their tactics, but then copy those tactics when they are convenient for them

I know there is some overlap here from part a, but we can point to when Clinton’s campaign outorganized the Sanders people at the state convention, after the Sanders people outorganized the Clinton people at the Clark County convention; yet even as Sandernistas did not even give pause to the idea that they had won more delegates out of organization than they should have won based on the caucus votes, they went into a holy rage when they were outorganized in turn and lost that advantage at the state convention even though that restored things to what the voters had initially set. The issue with superdelegates, as explained above, reflects the same principle.

Another reflection of this principle involves how Sanders criticized  Clinton’s votes and positions as pretty much black-and-white, right and wrong, on anything from Iraq to the TPP; but when Sanders is attacked for his record of not being as tough on guns as he could be, he expects people to take into account that Vermont is a rural state; in other words, he is saying “My controversial positions deserve a nuanced understanding, but Clinton’s do not.”  Sanders was also quick to condemn Trump for violence at Trump’s rallies, but then hypocritically issued the statement he issued in response to his own supporters’ actions in Nevada that I discussed in Part I.  He claims that his is a campaign of high-minded principles that will avoid personal attacks, but constantly engages in indirect personal attacks on Clinton’s character and credibility by association and implication and is more than content to let his surrogates and supporters do his dirty work, rarely reigning them in.

In other words, while Sanders claims to transcend politics, he’s still a politician who’s pretty good at politics and is quite capable of giving unfair jabs and engaging in distortions, just like many other “Establishment” politicians he criticizes.

 

2.) Sanders supporters are obsessed with absurd conspiracy theories that they think specifically target them and their candidate: “The Whole World Is Against Us!” (or, “Losing Is Never Bernie’s fault!”)

During the Obama years, much of the right could be characterized by an insane sense ofperpetual victimhood, that they were the victims of massive conspiracies and everybody and everything was out to get them.  This was one of the great contrasts between the Republicans and the Democrats: the mainstream left generally avoided such paranoid, conspiratorial mentalities.  In part thanks to Sanders and his supporters, as well as a rising culture of highlighting “microaggression,”  the left is now catching up rapidly to the right.  I’ve been proud for some time that the right was a bunch of whiny peoplewith an overinflated sense of victimhood and that my left presented a real contrast to this.  It’s now much harder for me to say that today (not that there aren’t many Americans, particularly minorities, that are entitled to a real sense of victimhood because of very real and present grievances).

But how you fight these battles, and what you choose to fight over, is important and says a lot about you and your crowd.  And I’m very sorry to say that Sanders and his Sandernistas are at the very forefront of helping the left close the gap with the right with their own growing hyperbolic outrage on often questionable or relatively tangential issues/incidents, if it hasn’t already.  As I’ve noted before, Sanders and his supporters constantly explain in nearly identical, hackneyed responses that all setbacks and defeats are a conspiracy against them, the effort of the “Establishment” media/political elites; they claim thinking people only support Sanders, and everyone else has been brainwashed; it’s up for Sanders and his supporters’ missionary zeal to convert thestupid heathens and “Bernie-splain” the truth to them, including Republicans, who will be with Bernie once they see the light.  And in his effort to campaign on a sense of perpetual, partly-imaginary victimhood, he resembles all-too-much one Donald J. Trump.  Sanders and his supporters constantly feel as if they are unfairly treated when, in fact, they are often treated with a lot more tolerance and their candidate treated muchmore gently by Clinton, her campaign, the Democratic Party, and the media than they realize; if anything, “the system” has demonstrably given Sanders a relative advantagewith its many caucuses in states demographically favorable to him that skewed delegates even more towards him and with a calendar that started with states like Iowa and New Hampshire that were also quite favorable to him.

Yet in Nevada, Sanders superdelegate Erin Bilbray was quick to level wild charges of “disenfranchisement” when the state Party chief Roberta Lange calmly swatted such a conspiratorial accusation away, noting that it was the Sanders camp’s own disorganization, lack of long-term planning, and inability to effectively engage existing avenues and persuade enough people that were the reasons they were not seeing the outcome they desired.  But for far too many Sandernistas, everything that happened in Nevada is “proof” of a massive “conspiracy” and they, personally, are victims of “the Establishment.”

 

3.) Sanders and his supporters can’t even entertain the idea that they don’t represent most Americans despite mountains of evidence that they don’t

It seems as if they are almost incapable of conceiving that they just don’t have a message and a candidate that is as appealing as Clinton’s and that most Americans,particularly African-Americans and Hispanics by incredibly wide margins, prefer Hillary Clinton and have entirely reasonable and data-backed foundations for concluding that Clinton is a more capable leader with a more accomplishable agenda and a more effective plan for implementing it, thus making her a leader that will help them and the country much more than Sanders and his incredibly idealistic platform and approaches that are far less likely to succeed; it doesn’t occur to Sandernistas that most Americans are not receptive to an informed understanding of Sanders and his agenda, and that by far most Democrats by a margin of millions simply prefer her to him and not because they are brainwashed (if anything, Clinton supporters have a much more nuanced and data-driven mentality about politics than Sanders supporters).  In fact, a major mantra of Sanders and his campaign is that ispo facto, the more people that turn out to vote, the better it is for Sanders, that Sanders will win with high turnout but Hillary will triumph when there is low turnout; this is demonstrably incorrect.

Thus, when Nevada’s state convention awarded two delegates to Clinton that gave her the 20-15 edge over Sanders that reflected the actual caucus numbers and the initial projection based on those numbers, Bernie Bros and Bernie Sistahs howled at the unacceptable idea that somehow they did not come out on top.  They “feel” they are the majority and “the will of the people” even without any serious numbers or evidence to prove this.

In reality, there is no mass Bernie Sanders “movement,” just a common coalition of the leftist opposition within the left that is challenging the more centrist and mainstream Democratic Party, a coalition that rises here and there in various election cycles, “from George McGovern to Jerry Brown to Bill Bradley to Howard Dean,” even if this one is more to left and exceeded expectations.

 

4.) Sanders and his supporters have a wildly inflated view of their self-importance and self-entitlement, and partly as a result his supporters take political disagreements in a deeply personal way that leads to deeply personal attacks as a response 

Sanders supporters really tend to take everything very personally; they feel that they are victims (one wonders how so many young voters who haven’t lived long enough to have experienced too much hardship, that are participating in all this as part of a cozy-college-existence extracurricular social activity, feel so deeply aggrieved), feel personally hurt by reasonable criticism of Sanders, take it as a personal insult when you challenge anything about their worldview, and respond with personal attacks, harassment, and vicious insults to almost any challenge or criticism directed at them or their candidate; for Bernie supporters, it’s all about them, their feelings, what they want, their issues, to the exclusion of any others(’).  And for Bernie, it’s all about his candidacy; he clearly feels entitled to force his agenda on a Democratic Party and Democratic voters even though a majority supported a different candidacy, with different ideas and a different approach, just as his supporters feel perfectly entitled to force their candidate and agenda on a majority of voters who picked Clinton and her agenda.

Another important point to make is that Sanders was not even a Democrat when the year 2015 began, and he was proud that for years he was not part of the Party, having actively campaigned against Democrats repeatedly.  And most of Sanders supporters come from voters who are not actually Democrats, but left-leaning independents: from many exit polls, it’s clear that Clinton won Democrats by about 2-1 throughout the primaries and caucuses, while Sanders won non-Democrats who voted in the Democratic contests (independents and some Republicans) by about the same margin (keep in mind these independents are generally left-leaning to begin with and not actually representative of true independents who don’t lean right or left, with whom Sanders struggles, and struggles almost equally as much as Clinton).  In fact, Sanders only won more Democrats than Clinton in 2 of the 27 states surveyed: his home state of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire.  So Sanders, only a recently-minted Democrat who has generally avoided fundraising for his fellow Democrats and his non-Democrats feel they are entitled to control the Democratic Party and its direction. Talk about chutzpah

That registered Democrats think and feel otherwise is merely inconvenient; becausethey are Bernie Sanders supporters, and because they know Bernie Sanders is “right,” the majority must be with them.  This mentality puts the utmost importance on themselves as individuals, how they feel, what they think; what others think is irrelevant, and the idea that a majority of Americans would dare to disagree is explained away as smokescreens of political/media “Establishment.”  Hence, Sanders supporters get really, really angry when there are voting irregularities (which they term voter “suppression” as if it was directed to benefit Clinton though there is no  evidence forsuch a charge to be leveled), and assume that any irregularities, which are common in elections, are deliberately targeting them and are the difference between victory and defeat.

For Sanders supporters, it’s all about them, what they think and want, and how fast they want it; other voters with similar views but preferring different methods, and other with dissimilar views, who together outnumber Sandernistas, are not even considered, and ridiculous ideas of bringing people with fundamentally different views on board in matter of months are confidently bandied about, even though there is no such precedent in American history.  Sandernistas also arrogantly assume that they are the future of a Democratic party to which many of them are not even really attached in any deep sense.

Their certainty that they speak for “the people” without even taking time to understand what and how people other than themselves think and feel is unquestionably one of the most off-putting things about Sanders supporters.

The Nevada drama sums this up nicely: at the state convention, Sanders supporters assumed they had a majority of legitimate delegates in the room (they did not) and that it was dirty tricks (it wasn’t) directed at personally disenfranchising them (they weren’t) that made the difference (it wasn’t), that they are so important as to be the object of a mass conspiracy (they aren’t) and they took it so personally and lashed out in such a deeply personal way in response.  This particular type of delusional narcissism is rampant throughout Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters.

 

5). Sanders and his supporters constantly project and feed off of wildly unrealistic expectations on a massively delusional and fantastical level

I’m sorry, but to anyone who’s been paying attention to the details of American politics for the last eight years, if you think there is even a remote chance in the very near future that any of Sanders’ three main policy pillars of his campaign—1.) single-payer government run healthcare for all, 2.) free public college for all, and 3.) a massive tax increase on particularly the wealthy and corporations but also the middle class to pay for the first two pillars—you are simply delusional and peddling and subscribing to fantasy of the sort that only serves to dash hopes and increase cynicism once the inevitable letdown occurs.  As I have noted before, America is a conservative country—with 47 out of 50 states with more self-identified conservatives than self-identified liberals—and Bernie keeps talking as if the millions of Americans who outnumber him and his followers simply don’t exist.  Expectations that even today in 2016 that a man who puts “(democratic) socialist” proudly before his name actually has a chance in general election race are also delusional.

