The NJ Pinelands Commission: How one of government’s most successful environmental bodies was overtaken by the fossil fuel industry.

On February 24, 60% of the commission’s fifteen member board voted in final support of the construction of a 15 mile natural gas pipeline through the heart of the New Jersey Pinelands. The vote was in spite of the vast majority of the approximately 800 in attendance, along with virtually all of the state’s environmental groups and four former governors, standing vehemently against it. Representing the culmination of a five year battle pitting environmentalists against the Chris Christie administration, the fossil fuel industry, and unions, the final vote was tallied literally over the shouts, chants and singing of the crowd.

This is the story of how the Pinelands Commission transformed from being a bipartisan governmental agency that faithfully enforces one of “the strongest state land-use legislation in the country,” to one that now votes at the behest of the fossil fuel industry, in direct opposition to public sentiment.

In 1978, the New Jersey Pinelands, also called the Pine Barrens, became the nation’s first National Reserve:

The [Pinelands Nature Reserve] is approximately 1.1 million acres and spans portions of seven counties and all or part of 56 municipalities. The reserve occupies 22% of New Jersey’s land area and it is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston.


The reserve is home to dozens of rare plant and animal species and the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, which contains an estimated 17 trillion gallons of water.

(Not billions, trillions.)

In 1979, New Jersey passed the Pinelands Protection Act. The act was intended to assist one of the only remaining untouched regions in the state in its resistance to further development, as pressured by Atlantic City on the east and Philadelphia on the west. The act created the Pinelands Commission:

[The Pinelands Commission is an] independent state agency whose mission is to “preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands National Reserve, and to encourage compatible economic and other human activities consistent with that purpose.”…

In this cooperative intergovernmental scheme, all participants were to “preserve, protect, and enhance the resources of the Pinelands” and permit only that development that was consistent with that purpose.

In 1983, the United Nations declared the Pinelands an International Biosphere Reserve and in 1995, the UN called the Act and its Commission “still perhaps the strongest state land-use legislation in the country.” (According to environmental activist Bill Wolfe, the Highlands Act, that protects northern NJ and was based on the Pinelands Act, is “far stronger.”)

January 10, 2014: Pipeline defeated in 7-7 deadlock

Originally proposed by South Jersey Gas in July of 2012 (page 5), a draft Memorandum of Agreement between SJG and the Pinelands Commission was presented in December of 2013. The plan included an $8 million payout to the commission, including (page 14) $250,000 to build a “Pinelands education center” and $500,000 for the creation of “education or outreach based programs or initiatives.” The remaining $7.25 million was to be placed in a Land Acquisition account:

[A Land Acquisition account is to] fund the acquisition of land located adjacent to the site of the proposed pipeline project located in a Forest Area. If all of the identified lands have not been acquired after three years from the execution of this MOA by the last signatory, than any remaining funds also may be used for acquisition of lands in the southern forested portion of the Pinelands Area, i.e. south of the Atlantic City Expressway.

The Agreement was rejected by the board on January 10, 2014, in a 7-7 deadlock. As described in the next section, one anti-pipeline commissioner was forced to recuse himself. Two of those voting against the pipeline were Chris Christie appointees. One of those voting for it was a new commissioner appointed by his county exactly three days before the funeral of his anti-pipeline predecessor, around one month before the vote.

The vote occurred in the midst of the Bridgegate scandal and on the day of a dangerous ice storm.

(Details on the vote are on page 4, individual votes on 5-6.)

The rejection was encouraged by four former governors, two Democrats and two Republicans, in an unprecedented joint letter delivered to the commission a month before the vote. Each of the governors were intimately involved in the creation or maintenance of the Pinelands law:

Kean, as an assemblyman sponsored the law preserving the Pinelands, a measure Byrne signed into law. Florio, as a congressman, pushed through legislation adding federal protections to safeguard more than 1 million acres of the preserve. He later served as chairman of the Pinelands Commission. Whitman signed into law a long-term stable funding source for protection of open spaces…. Kean defeated Florio to win his first gubernatorial term. Whitman defeated Florio when he sought reelection after his first term.

Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg

In late 2010, Governor Christie appointed Nancy Wittenberg, the former head lobbyist of the NJ Builders Association, to be the Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission. Her starting salary was $135,000 and at the time, she professed a “passion and commitment for preserving New Jersey’s environment.”

Wittenberg’s staff inappropriately coordinated with both the Christie administration and South Jersey Gas, much of it without the knowledge of the board. During this time, the State Ethics Commission, on the “order of the governor’s office,” very questionably forced the recusal of an anti-pipeline board member from the critical January 2014 vote. Despite his absence, the pipeline was still narrowly defeated.

Three months later, seemingly in retribution, Chris Christie became the first governor in the commission’s history to veto the minutes from a monthly meeting: minutes which happened to contain the new budget providing the staff with its first raise in four years. Four months after that, something unexpected occurred at the August 2015 monthly meeting, whose agenda did not contain anything about the pipeline. As reported by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance:

In a stunning move the Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission decided she would not allow the matter to be submitted to the 15-member governing board of the Commission. She stated that the project complied with the rules [and therefore approval was only necessary by the state’s Board of Public Utilities]. On December 16, 2015 [the BPU] approved the petition from South Jersey Gas that would waive all municipal land use ordinances and regulations in relation to the construction of the pipeline.

The BPU vote was unanimous; conducted in only a few minutes and without debate. In addition:

BPU staff directed the board to consider only evidence provided under oath, which did not include comments given at public hearings and during comment periods by members of the public.

Numerous environmental groups appealed the decision and, in July of 2016, they gained the support of three of those same former governors, who this time filed an amicus brief to the courts, declaring Wittenberg overstepped her authority in a role intended only as advisory and administrative. (Although the fourth Republican governor did not sign the brief, he vocally supported the effort.)

On November 7, 2016, the day before Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, Wittenberg’s decision was struck down by the courts, who declared that she overstepped her bounds, forcing the decision back to the Pinelands Commission’s board. Among the court’s evidence was the amicus brief.

On February 17, 2017, one week before the final vote by the board, Wittenberg once again recommended passage.

Aside: So-called public comment:

Page 7 in Wittenberg’s recommendation report (abbreviated here on out as “WH-7“) states:

At its January 24, 2017 meeting, the Commission received public comment from approximately 130 individuals. Attendance initially exceeded capacity, and Commission staff collected a list of those waiting to enter, and allowed those people to enter as others left. All those wishing to attend the meeting were able to enter by approximately 12:30 P.M., and the Commission continued the meeting until past 5:00 P.M. to give all those who wished to speak an opportunity.

