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Elizabeth Warren’s Jobs Plan: War with Iran

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As much as your humble blogger still regards Elizabeth Warren as preferable to Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race, the evidence from her campaign is that she is no progressive, unless you define “progressive” to mean “centrist/Hamilton Project Democrat willing to throw a few extra bones to the average Joe.”

We’ve warned repeatedly that Warren not being all that left leaning was a real possibility. Her views on anything other than consumer banking regulation were unknown; she was a Republican prior to her conversion experience through extensive research into bankruptcies, which revealed that the overwhelming majority were responsible people who hit a stretch of serious bad luck. As much as her and her daughter’s book The Two Income Trap is well thought out and argued, they structured the problem as narrowly as possible, around the bidding war for housing and how it led more wives into the workforce, ending their role as secret insurance policy/potential breadwinner. The bigger frame, which Warren ignored, was stagnant worker wages and rising income disparity. Including those issues would have led Warren to consider issues like taxation (how income taxes have become less progressive and have also become more favorable to income from capital) and our multinational-favoring trade deals, and our lobbying-driven industrial policy.

A particularly ugly revelation came in the Boston Herald. On the one hand, the Herald is far from in the Warren camp, so it is possible that her remarks were taken out of context. But on the other, the Herald would see saber rattling as a plus, which perversely means they’d be less likely to exaggerate her views:

“Our number one responsibility is to protect Americans from terrorism, that’s our job, so being tough on terrorism is enormously important,” said Warren yesterday at a campaign stop in Gloucester.

“We should take nothing off the table, but the facts are still emerging,” the Senate candidate said when asked if she would support military action against Iran.

Huh? Protecting Americans against terrorism is number one? That means it ranks ahead of the rule of law, among other things. And this from a law professor. Glad we got that clear.

I lived for a bit in London when IRA bombing were a much more clear and present danger to people on the street than terrorism in the US is or was (you are vastly more likely to die in a drunk driving accident than in an airline crash or from terrorism. If you were rational, you’d minimize use of your car rather than worrying about terrorists in the woodpile). The Brits were simply not rattled by them. Yes, everyone was watchful for abandoned packages, but the populace also seemed determined to preserve a sense of normalcy and not let institutions or even daily routines suffer. So I find it astonishing that US citizens, aided and abetted by statements like Warren’s, now seem to have fallen into authority-serving Pavlovian responses when the word “terrorist” is invoked.

And if the Iran drumbeating continues, the episode at its center is likely to be treated by history as a Gulf of Tonkin incident equivalent. The New York Times and CNN both registered skepticism, which is atypical for the mainstream media. Glenn Greenwald was more pointed:

To begin with, this episode continues the FBI’s record-setting undefeated streak of heroically saving us from the plots they enable. From all appearances, this is, at best, yet another spectacular “plot” hatched by some hapless loser with delusions of grandeur but without any means to put it into action except with the able assistance of the FBI, which yet again provided it through its own (paid, criminal) sources posing as Terrorist enablers. The Terrorist Mastermind at the center of the plot is a failed used car salesman in Texas with a history of pedestrian money problems. Dive under your bed…

But no matter. The U.S. Government and its mindless followers in the pundit and think-tank “expert” class have seized on this ludicrous plot with astonishing speed to all but turn it into a hysterical declaration of war against Evil, Hitlerian Iran.

I don’t take Warren’s “facts are emerging” caveat seriously when facts like this are already on the table. And in case you managed to miss it, “We should take nothing off the table” includes nuclear options. Even veiled threats like this legitimate whatever nuclear plans Iran has underway. Israel, its ally the US, Pakistan and India all have nuclear weapons. It’s hard to make a case against getting nuclear capabilities from the perspective of protection the population (note yours truly does not have a point of view as to where Iran is on this matter, but my recollection is that the earliest credible estimates put Iran as being years away from having weapons). After all, Warren just argued that security is the top priority for Americans. Why should Iranians feel any differently?

But back to the issue of Warren’s belligerent tone. She’s fallen in line with the Democratic party orthodoxy, which is treating this Marx Brothers version of an assassination effort as a major incident. I’ve been at a loss to understand the enthusiasm, but there are probably at least two causes. First, Romney came out strongly in favor of begin aggressive with Iran, as a cynical wag noted, a war would be a Republican jobs plan. Obama is not about to be outflanked. Second, he may hope that if hostilities broke out before the election, he’d get a boost from being a war president.

If her statement about Iran was just one example, it might simply be a personal departure from an otherwise prototypical “progressive” position. All of Warren’s three brothers served in the military, after all. But we’ve seen other tells that she is more centrist than the liberal fundraising apparatus that has latched on to the Warren product would lead you to believe.

For instance, I’ve had a number of readers ping me, concerned and perplexed to Warren’s response to a question in the Democratic primary debates about Occupy Wall Street:

Click through to the video here and watch starting at 49:50. The question is “What do you think of the Occupy protests and would you join them?” Two candidates have a go before Warren, giving her time to think. Each answers the question in a direct manner, the first expressing enthusiasm and saying he would join them, the second expressing sympathy and saying he has physical issues that prevent him from participating, but if he were able, he’d probably go. Each gets a positive reaction from the audience.

Warren, by contrast, pointedly avoids giving a straight response and goes a bit off the rails. Her first statement is about obeying the law, and several readers took it to mean she was accusing OWS of being a bunch of lawbreakers. She gave the impression that she’s more concerned about whether they play by the rules or not than whether they have real concerns (and those concerns are broader than just bad behavior by banks). Then she talks about how the banks broke the country mortgage by bad mortgage. She may have meant that as part of her “obey the law” message, but it comes off like an effort to save a flubbed opener. Then she says that’s why she wants to run for Senate. In other words, her message, at best, is she doesn’t agree with how OWS is seeking to effect change. They should vote for people like her instead.

Similarly, there’s a troubling part to the preamble to her now famous “nobody got rich on their own” clip. She’s evidently been asked about the budget deficits, and she lists three major causes, tax cuts for the rich, failure to raise taxes to pay for the two Iraq wars, and a Medicare drug plan that was a huge gimmie for Big Pharma. That’s actually not true. Far and away the biggest driver the growth of our Federal debt, bringing it from roughly 23% of GDP to 75% of GDP, was the global financial crisis. The US suffered both a plunge in tax receipts and an increase in spending due primarily to automatic stablizers like food stamps, where spending goes up in bad times (the stimulus package contributed only at the margin).

But there is more worrisome subtext to her brief discussion here. She talks about putting the Iraq wars on a credit card and leaving future generations to pay for them. She seems to have fallen for the balance budget meme, when the proper role of government fiscal policy is to accommodate the actions of the private sector, meaning households and business. Households want to save for retirement and emergencies, and the tacit assumption is business invests household savings. But as we’ve discussed in earlier posts, businesses have ceased being proper capitalists and have also been net savers, even during the last expansion, since 2003. Unless a country is running a trade surplus, and the US is not in that category, the government needs to accommodate the desire of the private sector to save by deficit spending. Otherwise wages fall and the economy contracts, and that makes the debt to GDP ratio worse.

Now it is difficult to be certain based on these brief comments, but Warren seemed to regard the debt problem as serious, meaning she’d support Obama’s deficit hawkery, which is not a sound approach right now. Moreover, her “don’t do things like that again” is unrealistic. She’d clearly favor reversing tax breaks for the rich, which would be a good start, but even if you buy here analysis, that’s not a sufficient solution. Her stance on Iran makes it hard to back shrinking the military. And our earlier post tonight citing the work of Tom Ferguson tells us that Congresscritters fall in line with what the leadership wants, and the leadership is bought and paid for by special interest groups. The health care lobby outspends the banks. If she thinks she can dent the influence of Big Pharma on legislation, she is smoking something very strong.

Mind you, if you are in Massachusetts, I am not telling you not to vote for Warren. I am simply warning you that she is not the Great Progressive Hope. She came to a strongly liberal view on a comparatively narrow set of issues, on how banks have looted customers, based on intensive research. She does not have that depth of expertise on many, if any, of the other topics she opines on. She has surrounded herself with mainstream Democratic advisors, the bulk of them with links to Harvard. She may wrap her views in populist rhetoric, but I strongly suspect, ex banking reform and other consumer protections, she’ll be far more centrist than most of her enthusiasts anticipate.

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158 comments

  1. YankeeFrank

    Its like Chris Hedges said (paraphrasing here) — the goal of OWS isn’t to elect better leaders or to take power itself. Generaly, those who seek power are mediocre at best and venal at worst. The goal is to put enough fear into them that they are forced to take a populist stance and promote progressive policies.

    That being said, it is important to elect people who at least can be swayed — people like Obama and Warren, who frankly seem to be the best we can hope for at this time, when even avowed “socialists” like Bernie Sanders cave when the going gets rough.

      1. rotter

        Im not going to outright defend Sanders at this point, but many here have pointed out that the entire system has been captured by narrow private interests. Sanders’ first responsibility, in this system, is to the People of Vermont, and hes done not too bad for them. Vermont has a single payer system now, for example.

        1. andrea greenberg

          vermont does NOT have a single payer system…they are attempting to have one in the future and this is by no means a sure thing! please know the facts!