Yet for Sanders supporters, visions of sugarplums danced in their heads along with visions of imminent free college, single-payer health care, massive punitive taxes on the rich, and political revolution, all arm-in-arm with the victorious Bernie Sanders candidacy both in the primaries and in the general election; feeding such expectations is particularly unforgivable on Sanders’ part, but with his constantly reinforcing these expectations and beliefs among his many enthusiastic followers, one truly wonders how they will cope with or without therapy when the inevitable reality becomes clear even to them.

When it came to the Nevada convention, Bernie’s campaign had led supporters to believe they could “win” and/or expect to overturn the rules, people, and system in a matter of days and weeks, all while they were a minority; if that’s not the definition of being delusional, I don’t know what is.

 

6.) Sanders and his supporters subscribe to an extremist narrative and an extremist worldview

If you listen to Sanders and especially his supporters, how warped their vision of the world is becomes ever so clear.  Basically, Sanders thinks that the really REALLY bad rich Americans and EVIL Wall Street have bought the “corporate” media and the “Establishment” politicians to serve their interests.  He does not allow for the reality that they are, in part, the engine of much of America’s economic success even considering their massive transgressions; he does not say they have too much influence influence or a seat at the table that is too big; rather, the entire system, including the leadership of the Democratic Party, are part of a “corrupt campaign finance system” and a “rigged economy” and a “rigged” party nomination process.  The “corporate” media keeps people uninformed and in the dark on all this and if only the media told the truth and if Bernie missionaries were then to make their case to people with fundamentally different beliefs, if only the masses rose and put the wealthiest Americans in their place and limited their ability to corrupt the system with their money, then a clear majority of Americans would support Bernie Sanders, democratic socialism, and Bernie’s policies, which would fix pretty much everything.  Other problems like racism would melt awayonce corruption and the wealthy are curtailed.

In this view, the primary evils in society are capitalism and the people and institutions who benefit the most from a capitalist system.  Only the “alternative” media give Bernie a fair shake.  Hillary Clinton is a major force promoting this corrupt system and therefore is a major part of the problem.  Using military intervention to stop mass killing is hopeless, and the current domestic system is also hopeless.  With Sanders peddling this to his devotees, is it any wonder that many of them think that whenever Sanders loses, foul play and cheating MUST be to blame?  That they have no faith in the current system?  That there MUST a “corporate” media conspiracy or cover-up, a“Bernie blackout?”  That Hillary deserves to be called SHillary, a warmonger, and far worse?  And her supporters also?  That there’s “no difference” between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, or Clinton or Trump?  That liberal moderates are now somehow exposed as part of the right?

This view overemphasizes the importance of Wall Street and the wealthy in contributing to America’s problems even as they are clearly far from blameless.  This view fails to make basic, obvious distinctions in a self-serving manner.  This view makes his supporters think that any outcome which does not result in a Bernie victory is illegitimate, that they and their candidate are perpetual victims in a system riggedagainst them.  This view makes his supporters think that dealing with inequality and corruption is a silver bullet.  And this view fails to acknowledge that very real progresshas been made from working within the system, instead making people believe that nothing positive can happen with our public institutions and creating an unrealistically cynical view that breeds further hopelessness and makes it even harder for actual elected leaders to mobilize support for real reforms that can help real people; to put it another way, Bernie turns people off when it comes to the system, the success of which depends on people’s engagement with it, and it creates a cycle of inaction and anger that only leads to worse outcomes and more anger.  And all this just feeds further into the hopeless, cynical views that are peddled by Sanders and consumed by his supporters, regardless of reality. As an Atlantic piece notes:

“…anger and frustration are far more likely to create chaos and confusion than they are to facilitate a productive discussion about common goals—like keeping a Republican out of the White House.”

What would happen if the Democrats changed how a nominee is selected?

Twitter meme, totals as of late May 

This view also fails to take into consideration that by every metric (and even if the system awarded delegates differently, including if every state held primaries open to independents), Bernie Sanders lost and lost “fair and square,” to use even the words of Bill Maher, a strong Bernie Sanders supporter; it fails to take into account that no matter how just you feel your cause is and how self-righteously you behave, “sometimes you just lose.”  Yep, despite flaws, the system worked, awarding the nomination to the candidate with the broadest support and the most votes by far.

Yep, in “Bernieworld,” pretty much every politician is a corrupt hack; the media, wealthy, and corporations control pretty much everything and brainwash everyone; the rich and corporations are what primarily stand in the way of solving our problems; and only a democratic socialist revolution and candidate can save the day, and anything less is meaningless.  Such a mentality is not only unhelpful and unproductive, but decidedly dangerous for the health of any democracy, from the ancient Roman Republic to the republic of the United States today.

And this extremist worldview and mentality is well-illustrated by Bernie’s supporters’ explanations and accusations swirling around Nevada, the DNC, Chairwoman Lange, and Bernie’s own statement on the Nevada state convention.

 

7.) Sanders and especially his supporters have an incredibly selective intake and total disregard for information that runs counter to their narrative

Without a doubt, one of the most annoying things about Bernie Sanders and his supporters is that they constantly make their case using arguments that are easily refutable or made far less compelling with information that is easily and readily accessible and hardly in dispute.  Bernie as a socialist has a real chance to win the general election (but voters are more likely to vote for a Muslim, a homosexual, a black candidate, a Mormon, or an atheist than a socialist, with the hypothetical socialist earning less support than any other candidate category).  Bernie has relatively high favorable ratings (but he is new to the general public and has not been really attacked on many of his biggest weakness by any major candidate or organization, and Republicans are laying off Sanders [Trump is even encouraging him] with hopes that he will weaken Clinton or somehow be the nominee, a situation in which Republicans see a much better chance to win in November).  General election polls show Bernie is the better candidate (but polls at this stage are wildly and demonstrably historically inaccurate). The public is behind big parts of Bernie’s agenda like free college and single-payer healthcare (except when they are shown how much their taxes will increase as a result, when support drops dramatically to 17% and 15%, respectively).  Independents love Bernie (but only left-leaning independents, not truly middle-of-the-road or conservative ones).  The system is rigged against Berine! (except because of caucuses Bernie has more delegates than if those states held far more fair and participatory primaries).  Hillary voted “for the Iraq war” (she actually voted to authorize the president to use force if necessary, and implicitly as a last resort, to disarm Saddam Hussein of WMD and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions). Bernie wins most working class voters! (but only if you completely factor out African-Americans and Latinos, who overwhelmingly support Clinton, and ignore that older white working class voters support her over Sanders, too).  The list goes on and on…

Thus, even in a contest in which he lost the caucus vote, in Nevada Sanders and his supporters were able to whine that they were being robbed, about their delegates being disqualified, and to accuse the state’s Democratic Party of foul play even though it was they had failed to organize properly or follow the rules, even though Clinton won the caucus by over 5%, even though Sanders’ own people sent the wrong information to their prospective delegates about deadlines.  Of course their complaints and Bernie’s own complaints fail to mention any of these facts fitting into a clear trend of selectivity and misrepresentation.

Bernie wins most working class voters! (but only if you completely factor out African-Americans and Latinos...

Melina Mara/Washington Post via Getty

Conclusion: A Liberal Tea Party Is Still a Tea Party, And Must Still Be Called Out And Fought As One

In the end, then, we have a compelling and clear idea of the symptoms and manifestations of Sanders Derangement Syndrome: a blithe combination of 1.)hypocrisy when it comes to democracy, tactics, and politics; 2.) a conspiracy-oriented mindset that allows for all manners of explanations for Bernie’s losses other than that he actually lost and was the less appealing candidate; 3.) incorrectly assuming that they speak for “the people,” this not being the case being inconceivable to them; 4.) a narcissistic sense of self-importance and self-entitlement that helps lead to a vindictive personalization of political discussion; 5.) holding onto a set of wildly unrealistic expectations to the extent that Sanders supporters live in an alternate reality; 6.) the articulation of an extreme narrative and an extreme worldview; 7.) both a strong disregard and an inability to incorporate facts and context unfavorable to their positions.

If this sounds familiar, it should: these are exactly the type of symptoms exhibited on the right by those in the Tea Party.  Much like whatever we would want to call the syndrome that led to the creation of Tea Party spread rapidly like a virus and created a horde of zombies that was dangerous to anything in its proximity, Sandernistas infected with Sanders Derangement Syndrome have descended upon America and the Democratic Party and are wreaking havoc and damaging all in their path.  Ultimately, like with Trump, the responsibility is not as much with the candidate but with the voters themselves but that still does not absolve Sanders of his responsibilities for channeling such an unhelpful and unproductive group of voters and encouraging their worst tendencies.   And with these crowds rising on both the right and the left, the ability of society to discuss its differences is simply deteriorating.

Just like Trump with his fans, these people were not created by Sanders, but he did bring them into the process and looking at both Trump’s and Sanders’ more extreme supporters, the argument that it is always better when more people participate in democracy looks problematic at best; the fringes are better off being on the sidelines than in derailing those who are actually more interested in governing than in making noise and disrupting.  It is Sanders more than anybody else who can and must do something to harness these people in a productive way which thus far he has spectacularly failed to do and it is doubtful as to whether even he will be able to do so, so extreme and myopic are Sandernistas.

I understand that what I said may be offensive to some, and that I may be ruffling some feathers.  But I don’t care; the time for platitudes and pretending obvious problems are not problems is long past, if it ever existed; few people outside the Tea Party would agree that it emergence and the participation of its ranks in politics has been a good thing, and that we weren’t all better off with them stewing in irrelevance.  Well, the same is true about how hardcore Sandernistas are viewed outside their own camp.  There is no doubt that, rather than releasing a force upon the American body politic that will help advance meaningful and workable reform, Sanders has helped to unleash a force as unhelpful and unproductive as the Tea Party, in style if not so much with someof their intentions and end goals.

Sanders Derangement Syndrome is a virus that must be treated as an infection, especially since it infects so many young people that could be future of American politics.  Maybe Obama and more practical minority voters are the future, and I hope that this is the case; but if Sanders and the angry white liberal hoi polloi that has so strongly contributed to the breakdown in civility and rationality in the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination contest are the harbinger of things to come, we’re in even more trouble that we have been over the majority of Obama’s presidency.  And that thought, even in the year of Trump, is terrifying in its own right.

