by BURKELY HERMANN
Part of the left seems to have siphoned off to supporting the Democratic Party, which is nothing new. In the most recent election, a number of different members who were deemed ‘progressive’ were elected to Congress including Elizabeth Warren, the first openly bisexual member of Congress Kyrsten Sinema, first openly gay Senator Tammy Baldwin, Tulsi Gabbard, and Alan Grayson. In all, 46 Democrats were elected to Congress. I looked into if these candidates should have our support it all, or if it’s all a deception.
The premier ‘progressive’: Elizabeth Warren
“Massachusetts just sent the US Senate a pure and passionate voice for an unwavering progressive vision…They were insane at the Warren party in a gilded ballroom at the Fairmont Copley in downtown Boston…Shoulder to shoulder, so jammed it was hard to make it through the room, they were beaming, grinning, screaming like rock fans, delirious with glee…Then it came: CNN called it for Warren, up there on screen. I thought my eardrums would pop as they screamed, fists in the air…Warren’s win—like the marriage equality wins in four states—was a victory for the grassroots organizing philosophy championed by state party chair John Walsh, Michael Dukakis and Deval Patrick…Her political passion, authenticity, sheer charisma and clear-as-a-bell progressive beliefs brought in an astonishing number of volunteers…Now Elizabeth Warren is going to Washington as the senator of the left…she has the charm to work with anyone, the ability to negotiate the small things, and the relentless ferocity to push through the large things. She may be a junior senator, but there’s no doubt that she will help energize and rally the newly expanded progressive caucus…She’ll attract and inspire talented staff who’ve been dying to actually do something in Washington, pulling for a genuinely progressive tax code, for regulations that restrain rapacity and keep consumers in mind, for investment in education and infrastructure, for women and LGBT folks and service members and retired people.”- Journalist E.J. Graff writing in The Nation
Let’s start with Elizabeth Warren who has slightly angered international capital. She has cast as being a fighter against the big banks, and for the commoner. This is not true in the slightest. She supported Mel Watt, a member of the Congressional Plutocratic Caucus, and the pro-Obama Congressional Black Caucus, has been nominated to be the next executive of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt not only voted to have derivatives deregulated, but he supported the internet censorship bill, SOPA, as I noted on twitter. Watt even said at one point that it is “beyond troubling to hear hyperbolic charges that this bill [SOPA] will open the floodgates to government censorship” and said that those who say that SOPA will turn us into “a repressive regime belittles the circumstances under which true victims of tyrannical governments actually live.” Since Bank of America, Wachovia Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., AT&T Inc. are some Watt’s biggest contributors during his congressional career, it’s no surprise that he helped gut Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Fed with the help of others such as Barney Frank.
Now, let me turn back to Elizabeth Warren. An article in CounterPunch by Michael Arria noted that “Elizabeth Warren…[a] liberal darling….burrowed her way into our collective consciousness…her track record on standing up Wall Street is a pretty good one…[however she has] staunch support for the economic sanctions against Iran…Another security staple of the current administration, that Warren feels passionate about, is Obama’s controversial “Kill List”…Warren’s position on Israel may be the most craven of all…her website rolls out the usual platitudes…and identifies Palestine’s membership effort at the UN as a “unilateral step” that cannot be condoned…Apologists like to shrug off the left’s ability to infiltrate the Democratic Party…Warren…she recycles that tired liberal line about Bush sticking the Iraq War on a credit card…If Elizabeth Warren becomes Senator, her critics stand to be correct as well, although her potentially toxic votes on war will be overshadowed by those enduring right-wing mantras.” Then, there’s her stance on marijuana prohibition. As noted by Garrett Quinn on Boston.com in 2011, “one of the more entertaining parts of the debate the candidates were asked about their experiences with marijuana and whether they support legalization. Front runner Elizabeth Warren was a firm and frigid no on the question, departing from her mostly disarming demeanor.” As noted by NORML, Warren wouldn’t let up on this, calling out ganja liberator Dan Winslow: “I advise everyone to pay very close attention to Dan Winslow’s platform. He has a 100 percent ranking from the gun lobby and he’s for the legalization of marijuana. He wants us armed and stoned.” Finally, let’s not forget that she said the $700 billion dollar bank bailout passed by Congress, as there is other financing that runs in the trillions, is “by definition…going to reduce the deficit.”
