Policy Watch: Hillary Clinton’s Racism, Bernie Sanders’ Support of War

This column appears in the February 4 – 11 edition of the Hartford News…
Community Party Media

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Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First and third Tuesday of each month. NEW TIME 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! Replays the following Wednesday, same time.  Next show February 16.  http://sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
Meagan Hockaday Act
Meagan Hockaday was murdered by Oxnard, California police officer Roger Garcia in front of her children on March 28, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/meaganmatters/timeline Garcia has not been charged. Coming in 2016: The Community Party’s Meagan Hockaday Act includes enhanced criminal penalties for excessive use of force by the police against mentally ill people and individuals in crisis, in addition to whenever children are present. Our legislation will implement a new international approach to policing, based on a successful model in the United Kingdom and Canada that emphasizes de-escalation and treatment. Public Health Committee co-chair Rep. Matt Ritter is collaborating with us on this bill. Stay tuned for updates. Meagan Matters! https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/meagan-matters-police-murder-of-black-women-ignored-by-corporate-media-activists/ Check out CP’s 2016 legislative package at our No Sellout blog. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/community-party-2016-legislative-package/
State Budget
Next week’s column will include commentary on Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget proposal.
Race for the White House: The Democrats
The Democratic presidential primary is long on drama, but short on substance. A Martin Luther King Day weekend debate between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley produced fireworks between Clinton and Sanders, who has turned the expected coronation of Clinton into a dogfight: Clinton was declared the winner in the Iowa caucuses by less than one percent. Sanders’ surging national popularity sends a clear message. Voters are fed up with the Democratic Party establishment, who go out of their way to alienate the people who they claim to serve. Here in Connecticut, voters showed their displeasure with the Dems in the last election as the Republicans won 10 seats in the House of Representatives; they have gained 27 seats since 2010. The GOP is gearing up to wipe out the Democrats’ shrinking majority (87-64 in the House, 21-15 in the Senate) in November, hoping to tap into voters’ anger over the state budget quagmire. The Dems continue to abuse the working class and the poor by raising taxes and slashing funding for human services, while the budget deficit grows. Of course a Republican controlled legislature would be the equivalent of moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. Neither party is working in the interests of the people.
During the debate Sanders did not answer the question by a Black voter about appointing special prosecutors to investigate police killings, such as the murder of Tamir Rice. His talking points response about automatically referring cases to the Department of Justice (0 prosecutions of killer cops during Barack Obama’s presidency) and hiring more Black police officers was lame. Sanders would connect with more Black/Latino voters if he talked about prosecuting police officers who commit murder with the same passion that he talks about prosecuting Goldman Sachs executives, and other Wall Street crooks. Let’s not forget about Native Americans, the ethnic group being killed by police at the highest rate.  http://bluenationreview.com/native-americans-are-the-group-most-likely-to-be-killed-by-police/

It was amusing to hear Clinton claim that ObamaCare, a private insurance based system that leaves 30 million people without health care, would serve more people than Sanders’ single payer (FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL) plan. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have a single payer system. The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th in quality  of health care. France, which has a single payer system, is #1. President Harry Truman proposed a national health insurance plan in 1945. The Truman Library and Museum provides details about the single payer legislation on their website. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/anniversaries/healthprogram.htm

