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PufPuf23's Journal
PufPuf23's Journal
May 13, 2016

Is There a Hillary Doctrine?


It has seemed to me, for as long as I’ve been watching Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama make foreign and national-security policy, that the differences in outlook and approach between the two of them are fundamental and dramatic. I would call these differences profound, but I don’t want to be accused of hyperbole. It is not just that Clinton has a bias toward action in the international arena, and that Obama is far more hesitant, far more aware (too aware, in the eyes of critics) of the downside of action; it is that there are basic differences in the way they understand America’s role in the world, and the qualities that make America exceptional. They also differ, to my eye, in their understanding of American indispensability, and of the relationship between power and diplomacy.

The only person I know who spends more time thinking about the dispositional and ideological differences between Obama and Clinton than I do is Mark Landler, the New York Times reporter who has covered the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department and who recently published a book, Alter Egos (its very long and serious subtitle: “Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power”), that explores these differences through the prism, mainly, of the Middle East crises that have consumed the Obama administration. Landler has written an excellent book, the definitive examination to date of, among other things, a president who has tried to extract the U.S. from the Middle East (without much success, it goes almost without saying). Alter Egos is also the most authoritative attempt to explain Obama’s complicated relationship with his first-term secretary of state, a thwarted competitor-turned-staffer who, if she wins the presidency this year, will inherit a world that is in some ways as messy as the one Obama himself inherited from George W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton: 'Failure' to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS

Landler and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the differences between Obama and Clinton; he thinks that she will make foreign policy in a more cautious manner than I believe she will. I tend to think, most of the time, at least, that her Libya experience did not diminish her ardor for the arena. On Ukraine and Syria, for instance, she thinks in more overtly interventionist terms than does Obama. In an interview I conducted with Clinton two summers ago (one that drew attention for her implicit criticism of Obama’s unofficial foreign-policy slogan, “Don’t do stupid shit”), she convinced me that she, unlike Obama, has the heart of a Cold Warrior. In what I took to be another shot at Obama, she said, “You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward. One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.”

I didn’t have much doubt about the identity of the “we” in her statement. I responded to her assertion by saying something I believe deeply, which is that America, in the last century, saved civilization. I thought, I told Clinton, that, “defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.”

more at link.
May 13, 2016

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

Author: Milton Mayer

This is a classic book and a quick read that IMO every American should read (I did in junior high grade school back in the 1960s)

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/0226511928/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463103800&sr=1-1&keywords=they+thought+they+were+free

First published in 1955, They Thought They Were Free is an eloquent and provocative examination of the development of fascism in Germany. Mayer’s book is a study of ten Germans and their lives from 1933-45, based on interviews he conducted after the war when he lived in Germany. Mayer had a position as a research professor at the University of Frankfurt and lived in a nearby small Hessian town which he disguised with the name “Kronenberg.” “These ten men were not men of distinction,” Mayer noted, but they had been members of the Nazi Party; Mayer wanted to discover what had made them Nazis.

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.”--from Chapter 13, “But Then It Was Too Late”


"Among the many books written on Germany after the collapse of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich, this book by Milton Mayer is one of the most readable and most enlightening."
(Hans Kohn New York Times Book Review)

"It is a fascinating story and a deeply moving one. And it is a story that should make people pause and think—think not only about the Germans, but also about themselves."
(Ernest S. Pisko Christian Science Monitor)

"Writing as a liberal American journalist of German descent and Jewish religious persuasion Mr. Mayer aims—and in the opinion of this reviewer largely succeeds—at scrupulous fairness and unsparing honesty. It is this that gives his book its muscular punch."
(Walter L. Dorn Saturday Review)

"Once again the German problem is at the center of our politics. No better, or more humane, or more literate discussion of its underlying nature could be had than in this book."
(August Heckscher New York Herald Tribune)

May 12, 2016

Facts about Libya under Gaddafi that you probably did not know about !


Here are some Facts you probably do not know about Libya under Muammar Gaddafi:

• There was no electricity bills in Libya; electricity is free … for all its citizens.
• There was no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at 0% interest by law.
• If a Libyan is unable to find employment after graduation, the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found.
• Should Libyans want to take up a farming career, they receive farm land, a house, equipment, seed and livestock to kick start their farms –this was all for free.
• Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.
• A home was considered a human right in Libya. (In Qaddafi’s Green Book it states: “The house is a basic need of both the individual and the family, therefore it should not be owned by others.”)
• All newlyweds in Libya would receive 60,000 Dinar (US$ 50,000 ) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start a family.
• A portion of Libyan oil sales is or was credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.
• A mother who gives birth to a child would receive US $5,000.
• When a Libyan buys a car, the government would subsidizes 50% of the price.
• The price of petrol in Libya was $0.14 per liter.
• For $ 0.15, a Libyan local could purchase 40 loaves of bread.
• Education and medical treatments was all free in Libya. Libya can boast one of the finest health care systems in the Arab and African World. All people have access to doctors, hospitals, clinics and medicines, completely free of charge.
• If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government would fund them to go abroad for it – not only free but they get US $2,300/month accommodation and car allowance.
• 25% of Libyans have a university degree. Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans were literate. Today the figure is 87%.
• Libya had no external debt and its reserves amount to $150 billion – though much of this is now frozen globally.