I have written before about how the ancient Roman Republic shows us how bad precedents, once set, can destroy a democracy from within, and have recently taken great pains to discuss Donald Trump and the precedents he is setting in this context.  Without a doubt, Bernie Sanders is a far better human being than Trump and represents far less of a problem than Trump.  But that does not mean that Sanders and his supporters have not set some disturbing precedents that must be called out and dealt with in their own right, regardless of the many separate and often more alarming maladies with which Trump has infected our body politic.

For anyone who thinks I am being hyperbolic or paranoid, I point the reader to the Nevada Democratic Party’s state convention and Bernie Sanders’ response to his own supporters disruptions and death threats: it is truly a textbook example of the wider phenomenon I’ve identified as Sanders Derangement Syndrome; combined with the “penchant for extra-parliamentary behavior — indeed, actual violence” his supporters exhibited in Nevada, it’s not unreasonable to view Sandernistas as a serious threat with which one cannot reason.  They are indicating they will behave as political terrorists willing to use low-level violence to intimidate the majority whom they could not persuade into granting them concessions they did and could not earn democratically; with Nevada set up as a potential coming attraction for the Democrats’ national convention taking place in Philadelphia this July, Sanders himself is still vowing to take his fight to the national convention floor, potentially inflicting serious harm on the Clinton campaign and indirectly aiding Trump, the Republicans, and their chances of victory at a time when the fate of Western democracy for the foreseeable future may be at stake.

For years and especially since the so-called “Gingrich Revolution,” the right has falsely caricatured the left as a disruptive angry mob; now that disruptive angry left has finally arrived.  Call it whatever you want, but it’s real and it’s here and it is a problem that demands attention; we ignore it at our own and our collective peril, and perhaps why I have been so strident in calling all this out for what it is is because too many others are ignoring this serious problem, distracted by the antics of Trump and his flock, without whom this would be the darkest emerging trend of our current unfortunate and calamitous election cycle.

Sanders Political Terrorism

Americans should not forget what happened last month, when Sanders supporters entered the Democratic Party’s Nevada state convention disorganized and uninformed and caused a mini-riot when things (accordingly) didn’t go their way and went the way the voters of Nevada’s caucuses originally intended instead, with Sandernistas throwing things and even sending death threats to the head of Nevada’s Democratic Party; Sanders responded with a myopic, irresponsible, disgusting defense of their behavior, one unfit for a candidate of high office.  All this is discussed below, in Part I of II pieces on the drama in Nevada.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedInFacebookTwitter @bfry1981) June 7th, 2016

Chase Stevens / Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

HAIFA — The sad, upsetting episode surrounding Bernie Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters’ behavior on everything related to the recent Nevada Democratic state convention tell you a lot about who Sanders, his campaign, and his fans are and what they stand for, and who they are and what the stand for will be detailed in Part II.  But it is clear that, trailing far behind in both pledged delegates and votes in a system whose rules were known well in advance and failing to get what they wanted by winning enough votes, Sanders and his minority camp can be characterized as being generally non-violent, but sometimes slightly-violent, political terrorists, using the threat of creating mass disruption in Nevada and seemingly at July’s upcoming Democratic National Convention to try to extract political concessions from the Party using intimidation—essentially non-violent or lightly-violent terrorism—that they could not extract during the voting process.

Sanders… or Trump?  And a Sanders Delusion Syndrome

Many said that with the rise, fueled by angry self-entitled white people, of a delusional, populist candidate who is attempting to hijack one of America’s great parties and push it in a direction that is far away from where most Americans find themselves, we would see this party rip itself apart, erupt into chaos, and set up a messy convention fight for July, meaning it would be all but certain that this party would limp into the general election and lose to its rival.

Surprisingly, it was that people were possibly right about what might be happening now, but picked the wrong party.  Yes, months ago there was a strong sense that the Republicans might very well destroy themselves.  However, I realized and wrote early in March, after the final Republican debate, that it was clear the Republican Party “Establishment” had resigned itself to Trump, joining the plurality and perhaps even the eventual majority of their voters.  I later noted how all the talk of a contested/brokered convention was also fantasizing about a highly unlikely scenario.  In both pieces, I cautioned about how the GOP was clearly coming together, that Democrats could not afford to risk a protracted battle at a time when Clinton was clearly for some time going to be the nominee (and as of yesterday has the support of enough delegates to clinch the nomination, and primarily because far more Democrats preferred her over Sanders), and that Sanders and his supporters had the potential to do real damage to Clinton and the Democratic Party (thereby helping Trump) depending on how they chose to behave going forward.  While there were some recent indications that Bernie might be willing to reign himself in and do what’s best for the Party and the country, the most recent indicators are that he will not, and especially the incidents in Nevada and Camp Bernie’s reaction to them have me intensely worried that Bernie’s remaining role will be that of an unwitting, internal Democratic saboteur that just could be the difference between victory and defeat for Clinton and the Democratic party in November in what increasingly looks like will be a close race.

But we must go back to the night of the Nevada Democratic caucuses to understand why I feel this way and why this entire drama is extremely symptomatic of Sanders, his campaign, his supporters, and what I will be terming Sanders Delusion Syndrome in Part II (I’m being serious here, and not trying to just get a laugh: there is an extreme level of emotional reality denial joined with narcissism here that I think deserves to be singled out, much like Bush Derangement Syndrome and Obama Derangement Syndrome, in which partisans become obsessed with blaming those people or their policies for almost everything, or with making wild assumptions about their motives; the whole Nevada fiasco will present a springboard to be able to discuss the Syndrome later).

From the Nevada Caucuses to the Nevada State Convention

That night of the Nevada caucuses on February 20th, Clinton won the contest by a good chunk over 5% of the county precincts, in such a way that, per those results, she should have been on track to receive 20 of the 35 pledged delegates going to the Democratic National Convention to Bernie’s 15 of 35.  But the process only began there; the day of the caucuses, 23 delegates were awarded (13 to Clinton, 10 to Sanders) based directly on the results of the caucuses.  The remaining 12 pledged delegates were to be awarded in May, at the state convention, but before that, there were county-level conventions in April, and a whole lot of Clinton delegates (more than half) didn’t show up to the Clark County convention, bu far the most populous county and where Las Vegas is located, where most of the state’s delegates were up for grabs, and where Clinton beat Sanders handily in February.  Ultimately, though Clinton won the county by nearly 10 percentage points, Sanders’ delegates outnumbered Clinton’s by about 600 at the country convention in April.  Based on good turnout there for Sanders and bad turnout for Clinton at this contentious county convention, a new estimate had Clinton edging out Sanders only 18-17 in terms of pledged delegates statewide, since the side with the majority of the delegates at the state convention would be able to win two more delegates (7) than the other side (5) out of the remaining 12 based on rules as to how those delegates would be allocated during that convention.

It is important to note that Sanders, his team, and his supporters were happy to use technicalities involving county-level delegate turnout to potentially pick off delegates away national delegates from Clinton in a way that did not reflect the voting in the caucuses, but that this was also fair game within the rules.

The decisions about those delegates in question would only be made in May, at the state convention.

And this is where all hell broke loose.

Last-Minute, Disorganized Attempts to Change the Rules

Leading up to the May state convention, Sanders supporters tried in court to force the Nevada Democratic party to adopt changes to the rules for the convention, but a judge dismissed their lawsuit, saying that it wasn’t for the courts to adjudicate a political party’s internal disputes.  Specifically, there was confusion about a deadline for running for state office in time to be in power at the state convention; Sanders supporters who had missed the deadline set by the party alleged that the Party did not properly notify them and wanted to be permitted to run the day of the convention. The judge rejected this claim also, noting that the April 25th deadline was set at a meeting in which both Clinton and Sanders supporters were present, and that is was Sanders supporters who were responsible for the confusion because of incorrect information they had provided to their people, coming from an unadopted draft of the rules, not the actual rules.  The judge also more or less dismissed concerns that the Sanders people had that certain state party committee members were breaking the rules by choosing to extend their terms, noting that the convention could hold a voice vote to legitimize such moves and still be legal.  Sanders supporters were also mobilizing petitions to change the rules of the state’s Democratic Party and its convention.

Specifically, an e-mail chain highlights the disarray on the Sanders’ side: rather than taking information directly from the state party’s website, with the currently adopted rules posted and easily accessible, the wrong information was provided by Sanders supporters, as I noted above.  This meant that several people who wanted to stand for important convention and state party positions from the Sanders camp were ineligible to run because they had missed the required nomination deadline.  Erin Bilbray, a Sanders superdelegate, angrily wrote in an e-mail chain (subject line created by Bilbray: “Is this about ego or what is best for the party”) to the state’s party chairwoman, Roberta Lange, that “This is exactly how we disenfranchise voters,” but Lange calmly explained that it was supporters of sanders who spread the wrong information and that the established deadline would stand.

Lange also noted that Bilbray—a longtime party official—had had years to bring these and other concerns to her but were making her inquiries way too late in the game for the rules to be changed now: “I find your accusations about the SCC rules particularly concerning.   That section of our rules largely dates back to at least the 2008 convention and has been included in the 2010, 2012, 2014 and now 2016 rules.   You have demonstrated no objection until now despite serving on our e-board that entire time.”

Sanders supporters in particular wanted to change the rules to limit the power of Lange as party chairwoman, who, in terms set mostly in 2008, would have enormous discretion as to calling the voice votes and determining if more meticulous methods of measuring support at the state convention were necessary. Additionally, any amendments during the convention would need to be approvedby two-thirds of the delegates present, and with the Hillary delegates slightly edging out the Bernie delegates, this would not be a way for Sanders people to be able to enact their agenda.

The Sanders campaign later alleged that “At that convention the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place,” but the convention rules were given to both campaigns, publicly available weeks before the convention, and had basically been the same for the past three presidential election cycles.

Unconventional Convention Drama

The fine folks at PolitiFact issued a great-fact check regarding the convention, so much of this summary is adapted from their review.

The convention began forty minutes late, and Lange adopted by voice vote an acceptance of state convention delegate head count totals showing slightly more Clinton than Sanders supporters.  Sanders supports loudly protested this, ran towards the stage and Lange, flinging insults and vulgar curse words in a verbal assault directed and Lange and the Party officials.  Here (as in many other cases,as I have written before), Sanders supporters seem to have had trouble with arithmetic, because both the initial and final counts of delegates showed that more Clinton delegates were present than Sanders delegates.  So though Sanders supporters were apparently louder, Lange knew that there were more Clinton “yays” to adopt the count than Sanders “nays” and did her job correctly as charwoman in not allowing a louder minority of Sanders disruptors to dispute basic math about who had more supporters present.