          1. Bob Haiducek, Bob the Health and Health Care Advocate

            By the way … speaking of facts. Elizabeth Warren is NOWHERE on support of improved Medicare for All, single-payer health care. Considering her own work on medical bankruptcies, considering her own statements related to her work, and considering the very strong stance of MA citizens for single-payer, this situation is amazing. Doesn’t she know that one of the reasons Scott Brown is Senator is because MA citizens hate the Affordable Care Act of 2010 … and were hoping that Republican Scott Brown replacing Democrat Ted Kennedy’s open seat would possibly stop the ACA of 2010 from becoming law.
            Here’s some more …
            http://www.medicareforall.org/p/Massachusetts

            - Bob the Health and Health Care Advocate

    1. Barbyrah

      Dear Yankee Frank,

      You write: “…it is important to elect people who at least can be swayed…” Let me ask you to consider an alternative to that deeply entrenched, continually-running and generally assumed-to-be-necessary meme of need to “sway”…

      With a year, a FULL YEAR before elections actually take place, there’s still PLENTY of time to see a major “shift”/transformation in the way we “do” decision-making in this country. Including the “who” and the “how” of it.

      Case in point: There’s an increase in chatter going on re: new ways we may choose to organize ourselves as a society. Example: The non-hierarchical, egalitarian, no-one-gets-paid-to-step-up-to-the-plate model happening right now, smack dab in the middle of OWS. Or the it’s-not-about-power-or-money-I-just-want-to-share-the-knowledge-I-have-in-this-particular-area-to-help-make-things-better citizen. I’m hearing more and more…a desire to get rid of the “professional politician” in favor of everyday people rotating out “leadership” roles in group settings, groups that share and collaborate with one another. (Without the need to try and “sway” someone “at the top” to “Please, please, keep your promises to us” or “Please, please do the right thing,” “Please, please, don’t lie to us anymore,” “Please, please, don’t take any more money from _______ because we know where it leads to,” etc.)

      In other words: There’s more than one way to organize ourselves. And I sense…we’re on the edge of really examining options.

      And FWIW: I would much rather have the people who’re in Liberty Park help lead the country through decision-making processes right now…than anyone in the WH or Congress. Or anyone running for office – including Elizabeth Warren. Hands-down. In fact, not even close. They are WAY BEYOND the capabilities, morals, ethics of any president, advisor, senator, congressperson.

      For your consideration.

      Regards.

      P.S. Re: Elizabeth Warren – Yves, right on. She’s still entrenched in the Old Corrupt System. Obvious to me when she put the “D” behind her name and started “campaigning”…in the same old same old ways.

      1. YankeeFrank

        Barbyrah,

        I love the ideas you mention. It would be great to have citizen politicians with one term limits, and I’ve lived my life the way you describe our political system should work. If we can get there that is great, but in the alternative, we can make them do things; and it’s not by saying “please, please”, its by scaring the bejesus out of them and making them do shit OR ELSE holy hell will rain down. What got FDR moving? How about workers tearing factories apart and a huge labor movement that was willing to tear shit down to make change happen. In my opinion, the model of OWS and its ideas are frickin’ wonderful, but if you think these pricks are going to let their way die without some kind of fight you are dreaming. I prefer the peaceful route, but when in history has entrenched power ever preferred the peaceful route?

        1. citalopram

          Read something that McCain has claimed that Liz Warren has a sweetheart deal with special interests. I wonder what would make him say that? Is it true, or is he delusional? In light of her comments in this recent debate, maybe she’s following the money and it’s something that has some merit to it?

        2. LucyLulu

          I don’t think violence is necessary. A national strike would be equally effective. Remember that the workers produce all the value. Those in power need somebody to do the work. We refuse to work, they got big problems.

          Alternative, we refuse to pay taxes. Remember, the 1% is unwilling to pick up even a modest increase in their taxes. The 99% still pay 60% of the tab.

          But yeah, no matter what option we choose, including violence, which is not an option I’m willing to get behind, we need more numbers. Give it time. I don’t see people’s situations getting better anytime soon.

      2. Jeremy Sapienza

        Well said, Barbyrah. THAT is the “point” of OWS – not whining for the elite to toss us more scraps pretty please, but for us to turn our backs on their shitty system and do things for ourselves. Of this we are extremely capable — where does the wealth come from anyhow? Us, doing things. And OWS gives us a channel through which we can connect in different ways with each other, possibly reviving America’s lost mutual aid and community organization tradition, or invent new ways of interacting. Real community doesn’t come from Diebold.

    2. LeeAnne

      I doubt very much that Chris Hedges would come to the same conclusion that you have by implication suggested he might.

    3. BDBlue

      Where is the evidence Obama can be persuaded? The suffering in this country has only increased the last three years. His polling numbers are down a year before the election. And yet his “jobs” bill is more of the same – mostly tax breaks and neoliberal giveaways to companies (the infrastructure bank). There’s still very little in it for regular people. And it’s designed this way even though Obama knew it wouldn’t pass – so it’s not weak because that’s what it takes to get it by Republicans.

      1. BDBlue

        Oh, and so far, Obama’s only substantive response to OWS has been to ensure that three trade bills – negotiated by George W Bush, but unable at the time to pass the Democratic Congress – made it through even though everyone knows they’ll cost anywhere from 150,000-300,000 jobs. Yeah, he can be persuaded alright, but not by regular people.

      2. YankeeFrank

        Did you really think small numbers of OWS protesters would make Obama do anything? Don’t you get it? We have to be millions strong, and threatening to tear it all down. Whining that Obama hasn’t responded to the small beer of OWS so far is missing the point. OWS has helped reframe the debate, and created a dialogue about issues that were silenced by the courtiers and the liberal class. But that is only the first step, or did you think you weren’t gonna have to leave your keyboard for the revolution to work?

        1. BDBlue

          If we’re millions strong, then we don’t need Obama. That’s enough to get anyone to do a lot of the basic work that needs to be done. And if it takes millions to “make” Obama do it, then he doesn’t really want to do it, he’s being forced to do it. Which, btw, I’m all for, but I think the focus on Obama’s good will is misplaced. It will take just as much pressure to force him to do it as it would take on McCain or Romney (which is not an endorsement of McCain or Romney).

    4. oliverks

      I think OWS should remain focused on building the identity that they are the 99%. It doesn’t matter what your political persuasion is, if you are part of the 99%, your priorities and desires should be represented. Right now it feels like the 1% is represented.

      A good example of this is happening right now in the republican debates. Both ex-governors Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer have been excluded from most debates by private organizations. The one percenters, Fox and Bloomberg, are choosing and framing who you can vote for.

    5. Walter Wit Man

      Your conclusion doesn’t does not follow from Hedge’s observations. Quite the opposite in fact!

      A vote for Warren is a vote for the status quo and is a wasted vote from a liberal perspective. Liberals would be better off voting for a third party instead of giving support to a criminal party.

    6. Fiver

      Obama is deaf to all but the now generationally entrenched, orthodox “experts” from the Pentagon to Treasury to Energy to Commerce to Wall Street to MSM.

      He takes orders, not gives them.

    7. robertsgt40

      I originally had high hopes for Warren. What a disappointment. Looks like someone made her an offer she couldn’t refuse

  2. Rex

    Sigh. Thanks for the analysis. Guess we are just hoping to find a really good candidate occasionally.

    On a separate but similar theme, is there anyone out there that would make a reasonable alternative, should they be willing to primary Obummer? I so do not want to vote for another 4 with the current chump, but the repugnantins are floating nothing but clowns. (By design?)

    Can we do nothing but wait for a major revolt and attendant upheaval? (Or maybe vice versa.)

    1. Mamzer ben Yoni

      Just like here in Canada, politicians (from the Prime Minister on down) who want to raise money that is needed to get elected have learned to suck up to right wing Zionist benefactors.

      At the moment, what that market wants to hear is anti-Iran rhetoric.

      Warren’s statements on Iran, considered in this light, can be severely discounted; and most likely to reflect her need for campaign funding and her need for right-wing Zionist votes.

      1. Cynthia

        There’s no doubt in my mind that our Zionist overlords are pushing us into attacking Iran. But it seems to me that China’s plans to import natural gas from Iran by way of Pakistan is another reason we are being pushed into attacking Iran.

        http://www.oilandgaseurasia.com/news/p/0/news/13344

        So if the attack on Iran isn’t about Israel and its quest for greater dominance in the Middle East, it’s about the US and its goal to prevent China from gaining control over the massive hydrocarbon wealth in this region of the world.

        This is why I’ve come to believe that if the US is successful at breaking down the “BRICs” by removing India from it, China will build back the BRICs by replacing India with another “I” country: Iran.

      2. YankeeFrank

        Right wing Zionist votes? How many Jews do you think there are in this country? Sure she wants AIPAC on her side. But please, let’s leave the right wing Zionists where they live — in Israel. The vast majority of American Jews are more J Street than AIPAC, and are not screaming “anti-semitism” if you don’t want to nuke Iran.

        1. Externality

          From the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

          Washington is a small city. It’s a place of human dimensions. A kind of small town that happens to run an empire. A small town of government officials and members of Congress and personnel of research institutes and journalists who pretty well all know one another. Everyone is busy intriguing against everyone else; and everyone gossips about everyone else.

