Monday, 24 February 2020

As a Corporate Tool, Buttigieg Is Now a Hammer to Bash Sanders, by Norman Solomon

Soon after his distant third-place finish in the Nevada caucuses, Pete Buttigieg sent out a mass email saying that “Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.”

The blast depicted “the choice before us” in stark terms: “We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, big-hearted American coalition.”

The bizarre accusations of being “narrow” and not “inclusive” were aimed at a candidate who’d just won a historic victory with one of the broadest coalitions in recent Democratic Party history.

Buttigieg has gone from pseudo-progressive to anti-progressive in the last year, and much of his current mission involves denouncing Bernie Sanders with attack lines that are corporate-media favorites (“ideological purity. . . call people names online. . . a narrow and hardcore base”). 

Buttigieg’s chances of winning the 2020 presidential nomination are now tiny, but he might have a bright future as a rising leader of corporate Democrats.

Weirdly, Buttigieg’s claim that Sanders has “a narrow and hardcore base” came from someone who appears to be almost incapable of getting votes from black people. In Nevada, columnist E.J. Dionne noted, Buttigieg “received virtually no African American votes.”

And Buttigieg made his claim in the midst of a Nevada vote count showing that Sanders received more than three times as many votes as he did. The Washington Post reported that Sanders “even narrowly prevailed among those who identified as moderate or conservative.”

As chances that Buttigieg could win the nomination slip away -- the latest polling in South Carolina indicates his vote total there on Saturday is unlikely to be any higher than it was in Nevada -- his mission is being steadily repurposed.

After increasingly aligning himself with the dominant corporate sectors of the party -- vacuuming up millions of dollars in bundled checks along the way -- Buttigieg is hurling an array of bogus accusations at Sanders.

Four months ago, while Buttigieg’s poll numbers were spiking in Iowa and big donations from wealthy donors poured in, I wrote an article with a headline dubbing him a “Sharp Corporate Tool.” 

The piece cited an influx of contributions to Buttigieg from the health insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries -- while he executed a U-turn from proclaiming support for Medicare for All to touting a deceptive rhetorical concoction called “Medicare for all who want it.” 

I concluded that Buttigieg is “a glib ally of corporate America posing as an advocate for working people and their families.”

Since then, continuing his rightward swerve, Buttigieg has become even more glib, refining his campaign’s creation myth and fine-tuning his capacity to combine corporate policy positions with wispy intimations of technocratic populism. 

Buttigieg is highly articulate, very shrewd -- and now, in attack mode, more valuable than ever to corporate patrons who are feverishly trying to figure out how to prevent Sanders from winning the nomination. During last week’s Nevada debate, Buttigieg warned that Sanders “wants to burn this party down.”

Over the weekend, the Buttigieg campaign sent out email that tried to obscure its major support from extremely wealthy backers. 

“At the last debate,” Buttigieg’s deputy campaign manager Hari Sevugan wrote indignantly, “Senator Bernie Sanders condemned us for taking contributions from billionaires. That’s interesting. Because what that tells us is in the eyes of Bernie Sanders, the donations of 45 folks (that’s .0054% of our total donor base) are more important than the donations of nearly 1,000,000 grassroots supporters.”

But Sevugan left out the pivotal roles that very rich contributors have played in launching and sustaining the Buttigieg campaign, with lobbyists and corporate executives serving as high-dollar collectors of bundled donations that add up to untold millions. Buttigieg’s corresponding shifts in policy prescriptions make some sense if we follow the money.

In a detailed article that appeared last week, “Buttigieg Is a Wall Street Democrat Beholden to Corporate Interests,” former Communications Workers of America chief economist Kenneth Peres summed up: “Buttigieg and his supporters like to portray him as a ‘change agent.’ 

However, he has proven to be a change agent that will not in any significant way challenge the current distribution of power, wealth and income in this country. Given his history, it is no surprise that Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Health Insurers, Real Estate Developers and Private Equity have decided to invest millions of dollars into Buttigieg's campaign.”

