Sanders’s religion

The revelations that emerged from the WikiLeaks release of DNC emails merely confirmed what many of us already strongly suspected, and that was that Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee were lying when they said that they were staying neutral during the primary race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They were actively tilting the playing field in her favor.

But what I found most disgusting was the suggestion by the DNC’s Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall that they plant a question about Sanders’s religion or lack of it.

Emails released by WikiLeaks show that Brad Marshall, chief financial officer of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), considered raising the question of whether Sanders is an atheist in the hope of costing him votes in the primary contest against Hillary Clinton.

“It may make no difference but for KY and WA can we get someone to ask his belief,” Marshall, who has since apologised, wrote in an email on 5 May. “He had skated on having a Jewish heritage. I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”

Calling oneself Jewish is primarily an ethnic identification and Jews, like other groups, span the entire spectrum from religious fundamentalists and extremists to completely secular and atheist. Sanders clearly wears his religion lightly, if at all, and it is not clear if Marshall was suggesting that the possibility of Sanders being atheist was the problem or that even being Jewish was enough of an issue to sway voters. Since atheists, along with Muslims, still tend to be the most distrusted group, being an atheist is more likely to be a problem than being a religious Jew (after all, the nauseatingly pious Joe Lieberman was selected by Al Gore as his running mate in 2000), though there is still significant anti-Semitic sentiment in the US.

To make an issue of a candidate’s religion or lack of it is deplorable, especially for Democrats who pride themselves on being more enlightened on religious tolerance. If Sanders had been suspected of being a closeted gay, would they have advocated a similar strategy? Likely not, because at least for Democrats nowadays, gays are part of the in-group while the status of atheists is still doubtful.

Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, said on Tuesday: “The email was a disgrace for calling into question Bernie Sanders’ religious practices. There is no place in the DNC for a culture in which any staff can invoke the religious practices or lack of in any presidential candidate. If I was running the DNC, no one would say that because I’d kill them. I mean that figuratively.”

Goldstein, 54, wearing three Clinton campaign badges including “Jewish Americans for Hillary”, added: “To criticise a Jewish candidate for their alleged atheism is not to understand what Judaism is about. I am a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter but no one could say Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a staunch commitment to social justice. I don’t believe people of faith have an inside track to morality.”

But asked if the US is ready for a godless president, Goldstein had a striking answer: “I’m gay and America would have less of a problem with a gay president than an atheist president.”

What is astounding is Marshall’s apology after he was found out. In a Facebook post, he writes:

“I deeply regret that my insensitive, emotional emails would cause embarrassment to the DNC, the Chairwoman, and all of the staffers who worked hard to make the primary a fair and open process. The comments expressed do not reflect my beliefs nor do they reflect the beliefs of the DNC and its employees. I apologize to those I offended.” [My italics –MS]

It is ridiculous to claim that the comments “do not reflect my beliefs” when he himself wrote them and not someone on his behalf. Is he saying that he writes things he does not believe? Is he is being manipulated by evil spirits that he cannot control?

The leaders of the Center of Inquiry have called for Marshall’s firing.

One of the nation’s largest atheist groups on Monday called for the resignation of Democratic National Committee CFO Brad Marshall, following revelations that he’d wanted to tarnish Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by questioning his faith.

“Entertaining such a cynical and bigoted line of attack violates any number of basic American principles: It presumes a religious test for holding office, something expressly prohibited in the Constitution,” said leaders of the Center for Inquiry, a reason-based organization that champions secular society, in a release.

I would expect that once a new permanent DNC chair is appointed, Marshall will be asked to leave as part of a general house cleaning, unless he is a close confidante of Hillary Clinton, in which case he will be rewarded by being asked to join her campaign, like she did with the disgraced Wasserman Schultz.