          In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history. They believe that the right political idea entails a fusion of morality and force, human rights and grit. The philosophical underpinnings of the Washington neoconservatives are the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Edmund Burke. They also admire Winston Churchill and the policy pursued by Ronald Reagan. They tend to read reality in terms of the failure of the 1930s (Munich) versus the success of the 1980s (the fall of the Berlin Wall).

          [...]

          Is the Iraq war the great neoconservative war? It’s the war the neoconservatives wanted, [NY Times columnist Thomas] Friedman says. It’s the war the neoconservatives marketed. Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it. Oh boy, did they sell it. So this is not a war that the masses demanded. This is a war of an elite. Friedman laughs: I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.

          (emphasis added)

          http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/white-man-s-burden-1.14110

          As Thomas Friedman said, the drive for war with Iraq came from 25 neoconservative elites, not the American people. But for their efforts, the Iraq war would not have happened.

          The ongoing conflict (or intervention or time-limited kinetic military action or war, depending on the day) in Libya is the product of a small elite deciding to overrule the vocal opposition of the American people. The pro-war faction in DC (neocons and liberal interventionists) convinced Obama to pursue the war even after Congress refused to approve it and the military opposed it. Then, they convinced him to continue the war even after the Attorney General, head of the Office of Legal Counsel, and DoD General Counsel all told him that continuing the war would violate the War Powers Act. The war is the product of a small cabal, one with the ability to override the objections of senior legal and defense officials, the objections of Congress, and the objections of the American people.

          When — not if — the neocons, liberal interventionists, and Israel-firsters call for total war with Iran, the final decision will once again be made by a small, well-connected elite, not the American people, and most likely not the Congress. As was the case with Iraq, a disproportionately large percentage of those decision-makers will be Jewish. And, just as neocon rags such as Commentary are smearing the OWS movement as violent anti-semites, they will smear anyone who criticizes the decision or the decision-makers as antisemites who want to see Israel destroyed.

      3. Pepe

        The same was said about Obama while he was campaigning for President. I’ll take her at her word that she would vote to authorize military action against Iran.

    2. ambrit

      My Dear Rex;
      As in, wait for the really big global financial crisis that the Fed cannot buy us out of? (By the way, can the boys and girls at the fed be so clueless as to let the American economy get in a bind requiring them to hyperinflate us out of it? Think of how that would hit the rest of the world.)

    3. JCC

      Rex,

      I’d be more than happy to run, and if elected I will ask Yves to head the Treasury Dept., Mish to head up the Federal Reserve, ask Assange to run the State Dept. and ask Hedges to be my White Hose Spokesperson. And the Rule of Law would be put into full effect within minutes of my Inauguration Speech.

      The only problem I foresee is that, despite my education and military record, not to mention my sweet disposition, etc, I would probably fall to a hail of bullets directed from Wall St within hours.

  3. CB

    Over the 20 years I’ve paid taxes on both earned income and cap gains and dvds, I’ve seen an astonishing shift in tax burden from cap gains and dvds to earned income. Year by year, the hand-off was obvious on my own, small potatoes, returns. And the really incredible part is how many ordinary people, who have been screwed by the increasing penalties on working for a living, supported the policies and voted for the politicians. I’ve come to think Americans are a big strike mentality culture: basically, hit the jackpot, get rich overnight, financial problems solved. Maybe I should throw a few bucks into the lottery pot?

    Besides some cap gains and dvds, I’ve worked at lower class income wages all my adult life. Wage stagnation hardly begins to describe the choke-hold on income over the last 40 years.

  4. Jesse

    This is definitely bad news, as I admit I bought into the hype about Warren. I do like a lot of what she’s said on the banking industry, but now she’s talking about Iran as if it’s some sort of threat (instead of a 3rd world nation that, as Ron Paul put it, “can’t even produce enough gasoline for themselves.”)

    my recollection is that the earliest credible estimates put Iran as being years away from having weapons.

    In late 2007, a report by the DNI was leaked that concluded Iran had given up it’s nuclear program in 2003 (http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/20071203_release.pdf). Mysteriously, about a year later, everyone seemed to forget that that report even existed.

  5. Dennis

    “Far and away the biggest driver the growth of our Federal debt, bringing it from roughly 23% of GDP to 75% of GDP, was the global financial crisis. The US suffered both a plunge in tax receipts and an increase in spending due primarily to automatic stablizers like food stamps, where spending goes up in bad times (the stimulus package contributed only at the margin).”

    I would like a source for this. DoD’s budget went from 300 billion under Clinton to 1 trillion today. Bush Tax cut was another trillion plus and Medicare D cost a quarter of a trillion.

    And this headline is pretty inflammatory too. But I guess “Elizabeth Warren: Not a perfect doctrinaire liberal” isnt as catchy.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m looking to find the data, and my 75% Federal debt to GDP crude recollection is actually high; the CBO projected 70% for 2011 and 74% for 2012. That is up from 53% in 2009, BTW, and there was some revenue collapse in 2007 and a big one in 2008 too.

      But it is incontrovertible that the debt blowout was the direct result of the crisis:

      The “explosion” story can be immediately dismissed. The simple fact is that the deficit did not swell tidally until the financial crisis hit. While George W. Bush’s tax cuts destroyed the Clinton budget surpluses, tax revenues poked along at a rate that kept the deficit from blowing out until the economic equivalent of Hurricane Katrina hit. It was the one-two punch of the bank bailouts and the Great Recession that led to today’s giant gap between general revenues and expenditures.

      http://www.newdeal20.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/a-world-upside-down

      1. Don Smith

        Yves:

        I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised at your Keynesian assertion that government was obliged to bail out the banks and “the government needs to accommodate the desire of the private sector to save by deficit spending.”

        Yes, the crisis blew out the deficits, but much of that was unnecessary. Yes, we would have had a major GDP contraction, but what is never examined is whether that is ipso facto a bad thing.

        Looking at Iceland, they had a sharp correction and have rebuilt their economy in a few short years. We face a multi-decade slide into oblivion in the best case and an even bigger crash than we would have had in 2008 had we permitted it in the worst case. The debt-fueled global Ponzi is ending one way or another, and, to your point, Elizabeth Warren doesn’t appear to be a helpful addition.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’ve never said the government was obligated to bail out banks.

          Re the discussion of the actions of various sectors, that isn’t Keynesian, it’s accounting. If my statement is wrong, so is 500 years of double entry bookkeeping.

    2. TK421

      Remember, we’ve given something like 13 trillion dollars in bailouts since the financial crisis hits. I hate how big our defense budget is, but even that is small potatoes.

    3. Walter Wit Man

      Nice strawman. Only purity trolls refuse to support Warren.

      Bullshit. This may fly at Daily Kos or Digby’s joint, but it’s not fair.

      I disagree with Yves and you and think it’s foolish to vote for Warren. It’s not that she doesn’t match my policy views 100%, it’s that she fails to fundamentally represent my views. Foreign policy is huge to me. Killing one innocent child is a crime and I would demand the impeachment and criminal punishment of any politicians that committed war crimes. And yet the Democrats and Republicans both support vast war crimes. Period. So to accept either party you are asking me to support war criminals.

      Warren just threatened the people of Iran with genocide. I understand that it’s common for Democrats, especially Democratic women like Hillary Clinton, to play the tough guys and to threaten to nuke Iran (because that’s what they’re doing), via diplomatic code speak of “all options on the table”, but it doesn’t make it right. I understand the party thinks they have no choice. But they do have a choice. They are threatening to kill millions of innocent people and they are bullies because the U.S. is not threatened, and it is certainly not threatened enough to use nuclear weapons. The Iranians are correct to point out that the U.S. is the only nation to use nuclear weapons, not to mention they attacked civilians while doing so.

      Furthermore, apart from the foreign policy position, Warren’s support for the war on drugs is a huge issue to me. It’s racist and unfair. Obama and Bush both snorted cocaine and yet they get to go on to be president. Yet we imprison the most people on earth, mostly brown young men, because these men use drugs like the last 3 presidents have. We run gulags in a racist manner and it is an abomination. We have replaced Jim Crow with the war on drugs. When I hear Democrats like Warren supporting the war on drugs I hear racists demanding that we lock up our nation’s minorities as a policy.

      The main good thing about Warren was her economic policies. But that’ obviously bullshit. She is a mole for the enemies and not sincere about reform. The record is clear. She chose to serve a corporate party run by the top 1% instead of fighting for the middle class.

      No, this is not a purity troll. This is someone that actually has basic requirements in the politicians I support. It’s not my fault both parties are entirely corrupt. It’s not my fault there really aren’t any worthy candidates to support–especially in the two legacy parties.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        And to clarify: Warren’s threat to Iran did not directly threaten nuclear genocide like Hillary Clinton’s threat did, but in the context of Iranian-U.S. relations, this was clearly implied.

        The U.S. has broken with its previous protocol (and treaty obligations) by expanding the development of nuclear weapons and planning their use in warfare. In fact, in the Bush administration they leaked that they were considering a first strike nuclear option against Iran. So in that context, U.S. politicians have a responsibility to walk back any nuclear threat. They should explicitly say the nuclear option is OFF THE TABLE. By saying the opposite, that ALL options are on the table, one is threatening Iran with a nuclear strike.

        1. propertius

          The U.S. has broken with its previous protocol (and treaty obligations) by expanding the development of nuclear weapons and planning their use in warfare. In fact, in the Bush administration they leaked that they were considering a first strike nuclear option against Iran.

