It’s Go Time for Sanders Supporters. Democratic Primary Update

February 21, 2016 — by JT Haines

After three states, delegate counts on the Dem side are even at 51 (non-superdelegates, that is), and Sanders is well ahead in the overall popular vote, 60%-38%. Looks pretty good for Team Sanders, all things considered, right?

Make no mistake. Steadily and per script the corporate machinery of the DNC and Clinton campaign is grinding, quietly telling insiders that this thing could be over as soon as March 1.

The next 10 days are a probably a lot bigger than they seem to many Sanders supporters. Until now, the Sanders campaign has enjoyed tremendous success on social media, at rallies, and through millions of $27 donations. It is very clear that people want an alternative to the politics of Wall Street, Wal-Mart, and Monsanto, and they want it now. So it might feel as though the campaign can simply continue and grow, that the real Sanders v Clinton moment will happen some time in the future, like at a convention or at a general election.

That may yet happen. And because of the delegates Sanders has won and will win, the demands of the campaign will be present on some level going forward, regardless of who wins the next several states. However, the reality is, a couple more primary “victories” by Clinton would allow her campaign, and the mainstream corporate media that donates to her campaign, to pivot the narrative back from one about political revolution to the preferred narrative of inevitability. It’s happening already, even with the delegate count tied, and the next couple states are tough sledding for Sanders. If enough talking heads say it’s over, people will start to believe it.

In order for conversations about the possibility of Sanders winning to continue in their fullest form (as well as conversations about superdelegates, corporate contributions, and DNC manipulations that come with them), there will need to be a new surge on the Sanders side, and probably within the next 10 days.

This means Sanders supporters, most critically those in Super Tuesday states*, going beyond social media and talking directly to friends and neighbors about voting on March 1. Only major turnouts have the chance of counteracting the incredible amount of establishment machinery leaning on the process on the other side. (Turnout was low in Nevada.)

Short of this, a few minor concessions notwithstanding, prepare yourself for what is certain to be a really, really, unpleasant summer of being told that you must vote for a candidate who does not believe it’s necessary to challenge the system nearly as much as you do.

To vote on March 1 in Minnesota:
Go to your precinct caucus location, which you can find here: http://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/  Voting will take place between 6:30 and 8:00pm. Heads up, a few things that are confusing people:
  1. Party caucus locations are NOT election polling locations. You have to look it up. [Update: I’ve been on the doors myself this weekend. I’m finding that nearly everyone thinks they’re going to their polling place (in our case, a church), when actually they’re going to the caucus location (in our case, the high school). Gotta check — Spread the word!]
  2. You do not have to stay around for all the party business to vote in the binding presidential poll. In other words, if you want to vote and leave, you can do that.
  3. Voting is from 6:30 to 8:00. If you’re in line by 8:00 you can vote.
  4. The poll is binding — meaning, the results determine how many delegates the candidates will get at the national convention from Minnesota. Think mini-primary.


*Super Tuesday Democratic states include:

Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia.

“This is politics, so get over it.” An Occupy Organizer’s Case for Bernie

By JT Haines – January 26, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.06.42 PMNew York-based Wildfire Project Director Yotam Marom supports Bernie Sanders for President. As a former Occupy organizer and leftist with a fairly large and national group of followers, Marom’s posts fill a space in the conversation not often reached by the MSM. This morning he directly and concisely addresses many of the questions about Sanders I often hear from those concerned the Sanders campaign isn’t left/progressive enough. If you’ve heard, or have, these questions also, I recommend this as well worth a read:

Folks, I think at this point, it’s just irresponsible for movement people not to support Bernie Sanders for president. Bianca and I watched the democratic town hall on tv last night. Millions of people got to listen to Bernie rail against Wall Street, demand that capitalists pay for social programs, preach against the war, popularize the term socialism, explain programs like single payer health care and free higher ed as common sense, and more. Bernie ain’t perfect: His foreign policy is weak, I wish he was stronger on race, and this election isn’t going to fundamentally change the system one way or the other. And still, nothing could be better at this moment – both for our movements and the hundreds of millions of working people in this country – than the continued possibility of a Sanders presidency, and the immense political education the public is undergoing with every day of this election cycle as a result of the megaphone our movements have given him. But if he loses Iowa or New Hampshire, it’s over, the megaphone goes away, and we go back to business as usual, a boring ass election between a bunch of right wingers. If you’re a cautious democrat: You have nothing to lose by gambling on this; the only thing holding Bernie back is our fear that he can’t win, but he will if you back him. And if you’re a leftist holding out for the revolution: Me too. But this is politics, so get over it. We use all the tools at our disposal that might move us forward. Your silence on this – like neutrality in the face of any imbalance of power – is actually a vote for Hillary.

Mr. Sanders and his campaign are indeed far from perfect. With that firmly in mind, this may be the healthiest conversation in many decades about the opportunities and limitations of any one campaign. For that alone we should be thanking Bernie, and giving him a fair amount of latitude on his decisions about how, where, and with what party to run.

This is not 2008. I think posts like Marom’s make that clear. And (as is no secret), I certainly share Marom’s conclusion that the tools the Sanders campaign is offering us right now are far too useful to pass up.


Did Bernie Just Kinda Win?

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 7.30.33 PM

By JT Haines, December 19, 2015

Mark December 18, 2015, on your calendars.

The Sanders campaign has been gaining momentum for months, picking up a number of significant labor endorsements (CWA, AWPU, NNU), hitting two million individual contributions before Obama topped out at one million, and gaining in the polls. He’s also polling better against Republicans, and Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings have been trending badly in the wrong direction all year. And, anecdotally, the people who say they simply won’t vote for Secretary Clinton with or without a nomination seem to this time really mean it. (Don’t they? Disclaimer: I am a Bernie Sanders supporter, and my social media feed is a verifiable silo.)

But even with all this, the conventional wisdom has continued to be: Secretary Clinton simply has too much (corporate) cash, even bigger labor endorsements (NEA, AFT, AFSCME, SEIU, Building Trades), and too many super delegates already lined up for any of the rest of it (i.e., real people voting) to matter.

That is, perhaps, until yesterday.

Briefly: A vendor-caused glitch in a voter file program recently allowed both campaigns to temporarily view one another’s voter data. At least one Sanders staffer saw some data. (It has been alleged that the Sanders campaign reported the glitch two months ago.) Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) shut down the Sanders campaign’s access to voter files as a result of the breach.

The reaction has been swift and revealing.

For its part, the Sanders campaign immediately sued the DNC, with campaign manager Jeff Weaver making this pretty astounding statement: “The leadership of the Democratic National Committee is actively trying to undermine our campaign.” (CNN)

Here’s a tweet from David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, about the suspension of access:

And former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich said “it seems like the DNC is doing all it can to blunt the momentum of Bernie’s campaign.” (Time)

Access was granted by the end of the day, but the damage may have been done, as the general response on social media has been intense, bordering on outright revolt.

For a good example, I recommend a swing through former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak’s facebook page. Yesterday, Rybak posted a lengthy comment seeking to explain what is going on with the data breach and subsequent DNC actions. RT is a powerful and popular Democrat, and now the Vice-Chair of the DNC, so one might expect comments on his feed to be somewhat muted. Or at least more muted than elsewhere. But the vast majority of the now 94 comments — often from Rybak’s own apologetic fans — are openly distrustful of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign.

Here’s one:

“As always, this is not a reflection on my apprecration (sic) for all you do RT. I am simply angry. This also happened October and the Sanders campaign made sure the DNC fixed it poste haste because, while the Sanders campaign could see Clinton’s campaign, the Clinton campaign could also see the Sanders’ campaign. How come no one is asking to audit the Clinton campaign? Debbie Wasserman Schultz and NGP must be fired.”

What’s the big deal, you might ask, won’t we be on to the next thing by January? Perhaps. But this to me feels different. It’s as if permission has now been granted for a lot more people to move past private suspicion and concern about things like debate timing and media coverage, to now openly questioning the DNC and democratic establishment. That’s going to be an even bigger deal come caucus/primary time. As Buzzfeed put it, “this is the war Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ progressive coalition was ready for.”

