Exposing the “con” in conventional political wisdom

he problem with applying conventional wisdom to political campaigns is that it can suddenly be upended by an unconventional campaign.
National media pundits have been riveted on Donnie Trump’s flagrantly-narcissistic run for the Republican presidential nomination. But Exhibit A for the most remarkable political challenge to conventional wisdom is Bernie Sanders’ totally-unconventional, unabashedly-populist run for the Democratic nomination. When the Vermont senator launched his campaign last May, the snarky cognoscenti pronounced his effort D.O.A. Not a chance, they snorted, that a 74-year-old, Jewish, democratic socialist going against Hillary Clinton’s powerhouse machine – and daring to call for a people’s revolution against Wall Street and reckless corporate elites – can come close to winning.
But – oops – Bernie’s authenticity and straight talk have mocked the cynicism of the “wise ones” and shocked the self-assured Clintonites. Huge crowds have turned out to hear and cheer Bernie denounce the chasm of inequality ripping America apart. Moreover, the same grassroots folks have made Sanders’ run financially competitive. A record 2.5 million individual donors chipped in an average of $23 each last year to gird him with an impressive campaign fund of $75 million.
And now, polls show that “no chance” Sanders has surged into the lead among Democratic voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire, including taking a 12-point lead among New Hampshire women. Yeah, say the scoffers, but he can’t win the general election. Oops, again. In fact, polls now show he would handily defeat Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, while Clinton trails all three.
Not only is Bernie defying the odds, but he’s doing it by showing that an authentic candidate with an authentic message can generate an authentic people’s movement.
“Bernie Nabs Double-Digit Lead in NH as Women Ditch Clinton for Surging Sanders,” www.commondreams.org, January 13, 2016.
“Bernie Sanders Has Snagged His First Lead in the Polls Over Hillary Clinton in Iowa,” www.news.vice.com, January 12, 2016.

Why has nefarious corporate behavior become so commonplace?

As a raker of muck, it’s my job to root out the nefarious doings and innate immorality of the corporate creature.
But I’m in danger these days of being rendered obsolete by what’s become the “ordinariousness” of corporate nefariousness. The wrongdoings of major corporations and entire industries are now so commonplace that one hardly has to root them out – their uglies are constantly oozing to the surface on their own from today’s fetid corporate swamp.
What’s happened is that a profiteering imperative has taken hold of the executive suites. Not content with merely making a profit, CEOs are out to make a killing – no matter what it costs the rest of us. This has turned them into rank thieves – richly rewarded for routinely exploiting America’s workforce, plundering the environment, and corrupting our governments. Top executives have also seen that they’ll pay no personal price for rapacious behavior, since the corrupted political and judicial systems show no serious interest in prosecuting (much less punishing) perpetrators who get caught.
In recent months, two huge examples of this rampant crime spree have erupted: (1) after Big Pharma bought out several reasonably-priced medicines from independent drug makers, the avaricious giants immediately gouged unsuspecting patients by quadrupling their prices; and (2) Volkswagen joined the Automobile Hall of Shame by secretly rigging computers on its highly-advertised “green” vehicles to hide the fact that they actually spew horrendous amounts of pollution into Earth’s atmosphere.
This is Jim Hightower saying… An ethos of “anything goes,” now rules the top floor of suites of most major corporations. The use of blatant lies, PR cover-ups, and zero top-level accountability is now central to the corporate business model. They don’t care if they get caught – profit has taken ethics prisoner, and corporate elites now call the devil “partner.”

Why the GOP’s fence fantasy is a farce

A proper wall, we’re told, makes good neighbors, But an 18-foot high, 2000-mile long wall goes way beyond proper, antagonizes your neighbor, and shows your own fear and weakness.
Yet, this is what self-described conservatives running for president propose to build to stop migrants from coming across our country’s southern border. Simple, right? Just fence ‘em out !
Wait… haven’t we already tried this? Yes, in 2006 Congress mandated construction of a wall along the 1,954 miles of our border with Mexico. A decade later, guess how many miles have been completed? About 650. It turns out that erecting a monstrous wall is not so simple after all.
First, it is ridiculously expensive – about $10 billion just for the materials to build from the tip of Texas to the Pacific, not counting labor costs and maintenance. Second, there’s the prickly problem of land acquisition – to erect the first 650 miles of fence, the federal government had to sue hundreds of property owners to take their land. Odd, isn’t it, that right-wing politicos who loudly rail against overreaching Big Government now favor using government muscle to grab private property? Third,it’s impossible to fence the whole border – hundreds of miles of it are in the Rio Grande’s flood plain, and more miles are on the steep mountainous terrain of Southern Arizona.
Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and the other “Just-build-a-wall” simpletons either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to dupe voters. Before you buy a 2,000-mile wall from them, take a peek at the small part already built – because of the poor terrain and legal prohibitions, it’s not one long fence, but a fragment here, and another there with miles of gaps. Anyone wanting to cross into the US can just go to one of the gaps and walk around the silly fence.
“Completing US Mexico Border wall would be daunting task,” www.bigstory.ap.org, January 1, 2016.