          I’m not sure why you think that planning the use of nuclear weapons in warfare is some sort of policy change for the United States.

          The U.S. has never had a “No First Use” policy – in fact, our security posture throughout the Cold War was that we would go nuclear in response to a conventional Soviet assault on Western Europe. “Massive retaliation” to nuclear or conventional attack on allies has been official, publicly-stated US strategic doctrine since 1954 – so has preserving the option of first use in any conflict.

          1. Fiver

            There’s a bit of a difference between a first strike in response to a Soviet violation of a “trip-wire” in Europe, and blowing a very weak, very poor country off the face of the planet.

            Not that I would support a first strike under any circumstances – there is NO scenario under which it would be excusable.

        2. Fiver

          Agree. I simply cannot understand the mental compartmentalization that goes on in so many seemingly “OK” heads that allows the pretense it’s not exactly the same people making the decisions to slaughter millions of completely innocent Muslims/Arabs (or anyone else who has gotten “in the way” over several decades, or will do so from here on out)and to hand many trillions of dollars over to Wall Street in exchange for, not only permission, but a hope for “prosperity” even though absent fundamental change it means a savaging of the US and global economies all over again – except much, much worse.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Brown is also pro war, so there’s no difference there. Remember, the choice is between Warren and Brown not between Warren and an ideal candidate.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Well, that could be because Massachusetts has a history of keeping third parties off the ballot, as happened in the 2008 election: http://www.aclu.org/voting-rights/aclu-massachusetts-files-suit-seeking-ballot-place-third-party-candidates

          See also this about the Republican efforts to forestall a Tea Party challenger: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/tea-party-group-backs-brown-pressures-third-party-candidate-to-drop-out-of-mass-senate-race.php

          Plus, I’m not sure that Warren is better than Brown. Her rhetoric on mostly economic issues is better, but I fear that she could cause greater harm than the good her rhetoric will do. In many ways it’s worse to give liberals false hope so as to keep them penned in the Democratic party fold. In any case, even if Warren were slightly better than Brown it does not justify voting for the lessor of two candidates that promote war crimes.

          I would vote for a third party candidate, however unlikely that is in the machine state of Massachusetts, or write in a candidate of my own. Or heck, why vote?

          1. Marisa DeFranco

            The premise that it is a choice between Warren and Brown is false. Despite wide reports to the contrary, the Democratic primary is NOT over. I am still in this race and not going anywhere. Read my record and Facebook postings. I do support Single Payer. I am on record at a recent debate and other forums that we are NOT going to war with Iran, and said straight out that anyone who says “nothing is off the table” is reckless and unacceptable. My campaign is REAL grassroots, and I recently won the straw poll at our last debate: Warren wasn’t there, I was. I got 43.4%, next guy 28%, Warren 18%. I have been to Occupy Boston several times. I am building from the ground up, and I have on-the-ground real world experience (attorney for businesses, immigrants, foster kids, national and state awards, work on pay equity legislation in MA, negotiating with our own and foreign embassies, knowledge of treaties, intimate knowledge of NAFTA and its wrecking of not only US jobs but also Mexican corn farmers and the interplay of bad trade policy on immigration, etc) that Warren can’t begin to touch. Find me at http://www.marisadefranco.com or http://www.facebook.com/DeFrancoForSenate

  6. dearieme

    I know nothing about the Iranian Plot – it’s just that when I first heard about it I naturally assumed it to be bogus. Why wouldn’t I?

  7. Andre

    Two unknown truths about Massachusetts: She has to get the Democratic nomination, and Mass Dems are relatively conservative. That’s why we were electing liberal Republicans before Romnney (though Romney certainly gave us reason to think he was Liberal – in fact, I think he really is, as was his father, and as we know, the acorn don’t fall too far from the oak.

      1. CB

        That’s what it looks like. When would-be contenders vacate the field, you know it’s an electoral land rush.

      2. Arthur

        The nomination is as competitive as people in the Dem party want it to be. Good organization could keep Liz Warren off the Dem primary ballot or make her the only one on the primary ballot (you need 15% of the votes from delegates at the Mass. Dem Convention to be on the primary ballot). Progressives need to remember that the infastructure of political parties are there for the taking if they can organize properly. Just saying.

    1. CB

      George Romney’s public service record is remarkable for its liberality. Progressivism, even. Look it up, and calculate how far he was to the left of almost any leftish public figure today.

      1. Carla

        Both “the left” and the “the right” have utterly failed this country, with the result that sometimes you can’t tell which is which, and when it comes right down to “governing,” it doesn’t matter: they’re all marching to the beat of their biggest donors.

        We need something ELSE. Watch OWS. Maybe we’ll come up with it.

        1. CB

          While I agree that the left and right overlap, I don’t see what that has to do with George Romney’s agenda. George, not Mitt.

        2. Neo-Realist

          I think it’s important to emphasize that the left hasn’t failed the country through a position of power. They’ve never really been in a truly strong governing position in this country. You’ve had people like Obama that campaigned from the left and went to the right upon taking power; Clinton bellied up to the black community, but helped pave the way for the financial deregulation that facilitated the present crisis. If anything, the left failed by not being smart enough to take the necessary strategic steps to put themselves in a position of power to get their agenda enacted.

          With the right, they’ve failed the country not in trying to do justice to it, but in deliberately screwing the 99 percent to better serve their plutocrat masters with some head fakes along the way to the cultural issues–abortion, affirmative action, welfare, dark skinned criminality, etc.

        3. Stefan

          There is no left. The US is an unusually business-run society, mildly put. The democrats and the republicans are both extremely right wing. It is one party with two factions that differ somewhat. The ultra right, meaning the two factions of the business party, has every interest in trying to depict one of them as left, or even extreme left.

          A left party would nationalize health care, the schools, the banks and other important societal functions, create a tobin tax and other form of regulations which once was in place within the Bretton Woods system, introduce progressive taxation, invest in green technology, end the wars etc, i.e classical social democratic reforms and frankly just common sense, and then they would have a foundation from which they could do politics; start progressive programs, fine tune the economy, seriously start adressing the environmental issues etc, i.e start building a decent society.

  8. DP

    “Warren seems to regard the debt problem as serious”

    Is there anybody other than the innumerate who doesn’t?

    1. Arthur

      Please google MMT and UMKC or MMT and Warren Mosler and spend the rest of the day reading. Then repeat. Then revise your comment accordingly.

      No offense intended. Just trying to be funny.

      Long story short, there are many who think government debt is not a problem because it isn’t. It’s just private savings.

  9. G3

    By “terrorism”, does she mean Wall street by any chance? They caused a mass destruction worth 8trillion $ here and 15 trillion$ worldwide. And the collateral damages – death, divorce, suicide, depression, homelessness etc.

  10. Woodrow Wilson

    “Mind you, if you are in Massachusetts, I am not telling you not to vote for Warren.” -

    Don’t worry, we won’t.

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/spectrum.xpd

    We Independents don’t see Warren being that impartial. Not to say we like all the votes Sen. Brown has taken so far, we especially hold our collective noses at his campaign finances. After decades of a one-party monopoly from Massachusetts, Brown was the clear choice, and it appears to be the lesser of evils the next time around as well.

    1. Morgan

      “We Independents…”

      As an Independent, I’ll thank you to keep your generalizations to yourself, please, and not assume that ALL of us think the same as you.

      1. Valissa

        Hmmm, apparently we independents are “pragmatic” and “fickle” and “results oriented” per the framing in this article.

        Where Barack Obama’s independent problem began http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66220.html

        Independents tend to be the least ideological, least politicized, most pragmatic section of the electorate. What’s killing Obama – according to this argument – is the perception, right or wrong, that he just isn’t an effective leader after crusading for post-partisan government. That the GOP has blocked him at nearly every turn — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did, after all, say that his prime mission was to see Obama served one term — is apparently beside the point. Independent voters want results, not excuses. …

        “The No. 1 word used to describe independents is fickle,” Jensen said. “Independents are results oriented. If they feel Obama’s turned around the economy, they’ll certainly vote for him again. If they don’t feel he’s turned around the economy, they’ll vote him out.” “Really pretty speeches after four years in office aren’t going to do very much for him with independents,” he added. “Nothing he says is going to convince them that things are OK if they don’t think things are OK.”

        Another top-notch political analysis from our inside sources into the groupthink of Versailles on the Potomac. No mention at all of how independents are pissed off at both parties, and see them as more similar than different (both as corrupt)… and no mention of the Occupy Wall Street movement at all.

        1. Woodrow Wilson

          “No mention at all of how independents are pissed off at both parties, and see them as more similar than different (both as corrupt)” -

          +1

        2. propertius

          …he just isn’t an effective leader…

          Nonsense. Barack Obama is the most effective Republican President since Ronald Reagan.

          1. Fiver

            Right, but wrong. He’s FAR more effective than Reagan, having neutered the entire “left” (pardon if I choke on that) side of the spectrum.

  11. Dan B

    In August, I commented to Warren, “Why do you want to board a sinking ship? You’ve got iconic status and a national stage to speak from. Being a senator can only reduce the efficacy of your voice.” Her reply (paraphrased), “When TSHTF I’ll be on the inside to guide the national policy debate. We’re that close (barely opening her thumb and index finger) to losing the American Dream.”