In the aftermath of the Nevada caucuses, Buttigieg is escalating his attacks on Sanders (who I actively support), in sync with “news” coverage that is especially virulent from some major corporate outlets. 

Consider, for example, the de facto smear article that the New York Times printed on Sunday. Or the venomous hostility toward Sanders that’s routine on Comcast-owned MSNBC, which has stepped up its routine trashing of Sanders by journalists and invited guests.

More than ever, corporate Democrats and their media allies are freaking out about the grassroots momentum of the Bernie 2020 campaign. No one has figured out how to stop him. But Buttigieg is determined to do as much damage as he can.


Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The 2020 Vision, by David Lindsay

Politically, the last four and a half years have belonged to those who have suffered the most, under all three parties, since the Callaghan Government’s turn to monetarism in 1977. They made Jeremy Corbyn the Leader of the Labour Party, they decided the EU referendum for Leave, they reelected Corbyn, they deprived Theresa May of her overall majority, they delivered the scale of the Brexit Party’s victory at the 2019 European Elections, and they have given an overall majority to Boris Johnson because Corbyn had abandoned his 2017 commitment to Brexit. Had he not done so, then Labour would now be the largest party in a hung Parliament.

It is clear that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are now the key swing voters. Yet the metropolitan liberal elite, and its allies in the right-wing Labour machine that controls several trade unions and almost the whole of Labour local government, are well into the coronation of Keir Starmer. But here along the old Red Wall, we have not exchanged one one-party state for another. The Conservatives must face the competition in which they profess to believe. Therefore, ours is the 2020 Vision of a new political party, a new think tank, a new weekly newspaper, a new monthly cultural review, a new quarterly academic journal, and much else besides. Each of those projects is distinct, and anyone interested in any one or more of them should feel free to contact me on

A New Political Party: The People’s Voice 

The People’s Voice will soon be registered as a new political party. Initially on the Brexit Party’s model of a Leader and supporters, the constitution of The People’s Voice will require a transition to internal democracy by a specific date, or else the party will be dissolved. I am already its Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North West Durham. In 2024, parliamentary candidates for The People’s Voice will have lived throughout the previous 10 years in the constituencies that they wished to represent or in immediately adjacent constituencies, and they will have annual incomes not higher than £25,000. Such candidates will also be required to sign the following statements.

First: “I am committed to upholding family and community values by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty. Economic inequality is incompatible with democracy, since it gives the rich far greater political power than the poor, whose votes are thus effectively negated. I would vote to bring down any Government that had used military force other than in self-defence. In the struggle for the universal good that is economic equality, the leading role belongs to the working class. In the struggle for the universal good that is international peace, the leading role belongs to the working class and to the youth. Those struggles are fundamental and integral to each other, and the anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggle, which is indivisible in itself, is fundamental and integral to each and both of them. I am not “For the Many, Not the Few”. I am “For Everyone”. I reject class conflict in favour of “a platform broad enough for all to stand upon”.”

Secondly: “I welcome the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union as providing a double opportunity, both to reorganise the British economy under State direction, and to begin to develop a fully independent British foreign policy, including in relation to the United States. I welcome the Conservative Party’s moves in those directions. I speak for people who would be more than happy to bypass the Liberal Establishment and the right-wing Labour machine so as to work with Conservatives and others in order to secure direct representation on public bodies, in the media, and elsewhere. I refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration. I unreservedly support the Chagossian cause. I stand with Julian Assange.” 

Thirdly: “I regret the defeat of the miners in 1985. We need an approach to climate change which protected and extended secure employment with civilised wages and working conditions, which encouraged economic development around the world, which upheld the right of the working classes and of non-white people to have children, which held down and as far as practicable reduced the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, and which refused to restrict travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich. The problem with the world is not that it has people in it. We must celebrate the full compatibility between the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past. That expansion and development must now include space exploration, fuelled by, and fuelling, fusion power. Life is the geological force that shapes the Earth, and the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere, not least by the uniquely human phenomenon of economic growth, so that human mastery of nuclear processes is beginning to create resources through the transmutation of elements, enabling us, among other things, to explore space and to exploit the resources of the Solar System.”