I thought my friend Matt Barthelemy captured the sentiment well:

Hesitant Hillary Clinton supporters – especially all you electeds/opinion leaders who have already publicly endorsed her – if this blow-up turns out to be the establishment-favoring-its-candidate BS it smells like, it’ll be a great chance for y’all to justify jumping ship and pivoting over to support this election’s People’s candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, so we can win this for real.


So let’s see what happens. In the meantime, mark December 18, 2015, on your calendars. I wonder if, by next November, we might just look back on it as the day Bernie Sanders won the presidency.


Update: By the way, this Dec 21 HuffPo blog piece (Hillary Clinton Is Better Than the Republican Candidates. But I Still Wouldn’t Vote for Her) exhibits the exact sentiment I’ve been talking about. I saw some of this in 2012 among those disappointed with a perceived abandonment of progressive priorities by Obama in his first term. I see a lot more of it now. Lines in the sand are being drawn, with eyes wide open towards the costs and benefits. At some point, the DNC may have to answer a question: Is it defending the party? Or is it defending specifically HRC and the version of the party she represents?

PolyMet Review Not Like Poker


By JT Haines – December 6, 2015

I clicked the link in the above tweet this morning and took a look at Mining Minnesota’s stock comment to Governor Dayton with industry’s reasons why the Final EIS is “beyond adequate.” (Full text of the comment is below.) My purpose here is to simply offer a quick response to the first two of these “reasons,” which have been persisting in the discussion for years despite a lack of any real value.

MM’s Reason #1: “The Co-lead Agencies have spent 10 years evaluating potential project effects and alternatives.”

Yes, it has taken a long time. Simply put – having spent 10 years on something isn’t a reason to keep doing it. Really, the fact that the project has required 10 years to evaluate is no more a reason to move forward with it than it is a reason not to move forward with it. This isn’t poker, we’re not pot committed.

MM’s Reason #2:  “The Final EIS responds in detail to thousands of public comments and questions submitted during the review periods for the Draft EIS and the Supplemental Draft EIS.”

This is, again, simply a reiteration of the stage of the process we’re in — not a substantive point for or against anything. Comments have been submitted (a record number against, actually), and comments have been responded to –that’s the point of the process. So, again,”Lots of time has already been spent on this” is not a reason to DO anything. (By the way, remind me never to take investment advice from Mining Minnesota: “JT, you’ve lost so much money on this stock, obviously you must invest more.”)

Repeat them ad nauseum if you will, but these “the process is lengthy” arguments remain logically empty — they don’t actually mean anything other than this thing has already cost us all a lot of time and money.

At some point, if it still looks like a turkey…

Finally, @GoPolyMet’s tweet mentions bringing “hundreds of #jobs to the area,” so I’ll conclude with this: Spending millions of dollars adding 350 jobs — jobs beholden to a gigantic, foreign, anti-union mining conglomerate (Glencore XStrata) and a volatile international metals market — while in the midst of our own extremely challenging time where we’re losing far more than 350 existing mining jobs, would not on its face appear to be a sensible jobs program, if that’s what this is supposed to be. We can do better.

For the full text of the Final EIS and fact sheets, or to comment, visit DNR.
For Mining Minnesota’s full suggested comment to the Governor, click here. The text is also below.
For Mining Truth’s full suggested comment to the Governor (and response to the remainder of Mining Minnesota’s comment), click here.




Final EIS for PolyMet’s NorthMet Mine is beyond adequate
The Final EIS for PolyMet’s proposed mine concludes a thorough and independent review of the project’s potential environmental effects. After 10 years of study, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service have looked at the evidence and correctly found that the NorthMet Mine can comply with strict state and federal environmental standards.
The Final EIS for the NorthMet Mine is far beyond “adequate.” It takes a careful and comprehensive look at the project from every angle.
– The Co-lead Agencies have spent 10 years evaluating potential project effects and alternatives.
– The Final EIS responds in detail to thousands of public comments and questions submitted during the review periods for the Draft EIS and the Supplemental Draft EIS.
– The project’s water modeling—which was fully updated for the Final EIS—shows that PolyMet’s treatment and mitigation plans will prevent acid mine drainage and meet all water quality standards.
– After careful review, the Final EIS concludes that groundwater flows from the NorthMet project will not directly, indirectly, or cumulatively affect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Voyageurs National Park, and that any possible groundwater flow would be prevented.
– The Final EIS also specifically considered the project’s potential effects on air quality and water quality with respect to human health, and identified no adverse health risks.
– In short, the Final EIS meets all of the requirements of the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The time has come to move forward. The DNR should affirm the adequacy of the Final EIS so it can serve as the foundation for the state of Minnesota’s permitting process.





