[NOTE: This was the top-rated post at DailyKos for the month of February, 2016, with 969 recommendations. It has been shared on Facebook, as of 3/4/16, 55,757 times, making it, I've read, one of the most shared stories ever in the history of DailyKos.]
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There are fine reasons to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Some of the smartest people I know are behind her, and I appreciate their enthusiasm for what would be a historic achievement. I know, too, the long history of sexism and partisan attacks she has withstood. She’s shown amazing resilience.
But time is short and the stakes are high, and I want to focus on a pattern of her claiming to be a progressive Democrat while taking positions that are too often more closely aligned with the other side of the aisle, and on a record that I worry makes her a real longshot if she’s our nominee.
This story borrows (with permission) from dsully’s excellent post and benefits from his editing.
DOMA AND GAY MARRIAGE
Hillary spoke in support of DOMA at the time it was signed in 1996. Later, In 2004, on the floor of the Senate, Clinton said, "I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman…. I take umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage, or to the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman, and that it’s primary role….has been the raising and socializing of children into the society into which they are to become adults.”
She ran for president in 2008 while openly opposing gay marriage (it had been legal since 2004 in Massachusetts) and did not come out in favor of same-sex marriage until May, 2013, when it was already legal in nine states.
She now says DOMA was a defensive measure taken to ward off a Constitutional amendment. Rachel Maddow calls bullshit on that defense because it’s simply not true. And in a tense 2014 interview with Terry Gross on NPR, Clinton was unwilling to admit to anything more about her shifting position on same-sex marriage than “I think I’m an American. [laughter] I think that we have all evolved.”
Where was Bernie?
Bernie was one of the few in Congress who voted against DOMA. The year before, in 1995, he spoke up in the House in defense of gays in the military, saying in response to a Republican colleague:
"Was the gentleman referring to the many thousands and thousands of gay people who have put their lives on the line in countless wars defending this country? You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line.”
Even earlier, in 1972, in a letter to a local newspaper in Vermont, Sanders called for abolishing all laws that dealt with sexual behavior, including homosexuality, that were used to punish people. (However, Sanders did not announce his support of gay marriage, as opposed to civil unions, until 2009.)
Hillary Clinton, who is said to have never spoken up (watch that video) in support of labor unions while on the board of Wal-Mart, supported NAFTA when it passed and for years afterward. In 1996, she said "I think everybody is in favor of free and fair trade. I think NAFTA is proving its worth” and in 2004 said, “I think on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America.”
But NAFTA has been a disaster for working people in the U.S. and Mexico, costing a million or more American jobs, increasing income inequality, and failing live up to the promises made about it.
Hillary now claims to oppose NAFTA, just as she’s suddenly reversed position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after promoting it (“This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade”) forty-five times around the world as Secretary of State.
Unfortunately, we have little basis for believing her on TPP (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for one, doesn’t believe her), which is another disaster in the making. As Ian Fletcher writes, “She has, in fact, a long record of verbally criticizing free-trade agreements, but then supporting them when in office.”
Where was Bernie?
He strongly opposed NAFTA.
Sanders opposes the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership, too, as does every environmental group, because it gives corporations an unprecedented, extra-judicial process to enforce their interests, and includes no such protection for labor and environmental standards.
“Ending welfare as we know it” was, with NAFTA, one of the pillars of Bill Clinton’s triangulation strategy of selling out the Democratic party and Democratic principles for his own political gain: 98% of Republicans voted for the bill, while 85% of Democrats voted against it. Its author was Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.
Hillary Clinton speaks in nearly every debate about her service with the Children’s Defense Fund, but she does not mention that her support of welfare reform ended her political relationship with CDF founder Marion Wright Edelman, who said of President Clinton’s signing of the bill that it “makes a mockery of his pledge not to hurt children.”
The bill ended Aid to Families with Dependent Children, which had been created in the Social Security Act, and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which was much weaker and much more temporary.
Three senior officials in the Clinton Administration resigned over the legislation, including Peter Edelman. Edelman had spent his entire career advocating for fundamental reform of welfare, but wrote:
But the bill that President Clinton signed is not welfare reform. It does not promote work effectively, and it will hurt millions of poor children by the time it is fully implemented. What’s more, it bars hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants—including many who have worked in the United States for decades and paid a considerable amount in Social Security and income taxes—from receiving disability and old-age assistance and food stamps, and reduces food-stamp assistance for millions of children in working families.
