Still it's a fair question: what did Bernie's speech on Friday actually accomplish? If you mean, that is, something besides demonstrating in no uncertain terms, and despite near total mainstream media blackout, an enormous untapped well of popular hunger for more Progressive legislation, and a glaringly obvious gap between that majority hunger and the ongoing "failure of leadership" on the part of the Obama administration to use the world's best bully pulpit to turn ideas with potentially overwhelming broad popular support into actual legislation. Ideas that would have the added benefit, needless to say, of producing the real-world results of fulfilling both the alleged spirit and substance of Obama's campaign promises, as opposed to what we got.
Gibbs says the votes "aren't there"...Well, when the President expends more effort playing basketball than fighting for his base that's hardly a surprise. It's also just plain unacceptable. Right now American people (especially in the south) are so confused they think Obama is trying to take away Pell Grants and raise taxes on the middle class. Trust me, I talk to them everyday. Unless you make the Republicans show themselves for who they truly are, even if it means shutting down the government, yes–there is no hope anything but the ongoing disastrous rightward drift. They are just that much better at messaging than you. But then, you refuse to participate at all, so that's hardly a surprise. Such "pure soul" "post-partisan" "post-political" "Republican-lite" governing continues to be responsible for untold suffering, mounting exponentially every year, both domestic and worldwide.
And Obama has just all-but-assured the future death-by-a-thousand-private-cuts of Social Security. Obviously, we need stronger medicine to break the downward spiral. You can support Bernie Sanders, and thank him for being a fighter, here.
Update: At the same time, Al Franken's decision is something Progressives may be able to respect. And for that, the President owes Al Franken an enormous gratitude. Perhaps he could begin by keeping his own word.
• Update: Bail Granted!
This new documentary (also available in ten-minute segs on you-tube), provides some important historical context for wikileaks. Help it go viral.
I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That's Mr. Bush about to be handed a "secret" document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings." Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.
But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden's impending attack using hijacked planes?
But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time's 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)
Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read "secret" memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the "facts" he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched -- or rather, wouldn't there have been calls for Cheney's arrest?
Openness, transparency -- these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 -- after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.
Instead, secrets killed them.
For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please -- never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange's guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money -- and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.