Democracy Now! 2/12/15

On today's episode of Democracy Now! 

Democratic presidential candidates Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced off Thursday night in the first Democratic debate since Sanders’ decisive victory over Clinton in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary and drew sharp distinctions between each other on everything from foreign policy to how they plan to pay for the programs they’ve proposed, to campaign finance reform. Our two guests respond. Reacting to Clinton’s claim she helped negotiate a ceasefire in Syria, Jeffrey Sachs argues, "She has backed a CIA-led attempt at regime change that has led to a bloodbath there." Sachs is a leading economist and the director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, whose recent article for The Huffington Post is headlined "Hillary is the Candidate of the War Machine." He adds that, domestically, Clinton "is basically saying the status quo is just fine." But New York Congressmember Gregory Meeks, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus political action committee, which has just endorsed Hillary Clinton, says Sanders has promised change that he will be unable to deliver. "If you’re running on just a dream, and not how you can do something in reality, then I think that 

This week’s endorsement of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president by the Congressional Black Caucus political action committee prompted some confusion due to a lack of familiarity with the PAC. We look at the many lobbyists who comprise its board, including those who work for Purdue Pharma, the makers of highly addictive opioid OxyContin, and others who represent Philip Morris and Wal-Mart, the largest gun distributor in America. We also speak with the CBCPAC’s chair, Rep. Gregory Meeks, who notes the PAC"also includes the labor groups, labor organizations," and argues, "We in the Congressional Black Caucus have to raise money so we can elect folks. But if you look at how the Congressional Black Caucus votes, no one can say that they don’t vote in a very progressive way." Our guest Jeffrey Sachs, a leading economist, notes it is important to understand "what this endorsement meant" and adds, "Our politics has been corrupted by the money. That’s why our policies are so bizarre."

Acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates made headlines this week when he said on Democracy Now! that he would be voting for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Coates had previously penned a widely read article criticizing the Vermont senator for saying he did not support reparations for slavery because it was too "divisive" an issue. But on Wednesday, Coates said he is voting for Senator Sanders anyway. After his appearance was picked up by news outlets, from CNN,MSNBC and BBC to The New York Times, Ta-Nehisi Coates published a follow-up for The Atlantic titled "Against Endorsements," writing that his "answer has been characterized, in various places, as an 'endorsement,' a characterization that I’d object to. Despite my very obvious political biases, I’ve never felt it was really my job to get people to agree with me." In Part 2 of our conversation with Coates, whose book "Between the World and Me" won the National Book Award, Coates elaborates on who he would like to see elected, and much more. "If I could have anything—you know, and this is across the board for any presidential candidate—I would have a greater acknowledgment of history in our policy and in our affairs," Coates says. He also discusses the Black Lives Matter movement, Bill Cosby and the growing number of actors and filmmakers pushing for a boycott of the Oscars after no actors of color were nominated for a second year in a row.

Democracy Now!

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