Hillary defended the bill, and in fact wanted a “formal role” in helping it pass, saying “Too many of those on welfare had known nothing but dependency all their lives, and many would have found it difficult to make the transition to work on their own.” But Journalist and activist Barbara Ehrenreich remarked that it was “hard to miss the racism and misogyny that helped motivate welfare reform.”
Now we know that reform has been a disaster, doubling the number of children in extreme poverty, tripling extreme poverty for female-headed households, and keeping millions from lifting themselves out of desperate situations.
Still, Senator Clinton in 2002 said, “Now that we’ve said these people are no longer deadbeats — they’re actually out there being productive — how do we keep them there?” Yes, she said deadbeats.
A 2015 article in The Nation says of the bill, “it is hard to find a single way in which it hasn’t been a catastrophe for the vulnerable.”
Where was Bernie?
Bernie voted against the bill, and wrote in his 1997 book, Outsider in the House:
The bill, which combines an assault on the poor, women and children, minorities, and immigrants is the grand slam of scapegoating legislation, and appeals to the frustrations and ignorance of the American people along a wide spectrum of prejudices.
Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly made $225,000 an hour talking to corporations, wants to raise the minimum wage to only $12/hour over five years. An editorial in the New York Times criticized this stand:
But instead of embracing $15, Mrs. Clinton fights on for $12, saying that states could set their own, higher minimums. That is cold comfort. Experience has shown that without a robust federal minimum, state minimums also tend to be inadequate….
...Economic obstacles are not standing in the way of a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Misplaced caution and political timidity are. The sooner Mrs. Clinton overcomes those, the stronger her candidacy will be.
Where is Bernie?
He introduced a bill last summer calling for a $15/hour minimum wage, saying:
“It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills. In the year 2015, a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage.”
2001 BANKRUPTCY BILL
We’ve all read how Elizabeth Warren convinced Hillary to oppose efforts to make it harder for consumers to escape from credit card debt by filing for bankruptcy. Warren recalls, “She said, ‘Professor Warren, we’ve got to stop that awful bill.’ ”
Then, as a newly elected senator representing Wall St, Hillary voted for the bill, which had strong support from the banking and credit card industries.
The New York Times:
Charles J. Tabb, a law professor at the University of Illinois who opposed the legislation, said Mrs. Clinton’s vote “shows the power of the consumer credit industry and our campaign finance world.”
“She did a 180 once she became senator,” he said. “It was galling.”
During the 2008 campaign, asked if she regretted her vote, she said, “Sure, I do. I was happy that it never became law.” Last year, she changed her story, blaming the whole thing on Joe Biden.
Where was Bernie?
Voting against all such bankruptcy “reform” bills.
Clinton cast her vote in favor of one of the most expensive, destructive, and unnecessary wars in American history, and in doing so made a stirring speech in favor of it — a speech that took Bush administration propaganda as truth, when many, many Americans knew Bush was lying. Bernie Sanders, Robert Byrd, and other members of Congress knew the case for war was deeply flawed. Why didn’t she?
Clinton’s vote was not simply a mistake. It was a terrible failure of judgment and (most crucially) a failure to show courage against the post-9/11 jingoism pushing us into a foolish war. This vote alone should end any talk about her foreign policy experience and expertise.
And it’s not an isolated incident. Clinton has supported regime change in the Balkans, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. Jeffrey Sachs writes:
Hilary was a staunch defender of the military-industrial-intelligence complex at every turn, helping to spread the Iraq mayhem over a swath of violence that now stretches from Mali to Afghanistan. Two disasters loom largest: Libya and Syria.
And in a separate article he takes on her claim in a recent debate that she helped with peace efforts in Syria:
In 2012, Clinton was the obstacle, not the solution, to a ceasefire being negotiated by UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan. It was US intransigence - Clinton's intransigence - that led to the failure of Annan's peace efforts in the spring of 2012, a point well known among diplomats. Despite Clinton's insinuation in the Milwaukee debate, there was (of course) no 2012 ceasefire, only escalating carnage. Clinton bears heavy responsibility for that carnage, which has by now displaced more than 10 million Syrians and left more than 250,000 dead.
Where was Bernie?
Sanders voted against the war in Iraq and spoke out strongly against it:
Mr. Speaker, in the brief time I have, let me give five reasons why I am opposed to giving the President a blank check to launch a unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq and why I will vote against this resolution.
One, I have not heard any estimates of how many young American men and women might die in such a war or how many tens of thousands of women and children in Iraq might also be killed. As a caring Nation, we should do everything we can to prevent the horrible suffering that a war will cause. War must be the last recourse in international relations, not the first.