Hundreds of people were shut out of this so-called public meeting, possibly more than were on the inside. There were multiple reports of people being refused entry up to an hour before the scheduled start time. I, myself arrived right on time and was shut out. I was later offered entry as press, but declined in order to tell the story of those on the outside, where I livestreamed for three hours. Despite Wittenberg’s assertion, most of the crowd was forced to leave after enduring hours in the bitter cold and rain.

Robert Barr, pro-pipeline Chris Christie appointee

In January of 2016, two years after his “no” vote, Republican Commissioner Mark Lohbauer was demoted by Chris Christie from his five-year chairmanship.

In April and May of 2014, three members who voted against the pipeline in January were recommended for replacement with people known to be supportive of it. Two were nominated by the Governor. A fourth was replaced by her county’s freeholder board after 18 years of service.

(Similarly, in 2011, Christie replaced three environmentally friendly members of the Highlands Council, a commission created in 2004 to protect “a vital source of drinking water for more than half of New Jersey’s families, yielding approximately 379 million gallons of water daily.”)

One of Christie’s nominees was Robert Barr. His nomination first required passage through the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee, which twice failed. According to the Press of Atlantic City, “Barr professed last year during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee to an intentional ignorance of the Pinelands.”

Before Barr’s third vote with the Committee, the same former governors wrote another joint letter, this time in opposition to Barr’s nomination. The letter was addressed to the now-current Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Ray Lesniak, who agreed with their assessment. However, Lesniak was shut out of the vote because it was scheduled to coincide with the final day of a planned personal vacation (in January 24, 2016). Lesniak was temporarily replaced by someone known to support Barr, resulting in the nomination passing by a 7-5 vote (with one abstention), sending it on to the full Senate.

On March 16, Barr’s nomination was defeated by the Senate by a vote of 19 in favor and 17 against (with a required threshold of 21). Less than one hour later, “Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) added their ayes to the appointment,” pushing Barr over the edge and onto the commission.

Environmental impacts

This is Chris Christie’s New Jersey:

While there is no hydraulic fracturing in the state of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly vetoed restrictions from importing fracking waste. He also passed a bill to privatize every water system in the state. If any water is polluted by that fantastically toxic fracking waste, the priorities of the remaining clean water will be determined by a profit motivated private corporation.

According to South Jersey Gas, the pipeline “will provide significant environmental improvements for[sic] the B.L. England generating station by transitioning it from coal to natural gas” and according to the plant’s owner, doing so will increase the plant’s efficiency by 27%.

But the environmental political action group NJ Sierra Club asserts that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s findings, as quoted by Wittenberg (WH-22), are based on misleading methodologies and that the plant, which was originally scheduled to shut down in 2007, remains open in an effort to avoid newer and more stringent environmental laws. The plant currently runs on coal for about two months out of the year. If converted to natural gas (which will result in its lease being extended by up to 20 years), it will run at least 350 days out of the year (WH-12, bottom), 24 hours a day, dramatically increasing overall emissions. Methane is also a greenhouse gas seventy times–not percent, times–more potent than the CO2 in coal, but the greenhouse pollution from methane largely happens at the extraction site, whereas, for coal, it is exclusively during combustion.

South Jersey Gas asserts that keeping the BLE plant running is “necessary to improve reliability” of energy in the Pinelands area and Richard Engel, a state deputy attorney general, suggests that closing it could cause NJ to face rolling blackouts or brownouts*. Although the energy of any power plant generally serves those geographically closest to it, the energy from the BLE station is poured indiscriminately into the massive regional PJM grid that ultimately serves thirteen states and the District of Columbia.

Because the plant is currently peak-only, running around two months out of the year, permanently shutting it down, according to the grid’s own spokesperson, is likely not detrimental and, according to the Sierra Club, “would actually cause fewer power reliability problems than if it [stays] open.” Regardless, Frank Felder, director of the Center for Energy, Economic and Environmental Policy at Rutgers University says it is an issue to monitor, not a crisis*.

*(From a private correspondence with Becky Free.)

Regarding the inevitability of leakage, Wittenberg responds (WH-21) with how good “modern” and “state of the art” technology is for both preventing and dealing with accidents:

Modern technology regarding pipe materials and construction techniques minimizes the risk of leaks from new pipelines [and that the] magnitude of an unlikely leak will also be minimized by the use of state of the art piping, continuous pressure gauges, and inspections and shut off valves.

Regarding the inevitability of explosions, Wittenberg responds (WH-18-20) with the plethora of required safety standards, precautions, and procedures, which includes limiting the number of inhabited structures within 100 feet of the pipeline. What is not mentioned:

  • Since the pipeline is almost exclusively intended to line the shoulders of roadways, cars traveling on top of it are at obvious risk. (The Pinelands Preservation Alliance, however, directly contradicts this: “The pipeline will be immersed in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer along much, if not most, of its length.”)
  • Even assuming an ignition source right at the pipe, a 24-inch pipeline running at 437 PSI (WH-3) has a blast radius closer to 1,000 feet*, not 100.
  • Wildfires are an important and recurring part of the Pinelands’ ecology.
  • “By designing the proposed pipeline to operate at pressures far greater than necessary to supply B.L. England… South Jersey Gas substantially increases future material fatigue that could rupture the pipeline….”*

*(From page 26 in this officially submitted expert review document.)

Finally, Wittenberg states (WH-17) the pipeline’s construction does not require a dewatering permit because, although water will indeed be drained in order to stabilize construction, “[the] BL England project will be below the 100,000 GDP [gallons per day] threshold.” Leaving open the possibility that many tens of thousands of gallons of water will be drained daily throughout the Pinelands, affecting nearby well water, ponds and marine life.

The pipeline is approved because it will “primarily serve the needs of the Pinelands”

Wittenberg’s recommendation reiterates the purpose of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) (WH-5):

Public service infrastructure is only a permitted land use in a Forest Area if it is demonstrated that the proposed natural gas pipeline is intended to primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands

In 2012 (WH-2), the same pipeline was denied by the commission for this very reason. But now in 2017, both she and Barr support it. What changed?

Barr states in an interview: “I am convinced [that] this pipeline will serve mostly Pinelands people and business. That is what we are supposed to take into account. This was my primary driver.”

According to South Jersey Gas, while the pipeline “is necessary to improve reliability for the 140,000 South Jersey residents,” Wittenberg concludes that (WH-13) 20,000 of them are in the Pinelands, which is 14%. Since this conclusion is based on the fossil fuel companies’ own information, even this is likely overly optimistic.

How does Wittenberg conclude that this project does indeed “primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands”? Because the pipeline will serve the BL England power plant, a business that happens to reside in the Pinelands, even though it is outside of the protected region under the Pinelands Commission’s jurisdiction (WH-5):

Serving the needs of an existing Pinelands business alone satisfies the CMP’s Forest Area land use standards for public service infrastructure, based on existing Commission precedent. Thus, on this basis, because the proposed pipeline serves the BLE plant, an existing Pinelands business, more than 95% of the time, it primarily serves only the needs of the Pinelands.