When Sen. Barbara Boxer of California delivered an address on stage on behalf of Clinton, she was booed loudly.  “It was a scary situation,” she noted, “It was frightening. I was on the stage. People were six feet away from me.  If I didn’t have a lot of security, I don’t know what would have happened,” also maintaining that “I feared for my safety and I had a lot of security around me, I’ve never had anything like this happen.”

The Sanders campaign also incorrectly claimed that Lange did not accept valid petitions to change the rules at the convention, but Lange noted that some were received by the convention board, but that some of these did not receive the 20% of all the present delegates’ signatures that were required.  In addition, the period to consider petitions was during an opportunity for people to speak before the formal adoption of the rules.  Three Sanders supporters spoke during this period, including Bilbray, and none of them proposed amendments.  Once the rules were formally adopted, the Sanders people who were working on the petitions ceased their efforts, noting they had missed their window.

When the credential committee—evenly divided between Clinton and Sanders supporters—released its official report on delegates totals showing 1,695 Clinton delegates present leading 1,662 Sanders delegates—a 33-delegate margin—the Sanders people, knowing this report meant that the 2 delegates at stake would go to Clinton, meaning the final tally would be Clinton 20 pledged delegates, Sanders 15 pledged delegates, instead of 18-17 in favor of Clinton, more protestations began (again, basic math is a problem here for Team Bernie).

That 33-delegate lead for Clinton became a rallying point for the Sanders people because 58 of their delegates had been disqualified.  They came from a list of 64 names submitted by the Clinton campaign that said the people on the list were not even registered Democrats as of May 1st, the deadline for someone to register as a Party member and still be eligible to be a delegate at the state’s Democratic convention, or were otherwise questionable.  While 6 of the 64 people were deemed to be eligible, the credentials committee, which spent much of the convention investigating the list, could either not find name and address information for the remainder or the names belonged to people who were not registered as Democrats before the deadline (8 Clinton delegates were likewise disqualified).  Whether the Sanders people like it or not, simply bringing anyone they want to a convention because they support Bernie Sanders does not entitle them to be a delegate, no matter how much noise and disruption accompanies them.  But in this case, only 8 of the delegates the committee did not seat had actually shown up to the convention, so even if all the names on the list were accepted, Clinton would still have had 25 more delegates at the convention because of this turnout, and would therefore still have walked away with the 2 pledged delegates in question, meaning she would still have gotten 20 delegates to Bernie’s 15 heading into the national convention.

That’s right, Bernie supporters acted this inexcusably for a situation that would not have changed the result if they had gotten what they wanted.

Once again, we see supporters of Bernie Sanders who have no love for the Democratic Party feel they are entitled to have their say in the Democratic Party’s nomination contest even if they do not follow the established rules.

Which means all the drama was impotently silly, over a result that matched the voting from the February caucuses as intended.  But the drama got even worse.

Physicality and Death Threats

In fact, thing got so bad, Lange was even forced to take a security detail just to go to the bathroom.  Sanders supporters even pushed against the security barriers separating the crowd from the stage as they were screaming and using obscenities in a threatening manner, even throwing things (possibly even chairs) around room.

With so many Sander supporters being disruptive, confrontational, loud, and belligerent, and with the convention running hours past the time allotted by the hotel where the convention was being held (meaning local security details were about to end their shifts), local police and the hotel security officials told Lange that she had to end the convention immediately out of concerns that there would not be enough security to guarantee the safety of everyone there.  So the convention was then ended, to an absurd chorus from Sanders supporters claiming it was done so “illegally,” with Lange even being struck with an object thrown by a Sanders supporter while she was closing the convention.

But it did not stop there: there were death threats against Lange and her family, including a grandchild.  By Monday, she had “received more than 1,000 callssince Saturday night and as many as three text messages per minute. The threats, which came from men and women from across the country, were haunting and personal.”  The harassment has continued well after that, too.

Remember, this was over 2 delegates out of the minimum 2,383 delegates  required to win the nomination out of 4,765 total delegates, or less than 0.1% of the delegates needed to win and about 0.04% of the total delegates, 2 delegates which, if the actual results of the Nevada caucuses are given primary consideration, even putting the rules aside (which they weren’t), were supposed to go to Hillary, anyway.  Yes, Sanders supporters thought they would have an advantage based on the Clark County convention, but in the end, Clinton’s supporters were more organized at the state convention and there were more of them who were qualified who actually showed up, giving her the edge as far as those 2 national-level delegates were concerned, consistent with how actual voters voted during the caucuses.

Objectively, then, there is nothing for Sanders or his supporters to be angry about as far as the process or anything unfair happening, and the idea that they are mad at the party for failing to change the rules at the last minute to favor their side because they did not understand the rules and because they were not properly organized to be able to do so is absurd; they should be mad at themselves for being out-organized, and should be ashamed of themselves for explicitly trying to overturn and spit in the face of the will of the voters who caucused in Nevada.  At no point is there self-reflection from the bulk of Sanders supporters, from his campaign, from the candidate himself.  It seems that whenever the outcome that the Sanders campaign desires does not occur, Sanders and his people seek to blame everyone and everything else except themselves and their campaign and the fact that they did not get more votes than Clinton.

MSNBC

It is impossible to liken this to anything else other than a spoiled child throwing a temper tantrum when he doesn’t get what he wants, when, as an example, a kindergarten class voting for what movie to watch doesn’t pick the one he wants to watch, and he wants to watch now, so he screams and throws things at the TV…

Bernie’s Terrible Response

Getty

People outside the Bernie Sanders crowd largely expected Sanders to condemn his supporters’ wholly inexcusable behavior.  Instead, they were sorely disappointed, when initially he did not even respond to questions about his supporters’ behavior, and then eventually responded 3 days later with a written statement that to say fell far short of reasonable expectations would be an understatement.

Sanders’ statement was 490 words, consisting of 5 paragraphs and 4 additional bullet points.  The first two paragraphs attacked the Democratic Party and repeated many of the typical talking points of Sanders without addressing the issue of the threatening, intimidating, disruptive, and (admittedly low-level yetstill) violent behavior of his supporters.  In the third paragraph, he rejected the criticism of his campaign as “nonsense,” made a general condemnation of violence in a single sentence without actually acknowledging that any of this supporters had done anything wrong, and then began the next sentence with a “But…” and went on to highlight 2 incidents of violence directed at his campaign months ago (“shots were fired into my campaign office in Nevada and apartment housing complex my campaign staff lived in was broken into and ransacked”).  The 4th paragraph then continued with more criticism of the Democratic Party and then criticized the Nevada State Convention, followed by 4 bullet points that the Sanders campaign felt highlighted unfair treatment of it and their supporters at the state convention.  The final, 5th, short paragraph was entirely devoted to discussing further perceived unfair treatment in Nevada outside of the state convention.

It is important to realize how disgusting and pathetic this statement—largely andcorrectly condemned as self-serving and inadequate—was as a response to indisputably wrong and inappropriate conduct on the part of his supporters.  For one thing, literally 1 sentence out of more than 20, a sentence amounting to 28 words out of 490 total words (or about 5.7% of all words), dealt with condemning violence.  The following sentence that addressed violent incidents directed against his campaign took up 40 words, a little under 8.2% of the total words, and contained nearly 43% more words than the sentence condemning violence in general. It is also important to point out there is no comparing mass disruption at a state convention—clearly encouraged by a top Sanders campaign official named Joan Kato, formerly the Nevada State Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign and now and at the time she encouraged disruption the National Delegates Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign—to incidents that occurred in isolation, were not during an official political event, and had no clear ties to the rival campaign (though of course those incidents are also deplorable, just of a nature that is in these and other important ways different).  Not one word (0%) specifically or directly addressed the actual behavior of his voters.  But 403 words (over 82.2%) either defended his campaign or either explicitly or implicitly criticized the Democratic Party in general, the Nevada Democratic Party, or the Nevada Democratic Party’s state convention.

Furthermore, the 4 bullet points were riddled with falsehoods:

  • “The chair of the convention announced that the convention rules passed on voice vote, when the vote was a clear no-vote. At the very least, the Chair should have allowed for a headcount.”

As PolitiFact pointed out, however, the Chairwoman Lange was allowed large discretion within the rules to rule on voice votes, despite Sanders’ supporters failed attempts to change this.  Both the preliminary and final counts of delegates showed that Clinton delegates slightly outnumbered Sanders delegates, and just being louder and more obnoxious does not mean that your vote is given more weight.  The chair was aware that Clinton supporters were the majority and, during a convention that went about four hours past its allotted time, decided not to waste time on counting votes when the clear if slight edge was with Clinton supporters.  Again, this was entirely within rules that the Sanders campaign tried and failed to change.

  • “The chair allowed its Credentials Committee to en mass rule that 64 delegates were ineligible without offering an opportunity for 58 of them to be heard. That decision enabled the Clinton campaign to end up with a 30-vote majority.”

Again, Sanders and his people struggle with math; as explained, only 8 of the 58 were present, so that decision at that time to reject the 58 Sanders delegatesabsolutely did not “enable”  Clinton to have a 30-vote majority, which was actually a 33-vote majority; all that decision did was keep the margin at 33 votes instead of 25 votes, since, again, only 8 of the rejected delegates were present and would have been counted if that decision had not been made by the Committee.  It is possible that some of the other 58 rejected delegates who were actually registered Democrats by the May 1st deadline who were rejected because of unverifiable names/addresses could have provided that information if they had been present and may possibly have been counted.  By, just like Clinton’s campaign and supporters suffered from and wereresponsible for turnout problems at the Clark County convention, Sanders’ campaign and supporters here were responsible for their turnout problems and paid a price for that, which is Politics 101.  In any event, Hillary had more verifiably qualified delegates than Sanders at the state convention, hence the 2 delegates that were in serious question were awarded to her.  Pretty basic math, once again…

  • “The chair refused to acknowledge any motions made from the floor or allow votes on them.”

While it is not clear what motions specifically this is referring to, it is clear that the Sanders campaign tried multiple times and multiple ways to amend rules and failed to do so through the proper channels available to it; the convention at that point was there for specific business, not to engage in a long debate about procedure, especially considering the convention ran about four hours longer than anticipated; those debates had been occurring for months and the convention was the time to make decisions and move on. Furthermore, the chair was given full discretion, per the rules, to make decisions on what floor motions to consider, and the Sanders camp began the proceedings by being hostile, loud, disruptive and threatening, and by shouting vulgar curses, which is hardly conducive to creating an environment where the chair would feel inclined to expand debate.