Second, I am deeply concerned about the precedent that a unilateral invasion of Iraq could establish in terms of international law and the role of the United Nations. If President Bush believes that the U.S. can go to war at any time against any nation, what moral or legal objection could our government raise if another country chose to do the same thing?
Third, the United States is now involved in a very difficult war against international terrorism as we learned tragically on September 11. We are opposed by Osama bin Laden and religious fanatics who are prepared to engage in a kind of warfare that we have never experienced before. I agree with Brent Scowcroft, Republican former National Security Advisor for President George Bush, Sr., who stated, ‘An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.'
Fourth, at a time when this country has a $6 trillion national debt and a growing deficit, we should be clear that a war and a long-term American occupation of Iraq could be extremely expensive.
Fifth, I am concerned about the problems of so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing a civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.
REINING IN WALL STREET
The Glass-Steagall Act that was repealed by Bill Clinton in 1998 is considered to be one of the underlying causes of the financial crisis of 2008.
Elizabeth Warren, John McCain, and others have introduced the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. Hillary Clinton opposes the act and says she has other plans (that she won’t reveal) to rein in Wall Street.
Robert Reich, addressing her claim that Glass-Steagall would not have prevented the 2008 crisis, simply says, “Baloney.”
In an October 2015 debate, Clinton said, "I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 before the big crash that we had, and I basically said, 'Cut it out!'" .
But that’s not true. In that speech, after saying that reckless consumers were part of the problem, she asked the finance industry to voluntarily agree to three changes in how they operated, while saying she was prepared to offer the industry legal protection from lawsuits.
What were other Democrats in Congress doing?
By December of 2007, bank watchdogs in Congress had long since given up hope that Wall Street could fix things on its own. The subprime mortgage market had imploded 18 months earlier. It had been five months since two Bear Stearns hedge funds had collapsed. On Capitol Hill, Rep. Miller and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) had already introduced foreclosure relief legislation that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to reduce the amount that borrowers owed on their mortgages -- just as they can for credit card balances and other debts.
Banks were fighting the proposal tooth and nail. If Clinton had wanted to be tough, she could have voiced support for her colleagues' legislation. She didn't.
And while she apparently won’t release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches, one attendee told Politico, “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”
Where is Bernie?
Bernie spoke strongly against repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999:
“This legislation… will do more harm than good. It will lead to… taxpayer exposure to potential losses should a financial conglomerate fail. It will lead to more mega-mergers... and further concentration of economic power in this country.
This bill is…, however, good for big banks… It is time for the Congress to stand up for the consumers. The big banks are doing fine— let’s protect the consumers. Let’s vote no on this legislation.
Sanders wants to restore the Glass-Steagall Act. He wants to break up the banks that are too big to fail. He wants to tax Wall Street speculation so we can send our kids to college and not have them graduate in debt. And he wants to get the money out of politics so Congress and the White House are accountable to the people, not big corporations.
Hillary Clinton voted in 2006 (as this story explains) to let our military continue to use cluster bombs in areas with concentrated civilian populations, despite the thousands of innocent children who have died or been handicapped due to picking up unexploded cluster bomblets.
At issue was an amendment by Senator Diane Feinstein, who said:
I offer an amendment to the Defense appropriations bill to address a humanitarian issue that I have actually thought a great deal about over a long period of time; that is, the use of the cluster bomb. The human death toll and injury from these weapons is felt every day, going back decades. Innocent children think they are picking up a play toy in the field and suddenly their arm is blown off.
A cluster bomb “consists of a canister designed to open in mid-air and disperse smaller submunitions, often referred to as bomblets. Cluster bombs are area weapons, meaning they are not designed to attack a precise target, but rather to destroy all potential targets in a target area.” 108 nations (but not the U.S.) have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, because they are the single most lethal weapon for civilian casualties in war, with the 20% that do not deploy on impact acting like land mines.
When it came time to vote, every Republican and 15 Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, voted against the Feinstein amendment. Obama was one of 30 Democrats who voted for it, with Kennedy, Boxer, Byrd, Cantrell, Jeffords, Kerry, Leahy, Reid, and others. Why did she oppose this humane measure? I don’t know.
Where was Bernie?
He was standing for decency. On February 14, 2007, Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA), Patrick Leahy (VT), Barbara Mikulski (MD), and Bernie Sanders (VT) introduced the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007 (S. 594).