Determining whether or not the pipeline will benefit residents is “not necessary to demonstrate CMP conformance.”

In other words, a pipeline built by one fossil fuel company, exclusively benefiting another fossil fuel company, whose business resides in the Pinelands, but the vast majority of whose customers do not…such a pipeline completely satisfies the Pinelands Commission’s Comprehensive Management Plan.

A 24-inch pipeline running at 437 psi has the potential to carry many times more gas the BL England plant can even process. This, along with the massive 30-inch, 722 psi sister pipeline running southeast from Chesterfield, NJ to Ocean County, suggests that much of the gas is not for domestic use. (The higher the pressure, the farther the gas is intended to travel.) Instead, it is largely suspected to be sold for profit into the regional grid or exported internationally for issues of profit or national security. (Perhaps it is intended as a desperate attempt to prop up the struggling Atlantic City?) Regardless, these facts further undermine the argument that the pipeline “primarily serves the Pinelands.”

Aside: That both these New Jersey pipelines ultimately lead to the same general location (the South Jersey coast), along with the aggressive expansion of pipelines across the country, it seems that this network of pipelines is being designed in the same manner as the internet; where the massive redundancy of its computers and the connections between them is designed explicitly to keep the overall system robust, even if a substantial number of nodes or pathways are taken out.

Commissioner Lohbauer testified during the commission’s final vote on February 24, 2017, that the original planners and commissioners feared exactly this possibility: that a pipeline would cut entirely through the Pinelands protected area, where the source, destination and beneficiaries of that energy would all be completely outside of the protected region.

Their fear is now a reality.

By: Jeff Epstein, 3/7/2017
Edited by: Ben Szioli
Subject assistance by: Becky Free of Pinelands Preservation Alliance

Jeff is the co-founder of Citizens’ Media TV. He was a super-volunteer for Bernie Sanders, was one of around forty candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by senator, and was a pledged delegate at the 2016 DNC. Jeff is also a finalist for Brand New Congress. You can see more of his writing on his blog.

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Potential trouble awaits Monday’s MacArthur Town Hall

(Link to original livestream with comments.)

Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur, representing New Jersey’s third congressional district, has avoided in-person town halls because he doesn’t “want to be baited into having an event that some outside group can just make a spectacle out of.” Instead, he has held two telephone-only “tele” town halls in recent weeks, which, according to first-hand accounts, have been highly filtered affairs, where a single person asks a question, the congressmen answers, no follow ups are allowed, and no interaction between participants is possible. Constituents in Marlton protested by holding their own in-person town hall that MacArthur himself did not attend.

MacArthur is holding an in-person town hall on Monday night, 7 miles from the east coast in an approximately 50 mile wide district (going from only a few miles away from Philadelphia, all the way to the coast). The town hall, first announced Friday morning, is scheduled to start at 6:30, with doors opening at 5:30, in a room having a capacity of 250. People must RSVP, and among those who RSVP, it is first come, first served.

A carpenters union and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS), a second amendment advocacy group, have both posted an event called “The town hall to support Representative MacArthur.” The carpenter’s union event, posted by Carpenters Local # 255 of South Jersey, is scheduled to start at 5pm, a full hour-and-a-half before the official start time.

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The NJ2AS article states:

“Congressman Tom MacArthur, the first and only NJ Congressman to support the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (HR38) so far, supported us when no one else would. Now it’s our turn to support him. As you may have seen on the news, town halls across the country have been raucous events full of bussed in members of the opposition sent there to harass their Congressman. We’re not going to let them outnumber us though. [W]e’re asking that hundreds of our supporters arrive to the townhall [sic] to be there inside and outside the event to let Tom AND the media know, that we support him…. We’re going to show groups across the country how to fight back against these organized protestors sent in to harass our members of Congress.”

The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (HR38) is a bill that allows anyone to carry a concealed firearm in a state whose laws allow it, regardless which state they reside in, and regardless the laws in their home state. MacArthur has sponsored the bill, which has only been introduced.

So a union is planning on arriving very early, in as large numbers as possible, at a venue with a capacity of 250 in a district of 732,000 people. Additionally, a second amendment advocacy group is planning on attending in the “hundreds,” explicitly to “fight back against these organized protesters.” It seems that anyone who gets even mildly upset at MacArthur has already been accused as being someone who is not a constituent of, and has explicitly come to harass, the congressman.

Though clearly intended as intimidation against those wanting to challenge the representative, New Jersey’s gun laws are among the most strict in the country (although are set to be significantly overridden by this potential new law). This along with the expected level of security at events of this type, both inside and out, the likeliness of guns being brandished during the event are low.

To close with an opinion: As it relates to the difficulties congressmen have faced at recent town halls, one complaint I’ve heard that I believe has some merit, is how some protesters seem to want to simply vent their frustrations at the Trump administration and the Republican takeover of Congress. The more concrete and actionable people’s requests are, the better chance they have at being effective, and not being framed in a negative light. You can be angry, you can express that anger, and you can express it forcefully. But unless you express it with peace, and respect for the person you’re addressing, you lose.

Citizens’ Media TV will be covering the event live starting at 4pm.

Update 3/6/2014: To better reflect my opinion in the final paragraph.
Update 3/7/2014: NJ2AS has removed the “fight back” sentence from their website.

Thanks to Ben Szioli for the editorial suggestions.

Jeff is co-founder of Citizens’ Media TV. He was a super-volunteer for Bernie Sanders, was one of around forty candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by senator, and was a pledged delegate at the 2016 DNC. Jeff is also a finalist for Brand New Congress. You can see more of his writing on his blog.

I lied to Cory Booker’s staff

I went to the #OurFirstStand rally in Newark New Jersey on January 15, with the purpose of recording the expected protests against NJ Democratic Senator Cory Booker’s no vote on Bernie Sanders’ amendment for importing drugs from Canada. After the rally was over, I was talking in the hallway with some protesters that I had met that day, and others that I have known since the Bernie Sanders campaign. Some stated that they were waiting to meet with Cory Booker privately to discuss his vote. This was the first I’d heard about it, but if I was able to get in, I wanted to. I am a journalist. I am also a constituent, living in New Jersey just across the river from Philadelphia.

(You can see me talking with people in the hallway around one hour and 40 minutes into the video, Cory Booker walks in a few minutes before it ends.)

A staff member came out and said that the senator required the meeting to be off the record, obviously meaning no recording devices. People protested this but ultimately agreed to the condition. I was still recording my livestream at the time. The staff assumed that I was with the protesters wanting to be part of the meeting, and when asked if I was a journalist, as you can hear on camera approximately seven minutes from the end, I said no.

