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« Liberal Outrage: July 2015 | Main | Liberal Outrage: September 2015 »

Liberal Outrage

Defining issue

I don't want to blog about the speculation on Joe Biden getting into the primary, but i was happy to see this:

If Vice President Joe Biden decides to jump into the presidential race, his decision will be driven, he has said in recent conversations, by a belief that Hillary Clinton's background won't allow her to be a credible messenger when it comes to income inequality, which Biden sees as a defining issue.

This is all anonymously sourced and speculative, but i am glad to see that the thinking seems to be about a substantial issue and not just scandal stuff. And of course:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), meanwhile, has soaked up large chunks of the party's grassroots financial backing and could lay claim to having elevated economic inequality as a focus for months before Biden entered the race.

When Sanders got into this race, i never hoped for more than that he would bring national attention to the issue of income inequality. In that sense, he's already won. Of course now i do dare hope for more, regardless of whether Bernie is running against Hillary or Joe or both.


By fnord12 | August 26, 2015, 9:34 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Tell Your Senators 'No to CISA'...Again

Link

Right before Congress left for its annual summer vacation the Obama Administration endorsed the Senate Intelligence Committee's Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). EFF opposes the bill because its vague definitions, broad legal immunity, and new spying powers allow for a tremendous amount of unnecessary damage to users' privacy. Just last week the Department of Homeland Security agreed and criticized CISPA for its lack of privacy protections. More importantly, CISA fails to address the causes of the recent highly publicized data breaches.
...
The administration has invested immense capital into looking strong on cybersecurity since January. And instead of publishing another veto threat, the White House Press Secretary urged the Senate to pass CISA. There was no deep analysis as in 2012. There was no explanation about CISA's own privacy problems. And there was no acknowledgement about the White House's sudden change in position.

Even though the President wants to sign the bill, the Senate must pass CISA first. Privacy advocates have defeated these "cybersecurity bills" five times in the past five years. In July, users and privacy advocates postponed a vote on CISA after sending over 6 million faxes opposing CISA to Senators during a Week of Action. Unfortunately, the vote was only postponed to mid-September when Congress gets back from vacation.

We must continue the pressure on the Senate to stop this bill. Please join us in continuing to tell our Senators to say no to CISA.

Click on the link in the block quote to send them a fax.


By min | August 21, 2015, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



feelthebern.org

This website was put together by volunteers and it's not affiliated with the Bernie Sanders campaign, but it's really an amazing compilation of Bernie's positions and, more importantly, record. I've never seen such a comprehensive site for a political candidate, probably because we've never had a candidate that has been so consistent and active for so long. But also because the volunteers that put this together are obviously extremely passionate.


By fnord12 | August 14, 2015, 10:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Trump and Single-Payer

Matthew Yglesias, retaining his Slate-pitchy roots: Donald Trump had the best policy idea of anyone in last night's debate


By fnord12 | August 7, 2015, 1:10 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Sanders, Clinton & Welfare Reform

Bernie Sanders has been civil in his campaigning so far, declining to attack Hillary Clinton even when pushed by the media. He's questioned her refusal to come out with positions on things like the TPP and the Keystone Pipeline, but he's just said he thinks it's strange and told reporters to go ask her about it. I think the tone he's set for the campaign is admirable, but he shouldn't be above drawing a distinction from Clinton on policy matters. He definitely shouldn't get into Benghazi and stuff like that, but he should be highlighting differences in their positions. And, maybe now that Clinton has swung the first punch, he seems to be doing that, talking about the Clintons' 1996 Welfare Reform bill.

In an phone interview Thursday with Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential candidate said that history will not look kindly on the 1996 overhaul of the New Deal anti-poverty program, which then-President Bill Clinton enacted over the objections of many liberal Democrats, including Sanders, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time.

And in case you think it's not fair to blame Hillary for something her husband did decades ago, she was both deeply involved in its passage and still supporting it at least as recently as 2003:

Sanders' chief rival for the Democratic nomination, front-runner Hillary Clinton, wrote in her 2003 book, Living History, that she supported the bill, despite some concerns, because she "felt, on balance, that this was a historic opportunity to change a system oriented toward dependence to one that encouraged independence."