As Julian Assange said about the effects of the leaks:

What does that mean for the U.S. Democratic Party? It is important for there to be examples of accountability. The resignation was an example of that. Hillary Clinton has tried to immediately produce a counter-example by putting out a statement, within hours, saying that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a great friend, and she’s incorporating her into her campaign, she’s going to be pushing for her re-election to the Congress. So that’s a very interesting signaling by Hillary Clinton that if you act in a corrupt way that benefits Hillary Clinton, you will be taken care of. Why does she need to put that out? Certainly, it’s not a signal that helps with the public at all. It’s not a signal that helps with unity at the DNC, at the convention. It’s a signal to Hillary Clinton partisans to keep on going on, you’ll be taken care of. But it’s a very destructive signal for a future presidency, because it’s—effectively, it’s expanding the Overton window of corruption. It doesn’t really matter what you do, how you behave; as long as that is going to benefit Hillary Clinton, you’ll be protected.


  1. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    “It is ridiculous to claim that the comments “do not reflect my beliefs” when he himself wrote them and not someone on his behalf.”
    I have to disagree. As I understand the text, he was speculating about best strategy in states where religion counts. And since he is probably right, the shame should be on the Southern Baptists.

  2. Siobhan says

    This election is fucking slimey. Clinton seems to be proceeding with reckless abandon on the most draconian policies she can get away with campaigning on because she knows the USA is held hostage by the possibility of a fascist cheeto being elected as President. Unbelievable.

  3. says

    I’m at that point where quoting Julian Assange doesn’t help a case, especially when he seems to be actively working to get a man with corruption issues of his own elected.

  4. machintelligence says

    Politics has always been the game where mud balls are trump. (pun intentional)

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Yes, this is disgusting. However:

    That the DNC favored Hillary is hardly a surprise, it just verifies what everyone knew all along. Hillary is a long-time member of the Democratic Party. Bernie is an independent who has caucused with the Democrats.

    The e-mail seems not to have been acted on.

  6. says

    @2 Siobhan:
    I don’t think it’s gonna work in her benefit. The Democrats are taking Bernie supporters for granted. Giving DWS a position on the campaign in the day of her resignation. Picking a VP that argues for de-regulation of banks, increased funding for Israel and trade deals. Her now inevitable “pivot” to the right as soon as the presidential race starts.

    It’s like she wants to give the Sanders people the middle finger.

    @3 Tabby Lavalamp
    Could you be a little clearer? What corrupt man is Assange helping? Trump? Please explain.

    @5 Reginald Selkirk
    That the DNC favored Hillary is not a surprise, it’s validation. Bernie supporters spotted foul play several times in several primaries. Reduced polling stations. Voter purges in districts that favored Bernie. Bill Clinton himself turning up on a polling station and making everyone wait hours to get to vote. The media reporting Hillary’s victory 24 hours before the California vote to depress turnout.

    Maybe the DNC didn’t actively try to skew things in her favor and all of this events just coincidentally gave that appearance, it doesn’t matter.
    Maybe they did cheat, but Hillary would have won anyway, it doesn’t matter.

    I see you view the e-mails as proof of conspiracy, not execution. It doesn’t matter. The DNC pissed off a lot of their base, and as of right now I don’t believe they have the interest or the brains to court them back. If anything, they might actually drive them further away.

    In all honesty, I’m kinda glad that this is happening. For once I can see just how many Democrats don’t really give a fuck about the lives destroyed by neoliberalism and war, and their loss will be the only silver lining of the giant cheeto’s presidency.

  7. johnson catman says

    A Lurker from mexico @6:
    There can be no silver lining if The Orange One wins in November.

  8. says

    @7 johnson catman
    There is no silver lining for me if The Crooked One wins either.

    Laughing in the dumb face of all the idiots that eliminated the one option where no one needed to get hurt will be the one marginally good thing I can get out of either outcome.

  9. Doug Little says

    The media reporting Hillary’s victory 24 hours before the California vote to depress turnout

    How could that possibly be tied to the DNC. At that point it was a forgone conclusion that Clinton had won the nomination, Bernie would have had to carry CA by a stupendous margin and the media calling it for Clinton would suppress both Clinton and Sanders voters alike. I mean you can’t honestly think Sanders had a shot at getting the nomination in CA given every piece of data leading up to the primary there?

  10. hyphenman says

    @ Doug Little, No. 9,

    That’s not such a great stretch.

    Since the fiascos involving premature announcements based on exit polls, and the time zone by time zone revelations in presidential races in the ’60s and early ’70s, national media has been very careful to not call a race before the polls close. California, as the big state in the final time zone (Alaska and Hawaii don’t really count), in particular was disenfranchised because voters stayed home when elections were called too early.