As I walked into the meeting and sat down, I was still recording, holding the phone naturally by my side. Before the senator walked in, I stated to the audience, “Hopefully you will be able to hear things,” strongly suggesting that I was indeed going to record it. Cory Booker walked in and we started introducing ourselves, and about halfway through the introductions, about one minute and 30 seconds to two minutes in, I shut it off.

As soon as the meeting ended, I approached the staff members and told them that I lied (I used that word, “lied”) and that I was a journalist with Citizens’ Media TV, but that I honored their off the record request. That the livestreams were on Facebook for them to see if they wished.

Afterwards, I interviewed two other participants about what happened in the meeting, without revealing any of the confidences. During the conversation, I stated how I was not a protester and how I got caught up in becoming a participant, and that I let it happen, and that it was exciting.

I don’t overtly protest. My way of protesting is to give other protesters a louder voice with my camera. That’s the foundation of everything I’ve done with Citizens’ Media TV. So I’m not a protester and I am a protester. You could argue that I didn’t belong in a meeting exclusively intended for protesters.

I am a constituent of the Senator’s, am strongly against his vote on the amendment, and do not buy his justifications for doing so. Those who attended the meeting would hopefully agree that I acted like a well informed constituent, respectfully but forcefully told the senator my opinion, and that I belonged there with them.

You could also argue that I technically violated the off the record request by recording some of the introductions. I did not record any of the main portion of the meeting which was more than an hour long. I also did not violate any of the off record confidences at any point.

I lied about being a journalist, I technically lied about not recording the meeting, and although I disagree, I understand the perception that I did not belong in the meeting at all.

I’m sorry. I apologize to the senator, his staff, and to the viewers. As I stated soon after turning off the camera, we’re going to do this right, or were not going to do it.

One of the things that the senator said in confidence during that meeting, was that he was going to propose his own amendment that satisfied his drug safety requirements concerns. Just today it was revealed publicly that he did even better than that, and is standing with Senator Sanders for new ligislation that, starting in two years, allows imports with more overt safety controls.

Got hit by some pretty serious Clinton Blame Cannons today

It seems that my friends, my friends’ friends, and I are exclusively to blame for the Trump Presidency and the Republican takeover of government. I tried to stand up for you all, without tearing the person down.

This article was re-published by Naked Capitalism. Screenshots of the conversation are at the bottom. 


First the post proper, which I made on Facebook, regarding a Republican town hall Citizens’ Media TV was to cover:

Me:

I am a journalist interested in debunking the Republican talking point of not wanting to participate in in person town halls, for fear of facing “outside agitators being bussed in only to harass them.”

If anyone out there is interested in livestreaming this event, and willing to go early and film the likely-non-existent buses bringing in people, and asking around, especially to those who are upset with the congressman/Republicans/Congress overall, to confirm their identity/That they live in the district, such as by looking privately at their licenses, or asking a question only locals would know how to answer (or any other creative ideas), please get in contact with me.

John Doe’s comment on the post:

I’m going and I live here.

My response:

Please friend and PM me if you are interested in assisting.

John Doe:

I visited your page, saw your posts and your friends’ comments, and with thanks for your vote for the Democratic nominee in the election, I will decline. I worked hard for her election and have no more tolerance for the kind of bull I saw on your posts. I’m sure some of those people are crying and marching now. With their support, this didn’t have to happen. [redacted] on your post was so sure of herself, and probably still is. Makes me ill.

Me:

I don’t understand what posts you object to. On what page? My personal page? I am unsure what you mean by “with their support this didn’t have to happen”? What didn’t have to happen? The Trump presidency and the Republican takeover of Congress? Who is [redacted]?

John Doe:

on a post on your wall. Someone among your friends named [redacted], full of conspiracy theories that you permit to be aired on your wall, saying that Clinton was going to be be president and nothing would stop her, she “stole” the nomination, blah blah blah. And yes, the Trump presidency didn’t have to happen. Your post is full of people saying they either wouldn’t vote, or vote for Stein for gods sake. You posted that a vote for Stein isn’t wasted. It is people who said such things that made his electoral college win possible. You all bought the right-wing Russian-financed propaganda. Now you cry and march.

Me:

Would appreciate a link to the post you’re referring to. It’s hard to discuss this without knowing what you’re talking about.

I disagree with lots of my friends, and disagree with even more people that are friends of my friends. The [redacted] you are talking about is likely a friend of a friend. Unless they are blatantly hateful, I choose not to delete comments just because I might disagree with them. Because many people that I disagree with still have something valid to say.

Thank you for acknowledging my vote for Hillary Clinton in the general. I will be honest and say that I did it almost exclusively as an anti-Trump vote.

You are correct. If every single Bernie Sanders supporter came out and voted for Hillary Clinton during the general, she likely would’ve won by a landslide. The Democrats would not have lost state houses across the country and control of all branches of our government. Instead of winning by a landslide, she lost by a razor thin margin, even winning the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

I hope that we can agree that the American people are by and large reasonable people. So if that’s true, then what about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party caused all of these people to not vote for her? That many people choose not to vote at all, some chose to vote third-party, and probably some chose to vote for Trump just to “blowed shit up real good.”

It seems that all of these people chose to risk a Trump presidency and a Republican domination of the entire country, than to come out and vote for Hillary Clinton.

I hope you’re not seriously suggesting that the only reason that Hillary Clinton lost is 100% caused by “right wing Russian-financed propaganda,” and 0% because of what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party has done and not done for the past 40 years.

John Doe:

one word: misogyny. And I am not at all persuaded that the American people are by and large “reasonable.” Quite apparently not. https://www.facebook.com/jeffyepstein/posts/10207140649099932

Me:

Thank you for the link.

There were seventeen friends tagged in that post. Comments came from more than a hundred people [actually closer to forty], about half indirect friends of those people.

So a large percentage (most? all?) of Bernie Sanders tens of millions of supporters, that didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, either hate women (including the women…) or are so gullible to be duped by Russian financed right wing propaganda. They have no valid issues at all.

The Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton have NO responsibility in their loss. Those votes were rightly hers.

That’s what you’re trying to tell me.

Me, four hours later:

Let me be more direct: *IS* that what you’re trying to tell me?

It is so easy to blame tens of millions of middle and lower income Americans for the spectacular losses suffered by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in November. From what you’ve told me so far, they are the ONLY ones to blame. Tens of millions of people. All virulent misogynists, dim-witted enough to be completely duped by “Russian financed right wing propaganda”, and “by and large”, “quite apparently” not reasonable human beings. They have no valid concerns at all. How easily you write them off with such hateful and simplistic accusations.

The powerful few though, with their billionaire donors and much of the media and rules tilted in their favor, they share absolutely none of the responsibility in their OWN losses.

