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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On Obama’s Insistence that “We Are Not at War with Islam”

by Gary Leupp, Counterpunch, February 25, 2015

One would like to say that the cruelty of ISIL (ISIS) shocks the entire world. In fact, however, it doesn’t shock everyone. Sad though it may seem to you or me, some people actually observe events in the emergent “Islamic State” with approval and admiration. Thousands of young men and even young women from many countries—even some from Europe and North America—are flocking to ISIL’s black banner. There are various estimates of ISIL strength available, ranging from 30,000 to 100,000. European intelligence agencies estimate that 3,000 young people have joined from the continent.

One should not assume these are all uncivilized thugs, just because they inflict horrible suffering on fellow human beings. They are far from alone in doing that, or in viewing their actions as the administration of some god’s punishment.

We should not presuppose, as Barack Obama suggested in his February 17 speech, that its members join ISIL simply due to such factors as unemployment, alienation and the nebulous phenomenon of “radicalization” to which some minds are strangely vulnerable.

To me they appear as people with a set of serious religious beliefs, including the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being; belief in a holy book of divine authorship; and belief in a set of laws authored by this one-and-only God that—for society to function properly, and the problems posed by modernity fixed—must be rigorously implemented.

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Colin Powell’s Lies Stampeded US into Iraq, and now…….

Boehner and Netanyahu’s Lies Press for War on Iran, or no deal on curbing nukes.  AlJazeera digs into the facts with whistle-blower-released Israeli Intelligence Cables, as reported, below, on Democracy Now.  The video (followed by transcript) also contains details of the US-Israeli relations, as well as revealing that the collaborationist Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, had prior knowledge about the Israeli assault on Palestinians in Gaza, but did not reveal or sound the alarm.  A very interesting report, from start to finish.  While Democracy Now leans toward the White House challenge to the Boehner-Netanyahu obstructionist initiative, they do not go into why the Democrat’s US-hegemonic-imperialist interests are expressing some rare tactical differences with Republican-allied-Israel’s regionally aggressive pursuits.  That is a subject for further study and analysis.  —  Frontlines ed.]
Democracy Now, February 24, 2015 — As Netanyahu Tries to Stop U.S.-Iran Deal, Leaked Cables Show Israeli Spies Reject His Nuke Claims

Guest:  Clayton Swisher, director of investigative journalism at Al Jazeera.

In what has been described as the biggest intelligence leak since Edward Snowden, Al Jazeera has begun publishing a series of spy cables from the world’s top intelligence agencies. In one cable, the Israeli spy agency Mossad contradicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb within one year. In a report to South African counterparts in October 2012, the Mossad concluded Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” The explosive disclosure comes just as the United States and Iran have reported progress toward reaching a nuclear deal, an outcome Netanyahu will try to undermine when he addresses the U.S. Congress next week. We go to Doha to speak with Clayton Swisher, the head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit, which broke the Iran story and several others in a series of articles called, “The Spy Cables.”

AARON MATÉ: Just days before his controversial speech to the U.S. Congress, an explosive report has raised new questions about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s effort to thwart a nuclear deal with Iran. According to Al Jazeera, Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad, contradicted Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb within one year. In a leaked cable to South African counterparts in October 2012, the Mossad concluded Iran was, quote, “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” The assessment was sent just weeks after Netanyahu went before the U.N. General Assembly with a far different message. Netanyahu held up a cartoonish diagram of a bomb with a fuse to illustrate what he called Iran’s alleged progress on a nuclear weapon.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: This is a bomb. This is a fuse. In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages. By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb. A red line should be drawn right here, before—before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September of 2012. The Mossad assessment contradicting Netanyahu was sent just weeks after, but it was likely written earlier. It said Iran, quote, “does not appear to be ready” to enrich uranium to the higher levels needed for a nuclear weapon. A bomb would require 90 percent enrichment, but the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, found Iran had only enriched to 20 percent. That number was later reduced under an interim nuclear deal the following year.

That 2013 agreement laid the basis for the ongoing talks in Geneva this week between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. The U.S. and Iran are seeking a framework agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and impose international monitoring in return for an easing of U.S.-led sanctions before a March 31st deadline. The talks appear to be gaining momentum, with the involvement of high-ranking officials from both sides and leaked details of a plan to limit Iranian nuclear production for at least 10 years. They are set to resume next week.

AARON MATÉ: The advancing talks and the leaked cable come just as Netanyahu prepares for a controversial U.S. visit, where he’ll try to undermine the nuclear deal. On March 3rd, Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress on Iran at the invitation of Republican House Speaker John Boehner. The trip has caused a major rift with the White House, to the point where Obama has refused to host Netanyahu for a meeting. Administration officials are also reportedly withholding details of the talks from Israeli counterparts. Speaking last week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Israel has spread false information about the proposed nuclear deal.

PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate. There’s no question about that.

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The System That Failed Eric Garner and Michael Brown Cannot Be Reformed

 by Mychal Denzel Smith, The Nation blog, December 3, 2014

 

That a grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing 43-year-old Eric Garner the same week that President Obama proposed spending $75 million in federal money to outfit 50,000 police officers across the country with body cameras would seem to be hack Hollywood writing with neatly applied plot points. Garner’s death was caught on video—video that the police were aware was being taken—and it still was not enough to indict anyone, least of all the man responsible for choking Garner to death, for any type of wrongdoing. It’s as if this decision was handed to us at this time in order to get us to say, “Now what?”

