Friday, May 22, 2015

Israeli Government Most Racist, Extremist in History

from Tikun
by RICHARD SILVERSTEIN on MAY 15, 2015
in MIDEAST PEACE


Israel named its new cabinet (Hebrew) yesterday and the names are a Who’s Who of the most rabid, racist, brutal and cruel politicians in the nation. The only one who rivals them and is missing from the show is Avigdor Lieberman, who’s bowed out for political reasons of his own. In the past, nations of the world have isolated individual leaders of nations and refused to visit or meet with them because their ideas are so noxious that they fall outside the consensus of international discourse. Kurt Waldheim and Jorg Haider are examples of this. The time has come to put the Israeli government in herem. You can pick your poison among them as to which deserves special ostracism.

Several other publications have covered this story. But you won’t find a more thorough list nor accounting of their Greatest Hits of Hate than here:

eli ben dahan
Deputy defense minister
♦Moshe Yaalon: defense minister; warned Israel would consider using nuclear weapons against Iran, but “wasn’t quite there yet.” He called Peace Now a “virus” and spoke of Palestinians as a cancer when he said: “some say it may be necessary to amputate organs, but at the moment I’m applying chemotherapy.”

♦Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan: deputy defense minister; called Palestinians “animals, said “Jews always have higher souls than goyim, even if they’re gay.” He will serve as chief Israeli administrator for the Palestinian Territories. Imagine how the “beasts” will feel about that!

♦Tzipi Hotovely: deputy foreign minister; adamantly opposes two-state solution, supports West Bank annexation, invited Lehava, NGO advocating Jewish racial purity, to Knesset

♦Naftali Bennet: minister for education, minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora; supports transferring Palestinians from West Bank and ethnic cleansing: “I’ve killed many Arabs in my life. There’s no problem with that.” He has also called for Palestinians to be shot. Contrary to Israel’s vaunted gay rights claims, opposes gay marriage. He will be specifically responsible for Judaization of the Negev, which means the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins.

♦Ayelet Shaked: justice minister; republished settler screed advocating Palestinian mothers should be killed because they are raising “snakes” to attack Israel. Anglo-Israeli columnist said behind her “wide-eyed innocent face lurks the Angel of Death.”

♦Moshe Kahlon: finance minister; the so-called “moderate” in the bunch devoted solely to economic issues.

♦Danny Danon: ministry of science, technology and space; “the biggest problem of the State of Israel is the Arabs of Israel,” ejected by Netanyahu from last government after he denounced last summer’s Gaza ceasefire.

♦Miri Regev: minister of sport and culture; during violent anti-African riots in Tel Aviv, she incited the crowds by calling the victims a “cancer” and then apologized to cancer patients
♦Silvan Shalom: interior minister; wealthiest MK, failed in campaign for Israeli president, denied foreign ministry job he coveted, said that the 16% of Eilat residents who are African refugees “endanger the future of the city.”

♦Yoav Galant: building minister (responsible for settlement construction); failed IDF chief of staff candidate, lied in a legal deposition and stole public lands to enlarge private villa

♦Aryeh Deri: minister of economy and Negev development; an ex-felon convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes, served three years in prison

♦Uri Ariel: minister of agriculture and rural development; as minister in last government, single-handedly torpedoed U.S.-Israel relations by announcing thousands of new settlement units during delicate peace negotiations, admitting he’d passed on information to settlers about IDF troop movements

♦Zeev Elkin: immigrant and absorption minister; “proud to be a settler,” and admitted that he’d spied on the IDF on behalf of settler extremists

♦Yisrael Katz: minister of transportation and road safety, intelligence minister; suspended from studies at Hebrew University for use of violence in breaking up campus meetings of Palestinian students.

♦Ophir Akunis: minister without portfolio; denies existence of a Palestinian people or its right to settle anywhere in the Land of Israel (including within the Green Line), claims Israel’s right to all territory from Egypt to the Jordan River. Sponsored bill to restrict foreign funding for left-wing NGOs. Regarding them, he compared them to supposed Soviet agents in America exposed by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. “Sen. McCarthy was correct in every word he said–there were Soviet agents in America [sic].”