From here, it is important to get to my numerous articles on Elizabeth Warren. A recent piece focused on how Warren doesn’t understand anarchism, she has a seemingly pro-war position on Syria, she has investments in Bank of America, she gets money from companies such as Google, Bain Capital, Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, IBM and Raytheon, and much more. Other pieces I’ve written have exposed her possible neoconservative rhetoric in foreign policy along with voting for Chevron man Chuck Hagel, and how fully supports the so-called ‘war on terror’ while standing against undocumented immigrants. The first article I wrote about her, in which I endorsed Bill Cimbrelo before I realized some of his strange positions, writing that Warren was “advocating a war in Iran…[is] being duplicitous by attacking the rich, yet she is very rich, herself…I found out the sinister reason the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) was founded…The point of the CFPB seems to be government regulation that would ensure a functioning market. The idea of such a bureau falls in line with the reasoning of the 1930s New Deal reforms: they were meant to keep the economy moving and placate the angry public…Elizabeth Warren seemed like a puppet when I learned about the positions on her national security/foreign policy webpage… her defenders would likely assert she is still a people’s advocate even though her OpenSecrets donor list has some connections to the top 1%.”
The deceptive ‘progressives’: Grayson, Sinema Baldwin, and Gubbard
“Our current economic crisis has proven that the Democrat versus Republican dynamic is obsolete, the only thing that matters now is us versus them. When I say “us,” I mean 99% of the US population. When I say “them,” I mean the ruling class. The ruling class includes Republicans, Democrats, and more importantly, the people and corporations who fund them. That is the dividing line. Adhere to it. Otherwise you are playing into their divide-and-conquer strategy, and you are complicit in our demise…The mainstream corporate media continually propagates the rhetoric of division, you don’t need to add to it. We are all on this sinking ship together and we don’t have much time left to turn things around. So let’s drop the tired old labels and focus on uniting people, not dividing them. Every time you want to write the word “Republicans” or “Democrats,” just change it to “the two-party oligarchy.” If you do that, you will gain credibility and influence, and we may actually get some of the change that you claim to want.”- Investigative journalist David DeGraw
Elizabeth Warren is only the beginning of the deceptive politicians I am going to describe. I’m not going into the specifics of fake socialist and closet progressive Bernie Sanders as that is for someone else to investigate. Still, it is important to look into Alan Grayson as a starter. He’s had interviews across the mainstream media, along with ones on The Real News Network and Democracy Now!  In recent months, these have been interviews about his staunch opposition to a war in Syria. Someone may say he is the next Dennis Kucinich, but that does not recognize that Kucinich himself endorsed corporatist John Kerry in 2004, and a post about how Kucinich should work for us since he wants “an essentially anarchic world order where the United States strong-arms other countries through bilateral trade pacts.” Still, Kucinich says there needs to be a culture of peace while he is still a contributor to Fox News.
Alan Grayson’s views which don’t mirror Kucinich’s are deeply troubling. As noted on his Wikipedia page, he became rich as the first President of International Discount Telecom (IDT), criticized his opponent in 2010 as being pro-Taliban and a “draft-dodger,” while he also supported Obama in 2008, opposed the raising of the debt limit two times along with the GOP, supported the ‘Recovery’ Act, and voted for that horrid cap and giveaway bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. He also backed a bill to audit the Fed, supports same-sex marriage, voted for Obamacare, and has been critical of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Who funds him? Well, in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, he has received $5,750 from defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell International along with technology giants like Google and AT&T. During his whole career, big unions have been his base of support. Also, OpenSecrets lists that he has 69 assets in companies including 3M, IDT Corp., Eli Lilly & Co, PNC Bank, Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch, UPS, Universal, and Walt Disney Company while also saying that his net worth is between $24,137,081 and $85,510,000.