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Shifting Tides, Shifty Obama-ists

[We are not accustomed to quoting the Bible, but sometimes the biblical words have become part of common culture, as in this:  “Matthew 7:15-20, ‘You Will Know Them by Their Fruits’ — ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.'”  Which is appropriate warned, when perusing the shifting claims and tides of Obama-ists like Angela Davis, whose latest statement (read down to her Guardian article) reaches into more radical territory to restore credibility.  Davis, who partially broke with the path of the revisionist CPUSA many years ago, and who has made contributions to the growing prison abolitionist movement, still has promoted electoral-democratic-reform illusions about the imperialist system against revolutionary strategies. (our highlights, for emphasis). —  Frontlines ed.]

  • From Black Agenda Report, by Glen Ford — March 27, 2012 — “Angela Davis Lost Her Mind Over Obama” —  The “delusional effect” that swept Black America with the advent of the First Black President has warped and weakened the mental powers of some of our most revered icons – and it has been painful to behold. Earlier this month, Angela Davis diminished herself as a scholar and thinker in a gush of nonsense about the corporate executive in the White House. The occasion was a conference on Empowering Women of Color, in Berkeley, California. Davis shared the stage with Grace Lee Boggs, the 96-year-old activist from Detroit. The subject was social transformation, but Davis suddenly launched into how wonderful it felt to see people “dancing in the streets” when Barack Obama was elected. She called that campaign a “victory, not of an individual, but of…people who refused to believe that it was impossible to elect a person, a Black person, who identified with the Black radical tradition.”……There was a hush in the room, as if in mourning of the death of brain cells. Angela Davis was saying that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the Black radical tradition. She said it casually, as if Black radicalism and Obama were not antithetical terms; as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the Black radical tradition; as if his rejection of his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was not a thorough disavowal of the Black radical tradition. In his famous 2008 campaign speech in Philadelphia, Obama blamed such radicals for compounding the nation’s problems.
  • From Democracy Now, January 21, 2013  —  Addressing the Peace Ball in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the renowned author, educator and political activist Angela Davis urges those content with President Obama’s re-election to continue pushing him for social change. “This time around we cannot subordinate our aspirations and our hopes to presidential agendas,” Davis says. “Our passionate support for President Barack Obama … should also be expressed in our determination to raise issues that have been largely ignored or not appropriately addressed by the administration.”
  • And Angela today, adjusting her tone, more accurately and radical, to the shifting tides, as anger and defiance grow…………

“From Michael Brown to Assata Shakur, the racist state of America persists”

by Angela Davis, The GuardianSaturday, 1 November 2014 
 
Although racist state violence has been a consistent theme in the history of people of African descent in North America, it has become especially noteworthy during the administration of the first African-American president, whose very election was widely interpreted as heralding the advent of a new, postracial era.

US’ Controls on Kashmiri and Sikh anti-Modi Protests

September 30, 2014 | By Parmjit Singh, sikhsiyasat.net

Washington, DC: The Kashmir American Council staged a sit-in outside the White House on Monday (Sept. 29) as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived to attend a private dinner where he was due to meet US President Obama and other key US officials.

A number of Sikh protesters also gathered outside the White House and raised slogans against the Indian prime minister.

An “International The News” report says police had to intervene when some of Narendra Modi supporters and protesters came face to face.

WASHINGTON: The Kashmir American Council staged a sit-in outside the White House on Monday as Indian Prime Minister arrived to attend a private dinner where he was due to meet President Obama and other key US officials.

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When the smoke clears in Gaza

by Robin D. G. Kelley, August 8, 2014

http://blackeducator.blogspot.com/2014/08/gaza-massacre-continues-us-academia-and.html

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” –Nelson Mandela

Israel’s illegal, genocidal war on the people of Gaza has the characteristics of a massive tsunami.
Waged with even greater ferocity than Operation Cast Lead or any other assault since the Nakba of 1948 or the 1967 War, its destructive impact may even be worse. Masked as a war of “self-defense,” the euphemistically-named “Operation Protective Edge” is state violence at warp speed; it is completely indiscriminate yet calculated in its targeting of children and adult civilians, hospitals, schools, shelters, markets, and neighborhoods. So massive the onslaught, so swift the reports on social media, that my twitter feed resembles a ticker-tape machine. No one can write or speak fast enough to keep up with the body count.

As I write now, the Palestinian dead is inching toward the 2,000 mark, the injured close to 10,000; a quarter of Gaza’s population is displaced; about 10,000 homes were destroyed—including 141 schools; entire neighborhoods have been razed to the ground; morgues are filled to capacity as dead bodies lay strewn in streets, under rubble or placed in vegetable refrigerators or commercial ice cream freezers. The lack of electricity, clean water, food, sanitation, medical supplies, among other things, means a variety of infectious, nutritional and water-borne diseases are imminent.

If you are reading this, you’re probably familiar with these terrifying facts. Continue reading