    I left thinking it much more likely that she’d be compromised by a campaign: $, party line, placating villains and fools for votes. Her heroic status is now on the wane. As a thought experiment, we could imagine her running against Obama and embracing OWS as an authentic “green shoot of democracy’s revival.” Finally, being at Harvard is disadvantageous; she is ensconced in ivory tower cultural lag.

    1. CB

      Wait till the screws turn with committee assignments and goodies for the folks back home. Not to mention, but I will, election war chest monies. There are so many ways to force people into line. Warren is overestimating her senatorial potentials.

    2. ponerology

      There IS no cultural lag at Harvard; Harvard is part of culture creation, with aid from the CIA and think tanks like RAND. The fact that Warren is at Harvard relieves her of any credibility other than with the CFR crowd. (BTW: I don’t have a dog in this race–I live in NY; land of Chuckie Schumer and Peter King–2 of the biggest con men/losers in the world.

  12. Mark C

    Warren will fall in line with the TPTB and the military/industrial complex. They all do.

    Consider the following:

    ————

    http://www.wbur.org/2010/12/06/defense-spending

    BOSTON — The economic recovery in Massachusetts may be lagging, but don’t blame the defense industry.

    A new report finds that U.S. Department of Defense contracts amounted to more than $15 billion last year. That’s almost six times as much as all other federal contract spending in the state. Defense dollars have tripled in Massachusetts since 2001.

    “Frankly, we were surprised at the magnitude of the growth,” said Rick Lord, president of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which commissioned the report from the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute.

    The sector employs some 115,000 workers in the state. Not only has that number almost doubled over the past decade, those jobs are all over the state.

    —————

    From the report cited:

    —————-

    http://www.donahue.umassp.edu/press/news/umdi_ma_dod

    The defense sector in Massachusetts is a leading industry sector within the state and is by far the
    major recipient of federal contracts.
    • The defense industry attracted $15.6 billion in 2009
    or 85 percent of all federal contract dollars awarded to
    Massachusetts.
    • These federal contracts translated into approximately
    $26 billion in total economic activity for the
    Commonwealth.
    • The defense industry supported approximately
    115,563 jobs in Massachusetts in 2009.
    • The top 5 federal contract recipients in the
    Commonwealth are defense contractors.
    • The top 5 products or services sold to the federal
    government are related to defense technology. –

    —————-

    The death industry and government protection racket as jobs programs. The Powers That Be know what they are doing.

    Warren will fall in line. They all do…

    1. Cynthia

      It’s not clear at all as to whether Elizabeth Warren is a warmongering neocon, or a military Keynesian, or both. But I clearly suspect that somebody read her the riot act, telling her how she has to behave if she wants to belong to what George Carlin famously referred to as “the big club.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5dBZDSSky0

      To not be tough on Iran is to be against Israel – through her words we can plainly see what it takes to become a member of Congress, or any other branch of government for that matter.

      1. Glenn Condell

        Well, there are 3 big non-govt power centres in US politics, which shape (or pervert) government to their purposes: the banks/FIRE sector, the MIC and the Lobby.

        Warren is going for the throat of the first of these and must figure that she is no hope if she alienates the other two.

        Most pols slavishly dance to all 3 tunes, a few get by opposing one of them, no-one who opposes two makes it that far, and anyone running against all 3 shouldn’t fly in small planes.

  13. Middle Seaman

    Chill! One vague statement doesn’t make a policy nor does it destroy a person. What we know about Warren is way more positive than we have seen in a long time. A vague campaign statement even if meant to sound as interpreted, doesn’t imply that once a senator, Warren will stick to the dogma that dominated this country almost since Reagan. (Remember the Libyan hit squads.)

    She changed her party before and will likely to change her views on additional issues in the future.

  14. Heron

    “…the proper role of government fiscal policy is to accommodate the actions of the private sector, meaning households and business. Households want to save for retirement and emergencies, and the tacit assumption is business invests household savings. But as we’ve discussed in earlier posts, businesses have ceased being proper capitalists and have also been net savers, even during the last expansion, since 2003. Unless a country is running a trade surplus, and the US is not in that category, the government needs to accommodate the desire of the private sector to save by deficit spending. Otherwise wages fall and the economy contracts, and that makes the debt to GDP ratio worse. ”

    I’ve read many thousands of words on economic policy making, but with this simple paragraph, you’ve managed to do a better job explaining the rationale of Keynesianism than all the rest combined. I’ll be saving this to bring out in other threads (with attribution), if you don’t mind.

  15. Economic Maverick

    Yves – thanks for the Sobering analysis on Warren.

    After Obama we should learn to be skeptical of the “great leader will save us” thesis, and now Warren might be in the process of providing more reason to be skeptical

    Ultimately, change is predominately driven by social movements and other bottom-up mechanisms, with leaders usually responding accordingly. #OWS is the future, not the next smooth talking leader

    1. Jim Haygood

      First, Romney came out strongly in favor of begin aggressive with Iran, as a cynical wag noted, a war would be a Republican jobs plan. Obama is not about to be outflanked. Second, he may hope that if hostilities broke out before the election, he’d get a boost from being a war president.

      What a classic example of a Depublicrat race to the bottom, complete with the perverse incentive of first mover advantage.

      Re-elect the war president — our Dear Peace Laureate Barky O’Bumwad, the Viceroy of Vietghanistan.

      Victory is within our grasp, comrades! GOT CANNON FODDER?

  16. Marley

    Awwww maaaan… :(
    Gutted by this… still think someone from UMKC should get her in a room and give her the low down. Maybe she would “see the light” there, but who knows? I now agree that perhaps the movement is beyond this need to recruit some enigmatic leader from the ranks of the “available”. Maybe #OWS is the genesis of the long awaited “3rd party”… ?
    ~LeSigh~

  17. Philip Pilkington

    One or two things.

    (1) I thought the Iran ghost had taken a holiday for the time being? Do voters really care about ‘turrurism’ these days?

    (2) Warren’s economic ‘philosophy’ is, to the best of my knowledge, taken over from Krugman and Baker. What she says about the Big Pharma costs comes straight from Baker’s short book ‘Taking Economics Seriously’, which she wrote a blurb for:

    “A terrific book. Dean Baker deconstructs the myth that big corporations have any interest in free markets and deregulation. And he is right: industry interests support government intervention all the time—when it helps them. They have thrown the free market under the bus to maximize profits, and Taking Economics Seriously explains how.”
    —Elizabeth Warren

    This all indicates to me that she’s not very ‘up’ on macroeconomic policy or the budget debate. But if we assume that she follows those she already follows on this matter, I don’t think we have to worry. Krugman is fine on macro policy (although I have problems with his theories) and Baker and the rest of CEPR basically sign up to the “government can’t run out of money, they can just buy their own debt back” argument. I don’t think we need worry too much here.

    1. Fiver

      Oops. Meant also to say:

      Krugman is as hopelessly orthodox, unimaginative, don’t-rock-the-boat, status quo elitus liberalicus as they come – he serves only to legitimize the fiction of democracy and political “choices”.

  18. Abelenkpe

    Love watching liberals undermining other liberals. Thank you for the self destruct. The world will be so much better when republicans regain supremacy, stack the supreme court with more corporate friendly judges and speed the destruction of the environment and what little remains of the middle class. Shall we create a purity test too?

    1. go lose

      When Republicans regain supremacy, corruption and rights derogation of this administration will continue as before. Like all the other self-appointed party field marshals, you give me no reason to walk down the street and vote. When you lose some more you’ll be desperate enough to stop stuffing forced-choice dogma up our butts and listen to what the population wants.

      1. go lose

        Really? But that’s exactly what they all say. You got to exaggerate a little, or else how we gonna get it?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Her advisors are centrist Dem hacks and she’s following their advice. And remember her “shoulder to shoulder” remark re Obama? She sees herself aligned with a neoliberal, pro-war, center-right President.

      You may not care whether or not she is progressive, and like her only for her tough stance on banks. But there is a whole apparatus on what is left of the left, sites like Bold Progressive, that are selling her as the Progressive Second Coming. People who are supporting her on that basis (assuming she wins) are likely to be disappointed. That is what this post is about.

      And a lot of progressives do consider one’s stance on Middle Eastern wars a key litmus test.

  19. Z

    Warren first flashed her true colors when she lent her credibility to the government’s misleading contentions that most of tarp money had been paid back by the banks when they … and she … damn well know that was just a shell game in which the banks’ heads got other money from the numerous handouts the federal government and the federal reserve gave them and used that to pay on their tarp debts so that they could go back to granting themselves outrageous compensation packages.

    Z

  20. ponerology

    OWS is funded and run by George Soros and his never ending stream of stolen money and NGOs. OWS is a distraction. There is no political solution to the sovietized system in which we live. Like a game of chess, the powers-that-be have every angle thought through one hundred steps ahead and all sown up. You cannot fight them within their system. They own it and within it, they own you. You have to step outside the matrix and act individually. You cannot wait for others to make the moves for you.

    1. nicolai carpathia

      Hey don’t you believe in capitalism? Don’t you believe in merit? Soros won that money fair and square off capitalists who are too dumb to hold on to it. Anyway, if you’re really willing to step outside the matrix, then Soros will give you an OSI grant, so you can rip this society open. He’s mostly giving it away abroad because this country is not ready yet, but maybe if you’re smart enough, you can join the New World Order and use it to get your rotten government under control.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Wow, whose propaganda have you been reading?

