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Liberal Outrage

Of course there's no reason for President Trump to grant us this

Looking at Kevin Drum's round-up of headlines on Trump's latest victory, i was thinking how Trump is making a great argument for instant run-off voting. This has been a progressive goal for a long time, with the idea of strengthening third party runs. I vote for Ralph Nader, but i mark Al Gore as my second choice, so if Nader doesn't win i'm not tipping the election to Bush. In the Republican primaries right now, Trump is getting the largest percentage of the vote, but it's (usually) not a clear majority. It's just that the majority of the votes are split out among a number of other candidates. Now, granted, the second choice of, say, Ted Cruz or Ben Carson voters may very well be Trump anyway, but it would at least give the 'establishment track' candidates a fighting chance.

By fnord12 | February 24, 2016, 12:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Bernie finds his footing on foreign policy

I mentioned in passing in a previous post that Bernie needed to improve his performance in debates regarding foreign policy. He did just that last night. Everyone's talking about his jabs at Clinton on Kissinger, but i thought this was the better moment:

I voted against the war in Iraq because I listened very carefully to what President Bush and Vice President Cheney had to say and I didn't believe them. And if you go to my Web site, berniesanders.com, what you find is not only going to help lead the opposition to that war, but much of what I feared would happen when I spoke on the floor of the House, in fact, did happen in terms of the instability that occurred.

Now I think an area in kind of a vague way, or not so vague, where Secretary Clinton and I disagree is the area of regime change. Look, the truth is that a powerful nation like the United States, certainly working with our allies, we can overthrow dictators all over the world.

And God only knows Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. We could overthrow Assad tomorrow if we wanted to. We got rid of Gadhafi. But the point about foreign policy is not just to know that you can overthrow a terrible dictator, it's to understand what happens the day after.

And in Libya, for example, the United States, Secretary Clinton, as secretary of state, working with some other countries, did get rid of a terrible dictator named Gadhafi. But what happened is a political vacuum developed. ISIS came in, and now occupies significant territory in Libya, and is now prepared, unless we stop them, to have a terrorist foothold.

But this is nothing new. This has gone on 50 or 60 years where the United States has been involved in overthrowing governments. Mossadegh back in 1953. Nobody knows who Mossadegh was, democratically-elected prime minister of Iran. He was overthrown by British and American interests because he threatened oil interests of the British. And as a result of that, the shah of Iran came in, terrible dictator. The result of that, you had the Iranian Revolution coming in, and that is where we are today. Unintended consequences.

So I believe as president I will look very carefully about unintended consequences. I will do everything I can to make certain that the United States and our brave men and women in the military do not get bogged down in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.

I admit i started to roll my eyes when he brought up Iraq again (not that it wasn't an extremely important defining moment for Hillary Clinton, but it can't be the only thing Bernie talks about), but as he kept going i started to realize how this response is basically a kind of doctrine, or at least a demonstration about Bernie's philosophy on non-intervention (or at least careful intervention). Tying it back to the US overthrow of Mossadegh was the clincher, because it means that Sanders isn't just doing a scattershot criticism of Hillary's actions; he's doing a real critique of US interventions. The overthrow of Mossadegh is considered a turning point for the US, in a bad way, on the left, so it's not an accident that Bernie brought this up (and by the way, if you go back to things Sanders said back in, say, the 1980s, he was making the same critiques). In terms of mainstream punditry, the Iran coup is just a footnote, old news, so i am sure that Bernie will continue to be criticized as being "weak" on foreign policy. But Bernie has reconnected with his older self, the guy that protested the Vietnam war, and that's what i think was missing from him on this. In the past, when Bernie was "weak" on foreign policy, it had two meanings. He was "weak" in the sense that he was non-responsive and seemed unprepared, and he was "weak" in the right wing sense of not wanting to bomb half the world. He'll continue to be called "weak" but if he continues in the way we saw last night, it can only be in the latter sense. Finding his footing like this means he can sound confident talking about these issues during the debates, and the truth is the majority of Democratic primary voters agree with him.

I also think Bernie is completely in the right about wanting to move toward re-opening relations with Iran. Just like with Cuba, you make progress by talking with hostile countries, not isolating them. Give them a reason to make changes.