  • “The chair refused to accept any petitions for amendments to the rules that were properly submitted.”

Again, as mentioned, the Sanders people failed to propose their amendments during the proper window to propose such amendments, even though 3 Sanders supporters spoke during this window.  And any amendments would have required a two-thirds threshold of approval, which would not have happened since the more than 3,300 delegates were almost evenly split.  And of the few petitions received, some did not even have the required number of signatures.

What is seen in these 4 bullet points is a combination of disregard for and ignorance of the rules, a feeling that the Sanders campaign should get what it wants regardless of the rules and regardless of the fact that they were a minority, not the majority, and a willingness to level serious accusations using false information and devoid of context, all whilein response to a series of incidents in which Sanders supporters behaved crudely, rudely, disruptively, obscenely, even violently.

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Sanders campaign.

The appropriate response—when any candidate’s supporters act out obscenely and with physical violence however mild, even if just throwing fruit—is to forcefully condemn such action in person and not just with a press statement.  Sanders did not even feel this merited a personal in-person response, and clearly felt he and his campaign and supporters were the victim here, even after Lange received death threats.  Furthermore, his statement practically justified his supporters’ misbehavior with its lopsided focus on their grievances rather than their actions.  When addressing violence, the proper primary responses is never “well, we were angry;” that goes for rape, murder, riots, you name it; and it goes for throwing things at state party chairwoman at a convention, too.  In many of those situations (admittedly not so much with rape) it is often important to understand the motivations of the people who engage in such acts.  But first and foremost, when the violent act occurs, the focus needs to be on the violence itself its victims, and how wrong it is.

If it was not for Trump lowering the bar of appropriate behavior to such unprecedented depths on the Republican side of the contest, this Nevada story would have gotten dramatically more attention, and Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters would have been far more emphatically condemned.  Such is one of the less talked about of the side-effects of the human political disaster that is Donald Trump: not only does his own behavior open the door to even more inappropriate action in the future, not only has Trump legitimized his own unprecedented types of behavior, but he has made it so that bad behavior that would normally be scrutinized intensely, but seems less outrageous than Trump’s antics, falls more under the radar, raising the acceptability-level of a whole host of other behaviors that do not rise to Trump-level outrages and desensitizing Americans and the media to these outrages.

In any event, the claims of Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, that party elites “hijacked the process on the floor” and were “ignoring the regular procedure and ramming through what they wanted to do” were rated simply as “false” by PolitiFact.

Trump Foreign Policy Speech Latest Example of GOP Bankruptcy in Foreign Policy Ideas, Competence

A detailed examination of Trump’s foreign policy speech from a few weeks ago reveals how little substantive thought or ideas the candidate, the Republican Party, and it voters have when it comes to foreign policy.  Contradictory and confusing, Trump showed little more than that he is good at delivering platitudes, which has been clear from the start of his campaign.  In today’s Republican Party, that is enough to win its nomination for the presidency, something that should worry us all.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981) 

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

EILAT and TEL AVIV — In what has become a constant occurrence throughout the 2016 Republican nomination contest, Trump’s own behavior has so lowered the bar as to what is considered “acceptable” that when he behaves in a way that is only mildly offensive as opposed to egregiously offensive, that when he speaks using prepared notes in a normal tone as opposed to yelling and rambling incoherently, people that are held to be respectable mainstream analysts are able to claim Trump is “presidential” and “serious” and is “improving” as a candidate.

Apart from Trump’s AIPAC speech, perhaps no better example of this has happened thus far during his campaign than his recent foreign policy speech.

Trump’s Elementary Mentality

For starters, Trump used the word “great” eighteen times in his address.  While it would be inane to expect the American people to elect someone of the linguistic abilities of Shakespeare, I myself remember how by middle-school, my instructors took great pains to teach us that using the same word over and over again was not to be desired, and that variety was an essential aspect of what is to be considered “good” communication.  Then again, as it has been pointed out, Trump tends to communicate at best at a middle-school level, and often at an elementary-school level; this is not some expression, but the result of sophisticated linguistic analyses.

Pretty early in his speech, Trump made clear that the cornerstone of his foreign policy would be to “put…‘America First.’”  I think it would be hard to accuse even the worst of our presidents of not acting in what they felt were the best interests of the United States, or to find one that acted on behalf of other nations primarily, and not on behalf of America; thus, while this is certainly a crowd-pleaser among some segments of the population, on a substantive level this “cornerstone” can only fairly be regarded as pointless, for while the segments of the population that appreciate such language feel that President Obama and others who don’t think like them are traitors who actively try to sabotage the United States in the interest of helping the Muslim Brotherhood or other apparently nefarious actors, such talk is simply inane and not even worth addressing… unless you are a mainstream Republican candidate for the presidency.

Another thing worth noting is how many times Trump repeats himself throughout.  That means even though Trump spoke at some length, the “content” of the speech was stretched pretty thinly throughout.

Dr. Trump Diagnoses U.S. Foreign Policy Problems

Trump then went on to assert that there are five main weaknesses in today’s American foreign policy,

The adaptability in the changing environment marks the success of any country. To be a more specific success depends on external foreign policy, security challenges, economic policies etc. but even in the area of weakness, no other country will ever dare to challenge the United States no matter how much ever they are strong in their military and political areas. View publisher site will tell you more about this.

only one of which was accurate, and even that one is not exactly something that can be controlled on America’s end directly.

1.) “First,” he began, “our resources are totally over extended,” and maintained that Obama’s actions that have weakened the economy have thus weakened the military and America’s power in the world.

What’s ironic about this criticism is that Obama, more than any president since the end of the Cold War, has retrenched, reducing and pulling back American commitments overseas, most notably in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, and cutting what was a historically and unnecessarily high defense budget in ways not seen since the end of the Cold War and more steeply than any time since the end of the Korean War.  If anything, Obama has clearly helped the U.S. to be lessoverextended.

POGO.org

As for the economy, since the peak lows during the Great Recession—the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression—Obama has overseen 74 consecutive months of net job creation (a record for any president), the Dow Jones and theS&P 500 stock indexes have more than doubled in value, the export-import trade deficit has fallen by 24%, America has risen to become the world’s number-one producer of both oil and natural gas, and the unemployment rate has been cut in half.  So Obama has clearly “outperform[ed] Reagan on jobs, growth, and investing.”  Now, this does not tell the full story, and there are aspects of the economy which are certainly still troubling, but by any measure these numbers are impressive, even when allowing for very real problems, and one can hardly claim that Obama is “weakening our economy” overall, as Trump claims.

Trump’s first major point can be dismissed, then.

2.) “Secondly, our allies are not paying their fair share,” and he expects them, especially fellow NATO members, to pay up, and pay up far more than they have been.

Trump actually has a point here, besides the U.S. only four other NATO membersare meeting their NATO defense-spending obligations.  But these decisions are not up to the Obama Administration, and while Obama could try to undiplomatically strong-arm close allies to do even more than the Obama Administration is already urging them to do, at a time when China and Russia are rising, when combating global terrorism requires better, not worse relationships, it is hardly a given that bullying our allies into paying more would be the best method.  And yet, Trump still has a point—EU nations and others that enjoy a high standard of living (including better education and healthcare than America) while America puts more effort into defending these same countries from potential foes like Russia, China, and North Korea than these countries expend themselves is definitely an imbalance that should be adjusted—but this has been the case long before Obama and Obama is not the one to blame for it.

3.) Then, “Thirdly, our friends are beginning to think they can’t depend on us. We’ve had a president who dislikes our friends and bows to our enemies, something that we’ve never seen before in the history of our country.”

Like his first claim, this statement of Trump’s is also very problematic.  As noted above, the Obama Administration does more than its fair share to contribute to European security, and Obama has led a regime of economic sanctions against Russia that have quite likely restrained the scope and intensity of its aggressiveness.  Europe, India, Russia, and China also very much wanted progress in improving the West’s relationship with Iran, and Obama led the wayin achieving a historic nuclear agreement between the world’s most powerful nations and Iran’s government on their nuclear program.  But Trump’s criticism focuses on this Iran deal, which he and many Republicans (and Netanyahu and many Israelis) myopically and erroneously label a “disastrous deal.”

Part of the argument that is made against this Iran deal is the claim that this deal makes Israel less safe, an absurd argument that is related to an absurd general criticism that many Republicans and many Israelis make in which, in Trump’s words, “President Obama has not been a friend to Israel.”  In fact, under Obama, Israel has seen a notable increase American in military aid and has been given more American military aid overall and on average per year than under any previous American president.  This aid includes the highly effective Iron Dome missile/rocket defense system, so effective in neutralizing Hamas’ and other militant groups’ rocket attacks against Israel.  Besides this, Obama has not been shy in using the diplomatic might of America to defend Israel, the U.S. both being the sole Security Council veto of a resolution critical of Israeli settlement building in early 2011 and using pressure behind to scenes to push against Palestinian diplomatic efforts.  As is obvious to many, doing right by Israel does not mean supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party’sagenda.  That Obama challenged Israel under Netanyahu to do what’s in its own interests is not “throwing Israel under the bus,” it’s being a true, honest friend.  So while Obama does not hand over to Israel (increasing) billions every year in military aid without letting Israel know that its occupation and expansion of settlements is inflammatory and self-destructive, this does not make him an enemy of Israel.

As for our other allies, Obama has been increasing America’s military presence in Eastern Europe to reassure allies wary of Russian aggression as well as increasing it in East Asia to reassure our Asian allies wary of aggressive Chinese moves.  So it is hard to find substantive examples of where we have let our allies down, though we may not always agree 100% with each other, as is the case with every American president.

And the whole fuss that people made over Obama “bowing” to foreign leaders wasselective outrage at best and misleading at worst.  Another silly non-issue.

Thus, Trump’s narrative here is also false.

4.) After that, we have “Fourth, our rivals no longer respect us.”

