Bernie Sanders’ big test: Can he learn from his Netroots Nation conflict with Black Lives Matter activists?

The 73-year-old socialist got where he is by sticking to his guns. But his righteousness stunts his political reach

Bernie Sanders’ big test: Can he learn from his Netroots Nation conflict with Black Lives Matter activists?

Desiree Griffiths demonstrates at a Miami protest, Dec. 5, 2014; Bernie Sanders (Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky/Carolyn Kaster)

Sen. Bernie Sanders is who he is: a 73-year-old socialist inured to being told he’s wrong, politically, who’s developed an ironclad hold on the conviction that he’s right. So it’s not surprising that he’s resisting learning lessons from his early campaign stumbles at winning support from African Americans and Latinos.

If you’re a Sanders fan, part of what you like about him is that he sticks to his guns. In fact, Sanders fans are a lot like him: used to being on the political margins, they’ve learned to take refuge in the knowledge of their righteousness, which eases the sting of being perpetually in the political minority.

Unfortunately, the mutually reinforcing self-righteousness of Sanders and his supporters is a liability for his promising presidential campaign. Sanders has a genuine problem with the Democratic Party’s African American and Latino base, and no amount of insisting that class supersedes race will change that. I wrote about it last month, and got a ton of pushback from Sanders backers. Then came the conflict at Netroots Nation on Saturday, where Sanders was heckled by Black Lives Matter protesters.

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#BlackLivesMatter co-founder warns presidential candidates: ‘We will shut down every single debate

[This is another in series on electoral politics. In the US, every four years, presidential elections are theatrically staged, designed to confuse and disrupt popular movements against class exploitation and racial oppression, and other democratic movements. The elections claim to be the way democracy works, and people must vote for politicians to represent their interests. Whoever wins, the people’s interests have been lost in the shuffle, and their independence and political initiative and action has been suffocated or destroyed. As the 2016 election candidacies begin to control the political imaginations of millions, a fight-back begins to grow.  In this report of a Black Lives Matter protest at a Bernie Sanders campaign event, a BLM leader says no politician deserves automatic support (but leaves open the option for later). — Frontlines ed.]

Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City (Shuttershock)

Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City (Shuttershock)

“He couldn’t take 15 more minutes of the heat,” Cullors said of Sanders in an interview on This Week in Blackness, making reference to the senator ending his appearance as demonstrators at the event walked out en masse.

Hollywood’s political deafness: What Cosby, “Selma” and Hebdo reveal about white liberal consciousness

 [Hollywood’s icons, blathering liberal mantras, reveal the bankruptcy of US’ liberal culture in addressing any of the critical issues of the day. — Frontlines ed.]

Hollywood's political deafness: What Cosby, "Selma" & Hebdo reveal about white liberal consciousness

George Clooney at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards, Jan. 11, 2015. (Credit: AP/Paul Drinkwater)


 Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015

Race and gender politics at this year’s Golden Globes took an unexpected range of twists and turns. First, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler shamelessly mocked the many rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Given that there has been a significant strain of public resistance among some African-Americans to the racial politics of a group of white women dethroning a powerful black man through the accusation of rape, Fey and Poehler’s bit was ballsy, to be sure. But the reality is that Cosby most probably did drug and/or assault many women, white and black. And in the absence of a day in court, he, at the very least, deserves our highest ridicule. It is he, not we, who has “destroyed his legacy.”

Then many of the award winners took especial care to express their solidarity with the people of Paris, still reeling over last week’s terrorist attacks that killed 17 French citizens, including 12 staff members of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine. Many actors and actresses including George Clooney, Kathy Bates and Helen Mirren displayed “Je Suis Charlie” signs and pins on the Red Carpet and during the awards. Clooney even took a moment to mention the massive solidarity marches that took place all over the world on Sunday to honor the victims.