♦Haim Katz: minister of welfare and social service; accused of arranging for Likud Party dues of thousands of Israeli defense industry employees he oversaw (who voted for him in the primary) to be paid for by NGO he also supervised.

♦Yuval Steinitz: minister for infrastructure, energy and water;

♦Yariv Levin: minister of internal security and tourism; accused the Supreme Court of holding values at odds with the “traditional” values of the public; and said this “endangered our ability to secure our existence.”

♦Gila Gamliel: elderly affairs minister; accused of offering a bribe to a competing student council candidate at Ben Gurion University

♦David Azulay: religious services minister;

♦Avi Gabay: environment minister;

♦Benny Begin: minister without portfolio; son of Menachem Begin, ejected from Party leadership during last party primaries for his so-called “moderate” views; apparently he’s been included as a moderate fig-leaf for an extremist government

Netanyahu will maintain the foreign ministry for himself, hoping he can persuade Buji Herzog to join his coalition. While I never underestimate the greediness of Israeli leaders for the perks of power, I can’t see why Herzog would throw Bibi a life preserver. The present government has a majority of one seat. It could fall based on the whim or vanity of a single one of its 61 members. And even if Herzog does betray what few principles he has by joining, where is the glory in that? History shows that moderate leaders and parties that join coalitions with him (Barak, Lapid, etc.) end up wiped out in the following election.

This is not just a government of hate, but a government of war. My prediction is that if it lives out its full term there will be two wars: one against Lebanon and another against Gaza. Further prediction: at least 5,000 civilians will be murdered in total. The world might want to contemplate how many more Israeli wars it can tolerate before it says, Dayenu (“enough”).

The governments of the world might want to begin considering how to justify maintaining contact with individuals holding views that range from genocide to mere homicidal impulses.

This is a government that is not only undemocratic, it abhors democracy–for non-Jews.

Pres. Obama has a general notion of what’s in store. But in a public statement he only acknowledged “some” of the new mintisters don’t share his views:

“I continue to believe a two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state,” said Obama. “I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don’t necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise.”

“That prospect seems distant now,” he continued. “But I think it’s always important for us to keep in mind what’s right and what’s possible.”

In truth, none of them do. Not a single one of these incoming Israeli ministers believes in a two-state solution. So in addition to keeping in mind what the president thinks is “right,” he should also keep in mind that a two-state solution is not possible. In fact, this government supports a one-state solution–for Jews only. And that’s not only not right, it shouldn’t be possible either. It’s long past time for Obama to get tough with Israel. Allow the Security Council to consider Palestinian statehood. Support an ICC referral for Israel.

Similarly, our Congress might want to consider how they can approve legislation that would outlaw BDS when this movement is fighting a government whose collective views are as odious as this one’s are. If you do sanction BDS, what tools does that leave the world to resist such evil? The world must come to realize that mere words and statements are no longer enough. Much tougher measures are called for.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Great moments in American democracy: Texas Legislature prohibits cities from regulating fracking

When average people in Texas try to protect their property and health by not letting fracking companies destroy their homes and pollute the air and drinking water, little did they know that they were violating the human rights of petrochemical corporations.

think about those oppressed multi-billion dollar corporate giants, huddling in fear of some city's local ordinance that could abridge their god-given right to loot, pillage, cause the death of children, simply because a few malcontents don't want to get poisoned. It's almost akin to terrorism.

Boldly, the governor and legislature of the sovereign state of Texas has stopped this atrocity and defended the rights of corporations from persecution by mere humans.

Since the Constitution of the US of A, according to the Supreme Court (lovingly known in Texas as the 'Preme Court, says that corporations are people, then they have rights that must be protected.

In fact, since oil industry corporations are people and they are really big, rich and powerful, then they are superior to mere human, flesh and blood people. So it follows that corporate people should come out on top of any conflict between the two.

See what great democratic values America is busy defending and exporting to the hopeful nations of Africa, Asia and the Middle East?



Who does Jerusalem belong To?

| May. 18, 2015 |

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | –
Far right Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commemorated Israel’s “Jerusalem Day” with a speech in which he said, “Jerusalem was always the capital of the Jewish people only, and no other,” and warned that Muslim terrorism menaced it.