“No longer” in this case implies that America’s image in the past was better.  As objectively measured in reliable global public opinion surveys, this can be dismissed at least in comparing America under Obama to America under George W. Bush, where a clear general trend of global opinion has been an improvement in America’s standing under Obama.  The largest downward trend in recent decades was a sharp decline in global opinion from the years of Bill Clinton’s presidency to when George W. Bush was president.  In short, any recent major decline in the respect people have had for America has a strong association with Republican presidency of George W. Bush, not Democrats Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.  So Trump’s characterization of placing a supposed decline in the respect the world has for America as being associated mainly with Obama simply flies in the face of the facts.

While it is true that, in contrast to many other nations, China’s opinion of America has dipped slightly and Russia’s has tanked, this is due to the increasing divergence of interests in the South China Sea on one hand, and in Eastern Europe and Syria on the other.  In addition, Putin has based much of his power on using state-owned and social media to whip up propaganda, including anti-American sentiment.  In addition, Russia was happy to invade U.S. ally Georgiaeven when George W. Bush was president, and China’s recent assertiveness is a reflection of its recent growth in power more than anything else, fueled by its impressive economic growth in recent years.  And in both Russia and China, it could be argued that its people like America less because Obama is standing up to their governments’ aggression.

To be fair, the Obama administration’s single biggest blunder to its credibility—backing away in 2013 from the “red line” it set for Syria’s Assad—did not help with the respect America’s rivals have for America; but to define Obama’s presidency on this single incident, and to blame him for the chaos erupting around the world, from the Arab Spring to the refugee crises in Europe and the Middle East, is myopic and extremely American-centered.  If anything, anti-Americanism is fueled by decades-long American policies, including aggressive military action, support for Israel, and support for oppressive regimes during the Cold War, not specifically because of President Obama.

Under Obama, even after historic cuts, America’s military spending (#1 in the world) still dwarfs China’s (#2) and Russia’s (#4) combined spending, and that is a reality of power that both Russia and China respect whether they admit it or not.  In the end, tying our rivals’ assertiveness to Obama’s policies and personality at the expense of other factors is speculative at best, then.

Thus, we have another dubious assertion on the part of Trump.

5.) And “Finally, America no longer has a clear understanding of our foreign policy goals. Since the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union, we’ve lacked a coherent foreign policy.”

Perhaps that is because the world is much more complicated now as far as international relations.  Trump early in his speech vowed to create a “new foreign policy direction, one that replaces randomness with purpose.”  For Trump, “after the Cold War…our foreign policy began to make less and less sense.”  This involves the typical assumption that conservatives makes all too often about the American foreign policy and the current world in which that policy needs to be crafted to fit.  For American conservatives, the Cold War is remembered somewhat fondly: the Soviet Union was unquestionable our biggest problem, threat, and adversary, with no other nation even coming close; our foreign policy subordinated all else to the competition between our two nations and their competing ideologies of free-market democracy vs. state-run economic communism/socialism.  Our aims and objectives throughout the Cold War remained consistent and obvious: counter the Soviet Union by any means necessary, preferably but not limiting ourselves to the spread of free-market capitalism and democracy, at least in theory.  Conservatives fail to remember with much clarity that this often meant, in practice, promoting undemocratic and abusively oppressive regimes that opened their markets to us but opened as well as prisons and torture rooms for dissidents within their own borders.  It is in these very trade-offs of convenience that roots of both the 9/11 attacks and many of the problems in the world today lie.

So for Trump and Republicans, they are right on one thing: foreign policy was far more simply conceived and strategized in the Cold War, and was executed without the same amount of handwringing and (social) media attention that is the norm in our present world.  If people living in Vietnam could live-tweet and post camera-phone pictures and videos of American carpet-bombing raids and killings like those at My Lai, the Vietnam War would have been a very different experience with potentially very different outcomes.  In other words, simplicity did not necessarily lead to the best long-term results.  Of course, Trump presents a hubristic vision of the Cold War in which the U.S. “won big,” with Reagan the Great getting much of the credit (of course, in this view, the Berlin Wall coming down was a consequence of Reagan’s rhetoric, and internal Soviet dynamics and policies, decisions on the part of Gorbachev to essentially stand his forces down and to respect the will of the people—a hallmark of his entire term of leadership—are not considered or mentioned).

The solution to today’s foreign policy problems?  To return to the consistency and simplicity of our foreign policy approach of Reagan and the Cold War.  He engaged in a critique of what he called the “Obama-Clinton” approach to the world, notably repeating a number of repeatedly debunked assertions about Clinton’s response to the Benghazi attacks.

The problem is, the world is a much more complex place than the bipolar world of the Cold War; the current unipolar system, perhaps transitioning to a multipolar one, begs for a different approach, one not rooted in simplicity but in complexity.  A one-size-fits all “consistent” approach would very clearly be a poor fit for today’s more complex world.  This means that consistency is not to necessarily be pursued, as a nuanced and complex world requires different approaches for each new crisis.  Another problem is that while policy during the Cold War wasrelatively consistent compared with today’s foreign policy, it, too, was subject to nuance and departures and is hardly as simple as some make it out to be.

Trump also made clear that “We’re getting out of the nation-building business and instead focusing on creating stability in the world.”  This statement itself is a slap in the face of logic, as it is weakening, failing, and failed states that are among the greatest contributors to global and regional instability, including the fueling of terrorist movements like ISIS. It’s also a slap in the face to the most successful U.S. foreign policy ever: nation building in Europe with the Marshall Plan and with the American occupation of Japan after WWII are the main reasons why peace has reigned in Europe and East Asia ever since; without nation building, it is very likely that war, extremism, and chaos would have reigned instead.

Still, Trump seemed to articulate that the solutions to today’s crises are rooted in the strategy America had in the Cold War, a conflict that was quite different from the challenges faced by the world today and an ill-fit for as a toolbox for crafting an approach for today’s very different world.

Thus, Trump is wrong to call for a simple, unified approach to foreign policy; if anything, today’s more complex world requires inconsistency as each crisis and region requires solutions that defy them being lumped into a single box.

Dr. Trump’s Prescription to Make America’s Foreign Policy Great Again

Trump then laid out the pillars of his own “foreign policy”:

1.) “First,” he said, “we need a long-term plan to halt the spread and reach of radical Islam. Trump doesn’t really have a plan, as the lack of specifics in this speech demonstrate.  However, Obama has an approach that is set up quite well for longer-terms success, as I have pointed out before.  As part of this, he says “we must as a nation be more unpredictable.”  While there is merit in keeping our enemies guessing, too much unpredictability will unnerve our allies as well.  Either way, Trump has far from demonstrated that he has any competent, detailed ideas for dealing with ISIS, while Obama’s strategy, which Trump criticizes profusely without even understanding it, is very sound.

2.) Then, “Secondly, we have to rebuild our military and our economy.” This has been covered, already, and this statement is simply nonsense.  See above.

A.) After that, either as an aside or as a separate point, Trump says “We must even treat…[our veterans] really, really well and that will happen under the Trump administration.” There’s no denying the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) had and still has serious problems, and there’s no denying that the Obama Administration should have addressed these problems with far more energy than it did.  But the simple fact of the matter is that the lion’s share of the VA’s problems go back many years, and Obama inherited a situation that was a ticking time bomb, most notably from the fact that the Bush Administration fought two significant wars over nearly a decade and did not prepare the VA for what was going to obviously be a serious increase in the number of veterans needing treatment; as soon as the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions began, expansion of funding, staffing, and support for VA services should have been among the first steps undertaken and should have been further expanded as the wars grew longer and more costly.

3.) “Finally,” Trump continues, “we must develop a foreign policy based on American interests.” Again, going back to our earlier commentary, this almost doesn’t even need to be addressed, so silly is this statement.

Still: Trump engaged in a disorganized and meandering explanation of what this means.  He cites the Clinton years of the 1990s as a time of policy in which we were not acting in our interests based on a few isolated but not insignificant attacks Trump cited as somehow indicative of American policy being totally off -course, even though under Clinton we enjoyed an unprecedented jobs boom and employment growth, helped to bring stability to Europe several times by ending two wars there, and had a better relationship with Russia than any during any other American president’s administration, with the arguable exception of FDR.  Trump then made points he already made about the Middle East.  He then proceeded to spout a series of vague generalities on improving relationships with Russia and China and about the use of military force.

For Trump, success relies on having a “disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy.”  This coming from a candidate whose entire behavior on the campaign trail has been anything but.  Even within the speech, he seems unaware of the apparent contradictions (e.g., calling for stability while casting aside the role of nation building, calling for closer alliances while also threatening to weaken them).  He then repeated yet again some of his earlier points about the Middle East and the U.S. economy, and took additional jabs at NAFTA, tying all this into putting “America First” again, and vowed to bring in new and different voices into the foreign policy machine in order to do so.  Additionally, he also had this very contradictory statement to make:

“Finally, I will work with our allies to reinvigorate Western values and institutions. Instead of trying to spread universal values that not everybody shares or wants, we should understand that strengthening and promoting Western civilization and its accomplishments will do more to inspire positive reforms around the world than military interventions.”

In a broad sense, basic Western values—democracy, human rights, equality, transparency—have been spreading, and even where they are not present are generally sought by people in the face of their intransigent governments.  Battles over religion and gender are particularly difficult, but do not negate the fact that many “Western” values since WWII and especially after the Cold War are approaching a universal quality, especially as embodied by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Trump correctly maintains that these values should not be spread at gunpoint, but then calls for “promoting Western civilization” even as he criticizes the idea that we should “spread universal values that not everybody shares or wants.”  So in the same paragraph, Trump is confusing as to whether or not he thinks the West should promote its values, even as he is clear about not using force to do so, while at the same time asserting he would be firmer than Obama about use-of-force red lines, or “a line in the sand,” as Trump put it.  In fact, this paragraph sums up his speech nicely: full of different ideas and talking points that sound good alone, but that Trump failed to connect coherently in this address and articulated in ways that were often either confusing at best or contradictory at worst.

Trump’s Speech: A Perfect Representation of GOP “Foreign Policy”

Several Republican foreign policy bigwigs, falling pretty easily for Trump’s plummeting expectations game, including the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker and George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, praised the speech.  Former Republican Speaker of the House (and possible Trump vice presidential running mate) Newt Gingrichalso praised Trump’s speech, calling it “very serious” and “presidential.”

Seth Wenig/AP

But this Republican Party is a party that has been devoid for some time of substantive and serious ideas about foreign policy, which is a reality that was on display beyond any reasonable doubt (and not for the first time) as numerous Republican presidential candidates showed how out of their depth they were back in a December debate focused on foreign policy and security.  A few months before that, we had the Benghazi hearing featuring Clinton, and well before that, another case in point is George W. Bush’s presidency.  Trump’s foreign policy speech—and candidacy—is only the latest sign that the Republican Party and most of its voters are not serious or substantive.