As for Kissinger, i was surprised at the way Hillary handled it. When Hillary cited Kissinger's approval of her in the last debate, the lefty interblogs let out a collective "aroo?" but i thought that was going to be the end of it. When Bernie brought it up this time, i though it was a cute jab but expected Hillary to shrug it off and it wouldn't even be a blip in the debate. Instead she doubled-down on her support of Kissinger, which just amazes me. As far as the left is concerned, the guy is a war criminal. You don't say about a guy like that (paraphrasing), "Well, he has his good points and his bad points, and i only listen to him on his good points". A bizarre self-inflicted fail.

One final thing. I already linked to this Vox article about how maybe Sanders doesn't need to play the "Who are your advisers on foreign policy?" game. After i read that article, i saw the game being played out directly, with pundits asking that exact question. Sanders hasn't had a great answer (basically because he doesn't have any), and when pressed on two separate occasions, he threw out a name: Larry Korb. So the press went to Korb and Korb said that he only spoke to Bernie once, and then the press and the Hillary campaign all had a good laugh. But the tables have turned, because Korb came out yesterday and basically endorsed Bernie. If you're at all worried about Bernie's foreign policy experience or views, i highly recommend reading his article.

By fnord12 | February 12, 2016, 8:06 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I Hadn't Expected Anything Different

And despite my total lack of faith in any of his campaign promises, Obama still managed to leave me with a sense of disappointment at how completely he managed to not deliver. I don't know why. I pretty much expected it all to be bullshit. Prolly cause fnord12 likes to try to keep things positive in the house. Sucker.


Obama Celebrates Nine Years of Doing Nothing About Money in Politics

In 2007, Obama said, "The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests [have] turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. ... They think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back."

On Wednesday, Obama told the Illinois legislature, "We have to reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics that makes people feel like the system is rigged."

This time, of course, Obama is president and could actually do something about it. There are many actions he could take on his own, without approval from Congress or the courts. In particular, he could issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose any "dark money" contributions to politically active nonprofits.


Activists have delivered over 1 million signatures to the White House demanding that Obama sign an executive order on dark money. A similar petition set up via the White House website's system passed the 100,000 signatory threshold requiring the Obama administration to respond.

The White House recently posted a desultory answer to the petition that quotes Obama as saying that "We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics" -- but doesn't acknowledge the petition's demand that Obama, not "we," take specific action. Kurt Walters, campaign manager at Rootstrikers and one of the petition's organizers, called the response "offensive to the millions of Americans demanding an end to secret money influencing elections."

Always set the bar low. That way, if people do manage to do anything at all, you're pleasantly surprised.

By min | February 11, 2016, 9:34 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Thank you, New Hampshire

To celebrate, let's re-read this article of Philip Bump being an asshole in June.

By fnord12 | February 9, 2016, 9:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3)| Link

And rainbows every day

This view of Sanders' economic plans is certainly in line with what the progressive side of the economic spectrum believes will happen with a targeted economic stimulus, but i'm amazed to see it reported on CNN Money.

The economist that did this analysis (and who does not work for the Sanders campaign) is also the one that did the analysis of the single-payer proposal that the Wall Street Journal misrepresented. Somehow i don't expect to see the WSJ report on this, though.

By fnord12 | February 8, 2016, 1:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Backing up Bernie

In every debate, Hillary brings up two things that i know are wrong, but that Bernie never pushes back on. I've come to understand that Bernie sees the debates as an opportunity to give his stump speech on a national stage, and that's understandable given the format of the debates, but at the same time i wish he was better at the back-and-forth. Since these things have come up multiple times already, Bernie ought to be ready with the obvious response, and i have to think that someone in his campaign has brought it to his attention, if he didn't know/remember these things himself. So it may be that he thinks it's not worth getting into a back-and-forth (the "if you're explaining, you're losing" philosophy) and he'd rather talk in broad strokes. And frankly it seems to be working for him better than i would have ever expected, so who am i to criticize? But given that i have infinite space here, i thought i might as well lay these things out.