Fourthly: “Sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone. No one is “born in the wrong body”. I reject the ludicrous theory of gender self-identification, and I will fight to my last breath to defend women-only spaces, as well as against the “gender reassignment” of children and adolescents, and as well as against the silencing of free speech on these issues. One such issue is basic fair play in women’s and girls’ sport. It is contrary both to whole history of human experience, and to the plain facts of biological science, to suggest either that sexual orientation is fixed, or that “gender” is “fluid”. If a scientific fact as basic and as obvious as biological sex can be denied, then so can any other scientific fact, to the ruin of human progress.”

Fifthly: “I support a legal presumption of equal parenting, and I support due process of law, including the presumption of innocence. I seek to rescue such issues as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights, from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems in the first place. I oppose the increasing criminalisation of male youth as such. I identify strongly with the rage against deindustrialisation, with the rage against the harvesting of young men in endless and pointless wars, and with a growing number of young men’s closely connected discovery for themselves of the traditional Great Books and of the various schools of heterodox economics. Those Books and those schools have always been fundamental to the radical change of which those young men are now the vanguard. I stand with Julian Assange.”

And sixthly: “It is wrong to tell Israelis to “go home” when the State of Israel was founded in the year that the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury. There are now fourth generation Israelis. The definition of anti-Semitism in the Oxford English Dictionary is perfectly sufficient: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” The Liberal Establishment has imported the New York practice of branding as “anti-Semitic” any uppity black or other criticism of its hegemony and hypocrisy, be that its hypocrisy towards integration at home or towards white settler colonialism abroad. Anyone may convert to Judaism, so that Jews are no more a “race” than Christians or Muslims are. Therefore, anti-Semitism is a form of religious bigotry, and not, in itself, a form of racism. That Hitler thought otherwise is not an argument. The IHRA Definition is a denial of Black And Minority Ethnic, refugee and migrant experience, such as leads to the Windrush scandal and to the fire at Grenfell Tower. As a denial of the ancient indigenous Christian presence in the Christian Holy Land, it contributes significantly to the worldwide persecution of Christians. Since BAME and migrant communities tend to be working-class, there is also a clear connection to the injustices at Shrewsbury, Orgreave, Hillsborough, and, again, Grenfell Tower. The expulsion of 700,000 people from Palestine on ethnic grounds in 1948 was as much a racist endeavour as any of the several other mass expulsions of the same period, notably those from the new states of India and Pakistan, and those of ethnic Germans from Central and Eastern Europe. Israel was founded by anti-British terrorists of exceptional viciousness, and Israel armed Argentina during the Falklands War as an act of anti-British revenge. Every critique of the divisive and anti-democratic role of “community leaders” is applicable to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to the Jewish Leadership Council, to the Community Security Trust, to the Campaign Against Antisemitism, to the Chief Rabbinate, and to the Senior Rabbinate. I aspire to a single state throughout the former British Mandate of Palestine, a state in which human and civil rights would be constitutionally protected while everyone had precisely one vote.”

A New Think Tank: The Centre

The Centre is to be our new think tank, “To develop, formulate and articulate the broadly based opposition and alternative to the violent, extremist and anti-democratic ideologies of neoliberal economic policy, identitarian social policy, neoconservative foreign policy, and anti-industrial Malthusianism, strongly asserting that that opposition and that alternative constituted the real centre ground of British and wider politics.” The eventual intention is to hold three conferences per year, one initially at Durham, one in London, and one at an international location.