OTHER ARMS SALES
Unfortunately, supporting arms sales is a pattern for this candidate who talks of how she has traveled the world to speak out for women and children. The International Business Times:
Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
Among other deals, Clinton approved massive arms sales to the oppressive Saudi government that were used in a brutal bombing campaign against Yemin:
The indiscriminate bombing of civilians and rescuers from the air has prompted human rights organizations to claim that some Saudi-led strikes on Yemen may amount to war crimes. At least 2,800 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the United Nations — mostly by airstrikes. The strikes have killed journalists and ambulance drivers
As weapons transfers were being approved, both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Boeing (the manufacturer) made donations to the Clinton Foundation. The Washington Post revealed that a Boeing lobbyist helped with fundraising in the early stages of Hillary Clinton’s current presidential campaign.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABROAD
in 2010-2011, despite her having opposed free trade with Colombia during the 2008 campaign, Bill and Hillary Clinton worked together to make Colombia safe for corporate interests, despite the country’s very poor record on human rights.
The Clintons were both in Colombia in 2010 (Hillary called it “a happy coincidence” in her memoir) to meet separately with President Alvaro Uribe. Bill Clinton flew to Colombia with his friend and collaborator, the Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra, who has given the Clinton Foundation some $130 million.
The Washington Post provides the timeline:
The three [the Clintons and Giustra] dined together in Bogota. The next morning, Bill Clinton met privately with Uribe at the presidential house.
A few hours later, Hillary Clinton held her own meeting with the Colombian leader. In a subsequent televised interview, she announced that she was inclined to support a much-sought-after free-trade deal with Colombia — a reversal in position since her 2008 presidential campaign.
The State Department publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights, thereby permitting hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to flow to the same Colombian military that labor activists say helped intimidate workers.
At the same time that Clinton's State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.
It’s hard to convey just how stunningly cynical she has been on Colombia: In 2008, running against Obama, she opposed, in unambiguous terms, a free-trade deal with Colombia. “Senator Clinton’s position is clear and unequivocal: She is opposed to the deal,” said a spokesperson. Yet even as she was telling voters she was against the deal, her chief adviser, Mark Penn, was meeting with Colombian officials to tell them otherwise.
Then it was revealed that Bill Clinton was paid $800,000 by the Colombia-based Gold Service International to give four speeches in Latin America, in which he advocated for the free-trade agreement.
Here, as elsewhere, we have to untangle the money and the very real appearance of conflict of interest. Because there were at least 13 occasions— worth $2.5 million—when Bill Clinton received a speaking fee from corporations or trade groups that were at the time engaged in lobbying at the State Department while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
And that’s only the speaking money. The Washington Post reports that, “The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration.” Vox reports:
At least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Department when Hillary Clinton ran the place, according to a Vox analysis of foundation records and federal lobbying disclosures.
Where was Bernie?
Never wavering from his commitment to human rights around the world.
He wrote in his book, for example, of a 1985 trip to Nicaragua to condemn the Reagan war on the people of Central America:
I was introduced to a crowd of hundreds of thousands who gathered for the anniversary celebration. I will never forget that in the front row of the huge crowd were dozens and dozens of amputees in wheelchairs – young soldiers, many of them in their teens, who had lost their legs in a war foisted on them and financed by the U.S. government.
And in 1997, for example, he traveled to Costa Rica in support of workers opposing CAFTA.
And in 1998, he strongly criticized Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin about the IMF’s failure to protect human rights in Indonesia, telling him, “You are not obeying the law.”
CHILDREN FROM CENTRAL AMERICA
Hillary Clinton wants to send desperate children back home where their lives are in danger “to send a message.” Sanders, as you can see, is upset by her lack of compassion.
Well, here’s some truth about Central America.
Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, in 2009 supported an illegal coup in Hondurasagainst the popular democratically elected progressive President, Manuel Zelaya. She did it in the face of world opinion, in the face of her ambassador in Honduras calling the situation an “open and shut case” of an illegal coup, in the face of the the unanimous opposition of every country in the Union of South American nations, who voted that they would not recognize any government elected under the coup regime. She did it, sadly, with Obama’s acquiescence.
Why? Well, the chief lobbyist hired by the Hondurans behind the coup was Lanny Davis, Hillary’s old friend and loyal supporter for decades who had supported Bill Clinton during the impeachment. And because Zelaya was an advocate for higher wages.