Gaddafi wrote, “They want to do to Libya what they did to Iraq and what they are itching to do to Iran. They want to take back the oil, which was nationalized by these country’s revolutions. They want to re-establish military bases that were shut down by the revolutions and to install client regimes that will subordinate the country’s wealth and labor to imperialist corporate interests. All else is lies and deception.”

From wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Libya_under_Muammar_Gaddafi

Normalization of international relations (2003–2010)[edit]

In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and to renounce terrorism, and Gaddafi made significant strides in normalizing relations with western nations. He received various Western European leaders as well as many working-level and commercial delegations, and made his first trip to Western Europe in 15 years when he traveled to Brussels in April 2004. Libya responded in good faith to legal cases brought against it in U.S. courts for terrorist acts that predate its renunciation of violence. Claims for compensation in the Lockerbie bombing, LaBelle disco bombing, and UTA 772 bombing cases are ongoing. The U.S. rescinded Libya's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in June 2006. In late 2007, Libya was elected by the General Assembly to a nonpermanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2008–2009 term.
May 12, 2016

The shrinking of the middle class is a product of neo-liberal economics.

So while I consider POTUS Obama a good POTUS having taken office in a very difficult time, POTUS Obama is a neo-liberal and has employed neo-liberal advisors and supported continued (by Reagan Bush Clinton and GWB) neo-liberal legislation, notably ACA.

One way to recognize neo-liberal economic policy is that all economic choices are pigeon holed into monetized, securitized, and privatized business opportunities.

This may work for all in theory but in practice entrenched power and moneyed interests concentrate wealth, income, and assets and mostly this transfer is from the middle and working classes and the elderly and disabled retired.

As an example we get mandated health insurance and guaranteed profits for health insurers rather than guaranteed access to health care.

All the western industrialized nations do health care better (and so did some dictatorships like Gadaffi in Libya)

• Education and medical treatments was all free in Libya. Libya can boast one of the finest health care systems in the Arab and African World. All people have access to doctors, hospitals, clinics and medicines, completely free of charge.


May 2, 2016

You are wrong and I suspect you know you are wrong but made your statement anyway.

Folks are free to spend their time and monies as they wish, many do not agree with you. People in some states, like myself in California, have yet to primary vote and candidates are still active in campaign mode.

Weak sauce is comparing the finances of Sanders with Clinton. The candidates do not live in the same world of relative wealth.

By law, POTUS candidates cannot use campaign money for personal use.

From: http://www.factcheck.org/2008/11/personal-use-of-campaign-money/

Q: Can the presidential candidates keep their campaign money?

A: No. They can donate any contributions they haven’t spent to charities or political parties, and they can pay leftover campaign bills. The big rule is: no personal use.

As Bob Biersack from the Federal Election Commission points out, most candidates don’t have much left over to begin with. Campaigning is expensive, and “leftover” money gets used for bills and debts first, including expenses incurred while winding down an abandoned campaign or a lost political office.

Candidates do sometimes end up with surplus funds, though, particularly if they’re incumbent members of Congress who decide not to run for another term. State and local governments have their own rules, but those running for federal office – including presidential candidates – must abide by strict FEC guidelines when it comes to their extra campaign money. They can donate an unlimited amount to a charity or political party. They can also, within limits, make contributions directly to other candidates. A campaign committee can give up to $2,000 per election to each candidate. If the committee is converted into a political action committee, the limit jumps to $5,000 – but to be established as a PAC, the committee would have to be in existence for six months, receive contributions from 50 donors, and make contributions to five recipients.

What candidates can’t do with leftover money is use it for personal expenses. Retiring federal lawmakers used to be able to pocket extra cash and use it for cars, vacations, clothes, pet grooming, whatever – but that changed in 1989 with the passage of the Ethics Reform Act.

May 1, 2016

What Happened When Venture Capitalists Took Over the Golden State Warriors

After racking up a historic N.B.A. season, the team’s owners
— most of them from Silicon Valley — think their
management style deserves some of the credit. Are they right?

MARCH 30, 2016

It was still dark one morning early this year when Joe Lacob, the majority owner of the Golden State Warriors, drove his Mercedes station wagon through the Stanford University campus. He parked near the business school, then walked down a sidewalk through a drizzle to meet a group of Silicon Valley executives. The ex-C.E.O. of OpenTable, now a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, was coming. So were a founder of the online-learning start-up Curious and a managing director of Vanguard Ventures. On another morning, they all might have met at a charity event or a TED Talk. But it was a Tuesday, and that meant basketball.