A New Newspaper: The Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard will feature, on its odd-numbered pages, a weekly column by each of around 20 regular contributors, plus around five guest articles. The even-numbered pages will feature popular news stories relating to sport, television, music, and so on, plus advertising. We intend to make offers to the biggest clubs, programmes, acts, and so forth, for the right to publish whatever they liked within the law, the word limit, and the English language, and provided that it were exclusive content. Newsprint is far cheaper than it used to be, so 15,000 copies could be produced for well under £2000, and probably for less than £1500. Obviously, we would wish to aim a lot higher than that. We expect a retail price of one pound. There is also the possibility of a new fortnightly satirical magazine, to be published in the weeks that Private Eye was not. 

A New Monthly Cultural Review: The Wall

The areas that choose the Government deserve to have our cultures known to each other, to the country, and to the world. With a network of contributors across Wales, the Midlands, the North, and beyond, The Wall will make a leading contribution to that long-overdue process.

A New Academic Journal: The Great British Quarterly

The Great British Quarterly’s peer-reviewed articles will give a voice to the rural working class, and to the industrial and former industrial communities that were either outside the metropolitan areas or peripheral to them. A voice to those who cherished free speech and other civil liberties, including due process of law. A voice to those who sought a fully independent British foreign policy, with a critical and sceptical approach to intelligence and security agencies. A voice to those who found that the definition of anti-Semitism in the Oxford English Dictionary was perfectly sufficient. A voice to those who acknowledged the scientific fact of binary and immutable biological sex. And a voice to those who celebrated the full compatibility between the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past.

Monday, 17 February 2020

The Escalating Class War Against Bernie Sanders, by Norman Solomon

More than ever, Bernie Sanders is public enemy number one for power elites that thrive on economic injustice. 

The Bernie 2020 campaign is a direct threat to the undemocratic leverage that extremely wealthy individuals and huge corporations constantly exert on the political process. 

No wonder we’re now seeing so much anti-Bernie rage from leading corporate Democrats -- eagerly amplified by corporate media. In American politics, hell hath no fury like corporate power scorned.

Flagrant media biases against Sanders are routine in a wide range of mainstream outlets. (The media watch group FAIR has long documented the problem, illuminated by one piece after another after another after another just this month.) In sharp contrast, positivity toward Sanders in mass media spheres is scarce. 

The pattern is enmeshed with the corporatism that the Sanders campaign seeks to replace with genuine democracy -- disempowering great wealth and corporate heft while empowering everyday people to participate in a truly democratic process. 

Big media are continually amplifying the voices of well-paid reporters and pundits whose jobs involve acceptance of corporate power, including the prerogatives of corporate owners and sponsors. 

And, in news coverage of politics, there’s an inexhaustible supply of former Democratic officeholders and appointees who’ve been lucratively feeding from corporate troughs as lobbyists, consultants and PR operatives. 

Their corporate ties usually go unmentioned. An important media headquarters for hostility toward the Sanders campaign is MSNBC, owned by Comcast -- a notoriously anti-labor and anti-consumer corporation. 

“People need to remember,” I pointed out on Democracy Now! last week, “that if you, for instance, don’t trust Comcast, why would you trust a network that is owned by Comcast? These are class interests being worked out where the top strata of ownership and investors hires the CEO, hires the managing editors, hires the reporters. And so, what we’re seeing, and not to be rhetorical about it, but we really are seeing a class war underway.”

Routinely, the talking heads and go-to sources for mainline news outlets are far removed from the economic pressures besetting so many Americans. And so, media professionals with the most clout and largest megaphones are quite distant from the Sanders base. 

Voting patterns in the New Hampshire primary reflected whose economic interests the Sanders campaign is promising to serve. With 10 active candidates on the Democratic ballot, Sanders “won 4 in 10 of voters with household incomes under $50,000 and nearly 3 in 10 with incomes between $50,00 and $99,000,” the Washington Post reported.

Meanwhile, a trio of researchers associated with the Institute for New Economic Thinking -- Thomas Ferguson, Jie Chen and Paul Jorgensen -- found that “the higher the town’s income, the fewer votes cast” for Sanders. 