Then there’s Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual elected to Congress and has no religion. She generated note from Glenn Greenwald, who called her a rising star in the Democratic Party, citing this statement about a war in Syria among others. Her Wikipedia page says “known as a progressive, she has worked for the adoption of the DREAM Act, and has campaigned against Propositions 107 and 102, two voter referendums to ban the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona…In 2013, Sinema voted against a bill to defund the National Security Agency from monitoring and recording details of US citizens’ telecommunications, without a warrant…When Sinema’s religious views were raised as an issue, her campaign stated that she simply believes in a secular approach to government.” Now, the vote in favor of the NSA made me want to look further even though her net worth seems low. According to the list of her top 100 contributors, $23,998 came from AT&T which supposedly has a right-wing agenda, General Dynamics which spies on social media for the DHS, defense contractor Honeywell International, MasterCard, UnionPacific, Raytheon which created social media spy system, big pharmaceutical company Pfizer, telecom giant Comcast, contractor Boeing, internet sales giant Amazon.com, and US Airways.
What bills has Sinema supported with all of this corporate funding? According to OpenCongress, she supports bills that advance an advanced energy project credit, a bill which continues pay to military members even during a government shutdown (which seems unfair to other federal workers), among others. She is also sponsoring a bill to supposedly lessen the deficit,  a “comprehensive immigration” bill that is over 1,000 pages that includes the ‘DREAM Act’ while also establishing a “nonimmigrant agricultural worker program” while keeping in place the anti-immigrant measures, a bill saying that foreign NGOs “shall not be ineligible for such assistance [from the US government] solely on the basis of health or medical services,” a bill that increases contracting at federal facilities, a bill to reduce federal travel expenses from some reason, an anti-IRS bill, a bill limiting NSA surveillance (but not abolishing it), a bill that creates an interagency group to work on extreme weather, a pro-telecommunications industry bill that would “restrict any State or local jurisdiction from imposing a new discriminatory tax on cell phone services, providers, or property,” and many others.
Then one moves to the first openly gay Senator Tammy Baldwin. As a starter, her Wikipedia page says “As of 2012, Baldwin’s voting record makes her one of the most liberal members of Congress…Baldwin said she was disappointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton’s compromise on LGBT rights in supporting the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy. In early 1994, she proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin. In 1995, she proposed domestic partnerships in Wisconsin. Baldwin opposes capital punishment in Wisconsin…In October 2012, Baldwin described herself as a proud progressive…Baldwin is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus… Baldwin was among the 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq… On August 1, 2007, Baldwin cosponsored H. Res. 333, a bill proposing articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney, and H Res. 589, a bill proposing the impeachment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales… Baldwin introduced provisions to the healthcare reform bill that specifically addressed disparities in health care for queer and trans* communities… She ultimately voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act… Baldwin lent her support to such initiatives as the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and voted for the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act… She is a supporter of the Violence Against Women Act…Baldwin was one of 22 members of Congress to vote against a 2006 resolution honoring victims of the September 11 attacks on the fifth anniversary of 9/11…Baldwin says she voted against the resolution because it used divisive language amounting to an endorsement of the Patriot Act and immigration bills she characterized as overly harsh.”
I looked deeper to find more about Baldwin. On The Issues noted that Baldwin “voted NO on making the PATRIOT Act permanent…Voted NO on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration… Supports ERA and comparable work pay rules for women…Voted YES on more funding for nanotechnology R&D and commercialization…[wants to] legalize medical marijuana…[and] let states legalize industrial hemp…voted YES on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol [cap and giveaway system]…Voted NO on cooperating with India as a nuclear power…Voted YES on deterring foreign arms transfers to China…Voted YES on keeping Cuba travel ban until political prisoners released…[wants to] ease the Israeli blockade on Gaza… Voted YES on assisting workers who lose jobs due to globalization…Voted YES on withdrawing from the WTO…Voted YES on Senate pay raise…Voted YES on restricting independent grassroots political committees…Voted NO on restricting frivolous lawsuits… Voted YES on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad… Voted YES on strengthening the Social Security Lockbox.”…Voted YES on increasing fines for indecent broadcasting… Voted NO on banning armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval…Voted YES on removing US armed forces from Afghanistan… Voted YES on disallowing the invasion of Kosovo.”