Lacob, who has worked in venture capital for three decades, has an open, expressive face and broad shoulders. He’s six feet tall but seems taller. The previous night, he watched his Warriors play a home game in Oakland, and now he looked tired. “The Tuesday mornings after we play Monday nights are the hardest,” he said. The basketball court, which is normally used by students and faculty members, has a tidy, corporate look: gleaming hardwood surrounded by plexiglass walls. In his Warriors T-shirt and shorts, Lacob pushed his hands against the glass and stretched his legs. “Honestly, this is my favorite time of the week,” he told me.

One by one, other players arrived. Most have known Lacob for years, since early in his career at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which is when he helped start this pickup game. There was no reason for anyone to be deferential to him. But owning a basketball team has cachet, especially when that team has come to rank among the best in N.B.A. history. Nobody mentioned his own business affairs, but everyone was eager to talk about Lacob’s. “Joe, good to see Barnes back,” someone said, referring to Harrison Barnes, a Warriors player who had missed games with an injury.

Remainder of article at:


April 27, 2016

Sacramento Shakedown - Kevin Johnsonís crossover corruption

Back in the fall of 2014, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson was unstoppable. He’d pushed through a $300 million city subsidy for a new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings. He’d helped elbow out racist Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling, and grabbed a little of the spotlight for himself in the process. He’d been named president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

He and his wife, Michelle Rhee—once the brightest star in the corporate-backed “education reform” movement—showed up at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. An adviser told Johnson’s hometown newspaper, the Sacramento Bee, that the couple was a “modern-day version of Bill and Hillary Clinton.” There was talk about a run for California governor or U.S. Senate.

At his peak, KJ was a figure to behold, an urban policy entrepreneur and brander-in-chief selling #Sacramento 3.0, a “world-class” city where kids would take Uber vehicles instead of buses to their charter schools, “never check out a library book,” and have “more smart devices than toothbrushes.”


Aside from the arena, Johnson’s other legacy is something I call KJ Inc. It’s a particular way of doing public business, and it’s also a political machine: a blended network of nonprofit auxiliary organizations, political cronies, and paid city staff, powered by unlimited donations from downtown developers and corporate benefactors.

Last year, Johnson sued me for filing public records requests for city emails, part of an ongoing project to better understand KJ’s mingling of public resources with his private nonprofits. The suit appears intended to economically damage the small alternative weekly I write for—the only media outlet in town to write critically about Johnson’s arena deal, or his educational reform campaign, or his use of city resources for his private agenda. We’re still in court.

more at: http://thebaffler.com/salvos/sacramento-shakedown

April 24, 2016

I do not like the thought that so many good people are considering leaving the Democratic Party.

I have been a registered and voting Democrat since 1972 when I aged into the vote. One exception was I registered GOP to vote John Anderson in the 1980 CA primary as a vote against Reagan. I was firmly politicized Democrat in 1968 age 15. I actually got to eat two family meals with Eugene McCarthy when he campaigned in San Francisco by fortuitous circumstance.

That said I have spent my life voting as a process of elimination. I was a supporter of Bill Clinton as POTUS to the degree I overlooked some items, particularly late in his service. By virtue of my education and professional experience, I should have been paying more attention; however, with hindsight, Bill Clinton was better than the GOP alternative.

I was a supporter of Governor Jerry Brown in 1976 and 1980 for POTUS. I support FDR's second Bill of Rights. I am firmly anti-war but not anti-self defense. I am against a military empire where we garrison troops and divvy out arms around the globe.

Post 9-11, I became disenchanted with Hillary Clinton during her time as Senator and SOS. I became aware of the difference between liberal and neo-liberal. In 2008, I was an any Democrat but Hillary Clinton Democrat and warmed to POTUS Obama to the degree that I cried and was the most glad of any election in my life. I felt that something was wrong and betrayed as soon as POTUS Obama began making appointments and selecting staff. So I have been critical but overall rate POTUS Obama's service as good despite that he is a neo-liberal. POTUS Obama inherited a mess things could have been way worse.

There is a fundamental split in the Democratic Party because of the FDR New Deal liberals and the DLC / Third Way / New Democrats / neo-liberals, a split that cannot be breached as the philosophies and methods are counter; albeit neo-liberals and liberals agree on many social and cultural issues with the stark exception of social justice. The neo-liberals are Machiavellian in their political methods.