“Lower income towns in New Hampshire voted heavily for Sanders; richer towns did the opposite.” The researchers saw in the data “further dramatic evidence of a point we have made before: that the Democratic Party is now sharply divided by social class.” It’s a reality with media implications that are hidden in plain sight.

The often-vitriolic and sometimes preposterous attacks on Sanders via powerful national media outlets are almost always coming from affluent or outright wealthy people. Meanwhile, low-income Americans have virtually zero access to the TV studios (other than providing after-hours janitorial services). 

With very few exceptions, the loudest voices to be heard from mass media are coming from individuals with wealth far above the financial vicinity of average Americans. Virtually none of the most widely read, seen and heard journalists are on the low end of the nation’s extreme income inequality.

Viewed in that light -- and keeping in mind that corporate ownership and advertising dominate mainstream media -- it shouldn’t be surprising that few prominent journalists have much good to say about a presidential campaign fiercely aligned with the working class.

“If there is going to be class warfare in this country,” Bernie Sanders told the Iowa AFL-CIO convention last summer, “it’s time that the working class of this country won that war and not just the corporate elite.” To the corporate elite, goals like that are unacceptable.


Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Why the Buttigieg Campaign Tried to Have Me Arrested for Handing Out Information About Medicare for All, by Norman Solomon

You’d think that a presidential campaign backed by 40 billionaires and untold numbers of bundled rich people wouldn’t worry about just one leaflet on Medicare for All. 

But minutes after Pete Buttigieg finished speaking in an auditorium at Keene State College in New Hampshire on Saturday, a Pete for America official confronted me outside the building while I was handing out a flier with the headline “Medicare for All. Not Healthcare Profiteering for the Few.”

“You can’t pass that out,” the man told me. I did a double take, glancing at the small “Pete” metal badge on his lapel while being told that he spoke on behalf of the Buttigieg campaign. We were standing on the campus of a public college. I said that I understood the First Amendment.

When I continued to pass out the flier, the Buttigieg campaign official (who repeatedly refused to give his name) disappeared and then quickly returned with a campus policeman, who told me to stop distributing the leaflet.

Two Keene city police soon arrived. The Buttigieg official stood a few feet behind them as the police officers threatened me with arrest for trespassing. Ordered to get off the campus within minutes or be arrested, I was handed an official written order (“Criminal Trespass Notice”) not to set foot on “Keene State College entire campus” for a year. So much for freedom of speech and open election discourse in public places. 

Why would a representative of the mighty Buttigieg campaign resort to such a move? A big clue can be found in a deception that Buttigieg engaged in during the debate on Friday night. Buttigieg’s dishonesty arose when Amy Klobuchar, a vehement foe of Medicare for All, attacked Bernie Sanders for allegedly seeking to “kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years.” 

Klobuchar was reciting a key insurance-industry distortion that neglects to mention how a single-payer system would provide more complete health coverage, at less cost -- by eliminating wasteful bureaucracy and corporate profiteering. But Klobuchar then pivoted to attack Buttigieg:

“And Pete, while you have a different plan now, you sent out a tweet just a few years ago that said henceforth, forthwith, indubitably, affirmatively, you are for Medicare for All for the ages, and so I would like to point out that what leadership is about is taking a position, looking at things, and sticking with them.” 

Buttigieg was far from candid in his response: “Just to be clear, the truth is that I have been consistent throughout in my position on delivering healthcare for every American.” That answer directly contradicted an early 2018 tweet from Buttigieg: “Gosh! Okay. . . I, Pete Buttigieg, politician, do henceforth and forthwith declare, most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages, that I do favor Medicare for All, as I do favor any measure that would help get all Americans covered.” 

No doubt if the flier I was handing out at Keene State College had praised Buttigieg, his campaign would not have called the police to have me ejected. But the Buttigieg for President staffer recognized that Buttigieg’s spin on healthcare was undermined by facts in the flier (produced and financed by, which is completely independent of the official Sanders campaign). 