It’s not Hillary Clinton’s job to earn the votes of those tens of millions of people. It is the job of those tens of millions of people to just vote for her. Because as bad as they may feel she and the Democratic Party are for their own good, Trump is so much worse…and they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about anyway.

You do realize how unreasonable that sounds, right?

 




Final vote on NJ Pinelands Natural Gas Pipeline set for Friday morning

The Pinelands Commission was created forty years ago to protect the New Jersey Pinelands (also called the Pine Barrens). From their about page, the commission is,

an independent state agency whose mission is to “preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands National Reserve, and to encourage compatible economic and other human activities consistent with that purpose.”

The Pinelands is one of the nation’s oldest officially sanctioned nature preserves, and it sits on top of a 17 trillion gallon–with a “T”–freshwater aquifer.

In August of 2015, commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg, “without public notice, debate, or participation,” unilaterally decided to approve the natural gas pipeline, despite enormous opposition by those actually affected by it. The wishes of the board were ignored, and the decision was overruled by the courts on the day before Donald Trump was elected to the presidency.

Despite now clearly lacking the legal authority, Wittenberg and the commission’s (non-board) staff has for the third time decided the pipeline should be approved. App.com reports that, without the board’s knowledge,

A batch of e-mails made public last year showed regular communications and inappropriate coordination about the pipeline between Wittenberg and Pinelands counsel, Stacy Roth, with the Governor’s office and the gas company.

Additionally, in February of 2015, Governor Chris Christie replaced an environmentally friendly Pinelands Commission board member with one supporting the pipeline.

Wittenberg’s decision states that the pipeline clearly benefits the Pinelands since the gas is being routed to a power generation facility serving some of the Pinelanads’ residents. But according to Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance,

“That power plant could run at 100 percent capacity for 365 days and only use a fraction of the gas that pipeline will carry.”

In other words, the pipe is so large and under such pressure, that its ultimate use is expected to be foreign export for the purposes of “national security” and profit.

The board makes its final decision on Friday morning at 9:30, at a hotel in Cherry Hill, where it is scheduled for the hotel’s largest conference room, having a capacity of 1,500. But given the commission’s history of choosing smaller-than-appropriate rooms (most recently resulting in hundreds being shut out of meetings explicitly designed for public comment in January), multiple reports by participants of previous meetings that many union members arrive early to both fill seats and cheer pro-pipeline comments, and the anticipated yes-vote by the board, those interested in participating in the Friday morning meeting are encouraged to show up very early. Here is more information on the event from Food & Water Watch, New Jersey, and the official notification from nj.gov.

Corrected to reflect that the largest conference room is indeed confirmed.

Second major Associated Press story sabotages popular progressive candidate soon before election day.

Both based on anonymous Democratic insiders, both authored by Lisa Lerer.

This post is an in-depth study of Lerer’s work during the 2016 Democratic primary. A remembrance of how badly the corporate, so-called left-wing media treated Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

I discuss this entire article in this video:

(This post has been re-published by John Laurits and Naked Capitalism.)

Updated 2017-02-16: Based on feedback at Naked Capitalism, I’ve changed all instances of “left wing” and “left leaning” to “corporate”.

AP Article: DNC Chairperson: Establishment Tom Perez versus progressive Keith Ellison

On February 1, the Associated Press published an article announcing former Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of DNC Chair candidate, Tom Perez. Buried in paragraph nine of the article, 24 days before the election, is a declaration that establishment favorite Perez has an unassailable lead:

Perez, who was quietly urged by the White House to jump into the race, faces his stiffest competition from Ellison.

Democratic strategists with knowledge of the chairman selection process say Perez has as much as a 66-member lead among the 447 members of the party who will vote on the next chairman at the party convention in late February. In total, 304 members have indicated who they’re backing.

The strategists spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the vote counting.

I was made aware of this story by The Young Turks newest correspondent, Nomiki Konst, who is covering the DNC chair candidate forums. Konst reports that no AP reporter has been present at any of the forums. (This is her analysis of the AP article.)

As Konst suggests, there are currently 14 candidates, each with their own group of supporters. As candidates drop out, their supporters will shift to different candidates. Calling the race at this moment is premature, which is a charitable interpretation, given that the only sources are “anonymous Democratic strategists.”

Perez, former Labor Secretary under the Obama administration, entered the race on December 15, and has raised 73% of his donations from small contributions. In a video shown on the Jimmy Dore Show, Perez is solidly in support of big donations to the DNC, no matter how veiled his statements are (“You don’t go to a knife fight with a spoon.”). Despite a vision speaking of unification, progressive values, and grassroots, Perez can claim no strong progressive endorsements. As described by Glenn Greenwald:

It’s not hard to see why the Obama and Clinton circles want him to run the party instead of Ellison. He’s acceptable to big donors. He has proven himself loyal to the party establishment’s agenda. He is a reliable party operative. And, most importantly of all, he will change nothing of substance: ensuring that the same policies, rhetoric, and factions that have prevailed continue to do so, all while protecting the power base of the same people who have run the party into the ground.

According to Konst, Perez is also the only candidate who refuses to talk with TYT, and she and her network are the target of rumors being spread by Perez’s campaign. Update 2/11: Konst got an eight minute interview with Perez on the final day of the DNC forums, where he confirms everything stated by Greenwald above.

The most prominent progressive candidate, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, entered the race on November 15, raising 98% of his donations from small contributions. Distinguishing himself from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Ellison is the only candidate who can claim both prominent establishment and progressive endorsements, including progressive leaders Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and establishment stalwarts Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and John Lewis.

As elaborated in the Baltimore Sun’s endorsement:

Keith Ellison, a Democratic Congressman from Minnesota and front runner in the DNC chair race, has impressive credentials. He is an avowed progressive, championing worker rights, a minimum wage increase, Wall Street reform, immigration reform, and LGBT rights during his decade in Congress. He knows the issues of rural and working class communities who feel left behind by politicians in D.C., and will work to serve them. And as the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Mr. Ellison has a personal understanding of the effect of today’s attacks on minorities.

Ellison has, however, made moves disappointing to some progressives. He endorsed a decidedly establishment congressional candidate in Florida over the progressive alternative, and as potential chair, would not rule out big money donations to the DNC, stating that he would put the decision to a vote…likely resulting in big money donations.

AP article: Democratic nominee for president: Establishment Hillary Clinton versus progressive Bernie Sanders

After hearing the Perez-Ellison story, I was immediately reminded of a similar Associated Press story about Clinton and Sanders from June 6, 2016. Like the above article, this one, written by four co-authors, unequivocally states:

Striding into history, Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party, capturing commitments Monday from the number of delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination….