NYU history professor Greg Grandin, author of a number of books about Central and South America, boiled the coup down to a simple economic calculation by the Honduran elite: “Zelaya was overthrown because the business community didn’t like that he increased the minimum wage. We’re talking about an elite that treats Honduras as if it was its own private plantation.”
Grandin was echoed by a Honduran Catholic bishop, Luis Santos Villeda of Santa Rosa de Copan, who told the Catholic News Service, “Some say Manuel Zelaya threatened democracy by proposing a constitutional assembly. But the poor of Honduras know that Zelaya raised the minimum salary. That’s what they understand.”
That’s not all. In Haiti, where wages are the lowest in the hemisphere, the Haitian government was preparing to raise the minimum wage to 62 cents an hour, or $5/day. The Nation:
Haitian advocates of the minimum wage argued that it was necessary to keep pace with inflation and alleviate the rising cost of living. As it is, Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere and the World Food Program estimates that as many as 3.3 million people in Haiti, a third of the population, are food insecure. In April 2008 Haiti was rocked by the so-called Clorox food riots, named after hunger so painful that it felt like bleach in your stomach.
Contractors supplying American companies like Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s were strongly opposed to paying higher wages. On their behalf, Clinton’s State Department pressured the government for almost two years to keep wages low.
So those children fleeing for their lives? We helped create the poverty and violence that made them flee, and Hillary has played a role in that.
FOR-PROFIT PRISON INDUSTRY
Hillary Clinton was a friend and supporter — and beneficiary — of the private prison industry. From Lee Fang’s reporting:
As we reported yesterday, fully five Clinton bundlers work for the lobbying and law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in America, paid Akin Gump $240,000 in lobbying fees last year. The firm also serves as a law firm for the prison giant, representing the company in court.
She cut ties with the industry a few months ago, under pressure from Black Lives Matters and others, and donated their campaign contributions to charity. But why was she in bed with this corrupt industry in the first place? How did that serve the public interest? And why is her campaign continuing to benefit from industry connections, as reported in Politico on February 2?
Despite the refunds, Clinton campaign continues to benefit handsomely from the fundraising assistance of some closely connected to the private prison business. In another report filed Sunday night, the campaign disclosed that Richard Sullivan of Capitol Counsel—until recently, a Raleigh, N.C.-based federally registered lobbyist for the for-profit prison operator GEO Group—bundled $69,363 in donations for Clinton in the fourth quarter, bringing his total for the year to a whopping $274,891
Where is Bernie?
Calling for the end of private prisons.
In October, 2015 Hillary Clinton was asked about the death penalty and said:
“We have a lot of evidence now that the death penalty has been too frequently applied, and too often in a discriminatory way,” she said. “So I think we have to take a hard look at it.”
Mrs. Clinton added, “I do not favor abolishing it, however, because I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I’d like to see those be very limited and rare, as opposed to what we’ve seen in most states.”
A a time when the inevitability of wrongful convictions, often due to a justice system heavily biased against poor people and people of color, has become very clear, Clinton’s stand is the wrong one. The death penalty is not just a moral issue, it's an issue of equal protection under the law.
Where was Bernie?
He is opposed to the death penalty, saying in October, “"I believe it is time for the United States of America to join almost every other western, industrialized country on Earth in saying no to the death penalty."
Clinton voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2006, despite criticism of its unconstitutionality and impact on civil liberties. Then, when the courts last year ruled against the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone data, she called for reforming the Patriot Act. (This is a pattern: supporting something the citizens oppose, then later distancing herself from it.)
When asked about the NSA during an appearance in Silicon Valley this year, Clinton called for reform. “Well, I think the NSA needs to be more transparent about what it is doing, sharing with the American people, which it wasn’t. And I think a lot of the reaction about the NSA, people felt betrayed.
Yes, people felt betrayed, all right — by her selling out on our guaranteed civil liberties.
Where was Bernie?
Sanders never wavered. He voted against the Patriot Act both times, saying, “All of us want to protect the American people from terrorist attacks, but in a way that does not undermine basic freedoms.” He was named Politician of the Year by the Library Journal for his work in 2003.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
From the Clinton campaign website:
… as a U.S. senator, she served on the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, as a key member shaping the No Child Left Behind Act, with the hopes that it would bring needed resources and real accountability to improve educational opportunities for our most disadvantaged students.
Ask any teacher. Ask any parent. No Child Left Behind is one of the worst things to have happened to public education in years. Mandatory testing, arbitrary scores determining funding, punishment for the poorest schools with the fewest resources that were teaching the kids with the most to lose. How was this ever a policy supported by Democratics?