Jerusalem, Daru Shalem, was founded sometime between 6500 and 5500 years ago, by the proto-Canaanite people long before Judaism existed. It was dedicated to the god of dusk, Shalem.
The first mention of it was after 2000 BC, again, before Judaism existed, in an Egyptian text.
So I think we may conclude that the City of Shalem the god of dusk was probably the capital of a lot of peoples long before there was any religion called Judaism.
Roughly 1500-1200 BC, Jerusalem was ruled from Memphis in Egypt by the pharaohs, but the Canaanites remained their proxies.

Petty Canaanite kings continued to dominate the region after Egyptian control lapsed. Some of them over time gradually adopted practices later associated with Judaism, but many other streams of Canaanite belief remained. Probably there were petty tribal chieftains named David and Solomon after 1000 BC, but Jerusalem appears not to have been populated 1000 to 900 BC. and so they didn’t have a palace there.

Whatever the character of the various Canaanite tribal confederations in Palestine, including the proto-Israeli, in 900-770 BC, in the latter year the region fell to the Assyrians.
In 597 BC the Babylonians conquered Palestine and later transported at least some of its population to Babylon. Likely it was there that the Jewish religion became fully elaborated.
In 539 BC, Babylon falls to the Iranian Achaemenid Empire, which emancipates the Jews. The Achaemenids rule most of the civilized world, from Egypt to what is now Pakistan. Palestine is ruled by Iran for nearly 200 years, until 330, when Alexander defeats the Achaemenids.
The Greek Ptolemaic dynasty held sway over Palestine until 198 BC, when the Seleucids conquered it.
In 168 the Maccabean Revolt established a small Jewish state in the area. Aside from the Israeli clans of the pre-Assyrian period, this was the only premodern Jewish state to have Jerusalem as a capital. Even so, they were vassals from 40 BC to the Iranian Parthian empire. Herod became a vassal of the Romans in Palestine in 6 of the Common Era (AD).
Jerusalem was Roman/ Byzantine until 614 CE, when the Iranian Sasanid Empire again conquered it.
In 629 the Byzantines took it back.
The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099, when the Crusaders conquered it it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city.
The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return.
So I think probably Jerusalem was the capital of, like, the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. for several decades.

Muslims then ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether over a millennium.
So Iran ruled Jerusalem altogether for some 250 years, and the Crusaders for about 200 years, and it was the capital of lots of peoples, including Canaanite kingdoms and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was also often a provincial capital under Muslim empires.
In the Sykes-Picot agreement between France and Britain during WW I, which shaped the Middle East, Jerusalem was awarded to Russia.
Lenin was outraged when he found the agreement in the Romanov palace after the 1917 October Revolution, and he had it published. He withdrew Russia from the war and forewent the prize of Jerusalem.

The city was awarded the British by the Versailles Peace Conference, as part of the British Mandate of Palestine.
In the 1947 UN General Assembly partition plan for Palestine, Jerusalem was designated a “Separate Body” to be administered internationally. It was not awarded to Israel by the UN. Although propagandists for Israel are always going on about how they accepted the UN partition plan, they did not, of course. They conquered a lot of territory that the GA did not award them, including West Jerusalem.
It was Jewish settlers in British Mandate Palestine who used violence to grab part of the city, disregarding international law and agreements. The city was mostly populated by Palestinians in any case, what with being a Palestinian city and all.

In 1967 the Israeli army took East Jerusalem, and ever since has squeezed the Palestinian population, driven them into poverty, usurped their property, and surrounded them by squatter settlements. There is no warrant in any part of any international agreement or law for the Israelis to behave this way toward the people who inhabited Jerusalem for over a millennium (and who are in any case almost certainly descendents of Palestinian Jews who converted to Islam). Violence is still a big part of the way Israel rules East Jerusalem, so Netanyahu warning of Muslim violence is rich.