      First, there is absolutely no evidence of Soros involvement, save on right wing sites trying to sell that line (and that ain’t evidence, it’s fabrication). And the real reporting on OWS confirms that it is grass roots:

      http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-international-origins

      Second, Soros has NEVER EVER funded anything populist. Look at what he did in Eastern Europe, or any of his other donations. He either gives to politicians or sets up think tanks. He sees himself as an intellectual (his big regret is that he couldn’t cut it as a philosopher) and funds intellectuals.

      1. mario

        He wrote the book on US great depression. It didn’t happen. He might be just a lil desperate now.

  21. jo6pac

    Just another Kool Aid drinker nothing to get excited about, everything is on schedule, please move along and vote for who we say to vote for.

  22. b.

    I always propose a triage of “candidates” based on the Taint Of Association model – the six degrees of torture, aggressive war and economic fraud, if you will. If you are willing to be hired/nominated/co-opted by Bush/Obama/Weevil, that fact by itself is disqualifying, as either your judgement and/or your ethics and/or your integrity are surely flawed/incompatible before, and irreparably and conclusively damaged after. The road to unelectability is paved with well-intentioned pragmatism. As a leading indicator and forward-looking prediction, Taint of Association seems to hold up very well.

    Which reinforces your point about OWS – looking for another messiah candidate will not work. The corruption (the taint) is too pervasive, and the process is self-selecting. OWS might not have policies and leaders, but it is the ecosystem from which they will have to grow. They sure won’t come from anywhere else.

    On a related note, Greenwald comments on Slate’s Applebaum today, who is making the argument that The People aren’t being democratic if they just up and go and withdraw the consent of the governed. Institution worship was once upon a time called “structure conservatism” (as opposed to “value conservatism”) in a stinging critique of Germany’s right. It would be opportune to remember that a bunch of the Founders were revolutionary enough to step beyond even the rule of law, going forward, and initially…. they kinda broke it to begin with, too.

      1. JTFaraday

        Well, that little Salonista need not fret–the voting booth and Occupying Wall Street need not be in contradiction with each other!

        We, the unrepresented, could surely settle on a write-in candidate in General Assembly before November 6, 2012.

  23. Jon

    Its troubling listening to Elizabeth Warren answer straightforwad questions. I live in the Boston area and heard her on a local radio station with two favorably disposed talk show hosts. Even in that relatively benign environment, her answers, while not evasive, ran around in circles and. Even the hosts, who prior to interviewing her wer lauding her accomplishments and entry into the race, we bemused after just a few minutes of listening. This interview occured just a day or two after she entered the race, so giving her some “newcomer” benefit of the doubt seemed reasonable, but, from the description above, perhaps that was optimistic.

    1. Glenn Condell

      Reminds me of a well-known journalist here in Oz and one of the finest political interviewers we’ve had, Maxine McKew, who ran for the Labour party in PM John Howard’s seat and ousted that horrible little man.

      She was obviously charming and well spoken, married to an ALP power-broker, and very effective in opposition. But once in government, she all of a sudden seemed stuck for words. The simplest questions seemed to bamboozle her, as if she was making an effort to recall and apply all the advice the party pollsters and analysts had ‘prepared’ her with. Same with former rocker Peter Garrett, who as a younger man was strident in his anti-US imperalist stance but who has pulled his horns in so far there are no sharp edges left at all.

      Warren (and we) would have been better off if she’d stayed outside the tent so that she keep pissing into it.

  24. Susan the other

    The Iranian-Mexican assassination plot farce is troubling. It keeps morphing. Last night on the BBC there was a brief report that 5 people had been arrested in London who were connected with the “plot.” No info on what nationality those people were; no further information on what exactly the new evidence was. If this report had come out of any country except the UK, I might have considered it to be something more than pure cause-for-war baloney. Clearly we and our closest ally have well-hidden plans to go to war in Iran. It has been talked about for a decade. And it has always been in the context of turning the middle east into a gob of glass. Going to war in Iran is synonymous with nuclear war. I hope Elizabeth Warren can think through it this far.

  25. Maju

    Long life farce democracy, where you can choose between two, maybe three, almost identical options. Even supermarkets give you much more choice!

  26. Hugh

    I wish this would burst the Warren bubble and do in the phenomenon of the revolving hero, or hero du jour, but, if experience is any guide, it won’t.

    Much like Obama, Warren has been saying in all kinds of ways that she is solidly Establishment and believes in rule by the elites, you know the same Establishment and elites whose sole mission in the last 35 years has been to loot and screw the 99%.

    You can point out that if Warren had any progressive inclinations, she might have made some efforts to engage with them, take up their issues. It’s not just equivocal statements about OWS. If she had wanted to show her support she could have visited OWS sites in either Boston or New York, not as a candidate but as a private citizen.

    Of course, the same could be said about so many issues. If Warren had wanted to tell us where she stood on foreign or domestic policies, even in general terms, she would have found an eager audience in person or on the net.

    And there is what I call my Mukasey rule, her willingness to work for the Obama Administration and her continued support of him. A) A progressive would never be asked to be any part of the Obama Adminstration and B) no progressive with a shred of integrity would agree to work for such an Adminstration let alone support its President.

    As I said, you can tell this to people forever and it won’t make a difference. They’ll just be back with their Warren for President cries the next time she says anything that sounds halfway constructive. And even if they tone down the rhetoric of Warren as a progressive, many will just fall back on the line that she is still better than Scott Brown. In other words, yet another cave into lesser evilism. Einstein supposedly said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The slippery and seemingly reasonable slope of lesser evilism is what produced the completely corrupt political system we have now. It is insane to think that more of it is somehow the answer.

    The bottomline is that anyone who votes for any Democrat or any Republican is voting for more of the same. Vote for either and you are giving your assent to a rotten and ruined political process and the kleptocrats who made it so. Just say no.

  27. kaj

    Age creates distance and in one of my previous posts, having seen the sun rise and set more times than sometimes I care to have witnessed, I said that Warren like Obama needs to be vetted thoroughly before running for the Presidency. Good that Yves is sounding more diffident now. Caution is the wise choice when selecting bodyguards; they just might shoot you instead. I hate all Republicans, including Obama.

  28. Pitchfork

    The dismissal of Warren is entirely premature.

    On Iran: Nothing she said locked her into any particular position. Rather, she left herself a way out of voting to “bomb, bomb Iran” with the “facts are emerging” bit. (Yes, I understand she doesn’t have a vote at all, yet.)

    On OWS: Her response passionately articulated the main grievances being expressed by the protesters — essentially banks got bailed out (after breaking the law) and we got sold out. However, what she avoided doing (skillfully, I would say) is giving the Brown team footage of her praising OWS outright. The ad makers would have a field day with that: “Elizabeth Warren stands with the hippie anarchists who want to destroy our economy…blah, blah, blah. Scott Brown, on the other hand, drives a pick-up truck…”

    On the Debt: I don’t see any two-stepping here. She probably believes exactly what she said — the debt is a serious problem.

    If you followed the Rand Paul campaign last year (I suspect most NC readers didn’t), you would have seen a similar dynamic at work. Ideologically, Rand is his father’s son, but Rand is also a skillful politician. He took similarly vague, but conservative-sounding stances on Iran and on the Iraq and Afghan wars, but not in a way that boxed him in. Rand’s libertarian supporters were similarly shocked and disappointed by his rhetoric, but in the Senate he has completely defied the GOP leadership and has stood up for civil liberties, for example, like he’s some kind of Glenn Greenwald.

    Now is E Warren as principled and impossible to co-opt as Rand Paul? We really don’t know. But Rand Paul’s example shows that a few rhetorical dalliances with bad positions does not mean the candidate will actually go that way once in office.

    1. Hugh

      Lesser evilism at work. When you have to parse everything a candidate says to come up with a platform that is even halfway reasonable, you should know that you are in trouble. It’s just such a stretch. Progressive ideas are actually quite popular in the country: create jobs, end the wars, tax the rich, reduce the power of corporations, Medicare for all. That a progressive would have to hide this agenda, especially in a state like Massachusetts doesn’t pass the smell test.

      1. Pitchfork

        Puhlease, no need to explain the lesser-evil conundrum to this group of readers. Besides, the question at hand is _whether or not_ EW is already compromised. I say it’s entirely speculative at this point.

        Moreover, you’re projecting when you say that EW is “hiding” her views. She’s been very outspoken about the need to “create jobs,…tax the rich, reduce the power of corporations.” I don’t know what her position on Bush-Obama’s wars is, but so far she hasn’t hidden anything on her domestic policy views. (And I’m saying this as someone who vehemently disagrees with her on much of this.)

        1. Hugh

          Again you are reading too much into what you think Warren is saying or has said. There is no law that says that Warren couldn’t lay out her views on the issues if she wanted to. She really hasn’t. As Yves says, aside from her views with regard to her work on the CFPB, what little is known about where she stands on the issues isn’t progressive. Nor has Warren reached out to progressives. There really is nothing difficult to suss out here. If Warren were progressive, we would know it by now. We don’t. She isn’t. End of story.

          It’s just bizarre after years of watching Democrats play liberals and progressives with this wait and see crap that there are still those out there flogging it. It is this kind of thinking that delivered Obama to us. How well did that work out for you?