The first is the fact that Bernie did vote in favor of one bill that deregulated Wall Street. Hillary is referring to the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. This is a bullshit gotcha from Hillary in several ways. First point is that when Bernie voted in favor of the CFMA, it wasn't the bill that it eventually turned into:

When Sanders voted for the House version of the CFMA in October 2000, the bill was not yet a total debacle for Wall Street accountability advocates. The legislative text Sanders supported was clearly designed to curtail regulatory oversight. The GOP-authored bill was crafted as a response to a proposal from ex-Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Brooksley Born to ramp up oversight of derivatives. But the version Sanders initially voted for was more benign than the final, Gramm-authored version...

Then, after the vote, the bill was changed in committee by top Clinton administration officials, especially Goldman Sachs bankster Gary Gensler, who is now the Chief Financial Officer of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Sanders then voted again for the bill when it was part of a giant must pass omnibus budget bill, and he made his displeasure about it known at the time and repeatedly since then (including when Obama appointed Gensler to a position in his administration).

It is incredibly audacious of Hillary to attack Bernie on this when it was her husband and her current CFO that pulled what was essentially a dirty trick to get the language they wanted into the bill, after the vote. And that's why it's extremely frustrating to me to see Bernie not push back on this. But i guess the history is kind of convoluted and inside baseball, and i console myself with the fact that it seems extremely unlikely that the average debate viewer will buy the idea that Sanders is weak on Wall Street regulation.

The second thing regards the debates about Glass-Steagall. Sanders fought against it when the Clinton administration repealed that law, and now he's proposing re-establishing a 21st century Glass-Steagall. The bill he has in mind is in fact Elizabeth's Warren's bill (which is also sponsored by John McCain, a nice example of the reaching across the isle that Bernie is supposed to be incapable of). And this bill absolutely includes addressing what is known as "shadow banking". But every time Bernie brings this up, Hillary pretends like he's talking about re-instating the 1933 version of the law with no adjustments, and then talks about her idea is better because she would address the real problem of shadow banking. Which of course the Warren/Sanders bill would as well. And what's really weird is how Hillary uses this as a deflection against re-instating any version of Glass-Steagall. So it just seems like a dodge. If Hillary were serious, she should sign on to the Warren/Sanders bill. Instead it just sounds like an excuse to me. But Bernie never calls her on it, or agrees that shadow banking needs to be addressed as well.

I've seen multiple pundits suggest that viewers' eyes glaze over at the mention of Glass-Steagall and shadow banking, so again Bernie may have the right approach in just sticking to a broad "break up the big banks" and let Hillary lose herself in minutiae. I acknowledge that i'm watching the debates from a different perspective than most voters, and what i'm looking for is probably irrelevant point scoring to the average person. But at least i can get these things off my chest here.

(One area where i definitely think Bernie needs to brush up is on foreign policy. Max Fisher at Vox makes an interesting argument that Bernie can afford to not invest much in foreign policy at the moment, but Bernie has to at least be able to answer a question on Afghanistan without somehow talking about Iraq instead.)

By fnord12 | February 5, 2016, 11:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3)| Link

Predictions from the past

It's worth looking at this not to gloat, but to get some hope for the remainder of the primary season when looking at polls or demographics that seem unfavorable to Bernie.

(And this will be my last Bernie post of the day. You have to admit that i've shown much restraint over the past few months. You can allow me a little leeway the day after the first primary/caucus.)

By fnord12 | February 2, 2016, 4:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I guess there just wasn't time for context

I really love the video embedded in the article here. They found time to play Bernie saying, "We will raise taxes, yes we will" twice, but i guess there just wasn't any room for the following line explaining that the tax increase would be thousands of dollars less than what people will save on insurance premiums. Which is understandable since they had to make room for a clip of Walter Mondale from 1984 saying he would raise taxes, and George H.W. Bush's "read my lips" quote and a bunch of other nonsense.

I expect this sort of thing from Hillary and/or the Republicans, but this is a video put together by the Washington Post, ostensibly a news agency. And yet it's certainly an attack ad, not journalism.

By fnord12 | February 2, 2016, 2:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Nice work, Bernie

Thank you Iowa:

I mean, thank you for giving Bernie a virtual tie. Not for keeping me up all night. Which you did.

By fnord12 | February 2, 2016, 7:21 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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