“Buttigieg is claiming that Medicare for All would dump people off of health coverage and deprive them of ‘choice,’” our flier pointed out. “Those are insurance-industry talking points. He is deliberately confusing the current ‘choice’ of predatory for-profit insurance plans with the genuine full choice of healthcare providers that enhanced Medicare for everyone would offer.” 

Apparently, for the Buttigieg campaign, such truthful words are dangerous. 

Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Iowa Fiasco Raises the Stakes for New Hampshire, Where Sanders Could Win Big, by Norman Solomon

While journalists pick through the ashes of the Iowa caucuses meltdown, thousands of progressive activists are moving forward to make election history in New Hampshire. In sharp contrast to the prattle of mainstream punditry, the movements behind Bernie Sanders are propelled by people who engage with politics as a collective struggle because the future of humanity and the planet is at stake. As a result, the Granite State’s primary election on Feb. 11 could be a political earthquake.

Whether or not the Democratic Party’s corporate backers truly understand what progressive populism is all about, they’re determined to crush its strongest electoral manifestation in our lifetimes -- the Bernie 2020 campaign. And, since the bottom fell out of Iowa’s capacity for dramatic political impact, New Hampshire now looms larger than ever.

Monday night’s collapse of the caucus vote-counting process in Iowa has amped up the spotlight on -- and political consequences of -- what will happen in the New Hampshire primary. A clear Sanders victory would make him the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Perpetuating passivity is a key undercurrent when corporate media report on election campaigns. Routinely, the coverage is rendered as entertainment, historic events to be individually consumed rather than collectively created.

Progressive social movements have the opposite approach. Propagandistic attacks on Sanders and his campaign are likely to reach new depths between now and the New Hampshire election. Effectively countering the distortions and smears will require concerted individual efforts on a large scale. Full disclosure: As an active Bernie supporter, I’m part of an expanding team set to do independent on-the-ground outreach in New Hampshire until Election Day. (Information available:

Whatever its budget or priorities, no presidential campaign can possibly maintain a presence in every neighborhood to do what ideally would be done. The success of the Sanders campaign depends on supporters taking the initiative rather than waiting for a national campaign to fill the gaps.

I often think about how Bernie used the opportunity to make a closing statement at a Democratic presidential debate last June. Instead of tooting his own horn and touting his leadership, he got to the core of terrible realities that won’t change unless people organize effectively from the grassroots. 

After reeling off a few lowlights of the status quo -- “for the last 45 years wages have been stagnant for the middle class. . . we have the highest rate of childhood poverty. . . 45 million people still have student debt” -- he asked: “How can three people own more wealth than the bottom half of America?”

Then he closed by saying: “And here is the answer. Nothing will change unless we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, and the fossil fuel industry. If we don’t have the guts to take them on, we will continue to have plans, we will continue to have talk, and rich will get richer and everybody else will be struggling.”

Whether they agree with Bernie or not, people widely understand that he absolutely means what he says. And that helps to explain why, during the next seven days, in national media and across New Hampshire, corporate forces will be in overdrive to prevent a Bernie Sanders victory in the New Hampshire primary.

It’s not mere happenstance that the sound system at a Bernie rally often blasts out the song “Power to the People” as he takes the stage. Only the power of people, determined and mobilized, can overcome the forces arrayed against the Bernie Sanders campaign and the movements supporting him at this pivotal historic moment.

Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Monday, 3 February 2020

The Creation Myth of the Buttigieg Campaign, by Norman Solomon

This weekend, Pete Buttigieg told supporters that he became a viable candidate for president “on the strength of our vision” and “the urgency of our convictions.” Such rhetoric fits snugly into a creation myth about his campaign that Buttigieg has been promoting since early 2019.