    Calling a race 24-hours before the polls close would be a huge deal and a decision that only the top of a network could make.

    I have no evidence of collusion, but I was a working Journalist for three decades, and I would be very suspicious in this case. (For full disclosure, I am a hardcore Bernie backer.)

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  11. Robert,+not+Bob says

    @ hyphenman,

    Collusion isn’t necessary, in my view. The people who head each organization can be independently motivated. It all reminds me of those cases where someone complains about a church-state separation violation and the whole community mobilizes spontaneously. Sanders’ campaign was a threat to the system that supports them all.

  12. says

    @9 Doug Little
    It’s one example of many, the media was just as biased toward Clinton as the DNC. Washington Post once ran 16 hit pieces on Sanders in a period of 18 hours. CNN, MSNBC and many others took the BernieBro claim (despite it’s dubious origins, and generally problematic assumptions) and ran with it.

    The point is not so much that the DNC was involved in this actions, but that -at the very least- they seemed to be piling on the candidate who was already at a disadvantage. This is not good optics. People were pissed off already and this news only validates their anger.

    I’m not sure if there is even a viable path towards reconciliation after all the ridicule and treachery, and even if there were, I don’t see the Clinton campaign or the DNC as mature or smart enough to take it.

  13. hyphenman says

    @RNB No. 11,

    That’s true, you’re absolutely correct: collusion isn’t necessary.

    Broadcast news organizations (print, less so) are herd animals. If one leads with a story, the others will jump on the same story and attempt to differentiate themselves in some way.

    The heads of the organizations are motivated independently, but by same enticement: money, which in this case, was threatened, as you note, but Bernie’s campaign.

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  14. says

    …and I thought Bernie supporters were the conspiracy theorists.

    It’s hardly a surprise that Hillary supporters would intentionally miss the point. When news broke that Hillary’s state department basically gave sudanese forces charge blanche to use child soldiers, some of her fans -instead of developing a little more awareness of the consequences of Hillary’s foreign policy- started arguing the strategic benefits of using child soldiers.

    They’d rather talk about literally anything else as long as they don’t have to acknowledge that her only advantage is not being quite as evil as Trump.

    Here’s the little problem: Even if it were really a russian attack, it wouldn’t fucking matter!
    If Hillary Clinton and the DNC weren’t wallowing in corruption, doing back room deals to subvert the will of the people, transparency -russian induced or otherwise- wouldn’t hurt them.

    Sanders supporters are pissed at the DNC for breaking their trust.
    Hillary supporters are pissed at Assange for uncovering the truth.

  15. abear says

    Here’s the little problem: Even if it were really a russian attack, it wouldn’t fucking matter!

    So Mexicans don’t give a fuck if Americans try to rig their elections?

  16. says

    It was about time the tables were turned, asshole.

    Hillary Clinton has meddled with some vital shit here recently, and Mexico is gonna pay direly for it. She rigged the honduran elections and now they honduran people are in the shithole. Also Syria and Lybia. And the power to fuck up other countries, she got from uncritical idiots who will defend her and deflect any and all criticisms of their hero so cry me a fucking river. This was some laser-guided karma if you ask me.

    What I mean by “doesn’t fucking matter” is that the origin of the information, or the intentions behind it’s release, is irrelevant to the discussion if the information itself is factual. It’s not my fucking fault that your party and your candidate are so full of shit that people knowing their true face hurts them.

  17. says

    It’s humiliating isn’t it? That some foreign rando that you don’t like has a bigger influence on your country’s government than yourself.

    Maybe for once being on the wrong side of globalization will make you think twice before electing unapologetic interventionists into power.

  18. abear says

    I’m not an American you jackass. lol
    So apparently you do think that it’s a big deal if foreigners fuck with other’s elections if it happens not to be yours?
    So you are any better than those asshole Americans?

  19. says

    Mexico didn’t micromanage foreign governments and pretended it was acceptable behavior, the US and their european allies did, Hillary Clinton did. I say they made their beds, now they must lie on them.