In 1968 there were four splits in the Democratic Party, none of which were neo-liberal, the closest being the more conservative Yellow Dawgs. Socially liberal GOP from the 60-70s transferred alliance to the Democratic Party in the 1980s and adopted the neo-liberalism of Ronald Reagan in order to win national elections but moved the Party to the right. The neo-liberals are corporatists and liberals became the scapegoats for any failures; example Gore 2000. From education to war to healthcare to law to environment to just about any metric, recent Democratic Party policy and legislation favors corporations and the wealthy over the vast majority of citizens. Our only alternatives are the nightmare of the GOP or ineffectual third parties.

Hillary Clinton is a neo-liberal and a neo-conservative and has ran a dishonest Machiavellian campaign (as Clinton also did in 2008). The Democratic establishment and DNC fail to represent liberals in general and failed to provide an array of POTUS candidates in 2016 and fail many Democratic traditional interest groups: labor, women, minorities, youth, poor, etc. Sincere efforts and sincere people are mocked and mischaracterized, an artifact of the Democratic establishment in fact. I have long thought DU a useful focus group and site for opposition research but like DU and stay out of habit and much good.

The Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's actions as SOS regards to Syria, Honduras, and Libya are corrupt and repulsive, worthy of the worst of the GOP.

I do not want to leave the Democratic Party and still believe the Party the best route to improve the nation. The Party needs to be rid of the neo-liberals, most of which are either in denial or outright dishonest about who they are and what they support. The neo-liberals are why we are losing Party membership, likely they want for true liberals to leave a substantial American institution. The neo-liberals are why we have an unjust economic system. The neo-liberals are the same as neo-cons regards to war and empire. The neo-liberals will address the environment, health care, and most other issues by monetization and financialization. To disgorge the neo-liberals, requires many of us playing long and for the short term failure of the Democratic Party. The remaining Democratic Party liberals have every reason to withhold monies and support so the neo-liberals fail.

If Bernie Sanders fails in his quest, Hillary Clinton is the best alternative. Clinton may even get my vote in the general election. However, I will not support Clinton as POTUS nor anything Clinton proposes and will bide time waiting for the 2020 primary. Hillary Clinton is a smart and experienced person but is far lacking in political philosophy and even more so in character.

April 18, 2016

The DNC never gamed the primary system to favor a specific candidate - Hillary Clinton -

in 2004 or 2008 or other previous elections.

The Democratic Party use of super-delegates (and primaries or caucuses in all states) was not the protocol when I registered and began voting as a Democrat in 1972.

One could easily argue that the super-delegate rule is not democratic, is unfair, and fosters vote suppression because this is fact, some voters have more vote than others.

There were reasons and even good reasons for the super-delegate rule. The super-delegate rule served as a check and balance. It may still be working but that depends if the super-delegates reflect the will of the voters at large and respect momentum and other dynamic factors rather than preserving the status quo for no other reason than to preserve positions of influence. I am not saying that Sanders deserves to win but the political contest is much closer than anyone predicted and this fact is certainly uncomfortable for Hillary Clinton and Clinton supporters.

The Hillary Clinton campaigns has made mistakes; the repeat of mistakes from the 2008 POTUS primary campaign is hard to explain.

The DNC under DWS never favored a candidate much less began stacking the deck in favor of a specific candidate so early in the POTUS election cycle; in 2016 the timing and degree was such to dampen any real effort by any other potentially competitive candidate making an effort.

One could argue that Hillary Clinton played by the rules so should be justly awarded the Democratic POTUS nomination.

However, an error in judgment was made in that Hillary Clinton has an extremely high unfavorable rating for a politician of high national recognition, both among the nation and within the Democratic Party.

The problem is that Sanders ran for POTUS as a Democrat (in good faith) so as not to split the vote and enhance the chance that the next POTUS be GOP.

Sanders has spent his political career outside the Democratic Party but has been a dependent vote within Congress and has caucused and had committee assignments as a Democrat.

One could argue that Sanders in policy in Congress and during his political career has been truer to the traditional FDR "New Deal" policies than the neo-liberal "New Democrats" beginning with Bill Clinton.

Things regards the 2016 Democratic POTUS primary and nomination process are materially different because it is uncertain as to whether the super-delegate rule "works" and because the DNC seemingly put all its eggs in the Clinton basket before going through process.

I am irritated not at the super-delegate rule but how the system has been gamed where we may end up with a Democratic nominee that so many view with disrespect and who is not our most favorable candidate for a national election nor in my opinion a person of the character required to be POTUS.

Edit to add after reading thread:

My preference would be for closed primaries and no caucuses with each delegate able to vote their own conscious as of the second vote of the nominating convention should the initial vote not be a clear absolute majority (for example set some rule like a minimum of 53% of delegates selected by proportion in the state primaries). Rule should also be formulated and used such that the DNC and other Democratic Party structures provide a level playing field for all candidates. There should also be fixed and identical rules for voter registration with a flexible method and time (say within 30 days of election).

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