Summing up the gist of that myth, Buttigieg began this year by standing at a whiteboard and looking into a camera while he talked about the genesis of his run for the presidency. “We launched as an exploratory committee, not even a full year ago, with a few volunteers, zero dollars in the bank,” he said -- and “without the personal wealth of a millionaire or a billionaire.” 

And Buttigieg offered reassurance to those concerned about big money in politics, saying: “What we built in 2019 we were able to put together without any contributions from federal lobbyists, or from fossil-fuel executives, and not one dollar from corporate PACs.” But, as Aldous Huxley wrote in the introduction to his classic novel of dystopian technocracy, Brave New World, “the greatest triumphs of propaganda” are accomplished by maintaining “silence about truth.” 

Buttigieg has remained silent about what made the ascent of his campaign possible -- the early, major and continuing support from extremely rich people enmeshed with powerful and destructive corporate interests -- enabling the Pete for America campaign to get off the ground and gain altitude. Buttigieg’s rise was propelled by the rocket fuel of funding from -- and bonding with -- wealthy corporate operators, who bundled big checks from other donors and provided an establishment seal of approval that resonated with mainstream media. 

The deft spin from the Buttigieg apparatus and the huge media hype about him have obscured the significance of his deep-pocketed backers. Key information about those ties has rarely gotten into the mass-media echo chamber. Yet, occasional reports have offered a window into the big-money support for Buttigieg that he is eager to leave unmentioned.

Buttigieg may have started his presidential campaign a year ago “with a few volunteers” and “zero dollars in the bank” -- but it wasn’t long before plenty of millionaires and billionaires flocked to back him with their own money and piles of checks from wealthy associates. “Pete Buttigieg Is the Only Top 2020 Democrat Taking Money from Lobbyists,” HuffPost reported in April. “Buttigieg’s campaign said the donations wouldn’t influence his policy positions and noted he isn’t taking donations from corporate PACs or fossil fuel interests.” 

Later, the Center for Public Integrity explained in mid-summer, Buttigieg “reversed his stance and refunded more than $30,000 from federal lobbyists. . . . But Buttigieg has nonetheless continued to rely on wealthy and well-connected ‘bundlers’ to help him fundraise -- and to great effect, raising more money of late than most other 2020 presidential candidates.” 

As summer began, Buttigieg’s star was ascending on Wall Street. There, the New York Times reported, “donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him.” By October, under the headline “Pete Buttigieg Takes Lead as Big Business Candidate in 2020 Field,” Fortune magazine was reporting that “when it comes to opening hearts (and wallets) of business leaders across America, Buttigieg is shining.” 

It was the middle of October when Buttigieg defended his reliance on big donors with a memorable comment: “We’re not going to beat Trump with pocket change.” However, as Common Dreams pointed out, “Critics noted that (Bernie) Sanders and (Elizabeth) Warren are the top fundraisers of the Democratic primary, raising $46 million and $35 million mainly through small donations.”

In early November, the Washington Post reported that “Wall Street donors have a new favorite candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential field: Pete Buttigieg. . . . Buttigieg leads his rivals in collecting contributions from the securities and investment industry, pulling in $935,000 through the first three quarters of this year, according to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics.”

By then, Buttigieg was neck-and-neck with frontrunner Joe Biden for largesse from billionaires. In December, Forbes documented that “40 billionaires and their spouses have donated to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, according to an analysis of federal election filings, making the South Bend, Indiana mayor a favorite among America’s richest people.” 

The outlines of Buttigieg’s high-roller fundraising strategy came into sharper focus in mid-December when his campaign released the names of about 150 wealth-connected supporters who had each “raised at least $25,000 for our campaign.” At the same time, Newsweek reported, “disappointed Twitter followers are requesting their money back from Buttigieg under the #RefundPete hashtag. Some say they are disappointed by his taking large donations, some say they're disappointed by his consultation work, some say they felt ‘fooled’ by his behavior and donated earlier in his campaign.” 