    I’m frustrated as fuck with democratic loyalists right now. I’ve been telling them for months about just how fucking wrong it is for the US, and Hillary specifically, to try and push other countries into doing their bidding. They all either pretended that it doesn’t happen or that it’s not a big deal. Now they are crying foul because Assagne did once what Clinton has done dozens of times.

    Assange’s meddling is providing information to the voters, Clinton fucking wrote mexican law. They are not even on the same ballpark.

    I just want some goddamned consistency. If you think meddling is acceptable, stop whining about Assange and the russians. If you think it’s not, stop defending politicians that embrace it.

    I have never voted for politicians who would try to impose mexican policy on other countries and, should the situation arise in the future, I wouldn’t support that nonsense.

  20. says

    Also, way to still miss the point. Let’s, for the sake of argument, pretend it was an american hacker.

    Would that change the veracity of the information?
    Would that make the disenfranchised Bernie voters any more or less validated in their distrust of Clinton and the DNC?
    Would that make the candidate and the party look any better or worse?

    I say it wouldn’t, therefore the origin of the information doesn’t fucking matter to the conversation at hand.

  21. abear says

    #21-If that hacker was an American working for the repubs there would be hell to pay.
    Ever heard of Watergate? It not only brought down Nixon but also got some powerful political ops sent to jail.
    Would it change whether the info is reliable? It very well might. If an enemy operative is feeding you information and has a motive to destroy their target would you automatically believe them? Regardless the news that Clinton and friends are slippery and dishonest isn’t big news and you would have to be naive to believe that Trump and the repubs aren’t just as scummy.
    Are Americans bullies that fuck their neighbors around and interfere with their politics? You bet. Do you think that Clinton is a bigger bully than Trump?
    If the Donald wins, kiss a lot of your manufacturing jobs goodbye when he tears up NAFTA and I hope you have enough money left to pay for that nice big wall.

  22. says

    So you say that Trump would rid us of all the multinational corporations that exploit Mexico’s natural resources, import american and european professionals instead of hiring mexicans with the same education level, underpay and mistreat the mexicans they do hire, pressure our government to reduce our workers rights and funnel the earnings back into their countries (or into their panama accounts) instead of reinvesting it in Mexico? You’re saying he’ll get those assholes out of here?

    That would be a dream come true. He won’t do it, though. So there’s that.

    Clinton hasn’t won yet and we’re already kissing our oil extraction jobs goodbye, since the law she wrote practically privatizes our socialist oil industry. Industry which, by the way, provides up to a third of the annual mexican government budget. That’s money for our roads, our public healthcare, our public schools and universities, the few things that are actually working fine here. So ask me again who’s the bigger bully, please.

    As of now, the information seems to be reliable. Why else would the DNC scapegoat Debbie Wasserman Schultz before the convention? And the “russian hackers” theory is, so far, just an assertion by members of the Clinton campaign. (People with motive to discredit the information, regardless of accuracy)

    Clinton and friends being proven to be slippery and dishonest IS news. It’s news for the uninformed voters who had been trusting them. It’s news for the disenfranchised voters who suspected foul play and had been ridiculed and ignored as “conspiracy theorists” until now. The release of these e-mails is a net-positive in my opinion.

    Where I am, the only difference between Clinton and Trump is this.
    Most people expect Trump to be an asshole and will try to stop him from day 1.
    Most people either deny Clinton’s evil altogether or downplay the consequences of her actions. The ones who know what she’s capable of will have to fight the double battle of convincing everyone that she’s actually doing something and then actually trying to stop her.

    Clinton would only be the lesser evil if the people at large had their eyes open about her. Like “I vote for her knowing that if I turn my back for half a second she’ll fucking stab me, she’s only there cause the other guy was worse”. Unfortunately I don’t trust the american left to have that much awareness of what they’re getting into. The only people I’ve seen hold that thought are the Bernie supporters that haven’t gone to Stein or Trump.

  23. abear says

    I just want some goddamned consistency. If you think meddling is acceptable, stop whining about Assange and the russians. If you think it’s not, stop defending politicians that embrace it.