[Clinton became] the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates. Those are party officials and officeholders, many of them eager to wrap up the primary amid preference polls showing her in a tightening race with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP surveyed all 714 superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months, and only 95 remain publicly uncommitted…. While superdelegates can change their minds, those counted in Clinton’s tally have unequivocally told the AP they will support her at the party’s summer convention.

Once again, anonymous Democratic insiders “eager to wrap up the primary” decided the election was over, and the Associated Press obediently trumpeted it as truth. This time, only twenty four hours before six states, having a population of more than 50 million people, including two of the largest (California and New Jersey) were to vote in the Democratic primary, the AP said that finally, once and for all, Hillary Clinton is truly inevitable.

(Interestingly, according to Zero Hedge, the original wording of the final quoted sentence was, “While superdelegates will not formally cast their votes for Clinton until the party’s July convention in Philadelphia, all those counted in her tally have unequivocally told the AP they will do so.”)

The AP is just doing their job. They’re just reporting the news. Right? They’re not blatantly corrupt. But it sure does seem like they’re allowing themselves to be used by those who are.

Downplaying the announcement and its potential effect on voters, Clinton said,

“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment. But we still have work to do, don’t we? We have six elections tomorrow and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”

Where did this “burst of last-minute support from superdelegates” come from? According to Benchmark Poltics, CNN’s John King reported that the Clinton campaign had around forty superdelegates ready and waiting to declare their support, but were urged by the campaign to hold off.

In the email sent out to supporters bragging about this announcement, this image was displayed:

The file name of this image file is secret-win-V2-060416c_02.png, implying it was created two days before the article was published. It will likely never be known if the Clinton campaign conspired with the Associated Press, but at the very least, it is a spit in the eye of every Sanders supporter.

Within hours, this one story exploded into hundreds around the globe (because, according to the Associated Press, “More than half of the world’s population sees our articles every day.”). Despite California’s record breaking 2.3 million new voter registrations, 1.4 million fewer people voted in comparison to 2012 levels.

Similar to the difference between Perez and Ellison, Clinton received around 19% of her contributions from small donations, compared to Bernie Sanders’ 70%. Importantly, these figures completely disregard money from super PACs and the unethical-but-technically-legal money funneled through state Democratic Party coffers, both of which Bernie Sanders refused to take advantage of.

As summarized by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept:

This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization — incredibly — conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter.

That the Democratic Party nominating process is declared to be over in such an uninspiring, secretive, and elite-driven manner is perfectly symbolic of what the party, and its likely nominee, actually is.

(Here is further analysis of the AP Clinton article by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.)

Lisa Lerer, journalist for the Associated Press

While I knew both stories were published by the Associated Press, it was Jane Sanders who alerted me that both were written by the same author, Lisa Lerer.

Like many corporate journalists, Lerer’s writing during the 2016 Democratic primaries is consistently suspect. Direct statements by often-anonymous Democratic insiders are uncritically presented as truth; Hillary Clinton is unrealistically lifted up and both Bernie Sanders and his supporters are unfairly criticized and minimized; reports of Clinton’s primary victories at first impression seem balanced, but in actuality entirely ignore the difficulties faced by voters and the existence of confusing, questionable, unethical, and blatantly illegal practices, let alone the influence those practices may have had on the outcome.

(Coincidentally or not, according to Wikileaks, Lisa Lerer was one of many prominent mainstream media journalists to attend a private, off-the-record dinner at John Podesta’s house, soon before Clinton announced her candidacy. Breitbart elaborates.)

All articles that follow are written or co-authored by Lisa Lerer. “The author” means Lerer. “The authors” means Lerer and one or more co-authors.

Omission: Pretending primary wins by Clinton were exclusively because of her strengths. Pretending that voting was smooth and timely for all voters.

February 2, 2016: Clinton wins Iowa, campaigns turn to New Hampshire

Clinton defeated Sanders by less than three-tenths of 1 percent, the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history, the state party said. Sanders said his campaign was still reviewing the results and did not concede….

Democrats spent much of the day wrestling over the Iowa results. Sanders’ campaign declared victory even in defeat…

Setting aside the title that gives no indication of how close the race was, hidden in these vague suggestions of unresolved results are serious discrepancies, any one of which could have influenced the historically thin margin of a quarter percentage point. According to the Des Moines Register,

There have been widespread questions in Iowa and nationally about the accuracy of the counts reported on caucus night, which saw the second-highest number of participants and the closest result in Democrats’ caucus history.

Even with the updated numbers, it remains unclear which candidate won the popular vote. Party officials, following tradition, declined to release the raw vote numbers.

Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire told The Des Moines Register the day after last week’s caucuses that no review would be conducted, and that Clinton’s narrow victory over Sanders was final.

Several discrepancies were reported in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

It also doesn’t help the optics that the state party chairwoman drove around for years in a car with “HRC2016” license plates.

Coin tosses decided the winner in at least a dozen precincts, and the Register declared,

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. [T]he refusal [of the Iowa Democratic Party] to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy….

[T]oo many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

February 20, 2016: Clinton turns back Sanders challenge with Nevada victory

In an article that looks once again more towards upcoming primaries than at what happened in Nevada, the authors give no hints of the difficulties faced by caucus-goers. They do say this:

The 57,000-member Culinary Workers Union didn’t endorse in the election, but it circulated literature ensuring its members knew where and when to caucus and had staff ensure they were able to get to their sites Saturday.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called casino bosses to ensure that workers would get paid time off to caucus. He also reached out to the union to try to encourage the group to push their members to caucus, even without a formal endorsement, according to aides.

Harry Reid’s “encouraging” phone call to the head of Nevada’s most powerful union contributed to Clinton overwhelmingly winning all six of the state casino caucuses, a significant factor in winning the state.

The Democratic Party was scrambling for volunteers only ten days out, increasing the chances for chaos, and despite turnout being a third less than it was in 2008, chaos was indeed a reality, as if turnout were record shattering.

There was no anticipation for the large turnout, nor was there sufficient equipment to register people in a timely manner. We had five laptop computers for hundreds of people and were short staffed. As a result, the caucus meeting started an hour late.

As a precinct captain, I was given minimal training through a photocopied information guide. I wasn’t given a copy of the detailed procedures until the week leading up to the caucus, and there was no one present at the caucus to answer questions that might arise, except for other volunteers who weren’t sure of procedures themselves. When the first vote was taken after the initial instructions were given and letters were read, many wanted to leave. Some had been already been there for nearly four hours.

There were an enormous number of illegal, inappropriate, and confusing occurrences reported by Nevada caucus-goers on sites such as Reddit, US Uncut, The Reno Gazzette, and Attn.

June 6, 2016: Hillary Clinton wins Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary

From the article:

Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Bernie Sanders in Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary on Sunday, putting her within striking distance of capturing her party’s nomination… Clinton is now less than 30 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination, according to an Associated Press count.