Muslims consider Jerusalem the third holiest city of Islam. Despite Westerners constantly telling them they have no right to do that, they seem pretty attached to the doctrine. There are 1.5 billion of them, and their nerves are raw after centuries of Western colonialism during which they were told their religion was useless and backward. The occupation of Jerusalem was given by al-Qaeda as one reason for its attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. The insistence of Jewish extremists on angering the Muslim world by invading the Aqsa mosque from time to time, and threatening to demolish it, is like those old Warner Bros. cartoons where the foolish little boy keeps teasing a tiger in its cage.
—-

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why White Americans Don’t Believe in ‘Personal Accountability’ For Police Do the nation’s police suffer from the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’? BY JAMES THINDWA



from In These Times
FEATURES » MAY 11, 2015

By a margin of 41 percent to 34 percent, white Americans say police treat African Americans and white people equally, according to a YouGov poll conducted 11 days after Freddy Gray’s death. African Americans, however, overwhelmingly—76 percent to 13 percent—said that cops treat them unfairly.

The responses of white Americans are unsettling in light of the seemingly endless video accounts of racially tinged police violence circulating online, the millions of dollars cities have paid to settle police brutality lawsuits, and the many studies that have demonstrated a racial bias in policing.

A disturbingly large number of white Americans, it seems, willfully dismiss the evidence. Perhaps their own relatively uneventful contact with police provides comfortable distance and deniability. Or maybe white America has been swayed by persuasive and powerful counternarratives, especially from conservative media.

Whatever the explanation, there is a bewildering disconnect between white tolerance of police misconduct—including homicides—and the call for “personal accountability” that has long permeated our national policy discussions. Championed by conservatives and furthered by liberal elites wary of social justice, “personal accountability” has been elevated to a national religion. In the 1990s, with full cooperation by the Clinton administration, this rhetoric was used as a cudgel against the poor in order to pave the way for draconian welfare reforms, packaged as “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.” The same dogma helped justify the “three strikes you’re out” and “mandatory minimums” policies that fueled the country’s racist and expensive incarceration frenzy. Today, politicians brandish the term to demand drug testing for poor recipients of public aid and to cut social programs that help the needy.

Most recently, “personal accountability” has been deployed against public school teachers, to devastating effect. George W. Bush charged that too many teachers were incompetent, and famously accused them and others in the education system of practicing a “soft bigotry of low expectations.” That bigotry, he said, contributed to black academic underachievement and the persistence of a “racial gap” in academic outcomes. Of course, Bush’s analysis was flawed, for it ignored the outsized role of poverty in shaping educational outcomes. Nevertheless, “soft bigotry” became the lingua franca of education discourse in Washington, enabling the institution of strict “teacher accountability” standards enforced by the high-stakes testing of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and other measures. President Obama followed with his Race to the Top, which Georgetown law Professor Jonathan Turley has dubbed “NCLB on steroids.” The narrative of “bad teachers” has only gained traction: A 2010 Newsweek article proclaimed, “In no other profession are workers so insulated from accountability.” Of course, no one who has followed the national scandal of police impunity, or similarly Wall Street executives, will believe that.

However, the nation’s police forces are indeed insulated from the fervent national demand for “personal accountability.” White America has set a very low bar for police accountability: Police can gun down a fleeing black man, a black boy playing with a toy gun, a black Walmart customer holding a fake gun he’d purchased at the store, and a naked, mentally disturbed and unarmed black man. They can choke to death a black street peddler, and let die a distressed, handcuffed black man as he begged for help. And still, majorities of white people believe police treat black people “fairly”?

What explains white America’s indulgent attitude towards the homicidal tendencies of so many police? Where is the clamor for “personal accountability” that has been directed at poor black people and public school teachers? Why don’t white Americans who fulminate about both high taxes and “personal accountability” demand the removal of cops whose conduct has become expensive and disgraceful?

The answer, of course, is that the dogma of personal accountability was never an honest critique, but a ploy to serve conservative racial and political goals. It targets poor black people, who don’t produce votes for the GOP but can be used as fodder for its race-baiting electoral strategy. It targets teachers and their unions, who represent the last remaining barrier between the billions spent on public education nationwide and the corporate shysters trying to get at that money through privatization. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, for example, called public education a “$500 billion sector … that is waiting desperately to be transformed,” and Andy Smarick, former COO of National Alliance of Charter Schools, calls for “replac[ing] the district-based system in America’s large cities with fluid, self-improving systems of charter schools.”