    Listen Senorito; The only whiner here is you and pointing out that a crime and a dirty trick has been pulled on Clinton doesn’t mean I’m defending her and doesn’t mean I don’t think she isn’t a sleazebag.
    Or are you just a giant suckhole Trump fan that is anti-Clinton because The Donald offered you a job building his wall. If he did, don’t take it, he will stiff you just like the other peons that built his casinos. 😛

  24. abear says

    And stop strawmanning me and calling me a Clinton fan.
    I really dislike her, she and her cronies have shafted Canada bigtime for many years by cheating on trade and fishery treaties, also fucking with our oil industry.

  25. abear says

    And the “russian hackers” theory is, so far, just an assertion by members of the Clinton campaign. (People with motive to discredit the information, regardless of accuracy)

    Not true. The FBI were the ones that initially made the claim and this was widely reported before the DNC even addressed it.
    So far no one has denied the authenticity of the emails so far disclosed, however if you read Russia Today and other Putin propaganda outlets you may want to check the claims before you believe them.

  26. says

    And now you straw man me as a Trump fan, cool, now we get the straw men out of our system.

    Went back to double-check. You’re right, NOW the Obama administration and the FBI are talking about russian hackers in this case. I had only seen the Clinton Campaign do it at the time.
    Didn’t go back to check because, as I stated earlier, the source of the information doesn’t matter to me as much as it’s authenticity.

    The FBI had mentioned russian hackers about her private server, which is a completely independent situation. Now that I think about it, Hillary is a bit of an idiot at securing e-mails, and she wants access to the nuclear codes. Nice.

    Never read Russia Today, I don’t think I’m gonna start today. If you want to check my main sources of information about the current proceedings, they are Huffington Post (biased in favor of Hillary), The Young Turks (likewise nowadays), Secular Talk (mostly neutral), The Humanist Report (biased against Hillary), Democracy Now (seemingly neutral). No russians that I know of.

    The crime and dirty trick that was pulled on Clinton shed light on the crimes and dirty tricks Clinton pulled on Sanders. What are you saying? That everyone should just ignore the evidence of her dirty tricks because she’s a victim of a dirty trick herself?

    I don’t claim that this is what you believe, I’m honestly asking for clarification.

  27. abear says

    I’m not saying people should ignore this information.However, to some degree this is old news and just confirms what Sanders and friends were saying all along. Yes the DNC was biased and tilting to Clinton.
    This was more than a little predictable. The DNC is at least as cliquish as other political parties. Sanders was an outsider that ran as an independent all his career, has never raised money for the party, their candidates, or delegates. Further, he was attacking the Dems fundraising base, a potential disaster for their re-election prospects.
    He almost no hope of winning the nomination, and given the American’s pathological fear of the word socialism he would have absolutely no chance of winning the presidential election.
    Still there is good reason for people to take the email information and scream bloody murder to at least try to reform the system.
    This does not mean that people shouldn’t be concerned that Russia is in the business of fucking with other peoples elections, nor should it stop people yelling when the Americans do it to others.
    Clinton is a reptile, Trump and his buddy Putin are even worse.

  28. says

    It’s demonstrative of the DNC’s political stupidity. Sure, Sanders can be accused of not being a real democrat. But being fair isn’t something you do get on his good graces, you do it to get in the good graces of the people who supported him. I’m pretty sure that 45% of Democrats are not “fake” Democrats.

    The constant use of the BernieBro talking point is another demonstration of this. Attacking the candidate himself is an acceptable fact of life of any political campaign. Attacking the voters is freaking suicide, especially if the people you attack are nearly half of your base.

    In all honesty, I think the “His campaign is a mess” and “His supporters are white boys” attacks had a bigger effect on his loss than “He’s a socialist”.

    You don’t need to convince me of that Trump is more evil. It’s plainly obvious that if you left both of them unchecked, Trump would be much more monstrous.

    The problem is that President Clinton would be given far less scrutiny than President Trump. An unchecked Clinton is worse than a heavily opposed Trump.

    The only marginally good scenario I see looking forward is if everybody votes for Clinton knowing full well that she’s a murderous piece of shit and keeping constant vigilance on her for the next four years.

  29. abear says

    I don’t disagree with any of that.
    You screwed up a perfectly good pissing match. 🙁

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