Where was Bernie?
He voted against the bill.
I voted against No Child Left Behind in 2001, and continue to oppose the bill’s reliance on high-stakes standardized testing to direct draconian interventions. In my view, No Child Left Behind ignores several important factors in a student’s academic performance, specifically the impact of poverty, access to adequate health care, mental health, nutrition, and a wide variety of supports that children in poverty should have access to. By placing so much emphasis on standardized testing, No Child Left Behind ignores many of the skills and qualities that are vitally important in our 21st century economy, like problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork, in favor of test preparation that provides no benefit to students after they leave school.
AMERICAN JOBS CREATION ACT OF 2004
Mother Jones reports of this $137 billion tax break for huge corporations:
Arizona Senator John McCain decried "the worst example of the influence of special interests that I have ever seen." The president's own Treasury secretary, John Snow, bemoaned the myriad "tax provisions that benefit few taxpayers." Top White House economists protested one new loophole that would cut $3 billion, primarily from the taxes of pharmaceutical and high-tech companies, without yielding "any substantial economic benefits.”
The Act has never created jobs, only further incentive for companies to move jobs offshore. That’s why Salon called it “The most absurd corporate tax giveaway of 2005.” It was a boondoggle. Here’s Salon on IBM, which pocketed $2.8 billion from the bill:
According to its annual report for 2005, the company added fewer than 400 jobs worldwide last year to its workforce of 329,000 people. At the same time, IBM shed 5 million square feet of space in the United States, making it highly unlikely that any of those jobs were added in the U.S. Indeed, numerous news reports, including this Business Week article, put IBM's head count in India at close to 40,000 at the end of 2005, more than a fourfold increase over the 9,000 reported at the end of 2003.
Hillary Clinton crossed the aisle to vote for the bill.
Where was Bernie?
Sanders voted against the bill, as perhaps you have guessed, along with Senators Kennedy, Bird, Kerry, and others.
Hillary Clinton has made a number of big policy shifts since she announced her candidacy last year:
- She supported the KXL pipeline until she suddenly came out against it last September.
- She supported offshore drilling until she suddenly didn’t in December.
- She supported promoted fracking around the world as environmentally safe and still supports fracking in the U.S.
- She still supports fossil fuel extraction on public lands, or did as she campaigned in New Hampshire, where she was challenged by young people.
Her platform on climate change calls for rapidly expanding renewable energy, but it doesn’t say anything about putting a price on carbon, which would keep more coal and oil underground.
Why are her environmental positions so surprisingly weak? I don’t know, but the Huffington Post reported that “Nearly all of the lobbyists bundling contributions for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign have at one time or another worked for the fossil fuel industry.”
As I wrote above, Clinton’s past support of the TPP (in 2012 she said “This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade”) is troublesome because (among other things) it gives corporations the right to sue a government, in private tribunals, for unlimited cash compensation over nearly any policy that might reduce its profits. See the Sierra Club report, A Dirty Deal, on how the TPP threatens the climate.
Where was Bernie?
Sanders opposed the KXL pipeline and opposes offshore drilling, fracking, and fossil fuel extraction on public lands. He’s called for a tax on carbon to bring emissions under control. He opposes the TPP.
You’ve probably heard Hillary say she supports “universal” health care, but that’s not what she has proposed on her campaign website. In fact, the word “universal” is not even mentioned in her health care plan—not once—not even as an aspiration. Her website says everyone should have a right to “affordable” health care, without defining affordable. Her entire plan, in fact, consists of six bullet points.
She has said that single-payer health insurance "will never, ever come to pass” and while campaigning in Las Vegas said, untruthfully:
And he [Sanders] wants to have a new system that would be quite challenging because you would have to give up the insurance you have now, and it would cost a lot of money.
80% of Democrats, and majority of Americans, support single player. The Affordable Care Act, as large a step as it was, has left millions uninsured. Is it the position of the Democratic party that we have done all we can do? Hillary has said she’ll take care of the 29 million uninsured, but she won’t say how.
Clinton has taken in roughly $13.2 million in campaign contributions from the health sector. Since 2013 she has received $2.8 million in speaking fees from the industry.
Where was Bernie?
Sanders supports a single payer system, a Medicare for All approach that is supported by National Nurses United and others, but he amended the Affordable Care Act to fund Community Health Centers and voted for the bill. His health plan, which she calls unattainable, is much more detailed and complete than her set of bullet points.
Where was Bernie?