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Anger Grows Against Hong Kong crony capitalists and China’s capitalists alike

Economic Inequality Underlies Hong Kong Protests

Over the past week, the protesters in Hong Kong have focused on well-defined political demands, with full democratic elections and the resignation of Chief Executive C.Y. Leung at the top of the list. But protesters have also been driven to the streets by a variety of longstanding grievances, many of which stem from the economic inequality which has built up in Hong Kong society, putting the city at the top of The Economist’s “crony-capitalism index,” or list of “countries where politically connected businessmen are most likely to prosper.” The gini coefficient, which measures the gap between rich and poor, is at the highest levels ever for Hong Kong, according to a 2013 report from Bloomberg:

Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, rose to 0.537 in 2011 from 0.525 in 2001, the government said last June. The score, a high for the city since records began in 1971, is above the 0.4 level used by analysts as a gauge of the potential for social unrest. 

Hong Kong’s close business ties to mainland China, especially since the handover in 1997, have exacerbated these inequalities. But as the recent protests show, economic issues are quickly becoming political for residents of Hong Kong who are missing out on the boom. Neil Gough reports for the New York Times:

China is grappling with a political problem in part because Hong Kong is dealing with an economic one. Underlying the current unrest in Hong Kong, an affluent city of 7.2 million that was a British colony for 155 years before it was returned to China in 1997, is a widening wealth gap. Continue reading


[An important statement by the organization of migrants from Turkey in Europe, issued 16 August 2013. — Frontlines ed.]
The attacks against the masses who gathered on the squares in Egypt in defiance of the military coup have turned into a massacre. Hundreds of people who took to the squares against the fascist military coup are killed, thousands are injured during the attack. And while these brutal attacks continue with all its barbarism, state of emergency was declared in many cities in Egypt.
As the deepening contradictions in Egypt are not being resolved, they have put the country in a more complex situation. As is known, the people of Egypt now more impoverishing and suffering from more repression have toppled the Hosni Mubarak regime with the rebellion started two years ago. However the spontaneous peoples uprising lacked revolutionary leadership and the  Egyptian army attempting to control the uprising, supervised the elections and the Muhammed Mursi administration came to power. As it is its nature, also this administration in its core continued the rule of the previous administration. Upon this the masses have risen again.
Following this uprising the army was once more activated to prevent the growing popular opposition to flow into a revolutionary stream. With this aim, the coup on behalf of the Supreme Military Council was committed and the leadership was seized. Muhammed Mursi was arrested on 3rd July. As a result the narrow minded organization Muslim Brotherhood have lead the masses within their influence spheres to demonstrations. The backward segments in the government will  use doctrines based on religion and nationalism on the poor layers of the people for their own gain. In fact,  this is what the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (Muslim Brotherhood) is doing.
This coup in Egypt is not independent from the imperialists. In fact, the coup by the Supreme Military Council was made with the directives of the US.  The current situation is clearly reflecting this. Following this the US imperialist has not been able to conceal the support they have given the coup in Egypt. Therefore the intervention was not even called a coup, and a declaration that they will continue with the annual financial aid was issued. Although the EU and US imperialists have “condemned” the junta’s attacks, massacring hundreds of people, this was merely to justify themselves. Despite these condemnations the role they played in this massacre cannot be camouflaged.  On the contrary, they have played a determining role in the coup and the massacre of the masses. Continue reading

Assad vs Morsi vs US vs Russia vs Saudi vs Morsi vs Assad vs Israel vs Iran…..