Republicans vs. Syrian Refugees

Once again it is Red v Blue—Fear v Moral Strength, Myth v Math—if and when a well financed fanatic wants to come to the USA—they will not have to trek through a thousand miles of Siberian tundra, disguised as a flesh-less Kurd, when they can simply catch a plane or a boat. The fanatics have financial resources. If we treat the refugees with contempt and inhumanity, the hunger, desperation the being abused—will create a whole new brand of enemy. I am not arguing that all refugees should be given a permanent home in the west, I believe that other solutions should also be invested in. But the more fearful and bigoted we get, the happier and more numerous and motivated our enemies become. Meeting hate with hate cannot possibly have a good outcome. That is a mathematical fact. Patrick Andendall

Republicans, predictably after the Paris attacks, have turned on Syrian refugees as the latest group from which they can arouse fear in the American people to Republicans’ political benefit. Buying into this fear would be ignorant and stupid, and the American refugee resettlement program already has a long track record of thorough vetting and successful resettlement. Ignore Trump and go with Hillary on this one: welcome more Syrian refugees to America.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981) November 24th, 2015

Carolyn Kaster / AP

One of the most annoying things about today’s Republican Party is that they constantly disregard core American values in favor of inventing their own, often creating new ideology based on the exclusion and denigration of others. The Republican campaign season began with an assault on illegal immigrants; now, the Republicans have set their sights Syrian refugees, unleashing their latest broadsides on them. While Republicans currently fit into a strong nativist tradition in American history, this tradition has always contradicted the core founding principles of the United States of America and it is remarkable how even in 2015 those espousing such principles do not see how much their ideas contradict the core spirit of America. The contrasting tradition of bringing in wave after wave of immigrants, and integrating them as unique parts of America, helping us to grow and change in exciting and productive ways, is a much stronger tradition. Steve Jobs of Apple fame was a Syrian migrant’s orphan, and he is but one in a long list of famous American immigrants, from famed Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Andrew Carnegie and Albert Einstein.

It is amazing but also predictable how immediately after the Paris attacks, Republicans began to use that tragedy as prop for their anti-immigrant/refugee shenanigans. There are three main tracks of this phenomenon: Republican presidential candidates, Republican, governors, and Republicans in Congress, and each track deserves a discussion.

The Presidential Candidates

As for the presidential campaign, none of the candidates on the Republican side have come out in favor of taking in Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks, with the exceptions of Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz; Bush wants to help refugees in general but to “focus” on Christian refugees, with the rationale that they in particular do not have a place to go in the Middle East (not entirely accurate but there are not many places they would be welcome there), but he would not exclude Muslims (this makes him, to his credit, the only recognizable—sorry Jim Gilmore—GOP candidate who allowing for the possibility right now of settling Muslims refugees from Syria, even if one can view his desire to concentrate on Christian refugees with apprehension); Cruz has indicated that only Christian Syrians should be allowed into the United States. The rest of the pack—Dr. Ben Carson, Govs. Chris Christie, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, and the recently exited Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Sens. Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum—much like with the debate on immigration, seems to be pulled in a certain direction by leading contender Donald Trump, with he and all of them saying a loud “NO!” to Syrian refugees. Most seem to be doing so on the grounds of questioning the Obama Administration’s ability to competently screen refugees, but some seem to be suggesting significant numbers of refugees would be terrorists wishing us harm. Trump let it be known he would send them back out of the country if elected, and Dr. Carson even compared Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs.” And, sadly, some of these candidates were for helping Syrian refugees before the attacks in Paris.

In contrast, Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Gov. Martin O’Malley both want to bring in even more (up to 65,000 next year) refugees than the 10,000 Obama is planning to accept in 2016, and Bernie Sanders is also for taking in refugees; just another of many clear contrasts between the Republican and Democratic candidates this political season.

Republican Governors

Since 2012, not even 1,900 Syrian refugees have been settled in the United States. As for November 16th, twenty-five Republican governors had vowed to bar Syrian refugees from—or are against any entering—their states. This number has increased slightly since then as of November 19th, to include thirty-one governors of thirty-one states, thirty of which have Republican governors. Dr. Ben Carson even tweeted solidarity with the governors not taking in Syrian refugees by showing a map of all the states saying no to taking in Syrian refugees but by showing a map that was, hilariously, disturbingly, and unsurprisingly to many, filled with mistakes and geographical errors:

Ben Carson follows suit with the rest of the Stupidparty: ban that which America stands for.

Thus, basically, America’s Republican governors are pretty much against settling refugees in their states.
Republicans in Congress

Congress also seems intent on working against Obama’s program to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. While some Congressional Republicans are calling for harsher measures or are using inflammatory rhetoric (one Alabama Republican Congressman claimed Syrian refugees were coming to the U.S. for a “paid vacation” and to mooch off of American welfare programs), the Republican-led House recently passed bill with some Democratic support that calls for reforms to increase scrutiny of refugees and the security procedures designed to vet them. It does not explicitly call for a long pause or a stoppage of the refugee resettlement program. But its critics contend that the changes are so sweeping and cumbersome that the process of implementing these changes would de facto result in a cessation of the program for some time, and that this is the very intent behind the legislation. This is why the White House announced that Obama would veto this legislation if the Senate passed a version of it. As it stands, the refugee application process is the hardest way to get into the United States, and can take up to two years; this leads me to agree with those who think that perhaps the Republican-led effort to make this process even more difficult is, at least in part and in the minds of some of its proponents, an effort to de facto stop the admission of Syrian refugees altogether (this is not unlike what was regrettably done concerning Jewish refugees hoping to come to America in the WWII-era; Anne Frank and her family were denied entry as refugees by the U.S.). Though more benign than simply barring Syrian refugees, the House’s Republican-dominated plan elongating and intensifying an already thorough process would seem to have the same effect as an outright ban, at least in the short-term future.
Helping Syrian Refugees: as American as Apple Pie

Let’s be clear: denying most or all Syrian (Muslim) refugees passage into the United States would just be cruel, immoral, irrational, and bad policy. The current screening process is very thorough and it can take up to two years to get into the U.S. as a refugee, hardly a good timeline for committing terrorism, hence the 9/11 hijackers came in as tourists and students, not refugees. Refugees are not committing terrorism in the U.S. these days and are, if properly screened, a very minimal threat. I’m not going to write here that it is the burden the U.S. to take in the most Syrian refugees; others should be shouldering that burden (I’m talking to you, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the rich Gulf, and it was Europe, not the U.S., which drew the disastrous borders of the modern Middle East at the end of WWI that still cause so many problems today, with France becoming the occupying power in Syria from 1919-1946). But I not only support Obama’s modest proposals to take in Syrian refugees, I support Hillary Clinton’s proposal to take in a lot more refugees than Obama is proposing. Republican efforts to shut the door to the some of the world’s most vulnerable people fleeing a deadly, brutal, and long civil war is hardly America taking a brave stance to help those facing death and persecution; rather, it is cowardly and pathetic. In general, three out of four Syrian refugees are women and children, and only two percent of Syrian refugees settled thus far in the U.S. are single men of military fighting age. Despite Republican claims, the current and thorough system actually has a very good track record and the idea that the Obama Administration would sloppily allow large numbers of terrorists into the U.S. as refugees is unfounded.

George Takei—Captain Sulu of Star Trek fame—was unjustly interned as a little boy along well over 100,00 other Japanese-American immigrants and citizens during WWII, thus, when he cautioned his Facebook followers that Americans needed to avoid letting the tragedy of the Paris attacks wrongly turn into fear, paranoia, and mistreatment of refugees and immigrants, he was speaking from experience.

Helping people in need is supposed to define us when we Americans are at our best. The poem written in honor of and engraved inside the base of the Statue of Liberty (a gift from France) reads: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” As Hillary Clinton exclaimed passionately to a crowd of supporters recently, “We can’t act as though we’re shutting the doors to people in need without undermining who we are as Americans and the values we have stood for!” Shutting the door to Syrian refugees, mostly women and children, as far too many Republicans want to do, simply plays into ISIS’s propaganda that the U.S. is anti-Muslim and that we are in a civilizational war to the death against the Islamic Ummah (global community). Integrating the refugees of Syria seeking a better life into the American fabric will only make us stronger and render ISIS propaganda as impotent as it is inaccurate, as Muslims fleeing ISIS oppression who settle into America and prosper as Muslims who are free to worship their religion the way they see fit, free from the terror of suicide bombings, forced sexual slavery, and beheadings, is a vision of hope that ISIS can never offer its followers and is among the best possible counters to ISIS’s destructive ideology. Yet once again, by talking tough with little thought for the real world consequences of their actions, Republicans are making us less safe, not safer, by empowering our enemies and their extremism.

The Irrelevant Second Amendment Argument (With Video)

There are two ways of tackling this subject: My way or “Brian’s” way.

All of us have our own way of everything, including financial management, though we are not experts. But, sometimes its good to take some advice from known people. Like the cryptocurrencies that are in trend, which is going to give your great returns in short span of time. There are many in the same industry, but why not try this out? A genuine and reliable software!

My way is designed to be understood virtually immediately—it is designed to be irrefutable and easily accessible to Stupidparty disciples and those of us who need to put such people in their place, whilst also being fully aware of the fact that trying to explain the academic argument, trying to explain the real history, is a bit like flogging a dead horse. But an academic, a true Gnostic, some one who wants an in depth understanding of the relevance of the second amendment as it relates to today—well they will truly appreciate Brian’s  enlightening discussion. Patrick Andendall

My Way:

Second amendment sloganeering and bumper stickers. This is dead simple a) The 2nd amendment is not unambiguous, plus there remains controversy over the precise grammar that impacts its intentions, b) the Constitution by definition changes every time the Supreme Court makes a ruling, and there have been such rulings and most importantly c) if any action taken by the Government is unconstitutional—then that is why we have the Supreme Court in the first place—so what the hell are they worried about. Like all things Stupidparty—it is simplistic sloganeering to rile up an uninformed fearful base.

The Second Amendment is getting out of hand.

Brian’s Way:

By Brian E. Frydenborg  LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (you can follow me there at @bfry1981)

The individual right to keep and bear arms as part of the state militia is guaranteed by the Second Amendment. What does that have to do with today’s citizenry? Nothing.