...

Clinton wrote that she "worked hard to round up votes" for the her husband's legislation, which imposed time limits on welfare benefits and work requirements on beneficiaries.

This isn't a small thing. This is really what the Democratic party is about. Do we support a social safety net or not? This is really the core of what Sanders' campaign is about. And just as importantly, and especially relevant since Clinton was attacking Sanders on race, do we buy into the right wing myth that welfare is a way to allow lazy minorities to get away with not working?

In his own book in 1997, Sanders called the bill "the grand slam of scapegoating legislation..." Now a U.S. senator from Vermont, he doubled down on that assessment in his interview with Bloomberg. "I think that history will suggest that that legislation has not worked terribly well," he said, arguing that too many politicians would rather target the poor than poverty.

"I mean, that's what Ronald Reagan's 'welfare queen' was all about," he said, referring to the former Republican president. "It was the illusion that we're spending huge sums of money on people who are cheating, who are taking of the welfare system and so forth," he said.

"And what I said then is what I believe to be the case right now," Sanders added. "We need to figure out why people are in poverty. We need to get people out of poverty... Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we should make sure that every person in this country lives in dignity." He added, "What I do see is very often, people trying to pit the middle class against low-income people - often people of color - and that is called scapegoating and I strongly object to that."

Clinton criticized Sanders for only looking at racism through an economic lens. But it's worth noting that when you concede to the welfare queen myth, you're not just using racism to divide us economically. You're also validating racism, increasing the likelihood that more people will buy into racist ideas. In other words, if the Clintons had pushed back on the welfare queen myth instead of capitulating to it, the explosion of racism that we've seen more recently might not have been so strong. The TEA party, after all, was formed on the basis that their taxes have been going to support undeserving minorities.

Coincidentally, this topic came up during the Republican debates last night. Per Politico's fact-check:

WELFARE REFORM'S AUTHOR?

Rick Santorum: "I ended a federal entitlement"

The former Pennsylvania senator got into fact check trouble back in 2012 when he made a similar claim in his last presidential run. So it's no surprise he entered hot water again by taking such a large degree of credit for the landmark 1996 law that reformed the welfare program.

Santorum certainly had a large hand in the law President Bill Clinton signed just months before his reelection. He did serve as a floor manager for starters. But he certainly isn't alone either as the measure's champion. Clinton, for one, had promised in his own 1992 campaign to "end welfare as we know it."

When both you and Rick Santorum agree that something is awesome, you are probably doing it wrong.


By fnord12 | August 7, 2015, 8:16 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4)| Link



EPA Accidentally Contaminates River in Colorado

Bad bad bad.

A team of US regulators investigating contamination at a Colorado goldmine accidentally released a million gallons (3.8 million liters) of orange-hued waste water containing sediment and metals into a local river system, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday.

The waste water had been held behind a barrier near the abandoned Gold King Mine, but was accidentally emptied into Cement creek, which flows into the Animas river in San Juan county, said an EPA spokesman, Rich Mylott.

Link

You should click through to look at the picture of the river. It's mustard-colored.


By min | August 7, 2015, 7:54 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Uh, boss? We really doing this?

I got a chuckle out of this:

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley... accused party insiders of trying to tilt the primary contest in Hillary Clinton's favor.

O'Malley lit into the Democratic Party for seeking to limit the number of presidential debates, which he said would help Clinton glide to the nomination...

"There's an effort by a few insiders to try to limit the number of debates that we have and I've shared with the chair -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- that I think that's a grave mistake and I think it's undemocratic," O'Malley told The Hill in between in-between campaign stops in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.

"It's all about trying to pre-ordain the outcome, circle the wagons and close off debate," O'Malley said. "If they could actually accelerate the date of the Iowa caucuses and hold them tomorrow -- they'd like to do that. Then there'd be no campaign at all. That's what they'd really like."

Asked if the party insiders included the Clintons, O'Malley said: "Of course they are. President and Secretary Clinton are the most colossal, prolific fundraising couple in the history of representative democracies."

An aide then reminded O'Malley that he was on the record.

"I know," O'Malley answered, before continuing. "So yes -- lots of people have long histories with the Clintons."