Police are not the only group given a pass by the personal accountability jihadists. During the financial crisis, few, if any Fox News’ elite commentators ever bemoaned the lack of “personal accountability” by Wall Street bankers whose reckless conduct crashed the economy. Calls to drug-test recipients of government aid exclude CEOs of companies that get tax breaks and other public subsidies. Nor did conservatives call for CEO accountability when 15 workers were killed in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas in 2013; or when 29 miners died in a preventable explosion at Upper Branch mine in W.VA (CEO Don Blankenship was later indicted); or when—in a catastrophe that experts deemed foreseeable—11 workers perished after BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded in 2010, causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. And despite the many calls for accountability in education, no pundits have seized on the fact that, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, the U.S. government has given away more than $3.3 billion to the charter school industry over the past 20 years with no conditions.

Though calls to fire “bad teachers” are contrived to serve ideological goals while ignoring the socioeconomic conditions that impact learning, teacher unions such as the American Federation of Teachers (disclosure, I am an employee) have nevertheless responded. The AFT has taken measures to ensure the proper balance between due process rights and the need to facilitate removal of personnel deemed unsuitable for the job. As a general matter, accountability is a noble concept without which institutions cannot function. What is troubling about police unions’ response to violence is that, in reflexively declaring the innocence of their accused comrades, they take a contemptibly dismissive posture regarding the concerns of countless fellow citizens who’ve joined in protest. In the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, union leaders went further and blamed the kid for causing his own death. Without exception, there is not a moment of self-reflection by the largely white union leadership, or any attempt to understand the grievances of African Americans. Police unions give unions a bad name and reinforce the worst perceptions of unions. Tragically they are doing so at a time many unions and community organizations nationwide are building vibrant and progressive labor-community coalitions.

It is just as troubling that many white Americans are complicit in an ideologically ginned up crusade about “personal accountability.” For if they were sincere, this would be the moment—as black lives are snuffed out by police—for accountability crusaders to step up and say enough is enough! Worship of law enforcement, which seems to have reached a fever pitch, especially within the American Right, is not healthy for democracy. Suspicion of state power—at times a redeeming feature of conservatism—has been compromised at the altar of racial and political ideology.

To his credit, conservative writer Leon H. Wolf dissented from this culture of cop worship. “Many Conservatives are Blowing it on the Ferguson DOJ Report ” was the title of his scathing critique posted at Redstates.org. Citing the Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson, Wolf cautioned, “No conservative on earth should feel comfortable with the way the Ferguson PD has been operating for years, even according to their own documents. ” Among the DOJ findings Wolf cited was the fact that between October 2012 and October 2014, African Americans accounted for 85 percent of the 11,610 vehicle stops reported by Ferguson police, though they make up 67 percent of the population. Whites, who represented 29 percent of the population, made up 15 percent of stops.

It is hoped that the many white Americans swept up in the national denial of police brutality against their fellow citizens will face the ever-mounting evidence and demand stricter police accountability. White America must stop letting reverence for law enforcement distort their perceptions and start believing that black victims of police brutality aren’t making this stuff up.

B.B. King dies at 89


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Amira Hass – ‘Israeli-Jewish dissidence in times of bantustanisation’


Posted: May 8, 2015
from Redline, by Daphna Whitmore

For over two decades Israeli correspondent Amira Hass has reported from inside Israel’s occupied territories. She has lived in the West Bank, writing for Haaretz since 1997, and before that in Gaza. She is one of the best-known critics of the Israeli state. She has just been on a speaking tour of New Zealand and I went along to hear her speak on Israeli-Jewish dissidence.

Amira Hass speaking in Auckland 7 May 2015

She began by saying she’s thinking of writing a column titled ‘A Guide for a Perplexed Alien’. An alien arriving in Israel would struggle to tell who is an Israeli and who is a Palestinian, they both look alike, she said. If you want to know who is who: “Wherever it is green” it is Israel. “Wherever it is grey it is Palestinian. Wherever there is [space for] strolling it is Israel, wherever it is densely populated it is Palestinian. It is an urban topography that has a philosophy”.

While the apartheid label angers Israelis, says Hass, there is “separate and unequal development of two people in the same land under the same government.” Israel certainly uses the term separation and it has different sets of laws, different sets of rights for people, and the infrastructure is different. Unlike apartheid South Africa there is no biological racism, for instance, the hospitals have Jews and Palestinians side by side. You never see signs “Jews Only”. But separate and unequal development exists.