Agence France-Presse (France), July 3, 2013 —  Syria: Morsi’s Departure Key to Solving Egypt Crisis…..Egypt will overcome its current crisis if President Mohamed Morsi leaves office, Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said on Wednesday, as massive protests against the Islamist leader went into their fourth day….Egypt’s “security and unity are a national responsibility”, Zohbi told a news conference broadcast by state television….”Egypt will be able to overcome its crisis if Morsi realizes that the vast majority of the Egyptian people refuse his presence and are calling for his departure,” he added….”Those who are loyal to the (Egyptian) nation should side by the people, and against the terrorism of the Muslim Brotherhood” movement from which Morsi hails….There is long-standing animosity between the Syrian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood, and membership in the group has been punishable by death in Syria since the 1980s….The Syrian branch of the Brotherhood today plays a key role in the exiled opposition National Coalition, which is recognized by more than 100 states and organizations as legitimate representative of the Syrian people….Zohbi launched a verbal attack on Monday as well against Morsi — who last month severed ties with Syria — saying the Brotherhood had proven a failure in Egypt….Egypt is Sunni Muslim, as a are the vast majority of rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad whose Alawite sect is an offhshoot of Shiite Islam….Morsi has repeatedly called for Assad to step down….More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Haaretz (Israel), July 3 — U.S. urges Morsi to listen to Egyptian people; Israeli diplomats to stay away….In phone call at end of an African tour, President Obama told Morsi that the political crisis can only be resolved by talking with his opponents; Israeli Embassy staff in Cairo to remain in Israel due to unrest. (US), July 3 — The U.S. Government Wednesday panned Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s most recent speech to the Egyptian people, saying the address fell short of detailing the reforms the Egyptian leader needed to promise to quell massive street protests….The comments expressed a greater degree of U.S. dissatisfaction with Morsi than previously acknowledged by U.S. officials. However, Psaki insisted that the criticism did not reflect a U.S. decision to back the opposition or the military….”We haven’t taken sides and don’t plan to take sides,” Psaki said. She acknowledged that she had no criticism to offer of the Egyptian military, despite a warning from military leaders that they would step in if Morsi’s government and protesters did not come to an accomodation….Psaki declined to outline specific steps the U.S. would like Morsi to take, beyond avoiding violence. However, she disputed claims by many protesters that U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson had sided with the government over the opposition….In a speech two weeks ago, Patterson said she and the U.S. were “deeply skeptical” that protests would bring about positive change in Egypt.

The Voice of Russia,16 June, 2012 — Morsi’s renouncement of ties with Assad accords with Western polices – analysts…..The recent decision of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to cut diplomatic ties with Syria is “harmonious” with the Western policies against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad

The Telegraph (UK), 30 Aug 2012– Morsi tells Iran that Syria’s Assad must go….In a key diplomatic snub, Egypt’s new leader used his first visit to Iran to tell his hosts they had chosen the wrong side in the Syrian civil war…..Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood official who became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in June, aroused concern in the west that his decision to attend a meeting of the non-aligned movement in Tehran marked a shift in the country’s pro-western foreign policy….But he used his keynote speech to the meeting to call on the Assad regime in Syria, Iran’s closest ally, to step down. “We should all express our full support to the struggle of those who are demanding freedom and justice in Syria and translate our sympathies into a clear political vision that supports peaceful transfer to a democratic system,” he said….As he spoke, the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem, walked out. He told state television that Mr Morsi’s speech interfered in Syrian internal affairs and “incited continued bloodshed”….Mr Morsi’s attendance at the conference represented the first visit by an Egyptian president to Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution put the two countries on opposite sides in the struggle between America and its allies and the so-called “axis of resistance”….But he has also been keen to insist that while the new Egypt will be open to all countries in the Middle East, it will stick to old agreements, including the peace deal with Israel.

Suicide Letter from Iraq War Veteran Says He Was Made to Commit War Crimes

During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of. To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. — Daniel Somers, whistleblower
By: Kevin Gosztola
Dissenter June 22, 2013
“The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity.” Those are the words of Daniel Somers, according to a letter posted at Gawker.
Daniel Somers, when he was on active duty

Daniel Somers, when he was on active duty

Somers served in Joint Special Operations Command in a unit in Mosul from 2006-2007. He ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center and was a senior analyst for Levant, which oversaw operations in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and part of Turkey.

Prior to that, the short biography attached to the letter he wrote indicates he was a part of an intelligence unit called Task Force Lightning. The unit was a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq. He was a “machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee” and “ran more than 400 combat missions.” He also “interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects.” Continue reading