          1. Pitchfork

            First of all, I’m not a progressive or a liberal. And I sure as heck didn’t vote for Zero. So I really don’t have a lot of emotional baggage on this one. I’m honestly concerned to call this as the facts warrant.

            Now, of course EW hasn’t laid out her views Ron-Paul style. Neither did Rand Paul, who, as I pointed out, serves as a useful comparison. Is she wrong about the views of MA voters in not being more “progressive”? I live there and I don’t think so. Sure, Berkshire county will support her at 70-80% regardless, but the hill towns won’t and neither will parts in the rest of the state.

            As with Rand Paul, he didn’t come out and say (as he had during his father’s 2007-2008 campaign) that he’s against the stupid wars and that we should mind our own business, etc. Instead, he soft-pedaled his views without really compromising on them. His supporters, like EW’s, were NOT HAPPY with his rhetoric, but he has yet to swing neo-con or kowtow to the GOP leadership.

            I’m not reading into anything here, I’m simply pointing out that she’s said nothing definitive about Iran or OWS. But I’ll also go one further and say that when someone is vague in precisely that sort of way, it’s often to leave open the possibility of being more “progressive” (or libertarian or…) when it actually matters. That may or may not be the case, but no one here (including Yves) has made a credible argument that she is already caving on these issues.

          2. MarkC

            Slipping into accusing pitchfork of unfashionable affiliations means that you’re not confident about debating the actual argument. And pitchfork is right, while Warren might indeed be nothing like what progressives who have adopted her as an icon think she is, the quotations used to show that in the original post actually don’t do that.

    2. LucyLulu

      While I didn’t follow Rand Paul’s campaign closely, what I did follow led me to conclude he was conservative libertarian to the core. I did watch his televised debates with his opponent and saw his interview where he voiced his objections to the Civil Rights legislation (which I didn’t interpret as racist, but libertarian). I would have been very surprised to learn he wasn’t anti-war (and didn’t know for sure, or maybe forgot, until just now when I read your post) and could not have imagined him voting for the Patriot Act. I never interpreted him as saying anything that compromised his positions or was misleading, though he may not have given his views unnecessary attention. I am waiting to pass final judgement on Dr. Warren, not living in MA anyways, but the situation with her does not seem to be the same as anything I saw with Dr. Paul, Jr.

  29. JasonRines

    I have come to know the people of Gloucester. Great folks in Cape Anne! Now what they want is what every other American demands which is stop stealing my property. Fire the campaign manager.

    If as a political hack and IT Manager I know this but her campaign manager doesn’t she is in big trouble. She probably is being led off the rails but I’ll wait and see.

  30. orionATL

    would you please list the names of her advisors.

    knowing a politician’s advisor is as important as knowing a journalist’s editor(s).

  31. Curtis

    This is sure a lot of concern and effort that is being extended in what is possible. OWS may be the place to spend some time and effort that would yield something more tangible than this discussion.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      But they all recognize it. Who was it that said the bankers own this place? They all will admit it. Republicans are proud of it; they think the wealthy are more important and since they are the “job creators” they deserve a more prominent role. Democrats pretend to lament the fact the bankers own the place and promise to fix it–but never do. Why is the Democratic approach preferable?

      Warren has failed in her first attempt at actually has put her stamp of approval on a failed reform bill. If she truly cared about the substantive issues she wouldn’t have allowed Obama and the Democrats to use her to pass a half-assed reform bill.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Sorry. I meant to respond to another comment that claimed Warren was preferable because at least she admitted the country is owned by plutocrats.

  32. steelhead23

    This post saddened me. I don’t think I am alone in longing for a champion – a leader who shares most of my views. I must also admit that while I am uncomfortable with anyone who perceives of there being a war on terror, let alone that war being job 1, I would vote for her in an instant on the basis of her obvious empathy with the working man/woman and her disdain for corporate power. Ending the corporate control of American politics is my Job 1 and we damn well need leaders who at least recognize this issue.

    1. catfish22

      You think you’ve got a leader, and you want to stick her in the Senate? Why don’t you just put cement shoes on her and drop her off a boat? The legislature is rotten to the core. So is the judiciary. So is the executive. That may be distressing to contemplate but we are well into the zone where parallel government is required.

  33. Aquifer

    Thank you for this – standing at the sink and splashing some cold water on your face is often a useful thing to do early in the morning ….

    I was a big fan of Warren early on, but, as with Obama, it seemed that discretion was the better part of valor and i paid attention – I watched the first debate and the bslloon burst, she was good at her trademark issue, but there were too many red flags …

    If i were a “progressive Dem” in Mass, I would give some of the other Dem candidates a closer look ….

    If candidates are fashioning their message, not on what they believe, whatever that is, but on what they think they need to say to win, then they are lying to somebody and, IMO, that means they don’t deserve to win.

    So i would take her at her word – if “all options are on the table”, she certainly wouldn’t be the candidate for me …

  34. tz

    Knowing this, do you think she would still be a good head or even do anything as the head of the latest do-nothing ‘we’ll save you nelle’ cfpb bureaucracy to tame wallstreet?

    Maybe we need to nuke wall street and dc instead of Iran. AS long as we’re shredding the rule of law…

    I support Ron Paul maunly because he wants to shatter, destroy, shred the power structure and given his record he is credible that he would do it.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      I agree that Ron Paul seems to be the most sincere out of this bunch of loose canon establishment politicians (like Kucinich, Paul, Grayson, Bernie Sanders, etc.). He is the most likely to walk the walk rather than just talking; to end the empire, for instance, or at least truly try to do it. As a voter, I would trust Paul with my vote more so than Warren (simply from an honesty standpoint–not looking at the substantive issues).

      But I am starting to doubt Paul’s bona fides as well, for no other reason that all the rest of them are liars and crooks (like Warren). So it’s safe to assume that even Paul is a fraud.

      The one politician I was surprised about was Kucinich. I would have put him in the same category as Ron Paul before 2008 but now I see him as yet another Democratic fraud. Elizabeth Warren doesn’t have near the potential that Kucinich did and she is making it very clear from the beginning that she serves the Democratic party and the people that run the Democratic party–the corporate elite–she’s not even trying to pull off the same scam that Kucinich did.

  35. Walter Wit Man

    A vote for Warren is indefensible if one is truly a leftist. It’s not worth the compromise. Propping up the dying and criminal Democratic party will do more harm than the countervailing good that Warren will do.

    Warren will provide lip service about the importance of the middle class to the Democrats. She will of course not be able to influence the Democrats, because we just saw this happen with the agency Warren headed. So we are asked to vote one candidate over the other because she provides lip service?

    No, this will do more harm than good. Same with Obama’s lip service. False promises from these people are not GOOD things. Jeez. Shaming Obama into giving lip service about how he wants to tax the rich is not a substantive policy position. You would think liberals would have the self respect to stop getting suckered by the same crooks over and over.

  36. dcblogger

    Sounds like now that she is the favorite, the Democratic consultants have gotten to her. Although, that she is a former Republican is also a tell.

  37. wunderbar

    Good catch.

    I sent $200 to Warren they day after she announced and planned to volunteer for her. Since these Iran comments, I’ve been feeling it was wasted money.

  38. Tortoise

    That’s the conundrum with democracy: to get elected and lead the country, you must get the votes of those who, more often than not, have in the past elected the familiar cadre of fools and villains… So, no matter who you are, you must lie, flatter, and cater to the prejudices of the electorate.

    The way I think of elections and whom to vote for is: Among the choices, is there one who is clearly better than the others? The answer is usually yes and I vote for this person. If the answer is no, I just refrain from voting. (Better does not imply good! Better is the opposite of worse.)

  39. Alan

    The World Trade Centers an act of terrorism killed thousands and destroyed the lives of 10′s of thousands. The result, hundreds arrested and tortured at Guantanimo Bay and a war that never ends ruining and killing even more lives The Financial Meltdown another act of terrorism, 100′s of millions of lives destroyed worldwide. There are no arrests of the true terrorists. Instead they are rewarded with billions of dollars. Yet, our polititions keep trying to preach they are hard on terrorism. What a joke.

  40. Gil Gamesh

    The woman hung out with the big O, and it shows. Talk a bit of progressive, liberal mumbo jumbo, be vague, and keep those heartfelt center-right policy positions in your back pocket. One could count on the fingers of a hand or 2 the number of major party candidates or elected officials who has a reasonable position, based on facts, history and genuine US interests, vis a vis Iran. The mainstream policy is appalling, dangerous, demagogic (cf. the occupation of Palestine). It appears Warren’s handlers (wannabe David Axlerods) are grooming her for Senatorial greatness. Damn, the things you have to say and do to get elected around here…..

  41. Psychoanalystus

    Ah well… Sounds like she’s another neocon in disguise — just like Obummer.

    I tell ya, I hate it when Obummer happens!

  42. Glenn Condell

    ‘She’s fallen in line with the Democratic party orthodoxy, which is treating this Marx Brothers version of an assassination effort as a major incident. I’ve been at a loss to understand the enthusiasm, but there are probably at least two causes..’

    Those two causes are tributary at best. The force that demands this suspension of common sense and perspective, hiding in plain view as always, is the same force that gave Benjamin Netanyahu 29 standing ovations last time he dropped into Congress to wax ugly. The elephant, or the gorilla in the room, which has been trying to get the US into a war with Iran since Iraq went pear-shaped.