"I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.”
Reasonable people can disagree about the safety of GMOs, but the fact is that nearly 90% of Americans want mandatory labeling for GMO foods, as they are already in 64 countries.
Hillary Clinton expressed her support (and received a $335,000 speaking fee) for genetically modified crops and crop biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization convention in 2014. She even coached the industry, saying, “Genetically modified sounds Frankensteinish. Drought resistant sounds really like something you want. “Be more careful so you don’t raise that red flag immediately.” (You can watch the talk.)
Huffington Post on Hillary’s ties to big agriculture:
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which gathers leaders to solve the world's problems, promotes Monsanto, the maker of RoundUp® and RoundUp Ready® seeds. Hugh Grant, Monsanto's Chairman and CEO spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in September, 2014. Ms. Clinton's top campaign advisor, Jerry Crawford, was a lobbyist for Monsanto for years and is now the political pro for her Super PAC, "Ready for Hillary." Clinton spoke in favor of the government's Feed the Future (FtF) program, a USAID funded, corporate-partnered program that brings RoundUp Ready® technology to the most vulnerable populations of the world. Monsanto and Dow Chemical support Hillary and Bill's 'Clinton Foundation' with generous donations
Where is Bernie?
Bernie supports allowing states to require labels on foods containing GMOs based on the consumer’s right-to-know, but does not believe that GMOs are necessarily bad.
Hillary has been a supporter of the Brady bill and has a better record on gun control than Bernie Sanders (although in the 2008 campaign she called herself pro-gun to separate herself from Obama.)
Where was Bernie?
Sanders has voted against the Brady bill several times. This is the issue on which he is most divergent from most Democrats. Yet he applauded the Obama Executive Orders on instant background checks and has voted in favor of a nationwide ban on assault weapons, a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines of over ten rounds, and nationwide expanded background checks that address unsafe loopholes. And he has a D- rating from the NRA.
Clinton entered the race in an unusual way, reported the New York Times:
Hillary Rodham Clinton will begin personally courting donors for a “super PAC” supporting her candidacy, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has fully embraced these independent groups that can accept unlimited checks from big donors and are already playing a major role in the 2016 race.
That turned out to be politically unpopular, so she created some distance, setting up a joint fundraising campaign fund via the DNC that changed Barack Obama’s rule about the DNC accepting money from federal lobbyists. Now, instead of that $2,700 maximum campaign donation, or the no-coordination rule with super PACs, lobbyists can give Hillary’s campaign up to $360,000 by routing the money through the DNC.
A fun coincidence: On February 12, 2016, the same day the DNC dropped Obama’s ban on lobbyist money, Hillary’s non-coordinating super PAC decided to throw $5 million against Bernie.
Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting Clinton, unleashed a $5 million infusion of spending on her behalf, upending plans to hold its fire until the general election. The move calls attention to growing concern within the party’s leadership that her campaign may be in trouble, and it illustrates how crucial several upcoming contests have become in Clinton’s battle with Sanders.
Where is Bernie?
Sanders is not accepting corporate money, and is funded entirely by the people, who so far have made more than four million donations to his campaign, setting new records for a people-powered campaign. It’s absolutely clear to whom he is accountable.
The Wall St Journal reported last year:
“A few weeks after Hillary Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state in early 2009, she was summoned to Geneva by her Swiss counterpart to discuss an urgent matter. The Internal Revenue Service was suing UBS AG to get the identities of Americans with secret accounts. If the case proceeded, Switzerland’s largest bank would face an impossible choice: Violate Swiss secrecy laws by handing over the names, or refuse and face criminal charges in U.S. federal court. Within months, Mrs. Clinton announced a tentative legal settlement—an unusual intervention by the top U.S. diplomat. UBS ultimately turned over information on 4,450 accounts, a fraction of the 52,000 sought by the IRS.”
Here’s what happened next:
Total donations by UBS to the Clinton Foundation grew from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014, according to the foundation and the bank. The bank also joined the Clinton Foundation to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city loan programs, through which it lent $32 million. And it paid former president Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a series of question-and-answer sessions with UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive Bob McCann, making UBS his biggest single corporate source of speech income disclosed since he left the White House.”
This is just one case, one example from a long and complex record of money and influence that the Republicans will rain down on her campaign if she wins the nomination.
And now, in addition to State Department and FBI investigations, a conservative group has been allowed by a federal judge to question her top aides about the email server. This is not going away any time soon.
Where was Bernie?