Beyond the purposefully misleading count including superdelegates, this short article leaves out any hint of the incredible hardships endured by Puerto Rico voters.

There were 2,300 polling stations in 2008. In May of 2016, the number of stations was scheduled to be 1,500. On primary day, June 5, the actual number was 440. Funding for administering the elections was halved from 2012 levels, polls were open only for seven hours, and voters had to go to two different locations to vote in the national and local elections. While all or most poll workers for Clinton were properly certified, many for Sanders were not. Finally, an inmates’ rights group reportedly threatened prisoners to vote for Hillary Clinton or they would be killed.

On primary day, only 90,000 ballots were cast, despite, as reported by Metro PR,

…in principle, about 700,000 voters were expected to participate in the Democratic primary on the island. However, following the reduction of schools and colleges, the new Projection is around 300 thousand.

There were 92% fewer voters than expected “in principle” and 70% fewer than the updated projection.

Minimizing Sanders and his supporters

March 26, 2016: Sanders wins 3 states; Clinton retains big delegate lead

Bernie Sanders scored three wins in Western caucus contests, giving a powerful psychological boost to his supporters but doing little to move him closer to securing the Democratic nomination.

[The] results in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii barely dented Hillary Clinton’s significant delegate lead…

Clinton anticipated the losses: She barely campaigned in the three states, making just one day of stops in Washington state, and was spending the Easter weekend with her family.

This was one of the more successful days of his campaign, where Sanders won all three states, gaining 104 pledged delegates; doubling Clinton’s 53. The author minimizes these wins to nothing, suggesting Sanders won only because Clinton let him, and that the victories were fruitless.

June 3, 2016: Sanders’ campaign adventure takes him from Hamilton to Rome

(Co-authored by Catherine Lucey)

He’s lagging in delegates and votes, but Bernie Sanders is still on one excellent campaign adventure.

In the past few months the Vermont senator and his wife, Jane, have traveled to Rome to attend a conference and met Pope Francis, toured Mount Rushmore and rallied supporters in sunny Puerto Rico. He’s scored seats for the Broadway musical sensation “Hamilton” and hobnobbed with celebrities at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Earlier this week, he dropped in on the final game of the NBA’s Western Conference finals….

Of course, Sanders is far from the first candidate to enjoy the perks of the trail [but f]ew candidates have taken as many side excursions as Sanders. In part that’s because they fear looking like they’re focused on activities other than winning voters….

Some of the activities do not seem like standard fare for a Vermont senator known for his workaholic ways. In his decades in Congress, Sanders has rarely attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a star-studded annual Washington affair. This year, he was seated at a front-row table with his wife, where he mingled with Morgan Freeman and Aretha Franklin….

To date, former Secretary of State Clinton has spent considerably less time on this kind of entertainment or travel. She has not made a foreign trip since starting her campaign. Presumptive Republican front-runner Donald Trump has not done as many side activities, though he has used his campaign to promote his products, including a Trump hotel under construction in Washington and a newly renovated golf course in Scotland, which he will visit later this month….

Clinton backers say they don’t begrudge Sanders his fun. “Great, he wants to have his YOLO moments, go ahead,” said Democratic strategist Mary Ann Marsh, using the acronym for the expression “you only live once.”

Clinton, Marsh added, “actually is trying to be president of the United States.”

Sanders, an unusually earnest and genuine politician, is painted as someone only on the campaign trail “for the perks.” His choosing to travel 40 hours to Italy for a five minute meeting with the pope, days before the critical New York primary, was not a spiritual journey, but just “a perk.”

It is strongly suggested that the only adult in the room, the only one actually “trying to be president” (despite spending Easter vacation with her family, instead of campaigning in those three states) is Hillary Clinton.

This is the work of an “unbiased journalist.” This is the story that the Associated Press decides to call “The Big Story.”

Outright hit piece

May 19, 2016: Trump more than happy to agree Sanders is getting a raw deal

(Co-authored by Jonathan Lemire)

Sanders’ path to the nomination has narrowed to the nearly impossible and campaign donations have plummeted.

But that reality hasn’t swayed Sanders, whose heavy emphasis on party functionaries and arcane political rules is a notable change for a candidate who’s long focused on curbing income inequality, regulating Wall Street and eradicating the influence of corporate money in politics.

Sanders and Trump have both seen themselves as victims of a system stacked against them by the establishment [and while Trump is over it because he’s now winning] Sanders and his supporters are simmering, if not boiling over, with that grievance now.

“I’ve been receiving phone calls from all over the U.S. — profane, sexist, they threatened my life, they’ve threatened my family,” said Nevada Democratic Party chairwoman Roberta Lange. “I feel threatened everywhere I go.”

In Nevada [at the Nevada Democratic State Convention], chair throwing, shouted profanities and even death threats to party leaders marked a meeting of the state party on Saturday. Sanders supporters accused Lange of stacking the rules against them. But those rules were approved by the state party’s full board weeks ago, party officials said.

Setting aside Nevada for a moment, this article portrays Bernie Sanders as someone who has abandoned his principles in a desperate attempt to grasp onto “arcane political rules” to do whatever it takes to beat Hillary Clinton. This is the exact opposite of the previous article, where it’s suggested that he’s not trying to win at all.

In Nevada, despite the best efforts of John Ralston, a chair was lifted and immediately put down. None were thrown. Death threats were indeed delivered to Roberta Lange by at least some Bernie Sanders supporters (as reported by Rolling Stone and Jezebel), but there is no proof that any attendees of the convention perpetrated these threats. Even granting that there were thousands of threats, Lange’s suggestion that the Sanders campaign incited them, let alone the nonexistent violence at the convention, is a tendentious stretch.

According to multiple first person accounts (here, here, here, here) and unedited videos of the event (Heavy, Reddit, Adryenn Ashley, the latter listed under “Nevada Democratic Convention livestream”), there was no violence and every voice vote went questionably against Sanders supporters. Rules that were indeed approved weeks before the convention we’re not voted on until the convention, a full half hour before the scheduled start time, when unsurprisingly, Clinton supporters were all seated. Finally, the results of the convention itself were affected by the 64 Bernie Sanders delegates whose credentials were challenged (compared to the 8 challenged Clinton delegates), resulting in a Clinton margin of victory of 30.

(To address one more important point not brought up in the article: The “vandalism” charge at the protest the following day, was sidewalk chalk, written on both the sidewalk and the side of the Nevada Democrats building. According to Nevada state law, this is considered “graffiti,” not vandalism. This and many other articles leave out the detail of sidewalk chalk, allowing the reader to assume that a stronger form of destruction and criminality was committed by Sanders supporters.)