She calls it Bantustanisation. In the West Bank 62 percent of the land is under Israeli control and Palestinians are not allowed to build or live there.

Bantustanisation took place over the past two decades in parallel with the “peace process”. Before that all of the West Bank was Palestinian with some enclaves of ‘crazy settlers’. Now it is an Israeli expanse with Palestinian enclaves.

In the south of the West Bank is an ancient village called Susiya where the people were driven out decades ago so they moved to their nearby agricultural lands. They have not been allowed to build on their privately owned land and now in the last two weeks a judge (who is a religious settler) has ruled that the state may remove their buildings even while they await a hearing in court.

The trip from Jenin in the north of the West Bank to Hebron in the south should take one and a half hours. With all the checkpoints it takes many hours and it feels that they are far apart. Hass talked of how she as an Israeli can travel from Ramallah to East Jerusalem in 30 minutes but Palestinians are not permitted to go there. “For Palestinians Jerusalem is as far as the moon” says Hass. The Palestinians reply “Yes, but at least we can see the moon; we cannot see Jerusalem”.

There is anger and despair.

She believes Israel lost a marvellous opportunity to be accepted in the region and to lose its colonialist characteristics.

Historically European Jews in the diaspora had options other than Zionism. They joined socialist, communist and anarchist groups to oppose anti-Semitism. Nazism changed all that and they became Zionists and colonialists. In the 1990s she maintains they could have proven they were not just colonialists.

Bantustanisation is an Israeli sort of compromise. Israel cannot expel millions of Palestinians so they hold them in enclaves, with Gaza being the biggest enclave.

There is a young Palestinian generation that only knows Israelis as settlers and soldiers. These days she frequently hears the youth – she lives among them on the West Bank – say that every Israeli Jew is a settler and that the solution is all the Jews should leave.

Many Israeli dissidents do leave, but most cannot. “At a certain moment settlers become natives. We have also become natives”.

Palestinians have not been decimated; almost half the population is Palestinian, and in 2020 they will be more than half. Jews are a minority in the region. Israel should have been more attentive says Hass. She thinks Israel’s policies are suicidal. Palestinians ask “don’t Israeli’s think about their grandchildren”. This shows a very compassionate side, that they accept an arrangement of a life together. Israelis have rejected it in a greedy seizure to hold on to the privileges of a hegemonic people, says Hass.

Israeli dissidents who don’t want to leave are left to use their privileges to fight the regime of privilege. There are several Israeli groups doing work, which she outlined. They face off settler terror and fight legal and land causes.

Settlers are the messengers and the representatives of the state. The state allows the settlers to terrorise the Palestinians. The state doesn’t want to stop them.

There is not solidarity between the Israeli working class and the Palestinian. The main trade union in Israel is very negative. As a bulk all Israelis benefit from the occupation and this is why the working classes support the system. The withering of the welfare state was also instrumental. The settlements that have succeeded the most moved for economic reasons, not ideological.

As for the new government, it is really bad news; the Jewish Home party is the most racist of them all and now it has the Ministry of Education, Justice and Civil Administration (the military office in West Bank and Gaza).

For the future she believes “The fight has to continue, the contradictions in Israeli society maybe can deepen the cracks, but it seems more difficult than before.”


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 05/06/2015 - 16:09


By BAR (Black Agenda Report) managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Vermont senator and ostensible socialist Bernie Sanders is playing the sheepdog candidate for Hillary Clinton this year. Bernie's job is to warm up the crowd for Hillary, herding activist energies and the disaffected left back into the Democratic fold one more time. Bernie aims to tie up activist energies and resources till the summer of 2016 when the only remaining choice will be the usual lesser of two evils.

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016
By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
“The sheepdog is a card the Democratic party plays every presidential primary season when there's no White House Democrat running for re-election.”