What’s behind these positions? Well, she’s received $39,114 from Microsoft, Walt Disney Company, and Oracle Corp. all in the form of individual contributions. At the same time, her net worth is between $501,003 and $1,016,000 with a mortgage from CitiMortgage Inc. (part of Citigroup) at her personal residence, and a blind trust. Her campaign website outlines a number of her other positions: supporting the Buffet Tax meant to calm the masses, wants impose strong tariffs on China, wants lower interests rates and investments in schools but not necessarily free public education,  touting the support of the Shepard Act which was snuck within a horrid military spending bill as an accomplishment, supporting the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, ensuring that the Affordable Corporatist Act stays on the books with NO mention of single-payer healthcare, a commitment to “fiscal responsibility…[including] everyone…pay[ing] their fair share,” and strengthening Medicare.
From here, I moved onto Tulsi Gubbard who is the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress. Looking through her Wikipedia article, there were some interesting things to note: “[when in the Hawaiian House of Representatives] she opposed LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and civil unions…[then] in August 2004, she defended her then-Republican father’s anti-LGBT work, and called supporters of U.S. Congressman Ed Case “homosexual extremists”… She also introduced Bill 54, a measure that authorized City workers to confiscate personal belongings stored on public property. The measure overcame opposition from the ACLU, and Occupy Hawai’I, and a potential conflict with Hawai’i's constitutional law…which protects “those who sleep by the roadside.” Bill 54 passed and became City Ordinance 1129… Gabbard is pro-choice…and in favor of making contraceptives more accessible for women… Gabbard is opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act… Gabbard believes women should be allowed to serve in all military roles, including combat…Responding to the Obama Administration’s policy on using drones in the United States, Gabbard stated that “these tactics should never be used against our own citizens here at home.”… However, her phrasing as a Representative, arguing that “drone strikes and other counter-terrorism tactics should not be targeting non-combatant U.S. citizens,” has narrower language than her earlier statements in favor of protecting the rights of all American citizens to due process…In her campaign materials and editorials, Gabbard calls for a restoration of the Glass Steagall Act, a ban on naked credit defaults, and forced breakup of the “big banks.”…In opposing sequestration cuts, Rep. Gabbard has said that the cuts are being used as a “political tool”… Rep. Gabbard is in favor of allowing Medicare to negotiate with prescription drug firms.”
That sounds all nice and dandy, except consider who funds her campaign coffers. Kaiser Permanente, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo collectively gave her $16,301 mostly in the form of individual contributions. She additionally had a net worth between $-52,985 to $755,997 with assets in AT&T and Microsoft along with liabilities in Capitol One and MasterCard. This casts doubt on the idea she is a progressive.
The other deceptive ‘progressives’
I looked the internet to see who else would be considered progressives. Molly Ball in The Atlantic noted that Sherrod Brown was a “progressive stalwart,” there was good ‘ole Keith Ellison as noted by PolitiFact along with others like Tammy Duckworth who Mother Jones considers a “progressive vet” among others. I started with Senator Sherrod Brown who is, like Warren, a supposed crusader against Wall Street. As his Wikipedia article notes, he voted against the Iraq war, wants to break up too-big-to-fail banks, proposed a bill that would say China is a ‘currency manipulator,’ while he also voted for Obamacare and the ‘Recovery Act.’ Additionally, he voted in favor of an authoritarian bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 which put in place indefinite detention, and co-sponsored the internet censorship bill called the Protect IP Act or PIPA. Why would he do this? Consider that he has a net worth between $168,007 and $845,999 while having assets in JPMorganChase! Additionally, companies that have given to his campaign coffers include FirstEnergy, which screwed over Kucinich, Comcast, General Electric, Duke Energy, Time Warner, and many more.
From here, I moved onto Tammy Duckworth. Her Wikipedia page says that “she called for mandatory funding of veterans’ health care, rather than discretionary funding that could change with political winds…Duckworth believes that abortion and end-of-life decisions are private matters and should not be subject to federal restriction…Duckworth criticized the Bush administration’s education policy of No Child Left Behind Act…Duckworth was critical of the administration of President George W. Bush for its provision of veterans’ care…In August 2006, Duckworth called on Congress to audit the estimated $437 billion spent on overseas military and foreign aid since September 11, 2001….Duckworth referred to the recent school shootings and criticized her opponent’s opposition to renewing a Federal ban on semi-automatic firearms, which expired in 2004…Duckworth also supported the Brady Law, which requires background checks for gun purchases from federally licensed firearm dealers.” These positions are for a reason. She has a net worth of between $18,046 and $923,998 with assets in Cisco Systems, Caterpillar Inc., Goldman Sachs, General Electric, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Proctor & Gamble, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson and Walt Disney Company. As for contributors to her campaign coffers, OpenSecrets notes that this includes: Bank of America, American Crystal Sugar, Northrop Grumman, Exelon Corp., SAIC, Raytheon, UBS AG, Google and many others. Clearly, she isn’t angering international capital as much as some like Sherrod Brown or Elizabeth Warren would.