    Warren, like every US politician and public official, knows she is toast if she doesn’t toe the line. And so the tail keeps wagging the dog.

  43. Naseer Ahmad

    Pity she wasn’t nominated for the Supreme Court instead. I’d have preferred at least one WASP there (sorry! :) and Scot Brown’s going to win anyhew.

  44. Jim

    Just a brief note on the origins of the leadership of Occupy Wall Street.

    In 2009 David Graeber wrote an ethnographic study entitled “Direct Action: An Ethnography.”

    The methodology of Occupy Wall Street (i.e. direct action, decentralized decision-making through a consensus building process inherent in a general assembly,the idea that democratic practice is the ideology–both means and ends etc)comes out of anarchist practice (especially the experiences in Seattle and particularly Quebec City in 2000-2001)

    Here are a few fascinating quote from Graeber pg. 11.

    “We have a movement that sees itself as creating new forms of democracy but, because of security fears its actual democratic process cannot be represented by anyone outside the movement in anything but the most abstract terms.”

    “…so one ends up with video documentaries that show activists marching down the street chanting “this is what democracy looks like,” but contain no images of anyone actually practicing democracy.”

    By 2011 in downtown New York, live-stream broadcasting of the general assembly in the park–had solved this problem.

    It appears that the acutal leadership of Occupy Wall Street, at this moment, comes out of the direct experiences of anarchists especially in the 1998-2001 period, although part of the consensus-bulding apparatus can also be traced back to the origins of the feminist movement in the U.S. in the 1968-1972 period.

    1. bobh

      If one examines Jim’s argument, one sees that he has no argument. Nothing. The unnamed leaders of OWS, whose “methodology” he recognizes from a book he read by someone named Graeber, seem pretty suspicious to him. Somebody better tell Rush. Rush needs to look into this fast, before America is ruined by direct-action practicing, decentralized decision-making, consensus building, feminist anarchists from Seattle. Or Quebec. Or something. Scary.

    2. JTFaraday

      Well, you’ve clearly brought out the trolls–I think it was the A-word.

      On one of the few tee-vee interviews with an Occupier downtown that I have seen, that person indicated they didn’t have a list of demands (yet) because at a lot of the occupiers were ANARCHISTS, and they wanted to work that out with the group over time.

      And–it was on the tee-vee, so I cringed. And I thought, why can’t they just call themselves “democrats”?

      Oh. Duh.

      Then I really realized for the first time that our eff-ed up culture warrioring politics and near-fascist government (at home and abroad) has completely destroyed two perfectly good, perfectly serviceable political terms from the tradition of western political thought.

      Modernity may be drawing to a close.

  45. jcb

    Yves,

    Have you gone around the bend? Seriously.

    From this:

    “Our number one responsibility is to protect Americans from terrorism, that’s our job, so being tough on terrorism is enormously important,” said Warren yesterday at a campaign stop in Gloucester.

    “We should take nothing off the table, but the facts are still emerging,” the Senate candidate said when asked if she would support military action against Iran.”

    You get that:

    “Elizabeth Warren’s Jobs Plan: War with Iran”

    I’m just appalled. There is “more worrisome subtext” here. But it’s not hers…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are missing the way all the Dem hackocracy messagers are falling in line with the spurious idea that this joke of a plot was a real threat. My 11 pound cat, who once chased two adult men out of an office, is more of a threat than the alleged perp is.

      Her message is she stands with the warmongers. That’s all you need to know.

      1. jcb

        Yves,

        Okay. I apologize for my ill-temper. But really…

        I doubt there is a real plot as well. And if I were of as conspiratorial as some people on this blog, I might suspect a ruse by some of our “allies” in the Middle East who would like us to serve as their surrogates in military action against Iran. BO has shown himself to be gullible, yet again, as in virtually every other decision he has made in the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan, a Palestinian state). This is dangerous.

        But that’s not on EW and it’s not what she said! She was vague, and it was boilerplate “protect America”. And her viral video on the social contract spoke the most obvious truth — except that no one else in the Democratic hackocracy is saying it.

        With all due respect (yes) from someone who admires this blog and shares your outrage, you are in danger of personalizing your disagreements with EW. If she is not willing to be your Joan of Arc, the only other role you will let her audition for is Democratic hack. And you seem willing to throw everything, including the kitchen sink at her to make your point. (Three brothers in the military!!!).

        You are too smart for this, and you have too much to tell us about things you really do know about. We depend on you for that, not for venting tactical grievances.

      2. Blissex

        I strongly agree with YvesS what ElizabethW is sending out “dog whistle” messages to the Establishment.

        But I think that YvesS misunderstimates how popular warmongering is with the voters (in particular with older wealthier female voters who vote solidly and donate to campaigns and presumably would support one of their own).

        ElizabethW, like BarackO, whatever their personal beliefs (if any) are politicians in the business of being electable, and that means swing voters, and those have been demanding for the past 30 years more wars and more law and order (and higher asset prices and lower wages). She has to pander at least to some part of that crucial demographic.

        Politicians study polls very closely, and if there was any electoral advantage in peacemongering at least some candidates would be doing that if only opportunistically, but essentially all candidates are running the opposite way.

        This is my usual quote (from 2006, but not much has changed) from the Financial Times on how popular warmongering and authoritarianism is with the voters and campaign donors:

        http://news.FT.com/cms/s/2817d81c-b067-11da-a142-0000779e2340.html
        «But is clear leaders of both parties lack the confidence to challenge the mood of xenophobia that exists outside Washington. Instead they are fuelling it. In some respects the Democrats are now as guilty of stoking fears on national security as the Republicans. Their logic is impeccable. A majority of Americans believe there will be another large terrorist attack on American soil.
        Such is the depth of anxiety that one-fifth or more of Americans believe they will personally be victims of a future terrorist attack. This number has not budged in the last four and a half years.”
        »
        «Mr Bush has consistently received a much higher public trust rating on the war on terror than the Democrats.
        Without this — and without the constant manipulation of yellow and orange terror alert warnings at key moments in the political narrative — Mr Bush would almost certainly have lost the presidential race to John Kerry in 2004.
        »
        «In other words, the Democrats have found an effective way of neutralising their most persistent electoral liability: they are out-Bushing Mr Bush.
        It is easy to see why key Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have adopted this strategy. It is easy also to see why their Republican counterparts are following suit. As Peter King, the Republican representative for New York, said last week: “We are not going to allow the Democrats get to the right of us on this issue.” This left Mr Bush holding the candle for the left, as it were.
        »

  46. skippy

    Elizabeth Warren…

    Had she been head of the consumer protection agency the relationship would have lasted much longer (gives great contractual) or as a bedroom eyed siren (B&W film lore), fan dancing too the crowds titillation…retracing youthful memory’s…. her visage upon a stage.

    But Naw…

    Had to get hitched… had to indulge in euphoric’s… lots of projections last night.

    Forgot to meet the parents first, especially mom. Now a foul odor emanates from under the nuptials bedlinen, who done it, what orifice offends and does it really matter in the end.

    Skippy…If only I listened to my ancestors. Gal gets your eye, ya have one foot in the grave. You put a ring on her finger, ya have two. She starts popping out copy’s… and the next thing you know…someone is throwing dirt at your HEAD. — attribution — some endless romantic… lmao.

  47. Rawls

    That was really fucking depressing. Jesus christ…when I hear people talk like that, when she gave her shtick about how “no one got rich on their own,” and then this Iranian bullshit. God help us all.

  48. JR

    Regarding comments on the deficit: if we divide the deficit into “structural” and “cyclical,” and agree that “cyclical” is not particularly worrisome but that “structural” is, then the items Ms. Warren mentions are the ones causing the problem. If we get the structural surplus/deficit to near zero, we’ll be fine.

    The problem now is that even if the cyclical problems vanished, we’d still have a huge and continuing structural deficit. Solution: restore sensible tax rates (including the SS/Medicare payroll tax), eliminate (or pay for) recent unfunded increases in Medicare, and eliminate (or pay for) excess war spending.

  49. Yves Smith Post author

    The Herald is right wing and therefore presumably pro war/intervention. So it would support someone of any stripe calling for anti-terrorist action.

    You don’t run coded messages to lefties in right wing outlets. That’s not how it’s done. And I referred to quotes, not commentary.

  50. Capacity

    I’m not particularly a Warren fan and I don’t know who Yves Smith is but this is a fairly terrible article. Good lord.

  51. TK

    Jesus, is this the depth of the discussion here on all topics or is this unusual? I’m still trying to feel my way around the philosophy of you guys but I gotta say, if this is how you decide to support someone you’re fucked. A vague quote and it’s “oh my God!! she’s a traitor too! they’re all out to get us! I’m not voting for anyone who is not a clone of myself (because I sure as hell ain’t runnin’)” Can we take a breath before we assume the worst and even considering the perfect candidate comes along how on earth wouls he or she match every one of your individual demands? This is fucking infantile! I guess I need dig no further, you guys are exactly what the other blogs says you are. A bunch of whiny children who vow to support only someone who promises a unicorn with a candy horn. Good luck with that.

    1. Cahal

      Which ‘other blogs’ do you refer to? Is this some sort of blogging equivalent of ‘everyone talks about you behind your back’?

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