O'Malley said he told Wasserman Schultz of his concerns.

"I told her that I didn't feel that the party was listening to our concerns and I told her that limiting the number of debates before the first contest would be a grave mistake," he said. "The people have a right to hear what the candidates stand for. We need to have a debate."

I also thought the DNC's response was creepily Stepford Wife-ish:

DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman said in a statement that DNC officials are "thrilled to hear that Governor O'Malley is eager to participate in our debates."

By fnord12 | August 6, 2015, 7:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Meta Polling

Ok, i promise this is my last Bernie Sanders post for at least... let's say an hour.

This is really more of a joke. I am reacting to this headline:

Poll: Democratic primary voters see Hillary Clinton as most electable

They are polling people to see how well they think politicians will do in polls. I demand they go one step further and poll people on how well people think politicians will do in the polls about which politicians people think will do well in the polls.

There is a serious element to this, though, as illustrated in this article: Bernie Sanders Doesn't Have A Chance Because People Think He Doesn't Have A Chance.

As i've said before, we are incredibly bad about guessing who people will vote for. Even professional pundits are really bad at it, and all we do is process and internalize what the pundits say. Primaries are our time to shape the state of the debate, not to pre-emptively capitulate on our policies because we think the rest of the country won't like them. And if you must make these kinds of calculations, consider that Sanders' positions are broadly popular (and it's not like Hillary Clinton's relationship with the general electorate is all that great).


By fnord12 | August 5, 2015, 8:37 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link



Debates

Article from July 23rd, 2007:

It may be equally important that Clinton's initial support for the Iraq war is not proving a significant impediment to her bid. Clinton has drawn criticism this year for refusing to apologize for her 2002 vote authorizing the use of force, but the poll shows her leading among Democrats who support a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces as well as those who oppose a deadline...

At this early stage, Clinton remains the candidate to beat in the Democratic field.

Overall, 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support Clinton to be the party's nominee, with Obama second at 30 percent. Edwards, whose hopes for winning depend heavily on a victory in the Iowa caucuses in January, is at 12 percent. Clinton's margin over Obama has been generally steady since February, just after the two candidates launched their presidential bids.

The RealClearPolitics poll tracker average has Clinton at 56 and Sanders at 20 at the moment, with 13 percent going to Biden who may or may not run (and if he did, it remains to be seen if he'd split the anti-Clinton vote with Sanders or the anti-establishment vote with Clinton, or maybe some combination of the two).

One difference between then and now:

Democrats are way behind the pace they set in the 2008 cycle--the last time there was an open Democratic nomination. By this point in the primary calendar, there had already been five debates, the first one in South Carolina in April '07.

Bernie supporters launched a major campaign this week to pressure the DNC to hurry up with the debate schedule, and the article at the third link says that the DNC will now finally announce the schedule and rules later this week.

No one ever thought Bernie would do as well as he already has, so it's already pretty amazing to me. I'm not saying that the debates will be a definite win for Bernie. I am hoping he keeps his crankier impulses in check, and it still remains to be seen if his message will resonate with the larger national audience that the debates will reach. But the timing and number of debates this season does make it feel like the DNC was doing everything possible to smooth the way for Hillary Clinton.

Quick update: To be clear, i don't think the debate schedule is a conspiracy against Bernie or anything like that. I think the DNC's expectation was that Clinton wouldn't have any significant challengers and they therefore wanted to keep the attention off her and on the Republicans. I still don't think that's fair to, say, Martin O'Malley, but i think the idea that a 73 year old Democratic Socialist might have been a serious contender was the furthest thing from their minds.


By fnord12 | August 5, 2015, 7:34 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Who is Hillary Clinton talking about?

On Monday, Hillary Clinton said:

"[#BlackLivesMatters] is fueled in large measure by young people and it is a particular development in the civil rights movement that deserves our support," Clinton said. "By that I mean, there are some who say, 'Well racism is a result of economic inequality.' I don't believe that."

Hmmm. Who are these "some" that say this?

It can't be Bernie Sanders. Sanders did say this:

As we celebrate King's great achievement and sacrifice, it is wrong to round off the sharp edges of his legacy. He saw inequality as a fundamental and tragic flaw in this society, and he made clear in the weeks leading up to his assassination that economic issues were becoming the central focus of his advocacy.