Perhaps the most depressing thing about the gun-control debate in the United States, apart from the continuous stream of deaths that still have yet to merit not even a modestly serious policy response, is that for as many times as the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—part of what is termed the Bill of Rights—is invoked, nearly as many times there is a total lack of historical context of that very amendment presented alongside. Into this vacuum all sorts of creative reasoning has flooded, to such a degree that the highest law courts and judges of the land, too, have fallen to such erroneous thinking that ignores the history and tradition from which the Second Amendment emerged.

J. G. A. Pocock correctly notes that “[i]t is notorious that American culture is haunted by myths, many of which arise out of the attempt to escape history and then regenerate it,” and the Second Amendment is a textbook example of this phenomenon.

J. G. A. Pocock correctly notes that “[i]t is notorious that American culture is haunted by myths, many of which arise out of the attempt to escape history and then regenerate it,” and the Second Amendment is a textbook example of this phenomenon. The roots of this amendment go back to Saxon culture in the era of the Roman Empire. When Rome decided to withdraw from its provinces in the British Isles early in the fifth-century to consolidate its withering power in the rest of the West, the Saxons, Angles, (from which England got its name) and other Germanic tribes eventually filled the power vacuum the Romans left. The most visible presence of Roman governmental authority had been the army, the professional, standing Roman legions that had been stationed in Britain. Security after their withdrawal became nonexistent, but the Saxons, after a bloody conquest, imported a tradition of theirs from mainland Europe with them: that of the fyrd, as the U.S. Army’s official history explains. In this system, all adult males had to engage in military training, and, in times of war, would be expected to fight. This tradition continued throughout English history. The English freemen, like the Saxons before him, were given the right to bear arms as part of a contract in which their responsibility was to train in their local militia and defend the realm when necessary. This part is important: there is no tradition in English history of the local peasants having an institutionalized right to keep and bear arms without the responsibility of being part of an organized militia which would act to defend the land when needed; the right to bear arms does not exist without the militia, and the militia does not exist without the peasants being trained for and participating in a militia.

There is no tradition in English history of the local peasants having an institutionalized right to keep and bear arms without the responsibility of being part of an organized militia which would act to defend the land when needed; the right to bear arms does not exist without the militia, and the militia does not exist without the peasants being trained for and participating in a militia.

Fast forward centuries later to the establishment of English colonies in the New World, in particular the colonies that would form the United States of America’s original Thirteen. Most of these colonies were founded by the English, and those that were not came under English rule long before the American Revolution. The state militias were merely the continuance of the colonial militias after America broke off from Britain by declaration in 1776, by treaty in 1783. One has to think of the massive technological changes that occurred between 1791, when the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution, and today, and then it should be obvious that the same system is not in place. For one thing, back then almost the whole population lived in the countryside, not cities, where there were lots of dangerous animals and pesky French, Spanish, and British troops prowling around, plus many Native Americans tribes that did not like their land being taken from them. This militia system made perfect sense in such a physical environment for almost all Americans except for a tiny minority in coastal cities lived in rural areas and on the frontier. It also made sense especially when one considers that many of the founders had a philosophical opposition to a large standing army, keeping in mind the warlords of republican Rome and the more recent example of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army which had not helped the brief experiment of England with republicanism in the mid-seventeenth-century. Theoretically, an army composed of state militias, tied to their localities, would be harder for a tyrant manipulate. Yes, some units of the Massachusetts colonial militia have survived in some form as they morphed, along with other units, into the U.S. National Guard, the direct descendant of the state militia system referenced in the Second Amendment. Yes, all adult males do register for the draft via the Selective Service. But registration is generally all that is required for adult males except for a few drastic eras in U.S. history. And the average men today do not regularly train, and are not expected to keep and bear arms of their own. Even those in the military, Guard or otherwise, do not own the weapons they will use in combat and cannot keep them in their homes. Even just by 1865, the state militia system, which evolved dramatically during the course of the four years of the Civil War, bore little resemblance to the system referenced in the Constitution, and after the first two decades of the twentieth-century, only a few vestiges of that system nominally existed. From WWI forward through the Vietnam War, the federal government brought in, trained, and equipped the vast majority of troops that fought, not the National Guard, which today is only a small part of the overall U.S. Military. The average adult man is not the only one, then, in the U.S. that has nothing to do with the National Guard; the average U.S. man in a military uniform has nothing to do with the Guard either and is part of a force structure that is only supplemented by the Guard. That should not, of course to discount the brave service of Guard units that served in Afghanistan and Iraq, or those that helped after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. But the U.S. Military today is overwhelmingly a professional, fully federalized, standing army. Even the Guard itself is composed of units structured in such a way that they bear virtually no resemblance in practice (even if they may in spirit) to the state militias referenced in the Second Amendment when it was written in 1789 and adopted in 1791.

Rabid supporters of the Second Amendment and their refusal to accept modern times for what they are.

As far as the arms that need to be “kept” and “borne,” if you’re in the Guard today you cannot bring a personal firearm you keep and own as an individual to bear while on active Guard duty. No, the weapons that will be borne into battle are owned by the U.S. Government, are kept on base, and not taken home or owned by the Guardsmen. Effectively, modern Guard practice destroys the traditional relationship between keeping and bearing arms and wholly separates those acts from service in the militia. In the end, all three major components of the Second Amendment—keeping, bearing, and serving in the militia—are transformed by modern Guard practice into relics from a past era that do not function or work together at all in the way they did in the late 1700s. Both its rights and the duties might still exist on paper, but they do not exist at all in practice and they apply to no one since no one keeps their own arms to bear in the capital M “Militia.”

The year after the Second Amendment was adopted as part of the Bill of Rights, Congress passed a law requiring all fit adult males to enroll in the militias, with each man required to provide his own basic equipment…Within months of its adoption by the states, the right to keep and bear arms as part of the militia allowed by the Second Amendment was coupled with the individual’s responsibility to enroll in the militia and to provide his own basic equipment, including his weapon, for his training and service in the militia.

The year after the Second Amendment was adopted as part of the Bill of Rights,Congress passed a law requiring all fit adult males to enroll in the militias, with each man required to provide his own basic equipment. Though enforcement of this law would prove very problematic, it is very important to realize how important the passage of this law is to understanding Congress’s conceptualization of the Second Amendment as Congress passed at the time it was passed: within months of its adoption by the states, the right to keep and bear arms as part of the militia allowed by the Second Amendment was coupled with the individual’s responsibility to enroll in the militia and to provide his own basic equipment, including his weapon, for his training and service in the militia. The point is this: the right does not exist without the responsibility. This goes back to the Saxons and early English, where this tradition began. This is not merely conjecture: the entire concept of citizenship in the late eighteenth-century minds of the Founding Fathers, almost universally educated in the Greek and Roman classics, was the same of republican Rome, Founding Fathers’ inspirationfor a republican government of checks and balances and divided government from which they created the American government and U.S. Constitution. In the ancient Roman republic, the Roman concepts of a right and citizenship are counterbalanced by the concepts of responsibility and duty: a right as a citizen is enjoyed because the responsibility of duty is accepted. And in today’s system, the responsibility to keep and bear arms in order to be of service to the militia is not a responsibility for all fit adult makes; in fact, it’s the responsibility of virtually no one.

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Today, the Second Amendment is still on the books. It reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It is a clear reference to an existing right, longstanding in English tradition going back to fyrd and the individual’s roles, responsibilities, and rights in reference to the militia. Does that mean that there is not a right to bear arms for an individual person, who today is almost certainly not in a capital M “Militia?” That is an interesting question and an interesting debate. The Second Amendment clearly references an absolute right, one that is part of a clear and explicit pre-existing tradition going back to Late Antiquity.  The mainly English colonists-turned Americans would have generally understood this and the reading of the Second Amendment to them would have been clear, especially to the educated Founding Fathers, many of them lawyers who would have had to have known about English law, the legalities of this tradition of militia service, and the rights and responsibilities this service entailed.  They would also have been familiar with Lord William Blackstone‘s landmark Commentaries on the Laws of England, one of the great legal treatises in the history of the English-speaking world; published in four volumes from 1765-1769 in decade before the American Revolution, it was well known in its day and was the main source of knowledge on English law on the American continent both in the years before and for many decades after the American Revolution (one American printing of the fourth volume was pre-ordered by sixteen of the fifty-six future signers of the Declaration of Independence, including John Adams, and by the father of John Marshall, one of the great Supreme Court justices of early United States history.  In the very first part of this massive work, Lord Blackstone made clear that there were two types of rights for Englishmen in English common law: absolute rights and auxiliary rights, the latter subject to limits and regulation, and the individual right to bear arms in self-defense was explained as one of the key auxiliary rights of Englishmen:

THE fifth and laft auxiliary right of the fubject, that I fhall at prefent mention, is that of having arms for their defence, fuitable to their condition and degree, and fuch as are allowed by law. Which is alfo declared by the fame ftatute 1 W. & M. ft. 2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due reftrictions, of the natural right of refiftance and felf-prefervation, when the fanctions of fociety and laws are found infufficient to reftrain the violence of oppreffion.

And, again, this is not some new concept imposed upon English law by Blackstone; it is simply him putting into writing what had already been understood for generations after generation.  Thus, whether on one side of the Atlantic or the other, Englishmen in the era of Blackstone—the same era as the American Revolution and the drafting of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Second Amendment—would have understood that there were two sets of rights related to the keeping and bearing of arms: an absolute right as part of the ancient English militia tradition and coupled with the responsibility of militia service, and a second auxiliary personal right to bear arms for self-defense but subject to various conditions and regulations.  But in the context of today’s society, the debate about an individual right to bear arms is one about which the Second Amendment, and the Constitution, is silent, as they only discuss the absolute militia right, not the auxiliary personal right. Ironically, those “militia” groups which are such religious believers in their concept of the Second Amendment are not even referenced in it since they are not the actual “well regulated Militia” referenced in it. Sure, groups like the NRA and the Republican Party are among the uninformed, and the Supreme Court has recently ruled in favor of a very different interpretation of this. But this is the same body that ruled free African-American men were not U.S. citizens just before the Civil War. Legal does not have to mean something is right in the sense of being correct (just think about slavery), and the rulings of ideologically driven justices may be law but are hardly accurate when they wholly ignore the history and tradition described above. It’s time to leave the Second Amendment out of the current policy debate as it is, clearly, irrelevant, despite modern distortions and inventions.