The effectiveness of the Buttigieg campaign’s creation myth will soon be gauged by vote totals. Running for president in an era of oligarchy, Pete Buttigieg has chosen to be an antithesis of Bernie Sanders (who I actively support), resembling countless politicians so eager to take big money from the wealthy that it’s unclear if they have any priority higher than trying to win the next election. ______________________________
Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Kobe Bryant's Global Impact, by Joseph Hammond

Kobe Bryant's death sent shockwaves of sports fans across the United States. However, the Los Angeles sports icons death reaches around the world from Kenya to China. Brand Kobe Bryant was globally known even more and perhaps more impactful than Michael Jordan – widely considered the greatest NBA player of all time in some circles. 

Even before his death in a helicopter crash this past week, the Los Angeles Lakers had planned to add a statue of Kobe Bryant to the Star Plaza an area in front of the Staples Center where the figures of many Laker greats stand. A statue of Kobe wearing his Laker uniform already stands in front of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts' Sculpture Museum in China. Along with native-born Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant played a crucial role in opening China to the NBA.

To be sure Bryant's path to global stardom was in Bryant and the NBA's interest but, it also came out of a legitimate interest in other people and cultures. Thousands of American children have grown up in Italy like Bryant – very few of them have come to learn Italian. That curiosity was present in Kobe Bryant's first trip to the Philippines at 19. Already a prominent basketball star he got into the spirit of the occasion and dressed in a traditional Filipino shirt known as a barong tagalog for a dinner event with local dignitaries. Later he even allowed himself to be videotaped attempting to awkwardly dance "tinikling" – a traditional Filipino folk dance.

"Kobe Bryant was a frequent visitor to the Philippines," says Arnold Vegafria, who knew Bryant and is the business manager of Manny Pacquiao, "and it is not surprising that he has millions of Filipino fans who adore and idolize him because of his down-to-earth personality." Pacquiao, who has played basketball professionally in the Philippines, was a big fan of Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant was a big fight fan and once filmed a Sprite commercial where he featured as a boxer. The two often met when Pacquiao was in Los Angeles.

"It is not surprising that Kobe and Sen. Manny Pacquiao eventually became friends, and despite their busy schedules, managed to keep in touch over the years," Vegafria said who broke the news of Bryant's death in a call to Pacquiao. Bryant once visited the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles to watch Pacquiao train for an upcoming fight. There he was impressed by his friend's smooth footwork in the ring. Bryant believed that his high-top shoes aided Pacquiao's footwork and Bryant later commissioned a sneaker, the Kobe Bryant 9, based on Manny Pacquiao's boxing shoes. His role as a citizen ambassador began early.

Kobe Bryant's his father Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant wanted his son to be internationally minded. Kobe was named after the famed Japanese beef his parents saw on a menu. Some of Kobe's formative years were spent in Italy where he first began using Jersey's with the number 8. His father played in an Italian league for seven seasons after his NBA career ended in 1983. The young Kobe Bryant soon learned Italian and even late in his career would occasionally impress visiting reporters by answering questions in Italian. Indeed in Los Angeles, Bryant would also learn to converse in Spanish – much to the delight of his Latino fans in Los Angeles and a skill which increased his marketability in the Spanish speaking world. Bryant also learned some Serbian and French to rattle opposing players or encourage teammates.

In Africa, Kobe's death has been deeply mourned. Kobe Bryant just as Africa's cellphone revolution was beginning and he is in many ways the face of basketball on the continent. "Africa is largely young, over 70% under 40," says," said Cynthia Mumbo, the CEO of Sports Connect Africa and former manager of the Kenya women's national basketball team in an interview with the author," Many of us grew up watching NBA Action or an NBA game on Sunday's. Kobe was a crucial feature in those games... Most games featured were Lakers, Bulls, Magic games." "Matatus" are public buses and taxis that travel on their informal schedules that service Nairobi. "The NBA features greatly, and when Kobe was at Lakers, we had so many with his image. I believe we'll see many this week too."