I get to the final person, Keith Ellison, who is part of a “progressive caucus that has abandoned any serious progressive ideals and marches the country farther and farther down the path towards plutocracy.” Glen Ford, the editor of Black Agenda Report describes him as “the Black U.S. House member from Minneapolis who is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, [who] says the U.S. should push for a no-fly zone over rebel-held areas in…Both McCain and Ellison want no-fly zones, and both claim to prefer that there be no U.S. “boots on the ground” in country. Both are raving American imperialists who believe that the U.S. has not merely the right, but the obligation to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. As Ellison, the phony progressive…Ellison has been advocating a no-fly zone for Syria for at least a year…On U.S. imperial policy, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between McCain, the hard-right Republican, and Ellison, who purports to be a progressive Democrat. Neither gives a damn about international law or the rights of smaller people’s to shape their own destinies. Ellison went to Saudi Arabia…[and] described the King as a “visionary leader”…Ellison is part of the pro-war Left, which includes Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whose primary mission is make self-described liberals and leftists comfortable supporting imperial wars…John McCain and Keith Ellison pretend to be on opposite ideological ends, but they are like Jack and Jill walking up the same hill when it comes to the obligations and privileges of U.S. imperialism.” As a commenter on the same site noted, “although he’s the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was against the Iraq war (because it was waged by a Republican), he’s a full-blown supporter of Obama waging his face-saving attack on Syria.” In an interview, Ellison told Glenn Beck that “…I have a deep love and affection for my country. There`s no one who`s more patriotic than I am, and so you know, I don`t need to — need to prove my patriotic stripes…I think that Muslims in America are very loyal, patriotic people…[Muslim extremists are] criminals. But I think that people who commit criminal acts should be treated like criminals, regardless of their faith…Islam and Muslims in America are good, loyal Americans here to make this country a stronger, better place…I believe that the United States, together with the world community, needs to help reconstruct Iraq and needs to be a part of bringing the fighting factions there to a point where they have peace. But I don`t think that using the military option is the only way to go…I`ll agree that it is a pluralistic, multiethnic society that has had its difficulties over time, but the Shia and Sunni have never had a civil war, and that`s a historic fact.”
What would make him say these neoconservative, pro-empire things? Well, his personal finances don’t say much other than that he has a CitiMortgage, and has small net worth. Some of the donors to his campaign include Target, General Mills, Coldwell Banker Trust, BAE Systems, Best Buy, Honeywell International, the Blackstone Group, and Wells Fargo. That’s just this year. Over his career, Honeywell and General Mills have been some of his biggest contributors. This likely has to do with his blind support of Obama and imperialism itself.
What to do now?
With all of this information making one question or challenge their previous view, just like my previous articles have done for other subjects, of numerous ‘progressives’ one may wonder what to do, Well, the main rule is to generally never vote for any candidate of the Democratic or Republican parties, since many of politicians ride to victory on populist rhetoric while being support by corporate interests. David Lindoff writes that we should develop “a fully-competitive progressive Third Party to run races in every Congressional district and for every Senate seat up for grabs in 2012, and to run a serious candidate for President…[that would be] focused on domestic issues–especially labor rights, women’s rights, support for the poor and elderly, job creation, and tax equity, and on education and energy/environment issues. The one global issue that should be a core position of any real progressive party would be ending the wars, closing foreign bases and slashing military spending.” In the end, maybe all of us should take some guidance from sixteen year old Pakistani activist and revolutionary Malala Yousafzai: “…Why are we waiting for someone else to come and fix things? Why aren’t we doing it ourselves?…I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”
 Ganja liberator= a person who wants marijuana legalized as I defined on my website about the war on drugs