Sanders has never faced allegations of impropriety or conflict of interest. His net worth, in fact, is less than what Clinton was paid for her speeches to Goldman Sachs.
MORE ON TRUST
Right now, 67% of Americans don’t think she is trustworthy. Among independents, who will be crucial in November, that number rises to 74%. Whether from her embarrassing sniper fire story, or from her other controversies, she has real difficulty convincing people that she’s telling the truth.
Witness this awkward exchange last week with Scott Pelley of CBS:
Why the hesitation? Because she knows she has a record of inconsistencies, including this unfortunate sniper fire story to answer for. If she wins the nomination, the reality is that we can expect to see this video over and over.
People change, grow, mature. Hillary Clinton was a “Goldwater girl” supporter Barry Goldwater for president way back in 1964. Who was Barry Goldwater?
When he was nominated, Martin Luther King, Jr. released a statement calling his nomination “disastrous” and his stands on civil rights “morally indefensible.”
King later wrote:
[Goldwater’s] candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy.
But that was 1964. What was Hillary’s ideology in 1996, when she was 49 years old and the first lady?
“I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in this conservatism I was raised with,” she said on NPR. “I’m very proud that I was a Goldwater girl.”
I think this really helps explain everything you’re read above.
Where was Bernie?
He was being arrested in 1963 for protesting segregation in Chicago.
IT’S VERY CLEAR
I don’t think Hillary Clinton is a bad person. Not at all. I just think she’s become part of the establishment that instinctively serves its own needs while protecting itself from those who would challenge it.
The Clintons, who have famously earned a combined $153 million in corporate speaking fees, are not the ones we are looking for to change our broken politics.
There are not two progressives in this race. There is one progressive candidate and one who is, at best, the moderate she used to say she was. (You can see for yourself in the detailed issues chart I’ve compiled.)
You can’t be a pro-war, pro-big business, pro-arms sales, pro-death penalty, weak-on-climate candidate with ties to the private prison industry, a record of increasing poverty through welfare reform, a disastrous record on war, and a liking for domestic spying and still get to call yourself a progressive. Not unless the word means nothing anymore.
Young people are especially tired of empty promises. They’re angry about the cost of college, about low wages, high housing costs, and grossly inadequate action on climate change. They’re tired of being told to sit down and be happy for incremental change, when most people are falling further behind. They are the future, and the future is running about 80% for Bernie Sanders.
Will we listen to these young people, or will we lose another generation of activists and Democrats?
We live in a time of global climate crisis that has been caused by a dysfunctional economy that allows the very rich to amass great wealth at the expense of the planet and everyone else, all of it enabled by establishment politicians who themselves are in the 1%. And those politicians are so deeply entwined with their corporate underwriters that studies show that Congress literally doesn’t care what you think.
That’s why Debbie Wasserman Schultz could so calmly explain, “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.” She and her pals at the DNC don’t think the party belongs to the voters any more than the CEO of Comcast thinks the company belongs to its customers.
That’s why Hillary Clinton is mocking Sanders and his supporters with the same insulting “magic wand” comments she used to mock Obama and his supporters in 2008:
“Let’s just get everybody together, let’s get unified, the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect.
“Maybe I've just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear."
No, you’re not. You’re not going to have the special interests disappear until we stop enabling politicians who enrich themselves and then tell us to stop being ridiculous with talk of free college and healthcare as a human right.
Hillary Clinton’s “artful smear” comment was pure theater. She knows she’s never been paid to change her vote. No one is accusing her of that. She’s paid because she generally votes the right way, the way her corporate friends might hope she would.
I'm tired of hoping. With Bernie Sanders we have a chance, perhaps our final chance for a very long time, to stand up to the massive power of massive wealth, and begin to rein in a deeply unjust and destructive form of oligarchical capitalism so that we can save our democracy and have a fighting chance of leaving our children a livable planet.
This is not because Bernie Sanders is here to save us. It’s because he is telling uncomfortable truths about how the system is rigged and about who has rigged the system. And by telling the truth at a time when that is rarely done, he has tapped into a huge well of activism that gives us a fighting chance to face down the establishment that mocks those of us who want a better country.
Let’s please not screw this up.
IF YOU ARE CONVINCED
As I write, this article has been shared on Facebook more than 13,000 times. By the end of today it might be twice that. But that won’t change the outcome.
Check where and when to vote in the primaries and make sure you are registered in time.
It’s not enough to attend a rally with Bernie! Get your friends together, make a plan, and vote!