Time for Hillary to Withdraw

Clinton 2016 campaign announcement speech. Image (c) msnbc.com/NBC Universal

Clinton 2016 campaign announcement speech. Image (c) msnbc.com/NBC Universal

By JT Haines — June 26, 2015

Sanders is surging, and some are surprised. (Newspeak Review is not. The sentiments expressed here in 2013 are playing out as predicted.) In any case, the surge has drawn the expected consternation and in-fighting among the “left” (those willing to hope that incremental change funded by corporate contributions is going to get us there), and the left (those who believe — with some evidence — that it will not).

Which puts us in a familiar and uncomfortable place — Bush Gore Nader, Obama Romney Stein, Nolan Mills Sandman (Minnesota’s 8th 2014), even in many ways Obama Clinton ’08 — just ratcheted up yet further.

As per script, these old conversations are happening everywhere:

Is Bernie wrecking it for Hillary and the country, because Supreme Court nominees etc?
Is Jill Stein wrecking it for Bernie and the country, because Nader?
Is Bernie wrecking it for Jill Stein and the country, because inevitable folding back into establishment politics, waste of energy, etc?
Will Bernie Sanders and/or Jill Stein “cause” a rabid Republican to get elected, who will destroy the universe worse than DC Dems already have been?
Is supporting Bernie in particular for his stance on economic inequality worth it?
Is supporting Stein for her stances on basically everything worth it?
Is a chance at avoiding 9 more years of bi-partisan consensus on the taxpayer subsidized corporate takeover of the economy, the environment, and the republic, worth near term risks on some issues?

Put differently, among those who otherwise agree that a change is necessary, the question is how *big* a change is necessary, and when is it necessary, and when is it possible? If we’re being honest, supporters of each of Sanders, Stein, and Clinton all on some level have a point. But these debates are about tactics, and strategy, and individual assessments of how urgent and possible change is at this moment. They ask the question: Is addressing inequality, and climate change, and the corporate takeover of politics in a meaningful way realistic and worth the risk, not whether it is necessary. A vast majority of people seem to agree about that. So sad that individual citizens are stuck in perpetuity debating strategy and not considering together the things that would make our country better!

In any case, it can’t go on forever. A breaking point is inevitable — when you sell out the American public for 20, 30+ years, eventually the chickens are going to roost. And that’s no longer even a particularly radical suggestion; it looks like it may be happening now. The Sanders surge is just the latest sign.

For the time being, we may be stuck plodding along with many of the same conversations — on social media, in blogs, at the dinner table, at conventions — with would-be allies, until we hit the point where that’s no longer an option.

Or. Hillary could step aside now.

Maybe it’s time to add to the list the possibility that it is actually Hillary and corporate Dems that are ruining it for the country, not the other way around. Why wouldn’t we? It happens to be the truth. And wouldn’t that give us something to do for the next year? Whether Sanders, Stein, or otherwise, imagine the possibilities and the impact on the conversation. We might even stand a chance of not spending the entire year bickering with each other.

Before we blow our — oh my gosh that’ll never happen, crazy unexpected things never happen in this country (false) — lids: It goes without saying that this would be a pretty radical turn for all the reasons that are immediately running through your head right now. It would take real vision, commitment to this country, and willingness to put ones own personal interests and efforts aside.

But Hillary stepping down is the right thing to do. And, somewhere in there, I think she might even realize it. With tiny apologies to the impressive run that Hillary Clinton and her supporters have had, it’s time to add the prospect of her withdrawal to the conversation.