“The most controversial aspect of the plan was the proposed national health insurance plan. In his November 19, 1945 address, President Truman called for the creation of a national health insurance fund to be run by the federal government. This fund would be open to all Americans, but would remain optional. Participants would pay monthly fees into the plan, which would cover the cost of any and all medical expenses that arose in a time of need. The government would pay for the cost of services rendered by any doctor who chose to join the program. In addition, the insurance plan would give a cash balance to the policy holder to replace wages lost due to illness or injury.
President Truman’s health proposals finally came to Congress in the form of a Social Security expansion bill, co-sponsored in Congress by Senators Robert Wagner (D-NY) and James Murray (D-MT), along with Representative John Dingell (D-MI). For this reason, the bill was known popularly as the W-M-D bill. The American Medical Association (AMA) launched a spirited attack against the bill, capitalizing on fears of Communism in the public mind. The AMA characterized the bill as ‘socialized medicine’, and in a forerunner to the rhetoric of the McCarthy era, called Truman White House staffers ‘followers of the Moscow party line’.* Organized labor, the main public advocate of the bill, had lost much of its goodwill from the American people in a series of unpopular strikes. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, President Truman was finally forced to abandon the W-M-D Bill. ”
Clinton did her best to paint Sanders as a shill for the NRA. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman made an important point during a discussion on Clinton. Clinton is going after Sanders for his voting record on guns, but she is a former board member of Wal-Mart, one of the biggest gun sellers in the country. NBC News debate commentators couldn’t help but ask questions about what Bill Clinton did with women during the 90’s, an issue that has absolutely no impact on the problems facing this country.
SocialistWorker.org commentator Paul Heideman documented the sordid history of the Clintons and race (including a mention of Sanders and the current Vice President) in his column, The Clintons’ Shameful Hypocrisy on Racism. http://socialistworker.org/2016/01/26/the-clintons-shameful-hypocrisy-on-racism “Bill Clinton came to the White House after 12 years of Republican occupants convinced that the Democrats’ decline had been due to the party being too far to the left. As president, he intended to finish the reorientation he had pushed for as governor of Arkansas.
In the service of this goal, he brought in conservative strategist Dick Morris, notorious for helping veteran race-baiting Republican Sen. Jesse Helms win re-election in 1998 over a Black opponent , thanks in part to a blatantly racist ad encouraging white workers to blame Black workers for their layoffs.
Clinton’s push to the right bore fruit in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. This bill, authored by Joe Biden at the behest of the White House, established draconian three-strikes laws that sent people away to prison for decades for trivial crimes. It also included ‘truth in sentencing’ provisions that eliminated early parole for huge numbers of prisoners.
Though the trend toward the era of mass incarceration had begun earlier and was largely driven on the state level, Clinton’s passage of the 1994 law helped entrench the system even further. As the crime bill was being debated in Congress, Hillary Clinton was a vocal advocate for it, repeating the kinds of racist talking points used to support the ‘war on crime.’ At a time when the U.S. prison population was skyrocketing, she declared, ‘There is something wrong when a crime bill takes six years to work its way through Congress and the average criminal serves only four…We need more police. We need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.’ Bernie Sanders, it should be noted, voted for this bill while serving in the House.”
Heideman went on to talk about President Clinton teaming up with the Republicans in 1996 to pass a ‘welfare reform’ bill that has fueled poverty in the United States. If Sanders would sign a blood oath vowing to end his support of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and U.S. militarism in general, he would have my vote. Sanders’ economic and health care policy positions would benefit people of color. Sanders is the only major party candidate who talks about Black/Latino unemployment: he has proposed a New Deal type of federal jobs program.
Addictinginfo.org reported on a 2014 incident where activists held Sanders accountable for his Middle East policies. “Senator Bernie Sanders—the longest serving independent member of congress in American history—compromised his firm antiwar position at Saturday’s climate change event in New York City. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last time the potential presidential candidate finds himself in the crosshairs over his inconsistent—Israeli exempt—opposition of U.S. entanglement in the Middle East. 
Last night in New York City, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was interrupted by two protestors, while he addressed the panel on ‘The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out?’  The protesters held a sign for the audience, which read ‘BERNIE VOTED FOR THE WAR ON THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF PALESTINE.’ In a similar incident last August, Sen. Sanders faced heavy criticism from Cabot Town Hall audience members. Citizens expressed their disapproval over his statements and votes in support of Israel’s recent military offensive, which devastated the Gaza Strip—Operation Protective Edge claimed the lives of over 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians. In a rare video of the event posted on YouTube, Sanders becomes angry and instinctively defends Israel’s internationally condemned bombings on Gaza’s civilian population.”  http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/09/21/activists-disrupt-bernie-sanders-speech-over-his-support-for-war/

Michael Arria of Alernet.org examined Sanders’ foreign policy record in a May 2015 piece, Bernie Sanders’ Troubling History of Supporting U.S. Military Violence Abroad. http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernie-sanders-troubling-history-supporting-us-military-violence-abroad  Arria pointed out the similarities between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. “The difference between the two candidates on war is hardly substantial and his political closet is filled with as many skeletons. Notably he supported NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, a stance which caused one of his staffers to resign in protest. In his resignation letter to Sanders, former staffer Jeremy Brecher explained the Clinton administration’s position at the time. ‘While it has refused to send ground forces into Kosovo, the U.S. has also opposed and continues to oppose all alternatives that would provide immediate protection for the people of Kosovo by putting non-or partially-NATO forces into Kosovo,’ wrote Brecher, ‘…The refusal of the U.S. to endorse such proposals strongly supports the hypothesis that the goal of U.S. policy is not to save the Kosovars from ongoing destruction.’ Brecher’s note to Sanders closes with a set of rhetorical questions, ‘Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support? Where does that limit lie? And when that limit has been reached, what action will you take? My answers led to my resignation.’

Hillary Clinton is an imperialist. A vote for her is a vote for corporatism and global hegemony. Bernie Sanders’ domestic policy platform is clearly the reason for his appeal among the far left and disenchanted Democrats. However the fact that his foreign policy record mirrors Clinton’s cannot be ignored, nor can his vote in support of Bill Clinton’s racist 1994 crime bill, or his weak policy response to police violence. A Sanders presidency coupled with a corporate controlled Congress presents the distinct possibility of more disappointment for the left, unless they hold Sanders accountable for his campaign promises.
Next week: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump exploits white fear, as he runs on a platform of white nationalism.
2016 presidential candidates’ campaign finance profiles:
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948   Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first and third Tuesday of each month at 9:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com  

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