Nearly five decades later, King's words on the subject still ring true. On March 10, 1968, just weeks before his death, he spoke to a union group in New York about what he called "the other America." He was preparing to launch a Poor People's Campaign whose premise was that issues of jobs and issues of justice were inextricably intertwined.

"One America is flowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality," King said. "That America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom and human dignity for their spirits. . . . But as we assemble here tonight, I'm sure that each of us is painfully aware of the fact that there is another America, and that other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair."

Those who lived in the other America, King said, were plagued by "inadequate, substandard and often dilapidated housing conditions," by "substandard, inferior, quality-less schools," by having to choose between unemployment and low-wage jobs that didn't even pay enough to put food on the table.

The problem was structural, King said: "This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor."

Eight days later, speaking in Memphis, King continued the theme. "Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working every day?" he asked striking sanitation workers. "And they are making wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen, and it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income."

King explained the shift in his focus: "Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?"

But what King saw in 1968 -- and what we all should recognize today -- is that it is useless to try to address race without also taking on the larger issue of inequality. He was planning a poor people's march on Washington that would include not only African-Americans but also Latinos, Native Americans and poor Appalachian whites. He envisioned a rainbow of the dispossessed, assembled to demand not just an end to discrimination but a change in the way the economy doles out its spoils."

And that is the theme that I wish to pursue this evening. The need to simultaneously address the structural and institutional racism which exists in this country, while at the same time we vigorously attack the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which is making the very rich much richer while everyone else - especially the African-American community and working-class whites - are becoming poorer.

But that's definitely not the same thing that Hillary Clinton was accusing someone of saying, so who is she talking about?


By fnord12 | August 4, 2015, 5:57 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Ready on day one

President Obama's executive order on climate change is looking good. And since the midterms, Obama has been really great with executive orders. But they are executive orders, which means that Obama could have done them at any time. For the past 6 years or so, the "adult" Democrats have been telling us pesky progressives that presidents aren't dictators and they're basically powerless when there's all this gridlock in Congress, so we had no grounds to be disappointed. And then suddenly in his final two years in office Obama has found all sorts of great - and they are great - things to do, from the mini-DREAM act to raising the Federal minimum wage to the FLSA changes to these EPA regulations.

It's too late to wonder about Obama at this point, but here's to hoping that the next Democratic president comes to office with a list of executive actions to enact on day one. I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter, but to Martin O'Malley's credit, per the link above, it looks like he already has plans to have his EPA regulate carbon emissions from industrial and agricultural sources. Sanders has said that he'd expand the DREAM executive order to include families of DREAMers, that he'd go further with the FLSA ruling, and that he's generally open to more executive action. Clinton, unsurprisingly, hasn't been specific. But the idea should be that you go in with every executive action that you can do, and maybe even going a little further than you think is necessary, so that you have something to negotiate with the legislative branch about. If Obama had made this EPA ruling 4 years ago, for example, i bet Cap & Trade would have passed.

One thing i've seen from paying (vague) attention to other country's political systems is they have the concept of a Shadow Government. That sounds like something run by the Templars, but it means that the party that is out of power runs a parallel mock government, reacting to real world events and coming up with policies that they would enact if they had been in power at the time. That way when they get back in power they have a working plan to enact right away. Our system is different for a number of reasons, but the basic idea of having a plan prior to inauguration, especially on executive orders where there's no need to get things through Congress, still makes a lot of sense.


By fnord12 | August 4, 2015, 9:21 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Cutting me off

Via Kevin Drum, at least one polling organization has decided to stop polling the Republican primary race on the grounds that they feel like by doing so they are actually affecting the results. One could argue that by stopping the polling they are affecting the outcome just as much, but as a poll junkie, all i have to say is, "Noooooooooooooooooooo!".

Actually, please do it. Democratic polls too. In fact, the quality of life of all Americans, and especially addicts like me, could be greatly improved if they would cut off all coverage of the primaries except for intelligent explanations and analysis of the candidates' policy positions. Which is to say there would be no coverage.


By fnord12 | August 3, 2015, 11:03 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



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