Of Bernie Sanders’ tens of millions of supporters, an extremely small percentage threatened Roberta Lange (potentially criminal), wrote grafitti with sidewalk chalk (barely if at all criminal), and arguably acted inappropriately such as by shouting and cursing (not criminal). Conversely, in order to win at any cost, a large percentage, if not all, of the Nevada State Democratic Party leaders who support Hillary Clinton preemptively used their positions of power to take advantage of and abuse the entirety of the Nevada Bernie Sanders delegation for twelve straight hours.

Citizens’ Media TV

The Nevada State Democratic Convention is the reason Citizens’ Media TV exists. Adryenn Ashley and I met because I was watching her live broadcasts that day, that she and other state delegates were filming at the convention. Adryenn has a large following on Facebook and Twitter, and she shared her own (and everyone else’s) livestreams to millions of people. She is a major reason that the rumors of violence and vandalism of that day did not take hold as strongly as they could have. She filmed the chair being lifted (it occurs at around 4min:30secs). It is her footage that John Ralston tried to twist into violence. Not only did she broadcast that day, she continued reporting on the event, using the raw footage as evidence to tell the truth.

After witnessing how powerfully Adryenn used social media, I contacted her to see if we could take what she did that day to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Myself and a handful of other correspondents both in (Bernie Sanders delegates) and out (supporters and protestors) of the convention hall did the reporting with Facebook Live-streams, and she, from her home in Nevada, personally assisted all of the correspondents. She again used her reach to show the world what really happened, from our points of view. Not the narrative. Our coverage reached 1.4 million people, including almost 400,000 direct video views .

Excusing and apologizing for Clinton’s health and odd behavior

The author has twice notably excused and apologized for Clinton’s behavior and health. First, after a remarkably odd encounter in a coffee shop, where Clinton, in the midst of answering softball questions by Lerer and other reporters, jerked her head suddenly and repeatedly for a few seconds. Lerer, who was caught on camera as taken by surprise, explained the encounter as “an innocuous exchange.”

Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds…. Where I saw evasiveness, they see seizures.

Pretending that Clinton’s behavior was not, at the very least, really strange, is strange. This is what you expect from campaigns, not journalists.

Second, referring to Clinton’s stumbling into a van after a September 11 event, the authors write:

At least part of the blame goes to a simple cause: Clinton’s stubborn unwillingness to follow the advice of doctors, family and friends.

“This is just who she is. She is a workhorse. No matter who tells her, her husband can tell her. It doesn’t matter. Chelsea can tell her,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who served as chairman of her 2008 presidential campaign. “You’re not going to change her at this point in her life.”

After her Friday pneumonia diagnosis, Clinton was determined to “power through,” she told CNN late Monday.

Becoming almost amusingly self-aware, it continues,

Her supporters now are trying to turn the episode into a badge of honor — and a credential for the White House.

“This is a woman who works 20 hours a day and comes into contact with tens of thousands of people and you pick up germs and viruses and things like that and you get exhausted,” said Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut. “If you don’t get a cold or a virus or the flu or pneumonia in a campaign, you weren’t working hard enough.”

In other words, Hillary Clinton’s only fault is that she just cares too much.

(Is there something wrong with Hillary Clinton’s health, that she could not handle being the president? Probably not. I have no idea. And neither does she.)

Conclusion

The day after Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump, the authors described the loss as “stunning,” further confirming how out of touch they and the Democratic Party are, or pretend to be, about the sentiments of the electorate.

Many corporate journalists behave more like public relations, crisis management, and hit-piece writers than impartial journalists. Their true employers seem to be the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. which really means that they’re true bosses are the donors. Certainly not the Associated Press, an organization that describes itself as “the definitive source for news.”

That journalists like this are employed by supposedly reputable news organizations, demonstrates how compromised they have become and how far astray the public has been led. While there is plenty of real journalism done by these individuals and their employers, it is fatally undermined by the Democratic stenography and apologism that is consistently featured as the top story of the day, which in turn is treated as incontrovertible fact.

With each passing day, these “news” organizations seem less and less interested in furthering the art of journalism, and instead are slowly and permanently transforming into unthinking tools for their powerful, nearly omnipotent owners, whose only goal is to crush dissent and win at any cost.

With thanks to Ben Szioli for the editorial guidance.

DNC chair candidate Tom Perez’s pointless yet completely telling interview with TYT’s Nomiki Konst.

After refusing to speak with The Young Turks and their new correspondent Nomiki Konst (who is covering all of the DNC chair forums), and allowing his campaign to spread rumors about both her and the network, Tom Perez, on the final day of the forums, grants Konst an eight minute interview where he says absolutely nothing of substance regarding his plans for the DNC…which says it all.

(In my opinion, Perez seems to be intentionally running out the clock with his admittedly moderately impressive resume, platitudes, and long winded responses.)

Konst: Does you think ad consultants who profit off an inefficient, bloated party, should be allowed on the board of the Unity Commission?

“I have a lot of confidence in the Unity Commission. It was a very good compromise between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. I am looking forward to the results. There are a very inclusive set of folks going to be serving on that. And if I get the privilege of serving as DNC Chair, I will be appointing three really good folks.”

Wait, that wasn’t the question.

Konst: How do you change the party without banning these conflicts of interest who want to keep the party bloated?

“The people that I talk to want build a Democratic Party that works for everyone…. There is a groundswell of understanding that we need to transform the culture of the party. There are going to be a lot of different perspectives to be put to bear. That’s exactly what we want!”

Konst: Including consultants?

“We have a big tent. I have a pretty good track record taking organizations that haven’t been firing on all cylinders and moving forward…. I’ve never been afraid to make tough choices in all the jobs I’ve had.”

The Unity Commission’s decisions are non-binding. Their power is to “encourage” change. Yet Perez is still willing to give profit motivated consultants a “seat at the table” at this largely impotent agency. How easy it would be for Perez to use this to at least appear like he was making a genuine gesture towards progressives. This demonstrates how deep the corruption goes. Even the powerless things are up for sale.

Konst: You claim to be a unity candidate. Do any Sanders surrogates support your candidacy?

Perez first points to a former Sanders staffer off camera who now presumably works on his own campaign. “You’re really asking the wrong questions here. There are people who supported Bernie Sanders who will be voting for Tom Perez.”

Konst: Anybody notable?

“Do only celebrities count? There are a remarkable amount of folks who supported Bernie Sanders and supported Hillary Clinton and who support me.”

Konst: It’s an honest question to ask, as the future of the party is about bringing these sides together.

“I think the future of the party is about making sure that we are focused on what we have to do together to take on our existential threat, which is Donald Trump. When we take on that existential threat together, that’s how we move forward.”

No no no no no no no no no. The corruption and corporatism that Perez and Trump and so many politicians throughout all levels of government too often display and subscribe to, that…that is the existential threat to our democracy.