Spoiler alert: we have seen the Bernie Sanders show before, and we know exactly how it ends. Bernie has zero likelihood of winning the Democratic nomination for president over Hillary Clinton. Bernie will lose, Hillary will win. When Bernie folds his tent in the summer of 2016, the money, the hopes and prayers, the year of activist zeal that folks put behind Bernie Sanders' either vanishes into thin air, or directly benefits the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Don't believe us? Then believe Bernie himself interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC News “This Week” May 3.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you lose in this nomination fight, will you support the Democratic nominee?
SANDERS: Yes. I have in the past.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not going to run as an independent?
SANDERS: No, absolutely not. I've been very clear about that.
Bernie Sanders is this election's Democratic sheepdog. The sheepdog is a card the Democratic party plays every presidential primary season when there's no White House Democrat running for re-election. The sheepdog is a presidential candidate running ostensibly to the left of the establishment Democrat to whom the billionaires will award the nomination. Sheepdogs are herders, and the sheepdog candidate is charged with herding activists and voters back into the Democratic fold who might otherwise drift leftward and outside of the Democratic party, either staying home or trying to build something outside the two party box.

1984 and 88 the sheepdog candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 92 it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000 and 2004 the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton, and in 2008 it was Dennis Kucinich. This year it's Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. The function of the sheepdog candidate is to give left activists and voters a reason, however illusory, to believe there's a place of influence for them inside the Democratic party, if and only if the eventual Democratic nominee can win in November.

Despite casting millions of voters for the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other sheepdogs, those leftish Democrat voters are always disregarded when Democrats actually win. Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA, a vicious “welfare reform,” no peace dividend or push for DC statehood, lowered unemployment but mostly in part time and low-wage jobs, and mass incarceration of black and brown people. President Obama doubled down on bailouts of banksters and GM, and immunized them from prosecution but failed to address the most catastrophic fall in black household wealth in history. We got health care for some instead of Medicare for All, the Patriot Act renewed instead of repealed, a race to privatize public education, drone wars and still more mass incarceration of black and brown people. And if President Obama gets his way, we may soon have a global job-destroying wage-lowering NAFTA on steroids, with the TTP and TTIP.

The sheepdog's job is to divert the energy and enthusiasm of activists a year, a year and a half out from a November election away from building an alternative to the Democratic party, and into his doomed effort. When the sheepdog inevitably folds in the late spring or early summer before a November election, there's no time remaining to win ballot access for alternative parties or candidates, no time to raise money or organize any effective challenge to the two capitalist parties.

At that point, with all the alternatives foreclosed, the narrative shifts to the familiar “lesser of two evils.” Every sheepdog candidate surrenders the shreds of his credibility to the Democratic nominee in time for the November election. This is how the Bernie Sanders show ends, as the left-leaning warm-up act for Hillary Clinton.

Intent on avoiding the two-party “lesser evil” trap this year, about two hundred activists gathered in Chicago last weekend to consider the future of electoral organizing outside the Democratic and Republican parties. Many of the participants were Greens, including former presidential and vice presidential candidates Jill Stein and Rosa Clemente, the former Green mayor of Richmond California, and many others. There were also representatives from Seattle, where Socialist Alternative's Kshama Sawant won election to Seattle's city council, as well as Angela Walker, a black socialist who received 67,000 votes for Milwaukee County sheriff in 2014, and many others, including some who took part in the recent Chicago mayoral election.

There was trans-partisan interest in a 50-state ballot access drive to put the Green Party's Jill Stein on the presidential ballot for 2016 presidential race. Currently the law keeps Greens and others off the ballot in more than half the states. Precise details vary according to state law, but if a third party candidate after obtaining one-time ballot access receives about 2% of total votes, a new ballot line is created, granting ballot access to any potential candidate from school board to sheriff to US congress who wants to run as something other than a Republican or Democrat. That, many participants agreed, would be a significant puncture in the legal thicket that now protects Democrats against competition on the ballot from their left. But a nationwide trans-partisan ballot access campaign to create a national alternative to the two capitalist parties is something left activists must begin serious work a good 18 months before a November election, essentially right now.

Whether or not a national ballot access campaign is undertaken by Greens and others, a Bernie Sanders candidacy is an invitation to do again what's been done in 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2008. Bernie's candidacy is a blast toward the past, an invitation to herd and be herded like sheep back into the Democratic fold, to fundraise and canvass and recruit and mobilize for Bernie, as he warms up the crowd for Hillary. Bernie is a sheepdog.

The question is, are we sheep?

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.